Choices That Determine Destiny - Lesson 3

By Dudley Chancey

Choosing to Stand By Yourself

Text: Genesis 37-50

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student will choose to stand firm even if family members do not follow God's standards.
  2. The student will choose to stand up for God's standards when working out in the world with people that do not believe in God-people that may even be anti-God.

Preparation: (Some items are for extra work if time allows)

  1. Bible for every student (NIV is used for quotes and handouts in this series)
  2. Copies of student handout
  3. Bible concordances or Bible computer program
  4. Chalk or markers for board work


The story of Joseph is probably one of the best-known stories in all of Scripture. Child abuse, lying, cover-up, slavery, lust, fear, power, redemption, forgiveness—all of these are present in one story. God's providence is also there. It is so evident in the life of Joseph. God's hand can be seen working throughout the whole story. The choices that Joseph makes cost him. But, each time and in each situation, he practices the principles and standards that he was taught as a child, and he is elevated into a leadership position. Choosing wisely pays off in the end for Joseph- and his family.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (5 minutes)

  1. Prayer time (ask for requests, ask for answered prayers)
  2. Check calendar of events coming up
  3. Connect any students visiting, to individual students and the youth group

Review from Lesson #2: (5 minutes)

  1. Go over the answers to the handouts. Take these up if you are using them for some type of reward (mission trip credit).
  2. Give a one-minute summary of Esther and Mordecai's choices in last week's lesson.

Learning Experiences: (20 minutes)

  1. Remember the two general points that provide a background for our story (see Lesson #1 for a more detailed description).
    1. First, we will be studying a method of making godly choices in our everyday living
      1. The 4 C's. Consider the choice. Compare our attitudes and actions to God. Commit to God's ways. Count on God's protections and provision.
      2. We are studying principles rather than rules.
    2. Second, we will see how much the people we hangout with influence our lives.
  2. Our Bible case for study today comes from the book of Genesis. The text from this book tells another story of God's providential care as his people make choices. Joseph is confronted with many choices as a young person.
    1. Choosing not to give into Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:I-20a)
      1. Why doesn't Joseph have sex with Potiphar's wife? Because there is a standard! A great point here to make, is that Joseph didn't even have the 10 Commandments-and yet he knew that it was against God's principles to be with the wife of another man (Genesis 39:9). Perhaps the only pressure at the time on Joseph would have been the pressure from himself. Many times we are our own greatest enemy. We know right from wrong. We know how to make good choices-and yet what we want right now is greater. Besides yourself, what are other pressures that you have today that lead you into thinking (and sometimes doing) that sex outside of marriage is okay? Remember, you can say "no" to yourself, and to the world. Always think about the big picture- what will happen tomorrow or next week, or next year, if I make this choice today?
      2. What happens to Joseph when he waits on God? God works in His time to allow Joseph to be a leader in the prison (Genesis 39:22).
    2. Choosing to be kind even when kindness isn't shown to you (Genesis 40)
      1. Why do you think Joseph continued to be a good person, helping others when it seems he had so much "bad luck"? Joseph's life and character are molded by the fact that God is going to provide. He has done so in the past, and Joseph has no reason to doubt that he will be taken care of in the future.
      2. What happens to Joseph when he waits on God? God does take care of Joseph in prison and after two years (ask the class would they wait two years for God to work), he is delivered out of prison (Genesis 41).
    3. Choosing not to take revenge (or "I told you so") on his brothers (Genesis 42)
      1. Joseph's brothers do not know him when they come to buy food. He could have turned them down, enslaved them, or even had them killed. He does test them several times, but why does he not take revenge on them? After all, didn't they deserve it? Have you ever wished you could get back at someone? Remember the character lnigo Montoya inThe Princess Bride? He spent his whole life seeking revenge. When he finally gets it at the end of the movie, he makes the comment that there is no future in revenge. Revenge is not fulfilling. God even asks us not to be revengeful (Romans 12:19). When you concentrate on getting back at someone, you are not doing what God wants you to do. It is very hard to be a positive person sharing the Good News of Jesus,when you are seeking revenge. Learn to forgive. Choose to spend your time more wisely.
      2. What happens to Joseph when he waits on God in this situation? God provides Joseph with the favor of Pharaoh. Pharaoh allows Joseph to bring his whole family to Egypt to live. Their lives are spared from the famine, and Joseph gets to spend time with his father before he dies.The life of Joseph covers around 13 chapters in the Bible. It spans 93 years. He makes many wise choices in his lifetime. Choices that have and effect on not only him, but his family, his nation, and other nations in the world. Joseph allows God to work in his life.You as the teacher, must get across to the students that God truly did work in Joseph's life, and He still works in our lives today. He is ultimately in control. You might want to stress the point about sin in Genesis 39:9b. Some things are just evil and wrong. Students know they are wrong. You might have some discussion here as to why some people choose to do wrong anyway. Think of ways that you as a teacher, other significant adults in your church, and the students parents, can teach students how to make choices like Joseph. For example, you might choose being kind. Kindness is godly. It is a fruit of the spirit that shows we are godly (Galatians 5:22; see also 2 Peter 1:7 and Colossians 3:12).

