Remember, It’s not Happening to you, it’s Happening in front of you

Photo by Ihsan Adityawarman on Pexels.com

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV

We live in a hurting world, and we all have been made aware that hurting people hurt people. It is easy to want to lash out at others when we have been hurt, but here are some things we need to keep in mind.

We are not the intended target-God is. In Acts 7:54-60 when Stephen was being stoned for his faith, he could see Jesus standing up for him in heaven. Stephen asked God not to charge this sin against them. Stephen did not take this stoning personal, as he realized it was not so much happening to him as much as it was happening in front of him. He realized Jesus was the intended target. Stephen knew it was “not I but Christ” who lived in him. He knew it was the Christ in him who was being persecuted. Stephen was not afraid to die, because as far as Stephen was concerned he had already been crucified with Christ. Dead people aren’t afraid to die. When we have been crucified with Christ we consider ourselves dead to self, and realize it is Christ who lives in us who is being persecuted. After all didn’t Jesus tell Saul who became Paul, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting?” Acts 9:5 NKJV. It was Jesus, not Stephen who was the intended target. Therefore Stephen could have considered that it was not him but Christ who was being persecuted. We are the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the body, and whenever the smallest part of the body is hurt, the head of the body is first to feel the pain.  

By dying to self I can say “It is not I but Christ who is being offended.” As Isaiah 63:9 KJV says, “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” In Luke 9:23 NKJV Jesus tells us to take up our cross and die daily. In 1 Corinthians 15:31NKJV Paul says, “I die daily.” Years ago I held a “Cross of Christ” revival series in a small town in Southeast Oklahoma. I mentioned that if I die daily I cannot hold grudges anymore. After all, if I die daily and am born again every morning, I cannot hold a grudge over something that happened yesterday. How can you hold a grudge over something that happened before you were even born? You could not have hurt me yesterday if I was just born today. Dying to self and being born again on a daily basis not only frees me from my own sins from the day before, but it also frees me from the insults and slights that came flying my way from the day before. I am a new creature. You could not have hurt me yesterday if I was just born again today. After sharing that idea I came back to the same church a couple of years later. The pastor told me there was a cranky old lady in the church who was always holding grudges, but she changed after the seminar. He told me she had shared with him that it was this very illustration that turned her life around. She became a new creation indeed! 

When people are being mean and nasty we are not to take it personally. It’s their issue between them and God. It’s not happening to you. It’s happening in front of you. If we are crucified with Christ, it is not us but Christ who lives in us. Therefore it is not us but Christ who is being persecuted. Like Stephen, by faith we can look into heaven and see Jesus standing up for us. We can pray for their sin to not be charged against them. And like with Stephen and Saul who became Paul, Jesus will ask those aiming darts at us, “why are you persecuting me?” 

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

12: Dying Like a Seed-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class, Sabbath September 17, 2022.

Main Theme: We serve God better when we surrender our will to His will.

Read in Class: Philippians 2:5-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What important message is there for us in these verses?

Apply: What rights might we be holding onto that keep us from sharing God’s love and serving others better?

Share: Your friend tells you that Jesus’ example and teaching about being a servant and going the extra mile for our enemies appears to be tone deaf to the social justice issues of today. What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Romans 12:1-2. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What are some practical ways we can offer our bodies as a living sacrifice in our day to day life?

Apply: What things might you have to give up in order to become a living sacrifice?

Share: Your friend asks, how do we transform and renew our minds? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Samuel 3:1-18. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is the difference between those who listen to God and those who don’t?

Apply: Preacher Charles Stanley describes how essential it is to cultivate openness to God’s voice in what he calls “shifting into neutral.” He says: “The Holy Spirit … does not speak for the sake of passing along information. He speaks to get a response. And He knows when our agenda has such a large slice of our attention that it is a waste of time to suggest anything to the contrary. When that is the case, He is often silent. He waits for us to become neutral enough to hear and eventually obey.” — The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), pp. 179, 180.

What do you think Stanley means by becoming “neutral enough”? When you think about your openness to God, what things often prevent you from being “neutral enough to hear and eventually obey”? What do you need to do in your life to cultivate openness to God’s voice and a decisiveness to be obedient to His direction?

Share: Your friend asks you why God allowed Eli to be priest while not even being able to control his own sons? After all, doesn’t the New Testament teach that a leader should control his own household? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Samuel 13:1-14. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What did Saul do that led to his downfall?

