”WINNING THE BATTLE OF LIFE”               By Pastor YAU

I Kings 18:20-46 and 19:1-18                             October 31, 2004                                        

 

INTRODUCTION:  Since the beginning of the Iraq war in March of 2003, more than 1,100 soldiers had died and over 7,000 were wounded. While we can never understand fully the pain of loss and grief of those families, we all understand that there is no war without the loss of life. America was not at war with anyone on 9/11/01 when terrorists struck us and over 3,000 lives were lost within hours, not 18 months. It is the sacrifices of the soldiers in the battlefields and their families here at home, we are able to enjoy peace.

       Many people describe life as a battlefield experience: there are times of winning and joy, and there are times of losing and sadness.  Winning or losing a battle is never the defining point of a war, it is the persistence and perseverance, or the lack if it, that will define victory or defeat.  Those who survive the losses and continue to fight with courage and determination are the ones who will eventually win the war of life.

       The Scripture verses quoted above in I Kings 19 are only part of the story of victory and defeat and victory again in the life of the heroic Prophet Elijah. His mountain top story on Mt. Carmel facing the opposing forces of 450 false prophets of the idol Baal, calling down fire from heaven to burn the sacrifices and the alter is one of the most beloved story in the Bible. Yet the man of faith went through a time of self defeat and pity only hours after a great victory. Let us see what caused him to sink and how did her reclaim his purpose of life into victory again.

 

THE TRAPS THAT BROUGHT HIM DOWN:  No one will fall flat on his face without a series of faulty steps preceding the fall. Elijah retreated to his sense of defeat went through the same route many people had since traveled.

1)      HE WAS AFRAID because of the threat on his life by the wicked queen Jezebel on his life. He suddenly forgot the Lord of the Hosts, Jehovah, had just given him victory over 450 false prophets associated with the wicked queen. Irrational FEAR is always the cause of many defeats in the lives of many giants of faith in the Bible and the 2,000 years of Christian history. Whenever we forget to see the power of God, fear will take control of our lives and defeats will follow.

2)      HE EXAGGERATED HIS PROBLEM when he heard of the queen’s threat. Since Elijah had defeated and killed the army of 450 false prophets with the people of Israel on his side, how could he feel threatened by one woman? Often times, we exaggerate the problems we face and feel numb and defeat and tell ourselves there is no way out.

3)      HE LOST HIS SELF ESTEEM: When he compared himself with his ancestors, he felt so little of himself. He felt no good in him, asked God to take his life. While the bible does teach us to be humble, it never tells us to lose sight of our unique usefulness in the hands of God. God had just used him to perform great miracles on that mountain top and the people of Israel once again confessed that the Lord is God. We are all uniquely fitted to serve the Lord. Don’t compare.

4)      HE RAN AWAY FROM GOD: God had a mission for him in Damascus that is in the north from Jezreel where Elijah was. But he ran to Beersheba in the south where he hid himself, feeling so low and worthless, even wanted to die. Running away from God and His purpose in your life can only bring you down to the pit.

5)      HE WANTED TO DIE:  Many people think that the only way to finish a meaningless life is to die. But death can never bring any meaning to that life. Elijah was right to talk to God, but he was wrong to ask to die. Death can never solve any problem we face. It is the courage to face the problem and solve it with the help of the Lord that brings meaning to life.

 

THE STEPS GOD RESTORED HIM AGAIN:  Sometimes we need to thank God for not answering our prayers and this is certainly one of those times. Instead of allowing Elijah to die in that cave, God restored him to courage, strength and his position in history.

1)      GOD HEARD HIS DESPARATE CRY: (19:5-8) Just as God heard the cry of the people of Israel in Exodus 3:7, He heard the cry of Elijah. Too often, we doubt if God can hear or see our desperate situation and if He is able to do anything about it. Yes, He can. God sent His angels, sometimes in the forms we never expect, to provide what Elijah needed. It is a gracious thing to be able to receive helps of good wills God has provided. To resist help from God’s angels is to resist God. We should not be too proud to accept love from God.

2)      GOD BROUGHT BACK PURPOSE: By asking Elijah “What are you doing here” twice, 19:9 & 13, God brought back the purpose of life to his heart. God had given him a purpose, but Elijah had lost it in midway of his life. What can Elijah do in that cave in the middle of no where to fulfill that purpose God had given him? He was at the wrong place asking for the wrong thing for a wrong purpose, his purpose, not God’s. Life without God’s purpose is a waste.

3)      GOD DEMONSTRATED HIS POWER AGAIN:  God did once on the top of Mt. Carmel so everyone could see His invincible power, and now He did it in the mighty winds and earth quakes so Elijah could see it again. Is Jezebel more powerful than God? Is the God of Elijah able to save him from the sword of the wicked queen?

4)      GOD RECOMMISSIONED HIM: God had not finished using Elijah in His plans. God commissioned him to anointed two kings and another prophet, Elisha, the successor of Elijah. No privilege is the Bible is more honorable than anointing kings and prophets and that is exactly what God wanted Elijah to do. You may feel you are done with God. But God is not done with you, not yet.

5)      YOU ARE NOT ALONE: Loneliness is the worst foe in the service of God or in life experience. You may feel no one understand you or no one cares about you. Most of the times when you feel that way, you are wrong. Certainly Elijah felt that way, 19:10, 14, but he was so wrong.  God showed him He had some 7,000 faithful servants who had never bowed to Baal.

 

CONCLUSION:  Sooner or later, we all may go through the valley of death, as King David had but we need not do what Elijah did. Be careful not to fall in the traps that caught Elijah off guard. Remember, you should never quit God before finishing His purpose and mission in your life.  We may be hurt, injured and want to give up. But you should never lose sight or courage to fight that battle until you win the victory in Him.