KANSAS CITY – Eddie Bumpers urged messengers and guests at the Missouri Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, Oct. 29, to thirst for and seek after the power of God in their lives and ministries.
“We need to experience the power of God in our ministries and in our lives and in our families and in our convention,” Bumpers said, calling messengers to consider the example of Elisha in 2 Kings 2:1-9.
“Here in the Old Testament, we meet a man by the name of Elisha, who was used by God in a great way to glorify God and touch the lives of others,” Bumpers said. “Elisha is a man who inspires us,” he said. Elisha not only “inspires” ministers, but his example also teaches them how to pursue a fruitful life and ministry.
Some may say that it is impossible to live victoriously and abundantly for God amid the darkness in modern society. But Bumpers disagreed, explaining that God’s powerful prophet Elisha “lived in a day much like our day” – a time filled with cultural darkness and idolatry. In 2 Kings, the prophet Elijah told Elisha to ask him for anything for which he wished. Elisha, who saw the work of God’s Spirit and power in Elijah’s life, asked for a double portion of this Spirit. As a result, Bumpers said, Elisha lived a “life of overflowing abundance. God used him in a great, great way.”
Pastors and church leaders who desire the power and blessing of God to be poured out on their ministry must follow Elisha’s example of dedication, prayer and dependence upon God, Bumpers said.
“You must have a strong dedication,” Bumpers said. Elisha himself had a “strong dedication” to Elijah, whom he had followed and served for many years. “He was committed. He was dedicated to his master.”
“And this morning,” Bumpers said, “if we want God to use us, we must be dedicated to our master. And our master is not Elijah. Our master is the Lord Jesus Christ, and our commitment must be to him above anyone else and anything else.”
Dedication to the master will overcome the obstacles of discouragement and ridicule, Bumpers said, adding that God will sometimes test their commitment to Himself.
In Elisha’s life, moreover, a decade passed between the time when God anointed him as a prophet and the time when he took up Elijah’s mantel and began his own prophetic ministry. During that time, he served Elijah faithfully.
“I believe today that God still calls young men to preach the gospel,” Bumpers said. “You’re blessed and I’m blessed to be in a church where young men are being raised up and called to the ministry and going to the mission field and planting churches. And that is what God wants us to do, to bring up behind us a generation of young men that can be called of God to do the work of the ministry.”
And, like Elisha, young ministers should be willing to start out by “faithfully serving behind the scenes.”
“Listen, I am weary of young men who get called to preach one day, and the next day they want to be Billy Graham,” he said. “God might want you to serve where you are, behind the scenes. Why would God give you more to do if you won’t do what God has already given you to do, and to do it faithfully with all your heart and all your ability?”
Second, Bumpers said, lives and ministry that overflow with God’s power and blessing will be filled with prayer. Elisha prayed that a double portion of Elijah’s Spirit would be poured upon him, and Christ promised in the gospels that he would give the Spirit to those who ask.
Third, God’s power comes to those, Bumpers said, “who have a simple dependence upon God.”
When Elijah was taken into heaven, Elisha “depended upon the same God that worked through Elijah to work through him,” Bumpers said. While he is thankful for the way that God has used great Baptist leaders of the past, he believes that God desires to empower people to do a great work today.
“There are young men here in this place. God wants to anoint you and bless you and fill you and use you,” Bumpers said. “And listen, my God is not walking on crutches. My God is not riding a wheel chair. My God is the same yesterday, today and forever. … God is not dead. God is alive and He is doing well.
“The question is not ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’ The question is, ‘Where is the Elisha who will say I will claim God’s power by faith and depend upon God and not be so weak in my faith and step out and do new things for God?’”