The Amazing Grace of the Righteous God

God is righteous. He is perfect in every way and His justice is perfect. He does not need to submit to the laws of man, because He alone is the law-giver.

People are sinful – unrighteous. While God is the perfect law-giver, humans are the imperfect law-breakers. Every one has sinned and fallen short of the perfection of the perfect law-givver.

Just as in physics, no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time, neither can righteousness and unrighteousness occupy the same space. Therefore we, the imperfect, are separated from the perfect God.

God loves us. Even in our deplorable condition as sinful law-breakers God loved us and offered us a way to return to Him – to live with Him and occupy the same space as Him for all eternity.

As a just judge, He had no choice to pronounce judgment on the sinful actions of humans. However, Jesus lived a sinless life and offered Himself up in our place to take our judgment. The precious gift of salvation was purchased with the blood of Christ Himself on our behalf.

The righteous God pronounced judgment on sinful man and gave him the death penalty.

The penalty of death was paid by Jesus on the Cross.

The gift of salvation from God’s wrath and the penalty of sin is offered to all.

And now the gift must be accepted by trusting the One Who paid the price and offers the gift.

May we accept the gift and lead others to know the truth of this gift, so that they, too, may be saved by God’s Amazing Grace.

Next week we will look at the beginning of the book of James to see the proof in pudding.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, May 8, 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

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Trusting Christ in Life and Death

Christ is trustworthy in every aspect of life. He gives us power to live and grace to die when the time comes. No where in scripture is this more evident than in the life of Stephen, one of the first seven deacons in the early church. It was said of Stephen that he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 6:8 offers this description of Stephen: “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.” This was a man who knew how to live.

He lived his life boldly in the power of the Spirit who filled him. And he spoke boldly, even in the face of extreme opposition. The evidence of the filling of the Spirit in the members of the early was that they “spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31) When Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, spoke things happened – big things – explosive things – violent things – deadly things. He was stoned to death for his words spoken in the fullness and power of the Spirit.

And that’s when Stephen showed us how to die. In that moment when the storm was raging all around him, he looked up and saw heaven and Jesus ready to receive him. His death just a few moments later was met with peace and the calm assurance that he was releasing his very spirit into the hands of his Master, His Lord, His Savior.

Stephen knew that Jesus could be trusted in life and in death and lived his life boldly as the Spirit filled him and led him. And that same indwelling Holy Spirit gave him grace to die boldly. We are in a life and death situation every day. May we experience the same boldness in living and dying as we go forth “full of faith and the Holy Spirit.”

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, May 1, 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

Seeing Is Believing – Part 2

Thomas, one of the 12 Disciples, also called Didymus or The Twin, has been saddled with the name “Doubting Thomas” for centuries. Is is a fair moniker? I don’t think so. As we look at the scriptures to see who he was and what he was like, you could make the case that he was always a skeptic. However, you could also use those same passages to show that he was cautious and even bold in his responses to the Lord’s commands. No doubt Thomas was facing what so many of us face from time to time – doubts and questions that cause us to cry out to God with a loud “WHY?”

By looking at the example of Thomas, we can see the times when we are most susceptible to doubt – when we are close to being labeled a doubter. We are more prone to doubt . . .
. . .when something tragic happens in our lives. Thomas had not just lost a friend, a teacher, His Lord – but also his entire worldview had been stripped away.
. . .when cognitive dissonance sets in and we can’t think straight because of internal conflicts. Thomas knew Jesus had died. His friends said He was alive. Those two opposing thoughts created a storm of mental confusion.
. . .when we don’t recognize or when we forget the truth we have been taught when things were calm and peaceful. Thomas had been told by Jesus Himself that He would die. Jesus had also told them that He would rise again, but according to John 20:9 the disciples still didn’t understand what that meant.
. . .when we are afraid. Thomas was in tenuous and even dangerous position. To not experience some fear in his situation would mean that he is less than human.
. . .when we are alone and left only to self talk which can be riddled with fear and anxiety. We don’t know why Thomas wasn’t with the others when Jesus first appeared to them. However, we do know that he was with them a week later and with Jesus as well.

When we prepare for those situations that can cause to question our faith by reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on God’s Word we give tools to the Holy Spirit which He can use to strengthen us. When we spend time with fellow believers discussing the Word, sharing our spiritual victories and defeats we have a place to go when the trials come. Jesus has already warned us that things on this earth will not necessarily go well for those who choose to follow Christ. In fact, he told us that the world hated Him and that the world would hate us too because we are not of this world. (John 15:18-19) We need to prepare our hearts, minds, and spirits now so that we won’t be hiding behind locked doors when the world seems to be crashing in all around us.

Next Sunday we will look at the commission Jesus gave to His disciples to go – not hide.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, February 27, 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

Seeing Is Believing

The disciples were hiding behind locked doors the first day of the resurrection. They were afraid and confused. They were unsure of what would come next -wondering if they were going to be arrested as part of a spiritual house cleaning on the part of the Pharisees. They were emotionally, mentally, and spiritually adrift. Then Jesus entered the room and everything changed. He spoke and brought peace into the room and those frightened little mice were suddenly full of joy. And those same mice became became unstoppable men and women who would spread the message of the Gospel around the world.

In our session Sunday we witnessed the transformation that always comes when Jesus is present. Next week we will continue in this same passage of scripture from John 20 where we will see both the doubt and the confident proclamation of Thomas. Do you ever have doubts concerning your faith? Do you ever have questions you want to ask but don’t because you fear being labeled a “Doubting Thomas” or worse, an unbeliever? That’s where we’re going next week. I hope you’ll join us for “Seeing Is Believing – Part 2.”

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, February 20, 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

First Look at the Evidence of the Resurrection

The first to give witness and testimony to the birth of Jesus were the shepherds. The first to give witness and testimony to the resurrection of Jesus was a woman. You would be hard pressed to find two groups of people lower in social standing within the 1st century Jewish community than shepherds and women. No offense to either group – that’s just the way it was. The shepherds first beheld and worshiped the new born king and a woman, Mary of Magdala, first beheld the empty tomb after the resurrection and worshiped the One she called Rabonni.

The first few verses of John 20 give great insight into the mindset of those who were following Jesus. At first, they just didn’t get it. Nothing made sense.. John 20:9 says, “As yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” They didn’t get it then . . . but that was then. What happened after that transformed them into a Spirit-led force that couldn’t be silenced. What they saw at the beginning of John 20 was just a beginning of the things they would witness after the resurrection of our Lord – things that undeniably prove that Jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead. Hallelujah!

The next 3 sessions will be devoted to events which followed the resurrection. We will see more evidence of His resurrection and direction of how we are to live because Jesus died and rose again.

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

Jesus Is Tried and Crucified

In the Old Testament we find God’s Law which provides a way for God’s people to be reconciled to Him. And even though that Law provided for blood sacrifices as a necessary part of that reconciliation (Leviticus 17:11) it was the heart and faith behind the sacrifice that God was most interested in. “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

Jesus fulfilled the Law on both counts. His blood, shed on the cross – as the spotless, perfect Lamb of God – met the requirement for the shedding of sacrificial blood and His heart, acting in perfect obedience to the Father, met the requirement for the heart behind the sacrifice. He paid the price for our sin and reconciled us to our holy Father. In so doing, He turned what was a ghastly, horrible means of execution – the cross – into a beautiful, glorious symbol of God’s love for us.

That is why, when we survey the wondrous cross, we sing:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Next week we will see and glory in the resurrection of our Lord.

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

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org
Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast
Facebook – From the Back Porch in Texas

Beauty from Ashes

https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/kentucky/article256586146.html?utm_source=join1440&utm_medium=email&utm_placement=newsletter

I read this article and listened to this man play “Something About That Name’ and immediately thought of Isaiah 61:1-4. This message was given to the people of Israel but it is a Messianic prophecy that Jesus used as His first “sermon” so the proclamation is the same for all believers. Thank you, Jordan Baize, for reminding us of this truth.

1“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,Because the Lord has anointed MeTo preach good tidings to the poor;He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,To proclaim liberty to the captives,And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,And the day of vengeance of our God;To comfort all who mourn,

3To console those who mourn in Zion,To give them beauty for ashes,The oil of joy for mourning,The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;That they may be called trees of righteousness,The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

4And they shall rebuild the old ruins,They shall raise up the former desolations,And they shall repair the ruined cities,The desolations of many generations.”

Assisted Suicide Pod Approved for Use in Switzerland

This concept was troubling to me simply based on the headline. However, when I read that Philip Nitschke is the founder of Exit International, I had an immediate shift of thought to the nihilist Friedrich Nietzsche (different spelling – no relation) who often repeated and discussed his belief that God is dead and that absolute truth and morality itself are no longer valid. More and more we are headed down the path of meaninglessness that Nietzsche embraced. While I understand the human sentimentality of both euthanasia and assisted suicide, I cannot applaud the callousness with which we view the sanctity of God-given life.

Assisted Suicide Pod Approved for Use in Switzerland

https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/584513-assisted-suicide-pod-approved-in-switzerland?utm_source=join1440&utm_medium=email&utm_placement=newsletter

The Curse of Death

Death. Not a subject we like to dwell on and yet, it is something that hangs over us for all of our living days. People from the beginning of time have tried to dodge death and cheat death, but no one has been able to avoid death. It’s as much a part of life as is birth. Jesus knew this and He wanted to give the people an object lesson that demonstrated that He had authority over death and that their greatest concern in life – their own death – was something He could provide answers for and even THE answer for.

The resurrection of Lazarus, as we see in John 11, was a precursor to the resurrection of Jesus which would happen a short time later. It was the object lesson that settled the question of whether or not Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life and whether or not eternal life is found anywhere else other that in the Savior, Jesus Christ. (John 11:25-26)

The Resurrection Power of God is more than our feeble minds can comprehend and, as wonderful as it is, we have become lackadaisical – lacking life or spirit – in our walk with the Lord. Because we have been given eternal life in Christ, we must glorify God always, even in sickness and in death, trusting in His power to raise us from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:55) And because we posses the very power that raised Lazarus and Jesus from the dead, we must walk in victory in every area of our lives. (John 14:12-14) We are told that we use only a small percentage of our brain’s capability, but I am of the belief that we use even a smaller percentage of our faith given the enormous storehouse of power available to us through God’s Spirit within us. May God open our eyes to see what He would have us do with such power and may He give us boldness to do those things in His strength and for His glory.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, November 28, 2021. 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