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 .

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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

That Wascally Wabbit Paul

Ignoring the advice of friends and fellow Christians, Paul goes to Jerusalem after completing his 3rd missionary journey. Paul has been opening the doors of salvation to allow non-Jews – Gentiles – into the fellowship of believers. These interlopers were not circumcised and did not follow the Jewish law. They had no right to enjoy the blessings of the family of God.

After causing a riot at the Temple, he is taken by the Roman authorities to the Sanhedrin in order to determine why things were so tense. Things got off to a rough start when Paul was professing his good standing before God – a profession that led to him being slapped full on the mouth. He then proclaimed his belief in the resurrection which was a great source of contention in the Sanhedrin with the Pharisees believing in the resurrection and the Sadducees not believing. Things got so heated that the Roman commander had Paul taken out.

Paul was taken immediately taken to the Roman barracks for his safety. Back in the custody of the Roman authorities, Jesus appears to Paul to congratulate him on his faithfulness and to tell him that He is going to send Paul to Rome so he can share the Gospel there as well.

Forty zealous Jews committed themselves to not eating until they had killed Paul. Paul got word of the assassination plot and made sure the commander knew about. With this information in mind, the Roman commander put together an overwhelming military escort to get Paul out of town and on his way to Rome.

And what did we learn in today’s lesson. 3 things:

1. When we follow Jesus, opposition will come.

2. When opposition comes, Jesus will be there with us.

3. When the opposition comes we are safe in the arms of Jesus.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 09, 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