Friday, February 22, 2019

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 24, 2019

Over 190,000 readers worldwide

(GOD is our refuge and fortress)
(Psalm 91)

   Psalm 91 is a psalm of protection, a psalm of praise for security. It testifies of the benefits of trusting in GOD, and how GOD watches over the believer and even promises, and indeed, guarantees our safety through the trials and tribulations of this life.
    This psalm is a lovely testimony concerning a security in life that can only come from GOD. No man can guarantee us such divine security. From the opening line, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty”, the psalmist speaks with a confidence that can only come from having an experiential relationship of friendship with GOD.
    The expressions “Most High” and “Almighty” suggests that the unknown writer of this psalm truly understands GOD’s position of sovereignty as ruler over all that we see in this world. The use of the word “shelter”, in verse 4, brings to mind “anthropomorphisms” of the protection of an eagle that hides her young under her wings to shield them from harm and danger.
    GOD’s faithful promises act as armor and protection from all of the harmful events of this world which, of course, HE ultimately controls. In verses 5-6 the psalmist offers words of encouragement advising us “… not to be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day, nor dread the plague that stalks the darkness, nor the disaster that strikes the midday” (NLT).
    With GOD as our protector, we don’t have to fear the unknown, that which we cannot see because of the cloak of darkness, nor do we need to fear those things that we can see in the brightest part of the daylight hours. And even though a thousand may fall all around us, those wicked events will not affect us physically. Instead, as people of GOD, we will be a witness to how the wicked are punished (Vs.7-8).
    If we make the LORD our “refuge” (“mahseh” – “shelter from danger”), no evil can conquer us, and no plague can come near to where we live. GOD’s appointed angels are put in place to protect those who believe on HIM. We will be able to overcome any obstacle that satan may try to place before us, in cloak of darkness, and or, in the midday light. HE will, quite literally, lead us by the hand and ultimately, keep us from stumbling (Vs.9-13).
    In the biblical Greek there is a wonderful sounding word that New Testament writers use for “promise”. That word is “eppaggelia” (epp-ang-el-lee-ah), and it is “an announcement of divine assurance of good”. The psalmist ends this section of the psalter with this seven-fold promise from the LORD, and here he shares this divine message for all to see and be encouraged by, for all time. In verses 14-16 he writes that the LORD GOD solemnly guarantees these things to those who follow HIM;

·         I will rescue those who love ME.
·         I will protect those who trust in MY name.
·         When they call on ME, I will answer;
·         I will be with them in trouble.
·         I will rescue them and honor them.
·         I will satisfy them with a long life
·         I will give them MY salvation.
    When we decide to get off “the road to destruction” and get on “the road to salvation”, taking the path that JESUS blazed through this dark world for us, the LORD GOD will “rescue us”, “protect us”, “answer our prayers”, “be with us”, “honor us” (honor our GODly works), “give us a long life” (because our life pleases HIM), and for those who endure to the end, HE will reward us by “giving us HIS spiritual salvation”, in Heaven.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, February 15, 2019

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 17, 2019

Over 190,000 readers worldwide

(Sing the glory of our almighty powerful GOD)
(Psalm 66)

