Born For More

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Born For More!

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 10th January, 2021

I was really encouraged by your response to both Fiona’s communion message and my sermon last week.  

For those of you who may have missed it – Fiona had a very significant and timely word about increasing our capacity.  And as she led us into communion, she reminded us of the incredible capacity of Jesus – to be able to love, to walk in grace and strength and patience…. And ultimately to endure the suffering of the cross for our sakes.  He had the capacity to carry the greatest expression of love and forgiveness in all of history – all the way to His death.

Fiona and I had no idea what the other was going to talk about.  But I already had the scripture from:

Isaiah 54:2 New King James Version

“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.”

You could not even plan such a strong connection between those two messages.

And I was encouraged – but not surprised at your response – because deep down, I know you want more – we all do…. 

By being here, you have placed yourself under the banner of INC’s motto or hashtag – “Born For More.”

You’re not just here for yourselves – you’re here for the lost – the broken…. And all it takes is the fanning of the flame that’s already burning inside you for you to respond.

I felt it was such a pivotal moment for us last week – that I want to continue on in the same vein this morning.

I’ve already spoken about spiritually placing stakes in the ground for this coming year – firmly setting in place those things that will never be compromised on – marking out the territory of what you and I are believing for this year, for our own life – for our family – for our spiritual walk with God – for our mission as the church together…

We need to strengthen the stakes of our faith for whatever is ahead in 2021 – it’s like we are declaring – these are the non-negotiables for the season ahead.

But the main part of that message was about believing for the lost to come to Christ.  Rescuing those who are perishing.  And doing it first of all out of a place of love – and secondly as God’s people who are anointed by the Holy Spirit to carry the message of the gospel – with power.

Following last Sunday’s message – Venese went over to our relatively new neighbours and invited them over for coffee.  When I say relatively new – they’ve probably been there for about six months or more.

But it wasn’t out of any religious duty that she did that.  It was something that the Holy Spirit had already place on her heart for a while.  So – she took the step and did it.

I’m hoping that the Holy Spirit is promoting you to reach out to that person or family that He wants you to connect with.  Just do it!

I look at that scripture from Isaiah and it starts out by saying: “Enlarge the place of your tent…”

That could mean a number of things.  It certainly speaks of increasing our capacity and our influence.  But I could see how that simple act of inviting someone into our home was really about enlarging the place of our tent.  The place where we personally live.  Our tent.  Our home.

Enlarging the place of our tent speaks of making more room in our life for God to move…. It speaks of increasing our influence – and the best way we can do that is through relationships.   Making more room for people in your life.

It’s what we are commissioned to do.

But guess what – more people means more stretching…. 

And this is our challenge.  This is the both the cost and the blessing.

Reaching out to people – building relationships – taking the initiative to step out of our comfort zone and put God’s love for people first – it will stretch you – it will stretch your emotions – it will stretch your patience – it will stretch us in all kinds of ways.

You will need to make a decision and commit to being someone who is not only wanting – but also willing to see the kingdom of God expand – and be willing for God to increase your capacity to love others – to be gracious – to be forgiving – to be inconvenienced – to put the commission to reach the lost – those who are perishing – to put that before your own comfort.

Welcome to the ministry!  

You know – anyone who ever achieved anything significant in their life or left behind fruit that endures and remains – they stretched themselves beyond their   own comfort.  They had a vision for something greater than themselves.

Many in ministry have done the same.

But you will minister the gospel in your own unique way.

Rom 12 starts out by saying – let your bodies be living sacrifices.  And although that sounds like a very noble and lofty thing to do, to be a living sacrifice – Paul says – no – it’s simply your reasonable service.

I love that.  It’s like he’s saying, get over yourself – don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought – just get on with the plan.

And Paul goes on to say that God has already graced us with the gifts and abilities that we need – and we should use them according to His gift of faith upon our lives.

We are one body – but we have many different functions.  

Romans 12:6-8

New King James Version

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:”

There’s the key right there.  Use your gifts.  You all have them…. The Holy Spirit will give you what you need for any moment….  Allow Him to minister through you.

