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2021 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - Elijah: Overcoming an Intimidating Culture

David Jeremiah - Elijah: Overcoming an Intimidating Culture


David Jeremiah - Elijah: Overcoming an Intimidating Culture


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David Jeremiah - Elijah: Overcoming an Intimidating Culture

Tonight, I wanna talk with you about an overcomer who the Bible says is just like you, and just like me. You say, "There's somebody in the Bible like that"? Absolutely. The Bible says of this person that he is a person of like experiences as we are. And his name is Elijah. Elijah's one of the greatest overcomers in the Bible. And as we study his life, we will learn what it means to overcome in an age like the age in which you and I are living.

Recently, "Christianity Today" carried the story of a man named Wesley So. He's one of the world's premiere chess players. He grew up in the Philippine Islands, but he moved to the Americas as a teenager to pursue his dream as a chess player. He was taken in by a Christian foster family and, as he saw them live out their faith in Christ, he realized his need, and he became a Christian. By the end of 2014, he wrote these words: "I had quit college, moved in with my foster family, launched a professional chess career, but most importantly, I had also entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. It all happened so fast that we still look back at those early days in disbelief".

Wesley So now has the opportunity of being a different kind of chess player, one who is committed to Jesus. On the small planet where elite chess players dwell, he wrote, "Very few people worship Jesus Christ. If anyone discovers that you are one of those superstitious, narrow-minded idiots, you're likely to see nasty comments accumulate on your Facebook fan page. On a regular basis, I receive emails from strangers," he wrote, "lecturing me about the dangers of following Jesus". But Wesley isn't intimidated or silenced. He said, "People in the chess world sometimes want to know whether I think God makes me win matches. Yes, and sometimes he makes me lose them too. He's the God of chess and, more importantly, the God of everything. Win or lose, I give him the glory".

No matter who we are or what we do, if we are Christians we are going to be intimidated by our culture. Our schools and media and professors and celebrities and government agencies, all the elements of our society, are tolerant of most everything and anything except for biblical Christianity. So if we're not careful, we'll keep our heads down and our mouths shut and our convictions quiet. The world likes to practice censorship when it comes to biblical truth, and that can put us on the defensive. That's why I wanna tell you about Elijah tonight. Because a careful study of his life shows us how to overcome the intimidation of a corrupt culture.

I wanna take you on a tour of Elijah's life. Obviously, I can't tell you the whole story, it covers a lot of scriptural ground. But we're gonna drop in to a few key places along the way of Elijah's journey, and we're going to learn the overcoming secrets of this key Old Testament character. If you're familiar with the basic outline of the Old Testament, you know the names of the three most famous kings in Israel's history: Saul, David, and Solomon. But after the death of Solomon, the nation broke apart. The northern ten tribes rebelled against Solomon's son and they chose a new king for themselves, a guy by the name of Jeroboam. And the northern kingdom took the name of Israel, and the capital came to be in the city of Samaria. In the south, the dynasty of David remained on the throne, but Judah's territory was rather small and its capital was Jerusalem, the site of the Temple of the Lord.

From the start, the northern kingdom of Israel was idolatrous. Jeroboam didn't want his people going down to Judah, to Jerusalem, to visit the temple or attend the feasts or the festivals, so this king set up false gods and idols and, from the very beginning, the northern nation was totally corrupt. A series of despicable kings followed Jeroboam, and the Bible says each one of them was worse than the one before. It's hard to believe any of them could be that bad, but the vilest of them, the most unimaginable evil, vile king came to the throne and his name was Ahab. Have you noticed, most people don't call their children Ahab? They call their donkeys Ahab, but they don't call their children Ahab. And I don't know too many girls named Jezebel, and if you're here tonight, I'm okay with that.

So what's so bad about Ahab? Well, for one thing, he married Jezebel. That was a big mistake. One of history's worst women. Someone called her the Lady Macbeth of the Bible. Her father was king of the Phoenicians, and the Phoenicians worshiped a swarm of gods and goddesses, and the chief of these gods was a god named Baal. He was the god of fertility and the worship rites of Baal were despicable. They worshiped the goddess Asherah, and Jezebel, when she married Ahab, she brought this whole wave of idolatry and corruption and depravity right into the center of the nation of Israel.

