2 Comments to “The Lord, the God of Elijah”

  1. Donald McMahon
    August 12, 2019

    Sermon Questions:
    1) If you could have one wish, what would it be?
    2) What mantle are you carrying? From whom did you receive it? To whom, will you leave it?
    3) What is your major obstacle on your pilgrim journey?
    4) What societal illness do you feel most passionate about?

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  2. Donald McMahon
    August 12, 2019

    “The Lord, the God of Elijah” (2 Kings 2:1–18)(8.11.19)
    2 Kings 2:1–18 (NIV84)
    2 When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”
    But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
    3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
    “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “but do not speak of it.”
    4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”
    And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
    5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
    “Yes, I know,” he replied, “but do not speak of it.”
    6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”
    And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.
    7 Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
    9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
    “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
    10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not.”
    11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.
    13 He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
    15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 “Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”
    “No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”
    17 But they persisted until he was too ashamed to refuse. So he said, “Send them.” And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. 18 When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: The Lord, the God of Elijah
    LET US PRAY.
    INTRODUCTION:
    There was an uneasiness in my spirit this week. I wanted to speak with boldness and truth, to address the malady of our current social climate. Even though I had twenty pages of notes, I was procrastinating about actually writing this message.
    Then, as I finished reading my Saturday devotion, I received a sign of validation from the Lord. In June, I was preaching a sermon series on the Holy Spirit; but, I knew the sermon series was far from complete. Looking ahead, I knew I was going to come back to the Holy Spirit. On July 2nd, I decided that when I came back to the Holy Spirit, it would be with today’s scripture. So, as I finished Saturday’s devotion, I saw that Sunday’s devotion used today’s scripture too.
    With a little trepidation, I am going to speak to you with the spirit of Elijah. Listen carefully and listen to all I say. Too often, when our emotional buttons are pushed on a controversial subject, we do not hear clearly. Discipline yourself to be open to the whole message.
    The hot topic is gun control. Last Sunday morning, we had just learned about the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso. There was also gun violence in Chicago, Baltimore and other places that weekend across the nation. Have your self-defense barriers already gone up? You already know your position, have you already shut down your listening?
    From a human and earthly perspective, I am very conflicted about what should be done. When the Founding Fathers of our nation wrote the 2nd Amendment, there was no way that could have seen the development of weaponry and the potential destruction that could be caused by one deranged individual. I also doubt they could foresee the decay in our culture that could produce so many killers.
    What they could foresee with great clarity is the potential tyranny of the government over the people they are supposed to serve. The corruption and self-interest of politicians at all levels is a fact. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I do not want to live in a police state. How much liberty would we have to give up to ensure our complete safety? Imagine your daily lives if everywhere we went it was like going through a TSA security check point.
    Are you still listening or have you shut down? So, I am not coming down on either side of the argument. Maybe it angers you that I have not sided with your viewpoint.
    Have we come to a metaphorical Jordan River? An obstacle that we cannot cross through under our own power? I am not in any position to speak or influence the whole nation; but hopefully, I have some influence with you. Part of the malaise and hopelessness we feel is that the problem is too big for us as individuals. Let us cry out this prayer, “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?”
    BODY:
    Do you listen to the news and ask God, “Lord, what is happening to the world? What is happening in our country?” One answer was found in last Tuesday night’s Old Testament reading, which is the scheduled Lectionary reading for today.
    Isaiah 1:19–20 (NIV84)
    19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the best from the land;
    20 but if you resist and rebel,
    you will be devoured by the sword.”
    For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
    Our nation has turned away from the Lord, the God of Elijah and we are suffering the consequences. We are being devoured by the sword.
    Addiction kills thousands of Americans every year and affects millions of lives. Additionally, it destroys marriages, friendships, and careers. Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment. Drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990. From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 Americans died from overdosing on a drug.
    Alcohol and drug addiction cost the U.S. economy over $600 billion every year. In 2017, 34.2 million Americans committed DUI, 21.4 million under the influence of alcohol and 12.8 million under the influence of drugs. Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?
    Suicide is a major national public health issue in the United States. In 2016, there were 44,965 recorded suicides, up from 42,773 in 2014, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years. Due to the stigma surrounding suicide, it is suspected that suicide generally is underreported.
    In April 2016, the CDC released data showing that the suicide rate in the United States had hit a 30-year high, and later in June 2018, released further data showing that the rate has continued to increase. Surging death rates from suicide, drug overdoses and alcoholism, what researchers refer to as “deaths of despair”, are largely responsible for a consecutive three year decline of life expectancy in the U.S. This constitutes the first three year drop in life expectancy in the U.S. since the years 1915-1918, a hundred years ago.
    Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?
    As of August 1st of this year, it is now legal in New Jersey for doctor assisted suicide. It is also legal in Washington, DC and seven other states. Are we not superseding the prerogative of Almighty God? 1 Samuel 2:6 (NIV84)
    6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive;
    he brings down to the grave and raises up.
    Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?
