Friday, December 30, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 1, 2012

A LIFE OF INTEGRITY
(Strive to live a life of integrity)
(Genesis 39)

Through Scripture, we learn that the LORD provides us with two “temptation barriers” to help us to avoid sin, one is “HIS goodness”, and the other is “HIS judgment”. In Genesis 39 we see an example of how the knowledge and experience of “GOD’s goodness” prevented Joseph, Israel’s favorite son, from committing adultery with his master, Potiphar’s, wife (Vs. 8-9).
After being sold into slavery by his brothers to a group of traveling Ishmaelites, Joseph had been subsequently re-sold to a man named Potiphar, who was the captain of the guards for the Pharaoh of Egypt. Joseph, through his faithful service to Potiphar, quickly rose to the position of supervisor over his master’s entire estate. The LORD was with Joseph and blessed him greatly in everything that he did, and HE also blessed Potiphar for Joseph’s sake (Vs. 1-6).
In the process of time, Potiphar’s wife became very attracted to Joseph, who scripture tells us, was a very handsome, well-built man. She began to pursue Joseph sexually, but he, time and time again, resisted her advances. He told her that her husband trusted him, and had been too good to him for him to do such wicked a thing. “He has entrusted me with everything that he has, and has withheld nothing from me, except you. No one on his staff has more authority than me. It would be a great sin against GOD”, he told her (Vs. 7-9).
On one occasion however, when Joseph was working alone inside the house, she saw him, and grabbed him and demanded that he sleep with her. Joseph, however, tore himself away from her and fled from the house as quickly as he could, leaving a piece of his garment clutched in her hands. Infuriated by Joseph’s continued rejections, she screamed for the guards and when they arrived, she told them that Joseph had tried to rape her, and she used his garment as proof that Joseph had been there. When she told Potiphar, he was furious at Joseph, and he had him thrown into prison (Vs. 11-19).
Now GOD continued to be with Joseph while he was in prison, just as HE was with him in Potiphar’s house. In both settings Joseph was a faithful servant to those who were in authority. The conviction and trust that he had, that GOD was with him in all circumstances, freed him up to do the very best he could do, no matter how great his setbacks were, or appeared to be.
Our faithfulness to a life of integrity can prepare us for whatever advancement we will receive from GOD, whenever things seem to be going downhill for us. Joseph’s faithfulness prepared him for those sudden advancements that GOD bestowed upon him every time it looked like things were getting worse.
When he was sold into the depths of slavery, GOD raised him to the heights of manager over his master’s estate. When he was thrown down into prison, GOD raised him up to be in charge of everything that went on inside the prison. Joseph was faithful with small things, and so GOD entrusted him with greater things, and HE will do the same with any who choose to live a life of integrity before HIM.
This story in the life of Joseph serves to remind us of the frequent advice of King Solomon where he warns us, time and time again, of the folly of yielding to the temptations of a flattering woman, or man, and thereby, destroying all chances of having a life of true service to GOD. Joseph did not yield to temptation because he was totally convinced that he would receive GOD’s goodness if he remained true to HIM. And he was not willing to throw away GOD’s blessings for a moment’s pleasure in sin, and it did not bother him if he had to suffer for righteousness sake. And that brings to mind, another great MAN of integrity, ONE whom we all know as, CHRIST JESUS.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, December 23, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 25, 2011

CELEBRATING PROMISES FULFILLED
(GOD’s promises are fulfilled in JESUS)
(Luke 1:46-55)

Luke 1:46-55 is a passage that, over the years, has become one of the great hymns of the Christian Church as a whole. This passage is known world-wide as the “Magnificat”. Magnificat is a term taken from the “Latin Vulgate”, the first Latin translation of the bible, written by Jerome at the end of the fourth century A.D., and it means, “My soul doth magnify the LORD”.
This song, composed by Mary, mother of JESUS, praises GOD’s favor on her and her people (Vs. 51-55). Some scholars tend to doubt that a young uneducated country girl, such as Mary, could have composed such a wonderful and prophetic poem, however, common sense dictates that she, or anyone else, who was in a close personal relationship with GOD, and were fairly familiar with the Old Testament passages which are alluded to in this song, is capable of expressing these thoughts of praise that we find here.
Apparently, Mary saw herself as a part of the GODly remnant that had served her LORD with all diligence. We see in verse 47, for instance, where she calls GOD, “my Savior”, shows she had a deep intimate knowledge of HIM. She also speaks of GOD’s faithfulness, power, holiness, and mercy in verses 48-50, showing that her relationship with GOD was an experiential one.
This timeless stretch of biblical literature, has, contained within it, four distinct parts which should be noted by every reader. First, there is “great personal adoration and thanks to GOD” (Vs. 46-48). In the biblical Greek, the word “makarizo” (mak-ar-id-zo) is used in verse 46 for “blessed”, and it actually means “supremely blest”, or, “beatified”. It describes, in this passage, what it is like to be “indwelt by GOD, and thereby, fully satisfied”. Mary was completely satisfied and honored by the wonderful, and unexpected way, in which GOD chose to use her body for HIS purpose.
Then secondly, there is “a celebration of GOD’s attributes” (Vs. 49-50). Mary celebrated GOD’s goodness and she cherished all that HE had done for her, and she also appreciated the fact that HIS mercy extended throughout all generations, for all times.
Thirdly, we see her “acclaim GOD for correcting pride, social injustice, and economic disparities” (Vs. 51-53). In these three verses we see “GOD’s three great moral revolutions”. These moral rebellions can also be found in the make-up of Christianity. We see, first of all, “GOD’s revolution against pride (v.51), where Mary notes that, “GOD scatters the proud and haughty ones” (NLT). When Christianity is practiced properly, it automatically means death to pride. A person cannot possibly set their life beside the life of CHRIST without, first, tearing every ounce of pride from him, or herself.
Next we see “GOD’s revolution against social injustice” (v.52) “HE has taken the princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly” (NLT). When Christianity is practiced properly, it means death to social injustice. It puts an end to race, labels, and prestige, because what CHRIST did for one, HE intended for all. No man is favored in the eyes of GOD, but also, we can call no man worthless, or common, for whom JESUS CHRIST has died. HE died for all men in general, and all Christians, in particular.
And then, there is “GOD’s revolution against economic disparity” (v.53) “HE has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands” (NLT). When Christianity is practiced properly, it means death to economic disparity and greed. A Christian society is a community of believers who dares to have too much, while others don’t even have enough. The attitude of a believer in CHRIST JESUS, is one that desires to have more, in order that they may have more to give away.
In the fourth and final part (Vs. 54-55), we see “Mary giving GOD praise for the mercy shown to Israel”. There she cites that, “How GOD has helped HIS servant Israel! HE has not forgotten HIS promise to be merciful. HE promised our ancestors, Abraham and his children, to be merciful to them forever” (NLT).
Even at her young age we can clearly see that Mary knew for sure that her blessing and charge of giving birth to the SON of GOD was not all about her, but rather, it was about a covenant promise that was established with Abraham and her fore-fathers, long before she was ever thought about.
It was William Barclay who wrote, concerning this wonderful passage of scripture, that, “There is loveliness in the Magnificat, but within that loveliness, there is also, dynamite”. And he was right. And so Mary went on to birth our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, and JESUS CHRIST birthed Christianity into the world, and Christianity birthed a revolution in mankind against pride, social injustice, and economic disparity, and mankind must now take up that fight, and continue that revolution throughout the world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, December 16, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 18, 2011

PASSING THE TEST
(We must faithfully obey GOD through all of our trials)
(Genesis 22)

GOD chose Abraham’s family as a vehicle to bring salvation to the whole world. The Holy Bible traces Abraham’s steps from Ur to Haran, through the land of Palestine, into Egypt, and then, back into Palestine. However, the most significant trip of Abraham’s 175-year life was the 50-mile journey that he takes in Genesis 22, from Beer-sheba to Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah, which was later named, Mount Gerizim, became, and remained, the Jews key place of worship until King David moved the worship center to Jerusalem, early on in his reign.
In Genesis 22 GOD decides to test Abraham’s faith and obedience in a most profound way. HE commanded him to take his son, Isaac, to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering. Now actually, GOD never really intended for his beloved Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the only son he had left, after being told by HIM to send Ishmael away, a short time earlier. In fact, GOD did not even allow child sacrifices to be practiced among the Israelites at all, however, it was in common practice among the surrounding Canaanite nations, and Abraham must have been well aware of that. However, in order for it to be a real test from GOD, one that was designed to prove faith, it had to defy human logic, and it had to be something that Abraham wanted very badly to resist doing.
Surprisingly, in verse 3, Abraham, instead of protesting, rose up early the next morning, and seemingly, almost enthusiastically, prepares himself to set out on a three-day journey so that he could fully obey and carry out the command of GOD.
After arriving at Mount Moriah, we see two statements by Abraham that prophetically reveals his faith in what GOD had previously told him concerning HIS covenant with him, which included Isaac (Gen. 17:19). First of all, in verse 5, Abraham tells his servants to “Stay with the donkey, the boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there (on Mount Moriah), and then we will come right back”.
Then, in verse 8, in response to his son Isaac’s question of, “Where is the lamb for sacrifice?” Abraham tells him, GOD will provide a lamb my son”. These two statements by Abraham show that even in his sub-conscience, he had full trust and faith in the LORD, and he had come to trust HIM more completely as the years went by. He knew that GOD expected him to obey, and he was willing to go the distance, sacrificing the only son he had left, at an age that far exceeded 100 years old. And the writer of the Book of Hebrews (Heb. 11:19) says that he also reasoned that GOD could raise Isaac from the dead if need be, in order to keep HIS Covenant.
There is a three-step lesson in “faith” that is timeless, and it will benefit us all to learn it at as early an age as possible. Abraham had to learn it in his lifetime, and so do we as Christians living in the twenty-first century. The Apostle Paul lists “faith” as one of the three great enduring things, along with “hope” and “love” (1 Cor. 13:13). It has not changed since the beginning, and it will not change throughout the rest of eternity.
We must learn first that “faith always obeys completely, the Word of GOD”. Secondly, “faith surrenders the best to GOD, and holds nothing back”. And thirdly, “faith always waits on GOD to provide all that is needed in life”.
Throughout scripture, the lamb is presented as the primary, and most frequently requested sacrificial animal by GOD, and, in fact, over time has become the personification, or symbol of innocence and harmlessness. Here in Genesis 22, Abraham was fully willing to sacrifice his innocent, harmless son up to GOD on the fire, and there is no evidence in this passage, that even suggests to us, that Isaac went kicking and screaming as his father placed him there.
Symbolically, JESUS, the innocent, harmless LAMB of GOD, did willing go to the cross to sacrifice HIMSELF, in agreement with the Will of HIS FATHER GOD. HE did not go kicking and screaming, but rather, HE went willingly, and was non-resistant. HE took our place, just as the ram that was caught in the bush, took Isaac’s place on the fire. And now, as a result, today every man, woman, and child, that has faith enough to “pass the test” and “believe GOD”, has what it takes to overcome the gravitational pull of this world, and enter “for free”, on the sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS, into the Kingdom of Heaven.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, December 9, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 11, 2011

