Friday, September 27, 2019

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 29, 2019

Over 215,000 readers worldwide

(Despite GOD’s mercy and forgiveness, sin still has consequences)
(Numbers 14:11-25)

   In the biblical Greek, the word used for “longsuffering” is “makrothumia”, and it describes a spirit that “never grows irritated”, “never despairs”, and “never regards anyone as being beyond salvation”. The negative reaction by the Israelites and the ten scouts, toward GOD, angered GOD to the point where HE was ready to destroy all of them immediately. However, here in this passage, Moses prays a prayer of intercession, one of many that he would have to pray for the people over the years, and he pleaded with GOD not to destroy them.
    Also in this passage, GOD, once again demonstrating HIS “longsuffering SPIRIT” for HIS human creation, granted Moses’ petition to “not punish the people with immediate death”. However, the ten scouts (all tribal leaders of Israel) who talked the people against GOD, were not spared, and were all punished with immediate death (Vs.13-19). Death was the only judgment and consequence available to “false leadership” in the community of GOD back then, and it still is today.
    GOD also granted the people of Israel their wish that “they would rather die in the wilderness than face the Canaanites” as HE had instructed them to do (Vs.26-38). And GOD caused them to wander in that wilderness for the next forty years, one year for each day (40 days) that the scouts had explored the land of Canaan. Their actions had proven that they feared the Canaanites nephilim (giants) more than they feared GOD, WHO had miraculously destroyed their oppressors in Egypt less than three years earlier, right before their very eyes.
    “Sin” is a “disobedience” that always begins in “the thinking stages”. If we “repent” for our sins while still in the thinking stages, in other words, “change our mind” (which is the true definition of the word “repent”), before we actually “commit the physical act”, there is “no consequences” to those thoughts. However, once we let our “sinful thoughts” become reality we must deal with the “consequences” of those sins, sometimes for years to come.
    GOD wants us to “repent” (“metanoia” in the biblical Greek), “change our mind”, before we actually commit “the physical act of sin”. Once we commit the physical act, we then have to deal with the “judgment” (“consequences”) of that sinful physical act, which has to “run its course”, or, “manifest its results physically and mentally” before we are truly “restored” back “spiritually” into a relationship of friendship with GOD.
    However, even during “the consequence stages” of our sin, we still need to maintain our faith, trust, and reverence in the LORD. We need GOD, not only in order to survive those consequences, but also to strengthen us that we may have a better chance to “go and sin no more”. That right! Once GOD restores us through CHRIST JESUS, HE fully expects us to do that, “go and sin no more”.
    The LORD forgives us time and time again for our disobedience, which is caused by our lack of fear, faith, and trust in HIM. And there will always be consequences to disobedience that must run their course before we can receive any future “special” (not ordinary) blessings from GOD. Without “faith”, it is impossible to please GOD. And we must please GOD with our behavior if we want HIM to endorse us with HIS blessing, or “special favor”.
    Whenever we sin, “our relationship with GOD is interrupted”. This was true in the Old Testament times, and it is still true today. Whenever we fall into sin, we must repent and ask GOD for forgiveness, which HE is faithful to grant. After we’ve received GOD’s forgiveness, the consequences of our sin must still run its course before we are fully restored back into a right relationship with HIM.
    One of the many special contributions to mankind that JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice on the cross brings us, is that, we are no longer, necessarily, under the threat of immediate and certain death for our sins, as the people in Old Testament times often were. Because of JESUS’ sacrifice on the cross, perhaps we now receive even more of GOD’s wonderful and abounding grace than ever before, and HE gives us many, many, more opportunities today to come to the “saving knowledge of CHRIST”.
    There remains for those who are faithful, a very possible way to enter into the unknown territory (for man), where JESUS had to go in order to save us from ourselves, and emerge victoriously through our strength in HIM. In addition, GOD lends us HIS HOLY SPIRIT, WHO will always lead us in the right direction, because HE knows no other way. And if we trust in HIS counsel, HE will carry us well beyond our own capabilities, and well beyond our own, self-imposed, limitations.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, September 20, 2019

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 22, 2019

Over 214,000 readers worldwide

(When we look away from GOD our faith falters)
(Numbers 13-14:9)

