Friday, October 27, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 29, 2017

Over 141,000 readers worldwide

(GOD is faithful, even when we are not)
(Nehemiah 9)

   Nehemiah chapter 9 details a “revival” which followed the “Festival of Booths” celebrations and observances in chapter 8. This revival took place fifteen days later, and it is marked by six key elements which perhaps any Christian revival, even today, should contain:

·         They humbled themselves (v.1)
·         They separated themselves from the foreigners who were not a part of theirs and their ancestors sins against GOD (v.2)
·          They confessed their sins, and the sins of their ancestors (Vs.2-3)
·          The Word of GOD was read to them for three hours (v.3)
·         They continued to praise GOD, and acknowledge HIS goodness and HIS grace in prayer (Vs. 4-37)
·         They made a solemn promise, in writing, to obey the LORD their GOD (v.38)

    “The Word of GOD” has to have a great impact on the lives of a community, if it is to undergo “true change”, or be “revived”. Only the Word of GOD can truly change a person for the better, permanently. The Israelites, in this passage, began their revival with the Word of GOD because the Word is what shows a person his or her sin, and convicts them. We become aware of what is “wrong” only by being shown what is “right” in the eyes of GOD, not, in the eyes of man.
    In this passage the Israelites confess a total of 20 “repetitive sins” against GOD, from the time of Abraham to their present day. During this prayer they also acknowledge over 70 facts about GOD and HIS faithfulness. In it they review the history of Israel, and it reveals, both, the majesty and splendor of GOD, and, the depravity of man, at one and the same time.
    We see in this chapter how “feasting” evolved into “fasting”, fasting into “confession”, confession into “prayer”, and prayer into, “a promise of obedience”. However, it was the Word of GOD that “convicted” the people, and got the ball rolling toward forgiveness.
    “True worship” involves hearing the Word of GOD, praising GOD, praying to GOD, confessing sin to GOD, and then removing ourselves from situations that displease GOD.     The better we know GOD, the more we respond to HIM through the “imitation” of HIS ways, those ways that were demonstrated to us by CHRIST JESUS, during HIS mission and time here on earth.
    We see over in Nehemiah 10, verses 28-29 that not only did the people who actually ratified the document with their signature agree to solemnly obey the LORD, but also everyone, including all of the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, and Temple servants, who had separated themselves from the pagan people around them, all made a vow to serve only the GOD of Israel. Everyone who had reached an age of accountability, and were old enough to understand, wholeheartedly bound themselves with an oath of obedience to GOD.
    They vowed too, to also accept the “curse” of GOD, if they failed to obey HIS Laws as they was issued by HIS servant Moses to their ancestors on Mount Sinai, all those years ago. They solemnly promised to carefully follow and obey all the commands, laws, and regulations of the LORD, GOD of Israel.
    However, perhaps it is the cycle of the events that occur in the Book of Judges that are alluded to here in chapter 9, verses 28-31, that probably demonstrate to us most clearly, the Israelites repeated pattern of “sin”, “servitude”, “supplication”, “salvation”, and “silence”. The tragedy that that cycle presents in Israel’s history is that they never relinquished their rebellious ways against GOD, and in fact, with each downswing, GOD would have to increase the severity of their “self-imposed” consequences.
    GOD speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures, and we must respond by speaking to HIM, through “prayer” and “praise”. In this “National Prayer” of the Jews, here in Nehemiah 9, they acknowledge their persistent sin, and GOD’s persistent judgment and mercy, and, this prayer also shows us GOD is just in exercising “compassion”.
    It is right for GOD to punish, and it is equally correct for HIM to forgive. HE is perfectly free to do what HE pleases, and it pleases HIM to offer man forgiveness of sin through CHRIST JESUS. GOD does not have to change for us, for HE is perfectly righteous in everything that HE has done, and will do. It is us who must change, because it is us who are in error, and, are in need of HIS “daily provisions” (GOD the FATHER), “forgiveness” (CHRIST JESUS), and “help with temptation” (the HOLY SPIRIT), the whole of GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, October 20, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 22, 2017

Over 141,000 readers worldwide

(Submitting our plans to GOD’s plans)
(2 Samuel 7:1-17)

   In the Greek there are two words that are used for “covenant”. One of those words is “suntheke” (soon-tha-kay), and it is used only in the secular Greek. It is defined as “an agreement between two or more equal parties or entities, on equal terms” (e.g. marriage, bond, business agreement etc.).
    However, in the New Testament Greek, the word that is always used for “covenant” is “diatheke” (dee-ath-ay-kay), and it is an agreement that is actually more along the lines of a “devised will”. In other words, only one party, “the devisor”, draws up the terms, and the other party, “the devisee”, can either accept or reject those terms, or “inheritance” that is offered. The devisee cannot change any of the terms in that covenant, he or she only has the right, or option, to walk away and leave it if they do not agree.
    That is the way it is with the Holy Bible, which is “GOD’s Will” for each of us. It is HIS covenant with us (mankind), as HIS greatest creation. We can either accept it totally, or reject it totally, but we can’t change any of the terms within it to suit our own purposes. We cannot add to it, and nor can we take away from it. That is how we know that “all man-made denominations” are ungodly, and that, in truth, they are “out of the will of GOD”. In fact, they can’t even come into existence unless, the people involved do not totally agree with GOD.
    And so, the choice of this word, “diatheke”, by the authors of GOD is understandable, because we as human beings cannot enter into an “equal partnership”, or “be on equal terms” with GOD. We are only able to make a voluntary decision to accept, or reject HIS offer, and cannot alter, or change HIS terms in any way. In the biblical application, the word “covenant” is always used in this sense, “the spirit of “diatheke”, even in the Old Testament sense.
    In 2 Samuel, chapter 7, verses 8-16, we see just such a covenant being offered by GOD, to David, through the prophet Nathan, as a bond between himself and GOD. With the exception of the covenant ushered in by CHRIST, that saved all mankind, through HIS vicarious sacrifice, this is undoubtedly the greatest covenant GOD ever made with a man.
    It is important however, to note that the Abrahamic Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and the Covenant ushered in by our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, are all spiritually connected, as they each, ultimately, manifest the “Prevailing Will of GOD” upon man’s destiny, step by step.
    In 2 Samuel 7:1-2, after David had settled comfortably in his “palace of cedar” in Jerusalem, and there was peace throughout the land of Israel, his thoughts turned to the notion of building a permanent home for the “Ark of the Covenant of the LORD”. He was no doubt feeling very beholding to GOD for all the blessings HE had showered upon him for so many years, and he desired to use those blessings to serve GOD in return for HIS divine goodness.
    Here David summons the Prophet Nathan to consult with him on the matter and Nathan tells him that, “since the LORD is with you, go ahead and do what you have in mind”. However, that same night, the LORD spoke to Nathan, probably in a dream, and told him, in effect, that David was not to build HIM a house. Instead, GOD would build a house for David. It was to be “a royal house”, one that consisted of a dynasty of kings (Davidic Kings) that would culminate in the birth, and life on earth, of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, the ULTIMATE MESSENGER, ULTIMATE PRIEST, and ULTIMATE KING.
    The LORD also promised that this dynasty would originate with David and would never end. This Kingdom, and its Throne, would be permanent, and the son of David, HIS SON, would ultimately reign forever upon it.
    Actually, this great promise had already been foretold and echoed by the ancient prophets over the years, and would actually begin to be fulfilled with the first advent of JESUS CHRIST. However, the birth of JESUS into humanity was only a prelude to the eventual, “Eternal Kingdom”, that is still yet to come.
    In response to this unprecedented offer from GOD, all David could do, was to fall down to his knees and praise the ALMIGHTY GOD of creation. This Old Testament account of the Davidic Covenant serves to show us that, the GOD WHO has been faithful in our yesterdays is, also, the same GOD WHO will be with us in our tomorrows.
    In verses 18-29, the phrase “SOVEREIGN LORD” is used no less than 7 times in David’s “prayer of praise”, and it means, quite literally, “YAHWEH ELOHIM”, or “YAHWEH GOD”. Seven is GOD’s perfect number, and it represents “completeness”, or “perfection” in the Biblical sense. This prayer mirrors David’s “complete and perfect” reverence for GOD, which he had stored in his heart, from the time he was a child working in the field as a shepherd to his father’s sheep. He had a long history of service to GOD, and GOD always remembers those who serve HIM long, and serve HIM well.
    There is one other thing about this passage that I think is worth noting, because it seems to occur so frequently, throughout David’s life, and, once again it occurs here in verses 25-29. David seems to always ask for what he already knew GOD wanted to give him, and some might view this as an act of unbelief, or lack of faith in GOD’s promises, however, that is not so in this case.
    Remember, asking for what we know GOD already wants to give us cannot always be looked upon as an “act of unbelief”. It has to also be viewed as an “expression of dependence on GOD”, and “confidence in GOD”, to deliver our needs (things that are within HIS Will) in all situations. And I promise you, it’s always OK to ask for things that you know are promised to you by GOD, because GOD, WHO is kardiognostes (kar-di-o-nos-tace), “a heart knower”, really does know the difference between “unbelief”, and “confidence” in HIS promises.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, October 13, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 15, 2017

Over 140,000 readers worldwide

(Putting nothing ahead of the only true GOD)
(Exodus 20)

In Exodus 20, GOD personally instructs the Israelites as follows;

(1)   Do not worship any other gods besides ME.
(2)   Do not make idols (graven hand-made images) of any kind (this includes any and everything), whether in the shape of birds, animals, or fish, for the purpose of worshipping them.
(3)   Do not use the name of the LORD GOD in vain (do not misuse the name JEHOVAH (Greek) or YAWWEH (Hebrew).
(4)   Remember the Sabbath Day (seventh day) and keep it Holy (do not work seven consecutive days in a row.
(5)   Honor your father and mother.
(6)   Do not murder (another person, or yourself (suicide).
(7)   Do not commit adultery.
(8)   Do not steal.
(9)   Do not tell a lie against another person (do not bear false witness)
(10)Do envy another person in any way whatsoever.

These are now famously known as the “Ten Commandments” or, by scholars as, “The Decalogue”
    In verse 18, after the Israelites heard the thunderous voice of GOD along with the loud blast of the horn, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke billowing from the top of Mount Sinai, they stood far away in the distance, trembling with fear. They then asked Moses to tell them what the LORD had said because they feared that if the LORD spoke to them directly, they would die. Moses cautioned them instead to, from that day forward, let their great fear of the LORD keep them from sinning.
    To understand these commandments further, let us go to the Gospels where JESUS HIMSELF explains it best. In Luke 10:25-29, one of the teachers of religious law, probably a Pharisee, stood up and posed this question to JESUS; “What must I do to receive eternal life? Ironically JESUS gave him the same answer that HE had given to the religious teacher who had asked “Which is the most important commandment?” in both, Matthew 22:34-40, and, in Mark 12:28-34).
    In both Matthew and Mark’s Gospel accounts, JESUS began by reciting the opening line, of the first part of the three-part “Shema”, which was recited by devout Jews twice daily. It stresses the unity of GOD, and, the importance of loving HIM and HIS Laws, and it goes like this; “Hear old Israel; the LORD our GOD is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
    Then JESUS says that we must “love the LORD THY GOD with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength”. This kind of love calls for “a thorough commitment to GOD” that is both “personal”, and, “whole of heart”. In fact, it speaks to “the whole of humanity”, which is;

·         The heart” - The “center” of human life,
·         The soul” - The “self-conscience life” of all men,
·         The mind” - The “entire thought process” of man,
·         The strength” - The “entire physical power” of man.

    In other words, “we should love GOD with every fiber of our being” and it is no accident that this is also what is covered in the first four commandments (Exodus 20:3-11), where GOD tells us, in effect, that our love for HIM must be;

·         Totally loyal (verse 3),
·         Totally faithful (verse 6),
·         Totally trusting (verse 7),
·         And, we must “show total reverence for HIM” at all times (verse 8).

    Next, JESUS states that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. It is not a coincidence that this includes the summation of the remaining six commandments (Exodus 20:12-17);

·         If we love each other, we can certainly begin with honoring our own parents.
·         If we love each other, we are not likely to intentionally, or maliciously take another’s life, which by the way, is made in the spiritual image of GOD.
·         If we love each other, we will not commit adultery against our spouse with another person.
·         If we love each other, we won’t steal from each other.
·         If we love each other, we won’t lie on each other, or falsely accuse each other.
·         And finally, if we love each other, we won’t jealously desire anything that belongs to someone else.

    And so, here in this passage JESUS is saying that “everything GOD commands us to do is of the utmost importance to HIM”, and that, the Ten Commandments can really be viewed as being only two. And both of them, or all ten of them, are of equal importance to GOD. And JESUS concludes by saying, “If we do them, we will live” eternally with GOD in Heaven. When we come to love GOD, we then understand more clearly how we can also, “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”.
    In verse 29, the religious teacher sought to justify himself by posing yet another question to JESUS, asking HIM, “Who is my neighbor?” and in verses 30-37, JESUS gives us a clear example of how we can serve GOD by serving our neighbor. There HE relates the, now famous story, of “the good Samaritan”. In that passage of Scripture, JESUS defines “neighbor” in a very rigorous, all-inclusive way as being “anybody who is in need”, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin.
    JESUS’ answer to this second question by the religious teacher, has to be viewed on two different levels, if, we are to grasp the totality of HIS message. First of all JESUS HIMSELF tells us that when HE returns to judge the peoples’ of the world, HE will base HIS decision on how each individual “reacted to human need” over the span of his or her lifetime (Matthew 25:31-46). Secondly, it must be viewed in the context of HIS OWN rejection by Israel here on earth.
    In this parable, the Jewish religious leaders rejected the man who had fell victim to bandits along the perilous Jericho Road, and he needed their help after being robbed. When JESUS lived here on earth, the Jewish people, particularly the religious leaders, became the worst of HIS rejecters by announcing HIM as being not from GOD.
    In the parable of the good Samaritan, only the despised, mixed-race Samaritan stopped to render aid to the fallen man of Jewish descent, and out of the three who came upon the man’s injured body (two of them being men of the Church), only the outcast Samaritan was willing to stop and help keep the man from perishing by the wayside. In fact, not only did the man render aid to fallen Jewish man by soothing his wounds with medicine and bandages, he also loaded him up on his donkey and took him to a place of shelter in a nearby inn, where he administered further medical assistance to him.
    And furthermore, the next day, the Samaritan gave the innkeeper two pieces of silver and instructed him to take care of the man. He also told the innkeeper, that, if he needed more money, he would square up him the next time he passed through town.
    After JESUS finished relating this parable, HE asked the religious teacher which of the three men, who encountered the wounded victim on the Jericho Road, acted as a good neighbor to him. The religious teacher wisely replied in the only way he could, by answering, “The one who showed him mercy”. Then JESUS replied to the teacher, “Yes, now go and do the same”

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, October 6, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 8, 2017

Over 140,000 readers worldwide

(Meeting GOD on HIS terms, not ours)
(Exodus 19)

   In Exodus 19, exactly two months after the Israelites left slavery in Egypt, they arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai where GOD had previously instructed Moses to bring them (Exodus 3:12). It is there that GOD would make HIS offer of a “Covenant” known to Moses and all of the people of Israel. This Covenant was filled with many benefits that were based on the “conditional promises” of GOD. They were benefits, or, “blessings”, that could only be realized if they lived in total obedience and loyalty to GOD, and, if they exhibited “fair” and “just” treatment (show love) to their fellowman.
    The Israelites quickly agreed to hear the LORD’s Covenant offer, and preparations were made (v.14), as instructed by the LORD to Moses, for a very special appearance by GOD HIMSELF, to the entire nation of Israel, from the apex of Mount Sinai.
    And so the stage was now set for an electrifying manifestation of GOD’s OWN glorious presence, which would occur in only three days time. At that time, GOD would write down a list of religious and moral laws with HIS OWN finger, that would, over time, shape the spirits of mankind, into a, more closer representation of HIS OWN unreachable superior character. These life-changing instructions, that would be received by Moses that day on Mount Sinai, have now become known, the world over, as “The Ten Commandments” of GOD.
    On the morning of the third day, there came a powerful storm with much thunder and lightning. A very dense cloud then covered the top of Mount Sinai. This spectacular scene was accompanied by a loud and frightening trumpet-like blast from a ram’s horn that could be heard for miles around, and all the people trembled at the coming of the LORD.
    Moses then led all of the people from their camp to the foot of Mount Sinai, and as the LORD had so sternly advised him, he had previously set up barriers, and warned the Israelites not to breach them. For if any of them were to cross the demarcation lines that were set, they would surely die by stoning or, by arrow. Moses also instructed the people that no one who crossed those barriers, could ever be touched again, physically, by another person, unless they too, lose their own life (Vs.12-13).
    Then GOD the FATHER summoned Moses to come, and Moses climbed to the top of Mount Sinai, where HE, for the first time, personally appeared to him in “the form of fire” (v.18). Remember, Moses’ first encounter, the fire of the “Burning Bush” (Exodus 3) was actually a theophany of CHRIST JESUS, WHO is “The ANGEL of the LORD”.
    However, no sooner than Moses had reached the top of the mountain, GOD instructed him to go back down and warn the people again “not to cross the barriers that he had set”. Apparently Moses had not included the priests, who regularly come before GOD, with the same restriction instructions as all the others, “not to cross the set boundaries”. Also, GOD wanted Moses to go back and bring “only Aaron”, the chief priest, back to the top of the mountain, with him.
    Here in Exodus 19, the LORD is preparing the people to receive the “Mosaic Covenant”, and as all biblical covenants do, it makes a statement concerning what GOD intends to do, or is committed to do, for HIS people. However, this Mosaic Covenant, differs in that it tells what GOD will do for each generation going forward, as history unfolds. And while the “Abrahamic Covenant” and the “Davidic Covenant” are “permanent” ones, this Mosaic Covenant is seen by most Christian scholars as a “temporary” covenant that was in force only until the “first advent” of JESUS the CHRIST, the promised REDEEMER of mankind (Galatians 3:15-25).
    Here in the “Church Age”, GOD’s Old Testament Law serves more to reveal HIS “Holy Nature” and “moral standards” to a world that has become, more and more, adverse to HIS plan and pattern for HIS greatest creation, mankind. We are made in GOD’s “spiritual image” and we are the only part of HIS creation that shares HIS “Holy Nature”.
    However, to GOD’s dismay, we continue to sorely disappoint HIM with our disobedient behavior, and so, as an added measure, GOD enables us to be embodied by HIS HOLY SPIRIT to “help” us to abide in “love”, and more perfectly display HIS Holy Character to “an unbelieving world”.
    JESUS CHRIST came to show us how to live as “human beings” perfectly under GOD. However, sadly, most of us have already allowed satan to convince us that it is impossible to obey GOD. As a result, we continue to refuse to meet GOD on HIS terms, and we desire instead, to seek a god that is made in “our own image”, as opposed to conforming to the GOD WHO made us in HIS.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website