Friday, September 22, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 24, 2017

Over 139,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE RESTORATION OF GOD’S PEOPLE
(Through GOD, hearts will be changed)
(Ezekiel 36)

   Ezekiel 36 is the exact antithesis to Ezekiel 35. After GOD judges Israel’s enemies, HE will, at a future date, bless HIS chosen nation with complete restoration. Here Ezekiel contrasts GOD’s plan of judgment, and Israel’s present condition, with GOD’s plan of restoration, and Israel’s future blessings.
    In this passage GOD tells Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel’s mountains, which were soon to be cleansed of all of the shrines and altars, along with all of their demonic influences that could currently be found there. Israel had become possessed by the demonic forces of many nations, while worshipping those nation’s many idol gods. As a result of their poor spiritual choices, they now suffered physical defeat, and they were now mocked and slandered by those same nations (Vs.1-3).
    The LORD’s anger was kindled against the pagan nations, especially Edom, because of her utter contempt against HIM. They had happily taken Israel’s land for themselves, as a reward after Judah’s destruction in 586 B.C. GOD’s intent in this chapter, however, is to encourage HIS downtrodden people of Israel, and assure them that HE had not abandoned them. This, all in light of the fact, that, none of the exiles would ever live to see this prophecy fulfilled. GOD wanted them to know that Israel would rise from its shame, and that her mountains would once again produce abundant crops, and its land would again be filled with people, flocks and herds (Vs.5-15).
    When the Israelites were living in their own land they defiled and cursed it with evil deeds, and to GOD, those acts were utterly detestable. They had polluted the land with murder, idolatry, and adultery, and so GOD poured out HIS anger on them, and scattered them abroad to many distant lands, as one of HIS forms of punishment.
    Even after they were scattered abroad, they still brought dishonor to GOD’s holy name. The pagan nations began to mock them by saying, “These are the people of the LORD, and HE couldn’t keep them safe in their own land” (Vs.16-20). Being concerned for HIS OWN name and reputation, GOD sent this message to the exiles through the prophet Ezekiel (Vs.22-27) (NLT):

 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I AM bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I AM doing it to protect MY holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations.  I will show how holy MY great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal MY holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I AM the Lord.  For, I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow MY decrees and be careful to obey MY regulations.”

    Here in this passage we see one of scripture’s earliest revelations of GOD’s plan for us through CHRIST JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT. GOD will not only give us “a new human spirit”, or, “desire to obey HIM” (strip us of our sin nature), before we enter into the Millennial Kingdom (v.26). Before that, HE will infuse all believers with HIS HOLY SPIRIT after we have been cleansed by the blood of CHRIST, which was shed as a sacrifice for our sins and uncleanness. The HOLY SPIRIT will be paramount in helping us to fight the spiritual battle that is charged to us by CHRIST JESUS, and in helping steer us and guide us into all righteousness and obedience, because of our own personal choice, and “saving faith” in HIM (v.27).
    In GOD’s Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:30-31), a ritually unclean person would not be able to participate in worship services. And so the idea of being “clean” or “unclean” could have a significant impact on one’s personal relationship with GOD. This law also carried over to “moral and immoral acts” as it is emphasized in Psalm 106:36-39. Men of GOD saw in this concept of ritual uncleanness, a powerful image of “the inner defilement” that is caused by sin.
    The whole nation of Israel had defiled itself through their forbidden practices of idolatry, adultery, and murderous sacrifices of children in the fire to Mollech. GOD’s holiness absolutely required that the Israelites vacate from HIS holy land, which would continue to exist long after that generation of people, had expired.
    The land had to cleansed of the “demonic defilement” that comes with worshipping people, places, and things other than GOD HIMSELF. And the people themselves had to be cleansed by allowing their sins to “run its course” for seventy years in Babylon, after which, GOD would be ready to hear their prayers once again, and, be willing to also, grant their special requests (v.37).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website










Friday, September 15, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 17, 2017

Over 138,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

TAKING TIME TO REST AND RENEW
(The command to observe the Sabbath day)
(Exodus 20:8-11 and 31:12-18)

   The section of the “Mosaic Law”, that is chronicled in the book of Exodus, consists of three parts, “the Decalogue”, or, “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20:1-21), the covenant of “civil and religious ordinances” (Exodus 20:22-24:11), and the covenant of “ceremonial regulations” (Exodus 24:12-31:18). In this week’s lesson we’ll look at one of the Ten Commandments that is, perhaps, the most ignored and disregarded of the whole Decalogue, and that’s saying something when we consider how often we violate the other nine.
    The fourth command by GOD in HIS Decalogue is that we “honor the Sabbath (seventh day)” with “rest” from all of our labors. On the surface it seems like it would be the simplest of all the commandments to obey. However, because of our “ignorance” about GOD Law, that is powered by “our deep desire to do what we want to do”, and then, couple that with “greed” and “envy”, and the mismanagement of the companies we work for, we can go weeks and months at a time without taking the time to rest and renew our bodies as GOD seriously calls for us to do. In fact, GOD was so serious about this command that HE actually imposed a “death penalty” (total separation from GOD) on anyone in Israel who did not adhere to it.
    Some Christians may argue that all of the Ten Commandments, and indeed, all of GOD’s laws period, are a part of the “law system” which the New Testament (Romans 6:14) says, we who are under “grace”, are no longer bound by, and, that our relationship with GOD doesn’t depend on our adherence to a list of laws, but rather, on how we respond to the promptings of the HOLY SPIRIT in us. However, the HOLY SPIRIT will only prompt us when we are about to move “out” of “the Will of GOD” that is manifested to us in “HIS Law”.
    GOD’s Law actually reveals HIMSELF to us as being a deeply moral and loving personality. And so, all those who say that GOD is their FATHER, should be deeply interested in “being like HIM in our behavior”. And so, the only way that we can fulfill our goal of “living like CHRIST wants us to live, is by obeying the laws of GOD. JESUS says that, “If you love ME, you will obey ME”, and GOD the FATHER says the same. In other words, if we don’t obey GOD, we, at one the same time, show that we don’t love HIM either, and it’s just that simple.
    To understand this rightly, in CHRIST, we can receive a “free gift of salvation” that we can’t earn by obeying the law, however, at one and the same time, also in CHRIST, we are freed to “express that salvation” by living a life that reflects, and is in full harmony with, the high standards that were revealed, first, by the Word of GOD, and then later personified in the person of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD, while HE served here on earth, as a 100% human being. The true goal of a Christian should always be to adhere to the standards of CHRIST JESUS, WHO adheres to the standards of GOD, lest we prove within ourselves, we are not really “True Christian” at all (those who have GOD in their hearts/minds).
   The word “Sabbath” is derived from the Hebrew root meaning of “rest”. It is a term that suggests, not only physical rest, but also suggests a time of concentration, contemplation, and focus on the goodness of GOD. In Exodus 31, verses 12-18, the LORD reminded the people of Israel that obedience to HIS command to observe the Sabbath is a religious duty, and if it were violated, would mean “death” to the perpetrator, or “total separation from HIM”. It would represent a violation of “the covenant” between HIMSELF and Israel, a covenant that made them the world’s first and only “theocracy”.
    GOD wanted Israel to understand that being “set apart” was not just “a privilege”, but more importantly, it was “a responsibility”, a responsibility that called for them to be like HIM, and, to do like HE had done, “rest on the seventh day”. Observance of the Sabbath highlighted, and is associated with, three distinctive acts of GOD, “the Creation account”, “Israel’s deliverance from Egypt”, and finally, it is “a reminder of the bond GOD placed between Israel and HIMSELF, and that, as a theocracy, Israel belongs to GOD, and GOD is Israel’s only GOD”.
    And so the commitment between GOD and anyone else who claims HIM as their GOD, should be outwardly expressed in their desire to keep the Sabbath promise by setting “the seventh day” apart for rest and contemplation on the goodness of GOD. In fact, all of GOD’s commands should be paramount to those who claim that they pledge themselves to CHRIST JESUS, and desire to follow HIM WHO follows the laws of GOD the FATHER.
    And remember, although we are made right with GOD only by “faith”, our faith is measured only by our desire to obey GOD. And so, only when we have faith, do we truly desire to fulfill the laws of GOD (Romans 3:31) (James 2:14-26). In that respect, “faith” and “obedience” become synonymous with each other, and thereby, there is no escaping, “obedience to GOD”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




      

  

Friday, September 8, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 10, 2017

Over 138,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A COVENANT AGREEMENT
(GOD’s covenant with Abraham)
(Genesis 17:1-14)

   In Genesis 17 the LORD pays a visit to a 99 year-old Abram and commands, once again, that he serve HIM faithfully, and, that he, from that point forward, live a blameless life, or as JESUS would say many years later, “Go and sin no more”. HE also tells Abram once again that HE will make a Covenant with him, by which HE would guarantee to make him the father of a mighty nation. In fact, GOD informs him that he will become the father of many nations, not just the Jewish nation of the future “Israel”.
    History now tells us that Abram, from that time, went on to become the towering figure, to whom, the Jews trace their origin as GOD’s chosen people. He was born in the fabled city of Ur more than 4100 years ago. Ur was a Sumerian cultured city located on the banks of the famed Euphrates River. It was known for its monumental architecture, wealth, music, and art.
    Growing up, Abram and his family had worshiped many other gods (Joshua 24:2-3), however, when the ALMIGHTY GOD, our CREATOR called him, HE instructed him to leave his father’s house and go to a land that HE would show him at a later time (Genesis 12:1). Abram then left and traveled to the land of Canaan, where he lived a nomadic life for nearly 100 years, dying at the ripe old age of 175!
    In the Old Testament Hebrew, the word used for “covenant” is “briyth” (pronounced “ber-eeth”), and it is an ancient form of compact that is sealed by passing between two pieces of flesh, in the same sense as a knife in the process of cutting meat into halves. In Genesis 17, when Abram is around 99 years old, GOD comes to him to reveal to him more details of HIS previously promised covenant (Genesis 12:1-3 & 15).
    Here in this passage, as I stated earlier, GOD tells Abram to serve HIM faithfully and live a blameless life. Hearing this, Abram fell prostrate to the ground, and at that point, GOD informs him that HE was changing his name to “Abraham”, which is interpreted “father of many nations”. And so it was that, thereafter, every time Abraham heard his own name called, he would be reminded of GOD’s covenant promise to greatly multiply his descendants into a mighty nation.
    In verses 9-14 GOD reveals to Abraham yet another confirming sign, however, this revelation would apply, not only to Abraham, but to all males who shared the Jewish promise of the everlasting covenant. Here the LORD institutes the, now famous ancient ritual of “circumcision” into the Jewish doctrine.
    Circumcision involves the cutting away of the foreskin from the tip of the male’s penis, and it was to be performed on every Jewish male child on the eighth day of his life. And even though circumcision had been practiced elsewhere in the ancient world, here it was to take on a new meaning.
    Among the Jews, circumcision would serve as an everlasting reminder, from generation to generation, of GOD’s sacred covenant with his chosen people. It would be a “cutting” reminder that symbolized how GOD wished for the Israelites to lay aside the impurity of their nature and remain loyal to the family of GOD forever. Circumcision would also serve to remind the Israelites that all mankind is dependent upon GOD for the reproduction of life, and that any Jew, who refused to be cut in this way, would be “cut off” from his people because of his disobedience to GOD’s command.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  






   


Friday, September 1, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 3, 2017

Over 137,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE RAINBOW COVENANT
(We can depend on GOD’s eternal promises)
(Genesis 8:20 and 9:8-17)
  
