Summary: A sermon about making a choice.
"Stop Sitting on the Fence"
Ahab, son of Omri, ruled over the Northern Kingdom of Israel for 22 years, and he is described in 1 Kings Chapter 16 as being more evil than all the Kings who had come before him.
We are also told that he worshiped Baal--the Canaanite agricultural god, the giver of rain.
Oddly enough, there was a terrible drought going on in the land, and when our Scripture passage starts for this morning, we are three years into the drought.
But the people of Israel had become confused as to which God to worship, the Lord God Who brought them out of Egypt or Baal, whom their king was promoting.
Many, tried to serve both the Lord God and Baal.
It's sort of like they couldn't make up their mind, or they were trying to have the "best of both worlds," shall we say?
After 3 years without rain, Elijah told Ahab to assemble the people of Israel on Mount Carmel along with the 450 prophets of Baal.
So we are told that "Ahab sent the message to all the Israelites. He gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel."
Then, "Elijah approached all the people and said, 'How long will you hobble back and forth between two opinions?
If the Lord is God, follow God.
If Baal is God, follow Baal.'"
And we are told that "The people gave no answer."
So the central question in this story speaks not only to the people of Israel some 2,500 years ago, but it also speaks to us today.
"How long will you hobble back and forth between two opinions?"
"How long are you gonna keep sitting there on the fence?"
"Make up your mind."
"Will you follow God or will you follow Baal?"
Remember that Jesus said that no one can serve two masters.
So it is decision time on Mount Carmel, is it decision time in your life as well?
Do you find yourself caught between two worlds--the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this world?
Do you have a hard time making a commitment to following Christ?
Are there just too many other things that get in the way?
Do you feel as if you are never fully in and never fully out?
In matters of faith, do you find yourself never really doubting, but never really devoted?
Are you "hobbling back and forth" between Jesus and some false god or gods?
Again, are you sitting on the fence?
The fence isn't a very comfortable place to sit, in more ways than one.
The fence is a place of procrastination.
The fence is a place where nothing gets done.
The fence is a waste of time, a waste of life.
James Chapter 4:14 tells us: "What is life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
How many times have we heard people, as they have looked back on their lives say: "O, I should have done this...or...I should have done that. I wasted so much time"?
Perhaps you can relate to this yourself this morning.
We are good at putting things off, are we not?
We may talk to ourselves and say, "I should read my Bible and attend Bible study, but not now.
There will be another day."
We might say to ourselves, "I know I must make a decision to give my life fully to Jesus Christ, but not now, there will be another day."
How come we are so convinced that there is "plenty of time"?
Augustine said, "God has promised forgiveness for our repentance.
But He has not promised tomorrow to our procrastination."
The truth is, we should live each day as if it could be our last...'cause it very well could be.
Most of us know what we should do.
We know what we should be.
Why not start being that person today?
Why postpone our life of faith in Jesus Christ?
Confucius said, "To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice."
And that is true.
The hardest thing we may ever do is to make the commitment to give our lives fully to Jesus Christ.
It's the hardest thing to do, but it is the most important.
And when and if we finally make the decision to "get off that fence" we will find the greatest happiness, the greatest satisfaction, the most joy, and finally--peace.
Our lives gain an extra "spark" as we become part of a cause much bigger than ourselves.
We become transformed and begin the process of becoming the persons we were created, in the first place, to be.
So, in our Scripture passage for this morning, the people of Israel are called to make a decision about whom they will worship--The Lord God or Baal.