The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 16

Welcome to “Front Porch” Bible Study Series and Passion Week. We have just recently celebrated Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. So, let’s study three main aspects of what has just passed in more detail: the six trials of Christ; the seven places Christ shed His blood; and the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross. May you be blessed as we dive deeply into His Word.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
This week's topic is the Passion of Christ.
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center ” (John 19:17-18 NKJV). 

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Click to read each Gospel’s separate account: Matthew 26:36-27:61 / Mark 14:32-15:47 / Luke 22:39-23-56 / John 18-19 (all NKJV).

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

After the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He withdrew about a stone’s throw away where He prayed for strength to endure His coming crucifixion.

“‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44 NKJV).

Then Judas entered the garden, leading a crowd of chief priests and elders. “But Jesus said to him,‘ Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? (Luke 2:48 NKJV). One of the disciples then took a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus, however, stopped the violence and healed the servant’s ear. Disregarding this compassionate miracle, they arrested Jesus and took Him to the high priest’s house.

The Six Trials of Christ consisted of three religious (Jewish) and three civil (Roman) trials. The first one began at 2 am and the last at 7:30 am. The Jews declared Jesus guilty, accusing Him of blasphemy. On the other hand, the Romans found no guilt in Him deserving of death. However, the Jews insisted that Jesus die because He claimed to be the Son of God. Only the Romans had the legal right to put Christ to death.

Sometime during the second trial, Peter denied Christ, just as Jesus had predicted at the Last Supper. “But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying!’ Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times’. So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62 NKJV).

At 6:30 am the Jews took Jesus to His first Roman trial to appear before Pilate. “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,  saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5 NKJV).

Pilate found no guilt in Jesus and sent Him to see Caiaphas, who sent Him back to Pilate. He wanted to punish Jesus and release Him, but the Jews refused anything less than death. Pilate even offered to release a prisoner–Barabbas, a violent murderer–or Jesus.

“The governor answered and said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’ They said, ‘Barabbas!’ Pilate said to them, ‘What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said to him, ‘Let Him be crucified!’ Then the governor said, ‘Why, what evil has He done?’ But they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Let Him be crucified!’ When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.’ And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children.’ Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:21-26 NKJV).

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Christ Shed His Blood Seven Places

Let’s first discuss the seven places Christ shed His blood (if you wish to read a medical explanation of how Jesus could be born with pure and sinless blood, click HERE).

The seven places where Jesus shed His blood fulfilled Old Testament Scripture in Leviticus 16. When the Jewish High Priest made atonement for the sins of the people once a year, he sprinkled blood seven times on the mercy seat, seven times in front of the mercy seat, and seven times on the horns of the altar. (Click HERE to read the full account in Leviticus 16:11-19 NKJV.)

The first place Jesus shed His blood happened during His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NKJV). Just as in the Garden of Eden where man lost his state of innocence through Adam’s sin, it was in this garden that Jesus’s blood began the redemption process for all mankind.

The second place occurred when Pilate ordered His scourging, where they flogged the back of Jesus with thirty-nine lashes–just under the legal limit of forty. “Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26 NKJV). This blood paid for all our sicknesses and diseases: “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5b NKJV).

“Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?’ (Matthew 26:67-68 NKJV). These bruises he bore under His skin marked the third place He bled for us. This blood was shed for our inherited weaknesses or iniquities, as Isaiah states. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5a NKJV).

The crown of long thorns the soldiers wove and pushed onto Jesus’s head was the fourth place He shed His holy blood. This blood gives us the mind of Christ, freeing our thoughts from the control of the enemy. (Click HERE to read this account in Matthew 27:27-31 NKJV.)

When the centurion drove the nails into Jesus’s hands and feet, these were the fifth and sixth places Christ bled for us. His blood-stained hands freed us to receive all that God has for us and to lift our hands in holy prayer (Click HERE to read 1 Timothy 2:8 NKJV). His blood-stained feet gave us back dominion on the earth that we lost through Adam’s sin. Through His blood, we can claim righteousness and power over Satan wherever our feet touch the ground (Click HERE to read Luke 10:19 NKJV).

After Jesus had surrendered His spirit into God’s hands, the centurion speared His side. The blood and water that came out of His side was the seventh place He shed His blood for us (Click HERE to read John 19:31-37 NKJV). The release of blood and water proved medically that Jesus’s heart had burst, making this blood the provision for the healing of our broken hearts.

