Title: A Season of Drought
Text: 1 Kings 16:29-33, 17:1-16
Location: Sulphur Spring Baptist Church
Introduction: I am 44 years old and have lived in Kentucky most of my life, but I can¡¦t remember a Summer that has been as hot and dry as this one.
According to Shane Holinde, one of the meteorologists at WBKO the ¡§Heat Wave¡¨ and ¡§Drought¡¨ of 2007 could very well be one for the record books. Bowling Green set a new Record High temperature for the date, on Thursday, with 106 degrees.
The way it looks right now the month of August may turn out to be one of the hottest and driest months in history.
Of course I don¡¦t have to tell any of you, especially those of you who are farmers that we are suffering from the worst drought that we¡¦ve seen in decades. All you have to do is look at the corn & beans in the fields to know how severe the situation has become. According to an article in this week¡¦s Franklin Favorite, Jason Phillips, The Simpson County Extension agent, expects crop yields to be cut in half in some areas of the county.
The same article pointed out that Livestock farmers are also being adversely affected by the drought. Pastures have dried up and hay fields have produced so poorly that many farmers are being forced to sell their cattle.
Simpson County is also experiencing a water shortage and City and County officials are urging residents to conserve water. Mayor Jim Brown says the water level at the dam dropped 10 inches last week.
Many of you realize the negative effect this drought is having and is going to have on families, businesses, and even churches.
But something you may not realize is that Simpson County, the state of Kentucky and the rest of the nation are also suffering from a Spiritual Drought that is also causing some serious problems for families, churches and even entire communities.
Now that may surprise some of you, but I received some information this week from Wilbur Powell our new Director of Missions that I believe supports that statement. This information comes from a study that was conducted throughout the state a couple of years ago. The survey revealed that ____ percent of the people of Simpson County said they have absolutely no religious affiliation. It also revealed that only _____ percent of the people in Simpson County are members of a church or other religious organization. Now both of those statistics are bad, but the statistic that blew me away and just breaks my heart is the last one. The study showed that on any given Sunday only 18.3 percent of the people in Simpson County attend a worship service of some kind. That¡¦s pitiful, and unfortunately there were many counties around the state where the percentage was even lower than that. Which is why so many churches in Kentucky and around our nation are struggling to survive right now.
I believe Spiritual droughts can be just as devastating, to families, churches, communities and even nations as the Severe Heat wave and Drought, like the one we are presently experiencing. And I must admit to you this morning, it makes me wonder if the two aren¡¦t somehow related.
The Bible gives us a great example of this in the Old Testament book of 1st Kings. Turn with me over to 1 Kings 16:29.
At this particular time The Nation of Israel seemed to be doing well. The economy was good, their military was strong, and they were at peace with all of the nations surrounding them. But unfortunately they had a BIG problem, a problem that most of them didn¡¦t even realize they had. During the last 50 or 60 years Israel had been led by Kings who were spiritually weak at best, to those who were just downright evil. Consequently the nation of Israel was entrenched in a very serious Spiritual drought. Follow along as I read 16:29-33.
According to 1 Kings 16:25 Ahab¡¦s father, Omri had done more evil in the eyes of the lord than all of the other Kings before Him, BUT according to verse 30, Ahab was even worse, and did more evil in the sight of God than his father had done.
But God had not given up on the nation of Israel. In fact some Biblical scholars have suggested that God sent the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, a man named Elijah to King Ahab in an attempt to get him and the nation of Israel to repent of their sins and turn back to Him.
Let¡¦s read 17:1.
1. So the first thing we see is that Elijah obeyed God and informed King Ahab that He was going to send a severe drought or famine upon the nation of Israel to punish Him for all of the evil things he had done.
Of course not only the drought punish Ahab, but it also punished the people of Israel, and at first that may seem a little harsh or even unfair. But we need to remember that the people of Israel were not innocent bystanders here. No one had forced them to do anything. They had willingly started worshipping and serving Baal.
But not only did this drought have an negative impact on King Ahab and the people of Israel but it also effected Elijah, himself.
Droughts and famines happen in every area of life. When a Baseball player goes several games without getting a hit they say he¡¦s in a slump. When a car salesman isn¡¦t selling many cars he says business is a little slow. When the stock market does what it has done for the last week or two financial analysts call it a downturn or a correction. When a business is forced to lay off many of its employees, they call it downsizing.
Droughts or dry spells happen in every area of our lives even in our spiritual lives. In fact spiritual droughts may be the most challenging and the most difficult to overcome.
Some of you who are here this morning may be in the middle of a spiritual drought.
„X You don¡¦t feel as close to God as you used to.
„X Maybe it¡¦s been weeks or even months since you felt His presence.
„X When you pray it doesn¡¦t seem like your prayers get any higher than the ceiling.
„X When you sit down to read the Bible you can¡¦t concentrate and end up getting more frustrated than you were before.
„X When you come to church to worship you don¡¦t get anything out of the service.
„X Perhaps you feel like God has forgotten your name.
„X And some of you may have even gotten to the point that you wonder whether or not God even cares what you¡¦re going through.
If you can relate to one or more of these statements then pay close attention to what happens to Elijah in this passage of Scripture. You¡¦ll be glad to know that you can learn several things from this passage of Scripture that will help you survive the spiritual droughts or dry spells that will inevitably come your way.
2. The Next thing I want you to notice is that God still had a plan for Elijah¡¦s life.
Verses 2-4 say, ¡§Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.¡¨
Elijah obeyed God and delivered His message of judgment to Ahab and now for his own protection God sent him out into the wilderness.
