1 Kings 18: 41-46
And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.’ So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
‘Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
‘There is nothing there,’ he said.
Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’
The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’
So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, “Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”’
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rainstorm came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
This week we are summarising the key messages from our ‘Encounter More’ conference which took place this past weekend.
SUMMARY OF PETE GREIG’S MESSAGE ON FRIDAY EVENING
Elijah has just had a dramatic showdown with 850 false prophets on Mount Carmel. Fire fell from Heaven and consumed his altar demonstrating that Yahweh was the real God.
There are 3 clear phases in this story: the fire, the mountain and the city.
The Fire: The period of testing and contesting.
The Mountain: The place of withdrawal, hiddenness and prayer.
The City: The place of influence, authority and cultural engagement.
The seasons were clearly changing for Israel. Many of us also sense change in our own lives. The promise of God might seem like it has been delayed but there is an increased sense of urgency.
Some of us are being called into the fire – the place of making a stand for the lordship of Jesus.
Some are being called up the mountain – intercession and intimacy where we lay hold of the authority of God.
Some have spent time up the mountain, we sense that things have shifted and we are being called into the city.
Everything begins for us as Christians at the place of sacrifice - the cross. We never lose the message of salvation. This is our starting point but we do not end there. We are propelled by the Spirit into the city.
We are called in the church to build communities that can build communities; to create families that shape cities; to have relationships that can reframe public discourse from competition to co-operation and trust.
Historically the church has seen salvation as something purely personal. However when we read our Bibles we see that God’s vision is so much more ambitious. Jesus is Lord of systems and structures and society.
We are called, not just to change the old world, but to create a new world, with, for and through Jesus, founded on love, not fear.
We live at a time when our world is desperately looking for answers. They are seeking a new story, a new narrative. That is why this could be the church’s greatest hour. There is a new authority, energy and acceleration coming upon us.
However God’s way from A to B often goes through C. Elijah climbs the mountain and seeks God for the rain after a three and a half year drought. For many of us between salvation and the city there is a season where we are called to climb the mountain to activate the promises of God and break the curses upon the land. It’s important that we ask: ‘What has God spoken over my city? What are the promises he has made?’
We live in this tension between the present and the future and we pull it into being with our prayers. We have to get specific and ask ourselves: ‘What do I want Jesus to do?’. As Mark Batterson says:
“Prayers are prophecies. They are the best predictors of your spiritual future. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.”
Often you sense the answer to your prayers before you see it physically. If God has promised it, persevere in prayer until it becomes a reality. Keep pressing in through the day of small beginnings. Lay hold of the purposes, promises and desires of God.