We are taking a short interim study on "Worship" and some of its implications. In our brief and incomplete study of worship, we saw that true worship always brings change to the life of the one worshiping, to be more like the One being worshiped. There are many areas of our lives that true worship will bring change. We’ve look at four of those areas, and the last of these four is our subject of today.

True Worship will produce:

Our present concentration is on the Biblical subject of Service. We could have used any number of the personalities presented in Hebrews 11, as our examples of Biblical service. Isaiah would have made a very good subject for the study of service.

Isaiah 6:1-8 I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged." 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

Our worship experiences should have a great many similarities to those of Isaiah. We may not or will not have the exact vision that Isaiah did, but none the less, if we really experience true worship of the God of all Gods, the Creator of all things, the Savior of mankind, and we see Him "high and lifted up", we will see ourselves and our people as "undone" with "unclean" lips.

When we allow the next obvious step in true Biblical worship to take place, that of having our iniquities taken away and our sins purged, then we, too, will hear the question from God, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?", and we will answer, "Here am I! Send me."

Yes, Isaiah would be a very good personality to look at for this subject of Biblical service. However, I have chosen two other "Faith Greats", from Hebrews 11, as my prime examples of true Biblical Service. The two "Faith Greats" I have chosen are Elijah & Elisha. I have chosen these two, because they have some characteristics that we may be able to associate with a bit easier than the characteristics recorded of Isaiah.

James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.

We might recoil at the thought that our nature is somewhat like Elijah’s or maybe we should recoil that Elijah’s nature might be a little like ours. Hopefully, we will understand that statement a little better when our study is through.

Hebrews 11:32-34 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

We don’t find the names of either of these two great men of faith in Hebrews 11. However, these "No-Name-Greats" are included in the "package" of great people called the prophets.

It's Your Attitude

It is not my purpose to study, in detail, the "great" actions of these two, but instead, we want to see the attitudes behind their actions, as they participated in Spiritual service. To see these attitudes, we will look briefly at some of their actions, because their attitudes are reflected in their actions. By the way, that is true in our lives, also.

In review, look again at a partial list of "services" performed by those mentioned in the above verses:

It would be interesting to chase the accounts of each of these exciting feats of service through the Scriptures. However, two of the above mentioned activities would never qualify for the "Movie of the Week".

Numbers 2 & 3 do not have enough "class" or "excitement" to warrant a second glance from many Christians. Yet, those two acts are undoubtedly the greatest and most important areas of service.

Worked = (Greek) To toil as an occupation
Obtained = (Greek) To attain because chanced upon it

In this area of Biblical service, there are things we are to do, and when we do the required, then God blesses our obedience with results far beyond what our meager efforts could accomplish.

A couple of other areas of review before we jump into new material in the lives of these two "Faith Greats". In the first part of Hebrew 11, we see a couple of facts that were parts of the main power generators of these "Faith Greats", and should be a great part of the source of our power for Biblical service.

Hebrews 11:1-7 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, "and was not found because God had translated him"; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Rewarder = (Greek) A remunerator; one who pays for services; one who pays for work preformed

Our main focus, for this lesson, will be on the fact that God is a "rewarder". I would like us to look at several verses dealing with "rewards" for our service for God. It is important to spend a little time on this subject for several reasons:

I picked out a few passages from the many throughout the Word of God. I trust these will show the pattern of Biblical teaching presented in the totality of the Scriptures, without doing a formal study of them all, at this time. However, some of these passages will demand some explanation, because they have been used, so often, out of context.

Sowing and Reaping

This first passage is a classic illustration of such misuse. I apologize for the time needed to establish this truth, but these type of questions keep surfacing, so in defense of Scripture, we must take the time to answer them.

Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Some have tried to explain away this passage, by saying that it applies to the unsaved and not to Believers. I will address that objection in a few minutes.

Some have tried to use this passage to prove that you must work to gain salvation. This is asserted because it says in verse 8 that if we "sow to the Spirit we will reap everlasting life".

We will see later that this passage is addressed to Believers who already have Eternal Life. In verse 8, it says that if we sow to the flesh, the only thing we can receive are rewards that are of a corruptible nature, as is the flesh. The flesh is corruptible and can only produce corruptible results, therefore, the rewards will only be temporary and not everlasting in nature.

