Teaching Series
Sunday—Hopeful Faithfulness in Prison

Series: Citizenship
Message: Hopeful Faithfulness in Prison
Preacher: Tony Hunter
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 40:1-23 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: Having already served in the United States Senate for four years, Barry C. Black had an appointment to meet with a young freshman senator from Illinois in the chaplain’s office on the third floor of the capitol building. As many of you know, Barry C. Black, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, became the 62nd chaplain of the Senate after a distinguished military career and retirement as Chief of Chaplains of the United States Navy. To reach the chaplain’s office, visitors pass a workroom for several staff members and enter into a cozy space with a sofa and several armchairs. On the west side of the office, a window above the desk overlooks the National Mall. The young senator, Barack Obama, arrived at that office and asked Chaplain Black how he could know whether or not to run for president of the United States of America. Chaplain Black’s response may surprise you. He posed a question: “Senator, what are your dreams telling you?”

Apparently dreams were a big deal in ancient Egypt. In his commentary, Genesis for Everyone, Old Testament scholar John Goldingay writes

We have Egyptian examples of dream books listing motifs that recur in dreams and what they “mean.” If you dream about a well, or about weaving, or about looking at yourself in a mirror, or about thousands of other things, these could portend something good or bad that was going to happen. While such guidance might be general, it could point to some specific future event. But dreams reveal the future only in an oblique way. You need to know how to interpret them. In Egypt there were unofficial and officially recognized dream experts who could help ordinary people interpret their dreams.

While I don’t look for signs regarding the future in my own dreams, I believe God can communicate through any means He chooses, including dreams. Because dreams were seen as very important in the ancient near east (not just in Egypt—Joseph had dreams of his own which he believed were significant before he went to Egypt), my conclusion is that God chose this channel knowing people would pay close attention. God stoops to meet humanity on our level of comprehension regardless of where we are in time and space.

Recalibrate: Does God communicate through dreams today? Have you ever had dreams you felt were significant?

Respond: Ask God for wisdom and discernment in every situation you will face today.

Research: For more on dreams, and what they actually mean according to science, take a look at this article in Time magazine.

Remember: “Joseph said to them, ‘God is the only One who can explain the meaning of dreams. So tell me your dreams’” (Genesis 40:8, 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.

Read Here I Am with your little one. Know that God is here to help, share, care, and love. He knows your dreams, even when you have forgotten them. Pray these words: “Here I am Lord—help me to live love.”

We learned last week that Joseph was close to God, and Joseph had some dreams too. Joseph knew that God can talk to people through dreams, and He’s the only one who can explain them. God has a master plan. There are times when I can’t explain something so I add it to my list called I’m Gonna Ask Jesus About That One Day. I can’t wait for the time when we sit around asking Jesus to explain things that seem so confusing now. What are some questions you want to ask Jesus?

In this week’s reading, we learn that Pharaoh was angry with two of his employees: the chief baker and the chief cupbearer. The chief baker would have used coarse, grainy flour and put the dough into huge bowls on the floor. Then his assistants would have jumped in and kneaded the dough with their feet. That’s crazy! But I’ll bet it would have tasted toe-tally delicious! The Egyptians didn’t have sugar, so they would have used honey, dates, and fruit juice to sweeten the dough. It hope these sweeteners also covered up the taste of feet!

Bread is an incredibly important food in many cultures. It is a “staple,” which means it needs to be a part of each meal. It was so important in Egypt that Pharaoh had a royal baker to make sure his bread was perfect. It’s also why Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life. He knew how much people relied on bread to survive so He wanted people to understand how much more important it was for them to rely on Him. The next time you take a bite of toe-st (ha!), let it be a reminder that Jesus is the “staple” of our lives and wants to be a part of everything we do.

I will never forget my first week as a camp counselor at Sunset Lake Camp. It was adventure week, so that meant my cabin was full of girls anywhere from 7 to 9 years old—which was a handful in itself. In my cabin, we had a girl who cried pretty much at every meal and at random times during the day because of homesickness. I also had two girls who fought the whole time, a girl who was scared of showers, a girl who would always say “no” to me, and another girl who would refuse to get out of bed in the morning. I caught myself wanting to rush through the week and just get to Sunday. I wasn’t being present with the girls because I didn’t think that I could actually make a difference in their lives. Then I came across this verse: “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” (Jeremiah 29:11). I realized that in whatever situation I was in, no matter how helpless or hard, I needed to pray for its prosperity. This is what Joseph had to do in prison. Even though he was in prison, he refused to bring himself down to the level of bitterness or anger. He stayed faithful to God and to being the best version of himself that he could be in prison. He was so trustworthy that he was placed in charge of other prisoners! God never promised an easy life but rather He has called us to a higher standard. When you’re in a tough situation, instead of complaining about it use it as an opportunity to pray for its peace and prosperity.

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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