Summary: Elisha's commitment and faith were so strong that by today's standards it might appear "Ridiculous." Part one of a series on Elisha.

Ridiculous Commitment

Elisha, A Tale Of Ridiculous Faith, Week 1

Today, we are starting a series

on the life of the OT prophet named Elisha.

We're calling it: A Tale of Ridiculous Faith.

Don’t be confused, because

we did a series on the prophet Elijah not long ago,

but Elisha is a different prophet.

The goal of this series

is to allow God's word to build your faith,

to give you a ridiculous amount of faith.

Now, some of you are saying,

why are you saying faith is ridiculous?

Are you saying that faith is bad or funny?

No, we’re saying that faith is so good, its ridiculous.

How many of you notice that

nowadays there are a lot of words

that have opposite meanings?

They mean what they mean,

and they mean the opposite,

depending how you say it.

For example, "Bad" used to mean bad.

Now "bad" can mean good.

If it's like "that’s bad," that means its good.

"Sick" is the same thing.

If you say, "Oh, sick, you threw up on me,"

that means sick.

But if it's really cool, it's "sick," --- cool.

Ridiculous is the same way.

Ridiculous used to mean

outlandish in a bad way.

But now if the cake is really good, its ridiculous,

because its so good.

Well, Elisha’s faith is so good, its ridiculous.

And over the next few weeks,

as we look at the life of Elisha

I believe God is going to build ridiculous faith

in the good sort of way

into our lives.

Next week, we're going to look at a story

where Elisha asks some people

to dig some ditches in a valley

long before there's any sign of water.

And we’re going to see a faith-building principle in this story,

that God wants us to dream big,

but be willing to start small.

In the third week, we're going to look at

a widow who was desperate.

If any of you who are going through difficult times right now

and you wonder, "How am I going to make it?"

This poor lady was about to lose her two sons

and all she had to her name was a little jar of oil.

All she could see was what she didn't have

But God, through the prophet, Elijah,

shows her another faith-building principle,

that she already had everything that she needed,

to do everything God wanted her to do.

Today though, I want to show you how

huge faith starts with a ridiculous commitment.

So turn in your bibles to 1st King, chapter 19. [page 244]

and let's talk about who Elisha was,

But lets start with his boss, Elijah.

Some people get Elisha confused with Elijah.

Elijah came first,

He was the first of the great prophets,

and he did greater miracles than any prophet before him,

he kind of set the standard for OT prophets,

but then along comes Elisha

who was bold enough, and ridiculous enough,

to ask God for a double portion of Elijah's anointing.

And the amazing thing is, God said yes.

And as a result,

Elisha actually performed more recorded miracles

than Elijah or anyone else in the bible,

with the exception of Jesus.

Elisha lived during the 9th century B.C.

in a time when Israel was divided

into the northern kingdom,

and the southern kingdom of Judah.

Many people at that time

were worshiping the false god Baal

it was not a good time in Israel’s history.

What's interesting about Elisha,

is he had a very ordinary background.

Elisha wasn't the son of a priest,

he wasn't a great warrior like Samson or Gideon,

he wasn’t a great leader,

He didn’t live in Jerusalem with the kings,

nothing special about him,

And when we first see him,

he wasn't a spiritual giant,

He was an ordinary guy

living at home with his parents,

working on a farm.

And then God called him to do something incredible.

So lets read

1st Kings 9:19-21.

"So Elijah went from there and found Elisha, son of Shaphat. He was plowing with 12 yoke of oxen and he himself was driving the 12th pair.

"Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye," he said, "and then I will come with you." "Go back," Elijah replied, "what have I done to you?" So Elisha left him and went back, he took his yolk

of oxen -- this is crazy -- and he slaughtered them. It gets even more ridiculous. He burned the plow and equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people and they ate it. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

It says Elisha was plowing with 12 yoke of oxen

and he, himself, was driving the 12th pair.

What we notice is

he was doing the same job he had been doing for a long time.

He was working on his parents' farm,

and he was driving the yoke of oxen.

Just think about the monotony

of plowing behind a yoke of oxen

every single day.

You’re plodding behind them in the hot sun,

and what do you smell?

You smell something sick,

but not in the good kind of way.

And what do you see?

What is your scenery for hours and hours every day.

Oxen rears.

In case you're having a hard time visualizing this,

I gave you something to help you see. [picture]

That is your scenery day in day out

and it had to get really old.

The point is,

some of you may feel a little bit like Elisha.

Maybe you're not looking at oxen rears,

but you're doing the same thing day in, day out.

And it gets really monotonous.

