KEYS TO THE KINGDOM - INCREASE
Thank you church and friends for making October such a spiritual fest! Our Homecoming service was wonderful and once again the giving was a “wow.” Elder Sam Bennett was blessed to preach to us during our fall meeting from the Psalms about revival, God our refuge, and he reminded us that our God reigns. The hospitality and hope our fall meeting provided helped us prepare our hearts for the Thanksgiving celebration of November. The Fall Festival stirred up our love for one another as we came together on a beautiful Saturday in Christian fellowship, humbled by God’s favor with family and friends of all ages. Obviously many of you who could not physically be with us were praying for the church and her influence. Your prayers were answered! Thanks for doing that, and I hope you all, very soon, can sit together with us in the pews which are really heavenly places.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
Increase is a verb, an action verb. Increase means to become or make greater in size, amount, intensity, or degree. Increase is the springboard for witness and the kingdom of God needs a witness to glorify the King of the kingdom and to encourage the subjects of the kingdom; even
God’s people. When we live the way we are supposed to live, and do the things we are supposed to do, and serve God like we ought to, we witness the miracle of God’s saving grace in our lives and there will be an increase in our love for God and for each other. On the other hand, if we don’t do right, live right and practice godliness, we will not testify of God’s grace nor will we all be thankful. Disobedience makes God look bad and His kingdom will not be influential in the way it should be. Furthermore, there will be a decrease in our love for God and for one another. Now, when we consider the two greatest commandments, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves as our job description for kingdom life, we get a clear perspective of the important part increase plays in our earthly life walking with Jesus.
Our God is a God of increase. God is a multiplier. He created the earth and universe out of nothing and He made us out of dust. God likes growth, he likes increase. When he made it all and saw the increase, He said it was good, even very good. God told Adam and Eve to multiply, to dress and keep the garden thereby increasing its beauty and fulfilling their purpose. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, there was a disastrous decrease. Sin separates us from God and thereby decreases our joy and withers our influence. The devil is a decreaser and he will try to deceive us into thinking decrease is divine.
It’s not that God is just into big things either. Just because He is an increaser doesn’t mean he is not into small things.
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
God gets much glory when He takes something little and makes it bigger. The little boy who brought the two fishes and five loaves of bread to hear Jesus preach on the mount, had what was hardly a meager portion to feed over five thousand people. But Jesus took what the boy had, blessed it, and increased it so much so that there was an abundance of leftovers. One thing we need to remember as residents of God’s kingdom on Earth is that Jesus has promised to supply all our needs, even though sometimes our needs are great and our supplies seem so small. There is comfort in knowing as long as we have Jesus there will always be enough. The bread of life never gets stale and there will be a fresh loaf of grace every morning that God sends it. Remember, God not only created this world, He also sustains it. And He does so by the principle of increase. The miracle of the seed provides a good example of God’s wisdom and power in His provisions in this life. I understand that fifteen pounds of cotton seed may increase or yield one thousand pounds of cotton and one half bushel of corn seed can turn out to be one hundred bushels.
One of the exciting parts of being a Christian is experiencing the miracle of increase. Every breath we take is manifestation of the great multiplier of mercy. The sun gives light to the trees and the trees through their leaves give out oxygen. And the God of all grace supplies, through His indwelling Holy Spirit, everything necessary to live godly in this present evil world. Probably none of us would say that we are where we want to be in our walk with God, or that we have attained anything near the perfect righteousness and fellowship we desire to have with our Heavenly Father here in His kingdom. However, can’t we all testify that we are closer to Him than we once were and we love Him more each day? For sure, it’s good to know that while we’re not what we want to be, we are sure grateful that we are not what we used to be. That, my friends, happened because of increase and that is why increase is an important key that we should keep close for use in His kingdom work. Here is a key ring to help us do that:
Increase Is Priority
Sometimes when life is really good, we may have the tendency to forget that we’re living in God’s kingdom and think we are in our own kingdom. The truth is there is only one King!
“And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” Revelation 19:16
Also, it should humble us to know that there are only two kingdoms; the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. God, because of His love for even sinners like us, has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of marvelous, miraculous light.