   It is my belief, that, we cannot rightfully profess to have faith in GOD and, at one and the same time, perpetually disobey HIS Word. “False religion” (including “playing church”) is when we try to reach GOD by means which have not been prescribed by GOD HIMSELF. It is one thing to “recognize” GOD, but it is quite another thing to “obey” GOD. To believe that “there is a GOD” is not the same thing as “believing the GOD that is”.
    The Christian becomes “legit” when we begin to fear, reverence, and worship GOD for “what HE can do for us now, regarding the living of this life here on earth, and, in the eternal life to come”. We must not find ourselves fearing, reverencing, and worshiping “mankind” more than the GOD WHO made us all.
    In this passage we’ll see how the Israelites had begun to do just that. They had gone from fearing, reverencing, and worshiping the Egyptians, whom GOD had just delivered them from, to now fearing the Canaanites and “what they could possibly do and impose upon them in this new life that GOD was trying to give to them”. This attitude of “fear” is something that can only be overcome by one’s “faith” in GOD.
    In the Book of Numbers, chapters 13 and 14, GOD puts the Israelites to a test so that he could expose to them, just who among them were “HIS legit faithful followers”, out of all the tribes of HIS “chosen nation” of Israel. The legit leader among men here on earth, must be a genuine follower of “the only wise living GOD”, if they are to have any lasting success in the work of JESUS CHRIST.
    Here in this passage, GOD instructs Moses to send the twelve leaders of the tribes of Israel to explore the land of Canaan, of which HE had already promised that they would soon possess (Numbers 13:1-16). Moses then gave these instructions to the men, and sent them out into this new and mysterious land, and asked them to bring back a report of what they found there. He instructed them to go north through the Negev, the desert land of southern Canaan. From there they would travel up into the hill country (v.17).
    The Israelites had been camped in the desert of Paran for a while at that time (v.3), probably in Kadesh, which was technically the desert of Zin, a sort of subdivision of the great Paran wilderness. One can just imagine how rich, green, and fertile the land of Canaan must have looked to the twelve scouts, after they had been wandering in the desert for so long.
    After exploring the land of Canaan for forty days, the men returned to give their reports to Moses. They brought back many samples of crops that they had seen while in Canaan, just as Moses had instructed them to do (v.20). They all reported that Canaan was a wonderful place, “flowing with milk and honey”, confirming GOD’s earlier promise and analogy.
    However, they also reported that the Canaanites were a powerful people with very large fortified cities. They also reported that the descendants of Anak, who were giants (nephilim) in physical stature, also resided in this area (v.13b). They said that these people were so large that they made them look like grasshoppers (v.33).
    Ten out of the twelve scouts were so intimidated by these “nephilim” that they refused to go back and fight them for this “rich land of plenty”, where GOD had already promised them victory. Only Joshua (Hoshea), son of Nun, the leader of the tribe of Ephraim, and Caleb, son of Jephunneh, the leader of the tribe of Judah, “had the faith”, and were willing to fight to conquer the land of Canaan (Numbers 14:30).
    Joshua and Caleb were the only tribal leaders who “believed GOD” would do what HE said HE would do, when HE said that “HE would give this land to them as an inheritance”. And even though the other ten genuinely “believed there was a GOD”, they, unlike Joshua and Caleb, did not have enough faith to “believe GOD at HIS Word”, and “trust HIM in their heart”.
    In Numbers 14, verses 1-10, we see that most of the Israelites, because of their fear of what man (the Canaanites) could do to them, began to rebel against GOD, and, against Moses. They thereby “placed a curse upon themselves” by saying, “they would rather have died in Egypt, or in the wilderness” than try to fight and take over the land of Canaan, as GOD had instructed them to do (v.2).
    Most of the Israelites had let the ten “doubting” and “unbelieving” scouts convince them that they would face an “insurmountable task” if they tried to conquer the land of Canaan, despite GOD’s promise of victory. They began to weep out loud all night long, like babies, and they grumbled and complained heavily against Moses and Aaron, and even plotted among themselves to select new leaders who were willing to lead them back to Egypt (Vs.1-4). After all that GOD had done for them, just like us today, they still thought it to be “impossible to obey GOD, and faithfully follow HIS instructions”, one day at a time. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, September 13, 2019

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 15, 2019

Over 213,000 readers worldwide

(GOD provides our daily bread)
(Exodus 16:1-15)

