Steven Furtick - Just The 2 Of Us
How are you doing? I know my sermon last week was called Did I Ask? But I'm asking. How are you? Let me know how you're doing right there in the chat. Use your favorite emoji to tell me how you're doing, your favorite church-appropriate emoji. I have to specify. We have all kinds of people who tune in. You never know what they'll… I don't want the Holy Spirit to leave the YouTube page. Give God praise if you're doing better than could be expected. In other words, like, "Hey, Preacher, that's a complicated question, but when I think where I could have been, should have been, would have been, I want to put up one of those worship hand emojis".
Come on, throw a worship hand emoji in the chat all the way from Hong Kong to Hardeeville, South Carolina. If you have a reason to praise him, praise him! Anyway, I thank God for this opportunity to minister the Word of God to you. You may notice that it feels a little different. We're going to do it a little different today. We're having to do almost everything different right now anyway. What happened to me was that after I got done preaching to you last week, God kept speaking. That's a weird sensation to be done preaching but God is not done speaking. I wasn't seeking God for a sermon or anything.
Holly and I went for a walk, and she started sharing with me something God was speaking to her, and what God was speaking to her was kind of like what God was speaking to me. I said, "I'm going to take that and preach it". She said, "You can't. I'm preaching soon. I'm going to preach it". I said, "Oh, I'm taking that and preaching it". She said, "You can't have it". I said, "You're like our kids when we go and buy them…" Did you ever buy your kids a whole meal, and then you wanted one fry, and it wasn't even a hot fry; it was one cold fry in the bag? It was one of those "bottom of the bag" fries, and you went to get that one fry. She told me about this one verse in the Bible I'm going to show you. I said, "I want to preach that". She said, "You can't have it". I said, "Give me that fry, girl"!
So, this sermon today was stolen from the woman of God, Holly Furtick. How appropriate. I told her, "I'm taking your sermon, but you can come hear me preach it," and I said, "To make it up to you, I'll preach it just to you". I have some of the most amazing musicians in the world here today and some of our staff who snuck in who were here working. I told them, "You can sit in the back". But in addition to those who are here helping me get this recorded, I asked them, "How quickly can you get over here and help me record this message God gave Holly that I yanked from her"? They said, "We can do it in an hour".
So here we are to bring God's Word to you fresh and relevant. I believe God is going to give you a personal… Do you know what you might want to say in the chat right now? Say, "This one is for me". I want to share with you a Scripture today from 2 Kings, chapter 4, kind of a continuation of Did I Ask? We were saying last week that when we stop asking God what he wants to do in our lives and what he put inside of us and start assuming, we limit the potential that is in us, because we kind of confine ourselves. I believe there's so much more God wants to do than what we can ask or imagine, so I want to share this passage with you today. The message I want to minister today… It's actually appropriate that there are just a few in the room, because I want to talk to you today about Just the 2 of Us. As we share this time together today, I want you to hear it in a personal way.
The Bible says in verse 8, "One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. She said to her husband, 'I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let's make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp…'" "Let's put in a lamp too. Go over there to IKEA, and let's hook up this man of God". "'Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.' One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. He said to his servant Gehazi, 'Call the Shunammite.' So he called her, and she stood before him. Elisha said to him, 'Tell her, "You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army"?' She replied, 'I have a home among my own people.' 'What can be done for her?' Elisha asked". "I wonder what I could do for her".
What if God is not conspiring about how to curse you? What if God is brainstorming how to bless you today? What if God isn't up in heaven trying to figure out when to hit you with a lightning bolt or a hernia or a flat tire to get you back for what you did in tenth grade? What if God and the angels today are brainstorming a way to bless you in this season? "Gehazi said, 'She has no son, and her husband is old.' Then Elisha said, 'Call her.' So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 'About this time next year…'"
How many of y'all are ready for next year? "'About this time next year,' Elisha said, 'you will hold a son in your arms.' 'No, my lord!' she objected". Gave up on that. Not that. "'Please, man of God, don't mislead your servant!' But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her. The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. He said to his father, 'My head! My head!' His father told a servant, 'Carry him to his mother.' After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out. She called her husband and said, 'Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.' 'Why go to him today?' he asked. 'It's not the New Moon or the Sabbath.' 'That's all right,' she said. She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, 'Lead on; don't slow down for me unless I tell you.' So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. When he saw her in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, 'Look! There's the Shunammite! Run to meet her and ask her, "Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?"' 'Everything is all right,' she said. When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, 'Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me why.'"
Just the 2 of Us. Lord, would you fill every heart with your presence in this moment? Would you make it so that there is a direct connection from heaven to their hearts and they could hear from you the words they need to make it in this season of their lives? We thank you that anything is possible in your presence. We thank you that nothing is impossible for you. Is there anything too hard for you? There's nothing too hard for you. Is there anything too small for you? Nothing is too small for you. You can do anything. We believe it, and we receive it. In Jesus' name, amen. You may be seated, Holly, and others. Just the two of us. This is kind of cool, girl. You get a personalized sermon. Never before. Well, it has been close.
People were asking me, "What's it like preaching in an empty room"? That's one of the questions. I was preaching about questions last week. People will say, "What's it like preaching in an empty room"? I said, "It kind of takes me back". I said, "I kind of like it". Then I could see they were offended. They were like, "You don't like having us there? You don't want us there? You don't want us in the room"? I was like, "It's not that, but sometimes it's good to go back". There were times when we first started… Our ministry didn't start when people saw it, and what you see now is not how we started. How many would say that about your life? "You should have seen the beta version of me. Oh, you think I'm messed up now. God has really been working on me".
The crazy thing about this season of quarantine was I kind of knew when they were saying we can't have mass gatherings of church and all that… I knew that if it came down to it, Holly would hold the camera. In fact, the first thing I did when they started shutting everything down… I called many of these same people who are in here running the cameras today in this building. I called them in and said, "Get over to my house. I want a camera in the basement. I want a laminated instruction thing printed out so I can see how to run it, because if it comes to it, I know I can put Holly behind that camera, and if I can have that camera and if it can go out, we can find a way to get the word out. It might not be pretty, professional, well lit, in a big room, but God will find a way to get his word out".
