Friday, July 25, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 27, 2014

Over 63,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

BUILD UP YOUR NEIGHBOR
(Use your gifts from GOD to build up the Church)
(1 Corinthians 14:1-25)

Strangely, it has always been a matter of considerable debate, just what the Apostle Paul means by “speaking in tongues”. In chapters 12-14 of his first letter to the Corinthians, he uses the Greek expression “glossa” (gloce-sah) 21 times for “Tongues” and it is by definition “the organ in one’s mouth that is used primarily for taste and speech; and it is a learned spoken language or dialect, not naturally acquired”.
Nowhere in its biblical use, or its Greek or English definition does the word “glossa” or “tongue” refer to “ecstatic speech”, not in any of Paul’s letters (used only three other times), and, not when used anywhere else in the New Testament. Whether it is used literally of the physical organ (Mark 7:33, James 3:5, Revelations 16:10), or figuratively of human languages (Acts 2:11, Revelations 5:9, 7:9, 10:11, 11:9, 13:7, 14:6, & 17:15) the word is always the same.
What Paul is saying in verse two of this chapter (1 Corinthians 14), is that, if a person were sitting in a Church assembly in France, for instance, and everyone in the assembly, except that person, could only speak in the French tongue, then, if that one person was to stand up and start speaking in, say, the German tongue, no one would be able to understand them but GOD. And while that person, who may be gifted to teach in more than one language, or, tongue, and, could be uttering something that may be totally GODly and spiritual, it wouldn’t be of benefit to anyone in the assembly because none of them are gifted in the German dialect. They simply would not be able to comprehend what the, more gifted, person were saying, as it would sound to them like “utter non-sense” or “mumble jumble” (1 Corinthians 14:2).
However, one who has the gift of prophecy, which is a “Spiritual gift”, is helping people grow in the LORD, encouraging them, and comforting them (v.3). The person who speaks in various tongues, a “learned gift”, through GOD-given intellectual capabilities”, is only strengthened “personally” in the LORD, while one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire Church (v.4).
In verse 5 Paul says, “I wish you all had the gift of speaking in tongues, but even more I wish you were all able to prophesy. For prophecy is a greater and more useful gift than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so the whole church can get some good out of it”. Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in tongues, how would that help you? But if I bring you some revelation or some special knowledge or some prophecy or some teaching, that is what will help you (NLT).
Paul himself spoke in various tongues, in fact, the bible tells us that he was able to speak and write in at least three different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. However, he tells us in verses 9-12 that “If you talk to people in a language they don’t understand, how will they know what you mean? You might as well be talking to an empty room. There are many different languages in the world, and all are excellent for those who understand them, but to me they mean nothing. I will not understand people who speak those languages, and they will not understand me. Since you are all so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask GOD for those that will be of real help to the whole church (NLT).
Languages that are interpreted can benefit the assembly (Acts 19:6) as well as prophesy, therefore, the gift of interpretation should be requested from GOD also. This means that someone independent of the person, who is speaking a different language, must be present and able to interpret what that person is saying to the assembly (v.13).
Gifts are not given by GOD, so much for personal use, as they are for use in helping others, and building them up. “Personal edification” is something that should be a by-product, or a result, that is reserved for someone who has shared their gift to help better the Christian community as a whole. Personal edification should not be a result of one helping himself, or taking advantage of others.
Some people try to make a distinction between the word “tongues” in this epistle, and the use of the word “tongues” in the book of Acts on Pentecost. However, there is no difference as the same Greek term “glossa” is used in both instances. The only difference is that the HOLY SPIRIT acted on several people on that Pentecost day, giving them special supernatural abilities to communicate, for the benefit of the many foreigners who were in Jerusalem at that time, and, who spoke in many different languages. GOD wanted everyone, regardless of native tongue, to participate in, and understand the significance of this “distinctive act” when HE first allowed HIS HOLY SPIRIT to embody all those who choose to believe in CHRIST JESUS.
Paul says that unbelievers view “strange tongues” as being some sort of a sign, while believers are not of that opinion (v.22). However, in order for unbelievers to become convicted of their sins, they must first hear the Gospel in their own native languages before they can begin to comprehend the things of GOD. The Word of GOD should convict and condemn by what it says to us personally. However, it can’t do that unless it is first understood by those who hear and see it. But among those who see, hear, and understand, their secret thoughts are laid bare, and they can then, fall to their knees and worship GOD with their whole heart, as they should.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




