Promises Kept

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In 1969, 7 -year old Niki was in the hospital having some tumors removed from her throat. While in the hospital she met Charita, another girl her age, who had a rare form of cancer. Niki found out that because of the cancer Charita would never be able to have children of her own. The two girls formed a friendship, and one night while the two of them were alone in their hospital room, Charita was crying. Niki came over to Charita’s bedside to comfort her. She told her not to cry and that when she got married and had her own baby she would let her mentor her baby and if it was a girl would even name it after her. 

After their stint in the hospital Niki and Charita kept in touch until 6 months later when Charita’s family moved from Los Angeles to New Mexico. In 1983 Niki married and in 1987 had a daughter whom she named Charita. Niki then went on the Unsolved Mysteries show looking for her childhood friend Charita so she could help mentor little Charita. In 1990 Niki and Charita were happily reunited. 

In a world where people will make empty promises just to get whatever they want, 7-year old Niki  stayed true to her promise even  as an adult, and became married and with a child. While it’s true that our promises are like ropes of sand and we can only trust God’s promises (2 Peter 1:4) It is also true that by God’s grace we too, like Jesus and 7-year old Niki , can stay true to our word. After all, even while the Bible teaches us not to put trust in ourselves or anyone else, the Bible also speaks of those who  “keep their promises even when it hurts.” Psalm 15:4 NLT 

This week millions are studying the promises God made to Abraham. One of the ways we reflect the image of God is by being men and women of our word. Sure, we make mistakes and have made broken promises. This is one reason why I am careful about making promises. Instead of promising to help a friend, I tell them I will try, but make it clear I am not making a promise.

God’s promises are the only promises we can rely on. Still, by God’s grace, we can be men and women of our word. By God’s grace, we can be faithful to our promises even if it hurts.

Can you share a time when someone showed you God’s love by staying true to their promise? 

God’s Promises to Abraham are God’s Promises to you

I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. Genesis 17:7 NLT

When God made His covenant with Abraham He was making it with all of us. All of the promises that were given to Abraham were given to us.

A member of a church in which I had recently spoken asked me to come to her home. She was very upset because a neighbor claimed to be a witch and put a curse on her home and family. The lady church member believed in God but was afraid of what this curse might mean. When I got to her home I shared this passage with her. It is a promise God made to Abraham.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 2:1-3 NLT

The Lord promised to bless those who blessed Abraham and to treat those who cursed him with contempt. I actually think the KJV is a little more powerful on this point when it says, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” Right after this promise was given, Abraham went into Egypt, and instead of trusting God to care for him, he trusted a lie he invented that Sara was only his sister, not his wife. Not only are lies deceitful, they show we are not trusting God. When we trust God we have no reason to make up lies. Pharaoh took Sara to himself, not knowing she was married. Even though Abraham was less than perfect in this situation the Lord still kept his promise like He always does.

But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Genesis 12:17 NLT

Even when Abraham was less than perfect and even had trust issues, the Lord kept his promise to curse those who cursed him. I reminded the lady I was visiting, that Balaam tried to curse Israel but could only bless them! See Numbers 23:11-12. The Lord’s blessing continued for the great nation of Israel the Lord had promised to Abraham. The lady I was visiting thought that was all wonderful for Abraham but what did that have to do with her and the curse that was placed upon her? I asked her if she belonged to Christ and of course she said she did. I told her I had good news for her.

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 3:29 NLT

I shared with her that the promise to bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you belonged to her just as much it did to Abraham. She claimed this promise and when I spoke to her again many months later, the neighbor was gone and there were no signs of any curses.

Once there was an elder in my area who was being slandered by some of the other church leaders. Thank God the church body could see through the other leaders’ lies and stood up for him. When the truth came out and the elder was exonerated ,one of his enemies, who was also a leader was too proud to recant his lies and accusations. Not long after, the leader who made the false accusations retired to a new area. Soon he had to move far away from the area he retired in, because of accusations that were made against him which were much more serious than the one he made against the local elder. Some called it karma, some called it what goes around comes around. I can’t help but think of God’s promise, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” I hope too that this situation led the slandering leader to repentance and salvation.

