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

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.

13: The New Covenant Life-Sabbath School Teaching Plan

13: The New Covenant Life – Teaching Plan

Posted on  by Michael Frackeravatar

Key Thought: The covenant defines our saving relationship with Christ that gives us benefits now and at His return.
.June 26, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Romans 8:1.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. Why should this text give us joy and a feeling of gratitude?
  3. Personal Application: How does God forgiving you help you in dealing with others who have sinned against you? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states, “There is no more condemnation when we accept Christ as our Savior. So if we accept Christ, we cannot be lost. It’s as simple as that.” How would you respond to your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Ephesians 3:17-19.

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. What is the difference between joy and happiness?
  3. Personal Application: Are there things you need to change that may be hampering your experience in the fullness of God? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your friends states, “Why do we need a new heart? What does that mean anyway? What kind of change would take place with a new heart?” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read John 11:25,26.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What does it mean that those that believe in Christ will live even if he dies?
  3. Personal Application: What does this promise do for us now as contrasted to the future? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Do you believe in deathbed conversions? Should a person wait to accept Christ until the last moment after living the life they wanted to not according with God’s wishes?“ How would you respond to your relative?
    (Note: We are told that there are “few genuine deathbed conversions” and even if they do accept Christ at the last moment, “what a poor maimed sacrifice they bring to the Lord.”)

4. Have a volunteer read Matthew 28:19,20..

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. Why does being a Christian mean more than claiming the title?
  3. Personal Application: Have you been doing anything to share Christ and His word? Could you do more? What can you do to have a greater role in this work? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

6: Abraham’s Seed-Teaching Plan

6: Abraham’s Seed – Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt

Key Thought: God’s true Israel is the people of faith: persons who live in a spiritual covenant relationship with Him.
May 8, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Ezekiel 16:8Deuteronomy 7:6

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What made Israel special to God?
  3. Personal Application: What message do Seventh-day Adventists have that is special? Why do we need to be careful not to think we are automatically saved just because we are Adventists? See Jeremiah 7:3-7 and Matthew 7:21-23.
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor asks you why you keep the Sabbath, saying it was only given to the Jews as a sign they were God’s people. What do you tell your neighbor?

2. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 11:8.

  1. Ask class members to share what the main idea of this text is?
  2. What are the blessings of the covenant? What are the curses?
  3. Personal Application: What role does obedience play concerning our entering the promised land? For example Israel lost some of their land to Babylon and Rome due to disobedience. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden by grace with no works of their own yet they lost it by disobedience. What lesson is there for us concerning entering the promised land and new earth?
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor tells you his pastor says once you are saved there is no way you can be lost. What do you say to your neighbor? What Bible passages do you share?

3. Have a volunteer read Galatians 3:26-29.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What promises are we heirs to? What happened to make us heirs to these promises?
  3. Personal Application: What does Paul mean by we are no longer Jew or gentile or male and female? Why is it important in light of today’s current issues to know exactly what Paul meant?
  4. Case Study: Your friend tells you that the literal nation of Israel is still God’s special nation. What do you tell your friend? What Bible passages do you use? For example was Peter talking to Jews only in 1 peter 2:9? Why or why not?

4. Have a volunteer read Deuteronomy 28:1,15

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What land was to be given and what were the obligations of the recipients?
  3. Personal Application: What promised land is given in the New Covenant? What conditions do we have in getting there?” Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

Go Light Your World, Go Light Your Universe

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” Genesis 15:5 NLT 

Of course Abram’s most important descendant is Jesus, but each descendant has his or her own sphere of influence just like the stars. The other day I was reading a book about stars to a group of first graders when a thought came to me. While our sun gives us light by day and even by night via its reflection off the moon, the stars still contribute to lighten our nights. That means that while being  the sun in another solar system galaxies away, that sun in another solar system contributes its light to our solar system as well even though to us it is just another one of the billion stars. Likewise if you are a parent, to your family you are the sun, but to your children’s friends you are still a star as your influence goes beyond your own family or “solar system.” If you are a teacher or pastor or Sabbath School teacher you are the sun to your class or church, but often throughout the day a teacher and pastor will minister outside their own church or class. It may be as small as tying the shoe of child in the hallway from another classroom or just speaking a word of encouragement in an assembly. For a pastor it may be getting a random phone call from someone who has a problem they are too embarrassed to talk to their own pastor about. And of course a sphere of influence is not limited to parents, pastors and teachers. I think the universe teaches us a valuable lesson that just as the sun’s light is not limited to its own solar system so our light goes beyond our little sphere as well.  I am just using pastors and teachers as an easy example. A teacher may be the sun in her classroom (solar system) but she is still a star giving light to the rest of her school (Universe or if you are a college professor you can say university, pun intended.) A pastor may be the sun to his church but he is still a star in his conference and community. 

