We have been looking at the subject of "Service after Worship", and it might better be titled "Service and Worship". The two subjects cannot be separated. If you experience true worship, you will be available for service, and if you are engaged in true Biblical service, it will be as a result of real worship.

For the service aspect of our study, we have been looking at the life of Elijah. Today, we will move on to a combination of the lives of Elijah and Elisha.

A firsthand account of a family on vacation in Florida went something like: One spring our family was driving from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, Florida. As far as the eye could see, orange trees were loaded with fruit. When we stopped for breakfast, I ordered orange juice with my eggs. "I’m sorry," the waitress said. "I can’t bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken." At first I was dumbfounded. I knew they had oranges in the kitchen--orange slices garnished our plates. What was the problem? No juice? Hardly. We were surrounded by thousands of gallons of juice. The problem was they had become dependent on a machine to get the juice. Christians are sometimes like that. They may be surrounded by Bibles in their homes, but if something should happen to the Sunday morning preaching service, their devotional guide, etc., they would have no nourishment for their souls.

The builders are the Building

The problem is not a lack of spiritual food--but many Christians haven’t grown enough to know how to get it for themselves. Too many Christians rely on some person to prepare, serve and almost pre-chew their Spiritual food.

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building.

Our unique relationship within the Body of Christ, is so different that it’s nearly impossible, through natural logic, to comprehend. We are "fellow" workers with God in His field and on His building. We are also the "field" of which we cultivate, plant and harvest God’s Spiritual crops.

Yes, we are the field and we are the "fellow workers" with God in that field.

We are  both:  The worker who tends God’s field and God’s field in which we serve alongside God, Himself  

Just in case you are not inclined to understand farming, the Holy Spirit used another illustration to establish this truth. We are "fellow workers" with God on God’s "building" or dwelling place.

Not only do we do the building, we the "building".  

This fact is so important! We will give a very quick examination to this subject, later. This is one of the things that makes Biblical service so different and exciting, and at times, so frustrating and even damaging to the local church, when ignored.

To see this and other aspects of Biblical service, let’s continue our study of Elijah and expand our study to Elisha. The "theme" of Elijah’s life was to hear God’s word and do what he heard. We saw that fact:

But when Jezebel "put out a contract" on his life, Elijah "ran" from the place of service. Because of many factors, Elijah sank into a state of despondency. He was so low, as some might put it, he could have walked under a rug and never left a bump. He felt that he alone stood for what was right and all others had forsaken the right way. Not only had they forsaken the right way, they were all out to kill him. Therefore, he was a failure. There was nothing more he could do, so he prayed that he might die. After all, he had done the big thing on Mt. Carmel, what was there left, in this life, that could top that? Certainly, God could not use him in that state of mind, but God is an expert mind-changer.

Despondency is an ego and attitude problem. For every human, this is an easy pit to fall into. We humans have such overgrown egos and distorted attitudes that it takes very little to offend them, and thereby sending us into a spiral of despondency. On the other hand, we may take the "high" road and just blame someone else for our failures and problems. For the Believer, the problem of ego and attitude shows it ugly head, most often, when our attention shifts from who God is and what God said, to what I have done and how I feel.

When Elijah had his focus on who God was, and what God had told him to do, without fear for his life, he withstood the king, stood against and killed the prophets of Baal and many other things. However, when the wicked and debauched Jezebel made a statement against him, personally, Elijah lost his courage and his will to stand-fast! Instead, his goal became self-preservation. Which, if you think about it, was not only cowardly, it didn’t even make sense.

Elijah ran from Jezebel because she had threatened to take his life. Yet, when he stopped running long enough to pray, he asked God to take his life. If he really wanted his life snuffed out, he should have just stood his ground before Jezebel, and let her try to kill him.

You see, when we have our eyes on God.., "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthen me". Take our eyes off God, and turn them to our fragile ego, and our actions make no sense and are of little value for time or eternity.

Another illustration of this fact was seen in the past few days with the would-be-bombers in England. These bombers did not think their life dear, until the bombs did not go off. They walked fearlessly onto to the subway and bus to give their lives, but ran for their lives when the project failed.

I know a lot Christians who do very similar things in service for God. I even saw one in the mirror the other day.

James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.

God did not condemn Elijah for his condition, nor did he condone it or over look it. Instead, God set about to cure this emotional and Spiritual aliment. God allowed Elijah to have plenty of sleep, provided him with good food and lots of exercise. God also straightened out the distorted facts in Elijah’s mind and brought his focus back to the right person – God. Elijah thought he was the "lone wolf", the only one left who was still standing for God. God assured Elijah that there were 7,000 who had not yet bowed to Baal. Elijah thought he was a failure. God never debated that issue with Elijah, He simply let him know that he was not a failure, by giving him another job to do. God told him to go! Elijah was not to remain in the cave. This command of God was for his own sake, as well as others. He was to be about the work of God.

