The Master’s Class, Summit Church
A LAST ATTEMPT (John 12:23-36)

A LAST ATTEMPT (John 12:23-36)

September 29, 2019

Have you ever had an event or an experience that you knew was going to be really, really, bad in front of you? You knew it needed to be done, people were depending on you, but you had a few days that you had to get through before it would begin? The waiting, the dreading, the sheer horribleness of it playing on your mind. I can think of things like watching my mother’s last few days on the earth, and the suffering she was dealing with. I knew her death was imminent. I knew it would happen in the next few days. I knew she would be in heaven soon, but I had to steel myself for the emotions that would come.

A soldier facing some kind of really tough battle. He knows the chances were slim that he was going to make it, but he couldn’t let his brothers in arms down. These were men he depended on, and they were the ones who depended on him, so he prepared himself to deal with it.

This is what our next few messages are going to be about for Jesus. He knew this was the reason that He had come to earth. His whole life had been about this coming hour. The entire human race depended on Him completing the work of salvation. He knew that He was about to carry the burden of every sin that had ever been committed and would ever be committed. He knew the ugliness of the world’s worst sins was about to be thrust upon Him and He would have to die as punishment for that sin. He dreaded the hour, but He knew the whole world depended on Him, and so He prepared Himself. There was so much He needed to do before that hour came, but His disciples needed to hear what He had to say. These next several weeks are going to be a study in how much Jesus loved each and every one of us, even the Jews and the Romans who would crucify Him.

Click on the link below to hear a message on what is likely the Lord’s last attempt to convince the Jews that He was the Son of God, the Promised Messiah.

Amen.

JESUS IS GOD’S ANSWER TO MAN’S DESPAIR (John 6:15-21)

JESUS IS GOD’S ANSWER TO MAN’S DESPAIR (John 6:15-21)

February 3, 2019

Each of us face times of great trouble and despair. Maybe you're not there right now. Maybe everything is fine for you. Maybe it is smooth sailing for you right now. If so, just wait, just wait, sooner or later you're going to find the wind is going to begin to blow and things are going to seem to reverse on you. If you're having smooth sailing now, I'm grateful. I want you to enjoy it. But, the day will come when you face a time of despair.

The Bible says that you will have trouble in this life. You will have tears and heartaches. But, if the Lord Jesus Christ is your Savior, then I'm going to promise you something on the authority of the word of God. You are predestined to be like Jesus. Paul tells us in the book of Romans "all things will work together for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose." One of these days your destiny will be fulfilled. For the Bible says in Philippians one six, "he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it." If you're in trouble right now, God’s eyes are on you. He's praying for you. He will come to you and I can promise you this, He is going to see you through. God does not promise you a life of smooth sailing, but He does promise you a safe landing. God said in His Word, "I will never leave thee or forsake thee." He will see you through to a safe landing.

Click on the link below to hear a message about six anchors for your soul that will help you to ride out the storm. When the storm comes, these are six things for you to learn so you can say with real meaning that Jesus is God's answer to man's despair.

Amen.

TRUST IN JESUS (John 6:25-36)

TRUST IN JESUS (John 6:25-36)

January 27, 2019

Have you been looking for true happiness, true joy, true peace, and just not been able to find it? It is because you are looking for the wrong things in the wrong places. If you want true happiness, and joy, and peace, then trust in Jesus Christ.

Happiness, joy, blessedness, and satisfaction, are never things that you find by searching for them. They are the things that you stumble over when you serve the Lord Jesus Christ. You are to seek Him preeminently. It is Jesus that you need, and it is in Jesus that you will find all that you have been searching for.

The people of this world want fame. They want fortune. They want friends. They want fashion, and they want fitness. Jesus tells us that they are seeking after the wrong things. Yet, these are the things that most people want. They are what they seek most of all in their lives. Jesus tells us that they are looking for satisfaction in the wrong places. Listen now, none of these are wrong in themselves. Fame and food and fashion and fitness and friends, they're all fine in their place, as long as that place is second place.

Matt 6:33
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
KJV

Jesus tells us to seek God first, seek God preeminently, and all the things that God has planned for you shall be added unto you.

Click on the link below to hear a message on how to find the satisfaction, the happiness and joy, that you have been searching for. Most people today are working hard at changing their lives, trying to make them better using the things of the secular world, but all they are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. All they are interested in is making the world a better place to go to hell from. What our Lord Jesus Christ is offering, is everlasting life. He is talking about getting a person saved. Jesus is spiritual bread that gives everlasting life.

