WHEN PEOPLE SAY FAVOUR NOT LABOUR, I UNDERSTAND WHY THEY SAY THAT BUT THAT IS NOT THE PATTERN OF SCRIPTURE
THE PATTERN OF SCRIPTURE IS FAVOUR AND LABOUR. EVEN GOD’S ANOINTING WITHOUT LABOUR WILL BE FRUSTRATION
GOD’S FAVOUR REQUIRES MAN’S LABOUR. WHEN GOD FAVOURS ME, I MUST LABOUR
WHEN GOD OPENS A DOOR OF FAVOUR FOR YOU, YOU DON’T JUST SING AND REJOICE AND THEN FOLD YOUR HANDS. YOU RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR.
WHEN GOD GIVES YOU ACCESS, YOU DON’T BECOME LAZY.
- Pastor Mensah Otabil at International Central Gospel Church, Accra Ghana || Sunday Service
I am going to do a two part series for this week and next and I have titled my message “A PLACE TO BE FRUITFUL”. For us to be fruitful in our endeavours, we need to operate in the right atmosphere and in the right place. There are places that can limit our fruitfulness. In the parable of the sower Jesus showed us that the place where we are planted can determine whether we will be fruitful or not. The place we find ourselves or the place we are planted is important for our fruitfulness.
Today we are going to look at an Old Testament story of Isaac that illustrates the point of the place of fruitfulness. Before I read the story we must understand the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who we read about in the Bible lived in the part of the world different from where we live called The Middle East today, we live in the Tropics. In the tropics, rainfall is very normal while in the Middle East, rainfall is very scarce and that is why in the Bible you see many of God’s promises to Israel refer to water. Provision of water is very central to God’s grace in the Old Testament because of the geography of where people lived.
The story in Genesis 26 talks about Isaac living in a land of the Philistines called Gerar. Isaac moved to Gerar because there was drought and that was a very normal practice in those days, if you don’t have water in your land you move to the land where there is water. If the wells dry up in your land, you go to a land where the wells have water.
It is also important for us to know that 90 years before this time, his father Abraham had also gone to the land of Gerar to build wells so this situation of looking for water was not new to Isaac.
When Isaac went to Gerar, he went searching for the wells that Abraham had dug 90 years before. Wells that had provided water for his father before. Then he realized that the Philistines had stopped those wells from producing water. He dug those wells again but there is no report that he found water in those wells. Wells that produced water in the days of Abraham could not produce water in the days of Isaac. Some times, things that work in a particular season may not work in another season. What worked for somebody may not work for you.
So Isaac moved further and started digging new wells and this time Isaac servants found water. You can imagine how they must have felt when they found water. Water was scarce it was more precious than crude oil. They were so excited but that was where opposition arose. Isaac faced opposition with his first well so he called it ‘Esek‘ which means ‘to fight or struggle’. It is a word used to describe those who fight with you over what you have and struggle with you over it. They can’t stand it when you find water.
Isaac was not a citizen of Gerar, if you know much of the Bible you will know that the Philistines and the Israelites were always having conflicts so this is more or less enemy territory. The people came and fought with him for it and Isaac was no match for them so he lost this place and called it struggle or fight.
Isaac was not discouraged, he dug a second well and also lost it. He called this second well ‘Sitnah’ which means ‘to lie in wait to attack’. Which means they were lying in wait for him to find water and they pounced on him and attacked him. It is very interesting that the root word for Sitnah is the same for Satan.
It means an adversary or someone who opposes you. We can say therefore that this was a Satanic attack. They waited for Isaac to do all the hard work and they took his well from him. If you were Isaac by this time you begin to see a pattern – you work hard and find water, people fight over it and you loose it.
The you dig again and there is water and you lose it. It would seem as if there is a plan of Satan to frustrate your success and he inspires people to contend with you over the things that God opens for you.
So far Isaac isn’t making progress but he is not discouraged, he moves on and starts digging again. My imagination is that he moved to a place that was very dangerous for the Philistines to follow. He moved further down to a virgin territory and this time he found water and he waited for Philistines to come and no one came. He finally concluded that this one is different so he calls the name of the place ‘Rehoboth’ which means ‘a wide and open place’. No enemies around, No contentions, no struggle, Isaac says “The Lord has made room for us”.
- And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.
- The first thing Rehoboth represents is “a path, a street”
When God gives you a Rehoboth, it is as if he has made a path for you, Rehoboth is when God makes a way for you and gives you access. It is similar to when God links you to the right person or God gives you access to something desirable.
- Rehoboth means a plaza
A plaza is an open square, a place of opportunity, the market place.
