Elia, Amalia, Yessiana, Antonio and Lilly’s Baptism Pictures and stories.

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When I first came to the Plant City SDA Church, Pastor James and Elder Jerry Hill, had a game night/Bible study group for the youth in our community, none of which were members of the church. We would have games and snacks followed up with a Bible study. Occasionally we would go go cart racing or to a restaurant in the area. I noticed with no design of Pastor James or myself, that the game time became shorter and the Bible study time longer. The youth had a lot of questions and we enjoyed helping them find the answers in their Bibles.

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I soon began a baptism class with the youth on Sabbath mornings, which transitioned into a New Believer’s class with Pastor James and myself as the co-teachers.

Adult Bible Study

While we had the youth Bible study groups going on Wednesday nights, the parents would invite me to their home to study with them. After a couple years, the parents started meeting at the church to study with me, while the kids studied with Pastor James, and our youth night became a family night. It was during these studies that Elia, the grandmother, and Amalia, the mother decided they both wanted to be baptized with their children and grandchildren.

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Lilly was the first to be baptized, so she could lead the way for her family. In our new believer’s Sabbath School class, Lilly asked if we might one day be put in prison for being faithful to God. I told her that was possible, but one way to make sure it never happens is to not be faithful to God. Lilly did not even consider that as a possible scenario. She could see herself in prison but she could never imagine being unfaithful to Jesus!

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Long before being baptized, Antonio has been one of our most faithful ushers, taking up the offerings every Sabbath in church. Anytime he sees anyone setting up tables or chairs, or doing any kind of work around the church during the week, he pitches in to help before anyone has a chance to ask him. Long before baptism, Antonio had a strong sense of belong to the Plant City SDA Church, and the church belonging to him. Antonio loves Jesus and His church!

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Yessiana was the first to express and interest in baptism, and has been a positive role model for her younger brother and sister, and for anyone wanting to know Jesus.  She is active in our Pathfinder club, especially when it comes to missions. She is earning her Bible marking badge in the Patfinders Bible marking class, and eagerly participates in all our community mission projects.

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Every time I visit the home of Elia’s son and daughter-in-law Jose and Adella, and she is there, she loves to open the Word of God and have a Bible study. When we began the adult Bible study on Wednesdays at the church, she was the first to join. She also loves helping out with pathfinders, and is always helping out with fellowship lunches making sure everyone gets enough to eat and has a good time. She is the Abuela of everybody’s dreams.

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Amalia loves to study God’s Word, and it was her idea for us to study the book of Revelation in our Wednesday Bible study. She wanted to follow the Bible exactly instead of tradition. When friends asked why she was making certain lifestyle changes, they asked if it had to do with the new church she was attending. She said, “No. It has to do with the Bible.” Amalia loves Jesus and wants to follow His example!

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At the end of our service today, Pastor James welcomed our new members into the church, and gave them plants for each family. Pastor James explained that as plants need to be watered in order to grow and stay alive, so our relationship needs continual care, like personal Bible study, prayer and church fellowship, in order to thrive.

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Don’t let the sun set on your life before giving yourself to the One who gave His life for you! If you are interested in baptism and following Jesus I would love to help you. I can be reached at Bibleworker@TampaAdventist.net

As always thank your for your much needed contributions to keep me sharing Jesus with others.

Sandra and Ben’s Baptism and Profession of Faith

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As summer ended, Sandra showed up with her son Ben, for my kids summer Bible study group. Sandra wanted Bible studies as well, so we continued studying during the fall. Today Sandra rejoined the Seventh-day Adventist Church at Tampa First, and Ben was baptized for the first time.

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This Sabbath Pastor Brad presented Sandra to the church family, as she came in on profession of faith.

Sandra writes,

“I can not thank God enough for everything He has done for me,  especially for accepting me as His child through Jesus. I got baptized at the age of 18, received the gift of singing on that day and I never regretted it for one second of my life. Today I am renewing my faith as it it was the very first time. I am seeking for that 1st love on the day that we met. Unfortunately due to life circumstances, I wasn’t able to attend church regularly, but I always felt guilty about it and prayed God for deliverance. All those years that I prayed asking, “Oh Lord, when am I going to observe Your Sabbath and take my sons to church as I should? Then this past July God answered my prayer and brought me to Tampa and directed me to Tampa First SDA Church, where I found many blessings. He blessed me with another career adjustment that allowed me to observe the Sabbath.”

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Ben writes,

I want to start a new life with God.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Ben, like his mother, studied the Storacles Bible study guides with me.  Ben is very interested in the sciences, as well as criminal justice. He is at the top of his class this year. When Ben we study together, Ben likes to tell me all he is learning in school, and asks me about ways he can serve God though various careers. Ben wants to put God first in all that he does.

