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.

 

Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules September 2017

Elder and Usher Schedule

Date
8:00
Elder
10:30
Sept 3Daryle Schempp, Gene Fuller, Richard Ross, Nathan KluenderMike FieldGreg McNeely, Mike Huth
Sept 10Gerald Semelka, Craig CulpPaul GerikeBrian Dirks, Bud Kessler, Curt Kessler
Sept 17Joshua Parry, Mike Field, Nathan Kluender, Steve ParryBarry HamlinGreg McNeely, Theron Noth
Sept 24Daryle Schempp, Paul GerikeCurt KesslerBrian Dirks, Bud Kessler, Mike Huth

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:00 AM
10:30 AM
Sept 3Garett SheleyPastor/Elder
Sept 10Pastor/ElderMatt Williamson
Sept 17Lucas PiperPastor/Elder
Sept 24Pastor/ElderJustin McNeely

Stewardship Corner September 2017

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”  (Eccl. 9:10).

God bids us to be faithful in the tasks He calls us to do.  He calls us to be members of a family (husbands and wives; fathers and mothers; sons and daughters).  He calls us to be members of society (those who govern and those who are governed).  And He calls us to be members of His family, the Church (those who preach and teach and those who hear and learn).  Each of these callings from God places a duty on us.

As members of a family, husbands are given the duty to die for their wives as Christ gave His life for His bride, the Church; while wives are given the duty to respect their husbands and submit themselves to them as the Church does to Christ.  Fathers and mothers are to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, teaching them the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Scriptures concerning Baptism, Confession, the Office of the Keys, and the Lord’s Supper.  Children are to honor their parents throughout their lives, and even when their parents are no longer alive, serving and obeying them, loving and cherishing them, and speaking well of them.

As members of society, God calls those who govern to bear the sword, that is, to punish those who do evil—those who live contrary to God’s will—and to reward those who do good—those whose lives are lived in conformity with God’s will.  Those who are governed are to obey their leaders as to the Lord Himself, for their leaders bear the sword of God’s temporal justice for a purpose.

As members of God’s own family, the Church, He calls those who preach and teach to do so in faithfulness to His holy Word.  To preach and teach the Law of God to convict the hearts of hearers of their sin and to encourage, admonish, and exhort them to do good works in accordance with God’s will.  They are to preach and teach the Gospel, the full forgiveness of their sins accomplished by Christ and received through faith, not by works.  They are to administer the means of grace in accordance with the Gospel and the Word of God.  They do all this for the young and old alike, for those who are near and far off. Those who hear and learn are to submit themselves to their preachers and teachers. They are to support them by their prayers and their gifts.

Each of these callings from God places a duty on us.  They make a claim on our presence, our prayers, and on our time, talents, and treasures.  So, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl 9:10).  Pray for your family, for your government, and your church.  Give of yourself by means of your time, your talents, and your treasures to your family, your government, and your Church.  That is what it means to be faithful in the tasks that God has given us.  That is what it means to do it with all your might.

Celebrating September 2017

September Birthdays

9/4 Joan Renken
9/5 Nathan Kluender
9/6 Randy Reinhardt
9/9 Pastor Lueck
9/10 David Marlow
9/16 Andrea (Reichert) Brown
9/20 Janet Evans
9/22 Jeff Piper
9/26 William Huber
9/26 Cleo Korte
9/27 Ronald Kwasny
9/28 Karah Kemp-Golden

Baptismal Birthdays

9/2 Kathleen Parry
9/3 Joann Nottingham
9/6 Jeannette Ross
9/8 Oliver Mosier
9/10 Joann Hart
9/10 Becky Love
9/12 Jessica Isaac
9/14 Emilia Schempp
9/17 Karah Kemp-Golden
9/18 Bryan Benjamin
9/18 Mary Ward
9/20 Clayton Piper
9/25 Michael Huth
9/30 Randy Reinhardt

Pastor’s Notes September 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In reviewing history, we find some amazing statements made by respected and knowledgeable people.  Charles Duvelle, Director of the US Patent Office in 1899, said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”  In the days of silent movies, H.M. Warner, Chairman of Warner Brothers Pictures, said, “Who wants to hear actors talk?”  Gary Cooper said, “Gone With The Wind” is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history.  I’m just glad that it will be Clark Gable who’s falling flat on his face and not me.”

Jesus made many amazing statements, too, such as these:

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39)

“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles.  And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him.  And after three days He will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34)

“Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24)

“I must preach the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)

“It is finished.” (John 19:30)

            “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:22b-23)

All these statements made by Jesus proved to be true and are still true today.  We can trust the words spoken by our Savior.

In Christ,

Pastor