Now before we start acting all high and mighty when God works in our favor, it’s important to remember that God blessed Abraham because of His own faithfulness, not the faithfulness of Abraham. Even though God cursed Pharaoh so to speak, Abraham still had his own lesson to learn about honesty and trusting God instead of lies. I would imagine even when God curses those who curse us that we too still need to humbly learn some lessons as well. The promise in Genesis 12:3 goes on to say that all families of the earth will be blessed as God wants to bless and save all of us friends and foes, just as he saved faulty Abraham.

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

Leaving Home

My home town, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1 NKJV

Some people can’t wait to get away from home. As soon as they turn 18 they marry or join the army and get stationed on the other side of the world. After being so far from home, some return as soon as they can. Others stay away forever-by choice. 

Some people never leave home. I have friends who I grew up with in Tulsa, Oklahoma who never left Tulsa. I am glad they are still there for me to visit when I return home to see dad. I meet them at our favorite restaurants that are still standing from the previous century. They watched me move off to Texas and then Florida, all the while staying in Tulsa. I am proud of my native Tulsa, and am always glad to visit, but I can’t imagine myself living all my life in one place. Then again, the Tulsa I visit now is not the Tulsa I grew up in. Dad doesn’t live in the house I grew up in. The stores we go to weren’t around when I was kid. I visit my childhood church, but its like going home to strangers. The people there now never knew me, which is fine, I love meeting new people, but you know what they say, you can never go home again

So I wonder about Abraham. Was he happy to leave home and go on an adventure, or was he afraid to leave home? Did he miss his family and friends? Did he miss the old places where he would hang out? 

I grew up in Tulsa always dreaming of living in Dallas. When we went to the baseball and football games there I was always impressed with the modern architecture. It just seemed like the place to be. Tulsa had the minor league baseball team for the Texas Rangers major league team at the time. So when the Tulsa players got good they went to Dallas. I knew people in the Oklahoma Adventist conference who went on to the Union conference in Burleson, close to Dallas. Somehow I had it my mind that once you “arrived‘ you ‘arrived” in Dallas. So you can understand how happy I was when I had the opportunity to be a Bible Worker in Fort Worth, which is Dallas’ neighbor. 

I remember when I left home, mom cried. I did not realize at the time how cool it was having my own apartment in Tulsa, but having my parents right there in town to see at church and meet for dinner and even run into at the store by chance encounters. At the time I could not appreciate all of that and was just excited to begin my new adventure. It wasn’t until years later when I stood at my mother’s coffin that I finally understood and appreciated her tears that day I moved away. 

So I “arrived‘ In Dallas. Actually it wasn’t Dallas, it was Fort Worth. And fact is, I never “arrived.” I just thought I had. My new church district fell in love with me right away and I thought I was doing great! I was living the dream in the Dallas area. The people loved me so much I thought I must be a legendary Bible Worker. It took a few years for me to grow up and realize I was no legend. I was not even one of the better Bible Workers. I had all kinds of weaknesses and faults. Finally one day I woke up and realized these people don’t love me because I am good. They love me because they are loving people. I realized they were not encouraging me because I was good. They were enduring my follies, and  patiently encouraging me because they saw my potential for good, if I ever grew up. Living in the Dallas area was good for me. Not because I had arrived like the sports stars who moved from Tulsa to Dallas, or the local Oklahoma conference officials who got called up to the union office. Living in Dallas was good for me because it got me away from home so I could grow up. I thought I had grown up and left home, but actually God had me leave home so I would grow up. 

I wonder, did Abraham grow up before or after he left home? How did his ordeal in Egypt help him grow up? His actions in Egypt showed he had not arrived yet. 

After more than ten years in the Dallas-Fort Worth area it had become home. I pictured myself living all my days in Texas. God had other plans. He let me live ten years where I had always dreamed of living but now He was calling me to another land. An opportunity came to serve as a Bible Worker in the Tampa Bay area. I had no interest. I did not know anyone there. Before I moved a friend assured me, “you will get to Tampa and make friends and start doing things with them there and that will become your home. You won’t miss Texas anymore.” Well I knew my friend was right, and that was what scared me! While my feet were still on Texas soil, the thought of feeling at home in another place terrified me. 