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Don’t let the sun go down on your life, without finding Jesus as your personal Savior. If you are interested in learning more about Jesus I would love to study with you in a personal or group Bible study. You can contact me at BibleWorker@TampaAdventist.net

Thank you for your monthly contributions to my ministry so I can continue sharing Jesus with others!

Its Not About Me

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

Romans 9 is not about Jacob or Esau being predestined for salvation or not. It is about the role they were to play. Some of us are given “greater” roles than others, but we must remember, whatever role we are given, there is a greater picture beyond just us. When life becomes challenging, and things don’t go my way I like to claim Jeremiah 29:11 as a personal promise. I want to believe everything is going to work our for me personally. I read about how David faced challenges, but he always came out on top. But I have to admit, I also read some things in the story of David that disturb my “hope” that everything will work out for me personally. In 1 Samuel 22:18 85 innocent priests become co-lateral victims in the friction between Saul and David. in 2 Samuel 11, Uriah is killed for being loyal to his country! How does the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 apply for Uriah and the priests?

This may shatter the ego of a lot of western minds, but the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 was not given to an individual. It was given to a nation. The western mind loves to internalize the Bible, to the point that we actually believe it is all about us! We love to think that we are living in the last days, (which we are!) because that makes our role pivotal in the Great Controversy. After all, how could God win the Great Controversy without me? I have an important role to play in the church you see! With the game on the line and only seconds left in a basketball play off game, star player Scottie Pippin was outraged when his coach had him on the bench for the final play. There are “Scottie Pippins” in the church today, who cannot imagine God winning the Great Controversy while they just “sit on the bench” or rest in their graves.

Yes, Jesus is a personal Savior, and loves us individually, and would die just for you, but that does not make it all about you. Jesus died for the world. Believe it or not, as much as Jesus really and truly loves you, it still is not all about you, or me. In Exodus 32:32 Moses grasped who it was all about when he asked to have his name blotted from the book of life to save a nation. Had Moses been privy to Jeremiah 29:11 he would not have internalized it and made the promise all about himself. He would have realized the promise was given to a corporate nation. Esther may have very well been familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, when in Esther 4:16 she said, “If I perish I perish.” She was not applying Jeremiah 29:11 to herself. She was applying it to the entire Jewish nation it was given to. She was willing to perish to help fulfill the promise to save the nation.

Paul writes Romans in a corporate mindset, instead of the individualistic western mindset. In Romans 3:23-24 Paul writes how we all have sinned and all been justified. In Romans 5 he writes how we all sinned corporately in Adam, and were all saved corporately in Christ. In Romans 9:3 Paul is looking at the big corporate picture when he writes, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.” While pointing out that Jacob and Esau had different roles to play, Paul was willing to be totally written out of the play for the greater good of the nation.

I believe the 85 priests and Uriah, will be in heaven. I believe Esther and Paul will be there too, and obviously Moses already is. After all didn’t Jesus say,

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:39 NKJV

Yes God loves us individually. I am just asking those of us with a western mind to think outside ourselves if we are not already. After a mission trip, my flight home was cancelled. I ended up spending the night, sleeping on the floor in a foreign airport. I asked God why I had to sleep on the floor instead of my nice comfy bed. God asked me, “What makes you think you ever deserved a bed in the first place? People a lot more deserving than you have been sleeping on the floor for years, and you are complaining about one night? Who do you think you are?”

Dear Jesus, I know you love me just as much when I am sleeping on the floor as when I am sleeping in my bed. I know you loved the 85 priests and Uriah as much as you loved David. Forgive me for the times I thought it was all about me, and help me to see the big picture, like Moses, Esther and Paul all saw the big picture. Instead of working for personal prosperity, help me to work for the prosperity of your church.

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

Michelle’s Profession of Faith

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About a year and a half ago, I met Maretta at the evangelistic meetings we were having at the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church. We studied together for a while before she rejoined the Adventist church on profession of faith. Maretta has since been sharing Jesus with her friends and family. Maretta and I began a Bible study group with Maretta’s daughter Kay, and longtime friend Michelle. We enjoyed studying together on Wednesday evenings before prayer meeting. Kay, recently moved up north and is finding an Adventist Church family in her new home. Michelle joined the Adventist church for the first time here in Plant City!

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Michelle was very happy to join the Adventist church this morning! She has been sharing Jesus with her family, even introducing them to the Discover Bible Study Guides she has been doing as well from the Plant City SDA Church. Maretta introduced Michelle to Jesus, who is now introducing her friends to Jesus, just like Andrew.

Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ” John 1:41 NLT

Please pray for Maretta and Michelle, that they both will continue being blessed with more and more opportunities to share Jesus with others!

“Send us Infinity People!”

