Why Did God Allow That to Happen?

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Friends, as I take a look at this Sabbath  lesson’s “The Week at a Glance: What are the causes of the difficult times that we experience through our lives?” I am discouraged myself. I just got off the phone with a friend, who lost his son a year ago, and has had a wife in and out of the hospital since Thanksgiving. He has his own health issues, and now he just informed me this evening, his wife is back in the hospital with a broken hip. Speculation is she broke her hip in the hospital that just sent her home last week. I don’t have all the answers, if any at all, because at this point I am crying out to God, “How much is one family supposed to take?” 

I have to be honest, the last several years have been good to me. But I remember going through the fire and asking God how much more I was supposed to take. Friends told me my trials were so I could develop patience. I told them if everything would just go my way I wouldn’t need patience! Friends told me God was working on my character. So I woke up the next morning and suggested to God we just take a break from working on my character for a while. Just let me enjoy life for a while. It seemed everything was a crisis, a trial or some moral dilemma. I just wanted to enjoy the carefree days of my youth again. But while I may have more questions than answers tonight I have learned a few things about what causes the difficult times in our lives, or why they come our way.

Sure we have all seen the Facebook meme, that says “Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is because we are stupid and make stupid choices.” As funny as that may sound there is a lot of truth to that. Sometimes we create our own problems. Years ago I was going through a breakup with my fiancée, and had lost my job. Nothing was going right. I moved to a new apartment and changed banks. I threw the old checks away in the apartment dumpster. You guessed it. As if I did not have enough going on, now I had to take off from my new job to go to the police station on several occasions and prove to them I did not write those checks. That had nothing to do with God working on my character. It had nothing to do with my former girlfriend or my job. There was a reason for it all though. The reason for it all was because I made a stupid choice and threw the checks away without shredding them. Still I survived everything. Even Agur, who shared his wisdom in Proverbs said, 

I am too stupid to be human, and I lack common sense. Proverbs 30:2 NLT 

Sure enough sometimes our own stupidity is the only reason for our problems. Good news is God looks out for stupid people like Agur and me. By the way I realized my own foolishness. I did not need anyone to tell me, and I do not need to tell anyone else they are stupid. Only a narcissist will try to make someone else feel stupid. And actually I don’t feel stupid. I know I am not alone. I just thought while we are looking for reasons for difficult times, we can’t ignore this explanation. 

Another reason for difficult times is it does indeed increase our faith. When you were in school you may have noticed the math books often had the answers in the back of the book. But your teacher did not want you to just write the answer down. She wanted you to work the problem out and show why “X” is the answer. You worked the problem out, not to find the answer as much as you did to find out why it was the answer. The Bible tells us Jesus is the answer. But we need to work out our problems in life for the same reason we needed to work out our math problems in school. So we know why Jesus is the answer. In Mark 4:35-40 Jesus tells His disciples to cross the lake in a boat. A huge storm comes. Jesus knew that storm was coming when He told His disciples to cross the lake. After calming the storm Jesus asked His disciples why they didn’t have any faith. But weren’t they showing faith when they asked Him to calm the storm? Sure, but that is not what Jesus was talking about. When Jesus said, “Where is your faith?” He was asking them why they needed Him to calm the storm, instead of just riding out the storm with Him. After all, sailboats can’t get anywhere without some wind. Sometimes its the storms that get us to where we need to be. Why should Jesus calm a storm He just sent them into? The storm was there for a reason. We show more faith and growth when we ride the storm out with Jesus, instead of asking Him to calm every little wind that blows our way. I am reminded of a saying, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Maybe instead of asking God to calm every storm we should ask Him for dancing lessons. 

But my friend’s phone call tonight is still on my mind. After all they have been through I don’t think God needs to work on their faith and character anymore, but then again I am not God and I really have no clue. I do remember a similar experience with my own mother. She had tons of health issues, and had been battling cancer when she fell and broke her hip. Again I thought, come on God! How much more can my poor mother take! My mother ended up making it through not one but two hip surgeries. I was sure the broken hip was going to do her in. But it didn’t! I honestly believe the rehab made her more strong and determined! My aunt who was a nurse agreed with me. Instead of killing her it made her stronger. She lived several years after the broken hip. When she was diagnosed with cancer she was given 2 to 3 years to live, and that was if she took the treatments. She refused the treatments and lived 12 more years. I truly think the broken hip gave her a reason to fight and get some of those 12 years. 

After all, I remember when I got sick many years ago and had to go to the emergency room. I did not have good insurance like I do now and was left with quite a bill. I called a friend who was remodeling their home and asked if I could work on the side for them to earn the extra money to pay the medical bill. In the end I made way more money than what I owed on the medical bill. My trip to the emergency room created an opportunity to get a side job where I not only paid the bill, but turned my whole financial situation around for the better. 

Sometimes we go through difficult times to grow our faith and develop our character. Sometimes it is so we can be more sympathetic to others. 

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 

Its very important we assure others who are suffering that they are not suffering alone. Of course that does not mean we have to “one up” their suffering. Actually when people are suffering they don’t need us to share our problems, they just need us to listen to theirs. But we need to know we are not alone in suffering. In the movie Black Hawk Down, an  entire military troop is injured. The general tells the private to take a Humvee load of injured soldiers to the hospital. The private protests, “But sir I am injured.” To which the general responds, “Everyone is injured!” We may have to be injured caregivers at times, but even then we are not alone. 

Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:9 NLT  (last part)

Satan wants us to feel alone and isolated in our sufferings, but our sufferings should actually bring us all closer together. 

Job’s friends did a miserable job of trying to comfort Job with all their philosophy. I doubt I have done any better at answering Sabbath’s question at a glance, concerning what causes difficult times. Like I said earlier, after getting off the phone tonight with my friend I have more questions than answers about why God has allowed them to suffer so. But while I don’t have the answers, God has given us some promises. 

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. Romans 8:18 NLT 

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NLT 

Please pray for my friend who called me  tonight, and for his wife. Please pray for everyone who has had more than their fair share of difficulties lately. By the way, I said earlier, “to be honest the last several years have been good to me.” Well to be more honest, God has always been good to me, All. The. Days. Of. My. Life. 

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6 NLT 

If not before, when we get to God’s house, we will understand better why we went through such difficult times, and we will have many triumphs to celebrate. We will also see that even in the difficult times, God’s goodness and mercy were with us, all the days of our life. 

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

Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

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.

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?

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

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.

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?

Photo by Dom J on Pexels.com

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.