God desires fruitfulness and has made provision for it. John 15:1-8
The father’s desire is that we should bear first fruits that remain. And the good news is that, this is not solely dependent on us. As John 15:16 assures us,
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
Christian theology teaches us that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man. “No man can come to me,” said our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” – John 6:44. It all begins and ends with God.
1. Find out What God is Doing and Join Him
One of the writers that have influenced my thoughts and helped me to understand the “previous-ness” of God is Henry Blackaby. In his book Experiencing God, he explains that God is already at work and the greatest means to effectiveness is finding out what God is doing and joining Him in it
I went back to Cameroon in December 2013 and on January 6th, 2014; I opened the DAI office for Cameroon. Joining the Lord in His work has been my experience in the first year of starting the office and I am looking forward to a greater partnership with Him. As our main text stated
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing”. John 15:5
All is of God, for as von Hugel teaches, God is always previous. (Taken from A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God)
Take these examples from scripture:
Paul: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” Acts 16:9
Ananias: “There was a follower of Jesus in Damascus named Ananias. In a vision the Lord said to him, ‘Ananias!’ Ananias answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight Street. Find the house of Judas and ask for a man named Saul from the city of Tarsus. He is there now, praying. He has seen a vision in which a man named Ananias came and laid his hands on him so that he could see again.'” Act 9:10-12
These men changed their world because their relationship with God went beyond how much they had to tell God, to how much they listened to God and watched to know where He was at work.
2. Respond to God’s Previous Working with Faith and Works
In practice, God’s previous working must meet man’s present response for us to be effective.
Our response is twofold – faith (Heb. 11:6) and works (James 2:14-20).
Am I now saying that we should wait on visions and dreams, like Paul and Ananias before we act?
God is previous in His promises as well and here I am talking about the Scriptures.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Psalm 2:8
These are all sure promises that we can lay hold of in our desire and work to bear fruits that remain. Daniel found out that the record of scripture was a sure foundation to use in beseeching God for a change of circumstances. Is that not what we desire – transformation in our nations?
In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: (Dan 9:2-3)
3. Praying God’s Will
This is another place where God’s previous working must meet man’s present response – the place of prayer and action when He tells us to do something.
This is what the Lord GOD says: “I will also let the family of Israel come to me and ask me to do these things for them (ERV) Ezek. 36:37
The issue is not how much we are praying but what we are praying. Are we aligning ourselves to the revealed will of God or letting our doubts and unbelief shape our words and therefore our world?
The more I find out what God is doing and align my thoughts, words and action with that, the more I have seen His manifest presence in my life producing results. It is as if I am stumbling into effectiveness. I know I plan but what is happening in DAI Cameroon right now, I am not wise enough to have known how to plan it.
The word is effective in producing fruits. I am not sure how it works but it does. The more I believe the word in simple faith, and step out expecting God’s intervention, the more I see amazing things happening without a lot of effort on my part.
Take the example of CABTAL. In June 2013, when Uncle Paul Borthwick came to Cameroon for the DAI inaugural meetings, he sent me with a gift to Mr. Efi Tembon, the director for CABTAL, as a way of getting me in the door to see him and introduce DAI to him. With fear and trembling I went. I had something to offer – a book. And yes I was received, and an appointment was made, kind of halfheartedly for 2014. It took me a month to call and confirm that appointment after I opened the DAI Cameroon. And that was because I had Aunty Michele Breene as a result of the SONG program encouraging me to implement what I had written in my strategic plan. Amazingly, I got there and people were coming out of their offices just to greet me. They had been in expectation of my visit. Why? God had been at work without my knowledge. A young lady, Mirjam Möller, that I had met and helped spiritually in Sweden had joined the CABTAL staff in Cameroon and could not stop talking about the impact I had on her life when I visited her country. Then Dr. Shu through whom we run the MAOL program in Cameroon had also been telling CABTAL in his capacity as Board Chairman at the time about my return to Cameroon and what I had to offer in terms of leadership training. That meeting ended with a date for an introductory session with CABTAL leaders to determine what they needed to be trained on and when, in the different regions of Cameroon where CABTAL works.
Another example: the word the Lord gave me for January 1st, 2014 was “you will meet with goodness and mercy.” When I got my brochures ready for printing, I sent that to a friend in Nigeria telling him that I expected favor because that was what the Lord had taught me to expect. I had two weeks before going to Nigeria and when I wrote expecting favor, it was in terms of timing. This is a busy printing house. Having a job done within two weeks will take a miracle, especially if they had not planned for it. The next mail I got however was “How many copies do you need?” with no mention of price. 1000 copies of those brochures were printed and given to me as a contribution to the success of DAI Cameroon.
Testimonies abound of how the Lord has helped me in raising funds because this is His work and He has ways of getting it done. This has not been the result of warfare prayer as we call it but more of communication with the Father -listening to what He says and making a demand based on that – which is really what prayer is about.
They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isa 65:23 – 24
Isaiah 30:18 tells that He waits earnestly, longing to bless us!
And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, and His favor, His love, His peace, His joy and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! (Isaiah 30:18, Amplified Bible)
Working in the divine revelation of what He is already doing is the best way to live and minister.
As we study the scriptures, have you noticed how easy it was for the saints of old to come from the presence of God and work the miraculous? The whole purpose of the first unit of the DAI course Spiritual Formation – “solitude” is meant to restore our passion for God Himself. To bring us back to that place where we can be with Him and hear His voice.
Our fight is not really against the devil – he is a defeated foe.
It is not even against the systems of this world – the Lord has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Our fight is to discipline our minds and bodies and bring them into subjection to the Lord – to cease from our busyness and independence and to come back into that place of abiding, listening and obeying.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. John 15:7-8
About the Author: After working with DAI in Nigeria and Uganda, Emeline Nde moved back to her home country of Cameroon to open a DAI office there. She is the Ministry Center Director of DAI-Cameroon and brings servant leaderships workshops to Christians all across the country. Emeline also is a professor in the MAOL program and serves on DAI’s International Leadership Team.