By Dr Cecil Stewart OBE
In the Republic of Ireland where I grew up there was an atmosphere of decrease and depression. The economic situation was very bad and people were struggling to survive. Many young people were forced to immigrate to find jobs. The future seemed hopeless. However, even though our family of seven boys and two girls and were short of cash, we enjoyed great relationships both as family and in the community. The greatest asset that we had was not the 70 acre farm or the few cattle but the discovering of God’s love for us through Jesus going to the cross and dying in our place. All this came to our attention through my mother who had come to know Jesus as her savior and Lord as a young girl in a mission. She not only poured the love of God into our lives but shared the scriptures with us and showed us an example of love and faithfulness by the way she lived. The poor economy, the lack of running water or electricity didn’t destroy her faith but rather gave her an opportunity to use it to see all her family come to faith in Jesus Christ as well as her husband.
We can develop an atmosphere for increase in our hearts and minds through living in the presence of the life giver; Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4 v5; Exhorts us to make full proof of our ministry.
It’s the kind of atmosphere where;
Wisdom and understanding is developed.
Love and unity is manifested.
Visions and dreams become reality.
Isaiah 9 v7; Shows of the increase of God’s kingdom there will be no end.
Psalm 115 v14; Says The Lord shall increase you more and more.
2 Corinthians 9 v8; Says God is able to make all grace abound toward you.
We must be available to increase Kingdom influence everyday; in the work place, on the streets, in the community, in government.
All areas of life must sense and feel the increase of the presence of Jesus Christ and kingdom power.
Acts 2 v47; The Lord added to their number daily.
Acts 19 v20; So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed
We were created to live in an atmosphere for increase!
An increase of joy means sadness cannot survive.
An increase of faith means fear goes.
An increase of unity and strife cannot function.
An increase of love and bitterness cannot survive.
An increase of light and darkness must leave.
We can increase awareness of God wherever we live!
2 Timothy 1v7; For God hath not given to us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Psalm 16 v11; In His presence there are fullness of joy.
We as ambassadors of Jesus Christ can bring a change of atmosphere wherever we live or work!
Acts 4 v17; Shows the opposition of the enemy to the Word of the Lord and for the atmosphere of His presence. God’s servants were and told not to speak in the name of Jesus.
They wanted to stop the breath and the atmosphere of the Holy Spirit which brought healing into lives, in that generation. But they said; v20 we cannot but speak the things we’ve seen and heard.
Matthew 6 v33; Says seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.
That means increase will come when we put God first.
John 14 v12; Jesus says greater works than these shall you do.
When we consider the great works that Jesus did and the atmosphere of hope and faith that He brought everywhere He went, we have a wonderful calling to do even greater.
Acts 19 v20; Says the word of God grew mightily and prevailed
It’s so important for us as believers to check our position and bring this atmosphere everyday wherever we work or live.
One of the great examples of increase is found in John 6 v1-14
Many hurting and hungry people came to Jesus.
That is where new life begins when we come to the life-giver.
John 14v6; Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life.
Acts 4 v12; Neither is there any salvation in any other.
Ephesians 2 v10; says ‘we are His workmanship.’
We need to remember that we have been delivered from the power of darkness!
Colossians 1 v13-14; We are now in the kingdom of God’s dear son.
When we live in His kingdom, we experience restoration and increase of all the good things God has promised.
Jeremiah 30 v17; He will restore health to us. He heals our wounds.
Jeremiah 32 v27; I am the Lord, the God of all flesh, is there anything too hard for me?
When I ministered in Romania I was so encouraged to see the stadium filled with young people seeking life and responding to the invitation to come to Christ.
This is a day to grow and for an increase of God’s presence in our homes and families!
It is not what we leave to our children that counts,
It is what we leave in them!
That is the greatest legacy of all.
John 6 v 1-14; After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee. And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, ‘Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’
Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.’
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
‘There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?’
And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
When they were filled, He said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said; ‘this is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.’
1) Fellowship with the Father
Jesus and the disciples were up in the mountain in fellowship with the Father.
All good things come from Him; James 1 v17.
We must take our position of Power and come into a relationship with Him so that we can bring a change of atmosphere in the real world, where there are so many hurting people.
John 1 v12; reminds us that all those who receive Him, receive the Power to become the sons of God.
1 John 1 v3; shows us how we are called to fellowship with the Father and the Son.
Life-giving power and truth flows when we are in fellowship with the Son and the Father!
James 4 v8; promises us if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.
The closer we get to Him the more like Him we become!
1 Corinthians 1 v9; Shows how we are called to the fellowship of His Son
Hebrews 10 v22; says let us draw near
It is our responsibility to draw near to God. To drastically adjust our lifestyle so we can have time with Him everyday in His Word and in His presence.
2) Focus on others
Verse 5 shows how Jesus lifted up His eyes and saw the multitude of hurting people coming. His heart was to feed them, heal them and meet their needs. But the disciples wondered how such a thing will be possible in a hostile environment where there was no food.
Proverbs 29 v18; where there is no vision the people perish.
We must sow seed of faith and bring good things to others!
2 Corinthians 2 v5-15; we’re no longer to live for ourselves.
We, as ambassadors for Christ, have the life of God within us and the ability to change an atmosphere of attitude!
John 13 v35; By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.
3) Pursue potential not problems
Verse 6 tells us how Jesus had His mind on the potential to meet all these needs.
Philip and Andrew had their minds on the problems and insufficiency and lack. They said ‘we don’t have enough money. Five loaves and two fishes are too small, too insufficient.’
Numbers 13 shows us how the children of Israel looked at the problems of the walls and the giants and that’s what stopped them going into the promised land. They saw themselves as grasshoppers, but they were called and anointed to overcome.
Satan doesn’t mind how he can restrict us. Whether through strife, false imaginations, division, distraction, sin, fear, as long as he can render us useless that’s all he wants.
But it’s our job to keep our focus on the bigger picture of being God’s ambassadors for reaching out to the hurting world.
Ecclesiastes 11 v 4; He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap.
We must receive the Word of God just as it was without questioning it.
We must not magnify the problems but magnify Jesus
4) Plan the best in the worst test [verse 6]
Most people who have accomplished good things have had to first face impossible challenges!
For example David had to face Goliath before he ever could become king.
Hebrews 12 v11; Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
We will have to come through severe tests but how we handle them will determine our destiny. Jesus saw this multitude, it was a very big test for those needy people with no resources but Jesus knew what He would do.
Genesis 26 v12; Isaac sowed in the year of famine and received the hundred fold harvest.
We must not be ruled by the circumstances around us!
We must change the atmosphere of lack to one of increase and expectancy.
We must unite and empower one another so that the best can happen in the worst test.
James 1 v2-3; the trying of your faith works patience
We must expect good things even in the worst of times.
5) Mind the maximum
Philip and the disciples had their mind on the minimum but Jesus saw the maximum potential.
2 Corinthians 3 v5; our sufficiency is of God
Deuteronomy 8 v18; It is God that gives us Power to get wealth
Philippians 2 v5; Reminds us that we have the mind of Christ.
We must believe the impossible and see the invisible.
Proverbs 13 v22; and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
Isaiah 45 v 3; talks about the hidden riches of the secret places.
Deuteronomy 6 v10-11; God desires to give you, large and beautiful cities which you did not build.
Our heavenly Father loves us and wants us to have abundance!
Not just for ourselves but that we can empower others and try to meet their needs.
Ephesians 3 v20; Reminds us that He wants to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think
We don’t have to settle for lower level living.
We can live in an atmosphere of increase.
Matthew 10 v19; Jesus says if you loose your life you’ll find it.
That means if we focus on the purpose of God; let His love flow through us be the motive for all we do, giving our lives in serving the Lord and others. Then we will find a life of real joy and purpose.
Isaiah 55 v9; says that His ways higher than your ways, and His thoughts than your thoughts.
6) Develop seed
When the lad with the loaves and two fishes came, Jesus immediately took charge and gave thanks and then distributed to the disciples and the disciples to the multitudes.
Jesus could have done it Himself but He decided to involve the disciples.
They had to sit down and prepare to receive.
We are those people who will distribute the Word and the blessings and the provisions that God has given us to the hurting world and generation.
Romans 15 v29; Paul says I come in the fullness of the blessing of God.
When we are living for the sake of our environment we will come to the fullness of the blessing of God we will be givers and not just takers.
Proverbs 11 v24; shows us how we can scatter and yet increase.
2 Corinthians 9 v8; God is able to make all grace abound!
Negative attitude, strife and competition restricts our increase and have no place in the body of Christ.
The lad’s willingness became the key to feeding the multitude.
I believe we, in this generation, are keys to feeding the multitudes who seek life in pubs, clubs and in all the wrong places.
Real life is only found in Jesus Christ and in doing His will.
Jude 25 says He is able to keep us from falling.
Psalm 78 v 41; shows how they limited the Lord and therefore missed the blessing.
Matthew 17 v 24-27; shows us how Jesus commanded on a fish to pay money for his tax.
Jesus can bring us increase from anywhere at anytime.
7) Position for Provision
Jesus said make the men sit down.
We must position ourselves, with an attitude of expectation, where we can receive from God. This comes in spending time with God in prayer and in the Word.
James 1 v8; a double minded man is unstable in all his ways and will not receive anything from the Lord
We must position ourselves with certainty and confidence to do the will of the Lord and receive what He has promised us.
Jesus ended the argument, took control, settled the different opinions and made decision to use what He had.
We must position ourselves to receive and pass on the provisions to others!
Galatians 6 v7; whatever a man sows shall he reap.
8) Gather up the fragments
Verse 12; You received twelve baskets full.
You must not only receive for yourself but receive enough to feed everybody until they have more than enough to eat.
Jesus didn’t waste the potential for greater results!
No matter what blessings you have seen there is potential for even greater.
We must be sensitive for the Holy Spirit to show us even greater opportunities every moment of everyday.
We must use our gifts and blessings wisely and the divine connections God has given us.
We must look after our relationships and know how to overcome offence, so that the enemy of our souls has no dominion over us.
The harvest will be unending when we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We must maximize the harvest in these days for the multitude of loss and hurting.
It is important to complete what we started.
Jesus didn’t give up because of impossibilities or difficulties.
He completed what He needed to do, and that was meeting the needs of all the people.
Jesus led them and fed them so they could be a blessing to others.
Take your extra time to connect to those you already have connections with and remember all the people who ministered into your life.
Start bringing an atmosphere of increase to them.
1 Corinthians 1:30; shows how Jesus is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
1 Peter 2 v9; Never forget you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praise of whom who called you unto salvation out of darkness unto light.