During the regime of Ahab and Jezebel, the northern kingdom of Israel sank into the moral sewer, and Jezebel went on a campaign to hunt down and slaughter all the true prophets of God. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, one of the most unusual heroes of Scripture made a dramatic appearance: Elijah the prophet. Elijah was not a writing prophet like Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. He was a preaching prophet, and a miracle-working prophet. And the story of Elijah is contained in the Bible in just eight chapters from 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings chapter 2. He made such an impact by his life, he's mentioned often in the New Testament.

So I want us to learn tonight from the life of this man five lessons that can help us overcome the attempts of our culture to intimidate us. Are we up for that? Let's study the Word of God together. The first thing we notice about Elijah was he was firm in his convictions. In 1 Kings 17:1, as we're introduced to this man, we read these words: "And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, 'As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.'"

Now, let's put that in context. Elijah shows up. There's nobody to introduce him. There's no preparation for Elijah. One day, Ahab looked up and there he stood, and we don't know anything about Elijah's parents. We're not told in the Bible anything about his background or his call to the ministry, and we don't even know for sure where Tishbite is, although it was probably in the desert near the Jordan River. 2 Kings chapter 1 describes Elijah like this. Listen to this. "He was a hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist".

So Ahab looks up and here stands this hairy man with a belt around his waist. He'd never seen him before. How he got into the king's throne room, I don't know. But what made Elijah different wasn't his wardrobe or his diet. His diet was locusts and wild honey. But what he said to Ahab is what set him apart, so I'm gonna read it again and I want you to listen carefully. "Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab," the most powerful man in his world, "'As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.'" In other words, there's going to be a huge drought. Notice how he described himself: "The Lord God of Israel before whom I stand".

Ladies and gentlemen, in an age of idolatry, Elijah knew the true God of heaven. He knew Jehovah of Israel and he knew what it was like to stand in God's presence. That's what made him different. It wasn't his garb, but his God. And this has got to be true for us if we're going to withstand the intimidation of our society. Paul wrote these words to Titus in the book that bears Titus's name: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men," watch this, "teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, who are zealous for good works".

The Bible says that Jesus died to make us his own special people, and that's what makes us different from everyone. The fundamental way to overcome the intimidation of a fallen culture is to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life. In all things and at all times to glorify him, have one goal in your life, not many, just one, to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, let come what may. When we know him and stand in his presence, and we can say with Elijah, "Before whom I stand," and we know that we're not standing before some powerful potentate, we're standing before the Almighty God. When you stand before him, nothing else matters and you can stand up to anybody who comes after you, no matter what they may say.

He was firm in his convictions. And here's something that just doesn't seem to fit with his story: He was filled with compassion. Our second lesson from Elijah involves kindness. We're prone to think of Elijah as a fiery, unflinching prophet, and he was. And he called down fire from heaven and he was a fiery prophet, but the Bible also tells us that Elijah was a kind man.

Let's pick up the story in 1 Kings 17. Here's what the Word of God says: "And the word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying, 'Elijah, go to Zarephath, and that belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. And I have commanded a widow to provide for you.' So Elijah got up and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, here was this widow gathering sticks. And he called to her and he said, 'Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.' And as she was going to get it, he called to her again and he said, 'And please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.' And she said, 'As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread. All I have is a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and I'm gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.'"

In other words, I'm at the last moment of life. I don't have anything left. "And Elijah said to her, 'Do not fear; go and do as you've said, but make me a small cake first.'" And she's probably thinking, "Are you kidding me? What is the matter with you"? "And then he said, 'For thus says the Lord God of Israel: "The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth".' And she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and her household ate for many days. And the bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah".

That little story is one of God's most private picturesque miracles. Here was a prophet who cared for a widow and her son who were in distress. As they shared their final grain and oil with this man of God, somehow the bin always had flour in it and the jar of oil never ran dry. In the next paragraph in the story, we read that the woman's son died. But Elijah prayed earnestly and the boy returned to life. You see, Elijah was a kind man who could proclaim the law of God and still demonstrate the love of God. And that's a crucial balance for any of us who wants to overcome societal intimidation.

