Friday, April 25, 2014


For the week beginning Sunday April 27, 2014

(Honoring JESUS in today’s society)
John 17

After JESUS had ended HIS private teachings to HIS disciples in the Upper Room, HE left them with the profound statement, that, “HE had overcome the world”. HE then looked up toward Heaven and began to pray, perhaps, the greatest prayer that has ever been prayed here on earth. It is the prayer of an “over-comer”, and JESUS is certainly the greatest “over-comer” of all times.
Here in John 17:1-5, JESUS begins this prayer by praying for HIMSELF, but in doing so, HE is also praying for us. As GOD’s greatest servant, JESUS has every right to pray for the help HE needed in order to glorify HIS name. HIS request to FATHER GOD for glorification includes;

·         Sustaining HIMSELF in HIS upcoming suffering,
·         Acceptance of HIS vicarious sacrifice for the world,  
·         Raising HIM up again from death,
·         Restoring HIM to HIS pre-incarnate glory in Heaven.

HE had finished all of HIS other divine work, and now HE was ready to take on HIS final assignment so that HE could return back home to HIS FATHER in Heaven WHO sent HIM. We, as Christians, now know and understand that, for JESUS, the only way back to glory was through the cross, and so it must be, for those of us, who follow HIM. With open eyes, JESUS accepted the circumstances of the cross, so that whosoever believes in HIM, from that day forward, would not perish, but rather, would have everlasting life with our FATHER in Heaven.
When JESUS speaks of HIS actions bringing glory to GOD, HE is referring to the majesty and loveliness of GOD the FATHER that has been manifested through, what HE HIMSELF has done, and will do, in obedience to the FATHER. And after the FATHER has resurrected HIM from the dead, that act will also reflect the true majesty of HE HIMSELF, as the GOD-appointed SAVIOR of all of mankind. This also lets man know that, when we obediently perform and honor GOD’s will, GOD will joyfully express HIMSELF through us also. And so we see here in this passage, that, even we can display the same beauty and majesty that CHRIST JESUS displayed for the FATHER when we pray for the strength to be able to perform our appointed duties for the LORD.

John 17:6-19

JESUS’ disciples obeyed the word of GOD and HE praises them for it here in HIS prayer to the FATHER. JESUS loved them all the more for their avid, positive response to GOD’s word. HE had prayed for them, even before HE chose them, and now, this final prayer of intercession clearly reveals HIS loving concern for their continued well-being after HIS departure.
These disciples were HIS original flock, given to HIM by GOD the FATHER, and HE had taken good care of them during their three years together. HE had also been successful in taking them out of the world, and putting them into a spiritual place where HE HIMSELF had always dwelled. And while they were not perfect, they were all committed (except Judas Iscariot) and passionately devoted to JESUS. They now, all believed in JESUS’ oneness with the FATHER, and their faith was clearly manifested in their obedience to HIS teachings.
This section of the prayer focuses not only on the safety of the disciples, but also on the safety of all believers who have chosen to come out of the world, and into the realm where JESUS lives. Our safety, has always, and will forever, depend on the grace of GOD, and it has never been left to up our own conduct or character. When JESUS was with HIS disciples physically, HE always kept them safe, and they could always depend on HIS presence in their time of need. HE guided them then, the way the HOLY SPIRIT now guides us, and we, in addition, can still rest assure that JESUS is, even now, still praying for us from HIS Heavenly vantage point.
We don’t ever need to walk around feeling sad and beaten down by the rigors of this world. We can, instead, be filled with joy, because our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST has overcome the world, and HE is taking everyone with HIM, in victory, who chooses to come and share in HIS Kingdom.

John 17:20-26

This final segment of JESUS’ prayer is for future believers who will choose to come to HIM through the teaching of HIS Word. In this, the “Church Age”, every converted Christian came to be that way, either directly, or indirectly, because of the work and witness of JESUS’ original disciples.
We see, all through this prayer, JESUS going out to the ends of the earth. First HE started with HIMSELF. Then HE moved on with HIS petition for HIS disciple’s safety. And now in the final section of this great petition, we see JESUS praying for the unity of all Christians, for all times. And just as each high priest of Israel bore the names of the twelve tribes in GOD’s presence in the tabernacle, so now does JESUS, in the Church Age, as the GREAT HIGH PRIEST, carry the names of all present and future believers into the glorious presence of ALMIGHTY GOD in Heaven.
JESUS’ request is a request for a “Christian unity” that will transcend all the differences that can be found among the Christian Church’s various denominations universally. And even though we may never organize our Christian Churches in the same way, and we may never worship GOD in the same way, JESUS prayed that Christian Unity would forever transcend all these differences, and bring men together in fellowship and love.
That’s the kind of unity that JESUS is praying for here in John 17, and it is also the kind of unity that the Apostle Paul would later write about to the Churches, in all of his “doctrinal letters”. It is a unity, not born of bricks and mortar, but rather, it is a unity of “personal relationships”, not unlike the one that we’ve already seen, between the FATHER and the SON, as an example to us to follow, for all time.
All believers belong to one body in CHRIST, and our spiritual unity is to be clearly shown through our behavior, or the way we live. The spiritual unity of the FATHER and the SON is to be patterned in the Church, regardless of our chosen Christian denomination. Without union with CHRIST JESUS, the Christian Church can do nothing in itself. “Christianity” is the only true religion, because, “Christianity” is the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind. All denominations, Christian, or otherwise, are only mere products of men’s minds.
Through GOD’s “permissive will”, HE allows us to organize Christian denominations differently, as long as we all have CHRIST in common. However, it is not HIS “perfect will”. HIS perfect Will is that we do away with all “man-made” religions period, and adhere perfectly to HIS OWN written Will, which is “pure Christianity”.
The disciples’ union with CHRIST resulted in the whole Christian community’s belief in GOD the FATHER. The glory of the Church was born at the cross, but the unity in the Church was born before that, and it is personified in the spirit of JESUS and HIS apostles. In all, we see four petitions for believers, included in this magnificent prayer. Here we see;

·          “Preservation” (John 17:11),
·         “Sanctification” (John 17:17),
·         “Unity” (John 17:11, 21-22), and
·         “Participation” (John 17:24).

After JESUS prayed this prayer, HE would speak no more to HIS disciple, until after HIS “Passion” and Resurrection. And so we see HIS last words to HIS faithful, were not words of HIS despair, but rather, they were words of “HIS Glory”, and, they were words of encouragement for HIS disciples, and for all mankind in general, for all time.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, April 11, 2014


                                       For the week beginning Sunday April 13, 2014                                      

(Exalting JESUS amid the problems we face)
John 15:26-16:15

In John 15:18-16-4, JESUS instructs us on how we should relate to the world. When we choose the Christian walk, we automatically become strangers to worldly behavior. We are no longer permanent residents of this earth, but rather, we become citizens of Heaven, and therefore, the laws of GOD should become paramount to us.
Here in this passage, JESUS warns of the hatred that the World will have for those who follow HIM. As long as a person belongs to the World, the World will always love that person. That is primarily because that person resembles the World through his or her behavior, and to hate that person, would, quite literally, mean hating themselves.
The person who hates the true Christian, hates JESUS, and thereby, hates GOD. Anyone, who is shown the Word of GOD, and does not accept it, is guilty of denying CHRIST, who is the “personification” of the Word of GOD, and therefore, is GOD.
We as Christians have a duty to go out into the world and share the Gospel with dignity and respect. JESUS empowered us with the HOLY SPIRIT, and GOD goes before us, to prepare the hearts of those to whom we may be speaking. “Be of good cheer”, and “be not afraid” is what JESUS said to Peter and HIS other Disciples that day in far off Palestine, where HE “walked on water”, in order to give them encouragement to “remain in HIM”.
We are called to go out into the world, and we don’t have to be afraid. JESUS will always come to us, from across the storms of life, but we must continue to bear good fruit, by remaining in HIM. If we fail to bear good fruit, as Judas Iscariot failed to, we will be cut off from the “TRUE VINE” that brings with it, Eternal Life.
JESUS eternally encourages us through these immortal words that HE spoke to HIS closest disciples, just prior to HIS ascension back into HIS Heavenly Realm; “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 always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20 - KJV).

The departure of JESUS was necessary, no matter how painful it would be for HIS disciples. By now, they were so rapt up in their own depression and problems, that, not even Thomas, cared to ask JESUS where it was that HE was going. They didn’t quite realize at that time, just how beneficial JESUS’ leaving would be for them, and, for the world at large. For without JESUS’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, there could be no Gospel to preach and teach, nor, any atonement for sin. Furthermore, the HOLY SPIRIT could not be released into the lives of believers, for all time, to help guide us, and comfort us, in our inevitable times of need.
The COMFORTER is the SPIRIT of GOD that was promised to us by the ancient prophets, and now, was being promised by JESUS HIMSELF. The HOLY SPIRIT came into the world, on the day of Pentecost, to “stay and abide” in those who believed on CHRIST, for all time. JESUS informed us that HIS ministry would consist of reproving the world of sin, righteousness, and, judgment.
Sin in the world reached an all-time high with the crucifixion of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. And even today, our greatest sin continues to be our unbelief in HIM. When the world crucified JESUS, we, in effect, showed GOD that we thought HIS ONE and ONLY SON, was unrighteous. Righteousness was vindicated with the resurrection and ascension of CHRIST, and now the HOLY SPIRIT has come to convict us of our faulty views of JESUS, and to inspire us to proclaim the truth of HIS Gospel to the same kind of world that slew HIM, way back in the first century on Calvary Hill.
And finally, the HOLY SPIRIT’s convicting work is concerned with judgment. The death and resurrection of JESUS CHRIST condemned satan, the prince of this world, to eternal damnation. People, who are rebelling against GOD, through sin, face the same defeat and judgment that satan has obtained. And just as JESUS brought glory to GOD, so too, will the HOLY SPIRIT bring glory to CHRIST JESUS.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, April 4, 2014


