Increase!

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
— 1 Corinthians 3:6

I had worked laboriously for an “open door” to Channel One in the nation of Ukraine — the premier TV channel that broadcast into every home in the country. However, regardless of how hard I tried, it seemed that access to this massive station eluded me. But one day, I received a phone call from a man who said he had an “inside” contact at Channel One and that if I would meet him at a certain location in Kiev, he would accompany me to the station and introduce me to the top leadership of that channel. So at the appointed time, I met him — it was almost like a clandestine operation — and he did exactly as he promised. He walked me through the open door that I had been seeking for years.

I found myself standing in an executive TV office with the two men who had the final say-so about which programs would or would not be broadcast on Channel One. After a few minutes of talking, they said, “We’ve reviewed your programs, and we’re ready to accept them as part of our daily broadcast schedule.”

I almost lost my breath. Did they really say what I just heard? Were these men actually offering me the possibility of broadcasting our programs to the entire nation every day of the week? As far as I knew, this opportunity had never been given to anyone else. But now the door had flung wide open and was standing right in front of me as open and passable as it could be! This was a God-ordained moment. I knew that God was beckoning me to trust Him and to walk through this door.

When they told me the cost per broadcast, I didn’t have that kind of money or anything even close to it. But the door was open, and God was urging me to put my name on the “dotted line” of the contract. So I asked for a few minutes to be alone with my associate who was with me. Once we were alone, we bowed our heads, clasped hands, and prayed for the courage to accept this step of faith. I told my associate, “I don’t have the money to pay for this, but I know God has opened this door, and I am supposed to sign this contract. I don’t know where the money will come from, but I must sign this contract and trust that God will speak to someone somewhere to help pay for this huge opportunity.”

*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]

bookmark2When we finished praying, I had deep peace that despite the fact that I didn’t have the money to take this step, God wanted me to sign the contract. So when the men reentered the room and asked what we had decided, I boldly told them, “Of course, we are going to broadcast! So give me that contract, and I’ll sign it.”

After reviewing the contract, I took a pen in hand, gulped a deep breath, and signed that piece of paper. It was a huge leap of faith for me, but I had the awesome inward witness that we were about to experience the supernatural provision of God in a measure we had never seen before. God was going to show Himself strong to us and provide every cent that was needed to broadcast on this massive TV channel. As a result, every person in every home in that nation where there was a television would be able to hear rock-solid Bible teaching every day of the week!

But that’s just half the story. At the exact time I was signing that contract, a ministry partner — a widow who had faithfully given smaller offerings for many years — received surprise information that she had received a large inheritance. She had always told the Lord, “If You’ll trust me with money, I’ll use it to finance the preaching of the Gospel.” God heard her, knew she was serious, and did exactly what she prayed. He supernaturally put a large sum of money into her hands. When she received that inheritance, she said, “Lord, I’m going to help Rick Renner preach the Gospel to the former Soviet Union!”

When we later looked at the calendar and compared the times on both sides of the world — we discovered that at the exact moment I was signing that contract, this woman was receiving the news about her inheritance! I signed the contract, and literally simultaneously, God put the money into the hands of a widow who had made Him a promise.

Before the first payment was due for that massive TV outreach, we had all the finances we needed to pay the bill. God had entrusted that widow with the money necessary to cover the cost of those first broadcasts — and she kept her promise to steward her finances for the preaching of the Gospel.

Actually, this woman supported our TV outreach for many years. As a result, our Bible teaching programs went into every home in that nation every day. Over time, we received millions of letters from people who watched the programs, who gave their lives to Christ, and who began to regularly correspond with our ministry for help to further develop their lives in Christ.

As I think back on this experience, I see how every person played such a vital role for this miracle to be brought to pass. I signed the contract — but I didn’t have the money to pay for it. God gave finances to a faithful widow — and she supplied the money to pay. Each time I ponder this experience, I’m always reminded of what the apostle Paul wrote in First Corinthians 3:6: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

Paul knew his role was that of a “planter,” which is the Greek word phuteuo and means to plant. Paul’s statement was a clear reference to his founding of the Corinthian church. He was anointed to forge into new territory and challenge the powers of darkness in order to plant. Paul was endowed with the anointing to push open doors and find opportunities — and to plant seeds for the Gospel that would grow into churches.

