Friday, December 28, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 30, 2018

Over 184,000 readers worldwide

(JESUS will judge us according to our reaction to human need)
(Matthew 25:31-46)

   In Matthew 25, verses 31-46, as JESUS concluded HIS, now famous, “Mount Olive Discourse” from the slopes of Mount Olive, HE gives us the answers that we need in order to pass “the test of life” that GOD has set before us. Here, the ultimate TEACHER, JESUS, gives us the criterion by which HE will grade all humankind upon HIS second coming, when “the school of life” as we know it here on earth, is over.
    Here JESUS is speaking of a time immediately following the final tribulations of man that were foretold by the prophet Daniel during the Babylonian conquest (Daniel 7:25, 9:27, 12:7), and then later, by the Apostle John through his visions from CHRIST JESUS on the island of Patmos (Revelations 11:2-3, 12:14, 13:5). This final tribulation period is to last for seven years just prior to what we’ve come to know as “The Rapture”.
    JESUS tells us that HE will be accompanied by a host of angels, and will be seated on HIS glorious throne because HE plans to stay for a while (1000 years to be exact). It is from there, that HE will exercise HIS GOD-given authority to judge all mankind, and HE will do so, strictly according to “how we reacted to human need” in our lifetime.
    If we reacted positively to others, showing agape love toward our fellowman, we passed the test of life, however, if we reacted negatively, and did not show love and concern for our fellowman, we’ve failed the test, and thereby, cannot pass into eternal life in Heaven, nor, for that matter, into the earthly “Millennial Kingdom” which CHRIST will set up immediately following HIS final judgment.
    During this millennial period (1000 years), CHRIST JESUS will reign over a restored earth, where there will be “no satanic influence”, because satan will be locked away for the duration. The prophet Ezekiel tells us that GOD will, quite literally, take away the remaining sin nature, or desire to sin, from those who are still seeking GOD in the end (Ezekiel 36:25-33).
    Because of GOD’S generous giving of a new human spirit to those who are allowed to enter the Millennial Kingdom, there will be no sin, nor desire to sin, during CHRIST’s reign and beyond. And because there will be no more sin, there can also be no more sickness and death. Everyone who enters into the Millennial Kingdom on day one will still be a member of the Kingdom at the end of the thousand year period, because they will willingly desire only to serve CHRIST JESUS.  
    In this passage JESUS makes it pretty clear that anyone who hasn’t accepted HIS salvation offer by the time HE returns (the goats in this passage) will be sent away into eternal damnation and punishment. Only those individuals who have already accepted CHRIST before HE returns (the sheep in this passage) will be allowed to enter into, and share in HIS Millennial Kingdom. One must have already taken on the attitude of treating everyone as if they were dealing with CHRIST HIMSELF, personally, before HE returns. They must actually practice this behavior in this life, right now, here on earth.
    What stands out in this passage is that no sin, in particular, is mentioned, as a part of the criterion that JESUS will use for judging us. The reason being is that, all the sins of man, past, present, and future, have already been covered by the blood of JESUS when HE died on the cross at Golgotha.
    Here JESUS is telling us that we will be judged strictly according to our reaction to human need, and that salvation is granted only to those who believe that HE died and took the mandatory death penalty for sins off the table. Since that time all those who accept HIM as their LORD and SAVIOR will be saved from eternal damnation.
    However, our faith in GOD has to rise to the level of “Saving Faith” before we can be motivated to act out that faith in a way that is pleasing to GOD. Real saving faith manifests itself through GODly deeds and behavior that actually show GOD our love for HIM and our fellowman. And when GOD looks into our hearts and sees HIMSELF, HE then sends us to JESUS.
    That is what JESUS means when HE says, “No man can come to ME unless the FATHER draws them” (John 6:43-45 and 65). As Christians, we must be able to show the world, through our behavior, that Christianity really does produce the best men and women. And then, because of the desire we’ve shown to “do” the Word of GOD, GOD the FATHER will send us to JESUS, and HE, in the last day, will raise us up from the dead into eternal life with HIM, first, in the Millennial Kingdom, and then finally, into the Kingdom of Heaven itself.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, December 21, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 23, 2018

Over 183,000 readers worldwide

(JESUS is GOD’s promised gift)
(Luke 1:26-38 and 2:22-35)

   In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the archangel, Gabriel, returns to earth to deliver yet another message from GOD. This time he visits the tiny town of Nazareth in Galilee, the home of a young teenaged “virgin” (“parthenos” in the Greek) named Mary. Mary was engaged to marry a man named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David. Gabriel’s charge, on this visit, was to give young Mary shocking news of GOD’s plan to bless the world through her, with the “Immaculate Conception” of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, WHOM HIMSELF would be “the ULTIMATE MESSAGER”.
    The long-awaited “MESSIAH” WHO had been forecasted by ancient prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and the likes, would now be sent by GOD to usher in a “New Covenant” that would liberate all mankind from under the dominion of sin. It would be a covenant that would allow anyone, who believes in HIM, to receive the gift of eternal life, through their faith. It would then become the duty of all of HIS followers to build their spiritual foundation on that “most high” faith.
    As Christians, they would then have to learn to pray and communicate with GOD in the power of a, soon-to-come, HOLY SPIRIT (worship in Spirit), WHOM JESUS would later send. And after HIS ascension back into Heaven, through regular “Holy Communion” services, we were to always acknowledge and remember the conditions of this covenant, under which the love of GOD has called us, and of which, JESUS HIMSELF, signed with HIS OWN blood.
    In verse 28 Gabriel greeted Mary saying, “Greetings favored woman! The LORD is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary struggled to try and understand just what the appearance of the angel before her meant. Sensing her fear, Gabriel sought to calm her by saying, “Don’t be frightened, Mary, for GOD has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him JESUS. HE will be very great and will be called the SON of the MOST HIGH. And the LORD GOD will give HIM the throne of HIS ancestor David. And HE will reign over Israel forever; HIS kingdom will never end!” (NLT)
    Then Mary wondered out loud, asking Gabriel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin”. Gabriel then explains to her that, “The HOLY SPIRIT will come upon you, and the power of The MOST HIGH will “overshadow” (“episkiazo” in the Greek) you. So, the BABY born to you will be holy, and HE will be called the “SON of GOD” (“Prototakas”, which means, “first born”) (Vs.34-35).
    In order to understand further what the angel, Gabriel was telling Mary, the word “overshadow” which is “episkiazo” in the original Greek, has a duel meaning, and in this case both meaning do apply. First it means “to make insignificant”. Here the angel is telling Mary that the child she will borne is “infinitely more important than herself”.
    Secondly, “episkiazo” means, “to envelope (fully cover) with a “preternatural (beyond the normal course of nature) covering or influence”, or a haze of brilliancy”. In other words, GOD would place a supernatural covering around Mary to protect her during the course of her pregnancy, from the wiles of satan, and his last ditch efforts to prevent, or delay the entrance of JESUS into the world.
    Suddenly Mary’s “confusion and fear” turned to “joy and appreciation”. She then responded by saying, “I am the LORD’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever HE wants. May everything you said, come true” (v.38).
    When we believe in GOD, in all HIS fullness, holiness, and eternal righteousness, it becomes easy to accept whatever HE sends our way. We then understand that HIS tests are not meant to make us fail, but rather, are sent to make us strong, so that we may become better warriors in the Army of CHRIST.
    Mary accepted the message that GOD sent her that day through HIS angel, Gabriel, and as a result, every generation since, has called her blessed. We can’t help but acknowledge the “favor” (“charise”) that GOD showed her, by way of HIS bestowing upon her, such a divine role, in HIS divine plan and works.

Luke 2:21-25

   In Luke chapter 2, taking up at verse 21, we see that eight days after JESUS was born, HE was taken to Jerusalem for the “Naming and Circumcision Ceremony” according to the Jewish Rite and Covenant with GOD concerning all male children. Baby JESUS’ name, however, had already been given to HIS mother Mary by the archangel Gabriel before HE was even conceived, and so here, only the circumcision was needed (Luke 1:31).
    Now it was time for “the purification offering” that was also required by the Law of Moses after the birth of any child. However, the Law also says that, if a woman’s first child was a male, he would have to be dedicated to the LORD in a special “dedication ceremony” that required that they bring “animal sacrifices”. And in order that every family would be financially able to obtain an animal sacrifice, GOD only required parents to bring, either a pair of turtledoves, or, two young pigeons.     

Luke 2:25-35

   There was a righteous and devout man of GOD named “Simeon”, who was filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, and who had waited patiently on the LORD for many years, just so he could see the MESSIAH WHO would come to rescue Israel, and indeed, the whole world, from the grip of their own sin. The HOLY SPIRIT had already revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the MESSIAH with his own eyes.
    On the day that Mary and Joseph came to the temple, the HOLY SPIRIT led Simeon there so that GOD’s promise would be fulfilled. Simeon took Baby JESUS into his arms and praised GOD, and proclaimed the words of Scripture contained in Luke 2:29-32, that have came to be known as “The Nunc Dimittis” from the Latin Vulgate, which is interpreted, “Now let me depart”. There Simeon declares;

“LORD, now I can die in peace! As YOU promised me, I have seen the SAVIOR YOU have given to all people. HE is a light to reveal GOD to the nations, and HE is the glory of YOUR people Israel!” (NLT)

    Joseph and Mary, of course, were amazed at what Simeon had proclaimed about their SON, JESUS. Simeon then blessed the couple and further said to Mary,

“This CHILD will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But HE will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus, the deepest thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul” (Vs34-35) (NLT)

    Here the Prophet Simeon is informing Mary that she would be emotionally torn by the coming opposition to her SON JESUS, by both, the professed Church, and, by the World. JESUS would later manifest HIMSELF as the very source of our salvation, and that salvation would be extended, not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles of the world. JESUS would come to be known as “the SAVIOR of the whole world”, and not just the world of HIS earthly generation. HIS “salvation offer” would also extend to every generation, past, present, and future, who would ever live, in the history of this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, December 14, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 16, 2018

Over 182,000 readers worldwide

(Praise the LORD WHO loves and redeems us)
(Psalm 103)

   The “Christian Hope” has, throughout the history of the Church, served as motivation to make life on earth, conform more fully with the Word of GOD, just as it was presented to us by JESUS CHRIST (not by confused Christian denominations), during HIS three-year ministry of preaching and teaching, here on earth. All the information we have comes to us, from those who actually saw JESUS’ miracles performed, and, who actually heard HIM teach.
     However, in Psalm 103 we see that the believer’s hope in GOD began way before the first century Christian Church was born, as here King David praises the LORD after looking back on the mercies that HE had bestowed upon himself and Israel over the years. He was inspired by his “hope in GOD”, even then, and he celebrates his deliverance in the words of this psalm, which also seems to serve as an answer to his “prayer of being overwhelmed” in Psalm 102.
   Here in this passage David speaks to the benefits of serving GOD with “every fiber of our being”, our whole “heart”, “soul”, “mind”, and “physical strength”. We should never forget the good things that GOD does for us, and HIS goodness only, should motivate us to worship and obey HIM consistently and fervently.
    In verses 3-7 we are reminded in this day, of how GOD forgives all of our sins and heals all of our sicknesses. HE not only ransoms us from death, through the vicarious sacrifice of CHRIST, but HE also surrounds us with love and tender mercies, by assigning HIS angels to protect us while we are “being saved”. GOD regenerates the lives of believers, by lending us the help of HIS HOLY SPIRIT, and, HE grants righteousness and justice to all those believers who are treated unfairly.
    GOD “revealed HIS character to us”, through the life of JESUS CHRIST our SAVIOR, WHO was born of a woman, Mary, and once lived as a 100 % human being, here on earth. HE is merciful and gracious; slow to anger, and full of unfailing, “agape” (unconditional) love, especially toward those who fear HIM. And to those who fear HIM, HIS love is greater than the heights of the heaven (v.11).
    GOD, deserves our constant praise and worship, because HE is our creator, as well as our redeemer, through JESUS CHRIST, HIS SON and greatest figurative representative ever to walk the face of the earth. HE has dealt with us, not as we deserve, but rather, as HIS powerful grace, mercy, and sovereign authority allows HIM to do. HE has the power to remove out rebellious acts far from us when we decide to repent and admit to ourselves that we need HIM in our lives.
    GOD understands fully how weak we are, because HE made us to depend on HIM as a child depends upon HIS parents. Our days on earth are limited, and when we’re gone, it becomes, to all but a few people, as if we have never been here at all. However, the love of GOD remains with those who fear HIM, forever. GOD extends HIS salvation to our children’s children, if, we are faithful to HIM and desire to pass down a legacy of faith in JESUS CHRIST to the next generation (Vs.14-18).
    The LORD has made the heavens HIS throne, and from there, HE rules over all things that HE made. Even, and especially the angels in HIS family, mighty creatures of GOD themselves, who carry out HIS plans, and listen to all of HIS commands, praise HIM all day long as they serve HIM and do HIS Will (Vs.19-22).
    GOD’s “forgiveness” is the primary expression of HIS compassion toward HIS needy humanity, which HE created for the purpose of serving HIM. The verses in this psalm explain clearly “the nature of forgiveness” that we “vertically” receive and enjoy from GOD, from Heaven, and must learn to “horizontally” extend to others, while living here on earth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander



Friday, December 7, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 9, 2018

Over 182,000 readers worldwide

(The LORD’s Covenant renewed)
(Joshua 24:1-28)

   Through the permissive Will of GOD man is allowed to do many things, and in addition, through JESUS’ death on the cross, we also receive GOD’s wonderful and abounding grace. Through GOD’s grace, we are given “wills that are free”, and through that free will, come our ability to make choices and decisions that can deeply affect our lives, and the lives of others.
     If we choose “the Christian Walk”, we automatically choose to make ourselves strangers to worldly behavior. We give up permanent residency on this earth in order to become citizens of Heaven, and therefore, the laws of GOD must become paramount to us in our own existence.
    In order for “wrong things” to cease to fascinate and have power over us, we must ultimately “fall in love with goodness”. And when we fall in love with goodness, we will be, thereby, compelled to reject the things that are not of GOD, and embrace those things that are of GOD. Through our obtained knowledge of GOD’s Word, we are more able to better recognize “the holy” from “the unholy”, and make our choices and decisions accordingly.
    In Joshua 24, some forty years after Moses received the Ten Commandments from GOD on Mount Sinai, Joshua summoned all the people of Israel together, including all of the leaders, elders, judges, and other officials, to meet with him at Shechem, just a few miles west of Shiloh. As this book of Joshua comes to a close, and, with Joshua himself closing in on 110 years of age, he now prepares for his home-going by delivering two farewell addresses to the chosen people of GOD.
    The events of this passage also occur in the place where Abraham first received the promise that GOD would give the land of Canaan to his offspring for an inheritance. Abraham built an altar there so that he might demonstrate his faith in GOD (Genesis 12:6-7). Jacob had also stopped there on his way to Padan Aram, where he buried the idols of his family, that, they had brought with them, under a tree (Genesis 35:4).
    Joshua’s first address, which was to the men who would inherit his leadership role in Israel, also turned out to be his final testimony to GOD’s unwavering faithfulness to HIS followers. However, his speech also contained some stern warnings from GOD, of the dangers of abandoning HIS Covenant Laws, once HE had called Joshua home (Joshua 23).
    During this convocation at Shechem, Joshua speaks explicitly in the name of GOD, and through him, GOD gives the people and extended review of Israel’s past. Here GOD takes them back down memory lane, all the way from the time of Abraham’s calling from his father’s house, beyond the Euphrates River, up to some of their most recent battles with their enemies in Canaan, after crossing the Jordan River.
    Joshua goes on to urge them to honor and serve GOD wholeheartedly, and, to put away forever, the idols that their ancestors had worshipped back beyond the Euphrates, and even while still in Egypt.
    When Joshua had finished his divine presentation, he “opens up the doors of the church” and gives all members a chance to choose sides, as to whom they would serve. Will they choose to serve the Almighty GOD in Heaven, WHO had, over the years, carried them on wings like eagles (Exodus 19:4), or, would they continue to try and hold on to useless idols? This was the choice that Joshua challenged each and every person to make, and they had to make it on that day.
    Joshua then goes on to utter the most famous statement he would ever make, and in fact, it is one of the most famous “declarations of faith”, that can be found in all the annals of biblical history. Here in verse 15 (KJV) Joshua declares, “And if it seems evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”.  
    The bible states, and implies, that GOD does not like those who are “lukewarm” towards HIM. To be lukewarm towards GOD is to be on the wrong side of the line. HE much prefers those who are “hot”, and even suggests that it is better even to be “cold” than to be lukewarm towards HIM (Revelation 3:15-16).
    As far as GOD is concerned, we are either “for HIM”, or, “against HIM”. There is “no gray area”, or “middle ground” that we can stand on and be safe, until we make a decision, nor can we “straddle of the fence”, because the fence is completely on satan’s side of the line. There is only one “line in the sand”, and we need to “choose this day”, Joshua insists, to be on one side or the other. And by the way, those who ultimately fail to choose GOD have automatically chosen to serve satan, and so too, it goes for those who think they’ve chosen neither (Those people who say there is no GOD, and there is no satan).
     In biblical times, and today, people worship hand carved likenesses, or even posters of other people, animals, or even “places” and “things”. They also indulge themselves in astrology, witchcraft, and sorcery. Most people today worship “the gods of modern culture” such as entertainers, athletes, politicians, money, sex, jobs, cars, houses, clothes, etc.
    Our perspective of life has become contaminated and scrambled. We have either forgotten, or never really known what GOD’s order of importance for mankind should be, and this is what that order is; that we should “worship GOD only”, “love people”, and “use things”. And whenever we get that order scrambled or twisted, we automatically sin against GOD.
    And so it is here in this final chapter of Joshua’s life, that, after completing the first phase of their conquest of Canaan, the Israelites, under his leadership, chose to worship GOD only. And they built an altar to GOD consisting of a large stone upon which Joshua inscribed the Law of GOD, and rolled it underneath an oak tree that stood beside the Tabernacle of the LORD.
    Here in this passage Joshua made it very clear what his choice would be. He and his family would, of course, “serve the LORD”. Salvation will always be available for all mankind (until it isn’t anymore), but each individual must “choose freely” to accept it. The right time to come to JESUS is always “right now”, and the right way to come to JESUS is always “just as you are”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander