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What are you doing here?

ELIJAH IS ON THE RUN…

and he is running for his life! He began his run after winning an unprecedented spiritual battle. However, he does not look like a champion because he is speeding out of town. What happened?

 

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“I will be there when you gather the 450 prophets together. We will build two altars. We will gather wood, everything that is needed, and a bull for each of us. We will not light the fire; let God do it.”

 

Ahab was satisfied with that, so the battle began. The group gathered at daybreak, and Elijah, the gentlemen, said, “You go first.”

In accordance with liturgical practice, the prophets of Baal danced and pranced and cut themselves. The prophets did everything possible to summon Baal to ignite the sacrificial altar wood. But nothing happened. The clock ticked on at nine, ten, eleven, twelve o’clock…STILL NO FIRE!

Elijah talks a little smack in this episode; I love it! He says, “What’s up boys? Maybe Baal is eating lunch because he isn’t listening to you! Oh…you need some more time? That’s fine…but you might need to shout a little louder.”

In desperation, the prophets of Baal pray. There’s plenty of action…but NO FIRE! At three o’clock, Elijah says, “Enough theatrics…It’s God time!”

As Elijah moves in, those who pray to a false God move out. After placing the bull and wood on the altar, he saturates everything with water just to prove it’s not a trick bag. As Elijah steps back, clears the zone, and prays for 30 seconds, the Lord responds with fire!

After that, he told the people, “Those 450 prophets are no longer needed.” And they killed them (it’s in the book!). Elijah just witnessed a God-sized miracle. He challenged the king and followers of a popular God in faith…and he won! Now, Elijah stands in the center of the ring holding his hands high with the help of the Almighty!

As soon as Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, hears of the events, she becomes furious! She places a bounty on his head because she is so upset. Jezebel told her messenger, “Get to Elijah and tell him he’ll be dead within 24 hours, just as he killed the prophets.”

ELIJAH FINDS SOME SHADE

SO…Elijah is on the run. He runs at least one day away. He wants to run further, but he is tired. He sits under a broom tree and begins to pray. Listen to the words of this prayer. “O Lord, take my life. I am no better than my ancestors.”

Have you ever had a ‘broom tree’ kind of day? It’s a “woe-is-me, I’m all alone, nobody loves me, there’s no use in trying” kind of day. Kind of week! Kind of month!

Many of us have experienced one or more of the “broom tree” episodes. When under a broom tree, we tend to see life as hopeless. It’s a lonely, tormenting place to be. Perhaps you are under attack right now – and you are sitting under your own tree, dazed and confused. Your heart is saying, “Lord, I can’t take this anymore!”

Here’s what you need to know…God is with you, even when you are running! God saw Elijah in his despair and sent him a private angel to serve as his butler and cook!

He feels the touch of an angel. The angel bakes him a cake and gives him some water, not once, but twice. The angel says, “Get up, eat.” You have a long journey ahead of you. Here is what I believe the Lord said to the angel before sending him to Elijah:

Be patient with him! He’s hurting, confused, and full of questions. He thinks he wants to die but really wants to live. He feels useless at the end of his rope. But I still love him! I have much more for him to do in My kingdom. I’ll awaken his spirit soon, but in the meantime, feed him well and refresh him!” 

Elijah gets up, eats, and again…he’s on the run.

ELIJAH FINDS A CAVE

His goal is to run to the mountain of God, Mount Horeb. He runs for forty days on nothing but the angel food cake he ate under his broom tree. Mount Horeb is the mountain that Moses made famous. It is the meeting place between humanity and the divine. Because it is a sacred place, he must go there. 

Nevertheless, he keeps running right now. One day leads to another, and then another. He keeps going! Days 10, 11, and 12 come and go, and he keeps moving. Days 25, 26, and 27 are now behind him, but he’s still not hungry. On day 40, Mount Horeb appears in the distance.

Get this…Elijah travels 40 days to the mountain of God, he finally arrives, and instead of going to the top for a God encounter, he settles for a cave! COME ON, MAN! A spiritual journey of this magnitude should not end in a cave! 