After much fleece setting and protesting on my part I was on my way to Tampa. It was much farther from home. Like I mentioned earlier, you had people moving from Oklahoma to Texas all the time for various reasons. I had connections in Texas from Oklahoma. I was only four and a half hours away from home, which made weekend visits easy. It wasn’t until I moved to Tampa, Florida that I realized how close I was to Tulsa while in Texas. 

When I left Texas people told me how easy it was for me to up and move to a strange new land because I was single. They thought being single made it easy. No, it made it hard. When you have a family and you move to a strange new place at least you have your family. I had no one. Just me all by my lonesome in a strange new place. In Texas I had connections from Oklahoma as well as all the friends I made in over ten years. In Tampa I had no connections and no friends. God knew what He was doing. I had even more growing up to do. Now I have been in the Tampa Bay area over 18 years. I went from being a total stranger all alone, to now not only having friends in my own church, but in most all the neighboring Adventist churches as well. My friend was right. I am comfortable and happy hear now. This is home. When I moved from Texas to Florida I knew exactly how many baptisms I had. Now over 18 years in Florida I have literally lost count. God moved me here because there were people He needed for me to reach.  He also knew I had more growing up to do that would never happen if I stayed so close to home. 

Did Joseph have more growing up to do when He was sold as a slave into Egypt? Did he have even more growing up to do in prison? Did God allow all of those things to happen to Joseph to help him grow up? Is that why God has some of us move around so much? By moving two times God has helped me to grow personally as well as help more people. Meanwhile thanks to Facebook, cell phones and plane tickets home is never far away. I still have my friends in Tulsa and the Dallas area. When I vacation and travel from Tampa to Dallas and then to Tulsa and back to Tampa again I never feel like I am leaving home or going home. Its all home now. I have a home that encompasses Oklahoma, Texas and Florida. I know God is with me wherever I go and He is what makes it home. God is my home. He is everywhere. 

Abram had to leave home so he could grow in faith. Abram had to leave home so he could meet those God wanted him to meet. More importantly Abram had to leave home to go home. Ur was not his real home. Canaan was his real home. 

I understand that while God calls some of us to the other side of the planet that He also calls some, like the demoniac in Mark 5 to go back home. Either way God was calling the demoniac out of his comfort level as it may have been awkward for him to go home after all the embarrassing things he had done. This is for sure, God will call us out of our comfort level to help us grow up and be all we can be for Him. That being said, I would like to ask you a question from Sunday’s section of this week’s lesson

What might God be calling you to leave behind? That is, what part of your life might you have to abandon in order to heed the call of God?

6: The Roots of Abraham-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class, Sabbath, May 7, 2022.

Main Theme: God has a plan for His loved ones.

Read Together: Genesis 12:1-9. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: Why did God call Abram to leave his country and family? How did Abram respond?

Apply: What might God be calling you to leave behind? That is, what part of your life might you have to abandon in order to heed the call of God?

Share: Your friend is given an opportunity to serve a couple of years in the mission field far from home. A decent salary and travel and lodging are all provided. Your friend acknowledges that it looks like God is leading in this venture, but your friend does not want to leave a comfortable home, as well as family and friends. What can you share with your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 12:10-20. Discuss the key idea in this passage.

Study: Why did Abram leave the Promised Land to go to Egypt? How did the pharaoh behave in comparison to Abram?

Apply: What should this story teach us about how easy it is, even for faithful Christians, to stray from the correct path? Why is disobedience never a good choice?

Share: Your friend acknowledges that we are saved by faith, but says that a lack of obedience shows a lack of faith. Do you agree with your friend? Why or why not?

Read Together: Genesis 13:1-18. Discuss the main idea of this passage.

Study: What does this story teach us about the importance of character?

Apply: How can we learn to be kind and generous to others, even when they aren’t that way to us?

Share: Your friend asks, “How can we reach wicked cities with the Gospel if we are counselled to live in the country and stay away from such places?” What do you tell your friend?

Read Together: Genesis 14:1-17. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What is significant about this war taking place just after the gift of the Promised Land? What does this story teach us about Abram?

Apply: What kind of influence do our actions have on others? What kind of message are we sending about our faith by our actions?

Share: Can you think of a friend who needs to be encouraged by the fact that God has a plan for their life? Can you reach out and encourage your friend this week?

