Stretching Out And Reaching Higher
STRETCHING OUT AND REACHING HIGHER
Isaiah 54:2 Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. 3 For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited.
Introduction: When we view the Old Testament, many times we see it in terms of the Law and miss the fact that God’s full intent was for Israel to be a forerunner of faith that the Church would imitate. Literally in this time of Israel’s history, she was regarded as a “Barren Woman,” because she had no children even though she had a Husband who was Jehovah. God had plans for increase by causing Israel to burst forth as water. The overflow would be so great that they would have to enlarge their tents, enlarge the ropes and tent-pegs. In other words Israel would have to stretch to receive this great increase.
The “Singing and Shouting for Joy” would come because of the increase of children. These weren’t natural children…these were spiritual children who would come from the gentile nations. On the right hand and on the left, meaning “on all sides” these children would come. By spreading the Word of God to the gentile nations, Israel would be enlarging their tents. You see, the Christian Church is viewed as a continuation of the Jewish Church; and the conversion of nation after nation to the gospel is looked upon as the extension of Jewish authority over fresh lands. The cities of these lands…desolate until then, without godly inhabitants, will under these conditions come to be inhabited; will be populated by faithful men.
The intent of God has never changed…but if this growth is going to continue, the Church must be willing to be stretched beyond her norms.
Like a rubber band, our personalities, talents and gifts are different by the blueprint of God. We will not realize our greatest potential unless we are stretched. We will not fully know who we are until we are stretched. We are not effective unless we are stretched. Reaching and extending are the faith building blocks of life. No one comes into this world fully equipped for success. Success is not magic nor is it the work of a genius; but success is due to our stretching in the challenges of life.
Most of us avoid stretching, reaching and extending. When we come up against something that is bigger than we are, we tend to back off or let go. Why? Much of the time it is because of FEAR! The unknown can really paralyze a person who is not willing to stretch beyond their fears. Many times unpleasant experiences of the past will strip us of the possibilities of the present.
When a message is preached such as this…we first get the idea that the preacher is talking about getting more stuff or perhaps going into business. The reality is that God will give us things and He has no problem with us going into business, school or any other worthwhile venture, as long as we put first things, first.
Matt 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
The work of the Kingdom of God can never reach God’s objective and command, if the majority of the Saints remain ideal and unproductive.
Far too many people are satisfied with praise and worship and little or no work in the Kingdom. Salvation means you are now saved and gifted to help someone else. The problem is that some people who have been baptized come out of the water satisfied and not realizing that it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. So we come out of the old life into the new life still imprisoned by our unwillingness to get involved with the process that saved us. It is one thing to leave here filling good and another leaving here doing some good.
Isaiah 54:1 Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman, says the Lord.
Every person who is a saved believer is gifted by the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
I believe this is a special message for some people in this room today.
You may have been fruitless in the past, but rejoice. You may have failed as a Christian so many times before, but rejoice. You may have been seriously discouraged and lost hope, but rejoice. You may be truly barren, but rejoice. You may be looked upon as an outcast, useless and good for nothing, but rejoice. Burst into songs; rejoice right now, because you are about to be stretched forth. You will remember no more your pass. You will spread out to the right and left.
Tell your neighbor, to give me some room…I’m about to stretch!!!
Barrenness is a condition of unfruitfulness. The condition of the powerlessness to produce or bear regardless of how much desire or effort is put in. But barrenness is not a permanent condition. It can be broken. You may be experiencing serious trouble in achieving, bearing good results, being happy, or being fruitful in any area of your life. Sing for joy. Start to rejoice. All of that can be history right now. Burst into shouts of joy. You will make it. You can do it. You will bear fruit. You will spread out. Your outcome will surpass those who made it easily; you will live in great joy.
Gala 4:27 For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.”
Gal 4:27 (Amplified) For it is written in the Scriptures, Rejoice, O barren woman, who has not given birth to children; break forth into a joyful shout, you who are not feeling birth pangs, for the desolate woman has many more children than she who has a husband.
Greater are your children. Greater is your wedding. Greater is your healing. Greater is your success. Greater are your achievement.
