Day 18

I spent the morning helping to clear out the boilerhouse in the cellar of our church. There was so much clutter which had been put there over the years “just in case” it was ever needed. It is very easy to laugh at our predecessor’s lack of vision. Did they really think that there would come a day when we would need some random bits of rubble and masonry? A Christmas tree stand? Some off-cuts of wood? A firedoor? An instruction book for something electrical? A broken pump? A lock with no key? But with the best of intentions, that is exactly what they did.

As I sit here now I’m surrounded by scraps of paper that the kids might need if they are having a craft day and want to make greeting cards. There are some leads which belonged to an old phone which I put here to be thrown out at some point. But I never got round to it. There’s some Blu-tac which I know I will be using soon, I just don’t know exactly when. And some broken pencils which I’ll sharpen and use one day. Does this sound familiar? Amplify by 100 and you get some idea of the stuff which had been put in the boilerhouse “just in case”.

How much stuff have you got in your spiritual life “just in case”? You don’t need it! Have a clear-out and take it to the metaphorical tip. You’ll feel much better. Don’t worry because if you haven’t used this stuff by now, you never will.

I’m not a huge fan of musicals on the whole, but I do like “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and as we draw nearer to where the show starts, I find myself humming songs from it. And today we have “Jacob and sons”, otherwise known as Genesis 37.

Let’s face it, Joseph was a bit dim if he couldn’t see what was happening right in front of his nose. Jacob loved him the most, so had a coat made for him. Joseph went trotting off to Jacob every time his brother’s did something wrong. And what do you think his brothers thought about all this? Were they happy? Not much!

It gets worse. One night Joseph has a dream that he has a bundle of corn which is taller than theirs and their corn bows to his! Anyone with a bit of common sense (and we talked about that yesterday) would have kept quiet. Oh no, not Joseph. He went and told them about his dream. And that, of course, made them madder than ever.

But things really start to get bad when Joseph has another dream. And, yet again, he goes blabbing about it to everyone. The sun, moon and eleven stars are bowing down before HIM! His father is enraged, his brothers are insanely jealous.

One day, Jacob (who has been wondering about Joseph’s dreams) sends him to Shechem to see his his brothers are getting along with the sheep. Now Shechem, if you remember, is where Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped (Genesis 34) and her brothers took their revenge by killing all the men in the town. So there is a bad “vibe” there already. Joseph’s brothers have “form” and are already really angry with him. And so the stage is set.

To quote a line from the song, “There’s eleven of us and there’s only one of him.”

But when Joseph arrives, his brother’s are not there. They have moved on to Dotham. Joseph continues his search for them and as he approached their c amp, they planned to kill him. But Reuben stopped them. “Let’s just throw him in this empty cistern [or well] instead.” Reuben, it turned out, wasn’t all bad and planned to return later and rescue Joseph. And so they ripped his coat and threw him in.

At this point, a group of traders were passing by. Joseph’s brother Judah decided to sell him instead. So he was pulled from the well and taken to Egypt. Leter, Reuben discovers the empty well and is distressed to find him gone. The brothers kill a goat and dip the ripped coat in its blood. They then send the coat back to Jacob. Jacob recognises it at once and mourns the apparent death of his beloved son. Meanwhile, Joseph is sold to Potiphar and the next chapter of his life begins.

Genesis 38 tells the story of Judah and his three sons. He has left his family home and arranges for his eldest son to marry a local woman, Tamar. But God thinks of the two eldest sons as evil and they die. Judah fears his youngest, who is now in line to marry Tamar, will also die. So Judah hold off from allowing his youngest to marry her.

One day, as Judah is travelling to look after his sheep, Tamar tricks him into having sex with her. Later, she gives birth to twins.

Matthew 12 continues to tell us what Jesus did as he travelled through the towns healing the sick. The temple teachers are watching him constantly and start to say that he has the power from Satan. Jesus knows what they are up to and has an answer for them. (12:33) “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.” In other words, have the people been healed? Are they better than before? And what about THEM? Have they said good things? Done good things? What kind of fruit does their tree have?

What kind of fruit is growing on your tree?

The teachers approach him one day and say, “Show us a sign of authority.” He refuses their trap, of course. But he does offer this advice which struck a chord with me, given the morning I had:

(12:43) “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest and finding none. Then it says ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.” But there’s a cautionary note: “It finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there.”

So be careful, just because your house is clean doesn’t mean you are safe.

And, talking about safe, Psalm 16 begins with the words: “Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.”

More words of encouragement from Proverbs 3 to close with.

“Wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but he offers his friendship to the godly.”

Thanks to the messages of support I’ve had this week. It’s satisfying to think I’m now 5% through my journey. Goodnight!

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