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A Faith That Listens To God's Voice

Sermon Series:

A Faith that Endures

Nate Harney
Nate Harney

Ministries Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
1 Kings 19:1-18


Well, good morning Peace Church. My name is Pastor Nate. I'm the family pastor here. It's a joy to be with you this morning. I just want to welcome everyone who's also joining us online and in the chapel and the venue. We're so glad you're here with us. Well, I found that you know, you're starting to get a little older when your primary doctor can no longer help you with everything that ails you. They got to start referring you out to some specialists. Some of you know what I'm talking about. I just did my first visit to an ENT, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, so that was fun. And what they wanted to look at in me is for about a year now, I've just had this constant relentless ringing in both of my ears. I can hear it right now. It's frustrating. It gets on my nerves, so they're trying to help me out with it. And the first thing they wanted to do is do a hearing test. They want to make sure that I'm not experiencing hearing loss. And what I actually ended up telling them when they told me we're going to do a hearing test to see if this is related, I let them know I've been struggling with hearing problems my whole life. I've actually, I always have difficulty hearing. And so, I said, even longer than just a year I've been dealing with this ringing. And even the first couple of years with my wife, she had to learn that I'm not very good at hearing and there was times where it caused a little friction, but we figured it out, we worked through it. But anyway, I did the test and the results came back and they were shocking to me because I found out that I have perfect hearing. I was shocked. I went home and told my wife she was not. She let me know that she had this sneaking suspicion since the first couple weeks of our marriage that I didn't have a hearing problem, that I had what her words not mine, a listening problem. She said a bunch of other stuff too, but I wasn't really paying attention. So I don't. This morning, as we continue to walk with Elijah, we're gonna be seeing in God's word the importance of listening. We are gonna see that the Bible says a lot about listening in general, but in this passage that we're looking at, we're gonna see that a faith that endures listens to God's voice.

So this morning, we are in 1 Kings 19. It's not gonna be up on the screen, so go ahead and turn there in your Bibles, pull them up on your phone if you got them.

And just as a review, if you weren't here last week, we heard from Pastor Ryan. He preached on the previous chapter, 1 Kings 18. And in that chapter, we know that Elijah had a total showdown with the prophets of Baal, this false god. He went head-to-head with 450 of these prophets. They both built altars and the Lord, the one true God, the one Elijah worships, sent fire from heaven. And so, so much so that they found out the truth about whose God was real, that Elijah actually put those 450 prophets to death. And so Elijah, where we meet him, he's coming down off a mountain both literally and metaphorically. He's coming down from Mount Carmel, but he's been on the spiritual high point. And we're going to meet Elijah at one of the lowest points of this prophet's spiritual journey. Things can change fast.

1 Kings 19:1-3

So we're picking up in first Kings 19. We're gonna be reading verses one through three and then nine through 18. So please read along with me.

1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

So pause with me here. Verses four through eight, which we're not gonna read this morning, it tells this beautiful little story of Elijah is exhausted, he needs rest. God provides a meal for him. He rejuvenates and refreshes him. Then Elijah travels for 40 days, 40 nights, and he arrives at Mount Horeb.

1 Kings 19:9-18

That's where we'll pick up in verse nine. Here's where it says,

9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks 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 the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”


Would you pray with me? Father, as we open your word today, I pray that you would open our hearts and our minds and our ears to listen, to listen to what you're speaking to us today through your word. Pray this in Jesus' name, amen.

Well, if we are gonna have a faith that endures, we need to listen to God's voice and we need to beware of other voices. Look back at the first verse from chapter 19 with me and see what was the voice that Elijah was listening to. As a reminder, I said this before, Pastor Ryan preached on it last week. Elijah has just called down fire from heaven and then he battles and kills 450 prophets of Baal. Keep that in mind as we go back to verse one. So Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So how does the queen respond to this news?

Verse two tells us that Jezebel sends a simple message to Elijah, you're dead. Elijah's response to the threat, in verse three we see he's so afraid that he runs for his life. I'm gonna say it one more time. Elijah has just called down an all-consuming fire from the sky. Get your picture of that. And then he kills 450 men.

For those of you who are basketball fans here, in the NBA, there are 30 teams, 15 on each roster. If you do some quick math, there are 450 guys in the entire league. Elijah was just able to defeat the equivalent of a modern sports league, and he gets this one message from one voice, and it freaks him out enough that he runs for his life. What is going on here, Elijah?

