Time Alone With God
1 Kings 17:2-7: "And the word of Jehovah came unto him, saying,
Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith,
that is before the Jordan.
And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens
to feed thee there.
So he went and did according unto the word of Jehovah; for he went and dwelt
by the brook Cherith, that is before the Jordan.
And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening;
and he drank of the brook.
And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land."
There is nothing as repulsive as a phony in our churches.
Elijah was no phony.
Elijah was a real man.
There was not one bit of phoniness in Elijah's life and experience.
He had problems -- yes!
But he was no phony
First, look at Elijah in private.
When you see an individual who is effective in public, you know that individual is effective in private.
When you see an individual who is communicating his spirituality,
you know that person is communicating with God.
Many may wish they could be like Elijah who confronted the wicked in his day
but would not wish to be beside a dried up brook as he was.
Here is an outline of 1 Kings 17:2-7:
First, beside verses 2 and 3 write, "command."
Second, beside verse 4 write, "promise."
Third, beside verses 5 and 6 write, "response."
Fourth, beside verse 7 write, "test."
The order is significant and spiritual.
It is a command.
It is a promise.
It is a response.
It is a test.
Now let us look at these four words.
First, The Command.
"The word of Jehovah came unto him, saying,
get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith,
that is before the Jordan." (1 Kings 17:2-3)
Elijah asked, "Hide myself, Lord?
"There is so much to be done, and so few people involved in doing it?
Go show myself -- that's easy!
Go hide -- that's difficult!
Lord, are you sure?
That's not my style?
And you want me to hide!"
I'm sure that there are many Christians today to whom God is saying, "Go hide yourself."
That is a difficult assignment in a busy world.
We are compulsive activists, and there are so many voices clamoring for our attention
that it is easy to miss the voice of God.
The important thing is that we must hear not what we hear in school or in a conference
or what we read or what we hear from an individual who is simply an instrument
in the hands of God.
The important matter is whether you hear from God Himself.
And if you do not hear from God, then all that you hear from all those others
will not make much sense.
A pastor was talking to a man who came to him for counseling.
The man had many severe problems.
The pastor asked, "How much time do you spend thinking?"
The man responded, "Thinking -- I don't have any time to think.
If I stop to think, I'll get behind."
That is precisely our dilemma.
During the fourth century, Julian the Apostate was determined to blot out
every trace of Christianity.
"He discovered to his investment the law of spiritual thermodynamics
-- the greater the heat, the greater the expansion."
The more he persecuted Christianity, the more it flourished.
Finally, Julian gathered his little struggling band of men together and shouted to them,
"Bah! Christianity provokes too much thinking, why, even the slaves are thinking."
This, to a Roman mind, was incredible.
Slaves do not think.
But slaves do think under the impact of the Word.
I believe that very few, if any, Christians ever sit down and plan to live a mediocre life.
But if most of us keep going in the direction we are moving, we may end up with a mediocre life.
In this get-up-and go age, we need to hear from God the words, "Go hide yourself!"
Now, notice the promise!
God never gives a command without providing the resources to carry out that command.
God never calls us to a task without providing all the resources we need to accomplish that task.
God said to Elijah, "You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens
to feed you there." (1 Kings17:4)
Very simple menu, but it was sufficient.
There are many problems which seem to be impossible to solve.
We think that God will have to do a miracle if this would ever work.
But God specializes in miracles!
Are you dreaming dreams and seeing visions?
Is the Spirit of God moving in your life with a deep concern to reach the hundreds of people
who couldn't care less about Jesus Christ?
We must meet with the God that Elijah met -- the God who said: "Go hide yourself."
He also said, "I'll feed you. I'll give you drink."
Next, in verses 5 and 6 we see the response of the man of God.
There was the command and the promise, but there must be a response.
"So he did what the Lord had told him.
He went to Cherith, east of the Jordan, and stayed there.
The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening,
and he drank from the brook."
Elijah did what the Lord told him.
The opposite of ignorance in the spiritual realm is not knowledge, but obedience.
"To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams."
(1 Samuel 15:22)
There are times when many of us seem to be trying to impress God with how much we know.
God is constantly seeking to impress us with how little we obey.
Now take a look at the test: "Some time later the brook dried up
because there had been no rain in the land." (1 Kings 17:7)
What a dreadful development!
Elijah said, "Lord didn't you tell me to come here?"
God said, "Right!"
