Summary: This sermon was preached over the past weekend at the celebration service for the 'celebration service' for our new officers here in Fiji, the Messengers of Grace session.
Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my favourite items of clothing, I picked up this T-shirt at a concert back in 2011, yes the Moody Blues were playing in Wellington and we going there for another special event and Rochelle had heard me mention that this concert was going to be on the same weekend and she surprised me with tickets, she didn’t even know who the Moody Blues were but I had been a fan since my teenage years and to see and hear them in person was an awesome opportunity. Now there’s nothing really that special about the shirt, but the memories of that weekend that I have when I wear the shirt are really good, so it’s not about the cut of the shirt or the comfort of the shirt but what it represents.
Today we join in celebrating with the messengers of grace. In the second chapter of the second book of Kings we hear about an item of clothing that evokes a lot of thoughts, about miracles and about the power of God.
It interests me that this book entitled Kings starts out looking at and a good part of the book is really about prophets and the influence they have on Kings and the nation of Israel. As followers of Jesus here we have all been called to be Messengers of his Grace and while we celebrate or new Lieutenants we can all live in the assurance of God’s love for us, and that if we aren’t we can be saved through faith in Christ.
So we have these two prophets, Elijah and Elisha. The book starts in chapter one with Elijah telling King Ahaziah that he would die because he had sent his messengers to consult Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron, aka the devil, about his likelihood of recovering from an injury. Not only that but Elijah had twice called down fire from heaven to destroy 50 soldiers and their officers who had been sent to arrest him and bring him before the King. The third officer sent to arrest him was a lot wiser in the way that he addressed the prophet, the tip here for us all first tip here is; be wise in your interactions with all people, officers be wise, soldiers be wise, every one be wise. The scriptures tell us that “ If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5). I am sure that there are some here today that can testify along with me that any wisdom they have is not theirs but given by God.
We get this picture quickly that Elijah was a man very close to God and on whom God had given authority. However, in chapter two we hear that Elijah is not long for the world, that God is going to take him, he is with his trainee prophet Elisha. Twice on their journey, Elisha is told by the company of prophets that Elijah was to be taken by the Lord and three times Elisha tells Elijah that he will not leave him. Our new Lieutenants have received some intense training over the past two years and their training college time is complete and in a few short weeks they will be in their appointments, but their learning will continue until they receive their final promotion. They leave soon to fulfil their roles as officers. They leave the relative safety of training college where the wisdom of Major Racheal-Lee, Major Marika, Captain Dale and others has been passed onto them. There is in this instance no opportunity for them to say “no” to The Salvation Army’s appointment or to stay behind, they will be leaving. However, The Salvation Army has asked that they consider ongoing training so that they can be as useful as they possibly can be as officers of this Army and within your community’s, Jesus came so that our lives can be lived in all their abundance, what opportunities we all have for abundant living we have as we take the message of God’s grace to the world.
In The Salvation Army, there are others in the team like the company of prophets who will support and offer advice when asked, officers and soldiers of The Salvation Army are an Army and as such we work as an Army we are a team. The training and commissioning as officers may be a gradual process and our commissioning process is somewhat like Elisha, receiving Elijah’s cloak. The mantle of responsibility is handed on, but like Elisha being supported by the company of prophets our ministry and witness is a team effort, adherents, soldiers, officers, we are a community of believers within Fiji that is called by God to support one another but also to witness to the wider community and draw others into relationship with God, and also the community that is The Salvation Army.