Stretch Your Faith

BreakthroughFaithHealing

Weakened to the point of exhaustion by years of loss, she sat hoping to regain strength. Few in the crowd glanced at her as they passed. Those who saw her either looked at her with pity or disgust. As she stood and began to shuffle forward, the words of the last doctor rung in her ears, “We have tried everything and with no improvement. Sorry, but you don’t have a month left to live.” The words had relieved her. For the past twelve years, she had spent her fortune searching for a cure. The things they had done to her and prescribed for her were more dreadful than the horrid disease that drained her of her blood. At least, now she knew. Weakened by illness and now by the pronounced death certificate, she headed for home. It was a long journey back to Cesarea Phillippi, but she determined to make it. She refused to die along the way. No! If she must die now, it will be in her home.

Though she kept to herself as she traveled, she could not miss the buzz of excited talk about “the Jesus.” This was the term given to distinguish Jesus of Nazareth from a multiple of other men with the same name. They said this Jesus was a rabbi with extraordinary power. He taught as one with actual authority, and He exercised that authority over demons and diseases. She felt strangely warm on the inside as she listened from the edge of the crowd. One by one they spoke of the things they saw and the words they heard from Jesus. Someone loudly declared, “He is certainly a prophet! Like Elijah and Elisha of old.” Most in the crowd nodded their agreement. Others shook their heads in disbelief, but then another voice cut through the cacophony, “I am not sure who He is but this I know, I once was blind, but now I see!” Something leaped inside of her and as she listened hope gave birth to faith!

She began to speak to herself in a soft whisper what her heart was now saying, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be whole.” In her mind, she questioned the reality of such an idea. But she somehow believed it to be true! “If I can touch the symbol of the promise, the promise of Jehovah Rapha will become real in me!” The idea took root in her, and she began making her way to Capernaum where the crowd said Jesus made His home.

“Oh my! Heaven is smiling on me today!” She whispered to herself as slipped into the large crowd following the Rabbi. So many people pushing to keep up with Jesus made her feel like she would suffocate! Weakness washed over her like an unwelcome yet familiar guest. She said again and again to herself, and anyone who happened to hear, “If I can just touch him, I will be healed.” It would be so easy to give up. Only turn around and vanish into the day. Voices of reason, voices of religion, voices of doubt, voices of self-pity jumbled together in her mind until she almost stopped and sat down. But she kept talking to herself, “If I can just touch Jesus, I will be whole! She knew she must stretch for the change. She must stretch for her miracle, and so she determined to stretch to touch Jesus or die in the process!

She said again and again to herself, and anyone who happened to hear, “If I can just touch him, I will be healed.” Click To Tweet

A lady whose name we do not know identified to us only by the issue she struggled with in life. By an incredible act of faith, she becomes known to us by her miracle! She chose to believe and stretch her faith to touch Jesus. BOOM! Her faith released His power and His power rewrote her story! He is the same today as He was then. [Hebrews 13:8] When we touch Him in faith, He gladly helps us rewrite our story. To touch him we need to do what she did!

STRETCH BEYOND SCIENCE!

She had gone to “many physicians” and tried all they prescribed for her. In fact, the treatment proved to be more painful than the disease. She spent all the money she had, which must have been substantial since it lasted twelve years. She didn’t improve at all but only grew worse. The best of the best told her there was no medical cure for her. They sadly but “matter of factly” instructed her to go home and prepare to die. But when she heard the things concerning “the Jesus,” faith rose in her spirit to go beyond the scientific community and reach out in faith. While we are thankful for science and are not ignorant of it place in our lives, we must stretch our faith beyond the limits of science and dare to believe that God is greater and in the name of Jesus, “All things are possible to him who believes.” [Mark 9:23]

...we must stretch our faith beyond the limits of science and dare to believe that God is greater and in the name of Jesus... Click To Tweet

STRETCH BEYOND RELIGION!

To get her breakthrough, she had to break with the traditional understanding of the religious protocol. It was risky to stretch beyond the confines, and she knew it might result in harsh punishment but what did she have to lose? She is one of the few people in history who tried to steal a miracle from God. We must let God stretch us out of the box of our religious understanding. He will never move us beyond the boundaries of His truth, but far too often we confuse His truth with our flawed understanding. JESUS is the word of God made flesh. So although she seemed to be breaking the law, she did so reaching out to the One who fulfilled every letter of the law. When Jesus is truly your target, you won’t go wrong.

