Friday, February 16, 2018

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 18, 2018

Over 151,000 readers worldwide
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FAITHFUL DISCIPLES
(GOD takes care of HIS faithful disciples)
(Acts 9:32-43)

   Acts chapter 9 closes with Luke’s account of when the Apostle Peter traveled to the town of Lydda, one of his many stops on his itinerant missions around Judea. Today this city is called Lod, and it is located just south of Israel’s international airport. It was there that Peter encounters a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed, and had been bedridden for eight years. Peter’s miraculous healing of this man, in the name of CHRIST JESUS, caused many Jews in Lydda, and, in the nearby plains of Sharon, to convert to the Christian faith, and accept CHRIST as their LORD and SAVIOR.    
    While Peter was in Lydda, an endeared Christian woman by the name of Tabitha (“Dorcas” in the Greek ), who lived in the nearby city of Joppa, became ill and died. Dorcas was widely known for her ministry in working with the poor. After hearing of Peter’s miraculous healing of Aeneas in Lydda, two men were sent there to try and persuade Peter to take the eleven-mile trip to Joppa, and perhaps perform another miracle by restoring the beloved Dorcas back to life. They had faith that, through Peter, GOD, could and would, raise this beloved woman from the dead, just as CHRIST had done a few years earlier with HIS resurrection of Lazarus.
    Upon his arrival in Joppa, Peter was taken to an upper room where Dorcas’ body laid in state awaiting burial. The room was filled with weeping widows whose lives had been touched by Dorcas’ charity, caring, and compassion over the years. After entering the room, in the tradition of Elisha the prophet (2 Kings 4:33), and our LORD JESUS CHRIST (Luke 8:51), Peter sent everyone out of the room.
    He then knelt down and began to pray before turning to the deceased and commanding her to get up. Dorcas opened her eyes and Peter took her by the hand and helped her up, and then, called the others back into the room to see that she was indeed alive.
    Because of these miraculous events, news spread throughout the land of the goodness of GOD, and how HE can work in the lives of those who believe on CHRIST JESUS. It was events like these that Luke tells us, catapulted Christianity from being a tiny little-known Jewish sect, in those days, into a major religious movement by the end of the first century. And it all began with the real-life examples of charitable, caring people like Peter, Dorcas, and originally, CHRIST JESUS, HIMSELF. 
   When we show others that we care for them, we are exercising the same form of evangelism that was used to springboard and spur the growth of the Christian Church into prominence in the first century. And it is that same formidable mechanism of love and care, that we can help us to regain that kind of momentum in today’s Christian Church.
    Miracles have never been solely for those believers who benefited from them personally, and in fact, they are most often used by GOD to help non-believers make the decision to come to CHRIST. By showing others that we care for them, we are really showing our love for JESUS, and in fact, we don’t really even prove our love for JESUS unless we are willing to take on HIS task, and, take up our own cross.
    In other words, we must begin to pull our own weight as responsible Christians in the “spiritual battle” that is already upon us. And perhaps the biggest part of performing that task lies in us learning to love and care for one another in the traditions and examples of “agape love” that has already been exhibited to us by CHRIST JESUS, and the CHRIST-like people of Scripture who preceded us in time.  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander










Friday, February 9, 2018

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 11, 2018

Over 150,000 readers worldwide
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A DISCIPLINED FAITH
(Let your words reflect and honor GOD)
(James 3)

