“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
2K18, by Randall D. Kittle
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As I was praying last New Year’s Eve, I saw a small cloud in a clear, blue sky that looked about the size of my fist. Then I heard a voice declare, “I hear the sound of the abundance of rain.” Suddenly, I saw a giant 2K18 that filled the entire sky. In a moment, it changed into 1K18 and then back again to 2K18. This happened seven different times and after the seventh time I heard the Lord declare:

“The year 2018 is a year when two kingdoms — the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man — will collide across the face of the earth … especially in America. As My Church comes out of hiding and rises up as Elijah did in 1 Kings 18, then one kingdom —My true kingdom — will prevail. The power of oppression will be broken. The power of deception will be lifted, and My name will again begin to be honored as long-awaited promises are finally realized. If My People will boldly take a stand for Me, the famine of My Word will be lifted because I will end the drought of My presence by pouring out My manifest presence as many have never seen before.”

The Darkest Hour
Recently, my wife, Gini, and I saw the movie Darkest Hour, which is a very good historical movie about the beginning of World War II. It gives insight into England’s situation as war was unfolding across the English Channel. War had been declared in Europe after Germany invaded Poland and they now amassed a large, modernized army on their border facing the Netherlands, Belgium and France. In response, most of the British army had been deployed to France in hopes of deterring any further aggression. In the course of a few days, everything changes dramatically. The German army captures Holland and Belgium, and is quickly advancing in France with the goal of pinning the British army against the sea. The English people are shocked and scared. With the enemy winning victory after victory there is widespread unrest across the country. England is facing what seemed like certain annihilation of most of their army, and the hopeless response from most of the political leaders is the call to negotiate with the enemy and appease them at almost any cost. As a nation, this was England’s darkest hour!

That sounds a lot like the situation in which Israel finds themselves in 1 Kings 18. It was certainly one of Israel’s darkest hours. According to what the Lord spoke to me, understanding and operating according to how Elijah responded in 1 King 18 is imperative to advancing the kingdom of God and releasing an outpouring of His Spirit in these days.

Dark Days in Israel
So, before we look at 1 Kings 18, let’s set the scene of what made these such dark days for Israel. Charles Dicken’s classic book A Tale of Two Cities begins, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … it was the season of Darkness.” And 1 Kings 18 could have begun, “It was the worst of times, it was God’s judgment time, it was the age of idolatry, which brought drought and famine … it was the season of Darkness.”

Israel was ruled by Ahab and Jezebel. They thought of them-selves as Israel’s “Dynamic Duo” who were modernizing Israel, but they were really just a “Demonic Duo” who were undermining all it was called to be. As they ruled, Ahab and Jezebel disregarded God’s law and man’s law to serve their own purposes. They embraced numerous pagan religions including the worship of Baal and Asherah. Jezebel had begun a systematic extermination of God’s prophets. They were hunted down and killed and nearly all of them would have perished had they not been hidden in caves (see 1 Kings 18:4).

Israel’s wickedness brought God’s judgment of drought and famine upon the land. Elijah, who was the prophet who had declared the drought, had been forced to flee and go into hiding. It was during this season of hiding from Ahab and Jezebel that he was cared for by ravens and then the struggling widow in faraway Zarephath.

A Time to Breakout of Darkness
In 1 Kings 18:1–2, God tells Elijah that it is finally time for the drought to end — time to begin breaking out of the darkness. “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’ So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria.” While that may sound simple, remember Elijah was the one who had declared the drought, and he had been hiding for the last 3 years because Ahab was searching for him in every kingdom wanting to lay his hands on this “prophet of drought.” Meanwhile, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was killing all the prophets of God she could lay her hands on. This was no small task God sent Elijah on. Obeying God’s instruction to give Ahab this word put the prophet in peril for his life.

#1 – Don’t Accept the Lies of the Enemy
When Elijah and Ahab meet, the king declares, “‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’ ‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals’” (1 Kings 18:17–18). I believe there are 5 important lessons the Lord wants us to learn from 1 Kings 18 for the year 2018, and the first one is this: don’t accept the lies of the enemy, instead, rebuff them, rebuke them … refuse them. Who was the one who had put Israel in this perilous situation? It wasn’t Elijah; it was this wicked king and his demonic wife!

