10: Sabbath Rest-Sabbath School Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath September 4, 2021.

Main Theme: The Sabbath is a sign that God created and redeemed by from sin by His own works. Therefore instead of being saved by works we rest our faith In God’s amazing grace.

Read Together Genesis 1:26-27, and Genesis 9:6. Identify the theme of these passages.

Study: What is different about the way people were created that sets us apart from the rest of creation? Why is this important?

Apply: What responsibility do we have to the rest of creation?

Share: A friend comments that while God created us in His image it seems that man has been trying to create God in man’s image. Is this true? If so how has man tried to create God in man’s image? What do you share with your friend?

Read Together Romans 6:1-7. Identify the main theme of this passage.

Study: What exactly are we saved from? The penalty of sin? The power of sin? Both?

Apply: How has God saved you from sin? How has your life changed after conversion?

Share: Your friend doesn’t think he will ever get complete victory over drugs in this lifetime. What words or more importantly Scripture can you share with your friend to encourage her? Hints: Ephesians 3:19-20, Titus 2:11-14.

Read Together Exodus 31:13. Identify the main theme of this passage.

Study: What is the Sabbath a sign of? We are no more capable of making ourselves holy than we are making a day holy? What does this passage tell us about Who it is who makes us holy and sanctified?

Apply: How does observing the Sabbath demonstrate your total faith in God’s redeeming power?

Share: Your friend says the Sabbath was only given to the Jews. What do you share with your friend? Hint: Mark 2:27, Isaiah 56:5-6.

Read Together Isaiah 58:12-14. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How is the Sabbath a delight?

Apply: How can we delight in the Sabbath without doing our own pleasures? Could it be possible that even in church on Sabbath we are just doing our own pleasures? Especially if we are just debating theology with our best friends and ignoring visitors and strangers? What does the whole chapter of Isaiah 58 say about this?

Share: How can we share true meaning of Sabbath rest with unbelievers?

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

The Lost art of Thinking

Be still, and know that I am God; Psalm 46:10 NKJV

I have a friend I meet every week before prayer meeting at the Mexican restaurant in town. Sometimes I run a few minutes late and find her just sitting there waiting on me. I’ve suggested to her,

“Bring a book or read something on your cell phone, so you have something to do while you wait. I feel bad for wasting your time.”

She told me,

“I love to just sit and think.”

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When she said that, I remembered reading a short note in a Reader’s Digest issue a few years ago. It was about how we always have our cell phones to entertain us while we stand in line at the store or wait for the doctor at his office. Because of this we no longer have time to just pause and think. The idea was that it is good to just pause, stop and think for a while. After all, before cell phones I had a brain. I guess it would be okay to turn everything else off for a while and just use my brain. My friend at the restaurant sure seems to enjoy it. 

I guess I do too. Often when I go to bed I enjoy listening to my Bible app on audio. However something in the Scripture will get my attention and I have to make a choice. Keep marinating in that one thought, or keep up with the rest of the audio narration. I have learned to pause the audio and just think about a certain thought for a while. Same while I am searching Scripture for myself. I have learned not to measure the quality of my personal Bible study by minutes or chapters, but rather by new ideas and fresh revelations. Sometimes it may take an hour and other times just a second to gain a new idea or revelation. (That does not mean I stop studying after just one second!) I have learned to take a moment and meditate on a passage instead of feeling like I have to finish the rest of a section of Scripture. 

Long before cell phones and Bible apps I was aware of a passage in the book, Steps to Christ, encouraging us to keep our Bible with us. Today I forget that we used to keep books with us before cell phones. So its not like we were totally without “data” before cell phones. Yet I just realized recently there was something I missed in this passage, when I read it back in the day,

Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in the mind. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 90

Silly me only picked up on the idea of always having your Bible handy so you could read whenever there is any “down time.” But that is not the actual counsel here. The passage also talks about meditating on Scripture. This resonates with my friend saying she does not always need a book or cell phone to read. She enjoys thinking. The passage is not telling us to read our Bible all the time whether in actual book form or tablet. Either way the message is, put your book or tablet down and think. As a matter of fact let’s read what was written just before the passage we just read,

But there is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the whole Bible through and yet fail to see its beauty or comprehend its deep and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 90. 

Even when reading the Bible it does well for us to stop and quietly think for a while. Now please check out this passage that was written long before cell phones and tablets. To me it just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun. Same issues just different modes of the same old habits. 

