Levi Lusko - How Bad Do You Want It?
And as you find your way to your seats if you have a Bible, we're going to be in 2 Kings, chapter 2. If you're new to the church, we're in a series of messages a season where we're looking at different times in the Bible where there are rivers. River stories, rivers mentioned, the symbolism of rivers. We've called it the River Wild. And we are believing that like a river that twist and turns and moves and hydrates and nourishes and has rapids and mystery and beauty and uncertainty. That there is a corresponding element of just wildness to this grand adventure that is following Jesus. Come on, has your faith been stirred up? Have you been invigorated? And we're finding ourselves in 2 Kings, chapter 2, for one of the stories in scripture out of many that have to do with the Jordan River. The Jordan River.
Here's what we find, we've already spent some time there with Joshua. But we're back again with Elijah and Elisha, where it says in 2 Kings, 2, "And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind". So that's just like setting things up like a preview of coming attractions. So the author's like this is such an incredible chapter, I need you to be braced for it. So before we get to it, like just so you know, in this chapter someone goes to heaven in a whirlwind. Then Elijah, on that day, said to Elisha, "Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Bethel. But Elisha said, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you! So they went down to Bethel. Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today? And he said, yes, I know; keep silent"!
"Then Elijah said to him, Elisha, stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Jericho. But he said, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you! So they came to Jericho. Now the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, do you know that your master will be taken away from you today? The Lord is going to take him away from over you today? And he answered, yes, I know; please keep silent"! A very polite way to say close your mouth. "Then Elijah said to him, stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to the Jordan. But he said, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you! So the two of them went on. And 50 men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan", so they're standing at the river's edge.
"Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that", the King James says, it was divided hither and thither. I just, some things, man. Just got to love that old school translation. Hither and thither. "So that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. And so it was when they had crossed over that Elijah said to Elisha, ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you? Elisha said please that a double portion of your spirit be upon me. So he said, you have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken away from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so". "Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, to suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven".
Even though we were told it was coming, I still wasn't ready for it. Anybody with me? It's like, he did his best to get us ready, but I was like, wait I was still not ready for that. "And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, my Father, my Father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen! So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and he tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the Bank of the Jordan". "Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and he struck the water, and he said, where is the Lord God of Elijah? And when he also had struck the water, it was divided hither and thither; and Elisha crossed over. Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and they bow to the ground before him".
And Father we just ask that in this time together, considering this outrageous story, that you would speak to us clearly. That we would hear from you what you would have to say to us. And that we would understand what it's going to take for us to see our God given potential come to light. And we asked that if even just one person, God, who logged on today, who's in one of our churches today, doesn't know you. Has come in at the invitation of a friend or because they're new to town and they googled church, or just because for whatever reason they felt they just needed something from God in their life. Something spiritual in their lives. That we recognize you're leading your providence in that, no one's here by mistake. And we pray you would ignite something in their hearts. They would see you, you break through, God, the walls of doubt, the walls of pain, the walls of sin, the walls of guilt. Anything we've erected to keep you out. And we pray you would draw people close to yourself. We pray for salvation to happen. And we know that can't happen by human's hand, it can only happen by your hand. And so we asked for this in Jesus' name. Amen.
How bad do you want it? How bad do you want it is a title of this message. How bad do you want it is what I felt God so clearly asking us all through this passage. How bad do you want it? I think many people do not see all of God's plan for their lives come to pass. I think many people do not live up to their full God given potential. I think many of us have a dream that we never see reaches full expression because we don't want it bad enough. How bad do you want it? How bad do you want it? I was in a store one time and saw Michael Phelps, actually I was walking by the store, and saw Michael Phelps inside. I had to play it cool. Almost had a little bit of a little flutter of, I don't easily fangirl, but Michael Phelps. Most decorated Olympian of all the times. Going back to toga naked Greece days, baby. Right. No one's won more medals that this cat. Michael flippin' Phelps. Had to play my cards right. Here's the number one rule, ready? You do not ask for a photo. That you do not, play it cool, be chill, calm yourself down.
So I was with a friend, and so I was like came in. So I saw that there were some shoes so I had my friend like pretend that he was interested in these shoes. And then I just, Michael Phelps was also looking at shoes. And so I casually like asked him, what do you think of these shoes? Because I was trying to tell my friend you should get them. And then I was like, Michael goes, I have a pair of shoes. I love those shoes. And I was like, Oh that's cool. And kind of ignored him a little bit. You got to play your cards right, I'm telling you. And so now I'm like being coy with this situation. But then he kind of like comes over to us. He's like actually those are really comfortable. And the problem is for me I'm like size like 18 or whatever he said, like his dolphin feet, you know. And so eventually, you know we talk long enough where I'm finally like, hey, by the way you are a legend. And I have one question for you. And he goes, what's that? And he was braced for can I take a selfie with you, right? But instead I said, is it true that from 1998 to 2003 you did not miss one practice except for when your wisdom teeth were taken out.