As you press forward for the kingdom of God, the enemy will confront you and declare things over your life that aren’t true. He will belittle anything you’ve accomplished. He will try to put labels on you that aren’t who you are. And he will declare limits on everything you might hope to do in the future. The Accuser of the Brethren comes into your life and looking at who you are called to be and what you are called to do he declares, “Who do you think you are? That’s not you!”

We know that Satan is
“the accuser of our brethren … who accuses [us] before our God day and night”(Revelation 12:10). This should come as no surprise, for we know that Satan is a liar. Jesus said of him in John 8:44, “… he was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Anything Satan says to you isn’t true! It’s a lie. His only intent is to deceive you and discourage you. That is who he is and that is what he does. He wants you to think that you are the problem! But, like with Elijah, no matter what the enemy has told you, you are not the problem … you are God’s solution! This is a year of not accepting the lies of the enemy, but refuting the lying limitations he would label you with.

#2 – Never Underestimate the Power of One
Elijah then told King Ahab, “‘Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel.  And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.’ So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.” (1 Kings 18:19–21). Vance Havner calls this unresponding crowd the “Fifth Amendment Crowd.” They didn’t want to testify against themselves, so they refused to answer. That must have broken Elijah’s heart.

So, what were the odds Elijah faced? His challenge put the odds at 850 vs. 1. But we only see the prophets of Baal answer the challenge, which makes it 450 vs. one. The second lesson we need to learn from 1 Kings 18 is never underestimate the power of one! It is often one believer in a family who changes that entire family. It only takes one believer in a workforce to result in groups of believers meeting for Bible studies during their lunch a few years later. There might only be one believer in a neighborhood, but soon they are all driving to church together. One believer is a powerful thing because God is so powerful and loves to work through us, His children.

We need to remember that God can overcome any odds! And this isn’t the exception to the rule … it is the rule! Remember when God called
Gideon to free Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. God whittled Gideon’s army down to only 300 soldiers. How do you like those odds: 300 vs 135,000? But who won? With God’s help, those 300 soundly defeated the Midianites and purged the land of them.

Consider
Samson. He was captured by the Philistines, bound with ropes, and being carried into captivity by an army. But, as they began mocking him and God, the ropes broke. Samson doesn’t run off to escape; he runs toward his captors. He picks up a jawbone from a donkey skeleton and kills 1,000 Philistines while the rest of them are sent fleeing for their lives. That is how the odds work out in God’s math.

Do you remember the dire situation Judah’s
King Jehoshaphat found himself in? Judah was being attacked by a vast army gathered from 3 different countries. From within his walled city, the king prayed asking God to rescue them. God answers, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). What a great promise. It sounds like they are just going to sit back and watch God rescue them. But there is a little more to the story. God also instructed them as to what He wanted them to do. He told them to leave their fortified city… march forth toward the enemy … and loudly sing praises to God as they watched. In the natural, leaving a fortified city and having a praise-service out near the enemy isn’t a great plan. If I were the king, God’s plan wouldn’t have delighted me. But the king obeyed the Lord’s instruction and the enemy armies actually attacked each other and were destroyed.

Our Great Victorious God
God loves to take the little bit we have and use it to defeat the enemy so that He gets the glory. And that is what happened with Elijah. Since no one except Elijah seemed to know who the true God was, Elijah proposes a contest. “Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire — he is God.’ Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good’” (1 Kings 18:22–24).

Elijah lets the prophets of Baal go first. They cut up the sacrifice and began praying and shouting, singing and dancing, begging their god to come and consume the offering. But nothing happens. At noon, after the prophets of Baal have been “praying” all morning, Elijah starts chiding them,
“‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and musst be awakened’” (1 Kings 18:27). They respond by shouting louder and cutting themselves with swords and spears believing the offering of their blood will cause their god to respond. Still, nothing happens.

Elijah, then, repairs the altar using 12 stones to symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel. He digs a trench around it, arranges the wood, and then cuts up the sacrifice and lays it on the wood. But before praying, the prophet does something that astonishes everyone. He has four large watering jars be filled with water and pours them over the sacrifice, the wood, and the altar. He does this 3 times … until everything is soaked and the trench is filled with water. There is no way, in the natural, this sacrifice could ever burn. Elijah then prays, asking the Lord to consume the sacrifice
“… so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18:37).

