New Hope Notes
Pastor Jon Burgess
Good morning church and welcome to another beautiful day of fellowship.
As we continue our Life Hacks series, we're going to be talking about the fruit of the spirit of gentleness.
If you will open your Bible to 1 Peter 2:1-3 and read,
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking...if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
How many of you have tasted that the Lord is gracious in your life? He gave us grace when we did not deserve it. We tasted it, and we were forever changed.
But over time, you and I can ?? we can become a little harsh in our response to people. Instead of people tasting grace in our responses, what are they getting? Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, evil speaking. Maybe they're getting on our nerves. Maybe we're frustrated. Maybe we wish they would just come to know Jesus already and get their act together.
But if we don't have that gracious spirit of gentleness working through our lives, the fact of the matter is people will be getting a mouthful of this instead of the grace that has changed you and me forever. And so what we're going to be looking at tonight is what that gracious gentle work of the spirit looks like when it's calling us and restoring us and making us new as we study the life of the prophet Elijah.
1 Kings 19: 4-9 says of Elijah, “‘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.’ 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.
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 traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.”
There's a very good chance that some of us in this room right now are right where Elijah was. Maybe you're watching online right now and you're feeling at rock bottom. You've had victory, and now you're in defeat. You saw great things happen and you thought it was going to turn out a different way, but you've lost all momentum and you're having a hard time even celebrating the Fourth of July or any of that because of where you're at in your heart. Your heart is broken. Maybe it's a relationship. Maybe it's finances.
If you're not there, there's a good chance someone in your life is there, and what they need, what you need, what I need more than anything right now is a gentle response, and that's what we're going to be reminded of as we watch God walk Elijah back to wholeness and healing. I want you to know He's going to do the same for you and me today.
So God’s generous restoration is bringing Elijah back to the very place where Moses received the Ten Commandments. This was a holy place. He wasn't going to leave him in his depression. He wasn't going to leave him to simply end his life. He wasn't going to leave him to just die of starvation and thirst. He strengthened his body so he could strengthen his spirit. He's addressing Elijah, body, soul, and spirit, speaking restoration and bringing restoration to every single area in his life.
What is He not doing? He's not condemning him, He's not slapping him around. Rather, He is leading him slowly, gently, specifically, purposefully toward restoration. This is what Isaiah talks about in Isaiah 42 verse 3 when it says, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice."
Now, some of us need a kick in the butt and God knows when that time is. But some of us are that smoldering wick. We are that bruised reed. Just a little bit more pressure, snap. Just another blow of the wind and our wick is out and our flame of faith is gone. For some people depression can set in and thoughts of suicide can enter our thoughts. God knows when we're at that spectrum with respect to that, and it's important that you and I know where people in our lives are at emotionally.
2. Gentleness is gracious reproof.
The thing about gentleness is that it doesn't mean God's not going to address the problem. There was a problem of fear in Elijah's life, and it was keeping him from continuing to step into all that God had for him.
So God is going to take us near the fire, just as you're going to see in Elijah. He's going to take us near the fire, but He's not throwing us in the fire. He's going to bring reproof and correction, but He's going to do it in a way that's gentle so that we're not lit on fire, but we're actually a toasty brown.
And you can see him doing that here in 1 Kings 19:9-13:
"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.'"