New Fruitfulness

32 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth … 9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.  (Genesis 5:32 & 6:9-10)
When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”  (Genesis 30:1)
1 Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband, says the Lord. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”  (Isaiah 54:1-3)
The Bible often focuses on the pain that is caused by infertility. Again and again in the pages of the Old Testament, we meet people who were deeply grieved that they were unable to have children. Some of them the Lord healed and they went on to have a baby. Others he enabled to find deep fulfilment in acting as a spiritual parent to many young believers instead. Rachel was one of those healed who went on to have a family, but her prayer still speaks to us spiritually. “Give me children, or I’ll die!” ought to be our fervent prayer for our Christian lives.

Noah carried the pain of infertility for longer than anybody else in history. People lived much longer lives before the Flood transformed the earth’s ecosystem, so we are told in Genesis 5:32 that Noah was unable to have any children until the year he turned 500. That’s a really long time! This is meant to encourage us, particularly in view of all that we learned last week about making more disciples like ourselves. No matter how unfruitful you may have felt throughout your Christian life so far, the Lord wants to use the Great Flood of the coronavirus crisis to lead you into a place of far, far greater fruitfulness on the other side. Noah became the father, not just of Shem, Ham and Japheth, but through them the father of every single person who is alive on Planet Earth today!

In one of the most famous passages in the Bible about spiritual infertility, in Isaiah 54:1-3, the Lord encourages us to sing in faith that he has many spiritual children yet to be born to us. He encourages us to display our faith this is true by making changes to our lives and to our church before those spiritual children are born. He tells us to “enlarge our tent”, to “stretch our tent curtains wide”, to “strengthen our tent pegs”, and so on, in order to be ready for him to use us to bring people from many different nations to new birth and to a new life of following Jesus with us.
1)   What specific changes might you need to make in your own life to prepare for the Lord to make you very fruitful after lockdown?

2)   What specific changes might we need to make as a church together so that we can emerge from lockdown ready to steward a great Gospel harvest together?

3)   How could you pass on some of your insights into this to one of your church leaders? The way God guides his People is by speaking to each one of us, so your voice really matters in this season!
Father God, I thank you that my past is not an indicator of my future. Noah’s 500 years of infertility were followed by his becoming the father of the entire human race, and my life before lockdown can be but a shadow of my future fruitfulness in you! Help me to make the changes that I need to make in order to prepare for new fruitfulness. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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