Friday, October 28, 2011


For Sunday October 30, 2011

(We are to live so that our behavior pleases GOD)
(Romans 12)

Romans chapter 12 (along with 1 Corinthians 12), presents to us the Christian image of what the Holy Body of CHRIST (the Church) should look like. Paul has already shown us in previous chapters of this letter just how GOD has moved to provide and impart righteousness to those who believe in CHRIST JESUS (Romans chapters 6-8). Now, he moves on to some more practical issues that go to the heart of Christian theology, and what the attitude of the true Christian should be like.
JESUS does not ask that we die for HIM, but rather, HE asks that we live for HIS FATHER GOD. Paul too, says that we should strive to be a living, acceptable, Holy sacrifice to GOD, not allowing ourselves to be conformed to the world, but instead, to be transformed from it (Romans 12:1-2). As GOD’s messenger, Paul warns us to be honest in our estimation of ourselves, measuring our value by how much faith GOD has given us. In doing that, we will be able to function better as members in the body of CHRIST. And just as our bodies have many parts that must work together in unison, so it is within the body of CHRIST (Romans 12:3-4).
As Christians, we’ve all become a part of CHRIST’s body, and, we each have different tasks to perform within that body, however, at one and the same time, we still all belong to each other, and need each other to be successful in our shared duties. GOD has given each of us certain gifts, and we are obligated to GOD to use those gifts in service of HIM, and, in service of each other. We are to genuinely love and honor each other, love what is right, and enthusiastically serve GOD in the Church, in our homes, and, in every other area of our lives. We must continue to work hard at what GOD has charged us to do and be glad for HIS plans for our life. We must also show patience in times of trouble, always pray, and never give in to the weight of the task (Romans 12:5-12).
Paul says that we should not curse those who trouble us, but rather, we should pray for them that GOD might bless them. When others are happy, be glad that they are happy, not envious because you’re not. And, when they are sad, we should share with them, in their sorrow. Live in harmony with others as best you can. Never see yourself as being too important to enjoy the company of ordinary people. Do your part to contribute to peace and don’t try to repay people for their evil deeds toward you, for that is a matter for GOD to handle. Don’t let evil conquer you, but rather, access the power of the HOLY SPIRIT in you, that you may be able to conquer evil (Romans 12:13-21).
GOD’s righteousness is revealed through the transformed lives of men and women, who strive to reflect HIS image to others through their own behavior. As a person is transformed in their mind, and is, as a result, made more like CHRIST, they begin to, not only approve, but also desire GOD’s will. Doing GOD’s will becomes paramount to those who begin to grow, discover, and understand that which pleases GOD. What pleases GOD, and what is good for mankind, are in fact, one in the same thing. In that biblical sense, which is the spiritual sense, a person becomes complete in every way, and, is then able to walk in the newness of life, that is, CHRIST JESUS, and enjoy GOD’s will, full time.
The commands of Scripture are as real today, as they where in the beginning. GOD’s, expectations of us, has not changed over time. HE still expects us to do things that the world cannot do, or understand. Things like, serving, instead of wanting to be served all the time, sharing, instead of keeping things to ourselves, blessing people, instead of cursing them, loving, instead of hating. All of these actions are conditions of the heart that are expressed in our lives on a daily basis. They really do identify, just whose side we are really on. It is always a sad commentary to hear a non-believer make this comment about a Christian, “You know, I didn’t really notice anything different about that person. What makes being a Christian so different, or special?”


(1). The first thing we must be willing to do to come to CHRIST is to leave the
       world. It is a requirement for the person who wishes to transform their life
       to look more like the SAVIOR.
(2). GOD does not desire change that comes through human self-sacrifice. HE
       desires a transformation, or metamorphosis that can only come through the
       empowerment of the HOLY SPIRIT.
(3). Write down a list of changes you already know you need to make, and then, set
       about putting those changes into effect using what you’ve learned about GOD’s
       holy standards as your guide.
(4). When you encounter people, habits, or patterns of behavior that are contrary to
       your new commitment to CHRIST, have the courage to quickly disassociate
       yourself from them.


