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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Together: Genesis 39. Summarize this chapter.

Study: What made Joseph so successful?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicolas’ Baptism Pictures and Story

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

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

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

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

Let God be the One to pay you Back

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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.

10: Jacob- Israel-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class June 4.

Main Theme: God fulfills His promises despite our mistakes.

Read Together: Genesis 32:22-31 and Hosea 12:3-4. Define the main idea of these passages.

Study: What is the spiritual significance of this amazing story?

Apply: What has been your own experience as far as wrestling with God goes? What does it mean to do that, and why is it at times important that we have this kind of experience?

Share: A friend asks you, “If salvation is free, why did Jacob have to struggle with God to overcome?” What do you tell your friend? See also 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

Read Together: Genesis 33. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What connection is there between Jacob’s experience of seeing the face of God at Peniel and Jacob’s experience of seeing the face of his brother? What is the implication of this connection in regard to our relationship with God and our relationship with our “brothers,” whoever they may be?

Apply: What have you learned about grace by how others (besides the Lord) have forgiven you?

Share: Even though Jacob cheated Esau, God blessed Esau so much that when Jacob offered to repay him, Esau told Jacob he did not need anything from him. How has God blessed you even when others have cheated you? See Let God pay you Back.

Read Together: Genesis 34. Summarize this story.

Study: What happened to upset his plans for a peaceful existence?

Apply: Over and over we see deceit and deception, as well as acts of kindness and grace, in these accounts. What does this tell us about human nature?

Share: Your child asks, you, “This story is pretty gross! Why is it in the Bible?” What do you tell your child?

Read Together: Genesis 35. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What lessons can we take about true worship from what happened here?

Apply: What are subtle ways that idolatry can find its way into our hearts, and what can we do about it?

Share: Without mentioning any names to the class, can you think of a family in your church or community who could use some extra prayers this week? Can you remember to pray for this family during the week?

Video Sermon: Promises by William Earnhardt at Homosassa SDA Church 5-21-22.

When I was confused and could not find the right text, what I was actually looking for was 2 Samuel 9 not 2 Samuel 19. 🙂

 Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him [a]kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

And there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

He said, “At your service!”

Then the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?”

And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.”

So the king said to him, “Where is he?”

And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.”

Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.

Now when Mephibosheth[b] the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?”

And he answered, “Here is your servant!”

So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.”

Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” 2 Samuel 9:1-8

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.

9: Jacob the Supplanter-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt, For Sabbath School Class, Sabbath, May 28, 2022.

Main Theme: Jacob deceives and then gets deceived, thus learning what goes around comes around.

Read Together: Genesis 25: 21-34. Discuss the main theme of this passage.

Study: What qualities of Jacob predispositioned him to be more worthy than Esau of Isaac’s blessings?

Apply: Jacob wanted something good, something of value, and that was admirable (especially compared to his brother’s attitude). Yet, he used deception and lies to get it. How can we avoid falling into a similar trap of doing bad so that “good” may come?

Share: Your friend says its okay to tell a white lie in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Do you agree with your friend? Why or why not?

Read Together: Genesis 29:20-30. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: How and why does God allow for Laban’s deception? What lessons did Jacob learn?

Apply: How can we avoid justifying doing something bad so that good may come? 

Share: Your friend asks if God let Jacob get deceived so that he would then realize and be convicted of his own lies. What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 30:15-22. Summarize this passage.

Study: How are we to understand the meaning of what takes place here?

Apply: How does this story reveal that God’s purpose will be fulfilled despite human errors?

Share: Your friend asks why God was so good to Leah when Leah was deceptive? What do you share with your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 30:25-32. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is going on here, and what kind of reasoning does Jacob use? What is Laban’s response?

Apply: Have you ever been cheated by an employer? How did you deal with it?

Share: Think of someone who would be encouraged by this week’s message. How can you share it with them this week?