Even fiction which contains no suggestion of impurity, and which may be intended to teach excellent principles, is harmful. It encourages the habit of hasty and superficial reading, merely for the story. Thus it tends to destroy the power of connected and vigorous thought; it unfits the soul to contemplate the great problems of duty and destiny. -Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, Page 383.

I remember reading an article in a business magazine telling bosses not to get onto their employees for just relaxing at their desks doing nothing for a while. They may be brainstorming and that may be when they get their best ideas. I can relate to that. I often get my best ideas for church ministry when I am driving down the road lost in thought or just relaxing on my day off. All this goes back to the brief thought in Reader’s Digest so long ago, or my friend at the restaurant. Its okay to put your book or tablet down and just think for a while. Its more than okay. Its crucial. Its not just okay, it is crucial to be still and know that I am God-Psalm 46:10.

Well I’m going to stop writing so you can…you know….just relax and think for a while. Enjoy! 

9: The Rhythms of Rest-Sabbath School Teaching Plan

9: The Rhythms of Rest – Teaching Plan

Posted on  by Michael Frackeravatar

Key Thought: The Sabbath bids us to behold the glory of the Creator in His created works. As we come close to nature, Christ makes His presence real to us and speaks to us of His peace and love.
August 28, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Genesis 1:10,12,18,25,31.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What did God’s evaluation indicate about Creation?
  3. Personal Application: How close and personal was God’s creation of man and woman? How close did He want their relationship with each other to be? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states, “I don’t believe woman was made from a man’s rib. That would make her secondary. God is more likely a woman, and man came from her. The Bible was written during a patriarchal society. We have overcome those sexist and superstitious teachings that shouldn’t be propagated or believed.” How would you respond to your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Exodus 20:8-11.

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. How important is the Sabbath as it relates to Creation?
  3. Personal Application: What is the purpose of remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy? What does remembering it do for you? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your friends states, “Why do you worship every week on the seventh day? Aren’t we supposed to worship God every day? Do we need to go to a church building to worship? Can’t we worship God in our own homes?” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read Exodus 16:14-31..

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What are some reasons God gave manna in the desert in the manner He did?
  3. Personal Application: Is keeping the Sabbath a reminder of what God has done for us in the past, or a reminder of what He will do for us in the future? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “It doesn’t matter what day we keep. Jesus is our Sabbath rest. We rest in Him. So trying to keep a particular day each week is not resting in Jesus every day. We are not under the legalistic old covenant anymore.“ How would you respond to your relative?

4. Have a volunteer read Isaiah 58:13; Psalm 92…

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What atmosphere should we create and promote on the Sabbath day?
  3. Personal Application: What are some positive things you get by keeping the Sabbath day? How has it been a blessing to you?” 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).

Depression: Is it Time to ask for Help?

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Posted on  by William Earnhardtavatar

Just a few months ago I shared a story about a plane crash where around 80 people were killed. The whole ordeal could have been avoided if only proper communication and understanding had taken place. Some say the cockpit should have communicated more clearly. Others agree the ATC should have listened better. I feel for both sides because I have been on both sides. 

I rarely if ever get sick. Apparently God has blessed me with a good immune system. I am also a happy person. I rarely if ever get depressed. My friends talk about how happy I am all the time. A father once jokingly told his family that the reason I am always is happy is because I am single and have no kids. Or at least I hope the family took it as a joke. Having a family should make one happy not sad. Just the same it has occurred to me that God must have also provided me with an immunity to depression. I rarely ever get depressed and when I do it does not last long at all. 

So how does that help me feel for both sides? Like the ATC, I don’t always detect depression in others, though I have gotten better over time. I am a very punctual and responsible person. So when others are late, or just flake out on a commitment, my first thought used to be that they were just undependable people. It never occurred to me until recently that they were fighting depression.

Years ago I was working with a very small church school that hired a new principal from out of state. He accepted the job but when it came time, he never showed up. He never responded to our calls until, finally, we had to scramble to replace him at the last minute, realizing he was not communicating any more. I was very offended that a professional would behave in that manner – not showing up for  work or even communicating. Later we finally found out that he was going through a family crisis and was very depressed. Once he finally contacted us, he was very sorry for the situation. Of course we had replaced him by then, but I learned that depression can affect anyone. And not everyone who flakes out is a flake. Often they are depressed and don’t know what to do about it. I get that now.

Meanwhile I can also identify with the cockpit crew. Like I said, I rarely every get depressed and it has been over 20 years since my little outburst. I finally recently told you all about. I seem to have a good immunity against depression, and my friends, and even students at the school where I help, comment about how upbeat I seem to be all the time. I have never not shown up for work. I have never flaked out on a date, agreement or assignment. I have never failed to communicate if I am late or plans have changed. But rare as it may be, there have been times when I sure felt like it! Over the last 50 plus years, there have been times I wanted to jump in my car and just run away somewhere – anywhere! There have been times I wanted to dig a hole in the ground and crawl into it. There have been times I wanted to find a deserted island and move there. Now if you’ve known me for a long time, you are probably shocked reading this. That is because I never communicated it. You never saw it. I acted like everything was okay, and, within time, before I acted out the feeling passed over. Usually all it took for me was a good night’s rest or phone call with a trusted friend, and everything was right in the world again. My rare depressions were never chronic but they were enough to help me understand why people do the things that they do. In other words, while I have never accepted a new job and then never shown up, I do understand how that might happen. I understand that depression makes people do things no one understands. 

Obviously my rare depressions were situational and temporary. I understand many people have chronic depression which takes place even on the most beautiful of days for no apparent reason. When chronically depressed people actually carry out irresponsible and foolish acts, I can still relate, because just because I have never carried out an irrational action does not mean I have have never felt like it. I have felt like it! The good news is that there is help for all of us. God understands even when no one else does. As a matter of fact there are some pretty pathetic psalms in the book of Psalms. Some of them make me wonder how they ever even made it into the Bible. Some of them seem to offer no solution as David just expresses his pathetic emotions. Then, again, maybe that is why they are in a collection of inspired writings – to let us know even inspired people sometimes have irrational feelings and emotions. 

Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Psalm 143:7 NLT 

Of course we all know God is our number one source of joy and peace. However God said it was not good for people to be alone, which is why He created a community for Adam. We need community too. Sometimes we need to go ahead and call professionals in the community to help us with depression. Abide Counseling is a group of trained Adventist professionals who are trained to use Bible principles for dealing with and overcoming depression. They can even help you online in the privacy of your own home. They can work with your budget.

It has been a stressful and isolating last couple of years for most people, and does not seem to be getting better. Some of us have been isolated. Some of us are grieving the loss of a loved one(s) during isolation.  Help is available, and Abide Counseling is a safe and biblically sound resource for finding hope, peace and meaning.

The Abide Counseling website also has several helpful and encouraging blog posts concerning depression and anxiety. I encourage you to explore their blog post section and find some help and encouragement. 

We owe it to ourselves to get the help we need to have the joy and peace God wants us to have. We owe it to others to be sensitive and caring for others who may be battling depression. 

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

08: Free to Rest-Sabbath School Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School Class Sabbath, August 21, 2021.

Main Theme: A restful worry free life is not based on our standing with the world, but on our relationship with Christ.

Read Together Mark 2:1-12. Identify the main idea of this passage.

Study: Why did Jesus forgive the man’s sins before healing him, and why did he finally heal him?

Apply: Is your first concern your physical health or your relationship with God? Why?

Share: Mark 2:5 says Jesus saw their faith. What are some situations where your faith could help bring healing or salvation to someone else?

Read Together 1 Kings 19:1-5. Pinpoint the main theme of this passage.

Study: Why did Jezebel’s threat scare Elijah, especially when he never seemed threatened by King Ahab?

Apply: Have you ever been so tired that you were not thinking straight, and did something foolish?

Share: A friend asks you if suicide is the unpardonable sin? How do you respond? Especially since you don’t want to encourage suicide?

Read Together 1 Kings 19:5-8. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What gave Elijah the strength to make the 40 day journey?

Apply: Have you ever been so tired and discouraged that you wanted to give up? What kept you going?

Share: A friend confided in you that during the COVID-19 they feel isolated and like no one cares. How can you encourage your friend?

Read Together 1 Kings 19:15-16 and 2 Kings 2:11. What is the theme of these passages?

Study: How does 2 Kings 2:11 explain why God did not just let Elijah die back in 1 Kings 19? How does it explain why Elijah never should have let Jezebel destroy his rest and peace in God? Why should we never let the world destroy our peace?

