The Master’s Class, Summit Church
GOD’S GLORY AND GOD’S GRACE (1 Peter 5:10-14)

GOD’S GLORY AND GOD’S GRACE (1 Peter 5:10-14)

October 3, 2016
God’s glory.  God’s true glory is beyond our ability to even conceive of.  Yet, we were given a glimpse of this glory in the person of Jesus Christ, who stepped out of heaven, and for a brief time made Himself a little lower than the angels, just so that we might have our sins forgiven.  Is this the quality of God that you cherish the most?

John 1:14
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
KJV

Heb 2:9
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
KJV

God’s grace.

Eph 2:4-8
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
KJV

For me it is God’s grace that I cherish the most, for it is by God’s grace that I am saved.  It is by God’s grace that I can live the victorious Christian life against all evil.  It is by God’s grace that I have anything that I have, for I deserve nothing but judgment, but it is God’s grace that allows me to call the almighty God, Abba, Father. 

It is by God’s grace that believers can live a victorious Christian life no matter what the circumstances, terror, or adversary, that we face.  Peter describes our Lord as the God of all grace.  In other words, God has absolutely total control and ownership of this amazing resource.  He has a limitless supply available at all times.  Now this is a concept about God’s grace you may not have thought of before, God has total control and ownership of this quality.  There is none other with this quality.  

God's grace provides strength enough for every situation.  Grace for living and grace for dying, grace to deal with the penalty of sin and grace to overcome the power of sin, grace to face persecution and grace to forgive the persecutor, grace to see us through and grace to get us home. 

God's grace guarantees us a share in God's eternal glory.  God's grace is sufficient to translate that into a living reality in our lives. Satan cannot win.  God's grace cannot fail, and it is ours because of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Let Satan roar and prowl all he wants.  Neither Satan, nor ten thousand Nero’s, nor the prospect of a horrible death, nor anything else can stop God's grace in Christ from getting us home.

Rom 8:35-39
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
KJV

This is the power of God’s grace.  It is supremely sufficient for all of our needs, and it is the quality about God that I cherish the most.   

Listen to this podcast as we learn about God’s grace and God’s glory.
RULES FOR MEMBERS OF GOD’S CHURCH (1 Peter 5:5-9)

RULES FOR MEMBERS OF GOD’S CHURCH (1 Peter 5:5-9)

September 25, 2016

This week we are going to talk about how to be an effective church member.  So, as I was preparing this lesson, I got to thinking about the role of a church member.  And to be honest, compared to the pastor, church members have it pretty easy.  All they have to do is show up on Sunday for worship services, and maybe again on Wednesday night just to add a little extra learning.  

I mean, it is the pastor and the church staff who are supposed to do all of the work of the church.  If there are people to witness to or souls to save, call the pastor.  If there are letters to send out, call the church secretary.  If there are people to visit either as prospects, or at the hospital, or home bound, that is what the associate pastor is supposed to do.  If there are teenagers or children to be mentored and taught, that is what the youth minister and children’s director are for.

Now, members may need to bring some food, every once in a while, for a fellowship or a funeral, but all of the rest of the stuff like cleaning the church, replacing light bulbs that have gone out, or repairs around the church, that is what we pay the staff for.  My job as a member is to sit in that chair or pew on Sunday morning, stay awake during the sermon, say amen when the preacher says something good, and then go on my merry way letting the staff take care of everything else.  Right?  

If I tore up the bulletin into little pieces during the sermon to keep my mind occupied, it is my job to leave it on the floor of the sanctuary for the janitor to pick it up.  If something is not right with the building, it is my job to find the maintenance guy and let him know about it.  If we are not singing the right kind of music to suit my taste, it is my job to let the music director know.  If the sermons are too long, and the pastor is causing me to be late for the buffet line at the local restaurant for lunch, it is my job to tell the pastor about that, right?  He needs to know the problems he is causing.

Now, I hope everyone knows that I am being sarcastic here, and most people would say that this is not really true.  It is not the job of the shepherd to make more sheep, it is the sheep who make more sheep.  Right?  I also know that there are a lot of pastors out there saying, hey, he’s not being sarcastic at all, that is just what my members think and do.

So maybe we start looking at actions rather than words.  Think about it.  When was the last time you made a new sheep in God’s flock?  When was the last time you saw something that needed to be done for the church, and you just took care of it?  A visitor needed to be shown around the church, and you just did it.  A fellow brother or sister in Christ was at the hospital and his family needed a meal, or to be prayed over, and you just did it.  A paper towel dispenser in the bathroom was empty, and you refilled it.  You didn’t tell somebody about it, so they could fix it, you just did it.  

We live in a secular world where people get paid to take care of all of our needs.  The buildings we work in have maintenance personnel.  The streets we drive on have repair crews and cleaners.  The restaurants we eat at have servers.  So we have this expectation that a church works in the same way as the secular world, but does it?

Are the offerings we give to the church best used to maintain the building and pay the salaries of the staff, or touch souls for Christ?  Now, make no mistake about it, I am speaking to myself as much as anyone else.  I have often called the maintenance guy to take care of a problem, and in some cases, he probably would prefer we let him know about it, rather than doing a poor job of it ourselves, making the job harder for him.  But the core of my question is what should our attitude be about our service for God?  Should we expect others to be the servants of God, or are we, the members, the servants of God?  

Listen to this podcast to learn how to be an effective church member.  How we are to wear the garment of humility, how we are to deal with all of our problems and worries, and most of all, how we are to stand and resist our true adversary, Satan.  

THE ROLE OF A SHEPHERD (1 Peter 5:1-4)

THE ROLE OF A SHEPHERD (1 Peter 5:1-4)

September 18, 2016
If you asked someone where they worked and they said, “I am a preacher,” would it be the same thing if they said, “I am a pastor?”

So, how does the word Pastor differ from the word Preacher or Evangelist?  

