Summary: It describes how the life of Elisha is applicable to us
1 Kings 19: 19 - 21 - the first sermon on the life of Elisha
Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on 5 June 2011 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey:
The prophet Elisha is one of the lesser known characters in the Old Testament as so often the emphasis has often been upon Elijah, so that Elisha gets overlooked
The name 'Elisha' means ‘God is salvation’
We see in this passage God’s planning for the succession of the prophetic ministry – in fact, God knew Elisha before Elijah arrived (verse 16)
The anagram for this morning is the word SON
3. No turning back
1. 1. Sacrifice
As you are living in the UK, this situation puts you in the top 10% of the prosperity ladder of the world, and residing in this area even more so with house prices being at least £200,000.
Are you going to your riches or are you leaving them behind?
As Neil Diamond sings in the song ‘Forever in blue jeans’: ‘Money talks/ but it can’t sing or dance/ and it can’t walk.’
There is a limit to what money can do, which we can see in the recession and the financial meltdowns in Greece, Portugal and Ireland. In the midst of all the uncertainty, people need you and me to live and speak the good news of Jesus into their lives, with flesh on.
Jim Eliot (the missionary who was killed by the Auca Indians in the Amazon) stated: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’
Elisha came from a prosperous background. (It was like Peter and Andrew, whose father owned a fishing business.) However, in the light of the wealth, it meant nothing to him in the light of God’s calling on his life.
There were things that Elisha considered:
· Parents – loved ones are often affected by a move of God in our lives
· Position – there was stability, knowing what he was going to do on the next day
· Passion for power – he had hired hands, we have church/work/social positions we cling to
In the end, his love for God won out so that he wanted to serve his Lord
As we have the saying ‘burning your bridges,’ Elisha burnt his ploughing equipment – there was no way back after he accepted that God had control on his life.
When you get in the way of sacrifice, it becomes a way of life.
2. 2. Obedience
God will always be preparing us for the next new thing He wants us to do – Elisha was found at work, not reading or praying
Jesus calls us to follow Him – not church or organisations or programmes
God wants us to come into relationship with Him, then to be His disciple which involves telling others about Him
In Ephesians 4: 1, Paul writes: ‘I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.’
We can be so set in stone (almost literally) or petrified, that it takes God to move us
Then Paul tells Timothy (with words that start by sounding like Rudyard Kipling!) – ‘keep you head in all situations, endure hardship [how many of us experience that for the sake of the Gospel], do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.’ – All of these words apply to us.
An honest calling in the world does not take us out of the heavenly calling – the needs of the people in the world to be addressed by our hands and hearts being used by God
We have to be prepared to learn – whatever age we are – just as Elisha remained Elijah’s servant until Elijah was taken up into heaven.
As the words of the old song says: ‘Trust and obey/for there is no other way/ to be happy in Jesus/ but to trust and obey’ – are we happy in Jesus?
3. 3. No turning back
At the Conservative party conference on 10 October 1980, Margaret Thatcher informed her audience that ‘the lady’s not for turning’ (a reference to the Christopher Fry play, ‘The Lady’s not for Burning’).
Whether or not we agree with Lady Thatcher’s opinion on the liberalisation of the economy, there is the indisputable fact that when we accept the lordship of Christ in our lives, there is no turning back if we truly want to be his disciples.
There are times when God calls us to a particular work and then presses the ‘pause’ button, not the ‘off’ or ‘reject’ ones. In passage, Elijah’s words could read ‘Go back, but remember what I have done to you.’
Jesus said: ‘No-one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the service in the kingdom of God.’ (Luke 9: 62) – Is there something that God is calling you to - that you started but stopped doing (e.g. through tiredness, other commitments or pressures)? He wants you to continue.