   When JESUS becomes the LORD of our heart (kardia), HE also automatically becomes the LORD of our thoughts, and our thoughts control our tongues. Not many people should become teachers in the Christian Church, because those who teach will be judged by GOD with greater strictness (James 3:1).
    After explaining the Christian characteristics of “patience” in chapter 1, and of “truth”, in chapter 2, James, the brother of JESUS, now moves on to the subject of “Christian maturity” here in chapter 3. Here he endeavors to explain the all-important characteristic of a Christian being able to “control his or her thoughts and tongues”.
    Here James begins by discouraging the efforts, or ideas of too many people seeking to be teachers in the Church. He reminds us that teachers are evaluated by GOD in a much stricter manner than everyone else. To teach GOD’s Word is the most serious of undertakings, and must by no means be taken lightly. And while it is a great privilege to teach, such a calling comes with an even greater responsibility and dedication. And perhaps the greatest responsibility of all is controlling the tongue with which we teach. In fact, James says that, if we are successful in doing so, we should also be able to control ourselves in every other area of our lives (v.2).
    The mature Christian must “be patient in troubled times”, “practice the truth”, and, “exercise power over his or her own tongue” constantly. Our words must always reflect GOD’s wisdom, and not, the wisdom of the world. Thereby, James is saying that, “controlled talk”, and “cultivated thought” are both necessary at all times.
    As Christians, we must not be prone to gossip, sarcasm, or trying to hurt or destroy one another with the words that we speak. The tongue is a small, but powerful instrument, and with it, we have the power to direct (Vs.1-4), destroy (Vs.5-8), or delight one another (Vs.9-12). We can use our tongue, to praise GOD, and, to curse. Or, with our use of foul language, we can even cuss those who are made in the image of GOD.
    In verses 3-5a, James uses the examples of “a horses bit”, which is used to control the horse’s direction, and “a rudder”, which is used to pilot, or steer a ship in any direction, even in a storm. As small as these two items are, they are very effective in controlling the powerful horse on land, and the massive ship in the storm. The human tongue can be likened to that in its size-to-power ratio. It can be a great director of GOD’s wisdom as it is taught to others, or, it can be a great destroyer, and do tremendous damage to mankind if its teachings are false.
    In verses 5b-6, James likens the tongue to a tiny spark that can set off a great forest fire. He tells us that the tongue can be a flaming fire full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the course of a person’s life into a blazing flame of destruction that seems to have been set off by hell itself.
    Even a person, who possesses a faith that produces many works, will still have to meet many challenges along their Christian walk. Among the first of those challenges is to learn to deal with the very tongue that has always been with them. The tongue can be uncontrollable, and it exerts a tremendous amount of influence into the lives of all people.
    The term “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a statement that is a classic example of worldly wisdom, and is in fact, a lie. Words can sometimes cut to the bone, even more deeply than sticks and stones, and can indeed, be very painful, and can hurt for a lifetime.
    The words of our tongue changes only when our “thought process” changes. As Christians our thought process must be more reflective of GOD, and more fixed on the will of GOD, and thereby, our goal must be to be able to share the mind of CHRIST. Until our hearts, or, thought processes changes, we won’t ever be able to tame our tongues, or replace “worldly wisdom” with “the wisdom and knowledge of GOD”.
    Another problem that we as humans face in life, rather Christian or non-Christian, is that of our own “sin nature”, which causes us to harbor bitterness and ambition in our hearts. Through the influence of sin nature, we become moved by a worldly wisdom that aids us in achieving worldly selfish ends, that leaves others in ruin in our wake.    
    Wisdom from GOD, on the other hand, directs us into a pure, peace-loving, and submissive way of life and thinking under GOD, that, we will not, and cannot, find through our dealings in world wisdom. We need to become accustomed to living by the GODly wisdom that will ultimately bring us a harvest of righteousness through CHRIST JESUS. We must learn to speak with thoughtful speech, and always let our words reflect the wisdom that comes from GOD HIMSELF.
    However, this does not mean that we won’t ever offend others while we are defending the Word of GOD (the Gospel), with our speech, in the world. For, the Word of GOD will often offend those who are anti-CHRIST in their thinking. And hopefully, we ourselves, as Christians, won’t be offended on those occasions when we too need to be “rebuked” by others for intentionally, or, unintentionally straying from the Word of “the GOD we say we serve and represent”, in this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander 









Friday, February 2, 2018

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 4, 2018

Over 150,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD
(Faith leads to action)
(James 2:14-26)

   Faith that doesn’t manifest itself through good deeds is equivalent to “no faith at all”, and indeed, is dead and worthless in the eyes of GOD (James 2:17). GOD gauges our faith directly by our actions, and what we say means very little to GOD, if our words come from an unrighteous mind (evil impure thoughts).
    Man continues to prove, over time, that he seldom does what he says he will do. On the contrary, man always, 100% of the time, does that which is in his “heart” (“kardia”-the way man thinks). And so “man’s heart” (“thoughts”) remains the barometer by which GOD measures our faith, for HE seldom takes into account what a man might say, if his mind is not fixed on right “right living”.
    It is the duty of the Christian to build his or her foundation on the “Most High Faith” of the “Most High GOD”. We have the charge from CHRIST to demonstrate our love by readily and willingly showing love to others, and, by our volition to serve and aid our fellowman whenever, and wherever, the need exists. True faith always manifests itself through good deeds, and serves as evidence of who we really are “on the inside”.
    This section of James’ letter to the Jewish Christians begins with two probing questions;

