Sermon Sharing Ministry: "In a Cave", I Kings 19:9-10

Posted by: Administrator on Sat, Nov 20, 2004:

by Rev. Robert Earl Houston, Sr.

Sermon by Pastor Robert Earl Houston, Sr.
Preached at Carey Hill Missionary Baptist Church
North Augusta, South Carolina – Sunday, November 21, 2004
Rev. Clifford Williams, Pastor
8:00 a.m. Morning Worship

Text:            1 Kings 19:9-10

Subject:      "In a Cave"

As we enter into the fall / winter months of the year.  This is the
part of the year that experts warn us about the context of human
behavior.  It is during this time of the year that people are filled
with anxiety, people are filled with fear, and people are filled with
false interpretations of the time.  It almost seems unfair for this
nation to conduct elections in the fall near the holidays, because
for some holidays are not joyous, but they are painful and burdensome
reminders of circumstances.

This is the time of the year when people are filled with anxiety. The
New Year will soon be here but there are issues that were never
completely resolved in the old year.  New Year's Eve will soon be
here but there are some people that we haven't made peace with since
last year.  Christmas will soon be here but there are bills to be
paid and jobs are being cut on every hand.  Thanksgiving is just a
few days away but it seems like there are less things to be thankful
for – we are in the midst of a war that is growing in the death toll,
inflation is depressing us at the gas pump, families are in disarray,
children are in a senseless panic, there is trouble all over the land
and according to statistics, this is the time of the year when people
give up hope.  The by-product of giving up for hope is finding
oneself trapped in the four walls of lonely rooms and making houses
into depression chambers;  loneliness becomes avant garde for the
day;  quiet becomes the blanket that causes people to become your
phobia.  You are clinically, biblically and socially depressed.

I've come this morning to tell you that a cave is not for you.  It
was not designed for you.  It was not prepared for you.  Even Jesus
when His dead body was placed into a cave did not remain in the
cave. 

Our text is an example of what happens when you get into a cave. 
Elijah, the prophet, the successful man of God, the Tishbite, the man
of power and principle, has now found himself on the run from
Jezebel, the queen of Ahab's castle, who has ordered a hit or death
upon him.  He has obeyed the voice of the Lord when dealing a death
blow to the prophets of Ahab and Jezebel at Mount Carmel.  He has
obeyed the voice of the Lord in calling down fire from above.  He has
obeyed the voice of the Lord in slaying the false prophets.  But now
Jezebel has decreed without legislative power that he must die.  He
must be eliminated.  He must be eradicated.  He must be destroyed. 
He must be aborted post haste.  He must be erased.  He must be taken
out.  He must be wiped out.  And now the man who has listen and
obeyed God time after time after time has now decided that he isn't
waiting for God this time, he's going to do his own thing and decides
to run.  He is suffering from a form of clinical depression and moves
into a cave.

Before we jump all over Prophet Elijah there are some folk right now
who have trusted God in most things – but not every thing – and when
you stop trusting God and believing that God has a word for your
life, you too are on your way to a cave.

If you believe him to feed you, you got to believe that he'll heal
you.
If you believe he'll heal you, you go to believe he'll protect you.
If you believe he'll protect you, you got to believe he'll provide
for you.
If you believe he'll provide for you, you got to believe he'll take
care of your children.
If you believe he'll take care of your children, you got to believe
he'll handle your enemies.
If you believe he'll handle your enemies, you got to believe he'll
help you handle your bills.
If you believe he'll handle your bills, you got to believe he'll feed
you.

The problem is that some people will believe God to get you through
grade school, high school, but don't believe that God can get you
through college.

Some people believe that God will give them a job, give them a
family, but don't believe that if the tables turned upside down, they
don't believe that God can give them a better job and a better
husband or wife.

Elijah is in the cave not because of a divine command.
Elijah is in the cave not because of a divine directive.
Elijah is in the cave not because God showed him a vision.
Elijah is in the cave not because God pressed it into his spirit.
Elijah is in the cave not because God quickened something within.
Elijah is in the cave not because God led him there.
Elijah is in the cave not because God gave him a plan.

