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.

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.

Let God be the One to pay you Back

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me. Genesis 31:7 NKJV

I love how Jacob realized that, even though Laban had cheated him, Laban was not able to hurt him. In Genesis 33, when Jacob tries to repay what he has cheated Esau, Esau tells Jacob that he has plenty and does not need to be repaid. God took care of Jacob when Laban cheated Jacob, and God took care of Esau when Jacob cheated Esau.

But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Genesis 33:9 NKJV

This is an important lesson on what our attitude should be towards those who have wronged us. 

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Proverbs 20:22 NLT

A while back, after a friend had wrongfully taken money from me, I was reading,

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19 KJV

While I had read this many times before, this particular time I saw it in a new light. Yes, it is true that people will hang on their own gallows, Yet rather than just seeing those who have wronged us getting paid back for their wrong, I saw God was telling me, He would repay me what my friend had wrongfully taken.

In Philemon 1:17-18 NLT Paul is pleading for everyone to give Onesimus a second chance in the ministry. Paul tells them,

So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!

Likewise I heard God telling me in Romans 12, “if your friend has robbed you, don’t worry. I will pay you back what they owe you. Don’t take it out on him. Leave him alone, and let Me make it right.”

That is exactly what happened. Right after I read Romans 12, another friend called who had bought some new furniture and wanted to give me their old furniture even thought it was still in excellent condition. God has continued to bless me in many other ways. God has more than paid me back for what my friend had stolen from me.

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

Do we Trust God Enough to be who we Really are?

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A while back, a woman writing to prisoners for her church ministry asked me if she would be dishonest if she does not use her real name. She wanted to hide her real identity for security purposes. I assured her a pseudonym was not being dishonest. After all, the Bible gives many names for God, so why can’t we have many names? 

While living in the Dallas area during the mid ’90s Deion Sanders was playing for the Dallas Cowboys, so I decided it would be fun to invent “Deion” as my restaurant name. So for the last almost 30 years now, when waiting for a table or placing an order to be called out, my name has become Deion. Since then I have learned many people use pseudonyms when giving their names at a restaurant. It’s not being dishonest. The restaurants couldn’t care less what your real name is. They just need to know who to call when your table is ready. A pastor friend told me he uses the name “Wild.” That way when his table is ready the hostess calls out, “Wild party of four, your table is ready.” 

Name games can be fun, but fact is I love being me. God loves me being me too. I am glad God made me to be me. There is a difference between having multiple names and pretending to be a totally different person than I really am. I don’t need to wear a Deion Sanders jersey with his name on the back. I don’t have to be someone else to be happy. I love who God made me. 

While the name game at restaurants is fun, Satan plays a game that is no fun at all. He likes to make us think that the only way we can ever be happy is, we have to be someone other than who God made us. This was his first deception with Eve. 

“God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 NLT

There are two problems here with the serpent’s suggestion. First he is insinuating that Eve cannot be happy unless she becomes someone else. Sadly this is his deceptive suggestion to many people. You can’t be happy being you. You can’t be happy being who God made you to be. You have to become someone else in order to he happy. In this case Eve needed to be God. The second problem with this suggestion is, Eve was already made in God’s image. See Genesis 1:26. While Eve obviously of course was not God Himself, she was already created in God’s image, a truth the serpent’s suggestion seemed to deny.

I suppose since Lucifer thought he could not be happy just being himself he suggested no one could be happy just being themselves, but this is not so. We can be happy just being who God made us to be. However a lack of trust in God led others to skew their own identities. in Genesis 12 Abraham skews his identity, claiming to be Sarai’s brother only, instead of her husband. In Genesis 26 Isaac does practically the same thing, changing his identity and relationship with Rebekah. In Genesis 27 Jacob does not trust God to bless him, so he puts his trust in a lie. That lie causes him to change his identity. Jacob thinks he has to be Esau in order to be blessed. 

David appreciated who he was when he exclaimed, 

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:14 NLT 

David trusted God enough to be who he really was. Do we trust God enough to be who we really are? Do you realize how special you are to God? Friend, you are no accident. You are not just another face in the crowd. With the billions of beings already to grace the face of the earth God was not content until He made you. He literally loved you into existence! Don’t fall for Stan’s lie that you cannot be happy until you change your identity. Satan’s biggest lie to Eve and all humanity is that you can’t be happy unless you become someone you are not. Don’t fall for that lie. God is love, and God created you to be you because He loves you being you. Don’t try to become someone or something that God never loved into existence. You are you because you are what He loved into existence. Trust God enough to be the you that He loved into existence. 

