Let’s explore the lives of Joseph and Isaac to find the keys to a fruitful life. Isaac and Joseph were tested and faced extreme difficulties, yet God made them prosper. Their lives are a prophetic message to us that we need in the times of financial, spiritual and national adversity.
It is possible to be fruitful when there is a ‘famine in the land’. God says about the righteous man and woman: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)
Today, we face adverse circumstances in Britain but will bear fruit because we serve a supernatural God! In times of Isaac there was a famine in the land. Yet God told Isaac, “Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.” (Genesis 26:3)
Isaac made his living from cattle and I am sure that every inch of him cried to look for greener pastures. Isaac chose to believe God but what happened to him? “Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him.” (Genesis 26:12-13)
It is possible to have a hundredfold harvest even in time of famine. Our God is the Lord over all circumstances. Isaac knew he had a covenant with God and that God would keep his covenant. He chose to obey God.
God has made a covenant with you. If you keep your covenant with him, you can sow your seed and reap a hundredfold harvest during a famine, like Isaac did!
But not every Christian seems to receive a hundredfold harvest. What are the principles that we need to apply to receive our harvest? Studying the life of Joseph who was sold into slavery but became the right-hand man of the pharaoh gives us four major principles that we need to apply to prosper in adverse circumstances.
Prince Joseph, a fruitful vine
When Jacob blessed his sons after the family had been reunited with Joseph he proclaimed over Joseph and his offspring: “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed supple, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the ageold hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.” (Genesis 49:22-26)
You must understand that it is the blessing of God that precedes fruitfulness. Joseph had been called and blessed by God. He was fruitful because God had blessed him first. God blessed Adam and Eve first and then asked them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:26-27).
You have already been blessed by God. I challenge you to study your Bible this year to find all the blessings and promises God has in store for you. That is not greed. You can never be too hungry for the blessings of God! But don’t do just that. Find out what the conditions attached to these blessings are to ensure that you will be able to receive them.
Joseph had to face many difficulties: hostility, opposition, bitterness and jealousy of his brothers. His enemies seemed to be always out there to destroy him. In fact, even his brothers seemed to be his enemies! Thank God that that the curse of the devil isn’t effective over anyone whom God has blessed! The blessing of God will always overcome the curse! It will enable you to climb over the walls of confinement.
God blessed Joseph with the breakthrough blessing and with the ability to enable others to reach their calling. God blessed Joseph to save his brothers, to save Israel.
Dig your roots deep in the communion and fellowship with God. If you do so, he will enable you to break out of the walls of confinement that the people and the devil have set around you. The devil always brings the spirit of confinement around us but the blessing of God gives us the ability to break out as if the walls of confinement didn’t exist.
There are four important lessons related to fruitfulness that we can learn from the life of Joseph.
1)Dream God’s dreams “Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’” (Genesis 37:9)
God gave Joseph the ability to dream godly dreams. Joseph was only 17 but he already had the ability to see the future God had set for him. Joseph was ‘naïve’ enough to believe in what God had shown. Like Joseph, we need to persist in the childlike faith when we dream our God-given dreams.
God can give you his dream in many different ways. Often he will simply point you towards the right direction and place something on the inside of you that you will find hard to express but that will not fade away. It could be a blessing, a recurring dream, a vision, a dream of fruitfulness, but it will be a dream that only you can fulfil!
Jacob gave Joseph the coat of many colours. The coat wasn’t a fashion statement but the robe of sonship. It marked him out to be the inheritor, as the first-born son.
Your inheritance is larger than you could ever imagine! Jesus is the heir of the kingdom of God and we are co-heirs with him. Paul sees the heavenly vision and testifies, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20)
I am sure that Joseph could never have imagined himself as the right-hand man of the pharaoh. God’s dream for him was bigger than he could have ever imagined. The same applies to you. Your dream for you isn’t big enough. Only God’s dream is big enough!
