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Decision Day

1 Kings 18:20-40 • June 28, 2023 • g1268

Pastor Chris Plaza teaches an expository message from through 1 Kings 18:20-40 titled, “Decision Day.”

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Pastor Chris Plaza

June 28, 2023

Sermon Scripture Reference

As a young boy I fell in love with the game of baseball. I got involved in sports at a young age. My mom and my dad decided to put me in sports, and baseball was the sport that they chose. From getting involved in baseball, my whole life became that sport. I mean, I was living, moving, and breathing baseball—that’s all it was. I loved everything about it. I remember everything about it, too. I’ll tell you that I remember getting my first uniform and the amazing feeling that that was. I remember getting my first glove and the time it took to break it in. I remember, like yesterday, being on the field; and I remember practice, practice, practice. I remember, like every kid who’s played, the dream of wanting to be a professional baseball player. That was my dream. I’ll tell you the reason for this is because baseball for me at that point became life—I was committed to baseball; I was committed to it completely.

As time went on, something changed. You see, I went to high school. Although I continued to play baseball, and even made the baseball team, other “things" began to get in the way. At first, those other “things" looked like the desire to be popular, and then the desire to be cool. But then, those other “things” that started replacing baseball began to be the desire to want a relationship, and want a girlfriend. Eventually, those other “things” became being at all the parties, drinking, and then the other “things” even became drugs. As you can imagine, my love and commitment for baseball really began to waver, and my heart no longer was totally committed to baseball, but there were these other “things” that were in the way.

I began to jump back and forth between loving baseball and loving these other “things.” I’ll be honest, I found myself in a situation. I found myself having to make a decision, right?, because one day it was, “Oh, I love baseball,” and I was committed, but the next day was not so much, so the situation that I found myself in was, Chris, you’re either going to give yourself completely to baseball or it’s going to be these other “things.”

Let me share with you why I tell you this story. That is the same exact situation that a certain nation, a certain people—God’s chosen people, in fact—found themselves in some three thousand years ago. You see, the nation of Israel found themselves jumping back and forth, except the difference for them was that it wasn’t baseball they weren’t fully committing to it was actually the Lord. They were going back and forth between being committed to God and committed to the Lord and then committed to these other “things.” As you all know, family, there’s a problem with that. You see, God is not okay with that. God is not okay with one moment you being completely for Him and the next for other “things.” Therefore, God’s people had a decision to make. It was follow after the Lord or follow after these other “things.”

Tonight, what I’d like to do is look into and find out the decision that these Israelites, God’s chosen people, made to see whether it was these other “things” or whether it was God they would follow because what I want to look at with you guys is in turn what God would say to us if we found ourselves ever in that situation. Would you join me in turning in your Bibles to the book of 1 Kings 18 where we’re going to find ourselves tonight. If you’re a note taker, I’m going to have a title for you. The title for the message tonight is, “Decision Day.”

Tonight we are going to be looking at a story that will likely be familiar to many of you. Some of you may have never heard it before, and that’s okay. We’re going to be looking at the story of Elijah, God’s man, a prophet named Elijah, and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. It is an amazing story, an Old Testament story, of course, and I think personally it should be made into a movie. Here’s what I will say, whether you have heard this story before or not, whether it’s super familiar to you or not, I believe one hundred percent with all of my heart that God has something for all of us here tonight. Again, I am humbled and excited to unpack this text with you.

We’re going to be finding ourselves beginning in 1 Kings 18:20. Again, if you’re taking notes, we’re going to see the narrative unfold for us in three scenes here tonight. The first scene we are going to title, “Confrontation.” If you’ll look at your Bible, beginning in verse 20, let’s see what it says. It says, “So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people,”—notice this—“answered him not a word.”

At this point in the history of the nation of Israel, you could say things have gotten out of hand. The nation is no longer considered a united kingdom, but they are actually split in two—some unwise decisions by a wise king. You had the northern kingdom which had ten tribes ruled by King Ahab, the man mentioned in verse 20, and then you had the southern kingdom which had the remaining two tribes of Benjamin and Judah. Politically speaking, the nation was a complete disaster—that’s politically. Let me tell you about spiritually, because spiritually it was much, much worse. You see, spiritually the nation, especially the northern kingdom, which will be our focus tonight, in the nation of Israel had begun to decay spiritually in the fact that they were now worshiping false gods, worshiping idols, and falling into idolatry. That is what we find happening here in these verses. If you know the book of 1 Kings, it actually is flooded with idolatry as the nation begins to just decay in the spiritual sense.

