Freedom in Rest

Reflect

Mark 2:1-12 “ And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. 2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.

3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. 4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?

10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

1 Kings 18 “And it came to pass after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria.

3 And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. 4 For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)

5 And Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go into the land to all the springs of water and to all the brooks; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, so that we will not have to kill any livestock.”

6 So they divided the land between them to explore it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
7 Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, “Is that you, my lord Elijah?” 8 And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’ ”

9 So he said, “How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,’ he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you.

11 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here” ’! 12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth.

13 Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid one hundred men of the Lord’s prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here.” ’ He will kill me!”

15 Then Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today.”

16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.

19 Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20 So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel.

21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.

23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”

25 Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”

26 So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.

27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.

29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.

31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.”

34 Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water. 36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.

37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there. 41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.”

So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ ”

45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.

46 Then the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

1 Kings 19:1-8 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.

2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”

3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” 5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again.

7 And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.

Matthew 5:1-3 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken,Smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

2 Kings 2:11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Discuss

What surprises you from the Bible verses?

What do they teach you about people?

What do they teach you about God?

Is there a command to obey?

Who do I need to share this message with?

Study Notes

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1, NKJV).

Pain and suffering are unwelcomed guests at any time. We seek to understand its origin and perhaps even its purpose.

Based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common illness worldwide, affecting more than three hundred million people each year, does not always have obvious visible symptoms. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.

Unfortunately, depression is not spoken often enough in Christian circles because some perceive it as a sign of a lack of faith. After all, aren’t Christians always supposed to be filled with joy and happiness and the like?

So, isn’t depression a sign that something is wrong with our relationship with God? Most people know this is not true. Christians, like everyone, can at times struggle with depression, but this is not evidence of a of lack of faith or trust in God.

Sometimes depression can slowly and quietly take hold of us, while at other times, it will strike quickly, after a particularly draining emotional or physical event.

The great prophet Elijah experienced a very gruelling 24 hours. This coupled a death threat, served as a depression trigger. Elijah had been present when the prophets of Baal were slaughtered, perhaps even some by his own hand (1 Kings 18:40).

So how did Elijah respond – he ran. Sometimes we run to the refrigerator and eat ourselves happy again. Sometimes we try to sleep our emotional exhaustion away.

Sometimes we look for a new relationship, job, or location in our quest to run away and find freedom. Other times, we bury ourselves in more work, more deadlines, and appointments, as we try harder to run away from those things that are draining our joy and rest.

To mask these hurts, people use “medications” to dull the pain, but in the end, these things only mask the symptoms.

Elijah was a man of sterling character with implicit faith in the power of God. Throughout the three and a half years of famine, he trusted God for sustenance.

Never once did God fail him. Elijah was guided by God to water at the Brook Cherith, fed by ravens, and sustained by a humble widow at Zarephath. By faith he challenged the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.It was there on that mountain top that he experienced the miracle-working power of God. He proposed a test to demonstrate the might of the true God. The false prophets bellowed, shouted, and cried out to Baal their pagan gods, but as you would expect, nothing happened. At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah poured water over the altar, earnestly seeking God.

Fire came down from heaven and consumed the altar and water. Soon after the three and a half years of drought, the rains fell. What a man of faith, courage, and steadfastness! You would think nothing could shake his faith, but something did.
When Ahab told Jezebel about the events of the day, she threatened Elijah’s life (1 Kings 19:1, 2).

Courageous Elijah, who had stood on Mount Carmel before the prophets of Baal, fled at the threat of a wicked queen. Tired, worn out, and exhausted, he wished he could die. He found repose, lying discouraged beneath a broom tree. A broom tree is more like a large bush that was prevalent in the deserts in the Middle East and offered shade to weary travellers.

There, discouraged and alone, Elijah slept until an angel woke him up, prepared a meal for him, gave him some water to drink, and encouraged him to sleep again. This happened twice, and in the strength of that food, drink, and rest, Elijah travelled for 40 days.

There are some vital lessons here. Even God’s people become discouraged at times and feel oppressed. Elijah was soon to be translated without seeing death, yet he, too, had his difficult moments. Notice how God dealt with Elijah’s disappointment.

He did not preach a sermon to him. He did not urge him to have more faith or pray more, God provided Elijah with a good healthful meal, refreshing water, and a good night’s rest. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our friends who are discouraged is to be there to encourage them and provide for their needs.

As in the case of Elijah, that the best thing we can do for someone suffering from discouragement or depression is to be there to meet their needs. This loving concern can make all the difference and bring freedom to their heart, mind and body.

If possible, visit a person and see if he or she has any definite needs you can meet.

You will be greatly blessed as you care as Jesus did, and so will the person you help.

 “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. ”

– Theodore Roosevelt.

FINDING FREEDOM IN REST