Are you being stretched spiritually? Are you being stretched to grow deeper in your knowledge of the word? Are you in a church where you are being challenged to confront your sin and kill it? Are you in a church where you are being encouraged to see all circumstances as being ordained by the Lord because he is sovereign over all things; and therefore, being taught how to respond in difficult situations?
It has been my experience that stretching is necessary for growth! Like water, if we don’t move, we stagnate or become complacent. Life becomes routine. Sure, you may have good things in place as part of your routine, but sometimes, a kink in the pipe may very well be what propels you out of your comfort zone and into new territory, a stretching, if you will.
Yesterday, I was listening to this sermon while doing my walk, Word of Counsel to the People of God by Pastor Albert N. Martin. In it, he says: “It takes the whole Bible to make a whole, mature child of God.” He said that to not go through the Bible, Genesis through Revelation, be it on a one-year or two-year Bible reading plan will cause you to shrivel some aspect of your spiritual life.
Daily Bible reading is a way for us to stretch ourselves, as is memorization of scripture. I have memorized quite a few scriptures through my life, but yesterday, one of the sisters at my church shared on Facebook, how she had memorized at least 75 verses of Psalm 119, but had quit and wanted to get back at it. Seventy-five verses? The most of one passage I had memorized was seven, Psalm 19:7-14! But wait, to her post, another sister had shared that several of them are trying to memorize the book of James. A whole book?
Talking about being stretched! I’m joining in.
To stretch, we must push beyond what we already know! Mark Devers in his podcast, Why Preach Expositionally? He talks about the need for preachers to preach expositionally, so that they cover more than what they already know. They are then stretched to learn about more than what is already in their bank; and their congregation, likewise, will be stretched.
Are you being stretched? This Christian journey is not one of complacency, but a pressing forward. The Apostle Paul states in Philippians:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
Being in a congregation where not only the word is being preached expositionally, but where the members will come along side you to spur you forward, to ask you the hard questions about your walk is what helps to keep us in the way. The Apostle Paul also describes what Christian life looks like as we dwell together:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
To stretch and renew our minds, we need to replace our corrupted disk drive (our minds) with new data.
Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:10
Are you being stretched?