We didn't have to do it, but we could have. As a matter of fact, what a lot of people don't know is even before competent, professional musicians like LJ were here to play, Holly and I… I just want to take y'all back for a minute. When you're first starting out in ministry, you might not have all of the desired instruments. When we would travel around… I told you last week how Holly was on my summer impact team. I was the leader, and we would go into these little churches. A lot of times, we'd be with little kids at a backyard Bible club in the morning, and then we would be with some senior adults in the afternoon, so we had to diversify. I would go out there with the kids in the morning, and Holly was on my praise team.
Sometimes we would go just the two of us. This is what I always remember. If the whole worship team quit, I could grab this Martin guitar, and I could tune it myself by ear, because I've had experience. Sometimes it's good to go back. I said, "Holly, I want to go over and preach it just with you, and I want to remember how we used to walk into those churches". I would strum a D bar chord and sing… Cast your burdens unto Jesus, He cares for you. Cast your burdens unto Jesus, He cares for you. You know, you'd be going into these places where nobody really wanted to worship, and it would be like you'd have to start it from zero. It was worse than this. At least the camera operators want to be here. In those rooms, you'd have somebody who got dropped off and didn't want to be there, so you'd make them do hand motions.
Holly, show them what we used to do. I did not ask her if she would do this. I just figured if I turned on the cameras and told her to, she would do it. Higher, higher Higher, higher, higher, higher, higher… Show them how to lift Jesus higher, Holly. Higher, higher Higher, higher, higher, higher, higher, higher Lift Jesus higher! Y'all aren't ready. Lower, lower Lower, lower, lower, lower, lower, lower Stomp Satan lower! Lower, lower Lower, lower, lower, lower, lower, lower Stomp Satan lower! Oh, it's good to go back. I figured if they didn't let anybody come out and run a camera or we couldn't get in the church, we could go in the basement, and if I had Holly, if I had the "Holly Ghost" and the Holy Ghost, we could preach this word if it was just the two of us. We can lift Jesus and stomp Satan, just the two of us. That's how we started.
Then we couldn't do that at night, because the people we were ministering to at night were over 80. It would be a Baptist church revival. Everybody in there was doing their best to walk in. They weren't trying to lift him or stomp him or anything like that. So you'd slow it down. You'd do something like… When I think about the Lord How he saved me, how he raised me How he filled me with the Holy Ghost How he healed me to the uttermost… Then Holly would hit the harmony for me. When I think about the Lord How he picked me up and turned me around How he placed my feet on solid ground It makes me want to shout Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus! Lord, you're worthy of all the glory, All the honor, and all the praise. It's good to think back.
"When I think about the Lord". Do you remember that? It was just you and me, singing stuff like… What a friend we have in Jesus All our sins and griefs to bear What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer. Hit them with a little D run, Chris Brown. Then after you get done with that, hit them with a little James Taylor. You just call out my name… A little Carole King. And you know wherever I am I'll come running to see you again. (No, you're not alone, even if it's just the two of us) Winter, spring, summer, or fall All you've got to do is call And I'll be there (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)… You know, make it Christian. Thank you, Jesus, You've got a friend. Then I like those hymns nobody knows, too, like… Come, ye disconsolate Wherever ye languish Come to the mercy seat Fervently kneel Here bring your wounded hearts Here tell your anguish Earth has no sorrow That heaven cannot heal. My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine For thee all the follies of sin I resign My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
It's good to go back. Come on, give him praise. It's good to go back. I like the worship team we have now, and I don't want to go back to doing it all myself. I'm not trying to take anybody off the payroll, but it's just good sometimes to go back. I know you're thinking, "I thought we were supposed to go forward," and all that. Well, sometimes you have to look back to go forward, because sometimes if I look too far forward, I'll freak out. Just look back real quick. Lion? Bear? Cool. God is strong. I believe God's résumé gives me reason to believe in resurrection, gives me reason to rejoice. I just need to know.
How many of you, even though you felt lonely in this season and you don't really know what God is going to do, you have some kind of faith that some kind of way the same God who did the things for you, did the stuff back then, is going to do the stuff tomorrow that you need him to do? Even if it's just me and Jesus… Some of us are watching this by ourselves. We'd rather be with other people, but we're watching it on a screen. Even through this screen, the Spirit of God is speaking to me. God has got a word for me today. Oh, I just felt something. Paul and Silas were in Philippi all by themselves. Holly, I'll be Paul; you be Silas. We're not where we wanted to be. The situation looks bleak.
We have a chain on our wrist, been in quarantine, been on lockdown, been persecuted, felt abandoned, but you be Paul; I'll be Silas. The church isn't full, but if we start praising at midnight, chains break, doors open, things happen, miracles come! Just the two of us! We can get this done! It doesn't take many if you have much. Just the two of us. Something about that just comforted me. Just walking around the block with Holly, and God was using her to speak to me, and I was like, "Wow"! thinking about how God is enough in my life in every season. In the passage we read, we talked about Elisha the prophet. Elisha's ministry is interesting because it was very lonely. The ministry of a prophet was a lonely life. Not only were you standing up to kings in ways that made you popular…
Oh, prophets would have gotten canceled so quickly in 2020. Every prophet would have been out of business. You had some of them walking around naked. Some of them were lighting up animal excrement for their sermon illustration. (Tim, do not get any ideas for rhythm night. I can see your wheels turning right now. You're like, "Okay. Dung, nudity…" No. I'm telling you right now, you're not going to do any of this stuff the prophets did.) The prophets really had to rely on God. The thing about saying, "All I need is Jesus. Just me and Jesus. What a friend I have in Jesus…" He can't hug you. "Yes, he does. He embraces me in my…" Shut up. I'm talking about like a human hug. He can't hug you like that. So, as simple as this sounds, I want you to write it down: God uses people.