      

Friday, July 18, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 20, 2014

Over 62,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

OVERCOMING TEMPTATION
(Warnings against idolatry)
1 Corinthians 10

In 1 Corinthians 10, verses 1-12, the Apostle Paul takes his readers back down memory lane to an unforgettable place in Jewish history, some 1500 years earlier. Here, he reminds them that, it was activities surrounding idolatry that led ancient Israel to sin. While still on the desert, immediately following their release from captivity in Egypt, their forefathers had already began again to sin against the GOD WHO rescued them.
He reminded the people of Corinth how Israel failed to remember how GOD had guided them with the miraculous “pillar of cloud” by day and “pillar of fire” by night. They were also prompted to recall the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, that allowed them to escape the Egyptians on dry land, and then, how GOD drowned their pursuers with the same waters, when they tried to follow them across (Exodus 13:21-14:31).
Paul then cautions them that the ensuing disciplinary actions upon the Israelites in the wilderness by GOD, that turned a thirty-day trip into a forty-year journey, can be viewed as a warning to them, and to all future generations, so that we won’t repeat the same old evil practices of that era.
In those days, on another occasion, Paul says, the peoples’ fling with sexual immorality and other sins led to the deaths of 23,000 people in one day, a direct result of the wrath of the Almighty GOD (Numbers 25:3-9). Paul further tells the Corinthian Church that they also would not want to end up, quite literally, “snake bitten” as those were, who chose to put CHRIST to the test, by grumbling against, both, GOD and Moses, on yet another occasion, near Mount Hor, just outside the borders of Edom (Numbers 21:4-9).   
Paul insists that all these things happened as a warning to future generations, and, they are recorded in the annals of biblical history so that we can share these admonishments, or “distinctive acts of GOD”, with others, as a determent from sin, for all time. And if you think you are OK, don’t get too smug, because every human being is always just a breath away from falling into sin (v.12). In fact, satan often attacks a person at a point where they are most sure of themselves, because he knows it is there, where they are most likely to be unprepared.
The good news, however, is that GOD is always faithful, and whenever temptation presents itself in our lives, GOD, through the aid of HIS HOLY SPIRIT, will not only help us to withstand them, HE will also present us with a way out (v.13). This, the fact that GOD is faithful, is the continuing source of our security.
As Christians, and as reasonable people, Paul says that we must decide for ourselves, whether or not we are going to believe the whole Word of GOD. For instance, when we bless the cup at the LORD’s table during communion services, we are sharing in the benefits of the blood of CHRIST. And when we break the bread we are sharing in the benefits of the body of CHRIST. In effect, we are all eating from one loaf, showing that we are one body. All who eat the sacrifice are symbolically and spiritually united by the process with CHRIST, and the whole GODHEAD (Vs.14-18).
After laying the foundation for his argument, Paul now returns to the discussion started in chapter 8, regarding the eating of food that has been sacrificed to idols. In the first century, dinner parties, or feasts, were the most common way that people would socialize with each other. It was very typical for pagan dinners and feasts to be dedicated to pagan gods and goddesses.
The Christians often debated whether or not it was right for them to attend these kinds of events. The trouble with attending such events, in their minds, was likened to eating dinner at the table of a pagan deity, which symbolically implied that, the people who dined were under that deity’s protection. In that case, as Christians, they would be disrespecting the power of the protection of GOD the CREATOR, whom they say they are committed to.
The demonic power that is ascribed to idols cannot ever be condoned by Christians. We cannot eat at the LORD’s table, and, at the table of demons too. The blood of CHRIST symbolizes HIS saving work, in which Christians participate in, through faith. A Christian cannot participate in both, the idolatry of a pagan feast, and the community of CHRIST.  We cannot drink from the cup of the LORD, and then, turn around and drink from the cup of demon too, lest we rouse the jealousy of the Almighty GOD (Vs.19-22).
In verses 23-30, Paul gives his summation in this warning against indulging in idolatry in any way, form, or fashion. Here he leaves us with three important points:

