06: Finding Rest in Family Ties- Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class Sabbath August 7, 2021.

Main Theme: God uses family relationships to develop our character.

Read Together Hebrews 11:17-22. Ask the class what the main theme is in this passage.

Study: Glancing through Scripture and/or reciting portions of the story of Abraham and his descendants highlight signs this family showed faith as well as other sings which showed dysfunction.

Apply: How does the faith Abraham and his descendants have give you hope? How do the signs of their dysfunction give you hope? You may want to explore “I Have Questions About the Story of Joseph.”

Share: A friend blames all of her failures on the family she grew up in. How do you encourage your friend? Does it help to know Joseph trusted God instead of blaming his family for the bad breaks he experienced? See Genesis 45:5.

Read Together Deuteronomy 4:29. Ask the class what the main of this text is.

Study: Its been said there is no story of a lost sheep searching for the shepherd, only the shepherd searching for the sheep. So how does one search for God?

Apply: How does our family encourage or discourage us from seeking God? How was Jesus’ family encouraging or discouraging? How was Joseph’s family encouraging or discouraging?

Share: Your cousin tells you he tried looking for God but God never reveals Himself to him? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together 1 John 3:1-2. What is the main idea of this passage?

Study: What is the hope that purifies and keeps us pure?

Apply: Why is it so important to know we are children of God?

Share: Think of a time when you were single, divorced or widowed or just alone. What were some things the church did to make you feel you were a part of their family?

Read Together Ephesians 6:1-13. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: Whether husband and wife or child and parent or boss and servant, what is the main attitude we have towards each other that makes our family a happy home?

Apply: What habits did you learn in your birth family that have helped you to be comforting and supportive in the family you married into?

Share: Think of an immediate or extended family member you have not talked to in a while. Can you contact them this week and let them know they are loved? Maybe even share some encouragement from God’s Word?

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT

I Have Questions About the Story of Joseph

Like many people I talk to, the story of Joseph is one of my favorite stories. He survives a dysfunctional environment and rises to the throne. His story gives us so much encouragement. For example, I love how Judah illustrates true repentance when he says,

And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. Genesis 44:30-31 NLT 

Judah tells Joseph he would rather die a slave in Egypt rather than break his father’s heart. What a beautifully accurate picture of repentance. 

I love studying my Bible near the beautiful Tampa Bay area,

I love it when Joseph tells his brothers,

But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. Genesis 45:5 NLT 

Now here is some profound theology. Joseph is not blaming his dysfunctional family for all of his problems in life! He realizes how his dysfunctional family played right into God’s hands to get him exactly where he needed to be. Years ago someone 1200 miles away called me with a job offer. As it turned out one of my coworkers knew the person who called me. I told a pastor friend, “I wonder if my coworker gave my name to the person who called, just to get rid of me?” The pastor wisely replied, “If so it doesn’t matter what the motives of  your coworker are. Joseph’s brothers had poor motives but they still got Joseph to the throne. God will work everything out for your good.” 

I could go on and on but  through the years I have also come up with some questions and I am wondering if you can help me? Some of these questions may seem more pertinent and some maybe just curious but I still would be interested in knowing what you think about them, so thank you for indulging me. 

If I put myself in Joseph’s sandals I’m thinking as soon as I got free I would go find my father. Once Joseph got on the throne do you think he made any attempts to contact his father? He knew he was in Canaan somewhere. According to this story there were obviously such a thing as spies. If I was Joseph I would have commissioned someone to do a little detective work and find my dad. Do you think Joseph tried anything like that?

Before we feel too sorry for Joseph do you think he may have actually enjoyed being away from his brothers?  As much as he loved his father, as far as his brothers go I think he may have enjoyed being free from all that dysfunction. Could Egypt have actually been a haven for Joseph long before he even came to the throne? Could Joseph have been just as happy to get away from them? 

