Every Word of God Proves True

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Every word of God proves true…Proverbs 30:5 NLT

God’s Word said “if you eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you will die.” The serpent said, “You won’t die!” insinuating God is a liar. The serpent was talking so it appeared defiance to God actually gave him special powers. Eve believed in what she heard and saw from the serpent instead of believing God’s Word. Turns out God’s Word was true. She died.

God told us through the prophet Daniel that Europe would never be reunited into a one-world empire after Rome fell. In World War 2 Arthur Maxwell’s superiors were so afraid Hitler would take over Europe that they asked him not to publish his article claiming, according to Daniel 2, that there was no way Hitler could win and take over Europe. Maxwell published his article anyways. Good thing he did, because it turned out God’s Word was true. Hitler lost. Europe has never been reunited into a one-world empire.

In the wilderness Satan wanted to tempt Jesus and make Him doubt He was the Son of God. After all He probably did not look the best after 40 days of fasting. Jesus said He did not need any signs, like turning stones to bread to prove He was God’s Son. He had already heard God call Him “Son” at His baptism. Jesus put His faith in God’s Word instead of appearances. Turns out God’s Word is true. Even the centurion knew Jesus was God’s Son.

A boy told a story about dying and going to heaven. The Bible says when you die you remain in your grave, unconscious until Jesus comes and resurrects us. Like Eve, many people put their faith in what they saw and heard instead of God’s Word. The boy later recanted his story. Turns out the Bible is true. Those who die sleep until Jesus comes.

The moral of my story is, whenever appearances, sight, sound and feeling all contradict God’s Word, God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures will prove true every time. Trust God. Trust His Word above anything you see, feel, or hear.

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

Who Has Your Back?

I’m writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay Area.

n the movie Black Hawk Down, the U.S. colonel was trying to rescue his men who who had been ambushed by gun fire while trying to intervene in the civil war in Somalia. He had Humvees picking up the dead and wounded all around. After loading a Humvee with several wounded soldiers, he told a private to drive the Humvee. “But I have been shot,” the private replied. “Everyone has been shot!” The colonel sternly replied.

Sometimes when we are treated wrongly and wounded, we are tempted to think we are the only one such a thing has happened to when, in reality, everyone has been wounded. In my last post I talked about the fact that Daniel was able to make friends in pagan Babylon, but that did not mean he did not have enemies, and even though he had friends, they let him down. Down into a den of lions!

The other administrators were jealous of Daniel so to get rid of him they buttered up Darius, who was supposed to be a friend of Daniel. 

So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius!  We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions.  And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.”  So King Darius signed the law. Daniel 6:6-9 NLT 

They knew Daniel would pray to God, and they knew Darius liked Daniel, so they made a law that could not be reversed once Daniel prayed. And of course Daniel prayed. 

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT 

Today many are protective of their privacy and worry if a third party could be spying and listening in on their phone conversations or reading their emails. Daniel knew good and well people were spying on him, but he kept doing what he always did. He prayed right in front of the window. If you knew people were spying on you, would you change your behavior or routine at all? Daniel didn’t. So the other administrators reported him to King Darius and reminded him that the law about being thrown in the lion’s den could not be changed. But Darius  could have thought of his friend Daniel before he even made the rule. He did none of that. He let his friend down … into the lions den. By the way have you ever wondered where Daniel was in Daniel 3 when the three Hebrews were thrown in the fiery furnace? One theory is that Nebuchadnezzar knew good and well Daniel would not bow to the idol, so sent Daniel on a business trip to avoid the embarrassment of having Daniel defy his order. If that theory is so, Darius failed to calculate Daniel’s integrity, which embarrassed Darius himself. 

I remember a while back working with someone who was not treating her co-workers right. She bragged how she was friends with the boss so she could get a way with whatever she wanted. Just a few months later her boss lost his job, and she lost her job right after he lost his. Sometimes people feel confident knowing someone “powerful” has their back, but all humans are just mortal dust in the wind. You can’t trust them. They can only do so much. Darius, as powerful as he was, could not save Daniel. Thankfully Daniel trusted God who could save him. 

