Tag Archives: Elisha

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 9

Track 1: My Rivers Are Better than Yours

2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Galatians 6:(1-6)7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Most of us probably remember the account of Naaman of the Old Testament. He was the commander of the army of the king of Aram,   He was in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.

Naaman, unfortunately, had leprosy.. A young girl captive from the land of Israel, who served Naaman’s wife said that there was prophet in Samaria who could cure him of his leprosy. Naaman told his king who said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”  (2 Kings 5:5)

Reading from 2 Kings:

Naaman went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.   (2 Kings 5:6-10)

Naaman was not prepared for this response from Elisha. The prophet did not greet him properly, or acknowledge his highly esteemed position he enjoyed in his own country:

Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage.    (2 Kings 5:11-12)

Fortunately, the wisdom of his servants prevailed:

His servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, `Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.   (2 Kings 5:13-14)

Naaman almost lost his healing because he did not understand the greatness of God. God is our healer and not any human who may be used as an intermediary. Moreover. whatever standards which we expect God to accord us is immaterial. God has his own standards that we should meet. Do we tell God that “my rivers are better than yours?”

Proverbs warns:

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but wisdom is with the humble.   (Proverbs 11:2)

God spoke to the Prophet Micah:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good,
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice and to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God?   (Micah 6:8)

When it comes to healing, we leave everything in the hands of God. He is sovereign. We need to listen carefully to him and obey his commandments and directions. All we need to do is keep thanking hm. We do not need to make judgments or listen to the opinions of others, just our believing Christian physician.

The psalmist wrote:

I will exalt you, O Lord,
because you have lifted me up
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

O Lord my God, I cried out to you,
and you restored me to health.

You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead;
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

Sing to the Lord, you servants of his;
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,
his favor for a lifetime.

Weeping may spend the night,
but joy comes in the morning.   (Psalm 30:1-6)

 

Track 2: Lambs into the Midst of Wolves

Isaiah 66:10-14
Psalm 66:1-8
Galatians 6:(1-6)7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Would ew say that evangelism is the most important mission of the Church? Certainly the commission that Jesus gave his disciples just prior to his ascension would indicate this to be true:

Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned.   (Mark 16:14-16

How do we do evangelism? This is how Jesus began his earthly ministy:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near repent, and believe in the good news.   (Mark 1:14-15)

Repentance is part of thr good news. Sin must be addressed. Certain post modern churches and seeker churches say we must go easy on the need for repentance, at least initialing, because people may take offense.

Jesus prepared the areas he would be visiting by sending out advance teams. He said that they must be prepared to experience offense:

The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.   (Luke 10:1-6)

Our ministry must be performed in the peace of God and not that of the world. As evangelists we need to remember that we are  ambassadors of Christ. If we are looking for personal affirmation and acceptance we are no longer speaking for him. Jesus said:

Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.   (Luke 10:16)

We must be prepared for rejection. We should not be looking for the acceptance of ourselves, but the acceptance of the Gospel. Rejection is [art of our cross. Jesus said:.

and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.   (Matthew 10:38-40)

Who are the wolves that Jesus warned us about? Perhaps they are some of 8s. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles?   (Matthew 7:15-15)

If we have sheltered people from the offense of the Gospel, then we have been false teachers and prophets. What has been the fruit of this sheltering? A deed church? The people we shelter might eventually become church leaders. They will oppose thy Gospel at every hand.

The Apostle Paul wrote his student Timothy::

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound teaching, but, having their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, be sober in everything, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.   (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

This type of evangelism got results:

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”   (Luke 10:17-20)

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Third Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 8

Track 1: Called up Higher

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Galatians 5:1,13-25
Luke 9:51-62

The day the disciples feared had come. Their leader and teacher would be leaving them. In the case of Elijah, his departure would bring about a great test of faith for Elisha. Elijah had prepared his disciple for this time, but his greater concern was answering the call from God to a higher ministry.

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “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.

Then Elijah said to him, “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. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.   (2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-8)

Notice that Elijah, at this point, did not encourage Elisha to follow him. It was up to Elisha to determine what  was going on. By faith, Elisha knew that his teacher was departing, but he was not sure what that would mean. He would not allow Elijah to depart without his blessing.

