The Master’s Class, Summit Church
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.