Friday, October 17, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 19, 2014

Over 66,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

DEFIANT FAITHFULNESS
(GOD brings justice how and when HE chooses)
(Job 24)

When GOD began testing Job with various forms of suffering, it prompted him to think a lot about the seemingly unfair sufferings of others who were less fortunate than himself. Perhaps he had not considered these things for quite some time because he had been blessed with such an opulent lifestyle for so long.
Maybe one of the reasons GOD allowed these things to happen to Job, that are highlighted here in his book, is to allow him to get back in touch with his compassion for those who were less fortunate, and were not closely related to him. After all, JESUS does remind us (Matthew 25:31-46) that when HE returns to judge us, HE will do so, by basing those judgments in accordance to “how we reacted to human need”.
Here in Job 24, even though Job does recoil a bit from actually confronting GOD, he does seem to question what he believes is GOD’s indifference in judgment of good and evil. In this passage the pressure weighing down on Job, is causing a frustration in him, that has led him to thoughts that GOD is unfair, or at least, lackadaisical in HIS attitude toward sin in this world. It is an accusation that I myself have heard from people many times over the years, “why does GOD allow bad things to happen to (so-called) “good people”, which is an arrogant thought in itself, because the Scripture teaches us that none is good, except GOD HIMSELF. Everyone is deserving of punishment, based on our rebellious lifestyle against GOD, at one time or the other, and are deserving of whatever form of discipline GOD chooses to correct us with, whenever HE chooses to correct us.
Here in this passage, Job seems to arrogantly think that he can dictate to GOD who, when, and how HE should judge mankind. And even though he raises some very good questions, he raises those questions without an ounce of the wisdom that it takes to make such divine decisions about GOD’s universe and mankind’s effect on it, and, on each other.
Man cannot think from the standpoint of GOD, no matter how good his intentions may be, because he can never have the infinite wisdom that only GOD can safely possess, or the purity that GOD embodies. Man (the created) can’t “(krino) judge” other men, simply because we are all, ourselves, “men under judgment” and scrutiny from the CREATOR, GOD.
Only GOD can make the decision as to when, how, and even why, HE judges, or blesses anyone. It is not for man to tell GOD what is “fair” or “unfair”, seeing how HE is the CREATOR of the aspects of both terms, and gives both terms their definitions. What is fair, is what GOD says is fair, not man, and what is unfair, is what GOD defines as unfair. It is beyond man’s ability to re-define any term that GOD has already defined (i.e. marriage), and even if we do, it doesn’t count for anything in GOD’s mind, because HE remains sovereign in all things, no matter what we think.
In verse 1 of this chapter Job asks, “Why doesn’t the almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the GODly wait for HIM in vain? Job then goes on a poetic tirade listing several injustices, and bad choices that people make in this world that affect, themselves, and the lives of others, even in this day and age (Vs.2-17):

2 Evil people steal land by moving the boundary markers.
    They steal livestock and put them in their own pastures.
They take the orphan’s donkey
    and demand the widow’s ox as security for a loan.
The poor are pushed off the path;
    the needy must hide together for safety.
Like wild donkeys in the wilderness,
    the poor must spend all their time looking for food,
    searching even in the desert for food for their children.
They harvest a field they do not own,
    and they glean in the vineyards of the wicked.
All night they lie naked in the cold,
    without clothing or covering.
They are soaked by mountain showers,
    and they huddle against the rocks for want of a home.
“The wicked snatch a widow’s child from her breast,
    taking the baby as security for a loan.
10 The poor must go about naked, without any clothing.
    They harvest food for others while they themselves are starving.
11 They press out olive oil without being allowed to taste it,
    and they tread in the winepress as they suffer from thirst.
12 The groans of the dying rise from the city,
    and the wounded cry for help,
    yet GOD ignores their moaning.
13 “Wicked people rebel against the LIGHT.
    They refuse to acknowledge its ways
    or stay in its paths.
14 The murderer rises in the early dawn
    to kill the poor and needy;
    at night he is a thief.
15 The adulterer waits for the twilight,
    saying, ‘No one will see me then.’
    He hides his face so no one will know him.
16 Thieves break into houses at night
    and sleep in the daytime.
    They are not acquainted with the LIGHT.
17 The black night is their morning.
    They ally themselves with the terrors of the darkness.
(NLT)

