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."

Way back in my day, there was a saying that went something like..;

"Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.  You can’t have one without the other"  

There was a little more to the saying than that, but, for now, that’s good enough. In that same vane, we could say that..:

"True worship of God will bring service for God.  You can’t have one without the other"  

Sad to say, there is another parallel to the "old days", and that’s..,

"Love and marriage just ain’t what it used to be"
In the same manner..;   
"Worship and service to God ain’t what it used to be, or should be."  

The other day, there was a family expert on TV, and interestingly enough, she had some very good things to say.

When the interviewer asked, "Why do we not see these principles in modern families?"

The family expert answered something like, "There have been two or three generations that have come and gone, and very few applied the principles past down by their ancestors." This expert said that she called these the "lost generations".

Family values and basic principles are far more easily developed through example and experience, rather than academics. Young couples, today, have very few examples of proper family relationships to follow, so they have followed the "model" of their favorite celebrity or have just done what comes naturally. Either way, young couples are drowning in a sea of improper family principles.

Therefore, this expert went on to say, "We must retrain a whole generation before we will see proper family values return, as the normal, in the arena of life."

I couldn’t agree more! If I were a betting man, I would "bet" that we will never, at least in our lifetime, see a whole generation retrained in proper family values. I fear, that even among the Christian community, that will never happen. It takes so little to loose moral ground, but a great deal to build moral fiber into everyday living.

The same could be said about proper Biblical worship and service, also. Because there are so few current examples of true worship, we directed our attention back to the example of Isaiah.

Isaiah experienced the worth of God and in so doing, he saw his own worthlessness. Out of that experience of true worship, he made himself available for true service.

"Here am I!  Send me."  

Isaiah’s concern was not so much—how do I serve, where do I serve, in what way do I serve, or how much praise will I receive—instead, his attitude was "Lord, I’m available for whenever, wherever and whatever You desire". That is the attitude of true Servanthood, but seen very seldom in religious service.

Again, because we have so few current examples of true Biblical service, I have chosen Elijah and Elisha as our examples of Biblical service. Please put your mind in high gear, and let’s run through the life of Elijah at the point we left him, in last lesson.

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."

Elijah "pops-up" on the screen of Biblical history with a startling declaration--"No rain, until I give the 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.

Once God’s message was delivered to king Ahab, Elijah, because of the word of God, hid by the Brook Cherith, and was fed by the ravens. We noticed a pattern evident in Elijah’s behavior.

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

This same pattern is also true in two other servants of God mentioned in this account of Elijah’s life. The widow who had no food to spare, but always had just enough, because she heard the word of God and went and did. Later in this account, we see that Obadiah had that same "habit".

1 Kings 17:7-12 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." 10 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.

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

It is so important to see this fact! We want God to take care of everything now, because I wanted it yesterday. 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.

But wait a minute! How long did it take from the first time you heard the gospel until you accepted it? Aren’t you glad God was willing to take a long time to work out His program, in your life?

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

God’s program started before He created the world, and every aspect of that program has been carried out in the fullness of time and not a minute sooner.

Jumping ahead in this account of Elijah.

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.' "

In this day and age, we so often hear something like, "If only I had a boss who was a Christian, then I could do my job to the honor and glory of God."

How sad!!! When you work for an unsaved boss, with unsaved fellow employees, you are living in the midst of a ripe harvest field for God. It is not a better situation that we need.., we need to learn to live for Christ, and do our job to honor and glorify God in any situation. If God gives you a better situation, then live in that situation to the glory of God.

If time would permit, it would be good to pause and study this devoted, God fearing man, who was working for one of the worst immoral sinners of all time. Even in (or because of) such an environment, Obadiah served the Lord faithfully. Because Obadiah was willing and ready to serve in such a condition, he was able to do things for the Lord that no other person on earth could do.

Don’t try to change the circumstances to simply bring greater comfort to yourself, 
but allow the circumstance to change you, in order to serve God better.  
1 Kings 18:9-16 Then he (Obadiah) 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.

For the most part, in our past study, we skipped the scene on Mt. Carmel. Not because there was a lack of principles leading to true Biblical service, but I feared that our desire for the dramatic, might cloud or even block the value of such principles, and there was also a time factor.

The priests and prophets of Baal, along with many others were summoned to Mt. Carmel to prepare a sacrifice and then pray to their god to answer by fire, but no answer came. Elijah also prepared a sacrifice to the God of heaven, and God answered by fire proving that He was the "real" God. Not only did God reveal Himself by fire, the prophets of Baal were also 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.

Even though Elijah had been obedient to God, spent 3+ years in semi-solitude, had a great victory over the prophets of Baal, yet the rain didn’t come with just the snap of Elijah’s fingers.

