The Object Lesson – Baking a Dessert
When you are baking anything, you are bound to use some ingredients that don’t taste very good on their own. Have you ever tried a spoonful of salt by itself? Anyone interested in downing a cup of vegetable oil in the morning? Of course not! Although we don’t particularly enjoy them on their own, these items are essential ingredients in many delicious recipes.
Just try baking a cake without the flour. See what happens to your cookies if you don’t add baking soda. As unappetizing as they might be, we need these ingredients to make our tasty treats. This is also true of life.
Set out the ingredients to bake something simple (cookies, brownies, or cupcakes), and have someone taste different ingredients. Just a small amount of flower, oil, raw egg, or baking soda should be enough to turn them away. As they taste the items (or refuse to taste them), ask if you should still include the ingredients in your recipe. Of course you should! Just because an ingredient doesn’t taste good on its own, doesn’t mean it won’t contribute to something wonderful in the end.
Of course, some of the ingredients taste just fine on their own. Chocolate chips and sugar, for example, are perfectly yummy without being mixed together, but something special happens when we combine all the ingredients together. Go ahead and mix the ingredients together and put them in oven (for a stage demonstration, I made brownie cupcakes in an air fryer while talking. As they bake, move into your teaching/Bible study time.
Bible Lesson – Life Can Be Hard
A quick glance at the life of Joseph reveals that he too had some unsavory ingredients in his life. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers because they were tired of him being dad’s favorite. Then he was put in prison because a powerful woman lied about his behavior. Nobody signs up for this kind of mistreatment.
While your treats are baking, spend some time reading through different parts of Joseph’s life. Talk about which parts might be good and delicious on their own, and which ones aren’t so good. Here’s a list of scriptures you might read:
- Joseph is Jacob’s Favorite – Genesis 37:2-11
- Sold into Slavery – Genesis 37:12-36
- Put in Charge – Genesis 39:1-6
- Put in Jail – Genesis 39:7-20
- Put in Charge (again) – Genesis 41
- Saves His Family – Genesis 45:1-8
Along the way, God used these trials to position Joseph in an incredibly powerful position. He was able to save both the Egyptian empire, and his own family from famine and death. Near the conclusion of the story, the Joseph told his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).
In other words, God took the unsavory ingredients, the difficult times, and used them to make something wonderful. Often times we wish God would take away all the hard, unappetizing parts of our life, but they may be necessary to create the finished product.
By the time you are done studying the story, your baked goods should be ready to eat. As you eat discuss how good they taste despite all of the “bad” ingredients you had to use. God has the ability to use challenges in our life to help prepare us for something beautiful. Talk about hard times you have been through and how God shaped your character, developed your skills, or placed you in a situation to turn those difficult seasons into a something wonderful.
Other Scriptures to Study
This theme plays out throughout the Bible. Many of God’s leaders, prophets, and kings have to endure difficult seasons, and God uses their struggles to make something great. Here are a few other stories you might study that follow a similar theme to Joseph.
Moses – Exodus 1-6
Moses was an orphan, adopted by the king, chased into the wilderness, and then called to be God’s prophet. His life included seasons of great wealth and power, and times of hardship and despair. All of this prepared him to be a great leader for God’s people.
David – 1 Samuel 16-21
David was anointed the next king, defeated Goliath, and was welcomed into Saul’s house. Then he spent years on the run, hiding in caves, and afraid for his life. God helped David learn to trust in him during this time, and David became Israel’s greatest king.
Elijah – 1 Kings 17-19
We know Elijah for his incredible mountaintop showdown where fire came from the sky. Immediately before that he had been hiding out depending on God to provide food every day, and immediately after that showdown, he was crying under a tree because he thought he failed. Like so many others Elijah’s life is full of bitter ingredients and sweet ones, all mixed together to make the end product.