Day 247

How Your Life Can Make a Difference

Wisdom Psalm 105:12-22
New Testament 2 Corinthians 6:3-13, 7:1
Old Testament Isaiah 5:7


Alfred Nobel (1833–1896) is best known for the Nobel Peace Prize. Less well known is the fact that Alfred Nobel also invented dynamite. As well as a chemist, engineer and innovator, he was a weapons’ manufacturer.

In 1888, Alfred’s brother Ludvig died. A French newspaper erroneously published Alfred’s obituary. It condemned him for his invention of dynamite, stating: ‘The merchant of death is dead… Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.’

Alfred Nobel was devastated by the foretaste of how he would be remembered. His last will and testament set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel prizes. He gave the equivalent of US $250 million to fund such prizes. Alfred Nobel had the rare opportunity to evaluate his life near its end and live long enough to change that assessment.

Have you ever wondered what difference your life might make? How can your life bring blessing to other people? How can you change the world for the better? How can your life be of ultimate lasting value? How can we lead fruitful lives?


Psalm 105:12-22

12 When they were but few in number,
   few indeed, and strangers in it,
13 they wandered from nation to nation,
   from one kingdom to another.
14 He allowed no one to oppress them;
   for their sake he rebuked kings:
15 “Do not touch my anointed ones;
   do my prophets no harm.”

16 He called down famine on the land
   and destroyed all their supplies of food;
17 and he sent a man before them—
   Joseph, sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet with shackles,
   his neck was put in irons,
19 till what he foretold came to pass,
   till the word of the Lord proved him true.
20 The king sent and released him,
   the ruler of peoples set him free.
21 He made him master of his household,
   ruler over all he possessed,
22 to instruct his princes as he pleased
   and teach his elders wisdom.


Fruitfulness comes from faithfulness to God

If your life is to be fruitful you have to stay faithful to God in the difficult times. It is relatively easy to be faithful to God when all is going well in life. The test comes when you face fierce temptation and great trials.

As the psalmist gives thanks to God for his faithfulness to his people, he recalls the life of Joseph.

Joseph’s life was immensely fruitful (see Genesis 37–50). Pharaoh ‘made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom’ (Psalm 105:21–22). As a result, ‘The Lord made his people very fruitful’ (v.24a).

But, Joseph’s fruitfulness came at a price. In the early days, it did not seem like his life would be at all fruitful. He was ‘sold as a slave’ (v.17). ‘They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons’ (v.18). Joseph went through betrayal, slavery, temptation, imprisonment and a great deal of suffering.

Yet in all this he remained faithful. The reason for Joseph’s faithfulness was that he trusted that God was in control, even in the bad times (Genesis 45:5–8; 50:20). And eventually ‘the word of the Lord proved him true’ (v.19).

Not only did Joseph remain faithful to God despite his seeming abandonment, but he also remained faithful to his family in totally forgiving them, rather than blaming and rejecting them. Ultimately, his faithfulness led to great fruitfulness.


Lord, thank you for your amazing faithfulness to me. Help me to be faithful to you even in the difficult times of temptation, disappointment and discouragement. Like Joseph, may my life be fruitful.

New Testament

2 Corinthians 6:3-13, 7:1

3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children —open wide your hearts also.

7 Therefore, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.


Fruitfulness comes from the Holy Spirit

Your life can be immensely fruitful, because the Holy Spirit lives within you. You are ‘a temple in whom God lives’ (6:16, MSG). Just as in the Old Testament God dwelt in the Holy of Holies, so now he dwells in you and me by his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces beautiful fruit in your life (Galatians 5:22–23).

Paul’s life was arguably one of the most fruitful in the history of the world. He describes himself as a servant of God (2 Corinthians 6:4). In his lifetime he made many rich (v.10). The ‘riches’ for Paul were the spiritual riches of being in Christ. His life continues to make many rich. The fruit of Paul’s life has lasted 2,000 years and will endure into eternity.

Like Joseph, Paul’s fruitfulness came at a price. He lists some of the things he endured: ‘hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating… slandered… distrusted; ignored by the world… beaten within an inch of our lives… immersed in tears… living on handouts… having nothing’ (vv.4–10, MSG). As I look at Paul’s life, I feel so challenged. It puts all my problems into perspective.

In all this suffering, Paul remained faithful ‘in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God’ (vv.6–7a). He remained ‘genuine’ and ‘always rejoicing’ (vv.8,10). He says, ‘We are penniless… in reality we have everything worth having’ (6:10b, J.B. Phillips).

Paul says to the Corinthians, ‘We have spoken freely to you… and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you’ (vv.11–12a).

To act with integrity, you must first know who you are. You must know what you stand for, what you believe in and what you care most about.

Bear Grylls writes, ‘People tend to think that they have to be funny, witty or incisive on stage. You don’t. You just have to be honest. If you can be intimate and give the inside story – emotions, doubts, struggles, fears, the lot – then people will respond.’

The Holy Spirit is the one who sets you free to be yourself. He is the one who produces fruitfulness in your life.

Paul does not want anything to spoil this fruitfulness in the lives of the Corinthians. He pleaded with them, ‘Don’t become partners with those who reject God’ (v.14, MSG). He was not suggesting that they remove themselves from the world (1 Corinthians 5:9–10). Rather, he is warning of the danger of long-term partnerships with those who reject God.

Many people have ignored these warnings – for example, in terms of marriage partners – and some have ended up within months or years no longer going to church and then eventually losing their faith. It is heart-breaking to watch.

‘So,’ Paul writes, ‘leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good’ (2 Corinthians 6:16, MSG). He goes on, ‘Let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God’ (7:1, MSG).


Lord, fill me with your power through your Holy Spirit. Enable me to be pure, patient, kind and truthful and to love sincerely with a wide-open heart.

Old Testament

Isaiah 5:7

7 The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
   is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah
   are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
   for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.


Fruitfulness comes from closeness to Jesus

God loves you. He wants you to stay close to him. He wants you to be a branch in his vine – producing fruit.

When we are unfaithful to him, it is like being cut off from the vine. We become unfruitful. Isaiah writes, ‘The one I love had a vineyard, a fine, well-placed vineyard… He looked for a vintage crop of grapes, but for all his pains he got junk grapes… He looked for a crop of justice and saw them murdering each other. He looked for a harvest of righteousness and heard only the moans of victims’ (5:1–7, MSG).

The word for ‘justice’ means ‘to make right’. Justice is a relational term – living in a right relationship with God and one another showing love and compassion for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised.

Much of the first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah are about God’s judgment: ‘God enters the courtroom. He takes his place at the bench to judge his people. God calls for order in the court, hauls the leaders of his people into the dock’ (3:13, MSG).

God’s people have been unfaithful to him: ‘You’ve played havoc with this country. Your houses are stuffed with what you’ve stolen from the poor. What is this anyway? Stomping on my people, grinding the faces of the poor into the dirt?’ (vv.14–15, MSG).

They have enjoyed great material riches, which have led to pride, immorality and greed (vv.16–23).

Isaiah sees a coming judgment, and on that day ‘the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious’ (4:2).

This was only partially fulfilled at that time. Like many other prophecies, it points forward to what we can now see was achieved through Jesus, who was the true ‘Branch of the Lord’ (v.2). Jesus is the Branch from the vine of God. We are the branches from the vine of Jesus (see John 15:1–8).

Jesus is the true branch and the true vine. He is the one who was totally faithful and fruitful beyond any human being (even Joseph or Paul!). He now invites you to be part of his vine, to stay close to him and to bear much fruit – fruit that will last (John 15:8,16).


Lord, I want my life to make a difference. Thank you that you have made that possible. Keep me close to you, faithful and filled with the Holy Spirit, bearing fruit that will last.

Pippa adds

In 2 Corinthians 7:1 it says,

‘Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit.’

I need a detox before the start of the beginning of term. (I don’t need to just cut down on things – like chocolate... I possibly need to cut them out!)

Thought for the Day

‘People tend to think that they have to be funny, witty or incisive...’ You don’t. You just have to be honest.’ – Bear Grylls



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Bear Grylls, Mud, Sweat and Tears (Channel 4, 2012).

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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