Summary: If we will discipline ourselves to stretch spiritually, we will be strengthened to do God’s Will.
Stretched and Strengthened
The spiritual journey of the Apostle Peter has often motivated me:
• A down to earth-regular guy- so much so his friends probably called
him Pete… ‘Peter’ would have been too formal for him
• A commercial fisherman
• An ‘ear’ for authentic spiritual truth tho sometimes he struggled
with follow through
• A Jewish believer who appreciated his spiritual roots…but I sense he
was a man who was longing for more of God than his traditions pointed
out to him
• Pete was challenge - able and changeable
• He was stretchable
I want us to think about, be challenged by and respond to the scriptural principle of Stretching so we can be Strengthened.
Isaiah 54:2 says, “Enlarge the place of your tent, Stretch your tent curtains wide, Do not hold back; Lengthen your cords, Strengthen your stakes.”
This OT verse & passage refers to the future of the Nation of Israel – there were and are many promises that are yet to be fulfilled for Abraham’s family. But this verse can be applied to us as well for in Galatians 4:27 Paul takes verse 1 in chapter 54 & applies it to the NT church...
So by application God is saying to us STRETCH – REACH – BE PREPARED to run the spiritual race – Receive what God gives – STRETCH, GROW AND BE STRENGTHENED.
The Bible details story after story of men and women who learned to Stretch spiritually and in doing so set the example for us:
Abraham - Moses - Daniel - Job - Esther –
Mary the mother of Jesus and... Simon Pete the Fishermen!
When I think of stretching I naturally think of sports…
There are basically 2 kinds of Athletes:
The Pro and the Weekend Warrior
The Pro – no matter the sport, they always stretch their muscles – it keeps injuries to a minimum. After all, they have to stretch to catch or jump, stretch to reach or dunk, stretch to tackle or block, throw, run, serve, and a dozen other things that requires stretching…
The Weekend Warrior – some stretch adequately, but most don’t. Those who are 18 to 29 are the Studs & those 30 & up are the Duds – like me…
The older we get the more important it is to STRETCH – but few do!
The Value of Stretching, both physically and Spiritually is obvious:
1. You can reach farther
2. Keep injuries to a minimum
3. With a little pain, you can avoid big pain.
The goal of stretching is clear: the desire to stretch is hard to maintain.
• When Jesus first called Pete to follow Him, the big fisherman got
• He liked what he saw but didn’t always understand what he heard
• He learned new truth and tried his best to walk in it. Some days he
did great. Other days he failed miserably & got frustrated and
Thru it all he was being Stretched – Changed –
Matured – Strengthened! But it wasn’t easy…
I. The Biblical Pattern of Stretching
a. Life is full of Problems and Challenges – think about O.T. Joseph - (ad lib)
We also face frustrations, crises, sickness, poverty, spiritual warfare, consequences of sin, unhealthy relationships…
b. God gives us Promises and Choices – think about Job – blessed in greater ways after the testing than he had been before…
God gives to us Hope that there are answers and solutions to our aches and pains. Pete faced all of these types of problems and he learned to respond to Gods Promises by making right choices.
Remember when he:
• Walked on the water toward Jesus - what a miracle - ever tried that?
But then the fisherman began to sink…why? Because he got sidetracked by the high waves & wind – the sheer danger of it all.
Remember the time he…
• Bragged with Pride and Arrogance as he blurted out that he would
never deny the Lord?
• Denied Jesus 3 times while our Savior was being tried and beaten?
• Was so discouraged about the denials that he couldn’t even tell
Jesus whether he loved Him completely or not
Jesus wanted Peter to grow spiritually, to Stretch, to be changed into His image…So he Taught and Trained him, Discipled and Developed him, Stretched and Strengthened him! And friends that’s what the Lord wants to do with us. And you know, he eventually relied on God’s Promises and made the right choices. He became a great leader in the NT Church – but not until he was Stretched and Strengthened.
II. Some Truth about Stretching
a. Most people don’t stretch until they are forced to do so.
b. Most people who have stretched in the past don’t stretch daily.