Lent 2024 – 2 – 25/02/24
Readings: Luke 9:28-36 (the transfiguration) and Luke 9:51-62 (The Cost of Following Jesus)

Today is the second Sunday of Lent, and we’re taking time out to consider our own personal relationship with the person who paid the ultimate price for each of us here this morning. 

Try to imagine that you’re a fisherman on the sea of Galilee, or at least you were until this religious guy came along and invited you to be one of his followers. So now you’ve been following him for about three years, discovering all sorts of amazing things about God, seeing unbelievable miracles, even seeing people healed when you pray for them yourself. And then this guy says one day, almost out of the blue, “I’m going to tell you a secret. I am going to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, by the chief priests and the teachers of the law, then I am going to be killed, and then, on the third day, I’m going to come back to life.”

Sorry Jesus, I’m not quite with you, could you say that again please?”

Last week we heard the apostle Peter correctly saying that Jesus was God’s “messiah”, and for at least some of Jesus’ followers that would have had physical rather than spiritual connotations. Either way, the announcement that he was about to be killed must have been hard to assimilate.

Imagine turning that sort of information around in your mind for a week. Imagine the hushed conversations they would have had. Imagine the questions that they would have wanted to ask. 

But then to top it all, something quite amazing, something awe inspiring, something quite unique happened to Peter and the two brothers John and James, who Jesus had rather humorously called “Sons of Thunder” because of their fiery evangelical zeal and the extreme reactions that they often displayed.

The Bible calls it “the Transfiguration” and we’ve just heard Luke’s account of their experience, and of how they heard the voice of God himself saying “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.

Is it any wonder that the three of them kept it to themselves and didn’t tell anyone, until some time later anyway, what they had seen and heard, not even the other 9. No-one would have believed them, anyway.

This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Who better for us to listen to during Lent? 

OK. Listen to him, but what had he just been saying? That he was about to be rejected and killed? 

And then, as they were trying to get their minds around that bombshell, he had said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple …” “B’but we thought we already were.” “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” “Okaaaaay ???”

The next day, when the four of them had come down from the mountain, Jesus healed a demon-possessed boy.Even while the boy was going over to Jesus,” we’re told, “the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. Who wouldn’t be! Certainly we would because that’s not the sort of thing we’re used to seeing these days, or even hearing about. 

Then, Luke says, once again Jesus predicted his death, but they just couldn’t understand what he meant. They just couldn’t grasp it, they couldn’t get their minds around it and they were still afraid to ask him about it.

So instead they started to argue among themselves as to which of them would take the leadership roles when he was gone. Isn’t that just so human?

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all, who is the greatest.

Guys” he was saying to them, “you’ve got completely the wrong end of the stick. It’s not about being the boss, it’s not about control, it’s not about getting other people to behave as you think they should, it’s about humility, it’s about getting down off your high horse, getting down to the level of the child so that you can communicate with him or her on equal terms, and show them an example of what it means to be a child of God too. 

So moving on to our second reading, which started off with a statement that could be easily missed, or taken for granted. It was verse 51. 

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

This Lent, let’s remember that Jesus, even though he was, is, God himself, was human. For some 30 years he chose, voluntarily to experience everything that we humans experience.

On Monday week I have to have a tooth out. I don’t want to. I’ noit looking forward to it one bit, but when the moment comes I will “resolutely set out”. 

I’ve faced much worse things than that, so have you, but none of us have faced the death penalty for our misdemeanours, even less for someone else’s misdemeanours.

Jesus was under no illusions about the way he would be treated by the Jewish religious leaders, or about the beating that he would undergo at the hands of the Romans. He would certainly have seen people hanging from crosses and knew full well that the pain would be excruciating. Yet As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutelyset out for Jerusalem” knowing that every step was taking him one step closer to what could only be described as “living hell”. 

Another sign of his humanity can be seen in the mood he seems to have been in. I detect grumpy because, believe it or not I can be grumpy too, especially when I’m tired or stressed. Grumpy Grandpa I’m sometimes called at home. As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

I don’t know about you but I think that Jesus had every right to feel grumpy, that day. Wouldn’t you feel grumpy? 

