Friday, November 15, 2019


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 17, 2019

Over 220,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

FAITH THAT IS FOCUSED
(A call to holy living)
(1 Peter 1:13-25)

   The “Christian Hope”, has, throughout the history of the Church, served as motivation to make life on earth conform more fully with the Word of GOD, just as it was presented to us by JESUS CHRIST during HIS lifetime here on earth.
    All of the information we have about CHRIST, and Christianity, comes to us from those who actually saw HIS miracles performed, and, actually heard HIM speak. However, because they wrote to encourage believers, rather than to satisfy historical curiosity, this information often leaves more questions than it does answers, particularly in the minds of those who don’t truly believe anyway.
    No one has ever been able to harmonize all of this information from GOD, into a completely satisfying chronological account. These Holy Scriptures, as we know them, were not actually assembled by “the authors of GOD” who wrote them, but rather, they were assembled much later on by second, third, and even fourth generation workers in the early Church.
    It must not be forgotten, however, that the original workers of the early Church, were those hand-picked apostles of JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF. In the New Testament, two very short letters, or epistles, are accredited to the leader of that band of men that JESUS picked, and then entrusted to doing the work of building HIS Church here on earth. That man’s name was originally, Simon, however, JESUS changed his name to “Peter”, or “Cephas”, which means “Rock”. It is also widely believed by scholars (including this one) that the Gospel of Mark was dictated to him by the Apostle Peter earlier than any of the other three Gospel accounts.
    The Apostle Peter is said to have written this, the first of his two known letters that are contained in the New Testament canon, while in Rome, circa A.D. 64, near the end of his life, and during the turbulent reign of the emperor Nero. It was at a time when Jewish Christians were suffering heavy persecution throughout the Roman Empire, and particularly in Asia Minor (now the land of Turkey).
    In this letter, Peter sought to encourage those embattled Christians who were residing in Asia Minor, to cling to “the Christian Hope”, as their suffering was only a part of the Christian life here on earth. He also wanted to assure them that GOD would protect and reward those who endured until the end, staying focused on HIM, and maintaining their faith and trust in JESUS, through it all. The mind that stays focused on HIM will overcome the trials and tribulations by which a Christian is tested in order to strengthen their faith, just as fire is used to test and purify gold (1 Peter 1:3-12).
    Here in verses 13-25, Peter calls for all Christians to “live holy”, “think clearly” (“nephontes” in the Greek, meaning “be sober minded”), and exercise “self-control” (“egratheia” in the Greek) at all times. He also urges them to “look forward in earnest expectation” (“apokaradokia” in the Greek) of CHRIST’ return. He further urges that they “not slip back” (“backslide”) into their old way of living.
    The Christians must learn to obey the GOD in WHOSE “spiritual image” they are made. And just as a person “physically resembles” their earthly parents, so too must the Christian be concerned that they daily desire to resemble “the spiritual image” of their FATHER in Heaven, through their behavior.
    The contrast that Peter alludes to, here in this passage (Vs.23-24), is that we don’t have to make an effort, nor change our behavior, to physically resemble our earthly parents. For that is an automatic occurrence. Our resemblance of GOD, however, can only be manifested through our behavior, which must come through a transformation of “the heart” (change our way of thinking). This resemblance can only be acquired and maintained through our learning of, and becoming accustomed to practicing, the Word of GOD (getting to know GOD spiritually and intellectually).
    When we choose “the Christian Walk”, we must no longer operate as just permanent residents of this earth, but rather, we must begin to operate as citizens of Heaven, and therefore, the laws of GOD must become paramount to us. It is not until a person “falls in love with goodness”, that “wrong things” will no longer “fascinate” and “have power” over them. “Our relationship with GOD” is a Christians “greatest asset”. Contrastingly, “the person who loses his or her heart to the things of this world” is “the person who is most vulnerable to satan”.
    “The end of all things is near”, to each of us, personally. For that is the resounding message, that the ancient Old Testament prophets, and, New Testament writers and thinkers, all leave us with. And that message is just as valid today as it ever was. Our only true hope lies in our ability to maintain a discipline and self-control that is fueled by our faith, obedience, and conformance to the prompting of the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO, will always compel us toward CHRIST JESUS, and away from “the gravitational pull” that is, this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

       

Friday, November 8, 2019


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 10, 2019

Over 220,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

FAITH THAT SETS AN EXAMPLE
(The faith of the Thessalonian Believers)
(1 Thessalonians 1)

   Paul’s first doctrinal letter to the Church at Thessalonica was written around A.D. 50 to 51 while he was still residing in Corinth, and not long after he had left Thessalonica during his second missionary journey.  
    Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke had made the journey to Philippi from Troas after Paul had received a vision from GOD of a man from Macedonia calling for help. Responding to the call, Paul and his faithful co-workers for CHRIST crossed over into Europe and preached at Philippi before making the 100-mile journey on to Thessalonica. They traveled west along the Egnatian Way, the main Roman road from Rome to the Orients.
    Thessalonica, in the first century, had a population of about 200,000, which was a massive amount of people for a city in that day. Its population consisted of a very diverse make-up of inhabitants which included Greeks, Romans, Asians, and Jews, with Greeks making up the bulk of the populace. It was one of the most important centers of trade in the world at that time, both by land, and by sea, and it also occupied a strategic location from both a governmental and military standpoint.
    The city of Thessalonica was built by a man named Cassander in 315 B.C., and was named after his wife, “Thessalonica”, who was the half-sister of “Alexander the Great”. Cassander held the powerful position of being one of four generals in Alexander’s army. The city was later captured by the Romans circa 146 B.C., and when the Romans re-organized Macedonia, they made Thessalonica its capital.
    In 42 B.C. Thessalonica was given “free City” status by Anthony and Octavian (Caesar Augustus), because the Thessalonians had helped them defeat their adversaries, Brutus and Cassius, who had murdered Julius Caesar and taken control of Rome just two years earlier.
    When Paul and his co-workers reached this great city of Thessalonica, they visited the Jewish synagogue there, seeking to find those citizens who shared in their Christian faith. Being a well-known, well-trained teacher by this time, Paul, of course, was allowed to speak in the synagogue.
    Paul’s message that day consisted of two points; first he spoke of the Old Testament concept of the MESSIAH, which is that of a suffering, dying, and resurrected CHRIST; and secondly, he described how Old Testament Prophesy was fulfilled in JESUS of Nazareth. After teaching in the synagogue for a period, Paul continued evangelizing out of the house of Jason (Acts 17:7), and as a result, many people were converted, especially, the Greek Gentiles in the city.
    Through Paul’s Thessalonian epistles, he seeks to answer questions that had been brought up by them regarding his teachings since he departed from them, and, to also encourage the Thessalonians to persevere in their beliefs, despite their many persecutions from non-believers. He also wanted to correct or dispel misinformation and false accusations that had circulated about him after he left Thessalonica. Among those accusations and misinformation were that, he was preaching for financial gain, and, that he had left because he was a coward and a hypocrite.
    In addition to his letters, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to see, first hand, how the new Christians there were holding up under the pressures of their suffering and persecutions. Timothy was able to return with a report of good news that the Church at Thessalonica had remained strong in their faith through it all.
    It is of the utmost importance to note that, in those days, the New Testament had not yet been written. Therefore, the only way the Thessalonians or anyone else had to learn was from Paul and the other apostles’ teachings about CHRIST, and, by watching how they behaved among themselves, and, towards others, and what they saw, they imitated. And so Paul and JESUS’ other disciples were “role models” in the purest sense of the words. Being an example for others was, and still is an extremely important element in the Christian Church today.
    The Church at Thessalonica went on to become a shining example for other churches already in, and, coming into the Christian Faith. There is something very inspiring about the defiance of the early Church despite its persecutions from the world at large. The easiest thing in the world for them to do to avoid the suffering that they endured was to pack it all up and go home. However, they chose instead to blaze on, compelled by their strong faith, they were never ashamed, nor were they afraid to show who they belonged to, or who they served. They understood clearly that the Christian was not called “to serve the world”, but rather, they were called “to serve CHRIST JESUS in the world”.  
    Paul was a great teacher who put the best of himself into his work for CHRIST. When a teacher has taught someone and has put a measure of themselves into their teaching, they sometimes become anxious to see how that training will stand the test of life.
    The same holds supremely true with CHRIST JESUS. HE staked so much on mankind when HE visited us in HIS incarnate state as a 100% human being. HE loved and taught us with a sacrificial love that surpasses all understanding. And now HE waits anxiously to see how we will accept and respond to HIS teachings, and HIS love, to help one another.
    There is nothing like the joy of a parent who can point to a child they have taught to the best of his or her ability, who has in return, done excellent in life. The help, anxiety, and joy of teaching are, altogether, a wonderful thing. But ultimately, when we can serve no other way, like JESUS, and, like Paul, when we are unwillingly separated from the people we teach, there is one thing we can still continue to do. We can still, pray for them.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


  

Friday, November 1, 2019


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 3, 2019

Over 219,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

FAITH THAT IS TESTED
(Paul’s final advice to the Corinthians)
(2 Corinthians 13:1-10)

   There can be no coercive work involved in ministry in the Christian Church. The authoritative spiritual powers granted by GOD do not include an element of coercion. True Christian spiritual leaders are, in reality, only “spokespersons” for CHRIST. CHRIST speaks through them, and anyone who refuses to listen is not just ignoring the messenger, but rather, in reality, is ignoring GOD. However, because GOD gave us wills that are free, everyone must freely choose to follow or reject CHRIST voluntarily.
    Here in 2 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul, under the authority of JESUS CHRIST, warns the Church at Corinth of a third visit that he planned to make in the near future. He had already warned those who had violated their pledges to CHRIST, that, there would be a great rebuke delivered by him when he got there, because of their continued sin and clinging to their old lifestyles, which were outside of the precepts and principles of the Christian way.
    When people looked at Paul, they saw, quite literally, a petite, very diminutively, frail, and battered individual who had been beaten down by various persecutions from an anti-CHRIST society (2 Corinthians 11:22-33). And to top it off, by his own admission, Paul wasn’t a very good speaker (2 Corinthians 10:10) like many of the false “super apostles” (as he called them – 2 Corinthians 12:11) were. Yet here in verse 3 Paul says that he can give the people all the proof they need in order to know and understand that CHRIST speaks through him.
    Paul didn’t want the Corinthians to get it twisted or confused, and start comparing what they saw in him physically, as a picture of what CHRIST is like physically. Only his messages, actions, and behavior should show them what CHRIST is like, not his physical appearance and stature. He wanted them to understand clearly that CHRIST is not weak in HIS dealings with them, but rather, HE is a mighty power among them.
    Although it may have seemed to the people of Corinth that CHRIST died on the cross in weakness, it was more important that they realize that now HE lives among them by the might and power of GOD the FATHER. And so, while Paul himself may seem weak in appearance, the might and power of GOD lives within him, and in all of the people who work with him. As a result, he and his fellow workers could use that mighty power in dealing with them and their foolishness every single day.
    In verse 5 the Apostle Paul then urges the Church at Corinth to “judge” (anakrino judgment), or, “examine” themselves to see if their faith is indeed a “saving faith”. They need to see for themselves if their faith is a “genuine faith” that moves them to “positive actions” toward one another, and toward “obedience to GOD”. Paul further states that, an unbeliever must be able to see a difference (marked improvement) in their new lifestyle, as opposed to the lifestyles that they used to lead.
    Paul also says that, if they cannot tell if CHRIST was among them, using their current behavior and lifestyle as a barometer, that means that they, by way of their own examples before the world, had “failed the test”, and are “not approved” (“adokimoi” (ad-o-kim-ohee) in the biblical Greek), by GOD (Vs.5-6).
    Paul’s second visit to the Church at Corinth had been a very humbling experience for both he, and his fellow workers, because of the offensive way in which they were treated, and, because of the way that some in the church had fallen away from the teachings of CHRIST JESUS. He admonished the Corinthians of the consequences of choosing to live their lives contrary to the principles of CHRIST JESUS (backsliding), after openly pledging themselves to HIM as their LORD and SAVIOR.
    It is always the responsibility of the Christian to “never oppose the truth”. In fact, the Christian must always choose to follow and stand by the truth, regardless to where it leads, and regardless to whom it convicts, be it family member, friend, or perceived enemy. Remember, GOD glorifies HIMSELF through us when HE can use the backdrop of our weaknesses and witness as fuel to perform great deeds before mankind.
    Paul closes out this second letter to the Corinthians by encouraging them to rejoice, change their ways, encourage each other, and live in harmony and peace through CHRIST JESUS with each other. In other words, Paul advises the Church to “aim for perfection” (“katartizesthe” (kat-ar-tid-est-he) in the biblical Greek), starting by recognizing that they need GOD, repenting, and putting themselves back into a position of “favor” with GOD. That way they can be used by GOD for good works, and only then, will “the GOD of love and peace” abide with them.
    It was Paul’s sincere desire that the Corinthian Church behave in such a way, that, the love of GOD, the grace of JESUS CHRIST, and the fellowship of the HOLY SPIRIT, could abide with them, without being continuously grieved by them, through their unholy, worldly behavior and lifestyle.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website





   
   
    
   

Friday, October 25, 2019


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 27, 2019

Over 218,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GRATEFUL FAITH
(GOD’s great forgiveness gives sinful people a fresh start)
(Luke 7:36-50)

   Two days before the Passover celebration and the “Festival of Unleavened Bread” in Jerusalem, the leading priests, Pharisees, and teachers of religious law, were busy looking for an opportunity to secretly capture JESUS and put HIM to death. However, they had all agreed that they would not attempt anything until after the Passover. They feared that, because of JESUS’ popularity among the people, a move on HIS life might cause a riot at that time.
    Meanwhile, JESUS, ironically, was in Bethany visiting the home of another Pharisee named Simon. Simon had invited JESUS to his home to have a meal with himself, and some of his other honored guests. It was customary that whenever a respected Rabbi was attending a meal in a well-to-do person’s home, which contained an outer courtyard such as Simon’s did, that people would wander into the gathering in order to take in some of the knowledge and wisdom that was being imparted.
    Traditionally, when the special guest arrived, there would be a customary three-part ritual that would take place between the host and his guest. First, the host would place his hand on the shoulder of the guest and welcome them with a hug and a kiss.
    Secondly, the host would have one of his servants to pour cold water on the guest’s feet to clean and comfort them. And then finally, either a pinch of sweet smelling incense was burned, or a drop of rose fragrant oil would be applied to the head of the guest. In the case of JESUS’ visit with Simon, HE did not receive this traditional honor, and JESUS would remind Simon of this later in verses 44-46.
    In biblical times, when the Jews ate a meal, they would do so while lying in an inclined position, on low couches, using one of their arms to prop them up, at a very low table. This explains how the so-called, “immoral woman” in this passage, was able to kneel down behind JESUS near HIS feet as it is described in verse 38a.
    At any rate, this certain woman, who had heard that JESUS was going to be present at Simon’s dinner, came prepared to anoint HIM with some fairly expensive perfume that was contained in a beautiful jar. She knelt down behind JESUS, at HIS feet, and began to sob bitterly, and her tears were so plentiful, that, she was able to wash JESUS’s feet with them.
    When she began to wipe her tears from JESUS’ feet with her own hair, and then proceeded to kiss HIS feet continuously (“katephilei”- in the biblical Greek, a word that suggests continuous action), while applying the expensive perfume to them, Simon began to protest to himself, thinking “This proves that JESUS is no prophet. If GOD had really sent HIM, HE would know what kind of a woman is touching HIM. She’s a sinner!”
    Using HIS deep discernment to read the innermost thoughts of the confused host, JESUS said to Simon, “I have something to say to you Simon”, and HE began to teach the Pharisee a lesson in “forgiveness”, as HE relates to him, a parable of a man who had loaned money to two different individuals, who were not able to repay the debt. One individual owed the man 500 pieces of silver, while the other owed 50 pieces. The kind man decided to forgive both men of their debt to him, tearing up both of their bills.
    Then JESUS asked Simon which man do you think was the most appreciative of what the lender did for them, and who showed the man the most love? Simon replied, “Why it is the one whom he forgave the most debt”. “That’s correct”, JESUS said, and HE then turned to the woman and reminded Simon of how he had neglected to honor HIM in the traditional way when HE arrived at his home.
    JESUS went on to further remind HIS neglectful host of how, this sinful woman, by washing JESUS’ feet with her “tears of repent”, and wiping away those tears with her hair, kissing HIS feet, and then anointing them with costly perfume, had not only honored HIM in the traditional way, but she had also honored HIM in a truly “sacrificial and personal, intimate way”. Don’t yawl miss that!
    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “forgive” is “aphemi” and it means “to send away”, or “wipe away”, in this case, sin. In verse 47 of this passage JESUS says to Simon, “I tell you, her sins, and they are many, have been forgiven, and so she has shown ME much love. But the person who is forgiven little shows only a little love”. Then JESUS turned to the woman and made a statement that all Pharisees and teachers of the religious hierarchy of the day, believed only GOD can make, when HE said, “Your sins are forgiven” (v.48).
    By making such a statement, JESUS was leaving no doubt, and actually declaring to the religious hierarchy in Israel, that HE has the authority of GOD over mankind, to not only forgive sin, but indeed, over all things here on earth. The men at the table of honor were indignant and began to murmur among themselves, saying, “WHO does HE think HE is, going around forgiving sin?” (v.49) And JESUS said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (v.50) (NLT).
    The reason why JESUS once stated that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of heaven” is because, the rich are those who are least likely to be conscious of any needs in this life. Ironically however, the first thing that a person who desires to come to GOD has to do is “to recognize that they need HIM”, no matter what our economic or social standing in life might be. JESUS is saying here in this passage, that, our love for GOD can be measured by the amount of “grateful faith” that we have in, and for GOD.
    Simon in this story wasn’t conscience of any need for forgiveness, and therefore, felt no love for JESUS. This is evidenced in his failure to treat JESUS in a way that, even ordinary guests were treated in those days by the hosts. He felt no love for JESUS, and so he could receive no forgiveness from JESUS, WHO was GOD in human form.
    Simon felt that he was a “good man” before men and GOD, and through his own efforts, he had put himself in a position where all of his needs could be met by either his wealth and/or, his position of power. The lowly woman in this passage, on the other hand, was fully conscience of her needs for forgiveness for her many sins, and her actions here shows that she had much love for JESUS, WHO is the only ONE on earth WHO could grant that forgiveness to her.
    Here in this passage we see that the sinful woman’s love for JESUS was manifested through her behavior and actions towards JESUS at the dinner, and that her “desire to change” was greater than her “desire to remain the same”. She showed an overwhelming love for JESUS, and JESUS granted her forgiveness, because of HIS overwhelming love for her.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





         

  


Friday, October 18, 2019


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 20, 2019

Over 217,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

HUMBLE FAITH
(The faith of a Roman officer)
(Luke 7:1-10)

   In Luke 7:1-10, and Matthew 8:5-13, two authors of GOD’s Good News, Luke and the Apostle Matthew, give their respective accounts of the story of the “humble faith” of a Roman officer, a centurion (a ruler over 100 men), who sought help from JESUS for his valuable and ailing servant. Matthew was an eyewitness to this event, while Luke compiled his account through very careful investigative work collected from verified eyewitnesses who were also there that day.
    Through man’s faith in CHRIST JESUS, he can bring about healing to himself, and, to others whom he cares about. He just has to rely on GOD with “an inward certainty” that will manifest itself through his words and behavior. The Roman soldier in these biblical accounts was just such a man.
    After JESUS had finished preaching HIS, now famous, “Sermon on the Mount”, HE and HIS disciples went back to Capernaum, the place that eventually became HIS ministry headquarters, after HE was rejected by the people of HIS hometown of Nazareth. There JESUS is met, either by the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5), or, by friends of the Roman centurion, who were respected Jewish leaders in Capernaum (Luke 7:3). However, either way the officer was calling on the help of JESUS, WHOM he had heard so much about, to cure his beloved and valued servant from his illness.
    This centurion was one of unusual faith and humble character for a man of his position. First of all, his treatment of his servants with love and respect was very rare, especially in the Gentile world of unbelievers. Most Romans looked at their servants as only being “living tools” that they would do away with once they were no longer fit to be used. Apparently this centurion held, at least this particular servant, to be a very valuable asset that he desired very much to, retain, not for usage, but because he loved him as a friend.
    Secondly, we see that this Roman officer was a Gentile that even the Jewish hierarchy held dear and respected. In fact we see in this passage that they had a mutual love and respect for each other, so much so, that the Roman officer had actually built the Jews a synagogue in which they could worship the GOD of Heaven (v.5). He himself, apparently had also been converted to Judaism. In addition, he seemed to even respect their Jewish laws and customs, including the one that forbids Jews from entering into the home of a Gentile (v.6). HE also esteemed JESUS for WHO HE was, as the SON of the living GOD, and he had absolute faith in JESUS’ ability to heal (Vs.7-8).
    Notice what he told JESUS in verse 6, “LORD, don’t trouble YOURSELF by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor, I am not even worthy to come and meet YOU. Just say the word from where YOU are, and my servant will be healed” (NLT).
    Here we see that this centurion understood clearly that JESUS had “spiritual authority over demons and over sickness and death” (v.8), and when JESUS heard his proclamation, he marveled, and was truly amazed by this Gentile, who had shown more faith than all of the Jews whom HE had met in the land of Israel.
    Because the Roman centurion had exhibited such unusual and humble faith, JESUS did indeed heal his servant from where HE was. He had come to JESUS with “a perfect confidence” that seemed to say, “LORD JESUS, I know YOU can do this”. And his faith in CHRIST JESUS, and his belief in JESUS’ authority over all things on earth, brought healing and new life to his beloved servant.
    Faith in JESUS is for everyone who desires to have it, including all Jews, and all Gentiles. Those Gentiles who believe, and have faith in CHRIST JESUS, as this passage shows, will be blessed indeed, also. And like a songwriter once wrote about our LORD and SAVIOR, “And like a flood, HIS mercy rains, unending love, amazing grace!”

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander