Friday, May 19, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday May 21, 2017
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A WAKE-UP CALL
(GOD shows compassion to repentant sinners)
(Jonah 3)

   The prophet Jonah ministered during the reign of Jeroboam II. Years earlier, during the reign of Jeroboam’s great grandfather, Jehu, the nation of Assyria had established dominance in the east. They had secured tributes from Jehu, and, in effect, had made him their “vassal”, or, “puppet king”. Sometime later however, the Assyrians suffered a temporary setback due to dissension within their own camp, and this allowed Jeroboam to expand Israel’s territories to its greatest size since the “United Kingdom” days of David and Solomon.
    Unfortunately, because of Jeroboam’s continued disobedience to GOD, and his leading of Israel farther into idolatry, GOD, in an effort to give him a chance to repent and make things right, sent both Amos and Hosea into northern Israel to warn him of HIS impending judgment on their sins and social injustices. In fact, the prophet Hosea specifically told Israel that GOD would use the Assyrians to topple them because of their refusal to return to HIM (Hosea 11:5).
    It seems likely that, because Assyria, at that time, had been lingering in a weakened and declining state for some years, Israel was not inclined to believe the words of GOD’s prophets, and thus remained stubborn, steadfastly refusing to heed the prophets warnings from GOD.
    And perhaps, these prophecies from Amos and Hosea also served to explain why Jonah, who did believe them when they said that Assyria would destroy Israel, was reluctant to obey GOD and go to preach repentance to Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. He understandably had a real problem with going to save his enemy so that they could come later and destroy Israel.
    Here in chapter 3, we see, a now obedient Jonah, traveling to Nineveh to deliver GOD’s message to the Assyrian populace, still hoping in his heart, that they would not heed his warning of imminent judgment. However, much to Jonah’s surprise, after the king  himself heard his message, he came down from his throne, took off his royal robes, wrapped himself in sackcloth, and sent out a royal decree commanding that all the people of the kingdom repent and pray earnest prayers to the GOD of Israel.
    Everyone, all the way down to the least in the kingdom, was required to dress themselves in sackcloth, and fast and pray. Even the animals in the kingdom were not given any food and water during this period of fasting and praying. And when GOD saw the Assyrians demonstration of earnest repent and obedience to HIM, HE had mercy on them and did not carry out HIS alternate plan of judgment and destruction. Jonah’s mission had been an overwhelming success, even though Jonah himself was not happy at all with the results.
    Genuine repent always tends to melt the heart of GOD, even though, in this case, it did nothing but harden the heart of Jonah. Whenever GOD sees genuine repent and GODly sorrow in the human side of HIS creation, HIS compassion is rained down on those individuals who exhibit it. He is always pleased to grant us HIS mercy, grace, and forgiveness, whenever we decide to turn from our own way of doing things, and embrace HIS way, which has already been laid out for us to follow, through the human life example of CHRIST JESUS, that HE exhibited to us, while living here on earth.
    Nineveh’s repentance delayed GOD’s wrath on them for another 150 years. However, as mankind seems to always do, the people of Nineveh in the next generation fell back into the doldrums of sin, and ultimately, their city still had to be destroyed because of it. World history now tells us that Nineveh was invaded and destroyed by the Babylonian king, Nabopolasser, with help from his ally Cyaxeres the Mede, in 612 B.C. (also see Nahum’s prophecy in the Book of Nahum). And, by the way, because of Jonah’s negative attitude towards that generation of Ninevite’s salvation, GOD had to continue to deal with him concerning those issues, after his mission in Nineveh was complete. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





   


Friday, May 12, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 14, 2017

Over 130,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

RESCUED FROM DANGER
(Pray when your situation seems hopeless)
(Jonah 2)

