Tag: Bible worker

Do you Know the Shepherd?

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” Matthew 14:15-16 NLT

The disciples realized the crowd needed food, but they were not equipped to feed a large crowd, or so they thought. So the decided the crowd should be sent to the villages where there were markets and restaurants. Those people were trained and equipped to feed a large crowd. Imagine the disciples surprise, and maybe even frustration when Jesus said, they did not need to got o the villages and “professionals” to get fed. He told them to feed them.

Have you ever met someone you wanted to share Jesus with, so you called a pastor or elder to study with them? Maybe that wasn’t necessary. Maybe Jesus wanted you to feed them-spiritually. Sometimes we may feel we are not “professional” enough to feed someone spiritually. I am sure the disciples did not feel “professional” enough to feed the crowd. Still, Jesus equipped them to feed a crowd. If you are willing, Jesus can use you to spiritually feed a large crowd, just as well as He can use a professional.

Remember the story of Balaam in Numbers 22? Yes the story was about Balaam’s reward for greed, but there is something else in this story too. God used a donkey to turn Balaam’s life around. If God can use a donkey to change someone’s life, don’t you think He could also use you?

God’s messengers must tarry long with Him, if they would have success in their work. The story is told of an old Lancashire woman who was listening to the reasons that her neighbors gave for their minister’s success. They spoke of his gifts, of his style of address, of his manners. “Nay,” said the old woman, “I will tell you what it is. Your man is very thick with the Almighty.” When men are as devoted as Elijah was and possess the faith that he had, God will reveal Himself as He did then. When men plead with the Lord as did Jacob, the results that were seen then will again be seen. Power will come from God in answer to the prayer of faith. -Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 255

The story goes of a pastor celebrating his 50th year in the ministry. At the celebration
Friend, do you tarry long with God? Do you know the Shepherd? If so, then you have a story to tell that will turn someone’s life around, without having to call the “professionals.” 
he invited a good friend and famous orator to read Psalm 23. He agreed so long as the pastor would read it afterwards as well.  The famous orator read the psalm with such oratorical mastery that the congregation applauded. The pastor then humbly approached the podium, feeling that he had been outdone. However when he read the beloved Psalm, the congregation was moved to tears. When the pastor asked the famous orator why people wept after his humble reading of the Word, the orator replied, “I knew the Psalm. You knew the Shepherd.”

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

When we Die to Self it is Satan who Gets Destroyed

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Today’s Sabbath School lesson  talks about two men who were invited to follow Jesus but had to die to self first. This is true of anyone who wants to follow Jesus.

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? Luke 9:23-25 NLT 

Something interesting happened with Peter, when Jesus talked about His own death.

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:21-23 NLT

Why was Satan influencing Peter to build up Jesus’ ego and try to stop Jesus from dying? Because Satan knew his power would be destroyed when Jesus died.

But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.1 John 3:8 NLT

Why does Satan influence people to build up your ego so you won’t die to self? Because Satan knows his power over you will be destroyed when you die to self.

Letting the Bible Explain Itself

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When we allow the Bible to explain itself, God can use ordinary people to do great things.

Years ago, when I worked on the sort isle at UPS, our supervisors would occasionally bring in food to eat, while we worked at four in the morning. One such time, my supervisor, who was also a Protestant seminary student, offered me a slice of pizza with pepperoni. I asked him if there was any pizza with just cheese. He knew I was a Seventh-day Adventist and did not eat pork. Still he asked me, “What about the vision Peter had in Acts 10?” I replied, “You mean the one where Peter said,

God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Acts 10:28 KJV

My supervisor said, “You know your Bible!” He understood right away that the Bible left no mistake about what the Peter’s vision meant. The Bible does not say Peterrealized he should not call any animal unclean. Peter and the Word of God are clear. God showed Peter he should not call any man unclean.
Likewise when Jesus was asked why His disciples did not follow the traditional ceremonial washing of hands, many jump to conclusions when Jesus said, The Bible will explain itself if we let it. That is one reason why it is so easy to be a Bible Worker, like I am and give Bible studies. You don’t have to be a brilliant philosopher. All you need to do is show people the Word of God, and let God’s Word explain itself.

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Matthew 15:11 KJV

Some claim Jesus was declaring unclean meats clean, but unclean meat is nowhere in the context of conversation. Once again you don’t need an ordained minister to figure out what Jesus as talking about. He tells us very plainly what He was talking about.

to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. Matthew 15:20 KJV

Jesus tells us plainly He was talking about eating with unwashed hands. He was not referring to unclean foods. Once again the Bible clearly explains itself without any fancy human philosophy.

Many famous philosophers used witty human reasoning to impress their followers. Jesus does not use human wit and reasoning. Jesus stuck with the Scriptures and a plain “It is Written” or “What saith the Scriptures?” He let the Bible explain itself. Jesus has given us the only weapon we will ever need on the war against evil. It is not human wit or philosophy. It is the plain Scriptures.

The plan of holding Bible-readings was a heaven-born idea. There are many, both men and women, who can engage in this branch of missionary labor. Workers may thus be developed who will become mighty men of God. By this means the word of God has been given to thousands; and the workers are brought into personal contact with people of all nations and tongues. The Bible is brought into families, and its sacred truths come home to the conscience. Men are entreated to read, examine, and judge for themselves, and they must abide the responsibility of receiving or rejecting the divine enlightenment. God will not permit this precious work for Him to go unrewarded. He will crown with success every humble effort made in His name. –Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 191. 

Please notice, you don’t have to be a smooth talker with witty illustrations and philosophy. Only present the plain Word of God and let men judge for themselves. And no matter how humble you think your efforts are, “He will crown with success every humble effort.”

In Luther’s Day,

Crowds would gather to hear the truth advocated by men of little education, and even discussed by them with learned and eloquent theologians. The shameful ignorance of these great men was made apparent as their arguments were met by the simple teachings of God’s Word. Laborers, soldiers, women, and even children, were better acquainted with the Bible teachings than were the priests and learned doctors. –Ellen White, The Great Controversy, Page 195.

The humble men, women and children gained knowledge the way Jesus did, and every man woman and child today can do the same.

Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. As we try to become acquainted with our heavenly Father through His word, angels will draw near, our minds will be strengthened, our characters will be elevated and refined. We shall become more like our Saviour…. Communion with God through prayer develops the mental and moral faculties, and the spiritual powers strengthen as we cultivate thoughts upon spiritual things. –Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, Page 70.

God blessed my ordinary effort as an ordinary UPS worker, when I convinced a seminary student of truth, by simply referring to Simple Scriptures. As you became acquainted with your Heavenly Father through studying His Word and prayer, the Holy Spirit will use you also to help others to know the truth about God’s love.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

The Wind and Waves Get us to Where we Need to be

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I am writing today from the beautiful but sometimes stormy Tampa Bay area.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:38-40 NLT

 

Besides Jesus and Jonah, I don’t know of too many people who take naps on boats during chaotic storms. I think I would be freaking out like the disciples. 18 year old Ellen Harmon found herself in the middle of storm on a steamboat in the north Atlantic. The boat rocked and tossed one lady out of her bed. Another lady screamed in terror, before asking Ellen if she was not terrified as well.

I told her I had made Christ my refuge, and if my work was done, I might as well lie in the bottom of the ocean as in any other place; but if my work was not done, all the waters of the ocean could not drown me. My trust was in God, that he would bring us safe to land if it was for his glory. –Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church,  Volume 1, Page 81.

Young Ellen could have been terrified like the disciples were during their storm, but instead she rested her faith in the love of Jesus. She was not afraid. She had faith that God would be what was best.

One day, while helping out at the church school where I give Bible studies, I was sharing the story of Jesus calming the storm. When I got to the end of the story where the water was all calm and peaceful, a third-grade boy raised his hand and asked, “How is the boat going to get anywhere now?” He was pointing out the obvious, that wind and waves are what carry a sail boat. Without any wind you can’t get anywhere! (We’re talking about boats in Jesus’ day.)

It was persecution that got the church to move and spread out, sharing the gospel around the world. Many people have been “forced” to pursue their dream careers after losing their mundane but “secure” jobs. Once, while riding my bicycle, I got caught in a torrential downpour. I put my cell phone in my pocket, but that was not enough. When I took it to the repair shop, because it quit working, water gushed out when they opened it up. However, they told me I was eligible for a free upgrade. I walked out of the store with a much nicer and newer phone, with nothing out of my pocket, thanks to the storm. A very simple illustration of how a storm got me to a better place, as I don’t have space to tell of bigger blessings from even greater storms.

At the end of the storm Jesus asked the disciples why they were afraid and had no faith. I always assumed He meant why they had no faith He could calm the storm, but fact is, that is exactly what they were asking Him to do. Maybe He was asking them why they needed Him to calm the storm? While some storms are scarier than others is it possible they all get us to where we need to be? Will we really get anywhere in life if Jesus calms every storm that comes our way? Are there times we should let the storm rage, and do like 18 year old Ellen, and rest our faith in Jesus, just like Jesus was resting in His Father’s love during His storm? (Don’t ask me why Jonah was resting during his storm-I have no idea!)  Sometimes it takes more faith to not ask for a miracle. With God’s love we can face the roughest storms and not be afraid. That’s what 18 year old Ellen Harmon did. I firmly believe, if Ellen Harmon had been in the boat during the storm with Jesus and the disciples, she would have been resting with Jesus, unafraid and full of faith in God’s love amidst the tremendous waves, instead of freaking out with the disciples.

Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes He calms His child.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Frank and Janea’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

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In 2008 the Tampa First SDA Church invited ASI to hold evangelism meetings at our church. Wayne (far right) an ASI Bible worker met Larry and Janice going door to door, and they were soon baptized into our church family.

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A few years later Aaliyah, Larry and Janice’s granddaughter came to live with them, and  they shared Jesus with her, and I was soon invited to have baptism studies with her.

