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Faithlife

Hope and Encouragement

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Introduction

Setbacks. We have all had them, It seems like you just get going then Bam, something happens, and you hit a brick wall. It seemed like the perfect plan. It seemed like things were on track, what happened?
It can happen with your career. Things might be going well at the office. Business is booming. Then, suddenly the company is sold, and there are layoffs.
It could happen in your personal life. Maybe you are married for 20 years, and one day just as you are looking to spend some quality time with your spouse, the marriage is over.
Or your health. One day your life looks like everything is in order, then suddenly, you have a major health problem.
I could go on and on. We have all had them sometimes huge, sometimes small, but they all lead to the same point discouragement.
These type of things are almost easier to explain if someone is ensnared in sin. For example, if someone is involved in embezzlement, and they lose their job, even the perpetrator is likely to see that it is the result of their actions.
When you are not a Christ follower, you attribute the setback to luck or fate. And setbacks are just part of your lot in life. Sooner or later as life kicks you around, the discouragement builds.
And what happens when you are doing everything as best you can. What happens when you have a sincere heart, and a major setback occurs? What if you are genuinely praying and seeking God's will, and then bam, the spouse leaves, or the job is gone. What happens then?
You get discouraged. Most of us have been there, at least once, some of us more than others.
God uses Elijah in this short little passage in 1 Kings to teach us a bit about discouragement, who God is, and how we can get to know God better through discouragement.
Turn with me to 1 Kings chapter 19 beginning at verse 1.
It can happen with your career. Things might be going well at the office. Business is booming. Then, suddenly the company is sold, and there are layoffs.
It could happen in your personal life. Maybe you are married for 20 years, and one day as you are looking to spend some quality time with your spouse, they tell you that the marriage is over.
It could happen with your health. One day your life looks like everything is progressing, then suddenly, you have a major health problem.
These things are almost easier to explain if someone is ensnared in sin. For example, if someone is involved in embezzlement, and they lose their job, even the person who is involved is likely to see the just consequences for their actions.
But what happens when you are doing everything mostly right, and a major setback occurs. What if you are genuinely praying and seeking God's will and then the major financial setback, or health crisis comes. What happens then?
If you are anything like me, you might get discouraged. I think most of us have been there, at least once, some maybe more than others. But this short little passage in 1 Kings can teach us a bit about discouragement, and well encounter God in the process.
So lets' turn to 1 Kings chapter 19 beginning at verse 1.

Everyone has discouragement

1 Kings 19:1–2 NIV
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Elijah’s discouragement

To understand why Jezebel is mad at Elijah we need some background. King Ahab was a king in the northern half of the divided kingdom of Israel. He was as is said in 1 King 16:30, the most wicked King in Israel.
1 Kings 16:30 NIV
Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.
Ahab was married to Jezebel. Jezebel was horrible. She worshiped a god named Baal. Baal was the chief of the Canaanite gods and was also the storm god, and a fertility god.
Jezebel wanted to make Baal worship the national religion. One of the ways she attempted that was to try and kill all the prophets of the Lord.
But the event we are concerned with happened after that. It is recorded in . The prophets of the two competing gods agree to a contest to determine which of theses gods, Baal or Yahewh is the true god. It is Elijah, the prophet of Yahweh against 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah.
The people of Israel gather to watch this contest.

The discouragement.