Rocky Balboa would be so disappointed! Elijah should be ablaze with a 5,000-voice choir as the clouds roll back to reveal a bolt of glorious sunshine. Instead…he is in a cave!

In the Cave

In a cave, you have limited vision. You cannot see where you are going. Caves represent a place of darkness. When you lose your vision, you lose your sense of purpose, and when you lose your sense of purpose, you lose your passion. Once your passion is gone, you run a lot!

Those who run for days, weeks, months, and even years, want to regain vision, purpose, and passion, so they run and look for the answer. Like Elijah, you are on the edge of the mountain of God; you are at arm’s length from the creator, yet you seek refuge in a dark place.

Someone reading this blog knows what being in a cave feels like. When you journey to the mountain of God, you should feel unspeakable joy, the presence of God should surround you, but instead, you feel distant from Him. Even though everyone around you seems to be experiencing heaven come down, all you feel is despair.

It causes you to question your experience with the Almighty. You question your calling and anointing, and wonder if you’ve somehow missed God. Have I disobeyed? Did God turn right while I turned left? Why is this happening to me?

The good news today is that God is not far from your cave. No, you haven’t backslid! You haven’t been disobedient! God hasn’t abandoned you! You’re still called! You’re still anointed! And God hasn’t changed his mind about using you. Right now, you’re in a cave state … but it’s temporary!

We stop to take spiritual inventory in the cave. Here is where we answer our questions…

  • Am I moving with the anointing or just going through the motions?
  • Am I acting and living on a word from God?
  • Have I lost my God-vision?

If we respond correctly, the cave can become a womb for a brand-new vision and anointing. You will emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and an unquenchable passion for God. What looked like Elijah’s tomb, where he would end his life, actually served as a launching pad for the next phase of ministry.

However, Elijah is still in his cave. He did not have the emotional resilience to wait in the open and see the Almighty. So, God makes some noise…

  • A violent, rushing wind swept across the ridges. It roared through the canyons and over the top of the mountain. Stones and boulders came loose and crashed down upon one another. But the Bible says that God was not in the wind.

  • Then an eerie earthquake ripped through the entire area causing gigantic rockslides and cracks everywhere. But, God didn’t reveal Himself in the earthquake either.

  • This was followed by a furious fire that consumed everything that was growing on the mountain. But God wasn’t in the fire either.

A moment later, it happened. Once the wind had disappeared, the earth had stopped shaking, and the fire had died out, the mountaintop was utterly still. It was unsettling to see the contrast between the noise and the silence. And, in the midst of that awesome silence, there came a whisper from God.

I get some good advice from my wife, from a close friend, or from a spiritual adviser from time to time. But there are times when I need more than advice. There are times when I need a WORD from the Lord!

In search of “a word”, we will travel to the latest “Holy Ghost” meeting where there is wind and noise. In search of our “Word”, we will travel to the closet prophet, where thunder and earthquakes abound. In search of our “Word”, we will travel far and wide. 

But, you must slow down for a moment. God wants you to slow down. He will lead you into a cave if that is what it takes. The Lord wants you to find a place of solitude in which you can quiet all distractions. This will enable you to hear His gentle voice! Would you let Him speak to you today from the Logos…the written Word?

From inside his cave, Elijah hears all of the commotion. Verse 13 tells us that he “pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”

Having survived the hurricane, earthquake, and fire, Elijah patiently awaited the word from heaven. He was poised and positioned to hear what the Heavenly Father had to say. What nugget of wisdom would he receive today? What revolutionary message would he hear? After a 40-day journey, this should be amazing! Finally…the word from above…Elijah, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?

It’s a great question that needs to be applied today. What are you doing in that dark cold cave? Get out of that place and get back to work! God does not want you hiding in a cave while you should be standing against your Jezebel!

There’s no point in being a cave dweller! Even though you may be in a cave right now, you need to ensure it is a temporary condition. It is time to transition from being a cave dweller to being anointed of God! The key is to come out of the cave with a renewed sense of purpose, a fresh fire, a new vision, and a new passion.