St.Pete With Curtis

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 NKJV

One night I was lamenting to God, about all the apostasy, and outright rebellion going on even in Christian cultures. As I was “interceding” for the “fallen” I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on the heart, and ask,

What if I told you some of the people you are praying for are actually better Christians than you?

Often, we are concerned about others when we should be more concerned about ourselves. Fact is, we have all sinned. Fact is, there is hope for all of us!

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 NKJV

How many are made righteous? The many who were made sinners was a staggering amount, so since the same word is used for those who are made righteous, I figure that must be a staggering amount too. I just checked my concordance, and found that both times the word “many” is used in Romans 5:19, it is the word “polus.” Definitions for “polus” include, large, abundance, plenty, and even “most.”

When we see evil all around it is easy to get discouraged. We read,

you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…Revelation 3:17 NKJV

We lament the sins going on in our Christian circles, and think there is no hope. We doubt God will even be able to save 144,000 since in Noah’s day God only saved 8. Be careful! We often project our faults onto others. See Romans 2:1. If I think the church is dead, there is a good chance I am dead.

After reading the sobering message in Revelation 3, I need to heed the warning myself. I need to open my heart to Jesus. I need to realize that amid all the dire things Jesus has to say about me, He still plans on me overcoming!

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21 NKJV

Notice the contrast brought about by God’s grace. The one church that Jesus had absolutely nothing good to say about, is the one church that Jesus expects to not just overcome, but to overcome as I overcame!

While we wonder how many will be saved, while we wonder if the number will be closer to 8 than it is to 144,000 John sweeps our skepticism and criticism away with a staggering number who overcome!

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, Revelation 7:9 NKJV

 

“Which no one could number?” “Of all nations?” Is John telling me there will be more people saved from the most hopeless situations than I can even count? Why yes, yes he is! When things look hopeless and we think a sinner is out of reach of God’s grace, remember,

Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. –Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, Page 71 

My Wednesday prayer meeting group was praying for some upcoming evangelism meetings. People were praying for God to send us several people or even a lot of people, but then a 9 year old girl prayed, “Send us infinity people!” We all chuckled inside. Doesn’t she know that’s impossible? Doesn’t she know that will never happen, especially when you look at the shape our world is in? Well, turns out she knew what she was praying about after all. One day this little girl and Jesus will be walking together hand in hand, and He will thank her for praying a prayer that made His dream come true: “A great multitude which no one could number.”

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Sharing Jesus Door to Door

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Jesus knows us individually, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us all by name. He knows the very house in which we live, the name of each occupant. He has at times given directions to His servants to go to a certain street in a certain city, to such a house, to find one of His sheep. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 479. 

On a summer evening in 2008, Wes knocked on the door of a home in Tampa Florida, and offered Larry, the man who opened the door free Bible studies. Larry accepted the studies and before the summer was over, Larry and his wife Janice were baptized members of the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church. A church they did not even know existed, before Wes knocked on their door. Today Larry is a very active deacon in the church. Janice shares inspirational literature with people she finds everywhere she goes. More than this, I have had the privilege of studying with and baptizing two more members of their family, and studying with some of their uncles, cousins and nephews. By knocking on Larry’s door, Wes not only brought love and hope to Larry’s heart, but also to the hearts of his family.

While there are many ways of reaching people these days, especially with social media, it appears God continues reaching people through door to door evangelism.

So how does one reach people through door to door evangelism? When I was 15 I went knocking on doors in my neighborhood, just flat out asking people if they wanted Bible studies. A couple of people said “yes” and one family visited my church with me one Sabbath.

Of course there are different ways to reach people door to door, and Bible studies and baptism don’t necessarily need to be the goal of each visit. The goal is to meet the needs of the people. Many churches have what they call a community needs survey. Ministries offered varies from church to church, but you can click on the link to get an idea. The purpose is to find ways to minister to the community. Sometimes one of the offers will be Bible studies as swell as other ministries such as health, cooking, divorce care, grief recovery and so forth. What I like to do instead of offering Bible studies on the survey is to offer them at the end of the survey as a free gift for taking the time to do the survey. These are the most popular door to door surveys these days.

Wes used a community religious survey when he knocked on Larry’s door. These can generate some very interesting discussions, and the answers people give to the surveys will help you know how to reach them during your course of study.

The Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists have a page full of sample surveys which I have found to be very handy.

When going door to door, remember to always be polite even when the people you visit are not. A Christlike life will win people over winning and argument. Also be encouraged that if they are not interested, that you are only one of many opportunities God will send their way. Also Jesus said, in Matthew 24:14 that the Gospel will go into all the world before He comes, and so every decision people make, whether “yes” or “no” is one decision closer to Jesus coming. Of course we want everyone to be ready!

Remember, God may be sending you to a certain house to find one of His lost sheep, or possibly many of them!