Over and over, the Scriptures clearly state that if we are serving only for self or the flesh, the only reward we will receive, will be from humans here on earth, and that reward will only last for a short time, because human and physical rewards are only compatible with time, not eternity.

Matthew 6:16 "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men (sow to the flesh) to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (right now, and it is corrupt)

On the other hand, if we sow to the Spirit, Who is eternal, the resulting rewards from the Spirit will be compatible with everlasting life, or will last for ever. The key factor to be seen here, for this lesson, is that you will reap or will be rewarded by the Spirit according to what you have done. Please note, by the context, that this passage is directed to Believers.

Galatians 6:1-6 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
2 John 1:6-8 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.

Each of these passages would be valuable studies in themselves, but we still exist as humans, and lunchtime is approaching! Therefore, I want to use them only to establish the Biblical subject of rewards for service.

Revelation 3:11-12 "Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
Proverbs 11:18 The wicked man does deceptive work, but to him who sows righteousness will be a sure reward.
1 Corinthians 3:8-15 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Sadly, there are some who claim to be good Bible teachers, and yet assert that this passage has no reference to eternity, but only to our existence here on earth. The context alone is enough to show that this a reference to a time of rewards and judgment, for Believers, after the close of this lifetime.

We also must compare and harmonize each passage with all other Scripture. Please look at the second book written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth.

2 Corinthians 5:6-11 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well-known to God, and I also trust are well-known in your consciences.

No, any person who would assert that these passages do not refer to a time after this life, is either a false teacher or a very unlearned teacher, and I would hope for the latter.

What we do here and now does have consequences for eternity, not as far as our New Birth is concerned, but as far as our rewards are concerned and that is very important. Now to our further study of Elijah.

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word."
1 Kings 17:2-6 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 3 "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 4 "And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." 5 So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

Verse 2 "Then the Word of the Lord came.." God basically said, "Thanks Elijah! Now here is the next stage."

God said go… and he went.    The results were up to God.    Obedience was up to Elijah.  

The word of the Lord came… …So he (Elijah) went and did. That’s the proper attitude. You see, when it comes to service, God wants us to do the "possible", and God will do the "impossible".

1 Kings 17:7-9 And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."

In passing, please note how God "commanded the widow".

1 Kings 17:10-12 So he [Elijah] arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." 12 Then she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
1 Kings 17:13-16 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 "For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.' " 15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.

Folks, there is so much in this passage that it just about "kills" me to simply use it as an "example" of service. so… please allow me to point out some very important areas in God’s "mode of operation", and what our response should be.

Matthew 6:33"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

There is a lot of good "stuff" here, but we must move on. We won’t even take time to look at the account of Elijah bringing back to life the son of the widow. Jumping ahead a couple of years or so, we come to…

1 Kings 18:1-2 Now it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth." 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria.

Again note, that God spoke and Elijah did. That’s getting to be a habit with Elijah. It would be a nice habit for all of us acquire.

Also note, it took   3+ years   for God’s program to "jell".  

It is a little difficult, for we who live in the "instant generation", to operate in a service project that takes Sooo… long to develop. If God is God, then why doesn’t He bring down fire right now and solve this problem. After all, I don’t want to wait by the brook, nor do I care to wile away my time eating those cakes and watching a widow go about her daily tasks.


Folks, God has been at this "service project" since "before the foundation of the world". God has always done things "in the fullness of time", and our impatiences will not hurry His program. So sit back, listen for the word of the Lord and then go and do. It is a process known as obedience and is the opposite of self-centeredness.

God did not call us to micromanage His program or its outcome, God asks us to be servants.  

Being a servant, is one of the most difficult tasks in the world, because we have to put our plans and wants on the back burner. Jumping ahead in the story, a little.

1 Kings 18:7-8 Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, "Is that you, my lord Elijah?" 8 And he answered him, "It is I. Go, tell your master, 'Elijah is here.' "

Here was a devoted, God fearing man, who was working for the one of the worst immoral sinners of all time. Yet, even in that undesirable position, he served the Lord faithfully. There is a message here for us in this day and age, but you will need to check it out on you own, our time is quickly flying by.

