Sunday 22nd March

Song: Blessed be your name

As it’s Mothering Sunday we would like to remember all that our Mothers mean to us, or have meant to us in the past.

Heavenly Father we bring to you in our prayers today all whom we love, for our family, our friends and our neighbours.
Help us all to live so that we may strengthen and enrich the life of the family, help us to build with you the kind of family which welcomes the stranger, the lonely and the needy.
On this special day we remember that all through our lives we have reason to be thankful for our mothers.
When we are babies they do everything for us and spend much of their time feeding us and keeping us warm, safe and clean.
When we are children they teach us, help and comfort us sharing our hobbies and our ideas, encouraging us and keeping us happy
When we marry and have families of our own they still support us , advise us and share our troubles and our joys
When they grow old themselves they still love and care about us, though they may be weak and tired.
We thank you heavenly father for our mothers, for all they have done for us and pray that the love they show for us may be reflected in the way that we show our love for others and in the way we each strive to live our lives according to your will.

Song: My Lighthouse

A few thoughts to start

Last week we were looking at “The darkest hour ” and thinking how apt it was for our current situation. This week we are looking at the first part of the story of Joseph where he goes from being the favourite child, to being sold by his brothers, made a slave and thrown into prison, for something he didn’t do.

It maybe that many of us are finding ourselves in a similar situation at the moment, being trapped in our homes unable to go out through no fault of our own.

Read Genesis chapter 40 (opens in a new tab/window)

Song: Oh the deep deep love of Jesus

Joseph was a spoilt child and he lorded it over his half brothers. He told tales to his father about them and they hated him. Then he has a dream that seems to show how much more important he is than them. So instead of keeping it to himself he quickly goes and tells them all about it. This obviously doesn’t go down too well and they hate him even more. He has another dream this time it seems that he is not only more important than his brothers but he is more important than his mother and father as well. This time he tells his dad about it as well, which doesn’t go down too well, and his father rebukes him.

So we get the picture of a young lad who, though he was his dads favourite, was not so popular with the rest of the family. Clearly, as the dreams later prove, God has a big plan for Joseph’s life even then, there was just a few rough edges to remove.

So begins Joseph’s long and painful journey, being sold as a slave, dragged miles away from his home and having to work as a slave with no chance of ever seeing his family again. His master then recognises some thing about Joseph chapter 39 v3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, and put him in charge of everything he owned. Things are looking up for Joseph but this is not where God wants him to be and he finds himself accused of messing with the bosses wife. He is immediately thrown into prison where he could have just given up but he didn’t. Soon he is entrusted with running the whole prison. It is interesting that Potiphar, his old boss, was captain of the guard, so we can assume that he still is and therefore is still trusting Joseph to look after everything, in spite of everything.

So at the end of this chapter we have dreams pointing to how important Joseph is going to be. Dreams interpreted correctly. Yet Joseph is still in prison seemingly forgotten.

Song: By grace alone

A few things to think about

Thinking about the situation Joseph finds himself in at the end of chapter 40 how is this different to the beginning of chapter 37?

What do you think it was that the prison warden/captain of the guard saw in Joseph that encouraged him to give Joseph responsibility, despite him being in prison? What is it that the people we encounter are looking for in us as followers of the living God?

Why do you think Joseph was able to avoid getting absorbed in self-pity, despite the unjust treatment he had suffered?

How did Joseph recognise something was wrong with the cupbearer and baker?

Do we notice when people around us are hurting, struggling or worried? Are we brave enough to listen and ask how we can help?

How is it that Joseph is so confident that God will enable him to interpret the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker even when the news isn’t so good?

Is it our business to take an active interest in the welfare of those around us, even those we don’t really know, or is it just being “nosy” / unrealistic?

Did the cupbearer keep his promise to Joseph? Do you remember to thank God when things go well?

Joseph kept trusting God even though times were tough, do you?

To sum up

Unjustly treated, wrongly imprisoned and in the midst of discouragement, Joseph:

1. Looks outwards (towards others), v6 – rather than focusing on his own predicament, he keeps his eyes open for others and their welfare.

2. Listens (doesn’t presume), v7 – he takes the trouble to ask after his fellow prisoners and to listen to what is really bothering them.

3. Looks and points upwards (to God), v8 – he takes no credit himself for the dream interpretations he accurately makes, but immediately credits God.

4. Speaks out (the truth in love) – despite the fact that he has both good news and bad news to share, he does not hesitate to communicate the truth, as revealed to him by God.

Even though, the cupbearer forgot Joseph’s request to help him once he was released, God did not forget him. Joseph was patient and never gave up hope and all the time God was preparing him for important things still to come.

Song: In Christ alone

For your goodness and generosity
in giving us all we need,
help us to praise you O God.
In every circumstance of life,
in good times and bad,
help us to trust you, O God.
In love and faithfulness,
with all that we have and all that we are,
help us to serve you, O God.
As we speak or write or listen
to those nearby or far away,
help us to share your love, O God.
In our plans and work
for ourselves and for others,
help us to glorify you, O God.
In every thought and word and deed,
by the power of your Holy Spirit,
this week, may we live for you, O God.

The reading for next week is Genesis chapters 41 -47 and the focus for Sunday is 43 v 1-23 ‘Paid in full’.