And the other time was when a storm prevented you from getting to the swimming pool? Because you wrote that on page 77 of your book, No Limits. And I was just interested if that's actually true, or if it was just facetious and something the ghostwriter cooked up because it would sell copies. And he said that is an absolute true story. From 1998 to 2003, a five year period, if it was my birthday I was in the pool. If it was Christmas, opened some presents, and got myself into the pool. If it was Thanksgiving, had some turkey, got in the pool. He said, my wisdom teeth prevented me. The doctor said, you cannot swim for these few days. And the day that a storm hit, a freak storm hit, I physically could not get to a swimming pool. Other than that, he said, the absolute truth was those five years I was in the pool. I was like, that's amazing. Can I get a photo? And I did, and it's amazing. And here it is. All right.
So I just wanted to say, OK. So what happens sometimes is many of us want it, but we don't want it bad enough. We want it a little bit. We want it enough to have the dream. We want it enough to have it pinned on our Pinterest board. We want it enough to talk about it, and tell someone we want it. The problem isn't that we don't want it. The problem is, oftentimes, we don't want it bad. And now let me ask you the question again I started with, how bad do you want it? Do you want it bad enough to agonize over it? Earl Nightingale was one of 15 Marines to be on the USS Arizona during Pearl Harbor. One of 15 Marines who lived to tell the tale that is, many others perished. But 15 Marines lived through that horrid incident. And he went on to become a life coach and a self-help guru. And you know what, I say he should. You know what I'm saying?
You go through that, like I'll buy your book. You go through that, I want to hear what you have to say about drive, about stamina, about success. Because he's been through something. He's had to fight through some PTSD. He's had to fight through some anxiety. And he said, this is interesting, this line has always stuck with me, he said, successful people make a habit of doing what other people only occasionally do, or are unwilling to do. Successful people have this in common, they make a habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don't like to do. It's not that they enjoy doing it. It's just that they want it bad enough to do what most people are unwilling to do. Let's stop and just kind of get our bearings here. Elisha is Elijah's protege, and has been for some time.
Going back to 1 Kings 19, when Elijah, remember the story on Mount Carmel? Huge epic fire, huge moment for Elijah, and then it was followed by a massive, massive, massive depression. And he ran, and he was afraid and he got low. And then God picked him up. And it was actually a great story. Because God comes to him to pick him up, you know what he says to him? God actually sends an angel to speak to Elijah. You know what he says? Hey bro, you should eat something. You'd think he would say, read your Bible, pray, or fast. The problem is he had been doing that. Sometimes it's real simple problems to what we think are deep spiritual issues. Hey homie, maybe you should eat something. So he eats and he drinks some water. And then God says, go back to sleep. No I didn't want to talk to you right now, just go back to bed. Go to sleep.
Some of you that's the word you came to church for today. You got all these issues, and you, oh, what's this, hey, maybe you should just go to bed. Get some rest. Charge your phone in a different room. Suspend your Netflix account for a hot minute. Then he wakes up, and you know what God says to him? You're like, he probably told him to read the Bible. No. He said eat something more. You need more. You need more nutrition. You need more hydration. You still got some problems. And so you know what happens next? Then God begins to speak to him. Because God will never do for you what you can do for you, remember. So God won't eat for you, God won't drink for you, God won't sleep for you. But there are things that only God can do for you. And so when you're doing the things that you can do, then you're at a position where you can actually ask Him to do what only He can do for you. So he has this God sized encounter on Mount Horeb. And you probably remember the story where God was not in the earthquake. God was not in the fire. But God spoke to him in a whisper which is beautiful.
My friend Steven Furtick likes to say that God came so close that he could whisper. God is close enough to you to whisper. He doesn't need to raise his voice. He is right there with you, He has never left you. But oftentimes we have so much static and distortion and noise around us that we can't hear His whisper. So we have to, here we go, cultivate the quiet. We have to steward the stillness. We have to make sure and practice being in a place where we're actually able to hear a whisper from God. Where you're taking those walks. Where you're sitting down. If it's early morning, if it's late night, if it's a lunch break, when are you still before your creator? When are you quiet before your King? Just to say I love you enough to just spend some time with you. How would your marriage do if you were never one on one? How would your marriage do? How is your marriage doing because you get that one on one time, that undivided attention time.
That generosity of eye contact, that's saying I'm lavishing myself upon you by saying no to everybody and everything else right now. I'm just looking at you going there are 300 million people in this country and 8 billion people on planet Earth, but I don't want any of them right now. I just want you. And that is what your quiet time does for your Savior. And the one who made your soul, and the one who saved your soul, and the one who your soul will stand before when you leave your body. So to be quiet with Him, Elijah did that. And while he was up there God interestingly enough wanted him to start thinking about succession, legacy. Who's going to wear the mantle when you're dead, bro? It's amazing that God is working through your life, but are you passing the baton on well? Are you raising up the next generation of leaders? Everything that happened next was all about pipeline.
And Elijah, like many successful people, thought he needed to do it all himself. He thought he was doing it all himself. And in fact came out in his speech on Mount Carmel, there's all these prophets of Baal and I'm the only one who loves God. How easily our eyes turn inward. How easily we start to think we are the one doing everything. And that's why Sabbath, that's why taking one day out of 7, by the way, to set aside for rejuvenation and worship and rest and delight is so important. Because it's funny how you'll notice the world keeps spinning when you stopped working. A lot of us work like we're keeping the world spinning. A lot of us work like we're the only one. And if we don't, everything's going to hell in a handbag. I got to keep going, I've got to keep going. I've got to keep driving. Got to keep producing. But that's how Elijah felt. And at the cave when he was quiet enough to hear a whisper, when he took a day and just ate and drank and chilled a little bit, God spoke to him. And said, I got 7,000 people who are still worshipping me, bro. And you need to do what you can to develop as many of them as you can until the day comes that you're not on this Earth anymore.
