By Pastor Tom Davidson
2 Timothy 3:1 & 5 – “Mark my words. (Pay attention). In the last days there will be a lot of people who have a form of Godliness but there won’t be any power in it. Have nothing to do with them.”
In the last days there will be a lot of people sportin’ a brand of Carmel-Coated Christianity that looks good and sounds good, but it’ll be powerless. We’re living in those last days. The world has seen enough fakes. They’ve seen enough weak-kneed, empty-headed, two-faced, finger-pointin’, big talkin’, no walkin’, wimpy actin’, church-playin’, Godless-livin’, non-givin’, doubt’n, pout’n, gossip-spoutin’, 3 strikes and you’re out’n, “I got problems big as a mountain”, cussin’ on Friday but Sunday morning shoutin’ Christians! In 2 Kings 18, there’s the story of Elijah and the king named Ahab who was married to Jezebel.
Elijah calls for an impressive contest to prove that he wasn’t the one that was troubling Israel. It was Ahab. It was Ahab and his gods – Baal and Asherah. The lack of rain was their fault, not his. So Elijah says, I’ll give you an advantage. We’ll go to Mt. Carmel; the very place that Baal resides. The very place that Baal rides the thunderclouds, sends the lightning, and brings rain. It’s time to see if the Canaanite god of the sun, who claims to control the weather, has got what it takes. We’ll see how your gods stack up to the competition.
Ahab had failed to worship God alone, and so had the people. They had allowed themselves to be sucked in to this kind of worship that committed themselves to everything and nothing at the same time. So Elijah warns them that…The fence is a dangerous place to sit (18:21). And Elijah came near to all the people and said, 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” Elijah stood up. He cleared his throat, got the people’s attention, and told them the truth.
Elijah sees where they’re sitting – right in between. They were caught. They had hesitated. They had been wavering. They’d refused to be nailed down. But Elijah said, “Not good enough!” Their lack of conviction was a choice. There’d be no more neutral. There’d be no middle ground. Do you find that happening to you as well? How often are we on the fence? Our faith is real on Sunday. But the other days of the week, our faith is pushed to the background. When the temptations of the world are before us, we end up giving in, instead of looking for or finding the strength to say “no.” And it’s our loss. Whether we planned on it or not, we’ve adopted a combination of different beliefs in our view of life. We have a plurality of gods. And our belief is based on convenience, not conviction. The challenges of Elijah certainly applies to us…It’s time to give up our gods who promise everything and deliver nothing. If you keep chasing after what doesn’t satisfy, why do you keep chasing after it? It makes no sense. Yet, this is the deception we all fall into so often. Sexuality, materialism, prestige, power, intellectualism, pleasure – all make promises, but every time, we come up empty.
Dallas Willard said, “The Lord is my Shepherd is written on many more tombstones than lives.” You see, we need to admit that we have a lot of good intentions when it comes to following Jesus, but our practice too often comes up short. We’re just too good at letting life happen to us instead of being deliberate in how we live. We need to ask ourselves hard questions. Is it on our hearts to be effective for Christ? Or is it more on our hearts to be comfortable and keeping our own personal status quo? Do you know what we need to learn? We need to learn to say no to self and yes to Jesus every time. If we’ll build an altar – God will light the fire! We don’t need any watered-down religion! We need the fire of God to once again fall in our souls! The all-consuming, purifying, Holy Ghost fire that fell at Pentecost. I say, “Lord, set my soul on fire with the power of your Spirit!” I’m gonna’ build an altar in the name of the Lord, water it with my tears – I’m gonna’ stay there and wait until the fire falls!
God wants to light your fire! If your wood’s wet, that’s all right. If God lit Elijah’s fire, He’ll light yours! “If you’ll catch fire for God, people will come to watch you burn!” A good, hot fire will melt all that Carmel-coating off. It will get rid of everything but what’s real. God wants to light a fire in you that nothing can put out!