Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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Well, it was our first weekend after we had moved to the New York area, and it was the fourth of July. So, we thought it would be a good weekend to see New York City. A lot of people will be gone, and it was a good weekend. We didn't get all jammed up in traffic, we got to see a lot of the sights and get familiar with the streets. We kind of braved it. When we headed home, we drove up the West Side Highway, which runs right along the Hudson River headed for the George Washington Bridge.

All of a sudden all the traffic came to a stop. Well, we thought that was a little unusual to have this big traffic jam on a holiday, but what was more unusual was it just didn't move at all. We weren't creeping or inching along; we were totally stopped. It was a long parking lot and no one moved an inch for like half an hour. I couldn't figure out what was going on.

And then I noticed the people getting out of their cars, walking around, sitting on their cars right in the middle of this very busy highway that's not very busy all of a sudden. And then I noticed that everybody was looking across the Hudson River at the fireworks at an old amusement park there. As soon as the fireworks were over, yep, that traffic started to move. Everybody got in their car and started driving again. I thought, "Well, welcome to New York City!" That was a great introduction for us newcomers. Of course, you know, you can always get a crowd for fireworks.

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Fire is Not in the Fireworks."

Now, our word for today from the Word of God, 1 Kings 19, and we're looking at a discouraged prophet. Elijah is being chased by Jezebel, who wants him dead. And now with this death penalty on his head, he talks to the Lord and the Lord starts to respond to his need. "The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.'"

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord wasn't in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave, and then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'"

And from that point on, Elijah receives some of the most important mission assignments God has ever given him. Do you notice that God was not in the spectacular stuff? He was in the quiet. It's often that way.

John Gardner said that there are two words that describe the American culture - wow and now. That's how we like things. We North American Christians, we love spiritual "wow." We tend to see our best spiritual experiences as being in the fireworks; you know, the excitement of that big event, or a powerful retreat, a special speaker we're going to hear, a great concert.

But as you read about the people God uses in the Bible, there's a surprising reality. God usually does His most special things through people who have touched Him in the quiet: no band, no speaker, no choir, no excited crowd, no fireworks. The voice of God is more often in the silence than in the spectacular; in the solo times more than in the multitude.

I think some of us may have become in the spiritual sense fireworks junkies. We're dependant on the next spiritual spectacular. That's a good way to be spiritually immature for the rest of your life. The Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God." See, He wants you one-on-one. He wants your undivided attention. He wants you depending totally on Him, not on the meeting, not on the event, not on the hype.

Maybe it's been too long since you've just called a time out and set aside some non-negotiable time and just grabbed your Bible and a notebook and went to be with God, alone in the quiet, where He can best be heard. Now, you can still enjoy the spiritual fireworks, but just don't depend on them.

When it comes to spiritual power, the fire is usually not in the fireworks.