For the adults of our church and anyone else who may be interested…do you have a lot of extra free time right now (who doesn’t)? Are you looking for some Bible studies to do at home? We have an entire series of studies available on our church website–16 lessons total! Go to our Faith Builders Online Class.
“Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:19-20
Are you familiar with the story of Joseph? Not Joseph, the step-father of our Lord Jesus and husband of Mary, but Joseph, the second-youngest son of Jacob, who lived close to 2,000 years before Jesus? Outside of the Passion and Resurrection narrative of Jesus Christ, the life-story of Joseph has to be my favorite account from Bible history.
It all begins in chapter 37 of Genesis and runs through chapter 50. Joseph was born to Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. Being the son of his favorite wife, Jacob loved Joseph more than his other, older sons, and he did not attempt to hide that fact. This, combined with Jacob’s polygamy, would make life even more miserable than it already was for Jacob.
On a number of instances, Joseph’s older-half-brothers felt slighted by their father. This made Joseph’s brothers envious of him. Joseph also may’ve rubbed it in their faces too. This envy led to hatred. Hatred led them to sell their brother off into slavery in Egypt. I can’t imagine the trauma Joseph experienced as his brothers forcibly passed him off to the slave traders, being carted off to a foreign land where everyone spoke a foreign tongue.
During the rest of his life in Egypt, Joseph experienced highs and lows. He spent several years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Only after many years in Egypt and an amazing turn of events where God brought him to be second in command of the entire nation did he see his family again.
When Joseph’s father, Jacob, died, his half-brothers were terrified. They thought that, with dad out of the picture, Joseph would finally exact revenge for what they had done to him all those years ago. But “Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
What fascinates me so much about Joseph’s story is that, at the outset, Joseph had no idea the amazing things God would accomplish through the sin of his brothers. Who ‘would’ve thunk’ that God would work through this incident to bring rescue from a severe famine? Who ‘would’ve thunk’ that God had in mind the protection of the life of Judah, the fourth oldest son of Jacob? And by protecting Judah from starvation and death, God really was protecting the line of the Savior. And by preserving the genealogical line of our Savior, Jesus, he really had in mind the saving of our lives and the lives of every person from sin, death, and hell.
It’s amazing that, no matter how hard Satan, our enemy, the Enemy, works against God’s people and against the people of this world, God is always able to take the best Satan can dish out—even tearing apart the family of Abraham, the family of the covenant—and use it to accomplish his good.
I find immense comfort in these words for our current time. We are only at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Who knows what the fallout will mean for our lives? Could it, like Joseph’s experience as a slave and then prisoner, last 13 years before we begin to experience a good quality to our lives again? I pray not, but even if it does take that long, we have this wonderful promise of God from the Scriptures: “And 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 Perhaps nowhere else in Scripture can you find such an example as Joseph’s story where God keeps this promise.
What does that mean for us right now? Much like Joseph as he was being carted off to Egypt, we cannot see all the good lying ahead of us on the road ahead. But there are some possibilities which do seem to stand out.
Consider our lives and the lives of many Americans. Up until this point, a great deal of our society was running at Mach 1. We were so busy with work, with friends, with our social lives, with education, with our children’s activities and more that we had forgotten how to make time for more important things like family time, rest, family devotion, and prayer. The spiritual upbringing of many Christian children has been passed almost entirely off onto the church. Studies show that the unchurched were too busy and distracted to concern themselves with matters pertaining to God, life, death, and eternity. And to varying degrees, the same could be said of God’s people too.
Now, life is slowing way down for us. Europe is asking Netflix to slow down the streaming so the system isn’t overwhelmed. People will have more time to interact with their families. The use of online resources from churches has risen dramatically in the last several days as people look for other means to address their spiritual needs. Families now have time to do devotions with each other. And there’s nothing like a global pandemic to bring people closer to God and our need for him.
Yes, our lives might be quite painful in the coming weeks, months, even years. It might mean some radical, even painful adjustments from worldliness to godliness as the sinful flesh is drowned in daily sorrow and repentance. But much good for our lives and for this world can come from all this as we learn to slow ourselves down and remember our Lord, whose mercies are new every morning.
Pastor Aaron Odya
The word “corona” is the Spanish word (from the Latin word) for “crown”. The coronavirus is so-named because under a microscope the virus looks like it is covered with crowns. The one who wears a crown rules. In our godless, sinful world, where so many don’t believe in almighty God, they are allowing themselves to be ruled by the coronavirus, or, rather, by fear of the coronavirus. They fear getting infected. They fear getting sick. They fear dying. They fear life as we know it will end forever.
In addition, many fear the effects the coronavirus will have on the economy, on their jobs, on their very livelihoods. Evidently, hoarding the staples of life somehow alleviates this fear. That’s one thing fear leads to—selfishness. As long as I have what I need, it doesn’t matter if there’s anything left for others.
Why don’t Christians have to get carried away with the overwhelming fear of coronavirus that rules so many? Because we believe in Almighty God. His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, is the One who wears the real crown. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the One who through his death on the cross destroyed the one who held the power of death (that is, the Devil) and freed us who at one time were held in slavery by our fear of death. His mighty resurrection from the dead proclaims him our triumphant King who has shattered the power of death and brought life and immortality to light. Yes, he wears the crown and rules over all things.
That includes the coronavirus. Our King sends hardships in this life and then bends them to serve his purposes. He promises that he is ruling over all things for the good of his people. He is giving us the chance to let our faith in him be evident to everyone around us, letting them know that we have absolute confidence in our King. This morning I went to Kwik Trip to get some bananas. I said to the lady stocking the shelves, “Good morning, how are you?” She said, “I’m doing fine, how are you?” I replied, “I’m great. I am alive and I have a Savior named Jesus.” She smiled and said, “Thank you.” It’s that easy to share your faith. Now is not the time to panic. Now is the time to be still, and know that the LORD our King is God. In this way we can help others be still as well. Remember, our King says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Pastor Michael J. Zuberbier, St. Peter’s, FdL
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Adam and Eve had it all. God had given them a perfect world, a perfect creation. Food was available, they didn’t have to grow it. They didn’t need clothes, it was a perfect climate. There was no fear, all living creatures lived in perfect harmony. There was no sickness, pain, sadness, or death. It was just perfect.
After Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, sin came into the world. Everything went from perfect to imperfect. As a consequence, Adam and Eve could no longer live in the Garden of Eden, because God did not want them eating from the Tree of Life and living forever in their sinful state. They had to leave.
It was a time of great uncertainty. They had never worked fields or grown crops before. How would they eat? They had never experienced drastic climate changes, such as blazing summers and harsh winters. How would they survive without proper clothes? They had never worried about animal attacks or accidents. How would they stay alive? Everything was so uncertain. There was great fear.
As our nation is dealing with the corona virus, everything seems so uncertain. There is uncertainty about how the virus spreads and what precautions we are to take. There is uncertainty about how to treat the virus once people become infected. There is uncertainty about how long the virus will last, or how long will schools be closed. There is uncertainty about how long will people be out of work, and how long until we can once again worship as a church. We have our own uncertainties about how to protect our families and children, and how to continue to provide for them.
As Adam and Eve set out to a new life of great uncertainty, they would not be going alone. God was still going to be with them. God provided animal skins for clothing, and would see to their daily needs. But more importantly, before Adam and Eve left the garden, God had given them the promise of a Savior. A Savior who would come and one day make mankind perfect again. That Savior would be Jesus, who through his death and resurrection would bring forgiveness and eternal life.
God would be with Adam and Eve, and God will continue to be with us today. He will continue to reign. He will continue to provide. He will continue to forgive. His mercy and grace are certain.
Pastor Matt Guse, St. Peter’s, Fond du Lac