Teaching Series
Thursday—Moral and Ethical Faithfulness As a Slave

Series: Citizenship
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 International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: In Genesis 39:2, we read, “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered,” and then in Verse 3: “. . . his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did.” This account can be easily misapplied, leading to the conclusion that prosperity and success must accompany faithfulness to God. There are many preachers on TV who promote the so-called “prosperity Gospel” and claim their lavish lifestyles are proof their theology works. Although it’s tempting to mock eccentric TV personalities and the gullibility of their supporters, Kate Bowler has helped me realize all of us have our own versions of the “prosperity Gospel.”

A scholar already specializing in the “prosperity Gospel” when she was diagnosed with incurable cancer at 35, Kate Bowler candidly tells a TEDMed audience

. . . despite telling myself, “I’m just studying this stuff, I’m nothing like them,” when I got my diagnosis, I suddenly understood how deeply invested I was in my own Horatio Alger theology. If you live in this culture, whether you are religious or not, it is extremely difficult to avoid falling into the trap of believing that virtue and success go hand in hand. The more I stared down my diagnosis, the more I recognized that I had my own quiet version of the idea that good things happen to good people. Aren’t I good? Aren’t I special somehow? I have committed zero homicides to date. So why is this happening to me? I wanted God to make me good and to reward my faith with just a few shining awards along the way. OK, like, a lot of shining awards.

Since I did not grow up in America, I had to Google Horatio Alger. Wikipedia had a good summary. As a pastor, I get to mingle with people who have accomplished incredible things in all kinds of different fields, and I also spend time with those who would be viewed by society as “underachievers.” I have found faithful servants of God in both groups. This reminds me of the Parable of the Ten Talents (or Bags of Gold in the NIV) found in Matthew 25 (Verses 14-30). All of us have different amounts (resources) to work with—personality traits, acumen/intelligence, physical ability/health/stamina, emotional maturity/resilience, creativity, advancement opportunities, material capital, networking capabilities, etc. But keep reading to the end of Matthew 25! Success in God’s kingdom is measured by concern for others. What God’s servants do with what they are given is based on who they are, regardless of whether or not there are achievements or promotions tied to their activities.

Recalibrate: Does God want us to be “successful” in all we do? How do you measure success?

Respond: Thank someone today for doing something ordinary to the best of their ability.

Research: Watch Kate Bowler’s TEDMed Talk here.

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.

Show your little one how to do a thumbs up and that the sign thumbs up says that you are OK. Have your little one use the thumbs up sign to tell if the food is good or that they are OK on the very top of the slide in the playground. Thumbs up when they are OK waiting in line and taking their turn. Thumbs up to show that they are OK when they have fallen over. You can use the thumbs up to show that you are OK when you have had you feelings hurt. We use the sign because we know we are OK. Our Heavenly Father is always watching over us even when things aren’t working out how we thought they would.

Joseph showed his character in everything he did and said. We show who we are in the small, everyday things we do and say. How do you act when nobody is around? How can your actions show who you serve? Make cookies or draw a picture or a thank you note and leave them on a neighbor’s doorstep. How you show kindness, love, patience, obedience matters even when your parents or teachers aren’t around.

I’m kind of famous for being nice. I’m not actually famous, but around my friends and family, I’m the nice one. My little sister, on the other hand, is known for being quiet and disappearing after being around groups of people. When we were younger, people would think her desire to be alone was because she wasn’t as nice as me. But that wasn’t true. I was just more outgoing and liked being around people. I also figured out that if I did and said nice things, people would say nice things about me. I didn’t always do things because I felt it was the right thing; I did it so I got compliments and attention.

When we talk about someone having a good character, it means that they are kind and honest and patient, even if they don’t get compliments or rewards. Have you ever done something nice for a little brother or sister just so you could run up to your mom and say, “Mom, I just helped Katie clean up her toys!” But then other times, when Katie has made a mess, you roll your eyes and leave the room, refusing to help?

Well, I definitely didn’t have the nicest character, but Joseph sure did. It didn’t matter if everyone was watching Joseph or if he was all alone and nobody saw him; Joseph always did the right thing. He didn’t need attention or to be told how great he was. He did the right thing because he had good character because of his belief in God.

What about you? Do you wait for someone to spy you doing good? Or are you able to do good without anyone watching?

My hardest week of camp was my first week as a counselor. I had a girl in my cabin who always said “no” to me, another who was homesick and cried at every meal, another who thought there was a demon in the shower, two who bickered non stop, and one who refused to eat anything in the cafeteria. Yes, it was hell week. I remember breaking down in the middle of the week from pure exhaustion because I had nothing left to give. But what’s worse is that I almost stopped seeing the girls as my campers. Instead, I saw them as the enemy. I quickly realized that I needed to pray even more for them and for my heart. Even though I wanted the week to be over as soon as possible, I slowly began to understand that I needed to be present with them. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” God called me to seek the peace and prosperity of what context I was in, whether good or bad. God called Joseph to do the same. Even though he was quite literally exiled, he still sought peace and prosperity for his new land. And because he did so, the land prospered and so did Joseph. Whatever context or situation we are in, our tendency is to wish it to be over and to move on with life. But maybe God is calling you to seek the peace and prosperity in the place you are in right now.

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.

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