Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Consider these three pairs: a wildfire vs. the fire in a household furnace, a stampede of wild horses vs. a horse-drawn wagon, and a car bomb vs. the explosions within your car’s engine cylinders. What makes the difference between destructive and constructive power?
2. Law enforcement agencies have used the question, “What’s holding you back?” to encourage seat belt use. How does a double meaning in this slogan challenge a person to think differently about devices designed to restrain us?
Read Genesis 39:1-5.
1. Summarize the circumstances that led to Joseph being enslaved (Genesis 37:12-36). Describe the motives of those who sold him into slavery.
2. Rocky Graziano (1919–1990) chronicled his rise from troubled youth to a middleweight boxing title in an autobiography called Somebody Up There Likes Me. Based on Joseph’s circumstances alone, why might he not have described his life at this point with the same title?
3. Nevertheless, God’s presence in Joseph’s confinement turned negatives into positives. How was Joseph affected? How did Potiphar, despite being a pagan Egyptian, also benefit?
Read Genesis 39:19-23.
4. Summarize the circumstances that led to Joseph’s imprisonment (Genesis 39:6-19). Does doing the right thing always lead to immediate rewards? Explain.
5. Underline the identical phrases that appear in Genesis 39:2 and 23 and in 39:3 and 23. Why does tying oppression and God’s presence together seem counterintuitive at first?
6. Joseph may have once dreamed of living a life of ease as the favored son of a wealthy landowner. How did placing Joseph into confinement (both as a slave and as a prisoner) yield more positive results than simply granting him “the good life?”
7. Are you in a circumstance today that makes you feel like an oppressed victim (ex: relationship issues, health problems, difficult job situation, etc.)? How might God be using this situation to contain and direct his power in you to achieve positive ends? How might situations that seem to hold us back actually be making us “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:35-39)?