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.

Abraham’s Promises are Your Promises

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

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

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

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

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

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

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:29 NLT

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

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

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

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

History Doesn’t Have to Repeat itself

 

Have you ever been haunted by your past?

Over a decade ago I was preaching during the first worship service and I guess I was all wound up in what I was preaching, because an elder motioned to me that it was time for Sabbath School. I had a real passion for what I was preaching at the moment and basically chastised the elder for telling me to stop. It came across kind of … no it definitely came across as high and mighty and condescending to the elder. The elder quickly ducked out of view of the congregation. I soon realized I did not react appropriately and even made a fool of myself. After church I told the elder I was sorry. He graciously accepted my apology and for the remainder of our time together in that congregation he acted like it never happened. But I had trouble shaking it. Four or five years later, he and I were talking in the hallway, and of course he was acting totally natural, while I was still cringing inside over what I did years ago. As we were talking, the obvious finally dawned on me. He does not even remember what I am cringing about! I am the only one who remembers it! He forgot about it years ago after he forgave me. Why am I holding on to this?  I had to forgive myself then and there, and now I no longer feel awkward when I see him, and, of course, I have never repeated the incident.

It appears in the days of Nehemiah Israel was still haunted by its past, going back to the days of Moses.

But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them,  even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, ‘This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!’ They committed terrible blasphemies. Nehemiah 9:17-18 NLT

This came during their time of confession. They are claiming God’s forgiveness but still going over things that happened long ago. The good news is, history does not have to repeat itself. Paul was haunted by his previous actions towards Christians, but he still was able to move on.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

Paul was able to get over his past by not continually thinking about it, but also by being sure not to let his history repeat itself. He pressed on to what was ahead instead of repeating what was behind him. When a runner trips over a hurdle she can’t waste time wallowing in self pity. There is no time to lose. She must get back up and run! But she also must make sure she does not trip over any more hurdles. There is no time for self-pity or for tripping over more hurdles.

David made some big mistakes, but we don’t see him making the same mistakes over and over. I think his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 offers us some clues as to how he moved forward instead of letting history repeat itself.

For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

So David was haunted by his rebellion just like Israel, and just like I was. Often times we try to ignore negative feelings and emotions but they have their place. Those negative feelings are symptoms telling us a problem needs to be fixed. If we only treat the symptoms then the problem remains and still needs to be fixed.

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. Psalms‬ ‭51:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

David recognized that He hurt God. He is not sorry that he hurt himself. He is sorry he hurt God and others.

Forgive me for shedding blood…Psalms 51:14 NLT

David’s confession is specific, just like Israel’s in Nehemiah 9.

At the Christian school where I occasionally substitute teach, one of the classrooms uses what is called a fix-it ticket. When students do something inappropriate,  students writes down on a piece of paper exactly what they did wrong, and how they are going to fix that form of behavior. They sign the paper themselves, and then the teacher signs it and the student takes it home for the parents to sign. In Psalms 51 David appears to be writing a fix-it ticket. He is writing specifically about what he did wrong and also how the problem is going to be fixed. A while back I had an attitude that I knew was not right. I wrote a letter to God telling him specifically why I was wrong and asked for Him to help me in specific ways not to have that attitude any more. I have never had that attitude since.. I believe that actually writing things out, not typing but actually hand writing things out can be very therapeutic. If nothing else it shows God and ourselves that our repentance is earnest, rather than just giving a flippant “Please forgive me. I’m sorry.”

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:1, 7, 10, 12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We don’t see David repeating his history over and over because his repentance and confession were very specific and very deep. David realized and openly confessed his own weaknesses and how he was prone to sin.

For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. Psalms 51:5 NLT

Therefore instead of being self-confident David put his confidence in God’s powerful love and promises. We too can keep our sinful history from continually repeating itself by making our repentance deep and heartfelt, and by having no confidence in our flesh or human effort (Philippians 3:3), but rather put our hope and faith in God’s powerful love and promises.

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

And the Devotional Book I Recommend for 2020 is…..

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

… 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 2020 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.

The other day 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.

In Ezra’s day there was a reformation and revival as the people turned back to the reading of the Word. I think our church today is in desperate need of a revival and reformation  inspired by the reading of the Word.

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

We are all Fallible

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In my ministry I have met people who claim the Adventist church is Babylon. I have also met people who think the Adventist church is infallible. Both ideas are wrong. The Adventist church is not Babylon, but it is not infallible either. Just because the Adventist  church is not Babylon does not mean it does not make mistakes. Remember at the cross it was not Babylon crying out “Crucify Him!” It was God’s chosen remnant people. The commander of the Lord’s army realized the fallibility of God’s chosen people when He met Joshua one day.

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” Joshua 5:13-14 NLT

“Neither one?” Seems like the Commander was taking a neutral stance on the situation. We can’t assume just because we are God’s chosen people that He is always on our side. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes our foes do the right thing. God loves everyone in the world, not just us. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who is credited with saying, “The question is not if God is on my side but rather if I’m on His.”

