Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL

   

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Dig a Ditch!

II Kings 3:16-20

 

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Dig a ditch so God can fill it!  That is a clear lesson from this passage.  Our God specializes in FILLING things which are EMPTY.  At camp we emptied ourselves of the cares of this world, and that made room for God to fill us!  We emptied ourselves of the flesh and the Spirit came roaring to life like a rushing river, filling the valley of our souls!  And God gets all the glory when He uses emptiness to fulfill His will in overflowing ways!

 

In the next chapter we see the familiar story of the widow woman and her empty vessels which God filled for her.  I think it’s great that this same Elisha, who challenged the widow woman to create more emptiness for the Lord to fill, had just seen it happen himself here in our text as he dug a ditch so God could fill it!  (he practiced before he preached!) 

 

What a great group we took to camp this week!  They will tell their stories tonite in video, pictures, and testimonies, and if you miss it, you are likely to press charges against yourself later when you hear what you missed.  This morning I share the leader's perspective.  You can see Bryan in the middle.  He was like my camper this week:  He was a fifth wheel!

 

CAMP = Controlled Atmosphere for the Ministry of Preaching.  Leave your TVs, phones, video games, and computers behind.  No worldly peer pressure, no immodest dress with all its distraction.  Create some emptiness so God can fill it.  Your flesh is suppressed, and your Spirit is alive and hungry, so we’ll feed it several times a day.  They loved it!

 

Background:  King Jehoshaphat of Judah, a relatively good, God-fearing King, made a critical mistake and messed in his nest!  He made alliance w/ the wicked son of Ahab, Jehoram.  He did this in order to try to overtake the land of Moab…but the end doesn’t justify the means.  The plan backfired on him.  He’s got thousands of soldiers and animals and he runs out of water. 

 

Lesson learned:

God never wants us to align ourselves w/ wickedness (lost people) in a common goal.  Instead, our relationships with the lost are to be a one way street.  We are to build bridges to them only for the purpose of seeing them saved.

 

But how can we pull them up w/out them pulling us down?  After all, it’s easier to make hot water cold than to make cold water hot, correct?

 

Ill.— “Home Field Advantage” – do God’s work in the safety of the home team, in your home, at church, or at least a neutral location, w/ other Christians supporting you, and without many of the lost present to support the other person you are trying to reach.  And, you need your own accountability partner who challenges you and pulls you up as well.

 

The secret to a great camp week is the controlled atmosphere…digging a ditch and crawling inside…and God filling that special space you inhabit.

 

We become like those we spend time with, so let’s consider some wisdom from the Scriptures...

 

Verses on Separation:

 

II Cor. 6:17

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate…

Prov. 12:11

…he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.

I Cor. 5:11

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Cor. 15:33

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

II Pet. 3:17

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

 

Alliance Forbidden:

2 Cor. 6:14 -

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Exodus 23:32-33

32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.  

33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.  

Exodus 34:12

Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

Ps. 1:1 Blessed is the man…[the snare is the slippery slope!]

Prov. 4:14

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

Eph. 5:11

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

  

There is just as much that I haven’t shared on this as I have!

        With all the Bible says about separation…some still balk at it, and criticize the pastor if he mentions it for fear of the church becoming “legalistic”, as they call it!

 

        Partial separation:

-Some go with the old crowd to their places, but just don’t do their deeds...but they give the appearance of evil, and send the wrong message about being a Christian.

-Some may not be together with those people, but they strive to look like them, dress like them, talk like them, walk like them, act like them, listen to their music, be up on all their movies, etc!

 

Jehoshaphat has not done right in terms of separation, and it’s costing his people a whole lot, and now their very lives are in danger.  So now he decides to go to the man of God for counseling!  He realized he needed to separate from them, and yet still there is no water…what should he do?!

 

God lays it on Elisha’s heart what He, the Lord will do to rescue them:

 

All they must do is dig some ditches…dig a ditch!

Why?

Because God said to.

But you just said in v. 17 there won’t be storms or rain!

That’s right, but there’ll be water…God has spoken.

        Have faith…trust…lay aside all self-sufficiency, find some emptiness!  The widow woman of ch. 4 brought all the jars she had faith to bring!  (how many would you bring?)

 

        …Dig a ditch or God won’t fill it!

 

God can’t steer a parked car!  We need to get to action and start trying to do something for God.  [No motion, no friction]

 

What is that in thine hand?  [God asked Moses...a rod!]  Aim at nothing and you are sure to hit it!

 

I’d rather try and fail than fail to try!  I'm out of clichés!  Just do what God says, dig a fox hole and crawl in and watch Him fill the void you created!

 Putting faith into action…that’s the principle here!  Don’t just say you have faith!

The apostle James said in

James 2:18… shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

 

So...

Open that acct. and then fill it with money / build that addition / fire up that new ministry / fix up that bathroom / start that class / add that pastor to staff / build it…they will come!

 

Challenge:  Put all your old music in a box and bring it for a bonfire.  Create some emptiness on your shelves by burning those sinful movies.  Put those carnal computer files in a folder, hit delete, and create some emptiness, and then watch God fill the void with something much better!  Empty yourself of the old desires, wrong friends.  Lustful looks are vain emptiness.  Replace that with God’s true fulfillment.  Worldly pursuits of money, fame and success leave you in a dry desert of a dilemma.  Now is the time to create that controlled atmosphere and dig a ditch so God can fill it!

 

This week I asked the kids how they liked camp?  What do you like about it?  They said it wasn’t the zip lines or water slides…it was the peace, the spiritual growth, the Bible study, and the ‘atmosphere’. 

 

Would you like to come back?  How about next week?  In a month?  This winter?  Next year?  Yes!  Can we? 

 

I said, we can come back someday, but you can live here all the time, next week, next month…all winter long!  Take a bubble of this atmosphere and determine that you want to live your life this way.  I did this at camp years ago! 

 

We talk about separation and we always clarify that we cannot be hermits and not interact with our world.  Then we say, ‘we are in the world, not of it.  There is truth there, but it needs further clarification.  We are wise to create some emptiness…to dig a ditch and wait for God to fill it.

 

Ill.—an inmate finally is released from prison to go home.  Does he return to his old ways and return to the bondage and chains he loathed?  Or does he make a decision to change for the rest of his life?

 

These kids return home to a TV, but they don’t HAVE to turn it on.  The music they weren’t allowed to bring to camp was waiting for them when they returned, but now they are deciding to empty out the iPod, and let God fill it with something better.  They loved having personal Bible devotions, so they have decided to continue.  I hereby challenge all the parents to begin having personal devotions and then family devotions with your kids who want to stay in the controlled atmosphere.

 

And they don’t want to disengage from their world, they want to return to it and affect it…they want to affect the atmosphere of your home, this church, their school, their friends.  They need our help.

 

We can be a thermometer or a thermostat.  Let’s not just blend in and register the temperature around us.  Let’s affect change like a thermostat, and set the temperature…at least in the ditch we have dug for ourselves…this is the atmosphere where we can be happy.  Fulfillment comes in emptiness of self, and being filled with the Spirit!

 

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