Apply: Why do you think it was so easy for Saul to follow his own judgment, even though he had God’s clear instructions still ringing in his ears? If we know that we are so fragile and have such imperfect knowledge, why do we still try to rely on ourselves? What can we do to learn to trust in the Lord’s commands more than in ourselves?

Share: How can we encourage our leaders to rely on God instead of trusting in their themselves and their own wisdom? Is there a leader in your church family who you could call this week and pray with and for them?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24, NKJV).

5: Extreme Heat-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by moein moradi on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class, July 30,2022.

The Main Idea: God will do whatever it takes, even being misunderstood in order to help us become like Jesus.

Read in Class: Hosea 2:1-12. Define what the main idea is in this passage.

Study: What methods does God say He will use to pull Israel back to Himself? What would these experiences have felt like?

Apply: Read Hosea 2:14-23. What does this passage reveal about God? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if you have been running from God in any area of your life. If you are convicted that you have been, why wait to go through the crucible? What’s stopping you from surrendering all to the Lord now?

Share: Are you willing to share with the class, what you consider is the most sever means God has used to bring you back to love and obedience to Him?

Read in Class: Job 1:6-2:10. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What causes Job’s sufferings and how does Job respond to these trials?

Apply: How does Job’s trials help you with your own trials?

Share: Have you ever been tempted to just “curse God and die?” Why did you or why didn’t you? What was the final outcome of your crucible in this specific situation?

Read in Class: 2 Corinthians 1:4-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: In 2 Corinthians 1:4, Paul states that the reason for receiving God’s compassion and comfort is “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (NIV). To what extent might suffering be a call to ministry? How could we become more alert to this possibility?

Apply: What can you learn from Paul that can help you keep from falling into self-pity amid your own struggles?

Share: Can you share how others have comforted you during a hard time? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?

Read in Class: Isaiah 43:1-7. What is the main idea of this passage?

Study: What are the different ways in which God assures His people of comfort during the times of water and fire. What picture of God does this paint in your mind? Which promises can you claim for yourself?

Apply: What do these verses teach you about the actions and character of God? Ps. 103:13, 14; Matt. 28:20; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 1:7. How have you experienced the reality of these verses in your own life?

Share: Can you write a letter, text message or email this week offering encouragement to someone you know who is going through a crucible?

3: The Birdcage-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School Class July 16, 2022.

Main Theme: God leads His people into situations where He knows there will be suffering, for a greater good.

Read in Class: Exodus 14. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: Why did God bring the Israelites to a place where He knew they would be terrified? In verse 31 what lesson did the Israelites learn from this experience? 

Apply: Why is trusting God sometimes so hard, even though we may know many of the wonderful promises He has for us? Recount some difficult situation you believe the Lord led you into in order to teach you to “believe” in and to “fear” Him.

Share: Your friend says, “In the Bible we read about faith moving mountains, and God opening up the sea, but we never see that today.” How do you reply to your friend?

Read in Class: Exodus 15:22-27 and Exodus 17:1-7. What common thread do we find in these passages?

Study: What did God reveal to Israel about Himself at Marah and at Rephidim? What lessons should they have learned?

Apply: In Rephidim, what question did the children of Israel ask? Exod. 17:7. Have you ever asked the same question? If so, why? How did you feel, and what lessons did you learn after you had it answered? How many times do we need to get it answered before we stop asking it altogether?

Share: Your friend says she wonders how a piece of wood made the water sweet. Any ideas? Here is one idea.

Read in Class: Luke 4:1-13. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What lessons can you learn from this account about how to overcome temptation and not give in to sin?

Apply: What resources did Jesus use to overcome temptation? Which of these resources have you used to overcome temptations?

Share: Your friend asks you why the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted? Does God lead us into temptation? What do you share with your friend?

Read in Class: 1 Peter 1:6-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What ultimate assurance does Peter seek to give these people amid their trials? What does this hope mean for us, too?

Apply: How have you benefited by your trials?

Share: Can you think of someone going through a particularly difficult trial? Can you reach out to them this week with a visit, phone call, or card, offering them encouragement and hope from the Bible?

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NLT

2: The Crucibles That Come- Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt, for Sabbath School class, July 9, 2022.

Main Theme: What are the causes of the difficult times that we experience through our lives?

Read Together: 1 Peter 4:12-19. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is Peter’s Message?

Apply: Peter was referring to trials that are the consequence of standing up for Christ. But there are also other reasons that trials come. How could 1 Peter 4:12-19 help you to explain tactfully to a friend why not to be surprised at the painful trials he or she might face?

