The Master’s Class, Summit Church
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.
OUR CERTAIN HOPE OF THINGS TO COME (1 Peter 1:3b-4)

OUR CERTAIN HOPE OF THINGS TO COME (1 Peter 1:3b-4)

February 7, 2016
As believers, our expectant, certain, hope looks forward to the things that the Word of God promises are to come for us.  That hope includes eternal life with our Lord Jesus in a heaven that contains wonders and beauty beyond anything that we can imagine or know about on this earth.

1 Cor 2:9
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
KJV

In times of our deepest sorrow, this is our certain hope.  

In times of our greatest tragedy, this is our certain hope.

In times of our greatest loss, this is our certain hope.

When death comes for us, this is our certain hope.  

That Jesus Christ is coming again and that He has prepared a place in heaven for us.  

John 14:1-3
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
KJV

This is our certain hope that we base our faith on.  This is our certain hope of the things that are to come. 
WE HAVE AN EXPECTANT HOPE (1 Peter 1:3a)

WE HAVE AN EXPECTANT HOPE (1 Peter 1:3a)

February 1, 2016
What do you worry about most when you face a difficult hardship?

Being physically harmed?  Ridiculed?  The loss of a job and the financial problems that follow?  The loss of your health?  The loss of a loved one?  Loneliness? Your own death?

The word hope is commonly defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  We say things like “I hope we have something good to eat tonight,” or “I hope my boss is in a good mood today.”  Hope is always looking forward and it is important to have hope, or a positive outlook on life, to hope that better things are coming our way.  To not have any hope during difficult times can make recovering that much more difficult or even impossible.  

The amount of hope a person has is often based on those people around them who can help them, to provide comfort, and assistance.  When you are alone, without help, it is hard to find hope.  Our hope is also based on the certainty, or uncertainty, of the future we see for ourselves.  When good things are coming in our lives it is easy to have hope.  It gets much more difficult when we see nothing but dark clouds or hardship in front of us.  This is the way the world generally thinks of the world hope.  It is a wishful desire for better things to come.

How does the meaning of the word hope change when you become a believer in Jesus Christ?  Instead of simply having a wish or desire for a certain thing to happen, the word hope means certainty for a believer in Jesus Christ.  A believer never has to worry about who will be around to provide support, for they have the certainty of the Holy Spirit living within their heart to provide strength, wisdom, power, and comfort.  This is not just a feeling, but an absolute certainty of His presence and power in their lives.  

The believer also knows with total certainty that there is eternal life in heaven that follows this temporary life on earth.  Imagine the hope that comes from knowing without a doubt that you will have endless thousands upon thousands of years of living without old age, hunger, persecution, disease, or death.  A believer knows that heaven is real and, therefore, hell is real, but this is not a concern to the believer, for they have absolute certainty that living in heaven with Jesus Christ is their next destination.   

A born again, child of God, a true believer in Jesus Christ, who has Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master, looks at difficult times with an expectant hope.  The word expectant means that they are eager for the future to come, and they are excited about what is coming.  They can be expectant because they have absolute certainty in the promises that God has provided for them.  

They can easily ask themselves, how can I fail to overcome the problems of this world with the power of the Holy Spirit of Christ in my heart.  How can death harm me, if I know what is going to happen next?  Death is nothing more than a weigh station to eternity. 

In his final words to Timothy, Paul expressed this expectant hope eloquently.

2 Tim 4:6-8
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
KJV

There was no doubt in Paul’s mind what laid beyond the grave.  He was absolutely certain of his eternity with Jesus.  He knew that Jesus would be waiting for him, ready to say, welcome home thou good and faithful servant.  This is the expectant hope of the believer.  Listen to this podcast to learn how you can have an expectant hope.
HOW FAR WOULD JESUS GO? (Romans 15:1-7)

HOW FAR WOULD JESUS GO? (Romans 15:1-7)

October 25, 2015
Over the last two chapters of our study, Paul has certainly made it clear that part of lovingly exercising our religious liberty to do the debatable things, the things not clearly defined as wrong in the Bible, is knowing when not to do something, or knowing when it might cause harm to someone else.  

I believe Paul would sum up his argument in this chapter by saying the spirit of charity, or the spirit of love, outweighs all of our other concerns.  If we truly love our neighbors as ourselves, then we will not do anything that will harm them.  Just as we would not do anything to harm ourselves.  