“if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

In other words – do what you know to do – and do it with a spirit of excellence,  with generosity and a great attitude.

You wouldn’t describe most of us as prophets – but in another place it says to everyone – desire the gift of prophecy.   The Holy Spirit will anoint you to speak prophetically – even in a normal, everyday conversation.  

That gift could open up a person’s heart.  It’s a gift that unlocks hopes, desires, possibilities, hidden and deep issues of the heart and soul.  

When Venese and I first heard a prophetic word being spoken over another couple – we were brought to tears.  Not because of what was being said – but because we knew that what was being said was coming straight from the heart of God.  

It was a massive moment for us – it was significant in leading us into things of the Spirit.

The same thing can happen with the gift of discernment.  Discernment of what is going on spiritually in people’s lives.  

These spiritual gifts draw people to God.  They shine the light on truth.  And when it’s conveyed in the right way, it leads to healing, to openness of heart, to a revelation of how much God loves us.

And you can pray for these gifts as you build relationships with people – and do it in a way that it’s not at all about you – but a revelation for others in knowing Jesus and what walking with Him is all about.

People are searching.  They are looking for encouragement.  They are hungry for mercy and compassion and genuine love.

These are the Holy Spirit’s specialities. 

Read Romans 12 for yourself.

There are so many keys to how we are meant to behave like a Christian.  How we are meant to behave with other people.  Weeping with those who weep – rejoicing with those who rejoice.

It’s not all about being seen to be the righteous know it all – being wise in your own opinion.  It’s about feeding the hungry, representing Jesus, ministering to the humble and broken…. 

And it will be the greatest blessing of your life – to know you’ve ministered and sown seeds of life and truth and salvation.  What a privilege!

Then the scripture goes on to say – “do not spare!”

That means – don’t hold back.  Don’t withhold or keep anything in reserve.

At the same time – lengthen the cords of your expanding influence – which I think speaks of staying well connected – securely connected to the Word – to the church – to one another – to your own personal relationship with Jesus.  

Even Jesus had time out – He cherished His time with the Father.  He never ran around like a mad man trying to do everything for everybody.  He simply did what He felt the Father was saying to do.

He was securely connected to the foundations of His faith.

While I was looking at this whole thing about enlarging our territory, I remembered Jabez in the Old Testament.

We don’t know much about Jabez.

But we know that he was named Jabez by his mother because he caused his mother a lot of pain in childbirth.  Jabez literally means “pain.”

But here’s the thing.  Jabez had a vision for his own life – and we have his prayer recorded in:

1 Chronicles 4:10

New King James Version

And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.”

When Jabez prays for an enlargement of his territory – he really means an extension of the borders of his life.  Exactly what Isaiah was speaking about.

It’s like he’s saying – God, get me out of this restricted and limited place that I’m in – release me from the boundaries and the prophetic meaning of my own name.  Bless me and use me so that I’m not just a person known for the pain I have caused.

And God gave him what he asked for.

I wonder if that very short account of Jabez’s life still speaks prophetically to some of us this morning.

Your heart’s desire is to do all that I’ve been talking about – increasing your capacity, enlarging your influence, strengthening your stakes…

And yet you have what seems like some kind of curse hanging over your head – that your life has caused pain – or that you’ve experienced so much pain in life yourself – and it seems impossible to break free… 

Even though you want to get out of that box as you start this New Year, the past is still speaking to you and holding you back.

Well, I believe God is saying this morning that there is no longer any holding back.  And where He says to us – do not spare – He is also making His promise to every one of us that He will not spare either in leading us through this coming year – releasing us from our painful experiences – and using our lives for His glory.

Perhaps that pain in your life will be the catalyst for turning ashes into beauty, mourning into joy, heaviness into praise, that God would be glorified.

And not just for yourself – but for others.

All He’s looking for is a willing heart to see His kingdom expand.  And the first place it might have to expand is right there on the inside of your chest.

Remember where the kingdom of God is? 

I spoke recently about Jesus’ response to the religious Pharisees when they asked this question.