In every town, there will always be the open square or market place where people gather. That is Rehoboth, it is a place for trading, it is a place where you are able to take what you have to the market place.
- may the lord bring you to your open field and open space.
- It seems as if you have struggled and struggled but God is bringing you to an open field and making a way for you.
When God makes room for us, He gives us two things
Rehoboth is not the fruitfulness, Rehoboth gives you the capacity to be fruitful. Isaac is saying “previously, I didn’t have opportunities but now God is giving me a space where I can showcase and put together the things that are in my heart”. Many times in life, you find out you have so much potential but no access, no opportunity.
- May the Lord bring you to the place where struggles will cease and fight will cease and opponents, contenders will cease and this time your wells will remain to provide water for you.
If you look at what Isaac said there are two things
- What God does – “He makes room for us”
One of these days, God will bring you to a place where there will be nobody to fight. When God makes room for you, God has made room for you it doesn’t matter who is angry about it, they can’t do anything about it. It may be in the lowest part of the valley.
- God is about to draw the city to wherever you are instead of you going to the city. The people are about to follow you where you are.
- What we do – “we will be fruitful in the land”.
Rehoboth is an empty space that God gives you, it is not a planted field. It is just wells of water not fruits. It is not a flourishing field it is an empty field. When God makes room for you, you must be careful not to interpret it as you becoming fruitful. It’s just an open field. It’s like having an irrigated land, it doesn’t mean that you have a fruitful land, it means that you have a land that can support agriculture.
A Rehoboth means opportunity and access, when God gives you Rehoboth you don’t fold your hands and say “It is finished”. God does something and we do something too. God’s favour requires man’s labour. When God favours me, I must labour. When people say favour not labour, I understand why they say that but that is not the pattern of Scripture. It is favour and labour. Favour is Rehoboth, “We shall be fruitful” is labour. When God favours you, you don’t fold your arms, you work like crazy. When God opens a door for you, you don’t just sing and rejoice. You run like crazy through the open door. When God gives you access, you don’t become lazy.
Many of us God gave us Rehoboth but we are not fruitful because we thought that the Rehoboth was the Fruitfulness. You pray and pray and God gives you the scholarship to go to school and then you are crazy not to learn. You prayed for God to give you a job and you were crazy on the job that you didn’t work hard and you got fired. You had your Rehoboth but you were not fruitful. God’s favour is your Rehoboth, We shall be fruitful is your labour. We must labour. As a pastor I must labour in the scriptures. I can’t pray for God to give me a word and not dig the scriptures. I have to labour and study like crazy because the anointing without labour is frustration. We have many anointed lazy people. I don’t believe in sweetness victory, I don’t see it anywhere in scripture. By the time you become successful, you should be panting.
- May God give you Rehoboth and may you labour like crazy.
When God gives us Rehoboth, we must plant on the land. God’s presence must be established. The first thing Isaac did when he saw no one was contending with him on this well is that he planted an altar. By planting an altar on the land, he was planting himself on that land. He planted an altar, he planted himself and then he planted a seed.
When we plant we must protect what we plant because they may not contend with your water, they will contend with your fruits. You must always be on the look out for contenders. Don’t just plant, keep watch.
I will conclude with a promise of God in Zechariah 8:3-5
- Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.
- Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
- And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
Why did I choose this verse? Because the word that is translated ‘streets’ is Rehoboth. God says I am going to give Jerusalem open spaces and the streets will be filled with old men, women, boys and girls.
There are two things about this verse
I. God says “I will return”.
- I declare to someone, there will be a return.
Isaac went to Gerar to dig the wells of Abraham. The wells of Abraham did not give him water but God gave him water.
What you hope to give you water may not give you water because God wants to open something fresh, something new in your life. There will be a return.
II. There will be Fullness
Rehoboth is an empty space but God fills it with substance.
- You will not just have opportunity, your opportunities will be fruitful.
- You will not just have open streets you will have open streets filled with people.
You are not in this battle alone, the Lord God fights for you. They may contend and win some.
- You are entering a new season, they will not even show up because the Lord will make room for you.
- I decree a season of open fields for you, access for you. Enter your plaza, enter your market places.
- You will return and that which used to be empty will be full for you
- You will not just be a person of potential, you will be a person of fulfillment. He who opened the door will also fill the place.
- May your shop be full, may your home be full, may your enterprise be full.
- May God arise and contend with those who contend with you, may He build a wall of fire around you.
Speak to the Lord and say “Lord make room for me, take me to a place where I can flourish”. Just talk to the Lord.