The Master’s Class, Summit Church
DAVID, A MAN OF FAITH (1 Samuel 17:1-49)

DAVID, A MAN OF FAITH (1 Samuel 17:1-49)

August 30, 2020

The Bible story of David and Goliath is one of the most familiar in the Bible.  You don’t even have to be a Christian to know this story.  There have been books and movies, and even TV shows based on this story.  Michelangelo even depicted the story on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  We are told this story from the time we are a child.  The image of a young man with just five smooth stones and a sling against a giant of a man in full battle armor is iconic in Bible history.  It is a story that reveals more than human bravery.  It reveals that, even as a boy, David had a heart for God. 

The key to this whole story is found in the fact that David didn’t volunteer to fight the giant because his people were being shamed.  No, David fought Goliath because Goliath was defying the armies of the living God!  David, put his faith in God.  He knew that God would deliver the giant into his hands.  David testified to his faith in God telling the giant “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.”

Powerful words of faith from such a young man.  

David knew that it was not by chance that God had led him to this battlefield.  David could say in his heart that it is not by chance that he was born into Jesse's family. It is not by chance that he had seven older brothers. It is not by chance that he had to fight for his place in the family, not with carnal weapons, but with spiritual ones. It is not by chance that I learned early to love, trust, and obey the living God. It is not by chance that God has become my constant companion and guide. It is not by chance that I learned to play the harp and write great hymns which will be sung by God's people forever. Such things do not happen by chance; they happen by choice. God chose me, and I chose Him.

It is not by chance that I became a shepherd and developed a heart for the flock. It is not by chance that God gave me courage to face the lion and the bear in the wilderness of which you speak. It is not by chance that I have great skill with a sling and a stone. That skill represents hard work and constant practice. And it is not by chance that I am not afraid of Goliath and you are.  And it is not by chance that we are where we are and that we are who we are.

David learned that he could not use the weapons of this world to fight the battle. He had to use his own weapons, his own methods, those in which God had schooled him. The believer today needs to recognize that the world can be overcome only by his faith and confidence in God.  

Amen.

THE SCARS THAT GOD BEARS (John 20:24-29)

THE SCARS THAT GOD BEARS (John 20:24-29)

July 19, 2020

Let me ask you a question, is Jesus God or man? Is Jesus God or man? Well, the answer to that question is yes. He is the God-man. He is God incarnate in man. He is God in human flesh. Now, the fact that Jesus is both God and man is absolutely foundational to our faith. There is no compromise on this fact that allows our faith to be real. The rock our faith is built on is Jesus Christ, who came to this earth as fully God, and fully man. Yet, it is this question that vexes the world, and there are so many false religions, major, world religions, that deny this is true.

The prophet Isaiah said, "Unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given..."

When Isaiah said, "a child is born," he was speaking of Christ’s humanity. When he said, "a son is given," he was speaking of Christ’s deity. Jesus Christ is the God-man. Now, as a child, He was born in Bethlehem. As God, He has ruled from eternity. But, understand this, He did not have His beginning at Bethlehem, only His birth. As a man, Christ was born to die. As God, Christ died for our sins.

Now, as I was preparing this lesson, I had to pause and think about how I envision God in my mind. So, I want you to think of God, and then think of the very first image that comes to mind. Now, notice that I am deliberately using the name God, here. Is the image you have of God, as He is described in the Bible, the baby Jesus there in the manger that we think of at Christmas time? Probably not, I just don’t think of God as a baby. He was, but that is not how I think of Him. Is it the man with white flowing hair sitting on a throne with a light so bright coming from Him that you cannot even look at Him? This is closer, right? When I think of God, I think of Him sitting on His throne. Ok, if that is not your image of God, then is it Jesus as the kind and gentle man that we see in all the portraits? Sometimes, right? But let me ask you, do you draw a distinction in your mind between God and Jesus? God is indeed a triune God, three persons, but there is just One God. All three make up the One God. So, when you think of Jesus, do think of Him as God, just as you would the Father and the Holy Spirit?

