Friday, January 20, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 22, 2017

Over 121,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE MASTER DESIGNER
(GOD has given us everything that we need)
(Psalm 104)

   There is no greater evidence of the power and existence of GOD than the reality and existence of the creation that HE shaped and sustains. In Psalm 104, the unknown psalmist gives us a vivid description of his personal view of three things about GOD; HIS power to bring into existence, all creation (Vs.1-9), HIS concern for HIS creation (Vs.10-23), and, HIS provisions to sustain HIS creation (Vs.24-30).
    We, as Christians, have come to rest in, and share the psalmist’s thoughts, and we also thoroughly understand, through our great faith, that, the world was fashioned by the Word and hand of GOD. We understand that all the things that we now see around us came from that which is not seen, and is quite literally from “the mind of GOD”. We are of the attitude that, in terms of eternity, we would rather stake everything on GOD, the CREATOR of this existence, than to trust in the temporal rewards that we can obtain from HIM, because of HIS existence.
    Sadly though, we as human beings, still, often fall in love with the “creations of the CREATOR”, instead of endearing ourselves to the HOLY CREATOR, HIMSELF. When GOD created man in HIS OWN image (in other words, shared HIS nature with us), HE also placed inside of us, a hunger and thirst which would, hopefully, ultimately draw us to HIM, and, hold us near to HIM, forever.
    However, because of the “sin nature” that we obtained, through disobedience to GOD (the fall of Adam and Eve), we’ve became confused, and have, since that time, tried to satisfy our hunger and thirst by seeking after “the temporal things of this world”, and, “those things that we, ourselves, have made from HIS created substances”.
    Here in Psalm 104, the psalmist seems to have a very sane and firm grip on where we should direct our praises. He is, no doubt, a man who has fallen in love with the BLESSER because of the blessings, and not, the blessings themselves.

·         In verses 1-9 the psalmist praises GOD and expresses his awe and reverence for GOD’s sovereign power.
·         In verses 10-23, he displays a deep understanding of how deeply GOD is concerned about HIS creation, and how HE shows it, through HIS provisions, which HE uses to sustain HIS creation.
·         And finally, in verses 24-35, the psalmist praises GOD yet again, and prays that GOD would remove sin from the world, because it is out of harmony with HIS wonderful creation.

    G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “For whatever is, or is not true, this one thing is certain, we are not what we were meant to be”. We are that which was created. And we are the benefactors of the brilliance and largesse of the CREATOR. We as men and women were made by GOD, and HE attempted to give us dominion over the works of HIS hands here on earth. But instead, through our disobedience, we’ve become creatures who are “frustrated by our own, self-imposed circumstances”, who are “defeated by our own temptations”, and, who are “surrounded by our own weaknesses”. And so, it was into this seemingly hopeless situation, that GOD sent us his only begotten SON, so that whosoever believes in HIM, would not perish, but rather, would have everlasting life.
    It is a life-changing thing, getting to know, and then, becoming accustomed to practicing, the Word of GOD. GOD’s Word has already come into the world. In fact, its concept has been with us since the beginning of creation. GOD’s Word simply cannot be, nor, will not be, disregarded. GOD’s Word is synonymous with life, and is, both, effective and penetrating.  In fact HIS Word absolutely scrutinizes all of our thoughts, desires, and, intentions.
    All things lay naked before THE ALMIGHTY GOD, and HE simply “sees all”, “hears all”, and “knows all” that we do. And every one of us, whom GOD has created, will have to make an account for the deeds done in our lifetimes. And whether or not we believe that HE exists, becomes totally irrelevant in HIS design and scheme of things here on HIS earth, and, in this whole universe and beyond.  GOD’s sovereign plans for all of HIS creation, will prevail.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, January 13, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 15, 2017

Over 120,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

PRAISE GOD THE PROVIDER
(We are all blessed with GOD’s provisions)
(Psalm 65)

