We’re looking at the life and faith of Elisha today to learn how to find something when you’ve lost it. How often are you looking for you things you have misplaced? Or better yet, how much time have you spent searching for things that are already in your possession? Maybe you’ve lost your glasses while wearing them or frantically looked for your phone while you were talking on it…
However today we are going to talk about losing something else. There’s a good chance that for many of you who are followers of Jesus Christ at some point in that faith journey you may feel like you’ve lost some of the passion for God or the things of God that you had at one time.
Maybe you used to have a deep settled spiritual contentment and joy that somehow along the way you’ve lost, but you’re not quite sure how you’ve lost it. Maybe at one time you had great faith and you prayed and prayed and believed God for things, but now you’re not praying for much of anything. Maybe you’re not even sure what you believe about God right now.
As we look at the prophet Elisha, we read about one of the oddest miracles in all the Bible. If you look through and survey the different miracles that Elisha performed, there were some really big and important miracles.
He healed a poisoned body of water which saved a community.
He raised a boy from the dead.
He provided for a widow who would have lost her two sons after losing her husband.
He healed a commander from leprosy.
He blinded an entire army to move forward the things of God in a battle.
He did all these significant things.
And in this miracle there was a young prophet who borrowed an axe and was chopping on a treewhen the axehead flew off of the stick into the water. Elisha, the man of God, takes a stick, and throws it in the water. Then the axehead floats to the top so the prophet can grab it…. and we go, “Wow! What does this mean?”
To get some context before we dive into the passage, one thing you need to know is that iron was very valuable at this time and it was hard to come by. This younger prophet who lost the axehead, was likely very poor. He was kind of like a college student eating Ramen noodles. He had borrowed this axehead and he couldn’t pay it back.
Another thing to remember… Elisha was mentored by Elijah, but they were different from one another.
Elijah was spectacular, fire and rain. He dealt with princes. He did not die.
Elisha was more silent. Dealt with common people. He did die.
They represent both aspects of the rapture. The living will be caught up with the Lord, the dead will rise again. And now, we see Elisha mentoring the next generation of young prophets who wanted to learn from him. This reveals the popularity of Elisha. He was a great teacher. That’s where we pick up the story.
“The company of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.’ And he said, ‘Go.’
Then one of them said, ‘Won’t you please come with your servants?’ ‘I will,’ Elisha replied. And he went with them.
They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. ‘Oh no, my lord!’ he cried out. ‘It was borrowed!’ 2 Kings 6:1-5 NIV
Let’s pause there. Have you ever experienced borrowing something and it getting broken or lost? That is a sinking feeling. Watch what happens.
“The man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. ‘Lift it out,’ he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.” 2 Kings 6:6-7 NIV
Here we see God working in the small details of someone’s life. The Bible encourages us to pray about everything. Sometimes we don’t do that because we think there are things too small for God. We may just pray about big stuff. But then, God reminds us… It’s all small to Him.
There is one major point we need to embrace that we will keep coming back to:
God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose.
Those of you who lost something in your faith, be reminded that we serve a God who is totally into restoration. God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose.
How Have You Lost Your Spiritual Edge?
Now, as we talk about losing the axehead, losing the edge, what we’ll do is see how this could symbolically apply to our life. The big question to ask is this: How have you lost your spiritual edge?
And some of you may say, “Well, really, I haven’t.” And if that’s you, we celebrate that with you, and encourage you to continue doing what you’re doing.
But there are times in the Christian life that are more faith filled than others. You might recognize there was a time when you had committed Christians around you that helped build you up and pray for you, and encourage you in the things that matter most. But when you look around now, that’s not the case and you’ve lost your edge because of that.
Maybe there was a time when you served in the church and you had the thrill of making a difference with your gifts. And sometimes it was hard, but all the time it was fulfilling. Then you got busier and you stopped.
There was a time when you had a passion for prayer. But now, you may pray over a meal and when someone is watching but you haven’t prayed in a significant way in a very long time.
You really loved to share your faith with other people, But something happened along the way, and now you can’t remember the last time you had a spiritual conversation with someone that is not a follower of Jesus.
Or at another time in your life, your trust in Christ freed you from a lot of worry. But now you find worry creeping back into your life. You’re no longer trusting God to work things together.
Some of you have noticed that your standards have eroded. Years ago, you had strong Christian values. Then through some influences changing in your life, you wake up today and wonder, “How did I get way over here?”
How have you lost your spiritual edge?
These are hard days. These days are going to be hard on your faith.
This is not to make you feel bad or say you are less for going through a drought in your faith. You didn’t mean to lose your edge. And you’d like to have it back.
What do you do when you’re swinging away and the edge flies off? Can faith make a comeback? We can find the answers by looking at Elisha and the young prophet and apply, symbolically, two lessons about how we get our edge back.
How Do You Get Your Edge Back?
1. We need to be honest about where we lost it.
Verse 6, Elisha asks, “where did it fall?” Why did he ask him that? Because he didn’t know where it was. Couldn’t Elisha see where the axehead was? No. The Jordan is very muddy.
