"The prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: 'Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.'" (1 Kings 18:36)
Often as I preach Sunday mornings, I think about a critical moment in Israel's history in which the Israelites were apostatizing, trying to mix the worship of Baal and the worship of Yahweh. At that time, God raised up the prophet Elijah to call them back to faithfulness to the true and living God. Elijah took on hundreds of the prophets of Baal in a great contest on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:18-39). At the climax of that encounter, Elijah had an altar built for an animal sacrifice, which he then impressively had it drenched in water. With a large crowd watching, Elijah prayed a simple prayer: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 King 18:36). And then fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the altar, the stones, and the water. Immediately, all the people fell down on their faces and confessed, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God” (1 Kings 18:39)!
"What we really need is a fire that falls from heaven. And we do not see the fire. It is a spiritual fire that falls by the illuminating work of the Spirit, taking the words of Scripture and making them burn within our hearts."
On Sundays, when I am at the pulpit as a preacher, I am just a man wearing regular clothes. I have a microphone, the Bible with my notes scribbled on the pages, and the sermon I wrote. The congregation is sitting on wooden pews. All the physical components are there, but what we really need is a fire that falls from heaven. And we do not see the fire. It is a spiritual fire that falls by the illuminating work of the Spirit, taking the words of Scripture and making them burn within our hearts. With it comes a sense of the presence of the invisible God that we do not usually have. God uses that to call us out of our wayward ways of idolatry and into serving him in spirit and truth as He did with the Israelites in the Mount Carmel through Elijah.
Every sermon is all about an encounter with the holiness of God. That is my desire as a preacher. Moved by the Spirit, through the humble mechanism of the words of a sermon, I want to lead people to gain a sense of the infinite majesty of God. I desire that we all would, in some sense, fall on our faces before him and confess, “The Lord, he is God!”