Sometimes when we ask God to use us, we have no idea what we're asking. Have you ever asked a question you wished immediately you didn't ask? I asked somebody one time, "How was my sermon?" and they started telling me everything theologically incorrect that I said in the sermon, and I mispronounced Gehazi and called him the wrong thing. I said, "Man, I'll never ask you again". I've learned not to ask your kids unless you really want to know. Other people have this layer of professional politeness that comes with maturity and adulthood, but if you ask your kids, they'll tell you.
Graham told me in Singapore, preaching over there in Singapore… He said, "Dad, watching you try to say that Moses at the burning bush was lit was the cringiest moment of my childhood. You can never use that joke again. Dad, it was so bad". I said, "I've got it, Graham. I've got it. But did I say anything good"? He said, "I couldn't hear anything you said after you said, 'But Moses at the burning bush was lit.' Please, Dad, don't try to be cool. Don't try to be relevant". So don't ask your kids. If I ask Larry Brey, I feel pretty cool. Don't ask your kids. Sometimes it's best not to ask.
What I love about the passage is that God provided for Elisha… Get this if this is for you. I promise you God has a word for you today, and if you'll stay with me, you'll see exactly what it is. God met the prophet's needs through someone who he didn't even ask to do it. Remember last week? The crowds got fed, and they didn't even ask for a meal. Remember those times in your life where God had people walk away from you? You didn't even ask him to remove them, but he was so good he knew they would screw up the rest of your life, so he took them right out, even though you cried and begged for them back. God took them out even though you were begging him to leave them in. God is so good like that. He is good enough to give you what you ask for.
So, while we're quoting Ephesians 3:20, "He's able to do immeasurably more than we ask…" Have you ever noticed how while we're saying, "He can do more than I ask," at the time we're saying, "God, I thank you; you can do more than I ask," we secretly want him to do exactly what we planned? How is he going to do more than you ask if he does exactly what you plan? None of us asked for the situation we're in right now. What drew me to this passage was that Elisha did not even ask the woman for a host home. Y'all don't know anything about host homes. We didn't stay at hotels when we would minister in Bamberg, South Carolina. No, sir. You got the host home. If you were lucky, you had the bedroom to yourself or you might be staying with their 8-year-old. You never knew until you got to the host home. If you were lucky, they could cook. If you were lucky, they didn't keep you up until 2:00 a.m. But they don't know anything about a host home. You didn't have a contract or a rider.
So, the prophet is staying at Carmel, and it's lonely to be a prophet, but God uses a woman… The Bible calls her a well-to-do woman, but the Hebrew word is great. She was a great woman. She was great materially. She was also great in the ways you can't see. She was so great as a woman that she had the means to do something for God and the humility to do it. That makes you great. What got my attention was that Elisha didn't even have to ask. Does God have to ask you to do everything? Do you remember when Graham asked, "Mom, am I supposed to brush my teeth every day? Mom, am I supposed to change my underwear every day"? These are things kids ask, and it's like, "Do you really need to ask that"?
Do you really need to ask God certain stuff? There's some stuff that God shouldn't have to put a sign in the sky to get you to do. There's some stuff you shouldn't have to ask God. "You mean you want me to praise you today"? God shouldn't have to ask you for praise. If he gave you breath, you ought to want to give it back. It belongs to him. I love when I'm dealing with somebody and you don't have to ask them to do every single little thing. Maybe it's just me as a pastor, but I love when you don't have to ask for every little thing. I shouldn't have to ask everything. That's what I love about our staff at the church. I don't have to ask every single thing. All I said was, "Get me a guitar in case I want to play it when I preach Just the 2 of Us in the empty room". I didn't have to ask him to tune it; he just did that.
I texted Chris this morning. I said, "I'm going over to preach. I'm doing it on Just the 2 of Us. I'm going to put just Holly out there and the cameras and the musicians, but I want you to come over too". He said, "I'm already on my way". I didn't even have to ask. He wanted the Word. He's like, "Oh, you think I need to be on a stage to support you? I want this word. You don't have to ask me. I want to do it. I want to serve God. I want to preach. I don't have to; I get to". I used to walk around thanking our volunteers. We would have these nights, back when I used to be able to shake people's hands legally, back before it was against the law and human customs and social etiquette to shake a neighbor's hand.
I would shake their hands. We would have these nights where I would thank all of the volunteers, and I would preach, and I would shake their hands. I'd say, "Thank you for serving. Thank you for giving". Almost every time, they'd say, "No. Thank you". And I'd say, "No. Thank you". They'd say, "No. Thank you". I'd be like, "Quit canceling out my 'thank you.' I'm giving you gratitude. Receive it". Like, we're both standing there trying to thank each other. "I get to do this". My son Elijah said to me the other day, "Thank you for working out with me". I said, "I wanted to. It's fun to work out with you. I love working out with you. I can do more weight than you, so it's good for my ego, and I love talking to you". I didn't have to beg her to come preach this sermon today. She said, "What time"? I said, "I don't know yet". She said, "I'll clear the schedule".
Do you know what it's like to know that in such an uncertain moment of ministry you have somebody you can count on? That I don't have to ask you, "Are you still with me"? We used to say, like Jonathan's armorbearer said, "Do whatever you have in mind. I'm with you". Do you have that kind of spirit? "God, I'm with you. If the wheels fall off, I'm with you. If they shut it down, I'm with you. If it's good, I'm with you. If we're in the limo, I'm with you. If we have to hitchhike, I'm with you. If we have to get on a scooter, if we have to walk, I'm with you".
I love it. God will send you somebody in every season. It might not be who you expected, it might not be who you asked, but God will find a way to get it to you, and he will use someone. It was someone he didn't even ask. She just had an idea. She didn't go into a trance. "Lord, I want to be used by you. God, will you speak to me? Speak"! You know how we do. "Lord, show me your will. What is your will, Lord? For thine is the kingdom". Bust out the King James English, asking God to do stuff, like if you get really deep, God will show you something really deep. She did something simple.
