I kicked off 2014 with a sermon series called "STRETCH." It was based on the prayer found in Acts 4:29-30. The way I pray it sounds like, "Lord, consider the threats and obstacles that stand opposed to us. Enable us to speak the Word of God boldly. And Lord, stretch out your hand to heal, and to perform signs and wonders in the name of Jesus."
Today I want to remind us that it was more than just a several-week series. I believe God is calling us, as a church, to LIVE it. And I believe he has already equipped us with everything necessary for answering that prayer. I believe God is saying that it will take hard work and investment--and such will be the evidence of love to a skeptical and cynical world. And I believe that if we follow Jesus, the "signs and wonders" will be the signs of "love" and the wonders of "transformation." Oftentimes this will be mystical and supernatural. Other times it will seem rational and methodical. But at all times it will be traceable to a movement of genuine love where each of us invests our gifts and talents in serving real people.
As God has led me in this understanding, I've been praying: Lord, stretch out your hand through us to bring...
That continues to be my prayer.
I wonder how God has gifted you to stretch out your hand? Has anyone ever looked to you for hope in their hopeless situation? Have you ever found yourself with insight for someone when life wasn't making sense to them? Do you love to provide necessities for people when they can't make it without assistance? Do you pray with discernment and power, and do you feel a special urge to pray deliverance for people who feel trapped?
I believe God has equipped you to stretch out your hand as his hand. So I invite you to continue to pray with me, "Lord, stretch out your hand to heal through me to perform the signs of loveand wonders of transformation as one who loves and is loved by Jesus." Then go do it, believing that he is answering your prayer--through you and me and many other regular people just like us.
Here, even now, even in our lifetime.