   The forgiven should always praise GOD, knowing the awesome power that HE has exercised on their behalf. Psalm 65 was probably written by King David to be sung annually when the first grains of the barley harvest were taken in, and brought to the LORD as a sacrifice, and, to the priests, as a “wave offering”.
    This Psalm of “harvest time blessing” celebrates GOD’s goodness to Israel by hearing their “earnest prayers”, and rewarding them for giving HIM “earnest worship”, the only kind that HE can and will accept and receive. Through GOD’s power, not only are our sins atoned for, but we are also benefactors of the enormous bounties of provisions that HE showers on us from HIS unlimited storehouse.
    In verses 1-4, David expresses his understanding of how, once GOD makes atonement for our sins, after we have demonstrated “earnest repent”, HE is able to bless us abundantly. “Our repent” is the first step in our preparations to praise GOD, and it cannot be taken lightly, if our prayers are to be effective. GOD will only bring near to HIM, those who have hearts (minds) that are filled with regular thoughts of HIM. Only those will be able to share in the joy that can only be found in GOD’s Holy Courts (Heaven) (v.4). And so verses 1-4 demonstrate clearly, David’s wonderful understanding of “GOD’s perspective of salvation” to man. For man to receive salvation, GOD has to look into his heart and see HIMSELF, before HE sends him to JESUS. JESUS HIMSELF confirms this thought when HE says that “no man can come to HIM unless the FATHER sends them” (John 6:43 and 65).
    GOD faithfully answers all of our prayers with bountiful deeds here on earth. HE is the hope of all mankind, Believers and unbelievers, whether we realize it or not. However, only the Believer will be able to experience and benefit eternally from the results of their faith in HIM. The faith of the Believer is a “saving faith” that spurs them to right actions under GOD. If one’s faith does not motivate them to live a righteous life under GOD, while living here on earth, it is not the “saving faith” that is needed to unlock for them, the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven.
    In this psalm, as in many of the psalms that are written by King David, he recognizes GOD’s power and sovereignty over all of the things that HE created. Through HIS OWN power, HE formed the mountains and quieted the seas, and people all over the world must recognize the awesomeness by which GOD operates. Throughout the land, from east to west, GOD perpetually demonstrates to the whole world, just who really is in charge of the whole universe (Vs.5-8).
    In verses 9-13, David summarizes how GOD provides for, and takes care of, all of HIS creation each day. And the fruitfulness of HIS creation, testifies of its appreciation of how GOD has blessed it, merely by way of its manifestation before us. With the exception of man, all of GOD’s creation shows great joy, through its obedience and productiveness, for what GOD has done for it. Because GOD blessed mankind with “wills that are free”, we are the only part of HIS “living creation” that ever can, and often does, choose to do the wrong things in life.
    However, man’s unfaithfulness to GOD does not cause GOD to be unfaithful in HIS treatment of mankind. HE continues to water the earth for us, leaving it rich and fertile, and the overwhelming majority of HIS rivers, never run dry. They continue to provide for bountiful harvests of grain to feed us, all at the command of GOD.
    In addition, GOD continues to drench the grounds of the world with plenty of water to soften them, making them easy to prepare for the planting of life-giving seeds that are capable of feeding every living thing that requires that type of nourishment. Any wilderness can become a lush pasture at the command of GOD, and every hillside can suddenly blossom with the joy of GOD’s blessings. The meadows are filled with sheep and cattle, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. And they all shout with joy to GOD by way of their very presence and life-giving existence.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







     

Friday, January 6, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 8, 2017

Over 119,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

ALL CREATION OVERFLOWS WITH PRAISE
(Recognizing the only GOD)
(Psalm 96)

