Greetings to you in the mighty Name of Jesus! I wish you a happy and blessed 2018. There is no greater joy than to hear a Word from the presence of God. It is like fresh manna that brings us vision, faith, direction and reward. It takes us through the year with purpose. In 2017, the Lord encouraged us to “Let our light shine” in the dark and broken world. It was so good to see how the Lord enabled so many people from among us to carry this Good News of our Saviour to a hurting world. I am sure that through many moments of joy and pain, so many lives have been reached, encouraged, challenged, and built up in the past year.
As I sought the Lord for this year, I sensed in my heart the Lord saying, God wants the ‘Increase’ of God to be upon us in 2018. The Bible says, in Acts 16:5, “So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.” I believe this is on the heart of God. When people’s faith is strengthened, it will result in the sharing of that faith with others. This will in turn lead to an increase in the number of lives turning to Jesus due to the reality of what God has done for them.
Increase is part of God’s plan for His children. The first blessing recorded in the Bible for man was to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth. It is a 5-fold blessing to increase and subdue and to come to a place of dominion.
Soon after the flood, God proclaims the same blessing to Noah in Gen 9:7. That was to increase greatly. This shows us that God has a love for His people to increase in every way including in numbers, geographically, etc. Some people would argue and say “What God wants is quality not quantity!” I believe it is far from the truth. God is a God of quality and quantity! The infinite numbers of stars in space, the planets around them are immeasurable. Much of God’s creation – fruits, flowers, beauty, etc. are so limitless that man is struggling to fathom the meaning of these expanses.
If we look at God’s plan for increase, we see in Acts 9:31, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.” What an amazing truth is packed into this Scripture. It reveals to us the truth about God’s heart for increase in a true heaven-sent revival and the conditions that went with it. Imagine what it would look like if heaven invaded earth. It would be about the whole church and ministry. It won’t be about any one man and his ministry.
We are living in the days where people try to build their name and ministry to get a lot of attention for them. For achieving this all kinds of methods are used for the increase. For example, creating space between people and the man of God to keep him ‘hallowed’, using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to build an image for one’s ‘self’, the strategies, branding, and marketing to keep it alive. What about true revival? In a true revival that causes increase, it will be about God, His Church and souls turning to the gospel of Christ.
We see the true marks of revival in Acts 9:31:
Increase will be according to God’s promises
The Bible says in Acts 7:17 says, “But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt…” What does that mean? It means that God is working with you to bring increase in your life and ministry according to the promises He has made for you. Your increase is not only the result of your work, but also a result of His promise. God is a promise making and promise keeping God to those that walk in His ways.
Increase through acting on the promises
Does this increase just happen by itself in our lives? No. This increase in the promises of God is connected to our obedience. Every act of obedience helps us align ourselves towards it and helps us to fulfil our divine destiny. The Bible also says that there is barrenness due to disobedience and that becomes a hindrance to the fulfilment of promise (Leviticus 26:3-4 & 20; Deuteronomy 7:13-14; Job 1:10). Responding in faith is our part in actively causing the increase.
Increase in sharing the Word of God
Acts 6:7 – “The Word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” We see that there was an increased preaching of the gospel and an increased declaration of truth, which is also found in Acts 12:24, 19:20. The Word of God must increase on an everyday basis that can not only turn people to Christ, but also sustain people in the faith that they will not backslide or be confused.
Increase in your faith
Luke 17:5 – The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” What a prayer! Indeed faith is to increase not only the ability to receive from God, but the ability to BELIEVE in God! Faith is the ability to know God in such a way that we have little love for ourselves as we have for Him. That makes us not only have faith that makes us receive, but also faith that makes us give up, sacrifice and labour for God!
Increase in labour for God
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10,“I am what I am by the grace of God and I did not take this grace in vain. In Labours much more…” How have you been labouring for God? What has been the passion and mind-set behind it? Many labour when it is convenient. But does the love of God make you labour much more? Paul was used to labouring much more than others. Bible says day and night he laboured so as to not be a burden to anyone. Sometimes he worked with his hands and also preached the gospel. You bet he found those extra hours difficult. But that did not slow him down. He found hard work as a nature of God.
Increase in your giving
As much as God has blessed you, He also wants you to increase your giving. “Give as it has been given unto you”. Bible says to teach the rich of the world to give to the needs of the mission. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly, and those who sow bountifully, will reap bountifully. Paul wanted the Philippian church to have fruit added to their account through their partnership in the ministry. Philippians 4:17. May the increase of your giving of which is temporal, cause you to increase in your eternal account in glory. This will cause you to have a harvest of righteousness in your lives to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 9:10, Proverbs 29:2)
Increase in your Influence for God
What has been your influence in the lives of people? This year I believe God wants to bring new people into your life to influence. He wants you to speak a greater Word than you have and to share to a larger audience than in the past. He wants to increase your influence. If you actively desire that, the Lord will make it happen in your life. 2 Corinthians 4:15 says, “For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” God is a God of more and more! He wants to increase your influence to speak before rulers and decision makers, among sports people, common men and all men.
Increase in your Love
The Bible says, “Now there is faith, hope and love, and the greatest of this is love”. When we ask God to cause an increase in our lives, we often don’t think about learning to love others. It is easy to love those that love you, but so much harder to love those that are unlovable. Have you ever prayed this prayer, “Lord teach me to love others?” That’s exactly what Paul prayed that the Thessalonians would do. 1 Thessalonians 3:12, “and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;” What a mighty prayer, a life changing one.
