“Having a Fruitful Life” by Bobby Roberson
I want to talk to you tonight on this thought: “How We Can Have a Fruitful Life.” Now first of all, I wanted to go to John 15 and see what Jesus said about fruit. You’ve got your Bible open there to John 15.
By the way, before I forget that, one more thing. Frank mentioned tonight about the lady being our oldest member, Granny Anderson. Remember Granny. She’s such a blessing to us. She’s over at Radford West, I believe. Been there sometime. She’s 97 today. I’m going to take her a flower. I can hear her now. “I brought you a flower.”
“I can’t eat that thing, preacher. Give me something to eat.”
So, I may take her something like that. We’ll have a time. Granny’s a blessing. You know she’d always sit right in here. Today is her 97th Birthday. I meant to mention that.
Now notice what Jesus said. He said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it,” He has to trim it up. He has to trim us up, doesn’t He? A whole lot. “…that it may bring forth more fruit.” If you’ll notice, I’m not going to read all of these verses, He’s talking about bringing forth “more fruit.”
Then you come on down in verse number 5, and notice what He said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” and if we abide in Him, in the vine, He said, “…and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.”
If you’ll notice, He talks about “more fruit.” He talks about “much fruit.” Then you come on down to, let me see, there was one more verse that I wanted to mention where He said about the fruit. Let’s look at verse, let’s see, verse number 7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” If you’re bearing fruit.
Now we need to be fruit bearers. Fruit bearers. Now you think about it today. Let’s say you’ve got two apple trees out here, and that one is just standing there. It’s an apple tree. Here’s one that’s got apples on it. This one never has apples. What’s it good for? Well, Christian, listen. You and I are saved to bear fruit for Jesus Christ, and we need to remember that.
I think one of the greatest men in the Bible is Joseph. I think about him, and he was a fruit bearer. Now I’m going to read, in a minute, in the 39th chapter, but I want you to turn to Genesis 39. Now you hold your Bible open right there a minute. Now somebody here may not understand this, all right?
Now Jacob was the daddy. Remember Jacob and Esau, and their daddy was Isaac. Now Jacob, he had twelve sons. You know the twelve tribes of Israel came from him. Okay, now listen. Jacob’s boys were out yonder in the field working. Joseph, his younger boy, he said, “I want you to go see how your brothers are doing.” So, he went out there, and his brothers were jealous of him. Jealousy is an awful sin. His daddy made him a little coat and the other boys didn’t have a coat like him. That made one thing. Then God had given him a gift of dreams. Now listen, back in those days, God spoke through visions and dreams but now He speaks to us through His Word and the third person of the Holy Spirit. Okay.
Now we see, here, Joseph. And he’s obeying his daddy. And he goes out yonder and meets his brothers. His brothers said, “Yonder he comes, yonder he comes.” And he’s going to see how they’re doing. He’s obeying the LORD. Now many times, you and I will do our best to obey the Lord, and then we have troubles that we can’t understand. So his brothers said, “Yonder he comes.” Some of them wanted to kill him and the other said, “Well, no, let’s don’t do that. Let’s put him down in that dungeon.” So they did. They took his coat, the beautiful coat, and they killed an animal, dipped it in blood and said that we’ll tell daddy that we found his coat and that probably an animal killed him. The blood’s on it. Okay.
So, there they’ve got him and here comes some Ishmeelites and they were Egypt, now from Israel. They were going to Egypt. So they come by. So the boys got to talking. They said, “I tell you, let’s just sell him and get some money out of him.” So they brought him out and they sold him for about 20 pieces of silver. So they took him down into Egypt. He gets down there in Egypt and, of course, Pharaoh was the king. Pharaoh’s chief man, so to speak, his captain was named Potiphar.
So, he put him in Potiphar’s house, and he’s in there obeying what he’s supposed to. Potiphar tells him, there’s others working too, and Potiphar’s telling him what to do and so on. So one day his wife, Potiphar’s wife, he wasn’t there, and she grabbed Joseph and said, “Commit adultery with me.” And he jerked loose and said, “No! I cannot sin against God like this.” He said, “Your husband has made me authority over everything here except you. You’re his wife and that’s not right.” So then as he had to go in, day after day, and she grabbed at him one day and he ran and she got his coat. He ran out without his coat. Okay.
