The Master’s Class, Summit Church
A FAITH FORGED IN THE FIRES OF PERSECUTION (Revelation 2:5-11)

A FAITH FORGED IN THE FIRES OF PERSECUTION (Revelation 2:5-11)

April 30, 2017

The word Smyrna is translated from a Greek word that is also translated as the word myrrh in other parts of the Scripture. It stands for a sweet perfume that came from being crushed. It was also a substance used for medicinal purposes. What did the wise men bring to the baby Jesus? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It was also given to Christ when He hung on the cross. The Bible says that they gave Him wine mixed with myrrh. It was also used at the burial of Christ, where they scented His burial clothing with myrrh. Myrrh and Smyrna are translated from the same Greek word and they have the same meaning.

It is the providence of God that the suffering church would be in this city that has the name of such a perfume that was extracted by crushing it. This was a church suffering great persecution, but the Lord says I know what you are going through. It is encouraging when we are facing our darkest hours, to know that Jesus is right there with us. Jesus doesn’t promise to keep us out of persecution, but He does promise to get us through it. There is no heartache, pain, or fear that we might face that the Lord does not share. He has faced every kind of suffering, to a much greater degree than anything, that we might ever have to face. He knows about it, and He knows how to get us through it.

Click on the link to hear a sermon on a church that was poor in the eyes of men, but rich in the eyes of the Lord. The first part of this lesson we finish up our discussion from last week of the church at Ephesus, and then in the focus of this lesson, we cover the suffering church of Smyrna. Join us as God blesses the reading of His Word. Amen.

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 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.  
HOW TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE (1 Peter 2:1-3)

HOW TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE (1 Peter 2:1-3)

April 17, 2016
HOW TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE

When I was a kid growing up, my father would tell me that I needed to choose the people I hung around with very carefully because if you are part of a group, then you will be judged by the behavior of that group.  Whether, or not, you actually did whatever the group did, that was how people would think of you.  In other words, if you hang out with a group that is always getting into trouble, then people will think of you as a trouble maker.  If you hang out the smart people, then you will be judged to be like them whether you really are smart, or not.  I am not saying that is fair, it is just the way it is.  Life is rarely fair.  

I learned this lesson well, and I generally chose to do things the various groups of kids were not doing.  As the saying goes, I was country when country wasn’t cool.  I turned in my platform shoes and walked all around my college campus wearing cowboy boots.  Now, I have to admit, it was at Kansas State University, so it wasn’t all that unusual.  I gave up listening to Three Dog Night, Chicago, and Sly and Family Stone as a teenager and started listening to Willie and Waylon, Hank Jr, and Merle Haggard back in the rebel days of country music.  

After a while, I switched to traditional country music which included George Strait and the music from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.  People like Hank Sr., Patsy Cline, Don Williams, Danny Davis and Nashville brass, and so forth.  I even started listening to big band and 40’s club music.  Nobody was listening to these guys at that time.  It actually became a point in my life to be seen as different from all of the crowd.  But being different meant that I was not a part of any particular group.  Certainly not, the in-crowd.  This was a conscious, and deliberate, decision on my part.  I did not want to be associated with the in-crowd, and so I wasn’t.

This actually fit right in with being a Christian during my school years.  Living the life of a Christian means you will never be popular, and you will not be a part of the cool kids.  In fact, the Bible tells us that we will be hated.

Mark 13:13
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
KJV

Even knowing that this true, there is to be a conscious, deliberate, decision on the part of a believer, to live a life that is separated from the secular world.  Not isolated from the world, for we live in the world, but we are not to be of the world.  When people describe you, they should say that there is something different about you, not goofy different, but a good difference.  There ought to be something attractive about the way you conduct yourself.  There should be a lack of anxiety about all of the things that worry the rest of the world.  There should be a humility in your words and your actions.  There should be kindness in your actions to others.  In fact, people should see Christ shining out of you.  

Everything you think about when you consider how Christ lived His life on this earth, ought to be something that you are moving toward, or growing toward as a Christian.  This is what living a holy life means.  It is living a separated life.  One set aside for Christ, dedicated to the work of Christ, and accomplishing the purposes of God in this world.  

This is what our lesson is about today, how to live a holy, or a separated life.  
HOW OBEDIENCE IS HOLY (1 Peter 1:14-16)

HOW OBEDIENCE IS HOLY (1 Peter 1:14-16)

March 13, 2016
Outside the four walls of the church, would you ever describe your life as holy?  Do you feel comfortable with the word holy when you are speaking to the general public?  Probably not.  I can’t say that I use the word holy very much outside of a church service or in a Bible study setting.