   In the biblical Greek the word used for “faith” is “pistis” (pis-tis), and it means “to rely upon with an inward certainty” and “to trustfully submit to the evidence of authority”. In the New Testament Scriptures it describes the truthfulness of GOD, and a reliance on JESUS the CHRIST for salvation, and the HOLY SPIRIT for teaching and guidance.
    Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see, whether it be physical or mental. GOD has always given HIS approval to people based on their faith. If fact, by faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at GOD’s command, and that what we now see, did not come from anything that can be seen. Everything originated from the mind of GOD (see Hebrews 11:1-3).
    “Faith” is believing to a point of knowing, and feeling absolutely assured and secure in the promise that GOD will always provide our daily needs (GOD the FATHER), deliver us into salvation through JESUS CHRIST (GOD the SON), and direct us with a fail-proof daily guidance, teaching, and counseling through GOD the HOLY SPIRIT.
    The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt demonstrated plainly that they did not trust GOD despite the constant evidence of HIS power and authority over man and nature. It also demonstrated GOD’s unconditional love for HIS chosen people, and HIS willingness to give them a fresh new start in “a land of promise” that they could call their own.
    This journey out of “chattel slavery” also demonstrated the need for a divinely instituted “law” and “order”, with clear standards and discipline, for all those who chose to disobey GOD by seeking to go their own way, and, for all those who wanted to live GOD’s way. However, because GOD is a “just” GOD, HE did not punish the rebellious acts of HIS people in the wilderness, until HE had clearly laid out those standards which showed them what HE defined as “right”, and, what HE defined as “wrong”.
    And finally, this journey out of Egypt clearly demonstrates “how quickly the human mind forgets”. Here in chapter 16 of the book of Exodus, just two months after GOD had delivered the Israelites out of the cruelty of their unjust servitude, they begin to complain bitterly about their, much improved situation, even beginning to “idealize” their miserable past of the previous 400 years of grimacing under the finger of Pharaoh.  
    Here in this passage, in the first 12 verses, we see the occurrence of the Hebrew term “lon’l”, which means “grumble against”, 6 times (Vs. 2, 7-9, 12). It indicates “an overwhelming attitude of bitterness and hostility”, in this case, against GOD, WHO had just delivered them out of bondage in Egypt. When we fail to see GOD in our circumstances, we unwittingly become “negative” in our attitude towards everything and everyone around us. However, if we see GOD as being in control, and we confidently commit to being obedient and attentive to HIS voice, HE will fill our minds with optimism and hope, and ultimately deliver us from our troubles.
    All grumbling and complaining finds its roots in “a lack of faith in GOD”. Without GOD in our lives, we are compelled by satan to put all of our trust in man, and of course, over time, man will ultimately disappoint us. It was never “GOD’s plan” for man to trust in himself, and that is why the Word of GOD never instructs us to do so.
    It is the GOD within man (GOD’S Nature) that we can trust and be able to identify, through having a close relationship and communion with GOD ourselves. Without a personal relationship with GOD ourselves, we won’t be able to make the kind of decisions that are always beneficial to us as we strive to move forward in this life.
    GOD’s instructions regarding the blessings of HIS “manna from Heaven” were very specific. GOD gives us certain specifics in all of HIS blessings, so as to highlight, any “lack of faith” that we have to specifically deal with, “personally”. Remember, even GOD’s great servant Job, who walked closely with GOD all the days of his life, eventually had to deal with “fears” that kept his faith in GOD from being “complete”. That is why GOD allowed satan to test him with many tragedies that “Job always feared” would come upon him anyway. As “good” and as blessed as Job was, he had never completely trusted in “GOD’s protection” (Job 3:25-26).
    The very first example that JESUS demonstrated to us, even before HIS three-year ministry of teaching began, here on earth (Matthew 4:1-11), was to “trust GOD’s provision” (Matthew 4:1-4), “trust GOD’s protection” (Matthew 4:5-7), and finally, we must “trust GOD’s plan” (Matthew 4:8-10). This kind of faith and trust is absolutely necessary if we are to keep satan away from us (Matthew 4:11), and have any chance at all, of overcoming this world, as JESUS did. We must rely on the superior power of GOD, just as JESUS did, while we represent GOD in a 100% human body here on earth, just as JESUS did.
    The same way that we “pay no attention to GOD” in our society today, is the exact illustration of how the Israelite’s careless and rebellious attitude toward GOD assured their doom in the “Desert of Sin” (v.1), way back then. Even though man has never been totally faithful to GOD, GOD has always been totally faithful to us. HE is committed to helping HIS greatest creation survive, be holy, and endure to the end where salvation awaits us. And GOD’s law was introduced to discipline us, and to help us grow toward this goal. However, without faith, it is impossible to do so.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, September 6, 2019

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 8, 2019

Over 212,000 readers worldwide

(GOD hears and cares about our grief and pain)
(1 Samuel 1)