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But the story does not end there. Janea, another granddaughter of Larry and Janice has recently moved to Tampa with her family. Janea told me she wanted to be baptized and have a fresh new start, living for Jesus.

Janea Baptism

 

Today Janea received her brand new start with Jesus. While her grandparents shared Jesus with her, Janea now will be sharing Jesus with her children and all of her friends and neighbors. I am looking forward to the next chapter, as I am sure this is till not the end!

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Pastor Brad called me during the holidays last year to tell me about Frank, a man who had been doing Amazing Facts Bible Studies through the mail, and now wanted to be baptized. While studying with Frank, I learned that he also enjoyed watching Doug Bachelor. Frank had never been baptized before or joined a church, and he told me he was very excited to be baptized for the first time, and join the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Bible believing, Commandment keeping church.

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Before the baptism Pastor Brad went over the baptism vows and welcomed Frank and Janea into church membership.

Frank Baptism

 

Frank is currently attending my New Believer’s Sabbath School class, but wants to join the spiritual gifts class soon, so he can find ways he can serve his Savior in his new church family. Frank, like Janea are already making many new friends at Tampa First.

 

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Please don’t let the sun set on your life before you give all of yourself to the One who has given all of Himself for you. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net. I would also like to give a special thanks to those who continue to support my ministry, which is based solely on contributions to the Plant City SDA Church PO Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563. Please note for Bible Worker Fund, so I can continue sharing Jesus in the Tampa Bay area and beyond! Thank you!

God’s Idea of Repentance

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Genesis 6:5-6

Here we see God’s idea of repentance. When God repented that He had made man on earth, He wiped man out with a flood and started all over with Noah’s family. God’s example of repentance includes change. God repented by changing what He had done. The American Sign Language sign for change is making the “c” sign and twisting your hands signaling a change. The sign for repentance is the same motion, but with the “R” sign. So when a deaf person (or hearing for that matter) sees the word “repentance,” they see “change.”

I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that I think says it best.

“Repentance is not when you cry. It is when you change.”

Unfortunately we can’t change ourselves.

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah 13:23

Fortunately God can change us!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

A while back I was convicted that I was drinking too many sodas. I prayed about it. I started drinking a lot more water, and then one day decided to “splurge” and have a Pepsi. That was a waste of $1.06, because after two sips it tasted so sickening sweet, I dumped the rest out and refilled the cup with water. God changed and converted my taste buds when I was totally powerless.

The repentant thief on the cross never actually said he was sorry (at least there is no record of it). He repented by changing his attitude and behavior towards Jesus. He called Him Lord and professed his faith in Jesus and the resurrection, while everyone else was still mocking Him.

God made no mistakes to be repented of, but in the story of the flood we see that when God changed something it was called repenting.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

DeKontee’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

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After studying with DeKontee’s sisters JanJay and Tinsey several years ago, I was very happy when DeKontee’s family invited me to study with her, to help prepare her for baptism. I enjoyed our studies every week. DeKontee’s family always spoils me with lots of starfruit from their backyard, and nice home cooked meals that I could eat with them, or they would pack for me to go if I had to run to my next Bible study. One thing is sure, you can always feel the love in their home.

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Dekontee was very proud to receive her baptism certificate, which contains the Bible teachings we went over in our studies. DeKontee also wrote a note about her baptism which she asked Pastor Brad to share with the church family.

DeKontee writes:

“When I hear the word baptism, I think of salvation, the gift of salvation. The gift of salvation is nothing we deserve. It was given to us out of love. Getting baptized is not something that you just want to do because your friends or parents say you should. Baptism is a decision you make with your heart. It is a personal decision. After you get baptized you shouldn’t do all the bad things you did before. You have to try to live a better and Godly life. By the grace of God, and with the help of the Holy Spirit I am determined to live a God fearing life. My aim is to truly fall in love with Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save me. I know he will never leave me nor forsake me.” -DeKontee

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DeKontee’s family and her Tampa First Pathfinder Club were up front to show their support. DeKontee even had family from Africa!

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DeKontee and I did a “dry” rehearsal of the baptism before going into the water. I always remind everyone to be sure and bend their knees when I baptize them. Otherwise their feet will go flying out of the water!

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 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12 NLT

For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:4-6 NLT 

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Dwayne, Whom I baptized a few years ago when he became a part of the Tampa First SDA Church family, now welcomes DeKontee to the Tampa First Church family, and many others welcomed her as well.

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If you live in the Tampa Bay area or on the other side of the world, I would like to invite you to join DeKontee in giving you life to Jesus. When you do, you are only giving away something you were never going to be able to keep anyway, but you gain eternal life, and eternal love. I would love to help you in making this decision if you would like to contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

As my Bible Worker ministry is now 100% reliant upon contributions, I would like to thank those who are loyally supporting this ministry so I can continue sharing the gospel with others in the bay area and around the world, just like DeKontee. Contributions can be sent to the Plant City SDA Church PO Box 5379 Plant City, Fl 33563. Thank you!