Apollos, on the other hand, was anointed differently for ministry. He was specially called to come behind Paul and to “water” and “nourish” what Paul had planted. The word “watered” is the Greek word potidzo, which means to give drink, to water, or even to imbibe. It portrays one who nourishes what has been planted, thus providing the sustenance it needs to grow.

Of course, we know that God ultimately gave the increase, bringing forth what Paul planted and Apollos watered — and causing growth to come in the Corinthian church.

As I look at First Corinthians 3:6, I see these three elements in the Channel One miracle: First, I was the planter who was anointed by God to sign the contract. That was an essential first step. Second, our blessed partner, a widow, was called and anointed to “water” the seed I’d planted (the signing of the contract) with her finances. She was assigned a very important portion of the process, and she willingly did her part.

Third — and most important — was God, the Partner who was ultimately responsible for all of it. Paul said, “…But God gave the increase.”

The word “increase” in First Corinthians 3:6 is a form of the Greek word auxano, which simply means to increase or to grow. The form of this word used in this instance indicates the continuous blessing of God upon the work of Paul and Apollos, with God as their chief Partner in the process.

One theologian has said, in effect, “We can till the ground, plant the seeds, pull the weeds, and lavishly water what has been planted, but only God can provide the blessing, sunshine, and environment to make it all grow.”

It simply takes every one of us doing his or her different job — with God’s blessing on it — for doors to open and harvests to be reaped. Divine connections are essential for completing a divine assignment. And respect for every person for the role he or she plays — including God and His role — is so important. Most of us realize that even if we all did our respective parts to make supernatural things come to pass, nothing of value would ever grow without God didn’t provide His continuous blessing. So all the glory goes to God for what is produced in our lives.

In the case of the contract with Channel One, after that man helped me make contact with the leaders of that TV station, God used my associate and me to negotiate the deal, my hands to sign the contract, and a widow to sow finances into the project. And, most importantly, God’s hand of blessing was on it throughout the entire journey. Those elements all working together produced a harvest of salvations from our TV programming that will last for all of eternity.

If you’re trying to complete a God-given project alone, I pray that today’s Sparkling Gem has spoken to your heart about the need for divine connections with other people — and the absolutely essential need for God to be your chief Partner in making everything you do grow and become prosperous. If you do not have those connections right now, I pray that God will divinely connect you to others who will join to help you complete the assignment He has called you to fulfill — in Jesus’ name!

Moscow Good News Church

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Father, I see that it takes divine connections to make a project of faith come to pass and bear fruit. Many times I have felt discouraged because it seemed I had to complete a God-project alone. Father, I ask You to connect me with others who will respond to Your voice and help cause Your supernatural plan to come to pass. I receive God-ordained help to complete the assignment You have given me. I ask You to strengthen me and those with whom You will connect me so that together we can do our respective parts under Your direction to fulfill what You want each one of us to do!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

Moscow Good News Church

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am obedient and faithful to the direction of the Lord when He gives me an assignment. And I declare that with each divine assignment He gives me, God also ordains obedient and faithful people who are positioned with me to see that assignment through to completion. Just as Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase, we each do our part by the direction of God as we give all glory to His name!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

Moscow Good News Church

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you think of a moment when you obeyed the Lord, but you didn’t know how God was going to do what He was instructing you to do? When was that and what happened?
  2. Have you ever had an experience when you took a step of faith, and God used an unexpected person to supply the provision you needed to make your step of faith come to pass?
  3. Were you filled with enthusiastic excitement at the moment you committed yourself to a huge project in faith — or did you feel a sense of hesitancy? What did you experience as you “signed your name on the dotted line” and made a commitment that would require the supernatural provision of God?