Sermon for Sunday, September 17, 2017: “The Lord Can Transform Evil Into Good.”

September 17, 2017                                                              Text:  Genesis 50:15-21

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

As human beings we enjoy stories of sweet revenge.  My dad tells the story of being on the JV basketball team in a small south central Illinois town in the late 1950’s.  The team he was on was pretty good.  They would win some games by quite a lot.  My dad, his friend and a few other teammates were the bench players.  Unfortunately, even in their blowout wins, they would not get a lot of playing time.  The coach liked to keep his starters in the game.

During their last game at home that season, they had another game where they were way ahead.  With very little time on the clock, the coach started to empty his bench and send the bench players into the game.  My dad’s friend took his warm-up off, checked into the scorer’s table, and then proceeded to run not into the game, but straight into the locker room.  The coach stood there dumbfounded.  He had no idea what was going on.  This was the player’s chance to get back at the coach for never getting him into a game.  I laugh every time my dad tells this story.

If someone had the right to sweet revenge it would be the main character in our text – Joseph.  We will get into his story and see how . . .

“THE LORD CAN TRANSFORM EVIL INTO GOOD”

Our text today is actually the end of a long story about Joseph and his brothers.  Joseph was the eleventh of twelve brothers and the most beloved by his father Jacob.  Joseph did some things to his brothers they didn’t like so they conspired to kill him and throw him down a pit.  The brothers made it look like Joseph had been killed and Jacob grieved for his dead son.

Except, Joseph wasn’t dead.  He was sold and served Potiphar.  He ended up in prison but interpreted some dreams for Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, and then for Pharaoh.  Pharaoh put Joseph in a place of leadership and he controlled the flow of grain during the famine and the years of plenty.  This is what brought Joseph’s brothers to him.

With that background then, our text, “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.’” (v. 15)

Do you ever have those thoughts?  You want to get back at someone who has wronged you?  A co-worker takes credit for your work and it puts you in a bad light with the boss.  Later, that same co-worker struggles hopelessly with a project due tomorrow.  What do you do?

A fellow student bullies you mercilessly.  Later, she’s accused of cheating on a test, but you know she’s innocent.  What do you do?

Your sister talks your aging mother into giving her a precious heirloom that she promised you many years ago, and then she sells it.  Now your sister needs help with groceries for her family.  What do you do?

The music director asks you to sing a solo for Christmas Eve.  After practicing for several weeks, he asks his grandson to do it.  Months later, with only a week’s notice, the music director wants you to sing several solos for Easter because his grandson backed out.  What do you do?

Joseph brothers threw him in a pit, let his father think he was dead, and now they come to him for much needed grain.  What will he do?  These brothers had lived with guilt and had never had a good talk with Joseph about what they had done to him.

Sometimes instead of talking with our families or friends, we have the idea that past hurts and sins will just go away if we don’t bring them up again.  They are not confessed and forgiven, just forgotten…for a while.  But if the topic comes up again, the scab is picked and the bleeding starts all over.  Even if we cover it up with “That’s okay,” or “don’t worry about it.”  The healing never happens.

The brothers make up a story about Jacob to Joseph and how the father wanted Joseph to forgive them.  Their contrition is not genuine but a desperate attempt to save themselves.

Do we play this game with a cake or flowers or a trip away?  That’s bribery, not repentance and forgiveness.  We need to articulate the wrong and be forgiven.  Hearing the words of absolution from the Pastor in church, as well as remembering our Baptism and receiving Christ’s body and blood “for the forgiveness of sins,” is hearing the voice of God loud and clear that God has forgiven us through the sacrifice, the cross, of our Savior Jesus.

This is the truth that Joseph knew.  He wasn’t in the place of God, but God could bring good out of evil.  From a blood-stained cloak and the bottom of a slimy pit to a leader in Egypt with his brother’s future in his hands.  He could have gone to the scorer’s table, checked into the game and then kept on running away, leaving his brothers standing there dumbfounded.  But He didn’t.  Joseph explained that the Lord had a purpose in the brother’s evil.  God meant it for good so that this family could be reconciled and many people would be kept alive.

