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Monday, December 31, 2018

Let 2019 Be The Year You Walk Confidently & Consistently In Your ANSWERED PRAYERS! DECLARE TODAY: MY PRAYERS ARE ANSWERED! How Big is God? God Is Saying Before You Call On Me, I Will Answer You.

1 Kings 18:36-37, “When it was time for the sacrifice to be offered, Elijah the prophet came up and prayed, “O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I’m doing what I’m doing under your orders. ANSWER ME, GOD; O ANSWER ME and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance.” (MSG)

Elijah needed a miracle! And truth is, there are many times when what we need is an answer to prayer. And then there are those rare, probably once in a lifetime moments when we have to have a full blown miracle! You see, the Old Testament prophet did not need a nice, run of the mill, easily explainable answer to prayer. The situation he was in, demanded an outright, jaw-dropping, undeniable, superceding-the-laws-of-nature, impressive, without a shadow of a doubt, verifiable miracle! Without it, Elijah would be killed and God’s chosen people would drift into pagan oblivion.

As Charles Dickens would say, “…it was the worst of times.”

King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had steered the nation of Israel down a road leading away from the Lord and then stepped on the accelerator – and woe to anyone who caused them a traffic jam in the process! Ahab was a man whose wickedness was exceeded only by that of his wife, Jezebel. Everything about that woman dripped iniquity and emanated evil. Together, they publicly promoted the worship of the pagan god Baal.

In order to shock the nation back from its dangerous path, the Lord sent a drought. This was not just a seasonal sign, but a heaven-sent plague that lasted for three long years. The lack of rain was an obvious slap in the face of the supposed rain god, Baal.

After three years without rain, the people stood precariously with one foot on either side, partially following the false god and sort of following their God. Please know this: Straddling the fence, is never a good place to be!

Into this boiling cauldron of chaos, God sent His servant, Elijah, the roughhewn prophet. He was a wild, eccentric, bold messenger of the Almighty God. Risking death, Elijah faced Ahab and challenged him to gather the people for a power duel of deities. When the day of decision dawned, Elijah stood alone on Mt. Carmel facing 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah before the gathered nation of Israel. The odds were 950 to 1! It looked like a mismatched fixed fight. And as it turned it out, IT WAS!

Sidestepping political correctness, Elijah confronted the people with a challenge: “…How long are you going to sit on the fence? If GOD is the real God, follow him; if it’s Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!” (1 Kings 18:21 MSG)

The people sat in stunned silence as he continued, “Then Elijah said, “I’m the only prophet of God left in Israel; and there are 450 prophets of Baal. Let the Baal prophets bring up two oxen; let them pick one, butcher it, and lay it out on an altar on firewood—but don’t ignite it. I’ll take the other ox, cut it up, and lay it on the wood. But neither will I light the fire. Then you pray to your gods and I’ll pray to God. The god who ANSWERS with fire will prove to be, in fact, God.” All the people agreed: “A good plan—do it!” (1 Kings 18:22-24 MSG)

Since Baal was supposedly able to control lightning, thunder, and rain, everyone agreed. You see, humans love to watch a wreck of any kind. And this wreck of a show-down guaranteed to be highly entertaining.

The Baal prophets went first, after all Elijah even went so far as to say, “…You go first, you’re the majority…” (1 Kings 18:25 MSG). Which we should take as an admonishment that the Majority isn’t always right, more powerful or more effective! In fact, I love the quote that says, “God may be the only person willing to stand by us when we’re forced to stand alone, but one person and a Sovereign God make a majority.” (Dr. Tim Kimmel). Even Frederick Douglass said, “One and God make a majority.” 

However, they prayed all morning, “Baal, answer us.” The only response they received was a wall of absolute silence! In fact, the Scripture says, “…But nothing happened – not so much as a whisper of breeze…” (1 Kings 18:26 MSG). Now that’s harsh!

Then, when Elijah began to taunt them, they prayed louder, harder, and more passionately. They did anything they could think of to provoke a response from their deity. Yet, there was not even a flicker of a reply. They prayed all afternoon. Nothing! Nada! Zippo! Baal had failed miserably! Better yet, the Bible says: “By noon, Elijah had started making fun of them, taunting, “Call a little louder—he is a god, after all. Maybe he’s off meditating somewhere or other, or maybe he’s gotten involved in a project, or maybe he’s on vacation. You don’t suppose he’s overslept, do you, and needs to be waked up?” They prayed louder and louder, cutting themselves with swords and knives—a ritual common to them—until they were covered with blood. This went on until well past noon. They used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened—not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response.” 1 Kings 18:27-29 MSG.

