The First Resolution of the New Year

I read an article entitled “Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Follow Through on Them)” by Brad Zomick in which he identified the most common New Year’s Resolutions and then laid out practical things that you can do to help you keep those resolutions. You can click on the title of the article or the link below to read for yourself his recommendations. He is very thorough and very realistic in laying out a plan of action to attain any resolution or any goal for that matter. Check it out and see for yourself.

However, I would like to propose a foundation on which to build a successful New Year no matter what New Year’s Resolutions you feel the need to set forth. It’s found in the Bible in Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” When Jesus was asked what He believed to be the greatest commandment He responded, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) So, there it is – love God and love others. In the Old Testament and the New Testament this must be where it all begins.

Easier said than done? Yes! If you need help you can always go the plan given by Zimick in the article referenced above. After reading it I realized that anything you want to do to draw closer to God you can do following his steps. However, I would like to recommend the following steps for building the foundation you need to begin a year of loving God and loving others.

1. Set aside a time and place each day to spend time alone with God.

During that time, read the bible. (YouVersion – bible.com has some excellent reading plans if you want a systematic approach to reading the Bible.)

During that time, pray. Pray for yourself, your family, your friends and associates, and items of concern; and always pray for people you don’t get along with – people who rub you the wrong way – people who don’t like you.

2. Set aside a time and place weekly to spend time with fellow believers.

An obvious opportunity for this exists in Bible study and worship at a local church.

To supplement worship and Bible study attendance find a friend or neighbor that you can spend time with on a weekly basis to discuss life and pray together.


These two steps are NOT the fulfillment of the Christian life, but just a start. From there God will open opportunities to deepen your faith as well as opportunities to minister in His name. More importantly, as you do these things you will begin to gain the perspective to see which New Year’s Resolutions are worthy of your time and effort – those that will enable you to better advance the Kingdom of Christ.

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34) Jesus said these things in the Sermon on the Mount. He was referring to the things people worry about – the things we need to physically exist in this world. However, He could just as well have said in verse 31, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?” or ‘What shall we do to improve ourselves in thee coming year?’” If we seek God first – His Kingdom and His righteousness – all these things will fall in line.

Happy New Year and Godspeed into the Future.

https://www.goskills.com/Soft-Skills/Resources/Top-10-new-years-resolutions

Naughty or Nice?

It hangs over us all year long, but the magnitude of “The List” grows as Christmas Day approaches. And so it has been for our entire lives. We joke about it as adults, but the meaning behind it remains firmly entrenched in our moral code – a moral code that seems to tap dance its way through and around the very Word of God. While the Bible is full of instances where justice reigned down on those who did evil in the sight of God (i.e. Sodom and Gomorrah, Ananias and Sapphira) and while the Bible admonishes us to choose good over evil, it seems that without careful thought we can step into a belief system where we determine our destiny by our own actions and, in so doing, ignore the way God loves those who are naughty AND nice.

In something of a playful way, we use the naughty and nice concept to control the behavior of children. In a much more serious sense, we use the naughty and nice concept to control our own behaviors and the behaviors of those in our society. Unfortunately, most religions rely heavily on the concept of naughty and nice to sustain their moral code – a practice that is ultimately futile since all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. No one can measure up but the belief system (religion) continues with the never-ending pursuit of perfection. If you will just do enough “do’s” and avoid enough “don’ts” then you will end up on the nice list and go to Heaven, but if you fail to do the do’s and you are very adept at doing the don’ts then it’s the naughty list for you and a one-way, expense paid trip to Hell. That’s the way religion works – always has and always will because we as humans want to control our own destiny and most religions provide just such a tool for us to do that. It’s a win-win. We get to control our lives and religion profits by helping us do it.

However, God laid out a different plan through His Son, Jesus. God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, Jesus, so that all who believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) For it is by grace we are saved and not because we are on the nice list. Otherwise, we would tend to boast about being on the nice list instead of rejoicing that we know the One Who put us there in the first place. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Naughty or Nice? God declares us righteous through the blood of Jesus. (Romans 5:9) God declares that we are on the Nice List because of Him. And not only that – He takes the list of the bad things we have done and drops them into the Sea of Forgetfulness and remembers them no more. (Micah 7:19) Again, it’s not because of what we have done or haven’t done, but it’s solely because of Who He Is.

I enjoy the fun of Santa and I don’t have a problem with teasing folks about the naughty or nice list. However, if you’re talking naughty or nice – you’re naughty. God said so and your actions back Him up. But because of Jesus you can be on the Nice List. How sweet is that? Sweeter than any Christmas candy or any sugar plum you can imagine.

The difference between Hell and Heaven is not Naughty or Nice. The difference between Hell and Heaven is a Savior – Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

One Solitary Life

I developed this version of the essay “One Solitary Life” by Dr James Allan Francis by using his words and other phrases that I have heard and used in stating the significance of Jesus Christ. It is a powerful statement that is true in its content and will strike true in the heart of anyone who considers it with an open mind and searching soul. In this video I added a visual hint of the nativity to help us focus our attention on the true meaning of Christmas.