Throughout history God had to punish His own people. Today when people tell me how “corrupt” the church has become, I ask them, when was the church ever perfect? When harlots got their business at the temple doors during Eli’s day? When God had to let Babylon destroy His holy nation because of their habitual apostasy and idolatry?  When people tell me the Adventist church has strayed too far from what it used to be, and we need to go back to how it was in the days of Ellen White, I ask them, “You mean when God had to destroy the Adventist publishing house with fire because they would not follow inspired counsel?”

In Ezra’s day it was no different.

When these things had been done, the Jewish leaders came to me and said, “Many of the people of Israel, and even some of the priests and Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the other peoples living in the land. They have taken up the detestable practices of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. For the men of Israel have married women from these people and have taken them as wives for their sons. So the holy race has become polluted by these mixed marriages. Worse yet, the leaders and officials have led the way in this outrage.” Ezra 9:1-2 NLT

When the leaders and the majority of those in the church fall away from the truth no one detects it as apostasy because the apostasy becomes mainstream. Therefore apostasy looks normal. The only way to detect apostasy is to stop looking at the leaders and the majority, and look at the Word of God.

Years ago I attended a health seminar, where a doctor told us that many  Americans are obese and are close to having a heart attack. They don’t understand how unhealthy they are because they are no more obese than everyone around them, not realizing everyone around them is also on the verge of a heart attack. Just because obesity is mainstream in American culture does not make it healthy or any less deadly. It is the same with sin in the church.

In Ezra’s day there was a reformation as they stopped looking at those around them as role models and began comparing themselves to the Word of God. So today, we can have a reformation like never before as we compare ourselves to God’s Word instead of each other. In Daniel 9 Daniel confesses that his people have corporately sinned, and included himself as part of the sin problem. Nehemiah as well as Ezra brought about a great reformation, but even Nehemiah saw himself as part of the sin problem  when he prayed,

Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! Nehemiah 1:6 NLT

While praying for reformation in the church we must confess our individual sins as well as the sins of the church. We can’t divide the church into camps and then say God is on my camp’s side, because God is not choosing sides today anymore than He was in Joshua’s day.  Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we are wrong. That goes for all of us. We are all fallible. We all make mistakes. That is why Jesus never told us to follow Christian leaders. He told us to follow Him. For true reformation we must recognize our own guilt and apostasy. We must not set ourselves or anyone else up as an example to follow. We must follow Jesus and His Word alone.

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

Christ is my Anchor

Tampa Hillsborough Bay

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:2 NLT

In Lysa Terkeurst’s book, Uninvited,  She tells the story about finding refuge in a ravine near her childhood home. Her father, who was mean, made her feel unsafe at home, so she brought her favorite toys to the ravine and made herself a home there. The ravine was low-lying, where she could spy on the rest of the neighborhood while feeling safe and protected in her hiding place. She spent as much time as she could there to hide from her father at home. She said the ravine became her anchor of safety in an unsafe world. Yes, as an adult you saw this coming. Sure enough a rain storm came and her “anchor” and everything in it was washed away. She was heart broken. Her anchor turned out to be no anchor at all.

We have all had “anchors” that have been washed away. I bought a used car several years ago, and as I was getting ready to drive it off the lot I told the salesman, “Wait, I did not even check the trunk to see if there is a spare tire.” The salesman laughed and told me, “Of course it has a spare tire.” I took his word for it and drove off. It was not two weeks later that I was driving down the expressway and had a flat. As I pulled over to the shoulder, I patted myself on the back for making sure there was a spare tire. I opened the trunk, and, to my dismay, there was no tire! The salesman let me down. I put my hope in him, and he was wrong. I am not going to say he lied, because maybe he really thought it was in there. But even though the salesman let me down, God did not! At the exact time I discovered I had no spare, a co-worker recognized me and pulled over right behind my car. He loaned me his spare until I could get to the car dealership to get one and give the salesman a polite earful. I learned an important lesson. Even when people let me down, God still has my back, People are not my anchor. God is my anchor.

Many think the church is their anchor, only to be disappointed when the church lets them down and their hopes are swept away. Here is where we are  wrong with thinking the church is our anchor: Nowhere in the Bible does it say the church is an anchor. Christ is our anchor. When I was seven years old, I was lying in bed one night thinking about the cross and the love Jesus has for me. I decided to give my heart to Jesus and get baptized. When I gave my life to Jesus, I made Him alone responsible for all my needs. I obey my superiors in the church as long as it doesn’t conflict with the Bible or my conscience. God is my ultimate boss. Since God is my ultimate boss I also hold Him personally responsible for my pay. If the church doesn’t pay me, or no one contributes to my Bible Worker Fund, I have no one to blame but God. Paul says,

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people Colossians 3:23 NLT

Since I work as though I were working for the Lord and not for people, it is the Lord and not the people or the church that I hold accountable for my salary or benefits. That is not to say that God does not use the church to meet my needs. He does. But I do not trust or hold the church accountable. I trust Christ alone and I hold Christ accountable for all my needs. The church is not my anchor. The church needs an anchor. Christ is the anchor.

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