Rev’d Bruce Thompson
Today’s Old Testament reading from the second book of Kings gives an account of the final days of the prophet Elijah, and his successor Elisha who, Elijah tried to discourage Today we look at some lessons to be learned from the life of Elisha…. Called by God to learn from Elijah and eventually succeed him as a prophet. These lessons will hopefully enable us to keep the fire of passion for God burning in our lives and ministries.
Elisha left everything he killed his herd of oxen and cooked them using the wood from his plough; he was in fact cutting the ties to do what God had called him to do. The old prophet Elijah tried to discourage him from following him but Elisha was having none of that and the scripture records in verse 2 of the reading Elisha says to Elijah, “ As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” Three times in today’s bible reading this phrase appears. Three times Elijah tried to send Elisha away. The prophet came out and tried to give him discouraging words but he would not be distracted by any of it.
God had called him to a mission, and he planned on fulfilling it passionately… It is very easy to become distracted when trying to fulfil the mission that God has given us to do. There are so many things that creep into our lives, and we loose sight of just what it is we are called to do
Every God-follower is a missionary and every missionary has a mission.
This mission gives us purpose… The person with a mission has no moments to waste.
You must ask yourself the question today, “What is it that God is calling me to be passionate about?”
If you are going to engage in ministry of any kind you must understand the importance of spending time with God for strength and renewal and seeking his will for your life.
Sometimes we get so busy doing ‘God stuff’ that we forget to take time to keep up our passion for the God we are serving. Like Elisha we too can and should be passionate about our Dedication to our calling.
In the story of Elijah the old prophet, we have no record of Elisha and his work. The only hint comes from the passage describing his calling which ends by declaring: “He set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.” The thing that I find most fascinating about Elisha’s ministry is that he just did it, with no fanfare. He didn’t say, “Look at me” he just got on with doing what God had called him to do. How many people do we know in the church who just get on with doing what God has called them to do without seeking recognition, just humble dedicated servants of the Lord.
It is interesting to do a personality profile on Elijah, and you will be fascinated by what you learn. He wasn’t easy to get along with. He wasn’t easy to work with. In fact he could be described as “a grumpy old man” He never included Elisha in any of his plans or exploits. At least he didn’t include him to the point that he received any mention in any of the stories at the ending of Elijah’s life. He served as Elijah’s companion and attendant. He in fact was an unpaid servant.
God expects every one of us to serve by serving others. He calls us to serve without recognition. He calls us to serve Him because it is right to serve Him not because we get the Christ-follower of the month award.
To be dedicated to our calling and the ministry we are engaged in we must be involved – it means that we put time and effort into whatever it is that God has called us to do.
Serving God is much more than an emotional experience.
Serving God is more than great worship and good music.
Serving God is more than reading our bibles and praying everyday.
Serving God is more than keeping ourselves from the influence of the culture around us.
Serving God is always about others.
It should be clear to anyone who is attempting to follow the Christian way of life that God has called every one of us to be engaged in His service to others. God is looking for a people full of passion. While preparing for today’s message I came across the following written by an American preacher……Wes Humble… he says:
“Christian people… followers of Christ… are passionate people.
Christians are people who burn with a passion to serve God and others.
Too often we take the life changing grace that has come to us too lightly.
Too often we allow ourselves to rest in the comfort of the grace of God that provides us salvation, and we never allow it to touch others around us.”
God had called Elisha to a mission and he planned on answering that call with a passion.
It is very easy to become distracted when trying to fulfil the mission that God has given us to do. As I said earlier, God-followers are missionaries and every missionary has a mission.
Often we forget to take time to keep up our passion for the God we are serving. We need to set aside time to read God’s word and commune with him in prayer, while not neglecting the importance of fellowship with Gods people. The church and the people are a wonderful support network and Like Elisha we can be passionate about our Dedication to our calling.
In this scripture portion from the book of Kings Chapter 2, Elisha, the student of Elijah, is determined to get God’s best for his life. He was willing to stay the course until God would grant him a double portion of the spirit that was upon Elijah. The term double portion comes from the Israelite practice of giving the eldest son a double portion of the father’s inheritance, and Elisha, I believe, was asking Elijah to treat him as his eldest son.
Elisha’s decision to follow Elijah was not a one-time decision. After every part of the journey Elisha was challenged by Elijah whether he would continue on the journey or find a place of comfort and stay there. Elijah knew that it would not only take commitment and dedication, but it would also take perseverance in the face of discouragement and opposition to get that Double Portion that Elisha was seeking. Elisha once again committed his life to following his Master to very end. He would not be deterred by any who would try to stop him. Once again, he steps out from among the crowd as he travels to his destiny and the Double Portion of the Spirit of God that he so desperately sought.
This last leg of the journey of Elisha with Elijah is the one that brings to mind the fact that so many people give up on their walk with the Lord. Elisha had come too far to quit now. He would not stay at Jericho and so they travelled on until they reached the River Jordan.
Verse seven of our scripture tells of fifty men, the sons of other prophets who went, and stood to view afar off: and Elijah and Elisha stood by Jordan.
As you can see, there aren’t many who will make this journey to obtain the Double Portion of God’s best for their lives. Most will only go so far …and to watch what happens…they praise those who continue on, to marvel at what God is doing – but they won’t commit themselves to be a part of what God is doing for fear that something may be required of them… something that they aren’t prepared to do and as we read on…
And Elijah took his mantle, his head scarf and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they Elijah and Elisha went over on dry ground.
Only Elisha experienced walking across the Jordan with Elijah. Only Elisha was willing to go all the way. Now, only Elisha would be granted his deepest desire – for the Double Portion.
This was a wish that only God could grant. Even the great prophet Elijah had no power to grant this or to “call Elisha into God’s service”. The call must come from God.
Elisha had a sense of destiny which kept him faithful to his work.
He saw the big picture. He got it. He knew that God was calling him to something that was far beyond what he could imagine. God wanted him to do something that was bigger than what he was currently doing. He knew God had called him and he knew he needed more of God than ever to fulfil that calling. If Elisha was to take from Elijah and be one of God’s prophets he had to be a man totally dedicated to God.
Elisha did see Elijah taken up to heavens. Verse 11 records what happened and he went on to have a powerful prophetic ministry, due to his single minded commitment to God. Elisha was single-minded –his objectives were clear. He was called by God … Jesus is looking for men and women who don’t realise just what God can do… with a man or woman totally dedicated to Himself.
Are we as Christians ready to be such a person totally dedicated to God? Too often we offer God what is left of our time and our talents and hope He accepts them as our sacrifice.
The bottom line is simply this, if we are Christ followers we will serve him passionately and be dedicated to the calling he has given us. My prayer is that God will reveal to you the type of service he wants you to be involved in for the building up of his church.