What happens when somebody tries to intimidate us? We get mad and we try to intimidate them. Christians today are in a tough spot. On the one hand, we must never compromise our message. We must never dilute our values. We have a responsibility to speak truth to our generation and uphold the teaching of Scripture, especially on moral issues, even when they have political ramifications. On the other hand, we don't wanna alienate the people we're trying to win to Christ. We don't want them to think of us as ugly, harsh, and unloving. So we're trying to stand for what we believe the Bible teaches and, at the same time, we're trying to be compassionate and kind to these people. And I'm here to tell you, you can do both of those things at the same time.

When I first came to California, my predecessor, a man by the name of Tim LaHaye, was a very involved social preacher in terms of the issues. I had no idea what I was getting into when I went there, but before I got there, they sent me clippings from the paper showing our church on the front page of the San Diego newspaper with people marching in front of the church with placards criticizing the church because they took a stand on abortion.

When I got there, I found out that they had a whole team of people in the church who served these people with the cards, with water and little treats. I thought, "Are you kidding me? We want them to go away. You don't feed 'em if you want 'em to go away". They fed 'em. Those people didn't know what to do. Here they are, marching up and down with their placards, saying nasty things about the pastor and the church, and the people in the church are feeding them. That's what I'm talking about. That's what we should do. We should hold fast our values and we should speak the truth in love. That's what Jesus did. He spoke the truth in love.

Now, I'm pretty sure tonight that most of the people who are pastors here, you know how to speak the truth 'cause as evangelicals and fundamentalists, we're really good at that. Boy, we can speak the truth. We can peel the hair right off of people's head when we preach the truth. Some of you are here tonight. But we have a hard time doing it with love, don't we? The Bible tells us that that's how we deal with an intimidating culture, and they don't know what to do with us when we do that. We're an anomaly. They don't know how to manage this person who has strong belief, and yet does it with a kind heart.

Paul wrote to young Timothy and he said this: "The servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth". We think of Elijah as a rugged man of righteousness, but he was also compassionate and some of his greatest miracles involved private acts of kindness that made a difference in someone's life.

Let me tell you something. The world has a hard time intimidating people who are truly compassionate and kind and courteous. They may not like our message, but they have a hard time disputing our charity. God has called us to be people like that. Third lesson. He was firm in his conviction, he was filled with compassion, and the Bible says he was fervent in prayer.

In 1 Kings chapter 17, we read more about the story of the boy who died. The most powerful force in Elijah's life was prayer. He was known for the power of prayer, and I wanna read to you from 1 Kings 17, verses 17 to 22. This is what happened. "Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elijah, 'What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?'" In other words, she thought God sent Elijah to her house to punish her.

"And he said to her, 'Give me your son.' And he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. And then he cried out to the Lord and he said, 'O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?' And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, 'O Lord my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him.' And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived".

Prayer and intercession is God's way of using us to bring about the answers he desires on this earth. And some things that we deal with when the intimidating world is coming after us can only be accomplished through prayer. Do you know what the New Testament says about Elijah? Surely you do. James says this: "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much". And then it says: "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit".

I must confess I don't know how to pray like that. I know how to pray fervently. I'll tell you when you pray fervently is when you're sick or when somebody you love is sick. How many of you know there's prayer and then there's prayer? When I was sick with cancer, I used to go preach at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and they would come up to me and they would say to me, all the people in this church, and I never heard this before, "Oh, Dr. Jeremiah, we cried out to God for you".

When was the last time you cried out to God? Fervent prayer is what you pray when you don't have any other place to go and I've often thought what a powerful thing it would be if the people of God could learn how to pray fervently all the time, not just when they're in a problem they can't solve. And every time you turn around, there's an evidence that God still works like he did with Elijah. I've had some prayers answered that are pretty amazing. I won't tell you about mine. They may be self-serving, but let me tell you about this one.

