1: The Shepherd’s Crucible-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath school Class on July 2, 2022.

Main Theme: Jesus, our Shepherd, leads us through the bad times as well as the good.

Compare: Psalm 23, with Isaiah 40:11, Jeremiah 23:3-4, Ezekiel 34:12, John 10:14-16, 1 Peter 2:25. Discuss the common threads of these passages.

Study: What do we these verses teach us about how the Shepherd cares for His sheep?

Apply: Read Psalm 23:1. The Reina-Valera 1960 version of this passage reads, “Jehová es mi pastor.” How is God your pastor? How does knowing God is your pastor help you have healthy and balanced expectations from your human pastor?

Share: A friend asks if you have ever felt God’s presence leading you like a shepherd? What do you share with your friend?

Read Together: Psalm 23:1-4. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: Where all does the Shepherd lead His sheep? Is it always in a desirable location?

Apply: When going through a dark valley, would you rather be led, followed, guided, pushed, or just left alone? Why?

Share: Your friend asks why Jesus would ever lead you into a dark valley? What do you tell your friend? See Mark 4:35-40.*

Read Together: Psalm 23:5. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: what does it mean to be anointed with oil and have a feast provided for us in the midst of our enemies?

Apply: What types of enemies have you had in your life? How have you responded to those who have tried to hurt you or those you care for? How well did you follow Christ’s words to us in Matthew 5:44, or Paul’s in Romans 12:18-21?

Share: Your friend asks you how God has protected and even blessed you in the presence of your enemies? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Psalm 23:6. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: In spite of his trials, what two things does David say in Psalm 23:6 that he is certain of? (See also Eph. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:10; Heb. 11:13-15.)

Apply: What picture do you get in your mind if you imagine goodness and unfailing love “pursuing” you? What do you think David meant to tell us about God by describing His care for us this way?

Share: After reading, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,” your friend asks if this includes the bad or even tragic days? If so, how could God’s love and goodness be with us on those days? What do you tell your friend?

* Please notice in this story, it is Jesus’ idea to cross the lake, knowing full well they would run into a storm.

Don’t Keep Bringing Dead Cats to God’s Door

Friday’s section of this week’s lesson asks the question, “Once Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers feared that now Joseph would get revenge. What does this teach about the guilt that they still harbored? What does Joseph’s reaction teach us about forgiveness for the guilty?”

Maybe the brothers had a hard time believing Joseph had forgiven them because they had a hard time forgiving themselves. For spiritual growth and health I think its important to not only forgive others, but also to forgive ourselves.

Photograph by William Earnhardt

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV

Ever been haunted by your past? Sometimes I will have a flashback of some off-the-cuff smart remark I made to an elder when I was kid, and I will still cringe and want to go hide under a rock 40 years later! I believe Paul’s history of persecuting Christians may have haunted him too. Except for the fact that Paul never persecuted the Christians. That was Saul. Paul was a new creature,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

Saul the persecutor was converted, and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 233

God wants to give us all a fresh, new start.

The story goes of a man who was driving down an old highway out in the country when he accidentally ran over a cat. He pulled over and inspected the cat, which sure enough was dead. He looked and saw a house in the distance at the top of a hill. He took the dead cat to the door and knocked. An old lady answered the door, and he said, “I am sorry Ma’m is this your cat?”

“Well it was she responded.” The man told her how sorry he was that he had just hit and killed her cat. She forgave him and they both took the cat to the backyard and buried it. A few weeks later the man found himself driving past the house again.

The terrible memories came back again, and he drove up to the house, went in the backyard, dug up the dead cat and took it to the front door again. When the lady answered, he started telling her all over how sorry he was! She reminded him she already forgave him and she helped the man bury the cat again. A few more weeks went by and the man found himself driving by the house again and once again was overcome with grief, and went and dug the cat back up and took it to the house. By this time the woman was fed up and ordered him to stop bringing the dead cat to her door!

God does not want us bringing dead cats to His door either. Don’t go digging up what His grace has buried. He wants us to leave our dead cats behind us and press for the goal. God wants to make you a new creature, just like He made Saul a new creature and turned him into Paul.

