Today’s graduates will not be the first to be tempted to settle for some version of the American Dream—get a good job and a nice house, make sure life is comfortable for you and your family, and set yourself up for a relaxing retirement. But living for these earthly treasures is not what followers of Christ have been called to. To be a follower of Christ means that we have died to ourselves so that we can live for Him and His purposes in the world. In this message from 1 Kings 19:19–21, David Platt uses the story of Elisha’s call to urge graduates to risk everything to pursue Christ’s call on their lives. These are young men and women who are so infatuated with following their King that they will gladly go wherever He leads and do whatever He calls them to do.
As you find a Bible, I am standing before you in full academic regalia. Actually, that’s not totally true. I’m wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a t-shirt underneath this doctoral gown. And I am not wearing the doctoral cap—also known as a “Tudor bonnet” —because I genuinely fear the ridicule I would receive from brothers and sisters on our staff and in our church if I were to wear it.
I know that many of you who are watching (or reading) this did not have the opportunity to have a formal celebration of your graduation this year, at least not like you’d planned or hoped. That is why we wanted to set aside this Sunday as formally as possible to celebrate God’s grace in you and to speak from God’s Word to you.
I know that virtual commencements have occurred or will occur with notable speakers from the world, but I want to make sure at this significant moment in your life, you hear from the Speaker who actually rules the world. One of my prayers as a pastor is that God would raise up students across this church who are sold out to Jesus and single-minded in their commitment to His cause in this world. By “single-minded in commitment,” I mean students who will pay any price to do whatever Jesus tells them to do and go wherever Jesus leads them to go, no matter how crazy this world might think you are.
Jim Elliot, upon his graduation from college, had all kinds of career possibilities before him. He was smart, gifted, charismatic—the sky was the limit. Yet his plans were set on going to a small tribe in South America that had never heard the gospel. His parents were not excited about those plans and they told him so in a letter. This is what he wrote in return:
I do not wonder that you are saddened at the word of my going to South America. This is nothing else than what the Lord Jesus warned us of when He told the disciples that they must become so infatuated with the Kingdom and following Him that all other allegiances must become as though they were not. And He never excluded the family tie. In fact, those loves that we regard as closest, He told us, must become as hate in comparison with our desire to uphold His cause.
Grieve not, then, if your sons seem to desert you, but rejoice rather, seeing the will of God done gladly. Remember how the psalmist described children? He said they were as a heritage from the Lord and that every man should be happy who had his quiver full of them. And what is a quiver full of but arrows? And what are arrows for but to shoot?
So with the strong arms of prayer, draw back the bowstring and let the arrows fly, all of them, straight at the enemy’s hosts. Give of your sons to bear the message glorious. Give of your wealth to speed them on their way. Pour out your soul for them in prayer victorious and all you spend Jesus will repay.
What kind of graduate writes that? The kind of graduate I pray this church will produce. Graduates who are so infatuated with the Kingdom and the King that they will gladly go wherever He leads and do whatever He says. So for the next few moments, I want to speak from God’s Word specifically to graduates—from high school, those graduating with advanced degrees. I want to address graduates specifically, not just in our church family, but also those listening (or reading) beyond our church family.
I know God’s Word has application for any age, so for those of you who are overhearing this address—whether you’re a child or a student who will one day, Lord willing, graduate, or you’re an adult or a senior adult for whom graduation is a distant memory—I trust that as I speak to graduates about following Jesus, God will speak to you about following Jesus.
Specifically, I’ve titled this message to graduates: “A Call to Risk It All.” So if you have a Bible, I invite you to open it to 1 Kings 19. As I prayed about where to go in God’s Word today, my mind first went to the Psalms and our daily Bible reading as a church. But as the week progressed, I just couldn’t shake a story in 1 Kings 19 that summarizes what I believe God is saying to you today as you graduate. What we’re about to read may seem like a dramatic story of one person a long time ago, but I want to show you that it’s actually your story today. It’s only three verses. We’re going to read through it slowly, so that we feel it.
Let me set the context. These are the days of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, both of whom were extremely evil, leading God’s people into all sorts of idolatry and immorality across the country. Specifically, they had led God’s people to worship the Canaanite rain god Baal. If you wanted it to rain, then you worshipped and prayed to and trusted in Baal. But it was more than just about rain because the rain was necessary for crops, food, sustenance, prosperity and life. Ahab had led all of God’s people to put their trust and hope in Baal for prosperity. It’s Baal who gave life.
So God raised up Elijah as a prophet to confront Baal and call out Ahab’s idolatry. Elijah had done his part, so now it was time for Elijah to begin passing the mantle on to a new prophet, which is what God says in 1 Kings 19:16. There, God tells Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor. And that’s where our story picks up.
“So he,” Elijah, “departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat” (1 Kings 19:19). Let’s pause here and see two things about Elisha. First, his name means “God saves” or “God is salvation.” From all we can tell, he grew up in a family that feared and worshiped the one true God and he had placed his faith in God. I point this out in particular because I’m thinking primarily about graduates who have placed their faith in God and His salvation through Jesus, but I know that is not a reality for every graduate who’s listening right now, or who will listen to this in the future.
If that is you, if you do not personally, in the depth of your own heart, know that God has saved you, then I invite you to experience His salvation today. The whole story of the Bible is the story of people separated from God by sin—sin that warrants God’s judgment forever. The Bible teaches that the payment for sin is death—eternal, everlasting death. But the Bible also teaches that God has made a way for us to be saved from sin and death. God has come to us in the person of Jesus, Who lived without sin and died as a sacrifice for our sin. Then He rose from the dead in victory over sin, so that anyone—no matter who you are or what you have done—can be saved from the penalty of sin and restored to relationship with God by placing your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Yes, graduation day in high school or college is significant, but judgment day before God is infinitely more significant, eternally more significant. I urge you today to humble yourself and put your trust in Jesus before it is too late. Judgment day is coming for every single one of us and the only thing that matters on that day is whether or not you have put your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. God saves— that’s Elisha’s name. I pray that it will be a reality in your heart.
The second thing about Elisha is that while we don’t know his exact age at this point, as best we can tell he’s somewhere between 18 and 25 years old. Basically, he’s the age of most graduates. The story continues by saying Elisha “was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth.”
If you were reading this centuries ago, you would realize at this point Elisha had it made. Twelve yoke of oxen, meaning twelve pair of oxen yoked together—that’s 24 oxen. A middle-class family in that day had one ox. Elisha had 24 of them. This means he not only had many oxen, but he also had much land. And not just land, but we learn in another place that Elisha lived in Abel-meholah, which was known as the breadbasket of Israel. It was a fertile piece of land right next to the Jordan River.
Putting all this together, you realize that Elisha was rich. Land, oxen—he was set. He had a successful career that could sustain him for life. Until this moment when “Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him.” Ten words turned everything upside down. Elijah the prophet passes by, takes his cloak and puts it on Elisha. From all we can tell, without saying a word, Elijah just keeps going.
Let’s think about what just happened here. Put yourself in Elisha’s shoes. You see Elijah, the fiery eyed prophet of God, who confronted the prophets of Baal, called down fire from heaven and called down rain from the sky. Put yourself in Elisha’s shoes here. Elijah himself comes over to you, —takes his cloak or mantle, which would have been a symbolic picture of his power and authority as a prophet, and he places it on you. What are you thinking in that moment?
You might be thinking, “What are you doing? Who am I to wear this cloak? Carry this mantle? I’m just working in the field. And besides, my life is already set. I have oxen and land to care for. I can’t do what Elijah does, nor do I know if I really want to.” Remember, as revered as Elijah would have been among those who worshiped God, he was hated by those who worshiped Baal. Most people wanted Elijah dead.
So Elisha may have been thinking, “You signed up for that—not me.” Maybe he’s at least thinking, “I need some time to process this.” You don’t make big decisions like becoming a prophet overnight. You take some time. You consider the pros and cons; you come to some logical conclusions. There are so many ways you or I might process this. But listen to what Elisha does. Verse 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.’” He left the oxen and ran after Elijah. Who makes a decision like this without asking some questions? No contemplation, no deliberation, no questions. With Elisha, it was just resolution. He left the oxen, ran to Elijah and said, “I’m going to say goodbye to my dad and mom, then I’m with you.”