   The believer has become mature when he or she is able to see GOD’s hand, not only in good times, but also in suffering and pain. Psalm 66, like Psalm 65, is a psalm of thanksgiving to GOD for HIS provisions, guidance, protection, testing, and deliverance.
    The unknown psalmist here in this passage, is probably writing a song to acknowledge and celebrate a festive occasion of some sort that, also, will remain unknown to the modern-day reader. He is calling for the whole earth to shout in joyful praises to the LORD GOD of Israel, and to sing about the glory of HIS name (Vs.1-2).
    Psalm 66 is divided into two distinct sections. The first section (Vs.1-9), deals with corporate praise and worship, and the second section (Vs.10-20) is a reflection on the heart of an individual who is committed in his or her pursuit of GOD. True people of GOD need to be ever mindful of HIS constant redemption and deliverance of mankind through JESUS CHRIST our LORD.   
    Here in this poetic expression the psalmist calls for even the surrounding nations to join Israel in praising her GOD. “All the earth” is urged to praise the LORD in both “speech” and in “song”, and, to share in the jubilation with Israel, for GOD’s awesome salvation for those who follow HIM. He calls for all the nations to bless the LORD for HIS wonderful works and HIS preservation of, not just Israel, but rather, all mankind in general (Vs.6-8).
    In verses 10-12, the psalmist reflects on how GOD had tested Israel with all sorts of drudgery and oppressions, and had brought them through it all, and into a place of peace and bountiful blessings. And so the writer seems to understand completely how GOD works with the human side of HIS creation. GOD tests us like silver, in order to refine us and purify us from our iniquities that serve only to degrade us, and contaminate our souls.
    In verses 13-15, this able and qualified worship leader addresses the offers of animal sacrifices to the LORD, and here he offers with his, a heart-felt explanation of the specific reason for his offering. Here he says that it is to fulfill his vows, those sacred vows that he made to GOD, while he was being tested by HIM with deep troubles.
    Here he brings to the altar of GOD, the very best that he had to offer, which is something we should all do, even here in the so-called “Church Age”. We should bring to GOD, the very best of what HE has blessed us with, not in animal sacrifices, but rather, with the use of our bodies, mind, heart, and human spirit (soul), showing appreciation for the work and sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS, our LORD.
    In verses 16-20 the psalmist addresses his audience with “a declarative praise” and exhortation to all those who genuinely fear the LORD. Here he shares with them, a personal testimony of what GOD had done for him. JESUS taught us on the Mount of Beatitudes that, the first thing we must do, in order to begin, or, enter into, “a right relationship with GOD”, is to “admit that we need HIM”. Here the psalmist says that he cried out to the LORD for HIS help, praising HIM as he spoke. It is an admission to GOD that he needed HIS help in order to overcome his situation.
    In verse 18, he admonishes his congregation that “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my LORD would not have listened”. “Repent” is the second step that we must make on our way to putting ourselves on the Road to Salvation. It is how we begin to get over the mountain that is, “ourselves”, which is the only thing that is separating us from GOD.
    After we “recognize that we need GOD” and then “earnestly repent”, GOD begins to listen, and pays close attention to our prayers. And when a Christian learns how to pray in the power of the HOLY SPIRIT (GOD’s Will), asking in JESUS’ name, our FATHER GOD in Heaven, because of HIS unfailing love for us, will grant us the desires of our heart.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, February 8, 2019

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 10, 2019

Over 189,000 readers worldwide

(Meditate on GOD’s unfailing love)
(Psalm 48)

   Psalm 48 is a song a praise to GOD written by the descendents of Korah, the Levite who, along with Dathan, Abiram, and On, of the tribe of Reuben, once led a revolt against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:1-49). Korah was the son of Izhar, and the first cousin of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:21), and, in fact, was equal in rank with Aaron within the tribe of Levi.
    Korah became jealous of Aaron because he held the position of high priest. He felt the position should go to him because he was a descendent of Reuben, Jacob’s oldest son. He felt that the honor and responsibility of leading Israel as high priest should fall to their tribe instead of the Levites, the descendents of Jacob’s third son.
    Moses placed the dispute in the hands of the LORD, WHO empowered the Levites with the responsibility of leading Israel in worship. He directed Korah and his group of protesters to bring containers of incense to the tabernacle, as an offering to the LORD.
    Korah and his group, complied with Moses’ instructions, and he went with his company to the door of the tabernacle, where the LORD appeared to them, and threatened to “consume them in a moment” for their rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16:21). However, Moses and Aaron interceded, saving most of the nation of Israel from destruction.
    Afterwards, the decision of leadership was again placed before the LORD, and Moses instructed the congregation to “depart from the tents of these wicked men” (Numbers 16:26). The decision of leadership in favor of Moses and Aaron was confirmed by the LORD in dramatic fashion, as HE opened up the earth, and it swallowed up the whole rebellious group of Korah and his followers (Numbers 16:32).
   Some of the surviving descendents of Korah, who weren’t a part of his wicked resistance, went on to become ministers of music in the tabernacle during the time of King David (1 Chronicles 6:31-37), and are now the authors of 11 psalms in the biblical Psalter, including Psalms 42, 44-49, 84-85, and 87-88.
    Here in Psalm 48, the psalmists share a song of praise to the LORD GOD of Israel for HIS blessings and protection on the great city of Jerusalem. It is written to stimulate the praises of HIS people in Zion, the hill on which the original fortress of Jerusalem stood. It is where David brought the Ark of the Covenant when he moved the Jewish worship center from Mount Gerizen to that location.
    In this psalm we see a celebration, or celebratory tone being set, that, genuinely reflects Israel’s identification with Zion as being “GOD’s City”. It also speaks of the joy and feeling of protection that can only be provided to us by the only wise, almighty GOD in Heaven. It is not clear which historical battle victory the psalmist is acknowledging here, however, one thing is for certain, and that is, that, the LORD Almighty is undeniably given credit for their success.
    Many scholars believe that this psalm celebrates one of Israel’s victories over the Assyrians. The LORD Almighty is quite often given the credit for the success of Israel’s military accomplishments, and HIS help is always given to HIS chosen people, those who believe on HIM. GOD renders HIS help through natural uprisings that manifest themselves through both, celestial and terrestrial means, such as earthquakes, windstorms at sea, or heavy rains, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.
    Finally in verses 11-14, the psalmist invites GOD’s people to rejoice in the LORD and be a witness to how their cities have survived unscathed through many invasions by their enemies. All of their buildings and towers were still standing and preserved, because the LORD GOD had protected them through it all. And HE will continue to be their protector and guide to success forever, as long as they abide in, and are obedient to HIM.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, February 1, 2019

