Yesterday we saw that in the midst of Elijah’s weakness God provided for all his needs. That being done … we see two interactions between God and Elijah where we find him still afraid of losing his life. Coupled to this he seems not to be where God wants him to be. He also feels he is the only prophet left serving the Cause of God. (1 Kings 19:9-16). Once you read those verses, stop and reflect on three things.
Being Afraid to Lose Your Life for the Cause of God
It’s phenomenal that a believer to would be afraid to lose their life, apart from a painful, long term suffering death. The reason I say this is because we Christians live here on earth for two main reasons. The first is to serve God and become more Christ-like. The second is a longing to go to heaven. When we are converted to Jesus, the first thing we grasp is that we are forgiven of all sin and promised heaven forever when we die. The Bible teaches us how awesome and glorious heaven is … so why would we be afraid to die? You might like to think through this issue seriously. It might influence your life’s choices and lifestyle.
Being Where God Does Not Want You to Be
This is a very difficult point because of how one determines where God wants us to be. So often we are influenced by where our parents live, perhaps by our friendship base, career opportunities or even by the climate of a particular region. Not that there is necessary anything wrong with these things, but is that where God wants me to live? So I would suggest this calls for much prayer. Maybe God wants you in an area you would not naturally chose. Perhaps He wants you in a small, struggling church where you may use your spiritual gifts and expertise to help the church grow spiritually and maybe numerically or financially. May I say that the safest place for you to be is where God wants you to be not necessary where you want to be.
Being Filled With Self-Pity
It’s so easy when you have worked hard for God and start to burn out that you feel you are the only one in the church working. It’s like people say the pastor works for 1 ½ hours on a Sunday morning and 1 ½ hours on a Sunday night. Add a Bible Study, some admin and a counseling session now and then. That’s one day of work. I have to work eight hours a day, five days a week and then attend church and do a ministry apart from Bible Study. I do all the work to make the church work! O … but I forgot how long it takes to craft a sermon … anything between 12 to 20 hours … so if the pastor has two sermons and a Bible Study to prepare, it could take him between 28 to 54 hours a week before visitation, counseling, prayer meeting preparation, leaders meetings, administration, etc. But then granted … pastors don’t tell their flock what they do because it would embarrass some of them. Let us not think we are the only ones serving God.
1Ki 19:14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
See the self-pity? But then … Elijah is told by God that He had 7000 servants in Israel!
1Ki 19:18 “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
We might not see what others are doing, so let us be careful not to think we are the only ones serving God! However, God is not finished with Elijah. He has work for him to do.
1Ki 19:15 ‘The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.’
(1) He had to anoint a replacement king in Syria. King Ben-hadad has replaced by God who appointed Hazael king. (2) He had to anoint Jehu as king over Israel. Both these would only come into effect at a future time. (3) He needed to anoint a successor to himself in the shape of Elisha.
Tomorrow we will be looking at the call of Elisha, but for now:
1Ki 19:21 … Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.
The word “attendant” simply means “servant”. We’ll see that Elisha became an apprentice prophet learning under the older experienced prophet Elijah.
I want to end our Daily Note today by considering the act of retiring from ministry. There is a push in some church groups that pastors and other spiritual leaders retire when they reach 60 to 70 years old. Others permit ministry to continue until an individual decides he has had enough.
This can be an extremely emotional time for some people. I would suggest that if there is a healthy eldership (leadership) in a church, they would have the wisdom and discernment to know when one’s ministry has run its course. If it is the pastor who abilities are fading, then sensitively the elders would approach him and explain the situation lovingly. The same would apply to an elder or leaders, be they full time or a lay worker.
However, from personal experience, ministry does not need to end. There is always something an older person can do for the Lord Jesus. It might be a support ministry but it’s a ministry. At the same time, no one should leave any ministry they are doing unless they have confirmation in some way from God that they ought to “retire”. It was almost as if Elijah was saying to God in verse 14 that his ministry had ended. God was not interested in that. He had much work left for his faithful servant. The same is true for you and me!
Dear God, please help us to be people who look forward to heaven, yet at the same time help us to willingly serve You as faithfully as we can whilst we have the energy to do so. Perhaps our concern is what You want us to do and where you want us to be. We really need wisdom and discernment to know these things. Help us to be attentive as we read Your Word to obtain answers. Amen.