Friday, December 2, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 4, 2016

Over 117,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GOD PROMISES A SAVIOR
(GOD fulfills HIS promises)
(Luke 1:26-38)

   In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the archangel, Gabriel returns to earth to deliver another message from GOD. This time he visits the tiny town of Nazareth in Galilee, the home of a young teenaged virgin named Mary. Mary was engaged to marry a man named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David. Gabriel’s charge, on this visit, was to give young Mary shocking news of GOD’s plan to bless the world through her, with the “Immaculate Conception” of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, WHOM HIMSELF would be, the ultimate MESSENGER (Luke 1:26-28).
    The long-awaited MESSIAH, WHO had been forecasted by ancient prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and the likes, would be sent by GOD to usher in a “New Covenant” that would liberate all mankind, from under the dominion of sin. It would be a covenant that would allow anyone, who believes in the MESSIAH, to receive the gift of eternal life, through that “saving faith”. It would then become the duty of HIS followers to build their spiritual foundations on that “most high faith”. As Christians, they would learn to pray and communicate to GOD in the power of the, soon to come, HOLY SPIRIT, and, through regular “Holy Communion Services”, were to always remember the conditions of this covenant, under which, the love of CHRIST has called us, and then signed in HIS OWN blood.
    When Gabriel appeared to Mary he greeted her as “favored woman” (“charitoo” – khar-ee-to-o) (v.28), starling her, out of whatever it was that she was doing. Gabriel then tells her that GOD had decided to bless her with a unique pregnancy. He told her that she was chosen to give birth to the SON of the Most High GOD. Gabriel told her, in essence, that the CHILD would not be conceived as a result of the sexual passions of men, but rather, the HOLY SPIRIT would come upon her and the power of GOD would “overshadow” her.
    In the biblical Greek, the word used here for “overshadow” is, “episkiazo” (ep-ee-skee-ad-zo), and it means “to “envelope” (completely cover) in a haze of brilliancy”, and, “to invest with “preternatural” (beyond the normal course of nature) influence”. In other words, GOD would cover Mary with “an invisible haze of protection” that would allow her to fulfill her term of pregnancy without outside influence from the forces of satan, here on earth. GOD would make her “insignificant”, taking personal control of her existence throughout the duration of her pregnancy with the SON that she was instructed by Gabriel to name “JESUS”.   
    Confused and disturbed, young Mary struggled to try and phantom, just what the message of the angel meant. She wondered aloud, asking the angel how a woman could become pregnant without having sexual intercourse with a man. Gabriel explains to her that, through the power of GOD, she would conceive, by way of the HOLY SPIRIT, and that the child she would birth, would be the Holy SON of GOD (Luke 1:34-35). Suddenly, the young girl’s “confusion and fear” turned to “joy and appreciation”. She responded, “I am the LORD’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever HE wants. May everything you said come true” (Luke 1:38) (NLT).
    When we believe in GOD, in all of HIS fullness, holiness, and eternal righteousness, it becomes easy to accept whatever HE sends our way. We then understand that HIS tests are not meant to make us fail, but rather, are sent to make us strong, so that we may become better warriors in the army of CHRIST. We can then serve HIS purpose more completely, as we, at one and the same time, try to survive in a world under siege by the forces of satan.
    GOD, is the writer, producer, director, and star, of the movie of our lives. HE already knows the outcome of HIS OWN divine production. We, on the other hand, are “that which was created”. Therefore, we are the benefactors of the brilliance and largess of the CREATOR HIMSELF. We are mere human players, who only get to see and live in one scene at a time, and so, it becomes only fitting that we place our trust in the omniscience, of the ONLY WISE CREATOR, GOD.
    Mary accepted the message that GOD sent her that day through HIS angel Gabriel, and as a result, every generation since, can’t help but acknowledge the “favor” that GOD showed her, by way of HIS bestowing on her, such a divine role, in the “Covenant Blessing Story”.
    Mary was extremely honored to have any role in GOD’s great and divine work. And, even though it was something unexpected, because it came from GOD, she had faith that it would be for the greater good. And on that day, in the tiny, inconspicuous setting of Nazareth, Mary became the first person on earth to hear the sweet name of “JESUS”, our LORD and SAVIOR (Luke 1:31). And because of this upcoming miraculous event, the world would never, ever, be the same again.
    GOD loves us so much, that HE gave to us as a sacrifice, HIS only begotten SON. And if we will but only believe in HIM, we will not ever perish, and, we can have eternal life in the glorious presence of GOD. That adds the perfect ending to the story of “the human experience” that has been marred by “the destructive fallout of sin”, since the onset of our existence. And I am once again reminded of a favorite quote that seems to sum up the “special effects” of our choice between “Salvation” and “Damnation”:

“The enigmas of life, become, at least, less baffling, when we come to rest in the thought, that this life, is not the final act of the human drama”.

