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: In Philippians 4, Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Verses 11-13). Years ago, a driven young lady attending my church asked me what “contentment” entailed. Did being content “in any and every circumstance” (as Paul says) mean we could not actively work to improve our situation? Paul, like Joseph, was also a prisoner. Should Joseph have been content to stay in prison instead of seeking a way out with the cupbearer’s help? Is there a difference between contentment and complacency?
I don’t recall where I read this, but I found an explanation that made a lot of sense. The author emphasized the subtle yet profound difference between being content “in” every situation versus being content “with” every situation. If we are never content “in” our circumstances, the proverbial grass will always seem greener on the other side, and we can’t be fully present, invested, and engaged where we are at any given moment. However, this does not mean we are necessarily content “with” how things are. As God’s servants on this earth, we will promote human flourishing in active partnership with God. In Luke 4:14-21, Jesus said Isaiah 61:1–2 will be fulfilled in God’s Kingdom, which includes prisoners being set free!
Recalibrate: How do Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11-13 apply to false imprisonment? Should we accept our circumstances no matter how difficult or painful they are, or try to change them?
Respond: Ask God for the gift of contentment “in” (rather than “with”) whatever situation you face today.
Research: Read this helpful blog post explaining the context of Philippians 4:13.
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. See how many of the things in the book you can do today with your little one. Before you begin, pray together that God’s love will grow so big inside of you that His love can be seen on the outside of you. Have fun helping sharing caring and loving.
Joseph was a hardworking, committed servant and a person created for a purpose. God created you for a purpose, too. Joseph had faith, which means knowing that something is real even if you do not see it. He knew that what God told him was true. He believed God had a big plan for him. God has a plan for you, too. What are some things that you do well? How can you use those things to help your classmates? How about your family?
Have you ever been to a fair or a theme park and seen one of those fortune-telling machines? They usually have some sort of mannequin dressed up like a fortune teller encased in a glass box. Then, once you pay, the machine will spit out a fortune on a piece of paper for you.
It’s fun to pretend you’re getting your fortune read—and even more fun if the fortune happens to line up with what’s happening in your life. But it’s just a made-up game for people to enjoy. There is only one person who can tell the future and that is God.
When Joseph was in prison, the cupbearer and baker told him their dreams. He could have pretended that he was the one who could interpret their dreams and received all the praise. But Joseph immediately told the cupbearer and baker that it was God who interpreted dreams—not him. Joseph was humble enough to remember that only God knows the future and we should trust Him with it.
You never know what doors God might open to allow you to serve and minister to people. Over spring break, I was sitting in Heart Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon (probably one of the bougiest coffee shops I’ve been to), and all of a sudden I started to have a conversation with the lady next to me. She was from San Francisco and was visiting some friends in Portland. It came out that she used to be involved with a church, but since moving to San Francisco, she had neglected keeping up a spiritual life. We started to talk about how to have a devotional life and how to study the Word, and it ended up being a great conversation. Then I felt prompted to give her my Bible because she didn’t have one. I did, and she was so moved by that gesture! We prayed and then parted ways into Portland. I never expected a conversation like that to happen in a secular city like Portland, but you never know when God might open some doors. I’ll bet Joseph never expected to minister to people in prison, of all places. However, we read that he was able to help two men in prison by interpreting their dreams. Today, ask God to open doors for you to be able to touch someone’s life or to share the love of God with them. You never know what opportunities God might use!
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.