Several years ago, my daughter Kelly informed me that her car was making a terrible noise. So, I cranked it up and heard this awful knocking in the motor. As I took it to the mechanic, it was smoking and the knocking got louder and the oil pressure dropped to almost nothing. Now, I’m not mechanically inclined, but even I knew there was a major problem. The engine had to be replaced. In that condition the potential of the car for transportation was gone. It would need to be restored to usefulness.
That is the subject of this study. Many of God’s servants have fallen by the wayside. They need to be restored to usefulness in God’s kingdom. Our text shows how that can happen.
First, we consider THE USEFULNESS THAT IS REQUIRED.
“The sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Please notice that the place where we live under your supervision is too small for us. Please let us go to the
We need servants of God who are usable, for there is much kingdom work that needs to be done. Our usefulness for God requires vision and vigor.
Think about the VISION required.
The sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Please notice that the place where we live under your supervision is too small for us. Please let us go to the
They saw the need and were moved to meet it. Do you have a burden for the work of God to progress? God desires expansion—do you? Does our church possess a real vision for growth?
They called upon Elisha to oversee the project, “Then one said, ‘Please come with your servants.’ ‘I'll come,’ he answered. So he went with them…” (v.3-4a). Leadership is pivotal for progress to be made. Leaders and laity must share in the vision. These did.
That important foundation of vision must be matched with VIGOR
“and when they came to the
The vision is pursued with vigor! There comes a point when inspiration must give way to perspiration. You need a dream, but a dream isn’t enough. Daydreamers never accomplish anything.
These Bible students can’t expand the seminary until the trees are cut down. That which is in the way of the church growing must be cleared away. Sometimes pruning is required for more productivity. What would need to be cut from your schedule so that you might have time to advance spiritually? Is there anything in our church that may have been a good ministry in the past, but is now in the way of Kingdom growth?
Once the obstructions to growth are removed, then what is needed to expand must be put in place. But, here is a real danger point for a believer personally and a church corporately.
Next let us consider THE USEFULNESS THAT IS REMOVED.
“As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron [ax head] fell into the water, and he cried out, ‘Oh, my master, it was borrowed!’ (v.5).
There will be no success without activity, but activity alone doesn’t insure achievement.
I want you to observe THE LOAN OF OUR ABILITY, “it was borrowed.” The ability of the man to chop the tree wasn’t his own, but it was borrowed.
Every now and then I’m listening to Rush Limbaugh and he says of himself, “Talent on loan from God.” Well it is—his and ours! We are stewards—our gifts and abilities are on loan from God. We are going to give an account one day of our stewardship. What has God given you and what are you doing with it?
If we are not careful there can be THE LOSS OF OUR ABILITY, “the iron ax head fell into the water.” The crisis came, not because of a lack of work, but a laxity in watchfulness. He didn’t notice that the head of the ax was loosening. His laxity led to looseness and the looseness to loss.
We can get so busy working that we stop watching. Jesus warned, “Watch and pray lest you fall into temptation.” If we are so busy in the work of God that we neglect the worship of God we are headed for a fall. We subtly begin to shift our focus from our love for the Lord, which is primary, to our labor for the Lord which is secondary. If the former is right, the latter follows, but if we neglect the former, the latter will eventually be lost also. Read Christ’s confrontation of the Ephesian church in
2:1-7. They were commended
for their fervent labor, but condemned for leaving their first love.
In a believer’s life, this departure from devotion to doing will be ultimately disastrous. Little by little, it leads to loose living and loose living eventually leads to lost usefulness. Thankfully there’s more to the story. If this is the saga of your life, the last chapter does not have to conclude here.
There is the hope of THE USEFULNESS THAT IS RESTORED.
“Then the man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, the man of God cut a stick, threw it there, and made the iron float. Then he said, ‘Pick it up.’ So he reached out and took it.” (v.6-7).
This is an illustration of personal revival. There are two prerequisites pictured here.
Usefulness is restored through A REPENTANT CONFESSION, “’Oh, my master, it was borrowed!’ Then the man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?’" (v.5b-6a).
He mourned over his loss. He confessed and acknowledged the place where it was lost. There is a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Peter’s bitter tears were the seeds that blossomed in his restoration. You get back on the road of righteousness where you took the devil’s detour. Where did you fall? Maybe you got too busy to read your Bible. Perhaps in the frenzy of activity, you omitted prayer. It could be that your work supplanted your worship. Wherever you fell, confess it to God with sincerity. He will forgive!
Then there follows A RENEWED COMMITMENT, “When he showed him the place, the man of God cut a stick, threw it there, and made the iron float. Then he said, ‘Pick it up.’ So he reached out and took it.” (v.6b-7).
The stick reminds us of the cross. It speaks symbolically of
When the ax head was restored, then it was time to get back to work. He could once again be useful.
It is better, of course, to sense that things are beginning to get loose, and tighten up your relationship with the Lord before the fall comes. Be sensitive to this!
But, what if you’ve already lost it? We can be restored.
Where did you fall? How did it happen? Will you repent and seek God’s forgiveness? Come to the cross. Remember how it used to be. There is no time like now!