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South Fellowship Church

Imaginative Exercise | 2 Kings 2:1-17

I started reading scripture seriously late in high school. I confess, at the time I thought most of it was boring. Today, when I read the scriptures, it is full of intrigue, humor, drama, and deep profundity. Reading scripture is a skill that is learned through repetition and some training. There are several genre in the Bible and each must be absorbed with a different set of lenses, just like we wouldn’t read poetry in the same way as a user manual. When you begin to learn these skills the text lights up with excitement.

The story of Elijah is in the genre of Old Testament narrative. We don’t have the time to learn all the principles of reading Old Testament narrative so here I’ll focus on one principle. Biblical narrative is like concentrate. Parchment and ink were expensive, so writing lots of detail was impractical. These stories are meant to be injected with imagination and questions. The authors include just enough information for our imaginations to fill in the gaps. I had a Bible professor who would tell us to let our imaginations run wild and then reign it back in with study. A tool that helps me is to imagine filming the story. Get into the characters minds. How would they act out the parts? What are they feeling? What tone of voice are they using in each exchange?

Read 2 Kings 2:1-18 and read it imaginatively. Put yourself into Elisha’s shoes. Ask questions, seek evidence in the story to answer the questions. Let the strangeness of an interaction nag at you until you have a hypothesis about its meaning. Ask God to open your eyes to why each detail is included. Remember every detail is important, especially in this genre. When we read this text as a daily team we laughed a bit, we were confused, and our interest was sparked enough to keep us coming back. Enjoy!

By Aaron Bjorklund 

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Imaginative Exercise | 2 Kings 2:1-172019-07-22T16:35:34-06:00

Confusion at his Departure | 2 Kings 2:10-17

10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. 15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 And they said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men. Please let them go and seek your master. It may be that the Spirit of the Lord has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.” 17 But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, “Send.” They sent therefore fifty men. And for three days they sought him but did not find him. 2 Kings 2:10-17

I recall many times in life where my confusion catalyzed growth. Despite sounding strange, it’s true. When someone said something not sounding right, I’d tilt my head like a confused puppy, and either write it down or make a mental note for further research.  In my spiritual walk with the Lord, this happens frequently. In school, my professor might say something edgy, so I’d research it, and sometimes realize I had to reformulate my theology, worldview, or both. Even today, as I listen to Ryan and others preach, new perspectives come. When they do, I do my research, and sometimes adjust how I ‘see’ things.  

Elisha knew what he experienced: he saw it with his own eyes, maybe feeling the heat and wind from the fiery chariot and whirlwind. Perhaps we see the first inkling of his own doubt as he struck the water with Elijah’s cloak and asked “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” The sons of the prophets saw a change in Elisha, but they, too, seemed a little confused. Confusion could be the reason they pestered Elisha to go looking for Elijah. All of this seemed to deepen Elisha’s own confusion until, after much badgering, he yielded to their desire to search for Elijah.

Having questions and feeling confused can be unsettling, but remember, it can also be a launching point for growth. Once the sons of the prophets returned without finding Elijah, they realized their first impression of seeing Elisha was correct.  The same spirit that Elijah had now rested on Elijah There was more to it than just wearing Elijah’s cloak.

I know that during this series, I’ve had questions that prompted me to dig in and study God’s word on my own, as well as with others. Perhaps you’ve had questions, too. If you have, maybe write them out. Then, either on your own or with a fellow believer (or both), seek answers to the questions from the Bible. We’d love to hear about your questions and how you arrived at answers; email us at [email protected]

By Rich Obrecht 

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Confusion at his Departure | 2 Kings 2:10-172019-07-22T16:35:34-06:00

Confident in his Destination | 2 Kings 2:1-9

2 Kings 2:1-9 Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.  And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So, they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So, they came to Jericho.  The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So, the two of them went on.  Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”

I asked my dying mother, “Are you ready to go be with Jesus?” She answered with strong assurance, “yes.” I was so happy that she would be seeing Jesus face to face soon. I told her I was very excited to go be with Jesus someday, too, and to see her there. After I read Randy Alcorn’s book called Heaven a couple years ago, my understanding of heaven expanded. My life on earth changed. Reading his book made my relationship to Jesus grow exponentially and gave me confident expectations of my future.

Elijah lived in God’s presence on earth. On the mountain, in the valleys, he lived transparently before his God. This scripture account doesn’t tell us when God told Elijah he was going to heaven, or when all the prophets around him found out Elijah would be going to heaven. But they all knew, and it would be soon. There was an incredible anticipation. Elisha, who was to take Elijah’s place, didn’t want to leave his side. Nor did he want to hear the other prophets reminding him of his coming loss. He desired to observe his teacher’s walk with God to the very end, and asked for a double portion of his spirit. Elijah was going to heaven, and Elisha wanted to see it. And see it he did,a human being taken to heaven by a whirlwind of fire in a chariot happened only once in scripture.

Elijah never died; he went directly into God’s presence in heaven. Elijah’s confidence in his relationship with God is inspiring. Let’s be like Elijah and live so close to God, there’s no big change when we see him face to face. Read through Revelation 6:9-11 and make observations about what heaven will be like. Let a new vision of heaven give you confidence to live. Treat others now on earth like you will be treated when you see Jesus face to face.

By Donna Burns  

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Confident in his Destination | 2 Kings 2:1-92019-07-22T16:35:34-06:00

Imaginative Exercise | 1 Kings 19:15-18

Being a disciple of Jesus requires faith. I’m not just talking about a mental ascent to the idea that Jesus died for our sin. I’m talking about a trust in the lifestyle recommendations that Jesus makes. Discipleship is NOT affirming a set of doctrines. No, the word discipleship implies becoming like the teacher. In biblical times, a rabbi’s disciple would try to mimic everything his teacher did. The aim was to speak like his rabbi, respond to situations like his rabbi, even carry himself like his rabbi. If Jesus is our teacher then that is the invitation. All this requires trust, doesn’t it? It demands that we truly believe that the rabbi’s way of living is a good way of living. Not just good in general but good for you. Practically, it requires that we don’t ascribe to other methods of living; there just isn’t time for multiple. A sacrificing of other options is involved.

Somewhere along the way, the lifestyle of the rabbi requires more and more time and intention. We begin to run out of time and energy for other pursuits. It’s at that moment that we have the greatest faith leap of all. Is this rabbi’s way of life worth giving up other ways of life? Many have decided that it is but their abandonment to the way cannot cause yours. At some point we all must decide to burn the bridges that lead us back to other options. We must put all our eggs in one basket and say “Jesus, you have convinced me that your way is the best way and I’m all in.”

Watch this video and contemplate where you are at in that journey. Tell God about it in prayer.

Video: Burn the Ships by For King and Country: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOVrOuKVBuY

Don’t judge where you are at, just acknowledge it. God already knows anyway. If you are all in, there is still a journey ahead, new ground to cover. If you aren’t, keep experimenting with his way. Is Jesus right about life? I suspect that, if you try it out in your real life for long enough, you will see that it is worth burning the ships and never going back to any other way.

By Aaron Bjorklund 

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Imaginative Exercise | 1 Kings 19:15-182019-07-22T16:35:35-06:00

Trust the Process | 1 Kings 19:15-21, 2 Kings 8-9

15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. 1 Kings 19:15-21

In the current IT work environment, promotions and pay increases are slow in coming. It’s been my experience if someone wants to improve their financial or professional position, they need to be agile in their skills and  willing to move to other organizations. This isn’t how it used to be. Employers ensured career paths were available for those people, and diligently helped them do what they had a desire to do, with both pay and work. The idea of moving from one company to the next requires ‘hitting the ground running’ by contributing quickly to the new organization. But it all begins with a desire to start doing something, anything, right off the bat.

Elijah has been told by God to return the way he came and do three things: anoint Hazael and Jehu king of their region and establish Elisha as his successor. It’s unknown whether this list was arranged geographically along the trip or Elijah still had pangs of fear regarding Jezebel. But Elijah only accomplishes one of the tasks. In 2 Kings 8-9, we find the other two are ultimately accomplished by Elisha. While everything didn’t happen as planned, God’s instructions were accomplished. And, whether Elijah was captivated by fear, or felt he didn’t have enough time, or some other reason, he did something.

God has a path for our lives. It’s a truly wonderful thing when we follow that path. But, as we’ve seen with Elijah, if our path deviates, and we don’t fully do what God has set before us, the Kingdom of God continues through other means. This isn’t to say that we can back off and let others do the work, however. We need to do something.

We’ve experienced another election cycle, and I’m sure the voting percentage is nowhere near where it should be. I’ve talked with so many people who don’t vote “because their vote doesn’t matter.” I couldn’t disagree more, and I absolutely don’t agree with that thinking in the Body of Christ. Just like Elijah, we may not finish our race having done all we’re called to do, but we need to do something. Just as every vote matters, so does every Kingdom life. There are plenty of things we can do for the Kingdom of God. Perhaps seriously contemplate an area where you’re gifted and find a ministry at South or another local ministry where you could use it. Go on and do something. You won’t regret it.