The Seven Last Sayings of Christ on the Cross

1.“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” — Luke 23:34 (NIV)

Even while Christ suffered His agonizing crucifixion, He forgave His persecutors for what they had done. Contrary to some beliefs, the Jews didn’t kill Jesus. Jesus willingly lay down His life to fulfill Scripture and complete God’s perfect plan of redemption. “‘Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father’” (John 10:17-18 NKJV).

2.“Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” — Luke 23:43 (NIV)

The two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus represent a choice of two reactions to our Savior. The one hurled insults at Him, commanding that He prove His deity by rescuing all three of them from their fate of death. The other one rebuked that thief, claiming that they, not Christ, were deserving of death. One repented; the other refused (Click HERE to read Luke 23:39-43 NKJV).

3.“Woman, behold thy Son.” — John 19:26 (NIV)

Jesus had no written will, but He verbally expressed His wishes to His most loved disciple, John, to care for His beloved mother, Mary. From that day forward, John took her into his house to live out the rest of her life.

4.“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” — Mark 15:34 (NIV)

For the first time, Jesus addressed His Father as God. It was an agonizing cry of separation. As Jesus became sin for us, the Father had to turn His back to His Son at that moment. As a just and holy God, He cannot look upon sin. Jesus had to die all alone as the perfect sacrifice, the perfect Lamb of God.

5.“I thirst.” — John 19:28 (NIV)

Christ’s statement fulfilled Scripture of two prophecies in the Old Testament (NKJV): Psalm 22:15, “My tongue clings to My jaws,” and Psalm 69:21, “For my thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.” This was the first and only time Jesus gave voice to His physical suffering. (For a comprehensive sermon about “I thirst” from Keep Believing Ministries, click HERE.)

6.“It is finished.” — John 19:30 (NIV)

The sinless Lamb of God shed His holy blood and died as the price paid in full, the final sacrifice for the sins of mankind–past, present, and future. His mission on earth to redeem us from death, hell, and the grave was now complete, and Scripture fulfilled. The curtain in the temple tore in two from top to bottom, signifying that we now have access through Christ to the Holy of Holies, the throne room of God. (Click HERE to read Matthew 27:51-54 NKJV).

7.“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” — Luke 23:46 (NIV)

Where did the spirit of Christ go after He died? There are differences of opinion as to this Scriptural interpretation. (Please click on these Scriptures for further study: 1 Peter 3:18-20 / 1 Peter 4:6 / Ephesians 4:8-9 / Romans 10:6-7 / Acts 2:27.) I would like to offer what the Lord has shown me in answer to this question.

My personal opinion: As the propitiation for our sins, Jesus descended into Hades after His death to serve in our place. His purpose was to take the keys of death, hell, and the grave away from Satan. “‘I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death’” (Revelation 1:18 NKJV).

His mission was also to preach to the captives held in Sheol (the side holding the damned). Why? Because God is fair and just. Every person must have the opportunity to hear the gospel of the cross and choose between Jesus or Satan, heaven or hell–especially those who had lived before Christ had died for their sins.

Jesus also freed the captives in Paradise (the side holding believers saved by faith) and sent them to heaven. Even the repentant thief on the cross was there. “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:43 NKJV).

Jesus paid the price for our sins in full, suffering death from Friday afternoon until God resurrected Him back to life before dawn on Sunday morning. In order for man to be totally redeemed, Christ had to suffer, die on the cross, and descend into hell. Jesus willingly came to earth to pay the price in full. We had a debt we couldn’t pay; He paid a debt He didn’t owe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).

Can we ever thank Jesus enough for this great exchange?

Are you hungry for more? The accounts in the Old Testament Scriptures foretell many of the details of Christ’s passion. (Click HERE to read Psalm 22:1-18 and HERE for Isaiah 53 NKJV.)

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Dear Lord, thank you for loving us so much that you willingly died for our sins. We are forever grateful that You took our place, taking our just punishment upon Yourself. May we always rejoice in our free gift of salvation and share the good news of the gospel with everyone we meet. For You are worthy of all praise, honor, and glory forever. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 15

Welcome to Passion Week. We will begin with the Last Supper where Jesus and His disciples celebrated Passover in the upper room. He established the New Covenant of grace and gave a new meaning to the Passover Seder. As Christians, we observe communion to remember the death of our Lord. But the story doesn’t end there–Resurrection Day follows His crucifixion three days later. Hallelujah! Christ is alive forevermore and we, the Redeemed, will spend eternity in His presence.