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 3, 2019

Over 188,000 readers worldwide

(To know CHRIST is to live the resurrection life)
(Philippians 3:1-11)

   The Apostle Paul was the first great Christian missionary and theologian, after the example of CHRIST JESUS. He was born and raised in Tarsus of Cilicia, as Gaius Julius Paulus, the son of a Roman citizen, under the strictest of Jewish tradition and Judaism. He went on to become the first man to clearly show the distinction between Judaism and the Gospel of CHRIST JESUS.
    Paul presented Christianity as the universal religion for all mankind, and clearly showed that it was not just a tiny little spin-off of Judaism, that had been formed expressly for the benefit of Jews. In his lifetime, Paul became widely known as the apostle of the Gentiles. He solved, once and for all time, the issues that arose concerning the problems people had with Christianity, and the biblical and non-biblical traditions of the Jewish law.
    While the other apostles, with maybe the exception of Peter, continued on with a practical attitude toward the law and Judaism, oftentimes not seeing far into principle, Paul, on the other hand, preached that the issue was very much different than Judaism. He insisted that the doctrine he preached concerning CHRIST was defined by the cross. In other words, Paul keenly felt that one either had to choose “Pharisaism”, or JESUS, or, quite literally, “Law” or “Love, as the ultimate revelation of GOD.
    All of Paul’s known letters bear traces of the Hellenistic background from whence he came, and he most certainly obtained many of his Greek ideas through the medium of Judaeo-Greek, or, Hellenistic literature. In fact, a careful study of his letters gives us some idea of this societal element in his early life, due to his Jewish birth. They suggest Paul’s own youthful attitude toward the importance and responsibility of being born Jewish.
    In Philippians 3, verses 1-11, Paul sought to exhort, or, urge with a strong appeal, that the church at Philippi would continue to rejoice in the LORD. He also warned of the work of the Judaizers, calling them “dogs” and “mutilators of the flesh” (a reference to circumcision), who continued to preach that one must become a Jew through circumcision, before they could be saved into CHRIST, or Christianity.
    Paul had spent a lot of time preaching to the Christian Church in its infancy, that, they should place no confidence in the flesh. In fact, Christians should place no confidence in their own effort at all, but instead, must only boast of their faith in what JESUS has done for them. The Christian must worship GOD in the SPIRIT, and thereby, experience a spiritual “circumcision of the heart” that can only come by “knowing GOD by experience” (“gnoseos”) (v.8), and by “being conformed inwardly in one’s experience” (“symmorphizomenos” – sim-mor-phid-o-mee-os) (v.10).
    Paul said that if anyone could have confidence in their own background and training, it was him. He once held in high regard, his boyhood studies under the great first-century scholar, Gamaliel, at the famous “School of Hillel” in Rome. He himself, was a pure-bred Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, and had been circumcised when he was only eight days old.
    Paul had also been a member of the Pharisees, who demanded the strictest adherence to Jewish tradition and the Mosaic Law. However, now, he had experienced the priceless gain of knowing JESUS CHRIST, and everything else suddenly seems worthless by comparison.
    Before getting to know CHRIST, Paul placed all of his value on the things that he had achieved in the past, but now, he understood clearly that his future of eternal life with GOD can only be realized through his belief and confidence in what JESUS CHRIST has achieved.
    And so, like Paul, all Christians must press ahead toward the highest goal that a man can ever achieve in this life. It is a goal that can never be achieved through human effort, but rather, has already been achieved through the vicarious sacrifice of CHRIST. However, a man will never accept the free gift of salvation in his heart (the gain), unless he first become willing to remove his love for the things of this world from his heart (the loss).

Philippians 3:12-21

   Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians from a prison in Rome circa A.D. 60, as a response to his friends at Philippi, who, had shown him much generosity and support while he was there. He is unaware at this time whether or not he’ll die in jail, and so he wanted to express his confidence in them, and then, describe some of the problems he faced in Rome. He wanted them to understand that, if death came during his incarceration, he would rejoice in the presence of CHRIST JESUS, but, as long as he lives, he will continue to serve GOD the best he could, with what he had.
    Throughout this doctrinal letter we clearly see the theme of rejoicing in the LORD in our present state, here on earth. If we live, we can rejoice because the LORD loves us, and if we die, we can rejoice in the LORD’s OWN glorious presence forever, literally. And while we must still experience problems here on earth, (there is suffering in our obedience to GOD because it often goes against the world’s way of doing things), still, we have to remember that, ultimately, we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, and must always strive to cling to that thought. In fact, we must use that thought as fuel, and keep it constantly at the forefront of our minds, as we travel along our Christian Walk, or, our Road to Salvation.
    Although Paul was a spiritual giant in the eyes of the Christian saints, he wanted everyone one of them to know that he had not yet attained the goals that he felt he needed to attain in the work of CHRIST. He knew that he had, by no means, reached the final stage of his sanctification and was always willing to press on toward higher spiritual grounds. He reminds us that there should never be a stall in our Christian walk, or spiritual growth, for as long as we live. We must continue on along the Road to Salvation, and as CHRIST says, we “must endure until the end”.
    In Philippians 3:12-21, Paul urges us to keep pressing toward the goal, and he tells us that our concern for Heaven will enable us to live a righteous life here on earth. We must pursue “CHRIST-likeness” with the enthusiasm and persistence of an Olympic long distance runner who covets the prize at the end of the race. We must forget about past failures and press on toward a more successful life in CHRIST JESUS in the future.
In verses 15-21, Paul tells us that we must have an overall walk that pleases GOD;

·         First of all, he tells us in verses 15-16 that we must have a “walk of maturity”. One must have a desire to continue on in CHRIST-likeness, no matter what the world around you says you should do, and then, trust GOD to make things clear to those who disagree with HIM.
·         Secondly, in verses 17-19, Paul says that we should have a “walk of watchfulness”. We should watch out for those false teachers, who are, by way of their deeds, an enemy of CHRIST. Often, with tears in his eyes, Paul had warned of those false teachers and spiritual leaders, who, try to lead people toward themselves, and, thereby, away from CHRIST.
·         And finally, in verses 20-21, he reminds us that the Christian Hope is that we will one day have a “walk that is completed”. Our Christian Hope should motivate us to want to live a life on earth that conforms more fully to the Word of GOD, using the examples set before us by CHRIST JESUS, as we eagerly wait for HIS return.

    We must always fix our thoughts on what is true and honorable and right, always thinking about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. We should think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise, and keep putting into practice, all that we learn and hear from the Word of GOD, and the examples of CHRIST. And with that attitude, and, constant prayer, which manifests the heart of a yielded life, we can be assured that “the GOD of Peace” will be with us every step of the way.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website