Joraimy (left) and Jasmy have been two of the most loyal and faithful members of the after school Bible study and Tampa Adventist Academy baptism class. They love Jesus and studying His Word every chance they get. For the last three years they always ask when after school Bible study is, and when the baptism class is. They were baptized a few weeks ago at the Tampa Spanish SDA Church by Pastor Moreno.
Allison (Left) and Kaina have been in my after school Bible study as well as baptism class. When we take prayer requests in our after school Bible study, Kaina always asks us to pray for her family members who do not know Jesus yet. She loves her family and Her God, and want them all to spend eternity together!
William was baptized by his father in St.Petersburg. William is always quick to answer questions and help explain the Bible to others. He is also in my Bible chain referencing class, where I am teaching the kids how to give Bible studies and get decisions for Christ. When William got his baptism certificate He told me how proud he was to now be an official member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church!
Daisy Heredia and her husband Carlos are huge blessings to Tampa Adventist Academy and the Tampa Bay Adventist Community. Daisy has also been helping me with our after school Bible studies and Baptism classes. Daisy Writes,
“Over the last 3 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Pastor William Earnhardt, by offering Bible classes to the elementary school aged children at Tampa Adventist Academy. The time spent with these children has been a blessing and spiritual growth not only for them but for me as well. To see their genuine desire to get to know Jesus is priceless. It fills us with a new rejoicing in the Lord. The most fulfilling part of this experience has been to see them come up from the waters in baptism and see their joy, as well as the joy on the parents faces. As a parent of two beautiful girls that will be baptized as a part of this ministry, I am very thankful for those who continue to support Pastor Earnhardt’s ministry so he is able to continue his faithful ministry for Christ.”
Please don’t let the sun set on you before you make your decision to give your life to the One who gave His life for you. I would love to help you in your decision for Christ. You can contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net. You may also write or show your support for my ministry at the Plant City SDA Church, PO Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563.
(A letter has been mailed out to all my contributors, but for those who can’t wait on snail mail here it is.)
Dear Faithful contributors,
I wanted to take a moment and thank each and every one of you, first for believing in me and my ministry, and for your sacrificial giving to enable my ministry to continue both at home and abroad. I would like to share just a little of how your offerings have helped.
Beyond Tampa Bay: After many months of hard work, Mike Rempfer has helped me develop the In Light of the Cross Bible study app! This app is different from all others, as you can, but do not need to connect to Wi Fi to be able to access the study guides. The format is also unique from other apps in that each presentation is presented with questions and supplied verses like the “Bible Readings for the Home” format. Now wherever you are in the world you can download this app, and at any given time and place you have a prepared Bible study presentation you can share with anyone who is interested. You can also access my blog site http://InLightOfTheCross.com and find even more resources at your fingertips on your phone or tablet. You may find the app in the Google play store by searching inlightofthecross. You may also find it on my blog linked above.
The blog continues to be accessed everyday by over 173 countries. I have received e-mails as far away as Madagascar and Red Deer Canada, north of Calgary telling me how they have used the In Light of the Cross lessons and devotionals in their churches. The blog allows you to download the lessons for free and print them out, which is very valuable in areas where money and resources are scarce. Almost every day there are several downloads from the blog where people are printing out lessons to share in their homes and churches. Pastor Glenn Aguirre of the New Port Richey Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church, has shared from his pulpit how the In Light of the Cross study guides are the only lessons he uses now.
A church in Florida beyond Tampa Bay, and a church in southeast Oklahoma are arranging for me to conduct soul winning meetings and workshops this fall. I pray this is only the beginning.
Tampa Bay: I have several current small group studies in the Tampa area. On Friday nights I have been studying with 8 to 11 previously unchurched people who have just recently began attending Tampa First SDA Church. Nani Corujo, one of the members, writes:
“Bible studies has been a wonderful God learning experience. We always start with our week’s highs and lows (high good, low bad). Pastor William then asks us a question about a certain experience we have lived and from there he leads us to what the class will read and talk about. Pastor William has taught my family and iI how to look up verses in the bible and not just read through what it says but also explain what it means. My kids, nephews, husband, bro-in-law, sis-in-law and myself have learn and still learning so much from what Pastor William has been teaching us from God’s work and words. Now we attend Saturday Sabbath in search more from our lord and savior. Thank you pastor William for being a awesome teacher and helping us understand more clearly and fully the word of our lord, and our God.”