You're going to the same job,

working with the same people

and you're like,

"I feel like I'm staring at oxen rears."

Now, do not call your coworkers "oxen rears."

That’s not gonna help,

But that's the way you feel.

Some of you are in sales

and it's day in, day out.

You make your quota and it starts over again

and you make your quota and it starts over again.

You're like, "This is so monotonous.

All I do is try to meet some standard

and then it starts over again.

Some of you are students and you’re thinking,

I study and I work to pay the bills.

I study some more and I work to pay the bills.

I study and I work."

Oxen rears everywhere.

Those of you that are parents,

what do you see all day long?

Diapers, laundry and dishes,

diapers, laundry and dishes.

It's easy to lose your passion for life,

when all you see is oxen rears all day long.

Elisha was an ordinary guy,

and that’s where he was,

oxen rears all day long.

I wonder if he ever asked himself,

Is this all there is?

I wonder if he asked,

does God have a bigger plan for me,

a bigger purpose in life?

Surely I’m not going to have to stare at oxen rears the rest of my life.

But I want you to notice

even though he may have questioned,

he was being faithful in the task at hand.

I believe that God loves to reward those

who are faithful in the little things.

When you're faithful with a little,

he can trust you with much.

And in the middle of Elisha’s daily routine,

on an ordinary day

when he wasn’t expecting anything new,

he’s looking at oxen rears again,

But God sent something new…

to take him from where he was,

into a ridiculous place of impact.

One day he’s out in the field plowing,

staring at oxen rears,

and Elijah came along.

Verse 19, says

"Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him."

Elijah’s cloak would have been basically a coat

made of animal skins.

It was literally his covering.

And Elijah took his covering,

and he put it on Elisha

symbolically saying,

"that which covered me will now cover you.

That which was the mantle on me, will now be the mantle on you.

That which I was under, now you will be under.

You’ll be my student; I will be your mentor.

As God has been working through me,

now God is going to work through you."

Now, as we watch how this ordinary man,

responds to this extraordinary call.

we’re going to see here

2 principals of ridiculous commitment

Number one, if you're taking notes:

You don't have to understand fully to obey immediately.

When Elijah comes to Elisha,

and throws this cloak over him,

he doesn’t provide any details.

He doesn’t know why or where or when or how,

the only thing he knows is that Elijah wants him to follow.

When God calls you to do something,

you don't have to understand all the details to obey immediately.

You don't have to understand fully to obey immediately.

What does Elisha do when Elijah puts the cloak around him?

He left his oxen and ran after Elijah,

and simply said,

"Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye and then I’ll come with you."

Notice: He didn't have to pray about it…

Oh, did a pastor just say that?

He didn’t have to think about it for months,

and make a list of all the pros and cons,

"Here's the reasons why I should;"

"here's the reasons why I shouldn't."

He didn't have to consult his counselor.

and then go ask his friends, what should I do?

No. He’s going,

"God, I believe you’re speaking to me here."

I don't know the details

but since I believe you're behind it,

I will obey immediately.

You don't have to understand fully to obey immediately.

Here’s a quick leadership thought,

that’ll apply to some of you who are leaders,

and have to make plans for an organization.

I heard Craig Groeschel talk,

who is pastor of one of the biggest churches in America.

He said that people ask him all the time,

what's your five-year plan for the church?"

And he says that his answer has changed over the years.

He used to do a five year plan,

but the world has started changing so rapidly,

there is no possible way to project five years ahead,

and anticipate all the divine opportunities ahead,

so now he doesn’t plan anything for more than 18 months ahead.

Instead of planning for the future,

He says that what he does,

is plan how to be able to respond immediately in the present.

He says,

I want to be able to immediately respond to the voice of God,

to opportunities that I am not smart enough to predict.

And he says,

Therefore, as a staff,

we always want to have financial margin

to seize opportunities that we didn’t plan for.

I want to have margin in our leadership

and margin in our time,

and margin in our families

so we can jump on divine opportunities

that we are not smart enough to predict.

Let me tell you,

that is wise advice

whether you’re running a church or a business

or any other organization.

And it really spoke to me,

because people have asked me the same question.

What’s your 10 year plan for the church?

And I’ve never really known how to answer that,

because I don’t know what God is going to do here

next week, much less next year, or 10 years from now.

If I make a 5 or 10 year plan,

its gonna be my plan, not God’s,

because God hasn’t shown me the future,

and I don’t know where he’s going to take us.

So instead,

I want to be positioned to immediately obey,

when he speaks to me.