Apply: Even when Elijah was discouraged God still gave him an assignment in 1 Kings 19:15-16. Does God give up on us when we show sings of fear or doubt or discouragement?

Share: Can you think of a friend or loved one who is suffering depression and could use an encouraging word? Could you pick up the phone and give them a call this week, or maybe even write a letter that they could read and re-read whenever they needed encouragement?

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

Even With bad Breaks we are More Than Conquerors

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV 

In John 8:1-11 Some men with terrible motives and intentions seduced a woman and dragged her to Jesus  to see if He would condemn her or even allow her to be stoned to death. As evil as their intentions were what they inadvertently did was they brought a woman to the feet of Jesus where she found salvation. As terrible as it was, and believe me it was not Jesus’ idea for them to do her that way, but in the end Jesus turned things around to work out in her favor and to God’s glory. 

Terrible things happened to Jesus. Satan worked through evil men to make the Son of God a degraded spectacle on the cross. yet through it all Jesus became the Savior of the world. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that the one who was so despised, rejected and degraded is Lord. In the process a multitude that no one can number will be saved.

The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and “all things” that are permitted “work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8:28.- Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, Page 71. 

What a wonderful promise that nothing can touch us but what infinite love permits, and all these things work together for our good if we love God. Without ever reading Romans 8;28 or this passage from Mount of Blessing I just shared, Joseph realized that all the bad breaks he endured worked out to develop his character so he could save lives. Instead of being bitter and resentful Joseph saw even the bad breaks and evil intentions of others were working to his advantage. Not only did Joseph forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery but instead of blaming them he said it was actually God who did it- and He did it for the good of others. 

But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. Genesis 45:5 NKJV

Not only did Joseph not blame his dysfunctional family for all the bad breaks in his life, but he refused to acknowledge them as bad breaks. Instead he realized through all of the evil intentions of his dysfunctional family and even Potipher’s wife’s terrible accusations God was working to refine his character in order to get him exactly where he needed to be in order to save many lives. 

When bad breaks come our way instead of blaming others for our situation lets trust God the same way Jesus and Joseph did. Let’s share in their hope and encouragement. Surely God is working out something wonderful in our lives. 

Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter.-Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 679.

Instead of being resentful and bitter over supposedly bad  breaks lets bask in the love of God! God’s great love is working through our tribulations and persecutions making us more than conquerors. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 NKJV 

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

07: Rest, Relationships and healing- Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class, Sabbath August 14, 2021.

Main Theme: Forgiveness frees us from the bitterness that keeps us from reaching our full potential. Forgiveness opens the door all of God’s blessings.

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Read Together Genesis 42:21-24. Discuss what happened in this passage.

Study: What did Joseph hear that helped him confirm his brothers were truly sorry for what they did to him?

Apply: Put yourself in the brother’s sandals. When they sensed their guilt how could they make things right? They had no clue there was still opportunity to make amends with Joseph but what about their father? For additional teacher’s resources see and read the 7 A’s of reconciliation.

Share: Ask the class if someone can share a testimony they experienced or witnessed first hand where forgiveness and reconciliation took place?

Read Together Matthew 18:21-35. Share with each other the main idea of this passage.

Study: Why did the master forgive the servant? Did the servant ask for forgiveness or more time to pay the debt? Why might it be important to note that the servant was not asking for forgiveness but only more time to pay the debt? For additional teacher’s resources see and read See and read Forgiveness in Light of the Cross.

Apply: How does Jesus dying on the cross help us to forgive?

Share: A friend shares with you that her ex-husband cheated on her and left her, and even after the divorce she feels hatred, resentment and bitterness that will not go away. How can you help your friend?

Read Together Genesis 45:1-15. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What signs do we see here that Joseph is not blaming his brothers for his misfortunes in life? What exactly did Joseph accomplish that makes him feel more like a victor than a victim?

Apply: How does blaming others hold us back from reaching our full potential even if that blame is justifiable? See Philippians 4:13.

Share: Ask class members to share an experience where God helped them to succeed after a setback. For additional teacher’s resources read Even With bad Breaks we are More Than Conquerors.

Read Together Genesis 50:15-21. identify the main idea of the passage.

Study: Why were Joseph’s brothers afraid Joseph may still retaliate?

Application: Have you ever been tempted to retaliate even after claiming to forgive someone? What does one need to do when this happens?

Share: Can you think of someone who would be encouraged by the story of Joseph? Can you make time to share it with them 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