May 21, 2020 – Away with You, Satan!

May 21, 2020 – Away with You, Satan!

We are now in the third temptation of Jesus that is recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.  And in this temptation, Satan drops all pretense and allows his true nature to emerge.  He no longer tries to get Jesus to move outside of God’s will by either meeting His own needs (turning stones into bread) or trying to force God’s hand (jumping off the pinnacle of the Temple).  Instead, Satan now suggests he can offer Jesus exactly what His Father has promised Him, a kingdom, but he can get it to Him quicker and without any suffering.  Look at how this temptation unfolds:

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

Luke’s account adds a few more details:

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” (Luke 4:5-7)

Which raises a few questions.


Somebody Hasn’t Thought This Through

For one, Luke records Satan saying the kingdoms were given to him and he could give them to anyone he chooses.  But who gave them to Satan so he could then offer them to Jesus?  If the answer is the Lord, then isn’t Satan trying to tempt Jesus with something that ultimately belongs to Him by right of creation?  It’s like he was saying, “If you worship me, I’ll give you what you already own.”

And two, if Jesus refused to compromise in making bread out of stones, why did Satan believe He would compromise on something like this?  Who didn’t eat their Wheaties today?  Somebody hasn’t thought this through.

There is so much more here than meets the eye.

So let’s take a look at it together, shall we?

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

May 20, 2020 – You Shall Not Tempt the Lord Your God

May 20, 2020 – You Shall Not Tempt the Lord Your God

Today we’ll take a look at Satan’s second temptation of Jesus where he tries to chide Him into putting His Father to the test.  And in this, Satan ups the ante.  He now quotes Scripture in a veiled and useless attempt to entice Jesus to sin, and tries to make it sound spiritual, or Scriptural, or not all that bad.  In his temptation, Satan justifies the evil behind it by quoting from Psalms 91:11-12.

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If (or, since, because) You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” (Matthew 4:5-6).

This is classic bait and switch.


Temptation = No Trust / No Trust = Sin

As with the first temptation, Satan is working hard to get Jesus to distrust God’s perfect plan for His life and take an easy road out.  After all, if Jesus wouldn’t take it upon Himself to turn stones into bread because He was dissatisfied with the Father’s timing of meeting His needs, then let’s put the Father in a situation where He has to respond to Jesus’ demand or violate His own Word.

It sounds like a good idea.  But it won’t work.  Jesus is always one step, actually light years, ahead of the deceiver.

Let’s look at this exchange together.

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

The Church Has Left the Building

The Church Has Left the Building

The following is an article I received today from Roberto Bottrel, who is serving European churches by helping them multiply via cell-group ministry.  If you remember, this very subject is what we talked about the first Sunday we had to go online.  You might want to take a listen again, if you have forgotten.

Anyway, enjoy and get ready to embrace the future.

big_lines


The Church Has Left the Building

We have had many opportunities to experience new things during this crisis.  We all had to adapt to the limitations of the quarantine, thus obliging us to question and change basically everything regarding church life.  I loved it.  It has been a great time to shake many unquestionable and unchangeable “truths” that, as many found out the hard way, were only traditions, church culture, or ordinary habits.

What really matters and will definitely change the church was one fact: the church had to leave the building.  And finally, we all had to actually live what we believed: the church is not a building.  And I think most churches realized, in practical terms, that it is all about people.  Many communities are more alive now in the quarantine than before.  There has been more interaction, with members connecting to each other on a daily basis, living real and practical caring, and serving as a loving community.  But, unfortunately, this is not happening with all communities. There is a huge difference according to the existing structures (or church model)

1.  The cell churches (outward focused) were quite ready for the crisis and had little difficulties to adapt since almost 100% of the members were in a cell group.  Everybody was already under the radar and could be looked after and well taken care of by his own small community.  And with the mission at hand, they continue to seize the opportunities to reach out to people and make more disciples.

2.  The churches that had a small group structure (inward focused) were also better off, although their problem was that usually, they did not get more than 50% onboard in those groups.  So what to do with the other 50%?  For many, it was frustrating to see that the failure of enrolling all members was now taking its toll.

3.  Now, when you think of churches that were based only on Sunday services and activities promoted by church ministries (youth, worship, couples, etc)… what a challenge they are facing.  Where is everybody?  How are people handling the crisis?  Does anybody need help?  How can a centralized structure handle this?  And even when the pandemic is over, we might still have to face long term gathering limitations.  Life may never return to what once was normal. How are these churches going to handle this?

Well, the other day I heard a senior pastor of a great church calling his members to engage in the new small group environment that was being developed and would be implemented in the following weeks.  Therefore, I believe everybody will come to the same conclusion as they did: the church can no longer depend solely on large gatherings and centralized activities.  That is definitely not how the early church rocked the world in their days.  And, definitely, it will not be how we impact ours.  Let’s welcome the small communities of believers with a clear mission of making disciples!

Buckle up.  Changes ahead.

For more, go to the Joel Comiskey Group.
big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

May 19, 2020 – Turning Stones into Bread

May 19, 2020 – Turning Stones into Bread

Join us today as we look into Satan’s first shot at Jesus, tempting Him to turn stones into bread (Matt. 4:2-3).  On the surface, this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.  But as you will discover, this temptation of Jesus is so effective against each of us today.  In fact, I think you’ll see how easily we all fail and turn our own stones into bread.


“Command that these stones become bread.”

And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.  Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If (since, because) You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Matthew 4:2-3)

Intrigued?  Good.  Then let’s look at this incredible event together.

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

May 18, 2020 – Shepherd or Cowboy?

May 18, 2020 – Shepherd or Cowboy?

Today we look into what it means when it says Jesus was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matt. 4:1).  And Mark describes this event as “the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12).  For many, the idea of being led is like a parent leading a child to a place he needs to go.  But “drove Him” gives us the impression of a cowboy driving cattle against their will.


“Led up by the Spirit into the wilderness”

In fact, there are three different Greek words used to describe the same event.

Then Jesus was led (anagō) up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Mathew 4:1)

Immediately the Spirit drove (ekballō) Him into the wilderness. (Mark 1:12)

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led (agō) by the Spirit into the wilderness. (Luke 4:1)

So what is happening here?  Let’s find out together.

big_lines

            podcast-25-25