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

Promises Kept

Photo by Marcelo Chagas on Pexels.com

In 1969, 7 -year old Niki was in the hospital having some tumors removed from her throat. While in the hospital she met Charita, another girl her age, who had a rare form of cancer. Niki found out that because of the cancer Charita would never be able to have children of her own. The two girls formed a friendship, and one night while the two of them were alone in their hospital room, Charita was crying. Niki came over to Charita’s bedside to comfort her. She told her not to cry and that when she got married and had her own baby she would let her mentor her baby and if it was a girl would even name it after her. 

After their stint in the hospital Niki and Charita kept in touch until 6 months later when Charita’s family moved from Los Angeles to New Mexico. In 1983 Niki married and in 1987 had a daughter whom she named Charita. Niki then went on the Unsolved Mysteries show looking for her childhood friend Charita so she could help mentor little Charita. In 1990 Niki and Charita were happily reunited. 

In a world where people will make empty promises just to get whatever they want, 7-year old Niki  stayed true to her promise even  as an adult, and became married and with a child. While it’s true that our promises are like ropes of sand and we can only trust God’s promises (2 Peter 1:4) It is also true that by God’s grace we too, like Jesus and 7-year old Niki , can stay true to our word. After all, even while the Bible teaches us not to put trust in ourselves or anyone else, the Bible also speaks of those who  “keep their promises even when it hurts.” Psalm 15:4 NLT 

This week millions are studying the promises God made to Abraham. One of the ways we reflect the image of God is by being men and women of our word. Sure, we make mistakes and have made broken promises. This is one reason why I am careful about making promises. Instead of promising to help a friend, I tell them I will try, but make it clear I am not making a promise.

God’s promises are the only promises we can rely on. Still, by God’s grace, we can be men and women of our word. By God’s grace, we can be faithful to our promises even if it hurts.

Can you share a time when someone showed you God’s love by staying true to their promise? 

God’s Promises to Abraham are God’s Promises to you

I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. Genesis 17:7 NLT

When God made His covenant with Abraham He was making it with all of us. All of the promises that were given to Abraham were given to us.

A member of a church in which I had recently spoken asked me to come to her home. She was very upset because a neighbor claimed to be a witch and put a curse on her home and family. The lady church member believed in God but was afraid of what this curse might mean. When I got to her home I shared this passage with her. It is a promise God made to Abraham.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 2:1-3 NLT

The Lord promised to bless those who blessed Abraham and to treat those who cursed him with contempt. I actually think the KJV is a little more powerful on this point when it says, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” Right after this promise was given, Abraham went into Egypt, and instead of trusting God to care for him, he trusted a lie he invented that Sara was only his sister, not his wife. Not only are lies deceitful, they show we are not trusting God. When we trust God we have no reason to make up lies. Pharaoh took Sara to himself, not knowing she was married. Even though Abraham was less than perfect in this situation the Lord still kept his promise like He always does.

But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Genesis 12:17 NLT

Even when Abraham was less than perfect and even had trust issues, the Lord kept his promise to curse those who cursed him. I reminded the lady I was visiting, that Balaam tried to curse Israel but could only bless them! See Numbers 23:11-12. The Lord’s blessing continued for the great nation of Israel the Lord had promised to Abraham. The lady I was visiting thought that was all wonderful for Abraham but what did that have to do with her and the curse that was placed upon her? I asked her if she belonged to Christ and of course she said she did. I told her I had good news for her.

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:29 NLT

I shared with her that the promise to bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you belonged to her just as much it did to Abraham. She claimed this promise and when I spoke to her again many months later, the neighbor was gone and there were no signs of any curses.

Once there was an elder in my area who was being slandered by some of the other church leaders. Thank God the church body could see through the other leaders’ lies and stood up for him. When the truth came out and the elder was exonerated ,one of his enemies, who was also a leader was too proud to recant his lies and accusations. Not long after, the leader who made the false accusations retired to a new area. Soon he had to move far away from the area he retired in, because of accusations that were made against him which were much more serious than the one he made against the local elder. Some called it karma, some called it what goes around comes around. I can’t help but think of God’s promise, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” I hope too that this situation led the slandering leader to repentance and salvation.

Now before we start acting all high and mighty when God works in our favor, it’s important to remember that God blessed Abraham because of His own faithfulness, not the faithfulness of Abraham. Even though God cursed Pharaoh so to speak, Abraham still had his own lesson to learn about honesty and trusting God instead of lies. I would imagine even when God curses those who curse us that we too still need to humbly learn some lessons as well. The promise in Genesis 12:3 goes on to say that all families of the earth will be blessed as God wants to bless and save all of us friends and foes, just as he saved faulty Abraham.

