WORSHIP GUIDE |

June

25

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June

26

,

2022

Transitions and Burnout: Elijah's Story

A message from
Pastor Josh Laxton

1 Kings 19(NIV)

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1 Kings 19 (NIV)

Elijah Flees to Horeb

1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever be so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. 5 "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."

All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some read baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.  9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

The Lord Appears to Elijah

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn 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.” 11 The Lord said, " Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came afire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn 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.”

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. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel— all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him."

The Call of Elisha

19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye," he said, "and then I will come with you."20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

Worship Focus

Today, we worship God for His goodness. We are frail humans with limitations. God is infinitely good and helps us with unending patience.

Digging Deeper

THIS WEEK'S Bible study

DIG DEEPER HERE +

Transitions: Transitions and Burnout: Elijah's Story

Last week, we spent time in the story of the Prodigal Son. Jesus used this parable to teach us about the joy God feels when He welcomes an individual who has turned from their sin and returned to Him. Indeed, all of heaven rejoices when someone chooses to come back to God. When we transition away from nursing our hurts, we can join in the celebration too.

This week, we are in the Old Testament, where we’ll encounter quite a character. His name is Elijah, a prophet of Israel. Elijah’s life contained amazing highs, but he also experienced the lowest emotional, physical, and spiritual depths. We’ll look at 1 Kings 19, a chapter that includes a full spectrum of emotions that will help us learn how to face and transition out of burnout. God was patient with Elijah when he couldn’t help himself. When Elijah hit a wall and shut down, God didn’t berate him. He gave Elijah permission to rest and gain his strength again. Even more, God turned the burnout into a renewing encounter with Himself that Elijah would never forget.

How to Use This Guide 

Thank you for taking the time to do this Bible study. When we dig deeper into God’s word, He promises to bless us. We follow in the footsteps of King David, who wrote in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

This guide will provide a weekly framework for spiritual conversations with friends or family. We encourage you to reach out to a friend or two, pick a time to get together each week, and work through this guide together. This Bible study can also be a good tool for families, perhaps coordinated with mealtimes.

The Backstory

Elijah came on the scene after the kingdom under David and his son Solomon split apart during Solomon’s son’s reign. The northern kingdom was called Israel and consisted of 10 of the original tribes. The southern kingdom was made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The kings of the southern kingdom were ruled by men in David’s line, while the northern kingdom’s leadership was much more erratic. On the whole, the kings of the northern kingdom led their people to worship idols. They built altars and sacrificed to these gods even though God sent various prophets to warn them of the dire consequences. Eventually, the northern kingdom would be taken into exile by the Assyrians and become absorbed into that culture. Those in the southern kingdom would go into exile as well, also due to worshiping idols. But, a remnant would return to Israel under the rule of the Persian king Cyrus. This group rebuilt God’s temple and never again worshiped idols. An idol is someone or something in which we place our trust and hope. What idols are we tempted to worship today? 

God assigned prophets like Elijah to warn Israel and Judah’s kings to return to God and worship Him alone. We are introduced to this colorful man in 1 Kings 17:1. Elijah spoke mainly against one king, the evil Ahab (see 1 Kings 16:29-33). But, neither Ahab nor his wife Jezebel listened to the word of the Lord that came through Elijah. Ahab never repented of his wickedness. He encouraged the people to sin against God and died in disgrace. Ahab accused Elijah of making trouble for him, but Ahab was the real troublemaker due to his wicked deeds and idolatrous heart (1 Kings 18:16-19). Read about Elijah’s interactions with Ahab in 1 Kings 17-18.

Elijah had some mountain top experiences when he was a prophet in Israel. He experienced the thrill of victory when God showed Himself powerful by sending fire to consume the prophets of Baal. Next, God ended a severe drought in answer to the fervent prayer Elijah prayed with his head between his knees. God then gave Elijah great physical strength, enough so that he ran for 25 miles and beat Ahab in his chariot back to Jezreel. These events seem to have happened in one day. Have you ever had a day with extreme ups and downs? Perhaps Elijah’s story will resonate with you.

Read 1 Kings 19

Elijah faced opposition from an unexpected person at the end of his amazing day. Who threatened his life in 1 Kings 19:1-2? What was the primary emotion Elijah felt in verse 3? What did he decide to do in 19:3-4? Elijah’s emotions went quickly from exhilaration to bottoming out. After isolating himself and running away, what did Elijah say to God? What did Elijah do then? 

Who touched him, and what did they say in verse 5? What did they do for Elijah in verse 6? How did Elijah respond in verse 6? This angelic being came back a second time in verse 7. What did they do and say then? What did Elijah do next in 19:8-9a? 

We must always pay attention when God asks questions in the Bible. What question does God ask Elijah in 1 Kings 19:9b? What does Elijah say in response in verse 10? Do you think Elijah really answered God’s question? What emotions do you detect in Elijah’s words?

Now we come to the reason why God invited Elijah to Mount Horeb. God still had work for Elijah to do for Him, but Elijah was not ready and able to do it. In contemporary language, we could say that Elijah was burned out. He was physically, emotionally, and spiritually weary and wouldn’t be able to complete the assignment God had in mind for him. So, God called him away. What happened next in 1 Kings 19:11-13? What finally drew Elijah out of the cave? 

When someone whispers, we naturally come closer to hear what they might be saying. To a person who has come to the end of their strength, strong forces like wind, earthquake, and fire would only make them want to draw back and hide. God chose to whisper. In response, Elijah showed respect by covering his face with his cloak and then took the steps to draw near to the voice. What question does God ask Elijah in 1 Kings 19:13b-14, and what is Elijah’s answer? This is a repeat of their earlier interaction. Why do you think this was necessary? In other words, why do you think God repeated His question?