Applications: (10 minutes)

The point here is that you not only want them to know about the Bible text, but you want them to take action on it. How does this story today apply in our lives right now! Use as much of the following as you have time for. You may want to pick just one (such as the quote from Joseph in Genesis 39:9b) and really concentrate on that one particular application.

  1. So how do we make application of the text for our lives today? Looking at the story as a whole, what are some of the standards that students should be able to pick out? There are several ways that Joseph characterizes a holy person-a person living godly. Once again, not having the Ten Commandments around didn't stop Joseph. He did not commit adultery and he did not murder. He did honor his father. Why did he live by these standards? He was obviously taught these things early on in his childhood. He did not lie. Joseph could have lied to his old father Jacob about his brother's activities. Perhaps if he had of lied, they would not have hated him so much. Joseph could have become just one of the good ole boys. We never would have heard of him again. What would it take in your life to be like Joseph? What would you have to give up, or start doing more of, to be like Joseph? Who are some people in your life that imitate the life of Joseph? If Joseph had not been living a holy live and making good choices, do you think God would have raised up someone else to take care of his people? Does God expect his people (even students) to live up to the standards that are set within the pages of the Bible? Yes' So much, that if you don't, God will raise up someone else-remember what Mordecai pointed out to Esther in last week's lesson. You may want to use the Talksheet-"So Nobody'sPerfect" here. It gives you some questions to discuss with students about sin.
  2. Using the concordances, look up several Bible verses on some of today's discussion. For example, students could look up the following: Sin, trust, faith, honor, and/or revenge. Ask students to discuss the definitions of these different words and to give some of the Bible contexts in which they are used.
  3. Have students write down an area at home where they can interact with their parents, brothers and sisters, or all in their family in imitating the character of Joseph. How could you imitate Joseph when one of your siblings treat you bad? How can you show honor this week to your mother and/or father?
  4. Restate the objectives for this week, tying them to the story of Joseph. Joseph's right choices didn't always bring him immediate success or relief, but combined with his trust in God, he lives a worthy life for God.

Assignment: (2 minutes)

  1. Pass out the handouts to take home. Encourage the students to fill in the answers to the questions about Joseph sometime during the next week and bring these back to class with them. The "fill in the blanks" section is straight out of the text for today's lesson. This assignment will give students time to "be in the Word." The following may help you next week as you go over the thought questions:
    1. "Character" means how one behaves morally. Some might say it is your reputation. These sort of go together. It has been said that character is who you are on the inside and reputation is who you are on the outside.
    2. We would certainly hope that all of us could be called people of Christian character. We would want everyone in the world to know we belong to Christ just by them seeing how we behave in the world.
    3. Make a chart for this one. List the words, and then see if the students can put names with these. Hopefully this will be parents and members of their church.
    4. Let students list names, then take time and let them write a note to them that you will mail this week.
  2. Read John 13:31-38; 18:15-27; 21:15-19. The story ofPeter for next week.

Evaluation: (5)

  1. Ask students to talk openly about the providence of God in the life of Joseph.
  2. Ask students to name one principle from the lesson today.
  3. (After class) Have an intern or another adult evaluate your teaching. Occasionally, ask some students to blind review the class. Ask questions like, "What was the main goal of the class tonight?" "What really made an impression on you tonight about the lesson?"

Further Resources:

(You do not have to have these to make these lessons work) Lynn, D. (2001). Junior high-middle school talksheets- updated!: 50 creative discussion starters for junior high youth groups. ElCajon: Youth Specialties.

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