Godly Leadership

In Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy he gives Timothy advice and encouragement by telling him what Godly Leadership looks like. In so doing he gives excellent advice to all Christians about how to respond to adversity. He says that Godly leaders will rejoice when they face persecution for Christ’s sake. They will endure hardships for the cause of Christ. The same should apply to all who believe.

Godly leaders must teach sound doctrine under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. They should do so in the faith and love found in Jesus. The same should apply to all who believe.

Godly leaders should accept the challenges laid down by the saints who have paved the road for the Gospel of Peace. They should persevere with the determination of the soldier in battle; they must press on to win the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ; and, like the farmer, they should wait patiently on the Lord because they know that He Who began a good work in them will be faithful to complete it in Christ Jesus. The same should apply to all who believe.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, August 21, 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

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Calling for Unity in the Church

In his first letter to the Corinthian church he begins with his usual pleasant greetings and fond remembrances, but he then he gets straight to the point that is of foremost importance – division within the church. Satan loves to drive wedges between believers and he will stop at nothing to get a group of Christians to look away from God by focusing on their own opinions and attitudes. And if that misdirection involves the things of the church it is even better.

Paul addresses the issue by reminding the church of what is really at stake. Unity. Jesus in His high priestly prayer asked the Father for His people to be one – even as He and the Father were one. Jesus knew that a church divided against itself could not stand. (Mark 3:25) He also knew that His church would have to be known by the love they shared. (John 13:35) Paul knew this also and he understood fully that the gospel message of Jesus Christ had to spread without hindrances like squabbles over something as insignificant as a personality contest.

The fact is that we must be unified, as Paul instructed the Corinthians, and in order to be unified we must have the same heart and mind as Jesus. If we will but look up and focus on Him, we won’t become preoccupied with the junk around us. Furthermore, we won’t be annoyed by people around us because we are focused not on their idiosyncrasies, but on Jesus. And as the final illustration in this lesson shows, the closer we get to Jesus, the closer we get to our brothers and sisters in Christ and the more we become of one mind and one heart.

The gospel message must be proclaimed but it will only be successfully proclaimed by a united body of Christ.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, August 14, 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

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Do You Really Believe That God Answers Prayer?

In Acts 12 we see Herod executing James, one of the Sons of Thunder. We also see Herod arrest Peter so that he can kill him and thus incur even more favor with the Jewish authorities. While Peter is waiting for His execution, an angel delivers him much to his confused delight. He goes to the house where people are praying for him. At first they don’t believe that it is actually him. They think he must be a ghost. After all, Peter was to be put to death. Even though they were praying for him, he could not be there in person.

There are times in life when life itself seems too awful for life to continue. Fear grips us. Despair sets in. We go beyond worry to the point where we go through the stages of grief. Things seem out of control and we mourn that loss of control in the light of the event which brings on our fear. We deny that things have gotten out of hand and we deny that there’s anything we can do about it. This leads to anger. After all, as a Christian, we should not fear – we should be able to handle this. We get angry with God and with ourselves. Then we move, not to trusting God, but to bargaining with Him. We want Him to remove the attack or show us a way around the issue and when that doesn’t happen – when things don’t go the way we think God should take them – we despair. We become depressed because even God won’t help us when we need Him most. We also despair when we come to the end of ourselves and realize that we are not enough – that “we ain’t got this.”

The final stage of grief is acceptance. When we come to the end of ourselves – when we accept the fact that “we don’t got this” – can follow the instruction of Psalm 56:3. “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You, God.” We can either trust in God or we can continue to go down the road of despair – the road that leads to impotence, immobility, and incapacity. What began as an event that caused us to worry and fear becomes our ruin. And all because we did not trust in God.

By trusting in God we not only find peace and victory in the midst of the trial, but we also find freedom and strength to keep on living in spite of whatever life might throw our way.

So we pray. We turn it over to the Lord. We have prayed. We have turned it over to the Lord. The next step should be to “stand firm, without fear, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will accomplish for you.” “God will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13a & 14) This was the truth Moses declared to the Israelites as they were being pursued by the Egyptians and it’s true for us as Christians as well. Jesus promised us that He would never abandon us or forsake us.

However, in spite of what we know to be true about the ability of God to deliver us and/or sustain us in every situation, we quite often pray and then go right back to dwelling on the situation that brought us to the point of prayer in the first place. Instead of looking to Jesus in the midst of the storm we focus on the storm allowing our fear to increase and our faith to dissipate.

So we pray. We turn it over to the Lord. We stand still and see God work as only He can and we experience relief or we experience strength to see us through the crisis. And we rejoice knowing that God has once again proven Himself faithful.

Or . . . we deny that God has worked and think that there must be a more rational explanation. For example, you pray for someone you love to be freed from alcohol addiction. There have been numerous times in the past when you thought that God had accomplished the deliverance only to shortly learn that the deliverance was only temporary. Therefore, even though this time seems different, you don’t see it as the work of the Lord but rather just another trip down the endless road of rescue, redemption, and relapse. So instead of standing still and enjoying the salvation of the Lord, we see this event as one of those times in life when life itself seems too awful for life to continue.

One final thought – If God is sovereign, why do we pray? We pray “in Jesus’ Name” because we are submitting to His authority. Then God, in His sovereignty, can and does act according to what He knows is the best course of action. When Moses “changed God’s mind” (Exodus 32:14) it wasn’t that God didn’t know what was going on at the bottom of the mountain and Moses explained to Him why He was wrong. He wanted Moses to be involved in the process – to turn on the faucet of His divine plan and grace. God knows what we need before we ask Him. (Matthew 6:8) Still, He wants us to pray. He wants to live in close relationship with us and He wants us to trust Him before, during, and after the trials that come our way.  He wants us to ask.  He wants us to come to Him in prayer.  Being able to reconcile our freewill choice in prayer and God’s sovereignty in the situation we bring before Him )even before we ask Him) is something we may never understand this side of heaven, but exercising our freewill choice in prayer is something we must do.

We must pray at all times and trust God to not only hear our prayers but also to respond to our prayers. We must wait patiently and expectantly to see how God works to bring about His good in the midst of our situation.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, when you are facing difficulties see it as an opportunity to rejoice! Your faith is being tested and, as the problems grow, it develops endurance within you. Rejoice! And then as your endurance grows stronger, you will move from victory to victory until there is nothing nothing lacking in your character. Rejoice! If you want to understand what all this means, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! Just make sure you ask with confident faith and without doubting that you will receive. The ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like a wave in the ocean – driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and down the next. When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. God won’t give you the understanding you seek when you’re in that vacillating state of heart and mind. (James 1:2-8 – Paraphrased)

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

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

The Roll Call of Faith (Part 2)

(This is the second half of the lesson entitled “The Roll Call of Faith.” Part 1 was presented on Sunday morning, July 17, and is available at this site.)

The writer of Hebrews is led by God to remind the Hebrew people of the great heritage of faith that they posses in their ancestral line. Names like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Sampson, and David highlight the list along with many others. They were all men and women who walked in faith in spite of their human frailties and failures and they all held a place of high regard in Hebrew history. They were faithful (at times imperfectly) to the God Who was perfectly faithful to them.

In the first 2 verses of Hebrews 12, we are transported to an Olympic Games stadium. Those faithful Hebrews mentioned in Chapter 11 are the ones in the stands. They have run their race and now they are cheering for and encouraging those on the field. The Hebrews to whom the epistle was written are taking their places on the field of competition – and, by extension, so are we.

Our “race” is the living of the Christian Life. Our race is well defined. In Hebrews 12:1, the Greek word usually translated “race” or “struggle” is ἀγών – agón. It is the root word from which we get the English words agony and agonize. The race would be more like what we would call an obstacle course. Euripedes indicated that these competitions could be so grueling that they led to the collapse of the strongest of competitors. Furthermore, our Christian Life obstacle course is not a triathlon with 3 segments or a decathlon with 10 segments. The Christian Life is more like a centathlon with a 100 segments and that could be within the first hour of the day.

On the field with us is our coach – Jesus. He is the originator of the race called the Christian Life. He has run the race perfectly and, having successfully finished the race, He is our greatest source of training, instruction, tactics, inspiration, and encouragement. In fact, He fills us with His Spirit so that He runs the race not along side us, but in us – empowering us before, during, and after each segment of the race. We can try to run the race without Him, but we will fare no better than those athletes of old who simply collapsed mid race in agonizing defeat.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (TPT)

1As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.

2We look away from the natural realm and we focus our attention and expectation onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

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

The Roll Call of Faith (Part 1)

(This video covers the first half of the lesson entitled “The Roll Call of Faith.” Part 2 will be presented on Sunday morning, July 24.)

The writer of Hebrews is led by God to remind the Hebrew people of the great heritage of faith that they posses in their ancestral line. Names like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Sampson, and David highlight the list along with many others. They were all men and women who walked in faith in spite of their human frailties and failures and they all held a place of high regard in Hebrew history. They were faithful (at times imperfectly) to the God Who was perfectly faithful to them.

In the first 2 verses of Hebrews 12, we are transported to an Olympic Games stadium. Those faithful Hebrews mentioned in Chapter 11 are the ones in the stands. They have run their race and now they are cheering for and encouraging those on the field. The Hebrews to whom the epistle was written are taking their places on the field of competition – and, by extension, so are we.

Our “race” is the living of the Christian Life. Our race is well defined. In Hebrews 12:1, the Greek word usually translated “race” or “struggle” is ἀγών – agón. It is the root word from which we get the English words agony and agonize. The race would be more like what we would call an obstacle course. Euripedes indicated that these competitions could be so grueling that they led to the collapse of the strongest of competitors. Furthermore, our Christian Life obstacle course is not a triathlon with 3 segments or a decathlon with 10 segments. The Christian Life is more like a centathlon with a 100 segments and that could be within the first hour of the day.

On the field with us is our coach – Jesus. He is the originator of the race called the Christian Life. He has run the race perfectly and, having successfully finished the race, He is our greatest source of training, instruction, tactics, inspiration, and encouragement. In fact, He fills us with His Spirit so that He runs the race not along side us, but in us – empowering us before, during, and after each segment of the race. We can try to run the race without Him, but we will fare no better than those athletes of old who simply collapsed mid race in agonizing defeat.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (TPT)

1As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.

2We look away from the natural realm and we focus our attention and expectation onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, July 17, 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 Heavens Declare the Glory of God

https://www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages

The first images from the Webb Telescope were released by NASA today. These images reveal parts of space that, before today, had not been seen by humans. Just when we think we’ve seen it all, God smiles and says, “Wait until you see this.”

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.”

Psalm 19:1-3

Click on the photo or the link below the photo to the other released images.