The Bible doesn¡¦t tell us how Ahab responded to Elijah¡¦s message. He may have thought Elijah was just another religious nut and didn¡¦t really pay much attention to him or his message until things started to dry up. That¡¦s when Ahab put an all points bulletin out on Elijah. He told his men to search high and low for Elijah but they were unable to find him, which of course was why God had sent him out to the Wilderness in the first place.
3. Now I want you to notice that not only did God care about Elijah¡¦s safety, but he also provided a place for him to stay, food for him to eat and water to drink.
Verses 5-7 say, ¡§So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.¡¨
Elijah didn¡¦t have to hunt or fish or go out searching for berries in order to stay alive. Instead God commanded the Ravens to bring him meat and bread in the morning and again in the evening. By the way Ravens are scavengers that don¡¦t normally share their food with each other, much less a man. But for a time at least they did it for Elijah.
Elijah must have thought that was pretty cool. All he had to do was sit back and relax, God had thought of everything. But then, just as He was getting used to his new home and his new way of life something that he never expected happened.
Look at verse 7 ¡§Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.¡¨
Our text doesn¡¦t tell us if it was one week , 1 month, or even 1 year before the brook dried up. It also doesn¡¦t tell us if this was a gradual event or something that literally happened overnight. Either way, Elijah must have been confused, and maybe even a little upset with God. After all, he had done everything God had told him to do. He had taken his life in his own hands and delivered God¡¦s message of Judgment upon King Ahab. He had come to this barren land and was eating whatever the Ravens brought him without even complaining about it. But one morning when He woke up and walked down to the creek to get a drink and splash some water in his face, he noticed that the creek had dried up. Suddenly he found himself out in the middle of nowhere with nothing to drink. Suddenly he found himself in the middle of a spiritual drought or crisis.
That¡¦s usually the way it happens to us isn¡¦t it. Everything in your life is going great and then all of a sudden something happens, and it¡¦s as if someone pulled the rug out from underneath you.
Maybe you have a wreck on the way to work one day and the guy who hit you doesn¡¦t have insurance and you end up having to pay most of the repair bill out of your own pocket.
Maybe one of your kids gets hurt playing soccer and you have some unexpected doctors bills to pay.
Or maybe you go to the doctor for a routine checkup and when the doctor calls you back with the results of your tests he informs you that you have cancer.
When something like that happens it usually catches you off guard and often knocks the breath out of you. But how you respond in that situation is very important.
You can either respond by blaming God, which is what the prophet Jonah did when the worm ate the vine that was providing him shade.
Or you can respond in faith, like Elijah did here and do whatever the Lord tells you to do next.
Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives to test our faith, which is exactly what He did when He allowed the brook to dry up. Suddenly, Elijah had a decision to make.
He could either complain about it like the Israelites had done when they were wandering around in the wilderness. Or He could be patient, and put His faith and trust in God, and see what God had in store for him next. Fortunately, Elijah put his faith in God. Let¡¦s see what happened next. Look at verse 8 & 9 with me.
¡§Then the word of the Lord came to him: "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food."
God had another plan, another test and another mission for Elijah. He told him to go to Zarephath of Sidon, which was coastal town located between Tyre and Sidon. To make the decision even more difficult to make it was about a 100-mile walk from the wilderness to the town of Zarephath. To make matters worse it wasn¡¦t in Israel and was ruled by none other than King Ahab¡¦s father-in-law. To top it all off God told Elijah to put his life in the hands of a poor widow woman.
Now may I remind you that in that day and time most widows were not very well off financially. In fact most were very poor as was the case with this particular woman.
Let¡¦s read verses 10-16 from the Bible.
Elijah again responded in faith, trusting that God would do what He said He would do, even though it didn¡¦t really make sense. Especially after he met the woman and discovered that she had more than her share of problems.
Yet because He obeyed, despite not fully understanding, God not only provided for His needs but also for the Widow and her son.
(1) So one of the lessons we can learn from Elijah is to always put our faith and trust in the Lord and do what He tells us to do.
(2) A second lesson we can learn is that God will sometimes allow us to go through periods of spiritual drought to test us and help us to mature as Christians. He may also use spiritual droughts to prepare us for the next assignment that He has for us.
Elijah is best known for defeating the 450 Prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah on Mt. Carmel. But I submit to you that He would never have been spiritually mature enough for that assignment had he not lived through a few spiritual droughts. So if you find yourself in a spiritual drought this morning don¡¦t give up. Don¡¦t throw in the towel. Remain faithful and wait on God to show you what to do next. One of the things I want to make sure you understand this morning is that ¡§Spiritual droughts¡¨ are temporary, they do not last forever.
Before I close this morning I want to share a few things with you that will help you do just that.
(1) Continue to read and hold onto the Promises of God found in the Bible.
Read it, study it, and allow God to minister to you through His Word.
I would also encourage you to Memorize certain Scripture verses and Meditate on them. Allow the Word of God to feed you and be your source of strength even in the midst of the storm or ¡¥spiritual drought¡¦ that you are facing.
(2) Next, don¡¦t forget to pray, and when you have prayed, go back and pray some more.
Don¡¦t be afraid to be honest with God about how you feel. He¡¦s a big God, he can handle it. If you¡¦re angry at him let him know. If you¡¦re disappointed, tell Him. If you can¡¦t express yourself verbally write it down.
(3) Finally, when you find yourself in a ¡¥spiritual drought¡¦ or facing a problem that you can¡¦t seem to find the solution to, don¡¦t try to get through it on your own. Instead turn to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and let them help you through it. After all that is one of the reasons that we as a church are here for.