Saturday, December 31, 2011


For Sunday January 1, 2012

(And be willing to suffer for righteousness sake)
Acts 5

Failure in our honesty, talent, and diligence amounts to sin against GOD. It was the great violinmaker Antonio Stradivari who said, “If my hands slacked, I would rob GOD”. In Acts chapter 5, verses 1-10, Luke gives us a vivid example of a couple who failed in their honesty, because they were driven by their jealousy of the respect that had been won by Barnabas and others when they sold their possessions to make contributions to the poor (Acts 4:32-37).
Scripture tells us that there was a man named Ananias, who, along with his wife Sapphira, sold some of their property, with the intention of giving the proceeds to the needy in the church. However, after selling the property they decided that they would keep some of the proceeds for themselves. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this type of action, because the money was theirs to do with as they wished. The problem came when they decided to deceive the church into thinking that they were giving the Apostles all of the proceeds they had received from the sale of their property.
In this particular passage, we see just one of the many ways we, as professed Christians, grieve the HOLY SPIRIT. Here we see, even by the New Testament standard of Grace, just how our sins toward one another, as harmless as they may seem to us, will not be taken lightly by GOD. After we accept CHRIST and receive the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT from our FATHER GOD, each time we sin thereafter, we grieve the HOLY SPIRIT within us, offend CHRIST JESUS WHO died for us, and show a lack of reverence for GOD THE FATHER WHO created us.
Ananias and Sapphira weren’t condemned because they failed to give all, but rather, they were condemned because their deceit reintroduced the hypocrisy that had corrupted so many in the church that operated under the banner of Judaism. Christianity, the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind, was intended to be, that faith, which reflected GOD’s image more clearly to man. This new Christian doctrine was to instill new hope in the hearts and minds of GOD’s greatest creation, man. It would be a hope that would forever serve as motivation to make life on earth conform more fully with HIS word, just as it was presented to us by JESUS CHRIST, during HIS three-year ministry here on earth.
In Acts 5:3-4 Peter says to Ananias, “Why hath satan filled thine heart to lie to the HOLY GHOST, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto GOD” (KJV).
As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell dead. Three hours later, his wife Sapphira came in, not knowing what had happened to her husband. When Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land? She replied, “Yes, that was the price”. Peter then rebuked her, and she, as well, fell dead.
The LORD’s response to this situation was intended to put fear in the hearts of those who might attempt to deceive HIS Church, then, and in the future (Acts 5:13). This passage serves to show us that GOD will not hold blameless, those who attempt to deceive the Church for personal financial gain, nor will HE hold blameless, those who use the Church for self-promotion, brought on by jealousy, as Ananias and Sapphira attempted to do.
GOD never intended for HIS Church to look like, or conform to the World, but rather, HE intended for the World to transform itself to look like HIS Church, which is, by the way, supposed to reflect the image of CHRIST JESUS. And when we try to do it any way other than GOD’s way, we will grieve the HOLY SPIRIT in the process.
Taking up at verse 17 we see more of the problem of violent jealousy in the Church, this time, coming from the ranks of the high priest and his friends, the Sadducees. Jealous of the popularity of the apostles in the Church, they decided to arrest them, and throw them in jail. However, an angel of the LORD came that same night and miraculously released the men from their incarceration, without opening the gates, or alarming the guards. The guards remained unaware that the apostles were gone, until it was discovered the next morning. The angel directed the apostles to go to the temple and teach GOD’s message to the people (Vs. 19-20).
When the captain of the guards received word that the apostles were over in the temple teaching, he and his men went over and non-violently re-arrested them and brought them before the council of the high priest and elders of Israel for trial (Vs. 26-42). During the trial, the apostles defiance toward the council, and their continued preaching, even in their presence, so infuriated the council, that they decided to kill them all (v. 33).
However, in verse 34, we are introduced to a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a very popular teacher of religious law in Israel in those days. In fact, Gamaliel was the mentor of Saul (the Apostle Paul), when he attended seminary training at the school of Hillel where Gamaliel served as an instructor.  Gamaliel’s words of wisdom calmed the angry council down, and they received his advice to them, to not kill the apostles, but rather, let their actions play out and let GOD decide whether or not they are HIS legit representatives (Vs. 35-39).
Yet and still, the council ordered the men flogged, and gave them another stern warning not to speak in the name of JESUS anymore (v. 40). The apostles, nevertheless, left the trial rejoicing that GOD had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of JESUS. And every day forward, in the temple, and in their homes, they continued to preach this message: “The MESSIAH you are looking for is JESUS” (Vs. 41-42). Amen.


