I Have Questions About the Story of Joseph

Like many people I talk to, the story of Joseph is one of my favorite stories. He survives a dysfunctional environment and rises to the throne. His story gives us so much encouragement. For example, I love how Judah illustrates true repentance when he says,

And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. Genesis 44:30-31 NLT 

Judah tells Joseph he would rather die a slave in Egypt rather than break his father’s heart. What a beautifully accurate picture of repentance. 

I love studying my Bible near the beautiful Tampa Bay area,

I love it when Joseph tells his brothers,

But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. Genesis 45:5 NLT 

Now here is some profound theology. Joseph is not blaming his dysfunctional family for all of his problems in life! He realizes how his dysfunctional family played right into God’s hands to get him exactly where he needed to be. Years ago someone 1200 miles away called me with a job offer. As it turned out one of my coworkers knew the person who called me. I told a pastor friend, “I wonder if my coworker gave my name to the person who called, just to get rid of me?” The pastor wisely replied, “If so it doesn’t matter what the motives of  your coworker are. Joseph’s brothers had poor motives but they still got Joseph to the throne. God will work everything out for your good.” 

I could go on and on but  through the years I have also come up with some questions and I am wondering if you can help me? Some of these questions may seem more pertinent and some maybe just curious but I still would be interested in knowing what you think about them, so thank you for indulging me. 

If I put myself in Joseph’s sandals I’m thinking as soon as I got free I would go find my father. Once Joseph got on the throne do you think he made any attempts to contact his father? He knew he was in Canaan somewhere. According to this story there were obviously such a thing as spies. If I was Joseph I would have commissioned someone to do a little detective work and find my dad. Do you think Joseph tried anything like that?

Before we feel too sorry for Joseph do you think he may have actually enjoyed being away from his brothers?  As much as he loved his father, as far as his brothers go I think he may have enjoyed being free from all that dysfunction. Could Egypt have actually been a haven for Joseph long before he even came to the throne? Could Joseph have been just as happy to get away from them? 

When the brothers started telling Jacob all the strange questions the ruler was asking about the family, and especially his interest in the father and the little brother, do you think Jacob may had some fatherly instinct that helped him read between the lines and get a clue as to what was actually going on? Especially since Joseph’s body was never found? Not even skeletal remains an animal may leave behind? I could be way off, but as I read the story lately I get a hunch Jacob may have been figuring things out before it was actually spelled out for him. I know it would also take a lot of intuition to connect the dots but intuition is a thing. What do you think? 

Our imagination should never be placed above a plain “Thus saith the Lord” but I believe these stories are also written to leave room for a healthy imagination. I believe the stories come to life and are more real to us when we read with a healthy imagination that stays within the realms of the information Scripture provides. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 

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

Video: The Second Coming in Light of the Cross

The Second Coming

Brief overview: The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is imminent. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times. (Titus 2:13Heb. 9:28John 14:1-3Acts 1:9-11Matt. 24:14Rev. 1:7Matt. 24:43441 Thess. 4:13-181 Cor. 15:51-542 Thess. 1:7-102:8Rev. 14:14-2019:11-21; Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Tim. 3:1-51 Thess. 5:1-6.)

Why it is important to understand the truth about the second coming:

Jesus Himself says many will try to impersonate His coming, so He told us exactly how He would come so we will not be deceived. See Matthew 24.

Why it is important to understand the second coming in light of the cross:

There is a difference between believing He will come, and loving His appearing. Children who are misbehaving at home while mother is out running errands believe she is coming again but since they have misbehaved and made a mess out of the house they do not love her appearing. A true Adventist is one who not only believes in Jesus’ coming but is in love with Him and His appearing. They are like Paul in Galatians 6:14 and in love with the Cross and crucified to the world!