Doing great things for God does not make a person a super human with divine powers, nor do we gain seniority status just because we have been around for awhile.

We don’t command God to work,  just because we are good guys.  

There were 7 agonizing sessions of prayer, as he was bowed to the ground with his face between his knees. Just because Elijah had done great things for God, did not qualify him to become the director of the program.

In service, God is far more concerned with the Spiritual condition of the servant, 
than the tasks accomplished by the servant.  

The Christian community, as a whole, has developed the attitude, that if a person has ability and can perform well, it makes little difference about the personal and Spiritual condition of the one performing.

The church has become "performance" orientated, which is about as far from God’s standard as we can get. God has always looked on the heart, and we humans usually only look on the outward appearance.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
Psalms 147:10-11 He (God) does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.
1 Peter 3:3-4 Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning of arranging the hair, of wearing gold, or of putting on fine apparel; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
Jeremiah 17:10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Mark 9:23-29 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to him, "You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him, and enter him no more!" 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast him out?" 29 So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."

Look at what our Lord and Savior had to say on this subject. In the above account, a father had brought his epileptic son to the disciples, but they could not heal him. Then Jesus came on the scene, and the text of this story picks up the with the conversation of Jesus and the father. I can’t take the time to develop this any further, but if you carefully look at these and other passages, I’m sure the Holy Spirit will bring out truths for your examination.

Back to the account of Elijah. He had come down from the mountain victoriously. He had served well, and accomplished much. Please note the change in Elijah’s attitude. It changed from trust in God, to concern for personal comfort. Sad to say, much service today starts at the point of personal comfort and never progress to true servanthood.

Often, we only serve if it is to our liking, our convenience etc.
Too many serve..:  not because there is a job to do…  
not because there is a need to be cared for,  
but what will I gain from this service…  
and what sacrifice will I have to make?  
Jeremiah 17:10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

There are many more lessons to be learned here, but we must move on.

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 cut ‘n ran. How could he possibly continue as a servant of God? God’s work is not conditioned on the servant, but God’s work and word will properly condition the servant.

Psalms 103:14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
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.
When our attention shifts from who God is and what God said,
to what I have done and how I feel,
despondency will not be far behind.   

I hesitate to use the term depression, because we live in a time when almost any form of emotional discomfort is defined as depression. There is clinical depression, but there is not nearly as much real depression as we are led to believe, most is despondency.

Real depression is a sickness and a medical condition that needs to be treated as such. Despondency is a Spiritual and/or an emotional ego and attitude problem. You can be drugged, either legally or illegally, until you won’t know you are despondent, but that creates a problem that is twofold:

God’s classic cure for despondency will always work and will be of benefit for the clinically depressed. I give this overview of God’s "first aid kit" for despondency, not as a full and complete study of such, but because..,

What caused Elijah’s despondency? Probably many factors:

As we read the account, we will see all of these mentioned. I’ll not take time to deal with each one individually, because we want to move on to God’s cure.

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.

Please note that God did not say, "Elijah, get over it! Buck up and fly right!"

God didn’t say that Elijah was a bad Believer, because he didn’t use what he knew of God and His Word. He didn’t tell Elijah to pray more and get into the Word.

Neither did God excuse Elijah for the condition he was in.

1 Kings 19:9-10 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."

God allowed Elijah to have plenty of sleep, good food and a lot of exercise. He walked real steady for 40 days to get to Mt. Horeb. All three are essential for realigning our attitude and ego, when we find ourselves in despondency.

God started the "therapy" session with a question that should have had a simple answer. God asked, "What are you doing here?" Please note! Elijah did not look at the condition of his own life or the direction of God for his answer. Instead, he blamed everyone else, including the king’s wife, for the reason for his being there. The answer to God’s question should have been, "This is where your angel sent me."

When we realize, really realize that where we are is where God wants us, that will go a long way towards the cure of despondency.

But Elijah, because he was centered in himself, gave long and rambling statements that had very little to do with the question. As a matter of fact, Elijah’s response had everything to do with Elijah, himself, and almost nothing to do with the reason he was there.

Elijah basically said, "I’ve been a good boy! As a matter of fact, I’ve been the best of all boys. Everybody else is rotten. So that leaves only me, and I may as well kill myself, before the rotten ones kill me."

That is of course is a "White’s" paraphrase, but that is what he said in our lingo. God is going to start the realigning process of Elijah’s ego and attitude.

1 Kings 19:11-12 Then He (God) said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

The first thing in this recovery process was to bring Elijah face to face with God. In a state of despondency, we think God is not able perform. So all is lost. Therefore, because of God’s inability, we must perform, instead of God. In so doing, we find that doing God’s job is more difficult than we thought. As a result, we sink deeper into despondency.

