Burn The Plows

August 1, 2021

David Sorn

God has a call on your life. What do you need to burn down first in order to follow it?

Burn The Plows

August 1, 2021

David Sorn

God has a call on your life. What do you need to burn down first in order to follow it?

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | 1 Kings 19: 19-21


(Life of Elijah Series Slide)

Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

We are back in our series about the life of Elijah this morning

If it’s your first time here, let me give you some background on where we are in history and the Bible.

Elijah lived about 850 years before Jesus in the nation of Israel.

God used Elijah to confront leaders who were leading Israel to bow down to idols.

But then those leaders tried to kill Elijah

He hit a really low point of depression in his life…and over the last couple of weeks we saw how God ministered to Him in that, and then built him back up.

But now God has now given him a few tasks to do…and one of those was to go find a man named Elisha who will become his eventual successor.

Let’s join the Bible there

Everybody grab a Bible

(Page 245)

(1 Kings 19)

(renovation app)

Just 3 verses today, but they are awesome.

Look for the big number 19, and then the little number 19…bottom right.

(1 Kings 19:19-21) – NIV

19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

(Burn the Plows Title Slide)

Okay, so our friend Elijah whom we’ve been studying all summer has found his apprentice…his eventual successor.

And as soon as Elijah sees Elisha, he puts his cloak on him

Now, this is obviously not how we appoint successors in 21st Century America

But in those days, that’s how it worked in their culture.

Elijah’s cloak was a symbol of his prophetic authority and calling.


Now, a key thing I want you to know about this passage, is that it that doesn’t fully make sense until you first realize how incredibly RICH Elisha was.

We’re told in our text that Elisha was plowing with 12 yoke of oxen

So 12 pairs of oxen

He owns 24 oxen.

In those days, most people most likely didn’t have any oxen.

Maybe a few families had 1 or 2

Elisha had 24


He was the wealthy landowner of that area

And think of what he’s being called to now…

It’s not a life of luxury.

For those of you that have been studying Elijah with us all summer…

Has Elijah’s life been luxurious?

Eating food brought by ravens

Always on the run from murderous tyrants

Experiencing the crazy highs and lows of being a prophet

That’s really different than being a wealthy landowner.

Right now, EliSHA is RICH…and in charge…and comfortable….

He has everything the world could offer at that point in his life

And now God is calling him to a life of poverty and danger…and also…incredible thrills…incredible life…and incredible rewards

One of my favorite pastors of history is quickly becoming Martyn Lloyd-Jones…he may be second to Charles Spurgeon to me right now.

Lloyd-Jones pastored in London in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s

And he was brilliant.

In fact, Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones originally went to school to be a medical doctor.

He even apprenticed under the most famous doctor in London at the time, a man who was the King of England’s personal doctor.

So Martyn Lloyd Jones was dubbed by many to be THE next great thing in the medical field.

And then, Lloyd-Jones felt God calling him to be a pastor.

So at the very end of his residency, he quit medical school, and moved to an impoverished town to pastor a tiny church.

And people in England LOST THEIR MINDS over it

I mean, lost their minds!

They just couldn’t believe it.

Why would you do that?

But Lloyd Jones, who many called, “The Doctor,” said that what the Lord called him to do…was to preach…and he could do nothing else.”

What is God calling you to?

Are you listening? Are you obeying?

I mean, Elisha had a great life, did he not?

But God was calling him to something even greater.

Read the book of 2 Kings in which Elisha dominates much of the first half…his life is amazing!

I find many, many Christians in America are missing out on what God has for them simply because they’ve contented themselves with the conveniences of the world instead.

And when God’s Spirit beckons them to follow their calling…they refuse because they can’t seem to divorce themselves from the comforts of their current life.

Do you know who Jim Elliot was?

Jim Elliot was a missionary to an unreached people group in Ecuador…

He spent a number of years in the Amazon Rainforest ministering to remote tribes…but his heart longed to reach a certain violent tribe deeper within the jungle who had never heard the Gospel

And after establishing some initial contact, he, and 4 fellow missionaries were actually killed by a native tribe in the Amazon Rainforest

But the story doesn’t end there…I won’t give it away.

I’m actually reading a famous book about him right now…it’s called “Through the Gates of Splendor,” written by his widow, Elisabeth Elliot.

I highly recommend it.

But Jim Elliot, who was killed for his faith, once wrote this:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot

That’s what we see in Elisha.

Sure, he seems to be losing a lot by letting go of his wealth, his business, his old life…

But he’s not a fool! Because what he gains is so much better.


So what is God calling you to?

Maybe he is calling you to bring the Gospel overseas? Or enter into ministry right here in America.