So you need to be willing to rest, be willing to break, or you're going to come apart. A.k.a. What you just did. And here's what He told him, He told a bunch of different things. But one thing pertaining to the story at the river that we just read, He told him, "You shall anoint Jehu, the son of Nimshi, King of Israel". OK, that's great. We're not talking about Jehu, and Nimshi sounds great, but it sounds like something you'd order at a sushi restaurant actually. I'll take on the teriyaki chicken and the Nimshi, the son of Jehu. All right. "And Elisha," he said, "the son of", here's the part we're focusing in on, "Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place". You've got to have a Padawan, and God named him. God made it really easy. Here's the guy who's going to wear the mantle when you're no longer around.
So what did Elijah do? He immediately found Elisha, son of Shaphat, and he came up to him. Here's the crazy story, when he went down to find him. And because this is crazy, he'd never met this guy, doesn't know this guy. And this is not a prophet. This is not a guy who's one of the prophets who are formally being trained up, one of the 7,000 even that he knew about. Well, he didn't know about any of them. But he did not know this guy. This was just a businessman. This guy, when he meets him, he's at his father's farming enterprise that he is the heir of, clearly. And he is, let me just give you like if you went to a massive farm somewhere. And there were 12 different giant tractors working on different aspects of the farm simultaneously, that's money. Right. And what does a huge tractor cost? Probably a quarter million or something like that. Like those things are very expensive.
And so you think about 12 yoke of oxen, which would be the equivalent in that day. He has 12 different, and there would be teams around them, servants around them, different people around the different 12 different yoke of oxen, right. And he was supervising. He was the one walking around going, Oh, yes very good. Very, very good. Aha. Right. And so he's supervising a massive farming enterprise. Because you read stuff in the Bible and you're like 12 yoke of oxen and everything about that, but to think about what that meant in that day. Right. And so he's there, he's just a businessman. He's just he's the one who's going to be running Shaphat farms. And Elijah walks up to him in characteristic weird style, right. Just absolute, Elijah, you have to understand, Elijah was weird before weird was cool. Right. Before John the Baptist there was Elijah.
When John the Baptist showed up eating bugs and wearing camel skin, they were like, Oh it's John the Baptist back from the dead. That's what they thought because Elijah just walks up to Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he's working on the farm in this day. And he just he just goes up behind him and he puts his mantle on Elisha's shoulders, and then just walks off. We're given only one physical description of Elijah. When later one of the enemies who was afraid of him was told by his lieutenants hey, there's this guy and he showed up in this and he said this. And he goes, what does he look like? And they go super hairy, big leather belt. And he goes, Elijah! All right. So apparently was like an iconic thing about this guy. All right. So the original Chewbacca. Hairy with a leather belt, like that's Elijah. And imagine you're just doing your job. One day and a wookie just comes up and mantles you.
I'll turn the I'll turn the brightness on my iPad up. Is that better? Now I'm telling ghost stories, very nice. OK so he just got mantled. He got mantled, he got mantled big time. And here's the great thing about this, it was a very clear symbol that he was being invited. Thank you. That's wonderful. He was being invited to participate in an unpaid internship. Welcome summer interns, by the way. We're really glad to have you here. Very glad to have you here. If any of you have any lighting experience that would be great. Please let your supervisor know immediately. All right. So Elisha has a crossroads now. Because as Elijah walks off, everything he saw his life was going to look like has now been derailed. Or not. Because he doesn't have to go with the hairy guy with the belt to give him back his jacket. Because he wouldn't keep it. He would give it back to him saying, I get the ceremonial gesture. I'm going to one day wear your mantle.
So he's standing there holding this thing. And he's thinking, I'm a farmer, I farm. I never thought about being a preacher, I never thought about being a prophet. He's thinking about how bad Elijah's life has been. He's thinking about just like the cush gig that he's about to, like he's been through so much hardness with his family business. And he's like, this is a thing man. You know he did? 1 Kings 19:19 tells us, I love this. "So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen's equipment, and he gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant". And then, just a couple page turns away, we read that one day on the day Elijah is going to be taken to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah's gone. And Elisha's walking on with a mantle in his hand. And it seems instantaneous. It seems like he made a really hard decision, but look how much it paid off.
And I want you to understand that's not exactly accurate. Because Elisha, to get to where he is on the day that we're seeing him where he proved how bad he wanted it, he had to pass a number of tests to get there. The first of which being delays. Jot that down, delays. Because like I said it's like he says yes, he slaughters the cows, like he pulls the Cortez move. Right. And destroys the ships, he can't go back. Right. Dad's not taking him back on. Like what are you doing? You didn't need to do that. He was making it impossible for him to return to this life. He was basically saying like no I'm having a farewell barbecue. We're going to feast on these beasts. And now I'm off on a new life, wild blue yonder. And so it seems like the reward of that is well now he's wearing the mantle, smacking the river, and everything's amazing. But in reality, there's a period of separation in between.