·         What’s the use of saying you have faith, if you don’t prove it by your actions? (v.14)
·         What good does it do to believe that there is only one GOD, if you don’t act accordingly, by obeying only HIS commandment to show love to one another, through our acts of good deeds towards one another? (Vs.19-20)

    Both of these questions help us to focus squarely on “the relationship” between “Faith and Works”. In his first question James asks, “What good is it?”, or “Of what advantage can it be if our faith in GOD doesn’t manifest itself in our good deeds? Here James wants us to envision a man who “says he is a Christian” simply because “he thinks he has faith”. However, this same man “hasn’t exhibited any good or GODly works”, as a result of that professed faith.
    This particular man, for instance, hasn’t endured many trials or temptations, doesn’t have the right attitude towards wealth, doesn’t eagerly receive GOD’s Word into his heart, and doesn’t care for orphans or widows. In addition, this man often shows favoritism toward certain people, and exhibits all of the “bad fruit” that James had previously mentioned in this letter.
    Intellectual acceptance of GOD is not, in itself, a “Saving Faith”, because, even demons know that GOD exists (v.19). A “Saving Faith” will always have a discernible positive impact on a person’s attitude and behavior. Faith that does not produce “good fruit” in our life, and, in the lives of others, is NOT a Saving Faith, and cannot save anyone from the penalty that GOD imposes on our sin.
    In verses 20-26, James uses the examples of Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18) and Rahab (Joshua 2:1-7) to help us distinguish between “Professed Faith” and “Saving Faith”. In Genesis 22, Abraham, who was declared “righteous” by GOD, had to show his faith through his actions by offering up his own son as a living sacrifice to GOD, simply because GOD asked him to, and without even understanding why.
    In Joshua 2, Rahab, a Gentile woman, “acted on her faith in GOD” by risking her life, and the lives of her family to protect the men of GOD, who had come to spy out her homeland. And so here, it becomes increasingly clear that, we are made right with GOD by our righteous deeds, and not just, by “saying we have faith” (James 2:21-25). And just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also, faith is dead without good deeds (v.26).
    “Saving Faith” is a faith that is manifested through good works before and under GOD, even while under pressure and duress from our emotions. Any so-called faith that is not accompanied by good works is not a faith that can save a person from eternal damnation. People like Abraham and Rahab show a dynamic obedience to GOD under pressure and duress that can only be considered as “Saving Faith” by GOD in Heaven, our ETERNAL JUDGE.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander    





                                 
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, January 26, 2018

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 28, 2018

Over 149,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A STRONG FAITH
(Be strong in the LORD of the future)
(Daniel 10)