If he’s not calling you into vocational ministry, chances are He’s calling you to do something that feels scary to you.

Maybe He’s calling you to adopt or do foster care

Maybe He’s calling you to start a Bible Study at work

Maybe He’s calling you to change jobs

Maybe He’s calling you to really start living out your gift.

Or to let go of a sin you’ve been holding so tightly for so long.

I don’t know what it is exactly, but I can guarantee that He’s calling you to something!

But many of us don’t obey the call of God like Elisha because we’re too focused on what we currently have.

I read a decent amount from pastor JD Greear on this topic, and I’m indebted to his thinking on this.

Greear writes that Christians, in order to follow the call of God, will first need a Copernican Revolution in their own life.

Do you remember Copernicus from Middle School science?

Maybe not, it’s been a long time for some of you..

But before the astronomer Copernicus came along, everyone thought the earth was the center of the solar system…and the sun and everything else rotated around us

But Copernicus correctly figured out that earth revolves around the sun, and not vice versa.

Well if Christians are going to come to terms with who God really is and what His call is on their life, they’re going to need a Copernican revolution.

Because truthfully, the vast majority of American Christians still live as if they are the center of the universe.

They live as if their needs, desires, comforts, hopes and dreams come first.

And if God can aid them in the accomplishing of those things, He’s certainly welcome to do so.

But if you truly understand Christianity, you’ll realize that the Son (S-O-N), is the center of your universe, and your life should revolve around the SON of God and his call on your life.

And I think Christians need a Copernican revolution in how we interact with the church AND in how we interact with Christ on a daily basis

We’re spending some time this August talking about serving.

And I think our Christian culture in the 21st century is so confused about this.

We think church is a place where we go to get our needs met and our spiritual stomachs fed

But we are here to worship God, to learn, and to serve our Savior and each other.

If you’re looking for a church where you can just kick back and consume something for the next few years…I promise you, this isn’t it.

If that’s what you’re looking for, you are going to be so uncomfortable here

We call ourselves the “anti-consumerism church”

We say that Renovation Church is not a cruise ship…

If you’re looking for a cruise ship church, they’re certainly out there, but this isn’t it.

Renovation Church is not a cruise ship, it’s a row boat.

And we want you to pick up an oar, so you can change the world with us!

Our hope is that every single person who calls this church their home finds a place to serve.

That’s what we do.

That’s who we are as followers of Jesus…

Imitators of Jesus are not consumers.

They’re not spiritual vacuums.

No, we follow Jesus, who set an example for us by serving others and washing feet.

How can we let our Lord wash feet, and then all we do is sit back and ask to have our own feet washed yet again…week after week?

We want you to serve with us…join with us in what God is doing here

Every week here people are built up in their faith and others find Christ for the very first time.

Find a way to use your gifts here.

On your way in today, there was a sheet of paper on your chair describing all the ways you can start serving here

I encourage you to fill that out that card that went with it today

If you’re new here, and you’ve been kind of waiting for that moment to take another step in serving God…

Here’s that moment.

Fill it out.

We need a Copernican revolution in the American church where the Son becomes the center again.

And we need it in our daily lives more than ever.


And honestly, most of us won’t have that Copernican Revolution in our Daily Walk with Christ until we burn the plows

Isn’t that the most astounding part of this passage?

Look at verse 21 again:

(1 Kings 19:21) – NIV

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

This extremely wealthy man, who had everything the world could offer…heard the call of God on his life…

…and then went back and basically burned his business to the ground so He could follow God

One of the Bible Study techniques we teach in our Mining God’s Word class in Renovation U is to always ask questions of the text when you read it.

It helps you dive deeper into it.

And one of my questions I had while studying this passage was: “Why did Elisha burn it all down?”

“Couldn’t he have just given the business to a friend?”

And the more I thought about this, and the more I studied it, the more I realized that Elisha was afraid that if he kept that business going (just gave it to a friend)

Elisha was afraid that he would just go back to it when God’s call got hard.

Author and Pastor, Mark Batterson says it this way:

“Nine times out of ten, failure is resorting to Plan B when Plan A gets too risky, too costly, or too difficult. That's why most people are living their Plan B. They didn't burn the plow. Plan A people don't have a Plan B. It's Plan A or bust. They would rather crash and burn going after (what God has told them) than succeed at anything else.” – Mark Batterson

For many of us the thing that keeps us from obeying God’s prompting, God’s call on our lives, is in fact, our idol.

It’s the thing we love more, or cherish more than God’s call.

For a lot of us, we bow at the idol of comfort

For others it’s money, or pleasure, or you name it

And if you’re going to really obey God, that idol is going to have to burn

Burn the plows.

