God Will Definitely Give you More Than you can Handle

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

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. These 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 trail 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.

Negative Feelings Play a Positive Role in our Salvation

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4 NLT 

To me, a lot is said in the brief passage above. It tells me no one was ever saved by the Old Covenant. Those who lived and died before Jesus came were never saved by the law or by the Old Covenant. Before and after the cross everyone is saved by grace and by the New Covenant. The same law of ten commandments exist in both the Old and New Testament while it never saved anyone in the Old or New Testament. Obedience has always been the goal in both the Old and New Covenant but it was never the means to attaining salvation. It is grace that gives us obedience. See Ephesians 2:8-10

The purpose of the animal sacrifices were to help those in Old Testament times to look forward to the cross of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Many animal rights activists and animal lovers have wondered why God would design a daily sacrificial system where countless animals would be killed everyday. What we need to understand is it was not God’s plan for countless animals to be killed every day. In Exodus 12:1-6 God tells the people to take a lamb into their home on the 10th day of the month but not to kill it until the 14th day. Why did God want the lamb in their home for four days before sacrificing it? I believe it gave them time to fall in love with their little pet so that it would break their hearts to have to sacrifice it. It was not God’s plan for countless animals to be sacrificed. It was God’s plan that the sacrifice would break their hearts and they would turn from sin. Just as Samuel told Saul,

Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT 

I can’t really blame those in the Old Testament who became callous in regard to the daily animal sacrifices. A while back I was praying to God and casually thanked Him for sending Jesus to die for me. As soon as I said “Thank you for dying for me” I realized I had just said that as casually as I would thank someone who bought my lunch! I had to remind myself of the awesome sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross, and that He deserved more of a thank you than someone who just treated me to lunch. As someone participating in the New Covenant I need to allow myself to fully grasp the awfulness of my sin. This is hard when we are conditioned these days to “stay positive” and avoid being negative. We love popular preachers who motivate us and make us feel good about ourselves. But do negative feelings and emotions still have a part in our New Covenant lives? James says they do.

Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. James 4:9 NLT 

Negative feelings and emotions play a positive role in our lives. They bring us to true repentance and true salvation which brings us to true joy. They teach us to avoid sin which destroys true joy. 

So I don’t become callous to the blood of Jesus the way many in Old Testament times became callous to the blood of animals, I need to keep fresh in my mind the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. No wonder so many inspired hymn writers wrote, “Jesus keep me near the cross,” and “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died. My richest gain I count as loss and pour contempt on all my pride.” And “my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross.” No wonder an inspired author wrote, 

It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 83. 

This is my prayer…

Dear Jesus I am sorry for the times I thanked you for dying for me the same casual way I thank someone for buying my lunch. Also I want to express how deeply I appreciate your awesome sacrifice not just by my words or even tears alone. I need the power of your blood to not only forgive my sins but to also empower me to live a life of obedience and thanksgiving. I want everything I do to shout “I love you Jesus!” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen. 

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

The Resurrection in Light of the Cross

Brief overview: Death is a state of unconscious sleep. The dead do not know anything at this time and are not awakened until the last trump at Christ’s second coming. See Ecclesiastes 9:5-6Job 14:121 Corinthians 15:51-551 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Why is it important to know the truth about Death:

The teaching that you don’t really die is a lie Satan started in the Garden of Eden when he told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” By telling this lie Satan hoped to get Eve and all mankind to believe that there is really no consequence for disobeying God. He also wants us to believe that we are all immortal regardless if we have a relationship with God or not. This opens the door for spiritualism where people may actually be communicating with the devil and his angels, thinking they are speaking with their loved ones. Our salvation does not come from knowing what happens when we die. Our salvation is found alone in God’s love. However, no lie is ever harmless, and when Satan told the lie, “Ye shall not surely die”, not only was he lying but he was also calling God a liar. Not a safe path for us to follow.

Why understanding death in the light of the cross is important:

First of all if you don’t really die then Jesus did not really die for us and we still need a Savior. The lie that we don’t really die destroys the cross and everything Jesus endured and accomplished on it. If Jesus was not really tasting death likeHebrews 2:9 says He did, then we have just minimized the cross to a six hour pain endurance marathon.

I remember sitting in a funeral a while back for a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. Her mother sat on the front pew sobbing uncontrollably. Meanwhile the pastor talked about how happy the little girl and Jesus were right now up in heaven. Do you know how cruel that made Jesus look to the poor mother? Would Jesus tear a mother’s heart apart just to go have fun with her daughter? I think not! The little girl is resting in her grave and will be united with Jesus in heaven when the mother is reunited with her at the second coming.

For Further study on Death

What did Adam become?

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. Genesis 2:7 NLT

Note: The KJV says man became a living soul. A living person is a soul. To be living you must have the combination of breath and a body. Breath + Body = “soul” or “person.” Without both the body and breath there is no soul or person. Just like a box made of wood and nails. The box is the combination of wood and nails. Take the nails away from the wood and you have no box. Take the breath away from the body and you have no soul or person.

Whose spirit returns to God?

For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.  Ecclesiastes 12:7 NLT

What is the Spirit?

As long as I live, while I have breath from God. Job 27:3 NLT

Note: The KJV says, “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, Job 27:3.  The NLT makes it clear that the spirit is simply our breath. So in Ecclesiastes 12:7 all that returns to God when we die is our breath. We are not conscious.

What does God take that turns the body to dust?

But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust.  Psalm 104:29 NLT

What age old question did Job ask?

