Laying The Foundation For an Exceedingly Fruitful Life
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Genesis 17:6
Sunday 4th January 2015
I begin a new series today titled 'Beyond the Boundaries of Limitations' and today's message is titled 'Laying the Foundation For An Exceedingly Fruitful life'. Let me start by reminding you that God wants to take you further and beyond where you have ever been. He wants you to emerge from obscurity and take centre stage. This is exactly what excelling is all about – it is about working on something uncommon, unusual and unparalleled.
From our foundation scriptures, in Genesis 17:6, we read an account of God's promise to Abraham: 'I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you'. The Young's Literal Translation even gives a better interpretation of this scripture: 'and I have made thee exceeding fruitful, and made thee become nations, and kings go out from thee'. In other words, in God's agenda, your excelling this year is already done. However, each of us now has the responsibility to pull the concluded agenda of God from the spiritual (heavenly) realm into the natural realm.
Let me reiterate those two phrases in that scripture. Firstly 'I will make nations of you'. This refers to territories, governance and enlargement. This tie in with our initiative to plant some churches this year. Secondly, it goes further to say: 'kings shall come from you'. You have been raised by God to rule and govern. As a king, you have wealth and dominion. So as you think of excelling this year, be reminded that this is God's desire for you to take you beyond where you have ever been. This was also Abraham's experience when God appeared to him in Genesis 17.
So as you live each day of this year, be careful to discern what God's intention for each moment is all about. Here is how 1 Chronicles 12:32 put it: 'Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do; their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command'. Let me draw your attention to three points that you must take note of here: understanding, the times and knowledge.
Firstly, these men had an understanding of the timing in which they were living. Conversely, you need to get before the Lord to find out what He is saying specifically to you in this season. Make sure you do not travel this year aimlessly and without direction. You must know what your part should be in this vision to excel. The word understanding in the Hebrew is 'biynah' which literally means 'discernment'. Discernment is paramount to making the most of what God has in store for you this year. You may have lived the previous years without being intentional about what you intend to accomplish with God's help, but make this year an exception. So, find out what God has in mind for you for this year.
I am reminded of the story in 2 Kings 6, where the sons of the prophets began a construction project to build a bigger living space. The axe head of one of the building team fell into the water. Elisha eventually reversed the incidence and the work resumed. However, is it possible that the young prophet, whose axe head fell into the water, could have easily pretended that everything was alright and continued swinging the headless axe and kept going through the motions? Isn't this what an average 21st century believer would have done? Make sure you do not pretend this year. Here is Paul's challenge to us in 1 Corinthians 9:26: 'So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing' (NLT). Be deliberate about your assignment for each passing day this year. You must have a purpose-driven mindset. A new year requires a new adjustment, attitude, thinking and disposition. You can't afford to live this New Year like you lived the old ones.
Secondly, let's examine 'the times' as mentioned in this passage. It is defined as the appointed time for a specific event to happen. This is not just any season; God doesn't speak randomly. He is intentional about what He says. Everywhere you go now, you hear all sorts of 'This is the year of.....' and simply put, the slogan has more or less, lost its meaning. However, this is not what I am referring to; this is a specific word from God for this house and for you. 'The times' could also be defined 'as the fixed time', 'opportunity', 'fullness of time', or 'set time'. Zechariah 10:1 put it this way: 'Ask of the Lord rain in the time of the latter or spring rain. It is the Lord Who makes lightning which usher in the rain and give men showers, and grass to everyone in the field' (AMP). You have a responsibility to ask God during a 'spring rain' season to send the rain because definite actions are required at the appointed time of an event.
Thirdly, after you've concluded in your mind what a clear understanding of the year and the vision for you is, then you must know what to do in order to maximise the year. 'To know' is to perceive, recognise and admit. God is calling us to go beyond, to advance and recognise that the season has changed. Just as God said to Abraham in Genesis 17:6, He is saying again: 'I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you'. Let me encourage you to put the experiences of last year behind you and ensure that you do not define the New Year by the old one. Abraham and Sarah had already concluded that having a child was such a dream that would never come true, so much that when the Angel of the Lord spoke about this, they laughed about it. Remember that God is not limited by the pain of the past, and He specialises in making something out of nothing. He dwells outside of and not limited by time. You must therefore be mindful of the conversations you have with yourself. If you set a small-minded ceiling for yourself out of low self-esteem, it will take only God to break that limitation.
Let me remind you that excelling is going beyond what you cannot make happen in your own strength. God's ability starts from that point where your strength expires. Abraham had come to the end of His strength, when God spoke to him. He was confused, perplexed and disillusioned. It was at that point, that God told him 'I can take you further in my strength'. Real 'excel' kicks in at the end of your efforts, hence the reason why you cannot depend on your strength, wisdom and understanding.
In John 15:1-5, we read the account of the vine and the branches, as Jesus tells an allegory of our relationship with God: 'I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing". The prerequisite for excelling is in abiding. You cannot excel in your own strength; you need God's strength to do so. Hence you must find every excuse to abide in God. The degree to which you are able to abide is the degree to which you are able to draw strength to go beyond. To abide means 'to continue to be present; not to depart or leave a place'. You need to stay and be with Christ incessantly. Besides, God's value must be your values and His thoughts must be your thoughts also. It must be all about God in this New Year. As a vine branch, you enjoy these three benefits from the vine, namely: You (i) Are nourished by God – empowered by Him at all times (ii) Depend on God – unmoved by circumstances, just like a vine branch remains connected to the vine regardless of the season or weather conditions and lastly; (iii) Are a carrier of God's glory – a tree is known by its fruit.
As we round up, let me share a story with you from Exodus 3: 1-5. It reads: 'Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."
Moses, a shepherd tending his father-in-law's flock had a unique experience with God as described in this passage. The first thing Moses did was that, he 'look and beheld' the burning bush. In other words, he discerned that, that moment was a God-moment. Conversely, we all must discern at whatever point in life when God is speaking to us. Moses decided to give God his undivided attention, which prompted God to speak to him, giving him a life-changing assignment, from shepherding animals to leading God's people. God desired an undivided attention before He could give such a herculean task to him – the same is true of us. Moses staff had to become God's staff. On dropping and picking up that staff according to God's instruction, it became the staff of God.
In conclusion, God wants to bring you to a place of phenomenal success. His word to us today is: 'Is anything too difficult for me?' (Genesis 18:14). If we want to enjoy excelling and God's best for our lives, we must give Him our full attention. He is waiting for you today, are you ready to turn to Him?
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