If Elijah remained idle, his heart would have continued to be the prey of despondency. Especially when we are being pounded with difficulties, we must cast ourselves on God and not drown ourselves in the bottomless pit of self-pity. God told Elijah to anoint a new king over Israel. Also, he was to anoint a new king over an enemy of Israel, and to call Elisha to be prophet in his place.

Don’t miss what God told him to do:

Jesus also tells us to go! We are to make disciples of all nations. God’s standard of success is not simply to convert the masses. This is what humans hold as the standard of success.

Elijah had been wildly successful on Mt. Carmel. That was a big success! Now God tells Elijah that he has an even bigger job ahead of him, that of making a disciple of Elisha. Making a disciple is slow work with many reverses and very seldom do you get your name on the front page of the newspaper, for your accomplishments.

God’s standard of success is simply that we do our part, as directed by God, and God will do the rest.   
1 Corinthians 4:1-2 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
God’s standard for service is "faithfulness", and that is a requirement 
when it comes to handling and teaching the Word of God.  

That is the standard that every pastor or anyone who teaches the Word of God should observe carefully. We are to fight the good fight of faith. God didn’t say that we would win every battle, but we must keep-on keeping-on. We are to fight the good fight of faith even when circumstances look bad, because God will not be defeated and His purposes will be accomplished! So, as long as we are on God’s team, we will be a winner. There may be many battles and battle-scars along the way, but we will be on the winning team!

Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We must be faithful until death, if we are to receive the crown of life, from the hand of Christ, Himself.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Revelation 2:10 "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Revelation 22:12-13 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to his work. 13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last."

Any Bible teacher who can read these and many other passages and say that what we do here and now has little if any consequences for the after life, is either Spiritually blind or deliberately stubborn in order to protect a "pet" erroneous idea. Please look at a couple of other passages, before we leave this area of faithful labor and the corresponding rewards for that labor.

Isaiah 49:4 Then I said, 'I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; yet surely my just reward is with the LORD, and my work with my God.' "

Elijah was in this very condition, described by Isaiah. He thought he had labored in vain, and that he had used all his strength for absolutely nothing, so therefore, he should die. If you are involved in the teaching and training of people as disciples of Christ, you will have that feeling many times over. However, if we have been faithful, even if it looks like failure, we have a just reward with the Lord, Who will bring it with Him at His coming.

1 Corinthians 9:16-19 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;

This passage should take a lesson or two just to get the surface truths found in it, but for this sweep, please see three things:

Hebrews 6:10-12 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

The writer of Hebrews tells us to imitate those who through faith and patience inherited the promises. Many of these faith greats did not receive the promise during their lives, but they all had, as their inheritance, those promises waiting for them in eternity. May we all follow their example and also receive our rewards, some here and now, and many more in eternity.

Hebrews 11:36-40 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented -- 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, (they inherited the promise 6:10) 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

This story of Elijah should be an encouragement to us, as we serve God. If we are really in the battle, we will have times when we grow discouraged (some more than others). We can take heart knowing that the great servants of God were men like ourselves. They were formed from the same clay and they shared in the same human weaknesses. We may have fought some mighty battles and had some great successes. Sometimes these great successes have been followed by, what seems to be, hopelessness. However, there will be other times when our efforts are successful, by human standards, but that success may be short-lived.

Like Elijah, we may and should grieve over sin, but we must not allow that grieving to cripple us to the point that we can not move forward to the next task. We must all come to the realization that God’s ways are not our ways, and God’s thoughts are far above ours, even as the sky above the earth. God, in His great wisdom, has provided all we need to bear up under the tests that He allows to come along.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

God has provided for us a sympathetic High Priest, His word as a guide, and a body of Believers with whom we may serve and from whom we may draw strength. These and many more provisions for service have been made available by God. Now we must utilize each of these things to escape the caves of despondency and to avoid going into the cave, in the first place.

Just because God has made available all we need for life and godliness, He does not automatically force us to use what’s available. We must choose to draw upon those resources provided, and when we make that step of faith, God puts them to work in our lives, in a wonderful way.

Sometimes we must go through the caves, as a spiritual necessity. For some of us, it is the only way God can get our attention. Other times, we need to go through the cave experience to refine our focus, attitudes and faith. Even Jesus, in His earthly life, needed suffering to bring to the surface His perfection and obedience.

Hebrews 5:6-9 As He also says in another place: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek"; 7 who, in the days of His [Christ's] flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
1 Peter 1:6-8 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

When our focus and dependence shifts from God to our own ability, we often must be buffeted by the cave of despondency, in order to realign our focus and goals. If we are willing to learn from and lean on God during a cave experience, renewed life will blossom and our strength will be increased. Elijah is one such success story. He came forth with renewed strength and courage, and so can we.

Just a caution to those who are not in the cave of despondency (at this time), we must not be too harsh on those who are. Instead, we must cultivate empathy for those who are in the cave, and come along side them using God prescribed methods for recovery.