   In 536 B.C., during the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, the prophet Daniel received his final vision from GOD, which concerned “great war and hardships” that would take place in Israel’s future. The Israelites had already begun their exodus out of Babylon back into Jerusalem, and had began to rebuild their homeland, starting with the Temple, under the leadership Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel and others, two years earlier.
    GOD had earlier stirred the heart of King Cyrus and instructed him to release the Israelites so that they could go and begin the work on the temple in Judah. In addition, GOD had also stirred the hearts of HIS priests and Levites, as well as the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, to return to Judah for spiritual inspiration, financial support, and encouragement. Everyone who could, assisted the returnees by giving them silver, gold, livestock, and other supplies needed for the journey. However Daniel, probably because of his age, did not return at this time with his fellow priests.
    When Daniel received his vision of war and hardship in Israel’s future, he understood clearly what it meant. In fact, he says that he had already been in mourning over it for three weeks, and had been praying and fasting the whole time (Vs.2-3). And so one day as he and some other men were standing by the banks of the Tigris River (which was known then as “Hiddekel”), he looked up and saw a man dressed in fine linen clothing with a band of pure gold around his waist. His body glowed like a dazzling gem, and from his face came flashes like lightning. He had eyes like flaming torches, and his arms and feet shone like polished bronze. Daniel also says that the man had a voice that sounded like the roaring of a great crowd of people (Vs.4-6).
    In the Hebrew, the word used for “messenger” is “malak”, and it describes “one who brings news or tidings by divine order from GOD”. Actually, the figure in the vision that Daniel calls “a man in linen clothing” was more likely an angel, whom GOD had sent to ease his prophet’s mind concerning his earlier vision of war and hardship.
    Daniel says in verse 7 that he was the only one who saw the vision of the messenger who appeared along the banks of the Tigris River that day, as those who were with him became frightened and ran away and hid. Daniel himself, was also overcome with fear and awe, and he fell flat down on his face when he saw this angel of GOD.
    Angels are “heavenly beings” who are direct creations of GOD. They are all males (there are no female angels) of different “orders” (ranks) and “types”, who also, like man, “has wills that are free” (Genesis 3:24, Psalm 18:10, Ezekiel 1:5-14). Among the duties assigned to angels in Old and New Testament scriptures, is “to protect GOD’s people who will ultimately be “saved” (Exodus 23:20, 2 Kings 6:17, Daniel 3:28, Hebrews 1:14). 
    Angels also serve as agents of GOD sent to execute divine judgment on man (Genesis 19:1, 2 Samuel 24:17, Isaiah 37:36). This chapter of Daniel is perhaps the most important in all of Scriptures for those who engage in the study of “angelology”. It suggests in these pages that there is a constant “unseen spiritual battle” between those angels who chose to follow Lucifer out of Heaven, and those who chose to remain with GOD.
    Depending upon the rank of the dark angel (they apparently retained their power following their mutiny against GOD), they may be able to, at least, delay the mission of an angel sent by the LORD to aid HIS people on earth. The identification of the dark angel in this passage as the “prince of Persia” indicates that the focus of the unseen spiritual battle is to control “human societies” and “governments” here on earth.
    We as human beings, because most of us don’t even recognize, or believe, that there is an unseen spiritual battle between good and evil taking place here on earth, have ceded all governments, including here in the United States,  over to satan without even putting up a fight. That is why we are able to submit to any Luciferic agenda, anywhere in the world, without even changing “one word” in our already existing constitutions and laws. And only true followers of the GOD in Heaven (those who stay on the lighted path that has been blazed through this dark world by CHRIST JESUS), are ultimately not affected, and will overcome this world as JESUS did.
    Only strong faith and prayer on our part, and a commitment to getting to know CHRIST through HIS Word, and ultimately doing what that Word requires, will save us from ultimate defeat and self-destruction. GOD’s Word can show us how to help ourselves, and others, to fight the spiritual battle, that most people here on earth, will never even know is taking place.
    To follow the world’s agenda is to follow satan. To follow GOD’s agenda is to follow CHRIST JESUS, our GREAT PIONEER, WHO is also the only human being ever to successfully overcome this world, through HIS perfect obedience to GOD. Our FATHER in Heaven absolutely holds our future in HIS hands, one way or the other, for better or for worse. We all have the “liberty” to choose to follow GOD’s agenda through CHRIST, or, to follow our own agenda, which is the same as is following satan.
    When we come to rest in the thought that this life is not the final act of the human drama, and, that GOD is fully in control of all things, good and bad, it will give us the confidence we need to embark upon each day that the LORD GOD, in HIS grace, will allow us to see. We can receive divine strength from GOD, just as Daniel did here in this passage, if we, first, admit that we need GOD, then repent and humble ourselves, and finally, faithfully put our trust into HIS divine and glorious tailor-made plan for our lives, a plan which will lead us straight to “victory” and “true freedom”, that can only be found in CHRIST JESUS.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website


   

    

Friday, January 19, 2018

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 21, 2018

Over 148,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

PRAYER FOR AN OBEDIENT FAITH
(GOD hears and acts on the prayers of the righteous)
(Daniel 9:1-19)