STRETCH BEYOND ISSUES!

Perhaps the most difficult thing she did was to stretch beyond her issue. To say she was weak would be a massive understatement! Twelve long years of blood loss plus the painful treatments had taken a tremendous toll on her body, her mind, and her emotions. All of her money gone in the process and not one little improvement to show for it all. If anyone ever had a valid reason to “sit this one out,” she did. If anyone could ever feel justified in thinking it must not be God’s will to heal her, she could. If anyone’s excuses were valid, her’s were. She chose to stretch beyond her issue and stretch her faith. STOP making excuses and STRETCH! If this unnamed lady can do it, so can we!

She chose to stretch beyond her issue and stretch her faith. STOP making excuses and STRETCH! Click To Tweet

STRETCH TO JESUS!

Our stretching is good but futile if the goal is anything or anyone less than Jesus! He must be the object of our faith! “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” [I John 5:4-5] She refused to stop short of Jesus. She pressed her way through the suffocating crowd. She pushed past everyone, including the great disciples, to touch the garment of Jesus. When her faith touched His character, the explosive power of God flowed out of Him and into her.  HEALED! FREE! WHOLE! Whatever you are facing today, stretch your faith to Jesus and receive Heaven’s best for your life!

Our stretching is good but futile if the goal is anything or anyone less than Jesus! Click To Tweet

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Living Facade Free

Keith NIx

Have you ever watched a scene play out where a character keeps making things harder for themselves because they pretend? They pretend they don’t need help. They pretend everything is going great when in reality it isn’t. They wear a “tough guy” facade to cover their pain. They portray themselves as not needing anybody: they are self-sufficient and self-made. You can see that they are making themselves and those they love more and more miserable. If they do admit issues and someone reaches out and offers help, they act as if “they don’t want to bother anyone.” So they remain aloof and continue to dig a lonely hole of defeat. As you watch the movie, read the book, or observe real life, your heart breaks because they continue to live broken when they could be made whole. You know if they would only humble themselves, stretch a little and peel off the mask their life would be so much better.

The reality is that many times it isn’t just other’s, it is us. We all wear masks at times. Sometimes we are well aware of the masks we wear, but other times we are so accustomed to them that we believe it is our true identity. Bishop Tony Miller said, “We never discover our true identity in God as long as we project our facades!” It is time to find out who we are meant to be and let God bring our true identity to the surface.

Bishop Tony Miller said, “We never discover our true identity in God as long as we project our facades!” Click To Tweet

Look at what the Holy Spirit said through Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

LIVING MASK FREE

The passage we just read gives us three important keys to living free from the facades that rob our true identity:

First, God’s great design for us is to become like Jesus! He didn’t come to the cross, taking our sin and our death, just to rescue us from hell and get us to Heaven one day! For much of the church, salvation means little more than a get out of hell free card and a golden ticket to paradise. But God has a far greater plan! Paul writes it this way, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many..” [Romans 8:29] This is the heart of the Gospel! Jesus came and became like us so that when we can become like Him. He gives us HIs DNA, and we begin to look like Him in our thinking, our motivation, our talking, and our doing. We share in the family likeness. Wow! This is salvation’s purpose!

This is the heart of the Gospel! Jesus came and became like us so that when we can become like Him. Click To Tweet

Second, our “becoming like Jesus” only comes to maturity through the power of His word and the Holy Spirit. As a believer looks and keeps on looking into the Word, he or she transforms into the image of the Word. The key to freedom is to continue in the Word; to look and keep on looking! “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Make the decision that the Word is the first priority and the final authority of my life! I choose to let the Bible I mark, mark my life! I look carefully and continually into the word and allow it to work in me. [See James 1:21-25]

This transformation through the Word only happens by the power of the Spirit. As the prophet declared, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of Hosts.” [Zachariah 4:6] Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. The letter of the word kills but it is the Spirit that gives life. Jesus promised that He would come to us and live in us through the Holy Spirit. Learn to yield to Him and let Him live big in you today! [See 2 Corinthians 3:6, John 14:16-18]

The third key is this: every time we turn to Christ the facade falls off! You and I can’t do this ourselves. We don’t have the power in ourselves to live in real freedom. But Jesus does! He accomplishes it for us and in us by the power of grace as we turn to Him. This must be more than a one-time decision! It is learning to look to Jesus in each and every situation. We must continue to turn to Christ and trust His love to lift us from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory until one day we look just like Him.

