Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
IF I AM ULTIMATELY ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD, THEN I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
15 MARCH 1992
1 Kings 18:1-18
Preparation Verse: (Genesis 15:6)
And he believed the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
We live in a society today that doesn't seem to recognize that we are very much responsible for our actions, or to God.
For the most part, we do as we please.
And there are many who just continually test us to see how much they can get away with.
They recognize that they are testing us, but they fail to recognize that they are also trying the patience of God.
For in Hebrews 9:27, we are told:
27. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,
We don't like to think that we will be called upon to account for our actions.
If we have any concept of heaven, we just like to fool ourselves into believing that everyone will be accepted, and all our sins will be forgiven.
But hear what verse 28 says:
28. so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
We like to hear the first part of this verse, but we live like the last part doesn't exist.
We want our sins to be forgiven.
We want to have our salvation and everlasting life in heaven.
But we don't seem to want to live the life that says we eagerly await Christ's return.
And our attitude today isn't much different from that of the days of Jesus' first appearing.
Hear His mournful cry to His straying people, and His judgment, as recorded in Matthew 23:37-39.
37. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
38. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
39. "For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' "
Let's look at Jesus' hen example as it exists today, and think about it in the context of living the way the Lord wants us to live:
Rarely, today, are any chickens allowed to lay eggs in a nest and hatch them and raise a family. Human beings have deprived them of this God given right.
Instead, hens are crammed into rows and rows of small wire cages stacked one upon another where they watch their eggs roll away from them.
They are kept in torment all their lives.
And anyone who eats an egg, becomes a party to this cruelty.
How can anyone say blessed is Jesus, and mean it, when they live like they are praising the devil?
That is why Jesus said what he said, for He saw the hypocrisy.
But now if we put verse 37 in the context of verse 39, we can begin to understand that we are to bless everyone who truly comes in the name of the Lord; for if the Lord sends someone, then that person also comes in the name of the Lord.
People should say that about each and every one of us.
But there are those who fake their faith and persecute those who truly stand for the Lord.
But as we saw from what Jesus said, He knows the truth.
And, the only way we can know this for sure is to observe the way they live.
Does such a person live as a loving, compassionate, and peacemaking child of God who cares about the whole of God's creation, or do they support the cruelty and corruption of this earth?
In 1 Kings 18, we read about a man named Obadiah who truly loved the Lord and did many good things; but he did them in secret because he was afraid, as are most Christians today.
But then came that day when the Lord made him make a stand and put his faith on the line before the person he feared most.
Let's take a look at this occurrence, beginning at verse 1.
1. Now it came about after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, "Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth."
2. So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria.
3. And Ahab called Obadiah who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared [revered] the Lord greatly;
4. for it came about, when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water.)
Since Jezebel was Ahab's wife, we can well understand why Obadiah wanted to keep what he was doing secret.
He loved and served the Lord well; but beyond the prophets, no one knew of his faith. People need to know that others also believe, for that strengthens our faith.
So the Lord sets the stage to bring Obadiah somewhat out of the closet.
5. Then Ahab said to Obadiah, "Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys; perhaps we will find grass and keep the horses and mules alive, and not have to kill some of the cattle."
6. So they divided the land between them to survey it; Ahab went one way by himself and Obadiah went another way by himself.
The reason they were so desperate to find water and grassland is because the evilness of the people and of their leaders had brought the drought upon them.
Yet Obadiah was always able to find food and water for the prophets he had hidden.
7. Now as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him, and he recognized him and fell on his face and said, "Is this you, Elijah my master?"
8. And he said to him, "It is I. Go, say to your master, 'Behold, Elijah is here.' ''
Up to this point, we have not seen any fear expressed by Obadiah; and this encounter, with a known believer, brings out his first expression of acknowledging God.
But Elijah is more than a believer. He is the prophet who called the drought to come upon the land.
Thus he would most likely have the power to protect Obadiah; but does Obadiah recognize this fact?
9. And he said, "What sin have I committed, that you are giving your servant into the hand of Ahab, to put me to death?
Obadiah had less fear of Ahab when he hid the prophets in the cave and even as he continued to feed them.
But to have to go to Ahab on behalf of Elijah is to openly bring to his attention that there are still those who believe in the Lord – those whom Ahab seeks to kill; thus Obadiah fears his own death, for he fears his own faith will show.
This is the lie that Satan wants us to believe as well; for if we who believe don't live our faith, then Satan's rule over the world will remain undisturbed.
So, like many of us, Obadiah makes excuses why he should not go.
10. "As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent to search for you; and when they said, 'He is not here,' he made the kingdom or nation swear that they could not find you.
11. "And now you are saying, 'Go, say to your master, "Behold, Elijah is here." '
12. "And it will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth.
13. "Has it not been told to my master what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, that I hid a hundred prophets of the Lord by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water?
14. "And now you are saying, 'Go, say to your master, "Behold, Elijah is here" '; he will then kill me."
There is no doubt that Obadiah has a reverent fear of the Lord, but he just
as obviously has a greater fear of Ahab.
Now, each of us has heard what he said, just as Elijah did; and hopefully, we can understand what is going on in Obadiah's head and what he must be feeling.
And since Elijah is a prophet of God, he, too, understands; but note how he answers Obadiah:
15. And Elijah said, "As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today."
Elijah doesn't even acknowledge Obadiah's fears.
He just counters them with his statement of purpose and conviction.
He is saying, in other words: "Obadiah, I am going to see Ahab. Whether or not you go before me in the name of the Lord will not change my appointed task. You, Obadiah, decide for yourself whom you will serve. Show how strong your faith really is."
16. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
So far, so good.
17. And it came about, when Ahab saw Elijah that Ahab said to him, "Is this you, you troubler of Israel?"
Did you notice the similar, but opposite greeting of Ahab from that of Obadiah?
Perhaps we who truly believe should trouble our leaders more, so that they would change their ways, and the Lord would heal our land, too.
Note how Elijah answers Ahab:
18. And he said, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you have followed the Baals.
So, what are we going to do?
Are we going to accept our responsibility and fulfill it, as did Elijah and Obadiah, or are we going to let our nation deteriorate as did the Northern kingdom of Israel?
Are we going to bring joy to the heart of Jesus, or is He going to weep over us as He did over Jerusalem?
We have been told for weeks and weeks and years and years what we are to do, but are we going to overcome our fears and do it?
The choice is ours.
I pray it is the right one.
Your Comments are welcome
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