For other From the Back Porch resources you can go to:

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org
Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast
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Or email me at:
fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Beauty from Ashes

https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/kentucky/article256586146.html?utm_source=join1440&utm_medium=email&utm_placement=newsletter

I read this article and listened to this man play “Something About That Name’ and immediately thought of Isaiah 61:1-4. This message was given to the people of Israel but it is a Messianic prophecy that Jesus used as His first “sermon” so the proclamation is the same for all believers. Thank you, Jordan Baize, for reminding us of this truth.

1“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,Because the Lord has anointed MeTo preach good tidings to the poor;He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,To proclaim liberty to the captives,And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,And the day of vengeance of our God;To comfort all who mourn,

3To console those who mourn in Zion,To give them beauty for ashes,The oil of joy for mourning,The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;That they may be called trees of righteousness,The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

4And they shall rebuild the old ruins,They shall raise up the former desolations,And they shall repair the ruined cities,The desolations of many generations.”

What Does “Noel” Mean? And Other Christmas Queries

What Does “Noel” Mean? And Other Christmas Queries

Was Jesus born on December 25? Did Mary ride a donkey to Bethlehem? Were there 3 kings who visited the baby Jesus and did they ride camels? What does “Noel” mean? What does “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” mean? What is the difference between Immanuel and Emmanuel? Were Mary and Joseph married when they went to Bethlehem? Did Mary give birth to Jesus in a barn or stable or a cave or none of the above? All of these questions and many others were answered in this Agape Life Bible Study. Some of the answers might surprise you.

When we consider the facts surrounding the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, it is important to remember the facts about the birth and life of Jesus that are truly important – that in the fullness of time, Jesus was born of a virgin and that He lived a perfect life so that He could be offered up on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sin and that 3 days later He rose from the grave – victorious over death – and is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf and waiting for the day when He will return once again in power and in glory.

In short – Jesus was born to die so that we might be born again to live. Hallelujah!

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, December 12, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org
Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast
Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Assisted Suicide Pod Approved for Use in Switzerland

This concept was troubling to me simply based on the headline. However, when I read that Philip Nitschke is the founder of Exit International, I had an immediate shift of thought to the nihilist Friedrich Nietzsche (different spelling – no relation) who often repeated and discussed his belief that God is dead and that absolute truth and morality itself are no longer valid. More and more we are headed down the path of meaninglessness that Nietzsche embraced. While I understand the human sentimentality of both euthanasia and assisted suicide, I cannot applaud the callousness with which we view the sanctity of God-given life.

Assisted Suicide Pod Approved for Use in Switzerland

https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/584513-assisted-suicide-pod-approved-in-switzerland?utm_source=join1440&utm_medium=email&utm_placement=newsletter

The Curse of Death

Death. Not a subject we like to dwell on and yet, it is something that hangs over us for all of our living days. People from the beginning of time have tried to dodge death and cheat death, but no one has been able to avoid death. It’s as much a part of life as is birth. Jesus knew this and He wanted to give the people an object lesson that demonstrated that He had authority over death and that their greatest concern in life – their own death – was something He could provide answers for and even THE answer for.

The resurrection of Lazarus, as we see in John 11, was a precursor to the resurrection of Jesus which would happen a short time later. It was the object lesson that settled the question of whether or not Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life and whether or not eternal life is found anywhere else other that in the Savior, Jesus Christ. (John 11:25-26)

The Resurrection Power of God is more than our feeble minds can comprehend and, as wonderful as it is, we have become lackadaisical – lacking life or spirit – in our walk with the Lord. Because we have been given eternal life in Christ, we must glorify God always, even in sickness and in death, trusting in His power to raise us from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:55) And because we posses the very power that raised Lazarus and Jesus from the dead, we must walk in victory in every area of our lives. (John 14:12-14) We are told that we use only a small percentage of our brain’s capability, but I am of the belief that we use even a smaller percentage of our faith given the enormous storehouse of power available to us through God’s Spirit within us. May God open our eyes to see what He would have us do with such power and may He give us boldness to do those things in His strength and for His glory.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 28, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Inconvenient Truths

During this time of Thanksgiving let us above all else be grateful for a path of restoration between sinful humanity and the Holy God – through Jesus. There is only one way, but HALLELUJAH – there is a way! In our study of the 6th Chapter of John we find Jesus referring to Himself as the Bread of Life. He goes on to assert that the eating of this bread is necessary for salvation as is the drinking of his blood. It wasn’t the most pleasant of images and actually caused many to turn away from Him. However, the inconvenient truths were truths nonetheless and continue to be so today.

While the culture today worships inclusiveness as the ultimate test of morality, the words of Jesus Himself testify to the exclusivity of Christ as Savior:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. – John 14:6

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:16-18

“The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:35-36

Peter and Paul reinforced Jesus’ claim of being the only way to eternal life.

This is the “stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.” Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. – Peter in Acts 4:11-12

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5

Jesus Is the Only Way!

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com


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