INCREASE

Pastor Terry Inman

04-30-17

 

My cousin owns hundreds of acres of corn in Iowa. He contracts the harvesting to one of these guys with the most high tech tractor you have ever seen. He asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. Wow it was equipped with air-conditioning, Hi-def. TV, and a laptop with wireless Internet.

 

As he harvested the corn the software tracked the yield. It measured how many bushels he was getting per acre. It told him where the low spots were. Were it needed more seed and more fertilizer for a higher yield.

 

A couple months ago I woke up before dawn with a word on my mind.

I actually saw in large type the word “INCREASE”. I sensed it was a download from the Lord. I had been praying about church finances.

 

I asked for further insight. I heard in my mind, “Ask me for an increase in power, people and provision. I believe the Lord wants us to experience a season of increase. We serve a very generous Father.

Psa. 34.9 says, “…those who revere the Lord lack nothing”.

 

The bible says, “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?” (Romans 8.32 NLT)

 

Now we’re not talking about increase so we consume more.

“You don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong--you want only what will give you pleasure. (James 4.2-3 NLT)

 

I believe God wants us to prosper us for his purposes not ours! Prosperity is more than bucks in the bank. “I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1.2)

This is a very generous Church! This year we have given even more to compassion ministries like Convoy of Hope and Project Rescue. We have been generous with several ministries and missionaries. I was looking at a recent report and noticed that we increased our missions giving by over $100K. That’s great, but we are that amount behind in tithe that supports the ministries, administration and operations of Harbor Light.

We should be generous with the world and keep the storehouse full!

The Apostle Paul was commending the church in Macedonia for their incredible generosity in the face of poverty. He mentions they gave “as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability—entirely on their own”. (2 Cor 8.3 NIV) They first gave themselves to the Lord!

 

In order to experience increase we have to risk investment. These people were not business entrepreneurs they were small subsistence farmers.

 

In 2 Cor.9 Paul mentions their investment and their increase. Remember this, a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully”

 

According to this passage. Increase comes to those who invest intentionally, (decide in their heart) generously (freely) and cheerfully! This kind of giving activates reciprocation by our generous Father!

 

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 2 Cor. 9.8-9  

 

When we sow our seed—God meets our need, and remembers our deed!

I heard someone say, “don’t eat your seed or plant your bread”. God will meet our needs. Jesus told us to pray, “give us our daily bread”.

 

God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosityin you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way (not just financially) so that you can always be generous and your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God!

(2 Cor. 9.10-11 NLT)

 

To increase is to make or become larger or greater! It’s an upsurge or expansion! God built into his creation the potential for increase. “God blessed them (Adam and Eve) and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
(Gen. 1.28 NIV) 

May the Lord make you increase, both you and your children.” (Psa. 115.14 NIV)

We get that! That’s why we had seven sons and 27 grandchildren!    

God wants us to increase three ways. He wants to increase His power! He wants to increase His people! He wants to increase provision!

 

Right after Easter Mary and I attended a conference in Pasadena where some of our friends like Rolland and Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson and Randy Clark were ministering. Randy prayed prophetically over me that God would increase his power to reach the diverse people groups in our community. He also prayed that I would impart and equip others for this.

 

We needed a refreshing. I went to power-up on the Holy Spirit! Our batteries need recharging!

The bible says, “He gives strength to the weary and increasesthe power of the weak.”
(Isa. 40.29 NIV)

 

Paul had wonderful revelations from God but was also harassed by a thorn in his flesh that he labeled “a messenger from Satan”. He asked for it to be removed but God said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Cor.12:7-11 (NLT)

 

I’m not asking to be more powerful! I’m asking for and increase of His power in me. I feel a bit powerless to reach our diverse community for Christ. The bay area is not a bastion of evangelical Christian culture. Less than 4% of the population, attend a bible-believing church on any Sunday.

 

We are not persecuted yet but false religion and Godless secularism is pervasive. I feel like the followers of Jesus right after his resurrection and ascension. (Acts 4.21-31 NIV) They were ostracized and marginalized.

 

Peter and John were jailed for preaching in the name of Jesus Christ. Have you noticed how the rhetoric his heating up against the name of Christ in public? It is not politically correct to share your faith outside the church.

 

At the gates of the Temple, Peter told a disabled beggar, look at us! We don’t have any money but we do have power. In the name of Jesus get us and walk! Today the western church has money but not much power!