King Ahab, who is the current king on the northern side, is an extremely wicked man, an extremely wicked king who has introduced Baal worship to the people. He has forsaken God’s law and married a girl who is not an Israelite girl, by the way. She is not the kind of girl who would go to synagogue every Wednesday and Sunday. She is a very, very wicked girl named Jezebel. My wife and I are thinking of having children soon, and we are definitely not going to name our daughter “Jezebel.” Don’t do it either.

Jezebel was a very wicked woman along with her husband. She influenced him in all the wrong ways primarily with idol worship—the worship of Baal—who was, by the way, a false Canaanite Phoenician god who supposedly controlled the weather and fertility. Baal was thought to be able to help you in having children, not only you but your livestock. Baal could offer you good crops as well as controlling the weather and making it favorable for you. The strange thing about that though is in Israel it hadn’t had good weather in a long time—it actually hadn’t even rained in three years. Elijah had pronounced a drought, at God’s Word of course, but even still through all this the people, God’s people, the nation of Israel have continued in idol worship, in idolatry. That is how bad things have gotten. They have begun to mix in the worship of Baal with the worship of the true God, with the worship of Yahweh.

What happens here is Elijah then confronts these people. Notice it again in verse 21, “And Elijah came to all the people, and said,”—here’s the question—“‘How long,”—catch those words—“will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’” Elijah comes to the people and says, “How long?” Something to note though, you have to catch this, they are worshiping Baal, yes, but Israel has not completely cast God aside. It’s not like they’ve thrown God out and said, “You know what, God, I’m done with You. I’m not going to worship You any longer.” They’ve not done that. What they are doing is worshiping the Lord, but they are worshiping another god as well. They are mixing in; they’re jumping back and forth—one day serving Baal, and the next day serving the Lord. They’re doing the same exact thing that I was doing with baseball—one day all for God; the next day, well, there’s this other god or there are these other “things.”

That’s the idea, if you catch it, of the word “falter” in verse 21. It means to hobble, to limp, or to waver, to jump back and forth, to go between two forks in the road. That’s what the word “falter” in verse 21 means. In today’s English we would say that Israel was “on the fence” between God and Baal trying to serve two masters. As many of us know, that just doesn’t work. I think Jesus said it best in Matthew 6:24 when He said, “No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” It is impossible to serve the Lord and anything else. You just can’t do it. Israel could not serve Baal and the Lord because to serve Baal is to forsake the Lord completely. That was the reality they were in.

For us here today in 2023, that’s something that we must never forget is that we cannot do that either. We cannot think that we can serve two masters. We cannot allow anything to take God’s place. That is why God tells us so much—in fact, He warns us so much in Scripture—about idolatry, about idols. God will never allow anything to take the place in our hearts, His rightful place. It just doesn’t work for Him.

I have to mention this, okay? I do not believe that any of you guys have a statue in your homes; I do not believe that you have a statue of Baal in your homes. I do not think you have this idol in your house (picture of Baal shown on screen). I don’t think you get home, grab your family and kids, and bow down in the living room and start praying to Baal, “Oh, please help us with the weather. Southern California’s weather is nuts, Baal! We need your help.” I do not think that.

Do you know that idols don’t look like statues today, for the most part? An idol doesn’t have to be made of wood or stone, right? The reality is we do have idols. Let me give you a couple of examples. For some, it’s the pursuit of money or the desire to be comfortable. I remember meeting a gentleman who, when I first started the ministry, I thought had so much potential, so much potential, but the desire to have money and pursue it so that he could be comfortable played a huge part in why he is not as close to the Lord as he’d like to be. An idol doesn’t have to just be a statue. It doesn’t have to be made of wood or stone. Maybe it’s not the pursuit of money for you, though. Maybe instead it is material things. I knew a guy who had a really sweet car—a super awesome car, a car that I really, really would like—but I remember that car having such an impact on that gentleman’s life. It was literally all he ever thought about, all he ever cared about—the rims, this, that. Maybe it’s material things.