Dr. Harold Adolph was a missionary physician in southern Ethiopia. He was on the verge of a physical breakdown from the incessant work in his missionary hospital. He'd gone seven months without any help or relief, and all the burdens of the sick and diseased were falling on him and he was sick and exhausted. One morning at 6 o'clock, he offered a sincere and desperate prayer to God. He told God that he couldn't continue even for one more day without help. At 10:30 that morning, just as he finished a long and difficult surgery, there was a gentle knock at the door of the operating room.

There stood his wife, smiling broadly, and beside her was a Russian surgeon from Brooklyn, New York, who specialized in cardiac and chest surgery. This man had been born in Northern Manchuria of Russian parents. He had escaped from communist China to Australia, where he met a Pan Am flight attendant and fell in love with her and they got married and moved to the USA where he completed his medical training. The Russian doctor and his wife had settled in Brooklyn, but he never forgot how in childhood he had felt God's call on his life to be involved in missions.

Recently, the feelings had become so strong that he'd spread out a map on the dining room table, closed his eyes (I don't recommend this), closed his eyes and touched his finger to the map. And it landed on Ethiopia. He bought a roundtrip ticket and, upon arriving, he found a mission agency in the phone book. It was SIM, the agency Dr. Adolph served. He called the number and told SIM he was available for one month, and that's how he ended up in Dr. Adolph's operating room at 10:30 in the morning, three and a half hours after Dr. Adolph's fervent, earnest, righteous prayer. You say, "C'mon, Pastor, that isn't true, is it"? Yes, it is.

And you know, if we knew all the stories of what God does in our lives, we could have a story to tell here tonight. The reason we don't have more answered prayer is because we don't have more prayers. The Bible says: "We have not, because," why? "We ask not". And I wanna tell you that if you're gonna get through living victoriously, if you're gonna be an overcomer in this intimidating world, you're gonna have to find your way through prayer, because without it, you can't possibly survive. There just isn't any way.

You say, "Well, I'm a pretty strong person. I got a good constitution". You need to learn to pray. All of us do. Start where we are. It's not intimidating. This is not guilt-producing. This is just a reminder that God has given us this incredible opportunity to pray. People come to me all the time and tell me about their problems and would I pray for them. And I often ask them, "Have you talked to God about this"? And they look at me, like, "Well, no, that's why I'm coming to you. We're hoping that you would talk to God about this".

How many of you know that God doesn't hear my prayers any more than he hears yours? He never heard Billy Graham's prayers any more than he heard mine. God hears all of our prayers if we just offer them. And something to be said for fervent, that word comes from the word that means to boil. Fervent, righteous prayers. None of us can persevere for very long without it. So, Elijah teaches us if we're going to be able to go through life and stand up against the intimidations of our culture, we have to be firm in our convictions, we have to know what we believe. We have to be filled with compassion. If we don't have that quality, we will become hard and we will no longer be useful to God. We have to be fervent in prayer, as we learned from Elijah. And then we have to be fearless before evil. Fearless before evil.

Here we go. After we have committed ourselves to the Lordship of Christ, after we have adopted an attitude of kindness, after we have begun praying with fervency, we're ready to confront our culture with the boldness of the Holy Spirit. And the next chapter in the life of Elijah contains one of the most dramatic events in all of the Bible. After three years of drought and judgment, the nation of Israel teetered on the edge of a decision. And Elijah told Ahab to gather atop Mount Carmel the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, and I'll pick up the story in verse 21 'cause it's better than I could ever tell it.

"And Elijah came to all the people, and he said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.'" And the saddest thing in this Scripture is: "The people answered him not a word". I think that tonight there's probably some people here who need to hear that challenge. You're teetering between two worlds. You're trying to live for Jesus Christ over here, but you want some stuff that you see in the world that you think is gonna satisfy you but we know will not. So you go back and forth from wanting to live for God to wanting to live for yourself and all the kicks that come from a worldly life. And you hear the prophet Elijah saying, "How long are you gonna teeter between two worlds? Choose for yourself somebody. If you're gonna live for the world, go live for the world. But if you're gonna live for God, live for God with everything you have".