Ok, do you have the image of God in your mind, the very first image that comes to mind? Now, in that image, do you think of God, the triune God, as having scars? It just doesn’t seem to fit with our images of God, does it? Yet, those scars in the hands, feet, and side, of Jesus, the God-man, the second part of the triune God, are real, and they tell us so much about God. That is what our lesson is about today, The Scars That God Bears.

Now, it's very important that you understand this—that, as a man, Jesus suffered. When Jesus appeared before Thomas, He invited Thomas to examine those scars. They were a brute testimony to the fact that Jesus, indeed, was pierced with those hideous nails.

There is a great problem in the world today when you try to testify about God. The problem is not primarily science. The problem is not primarily history. The problem is primarily suffering. When you try to tell people about God, they will ask you again and again how can you believe in a God, if there be a God, who allows so much suffering? And this causes great doubt because here's the way the human mind works. "Well, if God is love, and God is all powerful, why does God allow so much suffering?" And so, they think well, perhaps He is a God of infinite love, but He has no power; therefore, He is a weak God. Or else He is all-powerful, but He has no love and so He is a cruel God. Or perhaps He has no power and no love, so He is no God at all.

That's the way people think. But there is a more important question that you should be asking. Not why do men suffer? No, the more important question for us to understand and consider is why does God suffer? That is the most important question that should be in your heart. Not why do we as humans suffer, but those scars tell us that God in human flesh suffered, and so why did God suffer?

Click on the link below to hear a message that tells us why God allows suffering in this world, and why God chose to suffer.

Amen.

TO CHOOSE DARKNESS OVER LIGHT (John 19:1-15)

TO CHOOSE DARKNESS OVER LIGHT (John 19:1-15)

May 24, 2020

Jesus came to this earth to reveal the true nature of the sin that is in the heart of every person. He came to show the world that there was a way out of the darkness of sin and into the light of truth and eternal life. But Jesus was judged and condemned to die on a cross by a world that did not want to come out of the darkness to have their deeds reproved. They chose darkness over light.

John 3:19-20
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
KJV

All of us face this timeless challenge and respond one way or another. Salvation, and eternal life in heaven, is not about our works, it is about what we decide to do with Jesus Christ. Just as the men who rejected Christ did, we either cry "Crucify him" or "Crown him." There is no middle ground. You can’t work your way into heaven, pay your way, or be religious enough to be saved. You must decide to crown Him Lord of your heart or crucify Jesus in your heart. Just like each of the men who put Jesus Christ on trial, you must decide to crucify an innocent man, or make Him your Savior.

Click on the link below to hear a message on how the Jews and the Gentiles alike rejected the one true Son of God and the free gift of salvation and eternal life that He offered them.

Amen.

WHAT DO YOUR REACTIONS SHOW? (John 18:1 to 11)

WHAT DO YOUR REACTIONS SHOW? (John 18:1 to 11)

May 9, 2020

I want to start by telling you something important, and here it is, the true test of your character is not seen in your actions but in your reactions. Have you ever gone to the doctor? And, when you were there, he was checking you out, and he put you up on the table, and took that little hammer and tapped your knee? He wanted to see if you had a particular reaction. He's trying' to find out something about you. Now, you could sit up there, and he could say, "Lift your knee," and you could raise it up and down like he said. But, he doesn't want to see what you planned to do, or that you can follow instructions. He wants to see the reaction he gets from you when he hits your knee with the hammer, because it is that reaction that is going to tell him something about you.

Now, all of us can control our actions. But, it's our reactions that really count and really show what we are. How you react, what comes out of your mouth, when somebody cuts you off as you are driving down the road, or if you stub your toe, or hit your finger when you are trying to hit a nail, says a lot about what is in your heart.

The difference between our actions and our reactions is really the difference between reputation and character. Somebody once said that reputation is what others think about you. Character is what God and your wife know about you. Sometimes there is a vast difference. But I want us to think today about reactions, and what we can learn about how we should react from how our Lord Jesus reacted to the events leading up to His crucifixion.

