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

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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

God Works

The book of Acts is actually The Acts of the Apostles. However, a more definitive name for the book might be The Acts of God through the Apostles. Throughout the book we see God building His church with the Apostles taking the lead in carrying out the work. But it was God Who added to their number daily those who were being saved – being saved by God. It was God Who empowered the Apostles to do perform signs and wonders as evidence of God’s power. And it was God who inspired the Apostles to speak boldly in His Name. And so we come to Acts 19 in which we see God work in numerous ways to bring glory to His name and expand His church.

The Holy Spirit – the very presence of God within us – is the driving force in anything and everything we do which honors God. In Acts 19:1-7 we see Paul bringing new Ephesian believers into the family of God. They had heard and followed the teachings of John the Baptist and Paul helped them understand that John’s focus was on Jesus. As they received the Good News – the Gospel – they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues thus verifying to Paul that they had done so. It was all the work of God. Paul’s trip to Ephesus; Paul’s encounter with these people; Paul’s telling them about Jesus; their response – it was all God’s work.

As we move into Acts 19:8-10 we see God working in Paul as he spoke boldly in the synagogue and then in a public hall. God’s work through Paul was so pervasive that in 2 years the entire region known as Asia (now Southwestern Turkey – an area about the size of Texas minus the Panhandle) had heard the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

God’s work continued in verses 11-17 where Paul was able to do things sometimes even by proxy. It makes sense when we know that the real power behind his acts was the omnipresent God. Paul cast out demons, but when some traveling exorcists tried to do the same the demons turned on them and it, in my opinion, led to some rather comical results.

When we get to Acts 19:18-20 we see God working in the lives of those who practiced all sorts of magic and sorcery. They were changed. They were changed dramatically. They turned their backs on their evil ways and even burned their books (worth about $13M by today’s standards) containing the incantations and teachings of their black magic arts. They sacrificed their heritage, their livelihood, their future, their combined knowledge, and their identity to follow Jesus.

The Acts of the Apostles is a book which describes how God worked through his Apostles then. But God is still at work. What will be in your book of Acts?

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 02, 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@texassongweaver