This is interesting because I think of two different, but similar, roles for a pastor and that of a preacher.  In my mind, a pastor is someone who cares for the people of his flock.  He ministers to their needs, he visits them in the hospital, and he counsels them in times of trials.  He is the one you call to marry you, or to officiate a funeral.  When your spirit is discouraged and down, it is a pastor that you want to comfort you.  It takes a person with a humble spirit and a caring heart to be a pastor.  They are often soft-spoken, gentle souls.  They must also have incredible, Holy Spirit provided, strength of faith to see a constant barrage of the dark events in people’s lives, because nobody calls the pastor when things are going good.  They have a heart to edify, or to build spiritually, the members of their flock, but they are constantly discouraged by the seemingly endless spiritual immaturity of those same members.  This is often the reason a pastor will suffer burnout.  They face difficult challenges on every side and, therefore, it is their dependence on the Holy Spirit that is key to their ability to continue and be successful.  

A preacher, on the other hand, is a fire and brimstone speaker, who can draw people to the foot of the cross with his evangelistic sermons.  He can invigorate the soul and put fire in the spirit of his congregation with the preaching of the Word of God.  He opens the door for the Holy Spirit of God to enter the heart of a person by his anointed and spirit led sermons.  It takes a certain level of self-confidence in order to speak effectively in front of large crowds, yet that confidence must be balanced by a dependence on the Holy Spirit to provide the strength and words that are spoken.  It takes a powerful speaking voice to command the attention of people for long periods of time, yet they must be able to make a connection with the people they are speaking to.  Often, it seems they are speaking directly to you with their message.  

It would appear that these two roles are very different, requiring different types of people.  In fact, it is difficult to find a person who is successful at both, yet this is often what we expect out of the person who is chosen to lead our churches.  They must be on call 24 hours a day to rush to our sides with the right words in times of need, and then entertain, educate, and inspire us on Sunday mornings.  They are held to an impossibly high moral and ethical standard, even though the Bible tells us that we all must meet that same standard.  They must deal with pettiness, jealousy, territoriality, spiritual laziness, dark sin, backbiting, and busybodies within the membership, and they must do so with the diplomacy skills of a nation’s ambassador.  They are to have the power of a spiritual warrior and the gentle soul of a comforter.  Sounds pretty easy, right?

These men are truly special.  They are called of God to do a very difficult task and they need our prayers every day.  They face spiritual warfare that most of us will never see or experience because they are called to lead God’s people.  Listen to this podcast to learn Peter’s rules for being a shepherd of God’s flock.
I AM NOT ASHAMED TO BE A CHRISTIAN (1 Peter 4:16-19)

I AM NOT ASHAMED TO BE A CHRISTIAN (1 Peter 4:16-19)

September 11, 2016
1 Peter 4:16
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
KJV

The name Christian is actually only used three times in the New Testament.  Early believers called themselves brothers, believers, disciples, and saints.  The name Christian was given to the early believers by unbelievers.  It was a name of derision, ridicule, and mockery.  However, it gradually became a name of honor.  In time, the believers came to see the suitability of this name.  It reminded them that they were committed, not to a creed, a religion, or a set of rules, but to Christ.  When Peter says, “but let him glorify God on this behalf,” he is saying that no believer should ever be ashamed of the fact that he is a Christian.  He is to take a stand for Christ and stand firm.  He is to glorify God by standing up for and honoring the name of Christ.  We cannot be silent in our world, or evil is all the world will hear.  

How many of us can look back on our lives before becoming a Christian and marvel at how lucky we are that God chased after us and convicted us of our sins in order that we might be saved.  A lost person does not seek God.  In fact, they are usually running as fast as they can from God.  We are fortunate indeed that God can run faster than we can, that His Holy Spirit can convict of us of our sin, and that Jesus Christ has died to make our salvation possible.  A Christian is nothing but a miracle that God has created.  It is something we should marvel at and realize that we just barely made it.

We became a Christian because we believed in Christ, and Christ has a mission for us as His followers.  We are to share the gospel message with a world that is going to face a day of judgment and condemnation to an eternity in Hell separated from God.  There is only one hope, there is only one way of salvation.  The Lord Jesus said: 

John 14:6
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
KJV

If you reject Christ, what hope can you have come judgment day, and that day of judgment really is coming.  The world does not want to hear this gospel message and so they persecute the messengers of God, and yet Christians must not be fearful of this persecution, nor should they be ashamed of the Lord that they serve.  If you have truly accepted Christ as your Lord, then your soul has been committed to Him.  

You probably have a safety deposit box in which you keep your valuables.  When you go to sleep at night, you don’t worry about them at all.  They are locked up tight in a bank vault that will keep them safe.  Let me tell you something, I went to sleep last night, and I didn’t worry one bit about my soul.  Do you know why? I went to sleep last night in peace because Christ has taken care of all that.  I’ve made my deposit with Him, and I trust Him today.  

So let me ask you, have you made a deposit with Christ? Have you committed your soul to Him?  If you have done that, then even when trouble comes to you, even when the dark day comes, even when you are called to go down through the valley, you can do it knowing that He will take care of you, and it this faith that Christ will take care of us that allows us to share the gospel message with the lost.  It allows us to suffer persecution in order to get this message out.  

Listen to this podcast to learn how your testimony can bring glory to God.  
THE CAUSE AND EFFECT OF SUFFERING (1 Peter 4:12-15)

THE CAUSE AND EFFECT OF SUFFERING (1 Peter 4:12-15)

September 5, 2016
If you work at a manufacturing facility, or a refinery, someplace that uses heavy machinery to make things, you know that accidents occur.  These accidents are sometimes minor, and sometimes they are fatal on a large scale such as an explosion.  When an accident occurs, there is usually an investigation, either internal or by a regulatory agency.  One of the many tools that corporations use to get to the true cause of the accident is called the TapRoot® system.  Now this is a tool that has been around for a while, and it has survived because it can be fairly effective in finding out the real cause of what happened.  Almost with every incident there are two immediate reactions, there are those who claim to have no idea how it happened, and those who know exactly what the cause of the incident was.  Both groups are usually wrong, and so the value of this tool is that it is an education for both groups in finding the true cause of the accident.  

Essentially, you are walking back through various set questions that dig deeper into what caused the failure, was it training, was it equipment failure, was it a systematic problem, or was it a people problem.  We know the effect; it is the accident that occurred.  Our goal is to find the cause of the accident, correct it, and stop such accidents from occurring again.  Now we know accidents, or failures, will continue to happen, it is almost impossible to eliminate them, but there is a way to stop the self-inflicted failures, the ones caused by something that we do, or fail to do.  