In one of my other small groups, I am studying with three previously unchurched teenagers who are now wanting to be baptized in the near future. I also have a few personal studies looking at baptism and we even have a date, October 24 for one of them at Tampa First.
As well as giving Bible studies in Tampa, I am also training others to give studies. I recently baptized Cindy Reyes a couple of years ago, and she is now leading out in a Bible study I connected her with near her home.
The teachers at Tampa Adventist Academy are looking forward to me coming back to teach Bible chain referencing classes and baptism and after school Bible study classes. I am also continuing my New Believer’s Sabbath School class at Tampa First.
Plant City: While I love being able to continue being a part of Tampa First, I also love being a member, elder and local Bible Worker of the Plant City SDA Church. While I love Tampa and Florida very much, Plant City also reminds me of smaller towns and areas I have worked in the past, though Plant City actually turns out to be much bigger than I realized and holds so much potential.
We have a Wednesday night youth group where several youth from the community as well as the church enjoy Bible studies, games and fellowship. I have been taking young people door to door in the community where we now have several Bible studies and hopefully more to come.
I have always enjoyed working with several churches together and the Plant City SDA Church enjoys teaming up with the regional SDA and Spanish SDA churches in our town for community and evangelism projects. I also enjoy bringing in people from other area churches to help us in door to door evangelism as well as small Bible study groups. I am currently working with a family who lives in Plant City but attends a larger church in East Pasco County, to have a group Bible study in their home in Plant City. I believe we can all think outside the box and work together for Jesus even while being members of different churches.
I am also preaching twice a month at Plant City as well as other churches far and near.
Thank you for taking the time to let me share just a few of the many things I am excited about this summer and fall. Too keep up with me and my ministry on a day to day basis, please friend me on Facebook!
For years, I would leave a Bible study where someone had just given their heart to Jesus, and would get in my car praying, “Lord I will keep giving Bible studies and leading people to you as long as you keep making it possible.” I thank God He is using you to keep making this possible!
Your Christian Servant,
Plant City SDA Church
PO Box 5379
Plant City, FL 33563
(Please mark contributions “Bible Worker Fund” thank you!)
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. Hebrews 7:25 NLT
Charles Spurgeon was born to preach. Mother Teresa was born to care for the poor. Abraham Lincoln was born to break the bonds of slavery. Everyone was born for a reason. The verse above tells me Jesus was born with a purpose too. His eternal existence before birth also was not without purpose. It also tells us what His purpose for living and existing is. He does not live so He can be a tyrant and force people to worship Him. He does not live so He can hear angels sing His praises. He does not live so that He can sit on a throne in a golden castle in the sky. You can look as far back into eternity as eternity goes, and you can look as far into the future as eternity goes, and you will find that Jesus’ purpose for living is to be your eternal provider and Savior! “He lives forever to intercede with God on your behalf.” Not so much that He is trying to reconcile God to you as much as He works to reconcile you to God. God never ran from Adam. It was Adam who ran from God. Jesus never told the demoniacs He could not tolerate their presence. It was the demoniacs who could not tolerate His presence.
“It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.” – Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Pages 17-18.
Jesus’ passion is winning you back to God. Again, that is why He lives.
”So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT
In the moment of temptation we can go to our High Priest, and find the grace to overcome the temptation.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
However if for whatever reason we do not ask for the grace to overcome, Jesus has made a fool proof way to sustain us still. We can come to the throne and ask for mercy and forgiveness.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT
“How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour…. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks up to Him, grasps Him as the One who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father.
If you make failures and are betrayed into sin, do not feel then you cannot pray … but seek the Lord more earnestly.
The blood of Jesus is pleading with power and efficacy for those who are backslidden, for those who are rebellious, for those who sin against great light and love. Satan stands at our right hand to accuse us, and our Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for us. He has never lost a case that has been committed to Him.” –Ellen White, Our High Calling, Page 49
“We may plead for our pardon, justification, and our sanctification.” Before I fall, I can go to Jesus, and find grace so I don’t have to fall. His grace sanctifies me and frees me from the power of sin.
“ 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,while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14 NLT
Even though grace leaves me with no excuse to sin, Jesus still offers mercy and forgiveness!
