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Burn the Plows: The Call of Elisha, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 20, 2024 9:00 am

Burn the Plows: The Call of Elisha, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 20, 2024 9:00 am

Most decisions in life are reversible. Take choosing a college, for example. If you don’t like it after a semester or two, you can always transfer! And the same goes for your major, your career, and where you choose to live.

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Today on Summit Life, an important challenge from Pastor J.D. Greer. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. You know, when you think about it, there's a lot of decisions in life that are reversible. Take choosing a college, for example. If you don't like it after a semester or two, you can always transfer, right?

The same thing goes for your career, where you choose to live and even what color to paint the living room walls. But today, Pastor J.D. talks about one decision that needs to be all in, no holds barred, and there's simply no going back. We're in a teaching series called Something Greater. So remember, if you've missed any of the previous messages here on the program, you can always catch up at

But right now, let's return to a message we began last week. Pastor J.D. titled it, Burn the Plows, the Call of Elisha. Verse Kings 19, you remember God had told Elijah that he would raise up another prophet after him. So verse 19, so he, Elijah, departed from there, and he found Elijah, the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelve. Elijah passed him by and cast his cloak upon him, which admittedly is a little weird. You see, in those days, a cloak was a symbol of your vocation. It was a symbol of your authority. So the calling of Elijah is being offered to Elisha.

Well, that's pretty exciting, right? Well, sort of, but Elijah, if you recall, was a wanted man. He was not rich. Elisha is being called, watch this, write this down, from a life of luxury to one of poverty and danger. But watch how he responds, verse 20. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, Let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you. And then he said to him, Go back again, for what have I done to you?

Which is just a Hebrew figure of speech, meaning, why not, or who's stopping you? Verse 21, so Elijah left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment and cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. So he kills the oxen, and he uses them to feed the poor in his community. One ox, by the way, would have fed a family of five for a year and a half.

So 24 oxen, this would have been an epic feast. Three things characterize Elisha's response, and believe it or not, this is where the invitation to something greater always begins. Write this down, number one, the path to something greater goes through the valley of surrender, sacrifice, and service.

Surrender, burning his plow, meant irrevocably handing in his resignation as CEO of Elisha Farms. What happens whenever God calls you, he always puts you through a time of humbling, and some of you are there now. And sometimes you complain about your career. You're like, how come nobody recognizes the talent I got?

How come I haven't been given the opportunities? Why am I still stuck in this place? The better question is, are you faithful in the place that God has placed you? Because whenever God's going to use somebody greatly, he always humbles them and breaks them down.

And I know you don't like being there, I don't like being there either. But the way up in Christianity is the way down. And this time for you is crucial. And if you will not excel in the areas that God has given you to be a servant and to wash feet, you'll never excel as a prophet. If you can't be a good student, you can't be a good employee, you can't be a good son or daughter, then you're never going to make a mighty prophet of God. You've got to learn to serve, you've got to learn to wash feet before God makes you into something that he wants you to be. So he always puts you through a time of humbling, so quit complaining about where God's placed you and start focusing on you being faithful in the place that God has put you. Honor God with all your heart and the little things, and in due time he will lift you up, he always does.

But see, the path to greatness starts with the towel and the washing of feet. Jesus would actually take this up a level. Mark 8 verse 34, calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Deny yourself means total abandonment of your life to God. Notice that Jesus did not say deny money, or deny illicit sex, or even deny sin. He said deny yourself. Denying yourself means saying no to all that you want from life, so that you can say yes to all that God wants from it. Now the point of this is not that all of you are supposed to resign your jobs like Elisha, or even that you're all supposed to give away your money. The point is that if you're going to follow Jesus, nothing can be off limits to him.

No area in which you say, no God, I'm not going to obey you there, no God, you cannot have that. You see, what I hear most often is people talk about Jesus and how he helps them achieve their potential and their best life now. But think about the apostles.

Think about what it was like for them. Fox's book of martyrs says that every single one of the apostles, all of them, with one exception, died a martyr's death. Are you really following Jesus or have you turned Jesus into someone that meets your needs and makes a life that is focused on yourself really come true because there's a big difference in being a follower of Jesus and using Jesus for a self-centered life. So number one, the path to something greater begins in the valley of surrender, sacrifice, and service. Number two, the possibilities of something greater are realized only through bold acts of faith.

The possibilities of something greater are realized only through bold acts of faith. Verse 21 tells us that Elisha burned the plow. Here's a little detail you might have skipped over. Verse 21, then he arose and went after Elijah.

You know what that means? It means Elijah left. So here's Elijah, he's burning this plow, he's feeding the people, and then he's like, all right, where'd Elijah go? He took off over that mountain. So Elisha's got to run after him, not even sure if he's going to find him. There's an abandonment. You see, there's an all or nothing to Elisha's response. Listen to this.

This is from Mark Batterson's new book. On February 19, 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés set sail for Mexico with an entourage of 11 ships, 13 soldiers, 110 sailors, and 553 soldiers. The indigenous population upon his arrival was approximately 5 million.

From a purely mathematical standpoint, the odds were stacked against him by a ratio of 7,541 to 1. Two previous expeditions had failed to even establish a settlement in the New World, yet Cortés conquered much of the South American continent. What Cortés is reported to have done after landing is an epic tale now of mythic proportions. He issued an order, some of you have heard this, he issued an order upon his arrival to burn the ships. As his crew watched their fleet of ships burn and sink, they soberly came to terms with the fact that retreat would never be an option.

Now, I realize that the murdering and pillaging that Cortés would do is morally repugnant and completely indefensible. But if you could compartmentalize that for just a minute, there is a lesson to be learned from what Cortés did there. Nine times out of ten, failure is resorting to plan B when plan A gets too risky, too costly, or too difficult. That's why most people are living their plan B because they didn't burn the ships. Plan A people, the people who achieve something greater, don't have a plan B.

It's plan A or bust. They'd rather crash and burn going after what God has told them to do than they would succeed at anything else. Some of you need to act boldly in faith according to what God has told you. Some of you God has told you to go on your first mission trip next year.

You need to go ahead and figure out the time off that you can take and request it from your job, and you need to start raising money. There's always risk involved in following Jesus. There's always the feeling, where did Elijah go?

I don't know if this is going to work out. In fact, Jesus told this parable one time. You might have heard it before. There was a master who had three servants. He left gold. We say gold talents. In Hebrew, it's minas.

It's like a gold bar. He left gold minas. He left ten with one, five with one, and one with one. The master goes away, comes back, and the guy who had ten invested it and produced ten more.

The guy who made five more. The guy who had one didn't know what to do, so he buried it. When he came back, he's like, hey, I was scared. I thought if I'd invested, I might lose it.

I didn't want to lose your money because I knew that you would get angry about that, so here's your one back. You ever look at what Jesus called that servant? This is very sobering. He called him wicked. Not foolish, not squandering, not wasteful, not, you know, lazy, wicked. And what he means, listen to this, what he means is that if your life is not characterized by bold risk of faith, you're a wicked servant. Following Jesus always involves risk. Always involves bold acts of faith, so take the risk, obey the impulse. College students, some of you, God's told you to go overseas for two years. You just need to do it.

And yeah, I know it's risky, but if you're not feeling that fear of risk, then you're probably not really following Jesus. Let me show you something. Let's fast-forward to life's life, 18 years. All right, go to 2 Kings 2 now. Flip over just four or five chapters and you'll find it. 2 Kings 2.

18 years he's been the coffee boy. Verse 8, Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water. And the water was parted to the one side and to the other until the two of them could go over on dry ground. When they crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ask whatever I can do for you before I'm taken from you. And Elisha said, please, let there be a double portion of your spirit on me. That's a pretty bold request. So Elijah said, well, you've asked a hard thing.

Yet here's the deal. If you see me be taken from you, it will be so for you. But if you do not see me, it will not be so. And as they went still on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven and Elisha saw it and he cried, my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen, as if Elijah had not seen them. And then he saw him no more. All right, so coolest death ever, right?

Yes. But there's more. Then Elijah, Elisha, took hold of his own clothes and he tore them in two pieces. And then he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.

Now, this is the moment of truth. Remember what he asked for, double portion of Elijah's spirit? So now he's got the cloak. And remember, how they got to this place is Elijah had split the water. So Elijah has the cloak and he's got it in his hand. He's looking at the water and he kind of starts twirling it. He's like, all right, here it goes.

Boom, it's the river. Splits up, stands like a wall on either side, opens up this little secret passageway in the middle and he walks across. In other words, Elisha got what he asked for. In fact, if you count out the number of miracles that Elijah did, it's 14. Count out the number of miracles Elisha did, it's 28. So in other words, he got exactly what he asked for because, listen to this, he didn't hold anything back.

In fact, write stuff down, write that down. Elisha got what he asked for because he didn't hold anything back. The greatest blessings of faith come only from bold moves of faith. Thanks for joining us today here on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. In case you didn't know, each month our team at J.D. Greer Ministries sends a featured resource to our gospel partners and financial supporters as a thank you for their faithful giving. And this month we've got a brand new devotional called Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6. We've been talking a lot about Elijah and Elisha on the program lately and this eight-part study guides your devotional time through some of the highlights of their stories. Along the way, you'll learn how God can do incredible things through you, just like he worked through Elijah and Elisha.

He's the same God today as he was then, and he still moves just as powerfully. We'd love to send you a copy of this new devotional as our way to say thank you for your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. To give now, call us at 866-335-5220 or give online at Your gifts make this ministry possible, so thank you again not only for your gifts, but for your prayers as we continue sharing the gospel to a waiting world. Now let's finish up today's teaching.

Once again, here's Pastor JD. You see, I look out here and I see that for many of you, your lives could be so much more. You're living a good life.

You're a decent person. You're making money, but you're not making an eternal difference for anybody. You could have an eternally significant life, but if you're going to do that, you've got to act boldly. You've got to burn the ships.

You've got to invest that mina. Yeah, you can keep plowing the fields with your 24 oxen if you want, but you just might be forfeiting 28 miracles. What your life could be, all of you, not a few of you, all of you, what your lives could be, it's not Elijah's cloak that you've been offered. It's something more. It's Jesus' cloak that was offered to you. Why do I say that? Because that's what Jesus meant when he stood on the Mount of Olives and he said, all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.

Go in my name and ask whatever you want, and I'll give it to you. In fact, Jesus would even say this. You ever catch this? Greater works than I have done, you will do.

Guess what that is? That's a repetition of the promise to Elisha. Greater than I, greater? I've told you before, Jesus raised the dead. How do you do a greater work than that?

Greater means greater in number. Elijah's 14 became 28 with Elisha. What Jesus meant was that you and I would take the power of the resurrection into places that Jesus would never step foot on earth. We would carry him into families that are broken that Jesus didn't get a chance to speak to you personally, and we would see his power come through our lives.

Your lives could be so much more. It could be eternally significant because he has given you his authority to set the captives free. He has given you his authority to release people from spiritual blindness and spiritual death, to give them the word that would forgive their sins and give them an inheritance in heaven. He's given you that authority starting with your family, extending to your friends, and then to all the nations of the earth. And you can settle for 24 oxen if you want, but it's 28 miracles that God has called this church to. Now's the time to act boldly.

Number three, finally. The power to pursue something greater is found in the heavenly vision. The power to pursue something greater is found in the heavenly vision. Elisha saw a vision of Elijah being taken up to heaven, and it was terrifying. You know, all the paintings I've ever seen of this get it wrong in my humble but accurate opinion. Okay, so when I was eight years old, the church that I was a part of did one of the greatest things ever, and they replaced the pew Bibles in front of, in our little pew, if you were up in a church like that, they replaced them with these big deluxe KJV Bibles that had all these oil paintings of all these Bible scenes. And I can remember the picture that went along with this scene. It's a picture of Elijah in the chariot. You know, he's got his long, you know, Ric Flair hair kind of flapping in the breeze there, and he's got his robe, and he's kind of got the chariot things right here, and he looks like Val Kilmer, and the chariot's on fire, and it looks like a scene out of Hunger Games or something, if you, you know, and so, and his white billowy puffy clouds as he soars into heaven, and it just looked like that's an awesome way to go.

Totally wrong. This was a terrifying scene. It's a tornado.

There's fire. You see, every time in the Bible that kind of stuff shows up, people die. When God came onto Mount Sinai, he came the exact same way, fire and tornado, and God set up a perimeter around the mountain and said, if you step foot across that perimeter, you will die. Here is Elisha, watch this, seeing a scene that should kill him.

And we know that because he tears his clothes, which means he thinks he's about to die. Yet instead, watch this, of being killed by this scene, he sees Elijah lifted up on top of it. And in that moment, he saw a prefiguring of Christ. You see, when Jesus died, there was lightning and thunder as the fire of God's justice was poured out into Jesus' body.

That's why the cross was what it was, because God was executing his justice against our sin, his righteous wrath for your sin was being poured onto the head of Jesus. But we, like Elisha, see someone ascend into heaven alive on top of the judgments. In fact, what we see is greater than what Elisha saw. We see Jesus, risen from the dead, ascended to God's right hand, ever living to make intercession for us. Elisha got a pale glimpse of what Jesus would one day do as he soared on top of judgment and as the judgment that was intended for Elisha was spared from him.

We see that in Jesus. Elisha saw that and realized he was saved. We see that in Jesus and realize we're saved, and Elisha let that vision become his sustaining motivation to leave everything behind, to endure no small amount of sacrifice and persecution, to faithfully do all that God had told him to do.

That vision became what empowered him. This vision of seeing Jesus lifted up, seeing him as the one who we now possess, the one who makes intercession for us, seeing him as our treasure, that's what gives us the ability to go through the surrender, the sacrifice, and the service of the cross, because we see in Christ something better that we obtain than anything that we leave behind. The most shortest parable that Jesus ever told, I tell it to you all the time because it's like my favorite one because it's so short and it's so full of meaning. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a man who's walking along in a field and discovers a treasure and hides it and then for joy goes out and sells everything he has to buy that field.

Now that parable has got a lot packed in it and it's entertaining to me because Jesus' parables, his best ones, a lot of times have shady characters in them like this one. Here's a guy, just think about it, here's a guy walking through a field, stubs his toe, looks, here's a little box sticking out of the ground so he uncovers it, it's a big box, opens it up, it's a treasure. It's a treasure of inestimable value.

It's got Justin Bieber's shirt that he sweated in during a concert in the thing and he's like, oh my gosh, this is like awesome. So what'd you do? He knows the guy who owns the field. What would you do? What's the right thing to do? You go tell your friend, hey man, I found this thing in your field, you know about this? Oh no, he buries it. He hides it. Then he goes up to the guy, to his buddy and says, hey man, I want to buy your field. And the guy's like, why? He says, I don't know man, I just, I like it.

Hills and a tree, it's just, oh I love it, you know. And the guy says, well I don't know man, it's just been in my family for years, I don't want to sell it. The guy says, man, I just, I really want this field.

I'll give you any price you ask. So the guy quotes some astronomical price and before he can get the price out of his mouth, this other guy yells, sold! And he runs out and he sells, Jesus says everything. When Jesus says everything, I'm assuming he means everything. He sells his house, he sells his property, he sells his investments, he sells his chariot, he sells his friends if he can sell, whatever he does, he sells everything. And the two words that define the whole parable are the words for joy.

You see, if everything that I owned got taken away from me tomorrow, I would be sad. But it doesn't say for sadness he got rid of everything, it was for joy because the joy that he had in what he was obtaining was greater by 10,000 times than anything he was giving up. And Jesus said, that's what finding me is like. Finding me means you discover in me something that is so much more valuable than anything you say no to on earth, so you gladly pick up the cross, you gladly go down the path of surrender, sacrifice, and service, not because it's the way to your best life now, because it's the way to me.

And I'm better. You see, what Jesus call, what he offers when he calls followers, listen to this, is all of him for all of you. That's the only deal Jesus will make. All of him for all of you. It's a pretty good deal because you come to Jesus with all your sin, all your corruption, with the sentence of hell right upon your head, and he takes all of that, and you get all of him. You get his promises forever. You get him as your possession forever.

That's a good deal. It's all of him for all of you. Have you ever come to a place where you did that? Where you said, Jesus, it's all, all of me. You're the only thing that I require because you are my possession, and that power, that becomes the power to pick up the towel and wash feet. It becomes the power to forgive. It becomes the power to sacrifice. It becomes the power to go where God tells you to go, even when you don't want to go where he tells you to go.

And when he puts upon you some kind of cross that you suffer in, you do it gladly because you do it with Jesus. You see, my whole goal in this is to get you to act boldly in faith because I see what your lives can be. They can be so much more, but that kind of anointing, that kind of power, that kind of double portion of the anointing, the greater things that Jesus promised, they only come through bold acts of faith. They only come by leaving it all behind. They only come by surrender, sacrifice, and service.

Are you ready to surrender at all? We may have different roles, but we're all called to be surrendered servants. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor JD Greer. We have a special resource to accompany this study of Elisha, as well as the messages we just completed about Elijah. It's a devotional book called Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6.

It's an eight-part study, and each part includes a short chapter that aligns with the teaching you've been hearing and will be hearing for the next little while. It also includes space for notes on the scripture readings from 1 and 2 Kings, interactive application questions, prayer prompts, and a what's next to help us apply the message to our everyday lives. Learn more about God's character and how you can reflect Him to the people around you by requesting your copy of Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6. It comes with our thanks when you donate to support this ministry at the suggested level of $35 or more. You can also sign up for an ongoing monthly gift, and you'll become part of our gospel partner family. Gospel partners are the heartbeat of this ministry.

We truly couldn't do it without you. So donate today and remember to ask for your copy of Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or head online and request the book at

I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to listen again Tuesday as Pastor JD answers the question, what does a blessed life look like? Right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-20 10:14:12 / 2024-05-20 10:25:36 / 11

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