Increase coming to others’ lives
As you see increase in your lives, you will also see that the people whom God brings into your lives will see this increase. In the life of Jacob, because he worked for his father-in-law Laban, the Bible says that Laban began to see the increase in his flocks. So he went and did divination to find out what was the reason for the increase. They told him that Jacob’s walk with God was the cause of the increase! Genesis 30:30. Wow, even the diviners could recognize the cause of increase!
Put your increase to work to get eternal rewards
This life is short and fleeting and we can take nothing with us when we go. Before we know it, the years will be past and done. Only that which is done for the Lord will last. If so, should we not put our increase to good use? In Psalms 49:16-20, “Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, When the glory of his house is increased; For when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him. Though while he lives he congratulates himself and though men praise you when you do well for yourself, He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they will never see the light.” What a sobering truth. If this is so and not very long away, then what manner of lives should we live? 2 Corinthians 8:9 shows us the model, “though He was rich, He became poor, so that through His poverty He can make many rich.” The Bible gives us the responsibility to put our gifts and increase to work, so that other lives may be changed and blessed through it.
Do not forget the Lord when God increases you
In Deuteronomy 8:13, “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplied.” So many people forget the goodness of God once God has blessed them. The Bible also says that in the last days lawlessness will increase, and the love of most will grow cold! Matthew 24:12. What a dangerous place in life to be in. Hosea 4:7, 10:1 says that sin and rebellion increased as a result of God’s blessing that made Israel follow the blessing and forget God. That would have broken Gods heart. As a father, I long for my kids to draw near to us all through our lives. So does God desire from us. So, let’s boot up and prepare beforehand that the increase in our lives will be kept in perspective to be a blessing to the Kingdom and to reap rewards in glory as we also enjoy its fruits here on earth.
Increase that is from God
I believe the coming days there is going to be an acceleration of the preaching of the gospel all around this nation and we will see that blessing as an increase in our ministries. To all that are faithful, God will give an abundant harvest. The Bible says in Colossians 2:19, “that the whole body grows with a growth that is from the Lord.” Increase can be from the Lord and it can also be from our self-strength. Any increase from the Lord will have a grace with it to sustain that increase. So, I pray the grace of God to abound upon all of you as you prepare to increase.
As we grow we need to work with the growth that is from God. There may be many things the Lord takes us through to help us grow to all that God has for us. When a caterpillar grows to be a beautiful butterfly, it goes through different stages. It has the not-so-beautiful caterpillar stage, then the encased cocoon stage and finally the matured butterfly stage. We cannot hasten any of the stages. In growth and increase we need to increase in a sustainable manner. Don’t make haste. Learn and increase in a growth that is from the Lord. If you cut the cocoon that holds the emerging butterfly to help it, it will die. But leaving it to grow and come through in a sustainable way will bring forth something beautiful in the end.
We cannot contain an increase unless we also grow and increase in our capacity to handle increase. Many have an increase but lose out on it, simply because they don’t grow with the ministry or due to their busyness. In times of increase, there is such a need to grow in wisdom, teamwork, strategy, humility, grace, prayer and love among your people. When a baby grows in the womb, many difficulties need to be accommodated by the mother and some things need to be sacrificed to see this next phase in life. Growth is a good thing, and its supporting elements too need to grow with it. Leaders need to grow, staff needs to grow, followers need to grow and resources need to grow. When all grow together, we will see the hand of God giving grace to increase and spread forth into other parts and regions. Above all, love one another with a love that is from God.
So that is my prayer for you, that you increase, that you have a growth that is from the Lord and also that you grow along with the increase in the ministry, that you can contain this harvest. So, may the Lord Jesus fill you all with all grace, a spirit of wisdom and understanding that in all things, the fear of the Lord and the love for people at all times, that you may have all sufficiency for every good work. I pray that you will have a bountiful harvest the reward of which will be added to all your account in heaven. And as you grow, you will learn to rejoice in seeing others in the Kingdom grow, and together you will help and serve the Kingdom of God, His family for whom He died, to be a prepared bride, ready for His coming.
For those that have had a hard year in 2017, I want you to know that God will this year increase your strength to fulfil His call. Is 40:29 says, “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.” Maybe 2017 has been the hardest year of your life. The good news is that you have made it through that year. If you are feeling weak and tired, God is the strength of your life and your portion forever. He will give you strength this year and will increase your power to overcome. You are an overcomer and that’s why you are still here. Rise up and shine for Him this year. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy. The darkest hour is just before dawn! Arise in strength and go in that strength and the power of His might.
Finally, let this be a year where we increase in joy and thanksgiving. So many spend their years grumbling and complaining about the year that was not and miss out on just giving thanks that through their lives they could make a huge difference in many lives. Thank God for all the people in your lives and those that are yet to come. When you see the Lord face to face on that day you will have a reward, but along with that will be many thousands of saints that are with hearts full of thanksgiving for your faithful service to God. Many lose their joy and hope due to life’s pressures, many other make life count through a simple heart of gratitude.
I realise that God wants to increase our greatness. So, let us then pray according to Psalms 71:21 which says, ‘May You increase my greatness and turn to comfort me.’ And as we increase from His kindness, let us also pray that He might increase and we might decrease in every area of our lives (John 3:30). For truly in His increase will our increase find meaning and purpose. Amen and Amen.
God bless you and have a great year ahead in 2018. Stay focused on your intimacy with God through the study of God’s Word, persistent prayer and worship, and stay intense in the mission, carrying in you the relentless zeal to take the gospel to the unreached among His people.