He called the people to that challenge and to that decision. And here they were now, on this day of challenge. Verses 22 to 24, the events of the day are continued. "Elijah said to the people, 'I alone am left a prophet of the Lord.'" Now, we know that wasn't true, but that's what he thought. "'But Baal's prophets are 450 men. Therefore,'" he said, "'let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces, lay it on the wood, and put no fire under it; and I'll prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under it. And you call on the name of your god, and I'll call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.' So all the people answered and said, 'Well spoken, well spoken.'"

And so that's what they did. All day long, the prophets of Baal pleaded with their god. I love to read this. They danced around and they leaped up and down on the altar. They cut themselves. They did everything, but Baal never showed up to consume their sacrifice. Now, this is why I like Elijah. Elijah feels like it's okay to have a little fun with these guys. So he's gonna work on 'em. So he makes fun of them, and I can't get in all the details, but he says some pretty interesting things to these guys.

And after he has made fun of them, when the false prophets had exhausted themselves, Elijah drenched his altar and his sacrifice with water, and verses 36 through 39: "Then it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, 'Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.' And the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stone and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trenches. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God! Yes, he is. He is God.'"

Imagine the courage that God gave to Elijah in that moment. Here was a prophet who thought he was the only one left, the only one still committed to Jehovah, and before him were 850 false prophets, backed up by the most powerful couple and despicable couple on earth, Ahab and Jezebel. He was alone against all of them. A great multitude showed up to watch the drama and Elijah stood like a flint, challenging the heretics, and he called down fire from heaven. Reminds me of the early church in the New Testament, when the early believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness. It seems to me that more and more people are doing that today. As the times grow darker, God is raising up believers in unusual places and giving them the boldness to speak up for the gospel.

Isn't it interesting how the same culture that preaches tolerance and openness and every viewpoint tries to silence the simple witness of the followers of Christ? But we have a right to be heard and we have a responsibility to hold up the cross of Christ to a needy world. We need to call fire down from heaven, in a sense, and preach revival to a world that is halting between two opinions and this is no time to be a secret disciple. It's time to stand up for Jesus and to use every platform, every opportunity that God gives us, to preach his Word with boldness. Elijah was filled with conviction, firm in his compassion, fervent in prayer, fearless before evil, and one last thought that brings this back to the humanity of all of us. He was fueled by faith.

The Bible says Elijah was different. He was kind, he prayed with fervor, he spoke with boldness, but then in the next chapter, the story takes a turn that we can hardly comprehend. You know it. "Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done," and how that Elijah had killed all the prophets with the sword, 'cause, remember, after he called down fire, all of his guys got together and they took out all the prophets of Jezebel. They killed 'em all, which did not make Jezebel happy. "And Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, 'So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I don't make your life as the life of one of those that you killed by tomorrow about this time.' And when he saw that, Elijah arose and he ran for his life".

And I'm thinking, "Isn't this the guy who just stood up 1 against 850 and called down fire from heaven? And now he's running from a woman? Come on, Elijah". The Bible tells us that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, so we must have the capacity to do stuff like that too. In chapter 19, Elijah had something like a nervous breakdown. It says in verse 4: "He himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and he came and he sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and he said, 'It's enough! Now, Lord, take my life, I am no better than my fathers!'"

Well, nobody ever told him he was better than his fathers, but that's what happens to you when you get depressed. He had totally exhausted all of his spiritual fluids. All his gauges were low. His oil was gone, his transmission fluid was gone, his radiator was dry, his antifreeze was all gone, his brake fluid was used up, his fuel tank was empty, his tires were flat, the windshield washing fluid was spent. Nothing was showing up on his dipstick. His engine was burning up. He was on the brink of total collapse, but he realized it and he knew he needed God to replenish him.

Some of us who've done what I do and do what you do, we've been at a place like that on occasion. When you just go and go and go and try to serve God with all your heart and then all of a sudden, man, you've got nothing left. I've come to believe that many Christians are having problems today because of sheer exhaustion. We're running ourselves ragged, and at some point, we need time for rest, sleep, nourishment, and replenishment. If you're having some kind of depressive episode in your life right now, perhaps exhaustion and fatigue are playing a role in it. God created us for rest, and if we're gonna be great for God, we have to take care of our human bodies.

