It’s been an incredible busy week! We arrived home from our trip to Illinois, Michigan, and Canada (Niagara Falls) in the middle of the night Friday night. Saturday was spent unpacking, doing laundry, and getting ready for church on Sunday. I had my first Mom’s book study meeting on Tuesday morning, and I had to teach the children’s group on Wednesday. Plus there was the restocking of food supplies, dog-sitting responsibilities, getting my 8th grade daughter started on a FLVS (Florida Virtual School) Spanish I class, and trying to get my high school daughter finished with a few of her classes from last year.
For our Wednesday night children’s program, we are using a curriculum that talks about some super heroes of the faith. This week, the lesson was on Joseph.
The curriculum is very simplistic, and the lesson was only centered on one part of Joseph’s life; but the overall theme was that having faith in God means staying positive even when bad things happen to you. One idea the lesson gave was to start off with an object lesson of a half-full glass of water and ask the children if they saw a half-full glass or a half-empty glass. The half-full glass is the positive way to look at the glass.
I had the kids help share with me all the bad things they remembered that happened in Joseph’s life. I had prepared sentence strips to go in my pocket chart of 5 bad things that happened in Joseph’s life. As the children told me the different circumstances they remembered, I added them to the chart. Then, I went back and shared how we know from Scripture that Joseph stayed positive in all of those circumstances. I added the sentences that showed how Joseph stayed positive or trusted in God next to the bad circumstances. The bad circumstances I had printed on blue cardstock, and Joseph’s responses I had printed on green cardstock so the kids could easily see how Joseph responded positively to what we would consider awful things that happened to him.
Here are the five life bad life circumstances of Joseph that we talked about in class:
- Joseph’s mother probably died when we was a young boy. This can be debated, but the Bible says that Joseph’s mother died in childbirth when Benjamin was born. Many scholars believe that Joseph was around 4-7 years of age. Now Joseph is left without a mother and 10 brothers who do not like him. Of course the children did not think about this circumstance as this wasn’t talked about much in the Bible.
- His half-brothers hated him because he was Jacob’s favorite son.
- He was sold into slavery. (This was mentioned by the children — or that he was thrown into a pit.)
- He was lied about by Potiphar’s wife and put into jail. (The children also mentioned his being put in jail.)
- He was forgotten about by the cupbearer and had to remain two more years in jail after interpreting the cupbearer’s dream.
Next I showed some ways that we can see that Joseph was positive or showed that He trusted in God:
- #1-2 go together. Even though he was motherless and even though he was hated by his brothers, he stayed obedient to his father and was spiritually in a place where God could give him special dreams to show Joseph how God was going to use him one day. He didn’t get bitter, complain, and put himself in a position where God would not be able to use him. I read Genesis 37:13-17 where it showed his obedience to his father.
Next to #1, I put the strip: “He was obedient.“
- Next to #2, I put the strip: “He listened to the Lord.“
- After he was sold into slavery, we know he stayed positive and trusted in God because we see the passage Genesis 39:2-5 where Potiphar’s house was blessed because of Joseph. Potiphar knew that God was with Joseph. Next to #3, I put the strip, “He trusted in God.“
- Joseph trusted in God and did what was right even when he knew he could be killed. The punishment for being with the captain of the army’s wife was death! We did not go into detail here, but we did talk about how he knew that by not doing what Potiphar’s wife wanted him to do, he knew that he would be punished; yet he chose to obey God. I read the end of Genesis 39:9 and Genesis 39:21 and 23. Next to #4’s sentence strip, I placed the strip, “He did what was right.“
- When the Pharaoh was finally told about Joseph, Joseph did not take the glory for being able to interpret the dreams. He immediately gave glory to the true super-hero, his God. I read Genesis 41:16 where Joseph gives God all the credit and then verse 38 which shows how Pharaoh realized that the Spirit of God was in Joseph. Next to #5, I placed the strip of words, “He gave glory to God.”
Under all of the strips, I put the final strip, “He stayed positive.” Then I quickly shared three sentences where Joseph actually speaks that show his positivism and trust in God:
- He names his first son Manasseh which means, “God has made my forget my toil (work or hardship).” Here he is acknowledging that life had been hard, but that God was good to him and he could trust God to do what was right.
- He names his second son Ephraim which means, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Again, we see his positive outlook on life. Even though he had been afflicted in Egypt, God made him to be fruitful or blessed.
- When Joseph’s brothers were afraid that Joseph would harm them after their father died, Joseph tells them,
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Here, he acknowledges that sinful people do harmful and evil things, yet God is in control and can be trusted to do what is right. He saw God’s positive plan in his life because he trusted God’s sovereignty in his life completely.
I closed the lesson by discussing that life is not always easy. There will be hard times. People may die when we are not ready for them to die. Car accidents happen; people get sick. Sometimes parents fight and maybe even get divorced. This world is a sinful place, and bad things do happen. However, God has a plan for our life and we need to trust Him and know that He loves us.
We finished the lesson with Romans 8:28. Then we went and did the coffee mug craft that you have probably seen on Pinterest. I bought 15 mugs at thrift stores, washed them in the dishwasher, bought some Sharpie oil based markers, and had the children decorate their own mug. Every time they drink out of it, they were to remember that their cup was half-full and to be positive, to trust God even in the bad circumstances of life.
(If you want to do the craft, have the children decorate their mugs using the oil-based Sharpie markers and then bake in the oven at 250 degrees for 2 hours. I left them in the oven overnight after turning the oven off.)
If you would like to print out the sentence strips I used, you can access them HERE.
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