In HIS infinite wisdom, GOD ultimately decided to create mankind, and HE endowed him with “wills that are free”. HE doesn’t force us to choose neither good, nor evil, in fact, all HE does is present us with both scenarios to choose from. In other words, we have the GOD-given right to choose between “good” and “evil”, which are two more terms that are defined only by GOD. HE tells us in HIS Word, those things that are good, and HE tells us about those things that are evil, but then, HE leaves it to us to choose which route we wish to take. If we choose what HE says is right, we can enjoy special favor and blessing from HIM, and if we choose what HE says is wrong, or evil, then, we invite curses upon ourselves and others, which is the opposite of blessings (Deuteronomy 28).
In the end (Vs.18-25) Job shows us that he is certain that the wicked will be punished, in fact, this section of this passage even seems to contradict the first 17 verses entirely. Still, in the end we see Job confirming to his friend, Eliphaz, his confidence that GOD will eventually hand the obedient, and the wicked their just rewards, or punishment.
Job shows here that he understands that both the righteous, and the wicked, suffer and prosper, in the same world, at the same time, and that, GOD brings justice how and when HE chooses, to both sides, regardless to what we think HE ought to do, and when we think HE ought to do it.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, October 10, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 12, 2014

Over 66,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

CONFIDENT OF REDEMPTION
(Place your confidence in GOD’s redemption)
(Job 19)

We must be careful to remember that all people suffer, quite frankly, because all people sin in the eyes of GOD. Don’t look now, but, the greatest suffering in the world comes to those who insist on living without GOD. We often think or say that life is not fair, but we never stop to take into consideration that we look at life, through an unclean, bias mirror, that clearly and generally favors our own side, or position.
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “world” is “Kosmos”, and it is from that word that we derive our English word “cosmos”. In the spiritual sense, it is “that complex intertwining of sinful desires that shape our world of “lost” humanity”. When we live in this world, we are subject to its sinful fallout, sometimes due to our own sin, and sometimes due to the sins of others. However GOD uses our failures and imperfections to strengthen our character and move us closer to HIM, even while we are yet sinning in this world.
GOD chooses to allow it to rain on both, the “just”, and the “unjust” at the same time, and it is even possible for a person living without GOD to do “a right thing”. However, it is not possible for them to continue doing right things, neither on an ongoing, nor, regular basis. On the other hand, it is also possible for a person, who, for the most part, serves GOD seriously, to do “a wrong thing”. The good news, however, is that, it is not likely that they will continue to make bad decisions all the time. Still further, there are evil people in the world who experience “good fortune” (Job 21:7-18), and there are good people in the world who experience “bad fortunes” in life.
The average person, oftentimes, does not grasp how their sin, not only affects their personal spiritual, emotional and physical life, but also, the spiritual, emotional, and physical lives of others. Every sin that we commit affects, not only us, but also, always affects someone else, when all is said and done.
As human beings, because of our disobedience to GOD’s laws and instructions, we have long been destined to live in a world filled with death, sickness, and decay. However, thanks to the same merciful GOD that we perpetually disobey, man does not have to settle for “just living in the world”, we all have the option to choose to live, in and through, JESUS CHRIST, WHO is the “SAVIOR of the world”. However, when and if, we do choose to follow CHRIST, we are still not exempt from the trials and tests of everyday life.
In Job chapter 19 verses 1-6, Job cries out in the pain of his humiliation, and we can almost sense that he is beginning to see the light as to what is really happening to him. In verses 5-6 we see what can be viewed as a “spiritual awakening”, or “spiritual breakthrough” in Job. Here Job states that, “You are trying to overcome me, using my humiliation (emotional pain) as evidence of my sin” (a familiar trick of satan’s). But it is GOD WHO has wronged me (“tested me”). I cannot defend myself (I cannot defend myself before GOD – “For all are guilty and fall short of the glory of GOD”-Romans 3:23), for I am like a city under siege” (NLT).
In Job 19:25-27, Job gives us the earliest biblical mention of the “resurrection concept”, when he states,

“As for me, I know that my redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth in the last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see GOD! I will see HIM for myself. Yes, I will see HIM with my own eyes. And I am overwhelmed at the thought” (NLT).