Now, it would be very easy for us to sit back today, read this account, and judge Elijah for his response. How can you let one voice speak louder than the voice of the Lord with all you've seen, with all that God has done for you? It would be really easy to sit back and do that today. But how many of us do the exact same thing over and over and over again, day in and day out? Elijah saw the glory of God partially revealed in some amazing miracles. We here on the other side of the New Testament, we've seen the glory of God fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. T

he book of John says that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We know how the story ends. We know the good news. We know revelation. We know that the battle is already won and the victory belongs to the Lord. But how many times do we still listen to so many other voices in our life instead of the Lord's voice as the first voice speaking into our lives? It's hard because in this modern world that is just undergirded and then propelled forward by just almost an endless amount of media and voices and content flowing into our minds, into our lives.

I think for the younger people here, the number of voices that speak in your life every day just through social media, just through a different swipe every couple of seconds, another voice, another perspective, another person speaking into your life. Or maybe if you're not a social media person, I think of potentially some of the older generations here, just a 24-hour news cycle. There's always a voice available. We can always access another voice to speak into our life. Voice after voice after voice.

We know what Elijah knew back then, that we should be listening to the voice of God before all else. But do we actually stop and listen? If you're newer to peace, you're probably already starting to figure out that whatever pastor is preaching here, we wanna focus primarily on what God is saying through his word. We love the Bible here. We come back to the Bible. We are driven by the Bible. We are all about the Bible. And if you don't know, it's not just because we're obsessed with some random book. It's because we believe that this is the word of God. If you wanna hear God speak, we're gonna come back to this over and over and over again this morning. The primary means that we do that are we open up to God's word and we listen. That is how we hear the voice of the Lord. And that is how we drown out all the other voices that are trying to speak into our lives.

So you'll be blessed if you learn today if you take away that we need to beware of outside voices that go against what is taught in God's word. But Elijah found, and I'm sure many of you will relate to this here today, that sometimes the most dangerous voice that speaks into our life isn't coming from the outside, but it's right up here. Look with me at verse nine, and we're gonna see that we, it's not enough just to be aware of other voices, but we need to be aware of our own voice too. Verse nine, says this, Elijah came to the cave and lodged in it, and behold, the word of the Lord came to him and he said to him, what are you doing here, Elijah? And Elijah responds, I've been very jealous of the Lord, the God of hosts. Elijah speaks from his own perspective. And it's generally true, Elijah was a very faithful man and prophet, but he's not perfect.

Look at how he keeps going. He says, for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with a sword. Now, as sad as it is, there's truth there. That was happening in Israel but Elijah is starting to let his emotions get the best of him and starting to let that voice in his own head speak over the lords this is an exaggeration this is happening in Israel but not all the Israelites are doing this let's keep going here's where it gets really bad Elijah says and I even I only in last and they seek my life to take it away. There it is. Elijah takes some things that are mostly true and he mixes it in with the voice in his head and the feelings of depression that he's experiencing and the anxiety that's overwhelming him in this moment and it leads him to embrace some half-truths flat out lie. When he says, I, even I only am left, the voice in Elijah's head is saying, you are absolutely and completely alone. Everyone, everyone else has abandoned God and you are all that's left, Elijah. You are completely, utterly alone. Does Elijah really feel this way? We know he does. And the reason we know he does is because God actually gives him another chance. He asks him the same question, he gets a redo, and Elijah gives the exact same answer. He is down in the darkness. He says, verse 14, it could look like a typo if you didn't know, he says the exact same thing. He says I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with a sword. And I, even I only am left. And they seek my life to take it away." The voice in Elijah's head, it's consistent and it's certainly persistent, but it's also just flat-out wrong. How do we know he was wrong? Because the voice of the Lord speaks and gently but clearly corrects him.

In verses 15, 16, and 17, God gives Elijah the names of three new allies, Hazel, Jehu, and Elisha. God's saying, Elijah, the voice in your head says that you're alone, wrong. Here are three names, you are not alone. But God doesn't stop with three, does he? Look at the last verse with me, 18, where God provides just this heaping bowl of truth and perspective on the lies coming from Elijah's head.

Verse 18 says, yet I will leave, if you're looking at it, how many? 7,000 in Israel, 7,000. All the knees that have not bowed to bail and every mouth that has not kissed him The Lord is saying again Elijah. You think you're the only one who stayed faithful to the Lord You think you're all alone and he just uses the truth to cut through those lies Coming from the voice in his head And he says there are 7,000 in Israel who haven't bent the knee to bail Elijah. You are not alone. So was the voice in Elijah's head telling him the truth? No, it wasn't.

But what do we do with that today?

