Serendipity

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2 Corinthians 3:17–18 (ESV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

CONSIDER THIS

So, Houston, we have a problem. But it is one of those problems that by grace turns out to be a serendipity. You know what a serendipity is. It is a happy accident. 

The word “serendipity” was coined in 1754 by Horace Walpole. Walpole coined the term from an English version of a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. (Serendip is the old Persian name for Sri Lanka). On their journey, these princes had a long series of happy accidents, always discovering things they weren’t looking for that turned out to be of great value (i.e. serendipities). 

Sounds like a “pilgrimage”, right? Most of us have discovered by now there are no “coincidences” with following Jesus—only holy serendipities. Well friends, we have such an occasion. Our bus driver zigged rather than zagged and we are at Mt. Carmel, which is nowhere near Mt. Sinai. But this, my friends, as you will see, is a happy accident—a holy serendipity. 

We are about to get one of the most potent biblical examples of the difference between functional religion and transcendent faith. Rather than narrate this gripping story, I am going to ask you to read it straight from the source, 1 Kings 18:20–39. Better yet, if you aren’t a regular “listener” to the Daily Text, I’d invite you to listen here. I want you to “hear” this extraordinary account of transcendent revelation of glory. We will delve into it on Friday. And now, without further adieu, welcome to Mt. Carmel and witness the cosmic confrontation between the prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. 

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.

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 Baal’s prophets 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.”

Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

At noon Elijah began to taunt 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 must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

At the time of sacrifice, 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. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Then the fire of the Lord fell and 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 18:20–39)

If you have a few extra minutes today, linger with this story. Visualize it. Put yourself there as an observer. Ponder the revelation.

This is the way of glory—from glory to glory. 

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, thank you that Mt. Carmel is not a mythical mountain but a real place; standing to the present day. Thank you that this is not a story about fire-breathing dragons but a fire-starting God. Thank you that this is not a story about a superhero but about a mighty and yet frail man of God, a prophet despised for bearing your name. Thank you that though this looks to be a battle between prophets and religions, there is no contest for you. You have no rival. You have no equal. Thank you for the way you will lead us from the transcendent glory of these mountain top encounters all the way down to the transcendent glory of the Son of God lifted high in the valley of the cross. Holy Spirit, open the eyes of our hearts to behold the flood of revelation. Glory to glory to glory to glory. Lead on O King eternal. Praying in Jesus’ name. 

THE QUESTION

How are you seeing and sensing the differences between transactional religion and transcendent faith in this story? And per chance, are you noticing any serendipities happening in your life and faith these days? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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P.S. Speaking of How to Start a Fire . . . 

The rate increase for New Room Conference happens tomorrow at midnight. Now, I realize most of you can’t make the pilgrimage to Nashville. I also know a few of you are still on the fence (or the rope, as it may be). If that’s you, COME ON. Register here today. Buy two tickets by faith and start praying for Jesus to reveal to you who the second one is for. The Daily Text promo code: DTNRC is still available for the Daily Text community. This code can be used if you bring a friend / buy 2 or more tickets, you will get $50 off per ticket. Register here. 

Now, for the majority of you, who aren’t on the rope so to speak but just can’t make it work this time. I want you to seriously consider the Livestream option. The New Room Conference is a meeting with God. God stuff will happen, and this is not limited to the physical room. Many of you are searching for leadership from the Holy Spirit on so many fronts. We have seen how the Spirit transcends the physical room through this Livestream participation, even after the fact. What is captured live in the Spirit carries the Spirit’s aliveness beyond the live setting. I can keep the offer open to you to get the lowest possible price on the Livestream until the end of August. Use the code DTNRLIVE ($39 which is $20 off). Register here. 

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Transactional religion is the result of embracing the values and ways of this fallen world. It seems correct because it allows us to walk by sight and not by faith. It goes along with our culture because it seems fair and reasonable. It seems natural because of our fallen nature. On the other hand, transcendental faith requires us to embrace a way that seems unnatural, something that can’t be seen or even understood without the grace of God given to us through the work of the Holy Spirit. The serendipitous event that I see playing out at this time is this: It’s been obvious for some time now that the Church in America was in need of a course correction. Institutional inertia was preventing this from taking place. The Coronavirus, political and economic turmoil has revealed the inherent weaknesses in how we’re doing church. It revealed a form of outward religion lacking inward Spiritual power. I believe that it is the impulse for a renewed interest in how we as the people of God can more faithfully live out our calling. What many have experienced as a season of total chaos may well turn out to be the spark that ignites the next Great Awakening.

  2. Mt. Carmel to Emmaus

    Our watered-down hearts
    Need to be set ablaze
    By the living words
    Of the risen Jesus
    So that they
    Burn within us
    Like they did
    In the brothers
    On the road
    To Emmaus,
    Red-hot,
    Not luke-warm.
    Be like Elijah.
    Ask God for heart-fire
    And let it make you
    A living sacrifice–
    A spreader of
    God’s glory
    Everywhere you go.
    Fall prostrate and cry,
    “The Lord–He is God!”
    Jesus, the one
    Who answered
    The Emmaus brothers
    By words on fire,
    Will do the same
    For you!

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