Pray to GOD for the courage to no longer be fascinated with the idea, or desire to blend in with the world. Pray that you can be a better witness for Christianity to the world, through your daily behavior. Pray for the courage you need to reach out to the world in an effort to “feed JESUS’ sheep” with the powerful, life-changing news of GOD’s Holy Word.

KEY VERSE: Romans 12:2

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: James 1:19-27, James 2:1-13, James 3:1-12

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

Friday, October 21, 2011


For Sunday October 23, 2011

(We can communicate GOD’s plan to save those who believe)
(Romans 10)

The reason why the gospel has to be preached is, because, mankind continues to suppress the truth. In the Greek, the word used for “truth” is “aletheia” (al-ay-thi-a), and it is “that which is in harmony with reality”. The “truth” is that JESUS has accomplished the whole purpose of the Law, and, that all who believe in HIM are made right with GOD. That is the gospel, the good news, or truth that must be preached by all who follow HIM.
The “good news” of JESUS CHRIST, or, “the Gospel”, comes from the Greek word “euangelizo” (yoo-angghel-id-zo), and it describes not only the message, but also, the act of preaching the message. Out of the 76 times the word “gospel” is used in the New Testament, 60 of those incidences occur in the Apostle Paul’s letters. We must all in some way “evangelize” the gospel of CHRIST, especially if we are in any sense, going to proclaim ourselves to be HIS followers.
Paul has already shown how righteousness has always been a gracious gift from GOD in chapter 9. Now, his argument shifts to how GOD continues to be loyal to us with HIS covenant promises. HE has not rejected us, but rather, we have rejected HIM. Paul acknowledged the Jews enthusiasm for GOD, but, because they did not accept CHRIST, their zeal was misdirected, and as a result of rejecting CHRIST, they also, unwittingly, rejected GOD.
The Jews steadfastly tried to earn their way to Heaven, by following the letter of the Law, however, Paul reasoned that the only way to get right with GOD, is through faith and belief in JESUS CHRIST. Salvation can only come by trusting CHRIST through the message that is preached by HIS servants. That way, JESUS can always be in the reach of those who seek HIM. And when we confess with our mouth, we activate GOD’s angels around us, who then begins to protect from the demons of satan. That gives us time to fill our hearts with love for CHRIST through the study of GOD’s word, with the help and guidance of the HOLY SPIRIT. 
Anyone who believes in CHRIST, and enters into a personal relationship with HIM, will not be disappointed, and, it does not matter if you are Jew, or Gentile. But our “personal relationship” with CHRIST must be “publicly personal” as well as “privately personal”. We must be willing to display an outward expression of our love and belief in CHRIST JESUS, WHO ushered in to us, salvation. And our commitment to CHRIST must be exemplified in both our “public and “private” life, in no uncertain terms.
Everyone is on equal footing as far as GOD is concerned, because we are all sinners, and we are all called to believe in order to be saved. We don’t have to be able to write, or think, like the apostle John, nor do we need to be able to travel all over the world and preach like the Apostle Paul. We just have to be willing to talk about the good news we know about CHRIST JESUS to those, whom we come in contact with everyday. People need to hear the “Word”, before they can believe the “Word”, and if we have the “Word”, we are charged by CHRIST, to share the “Word” with everyone that we meet, who is willing to listen. 
All Christians are “called” by GOD to fulfill the great “Commission of CHRIST”, as it is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the FATHER, and of the SON, and of the HOLY GHOST: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (KJV). That’s GOD’s plan, or at least, that’s the only part of GOD’s plan that we need to know. Our life’s goal should be to please GOD by communicating HIS plan to save those who believe.


(1). Let your mouth express the love you have for CHRIST in your heart.
(2). Start ministering for CHRIST in your home, neighborhood, and workplace,
       through your behavior.
(3). Keep in mind that your greatest witnessing will be, in the way you
       behave publicly and privately, and not necessarily, in what you say.


Pray and give thanks to GOD for the Good News of CHRIST JESUS. Express to HIM that your heart is ready to use those gifts and talents that HE has given you to help bring others to CHRIST.