Those who hated and killed Jesus meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, the saving of many souls.  The persecution and unjust treatment and the killing and the burial and the emerging from the tomb were all part of God’s greater plan of ultimate good for you and me.  Our sins are no more!

Jesus speaks to us today through Joseph.  Can we see the good that can come from the evil in our lives?  Do you have relationships still hanging in the balance?  Through the power of the Holy Spirit make that phone call, write that letter, let go of your anger and be reminded of the precious love the Savior has for you.  You have been reconciled to Him and He wants you to be reconciled to others.  The Lord can transform evil to good and we were blessed to see it today.

Amen.

 

Bulletin Announcements

September 17, 2017

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Romans 14:7 – “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”  We just don’t belong to ourselves: we belong first of all to God and through Him we belong to our neighbors.  We are here to serve God in our service to one another.  God has called you to this service through your vocation: as a Christian you serve others in the church; as a neighbor you serve others in society; and as a son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother, you serve your family.

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m. As we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we continue studies on that time period.  We are studying “A Man Named Martin”, a video-based study on the reformer Martin Luther.

NEXT SUNDAY, September 24th, we will have another collection for our new Church Sign.  The final collection will be on Reformation Sunday, October 29th.

FROM THE OFFICE:  If you had your picture taken for our new Church Directory, please pick up your copy today at the table in the narathex.

THANK YOU:  The members of Good Shepherd, Pastor Lueck and the Office Staff would like to thank Mandy Kluender for her dedicated service these past seven years serving as the Newsletter Editor.  Janet Evans will now serve as our Newsletter Editor.  Beginning this month  any Newsletter Announcements or Activities you would like published in the OCTOBER NEWSLETTER should now be sent to the church’s email at: goodshepherdblm@frontier.com or put a hard copy in Janet’s mailbox in the church office.  Thank you!  TODAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the OCTOBER NEWSLETTER.

PORTALS OF PRAYER:  The October—December 2017 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack in the narthex.  Pick up your free copy today.

THE LADIES MORNING BIBLE STUDY will resume this Tuesday, September 19th at 9:30 a.m. in the Church Conference Room.  We will begin with some fellowship and light refreshments. The study will be on Chapter 9 “The Parable of the Talents Matthew 25:14-30”.  Hope to see you all this Tuesday!

FROM THE OFFICE:  The AED (Automated External Defibrillator) has now been mounted on the south wall in the narthex.  Please take an opportunity to visually locate it.  Saying prayers that we never need to use it, but if we should: 1) Call 911; 2) Have someone grab the AED; 3) Turn the equipment on and the AED will walk you through what you need to do.  A CPR class will be scheduled at a later date.  Speak with Mary Anne Kirchner if you have any questions.

PORTALS OF PRAYER:  The October—December 2017 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack in the narthex.  Pick up your free copy today.

LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF SCHOOL KITS:  It’s that time again for the LWML’s Project Lutheran World Relief School Kits.  We need your help filling the School Kits with the following items for each School Bag:  4 Notebooks; 1 Ruler; 1 Pencil Sharpener; 1 Scissor; 5 Pencils; 5 Pens; 1 Box of Crayons; 1 Eraser; 1 Book Bag.  If you have any questions, please see or contact Joann Hart (309) 310-9205.  Thank you for your help!

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

COME ONE, COME ALL!  You are invited to Christ Lutheran Church at 311 N. Hershey Rd., in Normal next Sunday, September 24, 2017 from 3-5:00 p.m. for a Reformation Walk.  The 50 minute tours start at 3:00 p.m. and are free.  Complimentary refreshments will be provided.  For more information please call the church office at (309) 452-5609.