   The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel shows how GOD delegated sovereignty to the nation of Israel through a line of divinely selected “Davidic Kings”. David and his royal dynasty were to demonstrate what it means to rule under GOD from an earthbound perspective.
    Through David’s royal house, GOD’s greater SON, JESUS, the CHRIST would eventually become incarnate. HE would perfectly exercise kingship in HIS OWN life, and would provide, in HIS death and resurrection, the basis upon which all people who believe, can share in HIS reign with HIM here on earth in HIS Millennial Kingdom.
    The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel also chronicles the most exciting period in Israel’s history. GOD had already fulfilled HIS covenant commitment to Abraham, and, after breaking the bonds of Abraham’s descendants in Egypt, GOD had brought them safely into “the promised land” of Canaan. However, the Israelites would once again prove themselves “unfaithful”, and abandon their LORD GOD for idols and the practices of the pagans who lived among, and around them.
    Nearly all of the events that take place in the book of 1st Samuel occur in the hill country of Palestine. The book primarily focuses on three characters; Samuel, the last judge of Israel; Saul, the first king of Israel; and David, the greatest king of Israel, a man after GOD’s OWN heart.
    Jewish tradition suggests that Samuel is, at the very least, the principal author of 1st and 2nd Samuel, and that, after his death, his works were carried on by the prophets, Nathan and Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29). The plan of 1st Samuel 15 through 2nd Samuel 8, has been clarified by the discovery of parallels in the Hittite document, “Apology of Hatusilus”.
    This document is a 13th century B.C. defense of a new Hittite dynasty. Similarities suggest that one of the author’s primary purposes in recording the history of this era was to firmly establish the legitimacy of King David and his family lineage, and defend their right to the throne of Israel.
    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “conceive” is “gennao” (ghen-nah-o), and it is “the procreation of the father, by extension of the mother”. It is regeneration through a sexual collaboration between a male and a female. In 1st Samuel chapter 1, the author gives us a glimpse into the life of a woman named “Hannah”. She was the wife of a man named “Elkanah”.
    Hannah was unable to conceive (bare children), and this led to her husband, Elkanah, taking on a second wife, “Peninnah”, “for child bearing purposes”, a common practice in those days. Over time, however, Peninnah began to make fun of Hannah because of her barrenness, and as a result, Hannah began to grieve exceedingly day by day for several years. However, “she maintained her faith in GOD, through her grief”, and “she prayed daily to HIM” that HE would relieve her from her misery, and give her a son of her own.
    On a lighter note, through the years, even though Hannah was barren, it did not diminish her husband, Elkanah’s, strong love for her. He always sought to comfort her through her tears, and in some way try to compassionately downplay the importance of her bearing children for him (v.8).
   As one of the privileges of being his first wife, and because he loved her very much despite her barrenness, Elkanah always gave Hannah twice as much as he gave Peninnah when they took offerings to the LORD at Shiloh on their annual pilgrimages (v.5).
    On one occasion when the family went to Shiloh on their pilgrimage, Hannah went over to the Tabernacle after supper alone, and began to pray to the LORD. Eli, the head priest of the Tabernacle at that time, was sitting at his customary place by the entrance. Hannah, while crying bitter tears as she prayed, made a “Nazarite Vow” (Numbers 6:1-8) to the LORD that if HE would give her a son, she would dedicate him back to HIM for the entirety of his life here on earth, and that “his hair would never be cut” (Vs.9-11).
    In those days the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, two evil priests, had badly defiled the Tabernacle with their sins within it (1 Samuel 2:12-25). Apparently Eli had mistaken Hannah for one of the drunken prostitutes that his sons continually brought into the Tabernacle for revelry and sex (Vs.12-14). However, once Hannah explained to him her plight, he understood and assured her that GOD would grant her request (Vs. 15-18).
    Shortly after her return home to Ramah, she conceived and gave birth to a son, and named him “Samuel” which means “asked of GOD”. Her strong faith in GOD had turned her “grief” into “joy”, and as she had promised to the LORD in her prayer, when she had “weaned” her child, she took him to the Tabernacle and left him there, and he remained there all the days of his life, serving the LORD. The boy (Samuel) grew up and he cleansed the Tabernacle and became the last judge of Israel.
    The Jews had a saying that, “in the birth of every child there are “three” parents, the father, the mother, and the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD. They believe that “no child can be born without the help of the SPIRIT”. I believe that too. And in fact, it may well be that Old and New Testament stories of childbirth are little more than just lovely and poetic ways of saying, “whether a father is human or not, the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD is operative in all births in a very special way. And as for men, the paradox is that, while it might not make his life easier, it has always been what makes men great. The paradox for women is that, it confers upon them, perhaps at one and the same time, the greatest joy, and hopefully the greatest pain that she will ever have to endure in her lifetime.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website