1 Kings 19:9-18
I’m going to boil these down to one simple theme:
Keep your eyes on JESUS!
Let’s start with Elijah in 1 Kings. When we see him today, he’s hiding in a cave, and God comes to him.
Why was he hiding in a cave? It had to do with a woman.
No, it’s probably not what you’re thinking. This woman had threatened to kill him.
Why was he hiding in a cave? God had taken care of him and had the ravens bring him meat and bread every morning and every night. Provided a tree to shelter him. And when the tree died, Elijah got mad at God! So now he went to the cave for shelter. God couldn’t kill the cave like He did the tree.
The next question is, why was the woman threatening to kill him? The answer is that Elijah had killed 450 of her prophets of Baal and another 400 prophets of Asherah. The prophets were all men. Now Elijah is running from one little woman.
It all boils down to one simple theme:
He took his eyes off God, who had provided for him, and gave him meat, bread, water, and shelter—God who talked with him. God, who protected him.
So, how does God handle Elijah in this Scripture from 1 Kings?
He speaks to him. He asks Elijah the same question twice, and Elijah gives the same answer twice:
God: What are you doing here, Elijah?
Elijah: I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
What happens between those two times gets interesting.
1. A great wind was so strong it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks.
2. There was an earthquake.
3. There was a fire.
Beginning to sound like Elijah lived in California! All he needed were mudslides.
4. There was the sound of silence. I’m NOT talking about Simon and Garfunkel.
But Elijah heard God in the silence.
Then, an amazing thing happened: God told Elijah to “Go!”
He had two kings to anoint, and he also had to anoint his replacement—Elisha—to be the prophet in his place.
To do what God wanted, Elijah had to leave the safety and security of the cave. He had to get out of his comfort zone.
This shows that to do what God wants, we sometimes have to get out of our comfort zone!
Next, we’ll look at the Gospel passage.
I’ve heard several different angles preached on this one, but we’ll keep to the theme for today.
Jesus had been healing the sick and feeding 5,000 men—plus women and children—with five loaves and two fish. Then, he tells the disciples to go to the other side while He goes up the mountain to pray. (There’s a sermon in that …)
When he’s through, there’s a storm, and the boat is battered and can’t make much headway. So, Jesus goes for a walk. His path is a little different, though. He chooses to walk on the water. Why? The reference is from Job 9:8, where it talks about God, and the passage reads, “who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the Sea;” Jesus is showing his deity—another fulfillment of Scripture.
Jesus never took his eyes off God.
When the disciples saw him, they thought it was a ghost. Jesus told them not to be afraid; it was just him. With his eyes on Jesus, Peter says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” There’s a message in that, too, but I don’t want to digress.
Jesus says, “Come.” So, Peter gets out of the boat.
The boat, on even a calm day, represented safety. On a calm day, the boat would keep you dry and out of the mouth of a great fish—think Jonah!
Peter left his comfort zone. After all, he was a fisherman and spent much time on fishing boats. He was comfortable there.
Peter starts walking on the water toward Jesus. Only the world’s cares take over, and Peter again focuses on the storm— the wind, the rain, the waves. And he starts to sink.
Then Peter cries out, “Lord, save me!”
Jesus reached out his hand, took hold of Peter, and got him into the boat.
Now let’s talk about getting out of YOUR comfort zone.
Some might think, “Well, now She’s fixin’ to go from preachin’ to meddlin’!” And you might be right!
Let’s talk about Romans 10:13 – 15a.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?”
I’m here today because God called me to preach. And teach. He called me to proclaim the Good News.
But He also called you.
As the Deacon at my church mentioned a couple of weeks ago, in your Baptismal covenant, you were asked, “Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?”
You answered, “I will, with God’s help.”
Before you panic, that doesn’t necessarily mean that God called you to preach and/or teach.
But it might.
Actually, no. What it means is this is a reference to the Great Commission:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
At that point, we take our eyes off Jesus. Wait, you say, what is she talking about? Didn’t she just switch subjects? No, I didn’t. We take our eyes off Jesus because we don’t quote the rest: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The cares of the world overtake us. We take our eyes off Jesus just as Peter did and begin to sink.
It IS a scary time right now, and so easy to take our eyes off Jesus. We have:
History being destroyed
And then there are the ones panicking: THE END TIMES ARE COMING!!!
Calm down. Take a deep breath and know this isn’t the first time a pandemic has hit. Martin Luther wrote something 500 years ago that is just as relevant today as it was then:
“With God’s permission, the enemy has sent poison and deadly dung among us, and so I will pray to God that he may be gracious and preserve us. … I will … give and take medicine, and avoid places and persons where I am not needed so that… through me, others may not be infected and inflamed with the result that I become the cause of their death through my negligence. If God wishes to take me, he can find me. At least I have done what he gave me to do and am responsible neither for my death nor for the death of others. But if my neighbor needs me, I shall avoid neither person nor place but feel free to visit and help him.”
Luther clearly felt it was proper for a Christian to stay and help rather than run away when a plague hit. Yet, before people understood how germs and viruses work, he knew that a well-meaning person could make things worse—even unto death.
Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus! Martin Luther did. Even though there were times he might have been distracted by what was going on in his world. After all, he was human, too.
We need to be willing to be used by God.
We need to be willing to get out of our comfort zone.
We need to remember that Jesus is with us—always!
And when the cares of this world begin to overtake us,
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.”