By choosing and accepting GOD’s help, we don’t have to be overwhelmed by the effects of past sins (our emotions), nor by the chances and changes of this life, nor by a “fear” of what will happen to us in the future. Now we can, at anytime we choose, enter into a right relationship with GOD, and begin looking beyond this world to HIM, being powered by the HOLY SPIRIT, through JESUS CHRIST.
Each of us has experienced what we deem as “unfairness”, which we, at times, cannot explain. In these times, a study of the book of Job offers insight, and stimulates hope. The difficulty in setting the time and place of the events of the Book of Job is irrelevant because its timeless and universal message transcends the ages.
Job serves to remind us of that great truth, that, despite our lack of knowledge, and, of why certain misfortunes befall us, we can, and must, trust GOD in all that we aspire to do in life. The “life” that GOD created is always “just” and thereby “fair”, in the divine sense. What we think is fair or unfair, and what GOD knows is just, are sometimes, though incomprehensively to us, two entirely different things.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website






Friday, October 3, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 5, 2014

Over 66,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE REWARDS OF PATIENCE
(We can choose to rejoice in the LORD)
(Habakkuk 2:1-5 & 3:16-19)

The name “Habakkuk” (Huh-BAK-uhk) means “embraced by GOD”. The Scripture does not mention anything about the ancestry, or place of birth, of this pre-exilic prophet. He was both a poet and a prophet whose hatred of sin often compelled him to cry out to GOD for justice. Ironically, that same sense of justice also led him to challenge the LORD’s plan to judge the nation of Judah by using the evil forces of Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian fighting machine to annihilate them in 586 B.C.
Habakkuk’s three-chapter book mostly deals with the age-old problems of evil and human suffering because of that evil. Each chapter presents a very striking contrast, as in the first two chapters, the prophet’s complaining and questioning technique is used to drive home a powerful message concerning the coming judgment of the Almighty GOD. However, in the third chapter, the prophet pens one of the most beautiful psalms of praise to be found anywhere in the annals of Old Testament literature.
This terse book begins with a cry of woe as Habakkuk sees injustice running rampant in Judah, and the righteous ones being overtaken by the wicked. The law seems powerless to stop this madness, and it also seems that the LORD HIMSELF has abandoned HIS chosen people of Israel.
Many of the earlier prophets had also seen the societal injustices in Judah, and vehemently spoke out and objected to them. However, years ago, while still under the 55-year reign of King Manasseh, the father of Josiah, the nation of Judah had become committed to the idolatry and evil practices of the pagan nations around them. Those prophets were not able to convince the people to abandon those practices any more than Habakkuk would be able to, with his warnings in his day.
Like Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, and Zephaniah, Habakkuk ministered during the reign of King Josiah, Judah’s last GODly king. Josiah came to the throne at the incredibly young age of eight, and with the help of his queen mother, he was able to grow up with a moral compass to guide him. As a result, when he was older he initiated many religious reforms, and a spiritual revival, in an attempt to move the people of Judah back towards GOD.
Sadly, Josiah was not able to root out all of the deeply entrenched evil that had dug its way into Hebrew society, and Habakkuk pleaded with GOD for an explanation as to why HE had allowed this wickedness to persist, and the innocent to suffer, for all those years. He wanted to know why GOD would use a less righteous people (Babylon) to punish, what he considered to be, a more righteous nation (Judah). And even though there was already a precedent established with the downfall of northern Israel to Assyria in 722 B.C., Habakkuk was still troubled by what he felt was an overbearing moral issue.
In fact, even today, that is a concern about GOD that still troubles a lot of Christians, that age-old question of “why HE allows evil to exist and prevail in the world”. However, the answers we find in this message of Habakkuk clearly shows us that no one, good or evil, can escape the disciplining hand of GOD when HE decides to apply it.
In Habakkuk 2, verse 1-5, as Habakkuk awaits in a “watchtower” (“mismeret” in the Hebrew) for an answer from the LORD to his second complaint in chapter 1, the LORD tells Habakkuk to write HIS answer in large, clear letters on a tablet so that even a man running by can read it, and pass the message on to everyone he meets.
The LORD warns Habakkuk that the things HE planned will not happen right away, however, slowly but surely, the time nears when the vision HE shows him will be fulfilled. And if it seems slow, just be patient, because it will surely come to pass.
The LORD then tells Habakkuk to look around at all the confident, arrogant faces of those who trust in themselves, even though their lives are crooked. By contrast, those who are humble and righteous will simply “live by faith”, depending only on GOD for their survival. They will be faithful to GOD, and because of their faith and patience, they will live eternally with GOD at the end of this earth’s history. Those who trust in themselves, on the other hand will die by their own hand, and join satan in the pits of Hell following the “White Throne Judgment”.
Verse 5 describes wealth as being “treacherous”, and the arrogant as being “never at rest”, or, “never satisfied”. It is a comparison that pits these two together, with “greed and death”. Wealth and arrogance combined together, are like greed and death, neither one is ever satisfied.
In Habakkuk chapter 3, verses 16-19, Habakkuk concludes his message with a powerful poetic rendering that exudes all the confidence, patience, and faith that a person, who is under duress from a life-threatening siege can exhibit. Here he faithfully declares that;
  
I trembled inside when I heard this;
    my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me,
    and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
    when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights.”
(NLT)

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website





Friday, September 26, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 28, 2014

Over 65,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

LAUGHTER WILL RETURN
(GOD rebuilds us for HIS glory)
(Jeremiah 33:1-11)

While Jeremiah was still imprisoned by King Zedekiah of Judah, in the courtyard of the guard, and the Babylonians siege was in full effect, and pressing down on Jerusalem, the LORD came to HIS faithful prophet Jeremiah with yet a second message. It was a two-fold message of both gloom and hope for the future. Here in Jeremiah 33, verses 2-11 we find this forecast for the nation of Judah:

“This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord:  Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.  For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: You have torn down the houses of this city and even the king’s palace to get materials to strengthen the walls against the siege ramps and swords of the enemy.  You expect to fight the Babylonians, but the men of this city are already as good as dead, for I have determined to destroy them in my terrible anger. I have abandoned them because of all their wickedness.
“Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace.  I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns.  I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion.  Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them.
 “This is what the Lord says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing,
‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    for the Lord is good.
    His faithful love endures forever!’
For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord” (NLT).

Here GOD shares a bit of “inaccessible knowledge” (“basurot” in the Hebrew) with HIS prophet, Jeremiah (v.3). The word “basurot” used here tells us that it is information that no human being can obtain, except through divine intervention. The truth is that, apart from divine intervention from GOD, no individual can have any accurate real knowledge of origins, or destinies, in this life. All of GOD’s plans are inaccessible to ordinary people, and only HE can unlock the secrets of the future.
During the midst of the Babylonian siege, the people of Jerusalem had begun to tear apart their dwellings and use the material to shore up the walls around the city. Even the king’s palace was not exempt from being picked apart, piece by piece, to be used in this desperate project. However, in verse 5 of this passage, GOD informs Jeremiah that all of their efforts would be in vain, and would not stem off the powerful onslaught of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. In fact, every man in Jerusalem was already as good as dead, says the LORD.
Beginning in verse 6, however, we see a complete shift from “warnings of destruction and doom” to “promises of restoration, joy, and peace” for Judah and Israel (Vs.6-13). They would be given prosperity and peace, have their fortunes restored, and they would be able to rebuild their torn down city of Jerusalem. GOD says that their sins will be forgiven, and their sins would run their course in Babylon after seventy years. And the LORD would rejoice as Jerusalem would once again bring glory and honor to HIS name throughout the world.
The sounds of “joy and gladness”, is something that is envisioned at almost any wedding ceremony. In verses 10-11 the LORD says don’t worry about the depressed state that you now see Jerusalem in. The way she is now, having the land desecrated, and all the people and animal killed by disease, starvation, beast, and war. In a little while, the streets will once again be filled with joy and laughter. The joyous voices of brides and bridegrooms will once again be heard in the streets of Jerusalem. And there will be joyous songs of people bringing “thanksgiving offers” to the LORD. They will sing “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for HE is good. HIS faithful love endures forever!”