The long range planning we can do,

is to prepare ourselves in our

finances and leadership and training,

to give ourselves margin,

so that we’re ready all the time,

to take advantage of the opportunities God brings our way,

and to immediately respond to the voice of God,

and immediately obey when he asks us to do something.

You don't have to understand fully to obey immediately.

I don't know how this speaks to you

but I believe that

if you’ll get in a posture of spiritual readiness,

you can't predict what God might do a year from now,

but if you're ready,

you can obey immediately when you do hear him speak,

You can be ready to say "yes" immediately,

even if you don’t understand fully.

Now listen.

Here's the way God will most likely lead you.

God rarely gives you details.

Just like Elisha,

you’re not going to get all the details up front.

In fact,

I believe God is intentionally vague in his directions.

You’ve probably never heard anybody say that before.

And you’re asking,

why would God be intentionally vague?

Because I know you’re just like me,

You want details,

You want God to tell you exactly how its going to work out,

and when and how and why and where,

I want the details before I commit.

But God doesn’t do that.

He is intentionally vague.

I think God looks at you and me, and says,

"You can't handle the details.

If I showed you everything,

either you’d be overwhelmed

and wouldn't even show up,

or you’d try to get to the end result in your own power,

and you’d ruin everything.

So I’m not showing you the details,

I'm just showing you the next step."

Intentional vagueness.

In the Old Testament,

God tells Abraham, go.

Leave your people, take your family and go.

No instructions on where, when,

how long, how far,

why, or anything else.

Just go.

I’ll let you know the details when you need to know.

And Abraham went.

God told Moses to lead his people out of Egypt.

No instructions on

how he’s going to rescue a million slaves,

from the most powerful nation in the world.

No. Just go do it.

I’ll give you the details when you need it.

In fact,

God often will guide even with just one word.

sometimes one word is all he gives you,

but that one word is enough to go on.

Peter sees Jesus was walking on the water.

Peter is like,

"Hey, that's ridiculous.

I want to do that.

Jesus, can I do that.

And Jesus gave him one word.

He said "come."

One word is all he got,

no instructions to go with it, no details,

just, come.

No details,

just obey, follow, come.

Some of you may hear one word from God;

Maybe your marriage is struggling right now

and you're thinking about cashing it in,

but you hear one word

and that one word is "stay."

You don't have to understand completely to obey immediately.

You stay.

Some of you, you might have a health situation

and it doesn't look good,

or maybe it's someone you love,

and God gives you one word, and it's "trust,"

and you hang on that word and you obey.

Some of you have an idea,

maybe for a business or a ministry or a book

or something else,

And you don’t know any details,

you’re wondering

"how" and "when"

and "how are we going to pay for it",

and "I don't understand."

But God gives you one word

and that word is "start."

You don't have to understand completely to obey immediately.

Some of you have been hanging around the church for a while

and you're starting to grow with God

but you're still observing.

And God may give you one word, "commit." Commit.

Don't just watch what God is doing,

get involved, commit.

Some of you may be praying about the future of your family

and you hear the word "adopt" or "foster".

You're like "wait, wait,

what age and from where, domestic or international?

Boy, girl?

I don't understand."

You don't have to understand everything to take the next step.

There may be a godly single woman here,

and you're dating a jerk,

and he’s drawing you away from God.

God may give you one word

and when he does, you obey.

What is God's one word?

"Break up with the jerk."

Okay that’s 5 words

but maybe you need to hear five instead of one

because you want to be a godly woman,

and not settle for a jerk like that.

Well, who am I going to marry?

What if nobody else better comes along?

Do you trust God or not?

You don't have to understand fully to obey immediately.

20 years ago I was working for AT&T in corporate marketing,

and God spoke to me about becoming a pastor.

I got zero details.

I had no idea how it was going to happen.

or when, or what church.

I thought, maybe God is talking about after I retire,

maybe I’ll go to seminary and become a pastor then,

I didn’t have a clue,

but I was willing to obey.

I wrote in my journal at the time,

that God was calling me,

and that I was ready when he was.

9 months later,

through circumstances I would have never expected,

and could not have predicted,

I was a pastor.

When I first heard from God,

I got no details,

but I didn’t need the details then,

I just needed to be willing to obey.

Some of you are going to hear a word from God

and you're going to be ridiculous enough to say,

I don't know all the details

but I don't have to understand fully to obey immediately.

Now here’s the second thing we see in this story:

Those God uses the most are the ones that hold on to the least.

Those that God uses the most, are the ones who hold on to the least.

Watch what Elisha does in verse 21.

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen.

These were the animals that provided his livelihood.

And what does the bible say he did with the oxen?

The bible says he slaughtered them, killed them dead.