The contest is going to work like this. Each side will prepare a sacrifice but not light it on fire, then they will pray to their god, either Yahweh, in the case of Elijah or Baal. Whichever sacrifice is miraculously started on fire will determine which god is the true god.
The prophets of Baal cut up a bull and they placed it on top of a pile of wood on the altar. All day the prophets of Baal are praying, and pleading to Baal. They cut themselves, and are drawing blood. They are trying every ritual they can think of, but fire doesn't come from heaven, and the sacrifice remains on the altar, unburned.
Then Elijah builds an altar to the Lord. He uses 12 stones to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. He cuts up a bull and places it on wood on the altar. Elijah even has them pour water on the sacrifice, on the wood, and in a trench around the altar. Then he prayed.
1 King 16:30.
Ahab was married to Jezebel. Jezebel was horrible. She worshiped Baal. Baal was the chief of the Canaanite gods and was a storm god, as well as a fertility god.
Jezebel was on a campaign to make Baal worship the national religion. She attempted to kill all the prophets of the Lord.
In a dramatic showdown on Mt. Carmel Elijah went against the pagan prophets to show the nation the power of Yahweh, the God of Israel.
It is in 1 Kings chapter 18. You may remember the story. Everyone gathers on Mt. Carmel. There are 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah, and Elijah. The prophets of Baal, and Elijah are to prepare a sacrifice. They are to place the sacrifice on their altar, but not light it on fire. If the fire comes down from heaven and burns the sacrifice on Baal's altar, the people will know Baal is god. If the fire comes down and burns the sacrifice on Yahweh's altar, the people will know Yahew is God.
All day the prophets of Baal tried sacrificing. Elijah even taunts them, yet nothing happens.
Then Elijah builds the altar of the Lord with stones to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Elijah even has them pour water on the sacrifice and in a trench around the altar. Then he prayed.
1 Kings 18:36–40 NIV
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!” Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
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It is clear Yahweh is the God of Israel. Then, Elijah has the prophets of Baal seized, and taken down to the Kishon Valley and killed.
To Elijah, it certainly appears that God is winning. Yahweh consumed the sacrifice, Baal did not. The prophets of Baal were eliminated, and the people even declared the Lord is God. Elijah followed God. He relied on Him. He did everything right.
When we pick up the story, King Ahab tells Jezebel that Elijah killed her prophets, and she is furious. She sends a messenger to Elijah, to tell him that tomorrow she is going to kill him
When we pick up the story, King Ahab tells Jezebel that Elijah killed her prophets, and she is furious. She sends a messenger to Elijah. The messenger tells Elijah that tomorrow, he is as good as dead, Jezebel is going to have him killed.

Elijah doesn’t know what God has planned

Why didn't Jezebel kill Elijah right away? That is interesting, isn't it? Why send a messenger instead of an assassin?
Commentators speculate, and reasonably so, that it is because all the people saw the result of the sacrifice, and if she had him killed right there in Jezreel there might have been a revolt or an uprising. Perhaps, Jezebel warned him to get him moving. Hoping Elijah would run, she could then have him killed away from the mob thus avoiding any potential uprising.
That is a valid reason. However, through Jezebel's plan of self-preservation, God was working out his perfect plan of redemption. Although Jezebel thought she was making a shrewd political move, God is about to use that plan to redeem Elijah.
Unfortunately, when Elijah is in the middle of the setback, he can't see it. When we are in the middle of it, we can't see it either.
We can't know God's perfect plan. We end up driving ourselves crazy trying to figure it out. Why God? Why now? I prayed, I thought that was what you wanted me to do, now look. I thought for sure that was the job you had for me, know I am laid off.
Well-meaning Christians try to unravel the mystery for us. God has a better job for you, or maybe God is testing you they say.
We can't always know fully God's perfect plan for the things that happen to us. We can't always be sure that we know exactly what God has in mind when we go through the things we do.
God's word from the prophet Isaiah in the 55th chapter, under the section says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
But God does go on to say, "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
God is saying that although we cannot understand his ways, we can trust in his word. We can trust that God will accomplish what he sets out to do.
In Romans chapter 8 verse 28 God's word says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
But it is hard to see it when you are in the middle of it. So, Elijah runs for his life.
1 Kings 19:3–5 NIV
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 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. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”
Everyone gets discouraged (Jesus) (Paul)

