God Can Build A Fire With Wet Wood

Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday morning and evening, July 28, 2002, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia. 


By Michael D. O’Neal                      Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church                      Albany, Georgia

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 18:17-40

Text: 1 Kings 18:38

1 Kings 18:38 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.

Introduction: This is one of my favorite passages in the word of God. There are many thing that stir me and excite me in this story, but today I want us to notice that before Elijah put God and his faith in God to the test, to answer his prayers by consuming his sacrifice with fire, Elijah first had 12 barrels of water poured over his sacrifice, saturating the sacrifice, the wood under the sacrifice, running around the altar, and filling up the trench with water. If you will pardon the expression, Elijah made it HARD for God to burn the sacrifice. Or maybe you have noticed that you don’t start a fire with WET wood? 🙂 Wet wood can burn, but only if a fire is already hot enough to dry the wood out and burn it; you don’t START a fire with wet wood!

God wasn’t restricted by the wet wood; He was glorified in the wet wood! God sent fire that not only consumed the sacrifice, but it also consumed the WOOD, the STONES !! the DUST !! AND the water that had filled the trench!!

GLORY TO GOD! Our God builds fires with wet wood today!


By the way, the Bible IS compared to a fire:

Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

And it was given to us by wet wood, MAN:

2 Peter 1:20-21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Proverbs 22:20-21 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, 21 That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

A. God used man to provide us with pure precepts

  • Peter – cursed, denied Christ, was called Satan by our Lord on one occasion
  • Solomon – married 1,000 women, worshipped idols in his old age
  • David – committed adultery, deception, and murder
  • Jeremiah – wanted to quit preaching
  • Daniel – let a man fall down and worship him
  • Paul – went to Jerusalem in spite of the clear direction of the Holy Ghost

B. God used man to preserve His perfect product

  • Psalms 12:6-7 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
  • There are more verses in the Bible about PRESERVATION than there are about INSPIRATION!
  • Man needs the written word of God today, too!
  • God used sinful, fallible instruments to preserve His word – the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament and the priesthood of believers in the New!
  • We have a PERFECT, PRESERVED Bible today, NOT because of the original writers, NOT because of the King James Bible translators, but because there is a GOD IN HEAVEN, who is ABLE TO BUILD A FIRE WITH WET WOOD!


Psalms 39:5b … verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

Every person who gets saved was AN IMPOSSIBILITY, including YOU!

A. You are too WICKED to save yourself

  • Your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked
  • Your mouth is full of cursing and bitterness
  • Your feet are swift to shed blood
  • Your eyes have no fear of God before them
  • Your ears are dull of hearing

B. You are too WEAK to save yourself

  • You are UNABLE to give yourself a new nature
  • … to bring the dead to life
  • … to live sinlessly
  • … to pay even for your PAST sins
  • Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

C. You are too WRONG to save yourself

  • Your theories about salvation are wrong! (John 14:6)
  • Your timetable for salvation is wrong! (2 Corinthians 6:2)

God set my soul afire on Feb. 11, 1968, giving me LIGHT and LIFE! John the Baptist was not only a light, but he was also a BURNING light!
By the way, God uses the wet wood of the cross of Calvary, stained with the precious liquid of the blood of the Son of God, to save a soul from hell!


1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I’m talking about the fact that God has built a church for the edifying of the saints! You are no stronger a child of God than you are involved in your own local church! However, ALL churches are composed of “wet wood.” They all are totally incapable of blessing and building Christians outside of the supernatural help of an Almighty God!

A. God has His preachers to build His church

  • They all confess that they are wet wood:
  • Moses said, “I can’t speak”
  • David said, “I have sinned”
  • John the Baptist said, “I’m just a voice”
  • Paul said, “I’m chief of sinners”
  • Peter fell as far as any man of God in the Bible, but God used him mightily on the day of Pentecost and after that!

B. God has His people to build His church

  • God uses saved sinners!
  • There are no perfect members, no perfect preachers, no perfect workers!

C. God gave His promise to build His church (Matthew 16:18)


I’m talking about REVIVAL!

2 Chronicles 7:13-14 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

A. In spite of the wet wood of the pollution of our land

  • Great revivals in the Bible occurred at wicked Nineveh, on the day of Pentecost, and at other times when the land was polluted by sin.
  • Abortion is just wet wood!
  • Drug traffic is just wet wood!
  • Corrupt politicians are just wet wood!
  • Liquor, gambling, cults, and queers are just wet wood!

B. In spite of the wet wood of the people who are lost

  • The main obstacle to revival is NOT LOST people; it is the LORD’S people who won’t see their need!

C. In spite of the wet wood of the period in which we live

  • Perhaps we are in the Laodicean church age
  • Perhaps we are already being judged as a nation
  • I still believe revival can come to an individual heart
  • 4. … to a home
  • 5. … to a church
  • 6. … to God’s people everywhere, who will obey 2 Chron. 7:14

You’re wet wood. God wants to do a miracle through you. He wants to bless people through you. He wants to be glorified through you. Will you let Him? Will you pray like Elijah until the fire falls?

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