Affirmed by Fire
“but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters.”
Acts 25: 19, 20
How many of us can say that we truly know Him and now live to affirm that He lives? Sadly many believers walk in a weak relationship with the Lord. What is the greatest treasure in our lives that we are not ashamed to let the world know about?
Paul after his encounter with the Lord was so wrecked by Him, that he lived to affirm that the Lord lives, even being willing to be judged. Paul was brought before the judgment seat of Festus and then sends him to be judged by King Agrippa.
Had Paul simply taught that Jesus was a good man and taught good things, the religious elite would not have been so offended? Today, many in the world will accept that the man Jesus who died was a good man. But Paul AFFIRMED He was alive. In other words, his life was a living and bold declaration that Jesus lives.
Not alone did he offend the crowd; his life was a constant offending declaration that Jesus lives.
Do our lives validate and confirm with authority that Jesus lives? Let’s look at Elijah. How many have had this said about us:
“Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, ‘Is that you, O troubler of Israel?”
1 Kings 18: 17
Ahab sought to make Elijah out as the problem and not just the problem, the source of problems for Israel! The enemy is the accuser of the brethren, and he loves to point the finger and say, “You are the troublemaker!” Those who learn to wear persecution as a badge of honor break the spirit of intimidation. Elijah responded right back and said:
“I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.”
1 Kings 18: 18
We know that Solomon succeeded David and built the Temple. We see an incredible consecration of the Temple, causing the fire and glory to fall from Heaven. But even Solomon would son worship foreign gods. The enemy found a weakness in Solomon that he inherited from his father, women. His love of women caused him to take many wives who, despite the Lord’s warning, turned his heart to worship other gods (1 Kings 11).
“And at the time when Solomon was old, his wives made his heart go astray after the idols of the nations, and his heart was not perfect in the fear of the Lord his God like the heart of David his father.”
1 Kings 11: 4 Targum Onkelos
May we not be so caught up in this worth and life and things that our heart does not fully belong to the Lord. Many start strong, but may we run the race with endurance and finish even stronger.
His son, who succeeded him, “consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. (1 Kings 12: 8). The glory and fire of the past had faded, and comfort was found in what they were familiar with and those whose voice spoke loudest in their lives. Elijah came as one out of season and flowing against the tide. He spoke o the former glory and called the people to return to the Lord. But the people just wanted to be like the rest, simply enjoying life.
One of the greatest dangers is simply wanting and, even worse needing to fit in. We are willing to compromise and even cast off our beliefs to be received and welcomed by the world.
“And you will be hated by all for My Name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Matthews 10: 22
Are we, like Paul, affirming in our lives through what we say and do, that Jesus lives? Are we willing to pay the price? Listen to Paul:
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
2 Timothy 3: 12
Going back to Elijah, we see a man who dared to stand up and affirm in his generation that the Lord lives and the Lord is God! He dared challenge the king and the world. Do we know our God? Those who know Him will do great exploits!
As we continue reading First Kings chapter eighteen, we see Elijah challenge the gods the people served at Mount Carmel. Now Carmel means “garden-land,” We can see it speaks of believers more caught with this world and enjoying life than with the Lord God.
In Elijah’s challenge, he made it easier for the Baal worshippers and gave them hours to prove their worship. Does our worship pass the litmus test? Does our worship affirm that our God lives?
“And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. 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.”
1 Kings 18: 29-30
All these gods that they worshipped neither heard, cared, or answered despite all their efforts. Almost one thousand prophets of these false gods had gathered, prayed, offered their sacrifices, leaped on the altar, and prophesied. But nothing. All the while, the altar of the Lord sat broken down.
This generation is in the same place. We have so many voices but no power. And the altar of the Lord remains broken and abandoned.
Elijah rebuild the altar and placed twelve stones, one for each tribe. He understood intercession and how to touch the Father’s heart.
“And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah came near and said, ‘Lord God 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. Hear me, O Lord hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned hearts back to You again.’ Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 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!”
1 Kings 18: 36- 39
Real worship touches the hearts of the Father and causes the fire to fall. If the sacrifice has been accepted, the fire falls!
Elijah drew near first. In the Aramaic, it reads:
“But I will pray in the Name of the Lord, and He will send His Word, and the fire will descend, for the Lord is God!”
1 Kings 18: 22
He will send His Word, and the fire will fall! Real worship lifts up the Word and brings His abiding Presence!
Now did you listen carefully to the prayer of Elijah? “You have turned the hearts back!” Elijah was not there just to put on a show so that they would see how great he was but to see the Lord exalted and the people brought back. Real worship must draw near to Him and capture His heart’s cry and His heart’s longings. Are we broken for the backsliders and lost?
Is our worship all about us and our needs? Is our worship simply singing our favorite song? Is our worship earthly? Is our worship fleshly? Or is worship recognizing our brokenness before Him and seeking that He would rebuild us first? Is our worship coming from a life of obedience to the call?
We need the fire to fall! But we must first return to our First Love and draw nigh to Him once again! We must cast off all of those things that have captured our hearts. It is time for heart surgery. It is time for the fire to fall!