Share: Your friend asks, “How can I be glad when I am suffering?” What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: 1 Peter 5:8-11. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How should we react to Satan’s prowling? How does God promise to help us?

Apply: Think about the other ways that Satan causes pain. How could reading 1 Peter 5:8-11 help us to deal with the anguish that we experience because of our fate in living in a sinful world in which Satan wreaks havoc?

Share: Your friend asks why God allows Satan to prowl us? What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Jeremiah 9:7-16. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: God says that he will “refine and test” (NRSV), or “melt” (KJV), Judah and Jerusalem (Jer. 9:7, NIV). What two reasons does God give for this? (Jer. 9:13,14). How will the refining happen? (Jer. 9: 15,16).

Apply: Think about the sins that you struggle with. If God were going to refine and test you today, how might He do it? What action could you take now to deal with this before God would want to take drastic steps with you, as He did with Israel?

Share: Your friend asks what it means in verse 16 where God says he will destroy or consume us? After all doesn’t Jesus want to save us? What do you tell your friend? How could this quote help you explain? “If the Spirit of God brings to your mind a word of the Lord that hurts you, you can be sure that there is something in you that He wants to hurt to the point of its death.” — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour & Company, Inc., 1963), p. 271.

Read Together: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How does Paul deal with his “thorn”? Do you think that Paul’s weakness had any other spiritual benefits to him? How can the way that Paul responds help you to deal with “thorns” that you may have to carry?

Apply: In what ways might God’s ideas for your spiritual development be very different from your own? Think about areas in your life in which you need to become more fruitful in righteousness. What spiritual qualities would you like to ask God to develop in you through His “pruning”?

Share: Can you think of someone who is going through a difficult time right now? This week can you reach out to them and share an encouraging passage, and pray with them, if even on the phone?

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Let’s Make Sabbath School a Bible Study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Together: Genesis 39. Summarize this chapter.

Study: What made Joseph so successful?

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

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

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

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

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

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

6: The Roots of Abraham-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Pexels.com

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class, Sabbath, May 7, 2022.

Main Theme: God has a plan for His loved ones.

Read Together: Genesis 12:1-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: Why did God call Abram to leave his country and family? How did Abram respond?

Apply: 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?

Share: Your friend is given an opportunity to serve a couple of years in the mission field far from home. A decent salary and travel and lodging are all provided. Your friend acknowledges that it looks like God is leading in this venture, but your friend does not want to leave a comfortable home, as well as family and friends. What can you share with your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 12:10-20. Discuss the key idea in this passage.

Study: Why did Abram leave the Promised Land to go to Egypt? How did the pharaoh behave in comparison to Abram?

Apply: What should this story teach us about how easy it is, even for faithful Christians, to stray from the correct path? Why is disobedience never a good choice?

Share: Your friend acknowledges that we are saved by faith, but says that a lack of obedience shows a lack of faith. Do you agree with your friend? Why or why not?

Read Together: Genesis 13:1-18. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What does this story teach us about the importance of character?

Apply: How can we learn to be kind and generous to others, even when they aren’t that way to us?

Share: Your friend asks, “How can we reach wicked cities with the Gospel if we are counselled to live in the country and stay away from such places?” What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 14:1-17. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is significant about this war taking place just after the gift of the Promised Land? What does this story teach us about Abram?

Apply: What kind of influence do our actions have on others? What kind of message are we sending about our faith by our actions?

Share: Can you think of a friend who needs to be encouraged by the fact that God has a plan for their life? Can you reach out and encourage your friend this week?

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” Hebrews 11:8 NKJV

Hebrews 13 and Sexual Fidelity for Married and Single Christians

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 14:4-5 NKJV

About 5 years ago I wrote an article about single people resisting sexual temptations. A married person commented and told me the article was also very beneficial for married people as well. So in the light of a Scripture in this week’s lesson study, here goes my version for both married as well as single people.