(1)    Reflect on times in which you have grieved the HOLY SPIRIT with your sin since you became a Christian. Did it break your heart?
(2)    Work on becoming the same person in the privacy of your home that you are in public. You can fool man, probably most of the time, but you can’t ever fool GOD, because GOD sees what you are doing, all the time.
(3)    Remember, when you become a Christian, you are working for GOD, and self-promotion is incompatible with serving CHRIST. You can’t be “self-serving” and “CHRIST-serving” at the same time.
(4)    Be willing to suffer dishonor, pain, and hard times for the sake of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD, just as HE did for us.


Express to GOD, in prayer, your desire to become more “CHRIST serving” and less “self-serving”. Ask HIM to remove those desires to self-promote, so that you can be more like JESUS, and to allow “self” to wither away and die from your heart.

KEY VERSE: Acts 5:3

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: James 3:14-16, Romans 8:9-11, & John 14:15-17 & 26

A Book by Book Bible Study by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, December 23, 2011


For Sunday December 25, 2011

(GOD expects boldness from us in our representation of the Gospel)
(Acts 4)

Luke’s history of the spread of the Gospel in the Book of Acts is rife with stories of people and events that are alive with high drama. Each scene seems to come to life, as he chronicles the infancy of the Christian Church with, perhaps, the most literary use of the Greek language in all of the New Testament. He, quite literally, invites us into the world of the first century and convinces us, without argument, that, GOD has been at work all along, guiding and controlling each and every event. He depicts the Gospel of CHRIST, as good news for all people, and he promises hope and transformation for all those who choose to believe in CHRIST JESUS. Therefore, the story of the spread of the Gospel in the Book of Acts seems to become every person’s story and history, not just the Jews.
In the Greek, the word Luke and other New Testament writers use for “boldness” is “parrhesia” (par-rhay-see-ah), and “it is outspokenness, frankness, and bluntness”. It means “to be confident in both spirit and demeanor”. In Acts 4:1-4, after Peter and John had caused quite a commotion by healing the cripple man who had sat by the Temple Gate and begged for alms for forty years, they found themselves under fire from the leading Priests and Sadducees. They were approached by these leaders, along with the Temple Sagan (Guard), while they preached to the crowd, and both men were placed under arrest.
The charge of false teaching leveled against Peter and John was punishable by imprisonment or death, and in those days, according to Jewish law, judgment involving life and death, had to begin and end, on the same day. Since it was now already 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and almost time for the Temple to close, they had to jail the two men overnight, and then, begin their trial the following morning.
Many of the people who listened to Peter and John believed their message, and the number of those believers now totaled about five thousand, not including women and children. The next day, the 70-member Sanhedrin, the council consisting of rulers, elders, and teachers of religious law, assembled in Jerusalem for the purpose of trying Peter and John. The two men were brought in and asked the question, “By what power, or by what name, have you done this?”
Then Peter, filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, began to speak boldly saying, “Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom GOD raised from the dead, even by HIM doth this man stand here before you whole” (KJV). Peter goes on to tell them that, there is Salvation in no one else, and there is no other name in Heaven for people to call on to save them.
The Council members sat there stunned when they saw the “boldness” of Peter and John, who were untrained by the institutions of men in matters of religious law. They seemed to have no spiritual understanding of men like Peter and John, who possessed a C.B.G. (Call By GOD), the only degree that GOD ever gives HIS faithful students, once HE equips them to do HIS will.
The Sanhedrin knew who Peter and John were, because they had seen them many times with JESUS during HIS three-year ministry. They also knew that they had healed the crippled beggar, because they could see that the once-handicapped man was standing right there beside them. And so, they were pretty much compelled to release Peter and John at that point, but first, they would seek to stop them from preaching the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST any further.
So they sent the two men out and conferred among themselves for a few minutes, and decided to order Peter and John to cease and desist, their teachings about JESUS CHRIST. However, Peter and John responded by saying, “Do you think GOD wants us to obey you rather than HIM? We cannot stop telling people about the wonderful things we have seen and heard”. The council then warned them again, but would not hold them, because they feared that the people might riot.
In Acts 4:23-31, we see that, no sooner than Peter and John had been released, they begin to exhibit those characteristics of the heart that made them, and can make us, inviting to the HOLY SPIRIT. First we see in verse 23, that, they went to be with other believers. The first thing we as Christians must do when we come to CHRIST, is to stop hanging out with the old crowd, and start hanging out with other Christians.
Secondly, we see in verse 24 that they had prayer. All Christians need to have a strong prayer life. Thirdly, we see, also in verse 24, that they immediately gave the ALMIGHTY GOD HIS proper place in their prayers, as well as, in their lives. And finally, we see in verse 29, they recognize from whom their strength comes, and asks for courage that they may be able to continue to speak “boldly” about the Gospel of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
And so, here we see yet four more spiritual qualities that must be embodied in every Christian who wishes to access the full power of the HOLY SPIRIT within us, WHO can lead us, not only in our personal Christian walks, but also, in our respective assigned Christian ministries.