And you're like, how long was that in between him having the man put on him ceremonially and him actually having the mantle. The answer, commentaries differ. The smallest I've read is 8 years, the longest gap I've read is 18 years. Why? Because you can't start raising up the one who's going to lead after you when it's time for that exit from the world. There's got to be a preparation. You've got to start thinking about succession when it doesn't seem like it's the time to be thinking about succession. And in leadership and in business and in ministry alike, many people do not think about succession until it is far too late. And are unwilling to relinquish, and are unwilling to let go. Why? Because of the need to keep the world running. And the need to feel like it's all about them. So they don't think about it soon enough. They don't think about raising up that next person soon enough.
Many people are insecure, and they want job security. And so they kind of hoard tribal knowledge. And they want to make sure that they're the only one indispensable, that no one else knows how to do what they do. But the exact opposite is how you should be thinking about it. They should be raising up the person who could do your job tomorrow. Raising up the person who could be doing it better than you. Celebrating the person who's got a gift. And why? Because you will always be indispensable in your field, or in your organization, if you are able to not only do a thing well, but raise up many people who can do that thing well. Because organizations need people who can do the thing well, yes. But they will always in far greater desire want to have the person who is the genius maker, than just the one who's the genius. To quote from the book Multipliers. Which I would commend any of you to, if you want to read more just on that specific thought process.
We made that an emphasis on our staff a number of years back when we brought everyone together and we had a vision for a whole year called be the key. Unlock the greatness in others. And don't just look at what you can do, look at what you can raise up other people to do. Right. OK so there's a gap, there's a delay. And you're like, Oh my gosh 10 to 18 years. That's different now, that hits different. Because last thing I read was he followed him and resolved to become Elijah's, what was it, servant. But surely, I'm just going to be like a servant for a little while, and then I'm going to be a prophet of God. Right. I'm going to go, I'm going to be a servant. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. 10 to 18 years. What was he doing for 10 to 18 years? Well there's actually one verse in the Bible that tells us. Just one. And it happened when later, post mantle being received, Elisha will go to be invited to one of his early ministry assignments.
And here's how the set up happens. These two kings are having this alliance and fighting. And the King of Israel is trying to do one thing. And this other King's like well we should consult a voodoo doctor or a witch doctor. Is there not a prophet you could consult? And the King, this is amazing. The King says, this is 2 Kings 3:11, "Is there no prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire the Lord by him? So one of the servants of the King of Israel answered and said, well Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah". With contempt almost he spits out, there's kind of a prophet here. There's this new guy around. Because there was really a wonder worker, but he's bounced. And now there's a guy here, but he was the assistant to the regional manager. You see what I'm saying? He identified him by what was his clear primary occupation for that possible 18 year long stretch. The one who poured water on the hands of the great prophet. Is there not a prophet? Kind of, there's a servant here. Not a big prophet of God. There's a servant here.
So Elijah for these 18 years while he was training him would be the one doing the ministry, and then after the ministry he's like, Oh my hands are sticky. Elisha! Right. He's like, yes, master. With a pitcher of, and he pours the water. And Elijah's like, thank you. Thank you, Elisha. That'll be all. Right. How often would he think about his life pre-mantle? 12 teams of oxen and doing my bidding. 12 teams of servants there to pour some water on my sticky hands. Why did I follow that guy? I should have taken the blue pill. Delays. And delays messed with your head. When things don't work in the timeline you thought they would. When things don't go like you scripted it when you were planning out your life. People we are microwaves, but our God rolls with a crockpot. And oftentimes as we follow Him, the reason we don't get what He wanted us to have is because we didn't want it bad enough to wait for it. And we took timing into our own hands.
There's always a lag between sowing and reaping. There is always a lag between calling and actual anointing. God oftentimes pours oil on our heads for crowns we will not wear many years, many, many years from now, for many years from now. David gets oil poured on his head and then has to live for a couple of decades in a cave. Because he wasn't ready to wear the crown that God wanted him to wear. And a lot of people get frustrated and miss out because they feel like God gave them a dream, but then there's some big lag in the middle. Yeah, there's a lag in the middle because God wants to see if you love Him or the dream more. So a lot of times gives us a dream and then pretends like he doesn't even know us to see if we will chase after Him. Which leads us to our second thing that Elisha had to fight through, and that is disgorgement. Because not only does he have to go for a couple of decades. But when it's finally the day that Elijah is going to be taken away to heaven by a whirlwind, three different times he tells them to stop. Just quit. Just stay here. Just stay here. I got to go further, you just stay here. I got to go further, you just stay here.
