Message: “A Saint Battles Depression”
Introduction: In our OT reading for this Sunday we have the extraordinary aftermath of Elijah and his success in the contest with the priests, in which he had defeated the 450 priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Remarkably, in spite of his miraculous demonstration and great preaching to which the people shouted, “The Lord is God!” the people returned to their old ways. Then Queen Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah, vowing: “May the gods kill me if I don’t kill you by tomorrow at this time.” No wonder Elijah was hiding out in a cave, totally demoralized and depressed.
Three Imperatives from God:
1) Arise and Eat; Appetite and Inertia need to be addressed when we’re depressed.
2) Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord, Be “honest to God!” When we’re depressed avoidance of the Spirit of God inhibits our ability to see things in perspective, and we need to listen to God.
3) Go, return on your way…Whether we like it or not, eventually we’re going to need to go back into whatever contributed to our depression and face it and that might not be easy!
Conclusion: Most people at Calvary’s cross would have judged that Jesus was a flop at 33, like so many of the itinerant preachers before him. Seemingly defeated as the world views things, God’s greatest victory over sin and death was accomplished in this disgraceful moment in time. But it was the resurrection which was God’s last word. And God can also turn our defeats into victory, if we will but trust him to work out his purposes in all that happens to us and through us.
“We are proud of the past, committed to the present and confident of the future.” Col. Borman @ Hope College.
“Today many Christians are caught up in the prevailing mood of despair and doubt. The Church is beleaguered; the world seems to be in a shambles. But our God is one who “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Eph. 3:20) Christianity Today, January 31, 1975 How much has changed since then?
There’s a scene in Marc Connely’s play, The Green Pastures, which illustrates this. The characters in the biblical drama, including God, are all portrayed by Southern blacks. The people of Israel were crossing the river to go into the Promised Land, but Moses had to remain behind. Overcome with grief, he laments: “De chillum is goin into de promised land. I’s all alone.” Then he notices God standing beside him. He half smiles and asks. “You’s wit me, ain’t ya, Lord?” And God puts his arm around Moses and responds: “Course I is.”
Music: “Higher Ground,” A “Blues” selection, “My Hope is Built On Nothing Less,” “My Faith Looks Up to Thee,” “Christ, Of All My Hope the Ground”
Call to Worship
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. –Psalm 46:10-11
Lord, we have come here to seek you, in spite of our discouragement, our depression, our disappointment and disillusionment. We know you are a God with whom there is no shadow of turning, no “busy signal,” no unavailability. So, we come, no matter what the circumstances, to be changed and encouraged and revived by Your Word and Spirit.
Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, we pray this morning a prayer of confession, with Elijah: I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.
Words of Assurance
“Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Today we pray for our brothers and sisters in the faith and in the church who may be deeply discouraged by the circumstances through which they may be passing at this time in their lives. Give them the perspective on their lives and their faith in you that will enable them to persevere with courage and resolve even when they don’t feel like it. Grant them the measure of faith in you and in themselves that lifts them out of self-absorption and negativity to envision your ultimate victory and triumph over sin and death. Help us to be “honest to God,” and committed to trust you for the results in all we say and do.
Let us worship God with the tithes and offerings of the Lord’s gracious providence in our lives.
We pray for those who have given, that they may find joy in sharing.
We pray for those who will distribute, that they may do so with wisdom and compassion.
We pray for those who will receive, that they will respond with gratitude and faith.
Now, remember: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do people light a lamp and hide it under a bushel, but place it on a lampstand, that it may give light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works, and give glory to your Father in Heaven. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen