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Making Room for the Greater Things

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 21, 2024 9:00 am

Making Room for the Greater Things

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 21, 2024 9:00 am

What do you think a “blessed life” looks like? Wealth? Health? A happy family? Pastor J.D. describes what it looks like to be blessed by God, and explains how we can make room for him to move in our lives! It’s part of our study of the prophet Elisha titled, Something Greater.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. You can't force the blessing of the Spirit of God into a situation, but what you can do, to use this analogy, is to put the sail up.

You can put the sail up so that when the wind does blow that you are there to receive it. You can't make God move in your life, but you can make room for him to move. Pastor J.D.

Greer, as always, I'm your host, Molly Bidevich. So here's a common question I think we've all pondered at one point or another. What does a, quote, blessed life look like? Wealth? Health? Happy family?

A good job? Well, today Pastor J.D. describes what it really looks like to be blessed by God and how we can make room for him to move in our lives. It's part of our teaching series titled Something Greater.

And if you'd like to catch up on any of the previous messages you may have missed, you can find them all free of charge at jdgreer.com. But for now, grab your Bible and let's get started. Pastor J.D.

called today's teaching, Making Room for the Greater Things. 2 Kings chapter 4 verse 8 is where we're going to be today. God had promised to raise up after Elijah a greater prophet, a greater prophet with twice the power that Elijah had, and that was Elisha. Elisha was the greater prophet, but Elisha really was there to give us a foreshadowing of the greatest of all prophets, the greatest one, Jesus. All Old Testament prophets do that.

Elisha, no exception. And I explain to you that Elisha also embodies a promise that's given to you and me. Not only does he foreshadow Jesus, he foreshadows us because just like Elisha did greater miracles than Elijah, Jesus promised us in John 14 the greater works that he did we would do. That we would do greater works, which is sometimes hard to believe, but Elijah did 14 miracles, Elisha did 28.

Jesus, when he did miracles, they took place in one region of the world, Palestine, over a three-year period. We will take Jesus' power and message and take the liberation, the forgiveness, the life-transforming power, and we will take that all over the globe. We're going to look at a scene from the story of Elisha that shows us what kind of heart receives the greater things. I know that you want blessing from God. If I asked that, how many of you want blessing from God, every single hand in here would probably go up. I know you want blessing from God, but the better question is, is your heart the kind of heart that can receive the blessing of God? Maybe you're not a Christian, and maybe this whole blessing of God talk leaves you skeptical because you're like, well, I just hear that as a way that Christians explain some temporary stroke of good luck, or even worse, I've heard it used to justify their selfishness or as a way to manipulate other people. I think what you're going to see here today is that the blessing of God is quite real, though it's altogether different from what most people think about it.

Let's read this passage, and as we do, I'm going to give you six principles about your heart that must be true if you're going to receive the blessing of God. Verse 8, one day Elisha went to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived. The word wealthy in Hebrew, we don't have a great translation for it in English. Wealthy, to be honest, is not a great translation. It's the Hebrew word gadol. And what it really means is powerful, great in every way, mighty. I think it's a pretty cool word because it's just, you know, gadol. It just sounds that way, right? And I can see Randy on that American Idol saying that, like, dog, you are gadol.

That's the implication. She's just awesome. She is great in every possible way. She urged him to eat some food.

My kind of woman. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. And she said to her husband, behold, now I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, and a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.

If you're taking notes, here's number one. I hope you are. Number one, we can't make God move in our lives, but we can make room for him to move. We can't make God move in our lives, but we can make room for him to move. This decision to make a little room for Elisha is going to be instrumental in what happens in the rest of the story.

It's not like what she did obligated God to do what he's going to do, but it put her in the proximity of his power. You see, there's nothing that you and I can do that can force God to move in our lives. And the moment you hear somebody talking that way, you know that they are misleading you. Jesus said that the movement of the Spirit was like the wind, so you can't tell always where it's coming from. You can't tell where it's going.

It's hard to predict. You can't force the blessing of the Spirit of God into a situation, but what you can do, to use this analogy, is to put the sail up. You can put the sail up so that when the wind does blow, that you are there to receive it.

You can't make God move in your life, but you can make room for him to move. Let me give you a few examples of this. People always seem to get a kick of how many conversations I get into on an airplane that leads into somebody getting saved. And people will tell me. They're like, it's not like you. That just doesn't happen to me. People don't begin to weep on the plane and tell me they need Jesus. That's because I don't tell you about the other stories that take place when I'm on the plane. The several that end with this kind of awkward turtle floating out there as I bring this subject up.

I'll tell you one. This last trip, on the way back, I'm sitting next to a lady. She looks pleasant enough.