A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel.  Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. Daniel 6:17-18 NLT 

Darius could not sleep that night, but I am sure Daniel could. He probably used a lion for a pillow. Funny how a clear conscience allows you to sleep.

Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den.  When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?”  Daniel answered, “Long live the king!  My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.”  The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:19-23 NLT 

Darius in his human sphere could not save Daniel though he tried. Fact is the only one who can save us is God. Daniel had no hard feelings towards Darius, because he knew Darius was only human. Daniel knew to trust no one but God. 

Years later Pilate tried to rescue Jesus and failed. On the third day the Father raised Him from the grave. Both Daniel and Jesus stood for what was right. Both Daniel and Jesus had people who tried to save them but could not. Both Daniel and Jesus were saved by God alone. Likewise in the last days we need to stand for what is right knowing full well no man will be able to save us. God will. We all have been wounded and let down by people. Praise God He alone can save us all!

Living Like Jesus in the Middle of Babylon

Tulsa SDA

I am writing today from my beautiful hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

We as Adventists believe that in the last days there will be a showdown between spiritual Babylon and those who have the seal of God, who reflect the character of Jesus. While Daniel had his haters, it amazes me how he seemed to thrive and even found favor among the leaders of Babylon and Persia. Daniel was not one to compromise his standards. The life of Daniel shows us that it is possible to live a life of uncompromising integrity and still get along with those of different beliefs and lifestyles. Years later Paul wrote,

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, Titus 2:11-12 NLT

We can’t wait for heaven to live a righteous life. God’s grace empowers us to reflect Christ’s character in this evil world. Daniel is an example of how we can be like Jesus in the midst of corruption. Let’s take a look.

Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, “Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream.” Daniel 2:24 NLT

When Daniel received the vision the king had dreamed his first thought was to save the lives of the wicked wise men. Jesus always put the salvation of others first. The wise men in Daniel’s day were preserved by the integrity of Daniel. In Genesis 12;3 God said all the families of the earth (not just believers) would be blessed by the Messiah. Likewise even the unbelievers of Daniel’s day were blessed by Daniel’s integrity. In the last days I believe men and women of God will be a blessing to the evil world around them.

I marvel at Daniel’s humility.  In Daniel 1:20 Daniel and his friends were found to be ten times wiser than the other wise men, but look at what Daniel says when he tells the king his dream.

And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart. Daniel 2:30 NLT

Daniel did not claim to have any special wisdom and neither did Jesus. Jesus always pointed the people to the Scriptures instead of spouting off like a know-it-all. Daniel did not claim to have any special abilities and neither did Jesus. Look at what Jesus says about Himself,

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. John 5:19 NLT

Look at what Jesus says about others who believe.

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12 NLT

Daniel lived a life of uncompromising integrity in the midst of Babylon and Persia. Amidst his haters he more than survived, he thrived and found favor even among wicked rulers. Some blame corruption in the workplace for being passed over for promotions, but God promoted Daniel right in the heart of all the corruption. God can promote you too anytime anywhere. Jesus lived a life of uncompromising integrity in the heart of the Roman Empire and may I also say a corrupt religious system.  He too had His haters but He too found favor “with both God and man” and was able to tell His Father,

I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

Daniel lived a life of uncompromising integrity and thrived among all the corruption of Babylon. Jesus lived a life of uncompromising integrity and thrived amid pagan Rome and a religious system that left a lot to be desired. So today, in the midst of spiritual Babylon by God’s grace we can live a life of uncompromising integrity and make friends along the way.

You may study the Sabbath School Lessons on Daniel here. 

It’s the Little Things That Make a big Difference

Arkansas River

I am writing today from my beautiful hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Its funny the memories that stay lodged in my mind. The impromptu summer afternoon trip to the ice cream shop with grandma ranks right up there with Thanksgiving dinner. The meaningful 30 minute conversation with my friend on the west coast who accidentally pocket dialed me at 2 AM my time was more fun than the call I got on my birthday.  Sometimes its a simple compliment from the heart of a stranger who you never see again, but never forget just because of the way they made you feel that one time you met. I’ve heard it said, and I’m sure you have too, that what we remember most about people is how they made us feel. I believe this is especially true about our leaders.