“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalms 51:17
The question is not how long will God be willing to forgive me, but rather, will I ever ask for forgiveness? I can go to a home to give a Bible study, and knock on the door. As long as I can hear somebody inside making their way to the door, I will wait as long as it takes. However, if I realize I could wait forever and they will never open the door, then and only then do I walk away. It is the same with Jesus. Probation closes when the sanctuary is forced out of business, because it no longer has “customers” asking for mercy. Jesus has reconciled those who are willing, and sadly walks away from the heart’s door of those who will never accept His reconciling grace. The fact that they would never accept God’s grace is seen by the fact that no one repents during the last plagues and of course nobody repents at the end of the thousand years. The problem is not that they can’t but that they won’t. God did not send them to the point of no return. They reached that point by themselves.
When Jesus forgave the repentant thief, while hanging naked on the cross, he was sending out a message to men and to Satan. “You can take away my clothes and dignity. You can take away my crown and replace it with thorns. You can even take away my life, but you will never take away my power to forgive sin!” Imagine that! Jesus-King of the Universe let go of all of His divine rights, except for the right to forgive sin! Jesus would rather die than give up His right to be your sustain-er and Savior. Why? Because the only reason why He lives is so He can save you! His death was all about you. His life is all about you. He is in love with you!
As this week’s SS lesson focuses on the work of Jesus our High Priest on the day of atonement, let’s take just a moment and focus on what the people were to be doing on the day of atonement.
“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, thatyou may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. Leviticus 16:29-31 NKJV
Even though this is not a weekly Sabbath we are to put away our works. Now when you consider that we have been living in the literal day of atonement since 1844 it does not sound logical to do no work since 1844. So how do we apply the no working part to how we should be living in the literal day of atonement? I believe the answer is found in Galatians 5:19-21:
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.
Leviticus tells us to afflict our souls. What does that mean? Could it mean doing some heart searching and putting away our fleshly egos and lusts? This is where I think we need to be careful about something Paul warned us about a long time ago.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 NKJV
Hmmm….interesting….Paul says endure afflictions. Could it be that during the day of atonement, in the last days, when we should be afflicting our souls, looking for areas and rooms of our hearts that need to be surrendered to God, that Satan supplies us with false teachers with fables that make us feel so good about ourselves that we don’t feel the need to do any soul searching, much less afflict our souls or deny the lusts of our flesh and egos?
During the day of atonement, which we believe we have been in since 1844 we are to be afflicting our souls and putting away our works, so that the Holy Spirit can fill us with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is not our works but the works of God.
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
On page 623 God’s messenger describes the work of God’s people during the literal day of atonement, beginning in 1844. Does this sound similar to what God’s people were told to do during the symbolic day of atonement?
It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to him, to unite our weakness to his strength, our ignorance to his wisdom, our unworthiness to his merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs, in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls. –Ellen White, The Great Controversy, Page 623
Jesus will not force an entrance into our hearts. He will come into our hearts when we have taken a good look at our hearts and sense our need of a Savior. This means putting away the pride and works of the flesh and asking the Holy Spirit to replace our works with His fruit. While Jesus does not wish to harm the dignity of the individual, it is impossible for us to sense our need of Him, until through affliction, the ego has been crucified. This is how Leviticus 16:29-31 is fulfilled, when we afflict our souls and do no works of the flesh.
One Sabbath afternoon I received a phone call from the mother of a child I had corrected earlier at church, who had smarted off to me, when I told her to stay out of a room that was off-limits. The mother told me, “My daughter wants to tell you she is sorry, but before she gets on the phone, I wanted to ask you, when she says she is sorry, don’t tell her it is okay. Just tell her she is forgiven.”
“Wow!” I thought. This mother gets it! Forgiveness is not saying it is okay. So many are slow to forgive, because what happened to them was so wrong they can’t just sweep it under the rug. The deed deserves to be punished. What they don’t understand is that forgiveness is not sweeping it under the rug and saying it is okay. Then what is it saying?When I share the gospel presentation, I always share this passage from the Desire of Ages. It is so clear and simple, and to me, sums up the whole plan of salvation.
“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 25
Now I would like to take this passage to the next level – beyond the plan of my personal salvation. I understand that Jesus took the punishment for my sins so that I can now be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Now I need to understand, that the sins my enemy committed have not been swept under the rug. Jesus was also treated the way my enemy deserves to be treated, so that I may now treat my enemy the way Jesus deserves to be treated.
Jesus did not only suffer for my sins, He suffered also for sins committed against me. Why do I need to take it out on my enemy when it has already been taken out on Jesus?
They made fun of me and humiliated me!
Jesus was mocked and humiliated on the cross in their place.
They killed my son! They deserve to die!
Jesus died because they killed your son.
They sexually abused me! They deserve to be sexually abused!
Jesus hung naked on a cross in front of the whole universe, including His own angels!
