5: Extreme Heat-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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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?

Try a Little Love and Tenderness

Monday’s section of this week’s lesson, reveals the relentless love of God. For me, here is the key verse.

But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there. Hosea 2:14 NLT 

I am so thankful for parents who understand this. I wish all parents understood this is the way to win their children’s loyalty to God and to themselves

.

Several years ago I was preaching for Father’s Day, and I had a few people, young and old, tell us what they liked about their fathers. One young man, about 12 years old, gave a powerful, heartfelt tribute to his dad, even saying “nobody reminds me of Jesus more than my father.”

That same Sabbath morning, the son was offered some cookies in his Sabbath School class which he gladly took. His father saw him eating the cookie and starting publicly berating him and telling him how sinful it is to eat in church! (News to me!) The son could not hide his hurt and humiliation. The son definitely was not trying to be a hard-hearted rebel by taking a cookie just like everyone else. I know the father meant well too, but you don’t have to be a parent to know that publicly embarrassing and humiliating your child is not a good thing to do. Remember, Jesus worked His first miracle, turning water into wine for no other reason than to save the host from public embarrassment. It would not have killed them to just drink water, but Jesus is a Savior from public humiliation and embarrassment. It is not one of His tools.

Not long after this, the father called me up and wanted me to lecture his son because he was becoming defiant. I came to their home as requested, but the talk did not actually go the way the father expected. The father was accusing the son of being disrespectful. With father and son both present, I asked the son about the beautiful tribute he gave to his father. Both agreed that was very nice and respectful. I then asked the son how he felt when later, his father publicly berated him for eating a cookie just like everyone else. He said it was very hurtful and you could see the hurt in his eyes as he said that. I shared Hosea 2:14 with them both and asked the father if he thought he could be a little more tender when correcting his son. I was not asking him to change his standards, just his approach. But I did share with the father that I was unaware of any Bible teaching against eating a cookie in church. Being a father is a very sacred calling, and I did not want to distract from that or appear to try to trump him. However I did encourage him to follow 2 Timothy 3:16 and be sure to correct his son according to Scripture.

Tears were in the son’s eyes by now as I explained to the father how much his son loved him, and how hurt he was, when publicly humiliated for doing something he thought was totally innocent, with no rebellious intentions. I assured the father that his son would not have written such a loving tribute if he did not deeply love and respect him. His son nodded in agreement with tears still in his eyes.

I thought the father was going to turn on me now for not ganging up with him on his side, but, instead, he actually thanked me! I know the father had a good heart and really cared about his children. Why else would his son write that no one reminded him more of Jesus than His father?

Parents, please be tender with your children. You may not think they love, appreciate and respect you, but at school and church I hear them say things you may never hear. I always tell kids, “Your parents love you more than you think they do,” and I say the same to parents. “Your children love you more than you think they do.” As a third party observer, I know this for a fact.

If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from God,

But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there. Hosea 2:14 NLT 

Was God Just Using Job as a Guinea Pig?

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Occasionally I hear people ask why God used Job for a guinea pig. Why did God allow Job to be tortured just for the sake of making a point to Satan? Was Job just a pawn in God and Satan’s chess game?

At first glance it may appear so, but let’s look a little closer. First of all it is said of God,

In all their suffering he also suffered, Isaiah 63:9 NLT

While watching a documentary on the holocaust, I heard a woman talking about seeing a small child killed by a concentration camp officer. She said, when that happened, she stopped believing in God. She didn’t understood that God was suffering with that poor child.

No, that in and of itself does not answer all the questions as to why God allowed Job to suffer and the holocaust to happen. But if He is suffering just as much as everyone else, it does tell me God is not using humanity or Job as a guinea pig or as pawns in some chess match with Satan. I don’t have to have all the answers to trust God. If God allowed sin and suffering, knowing it would cost Him His own dear Son on the cross, then I know there must be a good reason.

Job’s friends came up with a quick answer to the problem of suffering. Surely Job brought this upon himself! For some reason we feel better about God allowing pain and suffering if we figure that people somehow deserve suffering. When we do this we misunderstand the character of God. Fact is God does not want to see anyone suffer, even if they deserve it.

Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. Ezekiel 18:23 NLT

So while we are prone to draw peace from knowing people deserve to suffer or brought it upon themselves, the fact that they may deserve it is no consolation to God. He hurts just the same.

Even though Job’s friends might not have had the right attitude, Job did learn and grow through his suffering. While he maintained his innocence for the most part of the story, at the end, Job said,

I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance. Job 42:6 NLT

While Job’s friends may have been more than a little rough on him, Job did have some precious lessons to learn, and yes, some precious revelations of God’s grace that could only be found through suffering. Even though God bragged on Job in the first chapter, He did not imply that Job had “arrived.” Job still had some things to learn about himself, and his need for God’s righteousness. Theologians have been trying to answer the question for ages, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In fact, they’ve come up with a fancy name for it – theodicy. 1 The question why bad things happen to good people is actually hypothetical, because, there are no good people for bad things to happen to!

No one does good, not a single one. Romans 3:12 NLT

Job grew throughout the story, and in his suffering became more intimate with his Redeemer.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought! Job 19:25-27 NLT

God did not allow Job to suffer like a guinea pig so God could prove a point to Satan. Job had to suffer to learn obedience just like Jesus did.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:8 NLT

The suffering and obedience led both Jesus and Job into intimacy with the Father. Again, I do not know why. Maybe you do and can comment below. But for now it is enough for me to know that if Jesus had to suffer too, there must be a good reason. My theory is simply that anything that was proven to Satan was not the main event. Job’s character growth and intimacy with God was the main event. The things Job endured were not just to put on some show for the devil to see. They were to bring Job closer to God, and to realize joys and victories, and yes and intimacy with God, that could not have been realized any other way.

  1. Theodicy covers a little more ground than just the question of why good people suffer. It deals with the questions of God’s goodness in the presence of evil. 

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

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.