In our lesson today, Peter is going to do something similar to this process with his discussion on the cause of a Christian facing suffering.  We know the effect, it is suffering and persecution.  Peter is going to help us understand the cause of that suffering.  He is going to tell us that we cannot stop all suffering.  In fact, some of our suffering is allowed by God to cleanse us and to make our faith stronger, but we can stop the self-inflicted suffering that we bring on ourselves by the things that we do, or fail to do.

Listen to this podcast to learn the cause and effect of the suffering we face as a believer.  
HOW SHOULD A BELIEVER REACT TO SUFFERING? (1 Peter 4:7-11)

HOW SHOULD A BELIEVER REACT TO SUFFERING? (1 Peter 4:7-11)

August 28, 2016
Do you remember your parents telling you that a little bit of suffering will do you some good?  Mine did, and their intent was that I should learn how to react to tough situations.  My father would say things like, “Life is hard, and you need to be tough to get through it.”  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  “Iron sharpens iron.”  The reaction of a person to hardships will say a lot about their character.  If you want to succeed in the secular world, your reaction to suffering must be to get tough, to use suffering to build tenacity, and determination, as well as confidence in your ability to face hardships.  You become more self-confident and less dependent on others. 

This is the opposite of the reaction that God wants from His children.  As a believer faces persecution, God wants them to become more dependent on Him, and less dependent on themselves.  God knows our weaknesses better than we do, and He wants to use our weakness to bring glory to His name.

2 Cor 12:9-10
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
KJV

Paul says, “for when I am weak, then am I strong,” meaning I am strongest when I am leaning on God.  So the answer to the question that I started the lesson with, How should a believer react to suffering, is they are to lean more on God.  

What happens to our concern about persecution when we lean on God to carry us through persecution?  Our concern becomes less and less the more we lean on God, and as my worry goes down, my heart is filled with joy in Christ.  This is why Paul can say, Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Rejoicing in being persecuted for Christ’s sake is the theme that Peter has for us in the last half of this chapter, but he doesn’t go there yet.  First, he builds the foundation that a believer needs in order to truly be able to rejoice when persecution comes.  

Listen to this podcast to learn how the believer can use prayer to connect them to the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and it this power, God’s power, that will carry you through persecution. 
THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING (1 Peter 4:3-7)

THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING (1 Peter 4:3-7)

August 23, 2016
Last week we began this section on why we suffer for our faith.  Peter has told us that we are in enemy territory, and we cannot expect to get through it unscathed.  Jesus tells us that since He was persecuted even unto death, then His servants will be persecuted as well.  But the wonderful good news of this chapter is that we can get through it victoriously, and in fact, God expects us to do just that.  We are not to spend the rest of our lives giving way to our flesh or to our fears.  We are to live in harmony with God's will, whatever that may be.  We preach the gospel message of Christ because of the coming Great White Throne Judgment, where all of those who reject Christ will be judged.  It is God’s desire that this gospel is preached to each person before they die, and if they don’t respond to the Gospel, then God makes it very clear that they are already dead in “trespasses and sins.” But if they accept Christ, they can then “live according to God in the Spirit.”  The Bible repeats this message of death and life over and over again.  When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we pass from death to life.  

John 5:24
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
KJV

Jesus is the resurrection, and the life.  When we believe in Him, we are no longer dead, instead we have life.  

John 11:25-26
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
KJV

We know that we are raised from the dead to walk in the newness of life.

Rom 6:4
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
KJV

Paul continues with this message in

Eph 2:5
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
KJV

In other words, before you and I were saved, we were dead in trespasses and sins.  We were spiritually dead.  Peter is saying the same thing here in this verse.  The gospel is being preached, and when the gospel is being preached, two things happen.  Some accept it, and if they accept it, they are going to live for God and live throughout eternity.  Others reject it, and those who reject the gospel are the men who are dead in sins and are dead to God throughout eternity; that is, they have no relation to Him whatsoever. 

The cause of suffering for a believer is the sinfulness of the world that we live in.  We are not of this world, and because we stand against the sin of this world, we will be persecuted.  We will have lies told about us.  We will face judgment at the hands of the ones in leadership positions of this world.  Peter did.  Paul did.  Jesus did.  Therefore, we will also.  The wonderful good news is that on the other side of the grave is a Savior with His hands outstretched saying “Welcome thou good and faithful servant.”  

Listen to this podcast to learn the true cause of the suffering that a believer encounters as he stands for Christ.
WHY WE SUFFER (1 Peter 3:21 to 4:2)

WHY WE SUFFER (1 Peter 3:21 to 4:2)

August 14, 2016
A large part of this book has been addressed by Peter to people who are undergoing incredibly severe torture and death for their faith in Christ.  It is easy to understand how people who are facing this type of constant persecution would be discouraged, even asking God why He is allowing this to occur.  Peter understands this and he is writing this section of the letter to help them deal with it.  So God has provided these lessons to us, as believers, in order to show us how we are to deal with the persecution that we face, in whatever form that it takes.  

Christ has told us to expect persecution.  

John 15:18-21
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
KJV

Peter dedicates this whole section to helping believers know why we are being persecuted for our faith in Christ, and how to deal with that persecution.  Our faith is in Christ, and we know that our Lord will provide for our needs during this time.  He will provide the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us, strengthen us, and encourage us.  This is our faith.  Christ will not fail us. The wonderful good news is that Jesus Christ is alive and enthroned at the right hand of God! It is an unfortunate fact that the history of mankind is full of monsters like Nero.  They each have their day, but no matter how strong they are, no matter how evil they are, nothing they do can alter the fact that Jesus now sits on the supreme throne of the universe.  The mystery of the suffering of God's people is a mystery as great as the mystery of iniquity.  All we see down here are the seemingly tangled threads on the reverse side of the tapestry of life.  When we get to heaven, we shall see the magnificent picture on its other side.  Meanwhile, Christ is on the throne.  That certain fact is the foundation of our promise, our hope, and our faith.

We are in enemy territory.  We cannot expect to get through it unscathed.  But we can get through it victoriously.  God expects us to do just that. We are not to spend the rest of our lives giving way to our flesh or to our fears.  We are to live in harmony with God's will, whatever that may be.  

Why do we suffer?  God says that He will use suffering in your life in order to keep you from sin, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”  This means that we no longer take life for granted, for we have suffered, and that God will use that suffering to keep us from sin.
THE GOD-PLANNED PURPOSE OF CHRIST’S SUFFERING (1 Peter 3:16-20)

THE GOD-PLANNED PURPOSE OF CHRIST’S SUFFERING (1 Peter 3:16-20)

August 7, 2016
Certainly, the best example we have of how to prepare ourselves to endure the suffering and persecution for our faith in Christ, is Christ Himself.  Christ is not asking us to do anything that He Himself has not endured.  In fact, the persecution and suffering that Christ endured was far greater than anything we can imagine.  But there was a God-planned purpose in Christ coming to this world knowing that He would be persecuted even unto death, just as there is a God-planned purpose in our suffering as well.  The fact that the Son of God entered into human life and became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief is truly an awesome thing to consider.  

1 Peter 3:18
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
KJV

This verse explains exactly what Christ did when He died on the cross.  It tells us why Christ died and what the death of Christ does for man.  It is so clear, that it leaves the reader without an excuse.  Why did Christ have to suffer and die?

It was for the sins of all mankind that He died.  Man is sinful, he stands guilty before God.  Man has to be judged; he has to bear the punishment for his sins.  

What is that punishment?  Death and separation from God forever.  

But this is the glorious gospel; this is the declaration of this great verse: Jesus Christ died for our sins.  He took the sin and guilt of man upon Himself and bore the judgment and punishment for man.  Note one other fact: Jesus died once for our sins.  His death never has to be repeated.  His death upon the cross satisfies God completely and covers the sins and death of believers forever.  Notice carefully that I said believers.  Christ died for the sins of all mankind so that the question is no longer have you sinned or not?  

If you wish to have eternal life with Christ in heaven, the question is now, did you accept the free gift of grace that God has offered you by sending Christ to die in your place?  Have you made Christ your Lord and Savior?  Once you have said yes to this, then nobody can take your salvation away from you, and you cannot do anything to lose it.  For if you could, Christ would have to die again for your sins to be forgiven.

Christ died so that he might bring us to God.  It is our sin that separates us from God.  It is our sin that makes us imperfect and unacceptable to God.  But note the most wonderful truth, when Jesus Christ took our sin upon Himself, sin was removed from us.  Therefore, as believers we stand before God in the righteousness and sinlessness of Christ.  We are made righteous in Christ.

The vicarious atonement accomplished for us by Christ on Calvary's cross is the great God-planned reason for His sufferings.  
HOW DO YOU FACE PERSECUTION? (1 Peter 3:13-15)

HOW DO YOU FACE PERSECUTION? (1 Peter 3:13-15)

July 31, 2016
How we face suffering and persecution is one of the defining characteristics of the Christian faith that sets us apart from the world.  Let’s be honest, it is not hard to face the good times, when things are going your way, and when the people around you support your words and actions as they relate to living for Christ.  Christians look at the source of those blessings differently than the rest of the world does, but how they react to them is very similar to everyone else.  

Being persecuted for your faith comes in many forms, from simple disrespect on the part of someone you meet or the government that rules over us, to being excluded from something or somewhere, to serious physical harm to your body by torture, death, and imprisonment.  All because we stand and identify ourselves as Christians and live our lives accordingly.  The world reacts to these kinds of persecutions by saying “That’s not fair, I want justice!”  They get angry, they march in violent protest, or they take the baker or the florist to court and have the government shut them down.  We are going to learn in our lesson today that God wants His children to face this kind of suffering with joy in our hearts.  

Now, my first reaction to suffering is often the same as the world’s, shouting “That’s not fair,” and wanting someone to do something about setting that injustice right.  My thoughts run immediately to the fact that this nation was founded on Judaeo/Christian beliefs and the constitutional guarantee we have of freedom of religion.  So where is my government that is to support me and defend me?  Well, as we all know, that government has long gone and now believes that we are to be free from religion, instead having freedom of religion.  They now willingly persecute Christians for saying what they believe.  In many other countries, the government violently attacks and kills Christians for living a life for Christ.

The secular world turns to those around them, or to their own brand of religion, or the government for help.  As a Christian we are to turn to God and say “Lord, what am I to learn from this,” or, “Lord, who am I to be witnessing to?  Who do you have watching me to learn how a Christian faces persecution?”  The truth is that not all suffering is a lesson for the believer, sometimes it is a lesson for the persecutor, and sometimes it is just the face of evil doing everything it can to destroy Christianity.  Satan hates mankind, but he has a special hatred for Christians, and there are times that he uses evil people to do great harm to the people of God.  

The difference between how a Christian faces persecution and all others comes from their personal relationship with, and their knowledge of, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master.  They know from personal experience that God is in control of all things.  His hand of protection is around His children, and His Spirit is in the believer’s heart providing the strength, courage, faith, and hope, to deal with whatever Satan and the world can dish out.  It is not easy, but the focus of the Christian is not to be on the short term of our lives on this earth, but on the eternity that we are going to have with Jesus Christ in heaven.  That is our promise from our Lord, and that is the reason we can face persecution and suffering with a God-given joy in our heart.  That is the defining difference in how a Christian faces persecution.  This is what sets us apart from the world.  This is what identifies us with our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.  We have the promises of the Word of God, and the Spirit of God, in our hearts.

Listen to today’s podcast to learn how a Christian is to face persecution.
THE KEYS TO A HAPPY LIFE (1 Peter 3:8-12)

THE KEYS TO A HAPPY LIFE (1 Peter 3:8-12)

July 24, 2016
When I chose the title to this lesson, I decided to do an internet search on the phrase, The keys to a happy life.  If you can imagine, there were lots of people out there who are ready to tell you what the keys to a happy life are.  I saw titles like, 14 keys to a happy life, 10 keys to happier living, 21 keys to a happy life, and one from Psychology Today saying The key to living a happy life today.  As I looked at these my first thought was that for there to be so many results in this internet search, there must be a lot of people looking for happiness.  That may seem obvious, and I didn’t need to an internet search to know that this was true, it was just a confirmation of my thoughts.  Happiness, true happiness, can be elusive in this secular world that we live in.  

