Do You Believe In Jesus? Prove It!

Do You Believe in Jesus? Prove It!

The Book of James is a straight-forward, practical guide for Christian living. In the 2nd chapter the focus is on what constitutes real faith – authentic belief in God – true discipleship. In our current culture, God has been reduced to a situationally moral, kind-hearted being who exists only to make our lives comfortable and happy. We owe no true allegiance or devotion to our god, but we do expect him to show up and help us when we get in trouble. Faith consists of simply believing that he exists and it requires no devotion to him or anything he says.

God, through James, points out that true faith comes when we accept Christ, but that it doesn’t end there. Our faith is borne out in what we do in obedience to the Father. Faith without action is no faith at all – it is dead, empty, and useless. The things we do – the actions we take in the name of Christ – are the proof that we truly follow Christ and have truly accepted Him as Lord and Savior.

We like to point to scriptures like Ephesians 2:8-9 as proof that there are no strings attached to our salvation. (“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” – Eph 2:8-9 NKJV) And, while it is true, that salvation is a gift which we cannot earn by our own acts of kindness and goodness, our salvation is not the end of the story just as it is not the end of the totality of that passage of scripture. Verse 10 is the continuation of discussion of faith and good works.

An expanded rendering of Ephesians 2:8-10 might read as follows:

God saved us by his grace when we believed in Jesus and accepted Him as Savior and Lord. We can’t take credit for it –it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so we can’t brag about it. However, we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us as a brand new person in Christ Jesus – with a brand new design and brand new purpose and brand new way of thinking – so that we can and must do the good things He planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10 BYT)

Do you believe in Jesus? Prove it by the way you live your life in loving obedience to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Next week we will ask the same question – Do You Believe In Jesus? – but we will follow it with the imperative to Proclaim It!

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, May 15, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 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

The Amazing Grace of the Righteous God

God is righteous. He is perfect in every way and His justice is perfect. He does not need to submit to the laws of man, because He alone is the law-giver.

People are sinful – unrighteous. While God is the perfect law-giver, humans are the imperfect law-breakers. Every one has sinned and fallen short of the perfection of the perfect law-givver.

Just as in physics, no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time, neither can righteousness and unrighteousness occupy the same space. Therefore we, the imperfect, are separated from the perfect God.

God loves us. Even in our deplorable condition as sinful law-breakers God loved us and offered us a way to return to Him – to live with Him and occupy the same space as Him for all eternity.

As a just judge, He had no choice to pronounce judgment on the sinful actions of humans. However, Jesus lived a sinless life and offered Himself up in our place to take our judgment. The precious gift of salvation was purchased with the blood of Christ Himself on our behalf.

The righteous God pronounced judgment on sinful man and gave him the death penalty.

The penalty of death was paid by Jesus on the Cross.

The gift of salvation from God’s wrath and the penalty of sin is offered to all.

And now the gift must be accepted by trusting the One Who paid the price and offers the gift.

May we accept the gift and lead others to know the truth of this gift, so that they, too, may be saved by God’s Amazing Grace.

Next week we will look at the beginning of the book of James to see the proof in pudding.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, May 8, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 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

“Those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;

And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State .

Fast and Pray for America!

Tomorrow. the first Thursday of May, is the National Day of Prayer.

In 1952, Congress passed a bill stating that every president would proclaim a Day of National Prayer on a date of his/her choosing. The first Thursday of May was set as the National Day of Prayer in 1988, but days of fasting, humiliation, and prayer have been practiced since before our nation’s founding. John Adams, on March 23, 1798, issued the following proclamation.

“As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed. . .

I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer.”

Fast and Pray for America!

Pray!

Politicians can talk freely of what they will do to rebuild America — grand plans and designs, budget reforms and tax reforms, imports and exports, peace at home and peace abroad, safety and security. “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a  certain town and will stay there a year.   We will do  business there and make a profit.’   How do you know what your life will be like  tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a  little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are  boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

Now is the time to trust God instead of the plans of those who do nothing but boast of what they will do.

Trusting Christ in Life and Death

Christ is trustworthy in every aspect of life. He gives us power to live and grace to die when the time comes. No where in scripture is this more evident than in the life of Stephen, one of the first seven deacons in the early church. It was said of Stephen that he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 6:8 offers this description of Stephen: “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.” This was a man who knew how to live.

He lived his life boldly in the power of the Spirit who filled him. And he spoke boldly, even in the face of extreme opposition. The evidence of the filling of the Spirit in the members of the early was that they “spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31) When Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, spoke things happened – big things – explosive things – violent things – deadly things. He was stoned to death for his words spoken in the fullness and power of the Spirit.

And that’s when Stephen showed us how to die. In that moment when the storm was raging all around him, he looked up and saw heaven and Jesus ready to receive him. His death just a few moments later was met with peace and the calm assurance that he was releasing his very spirit into the hands of his Master, His Lord, His Savior.

Stephen knew that Jesus could be trusted in life and in death and lived his life boldly as the Spirit filled him and led him. And that same indwelling Holy Spirit gave him grace to die boldly. We are in a life and death situation every day. May we experience the same boldness in living and dying as we go forth “full of faith and the Holy Spirit.”

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, May 1, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 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

Giving Is the Living of the Christian Life

Giving is the living of the Christian Life. When thee church was in its infancy there were many unusual events that helped establish the church and outline the role it would play in the lives of the believers and the world at large. In Acts 4 & 5 we find one of those times when things were happening that would lay the groundwork for the church for centuries to come.

The church’s financial position was sound because the members of the church were of one mind and one body. (4:32) They claimed no ownership of their possessions and shared willingly with those in need. They even sold houses and land and gave the proceeds to the apostles to distribute as situaltions arose requiting such funds. No one was lacking – all had all they needed to live.

(Note: It was not a communistic society, for no one was compelled to surrender their possessions to those in authority. The generous actions on the part of church members was totally voluntary.)

One such generous church member was Joseph – nicknamed Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement. He sold a piece of property and brought the money and gave it to the apostles in an act of worship. His gift was certainly an encouragement to the early church.

Another man, Ananias, also sold a piece of property after which he and his wife Sapphira kept some of the proceeds from the sale for themselves and gave the balance to the apostles. The Holy Spirit was grieved by this action but not because they kept some of the money. They had lied saying that they were giving all of the proceeds from the sale to the church. Peter (no doubt enlightened by the Holy Spirit) called their hand on the matter and each, in separate incidents, died as a result of their deception.

Giving is at the heart of Christianity. “For God so loved the world that He gave. . .” And while this foundational truth is real, so is the truth that truth is foundational to the living of the Christian Life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He also said that the Father seeks those who would worship Him in spirit and in truth. And don’t get me started on passages like 1 Timothy 1:9-10 where liars are included in a list of sinners and reprobates. Lying is a big deal to God. After all, it is one of the Big 10!

So, in this one passage we have the high standard of giving and sharing juxtaposed with the low standard of deception and greed. And the lesson is obvious. Giving is the living of the Christian Life while lying is the living of the life honored and adored by the Father of Lies – Satan himself.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, April 24, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 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