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Summary: What have you substituted in your life in exchange for God’s power? Is it rituals? Family activities, Spiritual mountaintop memories? Church duties?

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I visited one of our members in the nursing home. He told me that he didn’t have long to live because of his diagnosis of cancer. So I inquired of his wisdom so I could perhaps glean some jewels of knowledge to help me along my life journey.

One question that I asked him, was “What one thing would you say would be the most important thing to remember in life?”

His reply was “Enjoy life each day to it’s fullest, accept no substitutes.”

– Floyd Freeman 11/2005

Turn to II Kings 4:18-37

As you’re turning in your bibles, the questions we will explore today are

What things do we place our trust in that often replaces our relationship in Jesus Christ?

What do we substitute as a stronghold--or are committed with in our life--other than our intimacy with Christ?

What experiences or rituals, or routines do we often depend that hinders our growth in knowing Jesus Christ and his purpose for our life?

Elisha’s background

Little is written about Elisha during the few years between the time of his calling, until Elijah’s very curious departure in a “chariot of fire”

Having inherited a “double portion of Elijah’s spirit”, which was actually the Holy Spirit of God, Elisha became the new leader of the company of Prophets

In 2 Kings 2:19-22 you’ll find that after Elijah’s departure, Elisha went to Jericho where he miraculously transformed a poison water supply into a clean spring

Also in 2 Kings, you’ll find that from Jericho, he travelled to Bethel where he was accosted by a large gang of teenagers that kept teasing Elisha by calling him “baldy” -- Elisha called down a curse on his attackers, and 42 of them were mauled by 2 bears that then came out of the woods

Other miracles Elisha performed that you’ll find in the book of 2 Kings was when was a supply of water when Jehoram’s army was suffering from thirst

He also was used by God in increasing the poor widow’s supply of oil

And again, when he restored the life of the son of a woman of Shunem

Other instances of Elisha included, the multiplication of 20 loaves of bread into enough to feed 100 men

The curing Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy

He made an iron axhead float in the waters of the Jordan

Elisha died in his own house of an unspecified illness (2 Kings 13:14-20). It is interesting to note that the man who once had the powers to cure sickness and raise the dead, himself had to actually suffer through a terminal illness, like so many others commonly do.

What may be a surprise to many of you is about a year after Elisha died, a dead man who was hastily buried in Elisha’s tomb was resurrected after touching the bones of Elisha

READ Shunamite Woman’s story 2 Kings 4:18-37

key verse 31—the wooden staff was not enough, although it came from a powerful prophet.

Many times, the things in our life we count on as great, are not enough to sustain our life and growth in Christ—we try to coast by in our Christianity in hopes that we’ll grow in Christ

I call these “Deadwood” areas, the most popular one in our churches today is…

Deadwood – Remembering how it once was – Revelation 2:2-4

In the second chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus states: “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”

This sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But Jesus continues, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen!”

The Ephesian Christians used to be radically in love with Jesus, but now they’re just working for Him.

And I believe that one of the first signs of “Deadwood” in our lives is often found in the MINISTRY OF SERVING

Ministry in serving meaning praying to God for someone to be healed while at the same time, ignoring Jesus knocking at your hearts door prompting you to visit them or bring them food

So often, we replace service in Christ for relationship, focusing more on what we do for God than on loving Him for who He is and what He is doing in your life today.

We are like the older son in Jesus’ parable who complained to his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.”

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