Saturday

“Waiting for the other shoe to drop.” You’re dozing off to sleep when you are jolted back to alertness with a reverberating thud coming from the apartment above you. In your grogginess you determine that it was nothing more than a shoe dropping on the floor. You are now fully awake – and you wait anxiously for the other shoe to drop. You don’t let yourself fall asleep because you don’t want to be in that never-never land between sleep and wakefulness when the next boulder falls.

On Saturday, following the crucifixion, the followers of Christ were waiting for the other shoe to drop. They had met Jesus, traveled with Him, listened to His teaching, believed His teaching, and believed in Him. Now their world was filled with silence and solicitude. They were in hiding behind locked doors waiting for the other shoe to drop. Jesus had told them He would rise again, but His death seemed like the final act of the play. What now?

In a sense, our lives parallel those of the earliest disciples of Jesus. We have met Him, traveled with Him, listened to His teaching, believed His teaching, and believed in Him. However, we often come to those times when all we hear is silence – when something has happened in our life that jerks us to full alert and we wait in silence and solicitude for the next blow. We question our faith and our very relationship with the One Who, even in silence, is with us every step of the way. It’s Saturday. Thursday started with a celebration of faith and ended in confusion. Friday began in confusion which devolved into pain and profound sadness. Now it’s Saturday. Silence. Solicitude. What’s next? You dare not say, “Could it get any worse?” because you fear it could.

It’s Saturday, but Sunday will soon be here. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b) And the truly good news is that, just as Jesus rose on Sunday in victory over death and the grave, He will come again in victory – victory over the long “Saturday” that we call “life.” And, in the meantime, He has given us His Spirit so that in those temporary Saturdays of life – those days when all seems lost – we will not be alone. And that same Spirit guides us through the long Saturday of life on earth. We may not feel Him, but He is here and He is waiting for us to call out to Him from the silence and solicitude. He says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15)

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:15-21)

“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

It’s Saturday, a day of silence and solicitude, but He is with you through all of your Saturdays . . .

and Sunday is coming. Hallelujah!

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
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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

We’re Off on the Road to Emmaus

The human mind is the most amazing computer ever created. And the human mind is constantly seeking to store and organize the information it receives. This is the work of our cognitive ability – the way we think. And if something doesn’t line up with our natural thought processes it creates a state of mental discomfort known as cognitive dissonance. In music 2 notes that clash with one another are called dissonant. In the same way, 2 ideas that clash with one another are dissonant and hence, the cognitive dissonance.

Cleopas and his traveling companion were dealing with cognitive dissonance. Their soon-to-be victorious Messiah had been crucified. They heard reports that Jesus was indeed alive, but they had no proof to counteract the fact that they knew He was dead. Their knowledge of the facts and what they had witnessed was being challenged at every turn.

The wonderful thing about cognitive dissonance is that it provides the foundation and opportunity for the deepest and most profound learning. Something that “does not compute” in our brains demands resolution. Teachers use cognitive dissonance to facilitate learning because when the points of dissonance – the clashing thoughts – are resolved, the brain records those moments as special and memorable. Jesus, the Master Teacher, used the cognitive dissonance of the Emmaus Road travelers to teach them how the entire Bible was pointing to Him. And it was an exceptionally memorable moment for them.

If you are experiencing cognitive dissonance, Jesus always has the resolution even if that resolution is not necessarily the solution you wanted in your situation. Let Him use your point of conflict and your clashing ideas to teach you by the power of the Holy Spirit Who is in you. The mind that finds resolution to the dissonance finds peace and sometimes peace in the midst of the storm. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Next week we will examine some of the other post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, February 13, 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

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