When the brothers started telling Jacob all the strange questions the ruler was asking about the family, and especially his interest in the father and the little brother, do you think Jacob may had some fatherly instinct that helped him read between the lines and get a clue as to what was actually going on? Especially since Joseph’s body was never found? Not even skeletal remains an animal may leave behind? I could be way off, but as I read the story lately I get a hunch Jacob may have been figuring things out before it was actually spelled out for him. I know it would also take a lot of intuition to connect the dots but intuition is a thing. What do you think? 

Our imagination should never be placed above a plain “Thus saith the Lord” but I believe these stories are also written to leave room for a healthy imagination. I believe the stories come to life and are more real to us when we read with a healthy imagination that stays within the realms of the information Scripture provides. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Video: Forgiveness in Light of the Cross

Presented by William Earnhardt at the New port Richey Seventh-day Adventist Church 7-31-21

One Sabbath afternoon I received a phone call from the mother of a child I had corrected earlier at church, who had smarted off to me, when I told her to stay out of a room that was off-limits. The mother told me, “My daughter wants to tell you she is sorry, but before she gets on the phone, I wanted to ask you, when she says she is sorry, don’t tell her it is okay. Just tell her she is forgiven.” “Wow!” I thought. This mother gets it! Forgiveness is not saying it is okay. So many are slow to forgive, because what happened to them was so wrong they can’t just sweep it under the rug. The deed deserves to be punished. What they don’t understand is that forgiveness is not sweeping it under the rug and saying it is okay. Then what is it saying?

When I share the gospel presentation, I always share this passage from the Desire of Ages. It is so clear and simple, and to me, sums up the whole plan of salvation.

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.”  -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 25 

Now I would like to take this passage to the next level – beyond the plan of my personal salvation. I understand that Jesus took the punishment for my sins so that I can now be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Now I need to understand, that the sins my enemy committed have not been swept under the rug. Jesus was also treated the way my enemy deserves to be treated, so that I may now treat my enemy the way Jesus deserves to be treated.

Jesus did not only suffer for my sins, He suffered also for sins committed against me. Why do I need to take it out on my enemy when it has already been taken out on Jesus?
They made fun of me and humiliated me!
Jesus was mocked and humiliated on the cross in their place.
They killed my son! They deserve to die!
Jesus died because they killed your son.
They sexually abused me! They deserve to be sexually abused!
Jesus hung naked on a cross in front of the whole universe, including His own angels!
Earlier this year I was reading through the Old Testament, and when I came to Isaiah 53 something jumped out at me, when I read:
 “With his stripes we are healed.” 
Isaiah 53:5
Suddenly I realized something I had never seen before. I realized that retaliation against my enemy will never bring me healing. I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, and not the stripes of my enemy. Jesus suffering for my sins can only bring partial healing and partial reconciliation. I am made whole, and totally reconciled, not just to Jesus but to my brothers, when I realize Jesus suffered for their sins too.

In the story in Matthew 18:21-35 a man is forgiven who did not ask to be forgiven. He only asked for more time to pay the debt. However the master forgave the debt anyway. This is important for us to note, because the master represents God who forgave us without us even asking. In the Lord’s prayer we find we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, meaning that we are to forgive in the same manner. God expects us to forgive without being asked to forgive, just as the man was forgiven while only asking for more time to pay the debt.

After the man was forgiven, he goes out and sees a brother who owes him a much smaller debt. Even after being forgiven he refuses to forgive. In the parable the unforgiving man ends up in prison until his full debt is paid.
Wait a minute! Wasn’t his debt forgiven? Separated as far as the east is from the west and into the depths of the sea? How did it come back? I believe it’s this way: When I refuse to forgive my brother, what I am saying is, “I don’t think Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to pay for what was done to me.” Well guess what? If Jesus’ death is not enough to pay for my enemy’s sin, then it is not enough to pay for my sin either! By not allowing Jesus to pay for my enemy’s sin on the cross, I have just disqualified the cross as a payment for sin and therefore I must still pay for my sins – and the only way I can do that is to die an eternal death.

