Weekly Reflection • 17 May

Weekly Reflections

Good morning to you on this Seventh week after Easter. We in Melbourne experienced the cold and wet wintry weather the past few days and we cannot wait for the warmer and drier weather later this week.

Nevertheless, the remembrance of the Ascension of our Saviour Jesus Christ last Thursday is an occasion for celebration and hope. Celebration because He is in His rightful place at the right hand of God the Father forever interceding for us. Hope because one day we who believe in Him will join Him forever.

May I take this opportunity to warmly welcome you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. May your spirit soar with Christ high above and beyond the wintry clouds into the bright sunshine of His grace.

Prayer of the Week

Seventh Sunday of Easter [Sunday after Ascension]

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: we pray you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to the same place where our Saviour Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Bible Reading

Today, let me take you back to one of the most spiritually and politically tumultuous times in the Old Testament. This is when the prophet Elijah clashed with the idolatrous King Ahab of Israel. Later, in a powerful confrontation on top of Mount Carmel, Elijah had 450 prophets of Baal slaughtered. The aftermath of this sent Queen Jezebel in an uncontrollable rage.

Let us now read from 1 Kings 19:1-14

Now King Ahab told Queen Jezebel everything the prophet 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 was afraidand 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.” 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 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.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled 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?”

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.”

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. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 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?”

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.”


Feeling Like a Failure

Have you ever felt like a failure before? I have. If you have attempted anything difficult, in all probability, this unwelcomed feeling would have visited you. This feeling drives people to the ground, immobilises them and results in misery to the detriment of their health and wellbeing – not only emotionally but physically and spiritually.

One can hardly imagine the high profile and powerful Elijah feeling dejected.

  • Elijah? The prophet who stopped the rain from falling for more than three years and caused a terrible drought?
  • Elijah? Who raised the widow’s son from the dead?
  • Elijah? The mighty prophet who single-handedly and soundly defeated 450 Baal prophets in a strategic spiritual battle on top of Mt Carmel?
  • Elijah? Whose prayers caused a such a heavy downpour that broke the years of drought?

Yes, indeed it is this same Elijah who is now feeling dejected and a failure. His answer to God’s question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” had been a despondent “I had been very zealous for the Lord and did great things for Him but now I alone am left.”

If the great Elijah can feel dejected and a failure, we too might not escape this feeling when things do not go our way. They say the cold and wet gloomy wintry days can cause people to be more susceptible to feeling negative. That might be true as I have experienced the feeling of being a failure recently.

This is brought about by the recent reflecting of my past year’s ministry when writing of the AGM reports.

  • When I reviewed the results of my supervision responsibilities;
  • When I have to come to terms with my diminishing physical and mental stamina;
  • When I evaluated my ministries of the past year;
  • When I examined the impact of what I did;

The result is this nagging feeling of “Am I a failure?”.

When Elijah had this feeling of dejection and failure, he took the easy option –that is to flee. And when he could go no further, he gave up. He even gave up living. He asked God to kill him and he went into a sleep of severance.

What God did next to Elijah was amazing. God’s love pursued him all the way. This shows us that there is no hiding from the love of God. However difficult life is, however far you run away from God, however much you feel like a failure, His love will pursue you till He finds you.

For Elijah, an angel woke him up and asked him to eat the prepared food not once but twice. Then God led him to Mt Horeb where He met Elijah for a gentle heart to heart talk.

This may be a pattern of how God deals with us when we have the “failure” feeling.  First, we need to learn to receive ministry from others who are His present day ‘angels’ – they are the ones sent by God. This will refresh and strengthen us for the road ahead the awaits us.

We also need to meet with God so that He can tell us how to reposition our perspectives of life and ministry again. We might not be the failure that we make ourselves to be. God’s perspective of success and failures is very different from the world’s view.

We need to hear God’s question he asked Elijah, “What are you doing here, Robert?” “What are you doing here John, Mary, Mark, Judy, Matthew, Rachel… or whatever your name is.

This question is asking us whether we are where God wants us to be and whether we are doing what God wants us to do?

If the answer is affirmative, then we are a success in following God. If the answer is a negative, then we should change direction or turn around and follow precepts and leading.

You are not a failure; God’s Children do not need to be failures. God’s grace is more than sufficient to meet all our needs.

How are you feeling today?

Morning Collects

Dear Father God, thank You for Your unfailing love for me, Your blessings, and goodness. Thank You for Your faithfulness to guide me and see me through times of uncertainty, for lifting me up, and setting me on high. Thank You for Scripture that comforts and reminds me of Your promises, plan, and provision. Thank you for taking away my fears and worries, the what-ifs, and reminding me that my help comes from You. Help me be a good steward and to sow wisely. In Christ’s name, Amen. [1]

Dear Lord, Thank You for fearfully and wonderfully creating each of us. Thank You for giving us worth in Your eyes. Help us live as the one You uniquely intended us to be. Help us abide instead of strive, living peacefully and joyfully as heirs to Your Kingdom and co-heirs with Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  [2]

The Blessing

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.[3]

Thank you for sharing this time with me. I very much look forward to be with you again next week. In the meantime, do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.

[1] Renee Davis

[2] Julie Sunne

[3] 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17