Notice the connection. The deepest desire of her life was met when she did something simple. It's even more powerful when you consider her disappointment, because this great woman with a great big house and an old husband… The Bible says he was so old that when the boy got sick, he couldn't even carry him upstairs. He had to send him to his mom. That's who she was living with. She said to the prophet, "Come over and eat some spaghetti".
Do you know what the Bible says? The Bible says she urged him. See? I didn't even have to ask them to put the Scripture back up. They just did it. Do you see how this works? I didn't even have to ask. They just did it. That's called a prompter. This is crazy. The people who are running this today are so in tune with my spirit and my flow that the moment I said, "Urged him," they put the prompter on. How sensitive are you to the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Or does God have to push you? Does God have to prod you or can he just prompt you? How hard is it for God to get you to say, "I'm sorry" when you're wrong? How hard is it for God to get you to do something encouraging when he lays it on your heart? How hard is it for God to get you to do something you ought to just naturally do as a child of God?
It's not hard. It was harder for her to convince him to come eat than it was for God to get her to feed him. She had to urge him. "Please come eat". She had to ask him more than once. I don't know where you're watching from. It's just the two of us right now. I want to show you something. I wanted to share this message with just the two of us. I wanted to show you how God will send people into your life even in the loneliest seasons. Elisha the prophet had a servant who was a scoundrel. He had a servant, Gehazi, who had no character.
See, Elisha knew what it was like to stand by somebody in a season of loneliness. Do you remember? Can I go back to when Elijah the prophet was hiding in a cave because he had lived through a three-year drought? He stood up on the top of Mount Carmel, but even on top of Mount Carmel with so much power, there's often a difference between what you show publicly and what you wrestle with privately. You can have great power publicly and great pain privately. When he was up on the mountain, he said, "I'm the only one of the Lord's prophets left," and he called down fire.
Do you remember this? He said, "I'm the only one left". Then when Jezebel threatened him, he ran for his life. For 40 days he had to run. He left his servant, and he went into a cave. God sent him the fire and the wind, but he spoke in the whisper, because God speaks in the whisper. God doesn't have to shout, because he's not far away. God doesn't have to shout. That's what the Devil does to scare you away. He whispered, and he said, "What are you doing here"? He asked him a question, and Elijah said, "I'm the only one left".
Have you ever felt like that? "I'm the only one who cares. I'm the only one in this marriage who cares. I'm the only one carrying this responsibility". I know you've felt this way as a leader before, Chet. "I'm the only one who sees what needs to be done". God told him, "Go back the way you came, because I already have somebody to support you. His name is Elisha. It sounds a lot like yours, because y'all are meant to go together. When you get to him, I want you to take your cloak and throw it on him. I know you feel alone, but I have somebody plowing the field right now".
I don't mean to turn this into a dating seminar, but sometimes we get so lonely, and in our seasons of loneliness we isolate, but God said, "I have put somebody in your path". Even if you are not married right now, even if you don't have the support system you want right now… I know what that feels like. I've been lonely, and I am married. I've been lonely, and I have kids. I've been lonely in this room filled with 2,000 people, and they were shouting. On the outside I was smiling, but on the inside I was crying. Nobody knew what I was carrying. Nobody knew what had just happened 30 minutes ago backstage. Nobody knew the hate I was dealing with from critics, but I had to smile and show love.
In these moments of isolation, you might feel like the only one, but God has somebody for you. Even if it's just this moment… What if God sent this message today? You've been on the brink of suicide. You've been on the brink of giving up, and God prompted my heart to come into this room and put Holly and all them here, and they're back there, but it's just the two of us right now. God is trying to bring you back to a place of understanding that before you even asked, he answered. He hears before I call.
Elisha followed Elijah for many years. The two of them had a special connection. You don't read many of the details, but they must have been so close, because when it came time for the Lord to take Elijah from Elisha, on the day Elijah was taken up in chariots of fire… By the way, bonus point: Elijah was scared that Jezebel was going to kill him, but he's one of the few characters in Scripture who never experienced physical death. The thing you're worrying about may never even happen. The thing you're running from… You don't have to run from it.
I love Elisha, because when Elijah said, "Stay here; the Lord has called me away," look at what Elisha said in 2 Kings 2:2. Elijah said, "Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel". But Elisha said, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you". That sounds like Jesus. "I will never leave you nor forsake you". So, if somebody else did, and it's just the two of us, the Lord sent me to tell you, "You're not alone". God will give you someone you need in every season of your life.
I've been praying a new prayer lately. Every morning I've been praying this, just in my heart. It doesn't take me long. I just say, "Lord, put somebody on my mind today, somebody I can call, somebody I can bless. Put somebody on my mind today". And then (I have to be honest; I'm selfish), "God, put me on somebody's mind today". Because God uses people. Yeah, it's just me and Jesus, but God uses people. The way he meets needs is through people.
So, the prophet Elisha is used to a lonely life. He has been with a mentor who hid in caves. He has been with a mentor who was unpopular at times, so he knows how to be lonely. When the woman invites him… This Shunammite woman, who is a great woman who has an old husband. She looks at her husband one day and says, "You know, it's just the two of us. I get tired of just cooking for the two of us. Let's have the prophet over". She didn't even pray about it. You don't have to pray about everything. Just do something for God. She didn't go on a 40-day fast to see if she could have the prophet over. "Lord, I just don't know. If you want me to give to the church, give me a sign".
What other sign does he need to give you than his Son who died for you? Really? "Give me a sign". She didn't have a sign; she had an idea. When she said to the husband… You know how it's hard to calculate when you're cooking for people? Holly was cooking for the boys and me a couple of years ago when the boys were smaller. Abbey doesn't eat much, but the boys now… We have a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old. Their needs changed. The other day, we realized we're always running out of food because she has not upgraded the quantities of the food. It's still just as good, but there's not enough, because seasons change, and as seasons change, needs change.