But maybe he wasn’t being very fair to that poor man. All he’d said was that he wanted to follow the Messiah. 

But Jesus wasn’t just being grumpy, he was making a point. The same point that he was making to the next man who wanted to bury his father first .

It might have been that his father hadn’t actually died yet, but he wanted to wait until he had, until all the business if looking after an aged parent was over, and he’d be free of those responsibilities. We can relate to that, can’t we? 

And to the third man who, poor chap, only wanted to say goodbye to his family. He didn’t want to just disappear and leave them with the anguish of not knowing what on earth had befallen him. 

Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Let the dead bury their own dead, but you, you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.

When you start to plough a field, as I know from my years living on a farm, you have to pick a point straight ahead of you, on the opposite side of the field, a plant on the opposite hedge for example, keep you eyes fixed on that point, and then keep moving forward towards it so that your first furrow will be absolutely straight, and not all wobbly. 

Discipleship, Jesus was saying to those three men, and to anyone else who was listening, discipleship requires self-sacrifice, discomfort, different priorities, and focus.

The difficulty for us, as Christians in Mirepoix in 2024, is how that translates into our own lives, our own spiritual walk, our own ministries, our own following in the footsteps of Christ.

For each of us here this morning, the application will be different, but the basic principles will be the same. 

True discipleship requires self-sacrifice, discomfort, different priorities, and focus.

Lent 2024 – 1 – 18/02/24.     Readings: Luke 9:1-11 and Luke 9:12-20

Last week we left poor Joseph doing time in a dingy old dungeon. The cup bearer had forgotten all about him, as had everyone else apart from his fellow inmates.

Ironically, just as Lectio 365 has also taken up the story of Joseph, we’re going to leave him there too, for a few weeks anyway, because I want us to spend a few Sundays thinking about Lent and what it means to the church in general today, and what it means to us too, because Lent gives us an opportunity to step back and look objectively at our spiritual lives, as we take up our cross and follow afresh in the footsteps of our Lord.  As author Scott Hahn put it, “I consider Lent a mercy, because it reminds me of where I was, how far I’ve come—and how much further God wants me to go!” 

Today I’d like to look at some of the instructions Jesus gave to disciples as his life was drawing to a close, from the gospel of Luke.

Luke wasn’t actually one of the inner circle of 12 disciples. He was a physician and possibly not even a Jew. He may, however, have been one of the 70 or 72 disciples sent out by Jesus a little later, in Luke 10. He also may have accompanied St. Paul on some of his missionary journeys. 

So the events that we heard him recount just now were not ones that Luke experienced personally, but ones that some of the 12 must have told him about.

When Jesus sent out the twelve of them, Luke says, he told them “to drive out all demons, to cure diseases, to heal the sick and to proclaim the kingdom of God”. Let’s think about that for a moment. …

I’m not going to embarrass you by asking you to put up your hand, but as a disciple of Jesus how many demons did you drive out last week? How many diseases did you cure, how many people did you heal, and how many people did you bring to Christ? If that makes you feel any better, I failed on ALL counts.

That’s challenging enough, but as if to pile on the pressure, Jesus also told them “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt”. In other words they had to scrounge on people for accommodation and meals, even for clothes washing. When either of our sons come home they do that, the fridge gets ransacked and the washing machine works overtime, but that’s ok, they’re our kids. We expect it and we’re happy to do that for them. But perfect strangers? That’s another matter altogether.

Just as we got home from church last Sunday we met a group of three more blue-habitted nuns. Petites Soeurs de l’Agneau from Plavilla, different ones from the last time, but again we invited them in to eat with us. They too had been sent out with no bread and no money, to find food, and to talk to people about Jesus. 

But then, in the next chapter, Luke tells us another very similar tale of Jesus sending out 72 of his followers “two by two …. “Go!” he said to them “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”

“Lambs among wolves” I’m grateful that I wasn’t there and asked to do that, aren’t you?

But they did it, nevertheless! Back in our original passage we read “they set out, and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.”