God answers Elijah’s prayer and not only does “
fire of the Lord” came down but it “… burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord — He is God! The Lord — He is God!’” (1 Kings 18:38–39). We need to remember to see things spiritually. The odds weren’t really one prophet against 450 false prophets; they were one True God against one false god!

Like Elijah, you, too, must refuse to be intimidated by the enemy. You and God are a majority! Never forget that Romans 8:31 tells us, “
If God is for us, who can be against us?” With God, we can overcome anything! “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). This is a year for boldly following God’s leading — even when it goes “against all odds” — because He will win the victory!

#3 –Your Obedience Will Make Big Changes
Remember how the people answered Elijah before the sacrifice? “Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing” (1 Kings 18:21). But now, having seen God’s power, how did they respond? “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord — He is God! The Lord — He is God!’” (1 Kings 18:39). Their hearts were re-enlivened to worship and praise the Lord.

Like Elijah, we must be willing to go against the odds if we want our hearts to be full and overflowing with the presence of God, if we want our churches to be re-enlivened, and we hope to see the spiritual heart of our country be revived.

Your obedience to God’s instruction will bring God’s power into the situation … and that can make big changes. As it did in Elijah’s day, your obedience can help glorify God and turn sullen, silent saints into shouters of praise … transforming mockers into seekers. This is a year of God’s power combined with your obedience making big changes, for your obedience can permanently impacting those around you! We must choose to be the one in our church … the one in our family … the one in our neighborhood … the one in our school who is willing to declare that God is God, and that He is true and real!

#4 – Big Breakthroughs Often Start Small
“And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.’ So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. ‘Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked. ‘There is nothing there,’ he said. Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’ The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, “Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you” (1 Kings 18:41–44).

When Elijah said there was the sound of heavy rain, it wasn’t because he was hearing thunder. He wasn’t hearing it in the natural but in his spirit. The sky was blue. No meteorologist would have been forecasting rain. The most dangerous risk from the weather at that time was sunburn.

After prophesying to the king of a heavy rain and praying on his knees over and over again, only a cloud the size of a man’s hand could be seen in the sky. But,
in the kingdom of God, big breakthroughs often start small. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Even a small start is a start! It tells us this in Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” And remember, what God has started He will finish. As it says in Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”

This is a year of small successes becoming great victories. Let us not shrink back from doing the small things God has called us to do because they seem unimportant. If God’s called us to do it — it’s important! The seemingly small things He has called us to will often blossom and become great successes.

#5 – God’s Promises Will Come to Pass
I believe there is one more important lesson we need to learn from 1 Kings 18 if we want to advance the kingdom of God in the days ahead. We can discover this principle by comparing and contrasting verses 1 Kings 18:1 and 45. This chapter begins, “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land’” (1 Kings 18:1). This verse makes it sounds like Elijah is just the telegram delivery boy who only has to deliver the message, as if everything is already prepared and ready to go. The truth is that finally, in the last verse in this chapter, we see the promise being fulfilled. “Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:45). A lot had to happen between the declaration of the promise and the realization of it. Elijah has to come out of the comfort of his hiding place, face Ahab who has been hunting far and wide for him, risk exposure to Jezebel who has been murdering all of the prophets of God, and face his countrymen, who don’t really believe in anything any longer. He has to trust that God will show up as he takes on the prophets of Baal, and then finally, after God has come through and helped him win the duel on Mount Carmel, he has to pray and pray and keep praying for seven times. Then, we get to the fulfillment. Sometimes the pathway to the fulfillment of a promise takes much longer than we are expecting.

So, I want you to know that though you may have waited a long time, God’s promises
will come to pass. Second Corinthians 1:20 tells us, “For all the promises of God in Christ are yes and in Him amen.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is an appointed time for everything.” If you have a promise from God, you also have “an appointment” for it to be fulfilled; a “set time.” Habakkuk 2:3 declares, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time … and will not prove false. Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” Every “revelation,” whether it is a vision, a word of knowledge, or a prophetic promise has an appointed time. Notice the paradox: “though it lingers … it … will not delay.” When this verse says, “it lingers” it means that something is taking longer than we think it should. When it says here that it “will not delay,” it means “it will not go beyond God’s appointed time.”

