We should give the Lord no rest until we see fruit

“It appears to me that believers generally have expected far too little present fruit from their labors among children. They hope that the Lord will some day confirm their instruction and answer the prayers which they offer up on the children’s behalf. The Bible assures us that in everything we do for the Lord, our labor is not in vain. We have to guard against thinking that it does not matter whether we see present fruit or not. On the contrary, we should give the Lord no rest until we see fruit. Therefore, in persevering yet submissive prayer, we should make our requests known to God. I am now looking for many more children to be converted.”

George Muller

Where is our delight?

“Where is our delight in praying? Where is our sense that we are meeting with the living God, that we are doing business with God, that we are interceding with genuine unction before the throne of grace? When was the last time we came away from a period of intercession feeling that, like Jacob or Moses, we had prevailed with God? How much of our praying is largely formulaic, liberally larded with clichés that remind us, uncomfortably, of the hypocrites Jesus excoriated?”

D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers

Get on your face, pastor

I constantly have to be reminded the Spirit’s role in salvation and sanctification. If there is no Holy Spirit; if there is no divine intervention, my ministry is doomed. I have nothing apart from him. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Nothing. Zero. Zilch. He must save. He must awaken. He must do it.

How difficult it is to rest in these truths! My mind races for new ideas; my heart accuses me in a multitude of ways, as if it were my job to illuminate; the devil lies about God’s sufficiency to do the work– the gaze of my mind is shifted from the thing of God to the things of man, as if the burden of eternal souls was on my back.

A few weeks ago I stood in front of a group of students and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. In one of those rare teaching moments, when you are fully conscious of reality of what’s happening, I urged the students: “Be born again!”

How absurd.

It’s like going to the cemetery and commanding its residents to live. It’s like demanding a deaf person to listen to you. Like pleading with a blind man to “watch.”

Speak life into existence? Me? More likely I could assemble a universe with my bare hands. It’s beyond me. It’s absurd. Talk about mission impossible.

Why do I do this?

Why do I speak the words of God with the hope that it will make dead people live? It makes about as much sense as pleading with a stone to grow legs and walk.

Luke 18:27 is why:

“What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

That verse is a goldmine. That is ministry fuel. That is what I run on. Who is sufficient for these things? God. He is; I’m not. Sometimes we focus in so much on the second part that we forget about the first part– with man it is impossible. Salvation, sanctification, and any kind of real ministry is impossible with man. Man’s innovation is nothing. Man’s technique is nothing. Man’s skill and talent is nothing. Nothing that originates in me is anything. Let that sink in. Where is the power? Where does it come from? Who weilds it? Who dispenses it at his own good pleasure?

God.

Get on your face, pastor, you are attempting the impossible.

Lessons from the School of Prayer (and more)

Gunner Gundersen posted this excellent list of ways to strengthen your prayer life, which are the notes from D.A. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation. My friend Brett already reposted it, but it was so good I figured I repost it here for all my readers (all three of you).

By the way, Gunner’s blog (Raw Christianity) is worth a look. Much wisdom to be found there. Like this and this.

He has a way of being succinct with big truths:

  1. Time flies when you’re having fun, and when you’re wasting time.
  2. Just because you’ve always dreamed of doing something doesn’t mean you should do that something when the opportunity arises.
  3. The finding of balance is a great blessing, and a great problem.
  4. Write from your heart, not for your resumé.
  5. Diligent preparation separates the gifted from the great.
  6. Success is impossible without failure.
  7. Embarrassment is one handmaiden to learning.
  8. Avoiding hard teachers will get you better grades, and you will have your reward in full.
  9. The most contentious moral issues of our day are answered by the wonder, joy, and responsibility of family.
  10. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The Grace of God in My Life Lately

God has been gracious in answering prayers. The biggest, most obvious one has been the renewal of my prayer life, revitalized by The Autobiography of George Muller that I’ve been reading lately.  Seeing the greatness and faithfulness of God in Muller’s life is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever read.  I’ve never come across a book with such an impact on my heart, Bible aside.  It has driven my to my knees with an inflamed passion to pray and draw others to prayer.  If you’ve never read it, you need to.  It will change your life.

Secondly, our meet on the Fallbrook High School campus, IMPACT, was highly attended.  This was a gracious answer to prayer.  Many students got to hear the gospel.  My prayer is that the seed of the gopsel that has been planted would flourish, and that many would be saved.  Nothing is too hard for God.

Also, last night five of us prayed for the youth ministry like we usually do on Wednesday nights.  As soon as we were done praying, several Jr. High students burst into the room, two of whom we had just been praying for by name.  We played a few games and then went and talked about the gospel.  There was one little boy named Louis, who was so afraid of hell that he started to cry and I taught.  His brothers tried to cover his ears, but I told them to let him listen.  I have never seen such a young boy so afraid of hell before.  Eventually I was able to tell everyone about Jesus Christ.  The boy listened intently.  Afterwards, I had him sit next to me.  He began asking questions like “What if I forget?” and “What if I still sin?”  We got to talk about eternal security, and how God forgives our sins and give us the righteousness of Christ.  I told him that the Bible is God’s word to us, and it tells us how we ought to live.  The boy, who was hispanic, and was young enough that he was still learning to read English, told me he would get his brother or his mom to read it to him.

After the meeting ended, the kids left and were beginning to walk home when suddenly I heard them running back up the stairs to our meeting room.  The boys again burst through the door with little Loius, tears now dried up.  He intently asked me, “Can I have a Bible?”  I rejoiced in my heart and gladly gave him one.  And as abruptly as they came, they left.

I am going to finished with a quote from George Muller’s autobiography, which has been a source of encouragement to me:

“It appears to me that believers generally have expected far too little present fruit from their labors among children. They hope that the Lord will some day confirm their instruction and answer their prayers which they offer up on the children’s behalf.  The Bible assures us in that everything we do for the Lord, including bringing up children in the fear of the Lord, our labor is not in vain. We have to guard against thinking that it does not matter whether we see present fruit or not.  On the contrary, we should give the Lord no rest until we see fruit.  Therefore, in persevering yet submissive prayer, we should make our requests known to God.  I am now looking for many more children to be converted.” (pg.  132-133)