Fruitfulness in the Land of Affliction

“And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Gen 41:51-52

The greatest peril that comes to believers is usually during times of prosperity. It is so easy to be distracted by “success” and forget the dream when everything is going well, and you have few problems. One only needs to compare Jesus’ words to the church of Smyrna (the crushed church) with His words to the Laodiceans (the church where the people rule) to see that prosperity poses a greater threat to spirituality than persecution.

The same God that delivers us from prison will deliver us from prosperity. However, deliverance will require our obedience and willingness to accept deliverance. What will release you from prison is forgiveness and servanthood. What will deliver you from prosperity is fairness and balance.

When elevated, Joseph did not set about to use his position for self-promotion but rather for kingdom promotion. We must view fruitfulness as an opportunity to promote God’s purpose instead of building our own kingdom. We are ambassadors representing the kingdom of God. His interests must always precede our own. Our goals should be kingdom goals.

When we focus upon being a benefit for God’s kingdom, it frees the Lord to fulfill our dreams. Without a willingness to place God first in our lives, we have limited God’s ability to fulfill our dreams. The dreams God gives will always benefit His kingdom and therefore they can only be fulfilled in the lives of the kingdom minded.

The Source of Fruitfulness

“The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” Prov 10:22

Those who become spiritually plagued by prosperity might well wonder the source of such “blessing.” The enemy has been known to use God’s blessing in order to distract believers from their purpose and rob their dream. God will test those who He blesses and many times the blessing itself can become a test of our faithfulness.

There are two important things to remember in times of fruitfulness:

      • The source of your blessing is God – maintain your relationship.
      • The purpose of your blessing is God’s – maintain your perspective.

Those who pass the test of prosperity are those who steadfastly remain committed to God’s kingdom. The kingdom minded are those who refuse to allow their blessings to distract them from their purpose.

“And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.” Gen 41:46

A mature and prison-tested young man stood before Pharaoh at the beginning of the seven years of plenty. A seasoned and prosperity-tested man led the nation into the seven years of famine. What allowed Joseph to survive the years of fruitfulness without losing his vision? When Joseph stepped away from the palace and out of the presence of Pharaoh, he never forgot who he represented. Joseph was Pharaoh’s agent but God’s servant. Joseph remained kingdom minded even when he was not in the palace.

You will never pass the test of prosperity unless you can remain kingdom minded when you go about your daily business. Are you able to remember who you represent and who you serve? You represent God’s kingdom and you are the Lord’s servant. You must maintain that perspective even when experiencing fruitfulness and things are going well. It is important for you to remember whose ring you wear and whose chariot you ride in. The source of your authority is not your own; it comes from the one you serve. If you fail to represent His interests and promote His kingdom, you are an unfaithful servant. You cannot represent His interest and promote His kingdom while pushing your own agenda and your own kingdom.

Using the blessing wisely means rewarding the producers.

“And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls. And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.” Gen 41:47-48

Joseph laid up the surplus in the region that produced it. God’s blessing should be bread to the eater and seed to the sower (Isa 55:10). It is not the kingdom way to take God’s blessing from one and redistribute it to another. It is counter-productive to reward the non-producers and penalize the producers. This is the way men operate and think – not God. God rewards the fruitful; He does not penalize them!

When you are fruitful:

      • Pay God first – Tithes are called firstfruits. It isn’t firstfruits if God gets dealt His share last. Giving firstfruits acknowledges the true source of fruitfulness.
      • Then pay yourself … something!
      • Pay your obligations.
      • Set aside for the future. What you produce today might be either bread today or seed for the future.

What God Does When We Forgive

“And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Gen 41:50-52

The lessons of prison prepared Joseph for the palace. “Before the years of famine came …” Fruitfulness is a time for us to raise up our spiritual legacy. Sadly, many are too busy gathering fruit for themselves instead of producing fruit to bless others. The world will soon forget how much money you leave behind, but a godly heritage in your children will remain a strong kingdom influence for many years.

Joseph had much invested in the prison years. It was a time of forgiving those who had wronged him and serving others. Joseph forgave, but only God could make him forget. Joseph forgave, but only God could make him fruitful.

“For God, said he, hath made me forget …” (vs. 51)

 “For God hath caused me to be fruitful …” (vs. 52)

 We confuse the release of debt (forgiveness) with the inner healing that can only come from God. We have the power to forgive, but only God can make us forget. Our thinking is that if we have “really forgiven,” then the bad memories and inner wounds should be gone. Not so. Forgiveness is a decision we make; healing is a gift God brings. We must forgive, but only God can minister healing. And we must give Him permission to do so.

The question really is: Are you willing to surrender your cherished hurts to God? Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a decision. However, receiving inner healing and spiritual wholeness requires us allowing God to remove the painful memories of the toil and suffering that came through our injuries.

“And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.” Gen 41:51

God can make us forget our loneliness and the toil of carrying inner wounds due to others, but we must allow Him to do so.

Receiving wholeness after suffering from the sins of others is a two-step process. First, we must forgive those who have wronged us. Next, we must release the victim mentality so that God can heal our inner wounds. The first is always much easier that the second. We feel that we have earned the “right” to be a victim, but we forget that we have also victimized others through our actions. We have a right to feel the way we do because we have earned it through our suffering. To be made whole requires us to release our “right” to be a victim and allow God to minister healing and forgetting.