    If we truly believe that GOD is in control, then it shouldn’t be hard to accept whatever HE sends our way in this life. As Christians, we hold dear, the “Divine Promise” of “the ultimate happy ending”, that has been written for us by GOD, since the foundation of this world. 

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website





Friday, November 25, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 27, 2016

Over 116,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

FROM BEGINNING TO END
(The ultimate happy ending)
(Revelation 22:8-21)

   After hearing all of the wonderful things that the angel had told him in verses 1-7 concerning the New Jerusalem, the Apostle John errantly fell down to his knees to worship him, but again, the angel cautioned against such actions telling John, “No! Don’t worship me. I am a servant of GOD just like you and your brothers, the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this scroll”. “Worship only GOD!” he told John.
    In the book of Daniel, in chapter 12, verse 9, the Prophet Daniel is instructed by GOD to “seal up” his prophesy until the time of the end. In contrast, here in Revelation 22:10, the Apostle John is instructed, “…. not to seal up” these prophetic words you have written, because the time of their fulfillment is near. So let everyone continue doing what they are doing. Let the ones who are doing wrong continue to do wrong; the ones that are vile continue to be vile; the ones who are good continue to be good; and the ones who are holy continue to live in holiness, because I, the LORD AM coming soon with rewards to repay everyone according to their deeds”. The LORD further states, “I AM the ALPHA and the OMEGA, the FIRST and the LAST, the BEGINNING and the END”.
    In the exhortation of verse 11, GOD is not condoning evil, but rather, the divine intent of this verse is to point out the fact that, if people do not heed the prophesy in this book of Revelation, they are only left with the choice of continuing in their own wickedness. By contrast, those who do right will likely continue to do right, as GOD expects no earth-shattering changes in the conduct of mankind, good, or evil, in the near future. However, let it be known to all that their choices will not govern when JESUS will return to judge all people, and to end all days, as man now knows them.
    In verse 14 we find the final of the seven beatitudes that are found in the book of Revelation; “Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the “Tree of Life”. This is simply a phrase that describes the righteous and their acts of obedience to CHRIST’s commandments. They are those mentioned in verses 11b and c, who, started out guilty, but, through their acceptance of CHRIST, have been washed clean by HIS sacrificial blood.
    However, in contrast, those mentioned in verses 11a and b are the ones who will refuse to give up their acts of immorality, and therefore, will forever be characterized by their evil ways and practices, and will be judged in the end according to their evil deeds. They are the unholy people who currently dwell outside of CHRIST, and love to live the lie of immorality that satan has successfully spun in this world.
    And so, we are now left with this very real scenario that currently grips humanity to its core; “The SPIRIT” (the HOLY SPIRIT), and “the Bride” (the true Christian Church that is only found in the hearts of people who truly love GOD) say “come”. Unfortunately, “the lure of this world” and “satan” says the same. The HOLY SPIRIT in us will always seek to compel us toward CHRIST JESUS, but again, unfortunately, the “sin nature” in us will always try and tug us back toward the “world”. The battle that wages on inside of each of us, between “the reason to do right” and “the passion to want to do wrong”, stays with us, long after we accept the gift of salvation. However, through our new-found strength in CHRIST, we can successfully “overcome” the “gravitational pull of this world”, just as JESUS did, and find our place in the “ultimate happy ending” that has been prepared for us by GOD, since the foundation of this world. That place that Luke, Paul, and other New Testament writers call, in the Greek, “paridiso” (par-id-i-so), but we call, “the kingdom of Heaven”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, November 18, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 20, 2016

Over 115,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

LIFE AND HEALING
(We can have the privilege of serving GOD forever)
(Revelation 22:1-7)