Did Elisha get lucky? No. He made and axehead float like a cork on water. But first, he asked, where did it fall? In other words, the axehead isn’t gone; it’s just where you left it.
Where did it fall? Where did you lose it? Where did you start to lose your spiritual edge?
You can look back and see when you stopped or started doing something. Perhaps, you have a secret that you thought wouldn’t hurt anyone, but you didn’t realize it wasn’t really a secret because God knew. And it’s hurting you because it’s hurting your relationship with God.
Maybe someone offended you or hurt you by something they said or did. It deeply disappointed you. And you’ve allowed part of your heart to grow hard. Maybe even blaming God for what someone else did.
Those are a couple of places to check, but be honest about where you lost it.
2. With God’s help, take back what you lost.
God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose. But, finding it and taking it back are two different steps.
“…When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. ‘Lift it out,’ he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.” 2 Kings 6:6-7 NIV
Only God can make the axehead float, but he wants you to lift it out.
This theme is found many, many times in scripture. In the book of Philippians Paul talks about working out your salvation. Some take that to mean that you work for your salvation. No no no, he’s saying God is working salvation in you, so work to show the fruit of it. God works it in, we work it out.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12 NIV
He wants you to take what He saved you for. And He’s bringing life with Him back into reach. The moment you start to think, “Maybe I can have a passionate faith again,” There will be a voice in the back of your head that says,“No, it’s been too long and you’ve gone too far.”
But don’t believe this! It’s not too late to have what you used to have and have even more of it with the power of our good God. You haven’t gone too far and you haven’t done too much because our God specializes in resurrections.
Do what you can do and trust God to do what you cannot do.
Can you make an axehead float? You can’t do that. But can you lift it out when he brings it within reach? Yes, you can.
Can you create, in your own spirit, spiritual passion and faith? You cannot do that. Only God can revive a spirit. But we do know that faith comes by hearing and hearing from the word of God, so you can put yourself in a place where you hear God’s word so God can build your faith. You can choose to pray even when you don’t feel like it.
My commitment has to be stronger than my feelings.
“You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelations 2:4 NIV
How do we get the love back? He says to do three things.
“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…” Revelations 2:5 NIV
You consider, or remember where it was you were. You repent. Meaning, you change directions. If you’re moving away from God, repent and move closer. How? By doing what you did at first.
That’s good marriage advice too. How do you get close and get the spark back like you had before? You remember what it was like, you stop doing the things that take you away from that and start doing what you did before.
What we have gone through in the last few months has a lot of people on edge. Maybe you’ve lost your spiritual edge and found a new edge. You’re on edge. Maybe not you, but you feel it, you see it.
There’s so much offense, and miscommunication, and divisiveness right now. That’s the enemy’s goal, to divide us. When we allow it to happen, it’s a victory for the wrong side. But there’s a verse in Proverbs 6 that says when the enemy steals something, he’s got to pay it back seven times.
Some of you feel like you have been robbed by your enemy. But if you’ll reach out to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of for you…
You see, this whole encounter with Elisha, is symbolic. Dormant on the bottom of the muddy Jordan is our life. At the fall we became totally depraved. We went down to the waters of death and defeat. Lost to God. No longer enjoying life. Far from God.
We try to find something to do to make life useful and purposeful. We try to find something to do and occupy our time. We try to drown out the futility of life, nothing satisfies.
God cut down a stick and cast it into the waters of death. That stick is the cross of Christ. And Christ bore our sins on that tree. And came out of the waters of death We can rise from the waters of death and judgement through Christ, placed back on the handle of God’s purpose and plan.
The greatest miracle is to be lifted out of the mire of sin and given meaning in life through Christ Raised. Resurrected. Redeemed by the owner. Taken back. Redeemed. If you thought you were hot before, you’re coming back seven times hotter.
And what the enemy meant for evil, our God will use for good. God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose.
“God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 30:3-5 MSG
Check back on your discussions from the last week, “Seeing People as God Does” “We begin to root out racial prejudice with the eyes, the ears and the heart. Seeing people as God does, listening to everyone with respect, and loving everybody the way Jesus does.” Without taking up too much group time, is there anything from that conversation that needs some closure or more observations?
God knows how to help you find what you did not mean to lose. Be honest about where you lost it.
With God’s help, take back what you lost.
Read 2 Kings 6:1-7
Discussion & Application
- What stood out to you in this message?
- What things in your life most often cause you to lose your spiritual edge?
- How have you lost your spiritual edge?
- What are some things that keep your faith sharp?
- If you’ve lost your spiritual edge, what are some steps you will you take to get it back?
Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week. Pray specifically for one another’s faith.
What one thing will you do this week that will help you get your spiritual edge back or prevent you from losing it? Write that thing down and make a commitment that will outweigh your feelings.
Grow your faith with commitment to God by reading the following Bible passages this week.
Day 1: 2 Kings 4:1-7
Day 2: 2 Corinthians 4:1-12
Day 3: Philippians 4:10-20
Day 4: 2 Peter 1:3-11
Day 5: Matthew 6:25-34
Day 6: Proverbs 3:1-12
Day 7: Matthew 15:29-39