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Jentezen Franklin - Rubber Band Faith

When you came in this morning, you were given a rubber band. How many of you have your rubber band? Let me see it. Hold it up, at every campus; hold it up. Alright. This is class participation. I want you to take that rubber band and I want you to put it on your wrist. Would you do that? And I want it to become a constant reminder to you this week, and especially today while I preach, of the fact that that wrist would be a constant reminder that, like a rubber band, your faith is useless unless it's stretched; that God is going to require of you, when He takes you into new territory and new seasons of purpose, it will require you to stretch. It will require you, like a rubber band, to be pulled and put under tension and stress and discomfort at times.

And it's not a bad thing. It's a powerful thing, because in the stretch and in that pulling out of the comfort zone place is exactly where God will do His greatest miracles in your life.

Today, I'm preaching on Rubber Band Faith. Rubber band faith is, the message is this: it's just like a rubber band; it's useless unless it is stretched. Rubber band faith has to be extended beyond its regular form to fulfill its purpose. Faith is much like a rubber band. Faith is useless unless it's stretched. Our faith needs to be tested and taken out of the comfort zone. All we want is comfortable. All we want is easy. All we want is laid back and predictable. But we must be willing to step out and stretch ourself. And that's when God shows up and does what we cannot do. We need to let God keep putting us in situations where we whisper under our breath, God, if You don't show up, I'm bound to fail.

And if you don't find yourself in situations all along where you're in and you're stepping out and you're trusting Him and doing what He told you to do and you're kind of praying under your breath, If You don't help me, I'm bound to fail, then you're not living that level of faith that God has called you to. Ask God to stretch you. Be bold. Be courageous. Step out. Because you were made to be stretched. You were not made to be comfortable the rest of your life. That's not where joy and fulfillment is. It's just being, this rubber band that I'm holding in my hand, look at it. It's useless unless it's stretched. And the same is true concerning our faith. You will have to stretch to catch the next opportunity God is going to send your way.

I've never had God send a new opportunity to us as a church and the ministry without it absolutely requiring me, in my faith, to be stretched to a place of discomfort and pressure. You see, rubber band faith is stretching with courage to step from a safe place to an unsafe place. It's risky. When God's, is going to do something significant in your life, it will require rubber band faith that stretches you to the potential that you could fail. It could snap. You could see it not happen. But that's where the miracles are and that's where only you can activate your faith. God uses the stretch in our lives to expand our thinking. And so many times, we just get stuck in the same old pattern, in the same old life, in the same old challenges.

Stretching and rubber band faith means trusting God in the moments of stress, in the moments of tension, in the moments of discomfort, in the moments of pressure. That's rubber band faith. I'm in it. I'm not asking You to get me out of it and let me go back to being normal and simple like everybody else. But I'm willing, Lord, when You tell me to do something, I will stretch and I will believe You, that You can take what I have and You can maximize it. I don't want to live at a minimum. You see, this rubber band is at a minimum. But when it's stretched, it doesn't get any bigger than it already is; it's just reaching its maximum.

And so many of us want to live life like this and we don't want God to stretch us. But anytime God's given you the stretch, it's so that there's so much more in you that you haven't used. There's more in you that you're capable of, but it's going to require rubber band faith. Every person in the Bible that God ever used had to have rubber band faith that stretched them. Most people avoid rubber band faith. they want an easy faith. They want a comfortable faith. But notice, this is no threat. Notice, this kind of faith, it's no threat. If an enemy comes at you, you can throw that at them and it'll bounce right off. But when you start stretching it, like I used to do when I was a kid, you can turn it into a weapon and your faith...

Come on. That just hit a non-tither right between the eyes right there. There you go. I'm telling you today that every person that God is going to use under the sound of my voice is going to go through stretching. Most people avoid it. Most people would rather, they will not expose themselves to rubber band faith on their own. They have to be stretched. Most people are vulnerable when they're using rubber band faith, just like a rubber band is vulnerable. It could snap. It could break. And what are you vulnerable to when God has you in that place that He's stretching you with rubber band faith?

Three things. You're vulnerable to criticism, because as long as you're doing nothing, nobody's going to ever criticize you. But the moment that you start stretching, the moment that you take that opportunity, the moment that you start that dream, the moment you start that business, the moment you do what God's telling you to do for the kingdom, then there's going to come a vulnerability to the critics, because a lot of people sit on the sideline and their criticism goes something like this: You can't do it. It's impossible. You're going to fail. They'll say that; and then, when you start doing it, they'll say, well, you can do it a little, but it won't last. But then, when you actually get it done, they'll be the first to say, I knew you could do it all the time; I knew... I was for you all the...

So don't worry about your critics. Just go on and stretch. I know when this church started growing, when this ministry started expanding, we had critics that came out of the woodworks. People talked, they called us a cult. They called us this. They called, they still do. Made up lies. Made up things. You know what? I'd rather be stretching and taking souls and reaching people for God than never have criticism and never have anybody say anything.