   Here in Revelation 22, the Apostle John is given a few more details by the angel, in his vision concerning the New Jerusalem. Here the angelic tour moves from the exterior of the Holy City to the interior, a place where only those who believe in CHRIST will ever be able to go. In verses 1-2, the first thing that John is shown in the city is the vision of a “River of the waters of Life” that will flow out from the thrones of GOD and the LAMB, CHRIST JESUS. It will be a pure river of waters that will symbolize GOD’s OWN holiness and purity.
    Here in this passage we are presented with a scene that is reminiscent of many of the visions of the Old Testament prophets such as Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47), and Zechariah (Zechariah 14:8), and Joel (Joel 3:18), however, those visions were referencing a literal river that will flow out of the Temple in the Old Jerusalem, and are instead, visions of the coming Millennial Kingdom, the time of CHRIST JESUS’ rule here on earth. The river, here in Revelation 22, is a part of the “New Jerusalem” on the “New earth” that GOD will create after the thousand-year reign of CHRIST on the “old earth”, and after the final defeat of satan at Armageddon.
    John’s vision shows the river coursing its way down the center of the main street of the New Jerusalem. On each side of the river will be a “tree of life” bearing “12 crops of fruit each year, a fresh crop every month. The leaves of those trees will be used as medicine to heal all the nations of the new earth, of all manner of sickness. Each person who enters into the Kingdom of GOD, will be healed, because there can be no curse of illness of any kind in Heaven. Therefore, this River of Life stands as a symbol of the abundant life GOD will provide for all of HIS people who reside there, and it will be theirs for the taking, not only to heal them, but also, to quench their hunger and thirst.
    “The Trees of Life” that are mentioned here in verse 2, is a concept that is already familiar to the Apostle John from his knowledge of the Garden of Eden, and, from the writings of the prophet Ezekiel. In the age to come, the LORD will create trees that will naturally promote life and healing perpetually through a variety of miraculous fruit and foliage. These fruit will not be forbidden to any of the residents of the New Jerusalem, nor will they be restricted to only the use of the Jews, but rather, the benefits of those trees will be available to people of all national origins who reside in the city.   
    And so, in this scene, naturally there will be no person in Heaven who doesn’t know GOD on a personal level, and all who exists will worship the FATHER and the SON. They will see HIS face for the very first time, and HIS name will be written on their foreheads (thoughts of GOD will be on their minds constantly). Nights will cease to exist, and there will be no need for the sun, the moon, or even lamps, because the LORD HIMSELF will shine on everyone. When we are living in eternity, ways of measuring time, such as hours, days, nights, weeks, months, and years, become totally irrelevant and insignificant to our existence (Vs.3-5).
   After reading this passage we should now more clearly understand what JESUS tried to convey to us way back in the Gospel account of the Apostle John (John 6:53-58) where HE states:

 “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the “flesh” (which can be likened to the fruit of the tree in this passage) of the SON of MAN and drink HIS “blood” (which can be likened to the living waters of the river in this passage), you cannot have eternal life within you.  But anyone who eats MY flesh and drinks MY blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For MY flesh is true food, and MY blood is true drink. Anyone who eats MY flesh and drinks MY blood remains in ME, and I in him. I live because of the LIVING FATHER who sent ME; in the same way, anyone who feeds on ME will live because of ME. I AM the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” (NLT)
  
In verse 7 we find the sixth of the seven beatitudes that are found in the book of Revelation (the others are 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, and 22:14), which states, “Blessed are those who obey the prophesy written in this scroll”. The coming of CHRIST JESUS is always “soon”, in the minds of those who believe in HIM. A special blessing is added to those who obey and heed to the prophecies in this, the book of Revelation, as well as the whole of Scripture itself. Indeed, we don’t really love JESUS unless we are willing to obey HIM, and to take on HIS task that HE started in the world when HE resided here physically. We must be willing to take up our own cross, by moving away from sinful behavior, and into unknown righteousness where JESUS resides right now.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, November 11, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 13, 2016

Over 115,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A NEW JERUSALEM
(Spending eternity in GOD’s glory)
(Revelation 21:9-27)