We must continue to turn to Christ and trust His love to lift us from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory until one day we look just like Him. Click To Tweet

*If you would like to go deeper read my blog entitled Change?! Really! And watch this message from our Stretch series:

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What Size Is Your Heart?

Keith NIx

Years of labor by dozens of skilled craftsmen with an incredible budget produced one of the most beautiful and exquisitely decorated ships ever. Also, armed “to the teeth” with bronze cannons it was arguably the most powerful vessel in the world. King Gustavo Adolphus sought to lift Sweden to the ranks of the great naval powers of England, France, and Spain in the 17th century. It appeared accomplished on August 10, 1628, as the newly commissioned Vasa set sail with great fanfare and over 100 members of Swedish nobility on board.

Tragically, the Vasa sailed less than one nautical mile before a gust of wind pushed the top-heavy vessel dangerously close to tipping. The sailors were able to correct it only to have a second gust of wind push it over again this time with water filling the open gun portholes. Within a matter of minutes, Sweden’s finest ship lay beneath 100 feet of water in the Stockholm port with more than thirty dead. The Vasa became a maritime disaster!

The greater tragedy is that it didn’t have to happen. An Admiral had earlier tested the Vasa’s seaworthiness and found it to be too top heavy. Others who worked on it knew that the weight of the cannons added with the opulence of the decorations created a disastrous future. They knew the Vasa could still be a mighty vessel, but they needed more time to make the necessary adjustments. None would dare approach the King with their concerns. Aldophus was unapproachable. His ego would not allow questions. His demanding attitude would not allow for more time. The smallness of his heart would cause him to be remembered more for failure than success.

The smallness of his heart would cause him to be remembered more for failure than success. What about you? What will your legacy be? Click To Tweet

What about you? What will your legacy be? Is your heart large or small? Of course, I’m not asking about the muscle that pumps blood but the spirit that is the real you. Is your heart large and loving or small and suffocating? Is your ego bigger than your heart? Or do you live with an increasing sense of God living big inside you and enabling you to live big?

Live big? What does that even mean? It simply means to live the life God intends for you to live. The Psalmist prayed it this way, “I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.” [Psalm 119:32] It isn’t possible to live God’s way without the Lord expanding your heart’s capacity to receive and love.

If your heart is small, it is suffocating the life in you and those around you. If your heart is large, it is allowing life to flow freely through you – increasing you and those around you. A powerful way to gauge the size of your heart is by asking yourself this question: How do I react when I am questioned or challenged in what I believe? Do I become defensive and argumentative? Do I turn off and away from anything that suggests I need to take a fresh look at something? Or do I listen with an openness to learn and a willingness to yield to reason?

If your heart is small, it is suffocating the life in you and those around you. Click To Tweet

James instructs us that so-called “wisdom” in a heart that is envious, bitter and filled with selfish ambition is not true wisdom but originates from an earthly, sensual and demonic source. “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle.) [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity.)” [James 3:17 Amp(c)]

I encourage you today to check your heart. Ask the Lord to make it larger. Stretch yourself out before in Him in humility and honesty. He delights in growing us up into His thoughts and ways!

Stretch yourself out before in Him in humility and honesty. He delights in growing us up into His thoughts and ways! Click To Tweet

Take some time to listen to the full message I taught recently at The Lift and let God STRETCH YOUR HEART:


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Stretch Your Stuff

Abundant LifePain

Is this your story or are you holding onto what is wrong instead of letting it go? It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve experienced. It doesn’t matter what it is about you that is crippled. This man’s story can be your yours. I choose for it to be mine. I hope you will also. The choice is simple but not always easy. It is the decision between “strutting your stuff” or stretching it. It is the decision between being pitiful or powerful.

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