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




   


Friday, September 19, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 21, 2014

Over 65,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A NEW FUTURE
(Invest in GOD’s plan)
(Jeremiah 32:1-15)

In the tenth year of King Zedekiah’s reign in Judah, and the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in Babylon, Jerusalem found itself under siege from the Babylonian army. History now tells us that the final destruction of Jerusalem was less than two years away. King Zedekiah had imprisoned the prophet Jeremiah because he continued to prophecy treasonously against him and Judah, as the LORD had instructed him to do. Zedekiah had failed in his attempt to engage the help of Egypt to force Nebuchadnezzar to let him out of his pledge to obey and serve under him in the name of the GOD of Israel. This is the message that the LORD gave to Jeremiah concerning King Zedekiah (Vs.3-5);

“This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will take it.  King Zedekiah will be captured by the Babylonians and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face.  He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and I will deal with him there,’ says the Lord. ‘If you fight against the Babylonians, you will never succeed.” (NLT)

It is during this season of gloom that GOD gives yet another message to the prophet Jeremiah. It is a message so odd that even Jeremiah (through his prayer in verses 16-25) requested an explanation from the Almighty sovereign GOD as to why HE would have him purchase land that had already been taken from them by foreigners. In verses 6-7 the LORD tells Jeremiah;

 “Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. By law you have the right to buy it before it is offered to anyone else.”

And so, Hanamel, Jeremiah’s cousin, did visit him in prison (v.8) with the offer to buy a parcel of land in Anathoth where the Babylonians had already taken over. Anathoth was a city in the tribe of Benjamin that was given to the Levites (1 Kings 2:26). It was the birthplace of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:1), and was located about three miles northwest of Jerusalem.
Hanamel was following the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 25:25-28, Ruth 4:1-6) which required a person to redeem the property of a relative who was forced to sell so that it would not leave possession of the family. That is why it was told to Jeremiah that “it was his right and duty” to purchase the land if he could afford to.
Jeremiah did purchase the land, and his actions were based on his faith in, and, obedience to the Almighty GOD. Scripture does not record the size of the property, however, for an average parcel of land in those days, Jeremiah’s purchase price of only seven ounces of silver would be quite a bargain, if it were not for the fact that he wasn’t going to take possession of it any time soon (the Babylonian ordeal would last for seventy years).
Jeremiah signed and sealed the deed before witnesses, and paid his cousin for the property. He made a copy of the original deed and sealed it, and the copy was left unsealed for future examination (Vs.10-12). Jeremiah then handed the deeds to Baruch, his trusted friend and scribe, and instructed him to put them both in a jar for safe keeping. It was a sign of faith that he believed the LORD when HE said that someday HIS people would again own property in the land of Judah, and the land would be replenished with houses, fields, and vineyards (Vs.13-15).
Jeremiah trusted in GOD’s promise, and he trusted in GOD’s plan for his life, and, for the lives of his family in the next generation. And so he chose to leave a legacy of faith that would transcend their current troubles, and then, he put his money where his mouth was, and financially invested in the Kingdom of GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website