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 English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Joseph’s demise was fairly predictable once Potiphar’s wife noticed him. He was not able to outmaneuver the impending doom. What could he have done differently? If he had immediately reported her advances to Potiphar, the outcome would have likely been the same, if not worse. He was not able to circumvent being falsely accused of a crime. Not just impropriety, but sexual assault (attempted rape). I’m so thankful for the painstaking and laborious work done by organizations such as the Innocence Project to overturn wrongful convictions. Their website states, “The Innocence Project, founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck at Cardozo School of Law, exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” Of course nothing like this existed to offer any hope to a slave in ancient Egypt. Yet Joseph made a crucial decision. His status as God’s servant never changed. His identity was not determined by circumstances or labels. Just like he chose to be the best slave he could be, he would now become the best prisoner he could be.
I typically like to think people mean well, so I was caught a little off guard when I listened to a deathbed confession some years ago. This conscientious member assured me she had absolutely no involvement in a conspiracy to use any means necessary (including false accusations) to prevent me from ordaining a female church elder. Even though this elderly saint disagreed with my theological stance, she was alerting me to the plot in order to take her last breath with a clear conscience. I cannot wait to see her again at the resurrection! God doesn’t promise to foil every attack against us while we serve him, but our responses to those who wish to (and do) harm us can also serve his purposes. Look no further than Joseph’s life for evidence of this.
Recalibrate: Have you ever been falsely accused of anything? How should we respond to false accusations? How did Joseph respond? He was not in a position to defend himself, but he did have some choices in how to respond?
Respond: Remember the serenity prayer today: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold Niebuhr).
Research: Read Matthew 5:38-48 again. I certainly have not mastered this in my own life, but I did write a paper in seminary on “turning the other cheek.” I concluded that Jesus wasn’t saying we can’t defend ourselves, but rather, as God’s servants we will refuse to seek revenge.
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.
Our Words to Remember tell us that Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph. Can you see your family resemblance in your child? Look in the mirror with your little one and point out all the features that you have that are the same. You may not look alike at all but our children take on our mannerisms by spending so much time with us. Let’s be the same with our Heavenly Father.
Joseph was a part of God’s kingdom. He followed God’s plan even when it was hard. When we choose to be a part of God’s kingdom, we show people who Jesus is by our actions and what we say. What do your actions say about who you serve? What do you do to serve others? Do you have a chore chart at home? Helping your parents with chores is a good place to start serving. Think of one or two new ways to serve people at school or at home. Add them to your chart. Show people who Jesus is by the way you do your chores, play games, or talk to your friends, teachers, and parents.
Sixth grade was going to be amazing because I was finally at the top of the food chain! Most of my friends were in my class so I knew it was going to be so much fun. There was just one annoying boy—an obnoxious and talkative kid named Josiah. But I could just ignore him, and I did for the first few weeks of school. Then one day, the teacher told us she was reassigning everyone’s seats. She showed us the new seating chart and in the center of the room were two desks, all alone, with Josiah and I facing each other. I almost fell over.
Apparently my teacher thought my calming presence would calm Josiah down but I felt like I was being punished. I was so frustrated! It was so unfair! But after a few days of pouting, I started smiling kindly at Josiah. And soon he started smiling back. We started becoming friends and he even calmed down a little.
I may have felt like I was in prison with Josiah, but Joseph was actually in prison for real. At least I got recess. Yet when Joseph was thrown into jail, the Bible says, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness.”
Even if you get put in a difficult situation, remember that God is with you and will show you kindness. Can you think of a time when you were put in a difficult situation, but God brought something good out of it?
When Joseph was hired by Potiphar, he probably thought that this was where he was going to remain. To him, it might have been an answer to prayer! After being sold by his brothers, God was finally blessing him and he even gained Potiphar’s trust. But soon after, he was arrested for something he never did. Where was God in that moment? Does it ever seem like sometimes God opens doors just to close them again? Or that you felt for certain God was leading you in a certain direction, but you found a dead end? I think that’s how Joseph felt. To be honest with you, I don’t know why that happened to Joseph and why that happens to us today. But maybe he needed that door to be open in order to get to the next one. Maybe Joseph learned skills and disciplines that would help him in the next chapter of his life. If God is closing doors in your life, trust that He is still working. If you acted on His voice, and now you feel like He has abandoned you, know that He has a greater purpose. God is still working and moving in your life, and there are lessons to be learned in the waiting.
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.