Do you think God expected Elijah to be changed by the interaction? Have you ever had a quiet encounter with God? Perhaps you have heard a still, small voice in your heart and felt God’s presence. When God speaks to us, his voice being audible or not, we will naturally feel reverence and awe. Getting to the point of burnout might be just the state we need to take a rest and be quiet before God. He may then speak to us about our future as He did with Elijah.

God’s answer to Elijah is different the second time in 1 Kings 19:15-18. One thing to notice is that God answers Elijah with a mission, the one He had in mind from the beginning. Elijah had simply been too depleted to hear it. He was to anoint two kings and appoint one prophet to take his place. By this, God was signaling that all was not lost. He was still at work. God does not contradict Elijah's statements, that is, with one exception. He corrects Elijah’s statement that he was “the only one left” who truly worshiped God. God told him he was not alone. There were 7,000 people in Israel who had not bowed down to Baal. 

Elijah first fulfilled God’s commission to him by anointing God’s choice for his successor, Elisha, in 1 Kings 19:19-21. Elijah unnecessarily worried that his life was in danger at his lowest point. But, after his encounter with God, he overcame his fears of being killed by Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel and returned to confront them in 1 Kings 20:17-29. Elijah couldn’t have known that he was in no danger of being killed by anyone. In fact, he is one of two characters in the Bible who did not die an earthly death. Read about Elijah’s amazing exit from earth to heaven in 2 Kings 2:1-12.

What can we learn about transitioning out of burnout from the prophet Elijah? Elijah expended superhuman energy because he was zealous for the Lord. When he wholeheartedly gave himself to God and pursued the Lord’s holiness and reputation, Elijah experienced physical, emotional, and spiritual heights. But, these mountain top experiences came with a price. Such an exalted existence cannot be sustained. Along with Elijah, we will inevitably come down to earth and perhaps feel burned out. God can then come to us as He did with Elijah. 

First, God sent an angel who encouraged Elijah to eat and rest. God may send this same message to you from a trusted friend or family member. They may bring you a meal, take you out for coffee, or just sit with you. They may take care of your responsibilities while you take a nap or go out with some friends. Next, God called Elijah to come away and meet with Him. God can also call for us to draw near Him, quietly pay attention, and hear His whisper. God may ask us, “Why did you come here?” as He did Elijah. This is our opportunity to think about how we got to the point where we reached the end of ourselves. When we acknowledge our thought process, God may correct our thinking as He did for Elijah. Receiving the message that we are not alone is important when we feel burned out. You may feel isolated and alone, but you are not. 

Sometimes burnout can make us anxious. We can become overcome or even paralyzed with irrational fears. God’s presence and whisper will remind us that He is the Lord of the Universe. Our life and death are in His hands. If we continue to listen to Him, we will likely hear Him whisper our next steps. Then, we will find the strength and courage to act. This is because the God who loves us knows how much we can take and what we need. Sometimes a renewed mission can renew our bodies and spirits.

If you need someone to talk to about your burnout and feeling alone, try telling a friend. Most people have hit the bottom at some point and will understand your exhaustion and hopeless feelings. Or you could let your church family help you by texting the word BURNOUT to 97000 and then responding to the prompts. 

Prayer: God, thank You for giving us the story of Elijah in the Bible. We learn much about You when we read about Your care for Your servant. We also need that care, Lord. We are grateful for the times when we have a lot of energy and can accomplish many things. But, life takes its toll on us, and we also come to the end of ourselves. Thank You for Your compassion and care during these times. Help us to come away with You when burnout hits us, even if it’s just to take a few minutes to breathe. Help us to be of help to others who feel the distress and hopelessness of burnout. May we be of practical help like the angel You sent to Elijah. May we help them make room for time to be restored and renewed with You. Amen.

About This Sermon Series

Transitions, as we know, are part of life. We experience personal, familial, vocational, cultural, national, and even organizational transitions. In fact, Northland is a church in the midst of change and transition. We have called our new lead pastor, Dr. Josh Laxton. Interestingly, while we experience a myriad of transitions in a lifetime, there is a difference between change and transition. Change is situational whereas transition is psychological. In other words, transition involves processing the change.

READ MORE +

Transitions, as we know, are part of life. We experience personal, familial, vocational, cultural, national, and even organizational transitions. In fact, Northland is a church in the midst of change and transition. We have called our new lead pastor, Dr. Josh Laxton. Interestingly, while we experience a myriad of transitions in a lifetime, there is a difference between change and transition. Change is situational whereas transition is psychological. In other words, transition involves processing the change.

After experiencing a change and transition, we can look back and see that we were changed—or better yet transformed. And who you became, the kind of transformation that occurred in that transition was the direct result of how you processed or didn’t process the change.

In this series, Transitions, we will take you on a journey through Scripture looking at various transitions in the life God’s people as well as various passages that deal with how we should process changes in our life. Our hope and prayer in this series is that you will learn how to process the various changes in life and allow the Holy Spirit to use transitions to conform you more into the image of Jesus.

Upcoming Weekends

» July 2-3
TRANSITIONS | Transitions Amidst the Seasons of Life |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

» July 9-10
TRANSITIONS | Preventing Some Transitions from Occurring |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

Upcoming Worship Services

» July 2-3
TRANSITIONS | Transitions Amidst the Seasons of Life |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

» July 9-10
TRANSITIONS | Preventing Some Transitions from Occurring |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

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