Today, as I begin praying for those in my life who do not know the Lord (but assume they do), the Spirit led me to Jesus parable in Luke 13."A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' " 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' " Lk. 13: 6-9Though this parable is primarily about Christ interceding for Israel, the principle still holds. We, who have been working hard in the vineyard for many years, tending the soil and caring for the trees, are all too aware of the unfruitful tree - our modern unbelieving Israel. We see a lot of signs of active life, but we cannot see much fruit - love, joy, peace, patience... We see many who display a form of godliness, but without the power. We hear the approaching drumbeat of coming judgment and realize that the harvest is coming. The axe is already at the root
The three years are up and nothing seems to have changed. We see a lot of bushy green branches without fruit. We also realize that the soil's moisture and nutrients are quickly being absorbed by the barren tree.This is a time where many temptations can easily overcome us. We get fed up. Our patience wanes. We get angry when the outgrowth of unfruitfulness falls on us. We may shake our heads and shrug our shoulders. Or we may get sleepy and slothful. We may decide to make the best of it - just hangout in the shade of the leafy green branches, and enjoy the meagre blessings. Perhaps we withdraw into passivity and spend our free time dreaming of the ideal fellowship where there is lots of good fruit to enjoy, and we will always be treated well. One of the most subtle temptations is to crave for immediate judgment rather than plead for just one more year of mercy. We wish God would quickly bring on the end, and clean it all up - like he promised: Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away. Jn. 15:2 But the godly intercessor keeps on pleading for just one more year - even if the possibility of a turn-around is slim, and even if it costs him his life. The ultimate test of the intercessor's heart desire is revealed in his actions. He is determined to give that tree another go, no matter what it takes. He is going to get on his work boots and get out the shovel; he is going to get sweaty. He is going to dig around that useless tree and fertilize it.This is the picture of true intercession: It is not only pleading with God for one more year. It is also placing ourselves squarely between the sinner and certain divine judgment. [inter- + cedere, to go] It is using whatever God-given ability we have been entrusted with in order to facilitate fruit-bearing growth. One plants and another waters. Ultimately it is God who will gather in the harvest; but the question to each of us is this: Are we still faithfully interceding, or have we grown weary. Remember, by God's mercy, we have just "one" more year. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal. 6:8Diane
Diane,Your post reminded me of Matthew 24:12: "and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." This is what I struggle with for the same reason outlined in your post. Then I remember this verse and it tells me I cannot give up because doing so indicates a coldness on my part. I need a divine infusion of his love. Then I recall what the Holy Spirit so clearly told me once when I was in the throes of deep discouragement: "You be mom and let me be God!" Yes, God knows ALL about it and I am just to relax and love, and love and love and love and love.......ginnyrose
I just would like to say that is awesome thing you have written roadsign and thanks for writing it...it has encouraged and blessed me.... :-)
recall what the Holy Spirit so clearly told me once when I was in the throes of deep discouragement: "You be mom and let me be God!" Yes, God knows ALL about it and I am just to relax and love, and love and love and love and love.......
Our intercessions for others are deeply affected by our assessment of their spiritual condition. If we falsely assume salvation, then our prayer (deep desire) for them may actually be a hindrance. We may wish to protect their assurance, not realizing that it is false. We may wish to avoid an upheaval in their lives produced by their discovery of self-deception. We may be praying against the very trials the Lord has brought into their lives in order to induce repentance. Without realizing it, our intercession may actually be an attempt to keep sinners from ever knowing Gods mercy. In this way we are actually inviting judgment rather than mercy! That is an antichrist spirit!John Wesley would go through scripture after scripture destroying peoples assurance of salvation. Little wonder that there were times that 3000 would be left on the ground on their face in agony before God. Wesley was a true intercessor. Intercession is costly. It is risky.What might be some risks and costs that we encounter when we live a life of true intercession? How might our intercessions be ungodly, or ineffective?Diane
Thanks DianeThis really spoke to me. I've never seen this parrable in this context! And it does speek hard if we do.It is so true, that we would rather want someone to be given over and that he or she would leave us, than do what the Lord does and wants. To intercede. Like Moses who did not fear for his own life, but pleaded with God for Israel - even though they deserved the damnation and was giving him,Moses, a hard time. A little while back the Lord spoke to me while reading the book: The kneeling christian - by an unknown christian! In the old testamant God wondered that there was no intercessors and now in the new testament, after Christ and all His wonderful promises regarding prayer, He marvelled at our unbelief. That's what we need more. And that is me in my life to: Believing PrayerLove in ChristJanus
DianeThis spoke to me even more!
Our intercessions for others are deeply affected by our assessment of their spiritual condition. If we falsely assume salvation, then our prayer (deep desire) for them may actually be a hindrance. We may wish to protect their assurance, not realizing that it is false. We may wish to avoid an upheaval in their lives produced by their discovery of self-deception. We may be praying against the very trials the Lord has brought into their lives in order to induce repentance. Without realizing it, our intercession may actually be an attempt to keep sinners from ever knowing Gods mercy. In this way we are actually inviting judgment rather than mercy! That is an antichrist spirit!