So God showed Elijah that He still had His ability to perform. God demonstrated His power in wind, earthquake and fire. These were all things that God could do!

Christians in any stage and especially when in despondency, equate God with what He can do or is doing at time. God heal me! God give me money! God give me a new car! Etc., and God can do all of that, if it is in His plan.

God is not what He does, Remember?
We must believe that God is, not that God does.  

After God’s great demonstration of what He could do, there came a still small voice. I’m sure Elijah was impressed with those "power things", after all, he might have thought, "I was the one who called down fire on the mountain. Sure enough, that’s what God can do, alright."

In spite of our thirst to see God demonstrate His power in life and in the church service, we can’t come to God, simply by seeing His power. God is a person not a force, and if we are going to come to Him we must believe that He is.

In those demonstrations of what God could do, God was not in any one of them. After the "power show", which is what Elijah wanted, God spoke. Our interest is far too often not in what God says! Instead, we want action that will produce personal satisfaction and great emotion. When God spoke, He wasn’t loud, He spoke quietly. A fact that we might keep in mind when it comes to Church Worship services.

Notice the response of Elijah to God command and His question.

1 Kings 19:9-10 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."

Please note. Elijah never answered the question. Instead, he simply gave God the highlights from his self-made resume.

1 Kings 19:9-11-12 Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
1 Kings 19:13-14 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14 So he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because 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."

God asked Elijah in verse 9 "What are you doing here?". Then God gave him the "power show" and the still small voice. After the "show" and the still small voice, God asked Elijah the same question again Verse 11. By the way, Elijah responded in the same way to both questions, but he never answered God’s question.

It is also important to notice Elijah’s disobedience in this matter. In verse 11, God told Elijah to "Go out and stand on the mountain". It wasn’t until he heard the "still small voice" that he obeyed. Look at verse 13. "When Elijah heard it… …(he) went out and stood.."

When we allow ourselves to live in despondency, our obedience "level" is usually quite low. We often say or at least think, "If God would just do some big thing, then it would be easier…." Oh yes, Elijah had a nature very much like ours, and if we are honest, we act in a very similar manner as Elijah, only sometimes worse!

God opened up His despondency "first aid kit", and gave Elijah time, rest, food, activity, a demonstration of power and His Own word. Then look at what else came out of the "first aid kit".

1 Kings 19:15-18 Then the LORD said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 "Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 "It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."

I want us to see two more things that came out of the "first aid kit".

Get back to work

After the rest, food, activity, demo of power and His own voice, God says, "Now Elijah, the next step is get back to work, just as though nothing had happened."

We are to learn from what happened, but we are not to live by what happened
nor are we to attempt to live in what happened  

We’ll look at what God told him to do in the next lesson, but there is one more thing God brought out of His "first aid kit".

God replaced Elijah’s improper thoughts with truth

Elijah’s main "pity party" was fueled by the fact that he thought all the other people of Israel had forsaken God, and Elijah was the only one left. This bad information was fostered by his own ego.

In verse 18, God tells Elijah, "Just for your information, there are a few others who have not bowed to Baal, as a matter of fact there are 7,000 who have not given in. Elijah, you need the facts, not the distorted thoughts from your our despondent mind. Now, Elijah, that you have the facts, be on your way."

I’m glad God didn’t send Elijah to a "support group".  God said to simply obey!  

Once God’s "first aid" was applied to Elijah, we see again that familiar pattern we’ve seen all through Elijah’s encounters. Verse 15 Then the LORD said to him: "Go, return on your way", and verse 19 "So he (Elijah) departed from there."It’s always good to be "back in the saddle again". Elijah goes about the rest of his life in service to God, not caring for his ego or who got the credit for service preformed or how "important" that service might seem.

For many years Sir Walter Scott was the leading literary figure in the British Empire. No one could write as well as he. Then the works of Lord Byron began to appear, and their greatness was immediately evident. Soon, an anonymous critic praised Byron’s poems in a London Paper. This anonymous critic declared that, "In the presence of these brilliant works of poetic genius, Scott should no longer be considered the leading poet of England." It was later discovered that the unnamed critic had been none other than Sir Walter Scott, himself!

Comparisons are never a good idea when that exercise is focused on self-advancement. Scott realized that his best offense was a good defense in that regard. Putting himself in a position of humility to begin with, he opened his heart and his life to receiving the honors that always come to those who prefer being last in line. Scott recognized that just being a poet was important. The honor was in the being not the achieving.

Well done, good and faithful servant,   …enter into the joy of your lord.'
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2005