2 Kings 2:9
Elijah was a prophet of enormous power.
The Scriptures record 11 remarkable miracles that were attributed to his ministry.
From the first day he burst upon the scene to prophesy a three-year drought,
his entire life and service were characterized by power.
We can appropriate power for any new day, if we possess the same three characteristics.
When We Are Weak.
We can appropriate God's power when we are weak.
After witnessing Elijah's mighty deeds, Elisha became quite conscious of his own inadequacy.
It is obvious that Elisha appeared somewhat inferior when compared with Elijah,
for even the young prophets of Bethel and Jericho questioned his knowledge of Elijah's predicted departure:
"There the young prophets of Bethel Seminary came out to meet them, and asked Elisha,
‘Did you know that the Lord was going to take Elijah away from you today?'" (verse 3) TLB
Elisha's sharp response seems to indicate a hypersensitivity on his part, and indicated that
he did harbor feelings of inadequacy: "
Quiet," Elisha snapped, "Of course I knew it." (Verse 3)
Elisha's sense of inadequacy was not misplaced.
He was inadequate.
One thing was clear to Elisha.
He would never be able to carry out Elijah's ministry in his own strength and ability.
After all, when God called him, he was "plowing a field with eleven other teams ahead of him;
he was at the end of the line with the last team." (1 Kings 19: 19, TLB)
He ranked 11th in a line of 11 plowmen.
Therefore, when Elisha was asked what he most desired from God, his instant response to Elijah was:
"Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." (2 Kings 2: 9)
This request for a "double portion" of Elijah's spirit was not the ambitious desire
of a self-centered egotist wishing to excel his predecessor.
It was an assessment of deep need by a humble man of God.
Elisha considered Elijah twice the man he was, in every respect... so he thought
it would take twice as much of the Spirit's power, if he was to continue Elijah's work.
Mark it down!
An important prerequisite for appropriating the power of God is a deep realization of how much we need it!
God has a way of using those who seem incapable.
In marked contrast to Elisha's humility, most Christians are just too capable.
Blind to our own inadequacy, we hurry to and fro, doing things for God as if everything depends upon us.
Our attempt to lend God a hand is like a flea offering to help an elephant.
The tragedy is that we have millions of American Christians serving in thousands of churches
with little or no effect upon their community or their nation because they have never realized
their need of a power beyond themselves for accomplishing God's work.
One would think we would have learned better by now, for this was one of the first lessons
God tried to teach mankind.
God has always expected service from His children.
One of the reasons God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt was that
they might more freely serve Him.
God stated this several times: "Let my people go, that they may serve me."
(Exodus 7: 16; 8: 20; 9: 1; 9: 13)
Even after their deliverance, the Israelites failed miserably in their service to God.
Typically, they were just too competent.
The Bible says they "rejoiced in the works of their own hands." (Acts 7: 41)
They did not feel as though they really needed God.
So, they set about to establish their own righteousness and erected an altar... to and for themselves.
But God was not in it. In fact, God destroyed it. (Exodus 32: 20)
It is not ability, but availability that qualifies a person for God's service.
God most fully empowers those who realize their own weakness and inadequacy.
This is the sense of what the Lord told Paul,
"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness... glory in infirmities,
that the power of Christ may be yours." (2 Corinthians 12: 9)
Several other factors are necessary to qualify for God's empowering of our lives.
Where the action is!
We can appropriate God's power when we stay where the action is.
One can scarcely read our text without being impressed with another very obvious attribute
with regard to Elisha: He desperately wanted to be in on what God was up to.
This seems to be the sense of the entire flow of our text.
On three consecutive occasions Elijah mentioned being sent by God:
Jordan represents the place of exceptional obedience, the most distant point to be reached.
The children of Israel finally experienced the power and full blessing of their promised land
when they crossed over Jordan.
They made it over Jordan because they were fully obedient, "And they answered Joshua, saying,
all that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go."
We must ask ourselves this question: "Am I really willing to do everything God asks?"
The degree of our obedience will always equal the degree of our empowering.
It all depends upon just how much we are willing for God to do through us.
If we want the mantle, we must be there when it falls.
This necessitates obedience: "The Holy Spirit... is given by God to all that obey Him."
(Acts 5: 2, TLB)
God's power will flow through those who stay where the action is, and through those who burn
with a desperate desire to do His will.
Paul S. Rees tells of a Keswick conference in which a preacher enumerated the great blessings
which came in his ministry as a consequence of Spirit-filled service.
After the service, a young pastor asked the preacher how he could be Spirit-filled.
The preacher said to the young pastor, "I can take you to the place where I was filled,
and anyone can be filled at that place. Would you like to come with me?"
"Yes, by all means," the young pastor replied.
So they walked out of the conference grounds and started up a mountain.
As they sauntered along, the preacher kept talking about the glory resulting from a Spirit-filled life.
Once in a while the young man would ask when they came to a clearing in the woods,
"Is this the place?"
"No, but it isn't much farther; it's a little distance, yet."
They kept walking. The preacher kept talking.
The young man's thirst kept increasing.
They reached a plateau, and the young pastor asked again, "Is this the place?"
He asked the same question when they walked out into a valley.
He asked again at the edge of a clearing.
He asked at the top of each hill.
"Is this the place?" He asked again and again.
Finally, he could stand it no longer.
He fell upon his knees, and all but shouted,
"I can't go any farther. I must pray to be filled right now!"
The preacher turned and said to the young man: "This is the place! This is the place!"
Do you see?
When we come to the place where we can't go any farther, and we want to be filled with
the Spirit that's the place where we will be filled!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White