Increase means a lot to God! It’s not so much that God wants us to accomplish great and big things as it is that He wants us to use what we have to make Him look good. The lesson taught by the parable of the talents shows us that what mattered to God was the talent was increased and not buried and unused. Actually, the man that didn’t use what he had ultimately lost what he had. Traveling in the kingdom of God is a lot like riding a bicycle. A bicycle is hard to ride standing still. You either go forward or you fall down!
The Lord Jesus provides the key to kingdom life in His Beatitudes.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
One point Jesus is making in this verse is that when we make God our priority, there will be an increase. In other words, if we are not increasing, that means we don’t have enough of God. The closer we get to God, the farther we get from the devil who is the one that steals and takes away. Jesus came that we might have not only life but abundant life!
Increase Is Powerful
All of us like to see an increase! Increase is encouraging and energizing too. Seeing the fruit of our labors causes us to work harder. When someone joins the church at SPBC, it brings us all joy doesn’t it? Likewise, when we see a loved one or friend, or anyone repent of sins and turn to the Lord, it is encouraging. Every spring when I plant my garden, I look forward to seeing the seed sprouts down the planted rows where a few days earlier was only bare dirt. No doubt about it, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ provides the greatest truth of the Power of Increase.
“But now is Christ even from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.” I Corinthians 15:20
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24
Increase is powerful because it comes from death. The increase in our love for God and our hatred for sin is because we died with Christ and thereby we died to the penalty and power of sin. Jesus also said that in order for us to have life, we must lose it. The Apostle Paul preached that we must die daily. Yes, increase will come only through our weakness and our yielding to Almighty God in our lives. Give God the right-of-way if you want to go the right way. Growing in grace happens because God has eminent domain, having purchased our souls by the precious blood of the Lamb, the Son of God.
Really, the only real increase must come from God.
“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” I Corinthians 3:6
All of our kingdom work’s success depends on God. Parenting, preaching and participating in church and life in general require the powerful Spirit of God to make it useful and effective. God is faithful though; when we do our part, He will do His. The bigger God is the smaller will be our problems. When God increases, sin decreases and instead of weakness, we are strengthened and steadied for service. The fourth verse of the hymn "More About Jesus" captures a powerful way to tune our souls in the key of increase. "More About Jesus on His throne, riches in glory all His own; more of His kingdom's sure increase; more of His coming, Prince of Peace." We don't need more money, more health, more happiness or more religion. What we need is more Jesus. He is the Highest Power. Hang around Jesus and He will change you. He will grow you and He will show you the way, the truth, and the life.
Increase Is Painful
A friend of mine recently experienced some major surgery which required significant recovery time. His response to being unable to perform his normal activities of life was that he would spend more time in God's word and meditation. He told me he grew more in his faith and his fellowship with God during this painful time.
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribula- tion worketh patience and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:3
Every weightlifter knows that the muscles increase by breaking down. This is why we feel soreness in our muscles even when we do nominal activities requiring the use of muscles we haven't used lately. Increase is a key to the kingdom because kingdom life is such a paradox. More problems mean more power in God's economy. Do not pray for your problems to go away, rather pray for more power to face your problems. Sometimes our problems do not go away, but that doesn't keep us from increasing. If I go out into my yard at home and push for one hour every day on that big live oak, I am not going to move that tree at all, but one thing for sure will happen be causing of all my pushing -- I will get stronger.
Kingdom life is not easy, but it is an arena for increase, Resisting the devil and temptation in painful because of our indwelling, unredeemed fleshly nature. The benefit and growth of grace is realized when we, by God's enablement, do not yield to the sins we're tempted to commit. We gain strength for resisting and are better equipped to fight off the next one.
The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith and so should we. Faith is increased in direct proportion to our reading and mediating on God's word. The study of God's word is a spiritual discipline that will bring much benefit and increase, but it can be painful. Not only does the truth sometimes hurt when correction is needed, we often have a lot of other callings of life calling us away from time in the word.
One principles of nature applicable to our kingdom life which I learned in the forest, was that a fast growing tree has the most defects. So, too much growth too fast is not always to be applauded. When things we're going through seem to overwhelm us and God seems to be doing nothing and there is dead calm so to speak and it's a hot, sulky summer day, don't give up or give in. It may be that God is slowing our spiritual growth a bit so that we won't have as many defects and we'll be stronger material for His use in His kingdom. Peace is not the absence of pain. Peace is the presence of God. The Prince of Peace provides for his kingdom's increase.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. Isaiah 9:6, 7A