Earlier this year I was reading through the Old Testament, and when I came to Isaiah 53 something jumped out at me, when I read:
Suddenly I realized something I had never seen before. I realized that retaliation against my enemy will never bring me healing. I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, and not the stripes of my enemy. Jesus suffering for my sins can only bring partial healing and partial reconciliation. I am made whole, and totally reconciled, not just to Jesus but to my brothers, when I realize Jesus suffered for their sins too.
In the story in Matthew 18:21-35 a man is forgiven who did not ask to be forgiven. He only asked for more time to pay the debt. However the master forgave the debt anyway. This is important for us to note, because the master represents God who forgave us without us even asking. In the Lord’s prayer we find we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, meaning that we are to forgive in the same manner. God expects us to forgive without being asked to forgive, just as the man was forgiven while only asking for more time to pay the debt.
After the man was forgiven, he goes out and sees a brother who owes him a much smaller debt. Even after being forgiven he refuses to forgive. In the parable the unforgiving man ends up in prison until his full debt is paid.
Wait a minute! Wasn’t his debt forgiven? Separated as far as the east is from the west and into the depths of the sea? How did it come back? I believe it’s this way: When I refuse to forgive my brother, what I am saying is, “I don’t think Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to pay for what was done to me.” Well guess what? If Jesus’ death is not enough to pay for my enemy’s sin, then it is not enough to pay for my sin either! By not allowing Jesus to pay for my enemy’s sin on the cross, I have just disqualified the cross as a payment for sin and therefore I must still pay for my sins – and the only way I can do that is to die an eternal death.
Forgiveness and reconciliation is not saying “It’s okay.” It is saying, “I realize Jesus suffered for your sins on the cross.” It is realizing I am healed by the stripes Jesus received and not by the stripes my enemy receives. We have to be pretty sick ourselves to think that in order for us to be healed, someone else has to be hurt. Jesus does not have to hurt my enemy in order to heal me.
“Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves.” Christ was also treated as my enemy deserves, that I may now treat my enemy the way Christ deserves to be treated.
One of my life long battles has been colas. Actually I can’t honestly say I have battled it my whole life, which may be part of the problem. I am not going to debate temperance vs. abstinence concerning colas, but let’s face it, they have 0% nutritional value, and if you drink too much you have the risk of cancer, diabetes and acid re-flux. So you can’t really say the nutritional value is worth all the health risks. Anyway, believe it or not, colas are not the point of what I am writing about today. The point is repentance is a gift of God.
God’s grace is not in response to my faith. God does not look down on me and say, “Well okay William believes, so I will give him my grace.” No, God shines His grace upon the good and the evil.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 NLT
My faith responds to God’s grace. The same sun that melts butter hardens clay. When God’s grace shines down on us it hardens some and chases them away, like Pharaoh for example. Other hearts are melted by God’s grace, leading them to believe and have faith.
While my faith is in response to the gift of God’s grace, likewise my turning away from sin and repenting is a gift as well.
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4 NLT
Our repentance or turning from sin does not lead to God’s kindness. His kindness leads us to repent and turn from sin.
A while back while I was trying to get off colas, I decided one was not going to hurt. Here is where Satan gets us, not just on colas but on several areas of our life. First, depending upon what it is, it might be debated as to whether or not one time is going to hurt. Problem is it’s usually never one time! I had been off colas at one point for ten weeks, when I was giving blood and they offered me a Pepsi. Sure one time won’t hurt It old myself. Well it wasn’t just one time. I was back to drinking them all the time. So be careful. Even if it’s true that one time won’t hurt does not guarantee you it will be just one time.
Here is what happened later though, and this is the whole point of what I wanted to share. I had cut way back again on colas. Thinking that one time would not hurt, I went to the store and bought myself a cherry coke. I took a couple sips and the sweetness was so sickening that I dumped it out and filled the cup with water instead! That, my friends, was a gift from God. God made the cola so sickening sweet to me that I would not want it. He gave me a craving for water instead.
Fact is you can develop a taste for water, and when you do it tastes very good! Problem is our tastes have become perverted. As a matter of fact we have actually had to pervert our taste buds in order to develop a craving for unhealthy drinks. Once our taste buds are no longer perverted and are re-created by God’s grace to their natural state, we crave pure water instead of sugar and syrup.
I am so thankful God’s goodness led to my repentance. When the sugary syrup made me sick after two sips, and I had to dump it out and refill my cup with pure water, it was all a gift from God.