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Steps of Possibility

Matthew 14:28-31 / Acts 2;42-43

The activity and intervention of God fuels our faith. We believe all things are possible through God because we have observed God performing impossible things. Acts 2:42 lends credence to our position and belief as Christians where it states that “… the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” Acts 2:43

We serve the God of possibility! For this reason, we can boldly ask for anything and everything, regardless of how bleak the situation appears. The Apostle Peter learned that nothing is out of the question. Nothing is off the table. You can see how radical, how seemly ridiculous, and how obviously outlandish his request was…

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, Come. And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. NKJV

“Can’t!” It’s a word that we frequently use. We are presented with a possibility/opportunity/dream, and we want to get excited about it, we want to buy in, but then our mind is incarcerated by the one-word dream killer … “Can’t!”

Your mind starts a dialog with your heart in a flash, and the conversation is self-deflating. “Listen, heart, don’t get too excited. You and I both know why we can’t do that. You can’t do that. It can’t be done.” The voice of possibility shouts for our attention, yet, in most cases, we only hear the voice of reason.

We have it within us to change the dialog! We can reject the voice of defeatism and give our attention to the prompting of the Holy Spirit! As Mickey Goldmill from the Rocky would say, “there ain’t no can’t”

If you want to cultivate ‘possibility’ faith, start with the notion and belief that, with God, there ain’t no cant’s. God is a can-do God! There is nothing that He can’t do. And the Scripture says, “All things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23 And Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

All things! Not some things, not most things, but “all things!” Now Paul wasn’t saying, “believe really hard and you can jump a hundred feet in the air.” His clear message is that you can do all things through Christ.

You know Peter (the disciple turned Apostle version); he was a possibility guy. He is the poster boy for “imperfect does not equal ineffectual.” He is the only fully human man in the OT / NT that has “Yea, I walked on water” documented on his resume’.

Simon Peter tuned out the noisy negatives and took a chance on Jesus! It worked!

In doing so he left us a working template for the miraculous. In two short verses, we are afforded four steps toward possibility. But first, a recommendation! To better prepare yourself for the journey, I suggest a fast from wrong thinking. As I deliver this message, reject the temptation to pick up the “reasons why I can’t” banner.

In Matthew 11 Jesus said, Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 11:15 NIV) The CEV says, If you have ears, pay attention!” And the MSG asks, “Are you listening to me? Really listening?

Fair warning … this is my new “go-to” verse while preaching! Are you listening to me? Really listening?

I am asking you to fast (give up, reject, refuse) wrong thinking for the remainder of this message. Noisy negatives will cripple possibility living! It would serve you well to fast wrong thinking for the remainder of the day as well. And if you could discipline yourself to forgo “can’t mentality” for the remainder of the month … That’d be life altering and spiritually empowering! And it’s possible!

Using the Apostle Peter as an example, today we’ll talk about four steps that will get you moving in the direction of possibility.

STEP 1: It was a PRAYERFUL Step

“Lord, if it’s you…tell me to come to you on the water.” Matthew 14:28

Prayer is the genesis of possibility living. It’s the platform upon which man and God meet together. This was a quick prayer that was offered in a turbulent moment. Only 13 words are voiced before there is a response. How encouraging! It doesn’t take long to grab the attention of God! Especially when He sees the ‘faith’ attachment.

If you look closely, you can see that the mind and heart are collaborating. They are having a power meeting! The mind is ready to take things up spiritually, and the heart confirms said desire! In modern vernacular, the mind is racing, and the heart is pumping! As emotions rise, Simon Peter belts out a passionate prayer…

“Lord Jesus, I want to take my faith next level, so I’m going to kick my trust in gear and motor my way past middle school and go straight to IMPOSSIBLE! I want to walk to where you are and join you on the water!”

Let me remind you that this disciple is in a boat that’s being tossed around like a cork in the midst of a raging storm. He is saying, “Jesus, I am willing to step out into a dangerous situation to transition from where I am to where you are!”

Peter’s first thing was to decide and express to Christ his willingness to step out on faith. The other disciples were silent, but Peter prayed. He talked to the Lord before he took the first step.  “Lord, I’m ready to take a big step of faith,” Jesus said; Come on!