You are vulnerable to criticism when you are using rubber band faith. Secondly, you're vulnerable to discouragement. That's when you're most, at your most discourageable point is when you're stretching and you're not seeing the results yet. But you're stretching. You're at the end of your comfort zone and it feels like it's not happening. That's when discouragement will come. And the way that you overcome discouragement, the easiest way to defeat discouragement, is to encourage somebody else. And then you have to encourage yourself in the Lord. That's what David did.

Most people need affirmation when they're using rubber band faith... taking on a new challenge, taking a new risk, taking a new chance, putting it all on the line. They need affirmation. The most important time to affirm somebody is when they're stretching, when they're risk taking. If you're ever going to be a cheerleader, if you're ever going to be a backslapper, that's the time to do it. We don't need your little critical voice. We don't need your little negative two cents' worth and... I don't see any sense in trying. We don't need that when we're stretching. You need people around you that'll say, "You can do it, hang in there; go, I'm proud of you for trying".

You ought to be that way for your children, by the way. I love to see my kids stretching. I love to see, and I don't want to be that negative voice pointing out the 14 reasons why they could fail. I'd rather see em stretch; and even if they don't get everything they're believing for, the stretching will prepare them to go further the next time. Come on, somebody. Most people never learn that rubber band faith is never supposed to stop. You're never supposed to stop learning. You're never supposed to stop growing. You're never supposed to stop risking. Life is meant for us to stretch. Life is meant for us to constantly reach. And the people who inspire other people are the ones who never stop stretching. They go from glory unto glory. They go from faith unto faith.

And I want this church to be that way. I don't ever want us to get set back and think that we can just be alright. I want us to stretch, at every campus. I'm believing for a physical campus at every place we have a congregation. It's going to stretch us, but I like the stretch. And more importantly, God's out there. You say, Well, God'll never call you, you know, to stretch. God's not going to make you try to do things that seem impossible.

What Bible are you reading? You better think again. Do you read this book? Jesus told one man that was in a boat to get out of the boat and walk on the water. That's what you call a stretch. Jesus told another dead guy who was stinking in his grave, Get up from the grave; come out of your grave clothes and come out of your tomb, Lazarus. And I'm telling you, that's the same God that I serve. The Bible is a David and Goliath book. And when God's going to do something powerful in your life, it will stretch you beyond your present resources to trust God like you've never trusted Him before. But that's where God is. He's not in the safety zone, in the comfort zone. He's in the stretch. Somebody give God a praise if you believe it.

I like this sermon. Let me give you my biblical examples now. I've got four quick ones. II Kings 4, there's a marvelous story of a prophet who goes into a room and there's a dead boy on the bed. And the scripture said that God impressed him to do something. He went and lay on the child, put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, his hands on his hands. Watch this. And he stretched himself out on that child and the flesh of that dead child began to warm. Then, the next verse says it again, as if to underscore the key to this miracle. He returned. He did it again and stretched himself out two times.

The Bible emphasizes that, the key to this miracle. An impossibility became a reality when the man of God stretched. When he stretched, what was given up was given back. What was lost, was restored. It is incumbent upon you and I, in certain seasons of our walk with God, to not be comfortable but to be stretched, to go for it, to get out there where if God doesn't help us we absolutely could snap and break and fail. It's not a bad place. I have learned that's where the miracles are waiting. That's where the provision is waiting. That's where things you haven't even thought of are waiting.

Opportunities are waiting, not in the comfort zone, but in the stretch. When he stretched out over that child, it covered up the problem. And when we begin to stretch in faith, stretch in praise, stretch in worship... when we begin to stretch the promise of God in our life and make it bigger than the problem that we're facing: you couldn't even see that boy when that big prophet laid over top of him. He covered up the problem with his faith. I'm saying to you today that the word of the Lord, I believe, is what God told... or Mary, the mother of Jesus, told the servants, when Jesus was ready to make water into wine, John 2:5, Whatsoever He says to you, do it. Turn to somebody and say, Whatever He tells you to do, do it. It'll require the stretch, but you're going to have to stretch for success.

Do it. Quit whining about it and do it. Do it. You have to have bravery. You have to have courage to obey God. And you have to stretch. It's rubber band faith. And what happened is the Bible said the boy sneezed seven times and he came back to life, when the prophet stretched. We are at a minimum when we are restful, when we're normal, when we're in a comfortable position. But we're at our maximum when we're stretched and we're believing for God's power to help us. You have not grown an inch when you stretch. You simply maximize what you already have and what you already are. When you move from a restful place, a comfortable place, a normal place to a position of stretching.

I say to the young people here, don't ever turn down opportunity because you feel you're not qualified enough, you're not talented enough, you're not gifted enough. Go on and let that opportunity stretch you. You don't know what you are. You don't know what's in you. You don't know what you're capable of. If you would just allow God to give you rubber band faith that says, I'm most useful when I'm beyond what I'm comfortable doing. Some of you have not fulfilled one of the main purposes of your life because you keep shrinking back from a fear and God's saying, I want you to stretch, I want you to stretch. That's where God meets us with His supernatural power.