The Bible often refers to the church as a woman (Revelation 12). Revelation 19:7 mentions a bride who is ready for marriage with the Lamb. Who could the Lamb be but Jesus and who could this bride be but His church? Now when you go to a wedding you will notice a very pretty little flower girl all dressed up. She is prepared for the wedding. But the groom does not wish to marry the flower girl. Oh she is pretty all right, and she is prepared. But she has not come prepared for the groom. No, she has come prepared for the cake and punch after the service! The groom does not want to marry a flower girl and neither does Jesus. The groom, Jesus wants to marry the bride. You see the bride has come and is prepared for one thing and one thing only. It’s not the cake and punch, no all she cares about is the groom! You see Jesus is not returning for “flower girls” who just get all excited about the cake, punch, golden streets and mansions. Jesus is returning for a bride who cares about Him! Even Satan believes Jesus is returning, but that belief will not do him any good since he is not in love with Jesus.

At the cross we see how much Jesus loves and desires to be with us, and it inspires us to love Him and want to be with Him.

Further Study on the Second Coming

What did Jesus promise to do?

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  John 14:1-3 NLT

How will He come?

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:9-11 NLT

Was He a real person?                                                                                                   

 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them.“Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish,and he ate it as they watched.  Luke 24:36-43 NLT

To what does He liken His coming?

For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Mancomes.  Matthew 24:27

What type of glory accompanies Him?

And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30 NLT

Whose glory is it?

If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. Luke 9:26 NLT

What do the angels do?

And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven. Matthew 24:31

What happens to the righteous dead?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16- 17 NLT

What happens to the island and mountains?                                                                 

The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places.Then everyone—the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy, the powerful, and every slave and free person—all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains.And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?”   Revelation 6:14-17 NLT

How many will see Him coming?

Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—    even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! Revelation 1:7 NLT

Why is Jesus coming back?

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:1-3 NLT

05: Come Unto Me -Sabbath School Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on July 31, 2021.

Main theme for this week’s lesson: The yoke Jesus gives us is not a burden. It’s a support system. It’s His grace.

Read Together Matthew 11:28-30. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: what type of rest does Jesus give us? How might the preceding verses help us understand?

Apply: How do we take Jesus’ yoke? How does that make our burden light? See God Will Definitely Give you More Than you can Handle.

Share: Share a time God gave you rest from a trial or temptation.

Read Together Matthew 5:5 and Galatians 5:1 and identify the main idea of these passages.

Study: What does it mean to be meek? What is the yoke of bondage Christ frees us from?

Apply: How do we stay meek and have rest and peace in a doge eat dog world?

Share: Tell about a meek person you know. How do they show meekness while having a confident rest and peace?

Read Together Exodus 18:13-22. Discuss the theme of this passage.

Study: What does bearing another person’s burden look like in this story?

Apply: How do you keep from being over-worked and over burdened? Should we send ourselves on a guilt trip for not doing a job in the church someone else could have just of easily done?

Share: Do you know of someone at work, home or church who is being burned out like Moses? How can you help them this week? Or if you are burned out how can you delegate some of your responsibilities?

Read Together Galatians 6:2 and identify the main idea of this passage.

Study: How does bearing each others burdens help us fulfill the law of Christ?

Apply: How does bearing someone else’ burden help you bear your own? An old story is told about a man who was caught in a snow bank in a blizzard. He was freezing and about to give up an die when he heard another man moaning in the storm. The first man found the strength to rescue the other man and ended up saving himself in the process. Do you believe this story to be true? Why or why not?

Share: Are there any burdens or responsibilities that someone can help you with, even a shut in or a child? How could you actually be helping them by letting them help you? Would it even be worth adjusting our expectations in order to help them by letting them help us?

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT

God Will Definitely Give you More Than you can Handle

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You may listen to the podcast version here.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT 

When Jesus places his yoke upon us He is not giving us a burden, He is giving us a support system. 

I have heard it said that God will never give us more trials or burdens than we can handle. I disagree. God will definitely give us more than we can handle, but He will never give us more than He can handle. This is where the yoke of Christ comes in. His yoke is meant to carry our burdens. He gives us rest as we work in His strength instead of our own weakness. Paul writes about a time when he was given a trial from God in which he did not have the ability to endure. 

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.  And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NLT 

Here we see Paul was crushed and overwhelmed beyond his ability to endure. Paul stopped relying on his abilities to endure and instead relied upon God. God saved Paul. Paul’s confidence is not in himself but in God. Paul also mentions the prayers of others helped get him through. Paul was given more than he could handle but thanks to God and his church family he endured. God does not expect us to overcome in our own strength. God invites us to unite our weakness to His strength. We do this when we take His yoke upon us. 