    We live in a sex saturated society. It dominates nearly all forms of entertainment to the point where it is almost impossible to keep from exposing our children. Prostitution is called the world’s oldest profession but now there is a push to legalize it. Hard core pornography has become so prevalent, our young people consider not recycling to be a bigger sin than watching pornography.
    Human slavery is not a thing of the past; it is with us today. Often called human trafficking, it is much closer to us than we realize. Probably the worst aspect is the children kidnapped and sold into child sex trafficking. Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?
    My brothers and sisters, why hasn’t the government eliminated these tragic issues? And, there are many more significant issues we face as a nation. If our trust is in Washington, DC; if our trust is in Trenton, NJ; we are lost. Most every government solution involves spending more money. By that strategy, we should be living in a utopia. Our National Debt is over 22 Trillion dollars. That comes out to 73 thousand dollars per person. And, it is increasing at $45,500/sec! Are you prepared to write that check?
    There are a great many implications to this debt. The interest we pay on that debt is $394 billion dollars for this fiscal year. If interest rates go up, that amount will increase significantly. What a waste of resources. Is there a connection between our National Debt and God’s blessing?
    Deuteronomy 15:6 (NIV84) For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
    Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?
    I could go on and on, but you may have already shut down. We could talk about fatherless homes. We could talk about racism. We could talk about the amplified polarization of our society. We could talk about the plague of abortion.
    Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah? The answer to that question is the hope of humankind. It is my hope and it is your hope. That answer is our only hope. Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah? He is within each and every believer; within you, within me.
    Elijah asked Elisha what wish he might satisfy. Elisha responded, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.” There are a few different things involved in this request. The first born son received double the portion that the younger sons received. Elisha is asking to be the recognized heir to Elijah’s prophetic position. Notice that Elisha calls Elijah father.
    We can be sure that there were no selfish motives in Elisha’s request because the Lord God granted this blessing. As human beings, we cannot literally pass our spirit on to another person. It is a figure of speech. On the other hand, through mentoring someone, spending time with them, teaching them, and loving them, we can pass on our heart, our spirit. And, there is no doubt as to Elisha’s loyalty, as we see that three times he promised Elijah to stay with him.
    Can you see that Elijah is a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus? Obviously, he is not on the same level as our Savior. Elijah’s purpose was to point towards Jesus. We all know that John the Baptist was the immediate predecessor of his cousin Jesus and John came to prepare the way for Jesus. But, do you remember the angel’s pronouncement to Zechariah, John’s father?
    We find it in Luke 1:17 (NIV84)
    17 And he [your miracle child] will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
    Who can read this account of the flaming chariot, drawn by fiery horses, carrying Elijah to heaven, and not think about the ascension of the Lord Jesus. We know that Moses and Elijah appear in their glorified heavenly bodies on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. So Elijah leaves behind his mantle, the symbol of his ministry and of his spirit. With it, he performed his last miracle.
    What legacy are we leaving the next generation? What is the mantle we are passing to our children? Spiritually born children as well as naturally born children? Elisha picks up the mantle of Elijah’s mission. The baton has been passed.
    How does Elisha know that his wish has come to fruition? He retraces his steps he took with Elijah, his spiritual father, to the Jordan River. He rolls up the mantle just like Elijah. Then he calls out; but, he does not say, “Where is Elijah?” He invokes the name of God. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” There is no doubt what power divides the Jordan River. God and God alone.
    There are mountainous problems that are too high for us to scale. There are too many obstacles for us to overcome under our own power. But, the faith of a mustard see can move mountains. Twelve disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, changed the world. Let us be faithful servants of the one who died so that all may live.
    Paul tells us in Romans 8:9 (NIV84) You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
    CONCLUSION: Francis Chan wrote a book called FORGOTTEN GOD (REVERSING OUR TRAGIC NEGLECT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT). Hannah recommended it to me while I was preaching the Holy Spirit sermon series. It turns out that I have read it before, but I read it again this past week. Chan wrote it while he was the Senior Pastor at a megachurch, Cornerstone Church in southern California.
    The last chapter of the book is titled Supernatural Church. In the section under the heading, “We Were Family,” he wrote this:
    “A while back, a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church.
    After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week – we were family.” That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body.
    The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community. A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers. A place where when one rejoices, everyone rejoices. A place where everyone experiences real love and acceptance in the midst of great honesty about our brokenness. Yet most of the time this is not even close to how we would describe our churches.
    Without the Spirit of God in our midst, working in us, guiding us, and living and loving through us, we will never be the kind of people who make up this kind of community. There is no such thing as a real believer who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, or a real church without the Spirit. It’s just not possible. But what is possible is that we would individually and corporately quench and hinder the Spirit’s activity in and through our lives.”
    An infilling of God the Holy Spirit is my wish, my prayer, for Emmaus Church. Our weekly Fellowship Time is part of this forming community. That was the intention of the weekly community dinners that we did for 3.5 years. This is why we have our prayer list and why I encourage you to pray for one another. The church family is edified, built up, as we love and care about each other.
    Our Youth Prayer Wall is not only about building community, it is about impacting the world by impacting the next generation. This is the passing of Elijah’s mantle to Elisha. When our youth cry out from their hearts, “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” We can answer, “The kingdom of God is within you. You are a child of the Most High God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the waters of the Jordan shall be parted.”
    Amen and amen. Let us pray.

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