KEY VERSES: Romans 10:14-15

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: 1 John 1, John 1:1-5, Acts 2:14-21

Friday, October 14, 2011


For Sunday October 16, 2011

(Christians can be certain of the HOLY SPIRIT’s work in their lives)
(Romans 8)

After teaching about our human struggles with sin in chapter 7, Paul now shifts gears to tell us that we don’t have to lose those struggles if we have and obey the SPIRIT of CHRIST living in us. There is no condemnation awaiting those who belong to CHRIST, because the power of the life-giving SPIRIT has freed them from the power of sin that leads to death (Romans 8:1-2).
GOD first, sent HIS law to us, in order to expose to us, our sinful nature. HE wanted us to see just how far we were from HIS divine standards. Once we were able to see for ourselves how we couldn’t function in righteousness in our own strength, HE then sent HIS only begotten SON, in human form, to save us from ourselves. By doing so, HE destroyed sin’s dominion over us, by way of JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice on the cross. That way, HIS requirements under HIS law could be fully accomplished for those who choose to abandon the old master (our sin nature), and take up residence with the new master (JESUS), living in the SPIRIT (Romans 8:3-4).
When we are dominated by our “sin nature”, we only think about sinful things, however, if we allow ourselves to be controlled by the HOLY SPIRIT, we will soon begin to share the mind of CHRIST, thinking only of those things that please the SPIRIT. Letting our minds dwell on sinful things can only lead to death, but when we allow the HOLY SPIRIT to control our mind, it leads to life and peace. The “sin nature” in us is hostile toward GOD, and is incapable of pleasing GOD because it cannot, and will not ever allow us to obey GOD’s laws (Romans 8:5-8).
The term “Christian” is not just something that we can declare ourselves to be. We have to have the SPIRIT of CHRIST living in us, having a positive GODly effect on our behavior. If we don’t reflect the image of JESUS CHRIST through our behavior, then, we are not really Christian at all, no matter how many times we declare it, real Christians, act like it (Romans 8:9). When we become Christians at heart, even though our bodies succumb to death because of sin, our spirit is still alive because we have been made right with GOD through JESUS CHRIST. The SPIRIT of GOD, WHO raised JESUS from the dead, lives in us, and just as HE raised JESUS from the dead, HE also gives life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:10-11).
Because the HOLY SPIRIT lives within us, we don’t have to obey our sinful nature any longer. In fact, if we continue to give way to its urgings, we run the risk of being permanently separated from GOD forever when this life here on earth comes to an end. However, if we adhere to the promptings of the HOLY SPIRIT in us, we will be able to overcome the gravitational pull of our sin nature, and will gain eternal life with GOD in the end. Only those who are lead by the SPIRIT are children of GOD (Romans 8:12-14).
We must begin to live as though we are children of the Almighty GOD, who are adopted into HIS family and call HIM father. In fact, as Christians, the HOLY SPIRIT speaks deep within our hearts, reminding us that we are GOD’s children. We share all of the treasures of GOD, and JESUS is ours too. However, with those privileges comes the responsibility to also share in CHRIST’s suffering. We must be willing to drink from the cup which JESUS drank (Romans 8:15-17).       
The Christian Hope is invincible, because it is founded in GOD. Peace, hope, patience, comfort, and love are the things that men, such as Paul, recognized in GOD. Here in Paul’s letter to the Romans, as it is expressed in chapter 8 verse 19, in his original Greek writings, Paul uses a wonderful word for “earnest expectation” or hope for the future. It is “apokaradokia” (a-pock-a-rah-do-KEE-ah), and it describes the attitude of a man, who scans the horizon, with his head thrust forward, as he eagerly anticipates the first signs of the coming of the glory of GOD.
You see, for Paul, life was not an overbearing and defeated waiting, but rather, it was a throbbing and very vivid expectation. The Christian has always been, is now, and will forever be, a part of the “human experience”. By that I mean, from within, we must all suffer with our own “sin nature”, in the Greek, “epithumia” (ep-i-thoo-mee-ah), that war we wage within ourselves between  reason and passion. And from the outside, we must all live in a world full of death and decay, as we continue to suffer the consequences of the sins of others.
But, thanks to GOD, as Christians, we do not just live in the world. As Christians, we also live in JESUS CHRIST. Therefore, we do not see only the world, but we must look beyond this world, to GOD. That way, we do not just see the consequences of ours, and other people’s sin, we’re also able to see the power and mercy of GOD’s love. And so we see that the essence to the Christian Faith must always be hope, and never despair. The true Christian isn’t waiting for death, but rather, we wait for life. The true Christian, just like Paul, must always wait, in “apokaradokia”.
GOD does not want us to wallow in the troubles and failures of this life. HE wants us to always, through our strength in CHRIST JESUS, be able to look beyond this world to a future with HIM. We need to know that HIS power and love will always be able to overpower all of the worries and issues of this life. And, we can finally come to rest in the thought, that this life is not the final act of the human drama, when we truly have faith, and trust in GOD.
As Christians, we know that all things work together for good, to those who love GOD (Romans 8:28), but when trouble comes, we’re sometimes hard pressed to recall it. Paul was convinced that nothing could separate him from the love and safety found in GOD (Romans 8:38-39), and we, if we are truly believers, should be convinced of that too.  


(1). Try to recall a time in your life when GOD has worked out a situation for your
       good, when you could only see the bad.
(2). Now think of a time when you went ahead and tried to work something out in
       your own strength, and after failing, realized that you should have prayed first,
       and then, waited on GOD to work it out, through HIS strength.
(3). Suffering and hardship does not mean that we’ve been abandoned by GOD, nor
       are we ever separated from HIS love. No matter what happens to Christians in
       this life, GOD forever holds us firmly in HIS mighty hands.


Write down on a piece of paper, what you believe to be currently, your biggest problems. Then go to GOD in prayer over those problems, or situations, and ask GOD to remove them from your life if it be HIS will. And if it’s not HIS will, pray that HE give you the strength to endure in suffering for the faith you have in HIM that HE will work things out for the greater good, in the end.

KEY VERSE: Romans 8:28

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Isaiah 26:3-4, Psalm 40:1-3, Philippians 4:6-7

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Thursday, October 6, 2011


For Sunday October 9, 2011

(Struggling with sin)
(Romans 7)

After Paul had finished arguing how “Law” and “Faith” are incompatible in principal, he moves on to show how a believer can be legally free from obligation to the Law, and, why it is also necessary and essential. In the Greek, the word Paul uses here for “law” is “nomos” (nom-os), which means, “law through the idea of prescriptive usage”. In other words, it is to be used only when it applies to a given situation, even though it is always, in principle, the law.
In this particular passage, the law represents the Old Testament revelation of standards that are regarded as “righteous behavior” by GOD. Rarely has Paul written a more complex passage than the one we see here. Its basic thought is rooted in the old adage that “death cancels all contracts”. In Romans chapter 7, verses 2-3, Paul uses the example of how a woman, who is married, is only bound to her husband for as long as he is alive. After he dies, she is free to remarry without being guilty of adultery according to the Law, and is thereby freed from the law that once bound her to him.
In the same way, Paul says, we as Christians are no longer bound by the law, because we, in effect, died to its power when we died with CHRIST on the cross, or, in other words, when we became Christian believers. We are now united with CHRIST, the ONE WHO was raised from the dead, and we can now serve GOD fully, not in the old way, by obeying the letter of the law, but rather, in the new way of CHRIST JESUS, which is by the HOLY SPIRIT (Romans 7:4-6).
Paul also wants his readers to be clear on one other thing, and that is that, the law itself is not sinful, but rather, it was given to us to show us how sinful we are. We would never have known that adultery, or murder, or lying, or stealing, or coveting, or any other thing that is wrong was wrong, had GOD not given us HIS Law to reveal it to us (Romans 7:7).
The Law itself is divine, because it is the very voice of GOD speaking to us. In fact, it is holy and just, and it is designed by GOD, for our greater good. And so, the Law creates sin only in the sense that it defines and identifies sin to us. Some people are frightened by the idea that we, as Christians, have no obligation to keep GOD’s Law per say. And here in this passage, Paul shows how we are actually freed from such obligations, because CHRIST has already died for all of our sins, past, present, and future. HE died for all mankind in general, and all Christians, in particular. GOD now calls for us to form a new relationship with HIM, through CHRIST JESUS, by way of the HOLY SPIRIT in us. And so, we see that freedom from the Law, does not promote sin, but rather, it promotes righteousness, and a desire to obey the Law of GOD at all times (Romans 7:8-13).
In the biblical Greek, the word used to describe “sin nature” is, “epithumia” (ep-ee-thoo-mee-ah), and “it is that battle that rages on inside of each of us, between the “reason” to do what is right, and the “passion” to want to do what is wrong”. Human nature is so corrupted by sin that we cannot respond favorably to GOD in our own power. We need the power of the HOLY SPIRIT within us to be able to win the battle against our own sinful nature, and be able to respond to GOD in a positive way.