It is in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, that you will find what you are looking for.

Amen.

JESUS FEEDS YOUR DEEPEST HUNGER (John 6:1-14)

JESUS FEEDS YOUR DEEPEST HUNGER (John 6:1-14)

January 13, 2019

Our message today is about the miracle where Jesus fed the 5,000 using just five loaves of bread and two little fishes. We will see that Jesus performed a miracle, and it was a miracle of feeding physical bodies. However, if all you learn from this message is that Jesus can miraculously feed 5,000 people with five loaves and a few fishes, then you have missed the whole point of the message God has for us today. What I want you to do as we talk about this miracle is to look beyond the miracle and on to Jesus. Jesus did not come to this earth as God incarnate in man in order to feed you physically. Jesus did not come to heal you physically. Jesus did not come to solve all of your physical, material, problems. He is a Savior. He came to save you from sin, and you need to look beyond these miracles and on to Jesus. We need to believe in miracles, but trust in Jesus.

Down in your heart, down in the deepest part of your being, there is a hunger that only God can satisfy. Pascal once said, "In every man's heart there is a God-shaped vacuum that God alone can fill through His Son Jesus Christ." And that is the hunger that I want to talk to you about today, not the physical hunger that we have.

Click on the link below and learn how there is never a problem too big for Jesus to solve. In every problem you face, God already knows about the problem and He has a plan to solve it. So many times, we have a problem in our lives that we're trying to solve. We are using all of our strength, at least so we think, but there is a heavenly Father who is ready to help us with His strength in order to solve our problem. The moral of the story is, there is never a problem too big for Jesus to solve, you just need to ask Him.

Amen.

DEALING WITH PERSECUTION (Revelation 11:5-13)

DEALING WITH PERSECUTION (Revelation 11:5-13)

November 12, 2017

The Bible says that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. If you live for Jesus, and your life is in obedience to the will of God, it is fruitful for God, and you are sharing the light of the gospel to a dark world, then the Bible says that you will suffer persecution.

To know that this is true, all you have to do is read the headlines of the news today. Christians are suffering severe persecution in countries all around the world. So, the question that we will look at today is, How do you deal with this persecution? What are the Biblical truths that we must apply to our lives, if we are to be successful in dealing with persecution on both a physical and spiritual level?

Click on the link below to learn the five factors that the Bible tells us in the book of Revelation about the two witnesses for God, and how they dealt with persecution. These are important lessons that we must settle in our hearts and mind if we are to be victorious in our witness for God.

Amen.

GOD’S TWO WITNESSES (Revelation 11:1-4)

GOD’S TWO WITNESSES (Revelation 11:1-4)

November 6, 2017

Let me begin this post by asking a question, are you being persecuted for Jesus? If not, why not?

How about other Christians, in countries around the world, are they being persecuted today? Yes, they are, Christians are being killed in our world today in greater numbers than ever before. Yet, in the U.S., up until the last 15-20 years, to be recognized as a Christian was generally a positive thing. In fact, until recently, 80% of the country’s population identified themselves as a Christian. Now, to be certain, in the last 8 years we have had a dramatic shift in people’s attitude in this country towards the morals and values of the Judeo-Christian faith that most of us grew up with. Christians are quickly becoming the targets of ridicule and persecution in our country. Not on the scale of the rest of the world, but even that is not far off. Declare yourself to be a Christian today at most of our major universities, and then stand for your beliefs by speaking out, and you may not even be able to graduate. You will certainly be ridiculed and attacked by both the staff and the other students.

So, the question is, why are some Christians persecuted while others are not? The Bible says in 2 Tim 3:12, Yea, and all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. This says that all shall suffer persecution if they are living godly in Christ Jesus. This would mean that if you are not living godly in Christ Jesus, then you are not going to suffer persecution. Now, persecution can come in many forms, Jesus tells us that,

John 15:20
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.
KJV

Jesus tells us that if you stand for Him, even in the U.S., you will face persecution. Click on the link below to hear the first part, of a two-part, message on the lessons we can learn about dealing with persecution from God’s two mighty witnesses that rise up during the Tribulation period.

Amen.