Now when her husband came home, then she tells him a lie. She said, “This here Jew that you hired has tried to commit adultery with me and I screamed and so-on and he ran and here’s his coat. All right, now wait a minute. The boss gets him and puts him in prison, and this is amazing. I was reading this this afternoon. Look at this 39th chapter, right here, just the first two verses. Notice now what it says, “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.” And this is amazing, right here. Now this man is honest, straight, and he’s been sold as a slave, but look at that next verse, “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man;…” (Genesis 39:1, 2)
Do you know I’ve read that many times? I was reading it this afternoon, “He was a prosperous man.” That’s hard for me and you to understand isn’t it? Now here’s a man trying to do right. Here’s a man that’s been lied on. Here’s a man that everything…I mean, they sold him, he’s a slave, and yet the Bible said that he was a prosperous man. He was a prosperous man.
Do you know? If you and I are where God wants us, that’s prosperity, that’s prosperity. You see, God has a place for me, and a place for you. God has a will for every one of us. He said, “Don’t be unwise,” in Ephesians. Listen. “…but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Now the Will of the Lord is not always joy. It’s not always the best thing, you know? The Will of the Lord.
I think of a man, now who’s with the Lord, and he was making a good living. He was a member of our church, here, been dead about fifteen, ten years. Anyway, he was making a good living, just him and his wife. He had one child and the child was married, and they had no financial battles. Had a beautiful brick home. He worked and she worked. And somebody said, “Hey, buddy. I know where you can get a second shift working and make some extra money.” He thought, “Boy, that’s God’s Will.” And he took off and did that. He’d get off from one job and go on to another, and he got out of the church. He got out of the church, and he stayed out of church. It went on and on until, then trouble came to his home. His wife left him, and he had nothing. I went to see him, and he got back in church before he died. But do you see what I’m trying to say? That wasn’t prosperous, because that looked good, but it wasn’t what God wanted him to do, and he knew it. He talked about it later.
Now this man is down there in prison. It looked like every way he turned, things went against him and yet, God says, “He’s a prosperous man.” That’s amazing when you read about that and you read on about it. You come on down in that 39th chapter there. It says verses 20 and 21, “And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Now most of us in something like this would say, “I don’t know why God’s turned against me.” But He didn’t do it, did He? It said the LORD was with him.
Folks, let me tell you. I believe, by the grace of God, I’d rather be in the storm with the LORD with me than in the sunshine without Him being with me. That’s the thing. I’m talking about the presence of the LORD. You read that on about him.
Now remember he had a dream that there was a butler and there was a baker. We won’t have time to go into all of this, but if you don’t know the story, read it but they got put in prison with him. Pharaoh the king got mad at them, so he put them in prison. They had a dream one night. The next morning, there in prison and Joseph said, “What are you boys so sad about?” They told him. One of them said, “I had a dream…” and he went on to tell that, “…in three days, this, this, and this happened.” Joseph said, “I’ll tell you what it is. In three days you’re going to be out of prison. Pharaoh’s going to take you out and you’re going back to press the grapes and all that.” Boy, the news sounded good!
So the other one said, “Hey! I had a dream that bothers me.”
“What is it?”
“Well, three days…” and he told him what his was.
“In three days from now the LORD’s going to bring you out and hang you by the neck and kill you.” Now. Here we are. This man’s in prison there. But Joseph said to the other one, “Now when you get out in three days, how about remembering me, here?” But he didn’t do it, you see. Now Joseph is still in prison, all right? Now old Pharaoh’s had a dream, and it’s bothering him. He can’t figure it out. He gets all his fortunetellers together that day, but they can’t tell him.
Then somebody said, “Hey, that prisoner Joseph has got a gift from God. Let’s get him.” So he got him, and he said, “I hear that you…” And he said, “No. It’s God.” He gave God the credit. He revealed a dream that “seven years there will be a famine, and seven years, plenty. You’d better be laying-up, because seven years the crops are not going to bring one thing.”
So they got real busy. God blessed it, and if you remember then in other places it started. It ended up that his daddy sent some of his brothers. He said, “I hear that there’s some food down in Egypt,” and sent him and so on. He was revealed to him.
But this is what I want you to see here in the 49th chapter. Jacob’s an old man. Look in verse 1. That’s their daddy. Now look at it, “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” He’s saying, “Boys. C’mon, now there’s twelve of you…” and he starts, he names Reuben in verse 3. He mentioned Simeon and Levi in verse 5, and Judah in verse 8, and on down the line. He’s telling them, “This is going to happen to you. This is going to happen to you.” Now daddy’s telling them, “I’m going to die, but I’m telling you.” But let’s see what he says about Joseph.
