Winning – The Reset Principle

What is one thing you have been challenged to change this month?

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We often think of stress as something associated with tough times. Your business isn’t doing well, your marriage is on the rocks, your children are misbehaving, or you have a bad relationship with your boss. If you’re in a situation like that, of course all of us will expect you to be stressed out! And of course you’re praying that God will end the stressful situation and bring you success in Jesus name! Some of us are praying for financial breakthrough! Some of us are praying for relationship breakthrough! Some of us are praying for career breakthroughs! But do you know that the very success you are praying for – if you are not ready for it – could actually destroy you? Your breakthrough could break you!

And so because God wants you not only to win in life but to win throughout life, I want us to conclude our series today by asking, ‘how do we live in such a way that the blessings we are praying for don’t bring us down?’ We want to learn from the man who was almost destroyed at his greatest point of success. He was a highly charismatic and fearless influencer who was revered and respected by all who knew Him. He was an activist who defied powerful political figures and got away with it. He had become a household name in his nation and region. His name was Elijah, and his story is told in the bible, in the book of 1 Kings. Please turn with me to 1 Kings 19.

Before we read it, a little background. Elijah had just performed one of the most incredible miracles in the bible. He had confronted the wicked king Ahab and prophesied that the land would have 3 years of total drought. True to his word, there was no rain or dew for 3 years and the land had shriveled up. Ahab had sent people all over the world looking for Elijah, but they couldn’t find him. Then one day Elijah showed up, and went on to have one of the busiest hectic workdays on record! If you think you have crazy workdays, follow along and let’s compare.

  • He began by confronting the king and challenging him to the ultimate prayer showdown; in the red corner – 450 false prophets, in the blue corner – one man, Elijah.
  • The challenge – they were each to sacrifice 1 bull each then send prayers to their god. The God who answered by burning up the sacrifice would be crowned the real God!
  • The 450 went first, and for a full morning, they called on Baal to answer them. Elijah even taunted them cheekily, ‘perhaps he is deep in thought, or he is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or he is asleep and needs to be wakened!’ At this, the prophets worked themselves into even greater frenzy, to the point of cutting themselves so their blood gushed out. But all to no avail!
  • Then in the afternoon, it was Elijah’s turn. He singlehandedly carried 12 large stones and used them to build an altar to God. He dug a deep trench around the altar and put wood on it. Then he killed the bull, cut it into pieces and put them on the altar. All this was strenuous physical work!
  • He called the people to pour 12 large jars of water over the sacrifice, so that it was completely drenched, and the trenches filled with water
  • Then he prayed and boom! God immediately and dramatically sent a bolt of fire from heaven which burnt up the meat. All the people fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD – he is God!’
  • By anyone’s standards, that should have been a full day’s work! But Elijah was not done. He had the 850 false prophets taken to a different location and executed.
  • Then without even stopping for a lunch break, he climbed up to the very top of Mt. Carmel (anybody tired yet?)
  • At the top he prayed intensely for an extended time for God to break the drought and send rain . . . which God did
  • But Elijah was still not done! When the rain came, he ran a distance of 34km (8km short of a full marathon) all the way back to the king’s palace, in the process outrunning even the king’s chariot!

How’s that for an entire week packed into one day’s work! Now let’s pick it up from I Kings 19:1-18, and see what happens when the king gets home.

Elijah has just made the score of a lifetime! I mean what Elijah accomplished this day would be the business equivalent of closing one deal that meets all your goals for the next 5 years! You would expect him to be dancing and celebrating. You’d expect that after seeing God at work, Elijah would be unmoved by a challenge from a mere queen. But the minute he heard that Jezebel had sworn to kill him, what did he do? He ran away and wanted to die! I’m like, “Dude, you’re Elijah. Have you seen what God has just done? Why would you run? Why don’t you call on fire, or hail-stones, or something – just sort her out!” But instead, he ran away! Here is someone who has pushed so hard and for so long, that he is at the edge of his tipping point. His ministry looks impressive on the outside, and everyone admires him, but what they don’t realize is that he is just one threat away from burnout.

Psychology today defines burnout as “a state of chronic stress”. How do you know you’re a candidate burnout? Three areas to examine…

PHYSICAL FATIGUE – Symptoms include chronic fatigue, insomnia, increased illnesses, lack of appetite and physical symptoms like chest pains, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headaches etc

PSYCHOLOGICAL DETACHMENT – Symptoms include a sense of cynicism and detachment, where you lose enjoyment in the things you do, become pessimistic about life, and isolate yourself from others.

PRODUCTIVITY LOSS – here, you experience is a nagging sense of ineffectiveness and a lack of accomplishment. You have no psyche for your work and are staring at many incomplete projects and an ever-growing to-do list.

Elijah was all of these! He felt tired and worn out. Despite all He had seen God do, he was cynical and had lost hope. He felt completely ineffective and useless. And he isolated himself and hid from people.

As a generation, many of us like Elijah are pushing our bodies to the absolute limit, moving at a hectic pace and living under constant stress. We look great on the outside and may even be succeeding in many ways. Yet what we do not realize is that we are one step away from burnout. One personal pressure-filled situation, and our lives could very easily unravel. Some of us see the signs of burnout, but we say, “Pastor M, I hear you, but I’m different. It won’t happen to me. I’m smarter than that; it’s just a season. I’ll slow down soon enough”.

