Poorly Placed, Perfectly Situated

The mission for three servants was simple: Provide a cure to Naaman! The first servant came upon her assignment almost by accident as a…

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Young Girl who was on the surface was POORLY PLACED, but found out she was PERFECTLY SITUATED (2 Kings 5:2-3)– Now bands of raiders from Aram (Israel and Aram were ethnically related), had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Talk about a poor placement for a young girl who was taken from her homeland, and family- what we would call her a non-enemy combatant—a treasure for an Aram raider who went about inflicting terror on the Israelites, leaving them constantly in fear of losing their livelihood, their family, and their life. It is telling that she is a nameless servant, without rights or identity to her captors. It is in horrible placement that she could have avoided bringing up the name Elisha or approached the assignment with apathy—why help these people, “they ruined my life! Let his life come to rot!” and yet from the beginning she shows herself poorly placed, but perfectly situated to speak truth into the life of someone who didn’t yet know God. Continue reading “Poorly Placed, Perfectly Situated”

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Living With Less

As we continue in our sermon series called Greater Things following the miraculous moments of Elisha’s ministry. He decluttered the past to make room for a greater future. He ferociously followed his master until he was ready to lead. He changed the course of kings, and last week we saw him change the life of one solitary woman who was facing disaster. A woman who felt like she had nothing, but found that what she overlooked was what God used to overcome. This morning in 2 Kings 4: 8-37 we go from a woman who had nothing to the other end of the spectrum, to a woman who seemingly has more than enough.

Background: It all started as Elisha’s work had him traveling throughout the land administering his duties, like Lincoln rode through IL on his legal circuit. Elisha would go from Mt. Carmel to Shunem, south to Gilgal, and each time he arrived in Shunem he received the hospitality—welcomed into the home of the Shummanite woman and her husband. It is one thing to get a home cooked meal, good conversation and friendship, but this couple went further, building on to their house, giving Elisha a motel 6 experience—“We will leave the light on for you!” From the outside the Shummanite looked content, like she had everything she wanted or needed, but God was about behind the curtain she was actually:

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Living with Less (2 Kings 4:13, 16-17) 13 Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I have a home among my own people.” 14 “What can be done for her?” Elisha asked. Gehazi said, “She has no son, and her husband is old.”15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”

The Shummanite woman was comfortable and generous. She was willing to do almost anything for Elisha—share her wealth, add on to her house, give him a room fully furnished with a lamp, bed, and table, but she wasn’t sure she wanted God to do anything to her! Continue reading “Living With Less”

Slave to Expectations

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As we continue in the life of Elisha, one of Israel’s greatest prophets, we have seen him transform from a simple farmer to being called to something greater. He burnt the plows that might have beckoned him back to his comfortable life and instead began being used by God—changing the course of a nation, and today he changes the course of a desperate widow who was beginning to see life as a dirty trick with no remedy or cure. Today in our text from 2 Kings 4:1-7, we find a widow who feels like a…

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Slave to Expectations ( 2 Kings 4:1) The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha,(If you’ve spent a lot of time around seminary students you will find out money is flowing very freely. It wasn’t rare in married student housing  to find a couch out by the dumpster one day and then proudly displayed by another couple the next or a card table used for a dinner table.)  “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” No plea for help just a statement of desperation! Proverbs was right (22:7) The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. The law allowed for Hebrews to be sold or to sell themselves as a way to pay off their debt. God intended it to be temporary and help transport people beyond humble beginnings or big mistakes.  What was established to be a way out of bondage, through loopholes in the law inflicted bondage on the weakest and most vulnerable. Losing possessions is one thing, but that is nothing in comparison to the panic of watching her two sons become slaves. While people ignored God’s expectations to care for the widows and orphans, to limit the number of years in service, to bless those who served under you,  you can almost hear the familiar refrain: “It’s just business as usual!” Just what everyone expected. Continue reading “Slave to Expectations”

Greater Things: Last Days

Sometimes first days are scary, the first day of high school can be intimidating, the first day of tryouts can leave your stomach queasy, the first day of a new job or new relationship can leave you nervous, but those are the days we feel most alive. Yet, we only have so many hours in the day, only so much focus and attention. A new day often only comes when we realize we have to embrace some

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Last Days (1 Kings 19:21) 21 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.

This is where things get crazy cool! Elisha went back to say goodbye to his parents, and he took the yoke that he had used to build up the life that was so comfortable and profitable and he started breaking it apart. He didn’t store it in a barn, just in case things didn’t work out. He took the oxen and started slaughtering them, not putting them out to pasture in case things didn’t work out.  Yet from seemingly a destructive act—Elisha reaches out to all the people—solidifying his new calling as a prophet of God—a celebration of a calling—and    then he followed Elijah. Where do you need to cut ties with the past, some of you have probably been living two lives-one foot in the past and one in the future—feeling the tension of those two worlds daily colliding together, others have been carrying the weight of past failures, or broken relationships, and we fight to be good, when God beckons us to what’s greater. No going back to what didn’t work.

Sometimes it takes breaking the mold, burning the yokes to bring a new day. Most people don’t know, but before George Washington was a Revolutionary General before he was President, he had to break the mold. Continue reading “Greater Things: Last Days”

Greater Things- First Day

In the midst of the everyday comes the opportunity for something different, something out of the ordinary…not an everyday, but a…

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First Day (1 Kings 19:19c) Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

It doesn’t sound like anything really that noteworthy, but in this Jewish culture the cloak represents the calling. (Like the Wild West, if you got deputized with a badge.) The cloak in the same way was used as protection in bad weather, bedding on rough ground, a pad to sit on, luggage to get around, a pledge to pay a debt, was actually torn to pieces as a sign of joining in the grief of another. God started to prepare a transition. Elisha would be the next great prophet of God! This day was unlike any before it or after it, this was the First Day of a new adventure, a mission on behalf of God. Elisha’s response is so interesting- 20 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.”  This calling is an interruption of life as Elisha knew it and as a result there is a tension between what he knows and the unknown before him; between the past and this potentially amazing future; what is good and what might be greater. Continue reading “Greater Things- First Day”

Greater Things-Everyday

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Today we are going to begin a new sermon called Greater Things, as we gear up for a first-hand view of one of the most overlooked and yet captivating Old Testament prophets Elisha. Let me give you some of the context here, the nation of Israel has split into two divided monarchies, religious idolatry abounds, and there has been seemingly only one faithful prophet by the name of Elijah serving God. He has just battled it out on top of Mount Carmel with the prophets of false gods. We pick up right in the aftermath where Elisha comes into the story.  A man who had no idea God wanted to use him or any prospect of what he would become. As we tag along and recount some of his most daring adventures we do so in hopes of moving from comfortable to called, from complacent to compelled, and from good to greater things! Open with me to our text today from the book of 1 Kings, Chapter 19, verses 19-21 today where Elisha is in the midst of having a day that is like…

Everyday- Elijah the great prophet has been sent to find his replacement after having a heart to heart with God…(1 Kings 19:19a-b) 19 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. For Elisha like our cat in the halls of heaven, the everyday was pretty good. He lives in the town of Abel-Meholah which literally translates as the dancing meadow. If I had to be from somewhere, the dancing meadow isn’t a bad place to take in the everyday and the good times keep rolling in.  It reminds me of the Sound of Music. Elisha is in the field, working the ground, not with one ox show, but instead with twenty-four ox. This is like the corporate farm rolling around with a fleet of brand new John Deere combines instead of a harvesting by hand. Elisha’s family is wealthy, comfortable, and most likely content!  Continue reading “Greater Things-Everyday”