Timing is Critical
So much frustration, so many errors and false starts occur in the kingdom of God because we don’t understand how critical timing is! The most common error we make with the promises of God is not receiving the revelation, interpreting it, or even knowing its application (what to do with it), but it is the timing of the promise coming to pass! Timing is so important for success. Timing is the difference between hitting a homerun that wins the World Series and being carried off the field on your teammates’ shoulders and striking out and being the “goat” held responsible for the loss.

Misunderstanding God’s timing happens far too often in the Church. For example, those called into full-time ministry often go out and try to make something happen when the fulfillment of God’s promise “lingers.” Frequently, they end up falling flat on their face … frustrated and disillusioned. We need to remember that the time between receiving a promise and its fulfillment is often more than we expect.

I remember when God clearly told me that He was releasing me from optometry (my former profession) to be His servant. The certainty with which He spoke this to me made me feel like this would be one of “the suddenlies” of God, as if in 8 days or no more than 8 weeks everything would be different. Yet, it was 8
years from being told until I was released into full-time ministry. Although I expected it to happen much sooner, we don’t get to choose … and I am so glad I waited for God’s timing.

Churches, also, can make this mistake when the Lord calls them to do something new. From starting a second service to launching a building project to planting another location, they can fail if they miss the timing God has for them. We must do God’s will in God’s way in God’s time!

So, you may be waiting for a promise from God to come to fruition, but let me encourage you — you haven’t been forgotten. Don’t let the wait cause you to give up on the promise of God, no matter how long it has lingered.
“Though it lingers, wait for it.” The best is yet to come! God always has more … and He always keeps His promises! This is a year of promises being fulfilled!

The Promise Cellar
As I was praying about this year, I saw a picture of two big doors made of thick oak planks — huge, heavy doors like you might see in a castle. A large beam went across both doors holding them closed. Then I saw a large hand reach down and lift up the beam. With that, the doors blew open. Inside there were a few steps going down. I went down the steps and into the dark. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I looked around and saw wooden racks everywhere. There were racks from the back to the front and from side to side. It had the appearance of a wine cellar, for upon all of these racks were bottles.

I walked over and examined some of the bottles. Some had a little dust on them, while others were covered with a thick blanket. Picking up one of the bottles and blowing the dust off, I noticed that written on it was the date it had been bottled and the date when it would be mature. As I went around the cellar looking at various bottles, I noticed some were bottled a long time ago (the ones with a lot of dust on them) and some had been bottled very recently, but all of the bottles I checked had already reached their maturity date. They were already mature, ready to be opened.

As I prayed about what this meant, the Lord said the bottles were His prophetic promises — the promises He has given to His people. They have been bottled and stored waiting for their maturity, and the Lord wants those promises to be opened. There are so many He wants to be released
this year!

Many believers have received a word from the Lord. God gives His children many great and precious promises. Some believers have notebooks full of what the Lord has told them … boxes of these promises stored away. These promises are more than just their wishes, their dreams, or their hopes; they are His word! Yet the promises are still just sitting there waiting. What the Lord wants this year is for our tongues to speak forth those promises and believe the Lord will start to open them so they can pour forth to fulfillment … this year!

Please join me in prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for giving us many great and precious promises. You have given us promises as we have read your Word and promises You have spoken into our lives through others. Even in times of prayer, You have placed your promises in our hearts. This day, we ask for You to dust off those promises that have laid dormant and seem to have been locked away never to come to pass. Encourage our hearts to use our tongues to open those promises by declaring them in faith. We want them in your timing, but not a second later. When the enemy tries to tell us that these promises were never from You, encourage our hearts to rebuke Him, for he is a liar, and there is nothing he can do to cancel your promises.

We thank You, Heavenly Father, that this is a year where your kingdom will arise and the power of the kingdom of man will be broken and its oppression lifted. As we rise up like Elijah, we thank You that your kingdom will prevail. Lord, we are asking for the oppression in our workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods to be lifted. We’re asking for the deception that there are many ways to heaven to be broken in this country. We are asking for your name to once again be honored and your Word to be revered. Lord, we declare that we will not be intimidated by the enemy. We will take a bold stand, for You are with us!

We will not despise the day of small beginnings because we know that, as we are obedient to You, You will use us to accomplish great things. We look forward with anticipation for your promises being fulfilled and your presence being with us, so your kingdom can advance on the earth, and your glory can be seen in our lives. This we ask in your precious name. Amen.

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