One of the greatest men who ever lived in my estimation, in our world that we kind of call our own, was a man by the name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Charles Haddon Spurgeon lived until he was 57 years of age, and in the process of that, created the largest body of words on paper of anyone who ever lived. Over 25 million words of Spurgeon are captivated on paper. There are more volumes in his sermon series than in the Encyclopedia Britannica. But Charles Haddon Spurgeon had to take time from his ministry many times to leave because he would become so overwhelmed and he would be so low and he would just not be able to work and he would have to go someplace and recover and replenish his spirit.

There's not anything wrong with taking time to go and replenish your spirit. Elijah is a man like us, the Scripture says, and he had this great victory on Mount Carmel and God used him to stand up against the intimidation of his world but, in the process, Elijah got worn down. And God spoke to him, "And He said to Elijah, 'Go out, and stand on the mountain on the the Lord.' And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice".

Elijah had gotten his eyes on Jezebel instead of on Jehovah. He had become distracted by the queen of Israel and forgotten about the King of kings. Anxiety takes over when we come to believe that our problems are greater than God's power. Sometimes that happens to all of us, but God knows how to reassure us with a still small voice. I'm convinced that God primarily does that in our lives through his holy book, the Bible.

The most precious thing in my life is how the Lord gives me specific verses to help me through specific times in my life. It's his still small voice, and this has always been the great secret of persevering and overcoming and staying at it for a long period of time. As we journey through the valleys and mountaintops of life, we're going to encounter a lot of stress and pain and moments that require us to dig deep into our own spiritual reservoirs and listen for the still small voice of God. That's why I keep talking about the importance of reading your Bible every day, of having a devotional pattern in your life, even memorizing, meditating on God's Word.

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot stand up to the intimidation of our society without being constantly replenished by God's still small voice. Let me tell you something else. We live in a culture today and maybe you're here tonight like that where people say, "Well, you know what? I don't go to church much anymore. I don't need church. I can get what I can get off the Internet and be"... You cannot. I'm here to tell you tonight if you're not going to church, you're missing out. And I'm telling you that. I know you can't come to my church, it's too far away. But you need to go to a church where this book is honored, where Jesus Christ is lifted up, and even though it's not perfect, 'cause none of our churches are, you need to pour yourself into that church, not only receiving, but giving.

And don't ever say, "This church is not meeting my needs," 'cause it was never set up to do that in the first place. Your church was set up to honor God. Quit worrying about what you're getting and give back what God has already put in your spirit. Find a ministry, do something to encourage somebody. You know what'll happen? Some of those feelings of stress that fill you up will start to go away. We love Jesus Christ by serving the body of Christ. We show our love to God by showing our love to his people.

So if you want to live a life that's free from the intimidation of the world in which you live, you can't do it by being passively sitting at home watching some TV program like "Turning Point" when you should be in church. And so God has given us these lessons from Elijah, and I love what he says about it because he says, "Do you think, 'Well, those are from Elijah.'" He's, "No, no, the Bible says: 'Elijah was a man of like nature,'" like we are. In other words, this was for him and it's for us. We're the same. He's like us, we're like him. What God did for Elijah, he wants to do for us. The lessons he used in Elijah's life, he wants to use in our lives. But we have to cooperate. We have to be willing to say, "Okay, God, I'm back with you now and we're on the same path and we're going towards victory".

I know there are some people here tonight that don't know Jesus Christ. You've never put your trust in the Lord Jesus. I haven't preached necessarily an evangelistic message, but I believe that when the Word of God is preached, God will use that Word to penetrate the hearts of those who don't know him. Let me tell you tonight if you don't know Jesus Christ, tonight's the best opportunity you've ever had and may be the last one you will ever have. I don't want you to leave here tonight unless you know for sure that Jesus Christ is living in your heart. You can never deal with intimidation unless you have Jesus in your heart. I hope this will be the night God works in your life.
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