I want you to understand that Elisha stretched and a miracle happened. Then, the Bible talks about, in the story of Moses, God told him to take that staff and He said, when the Egyptians were closing in and the Red Sea was before him, He said, Stretch out that staff. And when he stretched out that staff, the sea parted. But the miracle was in rubber band faith. Moses had rubber band faith that said, I've got to stretch. This is scary. This is uncomfortable. This is pressure. This is tense. But here I go; I'm going for it. And when he did, God got in that stretch.

In Matthew 12:13, there's the miracle of when Jesus went in the temple and there was a man with a withered hand. And Jesus gave this simple command, Stretch forth your hand. And when he stretched, I'm telling you, the miracle is not in the comfortable place. But he took his deformed hand and he stretched it. And I want you to understand what that means. God wants to deliver you from what you're ashamed of. God wants to deliver you from what you're embarrassed of. If there's an addiction or bondage in your life, stretch for the help that Jesus has. He's saying, "Stretch it out. Make it as big as you can make it and it won't bother Me because I'm Jesus and I can deal with that issue".

There's no shame in Jesus Christ. There's no condemnation. There's no backing up because of your past. You hold your head up. We all have things, but by the blood of Jesus Christ, we don't deserve to stand here. But I'm thankful that I've been stretched by the grace of God beyond what I deserve to what I have received through the cross. Y'all are quiet this morning. Somebody's shouting in one of our campuses. I guarantee. Stretch. The man with the withered hand was not healed until he stretched. The boy who was dead was not raised until the prophet stretched. What about this one?

The greatest miracle of all time, the conquering of your sin, the conquering of sickness, the conquering of demons and devils and death, the conquering of the grave and hell happened when Jesus stretched His body on the cross. Victory was won when Jesus was stretched out on that old rugged cross between the nails. It required Jesus to stretch so that your sins could be conquered and the grave could be forever robbed of you and me. we have eternal life because Jesus was stretched. He had rubber band faith.

And I want to close with Exodus 17. The Bible said that Moses was on the mountain and the Israelites were fighting a battle in the valley with another nation. And as long as Moses' arms were stretched out, victory was won. But when he stopped stretching and started putting his arms down, the battle turned in the valley. And two men ran up... Aaron and Hur... and they got up under and they said, We've got to keep you stretching, because the miracle is not in the comfort zone. The miracle is in the stretch.

And I just hear the Lord saying if this church called Free Chapel will stretch, they're going to do something phenomenal in this nation and in this world. I just believe God wants us to go to the maximum of what He's called us to be, not the minimum. The maximum. I'm going to tell you what's going to happen. God's going to get in that stretch. God's going to see that rubber band faith. and here's what it's all about... souls, souls, souls, souls. It's time for the stretch. Let's stretch. I never dreamed a country boy, I never dreamed, would be preaching on TV. I'm not boasting; I'm just telling you. And all we got to do is stretch. All we've got to do is stretch.

I'm tired of telling God all the reasons why I can't do it. I'm ready to stretch. And if you think we're about to retire and take it easy around here, you're in the wrong church, bud. We are ready to stretch like never before. Everybody get up on your feet. Here we go now. I don't want this half-flag praise. I don't want your little pitiful rubber band at medium, I want you to stretch your praise to the maximum for the next 30 seconds. I don't want you to be ashamed of exalting, ashamed of praising. Get your hands as high as you can get em. Get your voice as loud as you can get it. Say, God, I need a little stretch. I need a little stretch in my praise and in my walk and in my faith. I need a little stretch. Gotten a little too comfortable.

Here's the thing. As you get older, Erin, Stretching wasn't no big thing for me when I was your age, when you guys, you know, I run. And I would never stretch before I ran. My stretching was my running. But when you get a little bit older, if you try that, your knees, your legs, you'll be walking around like this. So what I've learned is, listen to this: Feels good to stretch. Y'all don't hear me. You've got to preach with me a little bit. It feels good to have a new challenge. It feels good to take a risk that God's asking you to trust Him with. Feels good to not be so predictable... same ol', same ol'.

It's time for rubber band faith that says, God, stretch me until I can be the maximum of what You've called me. I don't want to get, die and have things left on the table. I want to be stretched to the end. I'll rest in Heaven. Hallelujah. Alright, here we go. Every campus. This is a stretch praise. I want you to be like Moses and I want you to go to the extreme of whatever you can reach and I want you to act like you're reaching up to take the hand of God right now, in any situation in your life that you feel stressed about. Just stretch in worship. Stretch your hands toward heaven and say, God, here's my problems, here's my tension, here's my discomfort; but I'm stretching and I'm trusting You to see it through, in Jesus mighty name.
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