Jesus Christ gave himself for us on the cross to pay for our sins, and then he rose again to give himself to us that he might live his life through us. The same Jesus who reacted that way so long ago will react that way in you today, if He is inside of you. If he's not there, if He is not in you, they you are just an imitation of Jesus. But, if he is there, you can say, "The life I now live I live by the life of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." Isn't that wonderful?

Click on the link below to learn how when we begin to live that way, the joy begins to come, the power begins to come, our loved ones get saved, our friends get reconciled, and God is glorified. That's what I want. That's what we want. We want our reactions to show people who we really are, a twice born person and a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE (John 16:25-33)

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE (John 16:25-33)

April 4, 2020

We are certainly living in a difficult time. We face a deadly enemy. It is silent and invisible. It moves from one person to the next, often without the host even knowing that they are a carrier of this enemy. It appears to randomly select how it will affect each of the people it attacks. Some will have mild symptoms, while others will die within days of the enemy attacking them. Much of the fear it causes is because of the unknown qualities of this enemy. How will I catch it, who will give it to me, and what will it do to me if I catch it? This fear has caused almost a complete shutdown of our worldwide economy and way of life.

We all deal with difficult times in different ways. Some face them head on, and some try to run from them. Some will share their feelings and hardships openly, while others will keep them inside. Some will depend on family and friends for support, while others chose to face these challenges alone.

As Christians we have something that others do not. We have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit of God residing in our hearts and lives. We never have to face these challenges on our own, and we never have to fear them, for we have the almighty Spirit of God to face these difficult times with us. We are never alone. If you have made Jesus Christ your Lord and Master, and then, if you have taken the next step and made the Holy Spirit, not just a resident in your heart, but the President of your life, then you have the strength, the wisdom, and the presence of the Holy God to get you through any challenge, and any trial.

But most of all, we have the knowledge that God determines when we live, and when we die. This enemy is not invisible to God. He sees it plainly. He decides when there is more for us to do to fulfill His purposes, and He decides when it is time for us to come home to be with Him. God is in control. Trust in God, and you will never be alone again.

Click on the link below to hear a message where Jesus tells us not to fear tragedies such as this virus that is attacking our very way of life. He says plainly that we are to be at peace, because He has already overcome the world.

John 16:33
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
KJV

We have nothing to fear because Jesus has already overcome the world.

Amen.

A LIFE FULL OF JOY (John 15:11)

A LIFE FULL OF JOY (John 15:11)

February 3, 2020

Many people would define the word joy as happiness. So, what's the difference between joy and happiness? Someone once said, “Happiness may give smiles, put laughter on our face, but happiness is just what the word describes. Happiness depends on what happens. Therefore, you call it happiness. If your hap is good, then you're happy. If your hap is bad, then you're unhappy. It all depends upon happenstance and whatever happens.” But joy depends upon the Lord. It is supernatural. It is not natural. And, therefore, because that joy is supernatural, that joy is steadfast. It is not happiness.

For a believer, joy is more than an emotion. It is a strength. It is the power of our Lord Jesus Christ flowing through us. It is a continuous, contagious, and conspicuous, source of strength for the believer to deal with the tribulations and persecutions of this world. When Christ’s joy emanates from you, people see it, and they want what you have. It is what draws people to you to learn about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ’s Joy is a joy that should be a part of every Christian’s life. It is not an automatic gift when you become a Christian, but it is a necessity to anyone wishing to live a victorious Christian life. The problem is that many Christians look for that joy in all the wrong places. They look for it the circumstances they are in. They look for it in their job, their hobbies, the people that they know, such as family members and friends. But those are all the wrong places to find Christ’s joy.

Click on the link below to hear a message on where to find real joy. It is when we abide in Christ that we find the unending love of Christ. It is also where we find true joy, in Christ.

Amen.

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.  

Play this podcast on Podbean App