13: Israel in Egypt-Sabbath School lesson Teaching Plan

Posted on  by Michael Frackeravatar

Key Thought: Even though Israel living in Egypt contrasts with the hope of the promised land, Joseph points to another place where God will bring them to the land sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
June 25, 2022

1. Have a volunteer read Genesis 47:23-26.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What spiritual truths and principles can we kind in Israel leaving the land of promise for Egypt?
  3. Personal Application: What obligations does our faith place upon us in how we treat others? Share your thoughts..
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states, “Why should we pay taxes if the government isn’t using our money correctly? Why should we pay tithe if the church isn’t using our money correctly?’” How would you respond to your relative?

2. Have a volunteer read Genesis 48:16-20..

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. Why did Jacob bless Joseph’s two sons here, and not his other grandsons?
  3. Personal Application: How have we ourselves received the blessings of Israel? Share your thoughts
  4. Case Study: One of your friends states, “Why did Israel mention the angel that redeemed him from all evil as the one to bless Joseph’s children? Who was this angel? Was Israel a prophet in predicting the history of the two sons by placing his right hand on the younger son?” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read Genesis Genesis 49:1-28.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What prophecy is given here, and why is it important?
  3. Personal Application: What involvement have you had in the future of your children and understanding of their character traits? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “What is the significance of Jacob blessing each one of his sons in a different way?” How would you respond to your relative?

4. Have a volunteer read Genesis 49:29-50:21.

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. Why did it matter to Joseph where he was buried after he died?
  3. Personal Application: With families being scattered all over the country and world, does it matter to you where you are buried when you die? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

6 Years Ago Today my Mother Died, and I’m Okay

On this day in 2016 my mother died, and a few days later I wrote an article called, When Prayer Doesn’t Move MountainsThe comment section was filled with notes of sympathy and condolences which I greatly appreciated. I was amazed I could write an article right after my mother died. I always thought when my mother died I would just roll up into a little ball and lay there till Jesus came. But I didn’t. I did not become dysfunctional- or at least not anymore dysfunctional than I already was. I was amazed that I not only could exist and survive but I was actually productive and thriving. Sure there were a lot of tears and heartache. I remember wanting to tell my mother that my mother died. After all whenever something bad happened I would always share it with her. But I couldn’t share this with her. But I also remember driving between Bible studies soon after she died, and an almost euphoric feeling came over me when I realized my mother died and I was going to survive. I wasn’t going to roll up into a little ball and just lie there after all! Just days after returning from the funeral, I went out for pizza with some friends. I found myself laughing and enjoying myself. Then as I walked to my car a feeling came over me. Am I allowed to be having this much fun yet? 

My mother Sara, and myself.

You may or may not be able to identify with my thoughts and feelings. I have found that we all grieve differently. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, at least within reason, I feel I need to share my experience, because I do not grieve the way so many other people say that we grieve. In recent conversations I have found I am not alone. I am not aiming to be judgmental or invalidate anyone’s grieving process. I just want to share my experience and why I have so much hope. Here are some ways I and many others do not grieve the way the popular society seems to think we all grieve. 

“My mother enjoyed her life before I was born, and I can enjoy my life after she is gone.”

When I read memes on Facebook about how that person would give anything to talk to their dead loved one, I cannot relate with that. Sure right after my mother died I wanted to tell my mom that my mom died, but that emotion did not stay with me. Why? I remember talking to a friend who’s mother died several years before mine. Back then I asked my friend how she found the strength to go on. While she loved her mother she said something I had never thought of before. She said, “My mother enjoyed her life before I was born, and I can enjoy my life after she is gone.” At first it sounded kind of cold but it makes a lot of sense. My mother enjoyed her life before I was born because she had Jesus in her life. I soon realized after I lost my mother that as much as I loved my mother, I live for Jesus. My mother taught me to live for Jesus. While I loved my mother dearly and can’t wait to see her in the resurrection I can continue living a happy, fruitful and productive life because I live for Jesus. Hence, I don’t wish I could talk to my mother right now. I need to talk to Jesus, and I can! 

During a Bible study last week I was talking to a much younger friend who already lost her mother a few years ago. I shared with her that I don’t constantly think, much less talk about my mother being gone all the time, even though many Facebook memes seem to imply we all do. She agreed with me that she does not think about her mother every day either. I don’t mourn her loss on Mother’s Day. I am too busy celebrating all the wonderful mothers in the world today. After my mom died my niece became a mother and she is one the best mothers I have ever seen, and I love her kids like crazy. I am too busy celebrating what I have instead of grieving what I don’t have. 