STEP 2: It was a PROACTIVE Step

“Then Peter got out of the boat…” Matthew 14:29

This is important. After the Lord cleared him for action, Peter acted! Meaning, When you get the go ahead, GO AHEAD. Be proactive! Peter got out of the boat and into the water. It was Intentional. Deliberate. Decisive. It’s a BOLD step!

Recently I was praying, and I heard the Lord say, “Shake it off and put it on!” Can I tell you there are some things that we need to ‘shake off?!’ You know, things like anger, unforgiveness, bad attitude. Take inventory and make a list. You might need an extra piece of paper! And there are some things we need to ‘put on.’ Things like kindness, generosity, a smile! Again … take inventory. Make a list!

I see the application in this story. Peter had to shake off fear, and he had to put on faith. How do you know that? It’s in the previous verses. He and the other disciples thought they saw a ghost and, the Bible says, they “cried out in fear.”

Think about that scene for a moment. We have a boat full of grown men who are wailing because they saw something in the water! That’s YouTube fodder. Peter’s response to fear was instructive: “Lord, I’m ready to step out in faith. I’m ready to do the impossible. I’m ready for a miracle!”

Fear has an amazing capacity to get our attention. And fear is far-reaching. It could be the fear of your marriage dissolving, your children slipping away, or the fear of financial collapse. If you have recently been attacked by fear, attack it back! Settle the matter in your mind and heart, pray, and then you get out of the boat!

STEP 3: It was a PRODUCTIVE Step

“…walked on the water…” Matthew 14:29

How awesome is that? His simple prayer teamed up with a proactive step, and now he is living in and experiencing a miracle moment. A split second ago, he was clinging to the safety of the boat, but now he is defying natural order. The impossible is happening. It’s possible, after all!

Here’s what strikes me: This very risky move was Peter’s idea! Peter wanted to take the risk. He wanted to walk on the water – it was his idea. (Matt. 14:28)

We do not need to be called to something specific to be productive in the Kingdom! Peter was called to be a disciple, but he was not commissioned to be a water-walker. His eagerness to get to Jesus and his willingness to take a faith-filled risk produced a miracle. He stepped toward the possible and boom, the improbable ensued.

On the flip side, the remaining disciples stuck with the boat. Safe but unproductive. It was routine and predictable. Which pretty well sums up my walk. I want to be a  water walker, but I fear I might be a boat dweller. It doesn’t need to remain this way. Let’s resolve to be bold and productive. It’s time to abandon the boat!

STEP 4: It was a POSITIVE Step

“…and came toward Jesus.” Matthew 14:29

Anytime you take a step that moves you in the direction of Jesus, it is a positive step! We are all moving toward something. There are two paths. One leads to destruction, and the other leads to life. It has been my experience that I am the happiest and most fulfilled when I move toward Him!

In which direction are you moving today? Towards Jesus or away from Him? To walk away from Him is to put your hope and trust in the system of the world. Scary! To walk in His direction is to put your hope and trust in the heavenly kingdom. I’ve experienced both. I choose the kingdom!

Peter understood that his only chance of possibility living was to walk in the direction of Jesus. When you’re stepping out in faith, you know that if Jesus doesn’t hold you up, nothing else will. Peter is not risking it all flippantly; he is stepping toward Jesus! He is stepping toward the one who authored possible.

His attempt to walk on water was not to prove something to his boat buddies but to prove what he believed about Jesus. That He was the Messiah, the Son of the living God! It was a positive step.

If you want to experience supernatural power, it starts with a step that takes you in the direction of Jesus. Deliverance, emotional healing, salvation, and restoration; It is all accomplished at the feet of the Messiah.

CLOSING

It could be that you’re in the boat today, surrounded by the wind and the waves, overcome with fear. You can begin to experience God’s power in your life; you can begin to walk in His direction to live your life at such a level that the only way you can succeed is to be sustained by his power.

It starts with prayer. That’s step number one. I invite you to take that step today!