   Because we receive new mercies, grace, and blessings from GOD each day, we should be motivated to sing a new song to HIM each day. In Psalm 96, the psalmist suggests that all people everywhere should sing praises to GOD, because all people everywhere, believers and unbelievers, receive HIS blessings everyday of their lives, whether they realize it or not.
    GOD, as creator of all things that exist, has a moral right and responsibility to evaluate human actions and activities, and, as a result of those human choices and behavior under HIM, to dole out appropriate reward and punishment accordingly. HE is the sovereign master of the universe, and HE absolutely controls the destiny of everything and everyone that exist. Therefore, whether or not we even believe that HE HIMSELF exists, becomes totally irrelevant.
    As Believers, we only need to announce the offered “salvation” from GOD to an “unsaved” world, however, that in itself seems to be a mighty enough task, that most people will refuse to take it on. However, if our desire is to obey and serve GOD, we must be willing to glorify HIM by taking up our own cross (dying to sin), and then begin to take on the task of fulfilling the charge assigned to us by CHRIST JESUS, even to point of death, being motivated by the remembrance that JESUS died for us.
    Here in psalm 96, the psalmist exhorts all people to sing praises to GOD for HIS majesty, glory, and strength, verbally publishing HIS glorious deeds to all nations (races). GOD is worthy to be praised perpetually, all the day long, and, HE is glorious and mighty to save us from ourselves.
    GOD must be revered above all people, places, and things that we wittingly, or unwittingly, worship or care about. In fact, we should worship GOD only, while we love people, and use things. That should always be the order by which we are related to GOD, mankind, the things created for our comfort and existence.
    Unfortunately, we tend to make anything and everything an idol. Every nation and people under GOD has, at one time or the other, taken on idols that best fit their wants and desires for their own lifestyle. That is why we have all of the various, so-called, Christian denominations, as well as non-Christian denominations. That is why we worship rock stars, national leaders, church leaders, houses, cars, children, pets (particularly dogs and cats), and even cell phones!
    Honor and majesty surrounds only the true GOD in Heaven. Real strength and beauty can only be found in HIM. Fortunately, all the nations of the world also contains a remnant of people who actually really do have a heart for the real GOD, and despite the things going on around them, they still recognize that HE is glorious, strong, sovereign, and in control.
    As GOD’s greatest creation, all mankind will eventually have to cede to GOD the glory that HE deserves, and come before HIM with offerings of humbleness that is befitting to nothing, and to no one else, but GOD. Every knee must eventually bow, and every tongue must eventually confess, that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, and, that GOD the FATHER is sovereign over all things.
    And so let the Heavens and the earth be glad and rejoice! Let the Seas and everything in them shout with praise! Let the fields and crops explore forward with fruitful bounties of joy! Let the trees of the forests whisper gently before the LORD, all knowing that HE is coming to judge the earth, and to judge it with righteousness and truth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







Friday, December 30, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 1, 2017

Over 119,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

PRAISING GOD THE CREATOR
(Sing a new song of praise to GOD)
(Psalm 33)

   In Psalm 33, the psalmist, who is likely King David (it is ascribed to him by the Septuagint), calls on the Israelites and all those who love the LORD, to praise HIM with song and instrumental music. He exhorts them to praise HIM because of HIS Word, HIS promise of salvation, the hope HE brings to our lives, HIS dependability, and, HIS righteousness.