BELIEVING THE IMPOSSIBLE
(Faith means seeing beyond what seems possible)
(Genesis 15)

In Genesis chapter 15, verses 1-6, we see one of the most defining passages on faith that can be found anywhere else in all of scripture. This passage underscores the argument by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 4, where he debates that “Justification” and “Salvation” are imputed to us by GOD, because of our faith in HIM, and, that those gifts from GOD have never been given as a result of our so-called “good works”.
In the biblical Greek, the word “logizomai” (log-i-zom-ahee) is used to describe what takes place when GOD accredits us with righteousness that we could not otherwise earn, just as HE did with Abram in this passage. Logizomai is an accounting term that means “to reckon”, or, “to make an entry in the account book”. The doctrine of “imputation” is taught throughout the Old and New Testaments. To “impute” means “to accredit someone other than the one who is responsible”.
Scripture teaches us that, when we believe GOD, HE, WHO keeps all record books, looks into our accounts and clearly sees that we are not righteous. HE then, through HIS grace and mercy, chooses to accept our faith in HIM, in place of that lack of righteousness. In other words, for those who have faith in HIM (CHRIST JESUS), GOD will stamp the word “RIGHTEOUS” over their accounts, and announce that their debt is covered, or, is paid in full, through the blood of CHRIST JESUS.
Here we see Abram (Abraham), on faith, accepting GOD’s divine promise of a son, to be born of his own flesh, even though it seemed physically impossible for he and Sarai (Sarah) in their old age, which was, at that time, 100 years old, and 90 years old, respectively. Also in this passage, one should note that at that time, Abram had not yet been circumcised as a sign of his covenant with GOD, and, that the Law (The Ten Commandments), which was delivered by Moses was still some 400 years away. Therefore, neither circumcision, nor, Abram’s strict obedience to the Law factored in GOD’s decision to declare him “righteous” (Gen. 15:6). It was only through Abram’s “trusting faith” in GOD that GOD afforded him the distinction of being “righteous”, and, in addition, granted him the gift of eternal life (salvation).
In verses 7-8 of this chapter of Genesis, we find that, after Abram believed in GOD to deliver the seemingly impossible feat of presenting he and his wife Sarai with the birth of a child of their own flesh in their old age, he now, strangely wavers when GOD added the promise that he would also give the entire land of Canaan to his offspring. And actually, that’s not so surprising when we consider the fact that we too, after we’ve exercised great faith in GOD on one occasion, have on a later occasion, failed to show the same measure of faith.
Many of us struggle with maintaining a high level of faith, over a long period of time. Hopefully, through a closer, more personal, experiential relationship with GOD, we can overcome our pattern of inconsistency in trusting in the LORD for all things, just as Abram managed to do later on in his life.
In verses 9-10 GOD instructs Abram in a sacrificial ritual that was known as a “Covenant of Blood”. Abram is obedient to GOD’s instructions, as he gathers up, and cuts into halves, three animal sacrifices; a three-year old heifer, a three-year old female goat, and a three-year old ram. He also brought the LORD two bird sacrifices, a turtledove, and a young pigeon, the two of which, he did not sever in halves. This “Covenant of Blood” was considered to be the most binding of all covenants in Old Testament times, and it was always formalized by GOD’s “passing through” the divided halves of the sacrificial animals, an act which HE apparently used to consummate the deal (v. 17).
In verse 11 we see vultures (birds of prey), which, in this passage represent a “bad omen” for Israel’s near future, and would later turn out to be their enslavement in Egypt. Abram was eventually able to “shoo” these birds away, who were trying to devour GOD’s covenant sacrifices which he had prepared. Satan will always oppose, and try to destroy any of man’s dealings with GOD, however, in the ensuing verses, 12-16, GOD shows Abram in a dream, how Israel would be preyed upon and oppressed by Egypt, but would eventually be rescued, as GOD would “shoo” Egypt away in the end, and they would ultimately come away from Egypt with great wealth (Vs. 13-14).
In the Hebrew, the word used for “believed”, in verse 6 is “aman” (aw-mawn), and it simply means “to be certain”. It is a word that sets our mind on the absolute trust that Abram had in GOD. Abram’s story is perhaps, scripture’s greatest example of a man who possessed a “saving faith” that GOD would always deliver on HIS promises, no matter how impossible it may seem to the human thought process.
Abraham’s righteousness was won by strong faith in GOD, and he was fully persuaded, that GOD would do just what HE said HE would do. He came to know, just as we must all come to know, that GOD’s power is not bound by our understanding, and neither is it bound by our lack of understanding.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, December 2, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 4, 2011

CHOOSING TO FOLLOW GOD
(GOD blesses and leads those who follow HIM)
(Genesis 12)

Genesis chapters 12-50 gives us details about the origins of the Hebrew race, starting with Abraham and Sarah. After relating the story of how sin was first introduced into the world, and, its catastrophic effect on mankind in chapters 1-11, Moses now informs us about the onset of GOD’s plan to bless all nations through HIS seed, which was ultimately CHRIST JESUS.
Abram, whose name GOD changed to “Abraham”, was born in the fabled city of Ur. At that time, about 4200 years ago, Ur was a rich Sumerian influenced city, which was located along the Euphrates River. Its people, culture, and language were heavily influenced by the ancient people of Sumer, who were Babylonians, probably of non-Semitic origin, and, who had established one of the earliest and greatest civilizations of the fourth millennium B.C.
The Sumerians were widely known for their monumental architecture, vast wealth, comfortable homes, music, and fine art. While Abram lived there in his father’s house, he worshiped many other gods, as he had become a product of his environment (Joshua 24:2). However, once GOD spoke to him, he left his father’s house and traveled to the land of Canaan, where, along his journey, he lived a nomadic lifestyle, in tents, for nearly 100 years.
Abraham is the towering figure to whom the Jews trace their origin as GOD’s chosen people. Today he is revered by the followers of three great world religions; Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. He is all-important to us today for two reasons. First of all, we cannot even begin to understand the Old Testament, until we can come to see it as an outworking of the promises that GOD first delivered to him as a man, personally. Secondly, as we meditate on his story, we are able to pick up many, many tidbits and principles that we can utilize today, to enhance our own personal lives and our own personal relationship with GOD.
Abraham was called out from a life of fraternizing and socializing with people who sought after many gods, and who had long ago, fallen in love with themselves, and the things that they could make or buy, by way of their creativity and financial power. At age 75, he left the bling bling and glamour of this ritzy society in order that he might have a personal relationship with the only wise living GOD of the universe, and GOD rewarded him with everlasting fame, honor, and glory from on high. And even though he quickly stumbled, (while feeling the pressure of a severe drought – Gen. 12:10) by moving to Egypt without the divine direction of GOD, putting himself and his family in certain danger, he was able to recover because he never once thought about permanently abandoning his instructions from GOD. He had found himself in his first situation where he had to trust GOD totally, and he obviously failed that test. In his mind, he was only trying to mitigate his own losses and circumstances by moving his family and property out of harm’s way, and into a more livable situation, which he saw in the land of Egypt (Gen. 12:11-16).
Abraham temporarily strayed from GOD’s plan to incorporate a human plan of his own, and he almost paid for it with his own life. However, GOD, WHO knows all hearts, intervened with HIS mercy, and delivered Abraham and his whole family, intact, from the anger of the scorned Pharaoh of Egypt.
There are very striking parallels between this move by Abraham, and the later move by Israel, through Joseph, to find refuge from famine by sojourning in Egypt. For instance, the famine in the land (Gen. 12:10 & 47:13), the descent into Egypt (Gen. 12:10 & 47:27), the attempt to kill the male and save the female (Gen. 12:12 & Ex. 1:22), the plagues on Egypt (Gen. 12:17 & Ex. 7:14-11:10), the spoiling of Egypt (Gen. 12:16 & Ex. 12:35-36), the deliverance (Gen. 12:19 & Ex. 15), and the ascent to the Negev (Gen. 13:1 & Num. 13:17, 22). And so we see, in essence, the great deliverance of Israel from Egypt had already been accomplished by GOD, through its ancestor Abraham many years earlier.
As we view the particulars of the “Abrahamic Covenant”, we can see seven “I will” promises (Genesis chapter 12, verses 1-7), that has either already been fulfilled, or, are being fulfilled right now. They are as follows;
(1). I will make you into a great nation (vs. 2a)
(2). I will bless you (vs. 2b)
(3). I will make you famous (vs. 2b)
(4). I will make you a blessing to others (vs. 2b)
(5). I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you (vs. 3a)
(6). I will bless all of the people of the earth through you (vs. 3b)
(7). I will give this land (Palestine) to your offspring (vs. 7a)
After choosing to follow GOD, Abraham set out upon a faith journey that grew stronger and stronger with each passing day. And out of reverence and respect for GOD, Abraham made it his custom to build commemorative altars of worship to GOD, almost everywhere he went, namely those in Shechem and Bethel. They helped him to remember GOD’s covenant promise with him, and also gave him strength and encouragement to continue on his 500 mile journey, on foot, from Ur to Canaan.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, November 25, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 27, 2011