Luke 17:20-21

New King James Version

He said:  “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Maybe for you, the enlargement and expansion and the securing of the stakes is going to happen first of all, right on the inside of you!  And everything else will then flow from that place of healing and personal enlarging of yourself.

What a great promise for the start of 2021.  

Jabez wasn’t cursed – he was an honourable man – more honourable than his brothers.  But he had to break free of that thing which hung over his head all of his life.

He overcame the label of being a pain.  

How many other labels and judgements have tried to hold you back?

Today – right now – is where you leave those past judgments behind.

Your true identity does not lie in the mistakes you made – the judgements of others – the pain you might have caused or experienced within yourself…

Your identity is one of those firm and secure stakes that will keep you steadfast in this coming year – you are a child of God.  It’s who you are in Christ that is the most important thing of all.

You are defined by who Christ says that you are.  Nothing more, nothing less.

I think it’s a powerful thing to read Ephesians 1 particularly when we feel as though we fall short or don’t measure up.

Maybe for you – this is what this mornings message is all about.

I won’t read all of chapter one – but here are some of the things God says about who you are:

  • You are blessed with every spiritual blessing
  • You were chosen by Him before the world even began
  • You are destined to be holy and without blame – standing before Him in absolute love
  • You’ve been adopted in the family of God by Jesus Himself.
  • You are accepted in and through Christ
  • You’ve been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus 
  • Your sins have been forgiven 
  • Grace abounds toward you in all wisdom and prudence.  Prudence means you have the ability to be steadfast and disciplined in managing your life, your abilities and gifts, all the things God has placed in your hands.

There’s so much more….  And you can read it all for yourself…

The point is – when God says, do not spare – He is really saying – you’ve got an incredible life to live.  It’s a powerful life.  

Yes it will always have it’s battles and challenges.  You don’t become an overcomer by having nothing to overcome.

But it’s the revelation of who you are in Christ, first and foremost, that is going to equip you to see the Kingdom of God increase – not only in your own life – but in the lives of those around you.

Pray that prayer of Jabez – God bless me and enlarge my territory.  

So it’s knowing who you are – and it’s knowing that God Himself lives within you!  It’s His power – His anointing – that will help you to populate the Kingdom of Heaven with even more redeemed sons and daughters of God.

2 Corinthians 4:7

New King James Version

“7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

This is such a freeing scripture.  It’s not about you.  It’s not up to you.  You are an earthen vessel.  But the excellence of God’s power is so ready and able to minister through you – it’s mind blowing.

1 Corinthians 4:20

New King James Version

For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.”

We can talk until the cows come home.  The Kingdom won’t be impacted while we sit around talking.  It will be impacted when we rise up in the power of God.  The excellence of His mighty power.

Let’s get a grip on who we really are.  

Let’s make 2021 all about the revealing of the sons of God.  The whole earth – all of creation – is groaning in anticipation and expectation of the sons of God being revealed it says in:

Romans 8:19

New King James Version

“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”

But let’s also make 2021 primarily about the lost being saved.  Those who are perishing finding life in Jesus Christ.

Enlarge your tent – enlarge your thinking.  Enlarge your capacity to love others wth the love of the Father.

Stretch out – let yourself be stretched.  Let your mindset about your calling in God be stretched.  

Don’t spare.  Don’t hold back.  Get out of the box.  Don’t even have a box.

Let this early start to the year be a time where you strengthen your stakes.  Spiritually hammer in the stakes – those things that you are believing for – those things that you will never compromise on.

Set the boundaries of your life in place for 2021.

We are Born For More.  What does “more” look like this year?

More faith?  More trust in God?  More reaching out to those who are lost?  More expression of the power of God through your life?  

More awareness of the Kingdom of God within you?  More capacity to carry the weight of God’s glory?  Wow – wouldn’t that be awesome!

What about more trust in what God says about who you are?  Do we believe God’s Word or not?

Simply believing who we are as sons and daughters of God would be life changing for ourselves and for everyone else.  

Let’s pray for that.  Let’s pray for expansion and increase.  Let’s pray for the Kingdom of Heaven to spread across this whole region of the North Coast – everywhere you and your family live – everywhere that is represented by all us sitting here in this room today.

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