(1). Once you give your life to CHRIST, stop hanging out with the old crowd that
       helped you remain comfortably in sin. (Except for the purpose of trying to
       convert them to CHRIST)
(2). Work on strengthening your prayer life, and always give GOD HIS proper place
       in your prayers.
(3). Never forget from whom your strength comes (GOD), and ask HIM to continue
       to supply you with the power to speak “boldly” about the Gospel of our LORD


Pray for boldness through GOD’s HOLY SPIRIT


DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Ephesians 6:10-20, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-9, & Acts 4:18-22

A Book by Book Bible Study by,
Larry D. Alexander

Saturday, December 17, 2011


For Sunday December 18, 2011

(GOD uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things)
(Acts 3)

JESUS once took a rugged, untrained successful commercial fisherman, and commissioned him to be a Disciple and teacher of the Word of GOD. This man emerged as the leader of the group of twelve men that JESUS originally called to follow HIM. The Gospels consistently portray him as taking the lead among all the Disciples. This man’s name was Peter, and, along with James and John, they formed what has come to be known as the “inner circle” of JESUS’ original Disciples.
Peter was always the first to ask questions, or give unsolicited advice. He was the only Disciple with enough faith to jump out of their boat, and walk on the crashing waves with JESUS, when JESUS walked on water that day in far-off Palestine, in an effort to encourage HIS frightened group of comrades (Matthew 14:28-29).
Peter was also the first to express his conviction that JESUS is the CHRIST and the SON of the LIVING GOD (Matthew 16:15-16). He is said to be the one who drew his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, the High Priest Caiaphas’ servant, when they came to arrest JESUS in the garden of Gethsemane on the eve of HIS Crucifixion (John 18:10).
Ironically, Peter is also the only Disciple that scripture tells us, ever publicly denied JESUS, and we are told that he did it three times. In Matthew 26:74, he denied JESUS for the third and final time. It was H.G. Wells who wrote, “A man can be a bad musician, and yet, be passionately in love with music”. And so, for whatever Peter had done, and however terrible his failures were, he was, undeniably, passionately devoted to JESUS. He may have been overconfident at times, as he was, when he swore that he will never deny JESUS (Matthew 26:33-35). However, sometimes when a man says, “That’s the one thing that I would never do”, then, that’s the very thing he needs to carefully guard against doing. Satan will often attack 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.
“Do you love me?” is what JESUS asked Peter three times in John 21, and I guess, the only way to prove our love for JESUS, is by loving others. Love is the greatest privilege in the world, however, it brings with it, the greatest responsibility. And for Peter, it brought a cross, and he did die for the LORD, because he too, died on a cross, where Jewish tradition has it, that, he requested to be nailed upside down, because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as CHRIST. If there is one thing that we can see, by looking at Peter, it is that he was an ordinary man, who came to be able to do extraordinary things, through his strength in, and love for JESUS CHRIST.
In the opening chapters of the book of Acts, once again we see Peter taking the lead. In Acts chapter 1, we see him step up to speak to the 120 believers that were present as they moved to choose another Apostle to replace, the now infamous, Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed JESUS, and then committed suicide at “Akeldama” (Field of blood).
In Acts chapter 2, after the HOLY SPIRIT came down from Heaven, on Pentecost, we see Peter step forward and deliver the first sermon ever preached in a Christian church. And now, here in Acts chapter three, verses 1-8, we see Peter healing a man who had been crippled for forty years. The man had come to the temple every day, apparently, having low expectations of GOD, because he only sought after alms that would merely allow him to exist in his present condition for one more day.
Here we see Peter, along with John, in the name of JESUS, giving the man much more than he thought he could ever receive from GOD. Peter tells the man, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6) (KJV).
Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. As he did this, the man’s feet and anklebones were healed and strengthened. The man got up and began to walk. Then, he began leaping and praising GOD, and then, went into the Temple with Peter and John.
This miracle fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah, as it is recorded in Isaiah 35:6, where it says, “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart” (KJV). It was an undeniable miracle, because everyone, including the leading priests and Pharisees, had seen this cripple man sit at the gate called “Beautiful” and beg for alms for many years.
Now, as the crowd swelled, Peter sees his opportunity to address them in the Temple who were all amazed by this miracle, probably because they too, came to the church daily, having low expectations concerning GOD. Peter asks them in verse 12, “Why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? He goes on to tell them that it is “The GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and, the GOD of our fathers, WHO hath glorified HIS SON JESUS”, by doing this (Vs. 12-16).
In other words, the name of JESUS had healed this man. It was nothing more than faith in JESUS’s name that had caused this man’s healing, right before their very eyes. We can all do a lot better in life if we will raise our expectations of what GOD can do for us in our lives, whenever we have faith, and trust in HIM.

(1). Reflect on some of the accomplishments you’ve made in your life that you had
       earlier thought you would never be able to accomplish.
(2). We are all ordinary people, who, use GOD’s extraordinary power to accomplish
      HIS will, and therefore, opposition and obstacles in life are nothing more than a
       cue to pray.
(3). When ordinary people refuse to act in faith, blessings are missed, and so, be
        bold in the LORD’s mighty power.


Pray to GOD and ask HIM to give you the confidence, or renew your confidence in HIS faithfulness, and to also use you to do that which is HIS will in your life, and to allow you to achieve extraordinary things for HIS purpose.

KEY VERSE: Acts 4:13

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: John 14:9-14, Acts 3:1-10, & Acts 19:11-20

Saturday, December 10, 2011


For Sunday December 11, 2011

(Believers have all the important things in common)
(Acts 2)

The Book of Acts has been called the “Gospel of the HOLY SPIRIT”, and it is The HOLY SPIRIT that makes it possible for a person to be able to look forward to a future of obedience to GOD, after accepting the gift of Salvation. It is also that “common ground”, or source of power that every Christian shares once we invite CHRIST into our lives as our LORD and SAVIOR.
In the Greek, there is a wonderful sounding word that New Testament writers use for “promise”. It is “epaggelia” (ep-ang-el-ee-ah), and it is “an announcement of divine assurance of good”. In Matthew 11:28, JESUS promises us goodness, when HE says “Come unto ME, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (KJV).
In Acts chapter 2, Luke chronicles events that took place during the first “Pentecost” observance of the Christian Church. It was celebrated fifty days following the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS, and traditionally, seven weeks after the final day of “Passover” (Leviticus 23:15-22). Pentecost, which means, “fiftieth”, is also known as the “Festival of Harvest”, or the “Feast of Weeks”. In New Testament times, Pentecost also commemorated Moses’ giving to the Israelites, GOD’s Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.
In Acts 2:1-4, as Christians met in a house somewhere in the midst of Jerusalem, we see three great phenomena occurring, which serve to make the coming of the HOLY SPIRIT on that Pentecost day, an unmistakable and unique event. First we see the “roaring of a mighty windstorm” from the skies above, come down and fill the house that the Apostles and others occupied (v. 2). Then, we see the “flames of fire” appear and settle on each person in the house (v. 3). And finally, we see that they began speaking in foreign languages, as the HOLY SPIRIT gave them these abilities (v. 4). These “visible signs” are unique in that, in all of recorded Scripture, this is the only time when these three things occur together, during a distinctive act of GOD. Since that day, the HOLY SPIRIT has come to dwell in every Christian (1 Corinthians 6:19), and we as a result, belong to GOD, because HE bought us at a high price, sacrificing HIS only begotten SON, JESUS CHRIST.
As we live in fellowship with GOD, HE will fill us and keep us filled, and when HE does, we will be able to serve and grow and conform more fully to HIS Word, and HIS Will. The HOLY SPIRIT enables us to win battles within ourselves, between our “reason” and “passion”, that, without HIM, we would never be able to win. HE enables us to resist the temptations of life, that, without HIM, we would never be able to resist.
The HOLY SPIRIT is the “spiritual conscience” that becomes infused in those of us, who live in CHRIST. HE make us more aware of those times when we are about to move out of the will of GOD, and will prevent us from doing so if we listen, and heed to HIS prompting. HIS job is to provide us with the power to fight against the evil forces of satan, and to help us to avoid sin by attacking it in the thinking stages, and not, to make us feel remorse, after we sin. True repent is a “change of mind”, before we sin, and it requires us to actually grow to hate the sin itself. If our hearts are truly broken by sin, and we long to return to GOD, then a change in our lives will soon follow.
In verse 37, we see the HOLY SPIRIT convicting those members of the “first Christian Church, through Peter’s words to them regarding the wrong that was perpetrated on JESUS by way of their role in HIS death on the cross. Peter goes on to tell them that, the promise of the HOLY SPIRIT is not only for those present in that room that day, but it is a promise that extends to all who come to know CHRIST and answer the call of GOD, and, it is extends to all generations.
In verses 41-47, on the heels and momentum of Peter’s, now famous, “Pentecost Sermon”, the first sermon ever preached in the Christian Church, the believers began meeting together on a daily basis. A deep sense of awe and reverence for CHRIST had come over them after their receiving of the HOLY SPIRIT, and we now see them begin to display many characteristics that would come to be prominently identified with the early Church.    
What we see, in this particular passage is a somewhat rapid-fire summary by Luke, of those characteristics, as they were manifested in the believers in the early Christian Church Community.

(1). The early church had “teaching and learning” (verse 42).
(2). The early church had “prayer and fellowship” (verse 42).
(3). The early church had gained a “fear and reverence for GOD” (verse 43).
(4). They were a “sharing church” (verse 44-45).
(5). They were a church that “worshipped GOD together daily” (verse 46-47).
(6). They were a church “filled with joy” because of their fellowship with each other,
       and, their generosity toward each other (verse 46).
(7). They were a church where “good things were happening constantly”
      and “many new people were receiving Salvation daily” (verse 47).

What a wonderful example for modern-day churches to emulate. We see here in this passage, that, it is an example that has been placed before us, and available to us, since the very birth of the Christian Church in Jerusalem.
And one other thing can also be noted; the miraculous signs and wonders that were performed by the Apostles (v.43), served as a verification of a “divine truth” that would authenticate their calling by CHRIST to others. The use of these miracles would help to convince and encourage others to work in the establishment and development of the Christian Church in its infancy. And, after all, many of the believers had also seen JESUS perform these same signs and wonders, during HIS powerful three-year ministry.


(1). Reflect on how you’ve benefited from being a part of a Christian community
       and how you’ve helped to benefit others.
(2). Think of three reasons why you believe the Christian community is essential in
       today’s society, in showing it how to share.
(3). Get in the habit of thinking of ways in which you can work to benefit the
       community in a Christian way, by sharing your time, talent, and treasure in
       your home, church, job, school etc.


Pray and ask GOD to give you the mind, desire, and spirit to deepen your commitment to CHRIST and HIS work in your community. Ask GOD to show you how to be faithful in these endeavors, and how to be a good steward with the time, talent, and treasure that HE has blessed you with.


Deuteronomy 15:4-8, Luke 12:13-21, & Mark 10:17-31

Monday, December 5, 2011


For Sunday December 4, 2011

(GOD empowers us to do HIS work)
(Acts 1)

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles is written by Luke, and is more or less, a continuation of his Gospel account. In this book, he attempts to enlighten us about the beginnings of the Christian Church, and its gradual spread to nearby and distant lands. His book of Acts chronicles the sudden explosion of missionary activities, led by the Apostle Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and other prominent early church workers.
In Luke’s Gospel account, he emphasized the ministry of the HOLY SPIRIT in the life of CHRIST JESUS. However, in the Book of Acts, he emphasizes the role of the HOLY SPIRIT, in the growth and development of the early Christian Church in its infancy. In the first century, the world was rife with myths, mystery religions and magic, and it was probably because of these confusions that Luke set out to more accurately record the facts of the origins of Christianity. He was intent on proving, through his Gospel account, and through this Book of Acts, that Christianity is not rooted in such myths and fables, but rather, has its roots in history, beginning with the birth of the Messiah in Palestine.
More than any of the other Gospel writers, perhaps, Luke proves to us most successfully, that JESUS was both 100 percent man, and 100 percent GOD (the Hypostatic Union). He also wanted the world to know that CHRIST’s Gospel was actually being spread by eyewitnesses of HIS life, who saw HIS miracles performed, and, who actually heard HIM speak on many occasions.
The Book of Acts takes us from Jerusalem, into many cities within the Roman Empire, including Asia Minor and Europe. Luke gives us vivid and dramatic depictions of the trials and triumphs in the lives of the early missionaries. We can see very clearly that GOD is with these missionary teams as they traveled throughout the world as it was known at that time.
The three decades covered in the Book of Acts shows the Christian message being spread by missionaries like Barnabas, Silas, Paul, John Mark, Priscilla, and her husband Aquila, and many, many others who worked diligently and vigorously starting up Christian churches in every major population center in the Roman Empire.
When GOD gives a person a task to do, HE always gives them the power necessary to carry out and complete that task to HIS satisfaction. Oftentimes, GOD has already prepared us, long in advance, for the work HE will call us to do at some future date.  Part of the human struggle that is involved, is that, we are often unaware of GOD’s plan for us, and, when HE makes it known to us, we then either have a problem in the “waiting” to get started, or, we have a fear of taking the necessary steps, into the unknown, where JESUS is.
Remember, Samuel anointed David King, while he was still a shepherd boy, and long before he actually got to sit on the throne of Israel. And then there is Moses, who was called by GOD to free Israel from bondage in Egypt, forty years before he actually re-entered Egypt to begin the exodus of HIS people from their miseries.
Here we see in the opening lines of the Book of Acts, (Acts 1:4) JESUS instructing HIS Disciples not to leave Jerusalem until GOD had sent them the HOLY SPIRIT, with which, they would be spiritually baptized and empowered. The HOLY SPIRIT would forever be their Protector, Comforter, Counselor, and Guide, as they moved forward to fulfill the commission of CHRIST, while, at the same time, fighting the great spiritual battle that JESUS also fought with satan. The HOLY SPIRIT would also forever represent the power that GOD would infuse into every Christian who desired to do HIS will (Acts 1:8).
The Disciples expected JESUS to immediately set up the “Earthly Kingdom” that had been predicted by the ancient Prophets since the dawn of creation. In verse 7, we see that JESUS does not deny the Prophets’ visions, but rather, diverts their attention back to the task at hand. HE tells them that GOD will keep HIS Old Testament promises, in HIS own time, but right now, they were to concentrate on bringing CHRIST’s message to the world.
It is still the duty of every Christian, to this day, to carry out that “Commission of CHRIST”, by spreading the Gospel to any and everyone who is willing to listen. And JESUS promises us that, “lo, I AM with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20b) (KJV).


(1). Reflect on ways in which GOD has prepared you ahead of time for something
       HE later called you to do.

(2). Have you responded in the right way to GOD’s calling on your life?

(3). Is your relationship with CHRIST, close enough, that you may even hear HIS


Pray for empowerment from GOD’s SPIRIT and anticipate HIS Holy arrival. Then continue to trust GOD to do HIS work through you, and always rely on the power that only HE can provide.

KEY VERSE: Acts 1:8

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: 1 Samuel 16:7-13, Romans 15:17-21 & 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


For Sunday November 27, 2011

(We are to behave in a way that our lives will be a tribute to GOD)
(Romans 15:1-13)

In Romans 15:1-13, Paul expands on the subject that he had already introduced in chapter 14, of living to please others. Our pursuit of righteous living requires us to be able to live a life of love for one another. It means that we must be able to stop judging others, and, at the same time, evaluate how the exercising of our personal freedoms may affect other people’s lives. The strong Christian must be able to tolerate the weak Christian in the interest of building them up.
Paul had already written in chapter 14 how Christians should not condemn, despise, or hinder the conduct of one another. Here in chapter 15, he gives us another principal that we need to observe, while dealing with one another, and that is, that, we must strive to be “imitators” of CHRIST. We must be aware at all times that JESUS was a person WHO always ministered on behalf of others, and as Christians, we need to reflect that image to the world, through our own behavior.
As Paul continues to define the responsibilities of Christians towards one another, he also gives us a wonderful summary of what should characterize, or be the attributes of, the Christian community as a whole. Paul’s idea of a Christian community, is that of a place, where everyone has a strong consideration for the needs of others. It should also be a place that identifies itself by being encouraged by the study of the Scriptures, and, by a desire to incorporate GOD’s word into the everyday lives of its people.
The Christian community should also have a fortitude that is exemplified in the attitude that each individual has towards life, and how they are able to cope with life, in a GODly manner. It is a community that needs to represent to the world, the personification of hope. We should be able to exist in harmony with one another, because, the “CHRIST” in us, is greater than the “world” in us. And finally, we must be in the “Praise Mode”, at all times remembering just WHO we represent in the world, and that is of course, CHRIST JESUS.
After pointing to CHRIST as a model for all Christians, Paul moves on to talk a bit more about JESUS’ ministry and the objectives thereof. First of all, JESUS came to us as a servant. GOD had two objectives to accomplish through JESUS’ mission. The first was to confirm the promise of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David, for the Jews, and the second was so that the Gentiles may also glorify HIM for HIS mercy.
Those two purposes are now being achieved as Israel, as a nation, has been set aside, and the church is being formed with both Jews and Gentiles all over the world. This will be fulfilled in the future when Israel, once again, will take its place as head of the nations of the earth, and become a blessing to all people. To demonstrate the validity of this claim, Paul goes on to cite four Old Testament passages (read Romans 15:9-12). The significance of these quotations is that they are taken, one from each division of the Old Testament, the Law (Moses), the Prophets (Isaiah), and the Psalms (King David).
There is a progression of thought in these four quotations that we’ll do well not to miss. In the first quotation, David praises GOD among the Gentiles. In the second, Moses exhorts the Gentiles to rejoice with the Jews. In the third, the psalmist commands the Gentiles to praise the LORD. And, in the fourth, Isaiah predicts that the Gentiles will live under the rule of the MESSIAH, and will find hope in HIM.
Our peace results from the assurance that GOD will fulfill all of our hopes. And Paul’s desire was that GOD would fill his readers with the joy and peace that would reign eternal. Only when the surge of CHRIST’s power fills the voids of our human weaknesses, will we, ourselves, be able to overcome this life, just as CHRIST did.


(1). Be responsible to CHRIST JESUS for your conscience, and don’t attempt to
       make others responsible for you.
(2). JESUS helped us to establish a pattern of welcome that we must, in turn,
       convey to others, all along our Christian walk.
(3). The strong Christian is obligated to take the initiative in the Christian
       community, and, in the world. They must consider, at all times, what is most
       helpful in building up those who are weak.
(4). Show love and concern by actively reaching out to embrace the weak. That way
       you will be able to build a spirit of unity in the Christian congregation.


Pray for continued strength through CHRIST JESUS. The farther you go along your Christian struggle, the MORE you need prayer, not less. Amen.

KEY VERSE: Romans 15:7

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: 1 Corinthians 3:15-20, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, 1 Corinthians 13

A Book by Book Bible Study by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, November 11, 2011


For Sunday November 13, 2011

(We are to show respect to other Christians, even when we find it difficult)
(Romans 14)

In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul once again turns his attention to the subject of “faith-based righteousness” in regards to relationships within the Christian community. We, as believers, are to accept one another without condemning each other for our personal convictions regarding our interpretations about our Christian faith. We, as human beings, have no right to judge others in that respect, because, in all respects, we are all indeed, people under judgment. We are all responsible to the LORD, so let HIM tell others, through the HOLY SPIRIT, whether they are right or wrong. The LORD’s OWN power will convict them, and help guide them in their decisions to do the right thing. In other words, each person will have a personal conviction about all matters of the heart (Vs. 3-4).
Christians come to the faith from various backgrounds and we all grow spiritually at different rates. If we are to live in the Christian community in the harmony of CHRIST, we must all learn to avoid differences of opinion over matters that are not sin according to Scripture. For example, a believer with certain Christian principles should not be invited into the Christian community with the intentions of changing their view or opinion about things that do not go against Christian doctrine, by debating with them.
Here in this chapter, Paul uses as an example, one of the most debated areas of Christian principles, which is the subject of food consumption. One man’s Christian faith allows him to eat everything, while another man’s faith only allows him to eat vegetables (v. 2). In such situations, Paul says, neither believer should judge the other’s motives. A Christian servant’s motives for doing things should only be judged by GOD, and not by his fellow believers, especially regarding those things that are not forbidden by Scripture (Vs. 4).
Another area Paul touches on is, the days of which a person worships. One person may consider one day more important, or more sacred than the other, while another person may hold that they are all equally important. Paul says that each person should be convinced in his own mind, examining his own heart to be sure that he is doing what he feels the LORD would have him do. That person should then, hold his opinion up to the LORD, and this is true regarding all issues where an honest difference of opinion exists between Christians (Vs. 5-6).
Everyone in life, and in death, is under the watchful eye of GOD, and we are all accountable to HIM, and not to each other, at least, not for our motives behind our actions regarding things that are not prohibited by Scripture. One Christian should not look down on another Christian because of the things that they do, that are not specifically prohibited by GOD. It is GOD’s job to dole out “krino” (judgment), and you can be assured that every one of us will have to make an account for the deeds done in our lifetimes (Vs 7-12).
Paul’s warnings against judging relates specifically to the Christian’s attitudes and actions, toward the convictions of other Christians, especially regarding their respective Christian beliefs. We should not cause another Christian to stumble, by arguing over things, and trying to get that person to commit to certain convictions that are not of scripture, but rather, are just a matter of opinion. Paul says that he is perfectly sure, on the authority of CHRIST JESUS, that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then, for that person, it is wrong, and as Christian brothers and sisters, we should respect that, as it is (Vs. 13-14).  
The kingdom of GOD is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but rather, it is a matter of living a life of goodness, peace, and joy, in the HOLY SPIRIT. Our aim should always be toward harmony and trying to build each other up in the Church. We should never tear apart the work of CHRIST over what a person eats or drinks, nor, over what days of the week that person worships on. However, it is wrong to eat or drink something, or do anything when, if by eating, or by doing it, it causes another Christian to stumble. But we should never condemn ourselves for something that we know is all right by Scripture (Vs. 13-22), and if you harbor any doubts about something you may be doing, then don’t do it, lest you be condemned for not acting in faith. If you do anything that you believe is not right, you are sinning. For whatsoever is not of faith, is sin (v. 23).


(1). Try to discover ways to identify and avoid the stumbling blocks that Christians
       often create between themselves in the Christian community.
(2). Think of some people in your church that you know are burdened by heavy
       issues, yet no one has made an effort to uplift them, and then, commit yourself to
       reaching out to them.
(3). Make a pledge that you will not build new stumbling blocks for other Christians
       by criticizing, gossiping, stereotyping, etc., and then, sign your name to that


Pray and ask GOD to open your spiritual eyes so that you may see the stumbling blocks that you may be putting before other Christians by way of your own behavior. Pray also that GOD will allow the SPIRIT to work inside of you and help you to honor others, and not judge others wrongly.