The thing that all of these sites had in common was that it hinged on you, how you thought about events, what you focused your thoughts on, how you were to let the less important things go by and not worry about them.  Living for the “now” as one site put it.  It was all about you, and what you could do for yourself.  You were in control of your happiness, and I am not going to deny that some of this is true, we are in control of how we deal with life’s tragedies.  But the wonderful thing about being a Christian is that we don’t have to face life alone.  We have the Holy Spirit of God living within us.  We have His power to depend on.  We have His wisdom to guide us, and we have His love and joy to fill our lives with true happiness.  Yet, many Christians totally ignore this benefit, and look to the secular world for their happiness.  If I were to be able to see the hits on those search results, I would bet you find just as many Christians looking at them as you do non-Christians.  

Let me tell you something really important here, they are all looking in the wrong place.  There is no true, eternal, happiness away from God.  He alone can give us the type of joy that overwhelms us.  We just have to look to Him for that happiness which already exists within us.  The wonderful good news is that we already have the key to happiness within us, we just have to activate it.  So in today’s lesson we are going to close out this section on how a Christian is to live a life of submission to the various authorities and laws with the goals of glorifying God and winning others to Christ, and then we are going to talk about God’s five keys to a believer’s happy life.  I say a believer’s happy life, for it is only the believer that has the Holy Spirit of God living within them.  

How many men and women today, who are involved in living for the things of this world, suddenly wake up and find that it’s not worth it? Life is monotonous, and life is not worth it. No wonder they commit suicide in growing numbers every day.  It is not until you come into a right relationship with God that you can live life to its fullest, and find the happiness that we all seek after.  
A GODLY MARRIAGE (1 Peter 3:1-7)

A GODLY MARRIAGE (1 Peter 3:1-7)

July 17, 2016
The institution of marriage, as it was created by God, is a wonderful thing.  It is defined in the Bible as one man and one woman choosing to love God first and then each other next.  They work together to accomplish the will of God in their lives.  They are true yokemates working together to please God.  Marriage is something which God has given to the entire human family, not just to Christians or to the nation Israel.  In the Book of Genesis, we are told that God made man and at that time man was alone.  I think the Lord let Adam be alone for a long time to let him know he was missing something.  Then Scripture says that God took man and from man He made woman.  Using the Hebrew words, Genesis 2:23 reads, She shall be called Isha, because she was taken out of Ish.  She is called … an help meet for him (Gen. 2:18); that is, a help that was fit for him.  In other words, she was to be the other half of him. He was only half a man, and she was to be the other part of him. 

In God’s blueprint for marriage, He has assigned roles for both the wife and the husband.  A godly wife was a woman who has a healthy fear and respect of God.  A woman who is obedient to God’s will for her life.  A woman who seeks to fit into the needs of her husband as they work together to accomplish the tasks that God has assigned to them.  She is also a woman who is submissive to her husband.  Now, when Peter says to the wives, Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, it absolutely does not mean that the wife is to be a slave to her husband.  The Bible does not teach that in any form or way.  What is does teach is that a woman is to make a voluntary choice to be submissive to her husband because of her love for God.  The Christian wife, in obedience to her Lord, subjects herself to her husband’s leadership, authority, and control.  She does this because she fears God, because she loves God, and her duty, just like the husband’s, is to be obedient to God’s will for her life.  

Now, this is important to understand, none of this means that men are superior to women or that women are inferior to men.  They have simply agreed to work together with the husband leading.  In the marriage relationship, it simply means that God insists on order in the home.  To establish that order, He assigns the respective roles to the husband and the wife.  There cannot be two captains on a ship; neither can there be two people at the helm in the home.

Godly husbands are to be considerate of their wives.  Men are not to ride roughshod over their wives, bossing and bullying them, ordering them around, letting them do hard labor which is beyond their strength, or making unreasonable demands upon them.  Peter says that godly husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life.  This means you both are co-heirs of God’s grace.  You both are saved from your sin.  You both are joint heirs with Christ.  You both are adopted children of God.  You both have been granted eternal life by God’s grace.  The husband and the wife are partners.  They must work together. They have something more than marriage vows to bond them together.  They have Christ. They are heirs together of God's gracious gift of everlasting life.  They are true yokemates.  They should work together to establish a Christian home, to bring up children in the ways of the Lord, to provide a measure of stability to a community, and to be the moral and spiritual backbone of the nation.

A godly husband is to dwell with them according to knowledge.  For a husband to deal with his wife in the way that God wants him to do, the husband must know and understand several things.  First, he must know God’s desire for the marriage relationship.  This means he knows what marriage is and what it is to be in the eyes of God.  Next, he must know his wife.  This means he knows her nature and emotional makeup, what she needs and wants emotionally and spiritually, her strengths and her weaknesses.  He must also know the word of God.  You cannot be the spiritual leader of your home if you do not know what God says in His Word.  The husband has the responsibility to guide the family in the will of God.  In order to do this, the husband must know the Word of God.  It is amazing how easy it is for a wife to submit herself to a husband that is who and what God says he is supposed to be.  

With that in mind, you can see that the marriage relationship is not to be one of a man insisting on treating his wife like a little child who has to jump every time he says so.  She is there to help him. She is there to be a part of him.  She is there to love him. And he is there to love her, guide her in the ways of God, and protect her.  That is God’s desire for the relationship of a man and woman in marriage.  This is how a husband is to treat his wife, and this is how a wife is to treat her husband.  They both do this because they love God first, and then each other next.  

Listen to this podcast to learn what God defines as a godly marriage.
THE PERFECT SACRIFICE (1 Peter 2:22-25)

THE PERFECT SACRIFICE (1 Peter 2:22-25)

July 3, 2016
If I were to ask you to describe something in your life that was absolutely perfect, what would you say?

I would say a big round plate, with three buttermilk biscuits, made from scratch, piping hot from the oven, split open with steam coming off of them, and then multiple ladles of sausage gravy filled with pounds and pounds of spicy sausage poured all over those biscuits.  And then me with permission to eat the whole plate, bite by bite, until it was all gone.  Now that is the absolutely perfect meal.

How about the love of my wife for me, now that is absolutely perfect.  Why she loves, I don’t know, but she does, and in my eyes it is perfect.  

