Friday, September 12, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 14, 2014

Over 65,000 readers worldwide

(Trust in the LORD’s presence)
(Jeremiah 31:27-40)

In Jeremiah 31:31 the LORD promises a New Covenant with the nation of Israel and Judah. It would not be like the old covenant made with their ancestors when HE brought them out of the land of Egypt. Anyway, they had already broken that covenant, even though GOD continued to love them as a husband who dearly loves his wife.
GOD’s work in the New Covenant for HIS people would silence the proverb that was uttered so commonly around Israel in those days, which stated, “The parents eat sour grapes, but the children’s mouths pucker at the taste” (v.29). It was that generation’s way of not taking responsibility for its own sins. Apparently they found it easier to stomach the guilt of their iniquities by convincing themselves that they were suffering only because of the sins of their ancestors, and not through any fault of their own, which of course is ridiculous.  
In Exodus 24, verses 1-8, the Israelites accepted GOD’s Covenant, as it had been given to Moses on Mount Sinai. However, man would not then, nor, will not now, abide by such a covenant, because he has always been, in every generation, too determined to do things his own way. And when we choose to do things our way, we automatically move farther and farther away from GOD, and we continue to interrupt our relationship with GOD, by way of our perpetual sinful rebellion.
The New Covenant spoken of here in Jeremiah 31 is the covenant that was eventually ushered in by CHRIST JESUS in the first century A.D. Yes, it took the life of CHRIST to restore our lost relationship of friendship with GOD. JESUS’ whole purpose for coming was to usher in this New Covenant from GOD, which consists of many spiritual aspects, and is a covenant that is far superior to any before, or since that time.
But first, the final judgment upon Israel had to run its course. It would come in the way of “a physical deportation” from the “promised” land of Israel, to captivity in Babylon. With the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces in 586 B.C., the final curse was complete, and restoration could get under way in about 70 years.
With HIS “Mosaic Covenant”, GOD had set “a holy standard of conduct” by which HE intended HIS people to live. However, because of their rebellious hearts, they simply could not maintain those high standards. The Mosaic Law served as a mirror for which sinful man could look into and see for himself, just how far he was from GOD’s glorious and holy standards. GOD shares HIS nature with us and HE wants us to live holy lives because HE is holy. HE wants us to wholly desire to live holy under HIM.
The New Covenant ushered in by CHRIST, in essence, makes the Mosaic Covenant obsolete and irrelevant. The old covenant basically told Israelites how to behave and also specified blessings for those who obeyed, and punishment for those who disobeyed. And although GOD still desires for us to obey HIM under the New Covenant by desiring to live holy like CHRIST, we are no longer prisoners or slaves to the sin and death of this world. GOD has given us an obvious out, through the sacrificial blood of JESUS.
Under the New Covenant, GOD writes HIS laws on our hearts and in our minds (v.33), and HE also promises believers an inner transformation. Believers can now have a direct, experiential relationship and friendship with GOD, through JESUS CHRIST, by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT living in us. Through earnest repent, GOD is faithful to forgive whatever sins we commit, because HE has accepted the blood of CHRIST as payment for all the sins of the world, past, present, and future.
It is the duty of the Christian to build his or her foundation on the “Most High Faith”, which is “Christianity”, and not all the various denominations man has dreamed up over time. We must learn to pray in the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, and we must always remember the conditions of the New Covenant that has been ushered in by CHRIST, and then signed in HIS OWN blood.
When we repent and trust in GOD’s presence, and believe on CHRIST JESUS, GOD forgives us, and HIS transforming works begin in our heart. And through our new found faith, we can begin walking in the newness of the life that can only be found in CHRIST JESUS our LORD and SAVIOR, and we can also forever enjoy a New Covenant relationship with GOD the FATHER, here on earth, and, in Heaven.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, September 5, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 7, 2014

Over 64,000 readers worldwide

(Trust in the LORD’s purpose)
(Jeremiah 30)

Jeremiah chapters 30-33 focus on a period about eighteen months prior to the end of the Babylonian siege on Jerusalem in early 586 B.C. These chapters contain some of the most critical prophesies in all of Old Testament scripture. In this section (chapter 30) Jeremiah reveals a stunning vision (encouraging, especially for that seemingly hopeless time period) of God’s plans for Israel’s future. Here he reveals that GOD will bring, both, northern Israel and Judah, back from their captivities, and restore them to prominence in their GOD-given homeland (Vs.1-3).
In verse 2 GOD instructs Jeremiah to write down, for the record, everything HE had said to him, in a book, so that the exiles would have access to HIS promises after the fall of Jerusalem. These writings would stand as a “ray of hope” until the day when GOD would restore HIS people back in the former land of Canaan.
In verses 4-7 the LORD tells Jeremiah, concerning Israel and Judah distress, that:

“I hear cries of fear;
    there is terror and no peace.
 Now let me ask you a question:
    Do men give birth to babies?
Then why do they stand there, ashen-faced,
    hands pressed against their sides
    like a woman in labor?
In all history there has never been such a time of terror.
    It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel.
    Yet in the end they will be saved!

Here the LORD wants Jeremiah to inform Israel that there will be a time of national distress before HE returns her to their homeland. There will be cries of fear and distress heard among all the exiles in Babylon. Their pain and anguish would be comparable to that of a woman during childbirth, and would be like none anytime before that time. GOD says it will be “a time of trouble and tribulation” for Israel.
In this passage, GOD is not only speaking just of their time in Babylon, because northern Israel, who had already been in captivity in Assyria for over a hundred years, would not be suffering through it. Here GOD is speaking of a future “tribulation period” when the remnants of Israel and Judah will both experience a time of unparalleled persecution (Daniel 9:27 & 12:1, Matthew 24:15-22). That period will end when CHRIST returns to “make the world a better place”, forming HIS “Millennial Kingdom” here on earth. Those who are able to survive those times, CHRIST said then, and GOD says here, “will be saved”. This shoots a hole in the theory of those who say that “the Church” (GOD’s people) will not have to go through the “Great Tribulation” period.
In verses 8-9 GOD says:

For in that day,”
    says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
“I will break the yoke from their necks
    and snap their chains.
Foreigners will no longer be their masters.
   For my people will serve the Lord their God
and their king descended from David—
    the king I will raise up for them.

GOD broke the yoke of slavery that was controlled by their enemies, the Babylonians (foreigners), but in the eschatological sense, for those living in this day and age, GOD broke the yoke of slavery (satan) called “sin and death”, through the vicarious sacrifice of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, and so now we must serve only GOD and CHRIST JESUS.
GOD said that HE would destroy all the nations to which HIS people had been scattered, and that HE would return them to a situation of total peace and security (Vs.10-11). But first HE had to remedy our humanly incurable wound called “sin”, and there was no one on earth who could help us, not our friends, and not any medicine. And so GOD healed and remedied our problem by sending HIS only begotten SON, CHRIST JESUS, the great HEALER (Vs.12-17).
GOD’s restoration for Israel in biblical times, involved a physical rebuilding. In this day and age it involves a spiritual rebuilding. In verses 18-22 GOD says the city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt on its ruins, and this included the King’s palace, and that there would be joy and songs of thanksgiving to GOD. There would, once again, be great prosperity in the land, and whoever harmed, or try to harm HIS people would be punished.
Verse 21, however, speaks of an eschatological time when our only ruler will be CHRIST JESUS, and HE, as we know, can approach GOD whenever HE wants, because HE is GOD. And if we are to be GOD’s people, in this day and age, we must first become one with CHRIST.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, August 29, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 31, 2014

Over 64,000 readers worldwide

(Growing in your willingness to give)
(2 Corinthians 8:1-15)

In the biblical Greek, the word used for “grace” is “charis” and it is “the divine influence upon one’s heart, and its reflection on life”. In 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, the Apostle Paul turns to the subject of “gracious giving” by the saints of the newly formed Christian Churches. The main purpose of Paul’s third missionary journey was to raise money for the central church at Jerusalem, who had fallen on hard times.
Paul had actually been organizing this tour to aid the needy there at Jerusalem for a number of years, after being urged to do so by Peter, James, and John (Acts 9:27-29 (also see Galatians 2:9-10). From the time the Corinthians first heard about this collection, they had been, seemingly, very eager to participate, and Paul had previously laid out a plan that would make it possible for them to do so without putting a strain on their personal budgets (1 Corinthians 16:1-4).
According to Paul’s wording in this passage, however, it seems that the previous good intentions of the church at Corinth had since dissipated, and so Paul asked his trusted aid, Titus, to go and look into the situation at Corinth. Paul wanted to find out what factors, or, issues had come up to interrupt, or derail, the church’s previous intended benevolence (2 Corinthians 8:6). 
Here in 2 Corinthians 8, verses 1-5, Paul sought to motivate the Corinthians spirit of generosity, by first giving the great example of the benevolence of the Church at Macedonia. Here he told of how, even though, the Macedonians were going through much hardship themselves, they were able to “turn the concern for their own deep poverty, into an overflowing of rich generosity for others”. They gave, not only what they could afford, but through their joyful spirit, they even went beyond the call of Christian duty. In fact, Paul says that they even pleaded for him to allow them the privilege of doing even more, and they dedicated themselves to the LORD, and to Paul and his aides for whatever directions and instructions GOD would give them.
Then, in verse 9, Paul uses the greatest example of all times, to motivate this young Church at Corinth. Here he steers their attentions to the very “personification of benevolence”, our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. Here Paul reminds the Church of how full of love and kindness CHRIST was when HE came to us, though HE was very rich, HE made HIMSELF poor so that, by HIS poverty, HE could make us rich.
Paul’s advice to the Corinthians in verses 10-11 is that the young church finishes what they had started a year earlier, when they were so enthusiastic about wanting to give and help with the benevolent project that had been initiated for Jerusalem. Their church had been the first to act upon this idea, and now was the time to go forward towards its completion. In verses 12-13, Paul reasons that “each individual’s giving need only be commensurate with their ability to give”. Beyond an individual’s tithes, GOD does not want us to give, what you can’t afford to give. HE does not want us to give so much that we suffer from having too little ourselves. Such could, in time, cause us to have ill feelings about giving, or cause one to feel as though they have put the church in their debt, or put GOD in their debt. And so we can see that, even in giving, one must use GODLY wisdom.
Finally, in verses 14-15, Paul expounds upon the guiding principal regarding the material exchange between Christian churches. It is the “principle of equality” which involves the “checks” and “balances” that are contained in “GOD’s system of justice for the regulation of human existence”:

When one has plenty,
he should share with others,
and when one does not have enough,
others should share with him”.

When we apply that principle to real life, the needs of every individual will always be met, and there would never be a need for government sponsored welfare programs.
Paul then reminds the church of the very source of this “guiding principle”, which GOD exposed to the Israelites one day in the wilderness of the Negev, following their divine exodus from Egypt. It is with the miracle of “manna from Heaven”, as it is recorded by Moses in Exodus 16:14-18:

When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance, as fine as frost, blanketed the ground.  The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat.  These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts   for each person in your tent. So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little.  But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed”. (NLT)

There we see that, by the Israelites gathering two quarts for each person, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had plenty enough. Each family had just what it needed”. Let those who have ears to hear, take heed, and those who can read this lesson, understand.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, August 22, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 24, 2014

Over 64,000 readers worldwide

(Working out our differences with open hearts and GOD’s grace)
(2 Corinthians 6:1-13)
Second Corinthians 6, verses 1 and 2, should actually be read with chapter 5. Here Paul finishes his thoughts on “reconciliation”, and, on how Christians must view themselves as being “GOD’s Ambassadors” to the world. It is by GOD’s grace that “true believers” are transformed into “new creatures” and again given the potential to live a truly righteous existence.
It is in this day that every human being can experience salvation because of what CHRIST JESUS did sacrificially, culminating on the cross, if they choose to. Through CHRIST JESUS, GOD allows us to partake in an “imputed righteousness” that we could not have possibly achieved on our own. It is an utter tragedy whenever one of GOD’s greatest creation (mankind), allows his or her hard-heartedness, to reduce the meaning of GOD’s grace in their lives, to being of “non-effect”, or, as having no transforming value at all.
Taking up at verse 3, Paul shifts his thoughts back (2 Corinthians 4:8-12) so that he might elaborate further on some of the many hardships that serious Christians must suffer, if they are to earnestly follow in the path, or footsteps of CHRIST JESUS, our LORD. Here Paul says that we must live in such a way that no one can be hindered from finding the LORD, due to the fact that we may have publicly, or privately, exhibited ungodly behavior to the world we’re seeking to convert (Vs.3-4).
As Christians, we take on a given responsibility to prove to the world that Christianity really does produce the best men and women. And oftentimes that must be done while under duress from the very same worldly people that we are trying to convert. Here in verses 4b-5 Paul shares with us some of the ways he, himself had suffered for the sake of ministering the Gospel to the world.
Paul says that he, and those who traveled with him, had been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. In short, perhaps Paul is cautioning us that, a Christian’s faith has to be proven and confirmed by the way they react to, and endure through their sufferings and persecutions, just as JESUS proved the genuineness of HIS faith under HIS FATHER GOD, during HIS earthly assignment.
In verse 6 Paul mentions six ways by which a Christian can prove himself, or herself of great value under GOD, and at the same time, relieve any tensions that may exist in the community of GOD. Here Paul says that we can achieve this by our;

·         Purity
·         Understanding
·         Patience
·         Kindness
·         Sincere love
·         And, by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT

Christians must learn to faithfully and correctly preach and teach the Gospel so that GOD’s power will continue to work in us. We must operate using the righteousness of CHRIST as a weapon to, both, defend ourselves against, and to attack, the unseen demons who may influence people all around us. We have to serve GOD whether people honor us or despise us, slander us or praise us. We have to remain honest, even when people call us impostors, simply because they do not want to live by the message of GOD that we peach and deliver (Vs.7-8).
Even though Paul was well-known he was sometimes treated as an unknown by his opponents in the Church. Oftentimes they dismissed him as being poor, sorrowful, and useless. However, in the opinion of GOD (the only opinion that counts), Paul’s servant-hood was proven genuine by his willingness to suffer hardships that sometimes brought him to within an inch of his life. He was able to joyfully withstand heartache, and even though he was poor financially, he was able to give much spiritual riches to those who accepted it. And while he may not have owned anything, with GOD, he had all that he needed in life, and more. He was successful under GOD because he was willing to open up his heart to the people he was called to minister to, and as a result of his open-heartedness, and GOD’s grace, he was ultimately able to remove tension and strife from the assembly of GOD at Corinth, at least, for a time (Vs.9-13).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, August 15, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 17, 2014

Over 63,000 readers worldwide

(GOD’s salvation shines through the body of CHRIST)
(2 Corinthians 4)

There is dynamic, life-saving power infused in the Gospel of GOD. Therefore, we must not hesitate to speak out, even though we may not be as skilled, or as knowledgeable, as others may be. We have to always keep in mind that it is the message, not the messenger that saves. And since GOD, in HIS mercy, has given us this wonderful news and ministry, we must take courage in our delivery and never, ever give up, or be dissuaded.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, the Apostle Paul shows us how firmly his attention is focused on the eternal truths of the Gospel, which are more easily experienced spiritually, than seen physically. The Christian must not lose heart by focusing on the temporary physical setbacks, and momentary troubles, that tend to pockmark our lives here on this earth. If we are in any sense, to become followers of CHRIST, and over-comers of this world, we must come to learn what it means to “live in the SPIRIT”.
As believers, “the perishable containers” that are our bodies, are but mere vessels that GOD uses to show HIMSELF through, in the world. Satan has already blinded the minds of those who do not believe, and so they are unable to offer themselves up to GOD, or, see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining through CHRIST, even on them. They simply can’t understand the message we preach about the glory of CHRIST, WHO, is the exact “spiritual image” of GOD HIMSELF (Vs.3-4).
True believers don’t go around preaching about themselves, but rather, they preach about CHRIST. All we can say about ourselves is that we want to serve others because of what JESUS has done for us. When GOD said “let there be light in the darkness” we understand that that light is the brightness of GOD seen in the face of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR (Vs.5-6).
In verses 8-12 Paul says;

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.  So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.(NLT)

To live the life of one who is ministering the Gospel in the world is not an easy undertaking, because the Word of GOD suggests in itself, that, the majority of the world’s populace will be blind to the message that it brings through HIS anointed. And it will remain that way until the time of JESUS’ “Second Advent”, when HE comes to establish HIS Millennial Kingdom here on earth (make the world a better place). And so, just as JESUS suffered during HIS “First Advent”, so too, those who follow HIM, must also suffer in completing the work of HIS Church, until HE returns to comfort our pain, and reward us with eternal life in Heaven.
The hardships of the Christian life are very real. And although it may be glorious and transforming to those who are willing to commit to it, it is not a life that is free of suffering. Physically, sometimes our burdens may seem hard to bear, and spiritually, it can be just as overwhelming if we allow our emotions, that come with dealing with people, to throw our focus off of CHRIST JESUS, our leader and pioneer.
Here in this chapter, Paul focuses on the issues of hardship in ministry to try and encourage those who may be presently experiencing some of those hardships, as they try and minister to others. Here Paul seeks to direct us and point out just how he himself has overcome those obstacles by maintaining a strong faith in GOD. He understood very clearly, that the same GOD, WHO raised CHRIST from the dead, was totally able to do the same for him and others, who strive to walk as CHRIST did, by faith. And GOD’s grace will continue to bring more and more people to CHRIST, and HE will continue to receive more and more glory because of it (Vs.13-15).
Suffering for the sake of CHRIST in this world, brings immeasurable benefits in the world to come, and that is why we should never give up. Even though our bodies may be dying, our spirits are being renewed every single day. Our earthly troubles become quite small when we realize that, we are, through our suffering, producing immeasurably great glory that will last forever, for us, and, for those that we help bring to CHRIST (Vs.16-17).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website