Elijah’s Retreat

Elijah goes to the southern most part of the land of Israel, to Beer-sheba. Then he leaves his servant there and he journeys another day farther into the desert. He doesn't even want to be in the land anymore.
To meet with God? To hideout? To pray? Probably, all of the above. He finds a little shade, he sits down by a broom tree, and he prays. He prays that he might die.
That is odd isn't it? He was running for his life, only to be here to ask God to die. Elijah is beyond discouraged, he is depressed.
That is odd, isn't it? He was running for his life, only to be here to ask God to die. Elijah is beyond discouraged; he is depressed.
That is the way it goes. He had hope, back there back at Jezreel, when all the people were saying God is Lord, and the prophets of Baal were being killed, Elijah had hope. Hope that finally, Israel was going back to Yahweh. Hope that all this Baal and Asherah nonsense was done. Finally, Elijah thought we are through it, and now this.
That is the way it goes. When you have no hope.
He can't take it anymore, and I can't say I can blame him.
He had hope, back there, back at Jezreel, when all the people were saying God is Lord, and the prophets of Baal were being killed, Elijah had hope. Hope that all this Baal and Asherah nonsense was doneHope that finally, Israel was going back to Yahweh. Finally, Elijah thought we are through it, and now this. Now the Queen has a price on his head.
He can't take it anymore, and I can't say I can blame him.
He can't see the whole picture. When the discouragement comes from an honest attempt to walk with God, it can be crushing. Becasue, well where else can you turn. You have only God to turn to, and when you can't seem him in it, it is heart breaking.
He can't see the whole picture. When the discouragement comes from an honest attempt to walk with God, it can be crushing. Because, well where else can you turn. You have only God to turn to, and when you can't seem him in it, it is heartbreaking.
I think of the apostles, when Jesus was arrested, and beaten, and crucified. Imagine the heart break. Imagine the discouragement they felt.
Think of the apostles, when Jesus was arrested, and beaten, and crucified. Imagine the heartbreak. Imagine the discouragement they felt.
So when you are going through it, when you can't see or know what God is doing, when it seems like God is not in this you are not alone. A great many very holy men went through even worse. Elijah, Peter, John, Matthew, Thomas, Moses, countless others Even Jesus.
So when you are going through it, when you can't see or know what God is doing, when it seems like God is not in this you are not alone. A great many very holy men went through even worse. Elijah, Peter, John, Matthew, Thomas, Moses, countless others Even Jesus.
Think about his agony in the garden, where his sweat became like drops of blood, and He prayed, Father, if it possible let this cup pass from me.
Think about his agony in the garden, where his sweat became like drops of blood, and He prayed, Father, if it possible let this cup pass from me.
Jesus knows all well the things we go through. He was especially familar with the desert.
Jesus knows all well the things we go through. He was especially familar with the desert.
Speaking of Jesus, Mark writes,
mark 1:13 Speaking of Jesus, yet familiar to Elijah, Mark writes,
Mark 1:13 NIV
and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. "
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. "
1 Kings 19:5–6 NIV
Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The Messenger.

Jezebel's messenger sent Elijah into the desert, in fear for his life, in discouragement and defeat. God's messenger strengthened him. God has this way of meeting us where we are, providing for us, and strengthening us.
He provides for Elijah a warm cake of bread, and a jar of water. Comfort food, just what he needed, just enough, to revive him. Then it is back to sleep, and again, the angel wakes him up and he eats. He strengthens him. He strengthens Elijah for his journey.
This would be very familiar to Elijah; God has provided for Elijah in this way before. In chapter 17 God fed Elijah by the brook, and in that same chapter, God works through a widow to miraculously provide bread to Elijah.
He provides for Elijah a warm cake of bread, and a jar of water. Comfort food, just what he needed, just enough, to revive him. Then it is back to sleep, and again, the angel wakes him up and he eats. he strengthens him. He strengthens Elijah for his journey.
As Elijah was depressed and ready to die, God sends a messenger, and angel to give him some encouragement in a very familiar way. God does this to strengthen Elijah so that he can meet God in a whole new way.
This would be very familiar to Elijah; God has provided for Elijah in this way before. In chapter 17 God fed Elijah by the brook, and in that same chapter, God works through a widow to miraculously provide food to Elijah.
So as Elijah was depressed and ready to die, God sends a messenger, and angel to give him some encouragement in a very familiar way. God does this to stregthen Elijah so that he can meet God in a whole new way.
1 Kings 19:8–9 NIV
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. There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:3–5 NIV
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 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. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”

God Provides the Encouragement

God came right where Elijah was
God provided what was needed-not more-not less
In the Hebrew there is the definite article referring to cave. So It actually reads Elijah went to the cave. The cave where Elijah went is a very special cave; it is not just any cave The cave on the Horeb, the mountain of God was the same where Moses saw God in Exodus chapter 33.
God prepared Elijah to receive more of Him