   In 539 B.C., 66 years after Daniel had been taken into Babylonian exile by King Nebuchadnezzar, Darius the Mede, at age 62, overthrew Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, King Belshazzar, in a coupe that launched the beginning of the “Medo-Persian Dynasty”. It was an event that had been revealed to the Belshazzar, in fact, on the night of his death, through Daniel’s interpretation of his, now famous, “Handwriting on the Wall” dream (Daniel 5:13-31). This overthrowing of the Babylonian Kingdom was a part of GOD’s plan, as HE was now preparing the way for the liberation of the Jews from exile that had been in captivity in Babylon since the year 605 B.C.
    Moved by the Medo-Persian’s victory over the Babylonians, Daniel searched the Scriptures to try and clearly understand this momentous event of which he had so obviously played a role in. He needed to know just how this event would affect himself and his people in the near future. He already understood that Darius’ victory was a signal that the Jew’s captivity in Babylon was nearing an end, but he didn’t, however, grasp the full ramifications.
    As Daniel searched the writings of the prophet Jeremiah, he is made aware that the city of Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years before they could return to it. It was Daniel’s study of the Scriptures that led him to pray a prayer of confession and repentance that was heard by GOD at the very moment that he began to pray (Daniel 9:23).
    Daniel’s wearing of sackcloth and sprinkling of ashes over his body symbolized his “mournful grief” and “GODly sorrow” for his sins, and, the sins of Israel. In Deuteronomy 28, Moses lays out the criteria by which GOD would deal with HIS covenant people regarding sin, or disobedience. There, he spells out to everyone that obedience will bring blessings, and disobedience will bring curses, or discipline. One of those forms of discipline would be to subjugate the Jews to Gentile dominance (Deuteronomy 28:48-57). However, the Word also says that, if they returned to the ways of GOD, their nation would be restored to blessing (Deuteronomy 30).
    In Daniel’s prayer, he confesses the sins of Israel, and also, he identifies himself with those sins, just as though he were personally responsible for them. The sins of Israel, like all sin, are a personal rebellion against GOD. Still, GOD, by way of HIS abounding grace, had sent prophet after prophet, to plead with the Israelites to return to HIM. However, they had steadfastly refused to do so.
    After having prayed for the removal of GOD’s wrath, Daniel then prays for GOD’s favor, mercy, and forgiveness. The whole world was now mocking Jerusalem and GOD’s people because of “the defeated state of existence” that they had lingered in now for almost 70 years. Daniel asked that GOD would put an end to their shameful condition and desolation for HIS OWN namesake, not because they themselves deserved any help or mercy.
    Here Daniel is basing his request on “GOD’s great mercy”, and not on “the righteousness of Israel”, because Israel, in and of itself, had no righteousness. Daniel was showing his concern for GOD’s reputation in the world, and wanted GOD to glorify HIMSELF to the world, by restoring the Israelites to prominence, who were privileged enough to represent HIS mighty name here on earth, but had failed to live up to their role of responsibility.
    Oftentimes, we lack sincerity and remorse when we confess our sins before GOD. But it is sincere confession and repentance that appeals to the mercy of THE ALMIGHTY. We, as Christians, are stirred to repentance in various ways, however, when we come to GOD for help and forgiveness, we must all approach GOD with reverence, trust, and GODly sorrow in our hearts, not just own our lips.
    Daniel called GOD “great” and “awesome” and he also stressed GOD’s “faithfulness” to HIS fallen people. By focusing on GOD’s great sovereignty over all things concerning our existence, we automatically acknowledge our sincere reverence and trust in HIM to help us in our times of need. When we sincerely repent, GOD’s mercy immediately begins to gravitate to us.
    “Divine Love” is the motivation behind everything that GOD does for us, and we are to love GOD in return by obeying HIS “divine commands”. GOD always answers the prayers of those who righteously seek HIM, and, HE responds very graciously to a sincere prayer of repent. And as long as we continue to righteously seek GOD, our prayers will be prayers that are immediately heard by “The ONE WHO sees us from on High”, our FATHER, WHO is in Heaven (Daniel 9:23).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, January 12, 2018

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 14, 2018

Over 147,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A BOLD FAITH
(Boldly serve only GOD)
(Daniel 3)

