PART 16 – TO BEAR FRUIT WE MUST BE PLANTED – EMBRACE GOD'S DESTINATION (15/5/20)
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‘His brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.’ (Genesis 37:28)
‘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)
I grew up in Hastings and never dreamt of moving to London; it just had never crossed my mind, and it certainly had never crossed, Helen, my wife’s mind! Through various means I, and then we, became convinced that God was moving us to Putney and we’ve now been here for over 9 years! Where did the time go?
I don’t know if you’ve ever watched one of those programs like ‘Escape to the country’. Many of us make geographical decisions based upon many things, but seeking God’s will can often be lacking.
Joseph was sent by God to Egypt. Jonah was sent to Nineveh and, initially, he really didn’t want to go!
God wants to reach everyone in all nations and therefore His church has got to be prepared to go to all types of people, in all types of places and all nations.
To serve Jesus, we must be prepared to go where we don’t want to go and stay where we don’t want to stay.
When Isaiah met with God, he overhears a question,
‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
How do we respond to God’s question? Will we go for Him? What if that going meant leaving or staying where you are?
I’ll end this devotional with the beautiful words of David,
‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.’ (Psalm 23:1-3)
Joseph, even as he goes to Egypt was being shepherded by our Heavenly Father. Our going or staying is costly, but the promise is that as we follow the shepherd, we will ‘lack nothing…have green pastures…experience quiet waters…’ Joy is found in being where God wants us to be.
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