Then what did he do with the plow?

He burned the plow to cook the meat

and gave it to the people and they ate.

So God speaks to Elisha,

and he immediately kills the cow and burns the plow…

That is just ridiculous through and through.

God is calling me to go and follow this prophet,

So what do I do?

I kill the cow and burn the plow.

That is ridiculous commitment.

Now, you can kind of understand the first part,

kill the cows,

because whenever God did something significant,

people would offer a sacrifice,

like when the prodigal son came back,

the father killed the fatted calf,

they had a party.

So you can understand killing the cow.

But burning the plow?

The plow is valuable,

that’s the farmers most important piece of equipment,

you don’t burn your plow.

Surely Elisha could have found a tree to chop down,

or get some wood somewhere.

Why is he burning this precious plow?

What is Elisha thinking?

You know what he’s thinking?

"I'm burning plan B.”

There is no more plan B.

There's only plan A, which is 'obey God.'

There is no turning back,

no wavering, no second thoughts,

ridiculous commitment.

You see,

Those God uses the most are the ones that hold on to the least.

On April 21st, 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez

sailed into the harbor of Vera Cruz, Mexico.

He brought with him only 600 men.

Now, his men were certainly better armed than the Aztecs,

and yet 2 prior expeditions from Spain

had failed to even establish a colony on Mexican soil.

Yet over the next two years Cortez and his 600 men

were able to defeat Montezuma

and all the warriors of the Aztec empire,

making Cortez the conqueror of all Mexico.

How in the world did he accomplish this,

with only 600 men?

Cortez knew that he and his men faced huge odds.

And he knew that his men would want to give up

when the going got tough,

and would want to return to Spain.

So the moment Cortez and his men were ashore

and unloaded their provisions,

he ordered their entire fleet of eleven ships burned.

His men stood on the shore and watched

as their only possibility of retreat, burned and sank.

From that point on, they knew

there was no return,

there was no wavering,

no second thoughts,

no turning back.

Their only option was to go forward, to conquer or die.

They had no plan B.

Those God uses the most, are the ones that hold on to the least.

How many of you have been called by God to do something,

and you’ve said,

yeah, I’m gonna go for it,

I’m gonna follow God…

but, I think I’ll keep the cows and plows, just in case.

I have to say that, as a dad,

if my kids come home with that plan,

God’s calling me to kill the cow and burn the plow,

I’d be tempted to say,

Hey, I'm proud of your faith, and go serve God,

but let's keep our options open."

Let's use some logic here;

there's no reason to burn the plow,

Sure, go follow God,

but keep the cows and plows

because you never know when you might need them.

That’s what I’d be tempted to say.

But what you see time after time in scripture

is that when God speaks to people,

they do ridiculous things to follow him.

When Jesus met Peter for the first time

in Luke, chapter 5,

Peter was at the end of a bad fishing day.

They’ve caught nothing but seaweed,

so they’re cleaning the nets,

getting ready to go home.

Jesus came up and said,

Go out into deeper water,

and put out your nets again.

Peter was like,

Hey we’ve been fishing all night, and caught nothing,

and besides, I’m the fisherman, you’re the carpenter.

Don’t tell me how to fish,

you don't know what you're talking about.

Jesus said, "Just do it."

Peter did it,

and caught so many fish, the nets started breaking.

Peter is like,

"Woe, who are you?

And why do I feel like a sinful man in comparison?

Jesus looked at him and said,

From now on, you’re gonna be catching people,

not fish.

And when they heard that,

Peter and his fishing buddies, James and John,

did something just as crazy as

kill the cow and burn the plow.

The bible says that

Luke 5:11

they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

They left their boats, their nets, the huge catch of fish,

they left everything, and followed Jesus.

Now, we read right past that,

and never even think about the huge implications,

never even think about applying it to ourselves.

Leave my job, are you crazy?

You know, I trained for this;

I got a college degree for this.

Leave my comfort,

leave my possessions,

leave my neighborhood.

I don’t think so.

They left everything to follow him.

There are some of you that

God is going to speak to you at some point

and give you a plow burning faith.

Now let me just say, make sure its God speaking to you;

you don't just go in and say,

I'm sick of my job,

I hate you all,

and burn the building down.

That’s not plow-burning faith,

that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about

when you know that God is calling you to do something,

and you know where he wants you to go.

There are sometimes when you're so convinced

that you just burn the plow,

burn the ships,

because you're not turning back

something has happened in you

and you're never going to be the same.

You cannot go back

because God is calling you forward.