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” Hebrews 11:8 NKJV

God Will Remember you

Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark…. Genesis 8:1 NKJV

Photo by William Earnhardt

A family I had studied with called me late one afternoon, asking me to meet them ASAP at the hospital. Their mother was dying, and they wanted prayer. Now I believe that God can hear your prayers for your sick loved one, just as easily as He can hear an elder’s prayer. GoodSalt.com-pppas0004Nevertheless, I met the family in ICU. They told me they were praying for a miracle. One son told me they knew God was going to work a miracle for his mother. He explained that God was going to raise her up right now, or He would heal her, like He did Lazarus, by letting her sleep and then waking her up at the resurrection. Either way it would be a miracle.

We admire people who have the faith to heal a loved one, but what about having enough faith to just let them go to sleep? The son had faith in the miracle of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

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 believers 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. So encourage each other with these words.

A few days later his mother fell asleep in Jesus, and his family is encouraging each other with the promises of the greatest miracle yet to come.

There are more Bible prophecies about the Second Coming than any other event. While many prophecies have already been fulfilled, we are certain the prophecies pertaining to the second coming are just as sure.

I understand that while we sleep, when we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, we are actually very close to death. Yet each morning when we wake up, we don’t realize the miracle that has just taken place. I understand there are many mysteries about sleep that medical science is still researching. Could it be that sleep is just our “rehearsal” for the resurrection? That God is just getting us used to falling asleep and trusting Him to wake us up when it is time?

I walked into the church lobby after worship service one Sabbath, to find a very distraught elderly lady. She has Alzheimer’s disease, and had forgotten who had driven her to church. She was afraid she was going to be left. I put my arm around her and assured her that even though she may have forgotten who had taken her to church, whoever they were, they had not forgotten her. I told her we all loved her and would not leave her alone. She began to cry like a little girl, as she told me “Thank you very much!” Sure enough her ride found her. She had forgotten them, but they remembered her.

This elderly lady felt like a little child left all alone. When we face the grave of a loved one, or even our own, do we feel like a little child left all alone? We needn’t be afraid. Our Ride to heaven will remember us even if in death we forget Him as we sleep. The same God who wakes you up every morning, the same God who remembered to create you and remembered to redeem you on the cross, is the same God responsible for waking you up when He comes again. Don’t worry, even when in death you forget Him, He won’t forget you!

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

How the Story of Noah and the Flood Establishes 360 Days to a Prophetic Year

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Occasionally when I am studying Daniel and Revelation with someone, they will question how we get 360 days to a prophetic year instead of 365. The story of Noah actually confirms for us that in Bible times each month had exactly 30 days, thus giving us 360 years in a Bible year. 

First, where do we get a day for a year in Bible prophecy? 

While I don’t know that this is necessarily appointing a day for a year in Bible prophecy, I find it interesting that when Laban tells Jacob to work seven more years for Rachel, he calls it a week. That would be a day for a year. 

Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years. Genesis 29:27 NKJV

The first time we find a day for a  specific year in prophecy is in Numbers 14:34,

According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.

Later, in Ezekiel 4:5-6 this year/day principle is repeated. 

For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.  And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year.

So now, how does the story of Noah and the flood help us establish one year equaling 360 days to a year in Bible prophecy?

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. Genesis 7:11NKJV

And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days. Genesis 7:24 NKJV

And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. Genesis 8:3-4 NKJV

Here we see clearly that from the 17th day of the second month to the 17th day of the seventh month is exactly 150 days. Every month had 30 days equaling 360 days for a hear. With this in mind, the 42 months of Revelation 13:5 would be 1260 prophetic days or 1260 years. 

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

Resurrection Moment in Light of the Cross, the God-Forsaken God

Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary?

My mother knew that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knew the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my would get on an airplane she sure didn’t feel that it was safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not as God.

As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;

“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.

“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 753.

Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. We wonder if John Huss, a mere mortal man, could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?”

It is because John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
“I always do those things that please my Father.”
“I and my Father are one.”

But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! He did not know that He would be resurrected. Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.

Jesus was not crying out, “Why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning?” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.

Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six-hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save even one of us.

Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for every man. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man, that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.