2)Share your dream wisely “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.” (Genesis 37:5) Joseph was naïve when he shared his dream with his brothers. In a complex family situation where there were twelve sons from two wives and two servant girls there was going to be some jealousy if someone declared himself to be the greatest in the family. His brothers misinterpreted the God-given dream as arrogance and self-exaltation, and maybe some of that could be found in Joseph’s heart. The brothers weren’t ready for God’s dream to be manifested in Joseph’s life. No wonder, as it would take years before Joseph was ready to step into the dream! Don’t share your dream with everybody. Let God-given dreams mature in your heart. There will always be a gestation period, the time to make you ready for the dream. The dream will direct your steps but the people around might not have the faith of God to see your future.
3)Be faithful despite everything
Joseph stood firm when he was tested and God sustained him no matter what he faced. Stand firm in times of trial. Joseph faced more trials than most of us could ever imagine. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and was shut in a prison for years – it all must have seen far away from the promises of God. Yet, this all was part of God’s plan and Joseph seems to have understood that. Read what he tells his brothers when he reveals his true identity:
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-8)
God was able to lead Joseph to his destiny, even through slavery and prison. Like Joseph, let the vision of God expand to every area and circumstance in your life this year! God is in control over all circumstances in your life, no matter how bad things look. And, resist sin – always.
The devil set a trap to Joseph in Potiphar’s household. The trap was Potiphar’s wife and her lust for Joseph (Genesis 39). Joseph was well-built and handsome and she wanted to sleep with him. Yet, regardless of all the privileges Joseph would have received he knew that sleeping with her would cost him his inheritance and God’s dream for his life. He resisted the temptation and was thrown to a prison.
Like Joseph, always say no to sin, no matter what the consequences. If you have said yes to a temptation, repent, and God will restore you!
Joseph wasn’t only tested through temptations. God also tested him through servanthood. Joseph served other people for years but knew that at the right time God would lift him up, if he would only serve God and people. He served Potiphar who was hardly the most righteous person around! There is a revelation for many of us. He served another man’s vision with all his capability.
The surest way of seeing your vision fulfilled is to line up with someone else’s vision and serve that vision! At KT we have received much better vision than Potiphar’s. It is a godly vision to make disciples. Fulfil this vision and God’s dream for you will be fulfilled.
4)Learn to use your gifts to the full
God has given unique gifts to every member of the body of Christ. That includes you. There is a work that only you will be able to do! Like in our body, there are no two members in the body of Christ that are exactly alike. Be yourself – not someone else. God has given you talents on one condition: make use of them!
In Joseph’s case, he was able to dream dreams. Yet, it was the very gift that God had given to him that got him into trouble. Regardless, he didn’t forsake his gift. In prison, he kept on dreaming, and it was his gift that finally unlocked the door to his destiny.
Your gift is the key that opens the door to your destiny. Develop and work hard on your gift and God will open the door to your destiny.
5)Forgive those who hurt you and work against you
“If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’” (Zechariah 13:6)
The hardest strikes to forget and forgive are those by our Christian brothers and sisters. They should have known better! But if this happens to us, we will not be the first ones. Joseph was sold to slavery by his own brothers. What did he do? He chose to forgive them. It must have been fathomable to Joseph why the Midianites sold him to slavery in Egypt. That was part of their business plan. But his brothers!
Eventually, God took him to a position where it would have been easy to revenge but Joseph understood that bitterness would choke the fruitfulness of his heart and chose to forgive. He chose to see with the eyes of Christ. As Christ has forgiven us we should forgive others.
The apostle Paul tells that anger and bitterness will give the devil a foothold, bringing destruction to our soul. He says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Unforgiveness redirects your energy away from productive living to destructive behaviour. It rebounds on you and opens the door to enemy activity. It is fundamentally ungodly. Forgive those who have betrayed you and spoken against you. If God is for you who can prevail against you! He will fight your battles, and you will prosper, even in times of adversity, like today.