In 2 Kings 2 there is the story of Elisha and the bitter water. There was a place where he lived and the water was poisonous. It was not safe. (Who knew Elisha visited Flint, Michigan?)
Elisha had the inquirers put salt into a jar and toss the salt into the water. The water became “sweet”, or life giving, again.
We may face situations that are poisonous. We face a tough work situation, family situation, church situation and the waters are poisonous. Nothing good is happening. The question becomes, “Can the bitter become sweet?”
It is easy to join the bitter. It is prophetic to turn the bitter into sweet.
This is not about ignoring the poison. It is about changing the poison. It takes a prophetic, Spirit-filled leader to bring that kind of change.
Be that kind of leader.
- We must be deep in Christ. When we are deep in him, sweet “water” can flow from us. If we are not plunging the depths of Christ ourselves, the bitterness can infect us. We have two ways to grow: grow into bitterness, or grow into a sweet depth of Christ. It is easier to grow in bitterness if the sweet depth of Christ is not there first.
- Through the Spirit, we are enabled to see what is POSSIBLE. Elisha could see what was possible even though the presence situation was bad.
- Prophetic action may seem “salty” at times. I’m just using the picture from the story, but there are answers to turn a situation around that aren’t always “tasty.” Sometimes the prophetic action seems “salty,” or abrasive, or rude, or doesn’t correlate to the end result. But, the prophetic leader follows the lead of the Spirit, acts, and the result is life.
When we came to our current ministry 18 years ago, the waters weren’t “sweet.” Over the process we’ve seen the Lord turn possible bitterness into sweet waters of life. We’ve had to be “salty” at times as leaders. But as we’ve dug roots of ministry here, leadership has become so deep in Christ, there abides a life-giving element of leadership that pushes out all attempts of poison.
Life is possible. Change is possible. We don’t have to abide in bitterness. We don’t have to ignore the poisonous situation. We can bring the change needed.
There is a quote that was famous in a couple of movies I’ve seen over the years. Turns out it’s from a book on “spirituality” by Marianne Williamson. The full quote is HERE.
I am not trying to promote books like that, but the quote has one line that needs to be embedded in my own thinking:
Your playing small does not serve the world.
“Small” playing doesn’t serve the Kingdom of God, either.
We are going through 2 Kings this morning at church and I’ve been captivated by 2 Kings 2. Elisha stands at the Jordan with the mantle of Elijah. Elijah is gone. It’s now up to Elisha to understand this is HIS moment. And he grabs it.
He never lives under the shadow of Elijah. He never really reflects on, “Well, back in the day when I served under Elijah…”
If he “played small,” he would not have served the Kingdom of God… or Israel… so powerfully. Now, Israel wasn’t very grateful for Elisha’s boldness, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t serve them boldly.
Today must be different. Every day after today must be different. Playing “small” doesn’t serve anyone.
2 Kings 3:14-19
Elisha prophesied for Joram, not out of any love for the man, but out of respect for Jehoshaphat. The trouble was Moab and Joram wanted to know if they were going to be okay.
The thought that stands out for me is this: “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.” (v. 18, NIV)
It jumped out to me as I have been praying about some HUGE things God has given me in the last year. There are things I know with a lot of assurance are GOD, but when I look at what is at hand… it’s a bit nerve racking.
Yet, I have confidence in what God is saying. When I think about what is ahead, I keep coming into passages like this one.
These are places where the Lord readily reminds me, “This is an EASY thing for me, Dan. Just step out!”
New things are stirring. God is ready to birth new things in our church. And it is EASY for him!
One of my heroes in ministry spoke at our church yesterday and he gave us this formula from 2 Kings 4, the story of the widow and Elisha. She was in debt and the creditors were going to take her children as slaves. Elisha had her take the little oil she had and begin pouring it into every vessel should could borrow from her neighbors. The oil stopped when she ran out of vessels. She could then sell off the oil and pay off her debt and live on the rest of the proceeds.
It’s math that doesn’t make sense. Very little oil was already there, yet she kept pouring and the oil kept coming.
The phrase from the formula above goes like this:
Obedient Activity combined with Divine Authority will bring Great Victory.
We need to understand what we HAVE. Elisha asked the widow what she had, and she focused on what was NOT there. We have that response. We need the response that says, “This is what I have. It may not be much, but here it is.”
And see what God will do with it.
Compare two stories about asking in 2 Kings.
In the first story we have Elisha. Elijah asks him what he wanted and Elisha immediately stated boldly, “A double portion.” He wanted the inheritance of the first born. He wanted the legacy of Elijah to rest with him. Bold. Decisive.
The second story is the end of Elisha’s life and Jehoash the king comes for a visit. One of the things Elisha has Jehoash do is take a bundle of arrows and strike it on the ground. Jehoash half-heartedly strikes the ground three times. Elisha is furious. God would work on Jehoash’s behalf, but not as fully as if Jehoash had been insistent in pounding those arrows on the ground.
We need bold prayers.
Don’t be Jehoash. Be Elisha.
In reading through the story of Elisha I am struck by the ease with which Elisha moves in each situation. The miraculous pours from him. He has not looked back since he struck the Jordan River with Elijah’s cloak.
There is almost the mundane situation of having the stew taste funny and he knew what to do. Then there is the widow and the oil that supplied money for the debt she owed. It is as “every day” as an ax head that gets lost, or the very surreal event of the enemy’s general coming for a visit.
Elisha isn’t intimidated. He doesn’t show favoritism. He hears from God and moves as God wants him to move.
Elisha wasn’t intimidated by Naaman, an enemy of Israel. He doesn’t refuse Naaman because he is the “enemy.” He hears God and lives to OBEY.
My heart is challenged. This week has been a week of prayer as I’ve examined this life of Elisha all over again.
2 Kings 2
When Elijah and Elisha came to Bethel, a company of prophets came to greet them. Bethel was a place of rebellion. Jeroboam had set up one of the golden calves to lead Israel from the worship of God in Jerusalem.
Elijah and Elisha themselves were prophets in Israel, the northern tribes, in an era when Israel had no godly kings.
We need to pay attention to these stories and take them into our lives. Being spoiled for a few hundred years, having Christianity be so “free” in this nation, has made the Church soft. We don’t know what a prophetic witness really is. It’s beyond standing up and shouting a “thus saith the Lord!”
The company of prophets stood in stark contrast to the world around them. When Israel refused Yahweh, this company of prophets kept pressing toward Yahweh. They didn’t wait for their culture to get on board. They simply went after God.
Today we need this company of prophets, the prophetic witness of the Church, to rise up again. No excuses. No whining. No wishing for the “old days.” Just follow God and let that stand out against the turning of the tide.