Who God uses in one season of your life might not be who he uses in the next. He'll give you what you need for the season you're in. She turns to her husband and says, "Let's have him over". She urged him. She begged the prophet. "Please let me cook for you". "Please, God, let me do it. Just let me do it". One of my friends said the other day, "I'll beat up one of your staff members to come to church right now. I will beat them black and blue with a tire iron". I said, "Calm down. This is disturbing". They said, "I'll beat them unconscious to get in the room. I want to be there so badly".
Some people in the room probably just feel like, "I've got to get over there". When did you start having to do what God gave you as a privilege to do? It's a privilege to serve God. It's a privilege to preach to you. It's a privilege to do ministry. She said, "Will you please come eat"? She urged him. He probably pushed her away the first time. You know how you get used to pushing people away when you're not used to people being good to you, when you're used to being unpopular. Elisha finally accepted. He got there, and he found out, "She can cook," so he came back. It said he would come there often. He stopped by, and he would eat.
One day, she said to her husband, "I think we ought to take the extra room we have in this house, the room we had in case God ever gave us a child, but he didn't…" This woman had probably prayed for years, "God, give me a child". She probably asked God many times, "God, give me a child," and he didn't. She would ask again, and she would ask harder, and he didn't. So eventually, at some point, she stopped asking. I don't know when, if it was the first year or the fifth year or the tenth year. Remember, her husband is old, so they've been praying about this a long time, and now it's too late. She stopped eventually. She stopped asking. Instead of asking God to give her something, she decided to offer God what she had.
There comes a point where instead of being bitter about what you didn't get, it's better to offer God what you have. She said, "We have this extra room here, and this man who keeps coming by… I keep feeding him, but I feel bad every time he has to leave, because I don't know where he stays on his way back to Carmel when he passes through Shunem. So, since it's just the two of us, since we didn't get the child we wanted from God…" Since I didn't get the opportunity I wanted, since we can't have the church full on Sunday, why don't you meet me over at the church early, and why don't we just take advantage of the opportunity we do have?
See, I was complaining. The first few months of quarantine, I was complaining. "I can't preach with no crowd in the room". God said, "I thought you didn't preach for them; I thought you preached for me". So then I stopped asking, "God, why can't the people come back"? and I started asking, "God, what are the opportunities we have"? Here's a great question: "God, what are the opportunities I have right now that are in my life because of my disappointments"?
She offered God the place of her disappointment. She said, "We have that room on the roof that we never got to finish. We never got to buy a bed for our son because God didn't give us one. We never got to put a desk in his room for his homework because God didn't give us one. We didn't get to give him a lamp or a nightlight. We never got to buy him any pajamas, but there's a man of God who passes through here, and I refuse to stay stuck in the bitterness of what I didn't get".
You be Paul, I'll be Silas, and we will turn this prison into a place of praise. I'm telling you, if two of you will touch and agree concerning anything in his name, he will do it. You might be saying, "I'm all alone right now". No, you're not. There's no stipulation on geography in Matthew 18:20. He said if two of you will touch and agree… So, even if you're watching this by yourself, and even if you just signed divorce papers last week or even if your kid just told you they hate your guts or even if the third person just told you, "No, we do not have the position available" or even if you're dealing with the addiction that makes you feel like a fraud when you smile at people, but there are chains on the inside, God came to tell you, "You are not alone".
I'll be Paul, you be Silas, and let's make a space for God to fill. I feel praise rising up in this place right now! I'm glad I came over today. It's just the two of us. "We have more house than we have family. I have more time than I ever had before. God, I didn't plan on having all this extra time". God said, "I gave you the extra to see if you would trust me, what you would do with it, what you would do with the extra".
In this place. What place? The place of her disappointment. This is what Holly told me on the walk before I ripped off her sermon. I started preaching it back to her. I said, "This is too good to keep just between the two of us. I've got to go preach it. I've got to preach it for the weekend. I've got to preach it for the eFam. I've got to preach it to all of the different countries and all of the different people". But it started with just the two of us.
She turned to her husband and said, "Since it's just the two of us, let's meet the needs of this prophet. You know that room we were going to…? Yeah. When we built this house, we built it with extra room for the kid God was going to give us, but why don't we just…"? "I thought by now in my life I was going to be here. I didn't ask for this situation, but let me offer it". "I didn't ask for this disappointment. I didn't ask for this thorn".
What would it be like to offer God your disappointment…the deep one, the one you smile over? Elisha is lying down one night. He's getting comfortable now. At first, she had to urge him for a meal. Now she can't get rid of him. I'm telling you, if you make God a place… He doesn't want to visit; he wants to stay. He doesn't just want to speak to you. You're like, "Oh man. I wish I could listen to you preach all day". You don't have to listen to me preach all day. God will speak to you long after I shut up. Just make him a place.
So, Elisha is lying down, and he asks Gehazi, "What can we do for this woman"? That's what drew me to preaching it, because last week I preached on the question "How far will they go"? I talked about how Jesus asked 308 questions and only directly answered eight of them and how God is a God of questions even though we want so many answers. Put a question mark in the chat. That's God's favorite punctuation. I think his second favorite is a comma, because the comma means it might have stopped, but it's not over. He's the God of the comma, but he's the God of the question, and the question is…What will you do with this disappointment? She turned it into a place God could use.
Are you doing that right now or are you bitter? Are you in resentment, regret, shame, all of those places that we stay? Do you know what's crazy, Holly? Since it's just the two of us, I can show you this. The question that led me to this text wasn't the question that told me I needed to preach it. When he asked her that the first time, she pushed him off. She said in verse 13, "I have a home among my own people". But Elisha asked again, "What can be done for her"? This is amazing. He's up there asking God for something she stopped asking him for a long time ago. You know how you can learn to live with certain things? I'll give you a version of this. "I'll never be free from that. I'll just learn to finesse it". That could be anything in your life.
