Enlargement and the People of God
By Minister Kola Taiwo
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Isaiah 54: 1-5; Psalm 118: 5; 1 Timothy 2: 4-6
Sunday 20th July 2013
Today we are going to take a look at enlargement and how it relates to the people of God. There is a story that springs to mind when I think about the season that we are currently in and it is found in the book of Luke 1 when Gabriel comes to Mary and announces the intention of God concerning her life namely that she, a virgin, will be pregnant and give birth to a Son. Mary asked Gabriel “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” The Angel explained to her that this would be by way of encounter with the Holy Spirit and the power of God, to which her response was, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word”
The response and reaction of Mary to God’s plan for her life should challenge us to consider our reaction to God’s mandate for enlargement in our lives in this season. There were at least three possible responses available to Mary having heard the announcement of Gabriel: One option was for her to decline to yield herself and her body to the plan of God. This response would have disqualified her and caused her to miss out on God’s plan for her life as God never imposes His will on us. An alternative response open to Mary was to agree to the purpose of God and then immediately embark upon a self-directed programme aimed at fulfilling it in her own strength. This too would have disqualified Mary from being used of God. The third option was, of course, that which Mary elected for which was borne of a heart of surrender, submission and trust in the Lord and is revealed in her statement, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” In this year of enlargement, the same range of responses are available to us. We may come to the conclusion that we do not qualify for enlargement and withdraw ourselves from the purposes and plan of God in unbelief. Alternatively, we can adopt the second of the three responses and decide that having heard God’s mandate for enlargement we can take over and rush to drive the agenda, busily exploring every and any activity that we have determined represents enlargement. Further still, it is open to us to yield ourselves to the purpose of God completely and seek His face as to how He intends to bring about enlargement in our lives.
Enlargement, we must understand, is God’s idea. It is borne of His love for us. This understanding will dictate and direct our response to the mandate for enlargement this year. If we are going to experience enlargement, our response must be correct. If enlargement was simply a man-made notion, a self-directed and self-determined response which essentially excludes God or merely demands Him to rubber-stamp our plans would be appropriate, however this is God’s mandate.
In Isaiah 54, we see the mandate to enlarge, ‘Enlarge the place of your tent and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations and make the desolate cities inhabited.’ In verse 5 however, we are given a key insight into responding appropriately to the mandate to enlarge. It states, “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts in His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy one of Israel; He is the God of the whole earth.” We are told that our Maker is the Lord of Hosts; He leads the armies of heaven. In Revelation 19:14 we see Him leading the armies of heaven on white horses. He leads his armies out to take over conquered territories; all we do is show up and occupy. Further, this verse refers to our Redeemer being ‘the Holy One of Israel’. A Redeemer is one who buys something back. He is the one whom has paid the price for us. As He has redeemed us from sin and death, we belong to Him completely. We are now therefore the people of God. We further understand that our husband, our Maker and Redeemer is the God of the whole earth. This means that nothing can restrain or constrain Him. When He says that we will inherit the nations it is because the nations belong to and are subject to Him.
In order to ensure the appropriate response to the mandate for enlargement therefore, we must know the God of enlargement. We must understand that it is He that mandates enlargement and brings it into being in the lives of His people. Enlargement takes place in the lives of those who are in relationship with Him. What, you may ask, about those whom appear to be experiencing enlargement and yet do not know God? They may appear to be advancing and enlarging but in reality, it is a counterfeit enlargement as real enlargement only takes place in the lives of those whom know God and are in relationship with Him. As enlargement only occurs in the lives of the people of God, we cannot look at enlargement without considering our relationship with God. We must understand fully how we become part of God’s family. 1 Timothy 2: 4-6 says that God ‘desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.’ There is one Mediator, Jesus Christ. Those who do not know Jesus, cannot have a relationship with God; Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man and therefore any religion that appears to offer relationship with God by any other means is not the truth. We must have a firm understanding of the truth. Our relationship with God is not based on our own efforts, how much we pray and fast and read the bible; even though these are good things, they do not determine our qualification for a relationship with God. It is only by the grace of God that is revealed in Jesus that we become members of God’s family. It is God’s desire not only for us to be saved but to have a ‘knowledge’ of the truth. I want to encourage you therefore to determine to grow in your knowledge of the truth. Our enlargement is secured by a deeper understanding that there is one Mediator between God and man. Only Jesus paid the price to entitle us to a relationship with God and all that a relationship with Him brings about in our lives. When we are struggling with the issues of life, we can be reassured that we have peace with God through Jesus. We can refuse to worry, as our focus is on Him, the one and only Mediator whom assures us that we will enlarge. A greater comprehension of Christ will lead to a greater knowledge of the truth as He is the Truth and it is knowledge of the Truth that sets us free from the issues of life which may seek to hinder and constrain us and gives us the assurance that there are better things to come. Our enlargement is linked directly with the depth of our relationship with God, which in turn is related to our knowledge of the truth. If we do not pay attention to the truth, we can fall prey to deception and be lured away and seduced with a counterfeit enlargement.
Having a good grasp of the truth ensures that we seek enlargement, which is God’s idea, in God’s way which is the way of faith. Only faith pleases God and our relationship with God is therefore based completely on faith. Our relationship is based on an understanding of His nature and that it is He who brings about enlargement in our lives as we walk with Him. Enoch walked with God faithfully and, as we are told in Hebrews 11: 5, that ‘before he was taken, he was commended as one whom pleased God.’ We must each have a comprehension of Jesus, without which we will not have an adequate understanding of the God who brings about enlargement. We must cease to look to the bible as a means to getting what we want but as a source of revelation, as it points to Jesus whom is the expression of the nature of God. Enlargement is determined by us having a comprehension that it is faith that is needed to sustain our relationship with God. Faith will lead you to walk in holiness and righteousness before God. We cannot do this in our own strength but are dependent on Him. When we fall into sin it is because our revelation of God is not big enough and we are focussing on our weaknesses rather than on Him. When we focus on God and His grace which has been revealed to us in the person of Jesus, we are empowered to walk in righteousness.
When we see the darkness that is increasing on the earth, we can be assured that God is setting us up to shine. Despite the darkness and despair, we can be full of joy as children of God. We are the light that will bring solutions to the world. The darkness of the world sets us up to be and operate in light. God will bless the world through us, the church. To be witnesses of Jesus and ambassadors of God’s glory is our God-ordained mission. Our enlargement is not just for our own benefit but in order for us to be that light that the world is looking for. God wants to move in our lives in order that we may shine for Him. This is what we see at work in 2 Samuel 22 when David details God’s many acts of deliverance, support, reward and enlargement, declaring ‘He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me’ and ‘The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness’ and ‘You enlarged my path under me; so my feet did not slip.’ When you are in relationship with God, we are able to make our boast in Him.
The Bible is teeming with illustrations of enlargement. In the account of Ruth, we see a young Moabite woman who found herself single again after the death of her husband; she encountered enlargement when she determined that she would not return to the land of Moab but would follow her mother in law, Naomi, declaring, “wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Not only did she become a wife again but she entered in to a lineage that led to David and Jesus. In addition, through Boaz as kinsman redeemer, she experienced the restoration and perpetuation of her dead husband’s property. It is an example of the truth that however you consider enlargement, there is so much more. It is for this reason that we must seek God’s face regarding enlargement. A further example of this truth is seen in the life of Joseph whom, although a slave in Potiphar’s household, was described as a ‘successful man’. We must attain an understanding of enlargement from God’s perspective. Similarly in the account of the life of Daniel we see that his refusal to defile himself with the King’s delicacies, a commitment which flowed out of his relationship with God, prepared him for a later challenge which demanded of him a determination to distinguish between the truth and a lie. Daniel’s relationship with God enabled him to determine to do things differently. Although Daniel would later become Prime Minister in the land, we must not overlook the internal enlargement which had commenced a long while before the manifestation of external enlargement appeared. This is the same with us. The Holy Spirit lives in each of us and it is He that leads us into enlargement. We must be led by Him as enlargement will not look the same in each of our lives and therefore we must not look at other people’s lives in order to gauge or measure the degree of our enlargement; we must be led by the Spirit of God. For some of us, there are definitive steps that need to be taken whereas for some of us we need only to keep doing what we are doing in serving and loving the Lord in stillness and submission.
We are the people of God and we are called to be different. We are called to live out our relationship with God, in the way in which we treat each other and how we treat those who are of the world. We are in the world but we are not of the world and therefore we are destined to be different. We are God’s angled mirror, reflecting the glory of God in the world in which we live. We are called to prefer one another and not be envious of one another. We exist to serve God’s mission not the other way round; many of us are frustrated as we have not yet understood the correct order of things. We are the ones through whom God will bless the world. Our lives and the way that we live will attract people to God. This is what happened to Ruth, whom having lived amongst her husband’s family whom were in covenant with God and having no doubt observed that this was a better way of life, was adamant in her refusal to go back to the Moabite way of life when her husband died. It is time that people are drawn to God by observing our lives. How we live must be determined by our relationship with God, which is the basis of our election. We have not been chosen for inaction but for participation. How many of us, however, having been called are not participating in what we have been called to be? Our lives must be all about His calling. It is this which must determine how we live, and how we relate to one another. We are a light that cannot be hidden. It is my prayer therefore that each of us determines to live out our membership of the family of God. That we seek first the Kingdom of God and make this our priority, in the knowledge and assurance that as we put God in His rightful place, all that we may seek for, which represents enlargement, will be added to us.
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