So, then it was Elijah’s turn! First, he repaired the altar the other prophets had knocked down in their feeble attempts to attract the attention of Baal. He dug a trench around the altar and then put wood on it and another ox. Then he did an absolutely outrageous thing! Elijah had the altar drenched in water, time after time, until the excess water filled the trench. He had to be crazy! If 950 prophets’ prayers could not get their god to send a spark, how did he think one man could get his God to consume a water-soaked sacrifice with fire?!

Here’s what the Bible says: “Then Elijah told the people, “Enough of that—it’s my turn. Gather around.” And they gathered. He then put the altar back together for by now it was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of Jacob, the same Jacob to whom God had said, “From now on your name is Israel.” He built the stones into the altar in honor of God. Then Elijah dug a fairly wide trench around the altar. He laid firewood on the altar, cut up the ox, put it on the wood, and said, “Fill four buckets with water and drench both the ox and the firewood.” Then he said, “Do it again,” and they did it. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. The altar was drenched and the trench was filled with water.” (1 Kings 18:30-35 MSG)
Standing in front of the altar before an entire nation and the hundreds of false prophets and King Ahab, Elijah needed a miracle! If he failed, they would kill him, and the Lord would be squeezed out of the nation through Ahab’s political clout.

So Elijah did the only thing a man in desperate need of an impossible miracle does. HE PRAYED! How big is God? Big Enough! So Elijah offered one of the most effective prayers recorded in the Bible and asked God for a really BIG thing: “When it was time for the sacrifice to be offered, Elijah the prophet came up and prayed, “O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I’m doing what I’m doing under your orders. Answer me, God; O answer me and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance.” (1 Kings 18:36-37 MSG).

Elijah offered a simple, two-word request, “ANSWER ME.” And guess what? GOD DID! “Immediately the fire of GOD fell and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38 MSG)

I would’ve given anything to see the faces of the people when God answered His servant! What a blast to witness the humiliation and total embarrassment of the false prophets! Wouldn’t it have been sheer delight to see the frustrated anger on the wicked king’s face?!

Elijah’s petition was powerful! The prophets of Baal prayed all day and Baal couldn’t even make a spark to light dry kindling wood! THEN ELIJAH PRAYED FOR LESS THAN A MINUTE and God sent fire from heaven that was so mighty it ignited a soaking wet sacrifice and burned up the wet wood, saturated stones, and drenched soil! And if that wasn’t enough, the blaze consumed all the water in the trench! That just floored me, and it did the very same to the people! The Bible says: “All the people saw it happen and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming, “GOD is the true God! GOD is the true God!” (1 Kings 18:39 MSG).
How Big is God? Big Enough!

The spiritual direction of an entire nation was turned back to God all because ONE MAN was not afraid to confront the enemy and ask God for a miracle! Elijah lived in the Largeness of God, and miracles were the result! He prayed, “ANSWER ME!” AND GOD DID! He prayed “ANSWER ME!” AND MANY PEOPLE WERE STEERED BACK ON COURSE! He asked for a victory-producing miracle, and the enemy was crushed!

Helen Roseveare was a Missionary Doctor who spent twenty years ministering in the Congo. This was one of her awesome testimonies: “One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator. (We had no electricity to even run an incubator). We also had no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. “And it is our last hot water bottle!” she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. “All right,” I said, “put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm. The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. “Please, God,” she prayed, “send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.” While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of a corollary, “And while You are about it, would You please send a doll for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?” As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, “Amen?” I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything. The Bible says so. But there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the verandah, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas – that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend. Then as I put my hand in again, I felt…could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, it was, a brand-new, rubber hot water bottle! I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, “If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the doll, too!” Rummaging down the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted. Looking up at me, she asked, “Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this doll to that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?” That parcel had been on the way for FIVE WHOLE MONTHS! Packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a doll for an African child – FIVE WHOLE MONTHS before – in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it that afternoon!

 “I am the Lord! THERE IS NOTHING TOO DIFFICULT FOR ME…” (Genesis 18:14 CEV).

