What Impresses You?

Posted on 05/06/2007 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning, and welcome. Let's get started this morning by welcoming the presence of the Lord. He promised that where two or more of us gather together in his name, he is there with us.

Lord, we thank you that you are here with us today by your Holy Spirit, and that you delight in fellowship with your people. We ask you to have your way here today, as we push everything else aside to seek after you.

Lord, we pray for Wanda's sister Pam, who has spinal chord damage and has been getting worse. You said you are not untouched by the feelings of our sickness, and you took the stripes on your back so we could be healed. So we ask that you perform a miracle for Pam. Great Physician Jesus, step into her room and lay your hands upon her. Rebuild this spinal chord, and may Pam have a testimony of your healing to share with everyone she meets.

We thank you Lord that Legolas has come out of his coma. We realize that, because of mis-administered medication, the doctors are saying he has a month left. But we know that YOUR word, not the doctors', is final. You have Legolas' times and seasons in your hand, and we ask that you give him strength as you bring him through this time of recovery, in Jesus' name.

We pray for RoseEllen's mother, that you bring her complete healing, and that you pour out your Holy Spirit upon her. Move in that family, Holy Spirit, bringing reconciliation and wholeness, pouring out your blessings of unity and love upon them, and drawing each one close to you.

I pray a special blessing upon each one here and each one joining us later throughout the days to come. Make yourself known to them in a very real and powerful way, and lead them on the paths you have ordained for them to walk before the foundations of the earth were laid.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.


Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard or follow along with the overhead, and let's worship God with song.


LORD YOU'VE BEEN SO GOOD

VERSE ONE
Lord, you've been so good to me
 you gave me sight when I was blind
You showed me light I could not see
 you brought me truth I could not find

Lord, you've been so good to me
 you paid a debt I could not pay
You turned my darkest night to day
 Lord you've been so good to me!

CHORUS
And so I praise you in the morning
 and I praise you in the night
For you are my Salvation
 you are my guiding light
So I give you my everything
 I just can't give you less
When you sent your Son to love me
 you gave me your best!

VERSE TWO
Lord, you've been so good to me
 you set my feet on solid ground
You rescued my life from the grave
 when no other help could be found

Lord, you've been so good to me
 and I could never repay
All the love you gave so freely
 Lord, you've been so good to me!

(CHORUS)

BRIDGE
Lord you've been so good to me
Lord you've been so good to me (better than I deserve)
Lord you've been so good to me
 you paid a debt I could not pay
You turned my darkest night to day
 Lord you've been so good to me

Lord you've been so good to me
Lord you've been so good to me (you're good all the time)
Lord you've been so good to me
 and I could never repay
All the love you gave so freely
 Lord you've been so good to me

(CHORUS)

You gave me your best!
You gave me your best!

Lord, you've been so good to me.

THERE IS NONE LIKE YOU

There is none like You
No one else can touch my heart like You do
I could search for all eternity long
And find there is none like You

Your mercy flows like a river wide
And healing comes from Your hands
Suffering children are safe in Your arms
There is none like You

JESUS NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer,  Living word.


Lord Jesus, your name is the name above every other name, the only name by which we can be saved! And we worship you, for you alone are worthy.

Speak to us now by your Word, Holy Spirit, and may we leave here today a little bit closer to you.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.


You may be seated.


The title of today's message is, "What Impresses You?" And today we're going to take a look at some things we tend to think are impressive, and see how they line up with the Word of God.

Living in an age of unprecidented technological advances, we can sometimes be hard to impress. Just a few years ago, meeting together in a virtual service like this would have been thought absurd. Only a century ago, it would have been considered science fiction. Only a millenium ago, it would have been thought sorcery.

Certainly even fifty years ago, all of us currently here, or even those listening later by podcast or reading the transcript would have though that being able to do so in this manner would be beyond impressive -- it would be spectacular.

At one time in the not-too-distant past, the idea that man could fly was thought rediculous, and seeing that notion turn into reality was very impressive indeed. And yet today, we'd need to send men to mars to find flight once again impressive.

On a more spiritual side, we tend to be impressed by the flashy, the grand, the great acts of supernatural power, and less by the gentle presence of the one who created it all.

We're impressed when we read the story of Elijah and the false prophets.

We remember how he challened all the prophets of Baal to prove which god was the one True and Living God, and we're impressed by his courage.

We remember how the prophets of Baal wore themselves out, cutting themselves and crying out to their false god with no results. Then we remember how Elijah had his sacrifice covered with water, and dug a ditch around the sacrifice and filled it with water, and we're impressed by his faith in God.

We remember how Elijah simply asked God to show himself the True God to the people, and how fire fell down from heaven and completely consumed the water, the sacrifice, and everything else on the altar, and we're impressed by the power of God.

The land had suffered a long time of drought, and we see that God sent rain. Elijah was so excited and so filled with the Spirit of God that he outran the king's chariots, and we're impressed by the faithfulness of God, and by his interaction with a man.

However, while we find all these things quite impressive, the king's wife Jezebel did not. You'd think that she would realize the god she had been worshiping was indeed false, and would turn to the One True and Living God.

You'd think.

Instead, she sent messengers to Elijah telling him that he was on her hit list, and his fate was sealed.

And what did Elijah think about this death threat? Did he say, "If God can send down fire from heaven and turn the whole nation to worship him, and if God can answer my prayer and send rain to end the drought, then God will protect me from a nasty little woman who's throwing a temper tantrum because she doesn't like what God has done?"

No, Elijah, as impressed as he was with the actions of God, was equally as impressed with the words of this woman. And he fled to the wilderness and went into hiding, praying that God would let him die.

He should have been unimpressed with evil. And so God gave him, and all of us, an object lesson, and in that lesson is a question to us all. And that question is, "What impresses you?"