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.
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.
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.
A FAITH BASED ON EXPERIENCE (1 Peter 1:5-7)

A FAITH BASED ON EXPERIENCE (1 Peter 1:5-7)

February 14, 2016
When I was a child and my Father wanted me to learn something that I would remember, he often had me experience it first, and then explain how important that concept could be in my life.  He called it character building and it usually involved me doing some type of work around the house.  For example, when he wanted me to learn that it is better to earn what you have in this world, than to steal it from somebody else who had worked for it, either by outright theft or by getting the government to steal it for you, he would put me to work.  He taught me that a benefit of hard work is the payment of something you want in return, be it money, or something else.

Learning from experience can come in a couple of ways, we can learn from our own experience, or we can learn from the experience of watching or listening to others.  For instance, I don’t have to jump from the top of a tall building to know that this is not something I want to do.  I have seen what happens to others when they contact the ground at a high rate of speed, and it is not pretty.  I learned this lesson from the experience of others.  

When we learn from our own experience, we often have a deeper understanding of what it takes to get through this type of trial.  I know that I never had a true appreciation for what a person goes through when they lose a very close loved one until I lost my father, and then my mother.  There is a deep feeling of anguish that does not come from watching others.  I have a much deeper sense of empathy for others now and it is because God allowed me to experience this trial myself.  

One of the key concepts that Peter is trying to teach us in the very first verses of this book is how certain our faith is, and how it is not based on a hope-so type of knowledge, but it is based on a know-so type of knowledge.  

When he talks of having hope, it is not a vague type of hope in the things that are to come, it is a know-so type of hope, an expectant hope, and a certain hope.  We know that Jesus is alive today because we know that He rose from the grave.  The Bible tells this is true, and secular history tells us that this is true.

We know for a fact that Jesus is coming again to reign as Lord of lords and King of kings, and we are absolutely certain that Jesus has prepared for us a place in heaven where we will spend eternity living with Him.  This is our know-so, expectant, hope.  

Peter now moves from the certain hope we have in Christ, to our faith based on experience and substance.  Faith is another weak word in the English language, but in the Bible our faith is based on the promises of God, the certainty of Christ, and the experiences we have in times of trial, and through watching others go through trials.  It is a faith based on the experience we have in Christ.  
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.
REDEMPTION THROUGH GRACE (1 Peter 1:2c-d)

REDEMPTION THROUGH GRACE (1 Peter 1:2c-d)

January 24, 2016
So when we are facing times of terrible persecution, or difficult trials, when things are so bad that they are out of our ability to control, what are you most grateful for?

Certainly, I am grateful for a loving God who cares for me, watches over me, and provides for me.  I am grateful for the power of the Holy Spirit living within me.  I am grateful for the promises of God that we find in His word, such as, that we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

So this verse is interesting because it doesn’t promise that all things work together for the good of all men, it puts a qualifier on this promise.  What is that qualifier?

You have to be someone who loves God, and someone who is called according to His purpose.  This means that if you want to claim the promise of this verse, that no matter what you are going through, that it will work out for your good, then you must meet the requirements of this promise.  And in order to meet those requirements you must be saved, a born again child of God.  

So, the first thing that you need to have in order to face persecution, trials, or difficult times in your life, is the certain knowledge that you have been redeemed by God, and that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Master.  This is the basic minimum for this promise to be true.   

The next most important thing that I believe we need is the grace of God.  When I am facing a difficult time, the one thing that I cherish most from God is His grace.  It is His grace that allows me to be forgiven.  It is His grace that allows me to be justified freely before God.  It is His grace that allows the blood of Christ to wash my sins away, in spite of the sin in my life.  That is God’s grace.  

This leads us to the third thing that we must have to face persecution.  The result of knowing that we are saved, and that God’s grace has been bestowed on us, is the peace of God in our hearts.  When we have God’s peace in our heart, we have comfort in the knowledge of God’s provision for us.  

So salvation, grace, and peace, are what I consider the three most important things that I must know, claim, and be sure of, when I have hard times.  Everything else that God is going to do for me flows from these three Biblical truths.  The presence and power of the Holy Spirit resides in my heart because of the redemption and grace that God has given me, and it is because I am redeemed, and that I am the recipient of God’s grace, that God’s peace is there, as well.   