Now look at 49:22, “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:)” (Genesis 49:22-24) Now his daddy said, “Joseph is a fruitful bough.”
Now there’s three simple things I just want to mention: what made this man, and what will happen in you. Very simple.
#1 He didn’t fret over the past.
You know some people always live in the past, in the past. Paul said, “There’s one thing I’m doing. I’m forgetting those things back there.” Now if Paul had said everywhere he went, “I don’t understand. I was trying to do the right thing, and they put me in jail because I was trying to preach Jesus, and I don’t know why Jesus let it happen.” He could have went on and on and on, and he would have never been a happy person. He’d have never been a fruitful person. But this man, he didn’t hold a thing. He forgot the past. That’s what I’m trying to say. You find that.
You find, as you read in Genesis 41:50, that Joseph got married and God gave him some boys. If you read, his boys caused him to forget some things in the past and he began to count his blessings.
Now listen, folks. I don’t care what kind of thing me and you have been through, we’ve got some blessings that we’ve got to thank God for. That’s right. We ought to do that. I love the 23rd chapter of the Book of Psalms, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…” (Psalm 23:6)
Now this is what I’m saying. It will help me and you to have a joyful life if we leave those things behind. Let them be. Don’t worry about them. “Well, I don’t understand…” Well, quit trying to understand and forget about those. That’s what I’m trying to say. Think of what the good things that God has brought you through.
Now I know there’s a negative and there’s a positive side, but my friend, you and I need to look at the – it’s not the troubles, they’re gone. Look at the time, right now. That’ll help us have a joyful life, you see. That’s exactly what he did.
Then here, there’s something else he did: He allowed it to happen for a purpose. He believed that whatever happened to him was for a purpose, and it was.
God had sent him down, yonder, in Egypt to keep His people from starving, but he couldn’t understand that. See, if he hadn’t have gone down there, they’d have had no food. But God put him down there to let them know the famine was coming so they could have the food, so they could bring the food.
Folks, God works in mysterious ways if me and you can quit trying to figure it out and accept it. In Romans 8:28, and we know it, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If you’ll go there in that 50th chapter of Genesis, the last chapter, I want you to see something now after it’s all over. Look what he said to his brothers, here in verse 20. He said, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me;” “You sold me. You wanted to kill me. I know you thought evil against me.” But wait a minute, “but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” God let it happen for good and you thought it was for bad, you see.
Now that’s the way you and I ought to take things. The Lord teaches us some things. We won’t go into that, but you could take there, in the Book of Job. Look what Job went through. You know Job had ten children and all of them were killed at one time. By the way, the Bible said that he was the best Christian in the East, too. He was a good Christian, but you know he made this statement. I believe it was in the third chapter, he said, “I feel like this wouldn’t always be good and ease.” He figured some trouble would come.
Now you know most of you know the story about Job. He lost all of his material things. All ten of his children, killed at one time. Then he gets so sick for seven days that he couldn’t even talk to anybody. Then his friends, they’ve had fellowship for years, came to see him and every one of them began to be his judges. They said, “If you didn’t do something… You’re hiding some kind of sin if you wouldn’t, God wouldn’t let this happen to you.” They became his judges. And all of those things. Even his own wife said, “How much more are you going to put up with? Why don’t you cuss God and die? God treat you like this!” Now wait a minute, wait a minute, I’m talking about how we can keep from fretting. Joseph never fretted or anything, but you read that last chapter, and when it was over with, Job said, “LORD, I have heard of you by the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.”
Now what do you mean by that, preacher? God used the death to bring him to the place in his life as a Christian that he’d never been before, you see. He said, “I know you can do anything, now God,” you see. Folks, God will use our troubles to teach us if we listen to Him, to teach us that we can bring things to Him. You know you people who are older, you’ve been through more than these children over here. Okay. Something can happen to them, and they may panic. They may think, “Oh!” But what you do, you can come to them and say, “It’s going to be alright.” “How do you know it’s going to be alright?” Because you had the same thing. God uses those things to help us, and I’m saying that we’d be better not to fret over these things. Job learned that, you see.
We need to know this: Maybe you’ve lived out yonder in sin in your background. You may have been married a dozen times. I don’t know what it may be, but the Bible said, “The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” If you believe that, the Lord forgets it. He puts your sins in the sea of forgetfulness, never to remember them against you anymore, and why don’t we just be glad of that?
Here, let me give you a verse of Scripture in Isaiah 43. Let me just read it to you. Some of you have heard and some of you have probably read Mel Trotter. Mel Trotter was a drunk. And Mel Trotter spent everything he had for drinking. Everything. He pawned his soul and everything. Now listen. This happened, up in the Chicago area, I believe. I read about it. He had a little 3-year old child that got sick and died, and he was out yonder on one of his drunken spells. His wife, the neighbors, the people had helped fix the little 3-year old’s body, and Mel Trotter came home craving alcohol so bad. He slipped in the little casket, now and pulled the little shoes off of his dead child’s body and took those shoes and when out yonder and pawned them to buy more liquor.
When he got sober, he got to thinking… You know? The Devil will always take a man on down. He was so ashamed of himself that he was going to a place to drown. He was going to drown and commit suicide, and on his way, if you remember, he passed the great meeting there in Chicago – Pacific Garden. He was going to kill himself and he heard them singing, and he stopped and he went back in there and he got saved and God used him. I’ve got some material about him.
This is a Scripture right here that he loved and talked about so much, in Isaiah 43. Listen. “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” He claimed that and went away. Now if the Devil can bring up my past and your past and we agree with him and go and yet, we’re honest. We’ve confessed it. It’s under the Blood and we will praise God that it’s under the Blood, you see, but if we’re going to wonder about it, then we’re not going to get anywhere.
But I’m talking about how we can have a happy, victorious life is to put these things in the past, “…forgetting those things…” There are some good things, but there’s no way we can go back and undo those things.
#2 He enjoyed the present.
Then I put down my second is, not only that he didn’t fret over the past, but he enjoyed the present. He enjoyed the present that he was with. Now this is a good lesson if you have the time. But the LORD blessed Joseph with four children in the 41st chapter of Genesis. He blessed him with two boys. It tells you, there, in Genesis 41:52, one of them was named Ephraim. He said, “He is the fruit in the land of my affliction,” you see. Now the other had come along and God blessed him.
Now what he had done, he enjoyed the present. He enjoyed what he had, he enjoyed what he had. God gave him his two boys and brought joy in his life.
Now not everybody has a family, but you and I who do have a good-size family, we ought to enjoy them. Just enjoy them. That’s what I’m talking about. Enjoy those grandkids. My goodness, my grand-young’uns and great grand-young’uns get by with a whole lot more than our young’uns ever did. I mean, they come to the house and their mom and dad say, “Don’t you do that!” I think, “Well, I’ll leave them alone.” One time, I done whooped them and everything. You know. Just to have a bunch of kids around, that’s a blessing, my friend. And you read about this man, Joseph, and those kids brought joy to him, you see. We need to realize that. You know the Bible says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
Then here’s something else as you go along. Old Pharaoh had confidence in him, you see. He had confidence in him. When he answered that dream that Pharaoh had, man, he tried to build him up. Joseph said, “Don’t you give me the credit. It’s God that revealed that to you.” Always give the LORD the credit.
Then that last chapter of Genesis. Now again, I’m talking about how we enjoy the present. He said, in verse 21, “Now therefore fear ye not…” His brothers said, after daddy died, after Jacob died, his brother said, “He’ll kill us, now. He’s probably been waiting on us because we sold him. We done him bad.” Well, listen to what he said, “Now Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” That’s a real Christian, isn’t it? He said, “Well, I know you meant it for bad, but God did it for good. God had a hand…”
I believe with all of my heart that, if I trust God, that He can override all the enemies that may face me, and you, too. And that’s what happened. This man, he didn’t let the past fret him, and he enjoyed the present. Enjoy what you’ve got. You say, “We don’t have like so ‘n’ so.” Don’t covet. Thank God you have what you’ve now got, you know. Praise the Lord for that. That’s what I’m trying to say. Give God the praise and the Glory, you know.
I remember when we lived over yonder in the other house, and some lady at the church here asked my wife, “How many baths do you all have? How many bathrooms?” Well, listen. We were married, Lord, I don’t know how many years and we had a path, and I was glad of that. That’s alright. We had just built us a little house and had just a little small – two people couldn’t get into the bathroom. I remember, one time, Jackie came home one night and the lady said to her, “I don’t see in the world how in the world you all make it with one bathroom.” I said, “You tell her I made it for twenty-some years without one.” Thank God.
We used to go down, out behind the hedge, and on Saturday, take us a bath. You know we didn’t need one all the time, you know. We’d like, there… Mother would heat the water. She’d heat some water to get warm water. Then she’d put it in that tub. “Now you boys get out yonder behind that hedge and quick strip off and get in that tub.” I always liked being there first when I had two more brothers. Get in there and take you a good bath. Everybody didn’t have their little towel, and your towel and my towel and all that. You just got it first if you could, and we had it good. We had it good.
I’m just saying, “Don’t start coveting other stuff. Thank God for what you have and you can enjoy it, my friend.” You can enjoy it. Amen. We enjoyed that. Good night!
Man, my mother could…she could fry the best potatoes you ever stuck a tooth in and cook a big ol’ pot of pinto beans and fix a big ol’ pan of cornbread. Good night! You’d get you a bottle of ketchup and boy, you had it made. That was great. She’d out there on Saturday. She knew how to wring a neck of that ol’ chicken, you know. Going out, and then she’d pick that thing. We’d have chicken on Sunday. I remember.
Let me tell you a good one, right quick. I’ve got to hurry along. J. C. down here, you know his mother was my daddy’s younger sister. I don’t know whether you ever knew this, J. C., but I came over there on my bicycle and Aunt Adelee said, “I wish Arvel would come home.” That’s her husband, his daddy. She said, “I want him to kill a chicken for me.” I said, “Would you like me to kill it for you?” She said, “Can you?” I said, “I believe I can. I don’t want to wring his neck, have you got a…” I knew they had an axe. She said, “Yeah.” I got that ol’ chicken, and I got it out there and stretched his neck across that chopping block, and I don’t know what, the closer I got, that thing eased up, and I just barely broke the skin. I turned that ol’ chicken loose, and it bled and run all over. I never did try to kill another chicken after that, I never did, and she never asked me to.
But you think about those old times. Man, don’t get above your ways, good night! I’m just saying, “Enjoy what you’ve got right now.” That’s what I’m trying to say. “Enjoy!” And that’s what we need.
Now get my points, here. Now get my first point: Forget the past. Enjoy the present. Then, look for
#3 He looked for the future.
Now if you read here, and I’ll close there, but if you read here in verses 24-25, old Joseph tells his brothers in that last chapter, When “I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. What are you saying? He said, “We’re not home. We’re down here in Egypt, but you look forward. He’s going to come and get us out.” My friend, if that doesn’t encourage you, I don’t know what will.
Look for the future. There’s coming a day. There’s coming a day when there’ll be no more sin. There’s coming a day when there’ll be no more suffering. There’s coming day when there’ll be no more temptation. “How do you know?” Because the Book says so! That’s what I’m trying to say.
You folks that are sitting around here tonight and your companion’s in Heaven… It may be tonight we’ll hear the shout come! I’ve been praying for the Second Coming. You see, one reason is to see so many little children hurt today and so much immorality. He’s coming! When He gives the shout, we’ll leave this world. And that ought to be an encouragement to you.
Don’t fret over the past. It’s done gone. Enjoy what you have now. Look, there’s a better day coming, and that ought to encourage you. Ole’ Joseph, he was one of the greatest Christians in the Bible. I never, reading about it, I never sensed one ounce of time when he let any bitterness get in his heart. He just believed God had control. That’s what I’m saying, and He does.
I remember when Brother Fox, Buddy Fox, was pastor, some of you used to go to the Pine Grove church over there, the other end of High Point. Brother Buddy was the pastor of the church. Good man. He’s still up in years, not pastoring right now. He had two boys. He was living for the Lord, faithful, working in church. One of the boys, I think he was 16, was riding his bicycle and happened to go across a stop lane. Anyway, he got killed and I went to his funeral. Some of you may have. It was sad, Buddy said he was such a good Christian boy. He told me later, “Brother Bobby, an old preacher, and old preacher from South Carolina, an old evangelist came up to me and said, ‘Listen, Brother Buddy. Don’t try to sit and figure this thing out because, when you think you’ve got it figured out, you’ve misfigured it.’ He said, ‘you walk on by faith and someday you’ll understand.’” And that really helped that man. God had a purpose in allowing it, and I don’t have enough sense to know why, but He knows why and I’ll walk-on with Him and enjoy His promises and His blessings.