   The historical writings in the Book of Genesis, not only tells the story of a “chosen people of GOD”, and how GOD acted upon the lives of the Jews (Genesis 12-50), but it also actually begins by telling the story of how GOD acted upon the lives of all mankind and all living creatures in general, as our Holy and sovereign CREATOR (Genesis 1-11).
    In the Old Testament, GOD is attempting to show us just how far we are from HIS high and holy standards. And in the New Testament, GOD sends us JESUS to try and show us just how we can move closer to that high and holy standard. The Old Testament also contains the stories of the many men and women of deep and powerful unbending faith such as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, and the like, who all clung to their belief in the Almighty GOD.
    In this day and age, we too, can build, and embody the same measures of faith that those people exhibited in their lifetimes, but we, like them, must sincerely seek and honor GOD just as they did, in all that we do. We will never be required by GOD to come up with any ground-breaking methods, by way of our considerable “human ingenuity”, of serving HIM, but rather, we will always be expected by GOD to worship and obey HIM HIS way, not ours. And all of GOD’s ways, in which HE wants us to serve HIM, are already laid out in Scripture.
    Genesis is the first book of the Holy Bible, and, the first of five books accredited to the authorship of Moses. Moses is one of the most towering figures in Jewish history, and, the one who came to be known simply, as “The Law Giver”. He begins his writings with the telling of the “Creation Account” of all things, “the fall of man at the hands of Adam and Eve”, and “the subsequent intolerable wickedness of mankind”, which led to the “Great Flood” method of destruction by GOD.
    However, just as GOD always replaced the darkness of our ancestors existence, with the light of HIS presence in those days, so it is too, in these days of the twenty-first century. Over the next few lessons, we will focus on, and trace GOD’s covenant promises to HIS people, through, the annals of Old Testament biblical history, and we’ll began with this first account of GOD’s “Rainbow Covenant” with Noah. Noah is the first man in Scripture to be called “righteous” (Genesis 6:9), and he was the only righteous man on earth at the time of the flood!
    Finally, some 10 ½ months after the great Flood had begun (Genesis 8:20), Noah lifted the cover of the ark back, and saw that the waters had gone down considerably. And after two more months went by, the earth had completely dried up from the excesses of water that was left as a result of GOD’s judgment on the earth, and, on sinful man.
    It was then that GOD told Noah and his family to leave the ark, and to set the animal and wildlife cargo free so that they could perform their roles in the replenishment of the earth. And so 377 days after they boarded the ark, Noah and his family were now able to, once again, stand on dry land, this time as the recipients of GOD’s great Salvation from a sinful atmosphere and environment. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and used the animals and birds that had earlier been earmarked by the LORD for sacrifice, and the LORD was very pleased with him.
    There at the altar, the LORD made a solemn promise to Noah that HE would never again curse the earth, destroying all living things, even though HE knew man would quickly return to his sinful state of being, and, that their every thought and action would eventually be geared toward evil from the time of their childhood forward.
    Nevertheless, GOD promised that as long as HE decides to allow the earth to remain, it will always enjoy the seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter), and the days, and the nights, will refresh themselves at the appointed space in time (every 24 hours), in perpetual intervals until GOD says, it is enough again. However, HE would never again cause total destruction upon the earth, and all living things.   
