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1 Kings 19:1-16{ref]NIV New International Version Translations[/ref]
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 so severely, if by this time 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. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 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. 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. 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 a fire, 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. 

Background

Jezebel sent Elijah a threatening message. The people’s hearts were hardened and were raging against God. This shook Elijah’s faith to its core. Great faith is not always strong enough. Elijah might have been useful to Israel for a time, and he had good reason to depend upon God’s protection, while doing God’s work; yet Elijah flees. God then leaves Elijah to himself, to show that when he was bold and strong, it was through God’s power but when Elijah relies on himself, he is no better than his fathers. God knows what He designs for us for even when we do not. God’s message to Elijah , God will take care of him and provide sufficient grace.

The question God asks is “What are you doing here, Elijah? is an expression of blame or disapproval. It should also be of concern to us to ask, whether we are in our correct place, and engaged in God’s plans and work for us. Lets look at this another way, where we are should be where God is. God’s call to each of us is where we are and where we can be useful to God.

Elijah complained about the people of Israel and their sinful ways. He complained about their reluctance to repent. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Despair from a lack of success can hinder many a good effort. Did Elijah come to meet with God? Elijah will find that God will meet him. The wind, and earthquake, and fire, did not make him cover his own face, but the still voice did. Gracious souls are more affected by the tender mercies of the Lord, than by God’s terrors. The mild voice of Jesus who speaks from the cross, or the mercy-seat, is accompanied with peculiar power that can take possession of the heart.

God repeats the question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then Elijah complains about how discouraged he is that the other prophets have been killed and he is alone. They are trying to kill him too. God, responds with an answer. He declares that the wicked house of Ahab shall be rooted out, that the people of Israel shall be punished for their sins and he shows that Elijah was not left alone as he had thought. In fact, a helper should  be raised up for him immediately. Elisha’s (Elijah’s helper) call does not involve any direct encounter with God at all. Instead, it is the prophet Elijah who initiates Elisha’s change in vocation. All Elijah’s complaints are somehow answered and provided for by God.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the things in life that you find discouraging?
  • Was Elijah right or wrong in “abandoning his job” in light of the organized destruction of other prophets and of the abandonment of God by his people?
  • Is there ever a time to give up?
  • How would a person know that God wants them to continue with their “faithful duties” in spite of the personal dangers?
  • What do you consider a “call to discipleship?”
  • How do you know if you should move forward with “duties for God” when asked by someone?

 

Matthew 9:35-38
35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the LORD of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Background

Jesus visited not only the great and wealthy cities, but the poor, obscure villages; and there He preached and healed. This example shows us that all people were important to Jesus. The wealthy, the famous, the poor, the sick, the powerless. Jesus is remarking that there were priests, Levites, and scribes, all over the land but they were not effective shepherds of His flock (Zechariah 11:17). Jesus’ compassion was for the “poor sheep, scattered, perishing because they lacked the understanding for salvation. The same is true today. Sheep, the people of our world, do not have a “shepherd.” Therefore, it becomes our call to have compassion and do all we can to help them. There are multitudes of people who desire spiritual instruction. We need active laborers with the right character and motives. The church needs to equip them to honor Jesus’ call to all of us.

Items for Discussion

  • Where do we find the willing laborers for Jesus to use?
  • What is Jesus asking us to do with the poor scattered sheep?
  • What is the difference between a disciple and a follower of Christ?
  • Are you a candidate to be a disciple? Why or Why not?
  • What are the most effective way to equip people, to train them for the task of discipleship?
  • What were the most effective ways you personally encountered that equipped you for discipleship?

Discussion Challenge

  • Where do we find more “laborers” to equip as disciples?
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