PART 14 – TO BEAR FRUIT WE MUST BE PLANTED – PREPARED TO BE DESPISED (12/5/20)
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‘But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him… So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing’ (Genesis Genesis 37:18;23)
"Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me." (John 12:24-26)
What does it mean to be planted?
In summary, it means to die to ourselves and live for Jesus. In the Joseph story, we see, firstly, that to be planted was to be prepared to be despised.
Joseph was despised by his brothers and rebuked by his father for the dreams God had given to him. Joseph’s persecution in the first instance came upon him and had nothing to do with his willingness to suffer for God. However, later on in the story, his refusing to have an affair with Potiphar’s wife, is an active choice to worship God that leads to his being attacked.
Being Despised is about people's thoughts toward us. Joseph, like Jesus, was like a seed that was planted into a kind of death. Joseph’s ‘death’ would lead to the salvation of his family and many in Egypt. If we, like Joseph and, ultimately, like Jesus, want to bear fruit for God, we must be ‘planted’ by being prepared to be despised.
Christians will be despised
‘You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…’ (2 Timothy 3:10-12).
If we, like Joseph, seek to live ‘a godly life in Christ Jesus’ we will be persecuted on occasion. Let’s spend a moment thinking about this phrase.
‘A godly life’
A ‘godly life’ is a life that is imitating God. If we seek to honour God in our thoughts, words and deeds, we will be admired by some and hated by others. A Christian’s stance on marriage, on sexuality, on the sanctity of life, on honesty, on honouring the government, on generosity, on putting family above work, on celibacy whilst unmarried… will cause some to despise us. Many espouse tolerance until they are confronted by people who think differently to them!
‘A godly life in Christ Jesus’
Secondly, a ‘godly life’ is to be lived ‘in Christ Jesus’. We are not just seeking to be moral or do good. Many are happy with a Christian or a church that serves the community, and of course we should do this; however, what people are not so prepared to accept is that we do good for the glory of God. We do good for the sake of the mission - to bring people to salvation. We are not people who just hold to traditional values. Our lives are lived ‘in Christ Jesus’ and this can lead to persecution. To live ‘a godly life in Christ Jesus’ is to believe that everyone, equally, is a sinner and needs the forgiveness that comes through the cross alone. It is to believe that people who are ‘liberal/progressive/left…’ or ‘conservative/traditionalists/on the right…’ equally, are under God’s wrath and need forgiveness through Jesus.
We, like Joseph, are not to go looking for a fight. We are not to seek to provoke people. We are to be wise and,
'As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.' (Romans 12:18).
However, are we seeking to ‘live a godly life in Christ Jesus’? Is your life godly? Is your godliness based upon biblical teaching? Is your godliness built upon Jesus - His teachings? Sharing His message? Relying on His gift of righteousness through faith?
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY – TO BE FRUITFUL WE MUST BE PREPARED TO BE PLANTED.
Have you ever had the experience of doing something that you really didn't want to do only to find unexpected joy or reward in some way?
Introduction - please read in your group
Please read Genesis 37:18 and John 12:24-26
Joseph, like Jesus, was like a seed that was planted into a kind of death. Joseph’s ‘death’ would lead to the salvation of his family and many in Egypt. If we, like Joseph and, ultimately, like Jesus, want to bear fruit for God, we must be ‘planted’.
What does it mean to be planted?
In summary, it means to die to ourselves and live for Jesus. In the Joseph story, we see three aspects to being planted:
1. Despised – To be planted means to be prepared to be despised. Being Despised is about people's thoughts toward us. Like Jesus, and Joseph, if we are not prepared to be despised for our faith, we will not bear fruit.
2. Darkness – To planted means to suffer darkness. Darkness is about people's actions toward us. It's to suffer loss for what we believe: loss of a job, reputation, overlooked for promotion, hate on-line... If we are not prepared for people to treat us badly for our faith, we will not bear fruit for God.
3. Destination – To be planted means to embrace God's destination. Joseph was taken to Egypt. Jesus left heaven, came to earth and went to the cross. If we will only go or stay in places that are about our own comfort, we will not bear fruit for God.
In summary, Jesus put it very strongly,
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
Discuss together – What of these three aspects (Despised, darkness or destination) have you experienced or do you find the most challenging and why?
Discuss/share/pray in smaller groups:
What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about (maybe from Sunday's message)?
What will you do in response?
How can we pray for you?
Please share from this week’s Church News