   The effects of Daniel’s interpretation and revelation to King Nebuchadnezzar concerning his dream in chapter 2, no doubt played a role in his decision here in chapter 3, to build a 90 foot statue of himself made of plated gold, with the intent to have everybody in his kingdom bow down and worship his molten image, as god. 
    In the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream by the prophet Daniel, the Babylonian king represented only the “head” of the gold statue that was made of various other elements, which represented other kingdoms that would come into being after his kingdom ended.
    This towering edifice, erected on the plains of Dura in the province of Babylon in chapter 3, was Nebuchadnezzar’s way of heading off these coming kingdoms, and making himself “immortal”, so to speak, having a kingdom of his own that would be passed down from generation to generation and, in effect, would never end. It was a foolish attempt by Nebuchadnezzar to defy the GOD of Daniel, WHOM Daniel said had given him the answers concerning his dream in the first place.
    After having the statue built, Nebuchadnezzar summoned eight “classes” of his top officials to attend the dedication ceremonies for this new idol of himself. The “princes”, who were the chief representatives of the king, the “perfects”, who were the military commanders, and the “governors”, who were the civic administrators, were all called to attend. In addition, the “counselors”, who advised governmental authorities, the “treasurers”, the “judges”, the “magistrates” and other “provincial subordinates” who served in an official capacity, were also called to attend.
    Here in this chapter Nebuchadnezzar is not calling for the people to honor one of the traditional gods of Babylon, here he is actually instituting a new form of religious worship with his own image as the centerpiece, or object of adoration. It is an attempt by the king to unify government and religion in Babylon, placing himself at the head of both, literally.
   Nebuchadnezzar then issued a decree that everyone in the Babylonian kingdom must bow down and worship his newly constructed image of himself whenever they hear the sound of the music playing. Anyone who refused to comply with his command would be thrown into a fiery furnace and burned to death. Surprisingly, there were three young men, of Jewish descent, who failed to comply with the king’s edict.
    Now there were some astrologers who went to King Nebuchadnezzar and reported to him that a certain trio of Jews, namely Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were noncompliant to his new edict. The king flew into a rage (v.13) and ordered that these three men be brought before him immediately.
    As we know, these three had all been recently promoted, along with Daniel, to very high positions in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom as a result of Daniel’s correct interpretation of the king’s dream in chapter 2. And it is only because of his fondness of the trio that Nebuchadnezzar decides to give Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego a second opportunity (v.15) to change their minds, and bow down to his statue and worship it as god.
    Nebuchadnezzar further admonishes Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that, if they refuse this final time to worship him, they would be immediately thrown into the blazing inferno prepared for those who refused to comply with kingdom policies. However, because of their strong dedication and conviction to WHO they knew was the Almighty GOD, they defiantly and steadfastly refused to obey the king’s command, and what follows, is one of the most famous examples of “men united in dedication to GOD” that can be found anywhere in the annals of recorded biblical history.
    Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego boldly replied to Nebuchadnezzar in a state of solidarity that, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the GOD WHOM we serve is able to save us. HE will rescue us from your power, your majesty. But even if HE doesn’t, your majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up (Vs. 16-18 – NLT)”.
    In verse 19 we see that the demon inside Nebuchadnezzar “distorted his face with rage”, and he commanded that the heat in the furnace be turned up seven times hotter than it was normally kept. And with that said, the trio was tossed into the flaming furnace. It was now so hot that, when Nebuchadnezzar’s men opened the door, they were killed by the heat that poured out from within the furnace.
    Moments later, Nebuchadnezzar, from a safe distance, peered into the furnace, and to his amazement, he was able to see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with a fourth person, who seemed to be an angel of sorts, all walking around inside the blazing inferno. The king then ordered the men to come out of the furnace, and when they did, everyone present was astounded by the fact that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not harmed by the fire in any way. In fact, they didn’t even smell like smoke, and their clothes were all intact.
    When we stand by GOD, GOD always stands with us. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were all employed by an important man, in fact a king, named Nebuchadnezzar. However, they had sense enough to know that they should only worship GOD, WHO is the CREATOR of man. If we fear and worship our earthly employers more than we fear and worship GOD, we are already on our way to the ultimate blazing inferno that is “Hell”.
    Employers should be “served”, sure enough, in exchange for the wages that they pay us, but only GOD should be “served”, and “worshiped”. We should never “obey” an employer who is demanding that we “disobey” GOD. JESUS says that it is impossible to worship GOD and mammon (money) (Matthew 6:24), and of course, HE is right. We will eventually have to choose one over the other.
    Our faith must cling to the conviction that GOD is able to keep us safe from the perils that crop up in this life, because, after all, it is HE WHO controls all things in this life, both now, and forever. However, our faith should also affirm that, whether or not GOD does choose to save us, is always a matter for HE HIMSELF to decide. We, as Christians, only need to keep our priorities in order, which are, “we are to worship GOD only”, “love people”, and “use things”. And when we mix those priorities in any other order, we automatically place ourselves out of the Will of GOD.
    GOD, will never support us, nor reward us when we choose to make decisions that place HIM second to people, places, and things, in our lives. Christians are to remain steadfast in their convictions to GOD, even in suffering, always standing up for an innocent CHRIST, WHO stood up for us in our guilt, and taught us through HIS words and actions, how we can overcome that guilt. And even if it costs us family, friends, jobs, things, or even our own lives, we must count it all joy, because we have shown ourselves to be men and women of GOD, in pursuit of GOD’s OWN heart, through obedience and faith in HIM.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, January 5, 2018