   After GOD had miraculously altered Jonah’s self-conceived itinerary, and caused him to be swallowed up by a very large fish, during “a divinely provoked storm” at sea, the prophet now sits in the belly of this great creature, praying, not so much for rescue, as he is praying for forgiveness for refusing to honor GOD’s charge to him to go to Nineveh, and deliver HIS message to his pagans enemies who lived there.
    After much repent and prayer by Jonah, GOD, in HIS OWN unique way, releases him back on dry land, giving him a second shot at obedience. Here in Jonah 2, the prophet abandon’s his previous selfish attitude of “national pride” and now incorporates the travel plans that GOD had originally given him back in Samaria.
    Despite the simplicity of the story of Jonah, it is perhaps one of the better books in the Old Testament, as far as its teachings on spiritual lessons are concerned. In this terse but wonderful book, GOD is rightfully presented as being deeply concerned about the welfare of all people, not just the Israelites. In this book we also see how gracious HE can be with the people whom HE calls, despite their great effort to ignore HIS calling.
    In essence, Jonah’s mission to Nineveh would also serve as an object lesson to Israel, who at that time, as far as their behavior was concerned, was living just as far away from GOD as Nineveh was. Perhaps the timing of this mission, which came during the reign of Jeroboam II, a time of great prosperity in Israel, served to confront those social injustices and various other evils that seemed to grow right alongside the Israelite’s fledgling and immensely healthy economic conditions.
    We can consider ourselves very fortunate that GOD has compassion on all mankind, believers and unbelievers, and HE allows it to rain on both the “just”, and, the “unjust” at the same time, and perhaps, this is the reason why; There are many people in this world who don’t believe in GOD, and yet, are still very capable of doing “a right thing” from time to time. Also, there are many Christians in this world, who often know “the right thing to do”, but yet, they yield to their own “sin nature” and choose to do “the wrong thing” anyway.
    We have to always keep in mind that it is GOD’s desire that all men be saved, and that is HIS eternal attitude toward mankind in general. However, GOD also knows that most people are going to choose to go to Hell, and that, only a remnant will ultimately choose salvation over their own selfish desires. Jonah erred in his attitude and behavior toward the Assyrians, because he did not desire that “GOD’s Will” be done in the lives of other human beings, who, like himself, are also made in the spiritual image of GOD.
    GOD embodies us all with the same “communicable attributes” (HIS Nature) from birth. HE endows only the “human side” of HIS creation with the attributes of Life, Personality, Truth, Justice, Love, Wisdom, and Holiness. These attributes automatically renders all human beings, no matter whom they are, or, where they come from, capable of worshiping GOD, and having a personal, experiential relationship with HIM. And so, an “obedient witness”, regardless of their race, creed, or national origin, can, through their speech and behavior, be effective in fulfilling the desires of GOD, for all mankind, here on earth. And that includes all of us.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





   


    

Friday, May 5, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 7, 2017

Over 129,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

WHEN CALAMITY COMES
(GOD can bring us to HIMSELF in unexpected way)
(Jonah 1)

   The prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai, was born in Israel (2 Kings 14:25) in the 7th century B.C. He lived in Samaria, the capital city of northern Israel at that time. In the book of Jonah, in chapter 1, Jonah is called by GOD to travel to Nineveh, which is located about 550 miles northeast of Samaria, to prophesy to, and to warn the Ninevites, Israel’s greatest enemy at that time, to repent and turn to GOD.
    Nineveh was a unique, double walled pagan city of around 120,000 inhabitants, and it was located in the middle of the Assyrian Empire. It was so large, that it would take a person 3 days just to see the whole city. The inner wall of Nineveh was 100 feet high and 50 feet thick, and it directly surrounded the central city of Nineveh. The outer wall, which was similar in height and strength, surrounded the smaller towns, villages and fields (the suburbs) that were situated outside of the city.
    Jonah’s charge from GOD was to go there and deliver HIS message of judgment on the people, that, if they did not repent within 40 days, they would be destroyed. However, Jonah, because of his “national pride” and his hatred for his enemies on all sides, chose to ignore the LORD’s calling, and instead, he ran as far in the opposite direction as possible, all the way to Tarshish.
    Now a quick look at ancient maps tells us that Jonah’s fleeing to Tarshish was as far as one could go away from Israel in a westward direction at that time. Tarshish was a Phoenician colony that was located about 2500 miles west of Joppa, the place where the Apostle Peter would later spend time working with “Simon the tanner”, after JESUS’ ascension back into Heaven (Acts chapter 10).
    Here in this chapter (v.3) we see Jonah jumping up and hurrying down the seashore to Joppa to purchase a ticket on a boat headed to faraway Tarshish. He foolishly hoped somehow, that by going there, he would be able to escape the watchful eye of the LORD. However, the LORD caused a great storm to come over the sea that threatened to sink the ship and drown its entire crew.
    Fearing for their lives, the desperate men on board called out to their idol gods for help, while they, at one and the same time, began throwing their cargo overboard in an attempt to lighten their load.  Jonah meanwhile was sound asleep down below in the ship’s hold. When the captain of the ship realized it, he went down into the hold to wake him up. He urged Jonah to pray to his GOD, as they were praying to their gods for mercy, and maybe HE would spare them their lives.
    When Jonah came up to the deck, the sailors decided to draw straws to see which one of them had offended their respective gods, and thereby, caused the terrible storm that they were now confronted with. When they drew the straws, the LORD caused the short straw to go to Jonah.
    When the sailors confronted Jonah he admitted that it was he who had brought this disaster upon them. Knowing that GOD was using the storm to show resentment toward him for defying HIS instructions to go to Nineveh, Jonah then urged them to throw him overboard, and his GOD would cause the storm to cease.
    We are about to see here in this passage, that, even while Jonah was out of fellowship with GOD, GOD would still use Jonah to have an evangelistic impact on the men aboard the ship. His admission that he was the culprit that caused the storm, and then, his request to be sacrificed from the ship into the sea, along with the sudden stilling of the waters by GOD, all served to convert the sailors over to the real GOD, WHO dwells in Heaven, Jonah’s GOD.
    And so we see here, that, this event was not a testament to Jonah’s holiness, who at the time, was clearly navigating out of the Will of GOD, but rather, it was a testament to how a holy GOD can use imperfect agents to, not only do HIS Will, but also, in the process, glorify HIMSELF through our misbehavior.
     Even while out of fellowship with GOD, HE used Jonah to evangelize a boatload of unbelievers, into a ship full of men who were now willing to wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to the GOD in Heaven, WHO saved their lives, and their future livelihood as ship workers.
    We can all voluntarily present ourselves to GOD with clear channels through which HE can let HIS grace flow freely to ourselves, and, more importantly, to others. And we can truly, through our obedience to GOD, even in times of catastrophes such as the one presented here in this passage of Jonah, be a blessing to more people than we can ever imagine, because GOD is always trying to set us up, for a comeback.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, April 28, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 30, 2017

Over 129,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GOD’S PRESERVING LOVE
(JESUS, our GOOD SHEPHERD)
(John 10:1-21)

   In the Greek, the word used for “thief”, here in John chapter 10, verse 1, is “kleptes” (klep-tace), and it describes “one who takes by stealth”, or, “by covert means”. Contrastingly, the Greek word used here in verse 1 for “robber” is “lestes” (lace-tace), and it describes “one who takes by force”. Here, the “thief” that JESUS is alluding to, could be any of the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of that day, and, who were men who took what they wanted by using subtle and unsuspecting methods.
    The robber, that JESUS makes mention of in this verse, can be likened to any of the Romans, who took, or stole from the Israelites by imposing their will, authority, and power upon them. It was those two types of leaderships that JESUS sought to expose here, and put an end to forever. And it certainly wasn’t the kind of leadership that our LORD intended for HIS new and upcoming “Christian Church”.
    Perhaps there is no more endearing image of JESUS in all of Scripture, than the one HE presents of HIMSELF as the “Good Shepherd” in John chapter 10. The imagery of the Good Shepherd is forever woven in the minds and hearts of all who believe in CHRIST JESUS, even up until this day.
    The Bible is loaded with passages that use the analogy of the loving Shepherd as a provider and protector of that which he oversees. He is one who risks his life to seek and to save, even that one straying sheep, who may have separated itself from his beloved flock.
    The leaders of the Christian church can also be likened to the Good Shepherd, and the members of their congregation, can be likened to the flock. It is the duty of the pastor of the Christian to spiritually lead, guide, and feed his flock with the nourishing food of the Word of GOD. And, he must aspire to do so, willingly and eagerly, without constraints, and, not for the love of money, nor, for the power that he has obtained, due to his position. He must lead by example, and his behavior must paint a picture of the patience and love of GOD, our LORD and SAVIOR, through JESUS CHRIST.
    In the Latin Vulgate, the word Jerome uses for “Pastor” is “Shepherd” in Ephesians 4:11. It describes the function of one in such a position in the Church. It is the duty of each member of the flock, to come into a personal relationship with the SHEPHERD, because of their continued need for HIS love, guidance, and protection. They should always be able to discern HIS voice from all other voices, and also be able to distinguish that which is representative of HIS work.
    The only way, to achieve that kind of relationship with GOD, is by familiarizing oneself with the SHEPHERD, JESUS CHRIST, WHO is “The Word”. One can thereby, ultimately realize the purpose (his or her “Creation Role”), for which they came into the world, and that is, of course, to personally serve and obey GOD.
    GOD’s voice can only be heard, through a leader who has patterned his life after the examples of service that were shown to us by JESUS CHRIST during HIS three-year ministry. JESUS’ impeccable standards will manifest themselves through anyone who represents HIS cause.
    There is no way to mistaken JESUS’ unique and lofty standards for those of any “false representatives” that may have came down the pike, either before, or since HIS time. One only needs to know JESUS the SHEPHERD, WHO is the real deal, in order to discern the fakes, who misrepresent, in the name of the LORD.
    Just as every good shepherd knows his sheep, every good sheep should come to know his shepherd’s voice. Such knowledge can mean the difference between life and death, in many cases. It can also be the difference between danger and safety, starvation and nourishment, or, shelter and homelessness.
    To be alone in this world, and have no hope of anything beyond this world, is a frightening thought. We as Christians, no longer have to entertain, or envision that thought. And so, we should be forever thankful to our “GOOD SHEPHERD”, our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, for making the wonderful gift of Eternal Life in GOD’s own glorious presence, a reality, by way of HIS vicarious sacrifice on the cross at Golgotha.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website