    “Spontaneous praise” to GOD is something that should be common among our daily existence because it is so fitting. It should be a natural response by all who benefit from HIS wonderful blessings, which, quite frankly, includes all mankind, even those individuals who don’t profess to be followers of CHRIST, and HIS doctrine. Every individual on earth benefits from what we deem as “the LORD’s general and ordinary grace and mercy (blessings)”. We all have the privilege, for instance, of breathing HIS air, drinking HIS water, and ingesting HIS food and nourishments.
    New daily mercies and grace that comes from GOD should always merit new praise and worship to GOD, every day also. As Christians sincerely focus on GOD’s grace and mercy, they should also focus on HIS Will and mission for their lives, and then, appropriately, express to GOD, their love and affection for HIM.
    This hymn of praise may have been inspired by a victory by the Israelites over one of their adversaries, however, there is no evidence as to which of their many conquests it may have been. And even though we can’t be sure when it was written, it strongly suggests that a significant event had just concluded. Verses 16-17, suggests that it may very well have been a major military victory that was obviously accomplished by some miraculous act of GOD.
     This psalm not only calls for us to worship GOD, but it also tells us “who should worship GOD”, “how to worship GOD”, and “why one should worship GOD”. First of all it is “fitting” that “the righteous should worship GOD” for extending to them, righteousness through CHRIST JESUS. Righteousness serves as an outward sign that one belongs to the LORD. When we praise HIM openly, we give honor to the source of our righteousness, WHO is GOD, in the presence of others (v.1).
    Next, Christians are given instructions on how to “worship GOD with music and singing”. In verse 2 musicians are instructed to worship GOD with their skillfulness on their musical instruments. Those who are blessed with singing talents should also praise GOD with a loud voice (v.3). Their musical compositions should originate in the Church, and not in the world. GOD despises the mixing of the holy with the profane in music, and in every other aspect and area of our lives.
    The Word of the LORD is always right, and thus, all of HIS works are done in truth, and are in harmony with reality. HE loves both “righteousness” and “judgment” (v.5a), and the whole earth, despite the evilness that we bring to it, is full of HIS goodness (v.5b). We should worship GOD because of HIS faithfulness to uphold righteousness and goodness in a world, that, through the influence of satan, we seem bent on destroying.
    The LORD “spoke into existence” all the things in Heaven, and everything that is “natural” that we see here on earth. He gave the seas their boundaries, and told the sun where to rise and set. He instructed the moon not to show itself until the evening, and all of the stars HE knows by name. And so everyone should fear the amazing GOD WHOSE plans are sovereign and will stand firm forever (Vs.6-11).
    As a nation, we seem to have forgotten, over time, what joy we experienced when the overwhelming majority of us honored the LORD as our GOD. Nowadays, not even the majority of the professed Christian Church shows, through their actions and behavior, that they really honor the LORD, our CREATOR, FORGIVER, and GUIDE. The LORD looks down upon us daily and sees the “degeneration” of the entire human race that HE created, provides for, forgives, and desires to lead into all righteousness (Vs.12-16).
    The best equipped army cannot save a king, apart from GOD. We cannot afford to rely on our individual strength, nor our unified strength as a nation, to save us from destruction. Only the GOD, WHO sees us, can rescue us from ourselves. We must rely on HIM alone to save us, provide for us, and guide us with the wisdom that we need to overcome this world, just as CHRIST did. And so, it is all mankind who should “Praise the LORD!”