The company of prophets was full of skeptics and unbelievers. At this point, God separated Elijah and Elisha from them:

Then Elijah said to him, “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. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.   (2 Kings 2:6-8)

Elisha had proven himself by his loyalty and belief:

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.   (2 Kings 2:9-12)

Elisha no longer had Elijah. He now  needed to rely solely on God alone. On the other hand, the company of prophets dud bit believe Elisha’s account of what happened. They insisted on sending out search parties to look for him.

As disciples, if we seek the truths of God, we must be open to seeing and believing the Acts that God is doing, no matter how strange to us they may seem.

Elijah was translated directly to heaven. From there he still inspired and taught the prophets of God. John the Baptist was a prime example. The father of John the Baptist was given this prophecy by an angle of the Lord:

You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”   (Luke 1:24-27)

Jesus had often spoked to his disciples about his departure from this world, but they did not understand him. His earthly ministry was coming  to a close. Now he needed to concentrate more on the heavenly calling of his ministry: his cross, resurrection, and bodily ascension into heaven. Reading from Luke:

When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.   (Luke 9:51-56)

Jesus’ face was set toward Jerusalem. Nothing was going to deter him from what he must do, not even concerns from his disciples. The disciples of Jesus would soon have to learn a new way to understand their calling:

The Prophet Jeremiah wrote about this:

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.   (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

Jesus explained as he was departing this world:

I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.   (John 14:25-26)

The Apostle Paul writes about the new disciple that is led directly by God through his Spirit:

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.   (Galatians 5:16-25)

Are we part of the new disciples who are lead by God alone? It is not to have a mentor, but mentor’s can fail us. We need a direct relationship with God. As Elisha, we need to be open to God. As the disciples of Jesus, we need to understand that Jesus is still with us in the Holy Spirit. All we need do is the exercise our faith and believe in what God is doing today. When our work is done we will be called up on high. All of us have a high calling. It begins not in the future. It starts now.

 

Track 2: Do Not Look Back

1 Kings 19:15-16,19-21
Psalm 16
Galatians 5:1,13-25
Luke 9:51-62

In today’s Old Testament reading we have the example of a calling of God to Elisha. It was made through the Prophet Elijah. What is remarkable is that Elisha realized the great sacrifice he would be making, but was willing to drop what he was doing ahd join Elijah almost immediately:

So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.   (1 Kings 19:19-21)

This was true of the disciples of Jesus as well. They left everything to follow him. The disciples would soon discover that their commitment to Jesus would be tested along the way.

Jesus called others to follow him as well. Some of them professed that they were willing to do so, but not immediately:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:57-62)

The initial test of discipleship is soon followed by another test. There is a second test. When things become difficult, are disciples willing to follow through on their commitment? Some of Jesus’ disciples did leave him.

Jesus said:

“If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit them if they gain the whole world but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.   (Luke 9:23-26)

Persecution is what turns many away. Persecution is part of our calling. Jesus said:

I have said this to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution, but take courage: I have conquered the world!   (John 16:33)

How many of us are willing to pass the second test today? It is clear that many Christians have fallen away. Some have looked back to former times when things were better. Though prosperity is preached in many churches, it often fails to become a reality. Jesus did not declare that all his disciples would be wealthy:

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”   ()

If we are to become true disciples, with staying power, perhaps we need to look at other ways in winch God may bless us. The psalmist wrote:

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me, night after night.

I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.

My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.

For you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor let your holy one see the Pit.

You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.   (Psalm 16:7-11)

To see this kind of blessing, we need to look ahead, by faith, and not back to the past. The Apostle Paul wrote that the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, ahd joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

God has so much to give us and show us. But he has not forgotten about our daily needs. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the gentiles who seek all these things, and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   (Matthew 6:31-33)

The children of Israel complained in the wilderness:

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Many in this generation never entered God’s rest. Is that to be us?  Will we look back and missed what God has for us? The Apostle Paul wrote:

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have laid hold of it, but one thing I have laid hold of: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, toward the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.   (Philippians 3:12-14)

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