Elijah said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” That sounds like a weird response because Elijah had just done something very significant to Elisha. But the language here is focusing on the fact that it wasn’t ultimately Elijah who had called Elisha—it was God. “What have I done? Nothing, ultimately. It’s not about me. This is about God. So you do whatever He calls you to do.”
Elisha “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.” Did you hear what just happened? Elisha just slaughtered his 24 oxen and generously gave it away to people in need around him. And he sacrificed, not just the oxen, but also the yokes of the oxen, the plowing instruments used for the oxen. Just like that, Elisha cut total ties with everything he possessed—his entire way of living.
This is so different from the way we would act, isn’t it? Keep your options open, right? Come back, have a conversation with your family, in which they may try to talk some sense into you before you leave everything behind. Then if you still insist on going, at least keep the oxen and the equipment, so just in case things don’t work out with Elijah, you’ll have something to come back to. No. Elisha says, “I’m risking it all.” He literally cooks his career for dinner. He says goodbye to everything he knows and everything he loves in this world.
“And he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.” Thus begins a journey that would last for the next 50 years, over the course of which Elisha would confront kings, witness miracles, provide for people in need and shape nations.
So what does this story have to do with you as you graduate? It has everything to do with you as you graduate, because this story is not just a distant moment in history that led to a dramatic decision in one man’s life. This is actually a poignant picture of a personal decision you have to make in your life. Sure, you’re not plowing with oxen and no prophet named Elijah is coming up to you with his cloak. But a fiery-eyed Prophet greater than Elijah has come. His name is Jesus and He says the following words to every single follower of His—not just a couple people. He says in Luke 14:26–27, 33:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple… So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be a disciple.
“Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has”—if you do not do that, you cannot be a disciple of Jesus. In other words, sacrifice the oxen and burn the plow. This is not just Elijah to Elisha— this is Jesus to you. This is what Jesus is saying to you at this moment, particularly as you graduate and you look toward your future.
1 Kings 19:19–21 reminds us the task before you is serious.
Elisha knew there was serious need around him in the world for God’s grace and God’s word. There was serious idolatry, serious immorality, serious oppression among God’s people. In a remarkably similar way, you are graduating right now into a world of idolatry, whether it’s the idolatry of money, sex, image, success around you right here, or the idolatry of literally millions of false gods being worshiped around the world, leading to all kinds of sin and strife and division. Need I list evidences right now in the world of anger and hatred, vitriol and violence, oppression and deprivation? And that’s just here.
As our gaze widens, we see a world where half the population lives on less than two dollars a day; a billion people live in desperate poverty. It’s a world where billions of people are headed to eternal judgment who haven’t even heard about the One Who can give them eternal life. I don’t mean to paint an overly bleak picture, but I do mean to open your eyes. You live in a world in need of God’s grace and God’s Word. You have both.
1 Kings 19:19–21 reminds us the call to you is epic.
I’m hesitant to use the word epic here because of how it’s either lightly used or often overstated. But this word captures what God calls you to more than any other I can think of; I do not think it’s an overstatement.
God was calling Elisha to take His Word into the world around him, wherever God would lead him. That’s what a prophet did. He listened to the Word of God, he lived according to the Word of God and he spoke the Word of God. Just like Elijah saw God’s Word bring rain and fire, Elisha would see God’s Word miraculously bring food to the hungry and life to the dead.
You might think, “Well, I didn’t get that degree. That’s not what I’ve been training to do in my high school or college or graduate school.” You’re missing the point. Lift your eyes because this is exactly what Jesus has called and equipped you to do.
Do you want to see what I mean by “epic”? Hear Jesus words that we say to one another at the end of every one of our worship gatherings here. He says to every one of His followers, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18–20). That’s what the fiery-eyed prophet named Jesus has told you to do—make disciples of Jesus. Think about what that means. It means to see people go from spiritual, eternal death to spiritual, eternal life all over the world, among all the nations.
