Both pastors are teaming up to bring us the message this week! The subject matter has to do with learning that God has “Much More” for everyone, and as long as you’re willing to hear the call and commit yourself to Him, you can live a “Much More” life. We begin with a story from 1 Kings and end with a text from Ephesians 4. Wherever we are in our walks with God–whether we have just come to Christ or if we’ve walked with Him for years, there is so much for that God has for us. He doesn’t just want us to stop doing sinful things. He wants to transform those things into something positive. Let this sermon open your eyes and heart to all that God has for you from today on!
1 Kings 19:19-21
“So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.”
I recently did a little research to see if there were any famous hermits I could learn about; people who sort of chucked it all and lived alone out in the wilderness. I found this guy, Noah John Rondeau, who was a hermit who lived in the far reaches of the Adirondacks. He was a high peaks guide for a while as an adult, but in 1929 went off the grid until he passed away in 1967. He lived off the land, obviously traded somehow for clothing and shoes, but exited society almost completely for all those years. He did keep a journal, but wrote it in cipher so that no one could easily know his thoughts. It took until 1992 for someone to crack the code.
There is such a thing as a Christian hermit. At any time, because of a trauma or a twist or turn in the road, you can make a decision to just pull back and live without growing. Could that be you?
There is so much more for you!
Elijah was the head prophet of the nation of Israel. He had just gone through a difficult time where God had to wake him up and tell him that there was so much more. More to be done, more to be said, all by the move of the Spirit. One of those things to be done was to call out a young man named Elisha.
One day Elisha was plowing the fields of his father’s extensive plantation.
Farming was his normal, everyday preoccupation. It must have been a huge farm, because there were 12 gangs of plows, behind 12 pairs of oxen. Elisha was with number 12.
His future was planned for him! Mom and Dad were sure that Elisha would take the farm when they were too old or passed away.
But then Elijah passed by with a calling from God. Elijah tossed his cloak or mantle on Elisha and symbolically asked him to become his servant/disciple. In order to do that, though, he had to give up his planned future.
Question: Was this call to come follow God a higher calling or a lower calling?
Now this is pure speculation, but…was Elisha asking God in his own personal prayers, maybe behind the oxen, “God, is there something more? Is there more to my life than farm and servants and plowing and sowing and harvesting?” Not that farming or welding or doctoring or driving truck is bad.
But then came Elijah, throwing his mantle.
Elisha was given a choice: live by the “much more” that God had planned or by the ordinary that he and everyone else had planned. He killed the oxen, started a fire with the plowing implements and kissed Mom and Dad goodbye, then became Elijah’s servant.
He went on to become the prophet and spiritual leader in all Israel when Elijah was gone.
Here’s my point. Jesus has passed by you and cast His mantle over your shoulders. Will you live your ordinary life? Or a hermit life? Or will you live the “much more” life?
John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace” had a dramatic story of salvation. He swore, drank, got into fights and was a notorious slave trader. He finally came to Christ, and stopped swearing, drinking and fighting. But he stayed involved in the slave trade, and only stopped when it was medically necessary. Over time, he began to realize the evils of his former profession. Eventually, he put his energies into stopping the trade altogether.
Ephesians 4:20-32 Central idea is putting off “the old man” and putting on the new.
What does that look like? Some examples.
Eph. 4:25 Don’t like….but instead speak truth with your neighbor.
Eph. 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice…[and instead]…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Some of our greatest testimonies are what God has helped us stop in our lives. “I used to do this, but now I don’t!”
But as wonderful as that is, that’s not the fullness of God’s plan for us. You’re only halfway there! God’s not just interested in stopping things, He’s interested in transforming those things! God has more for us than just to shake off the old ideas, behaviors and attitudes. He wants us to take on the new, which means we need to enter into new territory.
Let’s look at two verses to give examples:
Eph. 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Related and relevant quote: “For it is not enough to cease from a sin, but the sinner must also enter on the path that it is very opposite.” (Chrysostom)
The focus is from wanting to selfishly take to wanting to give to others, to stop working (whether for evil or good) to benefit just ourselves, but to benefit others. We move from serving self to serving others. That’s the will of God! We are not to be transformed just 90 degrees from where we were, but 180 degrees!
Eph. 4:29: Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. “Corrupt” here doesn’t just mean bad speech. It means insipid, flavorless, worthless speech, including gossip and foolish talk.
Some of think that God just wants us to close our mouths. For many of us, that’s a good start! But that’s not where He wants us to end up! There’s so much more for us!
Here’s what God is after….We are to take on a new purpose for our mouths–to bring grace to all those we communicate to. Maybe we’re aware of the power of harsh words, or gossip, or critical talk, to hurt other people. But are you aware of the power of your words to build up? God’s goal for us is to minister grace to those hearing us–whether it’s simply information, or counsel, or encouragement, or even correction or rebuke.
God’s first step one is stopping our sin. Step two is learning to submit our hearts, minds and mouths to the Spirit of God, and let the Lord transform us to vessels of giving and grace. There’s so much more!