‘Christians don’t need the Campbell Morgan of the Lord, they need the Lord of Campbell Morgan!’ attendees at the 2016 Our Daily Bread conference were told.
Several hundred people from across the UK gathered at Westminster Chapel, London, to hear Bill Crowder deliver four messages exploring the life and ministry of Elisha.
Called ‘Filling Big Shoes’, the messages took us from the start of Elisha’s ministry, through his taking over from Elijah, to his encounter with Naaman, and eventually his death.
In the first session, ‘The journey begins’ (1 Kings 19:15-21), we heard how forerunners and finishers had different purposes. Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist were all forerunners, messengers of God’s plans for salvation, while Joshua, Elisha and, ultimately, Jesus, put that salvation plan into action.
Discipleship, said Mr Crowder, is costly and it cost Elisha everything as he willingly and decisively entered into servanthood.
The second session, ‘The big ask’, looked at Elisha symbolically picking up the mantle of Elijah, after having asked for a ‘double portion’ of the Spirit of God (2 Kings 2:1-15).
Mr Crowder said, ‘Elisha’s response is a huge statement of what he thinks of the capabilities of God. He knows he is nothing without the Lord and is not afraid to ask the big ask’. ‘His request comes from humility and from understanding. It is an ask worthy of the God he was asking’.
After lunch, Mr Crowder took us through the story of Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:1-19), under the title ‘Reaching beyond’. He reminded us of Elisha’s humble, trusting attitude and said, ‘Attitudes are a big part of this story’.
King Aram of Syria had a big measure of expectation that the king of Israel could broker a cure for Naaman the leper. There was the bad attitude of the king of Israel, but Elisha’s attitude was trust and willingness to help, regardless of who Naaman was and what he had done to Israel.
There was also the attitude of Naaman, whose self-importance led to his indignant refusal to do what Elisha had told him to do. Yet God still works in our lives. As Naaman started to listen to his own servants, he obeyed and was healed.
Lastly there is the attitude of the little girl, who despite being trafficked from her home into slavery, did not show anger or resentment. Instead, her compassion and mercy reached out to her enemy; and that, said Mr Crowder, ‘reflects the heart of Jesus’.
The last session, ‘The end of the road’, took us to 2 Kings 13:14-21, where Elisha has been the prophet for about 65 years and is about to die.
The unknown future is screaming at King Joash and the king is afraid. But Joash’s faith in God was small. ‘God is not limited by our circumstances. Our attitudes can either be consumed by our circumstances or transformed by our God’.