Living and Loving in Grace

The shortest of Paul’s letters was addressed to Philemon. In it he urged Philemon to welcome a man named Onesimus. In fact, Paul sent the letter with Onesimus who delivered it to Philemon in Colossae. The problem is that Onesimus was once a slave belonging to Philemon and to make matters worse Onesimus was a runaway slave who apparently stole property from Philemon before making his escape.

Onesimus (whose name means “useful”) joined with Paul while Paul was in prison in Rome. He proved to be quite “useful” to Paul and, in the process of spending time with Paul, gave his heart to Jesus. Paul had also led Philemon to Jesus and he wanted his brothers in Christ – Onesimus and Philemon – to transition from a slave-slave owner relationship to a relationship as brothers in Christ.

It was a significant request that Paul made of Philemon, considering how things had worked out in the past. Philemon would have been within his rights to beat his former slave, make him work even more to pay off his debt, or worse, take his life.

The thing is that God has the right as God to treat us according to our sins. We are deserving of death in the presence of a holy, righteous God. We have sinned and the payment for sin is death. And yet, God has paid our debt and forgiven our sins all through the work of Jesus. When we consider how we have been forgiven by God, we have no choice but to forgive those who have wronged us.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 13, 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 .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Sigh

In his post “Sigh,” Steve Brewer expressed so well what I was thinking yesterday as I listened to talk show hosts and commentators (they weren’t extraordinary taters, just common taters) express both their joy and sadness as well as their hope and despair over the previous day’s election results.

3Do not trust in politicians, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.
4When their campaign is over, they return to the State House.
In that very day their thoughts and plans evaporate.
(Psalm 146:3-4 YEV [Young Extrapolated Version] as inspired by Steve Brewer

3Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation (help).
4When his spirit leaves him, he returns to the earth;
In that very day his thoughts and plans perish. (Psalm 146:3-4 AMP)

The Brew Is A Musing

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground, on that very day their plans come to nothing. (Psalms 146:3–4, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “I wish my American brothers and sisters would stop trying to change America through politics. It will never happen. The only way to change America is thru the power of the Gospel and bringing people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. I wish my fellow Christians in the USA were as passionate about sharing Jesus as they were about their political views (sigh).” (Jason Stuart, Bible translator, PNG).

I agree with Jason. No matter how high (or low) the blue or red “wave” is, it will ultimately disappoint. We spend two years griping out how bad things are, and how our elected officials are not following the will of people. Yet, by…

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Pray and Then Vote

1 Timothy 2:1-4

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Voting is both a right and a privilege here in the United States. But whether you live in the U.S. or in some other county, the admonition Paul gives Timothy applies to us today. Here in the U.S. we have begun to think that our future is determined by the vote. As citizens we should be salt and light within our country and, consequently, we should be involved in the political process as much as is in our power to do so. However, our faith must be in the One Who establishes and allows governments to exist. Our hope must be in Him. Only then can we walk in wisdom and in peace in the midst of a political storm, a geo-political conflict, or a peace–squelching effort on the part of any human or institution.

Daniel 2:20-22

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.

Trusting God in the Storms of Life

Friday night we were anticipating some serious weather as a cold front approached. We heard reports of high winds, hail, lightning and tornadoes associated with this front. We took precautions to try to mitigate damage from high winds and other effects of the storm. We turned on the television to watch the weather reports and waited for the front to blow through while we reviewed our response actions should a tornado warning be sounded. The front blew through mildly in our area even though there were dozens of tornadoes that did plenty of damage across 4 states. We had rain and lightning and strong winds though nothing was severe.

We all face storms in different ways. Even my wife and I have different ways of responding to the approach of a storm system. However, one thing is universal – we all face storms whether they be weather related or the storms of life. Paul dealt with storms in his missionary journeys. In fact, 4 times he was shipwrecked at the hands of those storms. Three of those shipwrecks are mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:25 and one is recorded by Luke in Acts 27 & 28.

Paul was being transported to Rome because he had appealed to Caesar during his trials in Judea. The ship they sailed on the Mediterranean Sea ran into a violent storm and set them adrift for over 2 weeks. The storm terrified those onboard – even the sailors for whom this was their way of life. However, Paul remained steadfast and was the calming influence for the entire ship. God’s faithfulness was demonstrated in Paul’s life and in his response to the storm. Because of God’s providential care and Paul’s God-given peace, all 276 people onboard the ship made it safely to land. Because God is always faithful we can trust Him always – especially when we seem to be adrift in our lives or when all seems lost.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 6, 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

Daniel 7 – The World Today as Prophesied in the Bible

Daniel 7 – Prophecy Comes into Focus with World Events

This is the Sunday morning session of the Agape Life Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham. This class session took place on December 6, 2020 and in that session we discussed Daniel 7 in the light of world events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, and the Great Reset.  The prophecies of Daniel and The Revelation seem to be playing out before us.  We discuss how to respond as believers in the One Who wins in the End.