As I studied this week’s Sabbath School lesson about leaders I found my self reminiscing not only about leaders in the church, but also leaders in the secular work place. And why not? After all, while we discuss the theory of the Gospel in Sabbath School class, the workplace is where we exercise the Gospel. While I have been a full time Bible Worker most of my career there have been times I also had to pick up a secular side job to support myself and my ministry. I believe my example in the workplace is so crucial that over the years, when I arrive at my secular job I pray the same prayer I pray before taking the pulpit to preach Sabbath morning. I would say its even more crucial because behind the pulpit I am just talking for maybe 30 minutes, but at work I am demonstrating the Gospel for several hours.

One the jobs I had several years ago when I was a Bible Worker and lay pastor in Texas was being a part time supervisor at UPS. And its there that I had three simple encounters with my own supervisors that years later I have never forgotten, and this week’s lesson brought them to mind once again.

I supervised the people loading the brown delivery trucks. When a worker could not show up and I could not find a replacement I sometimes had to load a few trucks myself. When this would happen I would always go to the break room to get my favorite cold drink and some chips, set them in the back of the truck so I could  enjoy them as I was going in and out of the trucks. Early one morning the packages were already stacking up in an area before I realized the worker was not there. I had no time to find someone or even alert my own supervisor as to what was going on, much less go to the break room for my ritual. I had to jump in there  right away and get to work. About thirty minutes later my own supervisor came by with my favorite drink and chips and placed them in the back of the truck for me. A very simple gesture but it meant a lot because it showed she knew me, and even though it was not necessary for my work she wanted me to be happy.

Drinks and chips are not the only things I had in the back of the trucks. I often placed my cell phone in the back of the trucks. One morning after the trucks had all left to run all over town, I realized my phone was still in the back of one of them. I told the day time supervisor who called the driver to see where I could meet him to retrieve my phone which I did. Later in the day my cell phone rang. It was the daytime supervisor making sure I got my phone okay. Wow! I thought. Those daytime supervisors are so busy how did he even remember me? And why would he remember? My phone wasn’t his problem or responsibility. It meant a lot to me that in such as busy time crunched place like UPS a full time supervisor for another shift, with plenty of responsibilities and problems of his own, took the time to make sure I found my phone.

Before I became a part time supervisor in the loading area I was a sorter. One morning while sorting away I turned to the belt behind me and my eye caught the zip code of a package right as it went by. I instantly realized that zip code did not go on that belt. Another sorter miss sorted it. I quickly grabbed it and placed it on the correct belt as I kept up sorting my own packages. My supervisor walked by and patted me on the back telling me he saw what I just did. He commended my eagle eye. A couple years later was when I became a part time supervisor in the loading area. At the end of one of my shifts I failed to realize that a next day air package was still left on the belt. The next day the manager over the entire building was very upset with me. I probably would have been in hot water had it not been for my former supervisor years ago when I was a sorter. He took it upon himself to go to the building manager and tell him how he thought I was one of the best workers he ever had. When the building manager later talked to me, he told me my old supervisor told him about the package I caught on the wrong belt and how I corrected it, even though in my position I was not expected to. The building manager told me I was not going to be in any trouble.

Again UPS is a hard nose job and it amazed me that a former supervisor took the time and effort to stand up for me even though he had nothing to gain one way or the other if anything happened to me or not.  In these stories I recall each leader showed true character even though they were outside of church and in a place where it is a struggle for even the best of church members to show good character. Each experience may have been small within itself, but I will never forget them. I also try to be what I admire in each of these leaders.

