REACHING OUR SPIRITUAL POTENTIAL 2 Kings 4:1-7
I. Most of us have a thirst for a greater spiritual life. Steven Covey wrote, "No one on his deathbed ever wished he had spent more time at the office."
A. This is a felt need for many.
B. To some it is a deep desire.
C. Yet, in this search, many have difficulties.
1. Some have tried and failed.
2. Others do not know how to proceed.
II. A failure to reach our spiritual potential means we miss many rich promises.
A. Galatians 5:23-24
B. Romans 14:17
C. Romans 15:13
III. In this Old Testament narrative one finds the means of reaching greater spiritual potential.
A. I cannot explain God's dealings with this family.
1. A good man died.
2. He was a faithful prophet
3. He was devoted to Elisha
B. He left two things.
1. A needy family.
2. A large debt.
a. I don't know why he was in debt. I hope it was because he did not think the things of this life were more important his work for God.
C. His death produced a crisis.
1. Crisis comes from two Greek words: danger and opportunity.
2. The woman's only possession was a small amount of oil. The Hebrew literally means "one anointing". They put oil on after bathing. She had only enough for one time.
3. It was common to use people as collateral for loans.
I. TO FIND OUR SPIRITUAL POTENTIAL, WE MUST HAVE DESIRE
A. There is no doubt of this woman's desire.
1. Often the situaitons of life provide the necessary motivation.
a. The jailer never sought salvaiton until the Lord sent an earthquake.
b. An ungodly man with an ungodly family was bitten by a rattlesnake. In serious condition, he sent for the preacher to pray for him. The pracher prayed, "If this rattlesnake will bring this man to reality of his need for You, bless him. And Lord, if this works, please send rattlesnakes to bite the rest of the family."
B. We have three motivations to filnd a greater spiritual reality.
1. Gratitude Psalms 116:12
a. An athiest is someone who sees a beautiful sunset and has no one to thank.
a. There is a definite role for fear in our relation to God. 2 Corinthians 4:11; Galatians 4:11; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 2:17; Jude 1:23
b. To those who hell is a reality, there is a godly fear to motivate them.
a. Revelation 14:13
b. John 14:2-3 One child misquoted Psalms 23, "The Lord is my shepherd, that's all I want." Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there. This answers all quesiont about our reward.
II. TO FIND OUR SPIRITUAL POTENTIAL WE MUST BEGIN WITH WHAT WE HAVE
A. Note Elisha's attitude.
1. What he did not say or do.
a. He did not say, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled." This is the same as saying, "I know everything will work out for you", and doing nothing to help.
b. He did not make a donation to ease his conscience.
c. He did not give her a lecture on how her husband should have done better.
2. He asked her, "What do you have in your house?"
a. God said to Moses, "What is in your hand..." Exodus 4:2, 4, 17; 7:17; 8:16; 9:23; 10:13; 14:16; 17:5-6; 9 (Note that the staff of Moses became the staff of God)
B. There are two dangers to avoid.
1. One is thinking that what we have is so little.
a. Zechariah 4:7-10
b. Matthew 14:17 "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish. . . Bring them to Me."
c. Booker T. Washington told of a sailing ship stranded at the mouth of the Amazon River. They signaled to a passing ship, "Water! We are dying of thirst." The ship signaled back, "Cast down your bucket where you are." The thirsty men did not know the the Amazon is so powerful that sends fresh water several miles out to sea. The lesson is that God says, "Cast down your bucket where you are."
d. "Little Is Much If God Is In It." Does the place you're called to labor Seem so small and little known? It is great if God is in it, And He'll not forget His own Are you laid aside from service, Body worn from toil and care? You can still be in the battle, In the sacred place of prayer. chorus: Little is much if God is in it, Labor not for wealth or fame There's a crown and you can win it, If you'll go in Jesus' name.
2. "Let the Lord work"
a. God will never do for man what man can do for himslef.
b. Elisha did not borrow the vessels or pour the oil.
III. TO FIND OUR SPIRITUAL POTENTIAL WE MUST LIVE EXPECTANT LIVES.
A. Note how Elisha raised the widow's expectations, "Borrow a lot of vessels"
1. The woman did not know what woudld happen but I believe she expected something.
2. William Carey, missionary to India, kept this over his workbench. "Expect great things from a Great God. Do great things for a Great God."
B. The only limitation on God's work through us is the size of our expectations.
1. We need to imagine great things He can do. Ephesians 3:20 He doesn't have to do much to do what we think He can do.
a. "According to your faith it will be done to you" Matthew 9:29
b. Psalms 81:10b "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."
c. A man once took his son to the produce market with him. One of the owners told the boy to get himself a handful of cheeries. The boy declined. The owner finally took a handful and gave them to the boy. Later his father asked the boy why he didn't take a handful of the cherries himself. He replied, "Because the man's hand was bigger than mine." We must believe this about God.
C. Most churches make plans according to what they see they can do. Instead we should make plans according to what God can do.
1. We owed $80,000 on our building and some thought we might get a contribution of $20,000. Our elders said "Let's get it all in one Sunday". We had never had a contribution of even $20000 much less $80000. Yet we collected over $100000.
IV. TO FIND OUR SPIRITUAL POTENTIAL, WE MUST INCREASE OUR FAITH.
A. God gives us many things we do not ask for. However His greatest blessings only come when we desire them and ask for them. 1. James 4:2 ". . . you do not have because you do not ask God".
B. Spiritual achievement is more than wishing. It is believing in God's power and then obeying Him. We are laborers together with Him to do His work. With such a partner, we cannot fail.
1. The New Testament gives accounts of two sons. One succeeded and failed, the other failed and succeeded. The difference was in their obedience.
a. Matthew 21:30
b. Luke 15:18-20
C. A sad note to this account of the widow should give us a word of warning. She could have had more if she had borrowed more vessels.
By Ancil Jenkins
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