Jesus said, I have come that you might have life and life abundantly! (John 10:10) God wants to bless your life, for you live a life of increase and abundance in every area of your life…not only in your finances, but also in your relationships, your career, your dreams and goals, your health and your ministry…to experience an increase of love, joy, peace, God’s favor and blessing on whatever you put your hand to! There’s so much more that God has for each of us than what we are presently experiencing…”God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (Ephesians 3:20)
There are essentially two ways to experience increase in our lives…stressful increase or restful increase!
I think we are all very familiar with stressful increase. That’s the kind of increase that is the result of hard work, long hours, blood, sweat and tears, kind of increase. That’s the model of this world…there are no free lunches, no pain – no gain, you get what you deserve, kind of mentality. We have been trained in this approach…and we certainly can produce a certain amount of increase and success that way. However, the result is often exhaustion, burn-out, stress, worry, depression, conflict and sickness.
But there is another way of increase, that is foreign to most of us, that can bring about an increase that is far greater than all of our efforts and hard work could ever produce and will result in greater joy, peace, love and rest. It’s called, restful increase!
In God’s Kingdom, increase doesn’t come from our work, but from His work. I have said before, when we go to work, God rests. But, when we rest, God goes to work. People who try to bring the world’s model for increase into God’s Kingdom, wonder why with all of their hard work and long hours, they see so little results…that is, real results, fruit that will remain. The reason is that God’s kind of increase comes from being at rest. And when I say rest, I don’t mean, lay on the couch all day and do nothing, kind of rest. I’m talking about a rest in our soul, an inner rest…free from worry, fear, stress, competition, anxiety, etc. You can work hard and be stressed, or you can work hard and be at rest. When we are at rest on the inside, we will see God’s increase on the outside.
The Bible is full of pictures of restful increase. In Genesis we read the story of creation. For six days God worked hard. He created the heavens and the earth, the plants and the animals and then the very last thing God created was man. After God had done all the work, He then created man on the sixth day and told Adam, all of this is for him to enjoy. Then God rested on the seventh day. Man’s first full day was a day of rest. That’s restful increase; man was created to live at rest, trusting in God’s provision.
When God rescued the Israelis from 400 years of captivity in Egypt, God brought them to the Promised Land, a place of rest. The Promised Land was a land of
abundance…where milk and honey flowed, where others had built homes and towns,
planted gardens and farms, which God intended for his people to step in and inhabit the work that others had previously done. That’s restful increase.
Most of the miracles that Jesus performed; he did them on the Sabbath, the day of rest. When the people were resting, God was working on their behalf.
When Jesus hung on the cross, one of the last things He said was, “It is finished”, meaning, He had done all the work of salvation…He fulfilled all of the law, He made payment for our sins, there was nothing left for us to do, except receive the gift of salvation…restful increase.
In Colossians 2:6, Paul tells us that in the same way we receive salvation…by just believing and receiving, not working…is the way we receive everything from God! Restful increase.
In Palm 23, it begins by saying, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want”. In other words, when we make the Lord our shepherd, he will provide all we need; we will lack nothing…restful increase!
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Our rest is found in Jesus, putting our trust in Him.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” When you seek first God’s kingdom, things are just supernaturally added to you. What things will be given if we put God first? In verse 31 Jesus says, “So do not worry, saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
Lost people are completely occupied with the pursuit of what to eat, what to wear, where to live, etc. but believers shouldn’t be that way. God is fully aware of your need for these physical things, but he’s commanded you to seek first His kingdom. As you do, all these things will be added to you.
In other words, when God is truly the center of your life, everything else works out. The Lord makes it work supernaturally. I can’t explain how, but it’s a kingdom principle. When God prospers you, it’s effortless. If you make the main thing the main thing – loving, worshipping and fellowshipping with God as your primary purpose in life, you will soon discover that you won’t have as many needs. That’s restful increase.
Jesus described the Christian life like branches connected to the vine in John 15. As long as the branch stays connected to the vine, the life of the vine flows into the branch and fruit is produced. It’s not the job of the branch to make fruit, you never walk by an apple tree and hear the branch struggling to produce apples, fruit happens as the branch is connected. In the same way, as we stay connected to Jesus, we will be fruitful…fruit happens. Restful increase!
In Luke 10, we are told Jesus goes to the home of Mary and Martha. Immediately Martha gets real busy serving Jesus…getting a meal, making he and his disciples comfortable, etc. Mary, on the other hand, sits at the feet of Jesus, listening to all he has to say and receiving from him. Martha gets upset that Mary isn’t helping her; Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen what is better…to sit at His feet and receive rather that run around trying to serve him.
Jesus said, I have come not to be served, but to serve and give my life away. God wants us to learn to sit, rest and receive His life, be filled up with his spirit and then go out and give it away.
Most of us in the body of Christ are a lot like Martha, stressed out trying to serve Jesus…but Jesus wants to serve us…give us his life…so we can give it away to the world.
“Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)
When Peter encountered the lame man at the gate Beautiful in Acts 3, he said, silver or gold I don’t have, but what I do have, I give to you…rise and walk! Peter had received from Jesus his power and was able to give it away. That’s the best picture of restful increase!!
And finally, in Ephesians 3:20, one of the Scriptures that I have been meditating on for quite awhile now, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
There is an increase that God has for us that is not just more than we can ask for, or more that we can imagine, it is immeasurably more…it can’t be measured how much increase God wants to bring into our lives! But, there is a condition to this. It’s according to what’s happening on the inside of us. It’s according to whether or not we are allowing His power to be at work within us. If I want God to bring about the increase in my life, I have to make sure I’m right on the inside. The best way we can tell if His power is at work within is, is whether or not we are at rest! To be at rest means that I am trusting in God’s promises and abilities rather than in my own. To be at rest means I have released control to God, I trust Him completely.
When I am at rest on the inside, God goes to work on the outside…that’s restful