“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you’” (Luke 22:19-20 NKJV).

Click to read separate accounts in the Gospels: Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-23 and John 13-17.

The three accounts of the Last Supper in Matthew, Mark, and Luke are almost identical. Jesus directed his disciples as to where they should prepare the Passover meal. That evening as they were eating, several significant things happened. He established the New Covenant of grace by breaking bread and sharing the cup with His disciples.
“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you’” (Luke 22:19-20 NKJV).

Jesus’s spirit became troubled as He announced that one of them at the table would betray Him. “Now as they were eating, He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me’” (Matt. 26:21 NKJV). The gospel of John paints a complete picture of this event as Jesus dipped bread and then gave it to Judas, saying, “‘What you do, do quickly’” (John 13:27 NKJV).

Jesus also predicted Peter’s denial in Matthew 26:34. “Jesus said to him,
‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’” Peter declared that he was ready to follow Jesus to prison and to death, if necessary.

Have you ever sent children off to college or perhaps their wedding day? Think back to that last meal together as a family. As parents, you remind them of everything you taught them in preparation for this pivotal life change. You make predictions, explaining what they can expect as they enter this new phase of life, as well as warnings about coming pitfalls. Speaking into their spirits, you declare your love, support, and that you’ll always be only a phone call away. You pray over them, committing them into the Father’s loving arms. You reassure them that even though they may not understand everything you’re saying now, they will remember and fully understand later. After blessing them, you kiss them, and then let them fly away.

Jesus prepared His disciples to continue in His absence that night during their last supper together. The Lord explained that He would not drink of the vine again until He did so with them in heaven (Matt. 26:29). At that table, He established the New Covenant, which fulfilled—not replaced—the Law (Luke 22:19-21 / Mark 14:22-26).

The book of John tells us the details of what the Lord proclaimed to His disciples during their last supper. In Chapter 13, Jesus began by washing His disciples’ feet before the meal, demonstrating complete humility and exemplifying servanthood. (Click HERE for our previous lesson about foot-washing.)

Knowing all things that were about to happen, the Lord encouraged His disciples before His departure. (To read, click on each verse in parentheses. All are taken from the NKJV.)

  • The Present
    • He manifests Himself to anyone who loves Him and keeps His commandments by giving them His peace, which is unlike the world’s (John 14:23-27).
      He is the vine, we are the branches. By bearing much fruit, we prove to be His disciples (John 15:5-8).
      Love one another (John 13:34-35).
  • The Future
    • He will prepare a place for them and come back to receive them. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:1-6).
    • He won’t leave them alone but will send them another Helper—the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-16).
    • Ask anything in His Name and He’ll do it (John 14:12-14.).
  • Warnings
    • The world will hate them as it hated Him (John 15:18-25).
    • They will put them out of the synagogue (John 16:1-4).
    • He foretold His betrayal and Peter’s denial. (Mark 14: 27-31).
    • He told them ahead of time so they would believe when it came to pass (John 14:29).
    • A servant is not greater than his master (John 15:20-21).
  • Comfort
  • Prayer

Do you celebrate with a Seder or Passover meal at your church or synagogue? If not, the details of what people eat during Pesach (Passover) and their significance are a fascinating study. Click HERE to read a detailed Messianic Jewish perspective of its history and present-day practices.

Dear Father, we humbly thank you for fulfilling the Law by establishing the New Covenant of grace. As we eat the bread and drink the cup, may we always remember Your death until You return. We look forward to the day when we will take communion with You in heaven. In Jesus’s Name we pray, Amen.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens
Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 14

Welcome to the “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. This week we’ll prepare for Palm Sunday by studying the significance of waving palm branches to the Lord. Now I’ll always have a richer understanding of this Palm Sunday celebration of thanksgiving. Come along as I share this nugget from God’s treasure chest with you.

Click HERE to read today’s Scripture. For comparative Scriptures, click HERE to read Mark 11:1-10.

“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna!
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The King of Israel!’” (John 12:12-13 NKJV)

As Jesus and His disciples approached Jerusalem, He sent two of them ahead to find and untie a colt on which no one had sat. The Lord instructed them to answer anyone who questioned their actions by saying that the Lord had need of it, so they would allow it. As the disciples obeyed, it happened exactly as Jesus had said. They spread their cloaks over the animal’s back where Jesus then sat and led him down the hill into Jerusalem.