Elijah is in the cave because Elijah chose to be in the cave.  Not
only did Elijah choose to be there, he wanted to be there.  In
Hebrew, the word used here is loon – which has three different
definitions, but the definition here along with the tense means this –
Elijah set up house and decided that unlike his past, he had planned
to live in the cave.  Imagine if you will, Elijah has already decided
where he will place his bed in the cave, his kitchen area will be to
the right, his dining area will be towards the right, the television,
DVD, VCR, and playstation will placed by the left, the bathroom will
be an outhouse located about 50 yards away by a stream, he'll place a
few photos on the wall, to make it comfortable.  Howsomever, no
matter how you fix it up – it's still a cave.

My brothers and my sisters – please don't let your perceived problems
run you into a cave:

Don't let your enemies send you to a cave;
Don't let your politics send you to a cave;
Don't let your lack of popularity send you to a cave;
Don't let your health send you to a cave;
Don't let your children send you to a cave;
Don't let your grades in school send you to a cave;
Don't let your reputation send you to a cave;
Don't let your lack of money send you to a cave;
Don't let your troubles send you to a cave;
Don't let your husband send you to a cave;
Don't let your wife send you to a cave;
Don't let your doctor's diagnosis send you to a cave;
Don't let your lack of good looks send you to a cave;
Don't let your "boo" send you to a cave.
Don't let your fellow church members send you a cave.
Don't let the people you tried to help who turn against you send you
to a cave.
Don't let your lack of self-esteem send you to a cave.

A cave is the place where Elijah will feel like he is safe.  For him
it was the safest place in the world.  Oh Elijah, and somebody in
this room, the safest place in all the world is not in a cave, it is
being in the will of God.  God can turn violent, virulent, and
turbulent places in safe harbor.  Y'all don't believe me?

He turned the lion's den into a den of tranquility.
He turned the fiery furnace into an air-conditioned villa.
He turned the raging sea into a quiet vacation byway.
Anybody here know that God can take your dangerous places and turn
them into your safe places?

Elijah prepared to live in the cave for a long time.  And when God
comes to him in the cave, He asks an interrogative question – What
are you doing here Elijah?

Maybe that's what God is saying in some of our lives.  God does not
ask as someone who doesn't know.  God is asking because he wants to
make sure that Elijah investigate his actions and his motives. 

After all, Elijah had just experienced victory after victory through
the power of God.  Now the voice of God, talks to the man of God, in
the cave created by God, on the mountain of God, asks the question of
God – what are you doing here?

Have you ever had God show up at your cave and ask why are your there?

After all that God has done for you why are you at the casino?
After all that God has healed you from why are you still smoking?
After all that God has delivered you from why are you at the club?
After all that God gave you in the courtroom why are you still
chasing someone who doesn't love you?
After all that God protected you from why are at home instead of in
church?
After all that God did for you, gave you, protected you, loved you,
died for you, buried for you, resurrected for you – why haven't you
joined church – why are you sitting there in your sins rather than
coming to Jesus while you have a chance?

Elijah – man of God – why are you in this cave?  Why are you setting
up camp in a cave?  Why didn't you trust me?  Why didn't you ask me? 
Why didn't you try me?  Look at you – I just gave you power to call
down fire from above and now you're cowering in a cave.  Look at you –
I just allowed you to slay grown men who were guilty of prophesying
falsely and now you're hiding out in a cave.  Look at you – I gave
you boldness and power and now you're hiding out in a cave.  Why are
you there?

Elijah's answer is filled with half-truths and truth-halves.  He says
in essence, I have been serving you faithfully God; I've served you
the best I could, but the Children of Israel, the nation of Israel,
they aren't serving you – they have forgotten the covenant you made
with them, they've desecrated your altars, and they have slain your
prophets with the sword.  Elijah says, "I'm the only one, I'm the
only prophet left, and they want me dead, they want to take away my
life."

