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Arise and Stretch

Mike Connell

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Arise and Stretch The Bible describes a withered condition where joy has withered away. Man, we need plenty of joy in our life, need to laugh more, have more fun and connect with people. Enjoy the life of God. It's not a hard life, it's a great life walking with God - but what has withered it up? Has fear withered it up? Fear will shrink the gifts of God in our life. Jesus said My joy I give to you, let no man take it from you. You never see the power of God in your comfort zone. You never see the power of God in the life you've been used to living, you only see it when you go out and start to take some risks and start to move beyond your comfort area. That's when you start to see it.
I want us to look at Mark, Chapter 3. I just felt God quicken something today. You know Jesus said these words. He said: he that believes on me, out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water; and He was speaking about the Holy Ghost. That's not a different Holy Spirit, that Jesus had, to the one we have. It's the same Holy Ghost, and He still wants to flow out of our lives. He still wants to flow beyond us, in a great river that touches people. You are called to release and activate the life of God to the community, to the people around you, and this is a great thing that we're called to do. What a great thing that God calls us to do. Ezekiel saw it, and this is what he saw. He saw the temple of God - we're the temple of God - and he saw a great river going. Here's the interesting thing: the river was shallowest, the closer you got to the house. It said: he went into the river; and he says: up to his ankles. Then he went a thousand cubits and got deeper, but he was going with the river (downstream). He went another thousand, and it got up here, then it got up here, then it become a great river that he couldn't pass over. That river, wherever it went, touched the dry places and brought life, and people were saved and healed. The rivers of God flow strongest where there are unsaved. The rivers of God flow deepest where there are unsaved.

Now you see this breaks the pattern a lot of people have, we think that the river of God flows greatest when we meet together. Certainly there's wonderful experiences we can have in worship, in the presence of God, and God touching us; but the greatest rivers are the rivers that see men saved, that see people drawn out of sin, and drawn into the kingdom. I want to share with you a story in Mark 3, which I felt is very prophetic of the church, and it's something God's just put on my heart. Jesus entered the synagogue, Verse 1, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. It said: they watched Him closely, will He heal him on the Sabbath, that they might accuse Him. So the environment Jesus is stepping into is an environment of law. It's not an environment of the spirit, it's an environment of people who are living under laws and regulations, and their main thing is to find fault, judge and accuse.

Jesus is carrying the river of God. It says: He entered the synagogue, and there was a man with a withered hand. They watched closely whether He'd heal him on the Sabbath, that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand: arise, step forward. Then He said to them: is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or do evil, save life or kill? To help someone; or offer a ritual sacrifice. They wouldn't say a word, and He looked around at them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts. He said to the man: stretch out your hand. And he stretched it out, and it was restored and made whole; and of course immediately the Pharisees plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might kill Him.

Notice Jesus is in a synagogue. He's come into what we would call the modern equivalent of a local church. He's come into a local church setting. The church is called by God to represent Him. We're called to represent Jesus. We're called to re-present what He is like. In other words: how much of Jesus do people see, when they see you? It's not about your preaching to people. It's about the life we live before people. We're called to be a community that love one another, stand together, but represent Christ. We're called to advance the kingdom of God. There's no believer exempt from this. Every one of us has got a purpose, a mission, called to advance the kingdom of God. Now the reason I raise this, I want you to see what is happening in this particular synagogue.