August 18, 2002
I want to scroll through the average day of a typical Metroplex suburbanite. This person gets up, gets dressed, grabs some breakfast at the house, sets his alarm, pets the dog, unlocks his car, gets in, locks his car, and drives to the office. When he gets to the office, he gets his security card out, swipes it, and says hi to the police officer. He knows he has to work really hard over the next several hours because, in a little while, he has got to hop a plane to Houston.
He flies to the airport, gets out of his car, locks his car, walks into the airport, shows his ID, and answers no to those two questions. Before he boards the flight, he shows his ID once again. There is a good chance there is an air marshal on board just for security reasons. He gets to Houston and does business there. He goes back to the airport and the same drill is repeated.
When he walks to his car in the parking garage at the airport, it is already nightfall. So, he looks around for any suspicious characters. He disengages his alarm, gets in, locks the car, drives home, pulls up in front of his complex, disengages his alarm, pets his pit bull, and turns on the television. He reads and kind of looks at the paper while he is watching the news a little bit. The paper and the news confirm each other. There is another child kidnapping. There is another suicide bombing in the Middle East. The news is pretty bad. He checks the locks on the windows and the doors. He engages his alarm and puts his head on the pillow for another peaceful night’s sleep.
As you can see, our society is saturated with security. Everywhere we look, we run into security issues. We have motion detectors. We have guard dogs. We have alarm systems. We have LoJacks. Some people even have panic rooms. I didn’t see the movie starring Jodi Foster, but some people have areas where they can retreat to if someone invades their home.
Today, we are going to meet a guy who had every reason to panic. He had every reason to freak out. There were no nuclear bombs, or dirty bombs or suicide bombers in his day; but he did have some people after him. He did face some uncertainties. This person I am going to talk about though, had a panic room, a four-wall fortress of faith, some square footage that he could retreat to when the enemy got after him.
The Bible says those of us who are in Christ, we have an area, we have a refuge, we have a panic room, if you will, that we can retreat to when we face those uncertain times. The man I am talking about is a man mentioned in the Old Testament by the name of Elisha. I didn’t say Elijah; I said Elisha. They are different individuals.
If you have your Bibles, turn to the book of 2 Kings. 2 Kings is over in the Old Testament and we will look at 2 Kings, Chapter 6 over the next little while.
Let me bring you up to speed on where we are. King Ben-Hadad, the King of Syria, was on tilt. He was hot. Why? Because the Israelis were always one step ahead. He was trying to capture and kill them; yet they were always just one step ahead. These guys were reading his mail. King Ben-Hadad thought he had a traitor in his ranks so he called together his lieutenants and he talked to them. The lieutenants said, “Hey, King, we love you. We’re not spies. We’ll tell you the deal. It’s Elisha. Elisha, that Israeli, he is the one who is reading your mail. He is the one who is tipping off the King of Israel. He is the one that is sharing the stuff with the army and they are always going to be one step ahead of you; but if you don’t kill Elisha, you are going to still have the frustration of not being able to find out what they are doing. So, it is my advice that you need to rub the guy out.”
King Ben-Hadad, being the sweet, kind and benevolent person that he was, said, “Let’s kill Elisha. Let’s take him out. Let’s rip him apart.”
That is where we pick up in this account of 2 Kings 6:9, “The man of God (that’s Elisha.)”
It’s very interesting; this is the first time this phrase is used describing someone as the man of God. When someone describes you, what do they say? Do they say, “This guy is a man of materialism. This guy is a man of lust. This guy is a man of anger. This guy is a man of selfishness.” Or do they call you a man of God? Or, do they call you a woman of God? It’s a great question. We are all labeled.
“The man of God sent word to the King of Israel: ‘Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” (That’s the Syrian army).
Look at Verse 10, “Time and time again Elisha warned the King, so that he was on his guard in such places.”
What was Elisha doing? Elisha was tenaciously following God’s agenda for his life. What was his agenda? God’s agenda was simply this. Elisha was a prophet of God, a mouthpiece of God. If you read about his resume in the Bible, Elisha was a prophet for 50 years. He influenced four different nations. He was a man who stood for what he believed. He was a man who, in many different circumstances and situations, had people coming after him; yet, he always had this peace, this assurance that surpassed all understanding and comprehension during that day.
I want to tell you something that you need to understand. God has an unbelievable agenda for every person’s life who is hearing my voice. That’s right. The God of this universe has a prosperous and powerful plan for all of our lives. If we could go to heaven right now, and we could see God’s agenda, if God would say, “Okay, Ed, here is my agenda for you. Or here is my agenda for you and you and you,” we would go, “What? You want me to do those things, God? It’s that amazing? It’s that abundant?” God would say, “Yes that is what I want you to do. That is why I have wired you the way I have wired you. That is why I put you in that family. That’s why I put you in that situation, or in the company, that school, that team. I have got an unbelievable, an amazing agenda for your life.”
Respond to God’s Agenda.
The first thing we need to do is what Elisha did. We need to respond to God’s agenda for our lives. The agenda has been set forth. It’s out there. Now, we just have to respond to it.
In Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
When we discover God’s plan for our life, when we follow his agenda tenaciously, fears will subside, we will have excitement, we will ride the ragged edge of relationship with the living Lord. That is what is at stake. So, God has prepared in advance what you are supposed to do in that dating relationship, or in that business partnership, or in that marriage, or in that single family, or in that career or in whatever you can think of. God has a great agenda.
I worked with a consultant a while back, and this guy was a trip because he always said the word, “awesome.” Here is how he would say it, “Awesome! Awesome! That’s just awesome!”
When you think about God’s agenda for your lives, it’s awesome! Yet, many people here who are hearing my voice are not following God’s agenda. You are not on his page. You are off of his plan.
In John 10:9-10, Jesus talked about this whole agenda thing. He said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and out, and find pasture.”
Jesus was saying that he was the shepherd. He was the entry point. When you think about a shepherd, shepherds would make a sheepfold at night to keep their sheep in. These sheepfolds would be made of brush or rocks and the shepherd would lie down and sleep over the opening. He would become the gate.
The Bible says that once we realize that we are sheep, and that we have gone astray, each of us has gone our own way, once we realize that we are sinners and once we enter through the gate, through Christ, we enter that square footage, that dwelling place, that panic room, and the Bible says we will be saved. Saved from what? Saved from a Christless eternity. We will be saved from wasting our lives. We’ll be saved from the Evil One’s agenda.
Also, the Bible says we will be safe. The Scripture says we can go in and out. Then we will become satisfied. We will find pasture. So, if you want to be saved (I do), if you want to be safe (I want safety), if you want to be satisfied (I want some of that), we have got to enter through the gate. We have got to go with God’s flow. We have got to get in on his agenda.
Then Jesus continued in Verse 10, he says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Who is the thief? The thief is the Evil One. The Evil One has the ability to make us think he does not have an agenda for our lives, but he does. The Evil One has an agenda for your dating relationship. He has an agenda for your marriage. He has an agenda for this church. He has an agenda for your career. I could go on and on and on. A lot of people don’t realize it. You, though, are on Satan’s agenda. He is that crafty. You don’t think you are. You say, “Me? On the Evil One’s agenda? You’ve got the wrong guy. You’ve got the wrong girl.” Check it out. Satan’s agenda is weird because it feels good for a while. You say, “Hey, this is cool. No problem. I can get through this thing scot free.” But one day, bam.
Jesus concluded this verse when he said, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” This phrase “to the full” is the word abundance, which means waves hitting on the seashore over and over again. It’s a superabundance, more than we ever need or want. That’s the plan that the Lord has for us.
Speaking of agendas, we have a lot of meetings at Fellowship Church. Sometimes I lead those meetings. When I prepare an agenda for the meeting, the meeting always goes best. If I have one written down or in my head, it is going to go pretty good. But if I don’t, and sometimes I have not, the meetings don’t go that well. We tend to chase rabbits.
When I grew up, my mother used to read me little children’s book called “Barney Beagle Plays Baseball.” I loved that book. I loved that book so much; my parents went out and bought me a little puppy, a beagle. We named him Barney. It’s pretty creative, isn’t it? Barney the Beagle. We lived in Canton, NC in the Smoky Mountains. As Barney grew up, he loved to chase those rabbits 24/7. He would chase those rabbits. Barney at the end of the day would just be worn out tired and wasted from chasing all those rabbits. One day, he was asleep on the driveway, and my mother didn’t mean to, but she ran over Barney. It was sad.
If we chase rabbits, if we get off God’s agenda, we are going to end up like Barney the Beagle. We are going to get run over. So remember to respond to God’s agenda.
Observe the Presence of God
We have got to do something else too. We also need to observe the presence of God. Check this out. When I follow God’s agenda for my life, then I will be able to observe his presence. People all the time tell me, “Ed, I can’t really see God move. I’m not seeing him in my life. I’m not feeling him. I’m not really experiencing him. What’s the deal? What’s the problem?”
The problem is you are probably not on God’s agenda because if you are on God’s agenda, you will see as God sees and you will be able to observe the presence of God.
Look at 2 Kings 6:15. Now, before I read this verse, again, Ben-Hadad from Syria wanted to take Elisha out. They found out that Elisha, the Bible says, was in a place called Dothan. I’m not talking about Alabama. I’m talking about over in the Middle East. They surrounded Dothan and they marched all night to get after Elisha. So now I’ll read Verse 15, “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked.”
Can’t you imagine what this guy was experiencing? He saw the sun rising and the sun was reflecting off the dashboards of those chariots and off the spears and shields and it just freaked him out.
“Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” That’s what he said to Elisha. What shall we do? Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you are saying, “Ed, I’m surrounded. The enemy has surrounded me. What should I do? I feel insecure. I feel uncertain about my career or my finances or my security. What shall I do?”
Look at what Elisha said in Verse 16; Elisha sent the first email. “’Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’” What a great word. I can tell you based on God’s Scripture, those who are with us going through this battle are more than those who are with them. Then, check out what he did. Look what our boy did in Verse 17, he prayed.
He prayed the first Lasik prayer. You thought Lasik was a kind of a new thing. No, it’s an old thing. Elisha said, “’O LORD, open his eyes (the servant’s eyes) so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” The servant saw the unseen. He saw for the first time through the eyes of faith. He saw that he was protected, that an angelic host was there waiting to take on the Syrian army, waiting to fight them for Elisha and his posse. That’s some good stuff.
Maybe some of you need to pray a Lasik type prayer. Maybe the scales are on your eyes. Maybe you have vision problems. Maybe you need to say, “Lord, open my eyes and perform Lasik on me.” Observe the presence of God.
I want to read Hebrews 13:5. It says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you…The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
A lot of us don’t realize the presence of God. A lot of us go through life and we are just doing life and all this, even believers. You don’t realize that God is all over you. He’s all around you that the angelic hosts are there protecting you and guarding you.
A while back, I took an overseas trip with a professional athlete. At the time we took this trip, People Magazine had done a big story on this guy. We were sitting on one row of the plane and right behind us was another row. The guy sitting right behind my friend was reading the People Magazine article about my friend. I looked back and said, “Hey, he’s reading this article about you. Can you believe that? The funny thing is the guy is clueless because he doesn’t even know that he is reading about the guy sitting a foot away from him.” We started laughing.
That’s the way it is with God, isn’t it? Many times, I read the Bible or I’m speaking, or I’m talking about God, or I’m singing worship songs, or I’m living my life and I don’t realize that God is right there. If you are in Christ, if you are connected to God, he is present. His angelic beings are there watching over you, and assisting us and helping us.
Operate With the Provisions of Go
I respond to God’s agenda. I observe the presence of God. Also, I do something else. Elisha did this too. I operate with the provisions of God. God always gives us supplies, stuff, and he shows us where the stuff is and we can discern the stuff, pick up the stuff and use the stuff to help to find the panic room.
Look at Chapter 6, Verse 18, “As the enemy came down toward him…”
The enemy is always coming towards us. If you are living the Christian life, the enemy is always coming toward us. The closer I walk with Christ, the more I am aware of his agenda, the more I am aware of his presence, the more I am aware of his provision, but also, the more I am aware of what the enemy has in store for me as well. That’s a fact. That’s the real deal.
“As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, ‘Strike these people with blindness.’ So he struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked.” It was an embarrassing moment for the Syrian army. They went back home and it was like, “We got beat.”
So in this one section of Scripture, we have Elisha praying for the blind to see. Then we have him praying here for those who could see to get blind. The Holy Spirit operates in your life and mine. The Holy Spirit is kind of like the Doppler radar system. As we pray, as we walk with God, we recognize his agenda, we see his presence, and we also see the provision that he has provided for us. We can see the enemy on the horizon before the enemy is all over us. That’s the problem. If we don’t pray, if we are not in an intimate conversation with God daily, then we can wake up and go, “Wow, the enemy is right here on me. They are knifing me in the back. They are shooting me. They are taking me out.” You don’t want that. You want to see the enemy when they surround you. You want to see the enemy as they are coming toward you. We need discernment. We need to see through the eyes of faith. We need to see like Elisha’s servant saw.
One of my favorite bands is a band called The Newsboys. We sell their music in the Bookstore. They have some great lyrics. In one of the songs, they talk about the Spirit of God giving us discernment and wisdom. They say, “It’s a spirit thing. It’s like a holy nudge, a circuit judge in the brain.”
Those of us who are in Christ can see the enemy before the enemy really comes after us, before it’s too late. The Bible says that Christ will always give us a way of escape, a panic room.
See these monitors right here? People are always asking me, “What are those things, Ed?” They are Teleprompters.
People ask me, “Do you have the message written out on those Teleprompters?”
No, I wish, but they are not on the Teleprompters. I’ll tell you what is on the Teleprompters. There is only one thing. It tells me what is coming up next on the big screen. I try not to look at it very much because if I do, it will mess me up. But it does give me the last point of this message which I am going to talk about in a couple of minutes. A Teleprompter. That is what the Holy Spirit is in all of our lives if we are believers. The Teleprompter. It shows me what is going to happen.
“Ed, this is what could happen in this relationship. Watch out. Ed, this is what could happen if you go down that path. Ed, you better watch out for the enemy because the enemy is…”
That’s what the Holy Spirit does. And if you don’t have it, you are going to be like my dog, Barney, chasing rabbits instead of finding God’s panic room.
I think about David. Remember David when he fought Goliath? David is a great illustration of this. David, as a kid, was out there in the middle of nowhere tending his father’s sheep, killing a lion, killing a bear.
You would say, “Oh, man, this guy is wasting his talent.” He was a musical genius, a military genius, an incredible athlete. “What a waste,” you would say.
It wasn’t a waste because he was following God’s agenda. God had him visit his brothers on the front lines. He saw that big Behemoth, Goliath. As he followed God’s agenda, what happened? He observed the presence of God.
What did David say? “I’ve killed the lion. I’ve killed the bear. God will deliver me from the hands of this Philistine.”
David was able to do what? To find the provisions of God, the sling, and the five stones. He was right there. He illustrated this stuff. He followed God’s agenda.
Model the Peace of God
He saw the presence of God. And he saw God’s supplies. But something else Elisha did and we need to do this too. This will happen in your life and mine when we run to God’s panic room. We can model the peace of God. We can fourthly model the peace of God. The peace of God envelops us. It surrounds us in the midst of storms. That is what Elisha had. The enemy was surrounding. They were coming after him. He was at peace. He said, “Don’t be afraid. God’s in control. Don’t be afraid.”
So many times, I have been up close and personal to great Christians who have gone through times of suffering, times of anguish, times of loss, and you can see through the tears, through the heartbreak, the peace of God. You can see it.
I had lunch a couple of weeks ago with a gentleman in our church in his seventies. He just lost his wife. He and his wife were founding members of Fellowship. I cannot imagine what he is going through. But I’m telling you he was enveloped by the peace of God.
A couple of months ago, we had a young mom and wife die of a horrible disease and I watched right there, her husband say some final words to her as they closed the casket. Even though the heartbreak is hard for me to describe, this guy all over him had the peace of God.
We have to understand that sometimes bad things, difficult things, happen to those of us who love Christ. The Bible never tells us we are exempt from that. The Bible says in Romans 8, “God causes all things to work together for good for those who are called to God’s agenda.” It doesn’t say all things are good. Some things are horrible. Some things we don’t understand. Some things are mysterious; yet, we have got to trust God. We have got to trust him.
It’s like when my kids were small, and I’ve told you this before, when they were like two years of age, if they were playing near an electrical socket, I wouldn’t say, “Okay, kids, let me explain to you electricity, why it can shock the fool out of you,” and then go through the intricacies of it. I couldn’t do that. I would say, “No. No. Don’t do that. No.”
We think that sometimes God owes us an explanation for everything. We are finite. God is infinite. If God explained to us the why about everything, we would blow a fuse. We couldn’t handle it. One day, though, I knew when my kids grew up and got bigger, I could explain to them about electricity and they would understand it. One day, as we get older and mature, maybe one day in heaven, God will say, “Now, let me tell you the why behind everything.” But once again, God is mysterious. His ways are on another level than our ways, and we have got to trust him.
But I’m going to tell you something, no matter what you are going through; there is a panic room available.
Here is what Jesus said in John 14:1-4, “’Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’”
So our ultimate peace is going to be in heaven. Our ultimate peace will be in our mansions that Jesus is custom designing for all of us. But right now we have this room, this square footage; this place we can retreat called the panic room.
We respond to God’s agenda. That’s “R.”
We observe the presence of God. “O.”
We operate with the provisions of God. Another “O”
Then we model the peace of God. And “M”
That spells “R.O.O.M.” We can model the peace of God. People want to see you model. An unbelieving world is saying, “I want to see peace.” Why do they want to see peace? Because they don’t see it anywhere else and they want to see if it’s real or not.
Here is what God is saying. God is looking at you and me and he is saying, “Go to your room. Go to your room. Go to your panic room.”