Somebody thought of drugs. Somebody thought of sex. Somebody thought of negative thought patterns. It doesn't matter. You say, "I'll never be free from it. I'm just going to stop asking". Especially if you raised your hand in church and went down and prayed, and, "Okay. This is the time. This is the breakthrough. This is the one. This is it". Now it's kind of a way where you click on church and watch church, but you only let God's Word in so far. You get God's Word to cope with stuff, but you've lost hope that it can change. This is the woman. She's a great woman, and God is using her, but there is still something she stopped asking God for. What is that for you?
After you've done everything you can do… This is a proactive woman. Didn't you see her pushing the prophet around? If you're going to boss Elisha around, you have to be a proactive woman. She's proactive. Do you see how she's talking to her husband? "Get a table. Get a lamp. Go down there. I know you're old. I know your knees hurt, but we've got to take care of the man of God. Let's get this room set up". She's not some passive woman, but in this area… And everybody has one. "I guess I'll never be happy. I'll be happy when I get to heaven. Down here on earth, I'm going to just make it through. Oh, this is the valley of the shadow of death".
God said, "I didn't want you to make the valley of the shadow of death your permanent mailing address". "I guess I'll just stay in the cave. I guess I'll just be anxious. I guess I'll just live in this state. I guess this is just what it is". This is not all it is. "What can be done for her"? Elisha wanted to know. "I know she said, 'Nothing.' I know she said she's all right. I know she said she's good. I know she's stable. I know she's great. I know I'm staying in her house, but everybody has a need in their heart…everybody…even if nobody else knows it". Gehazi, the scoundrel, said, "She doesn't have a son". Elisha said, "Get her back".
I heard God saying, "Come back. Come back". Do you remember how he told Elijah, "Go back the way you came"? "You don't belong in a cave. You don't belong in this low state. You don't belong in this pattern. You don't belong in this place. This is not you. You're a child of God. Bring her back. I've got to do it. I want to bless her. I've been brainstorming ways to bless you. Nothing can cancel it. Nothing can stop it. I came all this way. I'm not going to stop now. I brought you this far. Come back". Then he made her the promise she had stopped praying about. "About this time next year…"
It's one thing to tell her she's going to have a baby, but he said, "You're going to hold it in your arms". That's emotional. He's giving her a picture of something that has cost her so much pain that she stopped praying. I went through a depression. The thing about Holly and me, when we were talking about this the other day… I didn't know if I could share this with you, but she was saying how there were times where she would see me hurting, and she could only help so much, and she would feel so helpless. She would see me hurting, but she would see me continuing to do what I had to do. It would come, and it would go, and it would come, and it would go.
During that time, I think I started to convince myself I didn't deserve to feel good, so I would cover it up by saying, "I'm just going to serve God. It doesn't matter how I feel". But to bury your disappointment is not a sustainable strategy. Elisha said, "About this time next year, the thing you've stopped asking…" Don't you love the passage? He didn't ask for a bed, and she didn't ask for a baby, and God is giving them both what they didn't ask for. Is God giving you right now what you didn't even ask for in a way you could have never anticipated? Come on. It's just the two of us right now. You don't have to put it in the chat, but between you and me, is there something you've buried, something God promised?
He said, "I'm going to be out of a guest room soon, because about this time next year, there's going to be blue all over these walls. About this time next year…" Oh man. I can just see us right now on December 31, 2020, bringing in the new year. "Oh, next year is going to be better". But she did not respond with praise. Her instinct was to push him away. When God really speaks something significant to you, you push it away. You go, "I can't hear that. No, no, no".
Even when something good happens, you get threatened by it, because the last time I got my hopes up… This is what the woman said. "Don't mislead me. I've been down this path before. I've hoped before, and it hurts to hope. I'd rather just show everybody publicly how good it is. I'd rather just pretend like everything is okay". But just like the prophet said, just like God said… Verse 17: "But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her". Before we stop and shout over that, the Bible only gives one verse to this little boy's life. The whole chapter has been about her frustration, one verse about his life.
Verse 18: "The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. He said to his father, 'My head! My head!' His father told a servant, 'Carry him to his mother.' After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died". The only thing the boy ever said in the text is "My head"! Those are the only words he got to say, and then he died. This is what brought me to the sermon. After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, he sat on her lap and died. This is so amazing.
Holly, I have to show you this. God showed me this. It was so good. When we were walking around talking about it, I didn't even know this was in it. "She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door…" That's important. She shut the door and went out. "She called her husband and said, 'Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.'" Notice what she didn't ask her husband to do: what he didn't have the power to do. She said, "You can give me a donkey, but you can't give me a miracle".
Stop expecting out of people what only God can give. This is why we get depressed. We keep waiting on people to complete us. Renee Zellweger was lying to you. If you wait on somebody to complete you, you are going to be in a constant state of suspension. They can help you. God can use people to bless you, but there are some things that are just between you and God. Just the two of us. I hear God saying, "Quit putting demands on people that are unreasonable. Let me fill those spaces. Let me have that room. Let me have that question". She said, "Give me a donkey. You can give me a donkey, but that's all you can do, because I have to go back to the one who gave me the promise".
I want to ask you a question they used to ask us in middle school when we got in a fight: "Who started it"? That's what my dad wanted to know. I'd come home. I didn't get in many fights, but he wanted to know two things: "Who started it"? and "Who won"? If the answer was "Him and me," he was happy. "He started it and I won". He was like, "All right. Let's go to Ryan's. Let's go to Quincy's. Let's eat a yeast roll". She says, "I have to go to the one who started it". Watch this. It's good to go back. That's why I wanted them to show on the camera. It was like this. You've always been on my front row. A lot has changed, but it was us then and it's us now.
Somebody is saying, "I don't have Holly. I don't have the 'Holly Spirit.'" You have the holy one. You have the Holy Spirit. You have the Spirit of God on the inside of you. So, she said, "Give me a donkey and saddle him up". She's calling the shots too. Remember, this woman is not waiting on God. "O God, show me what to do". No. The boy is dead. She carries him upstairs. She put him in the bed that never would have been there if she hadn't been proactive. If she would have been bitter about the child she didn't have, she wouldn't have had a bed to put the child in.