This must have caused quite a stir, because it caught the attention of Herod the tetrarch who was perplexed because some were saying that it was either John the Baptist, whom he’d just had beheaded on a whim, when he was drunk at his birthday party, at the bequest of his beautiful step-daughter, either him or Elijah, or another of the dead prophets of long ago, come back to life.

So who exactly was this Herod the tetrarch? He was the son of another Herod, Herod the Great, who was the Herod who had ordered the killing of all the male children under the age of 2 when he had been tricked by the Magi. Unlike his father, though, this Herod, who is also referred to in the Bible as Herod Antipas and King Herod, wasn’t actually a king at all. He was just a “tetrarch” which means “ruler of a quarter”, in this case Galilee and Perea, governing on behalf of the Roman Empire. He would later, of course, be personally involved in Jesus’ conviction and execution.

When the twelve got home again, Jesus did another thing that could only have caught the attention of the authorities, he preached to a crowd of perhaps seven or eight thousand people, healed any of them who were sick, and then fed them all by miraculously multiplying a few fish from the lake and a few loaves of bread from the local boulangerie.

The story has a bit of a twist. After the preaching and the healing it was, apparently, late in the afternoon, so the disciples suggested to Jesus that it was time to send everyone off to find food and accommodation in the surrounding villages. But Jesus response was “You give them something to eat.” They were having a tough time, the disciples. I can just hear them saying “I beg your pardon!”. This was pushing the disciples one step too far, so Jesus did it, you’ve heard the story, many times I expect.

As you can tell, when I sat down and read this chapter I was struck by what Jesus expected of his disciples, compared to what is expected of us today as church-goers. Are we missing something somewhere, I wondered? More on that in a minute. 

Now going back to Herod’s concern about who Jesus really was, it wasn’t just him who didn’t understand. A few days later, while Jesus and his disciples were having a quiet time together praying and chatting, Jesus said to them “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

And that’s a good question for us today.

It might seem banal. You might say “Well of course, we all know who Jesus is.” 

But now that we’re in Lent, the period before Good Friday and Easter day, when we’re encouraged to reconsecrate ourselves, in a way, to God, it does no harm to say to ourselves “Well, what do I really believe about Jesus? 

I mean REALLY believe. Who is Jesus in the world today that is ruled by greed and self-interest, torn apart by wars, populated by refugees, marked by hunger and famine, under threat from artificial intelligence, full of children who, if you take their smartphone or tablet away from them, haven’t a single clue how to amuse themselves? I could go on, but I won’t.

Perhaps Jesus’ questions are even more relevant today than they were 2000 years ago. What about his first question? “Who do the crowds say I am?”. Answer – the crowds haven’t a clue. Who’s fault is that?  In a way, it’s the church’s.

And Jesus’ second question; “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” If Jesus put me on the spot and asked me that question, what would I say?”  It’s a fair question, and it’s a good question! 

We’ve heard Peter’s answer. It was “You’re God’s Messiah.

Interesting response, actually. What’s a messiah? Here are a couple of common definitions: 

Synonyms of the word ‘messiah’ include: deliverer, rescuer, saviour, defender, guardian angel, hero, liberator, and protecter. The one that is closest is perhaps ‘deliverer’.

Deliverer, ok, but from what? 

From ourselves? Perhaps.

From all the horrendous things that are going on in the world today, and that affect sooooo many people? Mainly innocent people! Perhaps.

From original sin? Yes, absolutely. From original sin that affects every man woman and child in the world today, from Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin all the way down the ranks to mere mortals like you and I. Whatever way you look at original sin, not one single individual is exempt, and do you know what that means? 

It means that not one single individual doesn’t need a deliverer, a messiah, and Peter got it right in one. That messiah is Jesus. 

And who’s job is it to tell the crowds? The church’s – globally speaking I mean.

This year the COG is going to be reviewing who we are as a church here in Mirepoix, and what our priorities should be. Quite by chance, yesterday evening, I met a friend of mine who’s now the president of the AECM, a group of 40 odd churches in France, which is itself part of a group of thousands of churches worldwide who have one thing in common, a heart for missions, for taking the news of the Messiah into places it might not otherwise get. That group is called the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Lent reminds us that God incarnate went to the cross to redeem mankind, to redeem any and all who will take the trouble to listen to his teaching. 