By Rich Obrecht 

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Trust the Process | 1 Kings 19:15-21, 2 Kings 8-92019-07-22T16:35:35-06:00

Inspired by Partnership | 1 Kings 19:19-21

So, he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yokes of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. 1 Kings 19:19-21

Some factors that helped Elijah get back in the game was being around others, having a team, and being a part of a community. Elijah tended to be in solitude, a mountain man type, fiercely devoted to God. After all the “training” he’d been through, on the mountain, healing the widow’s son, hearing the whisper, he’s a different man. He’s still listening and obeying the word of the Lord but now he’s with a team member. Now Elisha is his disciple, a mentee, an assistant, in calling Israel back to the one true God. They are “climbing up the hills and out of the valleys” that Israel is in, ministering to their people  together.

Elijah needed Elisha. God picked him specifically to carry out his plan and encourage Elijah after all he’d been through. Elisha needed Elijah. The mantle was transferred, he learned from the elder prophet, and stayed with him until he left the earth. They worked side by side in the Lord’s work, each with different gifts and personalities. The partnership was mutual. Elijah is inspired by how Elisha takes his call seriously, how Elisha gives up everything and is honored by the privilege and responsibility given to him. Elijah doesn’t pressure Elisha; its between God and him. Elisha respectfully says goodbye to his parents and celebrates his new profession with his community. He leaves his loved ones with full support to join Elijah on God’s mission.

Elijah’s mantle is passed on to Elijah. The community of prophets has a new leader, inspiration, example and the mission continues.  We need community to keep going. Who’s on your team? You need a team and a team needs you. God’s given you gifts to use to build up the church. God has a plan for your life and people to help you carry it out. Spend some time listening to God about where and how you can be a better team member. Thank someone who encouraged and inspired you who was part of a successful team with you.

By Donna Burns  

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Inspired by Partnership | 1 Kings 19:19-212019-07-22T16:35:35-06:00

Back In The Game | 1 Kings 19:15-18

15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:15-18

This passage in 1 Kings picks up in the life of Elijah following a time of running, hiding, and discouragement. A time when he had to be told to eat, drink and sleep. He isolated himself, was drowning in his own negative and untrue narrative, and had basically placed himself on the bench, he wasn’t on the field at all, all he did was play with casinodames.com. And here we see that all of the sudden he’s back in the game! The Lord has given instruction to go and to continue his plan. And Elijah does!

Previously he was paralyzed by his fears, unable to move and do what God had next. Now, he chooses to get up and go. To get back in the game. His external circumstances haven’t changed. But he has. God strengthened Elijah physically and the depressed prophet has pushed through and found victory in his darkest hour. Now he is ready to continue following God’s leading, to move forward in boldness and obedience. It isn’t perfect and it isn’t easy, but he chooses to move and to act. He may not have felt completely prepared or able to continue in his calling, but he did so anyway. Perhaps he moved and acted before he felt like it. He chose obedience and courage rather than waiting for the moment when he felt ready.

Today, recall a moment recently when the Holy Spirit prompted you to action. What held you back? Surrender those reasons to him today and resolve to get up and get back in the game.

By Ellen Rosenberger 

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Back In The Game | 1 Kings 19:15-182019-07-22T16:35:35-06:00

God Speaks in Desiring, Waiting, and Silence | Psalm 63:1

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

Don’t we all wish God would just come out and say what he wants to say? At least then we could try to do what he wants us to do. Here’s a crazy thought: what if it’s not about you having to do something for God? What if God isn’t like a project manager who assigns tasks to people? What if he is actually after you? That changes things, doesn’t it?

Liz Ditty puts it well when she writes,“God’s voices can definitely be hard to recognize if you expect them to sound a certain way.” If we expect a list of tasks from heaven and instead receive silence, we freak out or we doubt that God is even there. Ultimately, what does God get out of his relationship with you? It is not what you get done; he is fully capable of getting things done without you. It is you that he gets. God isn’t a cosmic killjoy; he is a good father who is pacing his fatherly training. He uses seasons of waiting and silence and the changing of your desire to teach you new things.

Here’s another crazy thought: what if seasons of waiting and silence were a sign that you are maturing? It’s like the training wheels are off. Sometimes silence is God’s way of letting you ride without training wheels. God is not a helicopter parent who swoops in to fix everything. He wants to teach us to ride free in his kingdom. Am I saying that God doesn’t speak to the mature? Not at all! When you trust God’s intent to guide you into his loving best for you, you begin to see even waiting and silence as his voice.

So, what now? How do you move ahead when God seems silent? Do what you already know. The scriptures are full of explicit instructions that stand as an ongoing agenda for a person trying to live in the way of Jesus. Things like, “love your neighbor as yourself” and “forgive one another” and “do not worry.” Today, purpose to do one of these examples.

