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“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV)

 


We have come to the end of the fast but we are only at the beginning of the year. It’s not just about how you start but certainly how you finish.


In a cross country race, everyone starts together, everyone looks strong and it looks like anyone can win it. However as they cover more of a distance and as the terrain changes and crucially depending on their training, many will slow down, some can maintain the speed at which they started with and few will speed up. This fast is part of your training for the whole year, the full duration of the race. How you finish is so important, but the last stretch is the hardest part.


In the last stretch, it is mind over matter. You can do it, but can you believe that you have done it. Do you visualise yourself getting to the end of the year being more on fire than you were before the calendar reset to 1st January? Finishing the year strong is the goal, that's why we prepare ourselves spiritually. Jesus, God Himself, needed to fast for 40 days and 40 nights to discipline His flesh. The Bible tells us that our flesh wars against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). In the final stretch, The Bible says that the devil came to Jesus and tried to tempt Him to break early, by taunting Him to prove that He was the Son of God by turning stones into bread. All of this was happening whilst Jesus was hungry, in other words, when His flesh was weak. Yet His Spirit man stretched him to not succumb. However, suppose Jesus did only 40 days and no nights? Imagine if Jesus fasted for 39 days and 39 nights – it wouldn’t have been the same if he did not push through the final stretch. He wouldn’t have come out on top.

Today, I want to encourage anyone who has been fasting to stay strong and fight your flesh each day at a time. Just how you have practised disciplining your flesh during this 21-day fast, be sure to keep that discipline day by day throughout the year. When you feel weak spiritually mid-year, don’t wait for a corporate fast - do it on your own. Jesus fasted alone so He could be ready for His personal mission ahead. This year, will you challenge yourself to fast, on your own accord, when you are feeling spiritually weak? Let us push all the way through, even to the final stretch of the year so that we finish strong!

Further Study: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Hebrews 12:1-13, Isaiah 40:29-31


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““Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24 (NIV)

 


The Bible makes it clear that not all faith levels are the same, there are different levels on the faith scale. Jesus had encounters with people that moved Him so much that He made a point to distinguish them because of the great level of faith shown.


The woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years had decided that she could no longer rely on doctors and physicians for healing. Her faith level had bubbled up to the point where she decided to take a risk. According to Jewish law, a woman with her condition was to be in isolation because anyone she touched would be contaminated. Yet she weaved her way through crowds that were swarming Jesus and stretched enough just to touch the hem of His garment, knowing that Jesus was able. The disciples thought Jesus was mad to ask who had touched him, when He was being pressed on every side by people who had faith enough to get something from Him. Yet her touch was different, and amidst the many requests and the shouts to get His attention, Jesus asked a question that silenced the place. “Who touched me?” In other words, Jesus was asking whose faith was that? Power had been forced out of Him to do that, what had been believed for. Her faith had stretched and taken what was available to her in Christ Jesus.


We are not talking about a physical touch but a stretch of faith. Remember the Roman centurion who came to Jesus because he had a servant who was paralysed and suffering badly. Jesus offered to come to his house and heal him and the Centurion declined and said just send your word of healing because he believed that Jesus’ word was enough. His faith had risen to a level where he understood the authority, power and dominion Jesus had over every named thing here on earth. This level of faith amazed Jesus. His Word was enough.


This year, challenge your current faith level to move up notch. Do what it takes to stretch it so that you can obtain what is yours in Christ Jesus. Reflect on what this could look like for you, and in what area you need to become a Faith Stretcher today.


Further reading: Mark 5:25-34, Mathew 8:5-13, Matthew 15:22-28








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“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Sow your seed in the morning, and in the evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that or whether both will do equally well”. Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NIV)

 


Try new things! If this scripture is not a challenge or encouragement to us to try new things then I don’t know what else will spur us on. You won’t know if your next ‘breakthrough idea’ will actually breakthrough unless you try. And you will never find where those undiscovered passions of yours lie unless you try new things.


God does not want us to stay at the same level. He wants us to succeed and not to be stagnant and idle. Sowing seeds and reaping the fruits of that labour. God wants us to do well. There may be things you have been putting off doing or starting and God is saying the time is now! For those that always wait for the perfect time to begin a project will not sow and will not reap.


There is also a window of opportunity here that should not be missed. Your church needs you. Your local community needs you. The kingdom needs you. It needs you with a ‘yes attitude’. It needs you to really grasp the true sentiment of this scripture. There is so much yet to be born out of you and that requires willingness to sow your seed in the morning and in the evening let not your hands be idle.


Today, really think about what you can do for God. If you're stuck, then commit time during this fast to pray on just that. God needs you to discover your gifts and explore them in the safety of his Kingdom. Stretch yourself to try new things for your next big step but more importantly try something new for God.


Further Study: Zechariah 4:10, Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 25:14–30


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