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, December 23, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 25, 2016

Over 119,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

JOYOUS NEWS
(JESUS was born to save us)
(Luke 2:1-20)

   Luke chapter two, verses 1-2, are the verses in Scripture that come closest to giving us the exact birth year of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. In Luke 2:1-7, the author of GOD writes of the 90-mile trip, of Joseph and Mary, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to honor “the census decree” that had been imposed by the Emperor, Caesar Augustus.
    The decree was put into place for the purpose of “assessing taxes”, and discovering those who were liable for “compulsory military service”. The Jews, however, were exempt from serving in the military, so basically, the census for them was taken expressly for “taxation purposes”. These census’ were periodical in nature, and the count came “once every 14 years”. Man has in his possession, actual documentation of every Roman census taken from A.D. 20 to A.D. 270.
    Luke 2:1-2, are the verses of scripture that are most reliable in actually determining the year of JESUS’ birth into this world as a 100% human being. Here Luke tells us that it was at the time of this particular census that was imposed by Caesar Augustus, that Joseph and Mary (who was quite far along in her pregnancy with baby JESUS), had to travel to Bethlehem, the home of Joseph’s ancestry, to be counted. Every person, by law, had to return to their original place of ancestry in order to register for this census count.
    Luke also tells us in verse 2, that, it was during the time when Cyrenius (Quirinius) was serving as Roman governor to Syria. Roman records show that Cyrenius served in an official capacity on two separate occasions, first, from 10 B.C. to 7 B.C., and later, in A.D. 6-7. Roman records also show that Caesar Augustus served as Roman Emperor, from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14. What that tells us is, that, the census records that man now possesses, most likely begins with the third 14-year census count, and, that the first count must have been during Cyrenius’ first term in office (10 B.C.-7 B.C.).
    We also know, from Scripture (Matthew 2:13-17), that “Herod the Great”, who was king over Judea at that time, issued a decree to kill all infants in and around Bethlehem, up to the age of 2, in an attempt to kill baby JESUS. Since Roman records show that Herod died in 4 B.C., we know that JESUS had already been born. And if the 14-year cycle of the census count holds true, and, in light of all the Biblical and secular facts that we have, we can, with reasonable certainty, deduce that JESUS was born in 8 B.C., during that first census count.
    All of this information is something good and special for the serious Bible students to know, but the Good News of the birth of CHRIST JESUS is something good and special for everyone to know. The term “Hypostatic Union” is one that can only be used in reference to CHRIST JESUS. It refers to HIS unique “theanthropic personage” (both “divine” and “human” in nature and quality), being 100% perfect man, as GOD originally made Adam (without sin), and, 100% GOD, as GOD the FATHER HIMSELF is.
    HE served us here on earth, as 100% perfect man, to show us how we could live if we maintained a willingness to obey GOD at all times. Through HIS FATHER GOD’s mercy and grace, and HIS OWN obedience to GOD, JESUS died for us because HE knew we would not obey GOD. In fact, man has long ago, since the time of the Garden of Eden, convinced himself that he really can’t obey GOD completely, despite GOD sharing with us, the same “spiritual attributes”, or “divine nature”, that HE sent CHRIST to rescue us with.
    However, as I said earlier, because of GOD’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace, we can now rejoice in the knowledge that there does now exist, the “Christian Hope”. It is the Hope that arises out of the “New Covenant” that was ushered in, and is personified by, our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, which HE signed with HIS OWN blood. That is why no one will ever be able to go into the presence of GOD, except through JESUS. HE, alone, will forever be, the only way to the ONLY WISE SOVEREIGN GOD. We only need to repent of our sins and accept CHRIST with our mouth, and, more importantly, in our heart, as our LORD and SAVIOR.
    Luke’s clear and straightforward account of JESUS’ birth, goes a long ways toward anchoring these events in history, and then, linking them to prophesy. He helps us to see that “Biblical history” is “World history”, and, that they will forever be inseparable and synonymous with each other because of GOD, WHO is the origin of both.
    The announcement of JESUS’ birth, from on High, came first to “the lowly Shepherds in the fields”, where they worked and kept watch over their sheep. In the first century, Shepherds were on the bottom rung of the “social” and “economic” ladder, and they were, by way of their meager lifestyles, “the most humble” of people.
    In Luke 2:8-20, we once again get a glimpse of the “Three Great Revolutions of GOD”, and what their importance would be in the coming “Christian Movement”. We saw it first in the writings and utterances of the Old Testament saints (i.e. 1 Samuel 2:3-8). In the New Testament we see it in Mary’s song of praise, known as the “Magnificat” (which in Latin means “My soul doeth magnify the LORD”) (Luke 1: 51-53). There it says, in effect, that GOD will use the birth, life, and ministry of CHRIST, and, Christianity, to uphold and defend the lowly and the humble.
    First of all, those who truly understand Christianity know that it is designed to uphold “humbleness”, and by nature, means the death of “pride”. Secondly, Christianity is aimed at stamping out “social injustice”. Every Prophet of GOD that has come to us was a champion of the fight against social injustice. GOD is extremely interested in “justice” and “being just”. That is why we find the word “just” written in Scripture over 90 times and the word “justice” 28 times.
    And thirdly, Christianity is aimed at combating prejudices based on one’s “economic status”. Money, prosperity, and material things almost always turn a person’s heart away from GOD. So it becomes quite clear, the appropriateness, of announcing the “good news” first to ordinary folks, rather than to the rich. 
    And so, during this coming, and every Christmas season to come, let us strive to stay focused on the real reason for our celebration, and also let us, once again, use that time to commemorate the coming of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, and, to celebrate the love, brilliance, largesse, and mercy, of the ONLY WISE GOD the FATHER, for sending to us, HIS only begotten SON, to save us from ourselves, and the wiles of satan.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website






