Indecision-what comes to your mind when you hear that word? For me it evokes warm memories of trying to pick a restaurant with my dear wife. The circular conversation goes something like this:
Me: Where do you want eat?
Her: I don’t care.
Me: How about (specific restaurant)?
Her: No, I don’t want to eat there.
Me: Well then, where DO you want to eat?
Her: I don’t care.
Indecision not only provides humorous conversation in our human relationships, it devastates our spiritual relationship with the one true God of Heaven. Will you allow me to highlight how important it is to personal and collective revival that we sacrifice our indecisiveness? I recently read, “Indecision is debilitating; it feeds upon itself; it is might we almost say, habit forming. Not only that, but it is also contagious; it transmits itself to others.” I believe one of the great hindrances in the home and church is this ride-the-fence approach to the Lord.
In I Kings 18, we find one of my favorite stories where God forces the people to choose between Him and Baal. Mount Carmel is a fitting site since it lay between Israel and Phoenicia, the lands of the deities in question. When all of Israel is assembled, the prophet Elijah stands before them and challenges them to end their wavering between two antithetical opinions.
How do we get over straddling the fence? I would submit to you that it comes down to two personal choices:
Choose to repair.
Note: We don’t need new materials; we just need to repair the old altar!
1. Repair from disunity. (31)
An altar to the Lord had been built upon the site long before, but it was in disrepair. Elijah selects twelve stones, one for each tribe. Though the tribes had been divided into two nations they are still one people in God’s purposes-with a single Lord, a single covenant, and a single destiny. Remember that horizontal disunity greatly impacts our vertical relationship with God.
Mt 5:23 “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;”
Mt 5:24 “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
Why must we long for and strive for biblical unity? The answer-genuine revival must be shared. Like “Israel” it must also be singular!
2. Repair from disorder. (30, 32-35)
It is striking to contrast the structure of Elijah with the bloody chaos of the prophets of Baal. Heaven-sent revival always possesses order! First of all, revival must be led. Revival does not start with the crowd; it starts with the man of God.
Tit 1:5 “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”
I caution you to avoid the frenzied mob and ALIGN within the authority structure of the Lord. For revival to come to your home and church, you must lead those under you and follow those over you!
If you read this passage carefully, you also notice the laboring Elijah as he prepares the altar. Someone recently wrote, “All my life I thought air was free…until I bought a bag of chips.” Revival is not free either! Can you visualize Elijah by HIMSELF, building the altar, digging the trench, organizing the wood, and cutting the bullock? Revival will not just happen; it requires us to repair what has been broken down.
Choose to return.
Note: We don’t need new gods; we just need to return to the God of old!
1. Return for prayer. (36-38)
At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah steps forward and prays. Without any of the theatrics of his adversaries, Elijah simply addresses God. His words are designed to demonstrate to the onlookers that all he has done has been in obedience to God’s command. Likewise today, we must people of prayer. Evangelist Steve Pettit states, “When man works, man works; when man prays, GOD works.” Revival must ultimately be vertically-oriented.
Not only should revival be vertical, it should also be visible. The fire of Jehovah falls and consumes the burnt offering. So intense is the divine fire, that it devours the stones of the altar and even licks up the super-abundance of water in the trench. Why do so many churches use loud music, bright lights, and trendy technology? The answer is everyone desires visible revival even it “has to be” manufactured. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the fiery show of the true God over the fleshly show of the false prophets any day! The God who answers by fire is the true God (I Kings 18:24).
2. Return for purity. (39-40)
There are two more aspects of genuine revival-humility and holiness. First, notice the humility of the people as they fall upon their faces and cry out, “The Lord He is THE God. The Lord He is THE God.” I rarely observe even traces of public revival in our churches. Many believers rarely if ever respond publicly and tangibly to the Lord. When divine revival comes, there is no thought of being reserved or sophisticated. There is a raw, overwhelming desire to get right with God!
We must also have holy revival. Elijah’s slaying of the prophets of Baal has been a point of contention for critics. Let me remind you that this killing was in reprisal for the slaying of Jehovah’s prophets by Jezebel and that death was the penalty prescribed by God for worshipping idols (De. 13:13-15). We are too soft on our sin. The fire of God not only brings passion for Him but also purity from all false gods. Your idols CANNOT survive true revival!
When I look at my heart and life, as well as yours, I see loads of indecisiveness. Some you are divided in your personal relationship with God, some in your home, some in your local church. How long until you starting reading your Bible and praying consistently? How long until you will give up fleshly thinking and living? How long until you will let go of bitterness? How long until you will lead and serve your family? How long until you start witnessing?
Someone said, “Indecision with the passing of time becomes decision.” Our indecision ultimately will be our undoing. You cannot have the “great rain” (v. 45) without the great revival of the previous verses. Every one of us is one choice away from a passionate, powerful relationship with the God of Heaven. God’s fire will not fall upon a divided altar! Would you fall upon your face next to me and sacrifice your indecision by choosing to repair and return unto the Lord who answers by fire?
Click to listen to this sermon “Altar for Indecision.”