When the multitudes who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was arriving, they ran to meet Him. They laid their cloaks on the ground and cut down leafy branches as a “red carpet” for Jesus’s entrance into the city. The excited crowds consisted of those from Bethany who had witnessed Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead and those in Jerusalem who had heard about this great sign. They congregated joyfully around Him, waving palm branches and chanting Scripture taken from Psalm 118:25-26: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:13 NKJV).

The Jews intended to cast off Caesar and his Roman rule and crown Jesus as their king. This uproar, however, distressed the Pharisees because they were losing the fight to suppress His popularity. Caiaphas expressed fear over what would happen to them politically, realizing they had to side with Rome against Jesus in order to save themselves.

What is the significance of people waving palm branches? We can trace this practice in both the Old and New Testaments.

In Leviticus 23:39-44 (Click HERE), the Israelites waved beautiful palm branches for seven days during the Feast of Tabernacles (also called the Feast of Booths or Sukkot). This feast memorializes how God brought them out of slavery from the land of Egypt. (For more study about the Feast of Tabernacles, click HERE.)

During Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the people rejoiced by waving palm branches in His honor. They welcomed the deliverance they believed He was bringing to them—freedom from Roman tyranny and the political occupation of Israel. They honored Him as a king riding victoriously into His kingdom. A worldly king would come riding on a horse—a symbol of war—but He came riding on a donkey’s colt—a symbol of peace. Later the disciples would understand how this act fulfilled Zechariah 9:9:

“‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey’” (NKJV).

Lastly, we find a future waving of palm branches during a thrilling time in heaven. Revelation 7:9 describes those who will be saved out of the Great Tribulation wearing white robes and holding palm branches. They will cry out, “‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (v.10). (Click HERE to read more about it.)

Do you understand why waving palm branches is significant to God? It represents people showing thanks for God’s deliverance.

  • In Leviticus, God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and entrance back into their Promised Land.
  • The Gospels describe how the Jews expected deliverance from Rome’s political tyranny and the beginning of Messiah’s reign.
  • Revelation reveals the Lamb of God who will deliver a multitude from the evil rule of the Anti-Christ. They will stand before God’s throne and will serve Him day and night in His temple.

The triumphant entry into Jerusalem will happen one day in the future.
At the Second Coming of Christ, Jesus will be riding on a white horse, not a donkey’s colt. He will come to make war on the Anti-Christ and destroy his reign. This is the age when the Messiah’s eternal reign will begin. (Click HERE to read Revelation 19:11-16.)

As we joyfully wave our palm branches on Palm Sunday, let’s remember to be deeply thankful to God for His gift of deliverance. Jesus loosed us from the bondage of sin and death and gave us the right to become God’s sons and daughters through Jesus’s shed blood. We will be joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom forever.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”(John 1:12 NKJV).

Dear Lord, thank you for becoming our King of kings and Lord of lords. We wave our palm branches to you with hearts full of thanksgiving and praise for Your gift of deliverance. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 13

Welcome to April on the “Front Porch!” This month we will be taking a short break from our study on the Fruit of the Spirit in order to focus on Easter. This month we’ll study the events leading to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m anticipating a very rich and meaningful study, and I look forward to sharing it with you. This week we’ll begin with the anointing of Christ for burial.


Click HERE to read John 11:45-12:9

Memory Verse:
“But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.  For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always'” (John 12:7-8 NKJV).

After Lazarus’s resurrection, many believed in Jesus. Others, however, ran to tell the Pharisees. Their Jewish counsel convened and planned how to end Jesus’s ministry. They feared all men would be converted, and thus Rome would remove their position as a nation. Caiaphas prophesied, “‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish’” (John 11:49-50 NKJV).

Therefore Jesus limited His presence to Ephraim, a city located in the countryside. As the Passover approached, the Jews sought for Him, wondering if He would attend the feast that year or not. The chief priests and Pharisees had issued an order that they be informed of His whereabouts so they could seize Him.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany. He stayed at the house of Simon the leper where they made Him a supper. Martha served, Lazarus reclined with Him at the table, but Mary did the most important thing of all: she worshiped. She broke a very expensive alabaster vial of pure nard and anointed Jesus’s head and feet and wiped His feet with her hair. The disciples and others criticized Mary for her act of extravagant worship, protesting that the perfume that cost a year’s wages could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “‘For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always ’” (John 12:8 NKJV).