   In the biblical Greek, there are two words that are used for “new”. One is “neos”, which describes something that is a new version of something that already exists. The other word for “new” is “kainos” (kahee-nos), and it describes something that is new to existence, or is new to the world, the first of its kind anywhere in the world.  
    In Revelation 21, taking up at verse 9, the Apostle John says that one of the seven angels who held the seven bowls, that contained the “seven last plagues” that would soon be released upon the earth in the coming “Day of the LORD”, came and carried him away in the “spirit”, “pneuma” in the Greek, which means that he was “swept away in his rational mind only” (not physically), as if being carried away on a great gust of wind. The angel said that he was going to carry him to a high mountain where he could see the actual “Bride of CHRIST”, that is, the “New Jerusalem”, which has become the “Church of CHRIST” in the New Heaven.
    The angel also called the place where he was taking John, “the wife of the LAMB”, a term that is sometimes alluded to by the writers of the New Testament when referring to the Christian Church here on earth. When he and the angel arrived there, John saw this magnificent “Holy City” (the New Jerusalem), literally descending out of Heaven from GOD. In fact, John says that it was filled with the glory of GOD, and it sparkled like a precious gem, that was crystal clear like jasper.
    Further describing this magnificent place, in verses 10-14, John says that there were walls around the city that were both, broad and high. The walls had a total of twelve gates, three on each of its four sides (north, south, east, and west), and the gates were guarded by 12 angels, one at each gate. Written on the twelve gates were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, one name on each gate. The walls contained a total of twelve foundation stones, one on each wall, that had the names of one of the twelve apostles of CHRIST inscribed on each one of the stones.
    The angel, who talked with the Apostle John, had in his possession, a gold measuring stick that he would use to measure the city (the New Jerusalem), its gates, and its wall. When he measured he saw that it formed a perfect “cube” that was 1400 miles long, 1400 miles wide, and 1400 miles high. He also measured the thickness of each wall and found them to be 216 feet thick. The walls themselves were made of jasper, and the city was made of pure gold that was clear as glass, including the main street.
    The walls of the city were also built on foundation stones that were inlaid with twelve gems, jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysophase, jacinth, and amethyst. And finally, the twelve gates were made of pearls, each gate from a single pearl!
    In verse 22 John reveals to us that there is no temple in this New Jerusalem. This may come as a surprise when we consider how precious the temple is to the Jews in the current Jerusalem here on earth. However, the apostle’s description of the new city, as being in the shape of a cube 1400 miles in length, width, and height suggests, quite literally, that it is itself a temple of extraordinary proportions, with GOD and the LAMB (JESUS) eternally present within. Thus we see clearly that the city doesn’t need a physical edifice, or building to make a Church, because there, and even here and now, wherever JESUS is, there, the Church is also. In fact, it is only the presence of CHRIST JESUS that makes any human gathering a “Church”.
    The Scripture tells us here that there will also be no need for light (the sun, moon, and stars) in the new city, because the glory of GOD will provide all the illumination we’ll need, and JESUS also would serve as its lamps. In addition, John describes a city whose gates will remain forever open because there will be no night (the earthly temple doors were traditionally closed at 6 o’clock P.M) , and everyone who is “saved” will walk in the light of this wonderful city, and bring with them, the glory and honor that is uniquely their own, from every nation on the old earth.
    This chapter ends with a stern warning however, that, those who refuse to discontinue in the evilness of their ways, are forever barred from becoming citizens of this great community of GOD. It is not “the repentant sinner” (Those who give their life over to CHRIST), but rather, “the defiant sinner” (those who refuse to give up sinful lifestyles) whose name will not be found in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Those who die a rebellious, defiant sinner will be barred from entrance into the Kingdom of GOD.
     And so it really doesn’t matter what we take away from this prophetic and mysterious book of John’s revelations from CHRIST, its central theme and focus of “repent before it is too late” will forever remain consistent, as its message is passed on from generation to generation. In fact, its lingering message is one that is crystal clear, and serves to remind us that, in times of great conflict, GOD’s people must remain faithful, humble, and patient to the end. The promise of victory, through CHRIST, over the forces of the evil one, is something that is virtually assured in the final, highly anticipated and upcoming “Day of the LORD”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, November 4, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 6, 2016

Over 114,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

MAKING THINGS NEW
(The New Jerusalem)
(Revelation 21:1-8)

