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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Babylon Bee
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Photo taken by my cousin Georgia

We still haven't had significant snow this season for fresh photos though it is forecast for Thursday!

"A Prophetic Challenge"

Message summary: Elijah's prophetic challenge needs to be considered by each generation.

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"If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21).

Babylon Bee
Since last Spring I have enjoyed a website, "The Babylon Bee", which uses humor and satire to make a point. It bills itself as the "Trusted Source For Christian News Satire". I don't know anything about the backgrounds of the writers (who remain anonymous) but they sure seem to have a pulse on many of the issues facing the modern church.

A recent Babylon Bee article was titled "Paul Washer To Preach At Super Bowl Halftime Show". The article is written as if it's a news release and postulates that Paul Washer will preach a 90 minute sermon during the Super Bowl halftime. Paul Washer, who probably is not familiar to many of our readers, is a hard-hitting Baptist preacher known for highly convicting messages. He's sort of a polar opposite to Joel Osteen.

Paul Washer
HOUSTON, TX—In an effort to take the halftime show at Super Bowl LI to the next level, organizers of the annual event have confirmed that Baptist preacher and missionary Paul Washer is slated to preach a brief, 90-minute sermon on the righteousness of God during the event.

Squeezing the preacher in just before Lady Gaga’s routine, organizers stated that Washer’s sermon is expected to be the highlight of the evening for many.

“We know that having a speaker like Mr. Washer is a little unorthodox for the typically extravagant affair, but we’re assured it’s going to be an exciting, encouraging time for all involved,” a spokesman for the event told reporters.

“Everyone knows brother Paul can really ‘wow’ a Sunday crowd. We can’t wait to see how this goes,” he added.

According to the event coordination team, a simple wooden pulpit will rise out of the stage right after the first half of the contest between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Then, Washer will quietly take the stage and preach for “an hour and a half or so,” just ahead of Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated performance.

Just trying to imagine a hard-hitting 90 minute sermon at the Super Bowl halftime is totally absurd, especially the notion that he will preach it prior to Lady GAGA, a very worldly musician known for her outlandish costumes or lack thereof.

Actually there are very few churches now where people would tolerate a 90 minute sermon, though it was common in the 1600's. When the separatists gathered for church the deacon would open with a prayer that lasted 60 to 90 minutes and then the preacher would generally preach at least 90 minutes, sometimes two hours as the congregation sat on backless benches made of rough tree lumber. Now we have A/C for summer, heat for winter and cushioned chairs or pews, and indoor flushable toilets, but lengthy, hard-hitting sermons are increasingly rare; especially those which might offend or conflict with the popular political correctness of our day.

This didn't intimidate Bible preachers although it could be quite costly. John the Baptist literally lost his head when he had the audacity to confront King Herod about his immoral lifestyle.

Today let us consider a very short sermon that Elijah preached. In fact the entire message is summed up in these words: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”

Yesterday we considered how Elijah had asked the people of Israel,
“How long will you hesitate between two opinions?"

1 Kings 18:21
He follows this question with a simple to understand prophetic challenge*, "If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him." Again this bears such a resemblance to the powerful charge Joshua issued to the people of God just prior to his death: "Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:14,15).

Elijah's prophetic challenge needs to be considered by each generation. Just as Joshua's charge has a timeless application so does Elijah's. "If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21).

Baal, of course, was a false god worshipped by people at that time. Today Baal represents all the false gods and ideologies that vie for our allegiance. In the first of the Ten Commandments God makes it clear that we are to have no other gods before Him.

Elijah is calling for complete commitment. This morning Brooksyne was playing a song by Selah titled, "More And More Of You"
(link below).  She said, "In all honesty the words are hard to sing when we ask ourselves, 'Do I really mean what I'm singing?'  I told her that we should probably just stick to an old hymn like "I Surrender All", being thoughtfully sarcastic since that hymn text also has an "all or nothing" message!

We are not given the option of wavering or dividing our allegiance. Elijah's challenge continues to ring down through the ages of time, "If the Lord is God, follow Him." Neither Jesus nor his disciples accommodated people's wavering beliefs or double-mindedness. The once wavering Thomas, when confronted with the physical evidence of the resurrection, exclaimed, "My Lord and my God" and went on to live and die for his Master.  Let us wholeheartedly serve God today and boldly declare, "The Lord is God and I will follow Him!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, today we consider Elijah's challenge, "How long will you go limping between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him". Indeed when our allegiance is divided we do limp, we are unsteady, and we will eventually fall in defeat. But when we take an upright and unwavering stand for You, our Living God, we will be people of conviction, courage, and consistency. We will be the salt of the earth, we will shine like stars in the universe, and we will be filled with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We will be victorious in this life and experience unending victory in the life hereafter, as we choose to follow You all the days of our life. Amen.

I Kings 18:21 (ESV) used in prayer

* Regarding today's title "A Prophetic Challenge".  Some associate prophecy with future events but I recall a teaching from Bible College that prophecy is both foretelling and forthtelling. Today's text is forthtelling.

Yesterday we mentioned Bible named towns here in Pennsylvania including Lebanon and received this reader's comment:

Just wanted to let you know, having been born and raised in Lebanon and a graduate of Lebanon High, the nick name for Lebanon High is The Cedars. I used to wonder, before I became a Christian, who names their school after a tree? Naturally while reading the Bible for the first time I knew why.  See Psalm 72:16   Shhh, don't let the ACLU hear that or they'll probably try to come in and demand they change the name!!!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"More And More Of You"   Video   Selah  (The song referenced in today's message)

"I Surrender All"  Video  Selah

"Paul Washer To Preach At Super Bowl Halftime Show"  Article from The Babylon Bee referenced in message. Here's a link to the main page and another story that really has a punch, "Church Surveys Community To Discover Which Doctrines It Should Abandon To Get Them In The Door"

"Examine Yourself"  An example of a Paul Washer sermon  Video  (this one is only 75 minutes long!)  Can you imagine this being preached at halftime in the Super Bowl? Only if there was a great nationwide revival would this be possible!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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