Unfortunately, as good as those things are, we really have no concept of the absolute perfection of the living, true, almighty, God.  That sausage gravy may be too thick or runny, and as perfect as my wife is, she still gets mad at me from time to time.  Yet, God’s perfection is total and complete.  

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is perfect.  He came to this earth and He remained absolutely perfect.  He died on the cross for our sins, even though he was totally pure of sin in any form. He had no reason to do this other than His love for us.  No other sacrifice could do what His did.  No other sacrifice could be good enough to meet the demands of God’s holiness. This is why no amount of good behavior can grant you eternal life in heaven.  We simply cannot be good enough, there is nothing on this earth that is truly perfect.  But Jesus Christ was and is, and He chose to suffer for us.  At Calvary, all of the sins of the world, past, present, and future were placed upon this perfect sacrifice.  The Lord Jesus his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.  He died so that we might live.

Last week we described the Jesus Christ who willingly chose to step down from His throne in heaven and come to earth as God incarnate in man in order to suffer for us because sin raised its head in the universe and was transplanted to Earth.  Adam fell.  Sin entered, and death by sin.  Now the Creator must become the Christ.  Prophet after prophet arose to foretell the coming of a Kinsman-Redeemer, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.

So God's Son became the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of David.  He was to be the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He was the Child born and the Son given.  He was called the Wonderful Counselor, the Father of eternity, the Mighty God, the Prince of peace.

He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the Lord's Anointed, Prophet, Priest, and King.  Page after page of the Old Testament told the story.  Book after book was written, all about Him.  Detail added to detail increased the wonder of it all.  He stood apart from all others, robed in majesty, the altogether lovely One, and the chiefest among ten thousand, the One who suffered for us.  He was the perfect sacrifice.
OUR EXAMPLE IS CHRIST (1 Peter 2:19-21)

OUR EXAMPLE IS CHRIST (1 Peter 2:19-21)

June 19, 2016
How many people do you know that would suffer gruesome torture and death for you?  I would suspect not many, if there was anyone at all.  Yet, Christ suffered for us, and the truth is that we don’t even really understand the magnitude of the suffering Christ endured for each of us and for mankind in general.

When we think of Christ, it is generally after He came to live among us.  We think of the baby Jesus, the man Jesus, the miracle worker Jesus, the teacher Jesus, and the Jesus that died on the cross, who was buried and rose again.  We think of Jesus as we see Him portrayed in movies and TV, as a Man.  As believers, we also think of Him in His risen and resurrected glory.  This is the Jesus we normally think of.  But that is a very limited view of our Lord.  Jesus Christ was much more than that.  

I love the description that John Phillips gives of who the Lord Jesus really is.  I am paraphrasing here, but he says that the Bible gives us a picture of who the Lord Jesus was way back before time ever began, dwelling in a light unapproachable and living in perfect harmony with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in unimaginable glory.  He was uncreated, self-existing, coeternal, coequal, and coexistent with the Father and the Spirit.  He was, and is, God the Son, the second person of the triune Godhead. His wisdom was infinite, His love fathomless, and His power without measure or end.  His nature and attributes were those of the living God.  He basked in the sunshine of the Father's love in endless delight.  Eternal ages rolled by without end.  All was love, joy, and peace, beyond all imagination or thought. And then, in the council chambers of eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit agreed that They would act in creation.  The Son was the active agent. 

Col 1:16
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
KJV

All things were created by Him.  John tells us the same thing.  

John 1:1-3
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
KJV

The Son put forth His wisdom and His power, and hosts of angels appeared, rank upon rank.  Galaxies of stars sprang into being and filled space with billions of centers of light.  Planet Earth, a bright blue sphere in the Milky Way, was chosen to be the home of man. Life, in a countless variety of forms, appeared at His command.  Man was created and became another exhibit of the Son’s wisdom and power.

This is the One who willingly chose to step down from His throne in heaven and come to earth as God incarnate in man in order to suffer for us because sin raised its head in the universe and was transplanted to Earth.  Adam fell.  Sin entered, and death by sin.  Now the Creator must become the Christ.  Prophet after prophet arose to foretell the coming of a Kinsman-Redeemer, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.

So God's Son became the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of David.  He was to be the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He was the Child born and the Son given.  He was called the Wonderful Counselor, the Father of eternity, the Mighty God, the Prince of peace.

He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the Lord's Anointed, Prophet, Priest, and King.  Page after page of the Old Testament told the story.  Book after book was written, all about Him.  Detail added to detail increased the wonder of it all.  He stood apart from all others, robed in majesty, the altogether lovely One, and the chiefest among ten thousand, the One who suffered for us.

Peter saw it happen.  He was an eyewitness of much of it.  The suffering began when Jesus was but eight days old.  He was circumcised.  It was His first personal experience of pain.  He grew up.  He began His ministry.  He suffered at the hands of the people He had come to save.  He knew loneliness, rejection, and malicious hatred.  His family disbelieved His claims.  His disciples let Him down.  Peter himself denied Him with oaths and curses, and Judas sold Him for a pocketful of change. 

He wept His heart out in Gethsemane.  He was falsely accused, beaten, and abused by His own people, then He was mocked, scourged, and crucified by the soldiers of Rome. He endured the torments of death on a cross. Finally, He was made sin for us and abandoned by God.

Peter says, Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.  As believers we are the apprentice and Christ is the Master Carpenter.  He is our example of how to live the life of a victorious Christian.  He is our example of how we are to react to suffering, living in a moment-by-moment cooperation with the indwelling Spirit of God.
DO I REALLY HAVE TO HONOR MY BOSS? (1 Peter 2:17-18)

DO I REALLY HAVE TO HONOR MY BOSS? (1 Peter 2:17-18)

June 12, 2016
But my boss is moody, unfair, unjust, corrupt, and just plain awful to me.  You can’t be serious; do I really have to honor my boss?

In our lesson today, Peter will talk about how we treat those around us.  The good people and the bad people.  The popular people and the social misfits.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ and those who have rejected Christ, and even those who we work for.  God wants us to win others to Christ, that is our mission.  We won’t do that if we treat people poorly, or if we are in an adversarial relationship with them.  People respond to those who treat them with respect.  You don’t have to like them, or what they stand for, or even what they have done to you or others, but you can still treat them with respect and honor.  

I have a son who works as a prison guard in a maximum security prison.  This is a place that houses the worst of the worst in our state penitentiary system.  Some guards use their position of authority to abuse the prisoners and treat them with despite.  The prisoners react to this treatment with violence and it endangers all of the guards and other prisoners.  My son has learned that if you treat them with respect, always watchful for deception, that the prisoners will generally respond with obedience and a level of respect in return.  This is not to say that the prisoners would not harm you in a blink of an eye, but people, even really bad people, respond to being treated with respect. 

God wants His ambassadors to be seen as law abiding, caring people, who treat others with respect, even in the face of persecution.  

Peter says that we are to do this, For so is the will of God.  This is not optional.  To do otherwise is to be out of God's will.  Our first priority is unto God.  This applies to all of our relationships.  

Sounds a lot like what my father told me, and what I told my own kids.  There are just times that a parent must say to their child, I want you to do this, because I said so.  I don’t have to explain myself, just do it because I want you to.  

Now, fortunately, God is in the process of giving us a further explanation for His command to obey, but He starts out with, you are to do this because it is my will for you.  Pretty simple. So simple, even I can understand it.  Be obedient to the laws of man, or be out of God’s will.  My dad would expect my response to such a statement from him to be, yes, sir.  God expects the same thing.  
WHY SHOULD WE OBEY THE LAWS OF MAN? (1 Peter 2:15-16)

WHY SHOULD WE OBEY THE LAWS OF MAN? (1 Peter 2:15-16)

June 5, 2016
So, last week we continued the theme of submitting to the ordinances of man in order that we might bring glory to God.  We know that we are going to be persecuted unjustly.  The secular world hates Christianity, and they will do everything they can to destroy us.  They will tell horrible lies about us.  To know this is true, you have only to look at the headlines of our own country.  The democratic party, and its progressive agenda, is focused totally on removing God, those who worship Him, and His morals about what is right and wrong from the public square, and for the most part, they have succeeded by telling lies about us.  

So why would God command us to obey the laws that these corrupt governments create?  

Our submission is limited only by our adherence to God’s laws in priority over man’s law.  But, we are to obey man’s law right up to the point that it violates God’s law, and that is difficult to understand why.  It is, of course, contrary to our natural desire for justice and fairness.  And believe me, nothing is more distasteful that being forced to obey the laws of the moral degenerates who are pushing their progressive agenda.  But God says I must.  I can and should fight for what is good and moral by God’s definitions, but I must do it within the law.  

The key to understanding this seeming paradox is that we must remember that we are the ambassadors of the almighty God, and all of our words, our actions, and our fights, must bring glory to His name, or we have failed Him.  Our mission is to change the spiritual hearts of people by introducing them to our Lord Jesus Christ, and let God take care of the rest.  Revival can only occur when the heart is changed by God.    

In our lesson today, Peter begins to give us an explanation for our submission.
THE QUESTION OF SUBMISSION (1 Peter 2:13b-14)

THE QUESTION OF SUBMISSION (1 Peter 2:13b-14)

May 29, 2016
If I were to ask you to give me a list of so-called Christians or Christian groups that give others a bad impression of Christians, and Christianity as a whole, who would you list?  My list would include churches that protest military funerals, and violent anti-abortion groups and people. Make no mistake about it, God does not support this type of activity, and it does not bring glory to His name.  When one of these groups protest the burial of war veteran, nobody is thinking positive things about the people of God.  When an anti-abortionist walks in and shoots people, nobody is thinking positive things about the people or groups that this person represents or the God they claim to worship. 

If I were to ask you about the top lies the secular world says about Christians, what would you say?  My list would include “They are all a bunch of hypocrites” or “They hate _____people,” fill in the blank with whatever sin you want, be it gay people, drunk people, abortion doctors, or adulterers. While these are certainly lies of the greatest magnitude about true Christians, people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, they are unfortunately true of a large group of people who claim to be Christians.  Once again, make no mistake about it, God does not condone hypocrisy, or hatred of any person, on the part of His true followers.  Some of the most vehement words that Jesus spoke while He was on this earth were directed at the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees.  The Bible does not teach it, nor does God command His followers to behave in this way.  In fact, He commands just the opposite.

Mark 12:29-31
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
KJV

You cannot love your neighbor as yourself, and hate them at the same time.  God didn’t say love only the good people, He said to love thy neighbor.  We are to recognize and proclaim sin for what it is, rebellion against God.  We are to recognize those who commit sin as rebels against God.  We are to preach and teach people to obey the commandments of God.  To behave in a way that is in accordance with God’s definition of good and moral, and to abstain from those things that God calls evil and amoral.  

We are to do this with a spirit of love and because we know the eternal consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ and rebelling against God are real and permanent.  Hell is real and it is forever.  God’s judgment is real, and because we love our neighbors as ourselves, we do not want this for anyone.  Our mission is to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ so that He can change the heart of that person, and provide them with eternal life.  

The world is going to make up enough lies about us as it is.  We are going to be persecuted unjustly.  The only defense we have is that our behavior does not match the lies.  If someone wants to look for the truth in your life, they should find a law abiding citizen who respects the law of man.

Yet, when we, as Christians, violate man’s laws and become labeled as criminals, when we lie, or steal, or fail to pay our taxes, drive a vehicle while we are drunk, when we commit violent acts, or when we violate God’s commandments, we bring dishonor to the God that we serve.  We bring dishonor to the name of those who serve God and we taint the gospel message that we preach.  Our actions have to match our words.  This is what our lesson is about today, behaving in such a way that when the world tells lies about us, our behavior can set the record straight and bring glory to the God we serve.  
OUR MISSION IS TO GLORIFY GOD (1 Peter 2:12-13a)

OUR MISSION IS TO GLORIFY GOD (1 Peter 2:12-13a)

May 22, 2016
Last week we began talking about how the believer is to live a separated life by his behavior.  In other words, people should see a difference in us by our behavior.  They are to see in us a type of behavior that brings glory to God.  

We are a chosen people, we have a special position before God, we are separated by birth because we are the adopted children of God, we are no longer the slaves of Satan, we are separated by our new birth.  