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

Is Male Circumcision Significant to the Gospel or Just Sexual Mutilation?

You may listen to a podcast presentation of this topic here.

 Tuesday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson, asks what is the spiritual significance of circumcision. Some have wondered why in the world God wanted the penis involved in a sign of loyalty. Some atheists have made fun of Christianity and the Bible over this topic.

What we need to understand is, the penis was the part of the body Abraham was trusting instead of God’s promise. Confidence in the flesh had to be cut out so all Abraham believed in was God’s promise. In the New Testament Jesus went to the cross and crucified all of our flesh, so that we could live by faith in His promises and not in our self confidence.

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 8:3-4 NKJV

In baptism we crucify all of our flesh with Christ. Romans 6:3-7. Like circumcision of old, baptism is a sign casting away the confidence of the flesh and trusting God’s promises to make us a new creation, God’s own recreation.

The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. Galatians 4:22-24 NLT

God had made a covenant with Abraham and promised him a son. All God needed Abraham to do was believe the promise. Abraham saw that his wife was old and not even menstruating any more, so instead of trusting in God’s promise, he took Sarah’s much younger handmaid, Hagar, and worked things out on his own. Together they had a son. This represents the old covenant, which is man keeping the commandments in his own power, instead of trusting God to write them on  our hearts. The old covenant is legalism, or the works of the flesh. It’s a me-plus-Christ mentality instead of “Not I But Christ” (See Galatians 2:20), the motif Paul shared as the crux of the gospel.

So God gave Abraham circumcision as a reminder to trust Him, rather than trying to solve His own problems.

Then God said to Abraham, “Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility. This is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Each male among you must be circumcised. You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you. From generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This applies not only to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased. All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant. Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking the covenant.” Genesis 17:9-14 NLT

Abraham’s part in the covenant was to keep himself from doing those things God had promised. Because Abraham trusted in his flesh to work things out, God had Abraham circumcise the part of his flesh that he was trusting, so he would realize that he could do nothing to fulfill His promises. He had to leave it all to God.

For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort… Philippians 3:3 NLT

… like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 98

Now, instead of circumcision, we have baptism as a sign that we are casting away self-confidence, as we go under the water, symbolically dying to self, we rise up to a new life, not trusting in self, but trusting in Jesus.

Satan works hard to make us miss the whole point of this lesson by coming up with his own rituals, and then making male circumcision appear to be another cultural ritual similar to female circumcision, which has no Scriptural significance but is still widely practiced, even though it is harmful to women.

It is worth noting that there is evidence to suggest that certain male health issuesare less prevalent in communities where circumcision is widely practiced, and circumcision also appears to have benefits for the wives. Others suggest that the same benefits may be experienced by proper hygiene. Thus everyone considering circumcision needs to prayerfully consider the reasons for and against the practice today.

Finally, some men who were circumcised as babies, and learning that circumcision is no longer morally necessary, have become quite bitter towards their parents for “mutilating” them. To those I would suggest, first of all, you have not endured anything that Jesus Himself has not endured. Jesus was circumcised too. See Luke 2:21. No matter how awkward or embarrassing an area of your life may be, Jesus has been there and experienced it for you. He understands everything! Second,  most parents were simply doing the best they could with the information they had at the time. All parents have to make decisions about the treatment of their babies on a range of issues and most make those decisions with the best information available.

Satan likes to make the Gospel look foolish and even crazy in human eyes, and because circumcision is a sensitive issue it is an easy target. I pray my brief attempt has helped you to see the gospel where before all you could see was a Jewish ritual.

Leaving Home

My home town, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1 NKJV

Some people can’t wait to get away from home. As soon as they turn 18 they marry or join the army and get stationed on the other side of the world. After being so far from home, some return as soon as they can. Others stay away forever-by choice. 

Some people never leave home. I have friends who I grew up with in Tulsa, Oklahoma who never left Tulsa. I am glad they are still there for me to visit when I return home to see dad. I meet them at our favorite restaurants that are still standing from the previous century. They watched me move off to Texas and then Florida, all the while staying in Tulsa. I am proud of my native Tulsa, and am always glad to visit, but I can’t imagine myself living all my life in one place. Then again, the Tulsa I visit now is not the Tulsa I grew up in. Dad doesn’t live in the house I grew up in. The stores we go to weren’t around when I was kid. I visit my childhood church, but its like going home to strangers. The people there now never knew me, which is fine, I love meeting new people, but you know what they say, you can never go home again

So I wonder about Abraham. Was he happy to leave home and go on an adventure, or was he afraid to leave home? Did he miss his family and friends? Did he miss the old places where he would hang out? 

