Ever since we started the renovations at our place in the country, it has always been a treat to go sit on the back porch and soak in the beauty of the Texas countryside. I can sit out there in the morning and listen to the birds awakening with the dawn and then enjoy the croaking of what must be ten thousand frogs and crickets in the evening. It is peaceful, quiet, and still – the way I long for my heart to be in the midst of the chaos of life. And it is in those quiet moments – when I am "still and know that He is God" – that God speaks to me and calms the storm within. That is what I want to share with you in these posts. I want to share my view from the back porch. Some of my posts will reflect a few of the things I have learned in my journey through life. Some will simply be statements of what I see in our culture and how we as Christians should respond. I teach a Bible study class each week to an extremely eclectic group of adults and some of the posts and videos I share will be taken from those lessons. I have no delusions of profundity but rather I hope to cause you to think, to laugh, to ponder anew your life as Christ would have you live it. Furthermore, I hope this will be a conversation and not just a monologue. I would love to hear your thoughts, hopes, fears and anything else you would feel comfortable sharing with me. It's wonderful to relax here on the back porch enjoying the view, so pour yourself some coffee (or the beverage of your choosing) and let's talk.
Paul, in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica was hoping to encourage the believers with the hope of the resurrection and, more specifically, the 2nd coming of Christ and the resurrection of all believers who had already died. In 1 Corinthians 15:14-17 Paul explained that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our faith is useless. But the New Testament proves that Jesus did in fact rise again after His death and is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. Because Christ rose from the grave, we too will rise again. That is the hope of the Gospel.
There will come a time when those who put their faith and trust in Jesus will experience first hand the light of the resurrection. “And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them.” (Revelation 22:5 NLT) We will pass from the dimness of this dark world into his glorious light. From the time God created light in the midst of the dark, formless, and void earth He has been moving from darkness to light. And the ultimate expression of God’s desire to move us from the dim, dark, world in which we live to His place of eternal light is the resurrection.
Therefore, encourage each other with these words. Paul gives this exhortation to the Thessalonians in both the 4th and 5th chapters. We should likewise take to heart this call to the ministry of encouragement. We must spread the news that in Jesus we can know victory over death; we can know victory over the darkness of this world; and we can walk in the light even as He is in the light – no matter how dark the world may grow around us.
This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, September 25, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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)
We must seek first the Kingdom and Glory of God and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)
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)
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: email@example.com
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