Current Events from Daniel’s Perspective

Daniel 7 – Prophecy Comes into Focus with World Events – Part2

This is the Sunday morning session of the Agape Life Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham. This class session took place on December 13, 2020 and in that session we discussed Daniel 7 in the light of world events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, and the Great Reset. The prophecies of Daniel and The Revelation seem to be playing out before us. We discuss how to respond as believers in the One Who wins in the End.

Preaching in All Circumstances

Paul had been told by the Lord that he would be going to Rome and that he would proclaim the Gospel message to the gentiles and to kings. (Rom. 23:11; Acts 9:15) Because God was moving in him and through him in such a profound way, Satan unleashed all of the hounds of hell on him. Gentiles were outraged because his preaching was interfering with their profit margins and their religious and moral way of life. Jews wanted him dead, and some even vowed to not eat until they had killed him. You could say that Paul was a controversial figure in the Roman Empire. However, a more appropriate statement would be that the Gospel message which he proclaimed was the point of controversy – and the controversy stemmed from Satan’s hatred for that message.

In Chapters 24-26 of Acts we see the Apostle Paul in three “trials” in Caesarea. The first involves Felix, the Governor of Judea. The second happens some 2 years later with the new Governor of Judea, Festus. The final “trial” occurs when Paul appears before King Agrippa II and his entourage. In each one of these trials Paul briefly responds to the feeble charges brought against him by Ananias (Chief Priest) and the other Jewish leaders from Jerusalem. However, most of his time is spent on telling those assembled who Jesus is, what Jesus had done for him and all mankind, and what Jesus could do for them.

In the process of these “trials” Paul used a right granted to him as a Roman Citizen – he appealed his case to Rome. Jesus had said that Paul would go to Rome and that he would preach to kings. Now he would have the opportunity to do both at the same time by addressing Caesar himself in Rome. I put the word “trials” in quotes because a trial usually leads to a verdict or outcome. However, in these “trials,” the outcome had already been determined by our sovereign God.

Throughout it all God was guiding Paul, sending Paul, and controlling the circumstances so that Paul was right where he needed to be and Paul did exactly what he needed to do. So it is with us. God is guiding us and sending us and so orchestrating the circumstances of our lives that we might be in the exactly the right place at the right time to proclaim His truth. We must be prepared for those moments – those divine appointments – so that we can be faithful as Paul was faithful to give a defense of the hope that is within us. (1 Peter 3:15)

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 30, 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 .

Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast

Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Pressing Toward the Goal

Everyone who has ever participated in competitive sports knows how important the mental attitude is an athlete’s performance. Paul knew this, too. I personally believe he was at the very least an avid sports fan and possibly even a competitor at some level. Otherwise, he would not have made extensive use of sports metaphors. (See 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 1 Tim. 4:8; 2 Tim 2:5 & 4:7-8; and Hebrews 12:1-2. [Yes, I believe Paul wrote Hebrews and this sports reference is one reason why I believe so.]) He also uses the athletic mentality to express how we should live our lives as Christians in Philippians 3.

We must run the race set before us (Phil 3:7-11 & Heb. 12:1-2) without hindrances. Paul saw everything in his past as just that – in his past. And he encourages us through his writings to see things the same way. We need to lay aside those things that would stand in the way of us following the commands of our Lord. Me must rid ourselves of the things that slow us down in our Christian walk.

We must run the race set before us by pressing forward toward the goal. (Phil 3:12-14 & 1 Cor. 9:24-27) We press on to receive the prize of the high calling of Jesus. And all along the way, Jesus is encouraging us, empowering us, and giving us all we need for godly living so that we can, in fact achieve the goal He has set before us.

We must run with victory in mind. (Phil. 3:15-21) We must set our minds on things above – not on earthly things. (Col. 3:1-3) We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom. 12:1-2) We must take every thought captive. (2 Cor. 10:5) But it’s not just a mental exercise – a positive thinking mantra that will see us through to victory. It is a total focus on Jesus while totally blocking out the things of the world. It’s fixing our eyes on Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb. 12:2)

If we don’t set our minds on Him, then we will be swept away by cultural thoughts and ideas. If we don’t set our minds on Him, then the transformation that He wants to bring about in our lives will never happen. If we don’t set our minds on Him we will be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will be swayed when people try to trick us with lies that sound good to us. (Eph. 4:14)

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 23, 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