Elijah responded, "How can I be in the center of your will and have a dried up brook."
God is not only interested in you communicating your faith;
He is interested in the development of your faith.
And He knows that faith only develops under pressure.
God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and no sooner had he arrived
following the will of God in the place of plenty that there was a severe famine.
The first thing he did was to head for Egypt, and got into a lot of trouble.
In Mark 4, we witness our Savior's teaching-training program
as He trained a handful of men for a ministry that would reach way into the future.
He gave them a series of parables that focused on the object of faith.
Jesus knew that we do not learn faith through lectures -- we learn faith in the laboratory of life.
Our Lord was a masterful teacher, and the tests for the disciples would come later
to see how much they had learned.
"That day [the day they had just heard the lectures on faith
from the world's greatest teacher] when evening came, he [the Lord] said to his disciples,
'let us go over to the other side.'"
So, they got in their boat and headed across the water.
"And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship,
so that it was now full.."
The situation looked hopeless!
Here was a group of professional fisherman who had spent all their lives on that lake,
and they had never seen such a storm.
So, they came and got the Lord Jesus, who was asleep in the back of the boat.
To translate it graphically, they said, "Lord, don't you even care that we are going to drown?"
The implication is, "At least you can help us bail out the water."
Then the Lord rebuked the wind and the waves and the problem was over.
The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Then the Lord said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4: 40)
The little word, you, is in the emphatic position.
"How is it that you, of all people, have no faith, you who have just heard the lesson?"
They took the test -- the exam -- and they failed it!
Suppose Jesus Christ came here and said that to us.
Is it possible that He would speak with great compassion to us and say:
"How is it that you, of all people, have no faith?"
Privilege creates responsibility.
Revelation demands response.
God has commanded.
God has promised.
The next step is ours.
It must be a step of obedience.
But remember, the moment you take a significant step of obedience,
you're going to be under tremendous pressure -- you are going to be tested.
Our faith will be tested!
There could be some here in this service sitting by a drying brook.
It could be a financial drying brook.
It may be a physical drying brook.
It may be an intellectual drying brook.
It may be an emotional drying brook.
It could be a spiritual drying brook.
And you are asking, "Lord, what happened?"
And God answers, "I am answering your prayer."
Put yourself in Elijah's position for just a moment.
There he sits, and watches the brook diminish.
Then, It becomes a trickle.
Then, only a few puddles are left, and even they evaporate.
How do you respond to that?
We should have great respect for Elijah.
Most of us would not have been able to sit there, and watch the brook diminish.
We would have had our roadmap out or our iPhone looking for every waterhole in the area.
Our motto would have been, "Don't just sit there! Do something!"
But Elijah sat by the drying brook.
Imagine what he must have thought.
"Why is the brook drying up?"
What caused that?
Finally, it dawned on him.
The book is drying up because he prayed that it would.
"He [Elijah] prayed earnestly that it would not rain,
and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years." (James 5:17)
Somewhere back in our lives, we came to the Lord Jesus for salvation,
and in essence we said: "Lord Jesus I will you to be my Savior, and I want to be your child."
And God received us, and began to teach us to be more like Jesus,
and we encountered some turbulent storms in our lives, we said,
"Lord, what happened?
Why did you allow this to come into my life?
What are you doing with this drying brook?"
God answered, "I am answering your prayers."
We must also remember that Jesus Christ, "although He was a son,
he learned obedience from what he suffered." (Hebrews 5:8)
Perhaps the Spirit of God is saying to many of us today:
"I want to minister through you.
But before I can ever minister through you, I must minister to you."
We must never under estimate the needed experience of our drying brook.
Don't ever throw in the towel!
Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be mature and complete.
God wants to make us just like Jesus!
"More like the Master I would ever be,
More of His meekness, more humility;
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true,
More consecration for work He bids me do.
Take Thou my heart, I would be Thine alone;
Take Thou my heart, and make it all Thine own.
Purge me from sin, O Lord, I now implore,
Wash me and keep me Thine forevermore.
More like the Master is my daily prayer;
More strength to carry crosses I must bear;
More earnest effort to bring His kingdom in;
More of His Spirit, the wanderer to win.
More like the Master I would live and grow;
More of His love to others I would show;
More self denial, like His in Galilee,
More like the Master I long to ever be."
-- Charles Gabriel, 1906
Sermon adapted from many sources by Dr. Harold L. White.