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT 

Have you ever endured a trial so great you don’t even have a clue how you survived? That’s because you survived by grace. I remember when my fiancée left me, I lost my  old job and my new job was very hard for me to catch on to. I remember everything was going wrong every time I turned around. I remember crying out to God, “Give me one break, just one break!” It seemed the most simplest things would not go right. Everything became hard and complicated and impossible. I also remember crying out to God, “I’m not asking you to make it easy. Just make it possible!” During this time my car kept breaking down, and after the umpteenth  time it broke down in the middle of an intersection, I could not handle it anymore and I started yelling and cursing at the top of my lungs things no child of God should ever say! I won’t tell you exactly what I yelled but I will say when I hear someone else curse and swear when they are pushed beyond their limit I am totally unfit and unqualified to judge them. All I’m qualified to do is throw my arms around them and hug them.

I couldn’t catch a break. I was pushed way beyond what I could handle. There was no way out on my own. But you know what? I’m not sitting in the middle of the intersection with a broken down car now. I now have a car that’s paid for and very dependable. I have a job that I love. No I haven’t found the love of my life yet, unless you want to consider the love of my life being my job, the place I call home and all my wonderful family and friends in my community and around the world. Years ago I was sitting in the middle of an intersection with a broken down car, no money, no love life, no way to survive. And with the attitude I now had I did not deserve to survive.  I gave hope up and began to curse. But yet, with no hope and no strength I did survive. I survived because of one word. Grace. 

God gave me more than I could bear. And while I had given up and thrown in the towel and was cursing life, Jesus came and threw His yoke around me and pulled me out of my pit of despair. I can’t even credit my faith because I had no faith! It was all one word. Grace. 

God gave me more than I could handle. But that’s okay. I survived. Obviously He handled it all for me. The yoke Jesus gives us is not a burden. It is a support system. It’s grace. 

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

When Self Confidence is Shattered

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When I read in Wednesday’s section of this week’s lesson that David’s self confidence was shattered, it reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with a man who was studying eastern religions.  He asked me about my faith so I told Him I believed in Jesus. “But this faith in Jesus leads you to believe in yourself, right?” He asked. “No.” I said. “It actually makes me not believe in myself at all. Only in Jesus.” The young man didn’t even try to hide his scowl, and as to this date has not wanted to hear any more about my faith. Apparently believing in oneself is very important to this young man, but how can I believe in myself, when I know all too well what Paul confessed?

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. Romans 7:18 NKJV

Hard for me to believe in something where nothing good dwells.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:23-24 NKJV

Romans 7 knows me all too well. But there is hope! Not in me, but in Jesus.

I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:25 NKJV

My mind wants to serve God but my flesh wants to serve sin. So what is the solution? Paul shares the solution in chapter 8. Many agree that Romans 7 describes the unconverted man while Romans 8 describes the converted man.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 NKJV

Jesus took my flesh with nothing good in it and crucified it. Now I can walk in the spirit and the law of love can be fulfilled in me.

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 NKJV

In the physical world one must be born before they can die. In the Spiritual world one must die before they can be born.

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:17 NKJV

When the Spirit wars against the flesh is it the good things or the bad things we cannot do? Which is stronger? The Holy Spirit or the flesh? The previous verse makes it obvious.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NLT

So if I walk in the Spirit I have victory over the flesh. Why do I need victory over my flesh? Why can’t I believe in my own flesh like my friend wanted me to? Let’s examine the works of the flesh and see how many of them are good things to believe in.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV

Eeeww! I didn’t find anything good in there, did you? No wonder Jesus had to crucify my flesh on the cross, and I must die to selfishness daily. See 1 Corinthians 15:31 and Luke 9:23. You may ask how does one die daily? I don’t think we can on our own. We must be crucified with Christ. See Galatians 2:20. As we behold Jesus emptying Himself on the cross, the Holy Spirit empties us of self too.

For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. Galatians 6:13-15 NKJV

It’s impossible to look at the cross and glory in my flesh.