Many people congregated to see Jesus and especially Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. As a result, many believed in this testimonial to the divine power of Christ. The distraught chief priests planned to kill both Jesus and Lazarus in their plot to stop these conversions.

Beginning with Jesus’s arrival in Bethany, He was no longer “in hiding.” In fact, quite the opposite. Throngs came to see the dead man, now alive, and the Teacher who had performed this miracle. Now He invited the crowds to come and surround Him, continuing all the way to His final journey at the cross.

But He didn’t hold Himself up as a “superstar.” He dined at the house of one who would have been exiled for leprosy, but one now healed from Jesus’s touch. He was not surrounded by the elite of that city, but by commoners. Mary had a very important role on this occasion. She didn’t realize the significance at that time, but hers was the only anointing of Christ before His burial. She broke open the alabaster jar with its precious contents–a pound of ointment of spikenard made from an aromatic herb from the valerian family imported from India, Arabia, and the Far East. Its cost was so great that only the very wealthy could afford to purchase it. Even the alabaster jar, made out of a white Egyptian semi-transparent stone, was very costly.

Mary didn’t just pour out the oil on the head and feet of the Lord; she broke the jar so that not one drop would be held back. She gave it all. In that day, only guests of honor, including kings, were anointed. They washed feet with water, but using oil elevated Jesus to the highest point of honor.

As Mary wiped her Lord’s feet with her hair, the fragrance filled the room, causing a protest. The men, especially Judas, chastised Mary for wasting a year’s wages. “‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’” (John 12:5 NKJV). Judas didn’t care for the poor, but he was a thief in charge of the money box.

Let’s learn a valuable lesson from Mary’s actions. The disciples didn’t understand the importance of what she did that night, but we understand. Nothing we do for Christ is wasted. We may waste other things in our lives–time, strength, money–but what we give Him is never wasted.

Have you broken your alabaster jar of sacrificial worship for Jesus today?

Dear Father in heaven, we come to honor and glorify the Name of Jesus. May our lives spill out our offering of sacrifice to You, and may we always be the fragrance of Christ to the world. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 12

Welcome to Week 12 of the “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. In this last post of our study on JOY, we’ll look at one of the most amazing miracles of all: resurrection. When Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, His resurrection sealed our privilege of spending eternity with Him in God’s kingdom. Is there any greater JOY? Today we’ll read about the story of Lazarus’s resurrection.

Click HERE to read today’s Scripture about Jesus’s raising Lazarus from the dead.

Memory Verse: “‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die'” (John 11:25b-26a NKJV).

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

While Jesus ministered in another town, Mary and Martha sent word for the Lord to come to heal their sick brother, Lazarus. Although His disciples discouraged Him from going, Jesus explained, “‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’” (v.4)

Two days later, Jesus and His disciples arrived in Bethany where Lazarus had already been buried for four days. Jesus spoke privately with Martha and then Mary before grieving at Lazarus’s tomb. The sisters and other mourners expressed their disappointment: Lazarus would still be alive if Jesus had come sooner. Jesus declared to Martha, “‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (v.25-26). Martha declared, “‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’” (v.27).

Mary and the crowd of mourners joined together to mourn at the tomb.
Everyone noticed how strongly Jesus wept along with the others. They quietly discussed how much Jesus loved Lazarus, asking “‘Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?’” (v.37).

Jesus told them to remove the stone in front of the cave. He prayed aloud to the Father, asking God to answer His prayer that people would believe in Him. Jesus then cried out with a loud voice, “‘Lazarus, come forth!’” (v.43).

Can you imagine the shock when the dead man appeared alive at the mouth of the cave, still wrapped in his grave clothes? Overjoyed, many people believed in Jesus as the Son of God, but others went to report it to the Pharisees.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

As you may recall from our earlier study, Lazarus wasn’t the first person Jesus raised the dead. Remember Jairus’s daughter in Mark 5? (You can read about it HERE.)

Why do you think Jesus purposely delayed the call to go to Bethany to heal his dear friend Lazarus? Not because He didn’t care. Although He knew Lazarus would die, He also prophesied to His disciples that this sickness wouldn’t end in death (v.4). “‘And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe'” (v.15).