Hebrews 13 is making Christian living practical. Verse 4 is teaching about practical living when it comes to sex. So how does this relate to single people? Some may think that it has nothing to do with single people. After all what do single people have to do with keeping the marriage bed undefiled? Well, sadly there are single church members who get propositioned by married church members. When this happens we keep the marriage bed undefiled by turning down those propositions and reminding the married party about Jesus and their commitment. Verses 4-5 also talk about being content with what you have. As single people, we can be content with meaningful relationships that don’t include sex. After all, even if you are married, life is not all about marriage and sex. The Christian church at large is learning it has made mistakes in the past by stressing sexual purity and purity rings, and talking about how great sex will be once you are married. Now teaching sexual purity is no mistake! it is right on with the Gospel. The problem is the church made such a big deal about sex and marriage that it caused two problems. 1. It built up so much unrealistic anticipation for sex, that once those with purity rings finally got married and had sex they found it disappointing. It just didn’t live up to all the hype. 2. Focusing on sex and marriage all the time encourages people to think that life is all about sex and marriage, while it clearly is not. Jesus, who was single, endorsed the gift (notice its a gift not a curse or burden)  of celibacy in Matthew 19:11-12. Paul joins Jesus in lauding the blessings of single living in 1 Corinthians 7. By reading Scripture you would never get the idea that life is all about being married, as some have preached and taught in recent years. 

I believe instead of teaching young people to keep themselves pure for marriage, I believe we should teach them to keep themselves pure for Jesus. Instead of encouraging young people to constantly occupy their minds with waiting for marriage, I believe we should encourage them to occupy their minds on waiting for Jesus to come. 

Today there are more and more divorced Christians, and people who have other ambitions, who are putting off marriage until later in life. Being single, I find myself in single circles, where single Christians, both men and women voice their sexual frustration. They are not trying to be provocative or seductive. They are just being real. They want to be Christians, but they are still sexual. We are not made sexual at marriage. We are made sexual at birth.

Being made sexual at birth, how do Christians control sexual appetite until they are married? How do Christian divorced people control their sexual urges? How do Christian widows and widowers satisfy their sexual needs? After 60 years of marriage, I don’t imagine sexual urges die after your spouse dies. Does God meet the sexual needs of all these single people?

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NLT

If it says God will supply all our needs, we have to understand that includes sexual needs of single people. If we can trust God to provide for our financial needs, we can trust Him to provide for our sexual needs as well. We can go to Him and tell Him about all our needs. Then we can trust Him to provide in a way that is best for us. We are familiar with a phrase in Desire of Ages,

Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 330.

Was sex the context here? No. Am I taking things out of context if I say God has a thousand ways to provide for our sexual needs, when we serve and honor God? Maybe, but please hear me out. First, we need to understand that marriage does not guarantee sex. Sadly there are celibate marriages for various reasons we won’t get into here. Having said that, sex does not guarantee intimacy. I once read in a sexual purity book long ago, that some people will have sex to avoid intimacy! Instead of talking and being intimate with their hearts and emotions, they will just be physical to avoid being intimate. Now that’s not good either, because sex should involve intimacy. But here is my point: Many of us think we crave sex when we actually crave intimacy. All sex should be intimate, but not all intimacy has to be sex.

I think we crave healthy relationships more than we crave sex. I think Mary Magdalene found something in Jesus that satisfied her desire for sex, even though it wasn’t sex, and Jesus was the perfect Gentleman with her. I think she found something in Him greater than sex. She found true love and intimacy. She needed true love and intimacy more than she needed sex. So do we.

God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46.

I have to believe this passage includes sexual activity. If God has not given you a Christian sex life right now, it is only because He has something vastly better for you right now. He knows all your needs, not just the needs of your bank account. He knows your sexual needs too. He cares for you in all your ways. By the way, a while back I heard a married Christian say, “sex is not a need. It is a want.” That would apply to married as well as single people. I am in no way implying that married people should limit sexual activity. I’m just saying when dealing with temptations and urges it is important to know the difference between needs and wants. 

The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalms 84:11 NLT

If sex was good for single people God would give it to them, but sex is not good for single people, which is the only reason He does not give it to them. But love and intimacy is good for single people, and He gives that to them, through church, family, and a personal relationship with Him.

Though I don’t have all the answers, I believe God can supply the sexual needs of His single people, with pure love and intimacy, and a thousand other ways we know nothing about. The solution is to trust God with your sexual needs just like any other need.

Please let me paraphrase a popular passage.

Keep your [sexual] wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the [sexual] wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our [sexual] sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything [including sex] that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our [sexual] peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No [Sexual] calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the [sexually] broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 100. 

God loves single people just as much as He loves married people, and He makes single people just as happy as married people. God can appropriately meet the sexual needs of single people as easily as He can meet the sexual needs of married people. Believe in His love, and He will meet all your daily needs.