Idols can be a relationship—boyfriend or a girlfriend. Idols can be the desire for a relationship. An idol can be your marriage. It could even be your kids. You know, we often think that it’s just statues of wood or stone, but that is not the case. An idol can be anything that takes God’s place in our hearts. That’s the truth.

You may be wondering, Well, how do I know then if I’ve made something an idol? Here’s a good way to tell: What do you think about most in your day? What grabs at your attention the most in your life on your day-to-day business? What has all of your attention? I’ll be honest with you, I have to ask myself and search my own heart with this all the time. I will confess that I am not just a baseball fan, I am a sports fan, and I find myself sometimes checking ESPN a little bit too much (all the guys in here know what I’m talking about). It’s a challenge, and I have to check myself on it because sports cannot be my god. Sports cannot be what I give all of my attention to. It just can’t happen. God will not come second to anything. Here’s the truth, Revival family, God must always be first in our lives, always.

Unfortunately, the Israelites thought that they could serve God and Baal, but that just won’t work, so Elijah asks a question, “How long will you falter between two opinions?” How long will you sit on the fence? However, the people, as we read, “…answered him not a word.” So, here comes the showdown then. Let’s see who the real God is. Look with me at verse 22 as we move to our second scene. Let’s look at “The Contest.” “Then Elijah said to the people, ‘I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and,”—Elijah said—“I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.’ So all the people answered,”—this time—“and said, ‘It is well spoken.’”

The Israelites, God’s chosen people, have their hearts compromised, so much so that they can’t even answer Elijah in verse 21; so Elijah proposes a little duel, a little contest to see who the true God is. You see, Elijah doesn’t just want to expose the false god that they are worshiping, Elijah’s desire is for the people’s hearts to turn back to the Lord. We’ll see that in just a second. Here’s the contest. There are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and they will get a bull, and so will Elijah. Each will cut it up and offer it up as a sacrifice to God, but here’s the thing, we’re not going to put any fire under it. “You’re going to get your bull, I will get mine; you cut up yours, I’ll cut up mine,” Elijah says, “But don’t put any fire under it because,” here’s the deal, “the God who answers the call of fire, He is the true God.” That’s the contest. That’s what Elijah says.

Elijah tells them that he’s the only one standing in for the Lord, that doesn’t mean there weren’t others who were servants of God, but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. “There’s a lot of you guys, so you guys can go ahead and go first,” and we’ll see here in just a second that everything is weighted in favor of Baal and his prophets, everything. Now, if you remember, you have to remember this, Baal is thought to be the god of fertility and the god of the weather. Not only can he provide anybody with babies, but he provided thunder, lightning, rain, and fire. This should be no problem for Baal. In fact, this should be a piece of cake. Let’s see, verse 25. “Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.’ 26 So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, ‘O Baal, hear us!’”—that word means answer, answer us—“But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the alter which they had made.”

I want us to picture the scene. I have been to the land if Israel two times. I’ve actually got a picture up here for you. This is an aerial view of Mount Carmel. I want you to picture this, and I think I have one more, too. Here’s a picture of me standing next to Elijah’s statue (I was much skinnier then). I want you to picture this in your minds. Picture the scene of what’s going on, right? You have Elijah, the servant of the Lord, and then you have four hundred and fifty—four hundred and fifty!—of Baal’s prophets, right?, crying out, shouting, and losing their minds, “Baal! Hear us! Hear us! Hear us!” If you caught it, verse 26 says, “Then they leaped about the altar,” they’re jumping back and forth. Funny, it’s the same actual word in Hebrew that’s used in verse 21 to describe Israel jumping back and forth between serving God and Baal. Picture it, they’re yelling, screaming, going crazy, “Hear us! Hear us!” But there’s nothing—no voice, nobody’s home, and nobody’s answering.

Honestly, it’s really a sad picture if you think about it. Baal is a lifeless god who can absolutely do nothing for his servants. It doesn’t matter how hard you scream, how high you scream, how high you jump, whatever—yell, jump, scream—it doesn’t matter because there won’t be any fire coming from him.

Elijah knows this, which is why we read what we do in verse 27. Notice it with me. It says, “And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god,’”—that’s what Elijah said—“Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.’ 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But,”—catch it again—“there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.” I imagine Elijah sitting there asking, waiting, “Guys, when are we going to wrap this up?” I say that because if you notice what Elijah does, and I actually like a lot what he does, he begins to mock the false prophets of Baal. I sometimes will playfully mimic and mock my nephew. His mother says that I really shouldn’t do it, but it’s biblical, you know?

Catch it. Look at verse 27. It says, “…Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god,’”—and then he suggests, “Maybe Baal is meditating. Maybe your god is just thinking. Maybe he’s got a lot on his mind. Maybe he’s busy.” For those of you who know the story well, you’ll know that Elijah is suggesting that Baal is on the potty, “Perhaps he is on the celestial toilet,” that’s what he’s doing. “If that’s not the case, perhaps Baal is on a journey. Maybe he’s on a trip. Maybe he went to the store. Maybe he went to go get some groceries. If that’s not it, you know, maybe he’s sleeping. Maybe the reason he’s not answering is because he’s actually taking a nap. Maybe that’s it.” Elijah knows that Baal is nothing more than a worthless god and a worthless idol who has no power at all. He mocks the prophets and their god.

How crazy is it, I’m sure you noticed, that through all of this, they continue. I mean, now they’re cutting themselves. That was their custom. They would cut themselves as a way to try to entreat their god to hear them, so there’s blood gushing out everywhere. You can kind of picture that in your mind. Baal has no power at all, nor can he answer by fire or answer the prayers of his servants. That’s why we’re told in verse 29, again, “But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.”

This is not the main theme or the main lesson, but, family, aren’t you glad that is not our God? I mean, think about that. Our God answers us. When life gets hard, and when life is challenging, and there are trials and tribulations that come up in the day-to-day things of life for us, we can call out to our God and our God always answers, our God always hears us, and our God is always paying attention to us. That’s the difference between our God and this false god. No one is paying attention when Baal is asked to send fire, but God hears us. I’ll tell you this, God is going to hear His servant, and He is going to answer His servant’s prayer here in just a moment.

Notice first, verse 30. It says, “Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.’ 32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said,”—don’t miss this—‘“Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.’ 34 Then he said, ‘Do it a second time,’”—not just once, but do it again. Do it a second time. “…and they did it a second time; and he said,”—catch this—“‘Do it a third time,’ and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.”

Once the prophets of Baal have had their turn, it’s now Elijah who’s up to bat. He begins by repairing the broken down altar taking twelve stones which represented the tribes of Israel—the united twelve tribes of Israel. With these stones, he builds an altar in the name of the Lord to place the sacrifice on. There’s something I want you to catch. Elijah tells the people to come near. That’s what he says in verse 30, “Come near to me,” and the reason he does this is because Elijah wants everyone to know, he wants all the people to know, exactly what he is doing. That’s what he wants them to know. There’s not going to be any funny business, there’s not going to be any trickery on the part of Elijah, none of that. You’ll notice that he has them douse the sacrifice and the wood with water.

I was trying to start a fire not too long ago with a buddy of mine, and I ended up putting wet wood on the fire. He looked at me and said, “You’re never gonna get it started,” and he was pretty much right. It took me like an hour and a half. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. This is what Elijah is doing. He even has them run water not only on the wood but all around the altar and fills a trench with water. Elijah is ensuring that these people know and understand there’s going to be no games. There’s going to be no games here. One commentator said, “Elijah loaded the dice against himself.” It’s true. That’s exactly what he did. He’s done this because Elijah knows who the true God is. Elijah is on the right side of the fence. So, all that’s left is for the true God to answer by fire, isn’t it.

Let’s see what happens, verse 36. It says, “And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘Lord God,’”—listen to his prayer—“‘of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me,”—Elijah says—“‘that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.’ 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.” The entire sacrifice—the wood, the stones, the dust—and all of the water, gone. The true God sent fire from heaven and showed Israel, showed everyone there that day, exactly who He was. Oh how I wish I could’ve been there that day, standing behind Elijah, of course, I should probably make that clear, on Elijah’s side.

The false prophets of Baal have prayed. They have screamed. They have jumped around like madmen. They have cut themselves until blood has gushed out of them, “But,”—for them—“there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.” For Elijah, he didn’t need to jump up and down. Elijah didn’t need to act like a crazy person. He didn’t need to scream for hours, no. Elijah just needed to pray to his God, and his God answered.