A sun of course is simply a star and even the closest star is still 5.88 trillion miles away, but amazingly we still benefit from its light. It should be a sobering thought to realize how far away our influence is felt. We may be thinking we are too small or far away to make a difference but we do make a difference often without even realizing it. Years ago I was working in a 5th and 6th grade Adventist classroom. One day I was walking to my car when I saw a group of fourth graders playing football. A girl was running with the ball while the boys were trying to catch her. I yelled our her name and said, “Run! Run!” I got in my car and drove away never giving it another thought. The next morning the girl’s mother came up to me and told me, “My daughter told me she was playing football with the boys yesterday and was running with the ball. She said she was about to give out and about to get caught when she heard you call out her name and yell run. She said that gave her an extra boost of energy and she ran for the touchdown!” 

While I was not the sun in her classroom, by speaking three simple encouraging words I was one of hopefully billions of stars speaking encouraging words into her life. While I got in my car and never gave it another thought I found out later those simple words made a difference. A big enough difference she had to share them with her mother. 

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16. NLT

My friend, go light your world. Go light your universe.  

"Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever." Daniel 12:3 NLT 

Better Promises Make a Better Covenant

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The story goes of a man who got a job chopping down trees. The first day his foreman noticed he had cut down only ten trees while the other men had cut down a hundred or so. “Oh well,” thought the foreman, “it was his first day.” But the next couple days went the same way, so the foreman decided to have a talk with the new worker. “I am sure you have noticed you are not cutting down nearly as many trees as the others are,” the foreman began. “Yes I know, Sir, but I am having trouble with this saw you gave me,” said the new worker. The foreman took a look at the saw and pulled the cord to start the motor. The buzz of the motor scared the new worker, and he jumped back shouting, “What is that sound?” 

The new worker did not realize he was not expected saw down a hundred trees in his own power. He did not realize what power was available to him. It’s the same way with us.

Many people shirk at keeping the law, thinking it is an impossibility, not realizing they were never expected to keep it in their own power, and like the power saw, there is plenty of power available.

If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and Judah.
This covenant will not be like the one
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
and led them out of the land of Egypt.
They did not remain faithful to my covenant,
so I turned my back on them, says the Lord.
But this is the new covenant I will make
with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:7-10

There are those who would have us believe that the Ten Commandments were done away with because God realized they were unreasonable and could not be obeyed. However that is not the case.

Psalms 19:7 KJV says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”

A popular urban legend tells about a captain on a battleship who spotted a light off in the distant fog and radioed the source of the light telling it to change its course 15 degrees to avoid a collision. The response came back that the ship needed to change its course instead. The arrogant sea captain once again demanded the other vessel change its course instead, threatening reprisals, if his demands were not met. The response was, “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

So it is in life. Many people want the law to be changed just like the ship wanted the lighthouse to change, but lighthouses don’t move out of the way and neither does the law. The law is perfect. The law does not need to change. The law is not faulty. Hebrews 8:8 NLT says the fault was not with the law but with the people. So why would God change the law when the law was not the problem?

The New Covenant was not an afterthought after the first covenant did not work. The new covenant was actually God’s original plan. What we call the “old covenant” was actually man’s idea – thinking he could save himself by his own strength and effort. It was not a faith response. (See Heb. 4:2) Man’s effort failed, so in what we call the New Testament God re-introduces His original plan from the Old Testament, and says “Are you ready to give up trying to do it on your own? and let me write my law on your heart Myself?

The fault of the people was in trying to keep the law in their own power. God made a covenant with the people, and instead of them asking for God’s help they confidently replied,

“We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 19:8 NLT

God knew this was never going to work from the get-go. He knew they could not keep His Law in their own power. This is why God says in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 31:33 NLT,

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

You see, the old covenant was not called old because it was the first covenant. It was called old because it was a useless covenant that God never asked them to make. He never asked Abraham to have a son on his own. He never asked us to keep the commandments on our own. This is what Paul is talking about in Hebrews 8:6 NLT when He says the new covenant is, “based on better promises.”