Do you not know that it’s no great news if the newly weds bear a child, but its great news if a barren woman after sixty years of trying bears a child. Don’t be afraid, you will not be ashamed, you will not be humiliated and you will not be disgraced. You will spread out to the left and to the right as God has said. You will stretch your own curtains because of what The Holy Spirit is doing in your life. You will spread out and be a blessing and receive a blessing. Don’t look at what you are now, see the change. See yourself stretching out in the Gifts God has given you!
Barren women are usually cast out. Also people who do not achieve or poor, unschooled or people of disadvantaged backgrounds are perceived as outcast. It’s very WRONG and it’s very BAD. But it doesn’t matter if you are an outcast and you have become unproductive. You will make it. You will spread out. Your Maker the Lord God Almighty will see to it. He is our Redeemer. Don’t be afraid, burst into songs of joy. Sing praises to Him. Ignore what people have called you. Ignore what people think about you. You will spread out. Do not hold back. Do not doubt this gift of grace. Trust God, Love Him, Obey Him, because He will not leave you. You shall have children of the womb, mind, hands, heart, prayers answered and desires met. You, whose life was once a laughing stock, be glad. You, whose life was once a mess, whose hopes were dead, whose dreams were darkened, you whose eyes were swollen with tears, rejoice, burst into songs of praise and thanksgiving. Your God the Lord God of Heaven has remembered you this day. He is the God of all flesh; He holds plans to prosper you. To give you an expected end.
Don’t hold back…do not let yourself feel like you are useless and wasted. God and you are not finished yet. You may have tried before and failed, get back up, stretch yourself and try again. You may have done all and didn’t make it. But remember Zechariah 4:6 which says; “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, Says the Lord of hosts.” O barren women sing your song. Shout for joy, you who have never known victory. Many and glorious are the results waiting on you to stretch. The Lord our God is your Redeemer. You will certainly spread out and you will spread out mightily!
If you have gotten comfortable and established in a routine, it’s time to check yourself. Life without the use of our God given gifts is like being in a cave without an exit. You don’t have to live in a cave covered by jagged walls of cutting disappointments. This is not your grave site, this is your life site and you can have a fresh beginning.
2 Cor 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
2 Cor 2:14 (Amplified) But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ’s victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere.
Paul’s words are based on a Roman victory parade given to a conquering general and the enemy prisoners were forced to march behind. Paul the enemy of Christ was now the servant of Christ. Paul, who had been “taken captive” by Christ, was now led in victory. Our only true victories are God’s victories over us and through us. His defeats of our slavery to sin are our only true victories.
Also in a Roman victory parade, incense was burned. Paul compared this to the knowledge of Christ, which like a fragrance was poured out everywhere by the preaching of the gospel.
God is ready to do bigger and better things in your life today. God has a great plan for your work. “You must enlarge the place of your tent; stretch your tent curtains wide.” We must go to the next place where God wants us to be. “Lengthen your cord; strengthen your stakes, for you have spread out to the right and to the left. Your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”
In this text the question that God is asking is; “Will You Go and Will You Grow?”
1 Chronicles 4:10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.
It’s not wrong for us to ask God to bless us. In fact we should always pray that way. Now the thing that made it right was that Jabez wanted to be used to a greater capacity. His prayer was not self centered, but rather it was centered upon allowing God to expend his area of influence.
God wants to expand your influence for His purpose. The measure of your life is not what you consume, but what you allow God to birth through you. Here is a powerful principle in life; we live to give. It is a principle that is woven into the foundation of creation.
It’s not based on our ability. It is the Spirit that dwells in you…all of the fullness of God that He wants to let loose through your life, into the life of others. It’s not your ability that counts the most; it’s your stretch-ability.
God needs expandable tents. God uses elastic vessels that are able to change and grow with what He is doing.
Mark 2:22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.
They used to keep wine in animal skins. Old wineskins dry up and lose their flexibility, their ability to stretch, grow, change and expand in God’s capacity. To expand your influence for God you must expand your capacity.
A man told his doctor that he wasn’t able to do all the things around the house that he used to do. When the examination was complete, he said, “Now, Doc, I can take it. Tell me in plain English what is wrong with me.”
“Well, in plain English,” the doctor replied, “you’re just lazy.”
“Okay, said the man.” “Now give me the medical term so I can tell my wife.”
We are creatures of habit and we all want to have the best that God has to give; but it’s in our nature to resist being stretched. Don’t let your unwillingness of being stretched keep you from all that God has for you.