   Both Isaiah 60-65, and, Ezekiel 40-48 contain parallels to John’s vision from JESUS of the “new Heaven and earth”, and the “new Jerusalem”, which is depicted in Revelation 21. The earthly Jerusalem, we know, was intended to be the site of the Temple of GOD. It was a symbol of HIS presence among HIS people, and the place where HE might be approached in worship.
    Here in Revelation 21, the New Jerusalem fulfills the promise of the old, as GOD is present in reality, and HIS people can worship HIM freely, without interference from outside duress and persecution from the world which is now controlled by satan. It is a vision that can never be possible as long as satan is around, but rather, can only be fulfilled after GOD settles the score with him, following the time and “foretaste” of the Millennial Kingdom of CHRIST here on the “old earth”.
    John’s vision of the New Jerusalem magnifies to a great degree, the Old Testament prophet’s visions that were expressed and depicted hundreds, and even thousands of years earlier. Isaiah, Haggai, and Ezekiel, all had visions of a “rebuilt” Jerusalem. As we consider those facts, it becomes increasingly easy to see that the idea of a New Jerusalem had been a constant dream that was given to GOD’s most faithful messengers over the years.
    Here in this passage of Scripture, John seems to pull together all of the various visions of these Old Testament prophets and make them his own, manifesting a sort of verification to Christians in the “Church Age” that their earnest expectation will be satisfied in “the Last Days”.
    In Revelation 21, verses 5-7, we see GOD HIMSELF speaking for the first time in this vision saying, “Look, I AM making all things new! And then HE said to John, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true”. And HE also said, “It is finished!” I AM the ALPHA and the OMEGA----the BEGINNING and the END. To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge! All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their GOD, and they will be MY children” (NLT).
    In verse 8 GOD adds a warning to all those Believers and non-Believers who seem to think that they have no responsibility to GOD, themselves, or their fellowman. A professed Christian cannot just walk through this world declaring they have faith in GOD verbally, while all the time living the life of a heathen. Our faith in GOD has to manifest itself through our actions and behavior. We have to “work hard” to “show” ourselves approved. Faith without “action” is no faith at all. “Saving faith” is the kind of faith that moves us to action, and from there, into a position and attitude by which you can overcome the world like JESUS did. Then we will be able to embrace and accept the power of the blood sacrifice that is CHRIST JESUS, simply because we have accepted and taken hold of the faith that GOD has to offer us.
    And so GOD gives us a “list of immoralities”, that we must first remove ourselves from, before we can obtain the attitude necessary to be able to even accept the gift of salvation that JESUS’ sacrifice affords us. Surprisingly, we see that the first group of people mentioned on the list is “cowards”. Here GOD is speaking of those individuals who clearly know the right thing to do, but are too afraid to do it. This type of inaction shows GOD that one does not trust in HIS power, HIS protection, HIS provisions, nor, HIS plan. A person who reacts this way has no faith in GOD, no matter how many times they profess it with their lips in the friendly confines of the Church.
    Cowards are those who are afraid to defend the Word and lifestyle of the LORD openly before the world that is opposed to HIM. They don’t mind speaking about the LORD in a friendly, accepting environment, but they fear to confess their Christian beliefs openly when challenged by someone who takes an anti-Christ position in the world. And while it is true that we are not supposed to debate the bible with the world, we are also not to deny JESUS before the world either.
    Usually, these particular professed Christians won’t defend the Word of GOD because they are not familiar enough with its contents themselves to defend it, or, they are afraid of the “counterfeit power of man, through satan”, which they “fear” could cause them to lose their position or status with their friends that they shouldn’t have in the first place, their status on their jobs, their position in their families, or, their position in the world in general.
    Next, we see “unbelievers”, whom most people would think would be first on the list, however, when GOD starts to clean house HE always starts with the church. The reason being is that, GOD doesn’t ever want the professed Christian Church to be guilty of contributing to further messing up the world, or working on satan’s side of the fence. GOD more expects wrong things from those who never had the experience to get to know HIM, than HE does from those who do, and, should know better.
    And so, whenever we know the right thing to do, yet are afraid to do it because we have no real faith in GOD ourselves in the first place, then, the unbelievers in this world have no real chance of obtaining salvation, by getting to know GOD through HIS Church. As a result, those who are “corrupt” will begin to move even farther away from GOD, perhaps, by becoming murderers, by further embracing sexual immorality and homosexuality, by practicing witchcraft (evil spiritual manipulation), by idolizing false gods (including people, places, and things), and by becoming any of those persons who succumbs to the influence of “lying spirits” and becomes open to, and is willing to embrace, all manner of sin.
    In order to make all things new, the way HE promises HE will, GOD has to dispense with all things old, that are spiritually contaminated, and have become familiar to us, through our sin. In addition, and, in regards to our role (the role of the Christian Church), when we fail to, or refuse to, operate correctly as “GOD’s only figurative representative here on earth”, we doom “the unsaved world” to the pits of Hell. In other words, due to a severe lack of effort on most of our parts, we sentence them to what GOD calls, “The Second Death”, which is a final, “permanent separation from HIM” where there can be no coming back, not ever.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



      

Friday, October 28, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 30, 2016

Over 114,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GOD’S DISCIPLINE PROVES HIS LOVE
(Embracing and overcoming trials)
(Hebrews 12:1-13)

   In Hebrews chapter 12, the author of GOD gives us a remarkably vivid description and summary of the Christian life, and, shows us the attitude we should have, as we aspire to obtain our goal of becoming more like CHRIST. In the Greek, the word used for “discipline” is “paideia” (pahee-di-ah), and it is “education or training”. It also means “to nurture, instruct, or chasten”.
    The Christian life can be likened to a relay race. The people of faith, like the ones mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, who have run before us, have passed on the baton, and now, they anxiously wait to see how we will carry on in the discipline that Christianity demands. As we run, we can look back and see how JESUS ran HIS race, and, at one and the same time, we can also look ahead, and see HIS exaltation at the finish line.
    JESUS, is our supreme example, and, HE is the “Author and Finisher” of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). A life that is void of testing from GOD is most likely going to be a life void of prayer, humility, holiness, and appreciation of what GOD has done for us. Tests from GOD are not made to make us fail, but rather, are made to make us better representatives of CHRIST, and Christianity, here on earth.
    Trials are what GOD uses to refine us, and prepare us for a life of eternity with HIM, in HIS kingdom. It takes a certain amount of discipline to become, and remain successful in the Christian race. When we take into account how much JESUS endured, we can realize that suffering and hardship are no excuse for us to give up and drop out of contention (Hebrews 12:3-15).
    If we fail to understand the love and purpose of GOD’s discipline, we are likely to become bitter, and miss out on GOD’s graceful intent. If we see our trials and difficulties in the perspective provided by GOD’s grace, we will be better able to understand and accept HIS discipline in our lives. Remember, Esau, who saw no value in spiritual things, ended up selling his birthright to GOD’s covenant promise, for a mere a bowl of stew. If we value only material things as he did, we too, are in danger of missing our blessings in the end (Hebrews 12:16-17).
    We, as Christians, are not people who meander along the paths of life in a totally oblivious manner. We are not like tourist, who, each night, return to the point where we started that previous morning. The Christian life is about going somewhere, and at the end of each day, we’ll do good to ask ourselves, “Have we gotten any closer to our goal of being more like CHRIST?” That should be the aspiration of every Christian, to, each day, become more and more like CHRIST.
    However, the Christian also has another inspiration. It is the inspiration of the “cloud of witnesses”, who have gone before us, and witnessed their confession to CHRIST, and now witness our performance from way on high. They are those people mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, who personified faith during their Christian walk here on earth. They are those people like Moses, Abraham, and Noah, who have already claimed their crowns of victory.
    But, unfortunately, we Christians also have “a handicap”, and it is “the handicap and weight of our own sins”. It is very difficult to run a race, when you are carrying excess baggage. If we wish to travel far, it is much better to travel light. The burden of sin can weigh heavily on a person, who is trying to run the Christian race, or walk the Christian walk. It is paramount that we first discard the unnecessary things that hold us back, and what holds man back is sin. If we are to endure the Christian race to the finish, we must first learn to lighten our load of “sinful cargo” (behavior), and move away from our carnal desires (sin nature) (Hebrews 12:1).
    Our supreme example of faith and discipline is CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF. HE is also our companion along the way, and, HE is our goal at the end of the race. Remember, GOD’s kingdom will remain when the universe itself is shaken, and this old world itself will ultimately disappear. That is when one will truly appreciate how good it will be to be a citizen in the kingdom of Heaven.
    We should also remember that our trials, can and will, both refine us, and, help prepare us to dwell in eternity in the presence of THE ALMIGHTY GOD in Heaven, at the end of our Christian race. The motivation for pursuing holiness here and now, is the realization that, without it, no one can see GOD, or stand in the presence of GOD in the spiritual life that follows our stay here on earth. In other words, Christians must be, and will be, sinless when they see the LORD in Heaven.
    A person’s perception of GOD in this present life is the true measure of his or her holiness. In order to help us reach the state of holiness we need to achieve, GOD whips us into condition with his Holy discipline, and testing. When we fail to understand the love and purpose of GOD’s discipline, we are likely to become bitter towards HIM, and thereby, miss HIS unfailing grace. However, when we are able to see our trials and difficulties in the perspective of GOD’s grace, we are better able to accept HIS chastening, which will refine us.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, October 21, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 23, 2016

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JESUS, A PRIEST FOREVER
(JESUS represents a change from the Levitical priesthood)
(Hebrews 7)

   Way back in Genesis 14, after Abraham (then Abram) had defeated a band of armies led by King Kedorlaomer of Elam, and rescued his nephew Lot from certain doom, we are introduced to one of the most obscure, and yet, important figures in the annals of Old Testament history. Upon Abraham’s return from battle, he is met by a man named Melchizedek in the valley of Shaveh.
    Melchizedek was the King of Salem (now Jerusalem) and was also a priest of our GOD Most High. His name means “king of justice”, and the name of his kingdom, “Salem”, means “peace”. And so, by his very name and position he was both, “king of justice”, and, “king of peace”. He was high enough in stature and importance, that, he could both, bless Abraham, and, receive a tithe from Abraham.
    Here in Hebrews chapter 7, the author emphasizes the fact that JESUS’ priesthood does not derive from Aaron’s Levitical line of priests, but rather, it derives from the line of Melchizedek, a superior priesthood. Here in verses 1-10, the author establishes two things: First, the greater always blesses the lesser. Here the author is showing that, by blessing Abraham, Melchizedek was greater than Abraham. And secondly, Abraham, who was the great, great-grandfather of Aaron, the first of the Levitical line of priests, paid a tithe to Melchizedek, and thus personally acknowledged the superiority of his priesthood.
    As, it is written by king David in his prophetic Psalm 110:4, GOD’s ordaining someone as a “priest forever in the line of Melchizedek” is a clear indication that GOD always intended to make a change in the Aaronic priesthood. Such a change would also require a change in the whole system of the Mosiac Law, of which that priesthood was a part (Vs. 11-19).
    JESUS’ priesthood is better simply because it is flawless, and it is forever, or, eternal. In the Old Testament, you’ll find that, neither Melchizedek’s birth, nor his death, are recorded. There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors, and no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever resembling the SON of GOD. His priesthood is also permanent, just as JESUS lives eternally as our Heavenly priest, and, can save us continuously and completely.
    JESUS’ priesthood is able to meet our needs, by way of HIS vicarious sacrifice, which settles forever, the issue of our sins. HE is the only one WHO can speak for us, and intercede for us before GOD the FATHER. The priesthood of CHRIST differs dramatically from the Levitical priesthood in, that, it was instituted with an oath. By contrast, the descendants of Aaron assumed their jobs without any oath.
    In the Greek, the word used in Hebrews 7:22 for “surety” is “engyos”. This is the only time this particular word is used in New Testament scriptures. It is a legal term which identifies a bond or collateral. It means that the signer of the guarantee pledged his resources as security for the commitment that is made. JESUS is the living guarantee that the forgiveness GOD offers us under the New Covenant will surely be ours. In fact, because of HIS oath, HE became the guarantee of a better Covenant. With HIS OWN life, JESUS assured the superiority of the new order over the old, because HIS oath also secured HIS permanent installation in the priestly office of GOD.
    No Old Testament priest ever functioned in this permanent manner, simply because, all of them were subject to death and mortality. JESUS not only prays for us, HE also has empowered us to live a more righteous life here on earth, through HIS examples and gift of the HOLY SPIRIT. As an ever-living HIGH PRIEST, JESUS is always available to represent us before GOD, and thus, HE is able to save us completely.
    Remember, everyone who has been saved by CHRIST, was saved when they were still sinners. When we stumble after receiving salvation, JESUS remains there with us to keep us from falling, because HE is always holding us by the hand. HE remains committed to us so that HE can save us completely. If salvation depended on us, then, we would have a right to worry. But, because salvation depends on JESUS, we can be free from fret and worry, because our futures are completely secure, through HIM.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website