We are a people separated by our belief, our faith is in Christ, our beliefs are unlike any other man-made religion, we believe in our salvation by God’s grace and the precious blood of a risen Savior, not man’s works and efforts.  We are separated by our belief.

We are also a people who should live lives that show a new attitude toward the world around us.  We are to be strangers and pilgrims in this world that is no longer our home.  The world is defined as the society around us, with God left out.  God is deliberately not welcome in the minds and hearts of most people in our society.  Neither are His adopted children, Christians.  

We are strangers in this world.  We are away from our home.  We are in this world, but we are not of this world.  

We are also pilgrims in this world because we are on our path back home.  Our eye is on the goal of completing our mission that God has given us.  The mission of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with a dark world.  

Peter is telling us that our goodness, a goodness that is to be something beautiful to behold, is how we are to behave.  This goodness is to include our obedience of the laws of man.  Christians will be, and have been, accused of horrendous crimes, of hatred, and of violence.  These are lies on a grand scale, and God wants our behavior to prove that these things are false.  Our behavior is to be such that when the world sees a Christian, they are to say that their behavior brings glory to the God that they serve.  In other words, we are God's people in a world of lost people.  Our behavior is to reflect the goodness of God who has sent us here as His personal ambassadors.  This goodness, that is witnessed by others, is to be a result of our separation.

This is the basis for everything Peter teaches in this passage.  We are a chosen people who have been saved, reborn, and given a mission from God.  That mission is to serve God.  It is to be a witness for Him, to lead others to Christ, and to bring glory to God.  That is our mission.  Everything else takes a back seat.  

God has commanded us to live separated lives.  He has given us His definition of the words good, moral, evil, and amoral.  We do not get to change those definitions as the world has done.  Our lives are to meet His standards so that we can represent Him and bring glory to His name.  The world is to know God by what they see in us.  
DOES THE WORLD SEE GOD IN YOU? (1 Peter 2:11)

DOES THE WORLD SEE GOD IN YOU? (1 Peter 2:11)

May 15, 2016
If I were to describe someone as a good person, a moral person, what does that mean to you?  If I were to describe someone as an evil person, an amoral person, what does that mean to you?  Where do the definitions of the words good, moral, evil, and amoral come from? Are these words relative?  Are some people better than others, or more evil than others?

Do those words, good, moral, evil, and amoral, have the same meaning today as they did 10 years ago, 20 years ago, even 40 years ago?  I don’t think so, so why has the world changed the definition of what good and moral behavior means?  Why does the world want a different definition of these words?

As with all words, the meaning depends on the dictionary that you use for it.  For example, if I say the word resurrection as it relates to Christ, I mean the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  I get my definition from the Word of God, the Bible is my dictionary.  Many Christian religions, and some non-Christian religions, believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but they have a different definition for the word resurrection.  They may believe in a spiritual only resurrection, or maybe a symbolic resurrection, but not a physical resurrection.  They say the same words, but they use a different dictionary to define the word, so we have to be careful to know which dictionary we are using when we say the words good, moral, evil, and amoral.  

The answer to the question of why the world has changed the definition of these words is because God’s definition of these words, as He defines them in the Bible, are too restrictive.  They don’t fit in with the new morality.  So over time, man has chosen a different dictionary to define these words, they have moved away from God’s definitions in the Bible, to a definition of their own creation.  The further man moves from the definitions of the Bible, the more evil behavior is called good, and good behavior is called bad.  God warns us of this in His Word.

Isa 5:20
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
KJV

We live in a society today where homosexuality and lesbianism are called good.  Men can call themselves a woman, have some surgery, and they are called brave, heroes, and good.  It was not long ago that the country had a different name for these types of behavior, but now we are told we must accept evil and amoral behavior as good and moral.  In fact, we must go further than just accepting them, we must agree with the world and call them good and moral, or face persecution.

We live in a society today where God’s definitions of good, moral, evil, amoral, and those who preach, teach, and try to live by these definitions are the ones called evil and hateful.  Jesus tells how we should react to these descriptions.

Luke 6:22
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
KJV

So, let me ask you, are you feeling blessed these days?

Our lesson today is about why God wants His followers to live their lives by His definition of the words good, moral, evil, and amoral.  We are to be different from the world, not weird different, but a good difference.  A difference that people will notice and be drawn to.  We will never be perfect by God’s standards, but we are to live our lives more like Christ lived His life every day.  God has a purpose in this desire for us.  We are to be a separated people, not isolated, but separated from the world’s definitions.  We are God’s special people, a peculiar people, a chosen people.  We are His ambassadors and our lives should show it.  
OUR RESPONSE TO GOD’S GRACE (1 Peter 2:9b-10)

OUR RESPONSE TO GOD’S GRACE (1 Peter 2:9b-10)

May 8, 2016
Today is Mother’s Day.  It is a special day for everyone, because no matter who you are, you had a Mother.  You may not know who your Mother was.  You may not have had a very good Mother, but if you are like most people, your Mother is very special to you.  Your Mom was there when you fell.  She was there when you cried out in fear of the darkness.  She was there when you hit a home run, or when you struck out for the third time that day, and she was there when you walked across the stage as a graduate.  She loved you no matter what.  She loved you when you didn’t call her, when you didn’t come by to see her, and even when you forgot her on Mother’s Day.  She just loved you.  How do you respond to that kind of love, to that kind of grace?

Do you tell other people how great she was?  Do you tell your children what a great mom you had?  Do you do your best to make her proud of you, of what you have become?  Not everyone’s Mom is still with us.  In fact, in a class with people of our age, some of our mom’s passed away some time ago.  I firmly believe that my Mother is looking down from heaven on me and my sister and brother, and she is checking up on us to make sure we are doing what she taught us to do.  My guess is that she has a conversation with Jesus every once in a while telling Him what she thinks of us.  

How do you respond to that kind of love and grace?

Our lesson today is about several things, we are going to finish up our discussion on our position before God, about the mercy and grace that God has shown us, but we are also going to talk about how we are to respond to our God who has loved us so much, and has shared His grace upon us.

How do you respond to that kind of love and grace?  Pretty amazing isn’t it?  Listen to this podcast to learn how to respond to God’s grace.