Isaiah chapter 54, I wanted to focus on those first 3 verses there, where the bible reads, "Sing, O' barren thou, that didst not bear. Break forth into singing and cry aloud thou that didst not travail with child, for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the lord. Enlarge the place of they tent and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations. Spare not. Lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes, for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited."
The title of my sermon this morning is found at the end of verse number 2, where the bible reads, "Lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes." This morning I want to preach on lengthening the cords and strengthening the stakes. Now I wanted to preach about this because it's our 10 year anniversary, and we've seen God do great things, but we don't want to live in the past obviously and be a has-been type church. We want to look forward into the future. The apostle Paul said, "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth into those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God and Christ Jesus."
First let's get the context of this passage. Isaiah 53 is one of the most famous chapters in the Old Testament. Isaiah 53 is that clear prophesy of the lord Jesus Christ coming and being the savior. We're not going to read the whole chapter for sake of time, but I just want to point out toward the end of that chapter in verse number 8, where the bible reads in Isaiah 53:8, "He was taken from prison and from judgment," it's about Jesus, "and who shall declare his generation, for he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people was he stricken, and he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his debt, because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the lord to bruise him. He had put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed. He shall his prolong his days, and the pleasure of the lord shall prosper in his hand."
Again, we don't have time to read the whole chapter, but this chapter about Jesus, where it talks about "by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. We turn everyone to his own way. The lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." When it talks about Jesus Christ suffering and dying for our sins, that leads right into chapter 54. You don't want to just ignore the fact that that comes right before chapter 54. Because if you notice there in verse 10 that we just read, it says, "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin," about half way through the verse, "he shall see his seed." Okay, do you see that statement? "He shall see his seed"? Jesus will see his seed.
In verse number 8 it said, "Who shall declare his generation, for he was cut off from the land of the living." What the bible's saying here is that even though Jesus did not produce physical children which he was on this earth ... obviously he was unmarried, he didn't have any children, so he doesn't have a generation that issued from his physically, but the bible said that because he was offered for our sins, he shall see his seed. Meaning that those who believe on him as their savior, are his seed, are his children. We're the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Now when we get into chapter 54, right after that statement, it says, "Sing, O' barren thou, that didst not bear. Break forth into singing and cry aloud thou that didst not travail with child, for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the lord. Enlarge the place of they tent and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations. Spare not. Lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes, for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left," ... watch this ... "and thy seed shall inherit the gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited."
Now if you study chapters 54, 55, 56, this theme is continuing over and over again of God dealing with he Gentiles, God using the Gentiles. One of the meanings here of this passage when it says, "More are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife," you know the married wife represents Israel there. The bible's talking about how God's going to have more children, more seed, more people are going to be saved from the desolate, meaning the Gentiles, than from the married wife. "Thou that didst not bear," in the past the Gentiles had not brought forth fruit unto God, but they're going to bring forth great fruit unto God. That's what's being prophesied in these next few chapters. I don't have time to go through all that, I'm just trying to give you the context of this passage.
What are the verses literally saying here in verses 1 through 3? He's talking to a barren women, and he's saying to that barren woman, you are going to produce children. Your seed is going to be multiplied, and he's saying because of that, you need to enlarge the place of thy tent. This makes perfect sense, doesn't it? If you were a lady who doesn't have any children and you don't have that big of a house, that big of a tent because it's just you, just you and your husband, whatever the case may be, and you're told you're going to have all these children, if you really believed that that were true, then you would need to get a bigger tent. Right?
He's saying you are going to have more children than even Israel has brought forth in the past. That's the symbolism. He says therefore you need to enlarge the place of your tent and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation. Habitations are where you live. "Spare not. Lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes, for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left."
He's saying your family is going to grow so much you're going to be bursting at the seams. You're going to need a bigger tent. Then he says, "Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited." What does he mean by that, "lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes"? Well if you think about it, when you build a bigger tent, there's more a danger of the thing blowing over. The bigger the tent, the more wind it's going to catch that hits it, and so you're going to need longer cords and you're going to need stronger stakes.
I know that one of the first things I do when I get a new tent is to take all the stakes that come with it and just thrown them in the trash and go buy some real tent stakes. Who know what I'm talking about? They gave you these weird, plastic stakes, and you hit them and they just bend in half. You have to go get the real sharp, metal tents. That's one of the best things you can do with your tent, is just replace the stake.
He's saying, "Look, you need to strengthen your stakes." You don't want this thing to just blow over with the slightest wind. If you're going to get larger, if you're going to expand your habitation, build a bigger tent, you need to also lengthen the cords and you need to strengthen the stakes. You can't just have the same cords and the same stakes and just keep building a bigger tent. It's going to fail, it's going to topple over.
Now go to Second Kinds, chapter 4. The first thing I want to take from this passage in Isaiah 54 about lengthening the cords and strengthening the stakes, is that number 1, God wants us to have faith in the fact that he's going to do what he said he would do. He wants us to believe that. That's why he's telling this proverbial woman here, you are going to have lots of children, and you're going to break forth on the right hand and on the left. He's asking her by faith before the children even come, to make a bigger tent in preparation just to show the faith, just to show that she believes that that's really going to happen.
Number 1, we need to have the faith to believe that God will do what he has said he would do. We need to believe in him. Now look at Second Kings, chapter 4. Here's another story that illustrates this. It says in verse number 1, "Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elijah, saying, 'Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.'"
Elijah said under her, "What shall I do for thee? Tell me, what has thou in the house?" And she said, "Thine hand made hath not anything in the house save a pot of oil." Then he said, "Go borrow the vessels abroad of all they neighbors, even empty vessels. Borrow not a few, and when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon me and upon they sons and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full."
"She went from him and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her, and she poured out, and it came to pass that when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, bring me yet a vessel. And he said under her there is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. Then she came and told the man of God and he said, 'Go. Sell the oil and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of rest.'"
This is a great miracle that Elijah performs where this woman is destitute. She doesn't have any money, in fact she's in debt, and her husband's dead, and the creditor's coming and wants to enslave her sons to pay the debt, make them work off the debt. He asks her, "What do you have in the house," and she says, "I don't have anything except a pot of oil." Okay? This kind of reminds me when Jesus asks the disciples they have when he's going to feed the 5,000. He asks them what type of they have, and they said we don't have anything except we have the 5 loaves and 2 fishes. But what are these among so many?
What God's trying to show us in this story is that we have what we need. God gives us everything that we need. Even if we look at it and we think, "It's not enough." We might even overlook it and say, "I have nothing. I don't have any talent. I don't have any ability. I don't have any opportunity to serve God." God says just give me the little bit that you do have and it will be enough. Because God is able to make it enough because God's power is able to multiply whatever we bring to the table.
Here she brings this little pot of oil and Elijah tells her to just go out and borrow all the containers that she can from her neighbors, and he tells her, "Borrow not a few." He doesn't tell her how many to borrow, but he just says don't borrow a few, borrow a lot. She goes out and borrows a bunch of containers. You can imagine all the little Tupperwares and all the pots and pans and whatever vases and jars, whatever she could get. Then they shut the door, and then they start pouring it out, and just keeps multiplying. It's sort of like the feeding of the 5,000 in the sense that the oil just keeps on coming, keeps on coming, keeps on coming. She's able to fill every vessel, and she's saying to her son, "Give me another vessel, give me something else," and he says, "There aren't any more."
Once that door was shut, that's it, whatever you've brought, whatever vessels you brought there, that's what's going to be filled. That represents the amount of faith that she had that God could do a miracle. You know, "You want me to do a big miracle? Get a big vessel." If you don't have a lot of faith in God, just get a few vessels, whatever. I guarantee you the thought entered her mind later, "I wish I would have borrowed more. I wish I would have got a bigger tank." I wish would have got something bigger, because this is valuable stuff. Back then, this oil was a very expensive commodity. She's able to sell it, pay off all her debts, and just live off the rest for awhile. You know that she's wishing she would have done more.
Now, God is only limited by our lack of faith. God can do anything. The bible asks the question 2 different times, is anything too hard for the lord? Of course the answer is no. Don't you think that God could have done double the miracle here if she would have borrowed double the vessels? Of course. There's no limit to God's power. Whether he feeds 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, or feeds 4,000 with 7 loaves and 2, it doesn't matter. The numbers mean nothing, because God could multiply it into any quantity and it's man who decides what God's going to do. Because God's power is limitless.
It says in Psalm 78 ... you don't have to turn there but in verse 41 is says, "Yea, they turned back and tempted God and limited the Holy one of Israel." Man limits God by not having faith in his ability. Another scripture that touches on this is in Matthew chapter 13, verse 58, where Jesus, "Did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." It's not that Jesus didn't have the power to do great works and heal people and perform miracles, but he couldn't do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. They had limited him by their lack of faith. Is anything too hard for the lord? Absolutely not.
Jeremiah 32:27 says, "Behold I am the lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything to hard for me?" The next chapter, verse 3, "Call unto me and I will answer thee and show the great and mighty things which thou knowest not." In Second Chronicles 16:9 the bible says, "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." What's he saying? God's just looking for people to bless, he's just looking for a miracle to perform. He's just looking to do some great work. He's just looking for a vessel to fill. He's just looking for a tank to fill. He's just looking to show himself mighty on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him. His eyes are running through the earth, searching for the next great work to perform. It is resting upon us to step up to the plate and have the faith and be greatly used by God.
First of all, as a church, we need to enlarge the place of our tent. I'm not just talking about, "Oh yeah, we have a bigger building now so we can grow more." That's part of it. Obviously we don't want to just get this attitude of Us Four, No More, and we don't want to grow. I think when the bible tells us to enlarge the place of our tent, more than just a physical building, I think this represents just having a greater vision. Having more faith and believing that God's going to do something great among us. To get more vessels, to borrow more vessels. I don't have much to offer, but wait a minute, we can get more vessels in here. The more people we get in the church, our collective abilities, our collective talents, our collective work and zeal, God can use it to do great things.
Let me tell you something, I truly believe it from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, the sky is the limit. There's no limit on what God can do through this church. The only limit is our small vision and our lack of faith. That's the only limit. There's no limit.
It's amazing how sometimes when I talk to people, I notice that their vision is small. I remember the first time somebody left our church because our church was too big. That was such a laughable thing to me because our church was so small in the early days. We started out really small. You saw the videos, it was kind of a slow growth for the first several year, and then the church just started to pick up and grow just a little bit, and a couple people quit the church and I asked, "Why did you quit the church?" They literally said, "It's too big for us now." At the time it had 80 people in it. "This is too big."
You would have hated the church in Jerusalem, because they added to that church 3,000 people in one day. You would have hated the church in Jerusalem when they added 5,000 shortly thereafter. There's a small-minded thinking that just wants to meet with a few people over and over again, and close-knit group and everybody knows everybody. Hey, that's great. Everybody knows everybody. We can all be buddies, it can all be nice and cosy while 4 million people go to hell? No. We need to enlarge the tent. We need to strengthen our stakes. We need to lengthen our cords, and we need to enlarge the place of our tent. Why? Because we need to include more people. Not just have this [attitude 00:17:10], "Oh, it's a nice, comfortable church the way that we like it."
Nope, the way I like it is to get as many people saved as we possibly can. See, Us Four No More doesn't fulfill the great commission. This small-minded attitude of, "Hey, let's just meet in the house for the rest of our lives, let's just meet in our living room for the rest of our lives is the wrong mentality. That's not what God called us to do. The bible says in John 14:12, "Verily Verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto the Father."
When Jesus said that the believers would do greater works than him, it doesn't mean quality. Because no one can do better than Jesus, right? Do you think I could preach a better sermon than Jesus or perform greater miracles or deeds than Jesus? Absolutely not. But the bible said that we would do greater works than Jesus, and that is the quantity. Why? Because Jesus' ministry was limited to just the nation of Israel, it was just a 3 and a half year ministry, it was shorter, it was geographically restricted, but he sent out the disciples to go turn the world upside down, and he looked at them and he said, "You will do greater works than me."
That is the calling today. Not to do smaller works, but to do bigger works, to do greater works. And not to ask ourselves what we like in a church, what kind of church do we like. What size church do we feel comfortable with? No, it's our job to just go out and fulfill the great commission to preach the gospel to every creature; to go into Jerusalem and into Judea and into Sumeria and onto the uttermost part of the earth. That is what God has called us to do. We need to think big, we need to have a great vision for what God can do, and realize that the only limitation is on our faith. It's not on God's ability.
People sometimes will say, "Oh, you know, I hope that Faithful World Baptist Church never becomes a mega-church." Now here's the thing about these mega-churches. Obviously, the vast majority of mega-churches are bogus because of the fact that the way that they got big real fast was overnight was just by throwing the truth out and telling people what they want to hear, making it a big show, making it all about entertainment, figuring out what people want and giving it to them, instead of faithfully preaching God's word.
Okay, it reminds me of a weed; how a weed just grows up overnight. You feel like you're just weeded and then all of a sudden there are these huge weeds and they grow so fast. Whereas something of value actually grows slower. I remember when I was a kid we used to "race" trees. There was a tree that was planted at my grandparents' house and it was my same height, and so it was decided that I would raise this tree. Okay, we would always do that. There'd be a tree, we'd find one our height, "Okay, you're going to raise that tree," and everybody sort of had a tree. At first you're doing pretty good. You're keeping up with the thing. Then all of a sudden you come back and the thing's like 20, 30 feet high and you eventually lose the race with the tree.
It was just tradition that we would do as kids. It shows that even though the tree grows very slowly ... and in fact when you plant trees you'll notice that a year or two into it sometimes they're still just a scrawny, twiggy-looking thing. You don't get any fruit until many years later. Then you start seeing a lot of fruit, but here's the thing: the fruit is real.
Whereas a weed, it just springs up overnight, it's producing, it's multiplying, it's producing fruit, but it's rotten fruit, it's worthless fruit. It's just weeds and nuisance. We need to understand that God is building the church because he promised, "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it," and the growth of a church is like the growth of a tree. The fruit of righteous is a tree of life, "And he that winneth souls is wise." It's something that doesn't spring up overnight. It's a slow, steady, growth, but eventually it grows into something great.
Jesus also talked about the Kingdom of Heaven being likened unto a mustard seed. Tiny little grain, and yet when it's planted it can grow into just a mighty tree and all the fowl of the air will lodge in the branches of that tree that come from that tiny little seed. Just that seed of the word of God being preaches. Just that little faith of a grain of a mustard seed. God can multiply it and do amazing things with it if we will have the vision for it.
All throughout the bible people are being rebuked for having a small vision. Borrow not a few, is the message of the bible. Is anything too hard for the lord? And yet, look how many times people in the bible have just a small vision. They don't want to cross over the Jordan, they're just happy to just settle on the east side of Jordan.
Or what about the story where King [Joash 00:22:18] is told to shoot the arrow of the lord's deliverance and then to smite the earth. He smites only 3 times and then he stops, waits. And Elijah rebukes him and says, "You should have smitten the ground 4, 5, 6, why stop at 3?" Go big, is that the message of the bible is.
God has called us to do a great work, not to do a small work, not to play games, not to just dabble, not to just, "Well, let's knock doors a few times a year. Let's do it once a month, let's do it once every few weeks. Let's do a few neighborhoods, it's better than if we'd done nothing at all." No, God says get it to every creature.
That map back there of this whole area, that's for real. That's serious. We want to knock every single door in this entire region, the greater Phoenix valley area, which represents about 4 million people. We've already done about 25% of it. That which is near the church we've knocked 5, 6, 7 times, but going out further into the reaches ... look, we need to have a big vision and say, "You know what? We can do that, we just need more vessels, we just need more laborers, but God can do it." I'm not putting some upper limit on our church's growth and say, "Well you know, we've reached 200. Let's just call it good. I mean that's big enough." No no no, let's go to 500. Why not?
You know what, if this church runs 1,000 some day or 2,000 some day? Great, praise God. The sky's the limit. Because can you imagine a church that has as great a percentage of soul-winners as we have right now getting to that size? Most churches that are running 1,000 don't have as many man hours of soul-winning happening per week as ours does. Can you imagine if our church ran 1,000 some day? The amount of souling that would be taking, it would be unbelievable.
You say, "Oh, Pastor Anderson, that's crazy. That's just wild to even throw those numbers out there." But you know what? Is anything too hard for the Lord? There's no reason why we can't knock every door in the whole Phoenix valley and then knock it again and again. There's no reason why we can't send 100 young guys out to go start churches all over America. Where are they? Where are the vessels? Bring the vessels? God's spirit can fill them all. Would God that all God's people were prophets and that God would his spirit upon them. The only shortage is a shortage of vessels. The only shortage is a shortage of faith to go out and get the vessels and bring them into the house and shut the door and let God fill those vessels, because God has an unlimited supply of his spirit to pour out. God has an unlimited supply of his power and his ability. We need to think big and have great faith in a vision of what God has called us to do.
Go to Ephesians chapter 3 if you would, because not only do we need to have a big vision, I think Isaiah 54 is teaching us that first of all, we need to enlarge the place of our tent, we need to have a growth mentality that wants to do more. I want 2016 to be the greatest year of our church's history. I'm not interested in taking a step backward. 2015 is a tough act to follow. We were able to accomplish great things, but let me tell you something: 2016 needs to be the best year.
Let's not be a has-been, let's not talk about all the glory days. No, the glory days are just starting right now. We are going to do greater works than these. Why? Because of God's spirit, because of our faith in him, because he's promised to give us the victory, because he promised that he would build his church and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it.
Let me say this: not only is Isaiah 54 teaching us to enlarge the place of our tent because we believe that God is going to multiply us a bless us and do great things for us, but enlarging the tent's not enough. We also have to lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes. What does that mean? Well look at Ephesians Chapter 3, verse 16. The bible says the he would grant you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man. Now think about the inner man. That's the man which is not seen. That's what's inside of us. That's our heart, right?
Sort of like the part of the tent that's not seen, the stakes. We all see the great tent. We see the great structure, and we might even be impressed by the latest Coleman camping tent. It fits 12 people, it's separated int bedrooms and has electric lighting and everything. You know these really fancy tents. But that which is not seen are the stakes that go deep into the earth in order to hold that thing together so that it doesn't just tumble over and come crashing down like a house of cards.
Just as the stakes that are driven down into the earth are not seen, our inner man is not seen but it needs to be strengthened. He said, "Strengthen the stakes." Here he explains it. Strengthen the inner man. Strengthen the inner man. Look at verse 17, you'll see what I mean. That Christ may dwell in you hearts by faith, that ye being, what? Rooted and grounded. Doesn't that sound like a tent spike? Going into the ground. The root that holds it down. He says, "Rooted and grounded in love. May be able to comprehend with all saints what is breadth and length and depth and height. To know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. That you might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end, amen."
Isn't that a powerful passages? But notice where it all starts: be strengthened in the inner man. Then God explains, look, you don't even know the length and breadth and height and width, you don't even know what I'm capable of. I can do things that you can't even think of. He said he's able to do more, exceeding abundantly more, than what we could ever ask or think. Whatever we could pray for, God will do way more than we could imagine. Whatever we could think of or ask or even blush to think of the possibility. Could it be that we could accomplish ... God's saying he's able to do more than you can even ask or think.
God's vision is always greater than your vision. "I feel like I'm thinking too big." Well you still haven't gotten to God's level of vision. He says he's able to do it, exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, but where does it start? We got to first be rooted and grounded. Think about it. Do you really think that God's going to enlarge your tent when you're still using those plastic tent spikes that came out of the box? You're using the plastic tent spikes that came out of the box, and you're like, "Oh God, enlarge my tent. Lord, my tent, God. I've lengthened the cord." But you've got that cheap old plastic tent spike, and God is doing you a favor by not enlarging the tent. Because he knows if he enlarges it it's just going to blow away, you're going to lose everything. I'd rather have a small tent that stays put that one that blows away no matter how big it is. If it blows away, it's no good to anyone.
It reminds me of the early days of our church. Just being frustrated and thinking, "Oh God, why doesn't grow faster? Why is it growing so slowly? I'm doing everything you told me to do. You promised you'd build the church. What are you doing, God?" Honestly, there were many times when I felt like God's not doing what he said he would do. Just as a human being in the flesh, that's a thought that would enter in. Of just, "God said he's going to do this, why isn't it happening? Something's wrong, what's the deal," and me being frustrated.
I think it's just that God knows that you're not ready for that yet, and he's telling us, "I can build the tent as big as you want to build it. I can do great works, but you have to strengthen the stakes, you have to lengthen the cords, and then I'll send the abundant blessings."
We don't want the net to break because we don't have faith. Think about Jesus, right? He's on the ship, and he tell them to let down the nets, plural. He says let down the nets to catch the fish. And Peter says we've toiled all night and we've caught nothing. Nevertheless at thy word, I'll let down the net. Singular. He lets down one net, he takes in this massive amount of fish, and the net breaks. Why did break? Because you only used one. You were supposed to let down all the nets. Pull out all the stops. Let down all the nets. Borrow all the vessels. Go to every neighbor, talk them into giving you every vessel. Don't just say, "Well, I know that there's only a little bit of oil in this container." Nevertheless, I'll bring out the teacup; nevertheless, let's do one pitcher; nevertheless, let's get one 5 gallon jug just to test it. No, oh no. You'll regret that. You'll wish you'd broughten every single vessel.
The next breaks often. The tent breaks. The vessels run out and the oil stayed. Plenty of oil to go around. We need to take God's admonition to be rooted and grounded in love; that Christ would dwell in our hearts by faith; that we'd be rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height. We have to get to the point where we can even comprehend what God's doing. We have to get to the point we're even ready for him to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, and we have to lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes. We have to strengthen the inner man to be prepared for what God's going to do.
Like I said, in the early days I was frustrated that the church grew so slowly, but honestly looking back I'm glad that it grew slowly. I wouldn't change one bit of it. Why? Because I knew that I wasn't ready for it. I was new at it, I needed time to grow into the position of being a pastor. Obviously when you start out pastoring, there's a lot that you have to learn as you go, and I learned from my mistakes over the years. I made mistakes, I learned from. Looking back I was thinking, "Oh wow, I'm glad I learned that before the church got big and then it's too late to fix stuff because it's too big and the thing's blown over and fallen apart and you have all these problems." I was glad that it grew at the rate that it did because it gave me time to be strengthened by God's spirit in my inner man. That's what we need to do.
How do we get strengthened in the inner man? Obviously, that's done through reading the bible. It's done through memorizing scripture. Letting God's word dwell in us richly with all wisdom. What does the bible say about the one who's delight is in the law of the lord. And it is that he meditate day and night. What does it say? He'll be planted like that deep tent spike. He'll be rooted and grounded. He's be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit and his season, and whatever he doeth shall prosper. But we don't want to be that seed that falls among the stony places. Where the bible said that, "And forthwith it sprung up, but it had no root in itself." In times of tribulation, times of persecution, it withered away.
Honestly, our church has gone through some persecution in the last 10 years. Our church has gone through some tribulations over the last 10 years, but you know why we're still here? Because the root was strong enough. We were rooted deeply enough to where when the winds blew and the storm came, we were able to stay there because our root held.
Go to Luke chapter 6. Luke, chapter number 6. What am I saying this morning? What's the sermon about? It's about lengthening the cords and strengthening the stakes. It's about having a vision to grow. For you personally; this isn't just for the church but for you personally. What's your vision personally? What's the vision for your family? What's the vision for your children? What's the vision for your spiritual growth? What's the vision for soul-winning, for your preaching, for whatever it is that you do to serve God? Do you have a big vision? Do you want to grow and increase, or do just want to be coasting for the next 10 years?
Are you just going to idle for the next 10 years, just kind of cruise through? Is that what you want me to do for the next 10 years? Should I just kind of go on this vacation and just come back hanging loose and just ready to just kind of chill about and basically you know what? I've been preaching so long, I've preached over 2,000 sermons, literally. This is sermon 2000 and some odd. Just online there's 1,500 sermons that I've preached. Just what's been recorded and posted to the Internet.
I've preached over 2,000 times, you don't think I can just kind of phone one in at this point? And just start dusting off the old outlines and just preach through the same 10 years of outlines again? Would you even know the difference? I get out and just kind of phone it in and just kind of coast and just say to myself, "You know what? Hey, 200 people in the church. My salary's paid. Let's just coast." Why would I want to go bigger than that? It's just more headaches. It's just more hassle, it's just more people to deal with. It's just more blip of the radar of all the enemies and stuff. Why don't I just take my ease and eat, drink, and be merry, and chill out, and get fat and lazy and just kind of coast through the next 10 years. We're doing great things. Let's just keep on doing what we're doing.
No. We're going bigger. We're going to make the tent bigger. We're going to do more. Look, I want to do more in 2016 than I did in 2015. I want to accomplish more. I want to preach the greatest sermons I've ever preached through God's spirit. Through God's word. I don't want to just be in decline or something. Do you, personally? Do want our church to just kind of coast at this level, or do you want to see it grow? I want to see it grow.
Not growth at all costs. Compromise is not an option. If our growth stalls, so be it, but I want to go big if it's God's will. If God will bless us in that way. Let's at least give God some place to put the blessing. I mean think about it. You say, "Well I just don't know if God's going to do it." We'll we're never going to know unless we pull out another vessel. You're never going to know whether there's more oil in the [cruse 00:37:52] until you pull out another vessel. You never going to know unless you let down all the nets. You're never going to know what God can do until you pull out all the stops, and you're never going to know how much blessing is going to be multiplied to your seed until you make the bigger tent.
But it's important to realize the tent can only go as big as our stakes are strong. You can't just take an existing building and just add a second story, and then add a third story and add a fourth story and just turn it into a skyscraper. No. It has to start out with a plan of being a skyscraper, and you have to say, we need a skyscraper foundation. When these buildings are built that go way up into heaven, they did deep. They dig many stories down deep in to the earth and their sending great steel beams and concrete deep into the earth. The deeper that foundation goes, the higher you can build the building.
There's a limit where the engineer's going to tell you, "Look, this foundation can only handle this big of a building, and if you go bigger than that it's going to come tumbling down. It's going to fall over. It's going to fail. It's going to have structural damage." Look what the bible says in Luke 6:47: Whosoever cometh to me and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like. He is like a man which built him house house" ... and I love this next phrase. "And digged deep." The one who listens to God's word, learns it, does it, puts it into practice, is like a guy who builds a house and digs deep. He digs deep. He wants a firm foundation. "And laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose the stream beat vehemently upon that house and could not shake it, for it was founded upon a rock."
I want our church to be unshakable. I want my life to be unshakable. I want your life to be unshakable. "But he that hearth it and do it not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great." What a shame if if would be said "the ruin of Faithful Word Baptist Church was great." They got too top heavy. They grew so big and the foundation wasn't there, and it all came toppling down.
Let me tell you this. If you look at a tree's roots, it's not just one root, is it? One root. No no no, it's a multitude of roots, isn't it? If you only had one root it wouldn't hold. You have to have roots going in all directions and you have to have a strong foundation. Not just with one piece of rebar. Just one strong piece of rebar. No no no, it's all kinds of rebar crisscrossing through that concrete, re-enforcing that foundation when a house is built or whatever the structure. We need to understand that our church can only be as strong as you are strong as a church member.
How deep are you digging in the word of God? How deep are you digging in your prayer life? How deep are you digging in bible memorization? How deep are you digging when it comes to being filled with the Holy Spirit? Are you, as the bible says, being filled with all the fullness of God? Are you comprehending the length and breadth and width and depth and height? Are you digging deep for your foundation? Because our foundation as a church is the lord Jesus Christ, but have you dug down deep enough to fully fasten to that rock.
Because he dug down deep and he laid the foundation on the rood. See, the bedrock isn't just right at the surface. Is there a problem with the bedrock? There's no problem with Jesus, there's no problem with his work; "Other foundation can no man lay that is laid." Christ Jesus. The foundation's not the problem. The problem is that some people have not dug down deep enough to really get a good secure fastening into that foundation.
Now none of us is perfect. None of us will ever reach total perfect and fullness of the spirit because we're all human beings, we all deal with the flesh. But my challenge to you is to lengthen your cord and strengthen your stake. Because of the fact that our church can only be as great as you are great. If you decide to be a shallow Christian and our whole church is just filled a bunch of shallow people that are playing games, it's not going to grow, we're going to get stuck because of the fact that God knows this is what you can handle.
I'm sure God's glad that he can use us to win the souls that we're winning. I'm sure that God is pleased with what we've accomplished in the last 10 years, but I believe that God wants to do more. I believe that I can do more, I believe that you can do more. It's not just about, "Well, let's just get a bigger tent then. Let's just spend more hours serving God and let's just crank everything up." If you just crank up the hours spent serving God but you don't dig deep, you're going to crash and burn. You're going to burn out. You got to dig deep. You've got to have that walk with God. You've got to have that prayer life. You've got to have that bible reading, that bible memorization. You've got to have the fullness of the Holy Spirit. You've got to clean up your life. I've got to clean up my life. We've got to dig deep if we want to see this thing go sky high, and listen, the sky's the limit.
God has no limit. It's the vessels that are the limit. Well I want to be a big vessel. I want to spiritually be a giant drum. I don't want to spiritually be a thimble. Where, "Oh God, fill me with the Holy Spirit," and it's like ... That's how deep you dug, that's what you can have. Otherwise you're going to tip over. I don't want to be a little teapot, tip me over and pour me out. I want to be a great, giant, keg, pardon the illustration. I want to be a giant drum. I want to be a giant vat filled all the fullness of God.
I want to be an aftermarket tent spike that can be driven deep into the earth, where God can beat me with a hammer and he knows that the more he beats on me with the hammer and then world's going to beat on me and devil's going to beat on me, he just know the harder this guy gets hit, the deeper he goes. The deeper he goes. Whereas other people that are weak, they're that plastic tent spike and the tiniest little hammer ... and they just like bend, they just break. The slightest little hint of persecution and that tent spike is just "snap" and God has to just tippity-tap with it because that's all they can even handle. I want God to pull out the sledgehammer and go ... drive me in deep. Why? So that he can build high.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, please help us as a church to press toward the high calling of God and Christ Jesus, lord. Thank you for all the blessings of the last 10 years, that I can truly say lord that you told us the truth in Ephesians 3 when you said that you could do above all that we could ask or think, because you have already done above all that I could ask or think, lord. Because I didn't even borrow enough vessels for what you've done, lord. Help us going forward to dig down deep, to enlarge that tent, to borrow the vessels, and to just do everything that we can lord to see you do a great work, because you're power is limitless.
There are 8 billion people in this world, lord, that need to hear the gospel. Lord, help as to get the gospel to all of them, to every single one of them lord. Help us to do great works in these last days, mighty exploits, for you. Peoples' lives depend on it, and people's souls depend on it, lord. Please just fill us lord, and drive us down deeper into the earth. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
All right. We broke the record. What's the new record?
S. Anderson: 217, wow. What was the previous record? ... All right, wow. We smashed it. Our old attendance record was 185, today we have 217 people here, 32 more than our record. See what happens when everybody shows up on the same day? Of course we have a lot of great visitors from out of town.
We usually do ice cream after the service, but we're feeding you a whole meal here for crying out loud. Let's smash it again tonight and then we'll get out the ice cream. Stick around for the food, the pork sandwiches, and with that let's sing our next song.