“But when people die, their strength is gone.  They breathe their last, and then where are they? Job 14:10 NLT

What is the Bible answer?

people are laid to rest and do not rise again.  Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.  Job 14:12 NLT

Do the dead know what happens to the living?

They never know if their children grow up in honor or sink to insignificance. Job 14:21 NLT

How much do the dead know?

The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth.  Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 NLT

What did Jesus call death?                                                                                                     

Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.

So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. John 11:11-14 NLT

How long had Lazarus been dead?

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.  John 11:17 NLT

Did Martha believe Lazarus was in heaven when he died?

“Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” John 11:24 NLT

Was Lazarus called from heaven, hell or the grave?

Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” John 11: 43-44 NLT

When are the dead raised?                                                                                          

And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. 1 Corinthians 15:16-23 NLT

When do we receive immortality?                                                                                  

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NLT

Our hope and comfort:                                                                                                     

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 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 diedwill 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. So encourage each other with these words.   1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NLT

The Sabbath is a Gift for the World, not a Burden Just for the Jews

They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you…. Exodus 16:29 NLT 

Regardless of our personal stand on wedding rings or wedding watches for that matter, we all understand that in many cultures the wedding ring is a gift symbolizing a relationship. Men will pick out a ring that they hope

their fiancés will appreciate and they usually pay a pretty penny for it. Now both parties realize the ring is not the relationship itself but they cherish their rings because of what they represent. Now imagine if a wife told her husband she threw her ring away because after all she has him and no longer needs what the ring represents? Wouldn’t the husband be hurt that his gift was not appreciated?

Or take for example your nation’s flag. On April 25, 1976 The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team were playing a home game against the visiting Chicago Cubs. While the Dodgers were up to bat, two men ran onto the outfield with a United States flag, and opened up a lighter. Rick Monday, the Cubs’ outfielder saw they were trying to burn the flag right there in front of the crowd. He ran and grabbed the flag away from the men before they could catch it on fire. He took the flag to the Dodger’s dugout while the entire crowd cheered for the opposing team’s outfielder who just saved the United States flag. The Dodger’s even put a message on the board saluting the Cubs’ outfielder, “Rick Monday you made a great play!” The crowd cherished and protected the flag because of what it represented. The flag is not our country it is a piece of cloth, but we honor our flags because they represent our country. 

Even though married couples have each other they do not throw their wedding rings away. I even heard a pastor who was against wearing wedding rings counsel a couple who were no longer wearing their rings to keep them away. He counseled them to keep their rings in a special box. So please lets not get sidetracked and miss my point here. The real marriage does not do away with the ring symbolizing the marriage. The real country does not do away with it’s flag symbolizing the country. Likewise God has given us the Sabbath as a gift. He gives us a weekly rest to remind us of His promise to save us by resting our faith in Him alone. He gives us the gift of not working that day to remind us that our works do not save us. God alone saves us. 

Now I have heard people say that  Jesus replaced the weekly Sabbath when He gave us spiritual rest. I have heard people say that in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus gives us a spiritual rest, thus doing away with the Sabbath. However throwing away the weekly Sabbath because we have a spiritual rest now would be the same thing as throwing away wedding ring (or watch) because we now have the wedding, or going ahead and burning our nation’s flag because we now have a nation. People keep their rings and the marriage. People honor their nation’s flag and their country. Fact is in the Old Testament we had a spiritual rest and the weekly Sabbath just like in the New Testament. We have had the Sabbath ever since creation as an eternal sign of the rest we have always had in God in both the Old and New Testament. The Sabbath never saved anyone in the Old Testament or New Testament. We have always been saved by grace, and not by works, and the Sabbath is the everlasting sign and promise that we were created by God’s works and not our own, and that we were redeemed by God’s work on the cross and not our own in both the Old and New Testament. 

Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. You must keep the Sabbath day, for it is a holy day for you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death. The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed. Exodus 31:13-17 NLT

The Sabbath is a sign of God’s promise that He alone makes us holy. Our works don’t sanctify or make us holy. No work is to be done on the Sabbath to symbolize that God’s people understand they are not saved by their works. They are saved in the Old Testament as well as New Testament by resting their faith in God’s works and merits. The rest Jesus offered in Matthew 11:28-30 is the rest the people had in the Old Testament. 

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you. All your male and female servants must rest as you do. Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. Exodus 5:12-15 NLT 

The weekly Sabbath was given as a sign in the Old Testament that their own works did not save them from slavery. God’s works saved them from slavery. In Egypt the Jews did all the work so Pharaoh could rest. God gave them the Sabbath as a gift to remind them He would do all the work so they could rest. In Eden the Sabbath was a sign for Adam and Eve to know that “It was God who made us and not we ourselves.” At Sinai the Sabbath was a sign that God worked out their salvation from Egyptian bondage and they did not save themselves. 

Was the Sabbath rest an Old Testament sign for the Jews alone?

I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. Isaiah 56:6 NLT

The Sabbath is a sign that we are God’s people regardless if we are Jews or foreigners. The Sabbath was not given to the Jews as a sign they were Jews. It was given to the Jews as a sign they were God’s people. That same sign is given to the foreigners that they are God’s people. Old or New Testament, Jew or Gentile, the Sabbath is God’s eternal gift reminding us every week that we are saved by resting our faith in His promises of grace. Like a wedding ring, like a flag, the Sabbath is God’s gift symbolizing every week the rest we have in Him. We don’t throw wedding rings or wedding watches away because we have marriage. We don’t burn flags because we have our country. Likewise we don’t throw the weekly Sabbath away because we have Jesus. The Sabbath is His gift reminding us of His amazing grace. 

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

You may study more about the Sabbath here.