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Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Shock and Awe" by Sergio Arguello



Shock and Awe

Shock and awe (technically known as rapid dominance) is a military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.

The way that God used Elijah and answered his prayers is an incredible example of how we could tap into God’s power, through prayer, and deliver a powerful blow to our enemy.  God’s display of awesome force in the examples we will discuss and read about are not only meant to Shock and Awe our enemy and those who serve him, but are also meant to instill faith and security on those who will believe in God (even us as we read now).

Elijah stood up boldly for God in a time when idolatry had swept his land. In fact, his name means "My God is Yah(weh)." (Eloi-Yah) or Eli-Yahu.
Elijah opposed the false god Baal, the favorite deity of Jezebel, wife of King Ahab of Israel. To please Jezebel, Ahab had altars erected to Baal, and the queen murdered God's prophets.

Elijah appeared before King Ahab (the most evil king of Israel) to announce God's curse: "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1)

Then Elijah fled to the brook at the Kerith ravine, east of the Jordan River, where ravens brought him bread and meat. When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to live with a widow in Zarephath. God performed another miracle there, blessing the woman's oil and flour so it did not run out. Unexpectedly, the widow's son died. Elijah stretched himself on the boy's body three times, and God restored the child's life.

Confident of the power of God, Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the false god Asherah to a showdown on Mount Carmel.

1 Kings 18:16-46
Elijah on Mount Carmel
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the 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, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

If our prayers are to be effective like Elijah’s it will require:

1.  Understanding


A.  Of Self and God


With God and through prayer we can achieve unbelievable things, miraculous things!

On our own we can do nothing!

No rain for 3 ½ years, ravens fed Elijah bread and meat, flour and oil did not run out, raised a little boy from the dead, burned up the bulls and water at the altar, ran 17 miles to Jezreel in heavy rain that he prayed for (with no marathon training that we know of).

One man of God can defeat an army of Baal (a false god)

Think of all of the great victories and miracles God has performed in your life.

God has spared my life: as a 6 year old child I was hit by a drunk driver in a Jeep and should have been killed.  I was thrown 30 feet.  Took a while to recover, had to have surgery, but I lived.
I’ve shared how God spared Nathan before he was even born and continued to work miracles even as he developed as a child.

Nicolas had a car accident yesterday, suffered a concussion, but he is here with us today.

When I was a baby my mom was struck by a car and shattered both of her legs, she was told she might not walk again.  It took 2 years of recovery, but God allowed her to walk again.  She is 76 years old and a faithful disciple of Jesus.

She loved and served her husband, yet always put God first and 9 years after she became a Christian he was convicted by the Word and turned himself in and was baptized (he was 82), he passed 3 months later.

Think of how God has spared you throughout your life, perhaps he has spared your marriage despite difficulties.

Think of the great obstacles many of you have overcome, not because of how awesome you are, but because of God’s power is at work when we pray.

Many people have seen the great miracles that God has performed in their lives and / or in the life of others, yet they still are straddling the fence in regards to turning themselves fully to the Lord.

Some of us are waiting for a gigantic miracle of some sort to make a decision.  You need to have faith in God.

B.  Of Your Adversary


Satan accuses us and uses scapegoating—“you troubler of Israel”.  The actual troubler was Ahab, Jezebel and their Baal worship.

Because of their position, people followed their example.  People also followed out of fear, ignorance, tradition, and loyalty.


2.  Takes Focus


1 Kings 18:41-46
41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

·      Prayer
·      Fasting
·      Obedience of God’s Word
·      Not relying on feelings
·      On God’s faithfulness

3.  What Voices Do You Listen To?


1 Kings 19:1-18
Elijah Flees to Horeb
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, 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.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
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?”
14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

·      After someone has been at war or in high stress situations for extended periods of time you can suffer from PTSD, previously referred to as “shellshock”.
·      One of the symptoms is hearing voices (auditory hallucinations).  Perhaps Elijah was hearing Jezebel’s voice in his head over and over again saying “I’m going to kill you”.
·      Despite the miracles that God performed, Elijah heard Jezebel’s voice so loudly that he ran in fear.
·      What are the voices that play in your head that cause you to believe God’s power is not great enough in your life?

Some of the voices we can listen to and believe are:
-You’re just not as spiritual as the others at church
-You’re just a loser
-No one will accept you if they really knew you
-God will not forgive you
-You don’t matter and your thoughts are not important
-You are not valued

IT’S EASY TO GET DEPRESSED OR ANXIOUS OR BOTH WHEN WE GET LISTEN TO THE WRONG VOICES.

GOD WAS TELLING ELIJAH, “I’VE GOT YOU!”, “HAVE I LET YOU DOWN BEFORE?”, “COME ON, GET UP AND GO!”

--WE NEED TO HEAR THE VOICE OF GOD!
--WE HEAR IT THROUGH THE WORD (NOT THROUGH OPRAH OR DR. PHIL OR POPULAR RELIGION.
--WE HAVE TO PUT OURSELVES IN GOD’S PRESENCE (PRAYER) AND THE WORD

Close


James 5:13-20
The Prayer of Faith
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

·      In trouble—Pray
·      Sick—Pray—have the elders pray
·      Sinned—Pray
·      Get together with someone else, confess and pray for each other
·      Are you wandering spiritually?—have someone help you and pray with you and for you (David)

God has given us the great weapon of prayer to fight back against Satan and even take an offensive stance against him as Elijah did.


We often think people like Elijah are much more spiritual than we are. What does James 5:17-18 say about Elijah?  Can we pray as effectively as he did?












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