We all know that we got voices in our own head, that our own perspective is sometimes off and needs to be corrected. How do we practically turn down the volume of that voice in our own head and just crank up the voice of the Lord. Well, if you're paying attention, you're already going to know where I'm going to go with this one. But I want to tell you something about my life first. There's a sense when I read this account in the life of Elijah that I connect with it, I resonate with it in a very, very personal way. Elijah is completely down in the dumps and he's just dealing with total depression and anxiety.

Now I have received, I've never shared this publicly, just hasn't come up, but I'm not ashamed to share that I've received an official clinical formal diagnosis of having depression and anxiety. That's something I battled for years, something I even battle today. Now, when you bring up this topic of mental health, I'm sure for so many of you here, there's a lot of thoughts and questions going through your head as I share this. I'm gonna address two corrections I think that might be needed for some of us today, and I'm gonna give one thing, one takeaway for all of us.

So, first of all, I would guess that in a room this large with people coming from so many different experiences and walks of life, that there are some of you who might've just heard one of your pastors say that he has some mental health issues. And you might think, whoa, timeout. Is that okay? Why are you up on stage right now if you're dealing with bigger problems than maybe even I got. I can totally understand if you're feeling that way, but can I go full Pastor Ryan on you for like 10 seconds? I understand that perspective, but if you have that perspective, you're totally wrong. I just want to be really honest with you. You're wrong. And the reason I know that is because the voice of the Lord in the Scriptures, if you look through the Scriptures, it's not just Elijah, but God has a habit, he has a tendency to use the weak and the broken to bring about his purposes in the church and in this world. You can look through all of church history, we can look through all the scriptures. God loves using weak and broken people to do great things for his glory.

Now, I'm not talking about the qualifications that we find in scripture that are necessary for all of our pastors to meet. I'm not talking about sin here. I'm talking about weakness and brokenness that we're working through. So I don't want to be heard incorrectly there. But there's another group I would worry about how you would respond to something like this. Because there's a whole spectrum that the stigma that comes with mental health can bring about.

I would guess there's some of you in the room and I would lean on thinking it would be some of the younger people here. You might have just heard one of your pastors say, you know, I battle with some mental health issues. And you might be thinking, cool, I want mental health issues. That sounds interesting and unique. I got to tell you, if that's your perspective, and some of you are thinking, who would think that? There's just this strange growing wave among some young people that they think this is there's something cool or fun or unique. Can I tell you it's not cool, it's not fun, and nowadays it's not even all that unique anymore? There's nothing that you would want to pursue about this because the source of it is the brokenness that comes from the fall and from the lies that come from our enemy that fill up our brains. This is not something that I would wish on anyone, but if it is something that you deal with, I just want you to know that there are so many ways that you can receive help.

I personally have received help in lots of different ways, but there is one primary way that has made a bigger difference in my battle with this than anything else. And it doesn't just apply for the people in this room who battle in the same way I do or Elijah was in this moment, but I know humanity. I know that for each and every one of us, there are times where you are down, where you're dealing with total sadness, where you are worried, you're dealing with tons of anxieties that come from this life in this world, where there are lies in your head, and it might not be something that you deal with all the time, but if you haven't dealt with it yet, you will sometime.

And I want to give us all the same encouragement. There are lots of different helpful and beneficial ways to get help for that kind of thing, but none of them, I wanna be very clear, none of them are as helpful, as important, and as primary as listening for the voice of God that is found here in the scriptures.

Here's what I mean by that.

In my life, I got three little kids, I got an awesome wife, I got a very important job helping with an amazing church where God's doing great things. And while that is an incredible thing, there's times where it feels like a huge weight. There's times where I feel very afraid and that leads to some of this depression and anxiety that I'm talking about. And in those moments when I'm afraid, Isaiah 41 10 so do not fear for I am with you do not be dismayed for I am your God I will bless you I will help you and I will uphold you with my righteous right hand when the waves of anxious thoughts and depressive feelings are just crashing over my mind. Philippians 4, rejoice in the Lord always. I'll say it again, rejoice. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God and the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When the voices in your head are getting loud and saying lies the only thing that can fully and primarily drown them out is when the voice of the Lord speaks louder. If that's something that you battle with as well, I'm not saying that there's not plenty of other different ways to seek help. And I would love to talk with you about any of those things. I've been talking with a lot of people this morning about that topic specifically. But what I am saying is that for years and years there was this tendency to just tell people read your Bible, read your Bible, read your Bible and not find any other solutions. I'm not saying that. In fact, I think the pendulum swung a little bit the other way at this point where sometimes, especially for some of the young people in the room, you might be seeking every other source, every other voice besides this one. And this is the most important voice you could have in your life, regardless of what you're battling.