 

As a result the emerging church grew from 3000 to 5000 men in just a few days. The religious leaders wanted to silence this explosive Jesus movement! They threatened them and released them because the crowds were praising God for the healing of this 40-year old disabled panhandler.

Peter and John joined a prayer meeting.

When the church heard the threatening news they didn’t get angry or fearful. They didn’t even petition their politicians.
They raised their voices together in prayer to God.” Acts 4.23 (NIV).

They prayed and they prophesied God’s word!

 

“O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’ (vv. 24-26)

 

Harassment drove them to pray the scriptures! They interpreted the resistance in light of the God’s revelation. They could not be intimidated.

 

“This has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will.” (vv. 27-28)

 

Powerlessness goes away when we seek the face of our Sovereign Lord!

Here’s the part I really like. They prayed for an increase in power!

 

O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (vv.29-30)

 

That’s what I’m asking for. Lord, in this dark and diverse culture—show your hand! Demonstrate your healing power not just here in the comfort of our church services but break out in the marketplace. Revel yourself to Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists—even cold Christians!

 

After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness! (v.31)

 

These were the same followers that had been filled with the Holy Spirit just days earlier at Pentecost. Now the place of prayer is shaking and they are getting filled again. If you were filled with Holy Spirit a long time ago you’re on empty. We need an increase of His power!

The bible says, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. Eph. 5:18-19 (NLT)

 

Let’s ask for an increase of the Holy Spirit’s power! Let’s also ask for an increase of people. The book of Acts is all about exponential church growth. I am not happy with decrease! God is all about increase!

 

In (Acts 2.42-47) the newly spirit filled believers were dedicated to teaching, fellowship, community and prayer. They lived in an awe of miracles, signs and wonders. They shared everything with each other. They worshiped at the Temple and in homes. They were full of joy and generosity. They had favor with all! “And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (v. 47) That’s increase!

 

In chapter six after they appointed people to serve the widows and freed the Apostles to teach, preach and pray, “the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increasedrapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”
(Acts 6.7 NIV)   

 

Herod killed James, and intended to put Peter to death. But an angel pulled off a midnight jailbreak. While the believers were still praying for his life he showed up unannounced!

 

Later, King Herod adorned in his pompous regalia, allowed some Jews to hail him as a god. He was struck down and worms consumed him. “But the word of God continued to increaseand spread.” (Acts 12.24)

 

Sings and wonders get people’s attention but it’s love that attaches them to the church. Paul prays that our love would increase. “May the Lord make your love increaseand overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” (1Th. 3.12 NIV)

 

God wants us to increase. He will increase His power as we increase our love for His people!

 

Finally God wants us to ask and expect an increase of provision. Look again at Paul’s words on investment and increase in 2 Cor. 9.10-11(NLT)

 

God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosityin you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous and your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Cor. 9.10-11 (NLT)

 

We have been generous with many global ministries. God will bless us for this. But we have a need in our own house right now. Let’s ask him to bless us with the resources (the seed) to be even more generous!

 

I am asking the Lord for a hundred thousand dollars beyond our normal monthly income in the next sixty days. Mary and I are going to “seed” 10% of this need. We are going to invest the first ten thousand dollars. Maybe the Lord will lead some of you to join us or give even more!

 

We recently refinanced our house and added some funds to replace our roof. We were able to do it for a less than anticipated. We were hoping to use some of the funds for a bathroom remodel but that can wait.

 

I remember a few years ago the Lord led us give ten thousand for a children’s home in Kenya. We didn’t have the funds. But the Lord reminded me that I had a red mustang in the garage that I loved but really didn’t need. We sold it and helped build the home.

 

The next year we sold a vintage airstream camper trailer that Mary had worked so hard to restore. We gave another ten thousand through Project Rescue in India for a home to restore trafficked young women.

 

A few years ago the Lord allowed us to purchase a retreat in Paradise Valley Montana overlooking the Yellowstone River. I was on the pouch closing an amazing deal. I was weeping with gratitude. I asked the Lord why this incredible gift. He reminded me of our earlier contributions.

He said, you gave my children a home now here’s a retreat for you.

 

Please take the “increase” card out of your worship folder. This is a “seed” offering an investment beyond our regular tithe. More important than this financial need is our spiritual need! We are investing and asking the Lord for a supernatural increase in power, people and provision.

Let’s pray.  I can’t wait to hear stories of God faithless