In the “old” covenant the people in Exodus 19:8 were the ones making promises God never asked them to make. I don’t need to tell you how worthless man’s promises are. The new covenant is based on better promises because they are God’s promises!

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:4 NLT

The law was never the problem. The problem was the people and their worthless promises. Even in the Old Testament we find the new and better covenant when Abraham becomes the father of Isaac, based on God’s promise. We find the new and better covenant based on better promises in Jeremiah 31:33 when God is promising to write and establish the perfect law in the hearts of men, not by their own power and promises, but by His power and promises.

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

2: Covenant Primer-Teaching Plan

Key Thought:The entrance of sin ruptured the relationship the Creator had originally established with the human family through our first parents. Now God seeks to re-establish that same loving relationship by means of a covenant. This covenant signifies both a committed relationship between God and us (like a marriage bond) and an arrangement for saving us and bringing us into harmony with its Maker. God Himself, motivated by His great love for us, is the Initiator of the covenant relationship. By gracious promises and gracious acts, He woos us to come into union with Him.

Prepared by William Earnhardt


April 10, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Genesis 6:18.

  1. Ask class members to share the main idea of this passage.
  2. What is a covenant? What part did Noah play in this covenant?
  3. Personal Application: What was Noah’s obligation in this covenant? What is our obligation in the New Covenant?
  4. Case Study: One of your friends asks why was Noah’s family involved in an agreement between God and Noah? Did they have a choice too? What would you tell your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Genesis 12:1-3.

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. What specific promises did God make to Abraham?
  3. Personal Application: How do the promises made to Abraham apply to us? See Galatians 3:29.
  4. Case Study: Someone asks, “What does it mean that in Abraham shall all families of the earth be blessed? What do you tell them?

3. Have a volunteer read Exodus 6:1-8.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What does this teach us about the faithfulness of God’s promises, seeing how the people promised had all died? Are we bound to promises we have made to people even after they die?
  3. Personal Application: What parallels can we find between what God promised here and the promises made to those who are bound by sin?
  4. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “What is similar or different in this covenant with Israel compared to the new covenant of Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16?” How would you respond to your neighbor?

4. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 31:31-33.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. How is this covenant new beings how its still in the Old Testament?
  3. Personal Application: Is the law in the old covenant different from the law in the new covenant? What is new and different about the new covenant?
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 149).

Trusting God’s Promises Alone

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes. Psalm 118:9 NLT

When you read this week’s lesson on how Ahaz sought support from surrounding nations instead of God alone, did it remind you of times you trusted in people and they let you down? It did me. I almost hesitate to share this example with you because I am sure you have enough examples of your own! But because this is a blog post and I am expected to give examples I will share a couple.

I bought a used car at a car lot, and I was getting ready to drive away I told the salesman that I never thought to check the trunk to see if there was a spare tire and jack. The salesman grinned and assured me it was in there. So without checking, I drove away. Not a week later, while on the Interstate, I had a flat tire. As I pulled to the shoulder of the road I was patting myself on the back for making sure I had a spare and a tire jack. I opened up the trunk and saw the spare tire but no tire jack! I thought what am I going to do now? Before I could even call for help, it had already arrived. A friend who just happened to be passing by spotted me and pulled over in front of me. He had a tire jack. I was saved! Even though things worked out, I still went back to the car lot and gave the salesman an ear full. He apologized and gave me a tire jack out of the trunk of another car. I thought oh great now the same thing is going to happen to whoever buys this car. I don’t remember if I told the salesman to be sure and replace the jack in that car. Hopefully whoever bought that car actually looked in the trunk!  Through this experience,  I learned an important lesson. While man misled me and let me down, God still had my back. God caused a friend to pass by at exactly the right time.

A married couple I will call John and Jane were working with me in an Adventist conference many years ago. One of the conference leaders was not treating the employees fairly. When I went to confront the conference leader, John and Jane told me this conference leader was “The Lord’s anointed” and therefore could do no wrong. I knew better than that. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. The Bible also gives us plenty of examples of the Lord’s anointed still making mistakes and needing faithful Christian confrontation. 2 Samuel 12 gives us the example of Nathan confronting the Lord’s anointed. It was not a year later until this same conference leader seriously wounded John and Jane. Since their confidence was in the human leadership of the church, instead of God alone, they not only left their positions in the conference, but they left the church completely. Thankfully after a little over ten years God led them back to the church. Still they never would have left, if their confidence had been in God instead of man.

I think we all already know, but it bears repeating that the only way not to be disappointed by people is to never expect anything from them. A few years ago a church I had worked with a long time could no longer afford to keep me but still gave me a very generous severance check as a parting gift. Around that time a friend told me she was behind on her child’s tuition at the local church school and had no way to pay it. I decided since God was generous to me, I wanted to be generous as well. I went into the office to pay off my friend’s tuition bill. The school administrator asked if I wanted her to tell my friend who paid the bill. I thought for a second and then realized over the years many people have supported my ministry, and while some of them have come and gone, over time it was always God who was providing the support. I had learned to trust in God instead of specific individual contributors. I recognized that while God was using me this time to help my friend, that next time it may be someone else God uses. Therefore it was actually God who was supporting my friend and not me. I just happened to be the instrument He was using this time. I told the administrator not to tell who paid the bill. My friend needed to know that it came from God not from me. My friend needed to know she could trust in God and not that she could trust in me!

We all have heard people say after going through a trial, “No one helped me but God!” Well that is not necessarily throwing shade at their friends. It is very possible God did not cause anyone else to help because God did not need anyone else to help. Like a center fielder calling the left fielder off as he catches the ball by yelling “I got it!” God may be waving our friends off by yelling, “I’ve got it!” It’s not that the left fielder was unwilling to help. He just wasn’t needed. Likewise sometimes God wants us to know He is all we need. He is ultimately the one taking care of us. He loves us. The healthiest thing we can do is to not trust people or hold them accountable for our wellbeing. Let’s trust God alone and hold Him totally and entirely accountable for our well-being.

My 2021 Devotional Book Recommendation is….

I am writing tonight from beautiful hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

… the Bible!

Apple pies are great. I love them, especially with whipped cream or ice cream on top. They make a great dessert, and yes, even with everything else that goes into them, the apples provide real nutrition. Even so, for a daily breakfast routine I would recommend an actual apple over an apple pie. I just think an actual apple is more nutritious than an apple pie. That doesn’t mean I’m throwing grandma’s apple pie recipe away. It just means on a daily basis I eat actual apples. My stomach only holds so much food and if its filled with apple pies, then there won’t be any room for actual whole apples.

Its the same with devotional books and the Bible. Of course God created us to be social creatures. I actually learn from other people’s comments in Sabbath School class and on Sabbath School Net. I learn from books other writers have written. So I am not suggesting you throw away your new 2021 devotional book any more than I am suggesting throwing away grandma’s apple pie recipe. Just make sure you are eating plenty of whole apples, and make sure you are actually reading the Bible. While serving as a literature evangelist I learned that during the years Arthur Maxwell wrote The Bible Stories , he read only the Bible as he did not want anyone else influencing his depictions of The Bible stories.

Last year while I was teaching a 4th-grade Bible class in a local Adventist School in which I occasionally substitute, I asked the children why do we pray before reading the Bible? I received several good answers, but my favorite came from a boy who answered “Because Proverbs 3 says we are not to trust our own understanding but to depend on God for understanding.” What a great application of Proverbs 3:5 I thought! 2 Peter 1:21 tells us that those who wrote Scripture were moved by the Holy Spirit. In John 16:13 Jesus assures us the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. The same Holy Spirit that moved the writers to write those words thousands of years ago, is the same Holy Spirit that teaches us as we read those words. The Holy Spirit can teach you as easily as any theologian.

When I preach on Sabbath I like to make sure I use plenty of Scripture. That way if my own thoughts are worthless at least people got to hear actual Scripture, which is valuable. Most of my illustrations are my own, but of course I get ideas from others as well. When we read the Bible for ourselves we also have ideas the Holy Spirit gives us to share with others. If we do not read the Bible for ourselves then we are only getting ideas from others. This is not fair to them or to us. We are not contributing our fair share and others are doing all the thinking for us. A mother breastfeeds her infant with the hopes that one day the infant will grow up to feed him or herself. Likewise we should not always rely on other authors to feed us. God wants to teach us all how to find our own spiritual bread in the Bible.

This is one reason why I love Michael Fracker’s Sabbath School Lesson Teaching plans. With his teaching plans the Sabbath School class actually studies the Bible instead of just reading the quarterly.

Apple pies are great but we need to eat a lot more whole apples than apple pies. Likewise we need to read the actual Bible for ourselves a lot more often than we read devotionals or commentaries. We need to read the Bible every day. That is why I am recommending the Bible as the devotional book for 2021.

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