If we're gonna have enduring faith, we need to beware of the outside voices coming in. We need to beware of the inside voices that can try to drive us away from God's word that is found in the voice of the Lord. And lastly, we need to beware of noise and novelty. We've been talking about listening to God's voice over the other voices, but we also need to be careful that we're listening to God's voice in the right way, listening for the right things. Look at verse 11 as we're going to see how God teaches us something about this, about his voice in the story of Elijah.

Verse 11 says this, "'And he said,' this is the Lord, "'he said, go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. "'And behold, the Lord passed by, "'and a great and strong wind tore the mountains "'and broken pieces the rocks 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 and after the earthquake a fire But the Lord was not in the fire and after the fire the sound of a low whisper When Elijah heard it he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave and Behold there came a voice to him and said what are you doing here Elijah? hear Elijah. Now this is probably the most famous passage that comes out of this chapter of scripture.

So you might be familiar with this part of the story. There are the crashing winds and the rumbling quake. There's the burning fire, but God speaks to Elijah through a quiet, ordinary whisper. Even with all of his weakness, Elijah knows the Lord enough to hear his voice. He's listening, he can recognize and identify that still small whisper of the Lord through all the noise happening around him on that mountain. I wonder for us today, if we were on Mount Horeb with Elijah, would we be looking for something in the fire and in the quake and in the wind?

Imagine for a moment with me that when I started this message, if I would have said, you know, I had a sermon prepared, but I woke up this morning and God spoke to me. So I got a message to bring to you today. You probably perk up a little bit. I know if I was sitting out there I'd be like, okay, here we go. This is gonna be interesting, right? Well, that's exactly what happened. Now, not in the splashy, flashy ways that sometimes we seek after, but after studying God's Word, I'll tell you, I woke up this morning about an hour earlier than I wanted to, but I woke up early this morning and I opened up God's word. And do you know what happened? God spoke to me in 1 Kings 19. Do you know how I know that happened? Because every time you open God's word, He is speaking. We forget how special these moments are. We forget how incredible it is that we have the Word of the Lord at our fingertips at all times. We can hear the voice of God whenever we want. We just need to open the book and read. And I get it. I'm in the same spot. Sometimes I want the loud, I want the noisy, I want the new, the novel. I want the fires from Mount Carmel. I don't want the quiet whispers of Mount Horeb. You know, I want the show. But is there a chance that if that's all we're looking for, we can miss the quiet and ordinary way that God wants to speak to us every single day of our lives? Could we be missing that? I want you to think about that today. If we wanna figure out how to open our ears to hear the still small whisper of the Lord, I wanna put it very clearly, very simply. You open up this book and you read and you receive the word of the Lord. And I get it, I grew up in the church. I know that the read your Bible message comes off as pretty repetitive. You've heard it before. In fact, probably, it's probably one of the main takeaways in most of the messages you sat through. And here in West Michigan, I know that many of you have sat through a lot of sermons. You know, you're supposed to read your Bible, read your Bible, read your Bible. So I'm not gonna say that to you this morning. I wanna frame it a little bit differently. My hope and prayer for you this week, whether it's later today, tomorrow morning, or sometime later on, is that you wouldn't just read your Bible, that you would listen to the voice of the Lord. By that I mean read your Bible. This is how we hear God speak in the most primary and fundamental sense.

The God who created and sustains the universe loves you and He is speaking to you through His Word. Are we listening?

Would you stand up with me this morning? I wanna pray for you. And my prayer for all of us is wherever you're at in life, whether you're on the mountaintop of Mount Carmel or you're down in the depths with Elijah as he's just pouring out his heart before the Lord. My prayer over all of us today is that we would learn to tune our hearts and our minds and our ears to the voice of the Lord that is given to us in his word.

Ending Prayer

Would you pray with me? Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that you've revealed yourself to us, that you speak to us. And God, we confess that we don't always seek out your voice we don't always listen, but we know your grace covers that. We thank you for Jesus. We thank you for the cross and the empty grave. And Lord, we pray now that we would become people who just desperately seek after your voice. That we would not have to only discipline ourselves to read our Bibles, but we would delight in seeking after hearing your voice in the scriptures. God, I pray by the power of the Holy Spirit, you would fill each and every one of us to do just that this week. We love you, Jesus, and we pray all of this in your name. Amen.

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