Isaiah 54: 1-5
‘Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labour;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,’
says the Lord.
‘Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities.
‘Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband –
the Lord Almighty is his name –
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
This week we are thinking about our capacity to receive from God. If there is a lack or limitation in our lives, it is probably not there because God is unwilling to give us good gifts. However, it could be that we need to enlarge our capacity to receive all that God has made available for us.
There’s two ways I can increase my capacity: (i) Enlarge what I have or, (ii) Eliminate what I don't need. Today let's consider first one: Enlarging what I already have.
In our Bible reading from Isaiah 54, God is speaking to a discouraged, exiled people who only see barrenness and lack of fruitfulness in their lives. He is exhorting them through the prophet to take a bold step of faith and enlarge their capacity because their current position is not a permanent condition. They need to create more room, stretch further, spread out, not hold back. In other words, God is saying: 'Give me space and I will fill it.'
In the same way, each of us can grow in our capacity to receive, we can stretch our thinking, increase our understanding of who God is and what He has available for us. We can take risks, step out in bold faith, believe for more, read stories and testimonies of those through whom God has done great things, get around people who are experiencing what we want to see in our own lives, ask God to enlarge our ability to dream.
However, be aware that often what we think is our capacity is just our conditioning. The limitations we have placed on our lives aren’t real, they’re in our minds, they’re what we have conditioned ourselves or others have conditioned us to believe.
Anyone who has ever taken up exercise knows this. When I started running 4 years ago, I could barely run a few hundred metres and then would have to stop to be resuscitated! That was my limit at that stage. Now however, I can run miles without stopping and not be out of breath. Why? What I thought was my capacity was just my conditioning. I simply needed to grow and develop in what I was doing to increase my capacity.
Often in life we get what we settle for, when God wants to give us so much more. We need to enlarge what we already have. Consider the prayer of Jabez:
“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!” (1 Chronicles 4: 10)
Jabez prays boldly to the Lord: 'Enlarge my territory, increase my capacity, expand my influence, widen my impact, give me more room to receive.'
- Where do you need to ask God to increase your capacity to receive?
- Where do you need to ask God to grow you?
- Where have you settled for less than His best?
Why not pray right now:
Lord God, please stretch my thinking, increase my faith, expand my understanding. Push back the barriers and limitations I have put in place. Tear down the walls that are keeping me contained. Increase my influence and enlarge my expectations. Let me see further and dream bigger. Help me to trust more fully and live more boldly. Lord, here I am, increase my capacity. I don’t want to miss out on receiving anything you have for me. I ask this in Jesus' strong and powerful name, Amen.