The Much More Increase (1)

  • I’m certain all of us have met people who get stuck in life. Seems there are times when there appears to be no progress or increase in their lives at all. They simply are existing from day to day. Some even grow worse.

    That is not what God wants for any of us. God’s plan is for us to grow in life and for us to prosper in life and be in health (3 John 2). Increase is a God word. We can almost see the increase emphasis as we work through the Gospels into the writings of Paul. Here’s some examples.

    Luke 2:52 – And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

    In this verse we see that Jesus, from His birth increased, or grew, in wisdom, stature and favor with God. However, not just with God, but with the people also.

    Luke 17:5 – And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

    The apostles knew that the Word/Jesus was the place to go to increase their faith. It’s the same today. The only difference is they had the Word/Jesus physically with them. We have Him with us in a much deeper, stronger, anointed relationship that will bring increase as we embrace Him.

    Now as we get to the book of Acts chapter 9, right after Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, we see that he increased the more in strength (verse 22). His preaching became more and more powerful and confounded the Jews who knew Paul as the “law-keeper” and “new way” hater. Now they are troubled by the fact they cannot refute Paul’s proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. It’s the increase given Paul by God. It’s the much more.

    Not only did Paul increase in wisdom and favor, but the churches increased in numbers. But I saw something in the verse in Acts 16:5 that caught my attention. Here it is in the NLT.

    Acts 16:5 – So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day. Here it is in the NASB – So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.

    Did you notice the common thread? The churches were being strengthened in their faith. That’s what caused the increase. It wasn’t performance, works, new programs, or forced acts of rule keeping, but instead it was the increase in faith. The Word/Jesus says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

    Now as we get into the Pauline Epistles, we see increase once again in a little different light. 1 Corinthians 3:6 says “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase”. Actually, Paul was talking to the Corinthians here about where they should direct their faith. They had their focus on the wrong person. As an example, in verse 4, Paul says “When one of you says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos”—aren’t you acting like worldly people”?

    Wow! There’s a good question, because today’s Christians have a very bad habit of focusing on their Pastors instead of on God. They get what I like to call Pastoritis. If the Pastor is away on vacation or speaking engagements elsewhere, the attendance on Sunday goes down. Also, they brag and defend their denomination more than they defend their belief in God.

    There are many who focus on what would be categorized as “Great Evangelists”, or someone who has a “strong prophetic voice”, or “an apostolic voice” for our time. Then something negative happens to that person and the people are devastated. It’s because they put their faith in a man and not in God.

    When we put our faith in a man, we have a tendency to put this person above the masses. We put them up on a pedestal. The danger with that is when that person falls, they fall on the masses or people below them and many get hurt. Instead try to picture all of us, including the great evangelist, prophet, or apostle, all standing tightly pressed together so not one can fall.

    Peter warned the people about putting their faith in human man in Acts 3:12 after speaking to the lame beggar by the gate of the temple which was called Beautiful. Peter said “why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk”? Then he goes on to say that it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the one who glorified His Son Jesus that is to be praised. Next comes Peter’s rebuke to them about how they handled the Son of God.

    We often miss the numerous opportunities to give glory to God, because we are too “logically” swayed to give glory to worldly actions, people, places and things. God is constantly giving us increase and favor, but we miss His presence due to lack of attention and awareness of His presence.

    1 Corinthians 3:7 goes on to confirm that it is God who gives the increase. This verse is a good one for those who think they have to bring everyone they come in contact with to the saving knowledge of Jesus, and when they don’t, they feel guilty and like a failure. Winning souls is the goal of course, but this verse tells us that many have a part in winning a soul.

    Put verses 6 and 7 together and we see that someone will plant the Word of Truth in someone’s heart, someone will come along and confirm that Word or water it, but it will be God the Holy Spirit that prepares the soil of that person’s heart to receive it.

    2 Corinthians 9:10 once again shows you who does the increasing. Not only does this verse say that it’s God who increases the fruit of your righteousness, but that He will give you the seed to sow, then give you bread to eat, and also increase the seed He gave you to sow. Now come on. That’s the greatest deal ever.

    What’s your part in all of this? Well it’s certainly not to out perform the other person’s self righteousness, or work to keep all the religious rules and traditions. No, it’s to receive all that God has for you and rest in the increase He provides.

    Colossians 2:9 reaffirms the truth that it is God who gives the increase. Also, 1 Thessalonians 3:12 says it is the Lord that makes you to increase. You can study those two scriptures for yourself, but I’m certain the point has been made that it is God who brings increase.

    So what’s the point to all of this? God is in the business of increase and favor. It is His nature to always want to increase you and bring favor to you. The problem is actually inferred in the scripture we used above in 2 Corinthians 9:10. Yes, God will supply the seed “to the sower”. That infers that someone is going to sow. He will supply “bread for food”. That infers someone is going to eat. He will multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest. That infers again sowing the seed and caring for it until the harvest which must be brought in.

    So what's the problem? Well, we will uncover that in part 2 of this teaching. Don't miss it. Grace and Peace.