1 Kings 18:9-16 Then he said, "How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 "As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, 'He is not here,' he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you. 11 "And now you say, 'Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here" '! 12 "And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. 13 "Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid one hundred men of the Lord's prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 "And now you say, 'Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here!" 'and he will kill me." 15 Then Elijah said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today." 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Obadiah heard the word from the Lord, through Elijah, and he went and did. Good pattern---Hear the word then go and do.

1 Kings 18:17-18 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, "Is that you, O troubler of Israel?" 18 And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and you have followed the Baals.

You would think that the Elijah would have, by this time, learned to be a little more diplomatic, to be more politically correct, to soften his message and tone, to start a dialogue or some other dumb thing.

Sin must be confronted, not counseled, not negotiated and not soft-pedaled. If there is sin in your life, don’t make excuses for it, don’t blame someone else… deal with it, by confessing it and forsaking it.

We have way too much counseling on sin, today. Don’t talk about what "caused" you to sin… confess it and forsake it. Leave the "sin counseling" for the self-righteous wimps.

The "nice" thing about sin is that Christ died for our sins, and if we come to Him in honest confession, He forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

For the most part, we are going to skip the wonderful scene on Mt. Carmel. As most know, Elijah "invited" the priests and prophets of Baal and a whole bunch of others to Mt. Carmel to prepare a sacrifice and then pray to their god to answer by fire. Elijah would also prepare a sacrifice to the God of heaven, and the god who answered by fire to burn up the sacrifice would be declared the "real" God.

Even though time is short, I can’t simply pass by a very important fact presented here. Too often, Believers think that if we could do something "big", it would convince those who see our "big" thing to walk the "straight and narrow" way.

Over and over again in the Scriptures, God sets forth the important fact that simply showing or even proving to people that God is great does not mean that they will accept God as their God. This Biblical story is a classic illustration of that fact.

God demonstrated by great signs and wonders that He was God, and the people admitted that God was God, but it didn’t change many lives, as we see in the rest of this historical account.

The rich man, who died and went to hell, was told the same thing.

Luke 16:19-31"There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 "desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' 25 "But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' 27 "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, 28 'for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' 29 "Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' 30 "And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31 "But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

How we need to learn and practice the fact that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not some great physical demonstration of God’s power. There is nothing wrong with a physical demonstration of God, but that demonstration will serve to strengthen the faith of those who already believe, far more that it will convince those outside of Christ to come into the fold.

Back to the account of Elijah and his contest. The false prophets of Baal prepared their sacrifice and prayed, screamed and cut themselves in a effort to get Baal to answer with fire. All day long, the prophets of Baal prayed and Elijah poked fun at them, but no fire.

Elijah prepared the sacrifice for God, soaked it with water and prayed. God answered by fire and consumed the sacrifice, the water, the stones of the altar and the dust. To make a longer story shorter, the prophets of Baal were killed. It was a great victory, but it was also very physically and emotionally draining for Elijah.

Now let’s pick up the text at that point.

1 Kings 18:41-45 Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain." 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." 44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.' " 45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.

Out of all the good things here, look at this one. Notice, even though Elijah had been obedient, spent 3+ years in semi-solitude, had a great victory over the prophets of Baal, etc. the rain didn’t just come with the snap of Elijah’s fingers. There were 7 agonizing sessions of prayer, as he was bowed to the ground with his face between his knees. (and yet it was God’s will that the rain come) You would think that a person who had done all that Elijah had done, could just command the rain to come.

1 Kings 19:1-4 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs 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 broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"

Elijah "cow-tailed" and ran. Looked like he was all washed-up as a servant of God.

Psalms 103:14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

God is so gracious! He knows our frame. Actually, He made our frame, so no one knows it better! However, God does not make excuses for our failures, because He has provided all the Spiritual strength we need to do the job. If (and when) we fail, God will "work" with us to bring us back to the straight and narrow, but He never overlooks our failings.

1 Kings 19:5-8 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you." 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
1 Kings 19:9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 So he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

To be continued in the next lesson.

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2005