“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.” -Isaac Watts

“What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. –Ellen White, Faith I Live by, Page, 111

Now that my glory is laid in the dust, look at what is possible.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV

When the Holy Spirit fills me, this fruit shows up in my life. This is not my works! We saw earlier how disgusting all my works are. No, this fruit is not the results of my works. It is the result of the Holy Spirit living in me and producing His own fruit.

When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 676

See why I told my friend the answer is not for me to believe in myself?

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3 NKJV

“The circumcision” are those like Abraham, who stopped trusting his flesh to produce the fruit that only the Holy Spirit can produce. God had Abraham put away the part of the flesh he was trusting in so He could trust God’s promises instead. I pray God will give me another opportunity to talk to my friend again, so I can explain all that is possible when we stop believing in ourselves and believe in Jesus. Then again, the Holy Spirit can have anybody explain that to him. What the Holy Spirit does in me He can do in anyone. After all, it’s not me working. It is the fruit of the Spirit.

The Love of Self Causes Unrest

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Jesus was always at peace. According to Mark 4:38, even in a violent storm at sea He was sleeping peacefully in the back of a boat. How do you have that kind of peace and rest even amidst a raging storm? The amazing thing is Jesus offers us this same peace that allows us to find rest even when the storms of life rage on. 

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NLT 

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT 

Jesus offers us a peaceful rest that has nothing to do with the stock market, interest rates, red blood cell counts, or even if our best friend is speaking to us or not. Jesus gives us peace by placing us in a right relationship with God. When we are at peace with God nothing else matters. 

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Romans 5:1 NLT 

Jesus was at perfect peace and had a perfect relationship with His Father because their was no hint of selfishness in His life. 

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 NLT 

I have heard it said, the love of self is what causes unrest. It is selfishness that causes the anxiety that destroys our peace. The roots of restlessness are the roots of selfishness. The roots of rest and peace are the roots of selflessness. When Jesus gives us His peace He gives us His selfless attitude. We are no longer worried about being number one. We are no longer in turmoil, restlessly fretting that someone else may get that bigger slice of the pie that we wanted for ourselves. Our pride that made us worry about what others think about is gone. The peace and rest Jesus gives us helps us to forget about self and relax as we enjoy our relationship with God. When we are in a right relationship with God we can claim this promise,

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3 NLT 

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

Jinky and Jim’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

Today all heaven rejoiced with the Homosassa Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church as two precious souls gave all of themselves to Jesus because Jesus gave all of Himself for them.

During the quarantine Genevieve (Left) began Bible studies with her cousin Jinky and her friend Gee. After a while I was able to join them. Genevieve’s Sprit filled Bible studies made them hunger for more of God’s Word and the love of Jesus. Jinky was the first to make her decision to be baptized. Jinky shared that after recently losing her husband, mother and sister she is looking forward to Jesus’ soon coming where all those who love Jesus will enjoy eternal life with no more death and sorrow!
Jim contacted me on the Homosassa SDA Church website and asked for Bible studies. He shared that he had gone to a nearby Adventist Church as a child but drifted away. As we studied the In Light of the cross Bible study guides Jim told me that he had a new and greater understanding and appreciation for God’s love and mercy. Jim is already a big part of our Wednesday night Bible study and prayer group. He is helping with our church landscaping and has shown interest in our food pantry. The Homosassa SDA Church is very happy to see both Jim and Jinky already becoming a big part of our church family.

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. and now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:26-29 NLT

After their baptism Jinky and Jim were both rewarded their baptism certificates along with a copy of The Desire of Ages, the classic on the life of Christ.


Before the sun sets on your life please give yourself to Jesus, Who gave all of Himself for you. I would love to study with you and help you make this decision. You can contact me at racerthree@gmail.com.

I would also like to thank those who have been faithfully supporting my Bible Worker ministry and making these wonderful baptism stories possible.

Grasshoppers, Giants and Reality

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Reality is 90% perception, or so they say. I don’t know who comes up with these statistics, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

When I was in sales, I led my district one year, but also went through a three-week drought with no sales at all. So what was my reality? Was I a good salesman who had a bad drought, or was I a bad salesman who just happened to get lucky?