However, there was one good reason why Jesus planned to raise Lazarus’s body on the fourth day after burial. Since the Jews believed the spirit didn’t depart from the body for the first three days after death, this was a sign and irrefutable proof that glorified both the Father and Jesus, His Son.

What a paradox. He purposely chose his dearest friends, whom He knew He could trust to endure deep yet temporary sorrow, to prove His identity as the Son of God. We know He loved Lazarus very much, as evidenced by His emotional weeping at his tomb. But human reasoning expressed by Martha and Mary came forth loud and clear: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.21, v.32). Such a burden of disappointment and sorrow to bear.

But what joy filled their hearts after Lazarus was resurrected! All sorrow and disappointment vanished in that miraculous moment as they received their brother back into their loving arms. As He had said He would, Jesus used this opportunity to bring glory to the Father and prove His identity as God’s Son.

Let’s apply this lesson to our lives.

Don’t we do the same thing as Mary and Martha? When something that we treasure dies, we weep inconsolably at its tomb. We cry out that if Jesus had shown up sooner, it would still be alive.

Perhaps it’s a dream that you believe will never come to pass, and your hope is flickering out. Or maybe it’s a physical illness you’ve prayed about for a long time, but you’re still waiting on healing. Perhaps a relationship appears dead and impossible to bring back to life. Or maybe something to do with money or income has left you mourning and troubled about the future.

Just as Jesus came to Mary and Martha, let’s also take comfort that our Lord will come to minister to each of us. He is a compassionate and understanding Savior who weeps with us in our darkest hour.

Let’s listen as He speaks to our situation and commands whatever is dead to be resurrected back to life. Oh, the JOY that will fill our hearts!

Has the Lord brought you JOY by miraculously resurrecting something dead in your life?

I hope your JOY in the Lord has blossomed and grown this month. When the Holy Spirit lavishes us with the love of Jesus, gardens of JOY grow in our hearts. JOY isn’t conditional on our circumstances, thank goodness, but the Lord gives us JOY in spite of them. When we worship and praise Him through our tears, we are lifted up and out of this world. Isn’t God so good!

For more study on the topic of resurrection, click HERE for a sermon by Charles Spurgeon or HERE for a sermon by Ravi Zacharias.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your compassion and understanding of our human sufferings. We ask You to speak resurrection to our dying circumstances, for You are the Resurrection and the Life. We glorify You and pray these things in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 11

Welcome to Week 11 where we’ve been studying the second Fruit of the Spirit, JOY. This month we have explored how JOY comes through trials in our lives. Last week, we witnessed the JOY in heaven when just one sinner repents. This week we’ll study the church’s engagement and marriage to the Lamb of God. It’s a time of JOY as we, the bride, prepare to meet our Bridegroom.

The Parable of the Vestal Virgins

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” (Matthew 25:1) Click to read the rest of Matthew 25:1-13.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10 NKJV).

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Jesus explained His Father’s kingdom by telling a parable about ten virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom. Five foolish ones took no oil for their lamps, but five wise ones took oil in their vessels. As the bridegroom tarried, they all fell asleep. Then at midnight, a cry announced his coming. All the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps, but the foolish five had no oil. The wise ones didn’t have enough to share, so the foolish ones went to buy some. While they were gone, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went into the wedding with him. When the foolish virgins returned, the door was shut and the bridegroom refused to let them in, saying that he never knew them.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Is there any day more JOYous than a wedding day, especially if you’re the bride? Our culture has glorified weddings in recent years with television shows about everything from buying the dress to ceremonies and receptions. Weddings are currently big business—and no expense is spared.

But wedding traditions haven’t always been like today’s. In order to understand this parable, we must first familiarize ourselves with the customs of those times.

Hundreds of years ago, the bridegroom would travel to the home of his bride. Although the bride never knew exactly what time he would arrive, she still had to be dressed and ready to go. Sometimes a bridegroom was late, and the bride waited anxiously for days. But after his arrival, he would JOYfully carry her off to his home. Then they would celebrate with a wedding ceremony and a marriage feast with friends and family, sometimes lasting for days.

Who are these virgins in the parable? They represent the sleeping church, who is engaged to Jesus and waiting for His return. We don’t know the day nor the hour of His coming. But when He arrives, those who are saved and full of the oil of the Holy Spirit will be taken to heaven as His bride. Those who aren’t saved will be left behind, knocking at a closed door.