I am enjoying my life while my mother rests, knowing that while she told me stories about people and things that happened before I was born, when Jesus wakes her up I can tell her stories about people and things that happened while she was sleeping. While we both spent a portion of our time on earth together and without each other, we will have all eternity in heaven to spend together! 

I don’t need to wish my mother a happy heavenly birthday. 

I am alarmed at how many of my friends, even Seventh-day Adventist friends  wish their late mothers a happy heavenly birthday on social media. For some reason many think it sounds nice, but there is not one single passage of Scripture that even hints that our dead loved ones are already in heaven. I find comfort in the truth about what happens when you die. In 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Paul tells us to comfort each other with “these words” about the resurrection. Nowhere in Scripture does Paul, Jesus or anyone else tell us that our dead loved ones are in heaven, much less to comfort each other with such words. Again 1 Thessalonians 4:18 tells us to comfort each other with words about the resurrection. It sends chills of joy down my spine when I think about the fact that my mother’s very next thought will be Jesus is coming! My mother is resting and does not know anything. The next thing she knows Jesus will be coming! What a glorious thought! I don’t need to draw comfort from the lies and deceptions of spiritualism when the truth of God’s Word gives me comfort I can depend on. 

Our grief is personal and private. I don’t mean to shame anyone for the way they grieve. We all grieve differently. Our relationships are unique and the way we grieve the loss of those relationships is unique. The way we cope and continue to function is unique. While I don’t really mark anniversaries of my mother’s passing, I thought this year it would be a good time to share some hope with others. Regardless what social media memes say, you don’t have to feel sad each and every day. Psalm 23:6 says goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life and that includes the days after a loved one dies. We can live happy, productive lives while looking forward to the resurrection. Regardless what social media memes say, we don’t need to wish our dead loved ones a happy heavenly birthday. We can let our dead loved ones rest, while we comfort each other with words of hope that are actually in Scripture. The words About the resurrection that Paul told us to comfort each other with in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Meanwhile Jesus gives us strength and even joy as we live for Him.  

12: Joseph, Prince of Egypt-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class June 18, 2022.

Maine Theme: Joseph’s brothers experience sin, repentance and salvation.

Read: Genesis 41:37-57. Summarize this passage.

Study: What is God’s place in the success of Joseph?

Apply: What are ways that others should be able to see, from the kind of lives that we live, the reality of our God?

Share: Your friend says that the story of Joseph rising to power from such humble beginnings sounds like a fairy tale. Especially the part about him being promoted from prisoner to such a high position. Your friend says nothing like this could ever happen today. What do you tell your friend?

Read: Genesis 42, especially verses 20-23. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What happened here, and how does it reveal the providence of God, even despite human evil and wrongdoing?

Apply: How can we make up for what we have done that we are sorry for?

Share: Your friend asks if God is punishing us every time something bad happens? If not, how do you know the difference between what Joseph’s brothers experienced and when bad things are just randomly happening to you? What do you tell your friend?

Read: Genesis 44:1-9 and 18-34. Define the main idea of these passages.

Study:  Why did Joseph put the divination cup in Benjamin’s sack and not in another brother’s sack?

Apply: What principle of love, as exemplified in Judah’s response, is implied in the process of substitution? How does this kind of love explain the biblical theology of salvation? See Romans 5:8.

Share: Your friend says that Judah did not want to break his father’s heart again. Is that what true repentance is all about? How do you answer your friend?

Read: Genesis 45:1-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What lessons of love, faith, and hope can be found in this story?

Apply: Yes, Joseph was gracious to his brothers. He could afford to be. How, though, do we learn to be gracious to those whose evil toward us doesn’t turn out as well as it did for Joseph?

Share: Your friend says that Genesis 45:5 says God sent Joseph into Egypt. Does that mean his brothers didn’t have anything to do with it? How do you answer your friend?

Let’s Make Sabbath School a Bible Study

I actually thought I was the only one concerned about how little Bible study is actually done in Sabbath School. It seems we study the quarterly more than the Bible. Then I found this quote from 1991, and found out I am not alone, and have not been for years.

“Too often I find that what passes for Bible study in many Sabbath School classes is little more than a rehash of familiar sayings, personal opinion, and Ellen White quotations. It isn’t Bible study, but simply comments about the Bible…..Our “lesson study” has the guise of Bible study but isn’t. It is more a study of the Sabbath School lesson quarterly than the Bible.” –Myron Widmer, Adventist Review, September 12, 1991.

