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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Elijah and the priests of Baal: True religion bears true fruit

 21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
 22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
 23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
 24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
 25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
 26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
 27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
 28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
 29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
 30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
 32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
 34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
 35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
 36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. (1 Kings 18)

How we get there. 

I really enjoy lifting weights. In learning the trade, I researched a bit into bodybuilding. When we see pictures of pro bodybuilders, we see unusual physical characteristics. Yet, somehow, we don't automatically think of what went into creating that physique. We don't naturally assume that unusual muscular builds require unusual efforts to attain them. You may not realize that pro bodybuilders:

  • Lift weights very intensely for about 2 hours per day multiple times per day.
  • Take long naps during the day between workout sessions.
  • Eat an astounding number of calories per day, around 4 times what a normal person eats.
  • Eat an astoundingly bland diet, sometimes eating the same bland meals every single day (for instance chicken breasts, steamed vegetables, rice).
  • Use an astoundingly dangerous cocktail of legal and illegal drugs that boost their metabolism/testosterone.

It is a consuming lifestyle. They really can't do anything except bodybuilding. All you see is the muscle, but the muscle is nothing but the inevitable natural outcome of the means engaged.

When we read the scriptures, what do we see? We see men of God doing incredible things: breaking bonds, stopping the violence of fire, moving mountains, turning away armies, healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, standing in God's presence, receiving visions, leaving lives of comfort to minister to societal outcasts, confronting immense hardships, delivering prophecy, dividing the waters, performing feats of superhuman strength, being physically transported by the spirit, navigating indescribable loneliness, conquering sin, building Zion, and being redeemed from the fall.

As with bodybuilding, these fruits are not what we ought to focus on. Instead of focusing on the fruits, let's look at the means. What are the means? It is simple.
25 And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram.
 26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
 27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
 28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
 29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name. 30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
 31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. (JST Gen 14).
Do YOU believe on his name?

Do you have faith?
Yea, signs come by faith, unto mighty works, for without faith no man pleaseth God; and with whom God is angry he is not well pleased; wherefore, unto such he showeth no signs, only in wrath unto their condemnation. (Doctrine and Covenants 63:11)
Yea, a man may say, I will show thee I have faith without works; but I say, Show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. (JST, James 2:15)
Do you believe him when he said:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)

Consecration.

If you want these unusual fruits, you cannot get them by doing the same thing everyone else does. You cannot live in Babylon and have the blessings of Zion. You cannot have the power of God while living a life devoted to Mammon. If your eye is single to the glory of God, there is no space for anything else.

Many unfortunately think that the battleground lies in the major decisions. Those are elementary. Those are easy. 99% of your life is meant to be a freebie. You do the basics and that part turns out fine. The other part is the challenge. The real challenge is what you do when you are least prepared to heed God's voice. When you take up the cross, there is no rest stops along the way. You have to be ready to do whatever he says, even in the moments when you are incredibly ill-suited to do so. When you are deprived of sleep, confidence, food, water, companionship, shelter, entertainment, money, success, or anything else that is desirable, how do you fare? A whole month, or year, or lifetime could be nothing more than a setup for the moment of truth, when God tests you to see if you are truly true and faithful in ALL things; at all times, in all places, even unto death.

A call to action.

Recall that in Moses' day, the priests of Pharaoh could also do miracles. However, when the priests did miracles similar to Moses', his were still demonstrably superior (his staff-turned-snake ate the priests' staffs-turned-stakes). Also, there were miracles that Moses could do that the priests could not do. I am glad for any blessings in my life. At the same time, I'm not really interested in miracles that could just as well be the parlor tricks of Pharaoh's magicians. I want mighty miracles in my life, because that's what my God can do, and what he has said he will do.

If I have the truth, I should be able to perform miracles like Elijah. I should be able to juxtapose the empty promises of false religion with the fullness of the power of God in true religion.

If you come preaching religion, you'd better bring your fire.