Message: Moral and Ethical Faithfulness As a Slave
Preacher: Sam Leonor
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Ame Fowler
Live Beyond: Chelsea Mensink
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Genesis 39:1-20 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: A few years ago, I was introduced to a book titled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. That’s when it clicked! Just think about the title. Is it possible to be spiritually mature while being unhealthy emotionally? You can be physically handicapped and bound to a wheelchair and still be spiritually mature. You can have a cancer diagnosis and still be spiritually mature. You can be uneducated (illiterate) and be spiritually mature. But you cannot be unhealthy emotionally and spiritually mature at the same time. Emotional health and spiritual maturity go hand-in-hand. They are inseparable. It occurred to me that the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t just describe a spiritually mature person. Galatians 5:22–23 can also be a description of an emotionally healthy person. That is why secular people who are emotionally healthy are much more pleasant to be around and usually treat others better than emotionally unhealthy church members. What is actually missing from our churches is emotional health—emotionally healthy spirituality. As a pastor, I have learned not to expect spiritual maturity from people who are unhealthy emotionally.
I quickly identified with Peter Scazzero’s struggles as a pastor, both in his own personal life and in his church. For a long time, he thought the answer to a lack of spiritual maturity was found in emphasizing religious practices and disciplines—more prayer, more Bible study, more service projects, more revival meetings, more spiritual retreats, more small groups, more [fill in the blank]. Although many of these are important (even essential) practices for a Christian wanting a relationship with God, they have a limited impact on those who are unhealthy emotionally. Scazzero noticed new converts becoming religiously fervent and drastically changing their outward behavior, and yet still missing the fruit of the spirit in their lives. More disturbingly, he realized his own life was no different, even as a long-time Christian, a pastor—with seminary training. Surface (superficial) changes do not automatically lead to spiritual maturity. We must go deeper with God.
Recalibrate: In your personal life and in the lives of others you have observed, have religious practices alone led to a character like Joseph’s?
Respond: Today, ask God to reveal emotionally unhealthy patterns hindering the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
Research: Read Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Zondervan, 2017).
Remember: “Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph. He saw that the Lord made Joseph successful in everything he did” (Genesis 39:3, ICB).
Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. After living in five countries on three continents (and five states), he feels at home on Orcas Island with his wife and three kids.
Make a fruit salad with your little one. As you’re cutting up the fruit, ask your child what they can see inside. Point out the seeds as you pick them out. This fruit would not grow without seed. Love is the seed that grows a beautiful life. Plant good seed today. Maybe even plant the seed from your fruit salad.
Through everything that happened in Joseph’s life, he chose to be with God. He pressed close to God, and God left His impression, His mark, His image, on Joseph. Get out some PlayDoh or clay or cookie dough. Push your thumbs into it and then press your whole hand in it. When you press with your whole hand, you can see that the imprint of your hand stays there after you pull it out. When you spend time with Jesus your friends and family will be able to tell.
Have you ever held a baby? The first six times I held a baby, I froze up and thought, “Um, somebody please take this baby before it breaks in my hands!”
Taking care of a baby is even scarier! Can you imagine being left alone with a baby all day, trying to figure out what its cries mean?
A couple of years ago, my friend was panicking while trying to find a babysitter for her four-month-old baby, Haley. She could not find anyone to take care of her for the whole day and so she finally called me. “I don’t know anything about babies!” I said. But my friend trusted me because she saw how well I took care of my cat and plants and how I looked after my friends and family. Can you believe she trusted me with her fragile little baby?
In Genesis 39:4, we find out that Joseph was trustworthy with little things. Potiphar eventually trusted him with every single thing, both big and small. Joseph was just a slave when he arrived, but soon he was put in charge of everything. This was just because he showed how trustworthy he was.
What are some small ways that you show your trustworthiness to your teachers, parents and friends? (By the way, I did a great job taking care of baby Haley. I guess my friend was right!)
Whom have you chosen to align yourself with? When I ran cross country in high school, I loved running with other people. It pushed me to do better and run faster, mainly because I can get quite competitive when it comes to sports. This was especially the case when I ran with my friend Nathan. He was always faster than I was and so I had to run faster to keep up with him. But because I ran with him, I became a better runner. My times for races improved and I pushed myself in a way that was different than if I just ran by myself. This was similar with Joseph and God. Because Joseph aligned himself with God and “ran” with Him, he was successful. He realized that he couldn’t survive on his own, and he needed the help of God. What I find remarkable in this is that Joseph could have given up on God. He could have told God that he didn’t want anything to do with Him because of his enslavement. But he still chose to “run” with God. No matter what life circumstance you are in, always run with God. Allow Him into your life, and watch as He slowly transforms it.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Ame Fowler has fifteen years of youth and children’s ministry experience and has served as a leader with TOP kids. She and her husband enjoy ministry through coffee, and live in Chattanooga, TN.
Chelsea Mensink serves as the family ministries director at Crosswalk Church in Redlands, California. She is a delightful and talented children’s pastor who just oozes fun and love like a squished Twinkie.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.