Summary: Elisha's story shows us how we can have a successful New Year - Through experiencing our own Gilgal (having control over our flesh) Bethel (experiencing the presence of the Lord ) Jericho (placing our faith in God) Jordan River (old life to new life)

Scripture: 2 Kings 2:1-15

Theme: New Year - New Mantle

Proposition: The story of Elisha shows us how we can have a successful New Year - Through experiencing our own Gilgal (having control over our flesh) Bethel (experiencing the presence of the Lord ) Jericho (placing our faith in God) Jordan River (old life to new life).

Grace and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.

Welcome to the New Year. What a joy it is to be able to be here and celebrate the New Year with the LORD and with you and your family. There is always something sacred and renewing about a new year. It's like we are given a fresh new start. We can put all the things that happened to us last year in the rear view mirror and go ahead. We can learn from all the things that happened to us but we don't have to be bogged down by them.

This morning, our passage gives us some excellent advice on how we can make sure that this new year is successful and productive spiritually, emotionally and socially. Walking alongside the Prophet Elisha we will be able to see some steps that can help us in making sure we are successful and productive. For Elisha these steps enabled him to be able to receive the mantle of being the next lead prophet for God's People. For us they will help us to have a successful and productive year.

Of the two prophets in our story, Prophet Elijah is better known. More than likely that is due to his ability to pull fire down from Heaven, his famous battle on Mt. Carmel and his ongoing struggles against Queen Jezebel and King Ahaz. The Prophet Elisha is not as well known even though the Bible records that he was involved in twice as many miracles as Elijah. Healing someone from leprosy, raising an axe head out of the water and promising a victory over the Syrians somehow doesn't compare to all of Elijah's great theatrics.

Verse one tells us that the time had come for the LORD to bring Elijah up to heaven. His work on earth for that time was over. He had done all he could do for the LORD and for the people of God. The question was who would take his place? Would it be one of the many prophets that had arisen under his leadership or would it be his right hand man Elisha? Our story reveals to us that it would be the Prophet Elisha. In verse 15 we read where the Spirit of the LORD comes upon Elisha and he is given Elijah's mantle. The LORD answered Elisha's request to possess a double portion of Elijah's spirit thus enabling him to become the next lead prophet for the People of God.

It's a great story and did you notice that once again it involves fire as the Lord takes Elijah home in a fiery chariot? This story is one that many of us are familiar with this morning. But inside our story is another story. It's a story outlining some steps that Elisha was led to take in order to be the next lead prophet. It's some steps that share with us how he was able to start a whole new adventure in his life. It is those steps that I believe that the Holy Spirit would like for us to look at this morning. Steps that can help lead us down a path of progressive holiness as well. Steps that show us how we can make sure that this New Year brings us great spiritual growth, adventure and success. Let's look at them right now. Each of these steps revolved around a geographical area.

I. The first step revolves around the location of Gilgal

Some times when we read a story either in the Old or New Testament we do not always absorb its fullest truth. There are keys in the passage that we may not see or if we do see them we do not fully understand them. Our story today is one of those stories.

It's easy to read this story and think that Elijah is just leading Elisha on some wild goose chase as they travel from one location to the next. The two prophets start off in the city of Gilgal. From there they walk about eight to ten miles to the city of Bethel. They then turn around and walk another 15 miles back to the city of Jericho. When they get to Jericho they don't stay long as they travel another five to eight miles to the Jordan River. Each time they got to one of those locations Elijah seemed to do his best to get Elisha to stay behind.

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