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June 2, 2020 – “Are You Elijah?”

June 2, 2020 – “Are You Elijah?”

This is Part Five of last week’s Tuesday Night Bible Study and we will be exploring together what the delegation from Jerusalem meant when they asked John if he was Elijah or the Prophet.  Note, not one of the prophets or a prophet, but “the” Prophet, using the definite article to signify a specific Prophet.  And also notice the word Prophet is capitalized.  Do you wonder why?

You can read below the text we have been studying this week.

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the LORD,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:19-23)

In this study, we will also discover how to use Scripture to answer questions we might have about Scripture.  After all, the best way to interpret God’s Word is by God’s Word.

I hope this will help you in your walk with our Lord and help you grow closer to Him.

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Friday, May 29, 2020 – “Just Who Are You?”

Friday, May 29, 2020 – “Just Who Are You?”

This is Part Three of this week’s Tuesday Night Bible Study and we will be looking at the accusing question the hostile delegation from Jerusalem confronted John with, namely, “Who are you?”  Our study this week is on the testimony of John the Baptist and is found in John 1:19-23.

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”  And they asked him, “What then?  Are you Elijah?”  He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet?”  And he answered, “No.”  Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us?  What do you say about yourself?”  He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the LORD,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:19-23)

But setting their question aside for the moment, John’s answer will compel each of us to become more like Christ.  His humility is contagious.  And his wisdom and unwavering focus on his mission, is convicting.  It’s something quite enviable.

Be blessed by John’s words and ask the Lord what you can learn about your own priorities in life compared with those of John the Baptist.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020 – The Perfect Testimony

Thursday, May 28, 2020 – The Perfect Testimony

This is Part Two of this week’s Tuesday Night Bible Study and we will be looking deeper into the testimony of John the Baptist as recorded in John 1:19-23.

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”  And they asked him, “What then?  Are you Elijah?”  He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet?”  And he answered, “No.”  Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us?  What do you say about yourself?”  He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Make straight the way of the LORD,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:19-23)

Here we learn more about the makeup of the hostile delegation sent to John from the religious elite in Jerusalem.  But we also will look at the word “testimony” to discover the depths of its meaning and how John the Apostle uses it over 70 times in his writings alone.  Why is that?  You’re soon to find out.

As you study along with us today, consider the elements of your own testimony.  How much of it is about you?  And how much of it reveals Christ?   Something to consider, isn’t it?

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May 25, 2020 – “Who are You?”

May 25, 2020 – “Who are You?”

Today, as we continue our study into the life of Christ, we’ll look into the testimony of John the Baptist regarding Jesus that begins in John 1:19.  In fact, it’s hard to read the question they ask him without having the CSI theme song, the Who classic from 1978, playing in my head.  “Who are you?”

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” (John 1:19)

What we have before us is the testimony of John the Baptist.  And the word “testimony” (marturía) means “a witness, certification, record, that which someone witnesses or states concerning a person or thing.”  It is a declaration by a witness who speaks with the authority of one who knows, like an expert witness.  John is very familiar with this word and uses it over 75 times in his writings.  But there is more.

Just think, John the Baptist is the first witness the Apostle John calls to testify of the Lordship of Christ.  Later he writes:

This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.  And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. (John 21:24-25)

But there is more.


Who Is This Guy?

John the Baptist was one remarkable individual.  Consider the following:

    • He was the subject of an Old Testament prophecy found in Isaiah 40.
    • His birth was due to direct supernatural intervention (Luke 1:7,13).
    • He was filled with the Holy Spirit before his birth (Luke 1:15).  I can’t recall the Scriptures saying that of anyone else.
    • He was a man “sent from God” (John 1:6).  What an amazing epitaph for a life well-lived.
    • He was sent to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matt. 3:3), and nothing else.  In fact, when he got off point, it cost him his life.
    • He was the last of the Old Testament prophets (Matt. 11:13), on the same par with Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah.
    • Jesus said he was the greatest man who ever lived (Matt. 11:11), hands down, bar none.

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

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May 22, 2020 – How to Achieve Victory Over Temptation

May 22, 2020 – How to Achieve Victory Over Temptation

When it comes to the topic of the Christian and their struggle with temptation, preaching should not only tell us the “what” and “why” — but it should also give us the “hows” to stand up against it.  Because we all have the same questions, such as what are some practical steps we can take as believers to soar over temptation and stand victorious as our Lord did in Matthew 4 and Luke 4?  And when we study the account of Satan’s attempt to get Jesus to sin and how He responded to the enemy’s trickery, we should be encouraged to follow His lead like a dependent child.

Notice what Jesus did to ward off Satan’s schemes.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4)

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” (Matthew 4:7)

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan!  For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” (Matthew 4:10)

Notice anything that ties these three defenses together?  Or do you notice anything you could place in your arsenal to combat the evil one on the day of temptation?


Three Keys to Victory Over Temptation

From the life of Jesus, what can we learn?

One, every temptation follows the same pattern that is revealed to us in 1 John 2:16, which reads:

For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.

Two, there is no temptation that only you have experienced.  Satan is not original, but he’s very good at what he does.  But not to worry, there is always a way out.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

And three, if you want to discover the three keys from the life of Jesus that will help you get victory over your temptations, you’ll have to keep listening.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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