By Aaron Bjorklund 

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God Speaks in Desiring, Waiting, and Silence | Psalm 63:12019-07-22T16:35:35-06:00

God Speaks in Beauty All Around Us | Psalm 19:1-2

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2

It’s quiet up here on this hilltop overlooking Littleton. Except for the steady drone of traffic from C-470. And then the occasional bird chirping, dog barking, and neighbor talking. And here I am tapping keys on a man-made device, attempting to capture the wonder of God-made mountain beauty spread before me. Mountains for as far as I can see. Silhouettes of strength, growing slightly lighter by the minute.

It’s cold and it’s still and it’s grey. Not the brilliant sunrise I was hoping for. Like the gorgeous one I stole a glimpse of yesterday as I ducked into a building. Hopefully tomorrow I can get up early for a sunrise, I had thought. And so I’m here today. But so are the clouds. No bright red, orange, pink colors splash the sky like on other mornings. This day it’s a mix of gray, blues, white. But I’m reminded that the sun is still rising beyond the clouds. His sky still proclaims His handiwork. He is still the same God who creates beautiful sunrises and gloomy grey-skied mornings.

His beauty is unmatched. And it speaks to me now. I care for my creation. Will I not care for you? I delight in my creation. I delight in you.

And then I turn toward the east and I see it. A small hole in the clouds. Light breaks through. Just a little, but enough for me to know He’s here. He is light. He is truth behind the clouds. I look to the south and I sense his presence again. A strip of light slicing through the morning sky.

As the start of the workday approaches, I see the traffic slow in the distance. And I slow my thoughts. This is where true beauty and purpose is found. In communing with the Almighty God. Listening to His voice as He speaks through creation. A song rises up in me: Who am I that the highest King would welcome me? Oh his love for me. I want to be up here forever. And I know forever holds wonders unimaginable. Unending time with our King, the creator of all this and more.

In chapter 9 of Liz Ditty’s book, she gives some practical steps to hearing God’s voice in the beauty around us. I chose to do #1: Engage with nature in a meaningful way. Even if you are in an urban environment, find a way to watch the sun rise or set or go to a park where you can be near trees. Go for a walk or just stay still. Whichever you choose, take a moment to journal what you see and what you hear.

Today or this week, will you try this exercise also?

By Ellen Rosenberger 

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God Speaks in Beauty All Around Us | Psalm 19:1-22019-07-22T16:35:35-06:00

God Speaks in Coincidences and Interruptions | Psalm 78:6a-7b

…arise and tell them (the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders he has done) to their children, so that they should set their hope in God.  Psalm 78:6a-7b

As our writing team chose chapters to write about from Liz Ditty’s book God’s Many Voices, I knew immediately I should pick Chapter 8. I have kept a journal of coincidences for four years now. As I read the chapter, God showed me which entry of mine to write about.

One morning when my grandkids were visiting at my house,  I woke up early with a song in my heart, “His eye is on the sparrow.” I quickly looked up the lyrics so I could sing the entire song alone with God. After breakfast, our nine-year-old grandson read from the Case Keenum Devotional Playbook I had given him for his birthday. The first devotion was about Keenum showing care to his wife like God shows care to him, and to all of us. Then my seven-year-old granddaughter read from Jesus Talks:  “you are valuable and you can trust God to take care of you”, with scripture from Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them, and how much more valuable you are than birds!” I shared with my family how God had given me a song that morning and now coincidently these pages they read were about the same thing!  At my daughter’s suggestion, we looked up the song on YouTube and listened to the wonderful words, “I know He watches me.”

Liz Ditty writes a story about  studying the birds (how they seem to sing in joyful anticipation each morning of his good provision) and the flowers (proclaiming how God touches every part of our world) and how she realized she should have more faith.  When she was laying on a hospital table for a CAT scan because of an excruciating migraine, she recognized God’s touch and assurance as she looked up to see wildflowers on a ceiling poster. It was like God saying, “I care, I am with you and don’t worry.” God gave her peace.

Liz writes,  “A coincidence is usually not reproducible” or able to be studied scientifically. They can tell us a story about God or answer a prayer or invite us to prayer. “An interruption is more like reality going off script,” annoying and angering us. But God can share his word and wisdom through both. Look back a week or month ago at an interruption or coincidence and reflect on God’s word to you in it. Share it with a friend .

By Donna Burns  

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God Speaks in Coincidences and Interruptions | Psalm 78:6a-7b2019-07-22T16:35:35-06:00
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