Since the dynamics of a family are so different between first born, middle and youngest child, and, taking into account the gender difference, two siblings can grow up in the same family, but since their perceptions are different, it is like growing up in different families. Each child perceives and experiences the family differently to the extent that as far as perception goes, it’s not even the same family. You and I can watch the same football game, but if I am watching behind the goal, and you are sitting on the sideline near the center we are going to have a totally different experience and perception of the same game.

Satan well knows how perception affects our picture of reality. So he likes to play little mind games. A while back during a Bible study I mentioned that sometimes I am tempted to think that I care more about people than they care about me. My Bible student quickly responded, “Me too!” Then he paused, scratched his chin, and added, “I bet Satan tries to make everyone feel that way.” I agreed with my Bible student.

Let’s look at how Satan played mind games with the Israelites. Look at how they perceived themselves after spying out the Promised Land which had already been … well, promised to them!

All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” Numbers 13:32-33 NLT.

Wait a minute? First of all, historians say the Canaanites may have been a few inches taller than the Israelites, but not so much taller as to be called giants. The grasshopper comparison was a drastic exaggeration. Furthermore, how did they know the Canaanites thought they were like grasshoppers? How would they know what they were thinking at all? They didn’t! They cast their perception on other people, and thought their perception was reality, when it was all in their minds. Satan was playing mind games with them.

Later, in Joshua 2:24 another group of Israeli spies visit Rahab in Jericho and there they found out what the reality was.

“The Lord has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.” Joshua 2:24 NLT

So the grasshopper comparison was just a little mind game of Satan’s that the first spies bought into. It was not reality. Sure, God wants us to be humble, but that does not mean he wants us to think we are grasshoppers while everyone else is a giant. Those who walk humbly with God are a terror to those who stand in their own pride and arrogance. If you walk humbly with God you do not need to be intimidated by anyone, regardless of their title or letters behind their name.

Humble men, armed with the word of truth alone, withstood the attacks of men of learning, who, with surprise and anger, found their eloquent sophistry powerless against the simple, straightforward reasoning of men who were versed in the Scriptures rather than in the subtleties of the schools. –Ellen White, Great Controversy, Page 455.

So it is today as in every age. The same can be said for you today, which was said of John the Baptist.

He could stand erect and fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs, because he had bowed low before the King of kings. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 103.

Wisdom and humility go beautifully together, while the common combination of arrogance and ignorance seems to be lacking in comeliness. While we do not want to be arrogant and ignorant, it is possible to be humble and confident. Our confidence should be in God and not in ourselves.

Are you facing a giant today? First humble yourself before God. Put your confidence in His love and power. Walk forward in humble faith and obedience, and your giants will turn into grasshoppers. The humble of the land can also be the confident of the land, and not cowards.

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

Video: Healthy Living in Light of the Cross

Health and Temperance

Brief overview: God want us to be healthy and happy. See Leviticus 11, 1 Corinthians 10:31Proverbs 20:1

Why it is important to know the truth about health and temperance:

You don’t have to be a doctor to know how important, rest; exercise and diet are to healthy living. Seventh-day Adventists have been sharing a health message for many years now. The December 2005 issue of National Geographichad an article on the health lifestyles of Seventh-day Adventists and reports that they live an average of eight years longer than the general population.

Why it is important to understand health and temperance in the light of the cross:

While we all want to live as long as we can this is great news, but the health message Adventists find in the light of the Cross is not just about living longer, but living better. The health message in the light of the Cross teaches us that a healthier body leads to a healthier mind, which is able to appreciate spiritual themes and make morally sound choices. So while those following Biblical health principles live longer, more importantly they live closer to Jesus.

Further Study on Health and Temperance

What does God call us to do?

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NLT

Will this have an impact on what we eat?

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT

What warning does God give?

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives inyou? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NLT

Why is this subject so important?

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT

Note: In view of the above principles, one should refrain from the use of things which tend to harm, impede, or shorten one’s life; as well as those things which God has strictly forbidden.

What is God’s warning about alcohol?                                                                          

Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.   Proverbs 23:29-32 NLT

Who does the Bible say has woe and sorrow?

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold.Isaiah 5:20-22 NLT

What should we not be deceived by?

Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise. Proverbs 20:1 NLT

Will drunkards be in heaven?

or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:10 NLT

What does God desire for us?

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT

Did Noah realize a distinction between the animals?

Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others.  Genesis 7:2 NLT

Note: When the animals entered the ark, there were no Jews. The same health laws and principles apply to all mankind and for all time, as we all have the same stomachs.

How can we tell the difference?                                                                                         

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron,“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.“Of all the land animals, these are the ones you may use for food. You may eat any animal that has completely split hooves and chews the cud. You may not, however, eat the following animals that have split hooves or that chew the cud, but not both. The camel chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is ceremonially unclean for you. The hyrax chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. The hare chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. The pig has evenly split hooves but does not chew the cud, so it is unclean. You may not eat the meat of these animals or even touch their carcasses. They are ceremonially unclean for you. Leviticus 11:1-8 NLT

What must seafood have to be eaten?

Of all the marine animals, these are ones you may use for food. You may eat anything from the water if it has both fins and scales, whether taken from salt water or from streams. But you must never eat animals from the sea or from rivers that do not have both fins and scales. They are detestable to you. This applies both to little creatures that live in shallow water and to all creatures that live in deep water. They will always be detestable to you. You must never eat their meat or even touch their dead bodies. Any marine animal that does not have both fins and scales is detestable to you. Leviticus 11:9-12 NLT

Why did God give this list?

“These are the instructions regarding land animals, birds, marine creatures, and animals that scurry along the ground. By these instructions you will know what is unclean and clean, and which animals may be eaten and which may not be eaten.”  Leviticus 11:46-47 NLT

Who will be destroyed when Jesus returns?

“Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the Lord.  Isaiah 66:17 NLT

Of course there is more to health than just what we eat.

Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power,–these are the true remedies. Every person should have a knowledge of nature’s remedial agencies and how to apply them. It is essential both to understand the principles involved in the treatment of the sick and to have a practical training that will enable one rightly to use this knowledge.  –Counsels on Diets and Food, Page 301

What does God want you to do?

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.  Romans 12:1NLT

Sometimes Rest is all you Need

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As health conscious Adventists we put a lot of emphases on what we eat, while rest also plays a very vital role in our physical and spiritual well-being. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah is stressed out, feeling like he is all alone in his spiritual battles. Finally he runs away and then prays an unreasonable prayer when he asks God to just let him die. (Interestingly Elijah, the one man who asks to die never gets to die!) God does not chastise Elijah for his foolish prayer. God realizes the reason Elijah is so unreasonable is because he is simply tired. Elijah just needed rest.

Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. 1 Kings 19:5 NLT 

Elijah just needed a good night’s rest. When I became a literature evangelist years ago, we had a meeting with an elderly retired literature evangelist. He shared his wisdom with us, and told us that the cure for a discouraging hard day may simply be a good night’s rest. He claimed a good night’s rest can solve a lot of problems. A while later I had a terrible day at work. It seemed everything was going wrong and no one was helping me. I came home ready to quit. Early in the evening I was preparing my resignation in my head. Then a thought came to me. Just go to bed. But its too early for bed I thought. Again the thought came, just go to bed. Don’t plan anything. Don’t make any decisions. Just go to bed! I decided to listen to myself and though it was mid evening well before bedtime I went ahead and went to bed and got some sleep. The next morning I woke up feeling refreshed and could not even remember why I was so upset the day before. I am a big believer in getting the appropriate amount of rest for both our physical and spiritual well-being. After all John realized how closely our spiritual and physical health are both intertwined. 

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT 

Most of us live in a society that almost makes being “too busy” a status symbol. We

feel pressured to do more and more. Is all that more and more really necessary? Great grandmother did all her laundry on a scrub board and still sat on the front porch and drank lemonade. Today we have washing machines and dryers and all sorts of electronics making work so much easier. So how many of us sit on the front porch and drink lemonade now? Almost none of us. We are busy creating more work. We need to take time to rest like Mary did at the feet of Jesus.

Does God require us to be workaholics?

This is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NLT 

Let’s heed the words Jesus told Martha (not sure if I should call her a workaholic or not based on this one passage.) When Martha complained about Mary resting at the feet of Jesus instead of doing more work.

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 NLT 

While Jesus never condoned idleness He never condoned being a workaholic either. He tells all His disciples

“Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31 NLT 

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