Sermon for 02.20.22 Epiphany 7 “God’s plan for you”

*Sermon for 02.20.22 Epiphany 7 Text: Genesis 45:3-15 Theme: God’s plan for

*In the Name of the Father…Amen.*

*The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.*

*Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.*

*Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray: *

*If thou but trust in God to guide thee *

*And hope in Him through all thy ways,*

*He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee, *

*And bear thee through the evil days.*

*Who trusts in God’s unchanging love*

*Builds on the rock that naught can move. Amen.*

*Text: LSB 750:1 Public domain*


*Think back to the time when you were confirmed into the faith. *

*Amidst all the excitement of this wonderful day in your life and all the
attention was going to be focused on you and your classmates, there is one
little detail that is just as important as anything else: the confirmation
verse from the Bible you chose for yourself.*

*Regardless as to whether you chose an Old Testament passage or one from
the New Testament, this Word of God is very near and dear to your heart. *

*The everse you chose was meant to be a reflection, in a way, of the
attitude, the mindset, you had at the time of your confirmation and that is
still the same today.*

*Imagine if you had chosen Genesis 45:4 as your confirmation verse:*

*So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came
near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. *

*There Joseph stands, in front of his brothers who’ve fled starvation back
home to journey to Egypt, where they’ve heard there was bread to be had, .
. . only to find the man holding the loaf to be the brother they had hated
and tossed aside like yesterday’s trash.*

*There they were standing, powerless; he, strong and dangerous as a storm.*

*Would he enact revenge, or would he be generous? *

*No one would question either decision—his word would be obeyed no matter
what he said—and his brothers, for a moment that felt like a lifetime,
thought their fate was hanging in the balance so delicately that maybe a
grain of flour could shift it.*

*They’d come in desperation to Egypt. *

*They’d hoped to find bread.*

*But what they found instead was guilt and the end of a story they didn’t
realize was still being written. *

*What would Joseph choose to dispense? *

*Life or death? Bread . . . or revenge?*

*3. Wouldn**’**t you want to stand where Joseph stands right
God**’**s plan for you?*

*Dear people of God, if only you could stand in the shoes of these biblical
figures. *

*That I could too. *

*That you could:*

*hear the sound of the silence that follows a stilled storm, *

*that you could see the joy on the face of a healed leper from up so close
that it would feel dangerous to be there, *

*that you could stand where the disciples stood that near to Jesus, *

*To place your feet in their shoes, and watch God work. *

*But here’s the thing:*

*You aren’t ready this day to stand in Joseph’s shoes. *

*Not yet anyway. *

*And if you try too soon—but standing in Joseph’s shoes if you aren’t ready
could lead you astray. *

*And all this might sound silly to you, but whether you know it or not,
you’ve longed to be in his place. This place.*

*And his place is this:*

*Joseph, the second in command ruler of Egypt to that of Pharaoh himself.*

*This Joseph, one of the most powerful men in the world, stands before his
brothers, holding their well-being in his hands, the power to give life or
the power to take it away. *

*Clothed in the finest that the world had to offer. *

*His hands are heavy, but not with work or tiredness. *

*Heavy with jewelry. *

*A gold signet ring wraps around a finger on his tanned hand, a signet
which means he can make decisions in Pharaoh’s name.*

*He could command his army, sign a treaty, give life and give death with
just a word. *

*That ring gives power.*

* And maybe you don’t covet Joseph’s power but those who would have nothing
to do with that might still be inclined to wish for his comfortable
circumstances. *

*Other rings on Joseph’s fingers say: *

*“I’m rich enough for this”; *

*my life is lavish enough for that.” *

* Joseph, he wants for nothing, and those shoes I mentioned earlier—that
you aren’t ready to stand in—they’re the best that money could buy.*

*And maybe none of this means anything to you.*

*You’re preferring just power enough over your own life and concerned with
only living simply and humbly. *

*But even if you covet none of those things, here’s something I think
you’ve wished before: *

Joseph sees clearly the plan of God for his life.

* While his brothers watch his face begging him for an answer, Joseph
thinks back over a life and sees God’s hand in every place, each crevice he
tripped on, each darkness he hid in. *

*In each and every place, he sees the hand and the guiding of God.*

*God has a plan for Joseph, and though we all know that’s true for him and
for us, Joseph sees it, the plan of God. *

*And wouldn’t you like to know what it is for you?*

*Do you covet that about him?*

*Wouldn’t you like to replace all that angst and all that stress and all
that wondering of “what if” and “maybe I coulda”? *

*Wouldn’t you rather sleep soundly, knowing that you stand today exactly
where God wanted you to be? *

*Wouldn’t you wish that you could look back on your life this moment and
see God’s hand, how he guided you to be the man or woman that you are and
how he brought you to this moment for a reason?*

*Maybe you think you do know, but if you’re being honest with yourself,
you’d have to admit that when you’re caught saying that something you’re
involved in is God’s plan, you really mean it’s your plan and you’re
praying it’s his too, because God’s plan can seem complicated and
maddeningly unclear at times—for you, for me, but not for Joseph. *

*For Joseph, it’s now clear.*

*2. But Joseph knew God**’**s plan for him now only after years of
slavery and prison.*

*The reason, of course, that Joseph’s brothers wondered about their fate,
standing there when Joseph reveals himself:*

*guilty and desperate as they were*

*is because many years ago they were so mad at Joseph, *

*and so frustrated that he was their father’s favorite, *

*that they decided to kill him. *

*They tossed him into an empty pit, *

* While they plotted how to murder him, they found what struck them as a
better option. *

*They sold him into slavery:*

*dragged behind a cart off to Egypt, *

*hands likely bound, *

*sand burning his feet.*

*Joseph then worked in the home of a rich Egyptian, as a servant.*

*Potiphar was his name. *

*Soon enough, Joseph caught the attention of Potiphar’s wife, but he didn’t
return her attention, choosing character and honor over comfort or desire. *

*She wasn’t fond of being turned down, of being told no. *

*In turn she lied and destroyed his name and any shred of reputation he
might have had left. *

*He who was once the favorite of the father had lost everything. *

*His family, his freedom, his reputation: all gone!*

*There he was, sitting in prison.*

*Maybe etching the days in the wall, who knows? *

*But he makes friends of any he can around him, and he guides them by means
of a God-given wisdom and ability to interpret their dreams and see the
future. *

*When, as he advised them, they move up and out of that dank dark place,
sadly the one who returns to Pharaoh’s service neglects any memory of him. *

*All it would’ve taken was a mention to the boss, and he might be free. *

*But he forgot him there:*

*Abandoned, *

*despised, *

*his character crucified, *

*forgotten in a prison that might as well have been a tomb. *

*But for some odd reason, even in the dark, Joseph always seemed to sense
the flicker of light and hope, so he didn’t give up the faith.*

*And one day he finds himself standing in front of Pharaoh himself, the
most powerful man in the world, and Joseph’s gift makes him indispensable.*

*He sees these times of goodness as moments when laurels shouldn’t be
rested upon but rather stored away because a downturn was coming. *

*He led an amazing food program in Egypt where the plenty of today was
stored for the coming days of none.*

*And soon enough, who should come a-knockin’ to Egypt?*

*With longing in their mouths and hunger in their stomachs?*

*None other than those brothers who began this whole course of pits and
prisons and false allegations of bad behavior.*

* “Joseph, remember us when you come into your kingdom! For the sake of our
father, pity us and help us!”*

*And Joseph, what will he do?*

*Well, he gives them life:*

*and the scales didn’t tip that way by just a grain or two; *

*they were fully tipped, by mercy. *

*And more than mercy.*

*It was the result of Joseph looking back on all the places he’d been and
realizing that all of it led to now. *

*“You needn’t fear me,” Joseph says. “I’ll take care of you. What you did,
you meant for evil, but God, he meant it for good. God sent me here to
preserve life,” Joseph says, “not to take life away.”*

*1. Only after such struggles by Christ will you be able to know
and live God**’**s plan for you.*

*And the reason why it’s important to remember all this, as Joseph
remembered all this, is because if you were to desire to stand in his shoes
too soon, you might not recall that hardship has first calloused his feet. *

*Beatings and imprisonments:*

*imagine that they’ve caused him to limp around. *

*Likely under those robes are the scars of slavery. *

*And that isn’t just the cost of knowing God’s plan; *

*it’s the steps taken to live God’s plan.*

*And the necessary hurts to take him from a bratty child who thought he
held the world in his hands to an instrument of life in God’s hands. *

*All of which is to say that if you wish to know as Joseph knows, to know
God’s plan for you, to stand with him in this moment:*

*when all things make sense, *

*you see God’s weird and complicated way of working on you to bring good, *

*you need to know that only years of struggle gave him the eyes to see, in
faith and with character, what God was doing.*


*In our eyes, so many times Joseph could have claimed victimhood. *

*Life and those who were supposed to care for him had beaten him down. *

*But instead, Joseph chose to wait patiently for the day when God’s victory
would be revealed to him. *

*That’s faith and character at work there.*

*And if you squint when you watch Joseph limp victoriously through life,
you might be reminded of another who was despised by his brothers, the
favorite of the Father. *

*He who entered the pit willingly and proclaimed in prison:*

*who had his righteous character publicly crucified along with the rest of
him, *

*who chose to give life instead of death, *

*who chose to give his bread for your hunger, *

*who offers mercy rather than revenge, *

*and who tips the scales in your favor by his favor. *

*And, of course, he asks nothing of you who’ve been the recipients of that
grace other than the impossible, which is to forgive others as he forgives
you. (No one forgives as perfectly as he does!) *

*And as wounded as you’ll be from forgiving, from laying yourself and how
you feel down for another, in the end you’ll be able to hold your head up
high, because*

*Through the Agony of It All, like Joseph, in Christ, You’ll Be Living
God’s Real Plan for You.*

*Not one of climbing ladders toward the top:*

*but one of lying at the bottom of the pit, *

*with trust in your heart *

*and a patience born of faith, that God can work through whatever mess
today brings to you. Amen.*

*Let us pray:*

*Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving, *

*Perform thy duties faithfully,*

*And trust His Word; though undeserving, *

*Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.*

*God never yet forsook in need*

*The soul that trusted Him indeed. Amen.*

*Text: LSB 750:7 Public domain*

*The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.*

*In the Name of the Father…Amen.*