Summary: No matter how hard the road may be there is good news for those who will trust in Jesus.

Good News For Hard Times!

Acts 9:32-43

Hard times are nothing new. Hard times, times of trials and tribulations, seem to be as constant as the sunrise. You can watch the news on any given day and hear of the hard times of those around our country. You can read the morning paper and learn of the trials of those in our own community. You can totally avoid the media and still become familiar with hard times simply by listening to the troubles of those around you. Hard times are not simply the possession of others, hard times are experienced by each and every person who lives on planet earth today. You've had your difficulties. Hard times have knocked at your door and announced their arrival.

I heard a preacher just last week announce, "The living of life will suck the life out of you." No truer statement has ever been made. The living of life will lead you through deep, cavernous valleys where it seems that the sun will never shine again. There will be days when it seems like life is caving in around you and as hard as you try to hold up the walls - you can't seem to do it. Hard times will drain you. Hard times will exhaust you. Hard times will take the enthusiasm and excitement of childhood and transform it into a listless and lifeless existence. Hard times will use you up.

We can try to convince ourselves that this is something new, that we've gotten a bum deal, but the fact of the matter is that hard times have occupied our planet almost as long as we have. There are some today that teach the bald-face lie that if you do what God says to the letter then you won't go through those hard times, but I've come to tell you today that nothing could be further from the truth. Living in obedience doesn't mean that you will never see hard times, but it does mean that you will not go through the hard times of life alone. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.

There was a man who lived about three thousand years ago (so much for hard times being something new!). He did just what God commanded him to do and yet it got him knots on his head. On one occasion he opposed the leaders of Israel and their "yes men," the false prophets. Elijah, the man of God, challenged the "yes men" of Ahab and Jezebel to a showdown at the Carmel Corral. The challenge was quite bold. Elijah and the prophets would each get one bull to sacrifice on an altar located on Mt. Carmel. The god that answered with fire burning up the sacrifice would be recognized as the One True and Living God. There was a huge crowd of onlookers. Elijah had much to lose if God did not show up, but he had much more to lose if he refused to show up for God. To make a long story short - the false prophets danced, chanted, cut themselves with knives trying to arouse their god, Baal, but nothing happened.

When it was finally evident that Baal had no power to do what was being asked, Elijah stepped up to the plate. Remember, the True God would answer with fire. To add insult to injury, Elijah had four large containers filled with water and poured over the sacrifice. Then he had it done again. As if that weren't enough, Elijah had them do it for a third time. Elijah then lifted his eyes to the heavens and said,

"O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. {37} Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." (1 Ki 18:36-37 NIV)

God answered Elijah's prayer immediately and the hearts of the people were deceived no more! Elijah did just what he was told. The people turned back to Almighty God. In the very next chapter we hear that Ahab and Jezebel are mad as hornets and coming after Elijah. Elijah runs for his life because he was afraid. We read in 1 Kings 19:3-5,

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, {4} while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." {5} Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." (1 Ki 19:3-5 NIV)

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