Friday, December 16, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 18, 2016

Over 118,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST FORETOLD
(The forerunner of the SAVIOR)
(Luke 1:5-25)

   Luke’s writings in his Gospel account are the most literary of all New Testament books. His distinctive fluid style in the original Greek text is simply a thing of beauty. Unlike the other three Gospels, whose contents can be traced back to eyewitness accounts of JESUS’ life here on earth, Luke’s Gospel is a detailed account that is a result of careful and thorough investigative research into the events surrounding and involving CHRIST’s birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension back into Heaven. And just like in the case of the other Gospel writers, GOD assigns his writings to attract a particular audience by stressing special and unique interest themes.
    Most scholars agree that Luke’s Gospel account is written to attract the attention of the “Hellenist”, or, “the person who is rooted in the Greek culture (Gentiles)”. And despite being ever mindful of CHRIST’s deity, Luke is also brilliantly able to present JESUS’ as the ideal 100% human being (the Hypostatic Union), WHO, quite simply, redefines excellence to even the most righteous of men here on earth. In fact, HE shows quite literally that all men’s righteousness is derived through their obedience to GOD.
    Luke also shows, more clearly than the other Gospels, just how greatly JESUS values those who are often dismissed by society, such as women, the impoverished, the downtrodden, and, the powerless. In his Gospel account he shows us that, in JESUS, excellence is not looked upon as a “personal superiority”, that, in itself, “devalues others”, but rather, in JESUS, we see a “divine standard” that is bent on “raising others up”, resurrecting them into a life that is more pleasing to GOD. And so, in the aforementioned ways, perhaps Luke’s Gospel provides us with the most accurate, and most attractive portrait of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, that can found anywhere else in Scripture, arguably perhaps, even more so the book of Hebrews.  
    In the New Testament Greek, the word used for “messenger” is “aggelos” (pronounced ang-el-os), and it describes “one who brings news or tidings by divine order from GOD”. Here in Luke chapter 1, after a brief introduction in verses 1-4, Luke writes of an angelic announcement of the coming birth of the “forerunner to CHRIST JESUS”, John “the Baptist”.
    Taking up at verse 5, Luke begins his Gospel account by introducing to us, a Jewish Levite Priest named Zechariah, who, lived during the time when “Herod the Great” was king of Judea (37 B.C. – 4 B.C.). He was a member of the priestly line of Abijah, who was a descendant of Aaron, and, who was a priest during the reign of King David. Zechariah was married to a woman named Elizabeth, who was also a descendant of Aaron. They were both considered “righteous” in the sight of GOD because of their obedience, and they had no children because Elizabeth was barren. This aging couple had long prayed to GOD for a child, and little did they know that their prayers were about to be answered.
    Zechariah had recently been chosen by “sacred lot” (“Urim and Thummin”) to serve for a week in the Temple, an opportunity that came only once in a lifetime for most priests. One day, as he was serving his term of duty burning incense in the LORD’s presence, in the sanctuary of the temple at Jerusalem, he received a visit from the Archangel of the LORD, Gabriel (Vs.8-9). Gabriel is one the famed archangels that stands in the very presence of the LORD in Heaven.
    Here Gabriel gives Zechariah the good news of GOD’s answer to his and Elizabeth’s longtime prayer for a son. The child would be named “John”, and would be great in the eyes of the LORD. He would be a man blessed with the spirit (courage) and power (authority) of “Elijah the Prophet” of old, and would be “the forerunner” for, or “prepare the minds of the people, particularly the Jews, for” the coming of JESUS, the CHRIST (HIS first advent) (Vs.13-17). However, Zechariah, despite his direct word of good news from GOD, and because he was applying “human logic” to the things of GOD, had great doubt in his heart, and was hesitant to believe that he and Elizabeth could conceive a child in their old age (v.18).
    This particular passage serves to remind us that GOD expects more faith from those who are called to be HIS leaders, and, who are supposed to know and understand the ways of the LORD more thoroughly. And HE also expects more from a professed Christian than HE does from an unbeliever. Here Zechariah shows the doubt of an untrained layperson, instead of the faith and trust of an experienced spiritual leader and man after GOD’s OWN heart. This unbelief miffs the LORD, WHO sent Gabriel, and as a result, Zechariah’s ability to speak is taken away from him until the birth of his son, John, several months later (Vs.19-20).
    GOD had to silence Zechariah because of his words of unbelief that were, unfortunately, contrary to the fulfillment of the covenant promise. He was a man who was versed in Scripture, and was very familiar with the example of Abraham and Sarah giving birth to Isaac at ages that, even far exceeded he and Elizabeth’s. And yet, he found it hard to believe that such a thing could happen to them under similar circumstances.
    Christians are called to believe, and when we pray and ask in faith, in JESUS’ name, for the things that are within GOD’s Will, we are called by GOD to believe that HE will deliver. In other words, when we pray to GOD for rain, we ought not to leave home without, at least, an umbrella. We need to, at all times, show at least, a minimum amount of faith (faith, the size of a mustard seed) in the GOD we say we serve.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander






Friday, December 9, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 11, 2016

Over 117,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE AFFIRMATION OF THE PROMISE
(Rejoice in what GOD is doing)
(Luke 1:39-56)