·         Do not take part in social events that are dedicated to demons, or, pagan gods and goddesses (i.e. in today’s society, rock concerts, secular parties and get-togethers with motifs that are specifically not of GOD, etc.)
·         Feel free to eat meat that is sold in the marketplace.
·         Feel free to eat at an unsaved person’s home, and don’t ask where he got the meat, unless he makes it an issue. (see explanation below)

Even though GOD blessed us with wills that are free, everything we choose to do may not be good, or beneficial to us, or someone else. As Christians, we also have the responsibility to consider what is good for other Christians as well (Vs.23-24).
Paul says, we are free to eat any meat that is sold in the marketplace, and since idol gods are not real gods, we don’t need to ask whether or not it has been sacrificed to idols, and our conscience should be clear. The whole earth belongs to the LORD, and also everything that is in it (Vs.25-26).
If a non-Christian invites you to dinner, then, accept the invitation, because with that invitation, comes an opportunity to witness of CHRIST JESUS, and the Gospel. However, if someone warns you that meat is being served, that has been offered to idols, don’t eat it, just out of having consideration for the person who warned you. While it may not be a matter of conscience for you, it is a concern for the other person who warned you, that may also be a believer, and it is important that you do not “stumble” them.  Then too, the “unsaved person” may also be testing you to see how committed you are to CHRIST (Vs.27-29).
Whether we like it or not, as Christians, our freedom has to be “respectfully limited” by our concern for others, just as CHRIST JESUS’ freedom was limited because of HIS concern for us. We must always consider what is best for others so that they too may be “saved” because of our sacrifice of “giving up certain liberties”. We can overcome any tempting offer from satan, simply by being “unselfishly” obedient to GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, July 11, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 13, 2014

Over 62,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

LOVE BUILDS UP
(Being concerned about others)
(1 Corinthians 8)

