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

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


Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast
Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Kingdom Parables

In this session we look at how Jesus taught by using parables – simple stories that gave insight into spiritual truths. In Matthew 13, there are 8 parables that all relate to the Kingdom of God. Through four of those parables we can learn three valuable lessons concerning the Kingdom of God and our responsibility as citizens of the Kingdom.

First, we must faithfully and consistently sow the seed of the Kingdom and proclaim the message of salvation in Christ to all, knowing that when the gospel takes root in good ground, it produces bountiful fruit.

Secondly, we must sow the seed of the Gospel of Christ in our culture and throughout the world so that the Kingdom can take root in all corners of the earth.

Finally, we must realize the true worth of the Gospel, which we hold in our hearts, and not conceal it. Rather we must sow the seed of salvation so that all who receive it can know its riches as we do and know the joy and fullness of Kingdom living.

Too often we choose to live in the muck and and mire of life thinking that’s all there is this world. However, when we realize that we are only passing through this world as aliens from another Kingdom – the Kingdom of God – we will take on a whole new attitude about our roll in this foreign land. What is our roll? We are Ambassadors for Christ and His Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20) and these parables outline our responsibilities as such. Praise be to God Who has entrusted us with such incredible truth and such a solemn duty.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 7, 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

The Transfiguration of Jesus

One of the most, if not the most, neglected and underrated events in the life of Jesus is the transfiguration. Before the beginning of time itself, the Glory of God was. From the beginning of time till now, the Glory of God is. From the end of time throughout all eternity the Glory of God will be. He is the Great I AM!

But as Jesus walked on the earth (as the Glory of God shone in the heavenly realms) the transfiguration is the first time we see the Glory of God at its source – Jesus Himself. We had seen the power of God in the miracles. We had heard the wisdom of God in the parables and teachings. Indeed, Jesus was Emmanuel, God with us. But this is the first time we had seen the Glory of God in God Himself, Jesus Christ.

Jesus, Moses, and Elijah discussed the impending crucifixion and the debt that had to be paid. The One who was light itself had to take on the darkness of man’s sin. And then He placed His light in us. Unbelievable, but true. And we must respond.

  1. We must see the Glory of God, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
  2. We must seek first the Kingdom and Glory of God and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)
  3. We must urgently join with John the Baptist and Jesus in proclaiming, “Repent! – For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2 & Matthew 4:17)
  4. We must fall down and worship Him so that He can lift us up and use us to accomplish His will. (1 Peter 5:6; Matthew 23:12; James 4:10)

How will you respond when confronted with the Glory of God in Christ Jesus? You can’t ignore the light – you have to respond.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 31, 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

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Jesus sends us as Christians into the world to be salt and light and ambassadors for the Kingdom. However, He never promised us that our mission would be easy. In fact, He promised us that in this world we will face troubling times. In Matthew 14:22-36 (also Mark 6:43-56 & John 6:16-24) we discover that Jesus sent the disciples into a troubling situation, but He knew where they were and what they were dealing with. If you have ever faced troubling times – times when the waves were beating against your ship of life – times when your legs and feet seemed to give way beneath you – times when your best life-preserving skills simply didn’t help – then you know what it means to truly need the One Who can walk on the troubled waters and the One Who can calm the angry wind and waves. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

In this study we learn that:

  1. We must go where Jesus sends us and do as He commands us knowing that it may be be a bumpy ride.
  2. When we face the storms of life we should know that it may be the obstructionism of Satan or the teaching and testing of God.
  3. We must realize that Jesus sees us in the storm and is waiting for us to see Him – and call to Him.
  4. We must worship Him and respond to Him as the omnipotent ruler of this world.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 24, 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

Jesus Provides All You Can Eat Fish ‘n’ Chips

In John, Chapter 6, we find John’s account of the feeding of the 5,000. This is the only of Jesus’ miracles to be recorded in all four gospels. Many have tried to explain it away, but it is most definitely a miracle. All four gospels proclaim it as such and it was accepted as such when it happened.

In the study of this miracle we find the following applications for the living of our lives:

1. Don’t be surprised when God interrupts your plans.
2. If Jesus says, “Do It,” then do it.
3. When you are tested, focus on Jesus, not on the circumstances or details.
4. Look for and join in the opportunity to be involved in something miraculous.
5. Meet the physical needs of people, but always remember that their greatest need is the salvation found only in the Bread of Life.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 17, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

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

How to Respond to the Evil in Our World

Evil is real. Demonic forces are active in ways we witness everyday in every aspect of our lives. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT) So, if that’s the case, our response to the evil in our world must be in the realm of the demonic and the response to evil must be in the name and power of Jesus. In Luke 8 we see one of many times when Jesus displayed His authority over demons. When we go up against Satan’s demonic forces in our own power, we lose. When we go up against Satan’s demonic forces in the power and name and authority of Jesus we win. Furthermore, the only hope that our family, friends, and acquaintances have in this realm of such forces is in Jesus. Therefore, we must be diligent in introducing them to Him. A chaotic life that ends in eternal death is what lies before them. The man in Luke 8 was living in chaos and headed for a tragic end before he met Jesus. Our world, our nation, our state, our county, our town, our neighbors, our work associates, and our family members need to know the victorious power found only in Jesus. That’s how we should respond to the evil in our world.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, September 26, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

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

The Shepherd and the Sheep

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6) Sheep need a shepherd. Left on their own they can get into all sorts of problems. Left on their own they are vulnerable to attack. Left on their own they can become hopelessly lost. We are sheep and because God loved us even while we were sinners, he sent us a Shepherd – a Shepherd who was willing to give up His life for His sheep. In this lesson, we will look at our Shepherd, Jesus, who loves us and cares for us and offers us an abundant life. We’ve wandered long enough – now it’s time to return to the fold.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, September 19, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

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

What Do You Treasure? Who Do You Trust?

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34) In Luke 12:13-34 Jesus teaches those who were following Him about the need to trust Him for everything we need. If we treasure material things, then our full love and attention will be focused there and eventually those things will let us down. If we treasure Him, we will have the material things we need – perhaps not all that we want, but definitely all that we need. And He will never let us down. As Paul says in Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

WHAT DO YOU TREASURE?

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

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

YouTube – From the Back Porch