Friday, March 31, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 2, 2017

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(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


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