   In Luke 1, verses 39-45, just a few days after Mary had been visited by the archangel Gabriel, she traveled to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah, the husband of her cousin Elizabeth lived. When she entered their house and greeted, a now, six month pregnant Elizabeth, the sound of her voice caused the child that her cousin was carrying to leap in her womb with joy.
    Being filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, Elizabeth herself gave a cry of joy and exclaimed to Mary, “You are “blessed” (in the Greek “eulogeo”, which means “well spoken of”) by GOD above all other women, and your child is blessed. What an honor this is, that the mother of my LORD should visit me! When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! You are blessed because you believed that the LORD would do what HE said” (NLT).
    Luke 1:46-55 is the passage that, over the years, has become one of the great hymns of the universal Christian Church as a whole, and is known world-wide as the “Magnificat”. The term, Magnificat, is taken from the “Latin Vulgate” (the first Latin translation of the bible), which was written by Jerome at the end of the fourth century A.D., and it means, “My soul doth magnify the LORD”.
    This song, which was first uttered by Mary, the mother of JESUS, praises GOD for HIS favor on her and her people (Vs. 51-55). Some scholars tend to doubt that a young uneducated country girl, such as Mary, could have composed such a wonderful and prophetic poem, however, common sense dictates that she, or anyone else, who was in a close personal relationship with GOD, and were fairly familiar with the Old Testament passages which are alluded to in this song, is capable of expressing these thoughts of praise that we find here.
    Apparently, Mary saw herself as a part of the GODly remnant that had served her LORD with all diligence. We see in verse 47, for instance, where she calls GOD, “my SAVIOR”, shows she had a deep intimate knowledge of HIM. She also speaks of GOD’s faithfulness, power, holiness, and mercy in verses 48-50, showing that her relationship with GOD was “an experiential one”.
    This timeless stretch of biblical literature, has, contained within it, four distinct parts which should be noted by every reader:

·         First, there is “great personal adoration and thanks to GOD” (Vs. 46-48). In the biblical Greek, the word “makarizo” (mak-ar-id-zo) is used in verse 46 for “blessed”, and it actually means “supremely blest”, or, “beatified”. It describes, in this passage, what it is like to be “indwelt by GOD, and thereby, fully satisfied”. Mary was completely satisfied and honored by the wonderful, and unexpected way, in which GOD chose to use her body for HIS purpose.
·         Secondly, there is “a celebration of GOD’s attributes” (Vs. 49-50). Mary celebrated GOD’s goodness and she cherished all that HE had done for her, and she also appreciated the fact that HIS mercy extended throughout all generations, for all times.
·         Thirdly, we see her “praising GOD for correcting pride, social injustice, and economic disparities” (Vs. 51-53), “GOD’s three great moral revolutions”. These moral rebellions can also be found in the make-up of Christianity itself. We see, first of all:

(a). “GOD’s revolution against pride (v.51), where Mary notes that, “GOD scatters the
        proud and haughty ones” (NLT). When Christianity is practiced properly, it
        automatically means death to “pride”. A person cannot possibly set their life beside
        the life of CHRIST without, first, tearing every ounce of pride from him, or herself.

(b). “GOD’s revolution against social injustice” (v.52) “HE has taken the princes from their
         thrones and exalted the lowly” (NLT). When Christianity is practiced properly, it
         means death to “social injustice”. It puts an end to race, labels, and prestige, because
         what CHRIST did for one, HE intended for all. No man is favored in the eyes of GOD,
         but also, we can call no man worthless, or common, for whom JESUS CHRIST has
         died. HE died for all men in general, and all Christians, in particular.

(c). “GOD’s revolution against economic disparity” (v.53) “HE has satisfied the hungry
        with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands” (NLT). When Christianity
        is practiced properly, it means death to “economic disparity and greed”. A “Christian
        Society” is a community of believers who dares to have too much, while others don’t
        even have enough. The attitude of a believer in CHRIST JESUS, is “one that desires to
        have more, in order that they may have more to give away”.

·         In the fourth and final part (Vs. 54-55), we see Mary “giving GOD praise for the mercy shown to Israel”.  There she cites that, “How GOD has helped HIS servant Israel! HE has not forgotten HIS promise to be merciful. HE promised our ancestors, Abraham and his children, to be merciful to them forever” (NLT).

    Even at her young age we can clearly see that Mary knew for sure that her blessing and charge of giving birth to the SON of GOD was not all about her, but rather, it was about a “covenant promise” that was established with Abraham and her fore-fathers, long before she was ever thought about. 
    It was William Barclay who wrote, concerning this wonderful passage of scripture, that, “There is loveliness in the Magnificat, but within that loveliness, there is also, dynamite”. And he was right. And so Mary went on to birth our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, and JESUS CHRIST birthed Christianity into the world, and Christianity birthed a revolution in civilization against pride, social injustice, and economic disparity. And now, mankind must take up that fight, and continue that revolution, throughout the world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander