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.
As we enter into the Advent Season – joyfully celebrating the coming of our Messiah – we should never forget what Jesus has done for us in His coming. Even from infancy He was destined to die for our sins. Even from infancy He was destined to change the way mere mortals could gain access to God. Even from infancy He was destined to change the world.
He was born in an obscure village
The son of a simple peasant woman.
He grew up in another small town
And worked with his father in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.
And then for three years he was what we might call a traveling preacher.
He never owned a home – never married and never had a family.
He never wrote a book. He never held political office.
He never went to college and never set foot inside a big city.
He walked wherever He went
And He never traveled more than 200 miles from the place he was born.
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
While still a young man the tide of public opinion turned against Him.
Most of His friends deserted Him; one denied even knowing Him
And One betrayed Him and turned Him over to His enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial
And was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying His executioners gambled for His only possession – His robe.
When He was dead he was taken from the cross
And laid in a borrowed grave.
Almost twenty centuries have since come and gone
And today this man is the centerpiece of the human race.
I think I am well with in the mark when I say
That all the armies that ever marched –
All the navies that ever sailed –
All the parliaments that have ever sat and
All the kings that have ever reigned –
All put together have not affected the life of man here upon this earth
As powerfully as has that one solitary life.
And I can definitely add that no one has affected my life as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.
I developed this version of the essay “One Solitary Life” by Dr James Allan Francis by using his words and other phrases that I have heard and used in stating the significance of Jesus Christ. It is a powerful statement that is true in its content and will strike true in the heart of anyone who considers it with an open mind and searching soul.
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In this session we look at how Jesus taught by using parables – simple stories that gave insight into spiritual truths. In Matthew 13, there are 8 parables that all relate to the Kingdom of God. Through four of those parables we can learn three valuable lessons concerning the Kingdom of God and our responsibility as citizens of the Kingdom.
First, we must faithfully and consistently sow the seed of the Kingdom and proclaim the message of salvation in Christ to all, knowing that when the gospel takes root in good ground, it produces bountiful fruit.
Secondly, we must sow the seed of the Gospel of Christ in our culture and throughout the world so that the Kingdom can take root in all corners of the earth.
Finally, we must realize the true worth of the Gospel, which we hold in our hearts, and not conceal it. Rather we must sow the seed of salvation so that all who receive it can know its riches as we do and know the joy and fullness of Kingdom living.
Too often we choose to live in the muck and and mire of life thinking that’s all there is this world. However, when we realize that we are only passing through this world as aliens from another Kingdom – the Kingdom of God – we will take on a whole new attitude about our roll in this foreign land. What is our roll? We are Ambassadors for Christ and His Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20) and these parables outline our responsibilities as such. Praise be to God Who has entrusted us with such incredible truth and such a solemn duty.
This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 7, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: email@example.com
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We love to proclaim our God-given freedoms and complain loudly if we think those freedoms have been “abridged.” We watch with great concern as the Supreme Court renders decisions on any aspect of those freedoms afforded us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We complain about laws and regulations that restrict our rights or the rights of others and we petition the government through our elected representatives and through our personal efforts and protests when such grievances arise. However, perhaps the greatest deterrent to our living out our faith – of freely exercising our religion – is us.
It is our own complacency and our failure to “exercise” our faith by using the freedoms we share in this country. It is our own fault that we don’t use our freedom of speech to boldly proclaim the truth and hope of Christ – everyday, everywhere we go, to everyone we meet. It is our own fault that we don’t use platforms like digital media to publish our belief in the God who created the universe and yet wants to have a personal relationship with us. It is our own fault that we choose a thousand other activities to supplant the assembling of ourselves together in corporate worship. It’s our own fault. We can’t blame the government or other people who don’t share our beliefs. It’s all on us. We are not making full use of the freedoms we have as Americans to share the Gospel message of Jesus. We have used our freedom to pursue selfish and pointless goals that at best relegate God to a small part of our weekly schedule or, at worst, push Him out of our lives completely. We have squandered our freedom while ignoring the One who gave us the freedom in the first place.
So, Christian – before you moan and complain about how someone is trampling on your rights, look at your own life and see if you have been actively exercising those rights to further the cause of Christ. Have you taken advantage of your rights as an American citizen to tell others about the grace of God found in Jesus? Have you taken advantage of your rights as an American citizen to proclaim your faith in Christ through your personal actions and through your involvement with others who wish to do the same. The free exercise of religion includes the freedom of speech, of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble. What a gift we have been given in the United States of America. Let us no longer use our God-given gift of freedom to trample on the very rights He has given us.