Gospel

The cave where Elijah went is a very special cave, it is not just any cave. In the Hebrew there is the definite article ther so It actually reads he went to the cave. The cave on the Horeb, the mountain of God was where Moses saw God in Exodus chapter 33.
Exodus 33:21–22 NIV
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

The Good News

Elijah was about to get even closer to God than he had ever been. In the very next few verses, the LORD himself appears to Elijah.
Right in the middle of Elijah's discouragement, right when he was as good as dead, when he could do nothing else, God came. God came to him and provided for him like manna in the desert. God strengthened Elijah. God strengthened Elijah and prepared him so that Elijah could know God even more. That is the way God works.
Right in the middle of Elijah's discouragement, right when he was as good as dead, when he could do nothing else, God came. God came to him and provided for him like manna in the desert. God strengthened Elijah. God strengthened Elijah and prepared him so that Elijah could know God even more. Thant's the way God works.
We all get discouraged. It doesn't matter if you have been walking with the Lord for 30 years, or 30 minutes. You can get discouraged. Maybe, you don't even know what a personal relationship is with Jesus, and your life is just one discouragement to another.
This world can be very depressing. There are drug problems, alcohol problems, pornography, sexual immorality, theft, hatred, and anger, and we bounce from one sin to the next trying desperately to clean ourselves up. To free ourselves from the depression, discouragement and pointlessness that sin brings. Sometimes we are just ready to give up.
We all get discouraged. It doesn't matter if you have been walking with the Lord for 30 years, or 30 minutes. You can get discouraged. Maybe, you are just moving from one discouragement to another. This world can be very depressing. There are drug problems and alcohol, pornography, sexual immorality, theft, hatred, and anger, and we bounce from one sin to the next trying desperately to clean ourselves up. To free ourselves from the depression and pointlessness sin brings. Sometimes we are just ready to give up.
That is not the answer. God has the answer.
That is not the answer. God has the answer.
It is interesting; God does not come to Elijah and condemn him for his depression. After all Elijah was the Lord's prophet, he should have known better. He should have seen God at work and trusted in God. Right? He shouldn't have been discouraged.
God could have said, "come on Elijah, snap out of it, you know me, shame on you for not wanting to live." But God doesn't do that.
God meets us in our Sins
It is interesting; God does not come to Elijah and condemn him. I mean after all Elijah was the Lord's prophet, he should have known better. God could have said come on Elijah, snap out of it, you know me, shame on you for wanting. But God doesn't do that. Jesus said in John chapter 3:17, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Jesus said in John chapter 3:17, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
God doesn't condem Elijah, he saves Elijah. He encourages Elijah, He prepares Elijah to meet with him.
Jesus comes to us right where we are. In the middle of our discouragement, in the middle of our sins. When we are dead, in our sins. And Jesus wakes us up
God sent Jesus. WHen we pray, when we open up our souls to God, when we tell him our discourgaement, Jesus comes to us right where we are. We do not have to "snap out of it first". Jesus provides the way out.
Romans 5:8 NIV
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God reaches us and introduces us to Him.
Jesus wakes us up to him. Jesus came and died on the cross, while we were still dead in our sins and trespasses to make a way for us to come and meet God.
In the middle of our discouragement, in the middle of our sins. When we are dead in our sins, Jesus comes. Jesus wakes us up.
Jesus wakes us up to him. Jesus came and died on the cross, while we were still dead in our sins and trespasses to make way for us to come and meet with God.
He fills us with the Holy Spirit, so that we can be with God forever.
We cannot get ourselves out of the situation we put ourselves in, but Jesus comes and takes us and strengthens us and makes way for us to meet with God.
Continues in your salvation (Paul) Grace is sufficient
If you do not know this love and grace and mercy of God as demonstrated by Jesus, leave your sin and discouragement. Wake up to Jesus. Pray, Hear his voice, follow him. Meet with God, get to know him more, if you want to know how to do that. Talk to one of us here; we will be happy to help you.
Today, leave your sins in the desert of discouragement, wake to Jesus Christ, and come to meet God.
Ephesians.
If you have already trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, but you have suffered a setback if you are suffering from discouragement. Know that the Lord has bigger plans for you. He who began a good work will see it to completion in Christ Jesus, pray, lean on him, read his word, get alone with God, receive his strength, and He will meet with you.
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