In other words, HE IS THE GOD OF ALL! He Can Do Anything But Fail! He can send fire from heaven in answer to prayer. He can deliver a hot-water bottle and a doll to the Congo on exactly the right day! And just in case you were wondering, He can cure cancer, dry up tumors, make cysts disappear, regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. He can reverse the damage of diabetes, He can heal heart disease, He can put a roof over your head, food on your table, clothes on your back and shoes on your feet. He can grant you employment and favor you with a bonus and promotion on top! He can remove the feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, low self-esteem and depression. He can change your mind before the suicide attempt even takes place. He can mend your broken heart. He can rekindle and restore your marriage. He can get you back in school. He can carry you through the process of recovery from any addiction and habit. He can bring your wayward children back home. He can change the blood work and x-rays in your favor. He can undo what the disease did. He can heal your past, strengthen your present and enlarge your future. He can refresh your hope and rebuild your faith. He can protect you, provide for you and grant you joy and peace. He can restore your happy. Trust God! How Big is He? Big Enough for Anything You’re Facing! 

I could tell story after story of how God worked in amazing ways as the result of desperate prayer. But you don’t need to hear someone else’s story. You Need Your Own! So what is your seemingly impossible situation? Where do you need a miracle? Why not tell God? Ask Him to answer so you can give Him the Glory!

The next time you are facing a situation that needs a ANSWER ME GOD miracle, follow Elijah’s lead in 1 Kings 18:36-37: 

1...“When it was time for the sacrifice to be offered, Elijah the prophet came up and prayed…” A sacrifice is painful and bloody! And that may very well describe what you’re facing today! If so, do what Elijah did, when faced with a situation that would be of great sacrifice, he prayed! Unfortunately, we have the bad habit of gathering intercessors, crying, whining, blaming, finger pointing, complaining, and worst yet, on the phone for hours talking to people who can do absolutely nothing to fix what’s broken. No, instead, follow Elijah. He talked to no one BUT GOD! Make sure that’s your first line of defense as well!  

2...“…O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel…” When facing a crisis, don’t panic, pause and pray recalling the victories of the past! Elijah made known the names of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, and we know quite well all that God did for them! Therefore, whenever fear tries to take over, let your faith go down memory lane of all the Lord brought you through before, that He can and will bring you through again! He is still the same God yesterday, today and forevermore! He is not changing and He most certainly is not weakening! He is still faithful, consistent and all-powerful! He can do what neither you nor anyone else can do on your behalf! Just pause and as you pray look back over the years of your life, recall every battle and every victory, and remember that God has not forgotten to give you the triumph once more!

3...“…that I am your servant, and that I’m doing what I’m doing under your orders…” You have to know who you are and Who you’re praying too before you even start! If not, you’ll go into prayer, praying like a stranger or beggar instead of a son and daughter! Elijah said I am your servant and I’m working according to your orders. Therefore, God, since this assignment came to me by You, any bumps in the road along the way are Your responsibility to smooth out! In essence, You trusted me to do my job, and now God I’m trusting you to do Yours! You see, I can go to my HR specialist on my job because I’m employed there. And so, if I should have any questions or concerns regarding my benefits, that’s who I go to. Likewise, follow Elijah’s instructions. God, I’m your servant, I’m on my job, under your command and orders, I have a prayer concern before You, and I know that my greatest benefit in working for You, is answered prayer, so God, ANSWER ME! 

4...“…ANSWER ME, GOD; O ANSWER ME and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance.” Elijah does not ask God to get back to Him at His earliest convenience, NO, God answer me now! And guess what? He Did! And likewise, He will do the very same for you if only you’d exhibit bold, trusting faith! Elijah even puts some pressure on God: "REVEAL TO THIS PEOPLE THAT YOU ARE GOD, THE TRUE GOD"! God, your name and reputation are on the line, prove to these people that you are not only God, but the ONLY true God! And then the soft heart of the prophet is revealed when he says, ‘…you are giving these people another chance at repentance.’ You would think after having all these people coming up against Elijah that he would have something nasty and demeaning to say (you know, unfortunately, like some church folks do). But not Elijah, he maintains his character and even in prayer speaks of His God giving a people another opportunity to repent. Isn’t that just like our God? Because truthfully, we’ve committed some horrible sins against God and people, and yet, He never withdraws His mercy, and His grace never depletes!
People of God, certainly there are some areas in your life, family, ministry, business, finances, health, etc… that need a miraculously answered prayer! Well, why not take your Impossible to the God where absolutely NOTHING is Impossible for Him? If He answered Elijah, surely you believe He’ll answer you! 

Let 2019 Be The Year You Walk Confidently And Consistently In Your ANSWERED PRAYERS!
DECLARE TODAY: MY PRAYERS ARE ANSWERED!

Blessings
J.P. Olson