Today, we are beginning a series on the life and faith of the Old Testament prophet named Elisha. If you have found that you’ve been hitting a plateau in your faith, allow this series and teaching of God’s word to build your faith.
The story starts with a prophet named Elijah. Elijah was one of the great prophets of the old testament, bold, daring, full of faith. He defeated the prophets of Baal, called down fire from heaven, turned on and off the water supply controlling a drought and raised a child from the dead. God asked Elijah to call Elisha to be his replacement,
Elisha actually performed more recorded miracles in scripture than anyone, with the exception of Jesus Christ. What’s interesting is that he wasn’t the son of a priest, or some sort of outward spiritual giant. He was an ordinary guy who was living at home with his parents, working on a farm when God called him.
He lived during the 9th century B.C. in a time when Israel was divided, there was great tension. Many people were worshiping the false god of Baal and God raised up this ordinary guy, and did something extraordinary through his life.
Our scripture focus is 1 Kings 19: 19-21:
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth 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 yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Imagine the monotony of what it would be like to plow behind a yolk of oxen every single day. You may feel a little bit like Elisha, doing the same thing day in, day out. Maybe you are going to the same job, working with the same people, and it feels very monotonous. Maybe you’re at home a lot right now, staring at the same laundry and dishes and you feel drained. It is so easy to lose your passion.
This is where Elisha was, but notice he was being faithful with the task at hand. God loves to reward those who are faithful, with the little, mundane things. When you are faithful with a little, He can trust you with much. So, even though it might not have been Elisha’s favorite thing to do, even though it could have been incredibly draining physically and emotionally, he was faithful. Then, in the middle of his faithful daily routine, God sent something new to take him from where he was into a moving place of faith and impact.
What did it mean when Elijah threw his cloak around Elisha? This cloak would have been like a coat made of animal skin or fur and was considered a covering. When Elijah put his covering on Elisha, he was symbolically saying, “that which covered me will now cover you. The mantle on me, will now be the mantle on you. As God has been working through me, now God is going to work through you.”
Now, apply this story to your life. There are two two principals of a faith that is moving and growing. You can be an ordinary man and respond to an extraordinary call.
Two Principles of Faith
- You don’t have to understand fully to obey immediately.
When God calls you to do something, you don’t have to understand all the details to obey immediately. When Elijah put his cloak around Elisha, what did Elisha do?
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.” 1 Kings 19:20
Notice he didn’t pray about it. He didn’t have to do a list of pros and cons. He didn’t have to consult his counselor. All he did was say, “God, I don’t know the details, but since I believe you’re in on this, I will obey immediately.”
Now, you know one of our mottos at Rock Brook is ‘Pray First’, but sometimes, you don’t need to pray about it. Sometimes you don’t pray, you just obey. You don’t have to pray about it and question God, until He’s given his full answer.
We have a desire to understand fully before we’ll make a move. But God is often strategically vague in his directions about your future. You want details, and God would look at you often and say, “You can’t handle the details. If I showed you everything, you wouldn’t show up. I’m just showing you the next step.”
God often will guide even with just one word. Just one powerful word, and that needs to be enough to go on. In the Old Testament, whenever God was giving Moses direction, you could summarize the directions in one word. “Moses, go.”
“Abraham, go. Go to the land I will show you.”
In the New Testament, Jesus was walking on water. Peter said, “Jesus, if that’s you, tell me to come.” And Jesus gave him one word. What was the word? He said “come.”
You may hear one word from God. Your marriage may be struggling right now and you’re thinking about cashing it in, and you hear one word and that one word is “stay.” You don’t have to understand completely to obey immediately. You stay.
You or someone you love might have a health situation and it doesn’t look good, and God gives you one word and it’s “trust” and you hang on that word and you obey.
You may have a business or ministry idea and you’re trying to figure out all the ‘hows’ and ‘whens’ and you’re trying to understand it all while God is saying, “just start.” You don’t have to understand it all first.
Maybe you’ve been around the church or watching for a while and you’re kind of starting to grow with God but you’re still observing. And God may give you one word, “commit.”
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.
You may be dating someone and God has not given you peace about the relationship. Your one word may be “break-up.” You don’t have to understand everything to do what God tells you to do.
2. Those God uses the most are the ones that hold on to the least.
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. 1 Kings 19:21
These were the animals that brought Elisha his livelihood. The bible says he slaughtered them and made a bonfire out of the plowing equipment. Then he set out to follow Elijah and he became his servant.That is a faith that moves and grows. It’s almost like he’s saying, “I’m burning plan B. There is no plan B. There’s only obey God.”
Often times in scripture, when people are so moved by God they make big moves of commitment to follow him. Whenever Jesus encountered Peter for the first time Peter was having a bad fishing day. Jesus told him to throw his nets down on the other side of the boat. Peter said, “Master we’ve been working hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I don’t understand, but I’ll do it.”
And he caught so many fish, the nets started breaking. Peter falls down, “Whoa, who are you? This is amazing; I am a sinful man. You’re the Lord,”
And Jesus looked at him and said, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will fish for people.” And scripture says something that is just as crazy as the “burn the plows and kill the cows.”
So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:11
Contextualize that to your life. Leave you job, your comfort, you neighborhood, and everything to follow Him. At some point God is going to speak to you and give you a plow burning faith. God is going to call you to leave where you are and go where He wants you to go. There are some times when you’re so convinced that you just burn the bridge back, because you’re not turning back because something has happened in you and you’re never going to be the same. You can’t go back because God is calling you forward.
Here are a few examples of people in our church that have been called by God:
- A couple lived in another town and had very successful jobs and loved where they lived but God was leading them to move so they could serve their parents in their old age.
- A strong Christian family loved to go to their lake house in the summer. One day their nine year old daughter asked, “Why don’t we love God in the summer?” At that moment they realized they didn’t serve anybody, make a difference, or worship in the summer. The summer became about their enjoyment. They sold the boat and the lake house.
- A man was struggling with pornography and while he was able to overcome for awhile, his devices because a stumbling block. He eventually got rid of all of his devices except for a flip phone and an open desktop computer.
- A man used to drop his kids off at Rock Brook for Kids but knew he was being called to serve there as well. He put it off for long enough, but eventually decided to sacrifice his time and scheduling conflicts and now he is a part of kids salvations, teaching them, and instilling in them the things of God. He is making a mighty, eternal impact.
Maybe today the Holy Spirit is reminding you to be faithful and consistent with the mundane things, or the little things in your life, so you can be ready for God to give you more. Maybe for you there is a sin holding you back, and the Holy Spirit is leading you to burn that plow. Maybe for you God has set something on your heart and called you to it, but you have yet to make a move.
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.
Check back on your discussions from the last week, “The Blessing of Honor.” Did you prioritize, praise or protect anyone to honor them this week?
Elijah’s call on Elisha teaches us two principles of faith. 1) You don’t have to understand fully to obey immediately. 2) Those God uses the most are the ones who hold on to the least.
Discussion & Application
- Pastor Ryland ended the message with some examples of those who made changes in their life to move forward in what God was calling them to do. What examples of commitment to God have you witnessed in your life?
- How do you know when God is leading you?
- Describe a time when you obeyed God even though you did not fully understand His direction. What resulted from your obedience?
- What is God asking you to do that you need to obey immediately?
- What else stood out to you about this message and encounter between Elijah and Elisha.
Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.
What is one step of obedience you can take this week to respond to what God is asking you to do?
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