When he died, she laid him on the bed that was a result of the prompting of the Holy Spirit. She didn't know what it would lead to, but God did. She said, "Saddle up the donkey". The King James says it differently. "Put a saddle on the donkey. I know where to go to. I know who the bread is. I know who spoke it. I know where this started. I know who called me". Do you know who started it? He who began a good work in you… Who started it? She said, "Lead on. Don't slow down for me unless I tell you to".
I love this woman. She's like, "Lead me, and do what I say". I love her. What I love about it is she's so proactive to build a room. She's so full of faith and boldness to say, "Saddle the donkey," but watch how humble she is. This is what makes her great. This is what's going to make you great. This is what's going to make this year not the worst year of your life but the greatest. This is it right here. "She came to the man of God at Mount Carmel". I know what comes next, so I'm happy. You're like, "Her son is dead. What's wrong with you"?
I know what's about to happen in the story. You can praise God in places that make no sense when you know what happens next in the story. Not the details of it, but I know who started it, so I know that he who began a good work in me… I didn't learn much Greek, but alpha is the first letter, omega is the last one, and he's both. He's both of those. He finishes what he starts. So, when she came to the prophet at Mount Carmel… First of all, she's coming up, and I want you to know a couple of things from this passage. He saw her in the distance. That blesses me. Even if I'm far off from where I'm supposed to be, he sees me in the distance.
Does that remind you of the Prodigal Son or is it just me? He saw her coming. He told Gehazi, "Run to meet her and ask her…" This is a loaded question. "Are you all right"? What if I asked you that, just the two of us? "Are you all right"? It's one of those questions we ask that we really don't want to know the answer to. "How are you doing? Are you all right"? "Yeah, man. I'm all right. I've got this thing on my back. I don't know what it is. It's changing colors. I'm all right". It's a complicated question. "Are you all right"? That depends, because this woman would say, "I have a lot of money, but I just lost my son". "Are you all right"? "Well, that depends. I'm kind of disappointed about what's going on with my company, but you know what? God has been doing a miracle in my family".
What a question. "Are you all right"? "Ask her, 'Are you all right?'" Do you know the difference between God and people? He really wants to know. The other people who ask you that do not expect a detailed answer with subpoints. I love the woman, because Gehazi comes to ask her, "Are you all right?" but he's not the one who prophesied the baby to begin with. Watch what she does in verse 26. I know we said she's a great woman. But he said, "Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right"?
None of these are all right. She's not all right, the husband is so old he can't carry Bobby up the stairs (we're going to give the boy a name), and the son he's asking about is dead. And she does something. Even though she's a great woman, she lies. "Everything is all right". She's lying, like you. "Everything is all right. It's all right. Nothing to see here. I'm good". She's lying like your Instagram feed. She is lying like that picture you posted from the family vacation on Facebook. Why did she lie? Maybe she wasn't lying. Maybe she just knew something. Maybe she knew, "I don't need to talk about my problems to somebody who doesn't have the power to solve them".
This is a word for somebody. I don't need to process this in a place that is powerless to help me. I want to stop asking everybody else about stuff that only God can fix. I want to stop trying to fix things publicly that can only be dealt with privately. I want to quit seeking affirmation in public places and let God speak to the place. She said, "I'm all right, but I'm not really". Look at what she did next. She pushed right past the person who had no power to solve it. Quit talking to everybody about everything. Quit complaining to everybody about everything. Quit letting everybody know all your business. Quit trying to cover up stuff for people, and go back to the one who spoke it to start with.
Verse 27: "When she got to the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet". She's great enough to saddle up the donkey, and she's humble enough to fall at his feet. You have to be both. She came down, and Gehazi came to push her away. I bet you have something right now as I preach this word trying to push you away. "Don't listen to him. This isn't for you. This is for someone else. You're not good enough for that. You don't have any right to expect that". But the man of God said, "Leave her alone. This is between the two of us. See, I spoke this to her. She's in bitter distress, but the Lord has hidden it from me, and I don't know why yet".
Holly, the next verse is what brought me over. After I preached last week's sermon, I saw this verse. "Did I ask…"? I stopped. I said, "Yeah, of course. Of course you wanted me to preach this, Lord, for everybody who's dealing with something they didn't ask for". "I was just trying to take care of you. I wasn't trying to invite this in my life. I didn't even want all this. God, you shouldn't have called me to do this if you were going to let it be so hard that I couldn't do it. Did I ask"? She's at his feet now. She's off her donkey now.
"Did I ask? I asked you to come eat. I asked you to come stay. I didn't ask you to ruin my life. I didn't ask for this! You did this. You started this. I told you it would end like this. I didn't want to get my hopes up. It hurts to hope. The more I hope, the more open I am to disappointment. I told you this was going to happen. Every time I try, I fail. Every time I start, I stumble. I told you it would be like this. I knew it would end like this". "I knew I shouldn't feel good. I knew I shouldn't try. I knew they would betray me. I knew they would let… Did I ask"? She had the good sense to know how to get back to the one who started it.
I know you didn't ask for a special needs child. I know you didn't ask for the economy to do what it's doing right now. I know you didn't ask for it, but just because you didn't ask for it doesn't mean you can't handle it. You just have to know what to do with it. Put it back on the bed. Put it back in the place. She stood in the doorway where the prophet made the promise. She put the boy God gave her on the bed. She went to the prophet. She fell at his feet. And look at what she said. In verse 30, after Gehazi went back to do what he could do, the child's mother said, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you".
Where have we heard that before? That's the same thing Elisha said to Elijah. That's the same persistence that started his ministry. "I will not leave you. I will not forsake you". God is saying, "If I did then, I will now. If I spoke it, I will perform it…in an empty room, in a full room, with many, with little. Abounding or abased, I will not leave you". She said, "You spoke this. You started this. Now you have to do something about it". Do you know how you know you're growing in your relationship with God? When you can tell him the real stuff at his feet and trust him like that. Everybody else sees what you do. "Oh, she has a big house. She keeps the preacher over there". They didn't know the depth of disappointment of her barren womb. Only God knew that. Some things only God knows.