Let me suggest that you can't serve God from the cave.  God never
asked about his past experiences – God is concerned about your
present tense.  What are you doing for God right now?

God is not interested in what you did ten years ago – that time has
come and gone.

God is not interested in what you did twenty years ago – that time
has come and gone.

God is not interested in what you did thirty years ago – that time
has come and gone.

What God is interested is in the here and now – and when God looks at
Elijah, he sees him the cave.  I need to tell somebody right now –
that you might too be in the cave:

If you used to sing in the choir and you don't anymore because you
got mad – you are in the cave.

If you used to preach or you've been called to preach, however, you
won't submit to pastoral leadership – you are in the cave.

If you used to praise God and lift up holy hands, however, now you
don't since you're making a dime above a dollar – you are in the cave.

If you used to shout all over the church and flip benches and didn't
care who knew that you loved the Lord but you don't anymore because
your husband or your wife has sapped the joy out of your spirit – you
are in a cave.

If you don't give to God anymore because you need money to play the
lottery, go to the casino, gamble on the internet – you are in a cave.

If you haven't said a word of amen throughout this message or any
other sermon you've heard – you are in a cave.

If you love coming to church but you hate worship – you are in a cave.

If you live your life by "I have to see it" instead of by faith – you
are in a cave.

Not only that – his perception of what was going on was so messed up
it was untrue.   It was not true:

All of the children of Israel had not forsaken the Lord – at least
the prophets who showed up against the prophets of Baal proved that
not everyone was against the Lord.

There is no evidence in the scriptures that the People of God,
especially the Israelites who had a healthy fear of God had thrown
down the altars.

There is no evidence that any of the Lord's prophets had been slain
with the sword.  Matter of fact, the prophets of Baal and the
prophets of Jezebel were the ones who were slain.

There is no evidence that Elijah was the only prophet left of the
Lord.

Let me suggest that your fears will give you a bad case of "cave
madness" – and you'll start saying stuff that just isn't true about
your situation.  Please note that this was not stuff that Elijah
heard what people said about him, this was matters rolling around and
devised in his own mind.  Be careful – you'll pull out the horns,
balloons, and invitations to invite yourself to your own pity-party. 
You'll feel sorry for yourself and start thinking "I'm the only one
who is going through this":

You're not the only one whose child got pregnant before marriage.
You're not the only one who's ever been lied on.
You're not the only one who's got their heart broke during a divorce.
You're not the one who everyone is staring at in church.
You're not being talked about by everybody in church.

I need to tell you that "cave talk" will make you forgot how good God
really is.  I wish I had somebody who knows that God is so able and
he's so good – that even if I'm in the cave, he's so good – that
he'll talk to me – IN a cave CAVE.

He's able to get me out of a CAVE.
He's able to deliver me IN a CAVE.

Elijah talks the Lord, and the Lord talks to Elijah – and God goes on
to say that it's not the strong wind that you need; it's now the
breaking of rocks that you need; it's not an earthquake that you
need; it's not a fire that you need; but what you need is a word from
the Lord – a still small voice, a still small word from the Lord.

On this Thanksgiving week, aren't you glad that we don't need a whole
lot in this life.  All we need is a word from the Lord?  In verse 12 –
he hears the voice.  In verse 13, he moves out of the cave.

Let me tell somebody – your help is just a verse away.  Your troubles
are behind you – but your help is just ahead of you.  Your troubles
may make you cry now – but your help is just ahead of you.

God is able to get you out of your cave.  He'll give you joy!  He'll
give you peace!  Get out of your cave!  The Lord says I have a word
for you.  The cave is not your place.  You weren't designed to live
in a cave.  Caves are for dead people.  God did not make you for a
cave.  Caves are for hermits.  Caves are for nomads.  Caves are for
confused folk. 
Caves are for people hiding from life.  Caves are for wanderers.  But
you are somebody – you've been bought with a price.  You've been
delivered for a mission. 

Are you glad that you're not in a cave?  Aren't you glad that the
cave is not your dwelling place?  I'm glad that I've been delivered…
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