PUTTING WORRY TO REST
(Putting worry in its place)
(Matthew 6:25-34)

GOD has already built into HIS creation, all of the means by which all living things can be cared for. Everything that we need to survive has always existed with us in this world. In the biblical Greek, the word “merimnao” (mer-im-nah-o) is used to convey the idea to “take no thought of” in the old King James Version, and “do not worry about” in the New King James, and New Living Translation versions of the bible. It is a phrase that is used several times by JESUS in Matthew chapter 6, verses 25-34, in HIS landmark “Sermon on the Mount”. In these ten verses JESUS uses seven illustrations in defense of HIS argument against “worrying” about things that only GOD THE FATHER has control over.
He begins first, in verse 25, by pointing out the obvious fact that, if GOD gives us life, why wouldn’t HE give us the food and other necessities required in sustaining that life. A mature Christian should have no difficulty trusting GOD to provide them with their daily bread, clothing, and other needs.
The second point JESUS makes, in verse 26, is HIS illustration of the birds of the air, and how they are fed daily by HIS Heavenly FATHER. And even though the birds do work diligently, as we all should, they do not worry about stockpiling large amounts of food. They, instead, just continue to stay busy, working and concerning themselves only with what supplements they need for the current day. Could it be that they understand something about GOD that we don’t?
In HIS third point, verse 27, JESUS attempts to show how useless worry can be, as HE points out that, no one can advance, neither their physical stature, nor their length of days and years, by constantly worrying.
In HIS fourth point, verses 28-30, JESUS turns our attention to the lilies of the fields, and how they grow daily through a natural process. In the first century, the flowers that JESUS was probably alluding to were the scarlet poppies and anemones that bloomed and blossomed on the hillsides of Palestine. In their one-day life-spans, they were clothed in a beauty that was unsurpassed, even by King Solomon, when he was dressed in his finest garbs. JESUS reasoned that, if GOD gives such beauty of array to the lowly, short-lived flowers, how much more will HE clothe us? Not only will GOD clothe us, but HE will clothe us with a beauty that goes way beyond man’s ability to imitate.
JESUS’ fifth point of argument against worrying is a very fundamental one. In verse 32 HE reminds us that worry shows distrust in GOD, and a total lack of faith in GOD’s ability to do what HE says HE can and will do for us. It is a characteristic of a pagan, or unbeliever, who is still fool enough to think that they can take matters into their own hands and succeed without help from GOD, even though they may have continued to fail miserably in life, over and over again.
In points six and seven, JESUS gives us two ways that we can defeat worry. The first is that we make the “Kingdom of GOD” our primary concern. The familiar Christian advice that we should “seek ye first the Kingdom of GOD, and all the rest, will be added unto you” comes to mind in this statement. To be in the Kingdom, and to do the will of GOD are one in the same thing, and so, therefore, doing and accepting GOD’s Will is the primary way to defeat “worry”.
Finally, JESUS informs us that we can also defeat worry, pretty much the same way that the birds do, and that is, by taking one day at a time. GOD is in control yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and only HE knows, in advance, what each day will bring. Through CHRIST JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice on the cross, HE has saved us from our past evils. Through HIS mercies and grace, HE provides for us in the present, day by glorious day. And through HIS lending to us, HIS HOLY SPIRIT, HE wants to guide us into a future of obedience to HIS Will, even though HE does not promise us a tomorrow.
The great 20th century Apologist, William Barclay, summed it all up this way, “If each day is lived as it comes, and each task is done as it appears, then the sum of all days is bound to be good. It is JESUS’ advice that we should handle the demands of each day as it comes, without worrying about the unknown future, and those things, which may never happen”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, November 18, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 20, 2011

PRAYING AS GOD’S PEOPLE
(Sincere prayer reveals your heart toward GOD)
(Matthew 6:1-18)

In Matthew chapter 6, verses 1-18, in the middle of HIS, now famous, “Sermon on the Mount”, JESUS attempts to show HIS followers, then and now, just who they need to satisfy in order to receive those Christian rewards that will be everlasting to the recipient. In this particular segment, JESUS begins HIS teachings on three very important issues concerning the “Christian Walk”. HE wants HIS followers to have the kind of attitude, or, “spiritual mindedness” that will reflect that of HIS OWN. HE seeks to instill in them, these three things that a Christian must obtain, and, maintain, if they are to be successful in the eyes of GOD; (1) The correct attitude towards “giving”, (2) The correct attitude towards “prayer”, and (3) The correct attitude towards “fasting”. He also gives us HIS, now famous, “blueprint on how we should pray”, better known as “The LORD’s Prayer”, which I will address separately.
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “hypocrites” is “hupokrites” (hoop-ok-ree-tace), and it describes “one whose whole life is a piece of acting” or, one who pretends to be what one is not”. Now, throughout this passage JESUS urges HIS followers not to let hypocrisy define their daily walk, and also, not to be seekers of the rewards of men. In verses 1-4, HE introduces the subject of “giving”. HE begins by warning us to be careful not to do our good deeds publicly, just so we can be admired by men. In other words, we should not give as hypocrites do. When we give to those in need, make sure that we don’t go around announcing and talking about it, blowing our own horn, and calling attention to ourselves. We should “not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing”. Any gift given in secret, for a GODly cause, is a gift-giving action that will be rewarded by GOD WHO sees you.
In verses 5-7, JESUS warns us not to pray as hypocrites do, you know the ones I mean, those who love to pray in public just so everyone can see and hear them pray, but they never pray in private. Blessed is the person who prays in private. JESUS also instructs us not to babble on and on with long, drawn out repetitive prayers as if we were trying to demonstrate who can pray the longest among us. GOD already knows our needs, even before we utter the first word. Our prayers only need to be earnest, and come from the heart, and, be faith-based. They have to neither be long, nor public, to be effective. The effectiveness of prayer is based on the righteousness of the petitioner (James 5:15-16)
In verses 9-13, JESUS attempts to show HIS original disciples, and us, just how we should pray. Before we get into details, there are certain general facts that should be noted. First of all, this divine example is a directive that teaches us how to pray, and is not a prayer, in and of itself. It is a “blueprint” by which we are to pattern our daily petitions to GOD.
Secondly, it is a prayer that only a “disciple”, or “true follower” of CHRIST can pray. By that I mean, only a person who is committed to GOD can pray this kind of prayer with any meaning or effectiveness. And finally, it is not a child’s prayer, as it has often been stated, and, as many of us have been led to believe. In fact, it is not even meaningful for a child at all. It is a prayer for those who have reached an age of accountability, and only out of the heart of a person that is truly committed to GOD, does this prayer, or any prayer realize its full meaning. And with that said, let us now analyze this terse, but brilliant petition, which JESUS handed down to us that day from the very slopes of the “Mount of Beatitudes” (present day Mount Eremos) on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee in far-off Palestine.
The first line in this model prayer identifies just who our prayer is addressed to, “Our FATHER which art in Heaven”. Following that statement, the first three pronouncements in this prayer deals with GOD and HIS glory, “Hallowed be THY name”, “Thy Kingdom comes”, THY will be done in Earth, as it is in Heaven”. And so, we see here, that, GOD has to first be given HIS supreme place, before we can turn our thoughts to ourselves, our needs, and our desires. Only when GOD is given HIS proper place in our lives, can everything else in our lives fall into place.
Now, we can turn to our needs, which is just what the next three petitions in this prayer are about. In fact, they actually deal with the three basic essential needs of man, those being, “maintenance of life”, “forgiveness”, and “help with temptation”. They also deal with the three spheres of time, through which all mankind must travel, “the present”, “the past”, and, “the future”.
“Give us this day our daily bread” turns our thoughts, once again, to “GOD THE FATHER”, the creator and sustainer of all of life. HE is the ONE who covers us in the “present” and so this petition brings “our needs of the present” to the throne of GOD.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” turns our thoughts to “GOD THE SON”, our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, the GOD-appointed, ultimate judge. This petition brings our “past” before the throne of GOD. It is the sacrifice of JESUS on the cross that clears us of “past behavior”, and re-establishes us into a right relationship with GOD (Salvation). At that point we are given “justification” and GOD begins to treat us as though we never sinned at all.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” turns our thoughts to “GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT”, our GOD-appointed Comforter, Strengthener, and Guide. This petition commits our “future” into the hands of GOD. The HOLY SPIRIT within us will always compel us towards CHRIST, even as the “Sin Nature” in us tries to tug us back towards the World. Whenever we follow the prompting of the HOLY SPIRIT, we will always do that which is right, as opposed to doing that which is wrong.
And so we see in these three petitions, JESUS teaching us to lay our past, present, and future on the mercy of the grace of GOD. This blueprint shows us how to bring the “whole of life” (our past, our present, and our future) to the “whole of GOD” (GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON, GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT).
Prayer should never be an attempt to bend the will of GOD, but rather, should always be aimed towards submitting our wills TO the will of GOD. And then we “fast” to teach ourselves to have self-control over the desires of the flesh, and, to teach us how to “eat to live”, rather than “live to eat”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, November 11, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 13, 2011

LOVING AS GOD’S PEOPLE
(Loving those who you perceive to be your enemies)
(Matthew 5:43-48 & Luke 6:27-36)

Just like in today’s society, the people of the first century, during JESUS’ day, could understand pretty well how they should love their family and friends, and even their next door neighbors in some instances, but there was no way they could accept the statement from JESUS, “Love your enemy as yourself”. In fact, they considered hating their enemies as being the right thing to do. It boggled their minds, this concept that JESUS taught, about loving someone who was mistreating you, or seeking to do you hurt and harm.
In Matthew chapter 5, verses 43-48, and Luke 6:27-36, JESUS re-introduces us to a love that is not of the fleshly variety, but rather, is of the spiritual “agape” kind of charity that GOD has for all mankind, believers and unbelievers. It is a kind of “unconditional love” that actually defines just who GOD is, and then, overflows into a fountain of blessings, prayers, attitudes, and actions that can change the heart of any person who may be in opposition to you or yours.
The Pharisees wrongly taught that the Jews should love those who were near and dear to them, and hate their enemies. By this kind of teaching, they were errantly implying that “their hatred” was “GOD’s means” of judging their enemies. It was a terrible misinterpretation of Leviticus 19:18. JESUS taught that GOD’s love extended to everyone, even to those whom we perceive to be our enemies. And since GOD’s love extends to everyone, we, as Christians, need to make ourselves more of a “channel of GOD’s love”, by striving to love all mankind as ourselves.
Here in these passages of Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels, JESUS talks about seven aspects of agape love. And because of our “sin nature”, these seven things are not naturally done by man, and require the supernatural interceding of GOD, through the HOLY SPIRIT, in order for us to achieve such a high state of righteousness.
These seven aspects include; (1) Loving our enemy, (2) Doing good to those who hate us, (3) Blessing those who curse us, (4) Praying for those who mistreat us, (5) Resisting the urge for revenge against those whom we feel have wronged us, (6) Giving freely without the expectation of being paid back, and finally (7) Always treating others the way we want to be treated (otherwise known as “The Golden Rule”). In order to successfully and consistently do all these things, especially to people that we don’t know or like, one has to be “inspired to love” by the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD.
JESUS wants us to show the same attitudes toward each other, that GOD HIMSELF shows to us. This kind of love will set us apart from the world, and allow us to emulate the ways of GOD in Heaven, while yet living here on earth. This kind of behavior will clearly show the world at large, that, Christianity really does produce the best men and women.
And finally, in Matthew 5:48, JESUS makes yet another “rock hard statement” that most Christians still struggle with, here in this, the twenty-first century. There JESUS says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your FATHER which is in Heaven is perfect” (KJV). In the biblical Greek, the word used for “perfect” is “teleios” and it has nothing to do with what we might call abstract, philosophical, or metaphysical perfection. What JESUS is saying here is that, if we are to be righteous, we must be as GOD is, mature and holy, compassionate and merciful. If we are to be children of GOD, then, that means that we must be GOD-like people in our behavior. Murder, lust, hatred, deception, and thoughts of retaliation are not a part of GOD’s make-up, or HIS nature, and so, if we are to share GOD’s nature, those things must not be a part of our make-up either. Therefore, “perfect”, in the Greek sense of the word, is “functional”, it goes to how we behave in life, towards GOD, and, towards each other.
Something is perfect when it reaches the full maturity, or realization of its purpose. For instance, a student who has reached a mature knowledge of his subject of study has perfected it, and can now enter into that field which he has long studied, and become an expert through experience and practice. Likewise, a man who has realized, through the study of GOD’s Word, the purpose for which GOD created him, and sent him into the world, the same has now matured to the point where he can now serve GOD to the fullest of his GOD-given capacity.
GOD will not lower HIS standards to accommodate mankind, but rather, HIS standards will remain high, and indeed, perfect. And although HIS standards will never be met, or lived up to by man, GOD still expects that we will aspire to meet those standards, and even consider it our unreachable goal in life.
Now one might say, “Ah! If the goal is unreachable, why bother, or why waste our time trying to attain it?” However, even though this standard may never be perfectly met by any man except JESUS, a person who has faith in GOD will enjoy, by striving toward those standards, a righteousness, that is being reproduced in his or her life, every single moment that they remain focused on that goal, during their Christian Walk.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, November 4, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 6, 2011

FULFILLING THE LAW
(Practice and teach the laws of the kingdom, and preserve reverence and respect)
(Matthew 5:17-26)

In Matthew chapter 5, verses 17-20, JESUS rejects the charges of religious critics, namely the Scribes and Pharisees, that HE was seeking to abolish any of GOD’s laws, or the writings of GOD’s prophets with HIS teachings. Here JESUS expresses HIS total allegiance to the writings and laws of the Old Testament, and in fact, just like the Mosaic Law itself, JESUS’ teachings are meant to reveal any human behavior that is contrary to GOD’s will. JESUS also sought to reveal those human attitudes, values, and motives that must be transformed if we are to shape and harmonize our lives into a form and symphony that is pleasing to the eyes and ears of GOD.
Time and time again, JESUS violated what the Jewish hierarchy called “our law”. HE did not observe the silly hand-washing rituals, for instance, that, their law called for, nor, did HE refrain from performing HIS miraculous healings on the Sabbath days. Sadly, in the end, JESUS was crucified, in part, as a law-breaker, because HIS rebellious acts defied the authority of the Scribes and Pharisees, and rendered their man-made rules and regulations worthless.
The expression “The Law” was used by the Jewish leaders in four different ways. First, it meant “The Ten Commandments”. Secondly, they used it to mean “The Pentateuch”, the first five books of the Bible. The word “Pentateuch” literally means “The five Rolls”, or “Scrolls”. These five “Law Books” (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy) which were written by Moses, were to them, the most important part of the Scriptures. Thirdly, they liked to use the phrase “The Law and the prophets”, which meant “the whole of Scripture”. To them it was a comprehensive description of the entire Old Testament as they knew it at that time. And finally, and most commonly, they referred to the term, the “Oral”, or “Scribal Laws”, which were more about them, than about GOD. It was these Scribal Laws that so infuriated JESUS, (and later, the Apostle Paul) that HE utterly condemned them for creating them.
The Jewish Scribes insisted that, out of GOD’s Law, it was possible to deduce a rule and regulation for every possible situation in life. And so they set about the business of dedicating their lives to reducing GOD’s great principles of Law, down to literally thousands of rules and regulations, and then they compelled the people to adhere to them. All manner of minor physical endeavors became classified as “work”, that could not be engaged in on the Sabbath Day. For instance, they defined work as lifting any weight greater than that of a dried fig, a swallow of milk, or ink enough to write two alphabets. To carry anything above those weighs on the Sabbath was considered by them to be a burden, and thereby, a violation of GOD’S Law.
The Scribes came up with these silly rules and regulations, and the Pharisees enforced them. And so, to the strict orthodox Jew of the first century, serving GOD became a matter of them striving to keep these thousands, upon thousands of legalistic, and very petty man-made laws, instead of just adhering to GOD’s Law.
Here in this passage of Matthew’s Gospel account, verses 17-22, JESUS makes it clear that He doesn’t have a problem with Moses’ writings, or the writings of the prophets. HE says it is those laws that HE came to uphold, defend, and fulfill. It was the laws of the Scribes and Pharisees, the false teachers, whom JESUS had a problem with. HE tells these wicked leaders in verse 19 that, “If you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys GOD’s Laws and teaches others to do the same will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven” (NLT).
Now at first that sounds like maybe a false teacher can go into the Kingdom of Heaven anyway, until you read JESUS’ follow-up statement in verse 20. There JESUS warns that, “Unless you obey GOD better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter into the Kingdom of Heaven at all” (NLT).
That had to be a shocking statement for all who were present that day to hear it, and for all those who were later told about it, by those who heard it. It is no wonder that JESUS’ next statement (verse 21) is concerning “murder” and “anger”. A fly on the wall could tell you that the Scribes and the Pharisees, who were present at that moment, were probably angry enough to crucify JESUS right then and there. Maybe JESUS was reminding HIS stunned adversaries of the consequences of such an act, after seeing the looks on their faces. JESUS also talks about the dangerous repercussions of “fire and brimstone judgment” one would face, even for calling a person an idiot, or cursing them, which they were probably doing to JESUS right about then (verse 22).
In verses 23-26, JESUS goes on to remind them that if they are standing before the altar in the temple offering sacrifices to GOD and are reminded that someone has something against them. Leave the sacrifice at the altar, and then, go and be reconciled to that person. Afterwards you will be clear to come and offer sacrifice to GOD. And do it quickly, JESUS warns, while you still have time.
At its core, this passage is mostly about reverence and respect, and JESUS came to show men, in real life, just what reverence for GOD, and respect for our fellowman is really like. Justice consists of giving to GOD, and to man, that which is their just due. Reverence and respect does not consist of sacrifice, as much as it does, of mercy; it does not consist of legalism, but rather, it consists of love; it does not consist of prohibitions which demand that men should NOT DO, but rather, it consists of instructions on HOW TO DO, using the positive commandment of love.
The message that JESUS is seeking to convey in this passage is that the “reverence” and “respect”, which is the foundation of the Ten Commandments, will never be allowed to pass away. They represent the eternal make-up of a man’s relationship with GOD, and, his relationship with his fellowman.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, October 28, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 30, 2011

LIVING AS GOD’S PEOPLE
(GOD blesses those who realize their need for HIM)
(Matthew 5:1-12)

JESUS’, now famous, “Sermon on the mount” demonstrates the standard of righteousness that GOD demands from each of us who profess to be interested in following HIM. Some of these standards are laid out to us in general terms, while others are very specific. There are also others that are apocalyptic in nature, as they refer to, or pertain to, future times.
In Matthew chapters 5-7, the Apostle Matthew highlights JESUS’ most well-known sermon, “The Sermon on the Mount”. It is a discourse which took place on an unknown mountaintop, somewhere in Galilee, and probably near Capernaum, nearly 2000 years ago. There JESUS begins HIS sermon with a series of statements that serve to gradually shape the attitude of those who choose to follow HIM.
In the New Testament Greek, the word used for “blessed” is “makarios” (mak-ar-ree-os) and it describes that “joy” which finds its secret within itself. It is a joy that is serene and untouchable. It is self-contained and is totally independent and immune to the oppressions of this world. It is an attitude that is not affected by the chances and changes of everyday life. It is, in fact, “a Heavenly state of being” that JESUS is speaking of here, when HE first introduces the world to HIS list of “Beatitudes” in Matthew chapter 5, verses 2-11.
Here in this passage, if one looks closely, he can clearly see the difference between “happiness” and “joy”. We already know, through our many life experiences, that happiness is temporal, and tends to leave us every time something goes wrong in our lives. Every time we experience problems and adversity, happiness is the first thing out the door. That is why GOD does not promise us happiness, but rather, HE assures us that, with HIM, we will always have a “joy” that will transcend the sorrows and trials of this world. HE wishes to “bless” us, and to bless us, is to give us a joy that cannot be found in the people and things of this world, but can only be found in CHRIST JESUS. With JESUS, we will be able to experience the bliss of a “permanent joy” that nothing in this world can change or take away.
Reading through this list of beatitudes one can envision a mountain that we need to climb in order to reach the state of mind, or obtain the “attitude” of a person who is pleasing to GOD. Picture yourself at the foot of a mountain ready to begin your ascent to the top, and beyond to the bottom of the opposite side.
The first beatitude JESUS gives us is “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”. A person who is “poor in spirit” is a person who realizes and admits their need for GOD. That is the first step that a person has to make in order to come to GOD, we must first, come to the end of ourselves.
JESUS then says, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted”. To mourn is to “earnestly repent” for having lived a life that was not pleasing to GOD. That is when your heart tells GOD that you are now ready to change your mind about the way you live.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”. To be humble is the step that one must now take. GOD always blesses those who are gentle and lowly.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled”. At this step we can now begin to see over the top of the mountain, as we seek to walk in the light of the righteousness of CHRIST. We begin to hunger and thirst after fairness for others, being fair to others, and living a just life with others.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy”. Now we begin our descent down the other side, as we begin to show mercy to others as GOD shows mercy to us. We now begin to reflect HIS image to others through our own behavior.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see GOD”. We now have a heart for GOD and can now see what GOD is like by looking at the life of CHRIST with a greater understanding.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of GOD. The person who has a heart for GOD has a mind for peace, and they seek peace through their positive actions. He or she works for peace because they now have become a child of GOD through their faith in HIM. He or she can now handle the three battles that every human being faces, The Battle within ourselves between reason and passion, Our battle with each other, and, Our war with GOD HIMSELF, by way of our sins against HIM.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”. Now that we are over the mountain, it is time to go to work for “the GOD WHO sees us”, and WHO saved us from ourselves. We are now fully equipped to triumph over the persecution that we will surely endure because we now live for GOD. Be joyous about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits us in Heaven. Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, October 21, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 23, 2011

TRUE LOVE
(True love is a gift from GOD, and can only be achieved with GOD)
(Song of Solomon 4)

The Song of Solomon, or, “Song of Songs”, is, quite simply, a love song, written by King Solomon, to his bride. It does not mention GOD, nor claim to be a message from GOD. Instead, it is a drama in poetry, of a love story that captures the yearning of a bride and a bridegroom for each other, and celebrates the mystery and joy of human love. Here in chapter 4, the lover, Solomon, responds with praise for his beloved bride.
True love is the gift that GOD gave to mankind when HE shaped Adam for Eve, and then, formed Eve from Adam. It is, in all honesty, a refreshing affirmation of the biblical view that, in the union of a husband and wife, there exists, a rewarding and total intimacy that can be cherished for all time.
Jewish scholars treat this book of scripture as an allegory of GOD’s love for Israel, or CHRIST’s love for the church, rather than accept it for what it is. They apparently feel uncomfortable with the explicit sexual references that are found here in this poetic rendering. However, it is probably best that we accept this beautiful poem for what it is, and that is, a wonderful celebration of GOD’s gift of “married love”.
The Song of Solomon is scripture’s most explicit exploration of human sexual relationships. In fact, with the exception of this book, the Old, and the New Testament tend to speak of sex indirectly. Scripture, for the most part, deals with, and honors sex as a private and rather personal matter, which, I agree that it really is. And this observation does not even begin to suggest that scripture has a negative view of sex. In fact, the creation story itself, affirms the sexual nature of human beings, and at one and the same time, carefully guards the mystery of sex, so that its special nature and power to bond husband and wife as one, would not be lost to sin.
GOD, through HIS Word, condemns all sexual expressions outside of marriage between a man and a woman (Leviticus 18 & 20:10-21). Adultery, pre-marital sex, and prostitution, as well as sexual perversions such as homosexuality, incest, and lying with animals are forbidden. However, within heterosexual marriages, GOD affirms our freedom to enjoy the gift of pleasurable sexual activity.

The Holy Bible identifies three specific functions of sex in human life:

(1). Procreation (Genesis 1:28),
(2). To satisfy urges that are implicit in human nature (1 Corinthians 7:3-5, 9).
(3). Sex is “sacramental” in the bonding of man and woman as one spirit (Genesis 2:24).

By preserving sexual expression for marriage, GOD is giving it a unique power to unify man and wife, and, as this act is repeated, commitment is constantly re-affirmed, trust grows, and two actually do become one on the most profound levels of their personalities.
This literary masterpiece by Solomon, invites us to lift the veil off sexual intimacy and partake in the joy and unity that sex can help create in a marriage. Marriage is the institution that brings GOD to human sexual relationships. It seems quite obvious that when we look at the state of human relationships, marital statistics, and the general state of the world, and the Church, that, we are still not grasping what GOD is trying to teach us, through HIS word.
With all of the sexual immorality and sexual perversion by professed Christians and non-Christians alike, accelerating at an alarming rate, and, with the divorce rate of both being almost identical, it becomes quite apparent that we still have not conceded to that great fundamental truth, that, without GOD, even in love, mankind can’t do anything right, for too long.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, October 14, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 16, 2011

LIFE WORTH LIVING
(You’re never too old to remember your CREATOR)
(Ecclesiastes 11 & 12)

In Ecclesiastes chapters 11 & 12, King Solomon concludes his exploration into human ethics as he teaches on generosity and diligence, and also, gives a final bit of advice to the young, on how they should pursue a life that incorporates the will of GOD. He says that generosity and diligence in our youth will pay off handsomely when we are old. Also, Solomon says that it is a bad idea to put off the things in our youth for a later date that can and should, be done today. If we wait for prefect conditions, then nothing will ever get done (Ecclesiastes 11:1-4).
The ways of GOD are oftentimes hard to discern. HIS ways can be as elusive and invisible as the wind, and as mysterious as a child being formed in a mother’s womb. We shouldn’t waste time trying to figure GOD out, but rather, we should only concentrate on that which HE reveals to us in HIS word. We should stay busy, experimenting and utilizing the wide variety of methods which GOD has provided for us to live and survive by. Otherwise, a person will never know what their niche in life is, and just how GOD wants us to use those provisions to serve HIM through our, pre-ordained, personal gifts and talents (Ecclesiastes 11:5-6).
In Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8, Solomon, for the most part, urges us to rejoice in our youth, through “responsible living”. In fact, this passage can actually be divided into three sections. The first section, 11:7-8, is a call for us to enjoy life, even in the view of impending death. In this section, Solomon writes metaphorically of “light” and “darkness” as elements of “life” and “death”. Here he encourages his readers to enjoy life as it comes, because “life” is like “the pleasant light of the sun”, and it should be enjoyed before “the coming darkness of night”, or “death”. Here Solomon is writing from the Old Testament perspective that “the grave”, for the most part, was considered one’s eternal home.
In the second section, 11:9-10, Solomon urges that our “enjoyment of life” start during our youth, because our formative years can get away from us very quickly. However, he also warns that our enjoyment must be resigned to “responsible living”, because ultimately, everyone is answerable to GOD. All of mankind will have to make an account to GOD for the deeds done in his or her lifetime.
In the third section, 12:1-7, Solomon stresses the importance of the “responsible enjoyment” of youth, because “old age”, is a time of increasing erosion and corrosion of one’s personal skills and physical body, which will ultimately culminate in death. We should honor GOD while we are still in our youth, and are still able to enjoy life and serve GOD to the fullest. We should worship and serve GOD with our “best self”, instead of waiting until we are all used up, and can offer HIM only “what is left of us”. Solomon brilliantly uses this description of death to motivate “responsible living in our youth”. It is, in effect, a reversal of Creation, as our spirit returns to GOD WHO gave it, and we are, in the end, judged by HIM.
Because the “Teacher”, Solomon, was wise, he taught the people everything that he knew about life. He collected and classified many proverbs. He taught the plain truth, and, he did it in a rather interesting way. A wise teacher’s words can spur a student to action, especially when those words emphasize important truths. These collected adages of Solomon can guide us like a shepherd, and lead us to success in the biblical sense.
We have to be careful not to be overly concerned about our success in the worldly sense. Remember, success in GOD’s eyes is far different from what is deemed success in the world’s eyes. We have to be successful in GOD’s eyes before we can enjoy eternal life with HIM in Heaven. Success in GOD’s eyes comes when we realize the purpose for which we came into the world, and that is to serve GOD with all that HE has given us.
There is no end to the worldly advice and opinions that are expressed to us daily, throughout our lifetime. And if we study them too much, we can very easily exhaust all of our remaining days sorting through them, and still end up needing GOD in our life to achieve the right kind of success. To be successful in the only way that counts, we have to fear GOD enough to want to obey HIM, starting in our youth, and in the end, GOD will judge us for everything that we do, including every secret thing, be it good, or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Thursday, October 6, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 9, 2011

THE SUPERIORITY OF WISDOM
(Quiet wisdom can prevail)
(Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)

In the biblical Greek, the word used for “Preacher” is “Ecclesiastes”, and in the biblical Hebrew, it is “Qoheleth” (Ko-heh-leth). Qoheleth is the name by which King Solomon identifies himself in the book of Ecclesiastes in his original writings. In this book, Solomon attempts to display the dark philosophy of a person who looked for peace, apart from GOD, and of course, in the end, realizes how futile that is.
This books pessimistic tone may seem somewhat out of place in the bible, which is, for the most part, a book of vibrant hope and inspiration for all who choose to seek GOD’s directions in life. However, here Solomon is trying to teach us a valuable lesson by showing us how unproductive it is to search for life’s answers through the senses, or, through the material world, rather than through seeking wisdom from GOD.
Solomon loved wisdom and he seemed to embrace it closer than anything else in his life, most of the time. He wholeheartedly believed in the precious value of incorporating GOD’s wisdom in all of life’s situations, and he lent very little credence to relying on “human wisdom” to solve the problems he faced during his reign as king.
Ecclesiastes 9:1-11:6 is characterized by the repeating of the phrases “no man knows” and “you do not know”, as this section deals with man’s inability to predict what will happen in life, be it good or bad. However, probably the key phrase to consider in the book of Ecclesiastes is the one “under the sun”, which is used 29 times in this book. Whenever we see this phrase, it describes how Solomon was looking at life from a human, rather than a heavenly, perspective, and we all know, life from a human perspective can often look bleak, hopeless, and meaningless.
When we choose to go our own way, we automatically move farther and farther away from GOD, and, in the end, the separation has become so wide, that GOD has been reduced to this obscure figure in our lives whom we once knew, and, of which then, we will seek only to avoid. The farther Solomon got away from GOD, the emptier, and more meaningless his life became. He began to see no advantage to following GOD, because the same experiences and fates befell people, regardless of their spiritual perspective. He lost sight of the truth that when good things happen to righteous people, they bless GOD and the people around them, but when good things happen to unbelievers, it only serves as a test to those observing believers whose faith in GOD is not where it should be. Whenever Christians envy worldly people, it is a sign that their hearts are not fixed on GOD as it should be, and they are not sold on the truth that GOD is in control.
In Ecclesiastes 9:13-18, Solomon relates the story of a small town whose citizens faced the threat of being overtaken by a powerful king, and it is in his darkened human perspective that he recalls this incident. There was a poor, but wise man who dwelt among the citizenry of that town that knew of a way to save it from certain doom. Solomon doesn’t say exactly how the man managed to rescue the town, however, one can only surmise that it was through some sort of cleaver negotiations since, apparently, no shots were fired. We are told, also, that the poor man was soon forgotten, because of his insignificant social status in the town, and, that he lived out the remainder of his life in obscurity despite his valuable contribution to their survival.
Solomon was highly impressed by this incident and he seemed to draw very strong conclusions from it. He says he learned from it, that, even though wisdom is better than physical strength, those who are wise may be despised if they are poor, and what they say, won’t be appreciated for long. Even so, the quiet words of a wise person are better than the shouts of a foolish king. A wise person can overcome strong weapons of war, but one foolish sinner can destroy a multitude of good things (Vs. 16-18).
And so, Solomon concedes in the end that GODly wisdom is greater than physical strength, but he still seems irritated by the fact that no one else seems to notice. However, even when doing the right thing seems to go unnoticed by man, or does not result in personal victory or recognition, what’s important is that GOD is taking note, and we need to always try to do the right thing every single time anyway. Doing the right thing will never go unnoticed by GOD, no matter how stupid the world may make you feel for doing it. After all, we have to keep in mind that “it is the world” and all of scripture tells us, that, the world belongs to satan, and is thereby, anti-CHRIST. At some point, we have to stop expecting good things from a world that insists on being apart from GOD. “Only GOD is good”- JESUS CHRIST (Mark 10:18).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, September 30, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 2, 2011

LAW AND ORDER
(We must follow GOD, even in an unjust world)
(Proverbs 29:16-27)

G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “For whatever is or is not true, this one thing is certain, “We are not what we were meant to be”. We are that which was created, and we are the benefactors of the brilliance and largesse of the CREATOR. Men and women were made by GOD to have dominion over the works of HIS hands, here on earth. But instead, we have become creatures who are frustrated by our own, self-imposed circumstances, defeated by our temptations, and surrounded by our own weaknesses. And so, it is into this seemingly hopeless situation that GOD sends us HIS only begotten SON, so that whosoever believes in HIM will not perish, but rather, will have everlasting life. JESUS helps us to overcome an otherwise, saddened and doomed state of existence, and HE helps us to understand, and become, what we ought to be.
In any organization where there is ignorance or indifference towards GOD, crime and sin will run amok. Anarchy prevails and law and order is swept aside. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a government, business, church, or private family, when we allow wickedness to thrive, we provide fuel for a downward spiral towards immorality, and a gradual slide towards an unstructured existence much like we already see developing today, in every area of our society (Proverbs 29:16a). GOD did not mean for this to be so.
GOD has never been, is not now, nor will HE ever be a captive of HIS OWN world, the people of HIS world, or, our opinions about HIS nature. GOD is free, and HE is subject to no one’s will but HIS OWN. HE is not bound by our understanding, nor is HE bound by our lack of understanding. The good news remains, however, that GOD is still in charge, and HIS plan is moving right along as scheduled. And one day, just as promised, JESUS will return and take all believers unto HIMSELF, and HE will mete out punishment to all those who rebelled against him, and dedicated their lives to the hindrance of HIS plan for mankind. And the righteous will witness the downfall of the unrighteous (Proverbs 29:16b).
Law and order really begins at home. How we discipline and rear our children, for most part, will determine how much peace of mind we will be able to enjoy in our latter years (Proverbs 29:17). As parents, we have to take charge of our households from day one, and not allow our children to go unrestrained, lacking any semblance of disciplinary measures during their formative years. There may not be much we can do about little David down the street, but the parents of little David certainly can.
In Proverbs 29:18, the word “revelation” refers to the messages from GOD that, are received by HIS prophets. Public, and private morality, depends heavily on how well we know the Word of GOD, and how well we adhere to HIS laws. In other words, in order for this nation and its individuals to function well, we have to, first, know GOD’ ways, and then, keep HIS laws and directives that HE has set before us. Without GOD’s Word, people abandon themselves to their own sinful ways, but obedience to GOD’s Word, ultimately brings joy to our lives.
In Proverbs 29:19, Solomon warns us that, in the workplace, as well as in the home, mere words will not always get the job done. There must also be some kind of disciplinary actions in place to motivate those who refuse to follow directions, even though they understand clearly what their job calls for. It is that way with GOD also. If we are not willing to follow HIS directions, HE already has a list of disciplinary actions that HE will surely execute, whenever HIS will is disobeyed (Deuteronomy 28). If we pamper our subordinates, or our children, it will likely cause us grief and frustration in the end (Proverbs 29:21). However, when dealing with problems of insubordination in the workplace, or in the home, we must be careful to listen before we speak. Speaking hastily, or in anger, and being prideful and conceited, promises us less hope than a fool has. That kind of attitude, can and will, bring one more trouble than they originally had (Proverbs 29:20 & 22-23).
In Proverbs 29:24 Solomon warns against aiding and abetting in criminal acts such as theft. In fact, the accomplice of any criminal act automatically becomes his own enemy simply because of his involvement in the crime. He can’t even testify truthfully without implicating himself, and he can’t remain silent by pleading the “Fifth Amendment”, because, then, he’ll be assumed guilty by everyone, for sure.
In Proverbs 29:25 the phrase “is kept safe” comes from the Hebrew verb “sagab”, and it means “to be inaccessibly high or exalted”. When we fear what man can do to us more than we fear GOD, we’ve already ensnared ourselves mentally, giving ourselves over to the control of someone who is not in control themselves. Our trust in the LORD is the only thing that can bring us safety. When we fear the LORD, we don’t have to fear anything else, because nothing and no one else can gain “access” to us. Security in GOD removes the intimidation of man and makes us “inaccessible” to anyone, or anything, that is not in GOD’s will. Respect, reverence, and trust in GOD, is liberating, not confining. GOD can turn the harm intended by others into good, for those who trust and obey HIM.
Oftentimes we are surprised by the ineptness of the “human justice system”. We go to human authorities to obtain justice, but, in reality, there is no guarantee that justice will be done. True satisfying justice can only come from GOD, and HE will certainly make things right in the end (Proverbs 29:26). The reason why man’s justice is imperfect is because, man himself is imperfect, and therefore, we can’t judge other men simply because we’re all “men under judgment”. An unjust person is an abomination to those who seek to be upright, and obeys the law. A person who seeks to be upright is an abomination to those who are unjust, and are always seeking out new ways to break the law (Proverbs 29:27).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, September 23, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 25, 2011

WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT
(A humble attitude is always good)
(Proverbs 25:1-10)

Because the book of Proverbs is a collection of divine wisdom adages based on many different subjects, it is not possible to outline it, or, approach it in study, as we would a typical book of scripture. It has to be taken in intellectually by its various individual collections, (In praise of wisdom - Chaps. 1-9, Solomon’s Proverbs I – Chaps. 10-22:16, Collected Sayings – Chaps. 22:17-24:34, Solomon’s Proverbs II – Chaps. 25-29, Other Sayings – Chaps. 30-31), rather than by its overall contents.
It is always helpful to understand that the book of Proverbs consists of an extensive menu of beneficial traits such as wisdom, honesty, and truth, and, a contrasting menu of negative traits such as foolishness, cheating, and lying. The writers hope to impart wisdom and understanding to the readers so that we might be able to develop a disciplined life, doing what is right, and abstaining from that which is wrong. In other words, this book carefully lays out and defines, both, the right path to go, and, the wrong path, which should be avoided at all times.
In the Hebrew, the word used for “proverb” is “paroimia” (par-oy-mee-ah), and it is “an enigmatic and fictitious illustration of a real life scenario”. Proverbs 25 contains a wonderful collection of divine wisdom adages, that were written by King Solomon, and collected and preserved by the advisers of King Hezekiah many years later (Prov. 25:1). Hezekiah had these proverbs copied, read, studied, and applied to every task that he undertook in service to GOD, both in and outside the temple.
Hezekiah’s story is told in the books of 2 Kings (chapters 18-20), 2 Chronicles (chapters 29-32), and Isaiah (chapters 36-39). He was one the few GODly kings in the Davidic Line, and he restored the temple at Jerusalem after his father, King Ahaz, had actually nailed its doors shut (2 Chronicle 28:24b).
We can see clearly in Hezekiah’s story how he took heed to the advice of Solomon in verses 4-5, for instance, where Solomon says, “If you take the dross from silver, the sterling will be ready for the silversmith. Remove the wicked from the kings court, and his reign will be made secure by justice” (NLT).
Hezekiah aggressively exterminated the evil of idol worship and other ungodly practices from Judah during his 29-year reign. King Ahaz, on the other hand, did not seek wisdom and discernment from the GOD of Israel during his reign, but instead, chose to take a deep plunge into the sinful idol worship practices of the surrounding nations (2 Kings 16 & 2 Chronicles 28). Hezekiah, by contrast, sought GOD’s wisdom and discernment with an earnest heart, and as a result, he prospered mightily.
Idol worship is actually a by-product of “self worship” because self worship occurs whenever we ignore what GOD wants us to do, and instead, do what we want to do, and “pride”, has to come before that. Before we can worship idols, we have to first, ignore GOD’s will, which tells us not to do so. It takes a lot of pride to make us feel big enough to ignore, or omit GOD in the first place. And since it is a fact that, with every ounce of success, comes, an equal measure of pride, we have to make a strong conscience effort to resist our prideful urges more and more, as we become more and more successful. We have to diligently seek humility through the Word of GOD, because, unlike pride, it doesn’t come to us naturally.
One of the great proverbs contained in this passage can be found in verses 6 and 7. In the Gospel of Luke (Luke 14:7-11) these verses are actually made into a parable by JESUS as HE taught on the subject of “humility”. There we see JESUS taking note of how, many of the invited quests at a dinner were pridefully trying to seat themselves near the head of the table. On that occasion JESUS gave this advice, “If you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t always head for the best seat. What if someone more respected than you has also been invited? The host will say, “Let this person sit here instead”. Then you will be embarrassed and will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table. “Do this instead”, JESUS suggests, “Sit at the foot of the table, then, when your host sees you, he will come and say, “Friend, we have a better place than this for you!” Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored”.
JESUS saw that occasion as a “teachable Moment” on how we should not let “pride” set us up to be knocked down. We should seek to be humble, focusing on character, rather than reputation. The proud person sets himself up to be humbled, while the humble person sets himself up to be honored.
And finally, in verses 8-10, Solomon advises us against being too hasty to sue our neighbor in court. Remember, plaintiffs have also been known to lose. Being human, we are often mistaken about, or, we misinterpret, even what we see with our own eyes. Oftentimes there can be a completely innocent explanation for what may have seemed wrong to us from a distance, or sometimes, even up close.
So when we argue our case with our neighbor, we must do it with a degree of humility, seeking to hear and understand their explanation, in private, before we jump to conclusions, in public. And we should never argue our case by betraying the confidence of another person in order to win our argument. By doing so, we can run the risk of damaging our relationship with that confidante, sometimes permanently. The Apostle Paul lends us this advice, “we don’t want to do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but rather, in humility, consider others better than ourselves. We should not just look to our own interests, but we should also, consider the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, September 16, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 18, 2011

GOOD ADVICE
(Good words bring life and health)
(Proverbs 15)

In today’s world, and, in times past, it may seem to some that GOD has let evil run amok in society. However, GOD tells us clearly in HIS Word that, “The wicked will strut about on every side, when the vilest of men are exalted” (Psalm 12:8). Well, don’t look now, but we have been exalting and supporting the vilest of people, who outwardly profess to being anti-CHRIST, in our music and entertainment industries for instance, for years, and we also exalt vile church leaders whom we know in our hearts are clearly anti-CHRIST, by way of their double life, and, public behavior. It is not GOD who allows evil to run rampant among us, but rather, it is us Christians, who, by way of our behavior, seem to have a greater desire to conform to the world in the Church, than we do to transform from the world to the will of GOD.
Sure, it is a fact that GOD sees all, hears all, and knows all that we do (Prov. 15:3), and HE is by no means an indifferent observer. GOD cares very much about the state of this evil society we’ve allowed and live in, but, because we are so far from GOD’s will and plan for us, we can’t sense HIS unseen navigational favor, presence, and blessings in our lives.
In Proverbs chapters 15-17, we find a variety of good advice and GODly wisdom that we can use to make life more tolerable and beneficial to ourselves, and, to others. The person who is willing to seek GOD’s advice, more often than not, is the same person who has gained enough patience to ponder their thoughts and attitudes, before they take action. They pray and desire GOD’s insight, because they want to live right before HIM. Their desire to change is greater than their willingness to remain the same.
Proverbs 15:14 states in the plain English version of scripture (the NLT), that, “A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash”. What we feed our minds is just as important as what we feed our bodies. This means that the kind of material we read, the kind of music we listen to, and the kind of movies and television that we watch, all play a very important role in our mental and spiritual health. In fact, what we read, hear, and see has a very strong influence on our total health and well-being as well.
Only a fool thinks that there is nothing wrong with the way that the Hip Hop sub-culture influences our children and young adults through all of the witchcraft and satanic messages that it thrives on, and plays into their spirits. Only a fool thinks that our exalting of homosexual behavior, adultery, and fornication both, in the movies, and in real life, doesn’t have a negative spiritual effect on our society, and stirs GOD’s anger to no end, because sexual sin, is the greatest form of “self-worship”. Only a fool thinks that pornography and all forms of anti-CHRIST literature and propaganda doesn’t affect us spiritually, mentally, and physically. Anything that is wicked is anti-GOD, and therefore, automatically anti-CHRIST, automatically anti-mankind, and automatically anti-life, for the LORD is far from the wicked (Prov. 15:29a).
When people cease to care about what GOD says, or, have an attitude of indifference toward GOD, then religion, morality, social customs and values, will all cease to function as mortar, that holds together a society, and maintains the doctrine of ancient Christian faith. We as Christians must, at some point, stand up and defend the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST with the dignity and respect that it requires. We must challenge ourselves, and others who call themselves by CHRIST’s name, about our own personal relationship and obedience to GOD. Are we acting like the Christians that we say we are.
True Christians shouldn’t be satisfied with living a life that is governed by an attitude of indifference toward GOD, nor should we ever support the anti-CHRIST agenda with our GOD-given time, money, or talent. People with an attitude of indifference toward GOD can rationalize anything because they have no standards for judging right and wrong, and, as a result, they end up compromising what they know is right, with what they know is wrong, which is, of course, ridiculous (Proverbs 25:26). We have had set before us in JESUS CHRIST, the greatest standard for living life on earth, that the world has ever seen, or, ever will see. And HE gives us great advice on how to overcome the world, just as HE did, and HIS words and actions also bring with it, life, health, and strength.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, September 9, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 11, 2011

THE WISE PATH
(GOD’s instructions lead you along a perfect path)
(Proverbs 4)

The book of Proverbs is a divine collection of practical advice and counsel that is intended to be used by the reader as a guide to making more practical and GODly moral decisions along the path of life. The adages that are found in this poetic book, although they are generalizations, touch on a variety of subjects and situations, such as child rearing, wealth, poverty, personal relationships, and attitudes toward work. If we think and meditate on these sayings, and follow their advice, we will find them to be a great source of help and insight to us, as we struggle with the issues that we encounter in our everyday life.
One of our greatest responsibilities as parents is to train and encourage our children to become wise adults. Here in Proverbs chapter 4, in verses 3 & 4, King Solomon tells us how his father, King David, often encouraged him to seek wisdom when he was a child. In fact, David’s encouragement is likely what prompted young Solomon to ask GOD for wisdom and a discerning heart, rather than ask HIM for wealth or long life (1 Kings 3:6-9). GOD honored Solomon’s request because he placed the welfare of his people above his own personal prosperity (1 Kings 3:10-14).
The wisdom of GOD’s Word can, and should, be passed on from generation to generation, simply because it comes to us from GOD. It can be life changing and life-saving for anyone who chooses to incorporate it into their daily plans. Like David, all parents should begin their wisdom teaching by introducing their children to GOD while they are still very young. In fact, even for those parents who were never taught in this way, GOD’s Word can, in itself, function in the same nurturing manner as a compassionate parent does. In other words, the Word of GOD makes it possible for a parent that was raised up, not knowing the LORD, to be able to leave a legacy of faith to their children, just the same as a parent who has known GOD since childhood.
Seeking wisdom is not a once in a lifetime step, but rather, it must become a daily process, if we are to stay on the right path in life. We constantly have to choose between two paths, good and evil, and we need to have the Word of GOD written on our minds and hearts if we are to navigate safely through this worldly maze. In verses 14-17 Solomon admonishes us against making unwise decisions such as getting ourselves on the wrong road, through socializing and associating too much with un-GODly people, or, people who have an attitude of indifference toward GOD.
It is oftentimes difficult, especially for young people, to accept the fact that so-called friends and acquaintances might be leading them down the wrong path. It is our overwhelming desire to want to be accepted by the world that often is the root cause of the bulk of our sins. And even though we sometimes sense the danger or wrong, in socializing with certain people, we reason with our innate sense, and ultimately talk ourselves into conforming to their will, not GOD’s. And while we should be accepting of others, we, more so, need to maintain a healthy skepticism toward human behavior. Always proceed with caution. Don’t let your friends strain your relationship with GOD and family, by leading you to do things that you are not comfortable with in your SPIRIT.
Our heart is what most greatly dictates what we do. In fact, a person always (100% of the time) does that which is in their heart. That is exactly why GOD reads hearts, and not lips, HE knows that the lips deceive when the heart is evil. In verse 23, King Solomon warns us to “guard our heart with all diligence, because, out of it, flows the issues of life”. We should focus on the things of GOD that are found in HIS Word, fill our hearts and minds with them, and never allow ourselves to stray away from them because we didn’t consult with GOD first, through prayer, before making a decision.
“The HOLY SPIRIT” and “the Bride” (The true Christian Church) is inviting us to come. But unfortunately, “the lure of this world” and “the spirits of satan” say the same. The HOLY SPIRIT in us will always try and compel us toward CHRIST. However, the “sin nature” in us will always try and tug us back toward the world. The constant battle that goes 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. But, through our strength in CHRIST, we can eventually overcome the gravitational pull of this world, just as CHRIST did, and find ourselves in “the ultimate happy ending” that has been prepared for us by GOD since the foundation of this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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Friday, September 2, 2011

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 4, 2011

WISDOM FOR LIVING
(Trust in GOD and not yourself)
(Proverbs 3:1-12)

The book of Proverbs submits to us, practical instructions for living a successful life. It teaches us that “special wisdom”, as well as “innate wisdom” (common sense), is revealed to us only by GOD, and, that both are an essential part of a person’s successful daily living. The renowned expression, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”, is perhaps one of the ten most profound statements in all of scripture. It tells us that only when a person trusts in GOD, will they ever be truly wise.
The concept of us “trusting in GOD and not in ourselves” finds its roots at the exact center of the Christian Bible (Psalm 118:8). Although “human wisdom” is fine and necessary, “human history” has already clearly shown us that, no matter how skilled a person may be, without a humble willingness to learn from GOD, sooner or later, he or she will end up in trouble. It is a proven fact that, without GOD, man can’t do anything right for too long.
It is a life-changing thing, getting to know, and becoming accustomed to practicing the Word of GOD. GOD uses HIS Word (The Holy Bible) to reveal HIS Will to HIS people. It should be “studied closely” and “closely followed”, not just carried under our arms to church on Sunday mornings. Let us now take a look at some of the profound wisdom that GOD imparts to us, through King Solomon, here in Proverbs chapter 3.
In verse 3, we are advised to never let “love” and “faithfulness”, leave us. We are also told to hang them around our necks like a secure necklace, and to write them on our hearts. Probably the two most important character traits a person can possess is “love” and “Faithfulness”, because both, involve taking action, as well as, having the right attitude. A “loving person” not only feels love, but they also act loyally and responsible to those whom they love. After all, love is the greatest privilege in the world, and we learn over time that, it also brings with it, the greatest responsibility. And then, there’s the “faithful person”, who not only believes the truth of GOD’s Word for himself, but he also works for the truth and justice of GOD’s Word in the lives of others. He recognizes that thoughts and words are not enough, and that, the way we actually live our lives is what really reveals whether or not we are truly loving and faithful.
The very familiar Proverbs 3:5-6, has long been a staple “memory scripture”, even for the “lukewarm” Christian of the 21st century. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge HIM, and HE will make your paths straight” (NIV). You’ll find a large number of Christians who can quote this passage of scripture, but like the rest of GOD’s Word, you will find very few people who have been able to actually live it when the pressure was on. We must first fill ourselves with the wisdom of GOD, through the study of HIS Word, before we can be able to maintain a GOD-like behavior when troubles beset us, and we feel pressured to revert to un-GODly methods for solving our problems.
We should also remember that the basic issues of wisdom that are addressed in the book of Proverbs won’t do us a bit of good if we don’t, first, acquire and maintain a personal experiential relationship with GOD, and this relationship must include a “prayer life”. Only if we know GOD, and respond to GOD, in a positive way, will the counsel that is offered here in this book bear fruit.
GOD is a better judge of what we need, than we are, and we must trust HIM completely in every decision that we have to make. Yes, our faith must exceed our understanding if we are to be citizens in the kingdom of GOD, while still living here on earth. And while we should never omit careful thinking, or disregard our GOD-given ability to reason, we should also not trust our own ideas to the point where we exclude GOD from life’s process.
In verses 6, King Solomon emphasized that, in order to receive GOD’s guidance, we must first, acknowledge GOD in all of our ways, and over 1000 years later, CHRIST JESUS emphasized the same point of truth in HIS, now famous “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:33). We must never be impressed with our own wisdom (v.7), but rather, we should always be willing to listen to, be counseled by, and corrected by, the Word of GOD. We should bring all of our decisions to GOD in prayer, and then, test them against HIS Word, before we act. HE will make all of our paths straight, as HIS Word guides us, and protects us, all along the way.
When we receive GOD’s benefits (health, wealth, and spiritual vitally) because of the wisdom that GOD has imparted to us through HIS Word, we should be happy to give tithes and offerings that will aid in blessing someone else the way we were blessed. And when we do give, oftentimes, GOD will bless us even more (vs. 8-10). However, we must always keep in mind that our benevolence does not disallow GOD from making exceptions. GOD is not to be invested in, but rather, HE is to be honored. And besides, we don’t ever want to think that we can put GOD into our debt by doing good deeds.
And finally, in verses 11-12, “discipline” is addressed by this wisest of kings of the Davidic line. In the Hebrew, the word used for “discipline” is “yasar”, and it means “to chastise”, or “to instruct”. And although it does involve correction, its main purpose is to make a positive contribution to a person’s training in righteousness. In biblical times “yasar” was always administered in a family setting. The idea was for all to see that the emotion conveyed by the parent was not anger or disgust, but rather, it was love and active concern. GOD disciplines all those who trust in HIM to help them grow to moral and spiritual maturity. It is a “rod of loving correction”, not a “club of hatred and abuse” that GOD uses to get the attention of those who have ignored, or won’t respond positively to, written and verbal guidance. GOD disciplines us because of HIS continuing love and concern for us, not because HE likes to make things difficult for us.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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