NOTE: No Audio available for this sermon
Let me tell you about some wickedness. Ahab was a King of Israel. His wife was Jezebel, daughter of a pagan king. Ahab was a horrible king. With Jezebel, he introduced pagan religious practices into the life of Israel. Elijah, a great prophet of God, stood up to them. He ultimately had to flee Jezebel's wrath. He fell into despair. Ahab and Jezebel led Israel into wickedness.
So today we're going to look at a man name Elisha. Not Elijah. But his lesser known apprentice, Elisha.
I'm sure we've all know someone named Elijah or known of someone named Elijah. It's currently in the top five for baby names. Now how many of you know an Elisha? Not even in the top 800. I've only heard of one Elisha, and that's Elisha Cuthbert, the actress. So yeah, Elisha is one of the lesser knowns.
Even though a lesser known, the fact is, Elisha ended up doing twice as many miracles as Elijah. Today, and next week, we're going to look at the life of Elisha, and how we can see God's miracles in our lives.
Let's begin by establishing a couple of touchpoints of the Christian life.
First, the Christian life is a miraculous life.
If you're a new believer, or if you're still wondering what it means to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, your spiritual adventure is supposed to be miraculous. It's not boring, dull, or business as usual. It is miraculous.
Here's why the Christian life is miraculous. It starts with a miracle. The miracle is God choosing to love us - Jesus said, "You have not chosen me, but I chose you, from the beginning," - God chose to give you new life, to forgive you through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. That's a miraculous gift. And when you commit your life to living out of that miracle, you have eternal life right now. The old self is gone…behold, all things are made new. Eternal life begins the moment you say "Yes" to Jesus Christ. And the miracle of your new life in Christ ends with you being made perfect by him in heaven. That's a miracle. Amen?
Sometimes we miss that greatest miracle of all because we have a narrow understanding of what miracles are. You might want to think of it this way. We can narrow things down to two categories of miracles:
Supernatural miracles are when God changes the laws of nature or physics. Moses parting the Red Sea was a supernatural miracle. Jesus feeding over five thousand people was a supernatural miracle. Those things are immediately impressive. They are unforgettable.
But there are also life-changing miracles. God changes hearts…God transforms lives as He brings people to faith in Jesus Christ. When someone gets sober and stays sober through Celebrate Recovery, that is a miracle. You better believe their children know it as a miracle. I read a story about a white supremacist who came to Christ and left the KKK. He and a black pastor friend now share their story in a way that is healing
walls of division. That is a miracle.
Supernatural miracles are one thing. They happened and they're impressive. But what God does in people's lives, the heart changes, those things last forever. They are eternal.
So when God restores a relationship, that joy lasts into eternity. When He leads you into a change in character, that stretches out into eternity. So there's the miracles God does in our lives.
Beyond the miracles of changed lives, there's another conversation we need to have. It's something that is always floating around in the back of my wee little brain. I've got questions about miracles. I'm sure you have questions about miracles. Questions like why we don't see supernatural miracles today? Questions like that. I am cynical of so-called faith healers who put on big spectacles. I see them as phony-baloney manipulators of desperate people. How many times have we looked for a supernatural miracle as a loved one was dying of some terminal disease or suffering from a debilitating chronic disorder? That weighs on us. We've all been
waiting for a miracle for someone we love. Why didn't it happen?
It would be pride speaking if I told you I understood the "why" and "why not" of miracles. To be honest, I gave up trying to understand why one miracle happened and the other didn't. Miracles aren't about me and what I do or do not understand. Miracles are about what God is doing. The truth is, we can't always understand the "why" or "why not" of miracles.
But the other truth is, and this I believe, God is still doing miracles. Psalm 86:10 says, "For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God." Just because I don't understand something doesn't mean God isn't working. Just because I haven't figured something out, doesn't mean God isn't working out His glorious eternal trajectory in our lives.
Here's my hope for us as we look at the life of Elisha. I don't want us to let the one miracle that's not happening keep us from seeing all the other miracles of life around us. God is working all these little miracles in our lives, even as we're waiting for that one big miracle. Miracles are happening all around us. The power of God working in your life is a
Elisha teaches us to learn to live between the miracles. Here are two reasons why we need to recognize life between the miracles.
First, life is lived between miracles. We're either coming out of one or moving into one. And second, the in-between-ness is where we can begin to discern what God has in store for us. In other words, how do you live in a way that looks forward to the miracles God wants to do in your life?
First, Live With Tenacity
Elisha apprenticed under Elijah for years. That's how it went with prophets. There were students who devoted their lives to learning from the main prophet. That's Elisha when we meet him. He spent years and years out in the desert with Elijah. Out of the spotlight. Nobody seeing miracles in his life.
So let's see how tenacious Elisha was:
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.
- 2 Kings 2:1-6
That is tenacity. Even though Elijah told Elisha three times to stay back, three times Elisha said no. We're not told why Elijah told him to stay back. All we know is he was going to go with Elijah come hell or high water.
The point is, the miracle was going to happen at the Jordan River. It wasn't going to happen at Bethel. It wasn't going to happen at Jericho. It was going to happen at the Jordan.
You have to have the tenacity to go all the way to the Jordan to see the fullness of the miracles God wants to work in your life. Life is a journey, and you have to have the tenacity to take it, wherever it leads you. You don't stop. You never stop. You keep going till you get to the Jordan River. You don't say, "God, I went the first mile. That's enough." You even look around, and see it's farther than your friends went, but guess what? Tenacious people keep moving. Down the road. That's where the miracles are. That's where miraculous life happens.
So, in your life, where is God challenging you? Where is God stretching you to go farther in your faith? Or, to put it in he negative, where have you felt like giving up? Some people give up before they see the miracle. You have to stretch to see the miracles.
Think about it this way. You're praying for a relationship miracle. Whatever is broken, you're praying for it to be fixed. And you're praying. And while prayer is essential, so also is embracing God's principles in the Bible. And so you're also consistently, tenaciously living out of the values of Galatians 5:22-23. As much as you can, you are being loving and joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle and self-controlled. With the tenacity of a bulldog you are reflecting those qualities because God says they matter.
And here's what tenacity teaches us. The miracle isn't going to happen in an instant. There's no magic pill or rainbow wishes that are going to bring a miracle. It takes tenacity to have faith when you don't feel like having faith. It takes tenacity to choose to love when you don't feel very loving. It takes tenacity to choose to believe when you don't feel like believing anymore. However hesitant the steps, the journey of tenacity gets you to a closer picture of a miracle.
However long it takes, you get to the place where you see it wasn't about you. It wasn't about how smart you were or creative you were, but it was about God working the miracle of a changed relationship.
Make no mistake. I am impatient. We all want to see miracles happen without delay. We are immediately-minded people. But miracles don't usually happen immediately. That's why we need tenacity. We need to take the time to serve. Moses was forty years out in the wilderness after he saw the Red Sea divide. And even then, he could only see the miracle of the Promised Land before he died. Joshua served Moses as an apprentice before he saw the walls of Jericho come tumbling down. Paul was beaten and stoned and was almost killed before he had the vision of heaven. Tenacity is the part of the miracle that God wants to do in our lives.
Next week, we'll pick things up with a story about a woman who prayed for decades that her husband would quit drinking and give his life to Christ. Talk about tenacity.