To borrow a quotation from the four lepers who discovered that the siege of the city of Samaria had been lifted, in 2 Kings chapter 7, they said to each other “This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. What we’re doing is not right.Let’s pray …

Jacob and Joseph 5 – 11/02/24

Readings: Genesis 39:20 to 40:8 and Lyrics from the musical "Joseph’s Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat" by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Weber. 

What we heard last week about Joseph and the lustful advances of Mrs Potiphar could have come from any one of this weekend’s newspapers. We heard how Joseph dealt with her advances and how, amazingly, he also managed to stave off any feelings of bitterness or self-pity.

We’re going to move on from that rather racy episode, but before we do I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had Joseph actually succumbed to those daily “come-hither” advances. Would it have become a long-lasting adulterous relationship? Would the ruthless spymaster, Potiphar, have smelt a rat and one day caught them in the act? Would Joseph, as a result, have miraculously disappeared off the face of the earth? 

There’s another thing that I wonder about. Did Potiphar really believe his wife’s accusations? After all, he wasn’t the sort of person who would have given Joseph total responsibility for all his extensive possessions, unless he was 110% sure of his trustworthiness. So was it that hedidn’t believe it but he didn’t really have any choice but to act on his wife’s allegations, whether they were true or not. 

If that was the case, then Potiphar made a bad decision, because he would have had to take back all the jobs that he’d given Joseph, and then delegate them to someone less capable. Peer pressure is such a dangerous thing and we need to be so aware of it.

Whatever would have happened, it would have been a very different story from here on in. But, no. Joseph may have lost another cloak, but he hadn’t lost his self-respect or his integrity. He had paid a high price, on a point of principle, but unbeknown to anyone at that moment, this was part of God’s plan to bring about good in Joseph’s life, and in that of his estranged family. 

He had kept is purity, but he had lost his position as manager of Potiphar’s household, and now he found himself, not in another cistern, but in what he himself later described as “a dungeon”.

I’m sure that you’ve visited castles in England or here in France and been shown the dungeons.

When I was a child, because we had a lovely great-uncle George and great-aunt Dorothy who lived on the coast in North Wales, I visited lots and lots of castles, Chirk, Criccieth, Harlech, Caernarfon, Conway, to name but a few. In the 14th and 15th centuries my own family lived in two castles in north-east Scotland, right up near John O’Groats.  One of those was thought to have a dungeon built into a bridge over the local burn. It must have been very damp, particularly when the burn was in flood.

In any of the dungeons that you’ve seen, were there any en-suite bathrooms? Were there even any vestiges of primitive toilets?  Was there underfloor heating, were there any beds? 

All Joseph would have been able to hear at night were the moans and groans of his cell-mates, and the rattling of chains and shackles as they turned over, trying to find a less uncomfortable way to lie on the stone floor. 

I cannot begin to imagine what it been have been like. But that is where Joseph now found himself, in what was probably the most secure prison in the whole of Egypt, because it was the one “where the king’s prisoners were confined.

And I say all that, because when you think about it, it’s even more amazing that the prison warden, the gaoler, who would naturally have taken a disliking to this young foreigner, this upstart, that he would, in the same way as Potiphar had, recognise Joseph’s qualities, his resourcefulness, his common sense, his reliability.

And today we’ve heard about yet another of his qualities, or rather his skills, that of interpreter of dreams. 

I hope that you weren’t offended by our somewhat trivial reading just now. 

Let’s just think for a moment about the two men who had these dreams. The Bible describes them as “officials”. Yes, one is a chief baker, the other a cup-bearer, but they weren’t just any old bread maker and any old wine-waiter, there were two of the most important people in the king’s palace. I noticed too that they were “in custody”, whereas Joseph was “in prison”. Whether that denotes a difference in terms of their accommodation, I don’t know. Maybe. Andrew Lloyd-Weber and Tim Rice’s song says that they were all in the same cell, but the Bible is actually less specific.