                                        For the week beginning Sunday April 6, 2014                                       

(Growing in the faith)
John 15:1-17

Throughout the Old Testament, the analogy of the “vineyard” is used as a depiction of GOD’s beloved Israel. However, this term is never used apart from the idea of degeneration. The descriptions by Isaiah (Isaiah 5:1-7), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:21-22), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 15 & 19:10-14), Hosea (Hosea 10:1), and King David (Psalm 80:8-13) all stress the point of degeneration, or, a moral decline of GOD’s chosen people (the church).
In John 15:1-16:4, the author of GOD writes of JESUS’ instructions to HIS Disciples, that they should be “rightly relatedto HIM, to each other as Christians (15:11-17), and, to the World of Unbelievers (15:18-16:4).
Christians are to have three respective duties. They are to;

·         Abide in JESUS (Vs.1-10)
·         Love each other (Vs.11-17)  
·         Witness and testify to the World (Vs.18-16:4)

I am the True Vine” is the last of the seven, now famous, “I am” statements of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST that are found in the Gospel according to Saint John. The scene in this particular passage, takes place on the eve of JESUS’ trials and subsequent Crucifixion, by Roman method. Here JESUS seeks to relate and demonstrate to HIS Disciples, and to us, just what GOD THE FATHER, and HE HIMSELF, expects from HIS followers as Christians living in the world.
JESUS, as the “True Vine”, fulfills that which GOD had intended for the Israelites and the world in general. GOD is the Cultivator and Protector of all of life, human and otherwise, and HE desires good fruit, from each of us. In fact, we see JESUS stressing that point in 15:2-16, no less than eight times. The fruit, which GOD expects from the human side of HIS creation, is obedience, righteousness, and justice.
JESUS tells us that every branch, or person in this case, that does not produce good fruit will be cut off from HIS vine. Here we see that, every person (branch), who professes to be a follower of CHRIST, is not necessarily a “true follower”, or “a producing branch” of “THE TRUE VINE”. Such branches, or people, will be cut off from THE TRUE VINE in the last day, or “time of harvest”. The great example of this is Judas Iscariot. Although Judas Iscariot was a branch of THE TRUE VINE, he was not a producing branch, or true follower. He did not produce good fruit, and therefore, had to be cut off from THE TRUE VINE, and burned in the end.
In the Greek, the word the Apostle John, and other New Testament writers use for “remain” is “meno” (men-o), and it means “to stay in a given place, state of mind, relationship, or expectancy”; and “to abide, continue, dwell, or endure”. This word occurs 11 times in this particular chapter of this Gospel account of John. The fruitfulness, of which JESUS speaks of in this passage, can only occur, as a result of HIS life being reproduced in ours.
In other words, our life and behavior must reflect JESUS’ life and behavior, and we must “remain” in HIM, or “continue” to reflect HIS image to others, through our own behavior, throughout our entire lifetimes. And only by doing this, can we be considered as “true followers”, or “producing branches” of the “TRUE VINE” of GOD. If we remain, or abide in JESUS, we will continue to bear good fruit. If we fail to remain in JESUS (on the VINE), in spite of all of GOD’s tender loving care of the vineyard, we will be lopped off, and cast into the fire to burn as useless wood.
In John 15:11-17, JESUS moves on to instruct HIS disciples (and us), as to how we should “rightly relate to each other” as Christians. Here, we see JESUS delivering to all who seek to follow HIM, the only commandment that HE would ever give, and it is to “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). It is a commandment that the Apostle John never forgot.
According to Jewish folklore, the Apostle John, who lived longer than all of JESUS’ original twelve Disciples, in his old age, had to be carried into the Temple, because he could no longer walk. At that time, the Apostle’s sermon consisted of only one sentence, “Little children, love one another”. It is one of the more lovely stories in a Biblical Church history that consists of countless lovely stories from the early Church. Every time I think of it, it nearly brings me to tears.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website