During the quarantine I would ask people what they have been finding in their personal Bible study time, only to get answers about what they heard a Television preacher say. I never got any direct answers to my question about personal Bible study time. This greatly concerned me. In Acts 17:11 they were not only listening to Paul preach, but they were searching (not just casually reading) the Scriptures (Not a quarterly or periodical) daily, (not just every now and then).

This is why I have recently been producing a Sabbath School Lesson plan ,which is actually a Bible study instead of just a quarterly study. I am thankful for the quarterly because it points us to the Bible, but after being pointed to the Bible we need to actually study it. Instead of studying the quarterly and then casually referring to Scripture, we need to study Scripture and casually refer to the lesson quarterly.

I don’t pretend to be a pioneer in developing Bible based lesson plans. Michael Fracker has been doing this long before me. I remember using his lesson twenty years ago. I found them on Sabbath School Net. Since then I have been writing and moderating for Sabbath School Net. During this time I have occasionally made lesson plans for Michael when he was unable to write, and helped edit his plans. In the process I began making my own lesson plans. Both Michael and my lesson plans can also be used for small group Bible studies. Several enjoy using our plans but many teachers like making their own, which is great. I am for whatever helps make Sabbath School time Bible study time, where we study Scripture and casually refer to the quarterly, instead of reading the quarterly and talking about what we heard a TV preacher say and then giving our own opinion, without ever really searching and studying Scripture. Lets make Sabbath School a Bible Study.

11: Joseph, Master of Dreams-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on June 11, 2022.

Main Theme: Joseph has his own dreams and helps others interpret their dreams also.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Read Together: Genesis 37:1-11. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What family dynamic predisposed Joseph’s brothers to hate him so much?

Apply: Read Matthew 20:26, 27. What crucial principle is revealed here, and how can we learn to manifest in our own lives what it teaches?

Share: Your friend asks you if our dreams have any meaning? Does God still speak to us in dreams? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together Genesis 37:12-36. Summarize the passage.

Study: What does this teach us about how dangerous and evil unregenerate hearts can be and to what they can lead any one of us to do?

Apply: Why is it so important to seek God’s power in order to change bad traits of character before they can manifest themselves into some acts that, at one point in your life, you would never imagine yourself doing?

Share: Your friend says, Joseph’s brothers never would have treated Joseph so cruel if he had not boasted about his dreams, and Jacob did not make him the favorite. It’s not their fault. What would you say to your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 39. Summarize this chapter.

Study: What made Joseph so successful?

Apply:  How did Joseph resist the wife’s advances? Why did Joseph specifically say that to have done what she asked would have been a sin against God? What understanding does he show about the nature of sin and what it is?

Share: Your friend says, if you are going to get charged for a crime you might as well do it. What’s the point of being innocent if you are still treated like you are guilty? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 40:1-41:36. Summarize this passage.

Study: How are the dreams of Pharaoh related to the dreams of the officers? What is the significance of this parallel?

Apply: How can we learn to trust God and cling to His promises when events don’t appear providential at all, and indeed, God seems silent?

Share: Can you think of someone who may be experiencing something similar to what Joseph experienced in Genesis 39? How can you encourage them this week?

Nicolas’ Baptism Pictures and Story

Jose, (left), as well as being the head deacon of the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, also has a passion for sharing Jesus with others. Jose has a weekly Bible study group in his home. After befriending Nicolas, (center) he invited him to his Bible study group. Nicolas enjoyed learning more about Jesus and the Bible, and told Jose he wanted to be baptized and give his life to Jesus. Jose has led several family members to Jesus, and he was just as happy to see his friend get baptized. As the head deacon, Jose prepared the baptistry for his friend. I think its pretty cool that Jose prepared his friend spiritually for baptism as well as making the physical preparations.
At his baptism Nicolas testified that he was saying goodbye to the old Nicolas and was starting a new life for Jesus.

 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:3-7 NLT

In my New Believer’s Sabbath School class, Nicolas enthusiastically participated and especially enjoyed reading Scripture, and affirming his faith in Jesus, and his assurance of salvation from sin and death. Please pray for Nicolas as he continues his walk with Jesus. Please also pray for him as he continues to share the hope in he has in Jesus, that Jose shared with him.

Thank you for contributing to the Bible Worker Fund, that not only allows me to share Jesus with others, but also allows me to train, equip and encourage others to share Jesus, just like Jose.