By the time the two officials had their dreams, Joseph was already looking after the pastoral and physical care of his fellow inmates. But I’m struck by the way that he didn’t like to see these two guys looking so glum. What on earth can have upset them? “Why do you look so sad today?” he said to them.

Joseph, bless him, wanted to alleviate their discomfort so, when he found out what their problem was, he said to them, “Interpretations belong to God, but nevertheless tell me your dreams, and I’ll see if I can shed any light on what they might mean.” You’ve heard about the dreams, and the interpretations, and you’ve heard what happened to the fortunate cup-bearer, and the much less fortunate head baker.

Joseph asked the cup bearer to put in a good word for him, but in his excitement he forgot all about his promise, and Joseph was left languishing for another 2 full years.

But all that time God was whispering in his ear, perhaps something similar to the words of Psalm 139. 

Joseph, I have searched you, and I know you.
I know when you sit and when you rise; I perceive your thoughts from afar.
I discern your going out and your lying down; I am familiar with all your ways.

Before you say anything, Joseph, I, the Lord, know it completely.

Joseph, I have hemmed you in behind and before, and I have laid my hand upon you. Where can you go from my spirit, where can you flee from my presence?

If you go up to the heavens, Joseph, I am there; if you make your bed in the depths, I am there.

If you rise on the wings of the dawn, if you settle on the far side of the sea,
even there my hand will guide you, my right hand will hold you fast.
Joseph, if you say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to me; the night will shine like the day.

Joseph, I created you; I knit you together your in your mother’s womb.
You have every reason to praise me because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Your frame wasn’t hidden from me when I made you in the secret place, when I wove you together in the depths of the earth. My eyes saw your unformed body; all the days ordained for you were written in my book before one of them came to be.

Joseph, the sum of my thoughts towards you is vast, were you to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.

Let’s have a few moments of quiet prayer before our next hymn, because perhaps, God wants to whisper these same words to you today. 


(Your name here), I have searched you, and I know you.
I know when you sit and when you rise; I perceive your thoughts from afar.
I discern your going out and your lying down; I am familiar with all your ways.

Before you say anything, I, the Lord, know it completely.

I have hemmed you in behind and before, and I have laid my hand upon you. Where can you go from my spirit, where can you flee from my presence?

If you go up to the heavens, I am there; if you make your bed in the depths, I am there.

If you rise on the wings of the dawn, if you settle on the far side of the sea,
even there my hand will guide you, my right hand will hold you fast.

If you say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to me; the night will shine like the day.

I created you; I knit you together your in your mother’s womb.
You have every reason to praise me because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Your frame wasn’t hidden from me when I made you in the secret place, when I wove you together in the depths of the earth. My eyes saw your unformed body; all the days ordained for you were written in my book before one of them came to be.

The sum of my thoughts towards you is vast, were you to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.

Jacob and Joseph 4 – 04/02/24 - Martin Mowat

Readings Genesis 39:6b-12 & Genesis 39:16-23

What a roller-coaster ride Joseph had!

One minute he was the apple of his father’s eye and wearing a beautiful multicoloured coat, the next he was languishing in the bottom of a smelly old cistern. Days later he was being paraded, probably naked, in the slave market, but then, not long after that, he was running the household of one of Egypt’s most feared politicians, and now he’s in prison. He must surely have said to himself “What IS going on here?”

We’re looking at the amazing life of Abraham’s great-grandson, Isaac’s grandson, and Jacob’s eleventh son, Joseph. It’s a story that most of us know well, but let’s not let over-familiarity stop us from learning some invaluable lessons.

Last week, in Julian’s excellent reading, we heard how Potiphar not only recognised Joseph’s ability to run his household, but he even “gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned”. We heard that with Joseph in charge “his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished”, so much so that the only domestic decisions Potiphar had to make was “what kind of food to eat!

Did you notice, I wonder, that this was all because Potiphar had “realised that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.” Potiphar wasn’t a Jew, in fact he was the sort of man who probably wasn’t really religious at all, but Joseph’s behaviour, his attention to detail, his wise decisions, his integrity showed, to the extent that this man could only attribute it to God. 

Could that be said of me, I wonder. I’m not so sure. But the fact is that the way we behave, the things we do and don’t do, the things we say and don’t say, and HOW we do those things and HOW we say those things, it’s that that tell people more about Christianity than preaching sermons or handing out tracts. The only way that Joseph could witness to his new boss was by being a good slave. 

This is going back in time a bit, but when God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let his people free, and when Moses reminded him of his speech impediment, and asked for someone to go with him, God replied “My presence will go with you.” That’s in Exodus 33:12.

It was because of Moses’ life-long experience of God’s presence in his life that later, when he was handing over the role of leadership to Joshua, he said to him confidently “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified ..., for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

So it wasn’t surprising to read, earlier in this chapter, that “The Lord was with Joseph” and we can safely assume that he was protecting him from the silent killers of resentment, self-pity, and bitterness. Because after all the things that had happened to him by this point, after all those ups and downs, Joseph was a prime candidate for all of those kinds of destructive emotions, but he did not let them get the better of him.

How easy it is, when someone does or says something that is disadvantageous to us, to feel sorry for ourselves, and then to let that sorrow turn into bitterness and resentment. And then it’s our turn to say something unkind, either directly back to that person or worse still to say something about that person to someone else altogether. This is is why, in his opening remarks to the Corinthian church, Paul said “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ... there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

We have to remember that, “the Lord our God goes with us; he will never leave us nor forsake us”. What other people do and say doesn’t matter, it’s their problem, not ours. May what the old proverb says be true of us, that “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never harm us”

Do you know what Jesus said about this? Yes, you probably do because it’s in the sermon on the mount, Matthew chapter 5. Here’s a potted version. You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ …. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,….. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?…. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

How good and pleasant it is declared David in Psalm 133, when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing … .

What a beautiful picture! Mount Hermon is a snow covered mountain nearly 3000 metres high but Mount Zion is where the Jerusalem temple was built and is only only 765 metres high. The blessing of the one is falling on the other.

I hope that we’re all hearing what I’m trying to say.

Let’s move on. 

We’ve got to what is certainly one of THE most colourful and best known parts of the story of Joseph. 

His behaviour, his obedience, his manner, his demeaner, the person that he clearly was, got him noticed. “Potiphar saw” it says, and so he got promoted.

The more Potiphar delegated to Joseph, the better things got for him and his household, as we heard earlier. 

Good-looking, smart, respectful, self-confident, trustworthy, Joseph was now a key member of his team. Potiphar’s wife, whose name we don’t know, had been watching this sexy young man, who was now perhaps in his early 20s, confidently walking around her house, and she couldn’t bear it any more. He turned her on, she wanted him, and she was going to have him.

Joseph might have been tempted, but he wasn’t having any of it nevertheless. Did you hear what he said to her? “Look, my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. …. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing?

Because you are his wife”. For Joseph this was going to be adultery. Bit maybe not for Potiphar’s wife. I don’t know but I wonder whether it might not have been uncommon for slaves to be sexually abused by their owners. Slaves weren't thought of as people, they were possessions, they were like household appliances that could be told to do whatever you wanted them to do. So this woman possibly thought that what she was doing was perfectly normal. 

You’ve just heard what happened, and for the second time in his life Joseph’s coat got him into trouble, albeit a very different coat, but nevertheless his coat in the hands of someone else. Last time it was his scheming brothers, now it was a covetous woman. Both of them let their emotions get the better of them, both of them lied. Both of them sent Joseph tumbling, through no fault of his own. 

But then once again we read “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden.

What problems are you facing in your life at the moment? And more particularly what problems are you facing that seem to be recurring, like Joseph? 

Who is your prison warden? Who is preventing you from being the person you could be, want to be, should be even? God says to each of us this morning “Be strong and courageous”, “my presence will go with you.” God had a purpose for Joseph, and he has a purpose for us. 

Once again we are reminded of Paul’s declaration to the Romans. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Like Joseph, we too have been called to be part of God’s purpose.