Why not?  The unfortunate reality is that we have allowed the word holy to be hijacked by those who would give it a somewhat pious connotation to it.  This is certainly true in the secular world, but even in the religious world.  Words like holy-roller, holier-than-thou, are phrases that come immediately to mind when someone claims to be holy.  

Why? It is because the world thinks of a religious person as basically a hypocrite because they see so many examples of people who claim to be a Christian, but they live a life that is no different than everyone else around them.  They claim to refrain from drinking for religious reasons, but spread gossip at every opportunity.  They say they go to church on Sunday, and then they join their friends at a bar on Monday.  Statistics would say that a Christian couple is just as likely to commit adultery or have their marriage end in divorce as a non-Christian couple.  If these things are true, then there is no wonder that the first thought that comes to mind of an average person when they hear the word holy, is hypocrite, or religious fraud.  If you doubt this is true, try describing yourself as living a holy life to one of your lost friends and then watch for the look on their face.

So, as a believer, when we say that we are to live a life that is holy, what does that mean to you?

Does it mean to live life one way while you are at church and another way when you go to work on Monday?  How about when you are behind the wheel of your car in traffic, do you live a life that is holy then?  Are your actions as you drive holy, are the gestures that you make to other drivers holy, are your words, both the ones you say out loud and the ones that you think in your mind, holy?  How about when you are watching your child, or grandchild, play in a sporting event, would somebody listening to your words that you yell at the umpire or referee consider them to be holy?

When God talks about living a life that is holy, He means that your life should be one that is distinct from the secular world.  There ought to be a noticeable difference in your life, not a weird difference, but a good difference.  Not a hypocritical difference, but a consistent difference.  I said last week that for many people, the life of a believer is the only Bible that they will ever read.  People should see Christ in your life.  Your life should be holy, just as Christ’s life was holy.  

We cannot be perfect, but we can keep trying to be more like Christ.  We cannot live a holy life by our own will power.  It can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit having complete control of our lives.  This is the message that Peter has for us today.
HOW TO BE A LIGHT IN A DARK WORLD (Romans 12:17-21)

HOW TO BE A LIGHT IN A DARK WORLD (Romans 12:17-21)

August 14, 2015
It is a fact that God has placed us in a world full of darkness and He expects us to be a light in that dark world.  

Matt 5:14-16
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
KJV

We are to be a light in a dark world.

When Jesus walked on the earth, people were drawn to Him.  They wanted to be near Him.  Certainly, they wanted to hear Him speak, and to watch Him perform miracles, but there was just something different about Jesus that drew people to Him.  Not a weird difference, for that would have pushed people away, but a good, calm, inviting, type of difference from the normal attitude that people put on in our world.  

Jesus had compassion on the poor, and the outcasts.  He had kindness for the children, and He had absolute integrity in all of His dealings with people around Him.  Try as hard as they could, the Pharisees and the Sadducees could not find anything to legitimately accuse Jesus of.  He meticulously kept the Law as it was originally written and He hated the man-made religious traditions and rabbinical writings the scribes and burdened the people with.  

He stood for what was right in the eyes of God and He condemned what was wrong.  Christ lived the perfect example of the life that we as Christians should be living today.  In our lesson today, Paul is going to describe what our behavior ought to be like.  He is going to tells us in our relationships with the world the Christian is to follow the example that Christ laid out for us in the Sermon on the Mount.  
HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN LIVE IN A NON-CHRISTIAN WORLD? (Romans 12:14-16)

HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN LIVE IN A NON-CHRISTIAN WORLD? (Romans 12:14-16)

August 11, 2015
Over the last several weeks, Paul has been discussing with us how the believer is to work together with his fellow believers.  What is it that we are to be working together toward?  The kingdom work of God, or the sharing of the light of the gospel with a dark world.  

There are those that feel it would be nice to seclude themselves in a monastery and not have to deal with the secular world, but that is not why God has sent us on this journey.  It is important to understand that, as believers, we are not working our way to get to heaven, we are working to go to our home in heaven.  This earth is not our home, it is our workplace.  

When I go to work in the morning, it is with anticipation that I will be able to come home when I have completed my work for the day.  Returning home is not something I have to earn, it is something I already have.  It is my place of rest.  As believers, this earth is our workplace, and we come to it with the anticipation of being able to go to our home in heaven when we have completed the tasks that God has for us to do.  I do not have to earn my place in heaven, for I already own that place.  It is my place of rest when I am finished doing the kingdom work of God. 

In order to accomplish that kingdom work of sharing the gospel message of Christ, I need to go to where the people are that need to hear that message.  I need to relate with a lost world.  

So Paul tells us that the laws of Christian life deal not only with the spiritual life of the Christian, but with his social life as well.  As believers, we must sustain relationships in the world as well as in the church.  

Listen to this podcast to learn that Paul has three things to say about our daily contacts with those outside of Christ.  We are to show the unbeliever compassion and understanding, we are to take care with our attitude, and we are to live before men unimpeachable and exemplary lives.  
HOW DOES GOD’S WILL CHANGE THE BELIEVER? (Romans 12:2)

HOW DOES GOD’S WILL CHANGE THE BELIEVER? (Romans 12:2)

July 16, 2015
What is God’s will for our lives, and how does that change us?  Finding God’s will is accomplished by sacrificing our whole being to God as a living sacrifice.  This means that we surrender our life to God.  He is ours to command.  He is the Master and we are the slave.  We obey Him.  

Jesus commanded that we are to be salt and light to a dark world.  Salt is a preservative, an antibiotic, and a flavor enhancer.  It is applied externally and it draws attention to something different.  A believer is to be a preservative of the absolute truths about right and wrong that God has established.  We are to stand up when the world decides to call that which is wrong, right, and that which is right, wrong.

The believer is also to be a light unto the world.  One of the great facts about light is that darkness is simply the absence of light.  No matter how deep the darkness, the simple candle will chase that darkness away.  No amount of darkness can overpower the light of that candle.  When there is light, darkness goes away.  Light for the believer comes from within.  Salt is external, and light is internal.  Light emanates from the core of the believer.  We are to be a light to a dark world.  We are to show the world that there is an escape from the deep darkness of the world.

In order to be salt and light, the believer must be changed from what they were before.  If we look and act like everyone else, then we are neither salt nor light.  Yet, this change in who we are does not happen all at once for most of us.  Most believers will spend a lifetime having their body, soul, and spirit conformed to the image of Christ.  But the world needs to see this difference.  It needs to see the light of God’s Word shining through us.

In order to accomplish this us we must consecrate our body so that the Holy Spirit, who has made it His temple, might have free access to all its members, and free control over all its activities.  The believer who presents his body in this manner is changed.

Romans 12:2
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
KJV

Listen to this podcast to learn how a believer is not to be conformed to this world, but is to be changed morally and mentally to show the world that the will of God is truly good, acceptable, and perfect for each of us.
HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN BEHAVE? (James 1:25-27)

HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN BEHAVE? (James 1:25-27)

January 27, 2014
How does a Christian behave?

Should the world be able to identify you as a Christian just by your behavior?

The Biblical view of a Christian is that of someone who has the love of Christ in their hearts and they express that love towards others.  Christians, Christian churches, and Christian organizations have been meeting the needs of the hungry, the sick, and the lonely, for two thousand years and they have done so far more effectively than any government handout could.  

It is true that as Christians we live lives that are different from others.  There certainly are types of behavior that we will not participate in.  But, we see that choice not as a restriction, but as freedom from the consequences that a life of alcoholism, drug abuse, greed, and sexual promiscuity and depravity, can bring to a person’s life.  

We also see a life of service to God.  God has commanded us to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ to the entire world.  Our lives are likely the only Bible most people will ever read.  What the world knows about salvation, eternity, the love of Christ for all people, and the power of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives comes from what they see in our behavior, our words, our actions, and our attitudes.  

We see a life of duty to the call of God, to accomplish the work that God has given us to do.  

We see a life that is free from the worry of what will happen tomorrow, because we know that God is control of all things, and He is in control of our lives.  

Listen to this podcast to find out what the book of James says about how a Christian should behave.

WHAT ABOUT HELL? (Mark 9:41-50)

WHAT ABOUT HELL? (Mark 9:41-50)

May 28, 2013

Is hell really real?

The preacher says that it is. TV evangelists proclaim that hell is full of fire and brimstone. Is what they say true?

The scientist says that it is not. Professors state that there is no empirical evidence to prove... the existence of hell, or heaven, or even life after death. Is what they say true?

Somebody is right and somebody is wrong.

If the scientist is right, then life is short and the grave is all there is.

If the preacher is right, then eternity is a long time to spend burning in the fires of hell.

Listen to this podcast to see how Jesus Christ describes the reality of hell and what our roles are in preventing ourselves, and others, from spending eternity in hell.

 

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App