Beware. You live in a world, and even a church world, where you will be told time and time again, “This is not what you’re called to do. Just sit back. Just sit there in your seat in your church. Go on Sundays—or on Sundays when it’s convenient for you and your family, when it works out in your schedule.” Then you live all week long to make money and spend it, like the world. Spend it on more possessions and nicer things. Put some in the offering plate, but spend most of it on yourself. You just cruise through casual, comfortable Christianity as you live it up in this world. Retire, live it up some more, then go to heaven. That’s the Christian life.
Please hear the Word of God: that is not the Christian life. It is compromise with the world and it is not what Jesus is calling you to in your life. It’s a waste of your life and some of you are going to settle for it. Some of you are going to settle for a good job, a good family, a nice car, long weekends, a few good friends, a fun retirement, an easy death and no hell, thinking that’s success. But I urge you to see today that you have been called to so much more. You’ve been called to something epic—to make disciples. Do you realize this? You’re called to lead people to forsake false gods and find true life in Jesus for the next ten trillion years and beyond. That sounds epic. So many professing Christians are giving their lives to so many other things besides that. So don’t do it! Don’t do it!
Think about Elisha. Look at his life. Over 50 years from the story we just read, he would see God perform miracle after miracle right in front of his eyes. What I’m trying to show you today is that God wants you to see the same right in front of your eyes, to bring about miracles in people’s lives. Not just miracles of food multiplying or people living, but people being saved from sin, brought from death to life. Give your life to seeing that miracle happen. Do it now. Open your eyes.
You have friends whom you’ve been in school with who don’t know Jesus. You’re about to scatter from them, seeing many of them never again. So don’t let this moment pass. Call them up this week and tell them God loves them, that God will save them if they will trust in Jesus. Give your life to this when you get to the campus you’re going to, whenever that campus may open. Your college campus is a mission field in need of God’s grace and God’s Word, both of which you have. Then while you’re going to school and after school, your job or career or the profession you’re entering is a mission field full of people in need of God’s grace and God’s Word. Jesus sent His disciples into every domain of the world to make disciples in the world, in all the marketplaces, in all the places where we work.
Then retirement, if God gives you that, just opens the door to spend even more time devoted to this mission in the world. Don’t ignore this last part. Jesus was not mistaken when He said, “Do this among all nations. So don’t let men and women tell you—even in the church—“You just care about the people right around you. You don’t need to care about people far from you.” No, you do care about people far from you, because Jesus said to care about people far from you. You care about the Tatar in Russia and the Baloch in Pakistan and the Berber in Morocco and 7,000 other people groups who have not even heard the good news of how God can save them from their sins, because we have not cared for them. Care about them. Pray for them every day.
Then say, “God, I’ll go to any one of them You want me to go to. Or if You don’t want me to go to them, I’ll make money so I can sacrifice it to send other people to them.” This is an epic call to make disciples of all the nations, to join with Jesus Himself in the spread of His love, justice, mercy and His grace to the ends of the earth. This epic call should dictate every single decision you make in your life. The call to make disciples of the nations should dictate if or where you go to college and how you live when you get there. The call to make disciples of the nations should dictate what degree you get, what career you pursue and how you pursue that career. The call to make disciples of the nations should dictate whether you marry and whom you marry. You say, “What do you mean?” If you are dating a guy or a girl who is not on fire for Jesus and absolutely abandoned to making His glory known among the nations, no matter what that means, do not yoke your life with them. Don’t do it.
As you look at degrees, look for ways God has uniquely wired you for the spread of His glory in the world. Look for, pray through, discern the different ways He’s leading you into this domain or that domain, not ultimately for worldly gain but for divine glory and people’s eternities. Don’t buy the idea that the purpose of your life is to get a great education, be a great athlete, go on great dates, have a great career and make great money. The purpose of your life is to love a great God and accomplish a great commission. So view everything from your education to your career to your family to your finances through that lens. Do whatever God leads you to do wherever He leads you to do it, as you make disciples of the nations.
Let me be clear. I’m not saying everyone should pack their bags and move to another nation. That’s not what God’s Word is saying. God’s Word is saying, “You make disciples of the nations, regardless of where you live and what you do.” This will be different for each of us. But whether you’re a banker in northern Virginia or a teacher in Yemen, whether you’re a consultant in Maryland or a doctor in Saudi Arabia, abandon your life to the epic call of Christ.
The commitment required of you is costly.
You do this, thirdly, knowing that the commitment required of you is costly. Elisha knew this would not be easy. In that moment, he counted the cost and joyfully paid it. He made a fire, drew his blade, slaughtered his livestock, burned his equipment—and he went.
I don’t know all the ways Jesus is calling you to carry out His commission in your life. I don’t know all the places He might lead you in the days ahead. All I know is you will not be able to follow Him and live for the pleasures, pursuits and possessions of this world. The call to follow Jesus is a call to choose, sacrifice, serve and lay down your life, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and all your strength, loving your neighbor as yourself.
Just look at the initial disciples who responded to this call. According to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, James was thrust through with a sword. Luke—who wrote one of the Gospels and the book of Acts—was hung by the neck from an olive tree in Greece. Thomas was pierced with a spear and burned alive in India. Philip was preaching in front of a proconsul. That leader’s wife came to Christ, enraging her husband and leading to Philip’s torture and death. Matthew was stabbed in the back. Bartholomew was clubbed to death, as was the other James after he was thrown off a building. Thaddeus was beaten to death by sticks. Matthias was stoned to death and beheaded. Simon the Zealot was crucified in Syria. Simon Peter was crucified upside down at his own request because he didn’t feel worthy to die the same way Jesus did.
I share all of this to ask if you know why these disciples died. It’s not because they called themselves Christians. If they had just sat back and stayed quiet, they could have lived nice normal lives and died nice normal deaths. They lost their lives, not because they knew Christ, but because they gave their lives proclaiming Christ. This epic call to make disciples of the nations it cost them everything.
So when we read these words or say them to each other at the end of our worship gathering, let’s remember this is a call to lay aside our pride, comfort, safety, preferences, possessions, reputations, our very lives to make His life known in the world around us, no matter what that costs us.
1 Kings 19:19–21 reminds us the power inside you is supernatural.
Oh, graduate, know that the power inside you is supernatural! I love the picture of this cloak being laid on Elisha, a picture of the power and authority of Elijah being passed to Elisha. It’s a picture of how the presence and power of God would be with him as a prophet, which actually leads to one of my favorite stories in Elisha’s life. It’s in 2 Kings 6. In this story, Elisha is referred to as the “man of God.” This is years after 1 Kings 19.
Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.” And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice.
Basically, the king of Syria would make plans in his war with Israel, then God would reveal those plans to Elisha, who would tell the king of Israel. Kind of unfair, right? Naturally, that didn’t make the king of Syria very happy.
And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.”
Basically, the king’s advisors were saying, “It’s not us. Elisha is the one giving away your plans.”
And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.
Now listen to what happens:
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Elisha’s servant is panicking, but Elisha assures him, “There are more of us than there are of them.” Think about that, especially if you’re Elisha’s servant. There are two guys in the house—Elisha and his servant. There’s a great army with horses and chariots out there. If you’re Elisha’s servant, you’re thinking, “The old guy has lost his mind. He may be a prophet, but he’s no mathematician. There are two of us and a whole lot more of them.” But then watch what happens:
Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
In other words, Elisha prays that God would open his servant’s eyes to see the spiritual army, with horses and chariots of fire, surrounding them. And in that moment, his servant gets a glimpse of the unseen, totally changing his perspective. He realizes in that moment the army of Syria is indeed outnumbered—not physically, but spiritually. The invisible became visible and everything changed. Listen to what happened:
And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.
What happens in the rest of the story is Elisha leads the Syrian army straight to the king of Israel, where they are immediately captured! Now, what does that have to do with graduates? It has everything to do with you. Don’t miss this. Do you know why? Because right before Jesus gave this epic call to you to make disciples of the nations, what did He say in Matthew 28:18? “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore…”—in light of this, go.
Graduate, what this means is you don’t have the cloak of Elijah—you have the cloak, the authority, of Jesus Christ. The power and presence of Jesus Himself is in you. Just in case you think I’m making this up, listen to His words right after He gives this epic call: “And I will be with you always.” You have the Spirit of Jesus living inside of you. You do not depend on what the world can give you; you depend on God Himself in you.
There comes a point when, as much as you appreciate what you receive from and in this world, it is not what you depend on or boast in. As much as you honor how this world awards you, it is not what you live for. You have a totally different perspective. You see what the world does not see. This means your eyes are set on a prize the world does not long for, but you do.
The reward that awaits you is eternal.
You are filled with supernatural power, greater than any cloak this world can ever give you, and as a result of the power inside you being supernatural, the reward that awaits you is eternal. Elisha had no idea what God had in store for him when he left behind 24 oxen. It seemed like a big sacrifice, but it was nothing compared to what God was calling him to do.
I submit to you today that nothing this world offers you can compare to what God is calling you to do. Don’t settle for worldly pursuits, hollow pleasures and fading possessions. Don’t settle for what you so often see around you—monotonous, go-through-the-motions, casual Christianity. You’ve been created for so much more. You’ve been created to live an eternally significant life.
I don’t know what that means for you. Maybe you’ll be like my friends John and Acsha, who have left behind all kinds of comfort and safety to fight trafficking in South Asia. They’re still in their 20s and they have rescued over 18,000 girls and boys who were in danger of being sold into slavery—and they’ve done it proclaiming the gospel every step of the way.
Or maybe you’ll be like my friends Andy and Melissa, who went to dental school and now have a successful dental practice. But the education and career are not the point. They’re sacrificing their profits to get clean and living water to people who don’t have either in the world.
That’s the beauty of the creativity of God. I don’t know where He will lead every single graduate who’s listening to this right now, but I do know that you will not regret giving your all to God. I know that. So here you stand on this day, in this moment in your life, looking to your future with a choice. You can settle for safe plans and small dreams and shallow faith. Or you can look into the fiery eyes of the Prophet Jesus and risk your plans, dreams and your faith on His epic call to make disciples of the nations. I want to urge you to risk it all.
1 Kings 19:19–21 leads us to pray for graduates
Will you bow your heads with me, right where you’re sitting, graduates and others? Based on God’s Word, I want to ask every graduate and every other person in the sound of my voice, first, “Are you a follower of Jesus? Do you know Jesus as Savior and Lord in your life? Have you renounced all you have to be His disciple?” If your answer is not a resounding yes in your mind and heart, I want to invite you right now to pray, “O God, today is the day, right here, right now. I’m a sinner before You, but I know Jesus has died on the cross for my sin. Today I place my faith in Him as my Savior and Lord of my life. That means My life is Yours to spend. I trust You with my life—now and ten trillion years from now. Amen”
God, I pray that You would cause that faith to rise in the hearts and minds of graduates and others right now. God, I pray especially for graduates, that You would give them grace in this moment to pray “Yes, God, I will do whatever You tell me to do.” Will you just say that to God if you’re a graduate? Would you just say that to God right now? “God, I will do whatever You tell me to do. I will give whatever You call me to give. I will go wherever You lead me to go.”
O God, please hear these prayers and use these lives to make Your glory known in the days ahead in ways far beyond what the one who is praying that could ask or imagine. We pray for the rest of us who are not graduating; we pray You would help us join them. Help us to show them what this looks like in action—surrendering to You, trusting in You and following after You with all our hearts, obeying Your epic call in our lives. God, help us do this through every one of our lives across this church. We pray this in Jesus’ name, the name of our Savior and our Lord. Amen.
How can we apply this passage to our lives?
How does this narrative point us to Jesus?
In what ways can you disciple and provide support for graduates?
Graduates, how has this sermon helped you to see the urgency of the gospel, right now?
Why is “epic” an accurate description for the call of Christ?
How has this time in God’s Word compelled you to combat nominal Christianity in your own life?
1 Kings 19:19 – 21
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. 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?” 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.
Luke 14:26 – 27
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
The task before you is serious.
The call to you is epic.
The commitment required of you is costly.
The power inside you is supernatural.
2 Kings 6:8 – 19
Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.” And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice. And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.