Are you planning for fruitfulness?
We probably know some these verses by heart:
“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”Jeremiah 29: 11-14.
The question I often get asked is ‘can we do that?’ It sits right in that cauldron of tension between how much is down to us and how much of it is down to the Lord. One thing I’ve discovered over the years is this: Doing nothing because I can’t guarantee the outcomes always leads nowhere. On the other hand, trying something for the Lord may not turn out as I expect, but there is fruitfulness.
I’m living with the reality of this in my garden, right now. If I don’t get in the plants I missed planting last year, then we won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of planting next year. Jesus means what he says when he says things like ‘the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed’. It’s not simply a sermon illustration of a bigger truth. The kingdom of God really does work in that organic way.
So back to my question: Are you planning for fruitfulness?
Both personally and collaboratively, we reap what we sow. In terms of the discipleship cycle, this means if I don’t plant the seed God’s voice has spoken into my heart, I can’t expect to see the fruit. I need to forgive X. I need to share this with Y. I need to ask this of Z. If I merely listen, but don’t look to see where to plant the particular seed and do something about it, then there’s no point moaning that God is not fulfilling the purpose of sending out his word (Isa. 55)
That’s true for me. It’s also true for us. So the church leadership team I heard about this week (from one of them) ‘we’ve spent hours talking about some great plans, but done nothing about any of them’ … will probably not see the fruits of what they’ve heard from God. Of course, God is more gracious than a mathematician who works by formulas. The grace and mercy of God is more generous than anything, or anyone else, I know. But for example … if you don’t plan something this year, as part of Hope 2018 (obviously it doesn’t have to be under this umbrella, but anything, which has the intention of communicating more of the reality of Jesus to a new group of people), then you probably wont share in the fruitfulness many other churches will enjoy.
When it comes to seeing new people come to know Jesus my conclusion is …. (maybe take a deep breath as you wait for this stunning truth) those who want to see someone come to know him are way more likely to see it happen than those who don’t care.
Personally, I’m only living in the foothills of prayer compared to George Muller, but I do find his story more challenging and invigorating than demoralising. I recommend http://www.georgemuller.org/george-muller-pdf-books.html where you’ll find free downloadable inspiration for prayer, but be prepared to be disturbed.