I’m Here as a Missionary; my Citizenship is in Heaven

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Hebrews 12:28 NKJV

For quite a while now, I have been studying the Sabbath school lesson every morning, over the phone with my father, who lives 1,200 miles away. I always look forward to this special time we can spend together. The other day as we studied, I read the above passage. As I read, “a kingdom which cannot be shaken” my mind went to our dear brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. Their kingdom is being shaken. My father and I pray for them every morning now. 

Meanwhile, with soaring gas prices, and grocery stores having bare shelves, and various other inconveniences that United States citizens are not used to, we are sensing the vulnerability of our nation. Its always good to have a healthy sense of pride in your nation, but perhaps we in the United States have been a little too arrogant over the years? Maybe we think as United States Citizens, (I say United States citizens because I realize everyone from the northern tip of Alaska to the southern tip of Chile are Americans) we are above suffering inconveniences that other countries suffer. If that is so, then that is not pride, that is arrogance.

If as a United States citizen I think of myself as too good to suffer the same things that my brothers and sisters around the world suffer, then I divorce myself “from whom the whole family in heaven and earth” (See Ephesians 3:15.) Several years ago I was on a mission trip to Peru. I and several others were holding reaping meetings, after our Peruvian brothers and sisters had been having small group Bible studies in their homes. The Peruvians were honored to have American Citizens come help them. They were surprised and pleased when I told them that they along with us were actually missionaries in Peru. Their citizenship, as well as mine is in heaven. We are equals as we serve God together. At the end of our mission trip our flight was delayed, and I ended up sleeping on the airport floor that night. I was perfectly comfortable on the floor that night, knowing that many of my Peruvian brothers and sisters, who were much more noble than I, also had no bed that night. After all, if they did not have a bed to sleep on that night then who was I to have a bed? Now when I get into my comfy bed at home I realize there is only one reason that God has granted me a bed for the night, so that I can get a good nights rest in order to share the Gospel the next day. God does not owe me a bed. I owe God for giving me a bed. I assure you God does not think more highly of me than He does the beggar sleeping on the street. I can assure you God thought more highly of John the Baptist while he was being beheaded in prison, than He thinks of me sleeping comfortably in my own bedroom. I remember while in Peru all the children especially seemed to be awe of us United States citizens. They would flock around us and talk to us regardless if we could understand each other or not. They just loved being around us. I also remember one girl, about 12 years old or so, who would stand at a distance and watch with what I perceived as disdain as the other kids made over us. She refused to join them as she kept her nose in the air. Over time I realized she was not so impressed with us United States Citizens. She did not think we were “all that.” I agreed with her! We weren’t “all that.” 

This is me with some of the young people who attended our meetings every night.

Revelation 6:14 speaks of ‘every mountain and rock being moved out of place.” The entire world is being and will be shaken. The Ukraine is being shaken, but so is the United States. It is time for us to identify more with the sufferings of our brothers and sisters around the world more than we identify with our respective nations. It is time for us to identify more with our heavenly citizenship than our earthly citizenship. It is time to realize we are all citizens of heaven and each of us are here only as missionaries. Any advantage we have is only to be used to strengthen our brothers and sisters around the world. We are not too good to suffer anything our brothers and sisters around the world suffer. Hebrews 11:36-37 mentions those who,  

had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— Hebrews 11:36-37 NKJV

How can I, as a missionary in the United States have any ambition any higher than that? Am I any more special than my brother and sister missionaries around the world? Do I deserve any special treatment, privileges or favors beyond what they endure? NO! NO! NO! 

While we pray for our heavenly family in the Ukraine we must also suffer with them and share with them. They are our brothers and sisters in that family which spans heaven and earth. Regardless if we are missionaries in the United States or The Ukraine, or wherever you are reading this from, we must realize we are only here to share the Gospel. When our respective nations are being shaken we must realize, we are only missionaries here. We must make sure we are a part of that kingdom which cannot be shaken. The kingdom that Our High Priest has now made us citizens is the only kingdom that will never be shaken. Friend, wherever you are reading this from, I invite you to be a part of Christ’s kingdom, which will never be shaken. By faith you can endure the trials, hardships and persecutions missionaries before you have suffered. By faith we can give our lives for the sake of the Gospel, and be a part of that kingdom which will never be shaken. 

Outpost Centers International networks and nurtures hundreds of Adventist supporting ministries around the world. I have trusted them with my personal mission offerings for years. I would like to invite you to join me in ministering to our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. If the Spirit leads you, you can go to the OCI Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund page.