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 7, 2018

Over 147,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

SINCERE FAITH
(Remaining faithful in all circumstances)
(Daniel 1)

   The book of Daniel was written in the sixth century by the prophet Daniel who, of course, actually lived through all of the events that are recorded in its pages. At the age of around sixteen, Daniel was taken captive, along with many other elite young men of Judah, during the first Babylonian invasion by King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. They were then set apart from most of the Jewish exiles, and taught the language and literature of the Babylonian citizenry.  
    Early on in their exile, King Nebuchadnezzar also sought to place this group of elite young men on a special diet consisting of food from his own table. However, most of those foods were forbidden for any of the Jewish people to eat at any time, and so, now, young Daniel and his friends find themselves faced with their first religious dilemma since being forced to leave their homeland of Judah.
    As far as GOD is concerned, the obverse of “love” is always “obedience”, and the obverse of “privilege” is always “responsibility”. We, as privileged Christians, are responsible to GOD to show our love for HIM, through, our obedience to HIM. In Daniel chapter 1, the young prophet, Daniel (his Babylonian name “Belteshazzar”), Hananiah (“Shadrach”), Mishael (“Meshach”), and Azariah (“Abednego”) are all faced with a choice of either “obeying GOD”, or, “obeying man and disobeying GOD”. It is a dilemma that many professed Christians often face in today’s society, and perhaps, more often than not, we choose to obey man, and disobey GOD.
    This form of disobedience can often be seen on our jobs, for example, where we may have been told that we must work seven days a week by the boss, for instance, and we know GOD says we must work no more than six days a week. If we choose to disobey GOD, it sends a clear message to GOD that we fear man more than HIM, or, that we are more concerned about pleasing man, than we are about pleasing HIM, WHO, by the way, is the CREATOR of man.
    Daniel and his friends all made up their minds that they were going to obey GOD, no matter what happened to them as a result. They loved and feared GOD more than they feared their earthly captors. Their desire was to please GOD in all that they did, and they resolved that, even though they no longer lived in their own homeland, or culture, they were all still bound by the laws of a sovereign, omnipresent GOD, whose sovereignty knows no geographical boundaries. They knew that their GOD was and is, GOD everywhere, and that HE rules over all things, everywhere.
    With that in mind, Daniel boldly asked to be excused from eating and drinking the food and wine of the pagan king of Babylon. The chief official was reluctant to grant Daniel’s request because the king held him responsible for their well-being. If they didn’t eat, they could fall into bad health, and the king would perhaps, punish him severely.
    However, GOD intervened and moved on the heart of the official to show favor to young Daniel and his friends, and he allowed them to eat their own traditional diet of foods, on a trial basis, for ten days. And sure enough, at the end of the ten days, Daniel and his friends appeared to be even healthier than those who remained on the king’s regimen, and as a result, they were allowed to continue on with their own traditional diet.
    GOD always intervenes on behalf of those who obey, trust, and keep their faith in HIM, especially during difficult situations. Compromise oftentimes seems like the easy way out, and sometimes we are only too eager to fit into situations that may be rationalized as being “not that bad”. One might reason, “Why make a fuss about something as simple as a diet, or, violating GOD’s Sabbath Day law for that matter?” We can easily rationalize that “nobody will be hurt if we don’t obey that commandment just this once”.
    Such thoughts may even have crossed Daniel’s mind also, however, ultimately we see Daniel did the wise and right thing, and made “doing GOD’s Will”, his priority. No amount of rationalization can justify disobedience to GOD, no matter how small a thing we convince ourselves that it is. This is something that every Christian, who desires to live a GODly life in a secular society, must come to terms with.
    I also realize that some Christians can seem totally obnoxious to others when defending, or taking a stand for their faith, and perhaps we can all benefit from this lesson by noting how respectfully young Daniel handled his dilemma with pagan royalty. Here in this passage, we see that he did not demand that his captors do anything, but rather, he asked for their permission. He respected the position of the Babylonian officials, and how his request could jeopardize the lives of himself and his friends just by asking.
    In the final analysis, we should earnestly seek ways by which we can always put GOD first, and still show respect to those around us. And if there is any way to satisfy both, that would be the wise route to take. But remember, never let your obedience to man, throw you into conflict with, or, cause you to be disobedient to, GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander    





                                 
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