GOD GAVE YOU EACH OTHER….WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HIS GIFT?  Make it special…say “yes” to a Lutheran Marriage Encounter Weekend.  The next Weekend is scheduled in Peoria, IL on October 13-15, 2017.  Contact Norm and Deb Lopez at peorialmereg@gmail.com for more information. Preregistration is required – don’t miss out! Registration deadline is this coming Friday, September 22nd.  Registrations after that date will be on a space available basis.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “The Latest Polls” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Matthew 21:8-11 and Luke 23:23-25.  Believing the latest public opinion poll is not the same thing as believing the truth.  Reverend Dr. Ken Klaus is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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Bulletin Announcements

September 10, 2017

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Matthew 18:4 – “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” What does it mean to have childlike faith?  Certainly Jesus does not want us to have a faith that is childish: we are not called to ignorance or silliness.  Rather, we are called to trust the way a child trusts: with complete confidence in the Father.  We show that confidence in our lives when we follow His directives for our life: Father knows best, so we’ll take His advice!

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE HIGH SCHOOL—COLLEGE—AND ADULT BIBLE STUDY will be led by Pastor Weseloh in the basement of the church at 9:15 a.m.

THANK YOU to Reverend Mel Weseloh from Minier for conducting worship and Bible Class this morning.  Pastor Weseloh is celebrating this year 60 years in the ministry.  God’s blessings to you and your work in the Lord’s Kingdom.

TODAY:  Pastor, Toni, and Holden are at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Littlefield, Texas this morning.  This was the 1st church that Pastor served from 1991—1995.  They are celebrating 100 years as a congregation and Pastor is privileged to be serving in their anniversary worship service.  Pastor will return to the office on Monday afternoon.

THANK YOU:  The members of Good Shepherd, Pastor Lueck and the Office Staff would like to thank Mandy Kluender for her dedicated service these past seven years serving as the Newsletter Editor.  Janet Evans will now serve as our Newsletter Editor.  Beginning this month, any Newsletter Announcements or Activities you would like published in the Newsletter should now be sent to the church’s email at: goodshepherdblm@frontier.com or put a hard copy in Janet’s mailbox in the office.  Thank you!  NEXT SUNDAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the OCTOBER NEWSLETTER.

OUR DOOR OFFERING LAST SUNDAY for Hurricane Harvey Relief was $1,586.20.

OUR RED CROSS BLOOD DRIVE is scheduled for this coming Friday, September 15th from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  We are going to have a football tailgate theme – “Make The Right Play. Give Blood”.  The easiest way to sign-up is to go to redcrossblood.org, put in our zip code (61704) and follow the prompts.  We also have a sign-up at church and have materials to share with your workplace and friends.

THE MOVIE, “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” which many of us enjoyed in the theater is now coming to television.  It will be shown on PBS this coming Tuesday, Sept. 12th at 7:00 p.m.

FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT:  Our next movie night will be Friday, SEPTEMBER 15th!  The feature presentation will be the hilarious cowboy comedy “SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF”.  The movie is open to all members of Good Shepherd and the community.  Invite your neighbors to come and enjoy the movie, food and fellowship!  Come early and give blood at the Red Cross Blood Drive and stay for the movie.  On his way to Australia, frontier opportunist, Jason McCullough (Garner) stumbles into a small gold-rush town and decides to earn a little extra pocket money by accepting a temporary assignment as their sheriff.  Happily applying himself to his new position, McCullough manages to turn the town derelict (Elam) into his deputy, outsmart the dreaded Danby clan (led by Brennan in a hilarious comic performance), and fend off the lusty advances of the mayor’s daughter (Hackett) – all without breaking a sweat or dirtying his shiny black boots!  Take a break from the hustle and bustle, come and relax and enjoy a funny Cowboy Comedy Movie!

LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF SCHOOL KITS:  It’s that time again for the LWML’s Project Lutheran World Relief School Kits.  We need your help filling the School Kits with the following items for each School Bag:  4 Notebooks; 1 Ruler; 1 Pencil Sharpener; 1 Scissor; 5 Pencils; 5 Pens; 1 Box of Crayons; 1 Eraser; 1 Book Bag.  If you have any questions, please see or contact Joann Hart (309) 310-9205.  Thank you for your help!