    In Genesis chapter 9, verses 1-15, we take up this great man’s story at a time, immediately following the world-ending Flood. Here Noah and his sons are instructed by GOD, just as Adam and Eve were, in the beginning, to be fruitful and multiply (“male”-pronounced “maw-lay”, which means to “replenish”) and fill the earth with human life.
    In the beginning, we must remember that, GOD also instructed Adam and Eve to eat only the vegetation of the land. However, this order came with one restriction, “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, and after their disobedience to this command from GOD, HE quickly had to remove them from the “Garden of Eden” before they had a chance to eat from the other tree at the center of the garden, the eternal “Tree of Life”.
    Once again, here GOD gives man dominion over the animals of the earth, but this time, HE allows man the use of all animals for food. This is not a contradiction to Deuteronomy 14:3-21, because man in those days did not live under the “Law of Moses”, which did not exist at that time, and was put in place much later on, to distinguish the Jewish lifestyle, which started with Abraham, from the rest of human society.
    Some believe that the stipulations that were placed on the Gentiles during the “Acts 15 Council” in the first century (Acts 15), by the Church leaders at Jerusalem, find their origins comprised here within the Rainbow Covenant. Despite the fact that the distinction between “clean” and “unclean” animals already existed (Genesis 7:2), GOD, nevertheless, here allows for the consumption of all plants and animals, by man. However, GOD did issued one restriction, and that was, that, man not eat an animal with its “lifeblood” still in it.
    Because we bear GOD’s “spiritual image” (GOD’s Nature), in HIS eyes, every human being is irreplaceable. In verses 5-7, it is important that we clearly understand that, the “Death sentence” which GOD imposes upon those who kill other human beings, is neither “retribution”, and nor, is it a “preventative measure” to guard against murder itself.
    Each and every human life is so significant to GOD that no penalty less than death, provides an adequate measure of value. It is the only way to impress upon man, the ultimate worth of an individual, in the eyes of GOD. Apparently GOD saw the necessity for a covenant that not only came in the form of a promise from HIM, but HE also reasoned that, there must be an obligation from man that he not take life lightly after seeing the devastation of the flood.
    GOD did not want the example of the flood’s destruction to be taken as a sign that HE placed a “cheap value” on human life. This covenant was to show that life is sacred, and that man must not destroy that which is “made in the spiritual image of GOD”. Man also needed to learn how to govern himself with “human laws” that would ensure the stability of nature, and, that wickedness would not run amok like it had before the flood. And so here we see, quite literally, “the birth of government into human society”.
    In verses 8-17 GOD makes a covenant with Noah that has come to be known as the “Rainbow Covenant”. Unlike the “Abrahamic Covenant” (Genesis 15), and the “Davidic Covenant” (2 Samuel 7) that would come later, it is a covenant that concerns all mankind forever, and not just the Jews. Throughout the history of the world, GOD has always dealt with man through various covenants, and here in this passage, we find the very first one.
    The next time we look up in the sky and see a Rainbow that spans to connect the Heavens to the earth, remember GOD’s promise of security to Noah, that comes across the spans of time to lend to us also, that same assurance of security. It is reminiscent of the security that CHRIST JESUS gives us, when we accept the covenant that was ushered in to us by HIM many years later, and signed in HIS OWN blood. It is a superior covenant that, unlike the Rainbow Covenant with Noah, reconnects us with GOD, and secures our future in Heaven.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



      

Friday, August 25, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 27, 2017

Over 137,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

CALLED TO BE INCLUDED IN THE KINGDOM
(GOD opens doors)
(Acts 10)

   Acts chapter 10 relates how GOD used Peter to open up the doors of the Christian Church to the Gentiles (Non-Jewish people) who desired to worship and follow HIM. The Gentiles had never been accepted by the Jews in any way, form, or fashion, and, were in fact, thought to be altogether “unclean” by Israel as a whole.
    Acts chapters 10 and 11 mark a dramatic turning point in Church history as we see for the first time, Gentiles hearing and responding positively, and corporately, to the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST. Here in chapter 10, Luke begins by introducing us to a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a devout worshiper of the GOD of Israel, and a Centurion over an Italian Regiment (100 men). Cornelius was a Gentile who feared GOD, prayed regularly, and gave generously to those whom he knew were in need. In fact, Cornelius was a Gentile who already had a personal, experiential relationship with GOD.
    In verses 3-6, Luke tells us that Cornelius experienced a vision where an angel from GOD delivers a message to him that, in essence, foretold of the upcoming overall acceptance of the Gentiles into the Church of CHRIST, starting with him and his family there in Caesarea.
    Here we see the stage being set for racial barriers to come down, and, for the gap to be bridged, first, between man and himself, and then ultimately, between man and GOD. In fact, we see quite literally here, our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, coming into focus as the personification of that bridge over the troubled waters that had long been stirred by human reasoning and prejudices. 
    The angel instructed Cornelius to send some men down to a city called Joppa, an ancient seaport located on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine, where they would find the Apostle Peter, one of the twelve disciples of JESUS, who was currently residing there. They were to petition Peter to come to Caesarea and share the message of the Good News about CHRIST JESUS, that GOD had given him.
    Meanwhile, in this not too distant city of Joppa, GOD had already placed Peter in a real-life situation where he was closely associating with a man named Simon, who would be deemed by the Jews to be “unclean” just by way of his occupation as a tanner of animal skins (a leatherworker). According to Jewish law, and based on Numbers 19, a person who touches the carcass of the dead shall be deemed unclean for a designated period of time, even beyond their cleansing process. And so Simon, whose job was to work with dead animals, continually existed in an unclean state by Jewish reasoning.
    Here in Acts chapter 10, verses 5-6, Luke tells us that Peter was actually living in the same house with Simon. Most Jews, at that time, would never have accepted hospitality from a person such as Simon because of his occupation. Nevertheless, Simon was still a Christian, and no doubt, by now, Peter had already begun to see that Christianity is intended by GOD to be all-inclusive, and to be a revolution against social and racial prejudices, as well as, against pride, and economic disparities.
    The day after Cornelius received his vision GOD visited Peter and provided him with a vision of his own. In Peter’s mid-day vision, GOD presents to him, the depiction of a sheet with all manner of animals in it that were traditionally deemed unclean to eat by Jewish standards. In this vision, a voice from Heaven commands Peter to kill and eat these animals. Peter, however, protests against this command saying that, “I have never in all my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws” (v.14). Then the voice of GOD tells Peter, “If GOD says something is acceptable, don’t say it isn’t” (v. 15) (NLT).
    This same vision was repeated to Peter three times, and then, the collection of animals ascended back into Heaven. Until that moment, Peter had always thought the Gentiles to be unclean to associate with in any way, but now, GOD was preparing him for the coming of, first, the Gentile Cornelius and his family, and then later, those of the entire Gentile existence, who wished to come into the body of CHRIST, and worship and serve HIM only.
    When Cornelius’ men arrived at Joppa they met with Peter and informed him of the details of their mission. Peter invited them to lodge for the night and the following day they all made the trip back to Caesarea. When they arrived back at Caesarea, Cornelius had gathered together several family members and was waiting to greet them. Cornelius fell to the floor before Peter, but the apostle demanded that he stand up and not show worship to another man, who, like him, is only human. Cornelius got up and they went inside with the others.   
    Peter began to speak by first telling the people who gathered how it was against Jewish law to even come inside the house of a Gentile, however, recently GOD had shown him that he should not look at anyone as being “impure”. And so he was ready to listen to what they all had to say, without prejudice, concerning why they had summoned him there. After telling Peter about his vision, Cornelius thanked him for coming and then stood there with great anticipation, waiting to hear the great and wonderful message that the LORD wanted Peter to share with him and his household. Then Peter replied;

“I see very clearly that GOD shows no favoritism.  In every nation HE accepts those who fear HIM and do what is right.  This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel, that there is peace with GOD through JESUS CHRIST, WHO is LORD of all. You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism.  And you know that GOD anointed JESUS of Nazareth with the HOLY SPIRIT and with power. Then JESUS went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for GOD was with him” (Vs.34-38)(NLT).
 
    The purpose of JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice on the cross was so that all men could have the opportunity to receive GOD’s offering of Salvation. JESUS died for all mankind in general, and for all Christians in particular. Through HIS sacrifice, all mankind can be restored back into a personal relationship of friendship with GOD.
    JESUS is the only bridge that can ever reconnect man with GOD. GOD includes all of us in HIS offer of Salvation, but we must, and can only volunteer to partake in this free, “limited time” offer. No one can ever exclude anyone else from this glorious offer, but rather, it is something that each individual must choose to do, or not do. To put it plainly, GOD does not send anyone to Heaven, or to Hell, but rather, we all, through our life’s choices, in essence, choose our own destination.
    In verses 34-35, Peter testifies of his new and enlightened understanding of GOD’s holy plans for the new Christian Church. He went on to preach the Good News to the Gentiles who were present (Vs. 34-43), and as a result, all of them received the HOLY SPIRIT and were baptized. And the Jewish believers who were present marveled at what they had seen, and how the power of the HOLY SPIRIT was acting upon the Gentiles in the same way that HE had acted upon them at Pentecost. And they all abided there with Cornelius for several more days, as Cornelius had requested it (Vs. 44-48).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, August 18, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 20, 2017

Over 136,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

CALLED TO PREACH
(Only GOD can change hearts)
(Acts 9:1-22)

   Before we can help a person to change, we must first show that person our love for them just as they are. In Acts chapter 9, verses 1-18, Luke gives us a vivid description, of the most famous, and perhaps, the most sweeping transformation of any human being in the annals of biblical literature. Here we see chronicled, the story of how Saul (the Apostle Paul) was converted by JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, one day on the road to Damascus, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, and the capital of Syria.
    Scripture tells us that Saul, who was apparently an important figure to the Libertines (a group of freed slaves who had converted to Judaism), was an arch-enemy of the Christians, who referred to themselves at that time as “Adherents of the way”. Remember the Libertines were the group that stoned Stephen to death back in Acts chapter 7, setting off a round of major persecutions against the followers of CHRIST in Jerusalem.
    Saul embodied a deep hatred for this so-called sect of the Nazarenes that followed and promoted the ideology of JESUS, and, who were gaining much in popularity following HIS death at Golgotha. Little did Saul know at the time, that Stephen’s death at Jerusalem would be used by GOD to birth, and force the spread of Christianity throughout the world, and, that he, would become the face of that radical movement.  
    The strong preaching and teaching of the original Apostles of CHRIST, and other early Church leaders such as Barnabas, Philip, and the like, had catapulted the Christian doctrine of “Good News” into a legitimate threat against the powerful Church of Judaism at Jerusalem. The Gospel of CHRIST was swiftly becoming accepted by vastly increasing numbers of Jewish converts, who were formally associated with Judaism.
    Here in Acts chapter 9, we find Saul, on a rampage, eager to destroy any of the followers of CHRIST who crossed his path. He goes to the High Priest and requests letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus asking their cooperation in the arrest of anyone proclaiming to be a follower of CHRIST that he found there. He wanted to bring them back to Jerusalem in chains to either, jail, beat, or stone them to death.
    However, as Saul was nearing Damascus on this mission of hate, he is overcome by a brilliant light from Heaven, beaming down to the earth and causing him to fall to his knees in helpless wonderment. Suddenly the voice of JESUS rang out saying, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? When Saul asks, “who are you?” The voice replies, “I am JESUS, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
    The men with Saul also heard this voice, but they saw no one, and they all stood speechless in utter amazement. Saul, now blind, rises to his feet, and is led by his companions, into Damascus. He abided there for three days, fasting, going totally without food or water.
    There was a believer in Damascus, by the name of Ananias, whom the LORD spoke to, in a vision. HE instructed Ananias to go over to “Straight Street”, the main thoroughfare in Damascus in those days, to the house of Judas, where Saul was residing. A protesting Ananias, who already knew of Saul’s exploits against the followers of CHRIST, is further instructed by JESUS to pray and lay hands on Saul, so that he would be healed of his blindness.
    Ananias reluctantly goes and finds Saul and lays hands on him, as CHRIST had instructed him to do, and the scales fell from Saul’s eyes. Saul is then baptized, and remains in Damascus with the believers for a few days. After being baptized and filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, Saul immediately begins to preach about JESUS in the Synagogues saying, “JESUS truly is the SON of the LIVING GOD!” 
    After Saul’s conversion, he abided in Damascus preaching about CHRIST for a few more days, and all who heard him were amazed at his transformation of doctrine, and, his behavior (his sudden surrender to CHRIST). They could hardly believe that this was the same man who had once terrorized the “Adherents of the Way” (followers of CHRIST) every chance he got. As Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful and effective, the Jews in Damascus were no longer able to refute his proofs that JESUS truly was, and indeed is, the MESSIAH.   
    It is a life-changing thing, getting to know, and then, becoming accustomed to practicing the Word of GOD. Getting to know CHRIST transforms our lives into something wonderful and new, and then, our commitment to that change, catapults us into everlasting freedom from Fear, Self, Other People, and finally, Sin. GOD is not willing that any should perish, and so HE, in HIS wonderful grace, offers this opportunity of change to all mankind, so that HIS grace and mercy towards us will win out over HIS judgment upon us.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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