I grew up in Tulsa always dreaming of living in Dallas. When we went to the baseball and football games there I was always impressed with the modern architecture. It just seemed like the place to be. Tulsa had the minor league baseball team for the Texas Rangers major league team at the time. So when the Tulsa players got good they went to Dallas. I knew people in the Oklahoma Adventist conference who went on to the Union conference in Burleson, close to Dallas. Somehow I had it my mind that once you “arrived‘ you ‘arrived” in Dallas. So you can understand how happy I was when I had the opportunity to be a Bible Worker in Fort Worth, which is Dallas’ neighbor. 

I remember when I left home, mom cried. I did not realize at the time how cool it was having my own apartment in Tulsa, but having my parents right there in town to see at church and meet for dinner and even run into at the store by chance encounters. At the time I could not appreciate all of that and was just excited to begin my new adventure. It wasn’t until years later when I stood at my mother’s coffin that I finally understood and appreciated her tears that day I moved away. 

So I “arrived‘ In Dallas. Actually it wasn’t Dallas, it was Fort Worth. And fact is, I never “arrived.” I just thought I had. My new church district fell in love with me right away and I thought I was doing great! I was living the dream in the Dallas area. The people loved me so much I thought I must be a legendary Bible Worker. It took a few years for me to grow up and realize I was no legend. I was not even one of the better Bible Workers. I had all kinds of weaknesses and faults. Finally one day I woke up and realized these people don’t love me because I am good. They love me because they are loving people. I realized they were not encouraging me because I was good. They were enduring my follies, and  patiently encouraging me because they saw my potential for good, if I ever grew up. Living in the Dallas area was good for me. Not because I had arrived like the sports stars who moved from Tulsa to Dallas, or the local Oklahoma conference officials who got called up to the union office. Living in Dallas was good for me because it got me away from home so I could grow up. I thought I had grown up and left home, but actually God had me leave home so I would grow up. 

I wonder, did Abraham grow up before or after he left home? How did his ordeal in Egypt help him grow up? His actions in Egypt showed he had not arrived yet. 

After more than ten years in the Dallas-Fort Worth area it had become home. I pictured myself living all my days in Texas. God had other plans. He let me live ten years where I had always dreamed of living but now He was calling me to another land. An opportunity came to serve as a Bible Worker in the Tampa Bay area. I had no interest. I did not know anyone there. Before I moved a friend assured me, “you will get to Tampa and make friends and start doing things with them there and that will become your home. You won’t miss Texas anymore.” Well I knew my friend was right, and that was what scared me! While my feet were still on Texas soil, the thought of feeling at home in another place terrified me. 

After much fleece setting and protesting on my part I was on my way to Tampa. It was much farther from home. Like I mentioned earlier, you had people moving from Oklahoma to Texas all the time for various reasons. I had connections in Texas from Oklahoma. I was only four and a half hours away from home, which made weekend visits easy. It wasn’t until I moved to Tampa, Florida that I realized how close I was to Tulsa while in Texas. 

When I left Texas people told me how easy it was for me to up and move to a strange new land because I was single. They thought being single made it easy. No, it made it hard. When you have a family and you move to a strange new place at least you have your family. I had no one. Just me all by my lonesome in a strange new place. In Texas I had connections from Oklahoma as well as all the friends I made in over ten years. In Tampa I had no connections and no friends. God knew what He was doing. I had even more growing up to do. Now I have been in the Tampa Bay area over 18 years. I went from being a total stranger all alone, to now not only having friends in my own church, but in most all the neighboring Adventist churches as well. My friend was right. I am comfortable and happy hear now. This is home. When I moved from Texas to Florida I knew exactly how many baptisms I had. Now over 18 years in Florida I have literally lost count. God moved me here because there were people He needed for me to reach.  He also knew I had more growing up to do that would never happen if I stayed so close to home. 

Did Joseph have more growing up to do when He was sold as a slave into Egypt? Did he have even more growing up to do in prison? Did God allow all of those things to happen to Joseph to help him grow up? Is that why God has some of us move around so much? By moving two times God has helped me to grow personally as well as help more people. Meanwhile thanks to Facebook, cell phones and plane tickets home is never far away. I still have my friends in Tulsa and the Dallas area. When I vacation and travel from Tampa to Dallas and then to Tulsa and back to Tampa again I never feel like I am leaving home or going home. Its all home now. I have a home that encompasses Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. I know God is with me wherever I go and He is what makes it home. God is my home. He is everywhere. 

