Today we continue our series, “Progress On Purpose.” I told you that God wants us to walk in “NEW LEVELS IN 2021!” But if we are going to do so, we must be intentional about our progress. With that in mind, as we lay the foundation for the year, I told you that I would discuss “Leveling Up” in five areas:
We have covered the first three thus far. Today we are looking at the fourth: Leveling up internally. In this section, I will cover the following:
1. Being anxious for nothing
2. Receiving unshakable peace
3. Joy and peace in believing
4. Relaxing your mind and getting physical/psychological rest
5. The highest form of faith is rest
Today’s message deals with the fourth, about rest. I am calling this message “Avoiding burnout.”
Setting the stage:
I like to teach by both precept/principle and example. Today we will start with an example. We will take a snapshot of the life of the Prophet Elijah. The portion I will attempt to summarize for you today is found in 1 Kings 16-19. There is a lot to cover in these four chapters, but I will do my best to summarize.
King Ahab married Jezebel. She was a negative influence on him, and he became an idol worshipper. This Israelite King worshipped Baal. He even built a temple and an altar in Samaria to do so. God used the Prophet Elijah to denounce the Baal worship. God led Elijah to declare that it would not rain until he said it would rain. He said what He said as a message from God, in front of the King, with complete confidence/boldness, and he then walked away like it was already done. Guess what? It did not rain for 3 1/2 years. But during this time of famine, the king had people looking for Elijah to have him killed. Elijah was on the run.
First, the Lord told him to go down to the brook at Cherith. He did. The brook provided him water, and God had ravens to deliver him food (bread and meat) twice a day. It’s like God had the ravens on an “Uber Eats” scheduled delivery plan. Eventually, the brook dried up because of famine. At that point, the Lord told Elijah to go visit a widow in Zarephath. Elijah was a blessing to the widow, and the Lord instructed the widow to take care of His Prophet.
After three and a half years of being on the run, the Lord sent Elijah back to confront Ahab and the prophets of Baal, so He could restore the rain. Elijah called for a showdown on Mount Carmel. Elijah was on one side of the mountain with his God. On the other side, there were 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah. Elijah asked the opposing prophets to go first. Whichever God answered by fire would be God. They danced, worshipped, called, prayed, and cut themselves, but nothing happened. Elijah taunted them. He said, “Cry louder. Maybe your god is sleeping.” In the end, their false god never answered. The true and living God, our God, answered by fire. Afterward, all the false prophets were killed. Elijah then prayed for rain and God provided the rain after 42 months of drought.
Queen Jezebel was furios. She sent a messenger to Elijah who said, “I swear that by this time tomorrow, you will be just as dead as those prophets. If I don’t succeed, may the gods do the same or worse to me.” Surprisingly enough, when Elijah heard this, he was afraid. He ran for his life. He took his servant with him, and they went to Beersheba in Judah. Then Elijah left his servant in Beersheba and walked for a whole day into the desert. He was so tired of everything that he sat down under a bush and asked to die. He said, “I have had enough, Lord! Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors.” There he fell asleep. An angel came to him and touched him. The angel said, “Get up and eat!” Elijah looked around, and by his head there was a cake that had been baked over coals and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then went back to sleep.
Later the Lord’s angel came to him again, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat! If you don’t, you will not be strong enough to make the long trip.” So Elijah got up. He ate and drank and felt strong. This is where he went on a fast. Elijah walked for 40 days and nights to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. When he arrived, after fasting the entire time, he had an amazing encounter with God. The Lord had Elijah stand in front of Him on the mountain. And the Lord Himself passed by Elijah. This is similar to what God had done with Moses. That’s enough for today.
So what does this mean for you today? A few things.
1. Burnout can happen to anyone.
a) One minute, Elijah was the bravest man alive, and the next minute he was running for his life. So don’t feel bad when you get attacked in your mind. We all do. The key is returning to the Lord like Elijah did.
b) Fear cancels out faith, and faith cancels out fear. You cannot be in-faith and in-fear at the same time. To avoid the dangers of fear, you must continually seek the face of God, and you need rest. Once Elijah got some rest, and he sought God’s face again, the Father restored him, and he was able to live out the remainder of his days on the planet before the Lord translated him (literally) to heaven without dying.
c) Here you have one of the boldest and most amazing men in scripture, a man so amazing that God took him to heaven before he died, and this man got to the point where he WANTED TO DIE because he was burned out. If it happened to Elijah, it can happen to you. We all need rest.
2. Rest is spiritual.
a) When Elijah was burned out, and he wanted to die, look at what God did to restore him. Before God ministered to him in what we would consider to be a “spiritual” way, God had Elijah get some sleep. When he woke up, God provided him food. God then sent him to sleep again. When he woke up, God gave him food again. After getting good sleep, rest, and food, Elijah was in a position to hear from God again, and he was restored. Please do not underestimate the power of sleep and rest.
b) You were not designed to go, and go, and go, without rest. God built in a requirement for a Sabbath rest because He knows that we, as humans, need it.
c) WHen you don’t get rest, you open yourself up to satan. One minute Elijah was fearless. The next, he was running like a scared coward, wanting to die, all because he needed rest. Please learn from Elijah and get sufficient rest!
3. When you don’t get rest, you run the risk of losing your mental health because of physical and mental burnout.
a) As I make this point, I want to highlight those of us who are in ministry. When God calls you to minister to others, you are constantly pouring your life OUT into the lives of other people. While pouring-out your life as a sacrifice for others is the will of God, it is also the will of God that YOU spend time in God’s presence to get FILLED back up again. Elijah said it would not rain until he said it would rain. It did not rain for 42 months. Elijah called down fire from heaven. God answered by fire. Elijah prayed for the rain to come. God sent the rain. Elijah was an amazing man of God. But after that all of that, after he dedicated his life to God and His people over and over again, Elijah found himself under a bush, wanting to die. He even asked God to take his life. Why? Because he was tired. He was simply burned out. Don’t let this happen to you!
b) People debate the actual numbers, but a certain percentage of Pastors in the United States battle depression. Many have quit the ministry and left their churches. Some have sadly taken their lives. When Elijah was depressed, God used sleep, rest, and a few good meals to restore him. Sometimes that is all we need.
c) Isabella and I run hard for God. We are busier now than we were before we retired from the Army. We do what we do because we believe we are called to it. But being CALLED by God to something DOES NOT mean you don’t need rest. It does NOT mean you don’t need breaks. Sometimes all you need is a few days, or even a few hours, away from your daily routine, so the Lord can restore you.
4. We all run the risk of being burned-out.
a) People don’t get burn-out from God. The more you walk with God, the more He will renew you and empower you to keep going. But you can surely get burned-out doing things in the name of God. This is why you must keep a clear ear towards God. He will let you know when you are out of His will and in need of internal revival and renewal.
b) Not everyone who is WITH you is FOR you. You will endure attacks on the road to your purpose. It is your relationship with the Father that will keep you going. If you don’t have a true relationship with God, it is easy to want to give up.
*** As a closing note: if you are battling depression this morning, if you feel like you want to quit, if you are attempting to reject thoughts of suicide, please take the time to talk to someone, and PLEASE make sure you take the time to talk to God. Turn the plate down. Get on your knees. Seek God’s face. He will restore you. He will build you back up again. Those negative thoughts did not come from God. And as you fast, you will be better equipped to reject them. If you need someone to talk to, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will call you.
Declaration of Faith:
Father, this is a season of LEVELING UP for me. I thank You for calling me to my divine purpose. I am dedicated to it. I will arrive at Your overall expected end of my life. I will complete my assignment before I die. I pour out my life as an offering to You and Your people. And Father, I will not get burned-out. I fast and pray. I get sleep and rest. I spend time in Your presence. I take necessary breaks. I cast my cares upon You. I allow myself the time to get restored, renewed, revived, and regenerated by You. Fear, doubt, and unbelief have no power over me. I will never give up. I refuse to cave in. I shall not quit! GREATER IS COMING FOR ME! I declare this by faith, in Jesus’s name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!