In Romans 7:14-25, Paul reveals to us in the most vivid of pictures, the truth about the struggles that are contained in this first act of the “human drama”, which is our life right now, here on earth. Before we come to CHRIST, and receive the infusion of the HOLY SPIRIT, our “reason” and “passion” comes from the same source, which is our sinful nature within. We can’t possibly win in our struggle with sin, because our desire to sin isn’t going to counter itself. It can only agree with itself, and therefore, more often than not, when we have to make the decision between doing what is right, and doing what is wrong, too often we choose to do what is wrong. In fact, we can sometimes even lose sight of what the right thing to do is.
We even begin to use our “human ingenuity” to justify our wrong with an attitude of indifference, convincing ourselves that there is no right or wrong, and, that we should do what makes us happy. We end up living in an unstructured existence that has no boundaries, and we can care less who we hurt, physically, or emotionally, in the process.
But when we receive the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, HE becomes our power of reasoning, and as a result, our reason and passion no longer comes from the same source. We then have a GODly sense of influence, or “reason” to combat our human sin nature, or “passion”.
Here in this passage, Paul is writing about his own experiences as a believer, and it undoubtedly parallels the experiences of all believers, then and now. We are in a constant struggle to do right, but seem to fail again and again, even after we first become Christians. It is only as we mature in the faith, that we seem to get a grip on our inner struggles with sin, and begin to become more and more like CHRIST in our thinking and behavior. We, through the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, develop a conscience for when we are about to move out of the will of GOD, and we can thereby “repent”, or have a “change of mind” before we sin, not after.
As Paul writes in verse 14, GOD’s Law is, and has always been good, and, it will always continue to be good. The trouble is not with the law, but rather it is with us, as we have been sold into the slavery of sin since the Garden of Eden, and sin has remained as our master, throughout the generations.
Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to GOD in the Garden of Eden, man had fallen out of a relationship of friendship with GOD. Most of the time, we know perfectly well when we are doing wrong, but, we do it anyway, because it agrees with our natural desire to sin (Romans 7:16-17). It took the life of CHRIST to restore that lost relationship of friendship with GOD. CHRIST JESUS’ obedience to GOD in the “Garden of Gethsemane” offset Adam and Eve’s disobedience to GOD, in the “Garden of Eden”.
Since GOD offers forgiveness of sin, through CHRIST JESUS’ sacrifice at Golgotha, we are no longer under the bondage of sin. CHRIST has already died to pay the sacrificial price for all of man’s sins, past, present, and future, and we no longer have to be slaves to our desires to transgress against GOD, and indeed, against our own bodies. Now, we are free to serve GOD, because we now live in the SPIRIT, and walk in the newness of life, that is, CHRIST JESUS, our LORD.


(1). If you are dying to find a new way to live, only an introduction to JESUS will
       help. JESUS is the only ONE, WHO knows what is wrong, and HE is the only
      ONE WHO can set things right, and we can find HIM, in the word of GOD.
(2). When we read the word of GOD, and study and meditate on it, our inadequacies
       are revealed to us, little by little.
(3). Most people will agree that it is a struggle to do the right thing much of the
       time, even though we really want to. Our only hope is to stop struggling, by
       turning our lives over to CHRIST. We must accept the fact, that, we as humans, cannot
       live a life of joy, apart from GOD.


Pray for continued strength, through CHRIST JESUS, that you can learn to hear and obey the prompting of the HOLY SPIRIT more clearly, and then, have the strength and courage to change your mind about sinning, while still in the thinking stages, from this day forward.

KEY VERSES: 7:24-25a

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Isaiah 59:1-2, Matthew 5:27-30, John 8:1-11