Abram had to leave home so he could grow in faith. Abram had to leave home so he could meet those God wanted him to meet. More importantly Abram had to leave home to go home. Ur was not his real home. Canaan was his real home. 

I understand that while God calls some of us to the other side of the planet that He also calls some, like the demoniac in Mark 5 to go back home. Either way God was calling the demoniac out of his comfort level as it may have been awkward for him to go home after all the embarrassing things he had done. This is for sure, God will call us out of our comfort level to help us grow up and be all we can be for Him. That being said, I would like to ask you a question from Sunday’s section of this week’s lesson

What might God be calling you to leave behind? That is, what part of your life might you have to abandon in order to heed the call of God?

God Will Remember you

Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark…. Genesis 8:1 NKJV

Photo by William Earnhardt

A family I had studied with called me late one afternoon, asking me to meet them ASAP at the hospital. Their mother was dying, and they wanted prayer. Now I believe that God can hear your prayers for your sick loved one, just as easily as He can hear an elder’s prayer. GoodSalt.com-pppas0004Nevertheless, I met the family in ICU. They told me they were praying for a miracle. One son told me they knew God was going to work a miracle for his mother. He explained that God was going to raise her up right now, or He would heal her, like He did Lazarus, by letting her sleep and then waking her up at the resurrection. Either way it would be a miracle.

We admire people who have the faith to heal a loved one, but what about having enough faith to just let them go to sleep? The son had faith in the miracle of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

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 believers 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. So encourage each other with these words.

A few days later his mother fell asleep in Jesus, and his family is encouraging each other with the promises of the greatest miracle yet to come.

There are more Bible prophecies about the Second Coming than any other event. While many prophecies have already been fulfilled, we are certain the prophecies pertaining to the second coming are just as sure.

I understand that while we sleep, when we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, we are actually very close to death. Yet each morning when we wake up, we don’t realize the miracle that has just taken place. I understand there are many mysteries about sleep that medical science is still researching. Could it be that sleep is just our “rehearsal” for the resurrection? That God is just getting us used to falling asleep and trusting Him to wake us up when it is time?

I walked into the church lobby after worship service one Sabbath, to find a very distraught elderly lady. She has Alzheimer’s disease, and had forgotten who had driven her to church. She was afraid she was going to be left. I put my arm around her and assured her that even though she may have forgotten who had taken her to church, whoever they were, they had not forgotten her. I told her we all loved her and would not leave her alone. She began to cry like a little girl, as she told me “Thank you very much!” Sure enough her ride found her. She had forgotten them, but they remembered her.

This elderly lady felt like a little child left all alone. When we face the grave of a loved one, or even our own, do we feel like a little child left all alone? We needn’t be afraid. Our Ride to heaven will remember us even if in death we forget Him as we sleep. The same God who wakes you up every morning, the same God who remembered to create you and remembered to redeem you on the cross, is the same God responsible for waking you up when He comes again. Don’t worry, even when in death you forget Him, He won’t forget you!

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

How the Story of Noah and the Flood Establishes 360 Days to a Prophetic Year

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Occasionally when I am studying Daniel and Revelation with someone, they will question how we get 360 days to a prophetic year instead of 365. The story of Noah actually confirms for us that in Bible times each month had exactly 30 days, thus giving us 360 years in a Bible year. 

First, where do we get a day for a year in Bible prophecy? 

While I don’t know that this is necessarily appointing a day for a year in Bible prophecy, I find it interesting that when Laban tells Jacob to work seven more years for Rachel, he calls it a week. That would be a day for a year. 

Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years. Genesis 29:27 NKJV

The first time we find a day for a  specific year in prophecy is in Numbers 14:34,

According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.

Later, in Ezekiel 4:5-6 this year/day principle is repeated. 

For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.  And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year.

So now, how does the story of Noah and the flood help us establish one year equaling 360 days to a year in Bible prophecy?

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. Genesis 7:11NKJV

And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days. Genesis 7:24 NKJV

And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. Genesis 8:3-4 NKJV

Here we see clearly that from the 17th day of the second month to the 17th day of the seventh month is exactly 150 days. Every month had 30 days equaling 360 days for a hear. With this in mind, the 42 months of Revelation 13:5 would be 1260 prophetic days or 1260 years. 

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