Burn whatever is going to get in the way

Spurgeon says it this way:

“If you love anything better than God you are idolaters: if there is anything you would not give up for God, it is your idol: if there is anything that you seek with greater fervor than you seek the glory of God, that is your idol.” – Charles Spurgeon

Burn the plows

Many of you in here have good, comfortable lives by American standards.

And your “good life” is, for many of you, your greatest enemy

You have a nice house, nice job, a nice family, a couple of kids…

And to the watching world…you’ve above average and have everything you need.

But in reality, your life is making no difference in eternity.

You’re not even doing what God is prompting you to do

Many of you in this room haven’t even ASKED GOD what He wants you to do!

Trust me, God is not the center of your universe if you haven’t even sought Him regarding what He wants you to do!

And for SO many of us, the reason we don’t know our calling or don’t obey our calling is precisely because our lives are good…according to the world.

So we feel no pressure to change them.

But do not find comfort in the arms of this world.

I pray that until you walk in obedience to God that the comfort of this world feels like thorns to you.

And I pray that because the things of this world are idols…and they will never compare to calling of Jesus Christ on your life.

This is why Jesus makes that really provocative statement about “Whoever does not hate their father or mother, cannot be my disciple”

He’s exaggerating to say, “If you’re going to be my disciple, I have to be first in all things”

He’s saying, “If you truly understood me, my glory, my love for you, my call on your life, everything else would pale in comparison…and you’d revolve your whole life around me”

And so you need to burn the plows, burn the idols in your life because A) they will call back to you if you don’t burn them

And B) Because they don’t compare to following God’s call

One of the things that you can’t miss when you read the Gospel accounts about Jesus is that when he calls his Disciples to follow Him, they leave everything behind.

Many of his disciples were fishermen, and when they heard his calling on their life, they just literally drop their nets right there.

They don’t do a risk assessment first or take 2 weeks to think about it…

They burn the plows and go.


Because when Jesus calls you, nothing is better than that.


Burn the plows…I assure you his call is greater!

Probably not easier…but greater, of more importance

The KING of KINGS is calling you, and my friend, that is enough

God wants to use YOU.

I’m not just talking to the person next to you, I’m talking to YOU!

As a Christian, you have been given, not the cloak of Elijah, but the cloak of God.

This is Acts chapter 1

God has put, not the cloak of Elijah on you, but better, the cloak of the Holy Spirit has come upon you…

…and YOU are being sent out…as His apprentice…

You’re sent to be His witness!

Burn the plows and go!


And these same principles are true for those of you who are thinking about following Jesus for the very first time.

I can’t guarantee it will be easier…in some ways it will indeed be harder.

But oh, it will be greater.

And oh, it will be so good to walk with Him.

But it’s a decision that you have to make with eyes wide open.

You can’t say, “I want to follow Jesus, and turn my life over to Him,” but then take your life back 3 days later.

We’re talking Copernican Revolution here.

An entire reorienting of your life around the Son of God

It’s like the old hymn “I have decided”

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back, no turning back

Though none go with me, I still will follow

No turning back, no turning back

The world behind me, the cross before me,

No turning back, no turning back

And why??

Because there is nothing greater than Jesus.

And for that GREATER THING, you burn the plows…you leave it all behind.

It’s like the man Jesus tells about in the parable who discovered treasure in the field, and sold his entire life savings to buy that field…

Because that treasure in that field was probably worth a million times more than his life savings!

That’s what you’re getting in Jesus!

Why turn back?

The world has NOTHING to offer you compared to Jesus!

The Son of God, Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and offers you a way to be forgiven.

To know Him, and walk with Him, and spend eternity with Him.

And you can do that today if you would choose to believe He died for you, and become His follower

Would you pray with me?


As I’m praying, if you want to ask God to forgive you of your sin, to leave your old life behind, and become a follower of Jesus today…would you just raise your hand up so we can get you started in that?

If you’ve never done that before, and you want to do that, I want you to raise your hand up where you are…as a way to tell Him you now believe.

And He will forgive you

For those of you raising your hand, we want to pray with you.

Repeat this out loud after me…whether you’re a brand-new believer or have been one for quite some time.

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.

As everyone still has their eyes closed, for those of you that raised your hand, you just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…

So here’s what we’re going to do to get you that…as everyone has their eyes closed, I want you, in just a second, to walk back out to the lobby where it will be quiet.

You won’t walk out there alone.

There are others who raised their hands, and our follow-up team is going to walk out at the same time with you

And I, and our follow-up team are going to get you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.

If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member is standing up right now, PLEASE come out there with them.

All right, you can all go now.

As they’re walking, I’m going to thank God in prayer.

Let’s pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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