But God’s response to Elijah is His word today to anyone who is suffering from stress or burnout. Today we want to learn our final principle, which is the Reset Principle. We are all familiar with the reset button, one that when pushed, returns things to their original setting. We see it on our mobile phones, laptops, tabs and other gadgets. After using them for a while, filling them up with all sorts of junk and apps, they don’t clog down and don’t perform as well. When you hit reset, they’re restored to original factory settings, enhancing their performance. In God’s response to Elijah, he really says to him “Listen, I think you started very well, but you are now losing your way. It’s time to hit reset”.

Today we will look at the three R’s of the reset principle. The first of these is…

1. REST (This has to do with the need to rest and replenish the body)

vs 5-7 – Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 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.

I love the fact that God didn’t rebuke Elijah for running away. Instead he sent an angel to give him food and then let him sleep! Eat and rest. What a concept!

Exodus 20:8-11 commands us – ‘Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work—neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy’. This commandment was so important that not only was it repeated over and over, the punishment for not observing it was death! (Ex. 31:14).

I think it’s safe to say this is the most disobeyed commandment by Christians! And yet when we fail to obey it, we are demonstrating to God that we are in control – not Him! When I neglect to rest my body, I am acting as if the world depends on me and not on God. I have allowed myself, or my work, to become my idol. Rest says to the world, there is only one God, and I am not Him! That’s why if you come to Mavuno office on a Monday, you’ll find no one there. I realize it’s the only way my team would take their Sabbath!

Do you have a weekly Sabbath? A day dedicated to rest and recreation? Have you allowed your job and your schedule to rob you of this? It’s time to hit reset! (The second R is…)

2. REFLECT (This has to do with the need to slow down enough to listen)

I once read this illustration about the African savannah… Every morning in the savannah when the sun comes up, a gazelle awakens and knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will perish. Every morning in the savannah when the sun comes up, a lion awakens and knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will go hungry. It doesn’t make any difference if you are a gazelle or a lion. Every morning in the savannah when the sun comes up, you had better be running!

Any gazelles or lions here? For many of us, this is the story of our lives! Yet notice what happens in this passage… God takes Elijah out onto a mountain and allows him to observe some dramatic acts of nature. He shows him a mighty windstorm, a thunderous earthquake, and a great fire. But guess where God’s presence was? It was in the whisper! God was demonstrating something important to Elijah. It’s not in the middle of the spectacular moments that we hear God; it’s when we stop, reflect and listen. Elijah had just come from a spectacular, adrenalin-driven ministry season. But I believe that God was teaching him that the still small voice is only for those who stop long enough to listen!

If we’re honest, many of us will admit that our lives move so fast, we only have time to listen for God’s wisdom when crisis hits. But I remember once being challenged by Martin Luther who said ‘my day today is so busy that I need to spend at least 3 hours in prayer before I begin!’ Instead of prayer being the first thing he threw overboard, he prioritized it as even more essential when life became hectic.

As an organization, we pay for our pastors to have 2 spiritual retreats every year. They take off for 2 nights to a Catholic retreat center (we Protestants don’t know how to stay silent J) with nothing but a bible, notebook, pen and their clothes. No iPod or computer. Just a time to listen to God… I take 3 such retreats a year – not because I’m a pastor but because as God’s son, I need to ensure I’m bringing all my plans to Him and slowing down enough to hear His still, soft voice. If you would like to know more about how to plan a retreat, please refer to the book Mizizi where you’ll find an appendix on how to take a spiritual retreat’.

So… when was the last time you stopped long enough to listen to what God was saying about your job, your family, your dreams or your relationships? It’s time to hit reset! (The final R is…)

3.  REFOCUS (This has to do with the need to live purposeful lives)

Elijah had many complaints, which, in my opinion, were quite significant. But interesting enough, God didn’t even bother addressing them. The burden of whether he was the only zealous and faithful prophet left alive in Israel was not His to carry. It was not his responsibility. God didn’t respond to Elijah because He knew that Elijah had lost focus on his assignment, spending all his energy worrying about things that were not even his responsibility!

So what does God do? Instead of God responding to Elijah’s complaint, God instead directed him to appoint kings for Syria and Israel and to appoint a successor for himself. You see, God had a purpose for Elijah’s life – and He wanted Elijah to stay focused on that purpose. In the past, Elijah had accomplished great things by simply doing what God asked him to do. Now He had lost focus on God and was focusing on the challenges – He was becoming even more worried about the ministry than God was!

Not everything you’re doing right now is your assignment – the thing that only you are called to do. It’s possible that you could be running very fast but doing things that God did not create you to do. And yet at the end of our lives, God won’t reward us for being busy, He’ll reward us for doing what we were meant to be doing!

Matthew 11:28-30 says ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ (The Message) When we listen to God, we actually end up doing less not more. But the ‘less’ is more focused on what we are meant to be doing.

Over the past few weeks, I have been giving us some homework. This week, I want to give us only one thing to do. You see one of the disciplines I am learning is how to daily surrender my day to God. So here’s your homework. We’ll call it #Reset. At the beginning of each day (or at the end of the previous day for you night people) spend a few minutes in a quiet place giving your day to God.

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3 Responses to “Winning – The Reset Principle”

  1. this is exactly the message i need in my life currently, am at a point where am just so tired physically, emotionally, spiritually ,psycologically, atleast now i know what to do, to get back in the course ,thanks pastor
    how can i book an appointment with pastor M?

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  2. Pwwangombe@gmail.com 

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

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  3. definitely something to absorb, reflect upon and weave into my life. Thank you for running this blog. Its much appreciated

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