We must continue to make the decision to forgive until God ministers healing and allows us to forget. Jesus said that we must forgive seven times seventy in one day. We understand this to mean that we must stand and be slapped in the face 490 times in one day and forgive each blow. I suggest that it means we must make the decision to forgive the first blow 490 times or as many times as the memory returns. In addition, I suggest that we get away so that we do not continue to be slapped!

We cannot make ourselves forget, but if we release our “right” to feel hurt, we also release God to minister blessed forgetfulness. Joseph made the decision to forgive his brothers each morning he awoke in prison. All through the day he made that same decision repeatedly. Eventually his forgiveness brought him out of prison.

But being free from prison does not make one free from the convict mentality. We might be physically away from a situation of abuse but if we cling to our cherished hurts, we allow the enemy to imprison us mentally. We must not only get free of prison, but we must release the prison mentality by surrendering our hurts to God. Before you can realize your potential and become fruitful for God, you must experience the inner healing and wholeness that comes from the Lord. If we do not forgive, God cannot make us forget and when we reproduce, it will be other little wounded prisoners like ourselves.

Becoming Fruitful in the Land of Affliction

“And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Gen 41:52

Ephraim means “doubly fruitful.” Joseph would have been one tribe in Israel, yet God made him doubly fruitful and he became two tribes. The story of Joseph’s life is a story of fruitfulness.

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)” Gen 49:22-24

God made Joseph doubly fruitful even in the land of his captivity. The archers sorely grieved him, shot at him, and hated him, yet his bow abode in strength! Joseph’s arms were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob. Joseph became a fruitful bough by a well. His branches ran over the wall, weighted down with luscious fruit.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psa 1:1-3

God ministered the healing that allowed Joseph to forget and be free from the convict mentality. So often people are set free from prison only to live life as a former convict, complete with the victim mentality. Without inner healing we will never be free from the past. We will view all the most important relationships in life through the memories of those who hurt us in the past.

But God wants us to be doubly fruitful in the land of affliction. The world says if you change one’s environment you will change the individual. God’s way is to change the individual and watch him change the environment. The victim mentality blames its failures on the environment, or how they were raised, or how others treated them, or etc. But allowing God to heal and bring wholeness frees us from the mentality that blames others for our actions. And God can make us fruitful in the land of affliction.

Jesus said: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). This promise does not have anything to do with other circumstances around us. If we forgive others and surrender to the Lord, He will make us forget and make us fruitful.

There are so many stories of individuals who overcame their circumstances through surrendering to God in faith. How would you like to be named “Pain”? 1 Chronicles 4 tells us the story of a man named Jabez or “he causes pain.” His mother named him this. Jabez was born in the days of judges when every man did what was right in his own eyes. Perhaps the name has to do with the circumstances surrounding his conception; perhaps it refers to his delivery and entrance into the world. What an ignoble beginning to life in a time of spiritual instability! His mother transmitted the sorrow and pain of her life into this boy at his birth. And yet Jabez surrendered it all to God by faith. And God heard and answered his prayer. Jabez became a fruitful vine in a barren land.

We could speak to you of a Gentile prostitute named Rahab, who surrendered her past to the Lord. We don’t know Rahab’s past other than the profession she had come to know. Surely there was much pain and suffering that would drive a woman to choose such a trade. And yet Rahab surrendered her past to God and became a great woman of faith. The name Rahab is included in faith’s hall of fame in Hebrews chapter eleven, as well as the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. God can take our affliction and produce fruitfulness, if we are able to surrender our past to Him. We must release to God the “right” to feel afflicted and abused.

Summary:

The greatest peril that comes to believers is usually during times of prosperity. It is so easy to be distracted by “success” and forget the dream when everything is going well, and you have few problems.

But the same God that delivers us from prison will deliver us from prosperity. Deliverance will require our obedience and willingness to accept deliverance. What will release you from prison is forgiveness and servanthood. What will deliver you from prosperity is fairness and balance.

The sins of others can cause us to be placed either in slavery or in prison. The way to freedom is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness will bring your deliverance, but only God can grant wholeness. We must continue day-by-day making the decision to forgive. And we must surrender to the Lord the right to feel wronged so that He can bring inner healing and make us whole.

Who needs this message of total healing? Those who have been estranged from other family members for any length of time. Those who have been involved in an abusive relationship. Those who have suffered the tragedy of divorce. Those who have suffered sexual abuse. Victims of violent crime. Those who have suffered betrayal or infidelity from their spouse. Almost anyone who has encountered something that caused them to accept the victim mentality.

After God ministers healing and blessed amnesia, He can make us fruitful. Fruitfulness does not depend so much on our environment as it depends on the faithfulness of the One from whom all blessings flow. The greatest stories of the Bible are of those who God made to forget and caused to be fruitful. It does not matter where you are from, your background, or the things in life you have encountered. What matters is your ability to forgive others and to trust God to bring healing and fruitfulness. We must release the past that we might enjoy a time of fruitfulness. Dwelling on past injustices has imprisoned so many and robbed them of their God-given dream.

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