The most JOYful realization is that this event may happen soon. With our shining lamps full of oil, our eyes look up because we know our bridegroom is coming. When Jesus arrives in the clouds with His angels, we who are alive on that day will be caught up to meet Him in the air, along with the resurrected Saints. He will take us to heaven to be His bride and to feast at the marriage supper of the Lamb. You can read about this JOYful event, the rapture of the church, here.

Just as today’s bride takes time to groom and adorn herself for that special day, so we must also make ourselves ready to meet our bridegroom. Jesus is coming for a church without spot or wrinkle. Let’s wash away our sins in His blood and anoint ourselves with the pure water of His Word. Let’s clothe ourselves in garments of praise and righteous acts as we wait for that shofar blast to sound from the clouds.

‘Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb’” (Revelation 19:7-9 NKJV).

For more study on the subject of the Bride of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, click HERE to listen to a sermon by Charles Spurgeon.

Nothing is more JOYous than a wedding celebration! Would you share some JOYful memories abou your special day?

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for inviting us to be Your bride at the marriage supper of the Lamb. May we fill our lamps with the oil of Your Holy Spirit and be ready to go home with You at Your appearing. We pray that You send worldwide revival now. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens


The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 10

Welcome to Week 10 where we’ve been studying the second Fruit of the Spirit, JOY. Last week we explored how JOY comes through trials in our lives. It’s a paradox for something so wonderful to come out of difficulty or suffering. Where does JOY originate? Deep in our salvation, placed there the moment we say YES to Jesus. This week we’ll see what happens in heaven when just one sinner repents.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Click HERE to read Luke 15: 1-24.

Memory Verse: Luke 15:10: “‘Likewise I say to you, there is JOY in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’”

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

When tax collectors and sinners gathered around Jesus, the Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus for allowing such men to be near Him.
That sparked Jesus to relate three parables directed at these hypocritical Pharisees.


The first one deals with a shepherd who leaves his flock of ninety-nine to seek for one that is lost. “‘And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing’” (v.5). But his JOY multiplies after returning home. He invites friends and neighbors to a party to celebrate with him over finding his one lost sheep.

The second parable tells about a woman who loses one of her ten silver coins. She lights a lamp, sweeps her house, and searches diligently until she finds it. “‘And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’” (v.9)

The third relates the story of the prodigal son. After he squanders all his money, he finds himself working in a pigsty where even the pig’s food looks appealing to his empty stomach. After he comes to himself, he makes the long journey home to appeal to his father to make him as one of his slaves.
Much to his surprise, his father runs out to meet him and welcomes him with a joyful kiss. “‘But the father said to the servant, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” And they began to be merry’” (v. 22-24).

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Have you ever lost something of great value? I have. The situation causes my heart to canter and my mind to swirl in panic. I retrace my steps and get on hands and knees, feeling behind furniture and shining a flashlight into dark corners. Finally, my lost treasure is discovered–usually in the last place I look. My relief turns to JOY, and my family and friends rejoice with me.

What do these parables have in common? Probably something that has happened to each of us–something precious is lost and later is found. And the finders’ joy overflows to a celebration.

But the meaning is far deeper.

“‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me'” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV).

The lost sheep, coin, and prodigal son represent those who are lost in their sins but who find JOYful salvation at the cross of Christ. Jesus uses these parables to show the Pharisees and scribes how God feels about one lost sinner. Each person is so special that God personally seeks out each one. Then He calls His angels in heaven together to rejoice with Him over every person who repents.

As an altar minister at my church, I have prayed with several people over the years for salvation. Through our tears, I remind them that the angels are celebrating JOYfully in heaven as well as writing their name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

There is no sweeter time of celebration on heaven or on earth than when a lost soul repents and meets Jesus as personal Lord and Savior.

“The king shall have JOY in Your strength, O Lord; and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!” (Psalm 21:1 NKJV)

Can you share your story of JOY with us, either about your own salvation or the salvation of a friend or loved one?

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making the salvation experience one that is full of JOY. May we feast on the JOY of our salvation and also rejoice with those whose salvation we witness. We ask You to send forth Your Spirit to draw in the Lost and use us as Your witnesses during these last days. In Your Son’s Name we pray, Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Front Porch Bible Study Series by Karen Jurgens

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 9

Welcome to “Front Porch Bible Study Series. We are beginning our study of the second Fruit of the Spirit–JOY. This month we will discover the place where JOY lives deep in our spirits, waiting to be mined out, like precious diamonds. Let’s go mining today for this priceless gift from God!


The Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study Series Week 9: How to find joy in trials.

Click here to read today’s Scripture reading.

Memory Verse: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV).

Let’s begin with a word study. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of happiness is “A state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience.”
Happiness lives in our souls and is based on fickle feelings, emotions, and changing circumstances. This temporary fix is the best the world can offer.

JOY, on the other hand, doesn’t come from the world. God lovingly plants it in our spirits the moment we become His through salvation.
Just as our salvation is permanent, so is our JOY.

In today’s reading, the prophet Habakkuk cries out to God over witnessing the dreaded arrival of the Chaldeans, godless destroyers who have come to conquer and plunder Israel. He pleads with God over how long God will look on evil and not do anything to stop it (Habakkuk 1:2-4; 12-17 NKJV).

God’s response is that He is in control of evil and not to fret. In time, they (the Chaldeans) will pay the price. (1:11). The Lord declares to Habakkuk that
the day of retribution will certainly come, as it’s an appointed time for which to patiently wait. In the meantime, the righteous should live by their faith. (Habakkuk 2: 2-4 NKJV).

Have you ever had your life torn apart unexpectedly? I have. Whether it’s losing a marriage, a child or loved one, a job, career, or finances, we can go into a tailspin, paralleling Israel’s suffering.

We cry out for God’s justice, mercy, and His hand to reverse our situation. We plead with our God, who is too holy to look on evil, and ask Him how He can allow these things to happen.

What should our response to God be?
The answer is the secret to finding JOY during our trials .

Let’s meditate on Habakkuk’s ending prayer:

“Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls—

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NKJV).

No matter our circumstances, JOY is planted deep in our spirits. Like Habakkuk, we can mine JOY out of our salvation and rejoice in the Lord–in spite of the trials we experience. God will make us sure-footed and guide us safely along narrow, mountainous paths. Isn’t God so good!

Can you rejoice in your trials?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Let us remember that our lives aren’t spiraling out of control when we face trials, but You are at the helm. May we trust You and not despair. Teach us to choose to rejoice in our trials and to draw joy from our wells of salvation. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

The Fruit of the Spirit Study Week 8

“Front Porch” Bible Study Series on The Fruit of the Spirit

Read: Genesis 22: 1-18 NKJV

Memory Verse: “He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me’” (Genesis 22:12 NKJV).

God tested Abraham by commanding him to take his only son, Isaac, to Moriah to offer him as a burnt offering to God. After a two days’ journey, he told the young men traveling with them, “’Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you’” (v.5).  As they went up the mountain, Isaac asked his father, “’Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (v.7-8).


The story of Abraham and Isaac parallels the future story of Jesus’s obedient sacrifice on the cross. God stopped Abraham from plunging the knife into his son’s body, and Abraham’s reward for His obedient faith was great. Read the climax of the story here.

Sacrifice is defined by Merriam-Webster asan act of offering to a deity something precious especially, the killing of a victim on an altar.”

But in the case of Jesus, He was not a victim. He willingly laid down His life for our sins. That was the very reason He came to earth, to restore our salvation stolen by Satan in the Garden of Eden. Read about it here.

When Jesus walked the earth, He told His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35 NKJV).

Jesus added, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12-13 NKJV).

Jesus complied with God’s request to become the supreme sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He willingly left his abode in heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit and came into the world through the Virgin Mary. We praise and worship Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross where we are saved through His blood, and our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Choosing the assurance of eternity in God’s kingdom is an awesome gift.


Out of our overflowing love for our Savior, let’s generously demonstrate our love to one another through sacrifice. What better way for us to prove that we are His disciples!

Have you ever sacrificed for someone else? Or has someone sacrificed for you? Please encourage us with your story.

Let’s conclude this month’s study with a look at the definition of LOVE as defined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” ( v.4-8). To read the full chapter, click here.

I prayerfully leave you with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Lord, thank you for loving us enough to come to earth and lay down your life so we can be saved. May we love one another and sacrifice for our fellow man, and so prove to be Your disciples. In Your Name, we pray. Amen.

Let’s pray one for another. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.

Heartwings Front Porch Bible Studies