To sin against love is a far greater harm, than being wrong about a point of doctrine. In 1 Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul moves to address the Corinthians heated dispute over an issue of doctrine, concerning the eating of meat from animals that had been offered up to pagan gods, and also, to address the question of whether it was acceptable to GOD for Christians to dine with people who were dedicating their meals to pagan gods.
Today, man has archeological evidence that, in the first century, pagan worship temples contained banquet rooms that were used to hold periodic feasts, where they served the surplus meat that remained from temple sacrifices. Some of this surplus meat was also sold in the marketplaces. Meat, in those days, was hard to come by and very expensive. In fact, the only place where most people could obtain affordable meat, in those times, would be by purchasing it at the pagan temples.
While feasts in the temple were mostly held and attended by the wealthy, sometimes they extended their invitations to all the citizens of a town. In Corinth, archeologists have found two banquet rooms beneath the former pagan temple, “Asclepion”, which was the temple that was used to worship “Asclepios”, the Greek god of healing. As a result of this discovery, we today, have better insight and understanding of the issues addressed by Paul, here in this chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians.
The doctrinal disputes that cropped up over the years, as a result of these aforementioned practices, came mostly in the form of questions as to, whether or not, this meat became “spiritually defiled” merely by the pagans handling of it. Some Christians insisted that it was not defiled, simply because the pagan gods were not real gods anyway. However, some were still very uncomfortable about the food’s obvious connection with idolatry and pagan religious practices. These kinds of disputes featured reasoning based on an individual’s scriptural knowledge, and of course, therein lies the problem.  
More often than not, with human beings, knowledge begets arrogance, and arrogance begets division, much more frequently than it helps us to resolve differences. In verses 1-3, Paul’s position is that, “love is the best way for us to approach our differences”, and, while knowledge may make us feel good and look important, only love can sustain us, and help us grow to our full potential in spiritual stature.
Here in this passage, the Apostle Paul is advocating that, the person who is able to open himself up to GOD, through love, is the person who will experience tremendous spiritual growth, and understanding of the issues of life. Therefore, in a strange, but good sort of way, love actually limits one’s “earthly freedom”, and, at one and the same time, greatly increases the “spiritual freedom” that one can only find in knowing CHRIST JESUS.
And so we see Paul moves straight to the heart of matters in his opening lines of chapter 8, as he spells out the basic principal of “love” being superior to “knowledge”. Starting in verse 4, with the principal already stated, it now has to be applied to the situation at hand in Corinth.
Whenever knowledge dictates human behavior, without the presence of love, spiritual damage will always occur in the form of a “stumbling block” for the less knowledgeable, or “weak” Christian’s (as Paul put it), walk with GOD. Weak Christians, who believe something is sin, though it may not be, will be stumbled by seeing a stronger, more knowledgeable Christian partake in that something.
Paul addressed this very matter with the Roman Christians in a later letter (Paul’s letter to the Romans). In the book of Romans, this very issue of the dangers of criticism is addressed in chapter 14, verses 10-23. There, in a nutshell, Paul ultimately sums it up by stating “Whatsoever is not of Faith is sin” (KJV).
In other words, anyone who does anything, having doubts, about whether, or not, they should do it, condemns themselves, by not acting in faith. If you do anything that you believe is not right, you are sinning. However, we must always remember that CHRIST died for all Christians, weak or strong, and when Christians sin against each other, by causing one another to stumble, they are also sinning against CHRIST.
Encouraging other Christians to do something that they believe is wrong, whether it is or not, is the wrong thing to do. And if one Christian has to limit his or her freedom to do certain things here on earth, in order to keep another Christian from stumbling, then, they should do it. And the good news is that, by doing so, they will increase their own eternal freedom in CHRIST, and strengthen their own position for greater rewards in the coming Kingdom. Love always builds up, whereas, sometimes, knowledge can tear down, and so we have to always be careful to remember that, in any given situation, “Love always trumps knowledge”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, July 4, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 6, 2014

Over 62,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GLORIFY GOD WITH YOUR BODY
(Avoiding sexual sin)
(1 Corinthians 6:9-20)

In 1 Corinthians 6, verses 9-20, the Apostle Paul focuses on the dangers of sexual intercourse outside of marriage (immoral sexual behavior). There he gives his exegesis on the “spiritual link” that is involved in the “physical act” of sexual intercourse, that, most people are totally ignorant about.
Those who indulge in sexual sin through, adultery (Exodus 20:14), fornication (1 Corinthians 6:13b), incest (Leviticus 18:6-17), prostitution (Leviticus 19:29), homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, & 20:13, Deuteronomy 22:5) and beastiality (Leviticus 18:23 & 20:15), will have no share in the kingdom of Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) unless, of course, they cease their immoral acts and lifestyle, and earnestly repent so that they can be made right with GOD.
People often say that we are allowed to do anything, but they overlook the fact that everything is not good for them, and everything is not permissible by the laws of GOD. And even though we have freedom of choice to do anything we want, GOD says, we must not become a slave to the many offerings of this world. Satan wants each of us to “do what thou wilt”, while GOD wants us to use our bodies in the best way, which is serving HIM and living life the way HE knows that HE made us to live it.  
Our bodies are not made for sexual immorality, even though many choose to indulge their bodies into it. Our bodies are really made for GOD, and GOD cares very much about what we do in our bodies. That is why HE gives us instructions on how to get the very best out of our bodies for the longest period of time, through obedience to HIS Word.
Every person who was ever born shares “GOD’s divine nature” from birth (Romans 1:18-20), and as “human beings”, we instinctively know “right” from “wrong” even if we never picked up a bible in our life (Romans 2:14-15). However, as believers, we have to realize that our bodies are actually “one with CHRIST”, and when we engage in sin, especially sexual sin, we are spiritually bringing CHRIST into our mess with us, because we are defying GOD’s way of life (1 Corinthians 6:15).
Whenever we commit our lives to CHRIST we become one with HIM in spirit, inseparable. And since CHRIST is ONE in spirit with GOD, and the HOLY SPIRIT, that means that we should all be at one in our thinking and actions with the GODHEAD. Therefore everything we do, we do it as “figurative representatives” of the GODHEAD in spirit, and in truth.
It has already been put in place by GOD that, through the act of sexual coition, or the exchange of bodily fluids through sexual orgasm, a man and woman are consummated unto each other, and also become one in body and spirit. And the process of consummation automatically occurs, whether they are married, or not. That’s right! The act of consummation still occurs, even if it is with a prostitute, or any other person that you’re not married to.
It is GOD WHO defines what “consummation” is, and we can’t change its definition, no matter how bad we may want to. Every person that you engage in sexual intercourse with, you automatically become one with them in body and spirit, and that makes a mockery of the sanctity of marriage, and what GOD intended in the relationship between a man and a women (v.16).
When we marry, and consummate that marriage, we become one with our spouse, one in body, and inseparable in spirit. Therefore, we, our spouse, and the whole GODHEAD are one in spirit, and we must respect it as such. If we as human beings, who are a part of the body of CHRIST, engage in sexual immorality, we are lying in a very crowded bed, all the while thinking it is only with the person, or persons you are engaging in sex with at the time. However, in reality, you are dragging the spirit of all whom you have become one with to bed with you. If this doesn’t give you a vivid description of what “grieving the HOLY SPIRIT” is, then, I personally don’t know what will.
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “truth” is “aletheia”, and it is “that which is in harmony with reality”. Nowadays, and in days gone by, man has always tried to re-define “homosexual sin” as not a sin at all, but rather as “a different race of people”, but in reality, it is still what GOD the CREATOR says it is, sin. In fact, the reason why homosexuality is so detestable to the GOD of the Christian bible is because it is “the personification of defiance of GOD HIMSELF”. Instead of honoring GOD with their bodies they actually deny GOD with every fiber of their being.
The homosexual lifestyle is a twenty-four hour a day endeavor, or, “a perpetual state of sin” against the ideology of GOD, and therefore the practitioner lives and breathes defiance of GOD all day every day, non-stop. Twenty-four hours a day they tell GOD, through their behavior, that, “GOD, I’m not what you made me. YOU made a mistake GOD, and put me in the wrong body, therefore GOD, it your fault that I’m doing what I’m doing, and living like I’m living, I take no responsibility for my own choices”.    
Whenever man chooses to go his own way, he automatically moves farther and farther away from GOD, and eventually GOD, in his mind, is reduced to this obscure figure WHOM he used to know, and by then, he only seeks to avoid, because he doesn’t care anymore.
Peter C. Craigie once wrote, “When people cease to care, then religion, morally, social customs, and values, all cease to function as mortar that holds together a society, and maintains ancient Faith”.
Christians are one in body with CHRIST, and CHRIST, is one in body with GOD and the HOLY SPIRIT. Whenever we sin, or commit immoral sexual acts, we also cause the whole GODHEAD, WHO is inseparable, to suffer in our offenses. Our bodies are a temple to be used by GOD to embody HIS HOLY SPIRIT, WHO will ultimately guide us into the righteousness of CHRIST, if we let HIM.
And so we now can clearly see the “spiritual link in sexual intercourse” that will continue to exist, whether we like it or not, because GOD says so. Our bodies are the temple of the HOLY SPIRIT, and only the person who is joined to CHRIST is the person who receives HIM.
Furthermore, we can’t receive the HOLY SPIRIT until GOD can look into our thoughts (hearts) and sees HIMSELF. It is then, and only then, that GOD will send us to CHRIST JESUS. And as the scriptures say, JESUS gives eternal life to all those whom the FATHER sends to HIM (John 17:2b). And that’s “GOD’s perspective of salvation”, not man’s.
I’ll conclude this lesson the same way the Apostle Paul concluded this sixth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, where he warns us in verses 18-20 to;

Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO lives in you and was given to you by GOD? You do not belong to yourself, for GOD bought you with a high price. So you must honor GOD with your body” (NLT).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, June 27, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 29, 2014

Over 62,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A CALL TO UNITY
(Don’t confuse the messenger with the message)
(1 Corinthians 1:10-17)

Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth was written to address the many problems that had cropped up there, during the time, immediately following his founding of the church during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-8). The believers in Corinth had begun to question Paul’s authority as an apostle appointed by CHRIST. They were also misusing worship, suing each other in court, engaging in all sorts of immorality, and even denying that the resurrection of CHRIST ever took place.
The apostle Paul wrote this letter circa A.D. 57 on behalf of himself and Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue at Corinth. Sosthenes was the man, who was beaten by the angry mob that day in the courtroom, while standing before the Roman governor Gallio of Achaia (Acts 18:17). Sosthenes must have converted to Christianity some time following that mob scene in his city. The obvious purpose of this letter was to correct any damage that had already occurred, and to stave off any further damage to the Christian belief system in this young church at Corinth.
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “divisions” in verse 10 is “schismata”, and it describes a condition of “tears and splits that divide the wholeness of a unit”. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, after giving thanks to GOD, Paul focuses in on the obvious divisions taking place in the church at Corinth, and he sets out to present his appeal there for unity. The debate in the Church at Corinth over Christian leadership had all but destroyed the unity of that local congregation. They were constantly engaged in heated debate over who they should follow. Some wanted to follow Paul, while others were loyal to Apollos, and Peter, and fortunately, some, who were still in their right mind, were yet willing to follow CHRIST JESUS, the GOD appointed, true HEAD of the Church. 
Some people, and understandably so, have come to cite this passage as an argument against forming different denominations within the Christian body. When we separate the Christian church into different factions, we are, in effect, arguing that our group is “best” or “right”, and as a result, we separate ourselves from others who are really equal members in the body of CHRIST.
We all can agree that, here in the twenty-first century, we have become more interested in teaching people about our various denominations (i.e. Baptist, Methodist, Catholic), than we are about teaching GOD’s perfect idea that is now called “Christianity”. However, it would serve us well to always remember that “Christianity” is the only “true” religion, because it is the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind. Every other religion, sect, or denomination known to man, is quite simply, a product of man’s own mind, and therefore, in essence, is wrong.
The good news is that GOD already knew that this kind of desire, for human superiority, would rise up out of the minds of men. And so, through HIS permissive will, HE grants us these options, as long as we respect HIS most basic of Christian principles, that were laid out for us, by CHRIST, in Matthew 22:37-40. There CHRIST states the greatest of all Christian doctrine when HE commands that, we;

“Love GOD with all our heart, soul, and mind, and that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. CHRIST goes on to say that, “All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (NLT).

And, even though, we may never organize our Christian churches in the same way, nor are we likely to ever worship GOD, in the same way, and in fact, we may never even believe in precisely the same things about the same ALMIGHTY GOD that we share. However, “Christian unity”, is intended by GOD to transcend all these differences, and bring men together in fellowship and love. It is that same kind of “Christian unity” that JESUS prayed about in John 17, and, that same kind of “Christian unity” that Paul wrote about to the Church here in this letter to the Corinthians, and indeed, in all of his other doctrinal letters. It is a unity that is not born of bricks and mortar, but rather, it is a unity of “personal relationships”, not unlike the one we’ve already seen, between the FATHER and the SON, as an example to us, for all time.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, June 13, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 15, 2014

Over 61,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

HOPE FOR A NEW DAY
(GOD’s power shows through us when we live in the SPIRIT)
(Haggai 2:20-23 & Zechariah 4:5-14)

In Haggai chapter 2, verses 20-23, we see the fourth message of the prophet Haggai. It is a messianic prophecy for Zerubbabel, the son of Sheathiel, and the governor of Judah at that time. Zerubbabel was a man who lived in the SPIRIT, and always tried to follow the instructions of the LORD, and the LORD is always faithful to reward those who are obedient to HIS instructions.
In this particular passage, the LORD sends a fourth message to Haggai. It is the second that was directed to Zerubbabel overall, and the only one that was directed to him specifically, and personally (also see Haggai 2:1-9). Here the LORD tells HIS faithful servant that after HE overturns and destroys the royal thrones of the world, HE will honor him, and treat him like a “signet ring” on HIS finger.
In other words, HE will use Zerubbabel’s life and service as an example to the nation of Israel, of how a leader should conduct himself under GOD. Zerubbabel’s leadership represented closely, the “express image” of what GOD expects from those who desire, and are called, to lead HIS people. HE had chosen Zerubbabel as the channel through which HE would continue the “Davidic Line” that was interrupted by Jehoiachin.
The other significance of comparing Zerubbabel to a signet ring, “a seal of royal approval”, is clarified by the imagery in Jeremiah 22:24-25, regarding GOD’s denouncement of King Jehoiachin as HIS signet ring. Here Haggai is likely indicating that, through Zerubbabel, GOD was reversing the curse that HE had exacted towards Jehoiachin several decades earlier, allowing him to be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon.
Having used the words “on that day” (v.23), actually steers this prophecy to a future date and does not suggest that Zerubbabel himself would ever rule as king. Instead, it points to a fulfillment that would be realized in the Messianic Age of CHRIST JESUS. However, Zerubbabel is clearly seen as exercising his role, in the line of David that is just as important as that of any GODly Davidic King.
In Zechariah 4, in the Prophet Zechariah’s “vision of the gold lampstand and the two olive trees” (his fifth vision), the interpreting angel awakens him and directs his attention to a solid gold lampstand that was similar to the ones that were used in the temple. This complex vision contains several symbols;

·         The Lampstand – represents the abundance of GOD’s power through the HOLY SPIRIT.
·         The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD, which searches all around the world.
·         The two olive trees – represent the priestly and royal offices.
·         The two branches – represent Joshua and Zerubbabel, or can be anyone who assists GOD here on earth.
·         The two golden pipes that pour out golden oil – represent the SPIRIT’s abundant power flowing to GOD’s servants here on earth.
Here GOD promises the GODly leaders of that day, and now, that, although they were lacking in human resources of wealth and manpower, HIS HOLY SPIRIT would supply them with the physical, financial, and spiritual strength they would need to complete the task of the work on the House of GOD, a task that HE had personally assigned them to do.    
Zechariah 4, verse 6, which states, “It is not by force nor by strength, but by MY SPIRIT, says the LORD” (NLT), remains one of the most challenging and encouraging verses of Scripture ever written. It reminds us, down through the ages, that we rely not on our own strength, ability, or human ingenuity, but rather, on the HOLY SPIRIT of the Almighty GOD, our SAVIOR through JESUS CHRIST. There is no room in the Church for “human ingenuity”.
Due to our pride in what we do well, it is easy to become discouraged when we see how little we can do, or have to do, with the operations and functioning of the Christian Church. In those days in Judah, the temple that GOD was asking the people to erect paled in comparison to the magnificent edifice that King Solomon had constructed years earlier. However, we should rejoice in “small beginnings” which lead to larger promises from GOD (v.10).
When we step out faithfully to perform the small things that GOD calls us to do, invariably, they lead to even bigger, better things that will ultimately lead to eternal and total fulfillment in CHRIST. The LORD always purifies people so that they might glorify HIM in the end. HE supplies us with abundant power and energy to complete the task that HE calls us to do, and HE will remain with us until, and after, that task is completed. GOD’s power shows through us when we live in the SPIRIT.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, June 6, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 8, 2014

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BUILD THE FUTURE
(Hold strong to the LORD in your obedience)
(Haggai 1:12-2:9)

In the biblical Greek the word used for “longsuffering” is “makrothumia”. It is a word that describes a spirit that never grows irritated, never despairs, and never regards anyone as being beyond salvation. The only wise GOD, our SAVIOR through JESUS CHRIST, exists in that spirit continuously. I know that’s the case, because, if HE didn’t, HE would have destroyed mankind a long time ago. GOD wants us, as a human race, to exhibit that same kind of spirit and attitude towards each other, because if we don’t, eventually, we will destroy ourselves.
The destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. marked the end of an era in Jewish national and religious life. In Babylon, the Jews were without a temple, or an official place to worship and sacrifice to GOD. And even though they could still direct their prayers toward Jerusalem while in Babylon (1 Kings 8:48 & Daniel 6:10), it was only because of GOD’s stirring of the hearts of the Persian kings, Cyrus and Darius, that this remnant of some 50.000 Jews were able to return to Jerusalem where David had first opened up the worship center hundreds of years earlier.
“The GOD of another chance”, despite our failures, disappointments, and ignorance toward HIM twenty four hours a day, remains with us faithfully. HE constantly overlooks our failures and disobedience in the spirit of makrothumia, and for our part, we must be able to view our sins as “heartbreaking” to ourselves, and, to GOD. We must be able to repent, humble ourselves, and then gain a strong desire and compunction, not to re-visit those same old trespasses again.
In Haggai chapter 1, less than twenty years after the Jewish exiles had begun to return to their homeland, they had already begun to re-develop their rebellious, selfish and disobedient ways toward GOD, and each other. They had abandoned the work on the temple and were moving full speed ahead toward their own selfish, personal agendas. Sure! They were building for the future, as we are all supposed to do, however they were building for a future that did not include GOD.
In verse 13, after hearing the message from the LORD, that was delivered by the prophet Haggai, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and all the people of Judah obeyed the LORD and began to worship HIM earnestly and enthusiastically, and they began to work on the House of the LORD again, in the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.
One month later (Haggai chapter 2), the LORD sent another message by Haggai asking the leaders and the people if anyone was able to remember what the old temple looked like, and, to compare it to the way that it currently looked. No doubt the people were somewhat discouraged by the enormity of the task that GOD had laid before them, and they were starting to doubt that they could fulfill their commitment to the LORD in this matter. Nevertheless, GOD, through Haggai, urged the Israelites to take courage and complete the work on the temple, and HE HIMSELF would remain with them until the work was complete (Vs.4-5). Here is that message:

“For this is what the LORD Almighty says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth. I will shake the oceans and the dry land too. I will shake the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come to this temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD Almighty. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD Almighty. The future glory of the temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD Almighty. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the LORD Almighty have spoken” - Haggai 2:6-9 (NLT)

In verse 6 we find the only verse in the book of Haggai that is quoted in the New Testament (Hebrews 12:26). There it is stated in relation to the end times, or is an eschatological reference to the “end of the world” when GOD will introduce a cosmic earthquake that will destroy every human society, and call all mankind to judgment.
The words, “in a little while”, does not suggest literal immediacy, but rather, it speaks of an impending, imminent action that GOD could, at any time take, at HIS OWN discretion. We must keep in mind that “all eternity” is like “a little while” to our eternal GOD, and HE has all the time in the world to orchestrate HIS plan.
This message delivered by Haggai to the Israelites in biblical times is something that also applies to us in this day and age because it is an “eschatological prophecy” and has not yet come to pass. And so it is very relevant in this, “The Church Age” that we heed this warning. It tells us that after GOD clears the present-day Christian Church of all of the “profane things” (satan’s offerings) that modern-day pastors and leaders have incorporated into it with their human ingenuity, GOD says, HIS glory will return to it. Then, the “desired things” (“hemdat” in the Hebrew – “precious things”) will once again be offered up to the LORD GOD Almighty in HIS “Church House” from all the nations in the world. Absolutely every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, in the end!

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website