Friday, June 24, 2016

Touching Base, Part 311

26 Jun 16

Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice

Diligently Seeking God: Pt 2
“No Plan ‘Bee’ ”

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Diligently Seeking God: This speaks of passion, intellect and priorities.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

READ: 1 KINGS 19:19-21

We are going to go through our text – really slow it down and see what is really happening here and ask ourselves some questions from our text.

1.      VERSE 19
-          Elisha is plowing with 12 yoke of oxen. The significance of this is two-fold:
1) It lets the reader know in his introduction that Elisha is a man from a family of substance
2) It also lets us know that Elisha, despite being from a family of substance, is not above the work of a servant.

Elijah then throws his cloak, or mantle, on Elisha. The significance of this is important. While structurally, this piece of clothing would be like an outer garment (in Canadian terms, it would be like an “overcoat”), but it also would be used as a blanket for a bed, a covering for sleeping, or a large sack for carrying things. But it had a much deeper significance, because, in ancient Jewish culture, it was a symbol of anointing. Since it was usually worn by priests, kings & prophets, Elisha understood that when Elijah throws his mantle on him, he is being “called out” as a prophet.

Notice that Elisha had to “run after” Elijah. It seems that Elijah throws his garment over him, but he doesn’t stay. He leaves. Elijah, on the other hand, is taken aback – I’d imagine him standing there with a million thoughts running through his head – at the implication of what has just happened.

Q. Have you ever had a moment like that? Perhaps it wasn’t even a moment, but more of a dawning”…over a period of time you realized your future wasn’t going to look like what you thought it was. Share this with the group. Be specific (physical and spiritual) about the change in priorities or vision that you had to make.

2.      VERSE 20
Elisha runs after Elijah – he literally runs after what he thinks is his future.
And he asks “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.”

Elisha is caught between honouring his parents and honouring his calling. Discuss together:
- How can we feel, at times, that we get “caught” between our obligations and what the LORD is calling us to do?
- What difficulties can that create for us?
- Is one necessarily exclusively of the other? (Can we do both?)

Elijah sees that Elisha thinks that the calling is to ELIJAH. But it is not. Elijah wants Elisha to understand that HE (Elijah) has done nothing to him. The call is not from him (from Elijah). The call is from the LORD.

Now why is this distinction important? For two reasons:
     1)     See the strength of Elijah’s character here. He has just ticked off some very important people through doing some very mighty acts. But in the chapter previously, we see that Elijah is scared and runs away and hides because he is fearing for his life. Elisha is so awed by Elijah that he would willingly follow Elijah! But Elijah is fresh off his own weakness – and sees that Elisha will need supernatural strength and power to step into his calling
     2)     The second reason this distinction is important is because the calling of prophet is difficult, and will require sacrifice, Elijah wants Elisha to understand that this has to be between Elisha and God. Otherwise, what will happen? When times get tough (or Elijah fails or dies), Elisha may lose his call because he has not oriented it to the right center.

Discuss: Oftentimes when things are difficult we can easily forget the certainty of God’s call to that path. Sharing our story and hearing others can remind us of what God has been up to in our lives and in the lives of others. If you have an experience where you felt strongly that God had called you to it, share how when it was difficult how you were able to sustain yourself with the certainty of God’s call.

3.      VERSE 21A
So what does Elisha do? He goes back home…but it is not for what we think or imagine. He goes back, probably does kiss his mom and dad, and at the same time, he breaks all ties. Although he goes back and kisses them, he takes a yoke of oxen and slaughters them. But not only that…he uses the equipment – and cooks the oxen with the wood of the yoke!! Do you understand what he is doing here? Oxen are valuable – they have potential for years of harvest. And what Elisha is doing is taking his entire future, his security, his livelihood and LITERALLY sacrificing it away. There is no PLAN B for him.

There are two challenges that come from this scripture for us.
1)     The first is from Elisha himself. When God calls you (and we know that he desires all to come to reconciliation) so wherever you are in your journey, from questioning, to seeking, to walking, to limping….there will be a moment (dare I even say “moments”!!) when you have to let go of what you thought your future would look like. You will have to let go of your Plan A, move it to Plan B – but then also destroy Plan B.

A.W. Tozer puts it like this: “The evil habit of seeing “God-and” effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the “and” lies our great woe. If we omit the “and” we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.” The Pursuit of God.

There is no “God-and…” in the Christian walk. To diligently seek Him, it must be Him and Him alone.
Discuss together: is there an area (or areas) in your life that you would consider your “plan B”? Use this time to gently ask each other if you have noticed “plan B”s in each others lives. Be practical when discussing what it would look like to let Plan B go.

2)     The second challenge from this text is this: the response of the family. Elisha’s choice of following God will cost the family – to whatever extent. But their response is not mentioned specifically but it is implicated. That word: “people” in verse 21 refers to his “kin.” They are literally eating his future, their future. There is COST to one of their own saying yes to the call of the Lord on their life.

Are we going to be the type of community, the type of family, who watch others respond to the call of God in their lives, and allow that to also cost us? To allow others to dream crazy dreams, to live in the fullness of God’s provision without letting our worldly mindset of “is that wise” interfere?

Discuss. Have you had friends, children, family, decide to do something for the Lord that really challenged you to let go of your plans for them? Or your fears? Share what that was like. Or have you been on the receiving end of being supported by people as your followed the Lord? Share that experience. How (practically) can you become people who encourage and support (even at cost) those who are following the Lord in different ways?

I don’t know about you – but I want to be the type of family that encourages others to say yes to God so completely there is NOTHING holding them back. And when that happens, it is likely that it will cost us.

4.      VERSE 21B
And so…when Elisha arises and follows Elijah – he “becomes his servant.” Literally, he ministers to him. Another way of putting it would be…Elisha becomes Elijah’s apprentice.

What would it take for you to become a complete servant of the Lord? To leave your past AND your future behind?

Spend some time together in silent prayer asking the Lord to reveal to you if there is a “Plan B” in your life. Ask the Lord for strength to give that up – but to make clear His Plan A for you to follow Him. (And it may just be that: “Follow me!”)
Thank the Lord for His faithfulness as the good Shepherd and that He will never leave you or forsake you. (Deut. 31:6)

Amanda Van Halteren

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