Elijah was God’s servant who had done everything at God’s Word, and though he was just an ordinary man like you, like me, he was fully committed to his God. I will tell you this, he truly cared about the spiritual condition of his people. If you notice, he prayed for their hearts to be turned back to God. That was Elijah’s desire. You see, he knew the spiritual condition that those people were in. He knew that God was not okay with them jumping back and forth between serving God and serving another false god, trying to serve two masters. He has done all of this at God’s Word, but it’s also because he cared for those people. He cared for their spiritual condition, and that’s why he prayed what he did. That was his desire. He wanted God’s people to get off the fence, so let’s see together if they did.

Let’s look together at our last scene, “Consecration.” It’s in verse 39. It says, “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’ 40 And Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!’ So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.” What an ending! I’m telling you, I think that they should make this into a movie. You can get Russell Crowe maybe to play Elijah, you know, fire falls down from heaven, “Are you not entertained?” I think it’d be fantastic. What an ending, right? After all the commotion from the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal yelling and screaming, God sends fire down; and what really happens in these verses is God’s people realize once again who the Lord is. That’s what happens.

You know, in the Hebrew the word “He” is actually emphatic, “He is God!” and it means that, as these people, the Israelites, God’s chosen people, as foolish as they were sometimes, they were confessing that God alone, He was the true God. The people fall on their faces and reconsecrate themselves, rededicate themselves, back to God and to Him alone, their hearts, as Elijah prayed, have been turned back to Him. What’s left of the false prophets? We just read it, they were executed. That was actually in accordance with God’s law. In Deuteronomy 18:20 God said, “‘But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’” Again, Elijah is just doing what God had commanded him to. He seized them and has them executed at the Brook Kishon. A dramatic ending to a dramatic story, wouldn’t you say?

But, I have a question. How is it that we are to view this Old Testament text? Or, better yet, how can we apply it to our lives in the here, in the now? I’d like to, if you would let me, suggest to you three steps that we would take, that we must take, in light of this text. The first step that we must take is that we must search. Now, you may be thinking, “Pastor Chris, what must we search?” The answer is actually very simple. You see, we need to search our own hearts, that’s what we need to do. It is a great story, don’t get me wrong, and a true story, but it has some application for us. We need to search our heart in light of what we have just read because we need to see if perhaps we, too, like the Israelites have been faltering between two opinions, to see if we, too, have been jumping back and forth with trying to serve two masters. That’s what we must do, we must search our hearts. Again, the reason for that is because nothing can ever come before God in our lives—it can’t be a person, it can’t be a place, it can’t be a thing. Nothing can ever come before God in our hearts.

I remember dating my wife, and I remember looking at her telling her, “You know, I love Jesus, and I’m going to serve the Lord.” I remember telling her when she was my girlfriend at the time, I said, “You are always going to be second best,” trying telling a girl that, by the way. It’s funny. She looked at me and said, “You, too, buddy!” Do you know that a spouse can’t even be before God in your life? Not even a spouse. Do you know that your children can’t come first? Remember, idols don’t just look like statues. They’re not just made of wood and stone. They’re anything that takes the place of God in our lives.

I remember when I was barely beginning my Christian walk. I heard God loud and clear one time. I was wanting to serve more and more, and wanting to get more involved and just grow more in my Christian walk. I was struggling because I was thinking, I should really go to church on Sundays. I should go early and get there to help and serve, but…Man, you know, there’s something that happens on Sundays, it’s football—the Raiders happen on Sundays. I remember really, really struggling because I felt God was telling me, “Hey, I want you to go a little bit deeper. I want you to grow. I want you to know Me more,” and I was like, “Okay. I should go to church and start serving. I should be there at first service, and I want to stay and help out, just whatever they need.” But, you know, the Raider game starts at 10 a.m., so I started morphing my schedule of church around the Raider game and realized that it just isn’t going to work. I remember God, loud and clear, telling me, “Chris, you have the Raiders much too high on your list.”

I know what you guys are thinking, That’s easy to surrender, the Raiders are trash. Let me tell you, it was a struggle. It was a struggle early on. I remember it. I remember God telling me, “It’s time to cut it out.” God telling me, “I need to be number one, and what I want you to do, you need to focus on Me.” We must search our hearts, and ask ourselves a tough question, have I placed anything above or even on the same level as the Lord? It’s a hard thing to do, really, because for some maybe here tonight it’s not the Raiders but it’s a job or a career, it’s a goal or a pursuit that you’re aiming for. It’s not that those things are bad—please don’t get me wrong—but those things can never come before God. They can’t. It can’t be a relationship, it can’t be your hobbies, it can’t be your house, your car, or your material possessions. It can’t be anything like that. You can never have anything that comes before God.