There are some of you,

God is going to give you a plow-burning faith

where deep within,

you're willing to do whatever it takes

to follow God to the next place.

A few years ago we had a single guy at our church here

who went on one of our Guatemala mission trips,

and while he was there

he was so convicted by the need of the kids there,

he felt God was calling him to

shut down his contracting business,

sell his house,

and move down there to work as a missionary,

and so he just did it,

and worked there at the orphanage for years.

He killed the cow, burned the plow,

and went for it,

with ridiculous commitment.

Sometimes burning the plow has nothing to do with your job.

Another guy was struggling with pornography.

He finally overcame it

by putting monitoring software on his computers,

but then he got a smartphone,

and the temptation was too great

and he was back to the same thing every day.

He tried to block it, but it didn’t stop him,

he'd find another way around it.

And it was hurting his faith.

So finally after thinking and praying about it

he said, the only thing I can think of to do

is get rid of this iphone,

so he took a hammer and crushed his iphone.

He was like, I’m burning this plow.

I'm not going to let it take me down

not even one more time.

And now he uses a little flip phone,

and he hates his flip phone, but he loves his purity.

A pastor friend was telling about this family in his church,

they're strong Christians,

but in the summer they would go to their lakehouse every weekend, and basically disappear from the church for the summer.

Until one day this guy's nine-year-old daughter said,

"Daddy, why is it that we love God all year long but we don't love God in the summer?"

When he heard that,

he started to think about it, and realized that

they were putting God on hold every summer.

They didn't worship in the summer,

they didn't serve anybody in the summer,

they didn't make a difference in the summer,

it had become all about their enjoyment.

And when the dad realized this,

they discussed it as a family, and then burned the plow.

They sold the boat, sold the lake house,

Now there’s nothing wrong with having a boat or a lakehouse,

and this wouldn't be the right thing for everybody

but it was for them.

They said,

We are not going to set an example to our kids

that God is only important for part of the year.

Listen to me:

"Maybe you need to burn a plow."

I don't know what it is in your life,

but maybe God is bringing something to your mind right now,

and he’s saying, you need to burn a plow.

Maybe there’s something that’s keeping you from serving God,

and you need to burn that plow.

If there is sin holding you back, you burn that plow.

If there is fear, or unforgiveness in your life, you burn that plow.

If there is a relationship holding you back, you burn that plow.

Don’t let anything keep you from following God, because

you don't have to understand fully to obey immediately.


those that God uses the most are those who hold on to the least.

Some of you are holding onto something

that makes you feel secure.

But to step towards your destiny,

you have to step away from your security.

Let go of that thing that’s keeping you from God’s best.

God is speaking to some of you

and giving you faith to believe for something new in your life.

You’ve been looking at oxen rears for a long time,

but you’ve been faithful,

so God is calling you to do something greater

for his kingdom.

You may not understand it all,

but you don't have to understand fully to obey immediately.

And those that God uses the most, are those who hold on to the least.


"Father, we pray that you would build faith in this church, that we would recognize it is impossible to please you without faith. God we want to follow you into everything you have for us, not missing anything that you’re leading us to do.

As we pray today, I'm going to ask you just a couple of questions. The first one, I wonder how many of you who are followers of Christ want so much for God to stretch your faith that you are willing to look ridiculous, to leave things that you thought were important your whole life, to not let anything hold you back from living the perfect will of God for your life.

I wonder how many of you would say, "I don't want anything to hold me back. I want ridiculous faith to obey God. Even when it doesn't make sense, I will trust him."

If that’s what you want, would you lift up your hand right now…

You’re saying,

God, I want ridiculous faith to obey you even when it doesn't make sense. I’m gonna trust you, and obey immediately.

Thank you God for all those who want that kind of faith.

As we continue praying, there are those of you right now, you recognize that you don't have that kind of faith. You're not fully following God. You would even say, "I'm not a fully devoted follower of Jesus." And there may be many reasons and circumstances and issues around why you’d say that. Maybe you feel like you’ve messed up your life too much already, to be fully devoted to God.

But if you're feeling drawn toward God today, even if there's a million reasons why you shouldn't take the step of faith, there is one reason why you should… and that's because God loved you so much, he sent his son, Jesus, who was without sin, to become sin for us, to die and be raised again so that anyone who calls on his name would be saved. He’s simply waiting for you to take a step of faith, and come to Him. So just pray with me right now…

"Heavenly Father, forgive me for my sins. Make me brand new. I believe Jesus died for me and rose again so I could live for you. Fill me with Your Spirit so I have the power to follow you for the rest of my life. Thank you for new life. Today, I give you mine. In Jesus name, I pray."