Friday, April 21, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 23, 2017

Over 128,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GOD’S RECONCILING LOVE
(We can be more than conquerors through CHRIST)
(Romans 5:6-11 and 8:31-39)

   The sin of Adam brought physical death. The Resurrection of CHRIST brought spiritual life. Because one man disobeyed GOD, many people became sinners (Romans 5:12). However, because one other MAN obeyed GOD, many people will be made right in GOD’s sight (Romans 5:17).
    In the original Greek, the word Paul uses for “access”, in Romans 5:2, is “prosagoge” (pros-a-gogue-ay), and it means “to introduce, or usher someone else into the presence of royalty”. It can also be defined as “a safe haven”, or “harbor”. We have “access” to GOD through our faith in JESUS CHRIST, WHO came into the World, and overcame the World, by way of HIS enduring SPIRIT.
    We can now rejoice in our trials because we know that those trials are not meant to make us fail, but rather, they are tests, that are meant to strengthen us, and make us better warriors in the army of CHRIST. Trials help us learn to endure, and endurance develops strength and character. Our character then strengthens our hope and confidence in the gift of salvation (Romans 5:2-4).
    In John 15:13 JESUS says that, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (KJV). This gives us confidence in salvation, because, here JESUS is saying in effect, that, from that glorious moment when HE died on the cross at Golgotha, we, as believers, were no longer just HIS servants, but, at that moment, we became HIS friends. By the sin of Adam, all men became sinners and were alienated from GOD. In total contrast, by the righteousness of CHRIST, all men can become righteous, and can be restored back into a right relationship with GOD (Romans 5:18).
    Paul says it more clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 where he states, “For since by man came death, by MAN came also, the resurrection of the dead. For in Adam all die, even so in CHRIST shall all be made alive” (KJV). There are two basic Jewish ideas that come into play when reading this passage and the first one is “solidarity”. The Jews never really thought of themselves as individuals, but rather, they were a part of a chosen clan, a family, or a nation, and whatever happened to one, happened to all.
    The other thing that comes into play in this passage is that, at least in those days, death was considered to be the direct consequence, or result, of sin. The Jews believed that sin was intimately connected with death, and in essence, they are right. GOD’s love, however, is not limited to just a select few, and HE proved that when HE extended HIS love to the entire ungodly human race by sending HIS SON JESUS to die on the cross for our iniquities. And since HIS death brought reconciliation to us all, while we were still HIS enemies, we are now reconciled, and should have confidence that HIS sacrifice will complete the work of salvation in us (Romans 5:6-11).
    GOD’s law was given to us so that all people could see how sinful they are. The more people sin, the more abundantly GOD’s wonderful grace and kindness will manifest itself. And just as sin had previously ruled over all people, bringing them to death, so now GOD’s grace and kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with HIMSELF, and resulting in eternal life through CHRIST JESUS, our LORD (Romans 5:20-21).
    Through faith in CHRIST, we can see an ultimate happy ending to the unpleasant circumstances that we now find ourselves in. Faith gives us hope to see beyond our suffering, tribulation, understanding, and lack of understanding. Faith enables us to realize how GOD can work a greater good in our lives through difficult times. And we can also rejoice and come to rest in the hope of a glorious future that was prepared for us long ago, by a kind and loving GOD.
    GOD does not want us to wallow in the troubles and failures of this life. HE wants us to always, through our strength in CHRIST JESUS, be able to look beyond this world to a future with HIM. We need to know that HIS power and love will always be able to overpower all of the worries and issues of this life. And, when we can finally come to rest in the thought, that this life is not the final act of the human drama, that is when we truly have faith and trust in GOD.
    As Christians, we know that all things work together for good, to those who love GOD (Romans 8:28), but when trouble comes, we’re sometimes hard pressed to recall it. Paul was convinced that nothing could separate him from the love and safety found in GOD (Romans 8:38-39), and we, if we are truly believers, should and must, be convinced of that too.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

  

Friday, April 14, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 16, 2017

Over 128,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

JESUS’ VICTORY OVER DEATH
(JESUS’ victory over death can be ours as well)
(John 20:1-10 and 1 Peter 1:1-9)

   In the Greek, the word New Testament writers use for “resurrection” is “anastasis” (an-as-tas-is), and it is “a moral recovery of spiritual truth”. It also means, in the physical sense, “to stand up again”. In John chapter 20, verses 1-18, Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-19, and Luke 24:1-12, these authors of GOD share their respective Gospel accounts of the Resurrection of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
    The Resurrection of CHRIST is the essence of the Christian faith, and the core of all of the Apostles teachings. All accounts tell us that it was early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, when JESUS’ body was discovered missing. By combining all four Gospel accounts, we can see that Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom JESUS once removed seven demons (Luke 8:2), Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, Salome, who was Zebedee’s wife and the mother of James and John, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager, all went to the tomb of JESUS to anoint HIS body for burial, with spices.
    Perhaps no one had ever loved JESUS as much as Mary Magdalene did. HE had done something for her that no one else could ever do, and she never forgot it. It was the custom of the Jews to visit the tomb of a loved one for three days after the body had been laid to rest. They believed that, for three days, the spirit of the deceased person would hover around the tomb, and only departed when the decomposing body became unrecognizable.
    The day following JESUS’ Crucifixion was the Sabbath, which is our Saturday, so to visit on that day would violate the Sabbath law. That is why their first visit had to occur on that early Sunday morning. The original Greek writings of the New Testament authors tell us that, it was during “proi” (the fourth night watch) when they visited the tomb. The Jews divided their nights into four watches. The first night watch was from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the second watch was from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., the third watch was from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m., and the fourth and final watch was from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. It was during this forth watch, called “proi”, that, the women came to the tomb.
    Tombs, in those days, were “cave-like” compartments that had been carved into the side of a hill, or mountain, and then, covered by a circular shaped rock, which rested, in a slanted groove that had been carved out, along the front opening of these compartments. This extremely heavy rock had to be rolled uphill to open, and downhill to close. So we can envision that it was much harder to open than it was to close.
    In addition, Matthew tells us that JESUS’ tomb was also sealed by Roman officials, at the request of the Jewish leaders (Matthew 27:62-66). They also placed guards out in front of the tomb. Matthew also records that there was a great earthquake associated with an angel of the LORD, who came down from Heaven and rolled away the stone from the entrance of the sepulcher, and then, sat on it. This apparently frightened the Roman guards so much, that they actually fainted (Matthew 28:2-4).
    When the women arrived at the tomb, they were shocked and frightened by what they saw. However, the angel was able to allay their fears and invite them to look inside the cave so that they could see that JESUS was no longer there. The angel then urged them to go and tell JESUS’ Disciples the good news, that, JESUS had arisen from the dead, just as HE had said that HE would.
    The women then ran and found Peter and John, who were somewhat puzzled, and were thinking someone had broken into the tomb and removed JESUS’ body (John 20:2). Peter and John ran to the tomb, and with John arriving first, he looks in and sees JESUS’ “body wrappings” (“bussinos” (boos-see-nos) – “linen bandages or torn sheets”) lying there in the tomb, but he sees no body.
    Then Peter arrived and actually went inside the cave, where he too, only sees the cloth that had enwrapped JESUS’ body. When Peter saw this, he remembered and realized what the Scriptures had said, and also, what JESUS had said about rising from the dead after three days, and Peter believed, and they went home.
    The Apostle Peter, perhaps, wrote his inspiring first letter (1 Peter) while residing in Rome, near the end of his life. Its purpose was to lend comfort and encouragement to the Jewish Christian Diaspora, who, were living as foreigners in the various towns of Asia Minor (now northern Turkey). In chapter 1 of that letter Peter focuses on “triumph through suffering for CHRIST”, and how the “Christian Hope” will serve as motivation to make our life here on earth, conform more fully to the word of GOD, as we go along on your “Christian Journey”.
    Peter apparently wrote this epistle around the time of “the great persecution of the Christian Church” by the Roman emperor, Nero. Nero, who was an outstanding practitioner of the form of witchcraft called “Miming”, often used his miming talents to make light of his terrible persecutions on the Church by mocking the Christian’s sufferings, while performing in the theaters in and around Rome.
    Peter and the other early church leaders banned miming in the Christian Church for obvious reasons (witchcraft is “anti-CHRIST”). Nowadays, however, because of our ever-growing desire to be entertained in worship services, many so-called Christian Churches have both “wittingly and unwittingly” re-introduced this demonic form of entertainment back into church worship services, and other church functions, simply because we fail to properly research hardly anything anymore, before we begin to incorporate it into our programs. However, we’ll let that (miming) be another Sunday school lesson. For now, let us focus on the Hope of Eternal Life that is offered through Salvation, through JESUS CHRIST.
    Peter’s first letter is rich in references to and from the Old Testament. Any Jewish Christian would find special significance in the term “Diaspora” that is translated “scattered” in the opening lines of this letter, and any Gentile reader wouldn’t help but notice Peter’s call for living a holy lifestyle, despite their background, or total ignorance to the Word of GOD.
    Those Gentile converts would have also been greatly encouraged by the fact that, even though they weren’t yet versed in the Word of GOD, they were immediately accepted as “GOD’s people” by the Christian Community. In 1 Peter 1, verses 1-2, Peter lays out the theological foundation of “encouragement” to his fellow Christians who were scattered abroad.
    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “encourage” is “parakaleo” (par-ak-al-eh-o), and it means “to call near, and to invoke by imploring and consoling”. It also means “to be of some good to, by comforting through prayer and exhortation”.  Here Peter reminds the Jewish diaspara that GOD had long ago chosen them, and, that they had also been sanctified by the HOLY SPIRIT through the atoning blood of CHRIST JESUS. They had been touched by the “GOD-head”, the “Whole of GOD”, and set aside to do “greater things” with their lives. Here Peter shares his personal desire (v. 2c) that they be showered with an abundance of GOD’s grace and peace upon their lives.
    In verses 3-5 Peter speaks of the “living hope”, or “wonderful expectation” that comes through the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS, which promises us a divine inheritance in Heaven. GOD has preserved a priceless inheritance for HIS people, which is kept “pure” and “undefiled”, and, kept out of the reach of “change” and “decay”. We are also protected by GOD’s power, here on earth, until we can receive those Heavenly benefits of this “wonderful salvation” for trusting in HIM only.
    We can come to rest in the thought that this life on earth is not the final act of “the human drama”.  And even though, by choosing the Christian Walk, we are no longer permanent residents of this earth, but rather, become citizens of Heaven, it is still necessary, for now, to endure those tests and trials that are set before us.
    These tests and trials are not meant to make us fail, but rather, are given to us to grow our faith and make us strong and pure, to better serve GOD’s purpose for us, in this life. To persevere through those trials and tribulations will bring much praise and glory and honor on the day when JESUS returns, and is revealed to the whole world (Vs. 6-7).
    Faith, Hope, and Love are the three great enduring things, and of the three, love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). Our living “hope” is spun by the promise of GOD. We “love” HIM, even though we have never seen HIM. And though we do not see HIM, by “faith”, we trust in HIS Word. And even now, we can rejoice with an inexpressible joy, because our reward for trusting in HIM will result in the salvation of our souls (Vs. 8-9).
    Salvation is something that every prophet since the beginning of the age wanted to know more about. They prophesied of this great salvation, through GOD’s SON, that had been prepared for mankind, even though they themselves, probably, had many questions as to what it all meant. They often wondered just what the SPIRIT of GOD in them was talking about, when HE informed them in advance, about CHRIST’s suffering here on earth, and HIS great glory, afterwards.
    These great men of GOD were told all these things would not happen in their lifetimes. However, today, this Good News is being preached throughout the world by those who actually embody the power of the HOLY SPIRIT on a continuous basis. And it is something so wonderful, that, even the angels are eagerly watching the events unfold in the lives of those who experience the Christian Hope, by way of a transformation of the heart, through the power only found in GOD’s Word, which is JESUS CHRIST (Vs. 10-12).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website
  


Friday, April 7, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 9, 2017

Over 127,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

JESUS AND NICODEMUS
(JESUS is GOD’s greatest expression of love)
(John 3:1-21)

   Nicodemus was a member of the “Sanhedrin”, the ruling council, or, governing body of religion and state under Rome. He was a Pharisee who had zealous dedication to GOD’s Law. He was also “a teacher of Israel”, and held the distinctive office of being an authoritative interpreter of Scripture. However, he did come to JESUS with an open mind, intent on listening to the Man, WHOM he himself, had seen perform many miracles.
    Right away JESUS stuns the seasoned scholar by saying to him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of GOD” (John 3:3 - KJV). In other words, JESUS was telling a man who was thought to be “spiritual” by almost everyone, including his own self, that, before any spiritual questions can be dealt with, a man must be born anew, spiritually. He would have to be baptized in the SPIRIT that JESUS HIMSELF would later impart (in the person of the HOLY SPIRIT) to anyone that believes in HIM. And even though the concept of a “spiritual rebirth” is clearly evident in the Old Testament also, here, Nicodemus is still, clearly confused by this divine revelation of truth that JESUS has just imparted to him (John 3:4).
    JESUS further elaborates on HIS prior statement regarding spiritual rebirth in verses 5-7, by stating, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of GOD without being born of water, and, the SPIRIT”. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the HOLY SPIRIT gives new life from Heaven” (NLT). In other words, JESUS is saying that, the first requirement for a person to be eligible for the kingdom of GOD is that GOD has to allow that person to exist in the first place. When a woman’s “water” breaks after the fullness of the time of her pregnancy, a person, or persons are born into the world and human life begins its journey in earnest in the physical world. However, only through accepting CHRIST JESUS, first with our lips, and then, in our hearts, (and thereby, inviting the HOLY SPIRIT to dwell within us), can a person ever receive a new spiritual, eternal life in Heaven. 
    To be “born again” is the phrase that clearly describes the goal of the aspiring Christian. It is the true Christian’s desire, that GOD will exact HIS divine power upon our lives with a “moral infusion” that will transform us into a people that can, at all times, reflect HIS image to others, through our own behavior. And just as “Natural Birth” marks the beginning of our new life in the physical world, and makes us “children of man”, “Spiritual Birth” marks the beginning of our new life in CHRIST JESUS, and makes us “children of GOD” (John 3:5-6).
    At this time, JESUS responds with a question of HIS OWN, by asking Nicodemus, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these thing (v. 10 – KJV)? In other words, HE was asking him, “aren’t you a respected Jewish teacher and yet you don’t understand these things?” If you don’t believe the things that GOD is doing on earth, you can’t possibly believe the things that are done in Heaven” (John 3:10-12).
    Then, after giving Nicodemus a prophetic revelation of how HIS earthly ministry would end (Verses 13-15), JESUS goes on to utter what is, arguably, the most well known verse in all of Scripture, when HE states, “For GOD so loved the world, that HE gave HIS only begotten SON, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 - KJV).
    It is “the statement” in Scripture that, perhaps, more clearly than all other statements, reveals to us that “GOD’s motivation towards HIS people is “love”. It is a love that is not limited to a few, or, just to a single group of people. GOD’s gifts of Love and Salvation are for everyone who dares to believe. GOD’s purpose in sending HIS OWN SON (HIS first advent) is for our “Salvation”, and not for our “condemnation”. In fact, there is no judgment awaiting those who believe.
    The “lost sinners” are those who do not accept CHRIST JESUS as their LORD and SAVIOR, and by rejecting HIM, “they already stand condemned” (are already judged). They will remain lost, unless they put their trust and faith in CHRIST JESUS, while they yet live (v. 18).
    The Scriptures tell us that their judgment (the lost person) is based on this fact: “the LIGHT from Heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the LIGHT, for their actions were evil. They hate the LIGHT because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the LIGHT for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished. But those who desire to do what is right come to the LIGHT gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what GOD wants” (Vs. 19-21 - NLT).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, March 31, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 2, 2017

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GOD AS OUR SHEPHERD
(GOD walks with us through our fears)
(Psalm 23)

   Perhaps there is no more endearing image of JESUS in all of Scripture, than the one HE presents of HIMSELF as the “Good Shepherd” in John chapter 10. The imagery of the Good Shepherd is forever woven in the minds and hearts of all who believe in CHRIST JESUS.
    In ancient times shepherding was looked upon as an unpleasant and humble task, and so it was usually passed on to the youngest member of the family (the person who couldn’t reject it), or as it was, to the most humble position in the family. GOD used the idea of this humble position to show us the humility of JESUS our LORD as our great SHEPHERD.
    The Bible is rife with passages that use the analogy of the loving Shepherd as a provider and protector of that which he oversees. He is one who risks his life to seek and save, even that one lost or straying sheep, who may have separated itself from his beloved flock.
    The leaders of the Christian church can also be likened to the good Shepherd, and the members of their congregation, can be likened to the flock. It is the duty of the pastor to spiritually lead, and feed his flock with the nourishing food of the Word of GOD, and he must do so, willingly and eagerly, without constraints, and not for the love of money, nor, for the power that he has obtained due to his position. He must lead by example at all times, and his behavior must paint a picture of the patience and love of GOD, our LORD and SAVIOR, through JESUS CHRIST.
    In the Latin Vulgate, the word Jerome uses for “Pastor” is “Shepherd” in Ephesians 4:11. It describes the function of one in such a position in the Church of GOD. It is the duty of each member of the flock, to come into a personal relationship with the SHEPHERD, because of their continued need for HIS love, guidance, and protection. They should always be able to discern HIS voice from all other voices, and also be able to distinguish that which is representative of HIS work.
    The only way, to achieve that kind of relationship with GOD, is by familiarizing oneself with the SHEPHERD, JESUS CHRIST, WHO is “The Word”. Only then can one ultimately realize the purpose for which he or she has came into the world, and that is, of course, to serve and obey GOD.
    GOD’s voice can only be heard, through a leader who has patterned his life after the examples of service that were shown to us by JESUS CHRIST during HIS three-year ministry. JESUS’ impeccable standards will manifest themselves through anyone who truly represents HIS cause. There is no way to mistaken HIS unique and lofty standards for those of any “false representatives” that may have came down the pike, either before, or since HIS time. One only needs to know JESUS the SHEPHERD, WHO is the real deal, in order to discern the fakes, who misrepresent, in the name of the LORD.
    Here in Psalm 23, the most famous Psalm in all of Scripture, King David celebrates the security that one can find only through GOD’s protection. We are all like sheep in the eyes of GOD, and like sheep who can’t survive in the wild without the care and protection of a shepherd, so too, we can’t survive in the world, which is dominated by satan, without GOD as our provider, protector, and guide (Vs.1-4).
    In verses 5-6, David presents us with the imagery of a guest in the house of the most generous owner imaginable. In those days, good hospitality was greatly valued, and the needs of the guest were eagerly provided for. The host gladly cared for his guest and made them feel satisfied, safe, and comfortable.
    GOD HIMSELF sets a table before us in the mist of the surrounding dangers and atmosphere of this world, and HE treats us with HIS generosity and kindness whenever we decide to come out of the world, and into HIS glorious house, as HIS guests. And despite our disobedience and offenses against HIM while we are living for world, HE shows us mercy, kindness, and generosity, and HE is willing to allow us to take up permanent residency with HIM, all the remaining days of our lives.
    Just as every good shepherd knows his sheep, every good sheep should come to know his shepherd’s voice. Such knowledge can mean the difference between life and death, in many cases. It can also be the difference between danger and safety, starvation and nourishment, or, shelter and homelessness.
    To be alone in this world, and have no hope of anything beyond this world, is a frightening thought. We as Christians, no longer have to entertain, or envision that thought. And so, we should be forever thankful to our “GOOD SHEPHERD”, our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, for making the wonderful gift of Eternal Life in GOD’s own glorious presence a reality, by way of HIS vicarious sacrifice for us, on the cross at Golgotha (Calvary Hill).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander