I recall the story of the most famous of all the prophets. Elijah was one of the most powerful prophets of God. Nobody doubted his calling, his prayers brought results. When Elijah prayed, fire fell from heaven. When Elijah prayed, rain fell from the sky. Through his prayers, Elijah altered the course of an entire nation. He was one of only two men in scripture who did not see death. There is no doubt that Elijah was in the perfect will of God.
Having said that, the book of 1 Kings reveals a time in Elijah’s life when it seemed like the all of hell was rising up against him. Israel had forsaken the ways of God, the altars had been destroyed, the prophets of God had been slaughtered. Elijah found himself all alone and began to wonder if God was still with him. He decided to run for his life, in fact it got so bad, he asked the Lord to take his life.
1 Kings 19:1-4
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
The wicked queen Jezebel had been threatening Elijah’s life for some time. Now it was heating up. Jezebel had just informed Elijah by way of messenger that he would be dead by the same time tomorrow! This was a man hunt, she had people looking for him everywhere, he was a wanted man, dead or alive. Elijah could feel the heat and he couldn’t take it anymore.
It is hard to picture the most powerful of all of the prophets backed into a corner by the enemy and running for his life. Often times that is where we find ourselves. Yet, in the midst of running, God sends an angel to feed him. That ought to be enough to confirm that God is with you Elijah. I know if an angel visited me, I would be ready to do whatever God asked of me. Still, Elijah kept running.
The meat the angel brought to Elijah sustained his life for forty days and nights. That might be a hint that God is with you. Finally he finds a cave to hide in and the word of God came to him there, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
God wasn’t asking about Elijah’s physical location, He was asking about Elijah’s spiritual condition. God wanted to know why Elijah had given up. Listen to Elijah’s response…
1 Kings 19:10
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
God responded by asking Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain. God wanted to teach Elijah a powerful lesson that we all need to understand.
1 Kings 19:11-12
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks 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:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
In each of these spectacular displays, I am sure that Elijah felt God would reveal Himself to him, but God was not in any of them. Finally, after the fire there comes a still small voice, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah repeats his previous answer, “God everybody else has forsaken you, they have destroyed the altars and killed your prophets, I am the only one left, surely you don’t want me to minister to these people now?”
1 Kings 19:15-16
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
God’s response was simple, “Return to what I have called you to do!” The still small voice of God was all that was needed to confirm to Elijah that he was still called of God and he still had a work to do.
If you find yourself surrounded by the enemy, don’t wait for an angel, don’t wait for some spectacular sign from heaven, God has given you His Word and His Spirit. Get rooted in the Word of God and stay in tune with His Spirit so you can hear the still small voice of God. His plan will become perfectly clear to you. When you stay in the will of God, what you fear the most will likely never come to pass. God has already defeated your enemy. Jezebel never succeeded in taking the life of Elijah, God took care of her, and God took care of Elijah. God will surely take care of your life as well.
2. God may be renewing your thinking by allowing the attack of the enemy. God may be asking you to check your priorities and motivations in life.
There was a time in my life when I was struggling with the will of God for my life. I knew I was called, but I was confused and frustrated about my calling. What I didn’t know at the time was that I had to learn the will of God. David said…
10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
…to be in the will of God requires some learning. There are some things that have to be taught to you. There is a transformation that has to take place in the mind.
Paul stated in…
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
I can really relate to this scripture. You cannot know the will of God if you are not first submitted to His plan and His will. You do that by presenting yourself and your life as a sacrifice to Him, ready and willing to do whatever He asks of you. Not everybody is willing to do that.
There was a time in my life when I was not ready to do so. Not that I wasn’t serving God, I thought I was doing pretty well. I helped the ministry in our church whenever I could, I sacrificed to the Kingdom. I came to church all the time, I helped in outreach. Everything was going along just fine, and then I got sick. I was only thirty six years old, and I thought I was going to die. My heart wasn’t working properly. Irregular heartbeats, chest pain, dizziness. I was put through a series of tests that lasted for about three months. When your heart starts messing up when you are only 36, you begin to question some things in your life. I thought I was in the will of God, but during this time I began to question my calling, and question if God was even with me.
I didn’t understand it at the time, but God was causing me to re-evaluate my thinking, to re-evaluate my priorities. I thought I was one hundred percent committed to God, but I learned that I wasn’t. God was teaching me His will, God was transforming my thinking. There was still a little bit of the world in me that had to come out. It wasn’t until I presented myself totally to God as a living sacrifice that I began to see God’s plan unfold for my life. It was a proving period in my life.
Some people want God to put the handwriting on the wall in black and white, and then they will say yes or no depending on whether or not they agree with God. (by the way, God did one better than that, He put His handwriting in a book called the Bible) It doesn’t work that way. When you present yourself to God as a living sacrifice ready to do His service whatever it might be, then God sees that and responds to that. There is a renewing of the mind that takes place. The things of this world are no longer important to you. You are primarily concerned about pleasing God and doing His will.
The more you sacrifice your life the closer you become to God. Eventually you tune in to God’s frequency, God begins to speak to you through His Spirit and His Word, and you can know and understand what He is saying to you. It becomes crystal clear. It is a learning process, ask God to teach you His will, if you really want to know it, He will reveal it to you!
Other reasons why I know I am in God’s will.
1. You cannot say because there is no growth, I am not in God’s will. You must first ask yourself if you are doing all that you can possibly be doing to bring growth. Growth alone is not a sign of being in God’s will. The church doesn’t just grow on its own, God has chosen you to cause growth in His Church.
2. The Word of God says it.
In our search for answers and direction from God, we all desire that supernatural sign from heaven.
· That moment in time when God gives us definite direction.
· That moment when we receive that deluge from heaven.
· That moment when we see an angel.
We feel like we would be so much better off if we had that miraculous moment.
Don’t wait for some supernatural sign from heaven.
· The sign that you need for your life is found in the Word of God!
· The answer that you seek is found in the Scripture.
· The word that you need is in your hands!
And that word is just as powerful and miraculous as if fire fell from heaven!
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
In Jesus day, the crowds were drawn to Him because they heard of the miracles and the teachings of Jesus.
The Pharisees heard of them as well, and they wanted Jesus to show them a sign from heaven….I feel that describes our generation today!
· We seek a sign from heaven.
· We want the spectacular.
· People want to see the miraculous…but they don’t want to hear a word from the Lord.
What Jesus was saying was…you can’t have both!
· If you don’t believe the word.
· If you don’t receive the word.
God is not going to send you any sign.
The Bible says that these signs shall follow them that believe!
· I found my miracle in the word of God!
· Your miracle is waiting for you in the word of God!
3. If you will get in the Word and start reading and praying…God will show you some things that you have never seen before!
In our text, Peter said they were eyewitnesses of His majesty!
· He said, we saw Him transfigured.
· We saw His miracles.
· We heard His teaching.
· We saw the dead raised.
Then Peter said, we have something better for you than that…We have a sure word of prophecy!
· Peter went on to clarify what that prophecy was…it was the scripture!
· Peter said knowing this first…referring to the scripture!
What was Peter saying to us?
· It doesn’t matter that we were not there.
· It doesn’t matter if we don’t see the dead raised.
· It doesn’t matter if we weren’t on the mountain with God.
You have something better than that…You have a sure word from the Lord…you have the Scripture!
Sometimes we think if I could have only been there, it would be so much easier.
But you and I have something so much better than that. Do you know why?
· If you had seen the visions.
· If you had seen the angels.
· If you had witnessed the fire falling.
Five years from now when you find yourself in the pit of despair again, you will begin to wonder…Did that really happen? Was that really God? What was it that He told me to do?
· But when you have the Word, you can go back to it every day, and you can read it in black and white, and have some clear instructions about what God promised you and what He told you to do!
· Five years from now you can pull out that Word from God, and will be just as powerful as before.
I thank God for miracles, signs, and wonders…and I believe in them…but I have something so much better than that….I have His Word that is forever settled in heaven!
4. It is a sure word!
I wish that I could I could say, that after 30-plus years of walking with the Lord, I have discovered the foolproof method for always knowing the will of God in all circumstances. There have been times when God has led me in a way that was so clear and obvious. There have been other times when it is just a journey of faith. But I can tell you this much: as Christians, we are not victims of chance. I do believe God has a plan for our lives. I do believe God has a will that He wants to reveal to us. I do believe He wants to speak to us and does speak to us.
I want to share a few principles from the Bible that will better enable you to discover, know, and walk in the will of God that He has for you. But first, you need to know that the will of God is not so much an itinerary as it is an attitude. Be willing to walk in the way that He wants you to.
The good news is that God does not play hide-and-seek. He is more interested in revealing His will than you may be in knowing what His will is. But often we make hearing God’s voice and knowing His will too mystical.
When you put your faith in Christ, you entered into a friendship with God. Jesus said in John 15:15, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
Friends share secrets with friends. The Bible says, “The secret of the Lord is with those that fear Him” (Psalm 25:14). God, your friend, wants to reveal His will to you. He wants to speak to you.
God has given us a user’s manual for life called the Bible. It helps us to understand the will of God. Before we get into the specifics and try to discover His plan and purpose for our lives as individuals, let’s ask ourselves the question, Am I already doing what God has clearly told me to do in His Word?
Let’s start with the simplest of all: To know the will of God, you need to be a believer. 2 Peter 3:9 says that “the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” In other words it is the will of God that you believe in Jesus Christ. By that I mean, there has to come a moment in your life when you acknowledge that you are a sinner, that you are separated from God, and that you turn from that sin and put your faith in Jesus.
Having established what is obviously the will of God for every person, let’s look now at Romans 12 to help us discover the will of God for our lives as individuals. If you want to know God’s perfect and acceptable will for you, give yourself to God (vv. 1-2). Present yourself to Him without reservation, 100 percent. God is essentially saying, Give me your life, and then I will show you My will.
Next, don’t let this world squeeze you into its mold. When the Bible speaks of the world, it is speaking of a culture that is largely hostile to God. Live the way that God wants you to live. As you do that, you will begin to discover His plan for you. Then you will know what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
Did you know God’s will is good? Sometimes we envision God as the ultimate party pooper. How far from the truth that is! God’s plans for you are good. The Bible tells us, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
God is not trying to make your life miserable. He wants you to reach your potential and live in the perfect plan He has for you. His plan and purpose for you is good. Not only is His plan good, it is perfect. No plan of ours can improve on the plan of God. Don’t be afraid to surrender it to Him.
5. You will be uncomfortable doing anything else.
The calling of God is precious and a serious thing. Some, who are unsure of their calling finally realize they are called because of the burden it places on them. Like Jonah of the Old Testament, some may try and run from their calling, yet they will not be able to hide from it. Once you are called, you are forever called, your calling is without repentance. God will take your life before He removes the calling from your life. Those who have tried to ignore their callings, like Jonah, have found it very uncomfortable. Until you begin to respond to the call of God on your life you will feel very, very empty. A person who is running from their calling often finds themselves in a sad state of mental and emotional despair. I think of Peter. Peter gave up and tried to run. He denied the Lord three times in one day and figured he was finished with his calling. He quit trusting in God. Peter went back to his old life…fishing. Yet the way that he went back speaks volumes about what running from God does to a person. He went back to his boat without much preparation, in fact the bible says that he was naked. He fished all night and didn’t catch a thing. He couldn’t have been comfortable in that state and he was definitely without success. Those who ignore the calling of God will live a life without comfort and without success. Peter’s problem began in his own thinking…he talked himself out of the calling of God. Jesus though, found him, and taught Peter to trust in Him like he never had before. Had Peter continued on that same road, running from God, he would have lived a very miserable life. We must learn to trust in God and His call on our lives.
Talk about Peter being surrounded in the garden by the Romans, and cutting off the guards ear. He took matters into his own hands, shortly after that he saw His lord crucified, and he thought they were going to kill him…he felt like his whole world was against him (and they were), consequently he denied the Lord and started running from His calling.
Peter had to learn again of His love for Christ.
Jesus walked him back through it.