She'd had two things of wine. I thought she's ready to talk about God. So I look at her and I'm like, hey, do you feel like at this point in your life you're moving closer to or farther away from God? That's like my signature opening question. And she said, well, I don't really know.

Sometimes four or something against. I said, well, do you mind if I tell you my story? She said, no. So I start out on this. About 20 seconds into this, I was like, she's bored. And I'm a professional storyteller.

So I'm like, I'm good at this. And then another 20 seconds later, she just went from bored to annoyed. So I'm trying to land this plane as fast as I can because she has already completely checked out of the conversation.

And then I've got an eight-hour ride with her till we land. Of every five conversations that I have, two of them just never get off the runway. Two of them burst into flames in midair. And one of them turns out to be good, and I tell you that story. The reason I experienced that one, though, is because I'm willing to go through the other four. I can't make God's Spirit move in somebody, but what I can do is put that sail up, and when it does, then it gets exciting.

Or here's another front. When I was young, my parents did everything they could to make the church the center of my life. I joke around that the only drug problem I ever had was getting drugged to church three times a week. They forced me to memorize Scripture for whatever motive they could do.

You want a Kit Kat? Memorize a verse. I memorized Scripture, and you know what?

Honestly, it didn't hardly do any good. By the time I was 16 years old, I was not living for God. I was living for myself. But then the wind of the Spirit of God blew into my life, and I can remember in a moment when it seemed like every single one of those verses burst into flames in my heart.

Why? Because the Spirit, they couldn't make God move in my life, but they made room for him to move. What this woman did is she made room in her life with one of the things God had blessed her with and said, God, I want your blessing in my life, so I'm going to set this portion of my life just for you.

Where do you need to do that? Maybe it's an act of obedience that you need to pursue. Maybe it's something that God's given you, a talent or a possession. And like this woman, you need to say, God, I've only used this for me. I want it to be blessed.

I'm going to offer it out there to you and say, God, I want you to move in this, and I'm going to make room for you to move. Verse 11, she does that. And one time when Elisha was staying there, he says to Gehazi, his assistant, he's like, you know, this woman has been so kind to us. What do you think we can do for her? So they suggest some things to her, but she didn't really have any needs because she was Godot. Right? And you face this, if you've got a rich relative, what do I buy them?

Right? So this woman has no needs, and they ask her, and she's like, I don't really need anything. I've got everything taken care of. But then Gehazi comes to Elisha and says she actually does have one, but she's never brought it up. This woman has no son. Now I've explained to you that in those days, sons were kind of everything. Because sons took care of you in your old age. Sons carried on the family line.

Sons maintained the inheritance that they had been given. This woman is Godot in everything, but she has no son. And her husband is very, very old, and apparently she is two. Interestingly, she doesn't complain about that.

She seems content. But Elisha, on his own, goes up to her and says, this time next year, God is going to give you a son. Verse 16, she says, don't tease me. This is sensitive because having a child was a dream that she had given up on. And Elisha says, I'm not.

And sure enough, in a year, she has a baby by her octogenarian husband. Mercifully, the Bible leaves out the details, and we peck back up in verse 18. When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. And he said to his father, oh, my head, my head. The father said to his servant, carry him to his mother. And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap until noon.

And then he died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God and shut the door behind him and went out. Then she called to her husband and said, send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again. And he said, why will you go to him today?

It's neither new moon nor the Sabbath. And she said, it's okay. All is well. Verse 25, so she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi, his servant, look, there is a Shunammite, the Shunammite woman. She went once to meet her and say to her, is all well with you, is all well with your husband, is all well with your child? And she answered, all is well. Verse 27, and when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet.

And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress. And the Lord has hidden it from me, and he has not told me. Then she said, did I ask my Lord for a son? Did I not say, do not deceive me?

This woman's got some spunk, don't she? Verse 29, he said to Gehazi, tie up your garment, take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child. Then the mother of the child said, nope.

As the Lord lives, and as you yourself lives, I'm not leaving you. You're not sending your assistant. So he arose and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but it didn't work. Therefore, he returned to meet him and said, the child has not awakened. By the way, can I tell you real quick why I believe these stories are true?

Why would you make up that part right there? Seriously, like, you know, a man of God, this is your hero. This is your prophet. He's called man of God throughout this passage.

He tries to do this miracle three different ways, and it doesn't work. When myths of other sorcerers are written, they always exalt the prophet, the man of God. This story doesn't exalt the prophet, the man of God. It exalts God, who is behind the man. Because the point is not to exalt the man. The point is to show how God uses fallible people. This is not a hero book. This is a story of God using very broken people. That's completely different than every other religious book that's ever been written. And there's all these details in there that have no symbolism at all just because they happen. When you're writing a myth, you put details in there that symbolize things, like the child sneezing seven times, which means X. But it doesn't mean anything.