God told Elijah that he was going to meet with him, and that Elijah was supposed to go to a certain place and wait for him.

Let's pick this up in First Kings chapter nineteen, beginning with verse eleven:

11 Then God said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.”

And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces 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 a still small voice.


So God sent three mighty displays of power.

First he sent a wind. And this was no ordinary wind. This wind was so mighty that it tore off chunks of the mountain, and smashed the rocks into pieces.

Surely Elijah would have been impressed with the wind. I know I would have been. Most of us would have said, "God is here as he promised, and he has come as an incredibly powerful wind, breaking the mountain into pieces and shattering the boulders like pottery!"

And yet Elijah was not impressed, for God was not in the wind.


Next God sent an earthquake. The mountain shook, and Elijah may have seen boulders crashing down the side of the mountain as this huge, immovable stone mass was shaken by God without effort. Most of us would have said, "God is here, and he is shaking this great mountain simply with the drumming of his little finger!"

And yet Elijah was not impressed, for God was not in the earthquake.


Next God sent a fire. Perhaps this was a volcanic eruption, or perhaps the entire mountain simply burst into flames, but however this fire appeared, it was breathtakingly powerful. Most of us would have said, "God has come down, and he is appearing to me as he did to Moses, treating this whole mountain as one big burning bush!"

And yet Elijah was not impressed, for God was not in the fire.


And then there was a still small voice.


I believe that mixed in with all these object lessons was not only the question, "What impresses you?" but there was another question God was asking; and that question just might have been, "You weren't impressed with all these great displays of power because I was not in them. Elijah, was I in the message sent by Jezebel? Am I in her plot to kill you?"

And so I believe God got Elijah's attention, for we don't hear any more prayers to die coming from his lips.


I believe God is asking us these same questions today.

Are we impressed by the works of darkness?
Are we impressed by the achievements of man?
Are we impressed by natural disasters?
Are we impressed by sickness and disease?
Are we impressed by war?
Are we impressed by terrorist attacks?
Are we impressed by our own opinions?
Are we impressed by our own mental reasoning?
Are we impressed by our own doubts and fears?

When we find ourselves troubled, fearful, excited, awestruck, or otherwise impressed by something, perhaps we would do well to ask ourselves this same question God was asking us here: "Is God in this?"

There was one of these things that did impress Elijah, and it is the same thing, and the only thing, which should impress us all.

That one thing was not the wind.
That one thing was not the earthquake.
That one thing was not the fire.

That one thing that impressed Elijah was the still small voice of God. And by being impressed with that in which God was, Elijah was led to victory.


Isn't this the way it happens today? We allow ourselves to be impressed with flash and glitter, with pomp and circumstance, with the achievements of mankind and the greatness of human goodness, and all true goodness was designed by God; but we get our eyes on everything else, and forget that unless God is in something, no matter how good it may seem, it is vain futality, for only the things of the Kingdom of God will last forever.

We also are impressed, frightened, unsettled, and dismayed by the voice of Jezebel as she sends her messengers to us to tell us, "I'm going to kill you. This disease is going to take your life. Your spouse is going to cheat on you, or already is. Your boss is going to fire you. You're not going to be able to pay your bills. Your pain is just too great, and you should take your own life."

But should we be impressed? Should we be frightened and dismayed? God is not in her message, and he has said in Jeremiah 29:11, "I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of good and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Have you allowed the Jezebels in your life, whatever they may be, to drive you into a dry and lonely place? God just might allow things to happen all around you to get your attention, and then he will speak to you, as he is right now, in a still small voice.

And as you seek for the gentle voice of God as he speaks to your spirit, he will lead you out of your wilderness and into victory.


The ministry team can come to the front now.

If you've found yourself impressed by the empty noise of the world, or the selfish ambitions of life, of the flashy and supernatural, then I invite you to come to this altar as an act of meeting with God, and a commitment to look for and be impressed by that in which God can be found.

If you've found yourself impressed, frightened, intimidated, or dismayed by the voice of the Jezebels in your life, then I invite you to come to this altar, saying by your coming, "Lord, reveal yourself to me, and help me not be moved by the voice of man, or the voice of circumstances, but only by the voice of your Spirit."

If you just want to stand or kneel and spend some time in the presence of the Lord, you're also invited to the front. If you need prayer or ministry, please instant message someone on the ministry team.


Lord, I ask that come now and move by your Holy Spirit. Pour out like rain upon our dry and thirsty souls! We seek for less of us and more of your Spirit, as you fill us fresh with you.

Sweep over us now. Breath upon each one here, and each one who is seeking you, wherever they may be.

Change our minds, change our hearts, and in the middle of our circumstances and all the things that yell for our attention, help us to look for you, and to look for that still small voice that leads us to victory; and may we be impressed only with you.

And we ask these things in the precious name of Jesus.


If you don't know Jesus today, if you don't have a personal relationship with him, if you have not surrendered your life and your heart into his hands, today is the day of Salvation, today is the acceptable day of the Lord.

No matter what doubts or fears Jezebel has thrown at you, and no matter what other things have caught your attention, I invite you to come to that in which God is.

Only He knows you completely, and loves you in spite of all your sins and imperfections. Open your heart today, and let Jesus come in and make you a brand new creation.

Pray this prayer with me from your heart. Say, "Jesus, forgive me for my sins. Come into my heart. Wash me clean. Help me walk in your ways, all the days of my life, and teach me to have a sweet, personal, intimate relationship with you. Thank you Jesus! Amen."

After this time of ministry, we'll all meet next door for fellowship, and you're all invited, so please stick around and head to the room on your left when your special time with God today ends.

Now May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you; may He lift up His countenance on you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:22-27)

Amen.