COME ONE, COME ALL!  You are invited to Christ Lutheran Church at 311 N. Hershey Rd., in Normal on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from 3-5:00 p.m. for a Reformation Walk.  The 50 minute tours start at 3:00 p.m. and are free.  Complimentary refreshments will be provided.  For more information please call the church office at (309) 452-5609.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Unleash the Power of Forgiveness In Your Life” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Matthew 18:21-35.  Life with God is not about keeping score; it’s about living for others in the grace Jesus earned for us.  Reverend Dr. Gregory Seltz is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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Bulletin Announcements

September 3, 2017

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Matthew 16:26 – “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?”  He who dies with the most toys….is dead.  But the one who trusts in the Lord, even though he dies, yet shall he live.  We live out our trust in the Lord by faithfully fulfilling the roles God has given us to play in home, church, and society as loving, generous people.  Those who don’t know the Lord are afraid to be generous because they think that what they give away is lost to them.  But we who know the Lord know that the things of this world become true blessings when they are used for God’s Kingdom.

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m. As we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we continue studies on that time period.  We are studying “A Man Named Martin”, a video-based study on the reformer Martin Luther.

TODAY:  In conjunction with our brothers and sisters in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) we will have a Special Door Offering today to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Our gifts will go to the Synod as they work in that area.  I know we are all praying and we ask the Lord to guide.

OUR RED CROSS BLOOD DRIVE is now scheduled for Friday, September 15th from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  We are going to have a football tailgate theme – “Make The Right Play. Give Blood”.  The easiest way to sign-up is to go to redcrossblood.org, put in our zip code (61704) and follow the prompts.  We also have a sign-up at church and will have materials to share with your workplace and friends.

THE MOVIE, “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” which many of us enjoyed in the theater is now coming to television.  It will be shown on PBS on Tuesday, Sept. 12th at 7:00 p.m.

FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT:  Our next movie night will be Friday, SEPTEMBER 15th!  The feature presentation will be the hilarious cowboy comedy “SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF”.  The movie is open to all members of Good Shepherd and the community.  Invite your neighbors to come and enjoy the movie, food and fellowship!  Come early and give blood at the Red Cross Blood Drive and stay for the movie.  On his way to Australia, frontier opportunist, Jason McCullough (Garner) stumbles into a small gold-rush town and decides to earn a little extra pocket money by accepting a temporary assignment as their sheriff.  Happily applying himself to his new position, McCullough manages to turn the town derelict (Elam) into his deputy, outsmart the dreaded Danby clan (led by Brennan in a hilarious comic performance), and fend off the lusty advances of the mayor’s daughter (Hackett) – all without breaking a sweat or dirtying his shiny black boots!  Take a break from the hustle and bustle, come and relax and enjoy a funny Cowboy Comedy Movie!

FROM THE OFFICE:  We received a letter from former Seminarian and now Pastor Jeremy Hercamp and family.  It updates his first call into the ministry and the birth of their second child.  It is posted on the bulletin board outside the church office.

LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF SCHOOL KITS:  It’s that time again for the LWML’s Project Lutheran World Relief School Kits.  We need your help filling the School Kits with the following items for each School Bag:  4 Notebooks; 1 Ruler; 1 Pencil Sharpener; 1 Scissor; 5 Pencils; 5 Pens; 1 Box of Crayons; 1 Eraser; 1 Book Bag.  If you have any questions, please see or contact Joann Hart (309) 310-9205.  Thank you for your help! 

REFORMATION REVERATIONS: THE LASTING IMPACT OF MARTIN LUTHER’S REFORMS is the topic of the CID LLL Annual Retreat.  The speaker is Dr. Erik Herrmann who is Director of the Center for Reformation Research, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, and Chairman of the Department of Historical Theology.  He was also one of the Commentators for the movie “Luther: The Idea That Changed the World”.  It will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at Camp CILCA, Cantrall, IL in the Christian Growth Center starting at 9:00 a.m.  Registration cost is $20.00 which includes lunch.  You will need to register by TOMORROW, Monday, September 4th by sending your information to Deloris Blessman, 24204 CR 1850N, Topeka, IL 61567 or email her at: delorisblessman@yahoo.com or call her at (309) 361-1461.  Dr. Erik Herrmann will examine the long term effects of Luther’s influence in three areas: religion, politics and society.  Don’t miss this institute!

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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