Listen to this podcast to learn what it means to be redeemed by God, and to have God’s grace and peace, to give us comfort during times of persecution. 
TO BE ELECTED BY GOD (1 Peter 1:1b to 2a)

TO BE ELECTED BY GOD (1 Peter 1:1b to 2a)

January 10, 2016
The Bible emphatically teaches the doctrine of election, and this is a doctrine that has caused endless debates and disputes throughout the ages.  People will either go off the deep end into hyper-Calvinism with this doctrine, or they avoid it like the plague because they don’t understand it.  When it really is quite simple to understand.  Man complicates it by assuming that God cannot know anything that man does not know.  That really is the heart of the problem for man in understanding this doctrine.  

However, the truth is that man’s mind is limited, and God’s mind is unlimited.  Man’s capacity to know things is finite, and God’s knowledge is infinite.  Man’s knowledge is bounded by the constraints of time, it encompasses what has happened in the past and what is happening right now.  Man can only guess at the future.  

God created the concept of time so His knowledge is unconstrained by time.  He knows all things from before time began until well past the day when eternity makes time irrelevant, and He knows it all at the same time.  God cannot learn anything, since by definition He already knows it all.  

In today’s lesson, Peter gives us his own inspired insight into the subject.  He bluntly declares that our election is based on God’s foreknowledge.  Without hesitation, or qualification, Peter says that God has elected a certain company to become members of the royal family of heaven.  However, God does this and never violates our own volition, or our own right to choose.  God woos, He does not ravage.  He does not endow His creations with wills of their own, with the power of choice and personal accountability for their behavior, and then act as though they had no such thing.  

God’s election of certain members of the human family to become members of the royal family takes into account the response of each individual when confronted by the Holy Spirit with the offer of salvation.  While this may sound difficult to understand, the simple truth of it is that if you want to be a part of the elect of God, then choose Christ when the Holy Spirit presents salvation to you.  

Salvation boils down to one question, will you accept or reject Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master.  

If you say yes, then you will become part of the elect of God, and you will spend eternity in heaven with Christ.  

If you say no, then you will not be part of the elect of God, and you will spend eternity burning in the fires of Hell, forever without the light of God.  

Listen to this powerful Biblical doctrine of God’s foreknowledge and how it can bless you because God knows who you are, where you are, what you are going through, and He has a plan for you.  If you are believer, then God will empower you to deal with any persecution or trial that you may be going through.  He knew about this before it ever occurred and He has prepared you for it, and He is with you every step of the way.  
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.  
TEMPTATIONS: WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?  (James 1:12-15)

TEMPTATIONS: WHERE DO THEY COME FROM? (James 1:12-15)

January 6, 2014

Life is full of temptations.  Good food is a temptation.  Sweet drinks are a temptation.  Sex is a temptation.  The perfect life that is presented to us in the media involves fast cars, fast women, and an even faster lifestyle and it represents the ultimate temptation for many. 

Have you ever wondered where these temptations come from?  Does God tempt man to do evil? Does Satan tempt man to do evil in order to destroy him?  Do we create our own temptations?

A basic Biblical truth that we need to keep in mind is that God will never entice you to do evil.

God wants only what is good for you, and Satan wants only what is bad for you.  

God will never lead you into sin.  Yet, that is all Satan will ever do.

God wants to grow you spiritually.  Satan wants to destroy your spirit. 

God will test you to grow your faith.  Satan will tempt you to destroy your faith. 

So the question becomes, how do you know which is which?  

Listen to this podcast to learn that for the believer the answer comes from the Holy Spirit that lives within your heart. 

STORMS AND CHRISTIANS (James 1:2-5)

STORMS AND CHRISTIANS (James 1:2-5)

December 9, 2013
Have you ever asked the question why a loving God would allow storms into the life of a Christian?  What could possibly be the purpose for God to allow such things to happen to those people who are trying to be good?

In our new study of the Book of James, we learn that God wants each believer to grow spiritually.  And if we are honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we grow more in the times of trials that we face, than we do when everything is going great.  

It is in a time of trial that God teaches us patience, or to abide, in handling the trial.  It is in a time of trial that God moves us out of the ruts that we so easily fall into.  He mellows us out, and He matures us.  He strengthens our faith in Him, and He teaches us to become fully reconciled to His will.

Listen to this podcast to learn that these storms are permitted in our lives by a wise and loving heavenly Father, who is too caring to be unkind and too wise to make any mistakes.  These trials will always have a divine purpose and they will be for our good.

God loves you, and He wants only what is best for you.  The question is are you willing to trust God in the time of trial?