It just happens. You are listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. I wanted to take a second to make you aware of a very special group of people near and dear to us here at Summit Life. It's our gospel partners. This is a special team that gives regularly and generously to this ministry each and every month. It's not an exaggeration to say that they are the financial fuel behind everything we do, including broadcasting Summit Life here on this station every weekday. This ministry couldn't exist without our gospel partners, and it's always a privilege to say thank you with a specially curated featured resource each month.

And this month, we are sending each of our faithful givers a copy of Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6. If Summit Life has become a trusted source of spiritual encouragement to you, would you consider becoming a regular monthly supporter of this program? To give a one-time gift or to join with us as a monthly gospel partner, call us right away.

The number is 866-335-5220, or you can visit us online at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D.

here on Summit Life. Verse 32. When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. And so he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house and went up and stretched himself upon him.

The child sneezed seven times, and then the child opened his eyes. Then he summoned Gehazi and said, Call this Shunammite woman. So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, Pick up your son. She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and she went home.

Number two. The blessing of God is only found in the place of our weakness. As I pointed out to you, this woman had everything. She's Godot. If this miracle, don't miss this, occurs in the one place in which she's not Godot, the place in which she is actually poor and desperate. You ever notice how harshly the Bible seems to speak about rich people? Does that ever make you curious as to why?

Then you think, Why? What's God got against rich people? Is this some kind of class warfare where God always sticks out for the underdog? Is that what it is? God's jealous of your success?

No. It's that a person's wealth usually deceives them into feeling self-sufficient. That's the original sin. That's the first sin that Adam and Eve committed. Is they wanted to be independent of God because they no longer felt like they needed him. So people who are rich in possessions usually don't feel like they need to depend on God with their future. And so they're not overly concerned about obeying him with what they have right now. Because they're taken care of in the future. They're not attentive to what God might be saying to them now, because as far into the future as they can see, they're fine. It is that feeling of independence that caused the first sin, and it's what leads the rich man to never experience the kingdom of God. People who are rich in talent usually don't depend on God to work in and through them, because they usually feel pretty competent in what they do. They're not desperately dependent on God to make something work.

Why? Because they're okay. They're rich in talent. They've always made things work.

They've always worked it out. They've always just pulled themselves by their bootstraps. Richness almost always leads to feelings of independence. People who believe they're rich in good works. In other words, they believe that on the whole they're pretty good people, and as long as God's great on the curve, they're going to be fine. Those people never come to a place where they fall at the feet of Jesus and plea for his mercy, telling him that they will do whatever he tells them to do because they owe their very soul to them. What they do is they negotiate with God. And they're like, God, on the whole, I'm a pretty good person, so you know what, I'll do a little bit over here for you, and then God, you owe me. God, you're obligated to me, and God, I'll give you this much, but then you've got to give me this right here. Those are the kind of people that negotiate with God because they feel like they have something to negotiate with.

You want to know what it means to become a Christian is you realize you ain't got nothing to negotiate with, and you lay yourself down at your feet because you've got nowhere else to go. And then you say, God, you tell me where to go because I've got nothing. Our sense of richness in those things, you see, is just an illusion.

This woman, for all of her gadol, she can't have a child. You think you're rich enough to actually face the future? God could take it away in a second. And even if you did manage to die with all of your stuff, you're not going to take a penny of it into eternity, which really matters.

You think you're rich in good works? Isaiah says, at the very best of us, on the very best of our days, all our righteousness, Isaiah 64 says, is like a filthy rag. And that's another Hebrew word that we just don't have a good translation for because filthy rag meant defiled, something that was so disgusting you couldn't even be in its presence. They would use it to describe if a leper had wrapped himself with some kind of rag. When he took that rag off, here it's filled with blood and pus and rotten skin and disease.

Imagine you were going to see the President of the United States, and as you go into the Oval Office, what you present him as an offering is a filthy, disease-ridden, pus-filled, bloody rag, and you just lay it at his feet and say, this is what I want to offer you. On your very best day, the most selfless thing you've ever done, the best you've ever been, that's what it's like to God. You think you're rich in good works? Revelation 3.17, for you say, I'm rich, I prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you're wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Not that one day you'll be that, but you're that now and you just don't realize it. You see, because you said you were rich spiritually, you didn't realize you were poor. If you realized you were poor spiritually, if you'd owned your spiritual poverty, you could have cast yourself on the mercy of God, which was rich beyond measure, and he would have given you the righteousness of Christ. Listen, my friend, make no mistake, it is not your sin that will send you to hell. It is your false sense of righteousness, because God's got mercy for sin. But pride is what keeps you from the mercy of God. There is not a single person in here, there's not a single person on this planet, that has sin too great for God's mercy.

But the vast majority of people will never taste of God's mercy, not because their sin is too severe, but because their pride keeps them from falling in poverty upon the richness of his grace and feasting upon it because it's a never-ending supply. You said that you were rich professionally. Oh, you're super competent, you're able to meet all your needs, you're set for life, you fool. Like Jesus said, one flick of my finger, I take it all away in a second. You never laid up treasure in heaven that couldn't be taken away. Because you said, I'm rich relationally, I'm a capable husband, I'm a capable father. Oh, if you would have owned your poverty, you could have had the help of God. But you didn't own your poverty, you thought you could take care of it.

And so you went into your marriage and you raised your children by yourself without the rich and the manifold mercy of God. He was so full of grace, he was so ready to help, it was your sense of richness that kept you from the richness of his mercy. It is never your weaknesses that keep you from blessing, it's never your inabilities, it's never your sin, it's your strength and your pride that keeps you from the power of God. And so sometimes, like this woman, God puts things into our lives that we just can't conquer. The death of a child we're unable to prevent, a divorce that we can't avoid, a health scare, an addiction that you can't overcome. These things are not the judgment of God, these things are the mercy of God.

Because maybe for the first time in your life, he has given you just a taste of what he gave to this woman, that about the most important things in life, you are totally powerless. These things are God's mercy to you. It's like I said a few weeks ago in Elijah, if dependence is the objective, then weakness is an advantage. If dependence on God is the goal, then weakness becomes our greatest friend in getting us there. I read one of the biographies of Abraham Lincoln this past week. They say that Abraham Lincoln, who entered office in 1861, was vastly different than the Lincoln who died in 1865, at least in terms of his relationship with God. The kind of faith in God that comes through the second inaugural address and the resolve to do God's will toward the end of Lincoln's presidency simply was not there in 1861.

The difference, this biographer said, came in 1862 when Lincoln's 11-year-old son, Willie, died. And for one of the first times in his life, Lincoln felt absolutely powerless to do anything about it. But that brokenness, this biographer said, taught him to seek a God that was bigger than himself, to tap into purposes bigger than his own. And his newfound trust in a God bigger than himself and the belief in that God and his purposes gave him courage to issue something like the Emancipation Proclamation, which everyone told him was a bad idea. But Lincoln reasoned this way.

He said, if God wants it, then I'm going to stand with God on this because God is determined to see it through. It is a point of brokenness that becomes the access to our greater strength because it puts us somewhere in touch with something much greater. And here's one other thing I want to point out before I go on to the next point. Do you notice in there that the woman goes by herself, husband doesn't go? Do you think that's a significant detail?

Well, let me thicken the plot a little bit for you. Did you know that there are 10 people in the Bible who were raised from the dead other than Jesus? Nine of them who received the person that's raised from the dead, nine of them are women. Only one exception gets where a man gets somebody raised from the dead. Why is that?

That can't be coincidence. Jesus, after he raised from the dead, after Jesus raised from the dead, who did he appear to first? Women. Hebrews 11 35, when it talks about it, it says, women received their dead raised to life again. Why women?

Here's why. Historically, especially in these days, women were the marginalized. They were the ones kept out of power. So they were the ones who more quickly got the gospel.

Men felt self-sufficient. Men felt powerful so they didn't recognize the gospel because they saw no need for it. The point is not that God prefers women. The point is that God somehow seems to be perceptible by the powerless more than he is the powerful. So blessed are you when you are poured spirit you now have access to the kingdom of God. The blessing of God is only found in the place of our weakness. A powerful message from Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. So, J.D., this month we have a devotional working through the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. And it's based on the teaching series we're going through here on the program. Could you give us a brief intro for some of the topics that are covered in this new study?

Sure, Molly. Yeah, I loved, loved doing our kind of debuff study on these two guys. The something better part of our study, we're going to see how Elijah confronted a religious environment, honestly, very much like our own. Elijah shows us that knowing the one true God is really the only way that you can have purpose in life and it's the only one that makes sense. And the something greater portion, we go to the life of Elisha, his successor. And you see that the secret to Elisha's power here on earth was this fierce devotion to the God of heaven.

Both men are just characterized by no compromise, but they show you what that looks like. It's a great study about succession and about power and about faithfulness in the era that we're in. We're excited about giving that to you, so learn more at jdgreer.com. We'll send you a copy of Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6. Today is our way of saying thanks when you donate to support this ministry at the suggested level of $35 or more.

Remember, when you give to Summit Life, you're really giving to your fellow listeners, and we are so grateful for your generosity. Join the mission today and remember to ask for your copy of this devotional on Elijah and Elisha. Give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can always give and request the book online at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to listen next time when we continue this message called Making Room for the Greater Things. We'll see you Wednesday here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-21 12:32:42 / 2024-05-21 12:44:17 / 12

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