Paul has told us that in the area of essential beliefs, or the things clearly defined in the Bible, we are to have unity.  How do we have that unity?  By moving closer to Christ.

In the area of non-essential beliefs, or the debatable issues, we are to have liberty.  How do we express and enjoy that liberty?  By moving closer to Christ.

In all things we are to have charity towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.  How are we to show this charity?  By loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and spirit.  How do we show God that we love Him this much?  By moving closer to Christ.  

If we do the first commandment, the second commandment will take care of itself.  

If we do the second commandment, then we will be our brother’s keeper, and we will do, or not do, what it takes to help build our brother and sister in Christ, spiritually.  

So this is the spirit of charity, or love, that we are to have towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But Paul has not finished yet.  I think he knew that if he left it here, depending only on our love for our neighbor, we would respond as we have.  So, he has an even higher ground to map out for us.  It is a great thing to treat a weaker brother in the spirit of charity, or love.  It is a far greater thing to treat them in the spirit of Christ. 

In this lesson, Paul will basically ask the question of how far would Christ go in building up a fellow brother or sister in Christ, and then he will tell us that is how far we should go.  
THE YEARNINGS AND THE HOPES OF THE BELIEVER (Romans 8:23-27)

THE YEARNINGS AND THE HOPES OF THE BELIEVER (Romans 8:23-27)

March 14, 2015

Think about the things that you yearn for.  These are the things that start as a desire deep in your soul and well up into your heart and mind.  These are not our simple wants, but the things that are so passionately desired by our soul that we groan for them.  Now think about how you could ever go about obtaining these things.  Are they even within your power to obtain?

Next, think about the things that you hope for.  Are they the same things that you yearn for?  To hope for something is to look forward to something that you have not seen or realized yet.  Do you hope for a body that is free from disease and pain?  Do you hope for an end to loneliness?  Now think about how you could go about obtaining these things that you hope for.  Are they even within your power to obtain them?

Our lesson today is about the yearnings and the hopes of the believer.  What are the things that a believer wants so badly that they well up from the bottom of their soul?  And what are the hopes of a Christian?  Are they different from a person who has rejected Christ as their Savior?  And best of all, what is the solution for how a believer goes about obtaining these things.  

THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING GOD (Romans 5:1-5)

THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING GOD (Romans 5:1-5)

November 2, 2014
We live in a world where the predominant thought in a person’s mind when confronted with a decision is What’s in it for me?  Quite naturally, if they are going to buy something, they want to know the benefits of owning that item.  For instance, owning a home provides shelter and security, stability in that your lease won’t run out and you have to move.  The down side is ownership.  Anything that goes wrong you own the problem.

This is the same way that most people approach a decision about accepting Jesus as their Savior.  They think they know all of the benefits and downsides, but do they really?  

They look at what most people think of when they consider the benefits of knowing God, which is eternal life in heaven, and then they look at the perceived downside of having to change their lifestyles.  

They ask themselves, is a life in an eternity that they cannot see right now, worth giving up whatever they are doing today that they know is not right under the rules of God.  They are asking what is in this for me right now, not later, but right now?

This is the problem that we face as we try to explain the benefits of knowing God.  They see the persecution of Christians in today’s society, so it can easily appear as if all of the benefits are out in some unknown future.  So the task that we face as Christians is what can we tell them about the benefits of knowing God right now, in our lives today?  

Listen to this podcast as we learn that it is because we know Christ as our Savior that we have peace with God, we have access to the constant presence of God, we have the patience and endurance to face trials and tribulations in our lives through the power of God, and most of all we have hope.  

Do you have hope in your life today?  For the believer, God is our hope, our hope is in God. That is the benefit of knowing God.  
JESUS IS THE HOPE OF HUMANITY  (Mark 9:1-13)

JESUS IS THE HOPE OF HUMANITY (Mark 9:1-13)

May 6, 2013

When you look out into the future do you have hope?

If you do, then what is your hope based on?

Does your hope rest on the government?  Can the government fulfill your needs?

Does your hope rest on religion?  Can religion give you certainty about the future, about life after death?

A person finds hope when there is certainty about the future.  Unfortunately, there is nothing certain about the government, or religion, other than our disappointment in both.  

Listen to this podcast to learn that, for the believer, hope does not arise from the individual's desires or wishes, but from God, who is Himself the believer's hope, for it is in God that we find absolute certainty.

Discover how the transfiguration of Jesus proclaimed that Jesus is The Hope of Humanity.