KEY VERSE: Romans 14:13

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Mathew 6:14, Matthew 7:12, Matthew 25:31-46

A Book by Book Bible Study by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, November 4, 2011


For Sunday November 6, 2011

(We should exhibit high quality behavior in all we do)
(Romans 13)

All the governments of man are servants of GOD, but few recognize it in the conscience sense. Governments are used and manipulated by GOD to achieve HIS purposes, weather they know it or not. Human governments must, at least, enforce a minimum amount of justice, lest that government be in danger of collapsing on itself. If criminal behavior were allowed to go unchecked, human society would come to an abrupt and tragic halt.
In Romans 13, the apostle Paul lectures on obedience to the authority that GOD has vested in mankind. Out of respect and reverence for GOD, a Christian must show respect for the governing body of any particular city, state, or country, in which they reside. We must pay our taxes and obey the laws of that society at all times (Romans 13:1-6).
At first sight, this passage tends to provoke a surprising reaction from most Christians because it seems to suggest absolute obedience on the part of a Christian to conform to civil law. However, it is a commandment that also shows up a few other times in New Testament scripture, notably, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13-17.  I suppose one could debate that these passages were written during a time before the Roman government had begun to persecute Christians. However, we know for a fact that, in the book of Acts, often the secular magistrate served as a safe haven for those same Christians who were attacked by their Jewish brothers for preaching the doctrine of CHRIST. And even centuries later, long after persecutions had begun, during the reign of the Emperor Claudius (Acts 18), the Christian teachers still stuck to this philosophy.  It was this persistent, consistent teaching that continued even when those persecutions escalated during the reign of the Emperor Nero, when both Paul and Peter were reported to have been martyred.
We can see quite vividly how the unchanging Word of GOD prevailed in strong Christian hearts down through the ages, even when it seemed unbearably difficult to obey HIS commands. Paul saw rebellion and insurrection against governments as a direct negation of Christian principals and doctrine. Paul correctly saw that no one can completely separate themselves from the society in which they live.
Everyone enjoys certain benefits from being a part of an organized government. And everyone has a responsibility to dedicate a part of themselves to the safety and welfare of their respective municipality, state, and nation. For instance, we should all pay our taxes, because our taxes supplies the need of those who work in government functions such as the military, law enforcement, fire fighting, garbage pick-ups, etc. (Romans 13:6-7).
Paying our debts is something that all of us struggle with from time to time, but in order to satisfy and fulfill GOD’s requirement, we must all try and make sure we eventually get our debts paid. In fact, Paul says that the only debt that we should leave owing is “the debt of love for each other as Christians”. That is a debt, Paul says, that we should never finish paying. If we continue to love our neighbor, we will continue to fulfill the requirement of GOD’s Law (Romans 13:8).
The commandments against adultery, murder, stealing, coveting, etc. are all summed up in the commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. If you love your neighbor, you won’t commit adultery with their spouse. If you love your neighbor, you won’t kill them, or steal from them, or despise them with envy of what they have, or own (Romans 13:9-10).
The end of all things is near, for each of us, personally. For, that is the warning that the ancient prophets, and New Testament writers and thinkers all leave us with. And that is the warning that Paul gives us here in this passage starting in verse 11. Because our time here on earth is short, that gives us greater reason to want to do that which is right in the eyes of GOD. It is time to shed our evil ways like dirty clothes, and then, re-dress ourselves in the armor of right living. We must become decent and true in everything that we do so that our behavior will be accepted by both man and GOD (Romans 13:11-13a).
The days of wild partying, getting high, engaging in all sorts of immoral living, and fighting with each other because of jealous and envious motives, must end, especially among those who profess to be Christians (Romans 13:13b). Just as Christians are a part of the body of CHRIST’s Church, they are, just as well, a part of the body of their nation, and should serve as a GODly example, or “light”, to the world at large.
In this world, and, in the world to come, there can be no such thing as an isolated individual. Paul clearly understood GOD’s intent in secular governments and he also clearly understood GOD’s intent in the Church as well. He clearly and correctly saw, both the Church, and the secular nation, as instruments in the hands of GOD, both unwittingly poised for a time when GOD would choose to awaken them for use in HIS OWN grand and divine plan. GOD always has a way of showing us that HE is subject to no one’s will but HIS OWN. And we might as well come to rest in that thought, lest we continue to be disappointed in our position in a world that only GOD, can, and will, control.


(1). The only debt GOD wants us to owe is “the debt of love for one another”, and that
       is a debt, which can never be paid.
(2). Our continued debt of love for each other enables us to fulfill the Law of GOD, and
       that will raise our credit scores to the heights of Heaven.
(3). There is never a right time to do the wrong thing, and there is never a wrong
       time to do the right thing.
(4). Christians must submit to governing authorities, because they are servants
       of GOD’s put in place to lead us (although, most often, unwittingly). And so,
       submission,  to authorities, shows reverence for GOD indirectly.


Pray to GOD for the strength of submission, so that you may be able to clothe yourself in the love of CHRIST, rather than gratify yourself with the desires of a sinful nature.

KEY VERSE: Romans 13:1

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Matthew 22:17-21, Ephesians 6:1-3, Ephesians 6:12

A Book by Book Bible Study by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website