Avoiding Making Bad Marriage Choices

Tulsa By River

I am writing today from my beautiful hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned. “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Luke 16:17-18 NLT

As Adventists we love pointing out that Jesus said the law will never be changed in order to protect the Sabbath. But in this passage Jesus is not protecting the Sabbath. Jesus is upholding the law to protect marriage. As Adventists have we become lax in protecting the laws of marriage and remarriage? Have we placed such undue pressure on ourselves and others to be married, that we have compromised Biblical guidelines to make marriage and remarriage easier? I am just asking. If the answer is no, then hallelujah. However I have counseled with Adventist friends who were so desperate to get married that even though their Adventist parents warned them against marrying a non believer, they went ahead anyway with the attitude of “I must be married at any cost.” Not long after the wedding they were staying home from church with their non-believing spouse. I have seen it go the other way too. An elderly lady told me about her late husband, who was an Adventist, but just days before the wedding found evidence that he was Adventist in “name only” as she put it. She decided to break the engagement, but her own father told her he had already spent too much money on the wedding and forced her to go with it, which resulted in over 40 years of heartbreak and misery. In the former case the problem was someone pressuring themselves to get married. In the latter it was someone pressuring someone else to get married.

When I was a teenager I attended an Adventist church which had a scandal involving the academy chaplain.. Three husbands were caught cheating and swapped wives, and then they immediately moved to an Adventist college community that was much larger, where they could disappear.

Once the dust settled, a single friend in her 30’s asked, “How do these people have multiple affairs when I can’t even find one?” Over the years I have wondered the same thing. While I am still waiting on a special woman with whom I am spiritually and socially compatible, I see other people divorcing and remarrying like free agents switching sports teams. All I can figure is they are more obsessed with marriage than I am.

But I digress. It is not about me. It is about the Bible. In the book of Ezra the leaders and people repented of their marriages to unbelievers by sending them back. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul tells those married to unbelievers to stay married. Here is what I see is the difference. In Ezra they were believers before they got married. Paul is addressing people who were married before they heard about Christ and became Christians. So today there is a difference between someone already being a Christian and marrying a non-believer, and someone who is already married and then becomes a Christian. The former is choosing to be unequally yoked. The latter is not.

I have had people defend Christians marrying unbelievers by saying the unbelievers may become believers later. It has even happened they say. Here is a classic example of how people let human reasoning win over the Bible. “Sure enough the Bible says not to be unequally yoked, but I have some stories to prove the Bible wrong” so they say. Years ago I preached from 1 Corinthians 7 on how Paul said a man can serve God better by being single. After church a woman came up to me to tell me that was wrong. Now it doesn’t surprise me a bit when people tell me I am wrong, but when they tell me a Bible passage is wrong, that really gets my attention. She explained that Jesus sent the disciples out two by two and so every pastor should have a wife with whom to give Bible studies. I had to point out that Jesus did not send the disciples out with their wives but with each other. And I had to ask, when was the last time you actually saw a married pastor out giving Bible studies with his wife? Her argument was totally unbiblical and based on human reasoning founded on the principle that has pressured many people into bad choices, which is “get married at any cost.”

Likewise the arguments in favor of marrying non-believers contradict the Bible. Furthermore it was the unbelievers joining the believers that diluted the nation of Israel in Ezra’s day. Likewise when unbelievers or non-Adventists  get baptized for the sole purpose of marrying an Adventist, it dilutes the integrity of the Church. Then it becomes so mainstream no one even notices or cares that the Advent message has become diluted. Now  non Adventists who gets baptized for the sole purpose of loving Jesus with all their heart before marrying an Adventist is a totally different story. I have seen that happen many times with positive results, and it is totally biblical.

I am not the least bit desperate to get married, but of course, my heart and eyes are open to the possibility, but only if I meet a seasoned Adventist lady who is deeply in love with Jesus. Over the years I have had people in the church tell me I am so picky I will never get married. So be it! I am perfectly happy the way I am. Just a few months ago I was having dinner with a friend at a restaurant. I told my friend that even though I am still open to getting married that I probably never will, because the older I get the more I think, “It’s been a wonderful life. Why risk making a bad decision and ruining it at the end?”  As soon as I said that ,the waitress who was about three tables away heard me, looked at me  and smiled, nodding her head in agreement. So I know I am not the only person who thinks that way.  By the way while the waitress and my friend both laughed, I was not joking. It is something I have seriously thought about.

The purpose of this article is not to discourage myself or anyone else from getting married. A lot of people –  single and married –  like to make jokes belittling the institution of marriage. Not me. I understand the biblical sanctity of marriage, and realize a biblical marriage is a beautiful blessing. The purpose of this article is to help people avoid the misery and heartache that is caused by the pressure inflicted by self or others to enter into unbiblical marriages or remarriages.

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

The First Sign of Backsliding

Heron Channelside (5)

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Concerning Jesus, the Pharisees said,

Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked.  “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? John 7:47-48 NLT

In Luke 24:13-34 Jesus uses Scripture to explain to a couple of friends who the Messiah is, while they don’t even recognize Him. Jesus didn’t want them to recognize Him. Jesus did not need them to recognize Him. The Scriptures stood on their own regardless if it was the Son of God or a small servant child sharing them. However, the Pharisees thought people should base their beliefs on who endorsed them rather than what the Scriptures said about them. The Pharisees thought people should just believe whatever the leaders believed, and if a leader did not believe it neither should anyone else. 

May I suggest that the first sign of backsliding is when people take their eyes off of Scriptures and look to their leaders alone?

In Exodus 32:1-35 the people took their eyes off the law they just heard and looked to Aaron. The people should have held Aaron accountable to the law but instead they thought Aaron was above the law or able to interpret the law all on his own. Maybe they thought since Aaron was the high priest that he would be more spiritual than they. He wasn’t. Working as a Bible worker and lay preacher I have a lot of close associations with ordained ministers as well as lay people. I am surprised to find many lay members assume pastors are on a higher spiritual plane when they are not. Should pastors walk very closely to Jesus? Of course! But so should every single church member.  Lay members are called Christians. In sign language the literal translation is “Christ person” or a person like Christ. You can’t have any calling higher than that. Being an ordained pastor does not make you like Christ. Being a true Christian makes you like Christ.

Not by their wealth, their education, or their position does God estimate men. He estimates them by their purity of motive and their beauty of character. He looks to see how  much of His Spirit they possess and how much of His likeness their life reveals.  -Ellen White, Ministry of Healing, Pages 477-8

Maybe the people of Israel thought Aaron had special insights into the law and could interpret it better than they. He didn’t. On the other hand, we have Jesus who was God in the flesh, yet instead of claiming any special insights or philosophies above Scripture, He always stuck to Scripture. In Matthew 4:1-11, when Jesus was tempted He did not check with His personal inclinations or philosophy in order to create any gray areas. Instead He answered every temptation with “It is written” in the Scripture. In Luke 10:25-26 an expert in the law asked Jesus how to have eternal life. He did not give any off-the-cuff answer. He directed the man straight to Scripture.  Had Aaron looked to the law he just heard instead of the people or his own emotions, the golden calf never would have been made, and there would have been no backsliding. If the people had focused on the law they just heard instead of looking to Aaron and their apparent current circumstances they would never have backslidden.

The church went through the spiritual dark ages when the Scriptures were usurped by men of position and human reasoning. Recovery from this darkness began when men like Luther usurped men of position and human reasoning with Scripture.  Today, I believe the first sign of personal or corporate backsliding begins by preferring people with position and human reasoning over Scripture.

As I read about the reformations made in Nehemiah 13, I can’t help but think there are changes I need to make as well in regard to Sabbath keeping and even health reform. Years ago I was working for a church that was somewhat lax about the health message. I actually appreciated this as I could take my cola into the church office without anyone giving me funny looks or admonishing me. But you know what? It was still very unhealthy. It wasn’t any more appropriate just because this church had a different tone about caffeine than previous churches I worked with.  1 Corinthians 10:31 says to eat and drink to the glory of God, and that stands regardless of what church I am in or what other church leaders  are eating or drinking around me. The same goes for Sabbath reform. I see more and more secular work being done in the church on Sabbath that should be saved for during the week. Recently I received a call on Sabbath from a pastor wanting me to hold meetings in his church. He started talking to me about what I would charge and started scrolling through hotel prices online while we were on the phone. I asked him if we could discuss the business part after Sabbath. He quickly agreed but he never spoke to me again. I get it. It is more convenient to take care of these things on Sabbath. Our week is already so hectic.

I worked with a church years ago where everyone wanted to hold committee meetings on Sabbath because it was more convenient than coming back to church during the week. People stopped coming to prayer meeting because they did not want to take time for church during the week. But it did not stop there. Next thing I knew people wanted to have their committee meetings during Sabbath School so they would not have to stay after church. It makes me wonder what we would do if Nehemiah came to our churches today? Problem is, would we just tell him to mind his own business because we are all already doing what is right in our own eyes, and we don’t need him judging us? Something to think about.

Throughout history individual Christians and churches have been tempted to backslide by preferring convenience, philosophy and human leaders over Scripture. The first sign of backsliding is when we neglect or rationalize away Scripture. Jesus gave us a fool-proof way to avoid backsliding by placing Scripture above human authority or human philosophy and reasoning.

You may study this week’s lesson here. 

This one was Born There….

The leaders of the people were living in Jerusalem, the holy city. A tenth of the people from the other towns of Judah and Benjamin were chosen by sacred lots to live there, too, while the rest stayed where they were. Nehemiah 11:1 NLT

I love living in Florida, but that does not keep me from dreaming of other places. I love reading books and watching documentaries about far-away places. Sometimes late at night when my work is done or even when it’s not, I go on Google Satellite Maps and tour the world. When asked where my favorite places are I respond, “Mostly just the seven continents and all the little islands in between.” I like to go through neighborhoods in Australia and Canada and places in between on street view. It makes me feel like I am really there.

While Lima seemed to be a very modern and wealthy enough city, I visited other parts of Peru that reminded me I was far away from home. One night while walking with friends near our hotel in Chiclayo, we met a young girl sitting on a blanket with her little brother begging for money. We gave her several soles, and she gave us a warm beautiful smile, making us feel richer than we did while the money was still in our hands. Nearby another young nina watched, much too polite to ask, but you could  see in her eyes that she desperately needed some soles too. I went over to her and she quickly took my offering and smiled with a “gracias.” I realized while we were on the same planet, I, being a man from the United States, and the two girls begging in Peru were living in separate worlds. Reading all the encyclopedias in the world and visiting Google Maps would never give me a true picture of the world they live in, even tough we share the same moon and sun.

As I write this I can already hear you say, “William you don’t have to cross the sea to find people living in a different world than you. Just cross the railroad tracks!” True. I even read a while back that different siblings perceive their same family so differently based on age and order of birth that it is not even like growing up in the same family. I walk the campus of the school where I help, which has grades pre-k through 12. I realize each classroom is in its own little world. If you asked a pre-k student and a 12th-grader to each draw a picture of their school, you would never be able to tell that both pictures were of the same school, and it’s not just because the 12th-grader is a better artist. They are both in their own world on the same campus. So, yes, you are right. I don’t have to go far to find someone living in a different world than me.

Have you ever looked at a family member who just said something very far out to you, and wanted to ask them, “What planet are you from?” Even though they grew up with you in the same house? Chances are they may have grown up in the same home as you but  still from a different “planet” so to speak because of how they perceived the home and neighborhood around them. Today I will be talking to my sister about our childhood memories, and she will remember things I never noticed, while I was paying attention to things she never saw. Same home. Different worlds. That could explain why two siblings can both love each other very much and have many of the same values, while each being their own independent person. One moment they can both be in total agreement about an issue and then on another issue wonder what planet the other one is from.

While our worlds can be very similar in some ways but in another galaxy in other ways, it helps us understand why we can be so different and yet similar. This is why only God can judge us, because only God even knows what world we are living in.

The Lord will record, When He registers the peoples: “This one was born there.” Psalm 87:6 NKJV

And you know what? Only God knows where “there” is. In other words, God is the only one who knows what world you live in. But He knows everything about your world. He understands things our own family members have no clue about! And you know what else? He can change our worlds so fast. It’s been 13 years since my friends and I were walking the streets of Peru. That young girl sitting on a blanket begging for money may still be sitting there. Or she may be at the medical university near my home here in Florida. One day she may save my life at the hospital and then get into her Lexus and drive home. Stranger things have happened. Only God knows. Only God is our judge. Only God needs to know. For the rest of us, let’s just be kind. That’s all we need to know – just be kind.

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