First Corinthians 2 says the spirit of a man searches the man. Only God and you know it. There are some things I can't say through this camera today. It's just between you and God. Maybe God put you in this moment so he could tell you a few things. Just the two of us. God said, "I need your attention right now. I need you at my feet right now. I'm trying to bring some things to life, but I need this to just be the two of us. I'm going to use people, but…" When Elisha followed the woman back to the house… Look at it. The boy was there on his couch. The mom, the woman, the great woman, the proactive woman, did something we all have to do sometimes in our lives. After you've done all you can do… The Bible says in verse 33, "Elisha went in, shut the door on the two of them…"
Now the woman who birthed this boy has to stand outside the door and trust God's prophet to do what only he can do. Are you standing on the other side of a closed door today, wondering how God is going to get your kid out of this one? I imagine that this woman who was proactive enough to tell her husband, "Saddle up the donkey and buy a lamp" rushed into the room. Maybe she thought she was going to stand there and give orders. She's that kind of woman. But the prophet knew something about when God wants to do something really amazing in your life. He turned to the woman and said, "I know you gave birth to this boy, and I know you're great, and I appreciate you, but right now, it's just the two of us". He sent her out of the room where she couldn't see. Verse 34 says, "Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands".
It's personal. He didn't just lay a staff on him. Gehazi tried that, and it didn't work. What God does in your life is going to be personal. This is a personal word. God says, "I'm going to actually connect with you". Your eyes… You see, so you can touch and feel. It's personal. He lay down on the boy and stretched himself out on him, and the boy's body grew warm, but he still wasn't alive, so Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room. It's a process. I want you to say that about everything in your life that you don't understand. He's pacing around the room, and the woman has no idea what's going on on the other side of that door. You have no idea what God is doing behind the scenes in your life.
The prophet is pacing. I think he sent her out of the room not just because it was personal and not just because it was a process but because it was private. I hear the Spirit of God saying right now, "I need some alone time with your problem. I don't need you standing over me so much, telling me what to do, so I'm going to close this door. I'm going to spend some time with that thing you've been worrying about, and I need you to just go right now. You can walk around downstairs, and I'll walk around upstairs". The Bible says she had to stand on the other side of the door. Do you know how much faith it takes to stand there with the thing you gave birth to…? God is saying to some of you, "Give me my promise back. I'm the one who gave it. I can't have you standing over me telling me how I'm supposed to do it and when I'm supposed to do it. Leave this thing with me for a little while".
You've been stressing so much, and every time you stress about it, it interrupts what God is doing. So shut the door, like the woman with the oil earlier in 2 Kings 4. She shut the door and the oil flowed. He shut the door, and he got with the boy, and the Bible says… How many believe the Bible? How many believe in miracles? On the other side of that door, the word of God did for that woman what she could not do for herself. I feel the word of the Lord coming forth into your situation today. When he got back on the boy, the boy sneezed seven times. That's the number of completion.
God said, "Let me finish this. I started it. Let me finish this. I've got your promise. I've got your dream. I've got your destiny. I've got your hope. I've got your petitions. I've got your prayers". God says, "Give it back to me. Just the two of us". God is working while you're waiting. We thank God for open doors, we thank him for closed doors, because what he's doing in this moment is greater than you know. What he's doing in that room in your life is greater than you know. You thought you built it for one thing. You really built it for another. Give him that space. This is a Holy Spirit moment. What do you do when the thing you didn't ask for happens in your life and the thing you were holding in your arms one moment dies in the shifting seasons?
I hear God saying, "Take it back, put it in that place, because today is a day of miracles". Verse 36: "Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, 'Call the Shunammite.' And he did. When she came, he said, 'Take your son.'" She had no idea he had been pacing the floor in there. How many of you don't know what God is doing right now, but you trust that whatever he is doing…? Lift your hands right where you are. God said, "Do you really need to be in a crowd to worship me or can you worship me when it's just the two of us"? Verse 37: "She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out".
Lord, I thank you that today your people are receiving back joy, peace, hope, and a right spirit. We trust you today, Lord. As much as we thank you for open doors, we trust you with closed doors. I thank you that just like your prophet Elisha was working a miracle in a room that a woman built by faith, you are working a miracle in every place where we will, by faith, trust you today. You know who's on the other side of this message. You know what's happening in their house. You know what's happening in their heart. Lord, if they feel alone right now, I touch and agree with them in Jesus' name that you are the God who sees beyond the surface. You are the God of the question and the comma. I thank you that you're doing a great thing in our lives, just the two of us.
If this message was for you today and you know it, I want you to tell me in the comments. I want you to tell me in the chat. Say, "That was for me," and then we'll know together. God spoke this word to me so I could share it with you, just the two of us. We're praying for you. We're believing God for great things in your life. God wants you to know today that anytime something in your life dies and anytime you feel like it's over, go back to where you started. Stand with the one who will never leave you nor forsake you. She said to the prophet, "As the Lord lives and as you live, I won't leave you".
God is saying that to somebody today. "I didn't leave you. Just give me some time". Close the door. Worship on the other side. Don't wait until you hold it again. Lift your hands right now. The God who will never leave you nor forsake you is with you in this moment. No matter what people do and no matter how the world ebbs and flows, God wants you to know that his presence is your promise, now and forevermore.
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Go back to the one it started with. He has always been for you.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
And, oh, what needless pain we bear…
And, oh, what needless pain we bear…
This is a different season, but it's the same God.
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Just me and you now, God. Just me and you. You know what's going on in my life. You know what I wonder about. You know what I deal with.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer…
Take it to the Lord in prayer…
Here's what I want you to know.
In his arms he'll take and shield thee
Thou wilt find a solace there.
Thou wilt find a solace there.