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Stretching Our Faith for a New Year


What does God want for His people worldwide this next year? I habitually ask that question as we come to a New Year. I am not prophesying it, but I believe that the Spirit of God is speaking of a more significant spiritual stretching for His Church this coming year. Over the years, I have seen that believers in Christ are like elastic bands; they must be stretched to be effective. When we put our faith in Christ, God sealed us with the promised Holy Spirit, a deposit or down payment, guaranteeing what will be ours in the future (Ephesians 1:4-5; 13-14). According to our faith, what we do with that potential and power is up to us to determine. God honors faith. A person with faith in God sees beyond one's capabilities and looks to the power of the Holy Spirit resident within the believer in Christ. The Holy Spirit wants to stretch our faith to take hold of all God has given us.


Paul the apostle wrote to the church at Corinth, telling them that Satan had blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4) to all that God has done for us through the cross. Our spiritual eyes need to be opened to “his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19). God wants to use each of us in different ways to step out and trust Him. God's authority and power were given to us as His representatives when we believed. We re-present Him, no matter how young or old we are in Christ. Let me illustrate with the following story:


For 21 years, Mrs. Chang had lain in bed at her home in China, unable to move her arms and legs. Finally, the pain became too much, and she asked her eldest son to take her to the hospital, 40 miles away. The doctors discovered that some of her organs were almost dead, so they advised her son, "Take her home so she can die with your family." But before she left, a Christian nurse came by her bed and slipped her a copy of the Gospel of Mark. "Read this when you get home," she whispered. When Mrs. Chang got home, she asked her son to read something from the booklet. Opening it to page one, he began: "this is the good news of Jesus Christ..." Before he could read any further, Mrs. Chang's bones started to move. Within moments, she sat up, completely healed! She promptly gave her life to the Lord.


The next day, on her way to the village well to draw water, she was asked by everyone, "say, aren't you Mrs. Chang? What doctor healed you? We want to use him too!" Mrs. Chang invited all the women to her simple home. When a large group had assembled, she stood and began speaking: "This is the good news of Jesus Christ…." In only four weeks, all 600 people of the village decided to follow Jesus! From there, the story gets even more interesting: When the report got around, a police force arrived to stamp out this "new sect." They beat the villagers, shot their animals, burned their crops, and left, thinking that would be the last they would ever hear about this Jesus Christ. They were wrong: the 600 converts remained steadfast, and within four years, 70,000 turned to Christ throughout the region. Who was the star of this story? The faithful nurse. She was not a famous evangelist; she was a 'nobody' responding to a need with love in her heart.[1]


We live in a day when God wants to stretch and use ordinary people like you and me if we will believe and do not put any limits on what God can or can't do. Roger Bannister, the record-breaking runner, completed something that seemed impossible at one time. He ran a mile in less than four minutes. Other runners thought that a man couldn't run that fast until then. Once Bannister proved that it could be done, guess what happened? The following year, 37 other runners broke the four-minute mile! The following year three hundred others also ran the mile in under four minutes. What happened? The measurement of time did not change. The only thing that changed was that other runners believed that what was possible could be accomplished. We are the ones who put limits on what God can do in us and through us. Our biggest problem in living in step with the Spirit and moving in His power is ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit, and stretch our faith! May this New Year be a breakthrough year for you! Keith Thomas.


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[1] James Rutz, Mega Shift, Published by Empowerment Press, Page 5.

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