“Holy Spirit In Our Lives”

Rev. Katherine Todd
2 Kings 2:1-14
Galatians 5:1, 13-25

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “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. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”

Elijah said to him, “Elisha, 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 company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”

Then Elijah said to him, “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 company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

 

Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.


 

In these weeks leading up to and following Pentecost, we’ve heard stories of how the disciples learn how to listen to God’s Spirit directing them – on what to say and what to do.  It’s a prayerful way of being, where God is like your internal GPS – continually redirecting you.

 

Today we heard a story about Elijah and Elisha, when Elijah is about to be taken into heaven and Elisha asks that he might receive a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, as a parting gift.  In this Old Testament story it is understood that this gift of the spirit is how both Elijah and Elisha are empowered by God to do things such as parting the water, to walk on dry ground.

So we have heard these stories that show God’s Spirit to lead us, similar to an internal GPS, if we are of a prayerful mind to hear God’s voice to our spirits.  We’ve heard stories of how God’s Spirit gave the disciples the ability to speak in other languages they’d never even studied before.  We hear this story of how God’s Spirit empowered both Elijah and then Elijah to do things like parting the water in a lake – so they could walk across it on dry ground.  And in this passage from Galatians, we hear of how God’s Spirit grows within us all the best qualities – like patience, kindness, gentleness, love, and self-control.

This Holy Spirit life is full of surprises!  We don’t have to know the way to go; God can guide us.  We don’t have to know how to do everything; God can anoint us with skills we didn’t have before and cannot even explain.  We are not always bound by the rules of nature; God who has power over all nature can make mountains move and bodies of water part.  And we are not left to our own devices to try to be better and overcome all our demons and our temptations, but God’s Spirit grows within us patience and peace and love and self-control…

 

This is awesome!!!

 

Now for all you skeptics, I respect you.  I get that hearing these as nice stories is one thing but believing life can really happen this way is altogether another thing.  Perhaps God moved in one way back then and another way now.

But I do want to invite you to peer outside the boundaries of your belief system for just a moment and consider – what might you see and experience, if you only believe?

Believing opens us.  It opens us to outcomes we cannot fully control.  It opens us to the possibility of being amazed, and it opens us to the possibility of being disappointed or downright scammed.

We don’t want to be taken advantage of.  We don’t want to be scammed.  We don’t want to let our guard down, only to be disappointed.  And God’s Spirit is not like a genie in a bottle; we don’t just get whatever we wish for.  It’s not a ticket to unlimited blessing and prosperity.

But I do believe the Spirit is beckoning us toward our best lives.  I believe God is inviting us to step out of the shallow and into the deep.   God is inviting us into a fullness of life that we will never walk in, unless we let go of our illusions of control and open ourselves to God.

 

Listen to “Shallow” by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

Tell me somethin’, girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?

I’m falling
In all the good times I find myself
Longin’ for change
And in the bad times I fear myself

Tell me something, boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?

I’m falling
In all the good times I find myself
Longing for change
And in the bad times I fear myself

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now

In the shallow, shallow
In the shallow, shallow
In the shallow, shallow
We’re far from the shallow now

 

Do you want to experience all the blessings and fullness of life God has prepared for you?

Do you want to know the power and presence of God in your regular, everyday life?

Do you want to see the answers of God to your prayers?

Do you want to be a channel of God’s power and love into the lives of those around you?

 

Our God is good.  Our God is beckoning.  Our God is inviting.

But we have to take a risk.

We have to exercise our faith – put it into practice – let the rubber meet the road.

We’ll never know just what our God can do…

We’ll never experience for ourselves the depth and breadth of God’s love for you and for me…

We’ll never see the deliverance of our God in our lifetimes…

Unless we step out of the shallow and into the deep

Unless we open ourselves to the Spirit of God IN OUR LIVES

Unless we listen and watch and pray…

Unless we step out.

 

Listen to “Something Beautiful” by Needtobreathe

In your ocean, I’m ankle deep
I feel the waves crashin’ on my feet
It’s like I know where I need to be
But I can’t figure out, …I can’t figure out

Just how much air I will need to breathe
When your tide rushes over me
There’s only one way to figure out
Will ya let me drown, will ya let me drown

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire,

‘Cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I’m in reach
‘Cause I am down on my knees,

…Waiting for something beautiful
Oh,… something beautiful

And the water is risin’ quick
And for years I was scared of it
We can’t be sure when it will subside
So I won’t leave your side, no I can’t leave your side

In a daydream, I couldn’t live like this
I wouldn’t stop until I found something beautiful
When I wake up, and all I want, I have
Ya know it’s still not what I need

(Something beautiful)

 

You know what’s changed from the times of all these stories we read in the Bible?

So much has, indeed.  And thanks be to God for that!

But scripture actually says that in Christ, the Spirit of God has been poured out on all flesh.  Christ also said that we will do even greater things than he did

 

So may we, of little faith, grow.

May we begin to dream God’s dreams.

May we begin to see God’s visions.

May we begin to hear God’s voice speaking to us, more and more.

May we open ourselves to God, leaving the shallow, stepping into the deep, and personally experience God’s power and presence to do astonishing and amazing things in our lives.

 

Do you believe?

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