Sunday, 19th July 2020
Rev Daniel Xi An Poon
An important ingredient of “Arise, Shine” is obedience
People have different characters on earth so some do not like to stand on the front line. But in God’s Kingdom, we should not hide but stand in the front where people can see. Just like an artist doing a drama on the stage. Obedience is the key to enable us to do that.
1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” – we can learn from Elijah story to see how to have an obedient heart. Elijah was a nobody at that time but was sent by God to talk to king Ahab. The message he delivered was not something pleasant but harsh words.
1 Kings 16:30-33 talks about the background – Ahab was a bad king, allowing his wife the queen to kill the prophets of the LORD, and worshipping idols. God still loved him and gave him the opportunity to return, so He sent Elijah to talk to Ahab. No one knew about Elijah at this time yet, but God chose him for a challenging mission, which he had never experienced before. What Elijah prophesied, was not nice words, and was to the king who would have killed him. It seemed foolish and dangerous to do so, yet Elijah did what God asked him to do – this is called “obedience”.
1 Kings 17:2-5 – After doing what God had asked, Elijah was told by God to run away and hide. One would question whether this was from God, still, Elijah followed what God has instructed and went to a remote place. Was everything smooth according one would expect after this? No, instead, Elijah could only drink water from the brook and got a small amount of food from the ravens. He could have questioned God, “As a faithful servant, this is what You give me. Do you love me?” He might also question himself thinking he was not humble or did not pray enough. We would have reacted like this way when things do not go according to what we like, thinking we might have something wrong. But God wants us to stay where He puts us. Elijah listened and followed.
Also, God sent different ravens to feed Elijah, so that he would not think one raven as his “god” – in the same way, we should not see other people or things more important than God. Seek God first, not others.
1 Kings 17:1-7 “When the Brook Dries Up” – Elijah might have asked if what he had heard was right, why would the brook dry up? Yet Elijah did not question or run away – he chose to stay.
1 Kings 17:8-16 When Elijah chose to stay, the word of God came to him. When God says “Arise”, it does not mean that we just sit there, but to respond to God’s calling and go where He asks us to go. We can see from the verse, God did not tell Elijah why he needed to move, and Elijah just followed. When he met the widow and asked for food, the widow said she had no food and was ready to die. Even though the fact was telling Elijah all the impossibilities and trying to put him down, he still kept his faith in God.
We could see from this story how Elijah was raised by God in the beginning from nobody to somebody who could talk to God, and from “somebody” back to “nobody”. He chose to listen to the voice from above only, and obey to move. Despite the environment going against him, he still believed in God and followed Him faithfully. Through his faith, Elijah saved the widow and her son. We tend to always ask God to give us confirmation in everything we hear, but Elijah chose to follow God’s authority, that is why he could pass all the tests.
1 Kings 18:1-2 – When God wants to arise someone, note what “arise” means. We arise from a low position. Just like Jesus, before He started His ministry, He just stayed with Joseph the carpenter, so people from His town despised Him. As long as we are willing to obey God, and reject our own voice or voices from other people, we will be able to see the impossible become possible. God prepared Elijah in the widow’s place, and when the time came, he was sent back to the king, and the prophesy he had said became true.
When we know this year we need to arise and shine, are we willing to obey God, or just follow our own way? A lot of negative news is happening around us nowadays to make us see no hope, but God wants to use us, so don’t look at how many people we have now. We are not here to just enjoy our life and give excuses for not doing God’s mission for us – we are chosen by God, and through His mercy and grace, we can have a different life. It is our choice to arise and shine. God’s heart for us is to save the world, are we willing to take the challenge to obey God and share His good news to others?