If you’re here tonight, whatever it is, you need to let that go. If you’re God’s child, He will not be okay with sharing His rightful place in your heart. He won’t. We need to search our hearts and ask God to reveal if there is anything in there that shouldn’t be. I would add that we must do this every day, every day, because how easy is it for us to allow other things to take priority. You may be sitting here thinking, Pastor Chris, this message isn’t for me today because I’m doing super good. God is number one in my life right now. There is nothing that is taking His place. You know what? As time goes on, who’s to say that won’t change? It’s so, so easy to allow other things to get in the way of our relationship with the Lord. It’s so easy to allow other “things” to take God’s place. It can happen in the blink of an eye, and that’s why we must search our hearts every single day, every single day. We cannot be on the fence serving the Lord one moment and something else the next. If we are, the next step is even more crucial. Let me share it with you.

First, we must search; secondly, we must surrender. You see, if there is something taking God’s place in your heart and life, then you must surrender it to the Lord. You must lay it down. You cannot continue to hobble between faults or jump back and forth between two opinions. You cannot serve two masters. Again, remember Jesus’ words, Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters.” You might say, “Well, what if what’s taking precedence, what if what has all of my attention, what if what has all of my love and it’s maybe becoming an idol, maybe God is telling me that tonight, what if it’s my kids or my spouse? I can’t just dump them off on the side of the road on the way home from church? What do I do then?” Well, let me tell you. First, you must ask God to forgive you. I have had to do this at times because early on my wife, I felt, was taking God’s place in my own heart. So you must ask God to forgive you, and then you must surrender to Him and ask Him to help you put Him first. Ask God, by His power, not your own, to help you make Him first priority.

If you need a great verse to help you with this and to live this way, this is one of my favorite, and I can’t think of a better one, Matthew 6:33. Many of you likely know it. It says, “But seek first,”—not second, not third, not after your wife, not after your kids, not after your job, not after your career—“the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In simple English: Put God first, and He’ll take care of everything else. You must know that God will not allow anything to rival Him or take His place. You must ask yourself again, has your heart strayed from following the Lord first and foremost? If other “things” have gotten in the way, you must surrender it tonight. Someone once said, “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims of our affection, the demands of our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.” God must be first. There can be no Baals in our hearts—no jumping back and forth between Him and other “things.”

Here’s the final step, and it’s equally as critical and crucial. It’s that we must start, we must start. What I mean by this is, again, very simple. If you have been living your life lately like the Israelites were, if there is something that has taken the place of God in your heart and in your life, then my encouragement to you is to surrender it and start over. It’s to bring it before the Lord right here, right now—don’t wait any longer—and start living for Jesus completely and wholly surrender to Him.

A few of us pastors were discussing just yesterday about how so many people in church, so many Christians, how they’re just okay with being saved. Family, you know that salvation is just the beginning of our Christian lives. Do you know that God wants you to grow? God wants you to be more holy. God actually has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of you. He wants to use you for His Kingdom, to further His Kingdom, and for His glory. The question is, are you allowing that to happen or are there other “things” that are in the way? If there are, surrender them. You can start brand new today. Perhaps you’ve come here, and maybe you’re even watching online and you’re not a believer, well then, why not start today? Why not repent and ask God to forgive you and confess that the Lord is God? You know, the Bible says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. You can start today. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow.

Again, maybe that’s you tonight. Maybe like me with baseball, maybe you let other “things” get in the way. Maybe you’ve been jumping back and forth between serving God and other “things,” and you’re struggling really, really hard to let go. My question then to you is, how long? How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, then follow Him. Would you all pray with me?

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About Pastor Chris Plaza

Pastor Chris Plaza is the Jr. High School Pastor at Revival Christian Fellowship

Sermon Summary

Pastor Chris Plaza teaches an expository message from through 1 Kings 18:20-40 titled, “Decision Day.”

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Pastor Chris Plaza

June 28, 2023