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Elijah’s “Burn-the-Ships” Challenge

Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”
–1 Kings 18:21

Jesus taught that we should have a burn-the-ships level of commitment to God. He said in Mark 12:29-30, “The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’”

Eight hundred years earlier, Elijah told the Israelites the same thing. As he stood on Mount Carmel, Elijah addressed the false prophets of Baal and the Israelites with this challenge: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). He was saying to the Israelites, “We are at a fork in the road. It’s time for you to decide. For three and a half years, God has been punishing you because you have tried to serve God and Baal. You can’t hesitate any longer. It’s time to make up your mind. If Jehovah is who He really says He is, then serve Him. If you are convinced that Baal is who he says he is, then serve him. But don’t try to serve both.”

That challenge is just as relevant today. It is time for God’s people to decide whom they are going to serve. The Israelites hadn’t rejected God completely; they were just trying to have it both ways. They wanted to worship God, but they also wanted to worship Baal. Many Christians are trying to do the same thing. Yes, they want to worship God. They come to church. They read their Bibles. They want to worship God, but at the same time they’re trying to follow their own idols. No, I’m not talking about some figurine made of metal or gold, but we all have idols. You know what an idol is? An idol is anything or anyone you love more than you love God. What consumes your thoughts, your energies, your affections? That’s what your idol is. For some people money has become their idol. For others, it’s their career. For some people it is sex or some other addiction. They’re trying to serve God but they’re serving those idols as well. What Elijah is saying to you today is simply this: it’s time to make up your mind who your real God is.

If money is your god, if that is what you really love, then give yourself completely to it. Earn all you can any way you can. If your career is your god, then go all in with it. Spend a hundred hours a week working, forget coming to church, forget your family, and serve your career with your whole heart. If sex is your god, then quit reading your Bible and just see how many immoral relationships you can rack up, and find out if that brings you pleasure. Serve your idol with all your heart. But if you believe God is who He said He is, then serve Him not half-heartedly but with an undivided heart. Either way, it is time to make up your mind. That is the challenge that Elijah made to the Israelites.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Secret #4: Decide to Burn the Ships” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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