As we look at the life of Elisha, we will see, by illustration, some of the Biblical principle of real service to God. Earlier in this lesson, I pointed out three things God told Elijah to do after he left the cave. Please look at them again, and let’s see some insights from them.

1 Kings 19:15-18 Then the LORD said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 "Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 "It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."

We have a problem. Elijah never anointed the two kings, he only anointed Elisha. Elisha anointed the two kings.

2 Kings 8:8-15 And the king said to Hazael, "Take a present in your hand, and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD by him, saying, 'Shall I recover from this disease?' " 9 So Hazael went to meet him and took a present with him, of every good thing of Damascus, forty camel-loads; and he came and stood before him, and said, "Your son Ben-Hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, 'Shall I recover from this disease?' " 10 And Elisha said to him, "Go, say to him, 'You shall certainly recover.' However the LORD has shown me that he will really die." 11 Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept. 12 And Hazael said, "Why is my lord weeping?" And he answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child."
13 So Hazael said, "But what is your servant -- a dog, that he should do this gross thing?" And Elisha answered, "The LORD has shown me that you will become king over Syria." 14 Then he departed from Elisha, and came to his master, who said to him, "What did Elisha say to you?" And he answered, "He told me that you would surely recover." 15 But it happened on the next day that he took a thick cloth and dipped it in water, and spread it over his face so that he died; and Hazael reigned in his place.
2 Kings 9:1-3 And Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, "Get yourself ready, take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth Gilead. 2 "Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. 3 "Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, 'Thus says the LORD: "I have anointed you king over Israel." 'Then open the door and flee, and do not delay."

God told Elijah to anoint the two kings, but it was Elisha who actually did the anointing.

Was Elijah disobedient is this matter?    NO!!	  

Christendom in general takes the attitude of celebrity type service. We say a certain celebrity made a movie. When in reality that celebrity didn’t do much in the making of the movie, at all.

If the making of that movie were up to the celebrity the movie would never be made, and if the movie were made by the celebrity, it would look like trash, and no one would go to see it.

The so called celebrity said a few lines and performs some actions, most of which were done at the direction of someone else. Hundreds of others contributed much more time and effort than the celebrity, in bringing that movie to reality.

God’s work is not the "celebrity" type, God’s work is the "body" type  

Earlier in the lesson, we looked a 1 Corinthians 3:9 which states that we are not only fellow workers with God in His field and building, we are, also, the field and building!

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building.

As you well know, every verse has a context. So, let’s look at the context and I believe it will bring a great deal of light to the subject.

1 Corinthians 3:4-9 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building.

The church at Corinth had many problems and one of them was that they had already adopted the celebrity mentality of Biblical service. They had elevated two of God servants to celebrity status. One group said that Apollos made their movie. Another group said that Paul made their movie. Of course, I hope you know they weren’t making movies at Corinth, but the principle is the same.

Paul sets out, in 1 Corinthians, to correct this and other problems. First of all, Paul says that anyone who has this concept of Biblical service is carnal. In other words, those at Corinth were thinking only as humans would think, and were trying to drag God’s service down to the same level as serving some human. Then Paul goes on to bust the bubble, of those who held that a person who served in a certain capacity was separate and better than one who served in a different capacity. In verse 8, Paul clears up the matter by saying that all workers are one (as a body). Biblical service is not the task of some celebrity and all others are working for him, in a effort to make him prominent. It matters not who does what in Biblical service, all are working for one purpose and that is to accomplish the goal of the body. However, in this service for God, all workers are not clumped as one big gob of protoplasm, with no individuality.

God keeps track, and each one will receive their own reward  based on their own labor  

Then we come to verse 9, which states that we don’t labor alone or just with other humans, we are fellow workers with God. Even though there are no workers who are more important than others—no celebrities, yet each worker has his own job to do. There are differences of responsibility and accountability, but no one job is more important than another. Look how the Holy Spirit through Paul gives us the picture of Biblical service.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Paul says, let me expand this concept of Biblical service by using another illustration. God has given me, Paul, the responsibility of being the master builder or architect. God has given others the job of builder. Obviously, the two tasks are different, but one is of no more importance to the total project, than the other.

Just having plans, does not a house produce.    
Building a house without plans, a mess it will produce.  

God told Elijah at the cave, there was work for him to do and He outlined three things.

Elisha actually anointed the two kings, but Elijah trained or discipled Elisha. Remember what the Holy Spirit said through Paul.

1 Corinthians 3:7-8 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one,

When we are in the service of God, we are one. We have different tasks, but we are one (as a body). Elijah trained Elisha, and Elisha anointed the kings. They each had different tasks, but they were one in the overall project. The project would not have been accomplished by either, alone. The project was done and those participating in it were one, and they were all one with God. In closing look at a few other passage that indicates this same truth.

Matthew 10:41-42 "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."
Philippians 2:14-16 Do all things without murmuring and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Paul’s concern was that they live properly, so that he could rejoice in the day of Christ—different tasks, different responsibilities, but the same project.

2 Corinthians 1:9-14 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. 12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
Hebrews 13:15-17 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2005