How weird would it be to be getting mixed messages from the one who called you? Told you to follow me and now at the ultimate expression of this moment you're just saying like, bro you've done enough. It's been a good run. I'm out of here, just stay here. Just stay here. He's trying to shake him off. Stay at Jericho, he says. Stay at Bethel, he says. Stay, just stay. I'm going to cross the Jordan, you just stay here on this side of the Jordan. And every single time, Elisha says, as your soul lives, and as your servant lives, I will not depart from you. He's saying I told you when I burnt the plows. I told you when I slaughtered the oxen. I told you when I ate their flesh. I'm going to follow you. So help me, I'm going to follow you. I signed up to serve. I'm still here to serve. I didn't say I only want to do this. This might not be my sweet spot. I might not feel called to pour water. But bro, I am here. I'm all in. I am down for what you want to do. So I am ride or die. So let's cross the Jordan. You're not shaking me off, Elijah.
And I think each time Elijah went, hmm. And then as he turned, was smiling on his face. Smiling on his face because his man had passed another test. Write this down. This is only a test. Remember that on TV? This is only a test of the emergency Broadcasting System, had this been, and this is burned into my brain from when I was a kid. Had this been an actual emergency, instructions would have followed. Right And every time you're like, I know it's a test but it's still freaking me out a little bit here. There's something in my soul that discordant sound hits, and it's like I feel uncomfortable. I don't like it. I don't I don't love it. It's like the AMBER Alert thing on our phone now. It's like ah! Right. This is what happens when we're freaking out on the way to God's dream in our life being realized. We need to just say to ourselves, this is only a test. This is only a test. The one who called me seems like he doesn't even know me anymore; this is only a test. There's discouragements on the way; this is only a test. God gave me a dream but now it seems like everything in me is telling me to go in a different direction.
How do you think Abraham felt when he believes, his only thing was to believe for a son, believe for a son. He gets a son, and God says now give me your son. Like that's confusing. What was it? Genesis tells us before that story ever plays out, don't get weirded out by anything that follows. Just remember how God sets it up. Verse one, "Now it came to pass after these things that God", say it with me, "tested". This is only a test. This is only a test. This is only a test. He who called you is faithful. He who had you so is going to see you to reaping, but in between you just feel like dirt's been put on you. You just feel like other things have been poured on you, right. Fertilizers been, this is only a test. I see it all over the life of Jesus. And one of my favorite stories exhibits this shocking truth. God often is on the hardest, God often is the hardest on those that he is the most impressed by. He's the hardest on those he's the most impressed by.
Like Matthew 15, "Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And a Gentile woman lived there who came to him, pleading, have mercy on me, Oh Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely. But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word". Just ignoring her. That's not polite. That's not respectful even. "Then his disciples urged him to send her away. Tell her to go away, they said. She is bothering us with all of her begging". And Jesus finally turned to the woman and said, "I was sent only to help God's lost sheep, the people of Israel". Can't help you. No miracles for you, sorry. But she came and worshipped Him. Pleading him, saying, "Lord, help me"! He goes, no I can't do that, sorry. "It's not right to take the food from the children and throw it to the dogs". Man, this girl. That's not OK, right. "She replied, that's true Lord, but even little puppies", that's what she said in the original Greek, "little puppies are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master's table".
He couldn't hold back his laugh anymore. He just completely busted out, "Dear woman, your faith is so great". She could handle the test. She wanted it bad enough where she could see through the test. Three different opportunities she was given the chance to stay at Bethel, stay at the Jordan, to get offended. To walk away with the story, I tried to follow Jesus but it didn't work. I offered sign up to serve, but then I felt used. What was the prayer you prayed? God use me. Weird. You see what I'm saying? So she didn't she didn't falter when she took her test. God was impressed by her enough to know that she could handle the rigors of training. Why is the training program so difficult? Why does God almost always give us this great calling, but then send us into the desert? Because he needs to develop us. Or we will never have the kind of integrity and the faith systems to withstand the way that He wants to use you ultimately.
If he doesn't first beat you down in boot camp. If He doesn't just take you to some of the training in the Navy SEAL area where there's a bell there on the beach tormenting you the entire time. Knowing, I can ring that bell. I could stay at Bethel. I could just wash out, and go to Jordan. I don't need this. I didn't sign up for this. Then you would never be able to handle the kind of power that is going to be entrusted to you down the road. The kind of ability to make difficult decisions. I'm telling you something, I am so grateful and I am so thankful for every spiritual spanking God ever was willing to trust me with. The Father loves the son enough to chastise him. I'm grateful for every bloody nose that God gave me and the difficult days of starting out following Him. And starting out in ministry. And starting out believing these dreams at times when it felt like God was yanking back something I was so sure he was going to give me, that now today I can say he's confidently done it through me.
But first I needed to come to a place where I was dependent upon Him. Where I was desperate for Him. Where I realized, God no matter, even if you slay me, I'm going to follow you. Because now I can see God able to hand me things that today that I know for a fact would have destroyed me had it not been for the Proverbs 20:30 principal. Proverbs 20:30, you got to underline that sucker in your Bible. Wounds that hurt cleanse the way evil. And when your heart is black and blue with stripes, it purifies the things that otherwise would defile you. God purifies through pain. He allows difficult things. He calls you a dog one day, and you're like, what in the world would you do that for? Because He wants to see if you'll go, but even puppies, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip. You call me a dog, I'm cool with that. I'll be your dog. Right. If you have that kind of a faith, if you have that kind of a tenacity, how bad do you want?
Third thing he had to push through was distractions. It would be fine if he was just in a vacuum following God. Got a weird enough master, that's enough. Just in a vacuum, following the hairy guy with the belt. I think it would still be hard for 10 to 18 years pouring water. Right. But then the 50 prophets show up here. Hey man, hey man, you know your master's getting taken away from you? Thanks, please be quiet. Unhelpful comments. People just being people. Just saying something because they, like when someone sees a parent that's struggling and goes, hey you got your hands full. Right. Like my wife was saying last week, wonderful. Awesome, thanks. Right.
People used to see me when, my wife and I have four daughters and a son. And they would see me with like, I'd be out with like three of the girls or four of the girls. And someone would just be like, man didn't get that boy, huh? I'm like weighing my options. Thinking about ending up in the newspaper. Right. And it was just unhelpful comments. And following God is no different. Doing the dream thing that God put inside you is no, the business that God put. The way you're going to do business. The way you're going to change. The way you're going to innervate. The way, even post COVID now, there's whole new horizons open for you now. The options. The way you can pivot now. As you do, there's going to be so many people that are just like, hey man did you know that today. And you're like, Oh. It's always the peanut gallery that the most infuriates the person who's following their God given destiny. Almost every commentary I read insinuated that within these guys comments is a veiled sort of envy. Because they weren't picked to follow Elijah.
So what are they doing? They're just standing on the shore, literally just standing by the shore. Hands in their pockets. And just have just have something to say to those who are actually out there doing it. And so it is in every industry. And so it is in every dream. And so it is in every calling. There's people just content to stand by the shore, and just make comments. And what you have to do is, you don't even need to say it to them like he did. He was cool, he was respectful. But you don't have to say it, just turn the volume down on what they have to say in your life. Just listen to the voice of the one who sent you. Elisha had to push through the distractions. One commentary said that in saying this, they were saying he's been taken away from you today so just join us. Just come join our ranks standing by the river. Join us and just stand here. And he had to push through and fight through the voices and the chaos. Not only the voices of these other people, the distractions of the people, but even his own personal demons. This shows up too. Because just before Elijah finally leaves, he turns to him and says, and gives him one final test. And the test was, what do you want? Anything you want.
Which I just want to point out, he never would have had that question asked to him had he left at Bethel, left to Jordan, left at, right? So the reward is anything you want. It was all a test. I don't want you to leave. I wanted you to, good job. Good job for being here. Good job for not quitting. FYI, here you are. What do you want? That God, eventually if we keep with Him long enough, is eventually going to be able to trust us with the desires of our heart. That early on, it seemed like He was trying to take away from us. I thought you were trying to take away Isaac. God's like, I never wanted to take away Isaac. I was always giving you Isaac. I just needed to see that you loved me more than Isaac.
So what do you want? But that is a bugger of a question. What would you do if you were absolutely certain you would get away with it? Would you cheat on your spouse? No one would ever know, I promise. No one would ever know. Would you steal from your company? What would you do if you were absolutely certain you would get away with it? Questions like that pose dilemma that flush out demons inside of us. And I think the question that Elijah asked Elisha sort of was one of those questions. What do you want? I just want to be a prophet of God. I just, I want prominence. I want to be known. I want power. I want to put those sons of the prophets in their stupid place. Standing there by the rivers, having their hands in their pockets, doing nothing when there's stuff to be done. Right? I want my farm back. What do you want more than anything else? Elisha, we'll talk about in a quick second what he asked for, but I just wanted to show you that to get to where God wants you to go you're going to have to push through those demons. You're going to have to confront what's on the inside of you. And nothing will expose that like the dejection, last one.
Last thing he had to push through the dejection that followed victory. The dejection that followed victory. Greatest day, I think you'll agree with me, ever in his 18 years for sure got to see a whirlwind take up my boss. Got to see chariots of fire that were unnecessary. Because you'll notice if you read the text carefully it was a whirlwind that took him up, so what are the chariots of fire for? Just God showing off, right. They weren't even involved. They were just an escort, apparently. They were just there because it was cool, or maybe they were always there just unseen before this moment. God, just for a quick minute, let Elisha see the kind of stuff that He's always doing in the world. Angels always there. God always working. He just got to see how, that maybe it was their personal detail. The Bible very clearly makes it ironclad to build this doctrine. There are guardian angels. There are angels at the ready. They are servants of those who are the heirs of salvation.
You should and can pray for God to send angels to protect your kids. You should and can ask God to send angels to protect your home. That's what they are, they do God's bidding. And God loves you. And God wants to protect you. God wants to care for you. And so maybe he just got to see for a quick second, and the angel in the chariot just gave like Elisha a wink or something. Just like bro, I got you. I got you. Right? And then the whirlwind takes up Elijah, but man welcome to now your ministries. So that's how Elijah's ministry ended, good luck. Right. Oh. The thing I wanted for so long I now have. It hits different when you actually get it. What I thought it was going to feel like when I saw you have it, isn't quite what it feels like when I have it. I was talking on the phone this week to someone who is releasing his first book. He said, what should I expect? I said just expect a hit of melancholy the day it releases.
I've been working every single day since May 7, 2020 on a project that will release in 2021 and I'm already planning on the trough. Because it's just, it's hard. I thought it was going to be this big rush of excitement, and actually there's kind of a bitter sweetness to it. There's kind of a disappointment to it. And I'm sure everything he ever thought that it was going to feel like from the day he burnt the plows and walked on. Now all of a sudden as he's experiencing it, there's got to be some dejection to it. We know he's sad. He's tearing clothes. He's going to see now Elijah no more. Hits different. Melancholy, depression, there's this low. He's on his own now. He's got some big sandals to follow. He's going to be introduced as the one who poured water is here. Right. That's not a great nickname. Elijah's nickname was the mightiest miracle working prophet of the Old Testament. And my nickname is the one who pours water. I'm a bald headed prophet. Right. He doesn't even have, that's a detail you'll get later.
So four quick things you got to do if you're going to push through all those things, all those delays, all the discouragements, all those unhelpful comments, all those things. What do you have to do? You have to practice recitation, secondly desperation, imitation, and innovation. Recitation, real quickly. We're almost done here. How many of you believe that? Welcome to Fresh Life. Because everybody else over here didn't even go for that. You're like no it's not. Recitation is where you recite the story. You handle the stones from two weeks ago, and you remember. Because remember what Elijah intentionally did when he was setting up his last day. This is the last training day he knew, the last day he would have to train his Padawan. He wanted it to be a sensory experience. So he took him to where? He took him to Gilgal. Gilgal in the Bible speaks of beginning or preparation. It was the place where the children of Israel's reproach and shame was rolled away. And there they could celebrate the Passover, a feast. There they could have circumcision, and there they could be prepared for what was to come.
So Gilgal speaks of beginning. Gilgal speaks of going back in your mind's eye to how it was when you started out. When you're having a bad day, go back to the beginning. When you're having a fight with your spouse, picture them on your wedding day and treat them on this day like you did on that day. And everything for the most part will work out OK. I'm just telling you, that's some good advice. You go back to your Gilgal, you go back to the beginning. Remember how it felt like when it was uncomplicated and you were just happy you were saved. You were just grateful you weren't going to hell, and that was enough. When it was just I'm so excited I want to do everything, I'm going to tell everybody about Jesus. Now I've been following God long enough to know there are some messed up Christians, and I'm one of them. And it's dysfunctional doing church together. And it's hard sometimes, and there's rough edges, and it's bumpy.
Go back to your Gilgal. Remember how excited you were to be a new believer? You got to go back to recite the stories. And then he took him to Bethel. Bethel speaks of prayer and encounters with God. That's where Jacob encountered God. That's where Abraham encountered God. That's where Jacob encountered God. Bethel is the place of prayer. And so when you're discouraged and when you're low, don't forget about Bethel. Don't forget to go seek God and pour some oil on a pillar. Don't forget to go alone with God. Don't forget about how important it is. So as you're walking through all the delays, and all these things you're going to face, the dejection. Remember to listen for the whisper. Go back to Bethel.
When was the last time you were at Bethel? When was the last time you carved out an hour and just were alone with God? Put some worship music on. Sing a few songs until you sense His presence there. Open up scripture, pour your soul out in your journal. Go back to Bethel. And then he gets to Jericho. He gets to Jericho. Jericho is a place that speaks of the sweetness that comes from fought battles. Because Jericho literally means fragrant place. But that was where the biggest battle was fought. You know what, some of the most fragrant places you'll get to come when you are willing to persevere through the most difficult battles. Jericho, where the walls fell down. And they got to experience the palm tree paradise vibe that came from fighting a difficult battle. And how did they fight it? In the unusual way that God called them to. Of sending the priests out first, and yelling really loud on the seventh lap. That's not a sound military strategy, right?
And the sweetness that comes when you do things, not that makes sense to you, but makes sense to what God called you to do. And then lastly, fourthly, sticking with Jordan, Jordan speaks of death. The east side of the Jordan is a picture of death. That's where Moses died. It's now where Elijah will be taken away. But crossing the Jordan in scripture historically speaks about a different kind of death. Death to self. Death to self. He wanted him to end here. Because if you're going to get to the finish line like I have, and finish your race well, Elisha, you're going to need to die to yourself. And you're going to need to do it again and again and again. Did not Jesus say, church, to follow Him would mean denying ourselves, shouldering a cross, and following him. Or as the message translation puts it, if you intend to come with me, you got to let me lead. "You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how".
Recitation, desperation. We're almost done for real now. Desperation, that's why he asked for spirit not for stuff. That's why he asked for power from on high and not power here on the Earth. I want twice as much spirit that God has put upon your life. He is so smart not to ask for prestige, or ask for gain. He said I need spirit, why? Because all those things God had already promised to him. If he's going to wear the mantle of Elijah then he realizes that's a heavy burden that's heavier than he is. And so he said I've seen how you shouldered it, and I know I'm not nearly half the man you are. So if I'm going to carry your mantle, if I'm going to carry the calling that was trusted to you and is now going to fall on me, I am desperate for God's Holy Spirit. Let me tell you something, the things that God has for you are bigger than you. And so you need God's Holy Spirit upon you. You need to have it in your heart, God I need twice as much of your spirit as the average man. I need twice as much of your spirit if I'm going to not buckle under this heavy calling that you called me. It's a humility in that prayer. He's a humble man saying, I need God's spirit or it will crush me.
And then I see innovation. At the end, he gets to innovation. He does some very innovative things. He's going to do some miracles, twice as many actually as Elijah, by the way. Interesting. You get twice as much spirit, you see twice as many miracles. And so here's Elisha. But he does stuff Elijah didn't do like encountering bitter water, he'll make it sweet by putting salt in it. Doesn't make any sense. Innovating. But please don't miss this. Long before innovation came imitation. A lot of people want to innovate at the beginning, but there's a period in your life, and really, to some degree it never ends, where imitation is what's called for to get to innovation. Here's what 1 Corinthians 11 says, Paul speaking, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ". Here's what he told the Philippians church, "The things which you learned, received, and heard, and saw in me, these things do", in other words, imitate, "and the God of peace will be with you".
If you want to have the peace of Paul, you got to do the stuff that Paul did. If you want to have the power in your life of Elijah, there has to be this period where you develop these rhythms, where you do these things. A lot of people want the power without first following the plan, without first doing the pattern. And so the imitation then opens us up to the innovation. Before we can do things no one else has done, first we got to do those old proven things that actually work like dying of self and trusting God and seeking Him. And it seems like, how could small groups work for me? And how could giving work for me? Because they've worked for every generation of Jesus' followers since Jesus ascended to heaven. I'm telling you, we make it complicated but it's not. It's being a servant. It's loving. It's giving. And repeat. You see what I'm saying? We can get to innovation and doing these crazy things, but first we got to be willing to do these things that God has entrusted to us.
In 1976 three men started a company. Two of them you probably know. Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and the third you may or may not have ever heard about, Ronald Wayne. The company? Apple Computers Inc. I think you've probably heard of it. Apple Computers Inc had three founders. Ronald Wayne was in his 40s, the other two were in their 20s. And he was the businessman, he was the mature adult in this situation. And he cashed out just after a year of this company going. Just said, I can't be a part of this. I'm out. And he sold his 10% ownership of the company, get this, for $800. Severed all ties with Apple Computers and walked away for $800. Why? He liked Steve Wozniak, but he thought Steve Jobs was a jerk. Temperamental, mercurial, did not treat people well. He said, I cannot do business with that man. I cannot be in bed with that man. And so out of that principle, he walked away.
Today Apple Computers Inc is worth $2 trillion some napkin math tells me his 10% ownership of the company today would be $200 billion. And there might have been a time in my life when I would have preached this and said, what an idiot. He sold out. He walked away from the dream. But then I came across an interview with Ronald Wayne, who is still very much alive today at the age of 86 years old. And he was asked, what do you think of your decision now? If you could go back would you do it differently? And he said, and I quote, "I am totally at peace with my decision to walk away from Apple Computers, and I've never in my life regretted the decision for one moment. For if I had stayed with them during the Apple Corporation phase, I would have ended up the richest man in the cemetery".
And I think about Steve Jobs, dead, 2011. And I'm not saying him being a jerk, which he's on record as being a jerk, like he's brilliant and a jerk. I'm not saying that he wouldn't have died in his 50s in 2011 had he not been a jerk. Doctors will tell you being a jerk is bad for your health. I'm not saying that. But what Ronald Wayne is saying, is being in that kind of a situation, being in that kind of a climate, would have killed me. And so I walked away from that because I wanted something else more. How bad do you want it? Jesus put it this way, what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his very self? God has a calling on your life, how bad do you want it?
Father, we thank you. We thank you for your love and your mercy and your grace. We thank you for many today who have been contemplating quitting something, who have been rethinking a decision they made a long time ago, who are worried and wonder where you are in the midst. Where is the God of Elijah? We thank you that it is never a mistake to follow you. I pray you'd give us grace today.
If this message has touched you in any way today, would you just let God know that by raising up a hand?
God our hands are a signal, or a sign, of our dependence upon you. So may you see them as a lightning rod you can strike with your grace and your power. See them raised towards you across our church, blessed Father, and help us walk with you.
You can put your hands down. If you're here today and you've never surrendered your life to Jesus the Savior, this isn't a gathering of religious people who are here to talk about what we've got to do this week to get God's favor. This is a society of people who have been rescued from that, and rescued from our sins and rescued from ourselves by the most selfless thing anyone ever did. Jesus coming, in human form, and dying on the cross for us. So that if we trust in Him by faith and no merit, no act, no good deed, just simply a surrendering our lives over to Him. And believing that act, and the cataclysmic resurrection that followed is enough to save us from deadness.
Is enough to rescue us from the grave. Is enough to snatch us from hell, and to give us a life of purpose and meaning. And yes, oftentimes confusion. But confusion that He has promised to be with us in the midst of. And if you're here or watching online and you've never given your heart to Jesus, today is the day and now is the time. So allow me to lead you in prayer where you open up your heart to God. And you watch Him come in and save you and heal you and make you new. Say this prayer out loud. Mean it in your heart and God will hear you.
Dear God, I know I'm a sinner and I can't do anything to change that. But I believe you can. Because of Jesus come into my soul, fill my lungs with air, give me the hope of heaven, use me while I'm here on Earth. I surrender my life to you. In Jesus' name.