Some say, how could Jesus have tasted the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self-preservation belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you and I would be saved!

Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self-sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say good-bye to life forever in order to save us, then you believe that Moses demonstrated more love than Jesus.

Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had, even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was good-bye to life forever.

Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? Because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you, as far as Jesus is concerned.

There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angels’ messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self-ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything – even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self-sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.

Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!

I am not Writing a Blog Post This Week

I love writing blog posts. I have been blogging for Sabbath School Net for just over ten years now. I have had my personal blog for 14 years. I have been preaching ever since I was 15. A friend was surprised the other day, when I told her I love writing blog posts ever bit as much if not more than preaching. I love learning and sharing what I have learned. I love connecting with the world, while sitting on my comfy sofa in my pajamas with my laptop. That must be why I love blogging more than preaching. I can’t preach in my pajamas. I also love hearing from people all over the world as they comment on my posts, and share their thoughts and what they have learned, from their personal Bible study time. 

And personal Bible study time is where I am going with this. oh no! I just started a sentence with a conjunction and ended it with an adjective. two no no’s in the same sentence. My college composition professor would be turning over in his grave if he could see this. But guess what? I’m not writing a blog post this week, so I don’t have to worry about my grammar. Back to the personal Bible study time. As much as I love writing and preaching, sometimes I don’t have anything new or relevant to share. As sermon and blog deadlines approach I start feeling pressured. I start studying my Bible for new ideas and get frustrated if I can’t find anything. I start relating more with Martha than with Mary. You know the story, when Jesus visits Martha and Mary, and Mary is just visiting with Jesus while Martha was busy doing all the work. 

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42 NKJV

Often when I am substitute teaching at school I have to tell the kids to put away their distractions and get to work, but Martha was distracted by her work. Her work was the distraction. Martha was so busy preparing a meal she forgot Jesus was the main attraction and not the meal. I love studying my Bible and preparing blog posts and sermons when the ideas and revelations just seem to flow. But I get frustrated when I feel pressured to come up with something new and can’t. That’s when I have to tell myself to stop trying to be like Martha and just be like Mary. I have to open my Bible and tell myself not to worry about preparing a spiritual meal for anyone. I don’t mean to be irreverent by saying this, but when I study God’s Word instead of it being about a sermon or blog post preparation, I just like to chill with God. I love and treasure the moments in His Word when He speaks to me as His own child and not just His spokesperson. I love it when He shows me something just between the two of us, that is not meant for the rest of the world to see or hear. I love reading my Bible without an agenda! No deadlines to meet, no thinking about how to fit this into a blog post or sermon. I remember those nights so long ago as a little child laying in bed at night talking to Jesus like we were best friends having a slumber party. No sermons, no blog posts, just me and my best friend hanging out together because we loved each other.

I don’t mean to make this about me. It’s really about you. What brought you here right now? Are you just chilaxing and studying right now, enjoying reading what others have to say? Then great! Are you preparing for Sabbath school class, maybe even preparing to teach and everything is perfectly falling in place as you put your lesson together? Wonderful! However, if you are trying to put  your lesson together and nothing seems to be falling into place and here it is Friday already, don’t worry. Relax. Chill. Stop feeling like a Martha thinking  you have to prepare all the time. God didn’t just create you to teach Sabbath School. He created you to be His child. He created you to be His best friend. Just borrow Michael Fracker’s lesson plan this week. It’s perfectly fine. Its not cheating. Pick up your Bible with no lesson plan, sermon preparation or agenda in mind, and just chill with your Best Friend. Don’t let lesson plans and sermon preparations distract you from what your relationship with Jesus is really all about. After all, the Bible is not just a book to prepare you for eternity. The Bible takes us into God’s presence here and now. The Bible is not just a reference book to help you write sermons and prepare Sabbath School lesson plans. The Bible is God’s love story written to you. 

Like the title says, I am not writing a blog post this week. Jesus and I are having a slumber party again tonight. This is not a blog post. This is your invitation. You are invited. Let’s leave our preparation agendas behind and take our Bibles and just chill with Jesus tonight. It’s okay you don’t have to be a Martha tonight. You can be a Mary, because there will be no pastors, Bible workers or Sabbath school teachers at the party. Only best friends of Jesus.