Summary: In this first lesson we are introduced to Elijah and to what was taking place when God called him.
A. On Friday, this past week, I was still working out at Camp Hunt, and I sent Mike a text message with the title and text for today’s sermon: “Standing Alone in the Gap.”
1. Mike quickly texted me back: “Is the sermon about shopping alone at the Gap for clothes?”
2. No, Mike, the sermon is not about shopping at the GAP store alone.
3. The sermon is about Elijah the prophet standing in the gap.
B. I’m excited to spend the summer with you studying the life of Elijah.
1. Character studies are always fun, and there are some great resources for studying the lives of biblical characters, like Charles Swindoll’s book series Great Lives From God's Word: Profiles in Character. I will be using the one on Elijah for this sermon series.
2. As we will see, Elijah’s life shows us what the Lord desires from His people.
3. But before we learn about Elijah, I want to discuss someone else for a moment.
C. I must confess, I’ve never been a Dallas Cowboy fan, but for a long time I was a fan of their long-time coach Tom Landry.
1. Tom Landry was born in Mission, Texas in 1924, and cast an unforgettable shadow along this earth’s landscape for 75 years (He died Feb. 12, 2000).
2. Tom Landry was a class act and he left a wonderful legacy.
3. Like other famous heroes, Tom Landry lived his life in the public spotlight.
a. He worked in an arena few in their right mind would choose – the high-powered and enormously pressurized National Football League.
b. Head coaches in the NFL are not known for their long-term tenure with any team.
c. To borrow a line from Bum Phillips, one of the more colorful NFL past coaches: “There’s only two kinds of coaches – them that’s been fired, and them that’s gonna be.”
4. Amazingly, for 29 consecutive years, Tom Landry coached the Dallas Cowboys.
a. His 20 consecutive winning seasons with the same team form a record that is likely never to be broken.
b. Landry left such an indelible mark on his players that they still scramble to find the right words to describe their profound feelings of appreciation.
C. Here are some things you may not have known about Tom Landry:
1. He played college football for Texas, and then played professional football for the AAFC New York Yankees (not one of the teams later absorbed by the NFL) and then the New York Giants.
2. He was a bomber co-pilot in WWII, completing 30 combat missions, and even survived a crash landing in Belgium after his bomber ran out of fuel.
3. He was a great family man, being married 51 years to his high school sweetheart, and they had three sons.
4. Tom Landry was also a person of faith.
a. Landry taught Sunday school and would sometimes arrive at the stadium for home games only moments before a noon kickoff after teaching his adult Bible class that morning.
b. He was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
c. Landry was a friend of the Billy Graham and spoke at many of his crusades.
d. He also sat on the board for Dallas Theological Seminary for 23 years.
e. Landry’s priorities were: God first, family second, and football third.
5. In addition to all that…Tom Landry was a great man, because he wore great hats!
D. Unfortunately, many heroes look better from a distance.
1. Up close, however, they sometimes surprise and disappoint us.
2. Not so with Tom Landry – the better you knew him, the more you admired him.
E. Most of us long to find authentic heroes who, when examined closely, are actually better than we expected.
1. Our longing is even more greatly satisfied when we discover that these heroes have remained humble in heart.
2. Such unique individuals stand alone in the gap. Nothing moves them.
3. They are not intimidated by the opposition they face and they are not afraid of the challenges that loom before them.
4. Exit Coach Tom Landry and enter the Hebrew prophet Elijah.
I. The Story
A. We are first introduced to him simply as “Elijah the Tishbite.” (1 Kings 17:1)
1. You talk about stepping out of nowhere!
2. If you think Tom Landry’s birthplace of Mission, Texas, seems like some remote place, just try to locate Tishbeh in the ancient Middle Eastern land of Gilead.
3. The site is unknown. The sands of time have completely hidden it.
4. Nevertheless, Elijah came out of this insignificant place – out of nowhere – to make a significant contribution to God’s plan for His people.
B. When we study the lives of individuals, we must also study the history of their time.