Forgiveness and reconciliation is not saying “It’s okay.” It is saying, “I realize Jesus suffered for your sins on the cross.” It is realizing I am healed by the stripes Jesus received and not by the stripes my enemy receives. We have to be pretty sick ourselves to think that in order for us to be healed, someone else has to be hurt. Jesus does not have to hurt my enemy in order to heal me.

“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves.”  Christ was also treated as my enemy deserves, that I may now treat my enemy the way Christ deserves to be treated.
With His stripes we are all healed.

Video: The Second Coming in Light of the Cross

The Second Coming

Brief overview: The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is imminent. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times. (Titus 2:13Heb. 9:28John 14:1-3Acts 1:9-11Matt. 24:14Rev. 1:7Matt. 24:43441 Thess. 4:13-181 Cor. 15:51-542 Thess. 1:7-102:8Rev. 14:14-2019:11-21; Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Tim. 3:1-51 Thess. 5:1-6.)

Why it is important to understand the truth about the second coming:

Jesus Himself says many will try to impersonate His coming, so He told us exactly how He would come so we will not be deceived. See Matthew 24.

Why it is important to understand the second coming in light of the cross:

There is a difference between believing He will come, and loving His appearing. Children who are misbehaving at home while mother is out running errands believe she is coming again but since they have misbehaved and made a mess out of the house they do not love her appearing. A true Adventist is one who not only believes in Jesus’ coming but is in love with Him and His appearing. They are like Paul in Galatians 6:14 and in love with the Cross and crucified to the world!

The Bible often refers to the church as a woman (Revelation 12). Revelation 19:7 mentions a bride who is ready for marriage with the Lamb. Who could the Lamb be but Jesus and who could this bride be but His church? Now when you go to a wedding you will notice a very pretty little flower girl all dressed up. She is prepared for the wedding. But the groom does not wish to marry the flower girl. Oh she is pretty all right, and she is prepared. But she has not come prepared for the groom. No, she has come prepared for the cake and punch after the service! The groom does not want to marry a flower girl and neither does Jesus. The groom, Jesus wants to marry the bride. You see the bride has come and is prepared for one thing and one thing only. It’s not the cake and punch, no all she cares about is the groom! You see Jesus is not returning for “flower girls” who just get all excited about the cake, punch, golden streets and mansions. Jesus is returning for a bride who cares about Him! Even Satan believes Jesus is returning, but that belief will not do him any good since he is not in love with Jesus.

At the cross we see how much Jesus loves and desires to be with us, and it inspires us to love Him and want to be with Him.

Further Study on the Second Coming

What did Jesus promise to do?

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  John 14:1-3 NLT

How will He come?

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:9-11 NLT

Was He a real person?                                                                                                   

 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them.“Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish,and he ate it as they watched.  Luke 24:36-43 NLT

To what does He liken His coming?

For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Mancomes.  Matthew 24:27

What type of glory accompanies Him?

And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30 NLT

Whose glory is it?

If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. Luke 9:26 NLT

What do the angels do?

And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven. Matthew 24:31

What happens to the righteous dead?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16- 17 NLT

What happens to the island and mountains?                                                                 

The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places.Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains.And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?”   Revelation 6:14-17 NLT

How many will see Him coming?

Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—    even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! Revelation 1:7 NLT

Why is Jesus coming back?

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:1-3 NLT

Video: The Gift of Prophecy in Light of the Cross

The Gift of Prophecy 

Brief overview: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White . As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:2829Acts 2:14-21Heb. 1:1-3Rev. 12:1719:10.)

Why it is important to understand the truth about the gift of prophecy:

In 1 Corinthians 12 we read about several gifts God has given His church to help edify and build it up. Many are surprised to find that the gift of prophecy is one of the gifts mentioned (verse10). Prophecy in the biblical sense is so much more than just predicting the future. It is also having a message from Jesus-bearing His testimony, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

Why it is important to understand the gift of prophecy in light of the cross:

Ephesians 4:1-13 tells us that after the Cross Jesus gave the church several gifts including the gift of prophecy. Paul knew that just as Jesus and the prophets were not accepted in their time and place that many in his day and our day would reject the idea of someone having the gift of prophecy, so he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 “Despise not prophesyings” but rather

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” We know that is sound advice as John has warned us in 1 John 4:1 “because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Please take a look in the further study section on how the Scriptures reveal a true prophet from a false prophet.

Further Study on the Gift of Prophecy

What two things identify the remnant church?

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:17

What is the testimony of Jesus?

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:10

What is the purpose of a prophet?

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

How long is this gift to be in the church?

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: Ephesians 4:11-13

Was this gift given to men only?

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. Exodus 15:20

Will this still happen in the last days?

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. Joel 2:28-31

How can one tell the true from the false?

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Matthew 7:15-20

Will what they say come to pass?

The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him. Jeremiah 28:9

Do prophets place their own interpretation on Scripture?

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 2 peter 1:20

Will all they say be in harmony with the Scripture?

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because [there is] no light in them. Isaiah 8:20

Will they point out sin?

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Isaiah 58:1

Will they edify and counsel?

But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 1 Corinthians 14:3- 4

Will they warn of judgment?

The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. Isaiah 24:20

What if we reject a true prophet?

I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:18-22

What is God’s assurance to us?

Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. 2 Chronicles 20:20

What are we counseled to do?

Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

 Click here for more information on the Spirit of Prophecy

Click here to search the Spirit of Prophecy writings.

05: Come Unto Me -Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on July 31, 2021.

Main theme for this week’s lesson: The yoke Jesus gives us is not a burden. It’s a support system. It’s His grace.

Read Together Matthew 11:28-30. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: what type of rest does Jesus give us? How might the preceding verses help us understand?

Apply: How do we take Jesus’ yoke? How does that make our burden light? See God Will Definitely Give you More Than you can Handle.

Share: Share a time God gave you rest from a trial or temptation.

Read Together Matthew 5:5 and Galatians 5:1 and identify the main idea of these passages.

Study: What does it mean to be meek? What is the yoke of bondage Christ frees us from?

Apply: How do we stay meek and have rest and peace in a doge eat dog world?

Share: Tell about a meek person you know. How do they show meekness while having a confident rest and peace?

Read Together Exodus 18:13-22. Discuss the theme of this passage.

Study: What does bearing another person’s burden look like in this story?

Apply: How do you keep from being over-worked and over burdened? Should we send ourselves on a guilt trip for not doing a job in the church someone else could have just of easily done?

Share: Do you know of someone at work, home or church who is being burned out like Moses? How can you help them this week? Or if you are burned out how can you delegate some of your responsibilities?

Read Together Galatians 6:2 and identify the main idea of this passage.

Study: How does bearing each others burdens help us fulfill the law of Christ?

Apply: How does bearing someone else’ burden help you bear your own? An old story is told about a man who was caught in a snow bank in a blizzard. He was freezing and about to give up an die when he heard another man moaning in the storm. The first man found the strength to rescue the other man and ended up saving himself in the process. Do you believe this story to be true? Why or why not?

Share: Are there any burdens or responsibilities that someone can help you with, even a shut in or a child? How could you actually be helping them by letting them help you? Would it even be worth adjusting our expectations in order to help them by letting them help us?

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT

God Will Definitely Give you More Than you can Handle

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You may listen to the podcast version here.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT 

When Jesus places his yoke upon us He is not giving us a burden, He is giving us a support system. 

I have heard it said that God will never give us more trials or burdens than we can handle. I disagree. God will definitely give us more than we can handle, but He will never give us more than He can handle. This is where the yoke of Christ comes in. His yoke is meant to carry our burdens. He gives us rest as we work in His strength instead of our own weakness. Paul writes about a time when he was given a trial from God in which he did not have the ability to endure. 

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.  And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NLT 

Here we see Paul was crushed and overwhelmed beyond his ability to endure. Paul stopped relying on his abilities to endure and instead relied upon God. God saved Paul. Paul’s confidence is not in himself but in God. Paul also mentions the prayers of others helped get him through. Paul was given more than he could handle but thanks to God and his church family he endured. God does not expect us to overcome in our own strength. God invites us to unite our weakness to His strength. We do this when we take His yoke upon us. 

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT 

Have you ever endured a trial so great you don’t even have a clue how you survived? That’s because you survived by grace. I remember when my fiancée left me, I lost my  old job and my new job was very hard for me to catch on to. I remember everything was going wrong every time I turned around. I remember crying out to God, “Give me one break, just one break!” It seemed the most simplest things would not go right. Everything became hard and complicated and impossible. I also remember crying out to God, “I’m not asking you to make it easy. Just make it possible!” During this time my car kept breaking down, and after the umpteenth  time it broke down in the middle of an intersection, I could not handle it anymore and I started yelling and cursing at the top of my lungs things no child of God should ever say! I won’t tell you exactly what I yelled but I will say when I hear someone else curse and swear when they are pushed beyond their limit I am totally unfit and unqualified to judge them. All I’m qualified to do is throw my arms around them and hug them.

I couldn’t catch a break. I was pushed way beyond what I could handle. There was no way out on my own. But you know what? I’m not sitting in the middle of the intersection with a broken down car now. I now have a car that’s paid for and very dependable. I have a job that I love. No I haven’t found the love of my life yet, unless you want to consider the love of my life being my job, the place I call home and all my wonderful family and friends in my community and around the world. Years ago I was sitting in the middle of an intersection with a broken down car, no money, no love life, no way to survive. And with the attitude I now had I did not deserve to survive.  I gave hope up and began to curse. But yet, with no hope and no strength I did survive. I survived because of one word. Grace. 

God gave me more than I could bear. And while I had given up and thrown in the towel and was cursing life, Jesus came and threw His yoke around me and pulled me out of my pit of despair. I can’t even credit my faith because I had no faith! It was all one word. Grace. 

God gave me more than I could handle. But that’s okay. I survived. Obviously He handled it all for me. The yoke Jesus gives us is not a burden. It is a support system. It’s grace. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

When Self Confidence is Shattered

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When I read in Wednesday’s section of this week’s lesson that David’s self confidence was shattered, it reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with a man who was studying eastern religions.  He asked me about my faith so I told Him I believed in Jesus. “But this faith in Jesus leads you to believe in yourself, right?” He asked. “No.” I said. “It actually makes me not believe in myself at all. Only in Jesus.” The young man didn’t even try to hide his scowl, and as to this date has not wanted to hear any more about my faith. Apparently believing in oneself is very important to this young man, but how can I believe in myself, when I know all too well what Paul confessed?

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. Romans 7:18 NKJV

Hard for me to believe in something where nothing good dwells.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:23-24 NKJV

Romans 7 knows me all too well. But there is hope! Not in me, but in Jesus.

I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:25 NKJV

My mind wants to serve God but my flesh wants to serve sin. So what is the solution? Paul shares the solution in chapter 8. Many agree that Romans 7 describes the unconverted man while Romans 8 describes the converted man.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 NKJV

Jesus took my flesh with nothing good in it and crucified it. Now I can walk in the spirit and the law of love can be fulfilled in me.

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 NKJV

In the physical world one must be born before they can die. In the Spiritual world one must die before they can be born.

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:17 NKJV

When the Spirit wars against the flesh is it the good things or the bad things we cannot do? Which is stronger? The Holy Spirit or the flesh? The previous verse makes it obvious.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NLT

So if I walk in the Spirit I have victory over the flesh. Why do I need victory over my flesh? Why can’t I believe in my own flesh like my friend wanted me to? Let’s examine the works of the flesh and see how many of them are good things to believe in.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV

Eeeww! I didn’t find anything good in there, did you? No wonder Jesus had to crucify my flesh on the cross, and I must die to selfishness daily. See 1 Corinthians 15:31 and Luke 9:23. You may ask how does one die daily? I don’t think we can on our own. We must be crucified with Christ. See Galatians 2:20. As we behold Jesus emptying Himself on the cross, the Holy Spirit empties us of self too.

For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. Galatians 6:13-15 NKJV

It’s impossible to look at the cross and glory in my flesh.

“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.” -Isaac Watts

“What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. –Ellen White, Faith I Live by, Page, 111

Now that my glory is laid in the dust, look at what is possible.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV

When the Holy Spirit fills me, this fruit shows up in my life. This is not my works! We saw earlier how disgusting all my works are. No, this fruit is not the results of my works. It is the result of the Holy Spirit living in me and producing His own fruit.

When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 676

See why I told my friend the answer is not for me to believe in myself?

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3 NKJV

“The circumcision” are those like Abraham, who stopped trusting his flesh to produce the fruit that only the Holy Spirit can produce. God had Abraham put away the part of the flesh he was trusting in so He could trust God’s promises instead. I pray God will give me another opportunity to talk to my friend again, so I can explain all that is possible when we stop believing in ourselves and believe in Jesus. Then again, the Holy Spirit can have anybody explain that to him. What the Holy Spirit does in me He can do in anyone. After all, it’s not me working. It is the fruit of the Spirit.

4: The Cost of Rest-Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Posted on  by Michael Frackeravatar

Key Thought: Whoever will humble the soul with confession and repentance may be sure there is hope for him. The cost of rest is finding God’s grace and law.
.July 24, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read 2 Samuel 11:1-5.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What happened here and what great sin did David commit? How did David try to cover up his sin?
  3. Personal Application: What warnings should we take from this story in our own lives? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states, “Why are all our sins ultimately sins against God? Why do people try to lie about their sins and cover them up when God sees and knows everything?” How would you respond to your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Psalm 51:1-6.

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. Did God just wipe David’s slate clean? Did everyone just forget about it? What did it mean that God took away David’s sin?
  3. Personal Application: What sin do you think today God might have a hard time forgiving? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your friends states, “The Bible says that if we believe in Jesus that we are forgiven, justified and saved. That’s all there is to it. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read Psalm 51:7-12.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. When David confessed his sin, what did he ask for?
  3. Personal Application: How do these verses help us understand how to deal with a guilty conscience? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “How do people deal with guilt in not overcoming a particular sin that they can’t seem to get the victory over? Should they just forget about it and trust Jesus will forgive them anyway and not worry about falling again and again“ How would you respond to your relative?

4. Have a volunteer read Psalm 51:13-19.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What does David want to do with his painful experience?
  3. Personal Application: How can you use and apply I John 1:9 to your own experience and to others who may be struggling and doubting their experience?” 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).

03: The Roots of Restlessness- Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on July 17, 2021.

Main theme for this week’s lesson: It is the love of self that causes us to be restless.

Read Together Matthew 10:34-39. Define the main theme is this passage.

Study: Why did Jesus bring a sword instead of peace?

Apply: How do we take up our cross? Is Jesus inviting us to come and die with Him?

Share: Your daughter tells you she has been studying about World War 2, and about Chamberlain wanting peace at any cost. Is that an attitude we should have as Christians? Why or why not? How does Matthew 10:34-39 help you answer that question?

Read together Luke 12:13-21. Define the main point of this passage.

Study: Is planning for the future wrong? What was the man in the story doing that showed his selfishness?

Apply: What are some guidelines that may help us to give generously and yet responsibly?

Share: Your coworker tells you his older brother cheated him out of his father’s will and took everything from the estate. How do you counsel your coworker according to Luke 12:31-21?

Read Together Philippians 2:5-8. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How does the love of self cause restlessness? See The Love of Self Causes Unrest.

Apply: What are some practical ways we can have Jesus’ selfless attitude at work, school and in the home?

Share: A fellow board member complains that when she mentions an idea no one seems to listen, but later when another board member says the exact same thing everyone thinks its a great idea. You have seen this so you know she is right. What do you tell her? How would Philippians 2:5-8 guide you in what you might say?

Read Together Luke 22:14-30. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: Who did the disciples forget about when they were talking about who was the greatest?

Apply: what are some practical ways you can be a servant during the week this week?

Share: What ideas from this week’s study and discussion are you eager to share with others this week?

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT