ONEFAMILY Outreach

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ONEFamily Outreach exists to "Connect Kids to Community and Communities to Kids." Have you considered having a mission week for your church? This is one of my favorite "in-depth" ways of reaching out with the Great News of Jesus Christ. Activities can include:

  • Interactive and participative praise concerts for children, youth, and families;
  • Morning staff studies on "Authentic Leadership" and "Building a Culture of Intentional Courtesy"
  • Brown-Bag Luncheon Studies for your community focusing on our scriptural call to justice;
  • In-service for your volunteers or teachers on reaching today's youth and families with the vibrant, living, message of Jesus Christ;
  • Evening parent seminars based upon two of Jerry's recent books: "Significant Conversations: Helping Young People Live Meaningful Lives," and "The Deepest Longing of Young People; Loving Without Conditions."
  • Local networking with other area groups (secular or faith-based) regarding prevention and intervention strategies for high-risk and incarcerated youth;
  • Humorous and thought-provoking school assemblies (secular or religious, elementary through high school).

ONEFamily Outreach is primarily supported by your donations and by trainings, workshops, retreats and concerts.


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“When the devil had finished every temptation”

Luke 4:1-13

Lent 1c

Luke 4:1-13

[Lk 4:1] Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness [2] for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. [3] And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” [4] And Jesus answered him, “It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.'”

[5] And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. [6] And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. [7] “Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” [8] Jesus answered him, “It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.' ”

[9] And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; [10] for it is written,

'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,'

[11] and,

'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,

SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.' ”

[12] And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.' ”

[13] When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

Luke 4:1-3

[Lk 4:1] Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness [2] for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. (NAS)

Led around by the Spirit

There are three vital words that describe to us the Son's response to the Father's blessing.  Yet, wz must also note that the blessing of God does not lead Jesus to an easier life or back to the life he knew as a craftsman in Nazareth.  Instead, it leads to a harder life; a life that will involve three years of non-stop tribulation and end in death on a cross.  Those trials begin immediately with the temptation of Christ in the desert. 

What are the three words in these first couple of verses that will help us to better understand the nature of the temptations?

·         Jesus is full [GSN4134 pleres] of the Holy Spirit;

Pleres [GSN4134] is not only a term meaning fullness, it also means abounding and mature.  The Holy Spirit had descended upon Jesus only just before this verse when Jesus chose to be baptized, yet the Spirit did not descend in part but in full.  No one in scripture kind of gets the Spirit.  The Spirit comes to us in abounding maturity.  All too often we just don't act on the premise of abounding fullness and abounding maturity in the Spirit demands action.

·         Jesus is led by [GSN71 ago] the Holy Spirit;

There are a number of uses for the word ago [GSN71], led is the most benign.  Led away, took away or even arrested are the most descriptive.  Jesus was also 'led' to Herod and ''brought to' Pontius.  It is as if the Sheriff showed up on the Lord's door with a summons.  Jesus is arrested by the Holy Spirit; now let's look at where he was taken.

·         To the desert [GSN2048 eremos];

This particular desert was known as Jeshimmon or "The Desolation."  This stretch of land covers a 35 x 15 mile scarred plot of limestone waste between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea remains inhospitable and barren of sustaining human life.  Yet, here is where Jesus is sent.  Why is Jesus filled with the Holy Spirit only to be sent into a land to a land of bleakness and suffering?  Why does the Holy Spirit sead him from blessing to temptation and from fullness to emptiness?  Because only in temptation and emptiness will we ever discover the depth to which God yearns to take us.

All of us who wish to know God at His core must expect to be refined and strengthened in the wasteland.  All of my major commitments to the Lord have been followed by periods of dryness and temptation.

We are weakest and most exposed when we are most unaware.  Rather, the Lord wants us to be; "Shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves."  We are to know Satan's ploys but to remain pure and unmixed in our response.

Jesus was filled by the Spirit who then drone into the desert to understand Satan's tactics.  Only a fool goes into battle without understanding his enemy’s strength or strategy.  The Son of God was no fool.

The Prince of Darkness did not pick this battle; the Prince of Light did.  He alone stormed Satan's stronghold to announce to him that the time had come, the Messiah had arrived; "Give me your best shot!"

We are fools if we think we are not in a battle of eternal consequence.  We must expect both the wilderness and Satan's attack.  But, we must never forget that the same Lord who went 'head-to-head with Satan 2,000 years ago is just as able to defeat him on his own turf today.

Learn these three keys of spiritual fullness.  To know the fullness of the Spirit we too must not fear the emptiness of the desolation; when the Spirit summons your heart to a call that seems desolate to you.  Don't fight, don't, "Oh you can't mean me," or, "that doesn’t sound comfortable," say instead, "Here I am Lord, send me!"

For forty days

It would be easy to just sit and be amazed at the number of days that Jesus went without the necessities of life.  Yet, the Hebrew and Aramaic was not an economic language, it was a spiritual and nomadic language.  Numbers had far more than a singular mathematical value to them.

Obviously the number forty [HSN705 arbaim] had a significant value:

For forty days and forty nights God rained the deluge on the world.  It rained as long as it took to wipe out the evil of man [Gen 7:4]

The Israelites spent forty years in the desert as God changed them from slaves to a nation.  God kept them in the desert as long as it took to make them quit longing for slavery and start longing for the Holy Land [Ex 16:35].

Before living among the Israelites, Moses spent forty days in prayer in the cloud (the presence) of God on Mount Sinai.  Moses was there as long as it took for God to impress upon him and the Israelites the holiness of the moment [Ex 24:18]

Moses spent another forty days in solitude with God before the delivery of the tablets bearing the commandments.  He was with God as long as it took to receive God's law [Ex 34:28].

And Jesus was driven into temptation for forty days, as long as it took to understand his mission, the tools he would use to complete it and to understand the tricks of the opposition [Lk 4:2].

This is not to say that the time passed in each circumstance above did or did not measure exactly forty days or forty years.  What matters however, is not the length of time but the work done during that time.  Jesus' commitment to the lessons of the desert models the experiences of the Israelites, save for one factor; Jesus never succumbed to temptation.  In Jesus we see the perfect model of a person modeled for mission by God:

·         He chooses to repent [metanoia] to see life from God's higher perspective;

·         He is driven by the Holy Spirit;

·         He is not afraid of the desert in his life;

·         He allows himself to refined and sharpened by the tough times;

·         He doesn't flee persecution, rather he is perfected through it;

Because this man was willing to give God as long as it takes to reign over his life.

Are you willing to go to the desert and stay as long as it takes for the Spirit to shape your mission, tools and understanding?  The desert is the part of your Christian life you are avoiding or ignoring.  For most of us that is service to the vulnerable; a place where we become vulnerable and thus reliant on God.  Where is your place of vulnerability; your desert?

Are you willing to go there as long as it takes?

Luke 4:3-12

[3] And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” [4] And Jesus answered him, “It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.' ”

[5] And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. [6] And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. [7] “Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” [8] Jesus answered him, “It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.' ”

[9] And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; [10] for it is written,

'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,'

[11] and,

'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,

SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.' ”

[12] And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.' ” (NAS)

“If You are the Son of God”

This reading could have only come from one source; there was only one earthly witness to the event.  That source was our Lord.  In sharing this intimate experience with his disciples Jesus tells us both the nature and the purpose of temptation.

First of all, we should be convinced that there is a malevolent evil spirit named Satan who is bent on our destruction.

Second of all, we should see that although Satan is powerful, he is not all powerful.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit it is possible to resist Satan and use temptation to increase our spiritual alacrity.

Third, Satan is not a head-to-head fighter.  His signature trait is deception and half-truth.  He studies his enemies carefully and uses their strengths to his advantage.  That's right!  Satan exploits our strengths, not just our weaknesses.

Look at how adroit Satan is at using scripture.  This teaches us that knowledge of scripture alone is not a goal.  It is in the application of scripture that we find its fullness.  In fact, Jesus rarely quotes scripture to the crowds or his disciples.  His most frequent use of scripture is to Satan and the psuedo-religious leaders of his day.

However, the subtlety of Satan lies in his attempt to use scripture to attack Jesus' claim to be Messiah and also to attack the techniques our Lord will use to express his deity.

“If you are the Son of God...” lies at the core of Satan's attack.  Satan will always try to use his wiles to doubt the Creator of the Universe could personally love us.

I remember standing once on a lakeshore when my sister asked; “How could God love us each personally, that seems impossible to me.”

The full moon was high in the sky across from us and I asked to face it while walked downshore ten feet.  I told her to follow the reflection of the moon across the ripples of the water to where it ended.  Of course it ended directly at her feet.

However when I followed the moon's reflection it came to my feet.  We could've stood a thousand people next to us and the reflection would have pointed to their feet as well.

Nature reflects the glory of a Creator who passionately loves each of us uniquely but that is what Satan will try to attack first; our unique relationship with a loving God.

Coming up short, Satan tries a second tact.  He doesn't question our Lord's Messianic claim; instead he tries to offer Jesus ease and comfort in pursuing his ends.  Material riches, a show of power, compromise with the ways of this world; Jesus sees through them.  Carrying out the mission of Jesus is the greatest joy we could ever embrace but there are no shortcuts.  We will be attacked and the more effective we are; the greater the attack will become.  As the Scottish theologian, William Barclay has stated, “It's no temptation for us to turn stones to bread.”  We are simply not in Christ's ball park.  However, for some they will face the temptation of martyrdom or compromise.  For other's, their biggest temptation will be getting out of reclining chair to visit the sick.  For some churches; their biggest temptation is to get beyond who didn't wash the dish towels after the last potluck.  For others, it will be how to stop the loss of our children to alcohol, drugs and a life of incarceration.  Great temptations only come to effective Christians.

“Tell this stone to become bread”

Satan starts with the easy stuff (though I haven't turned stone to bread recently).  The truth is that Satan rarely needs to confront most of us with little more than physical comfort.  We never move beyond getting our own needs met.

Reaching beyond our own concentric world is not even an issue because we are so hung up with our own needs.  Convinced that self-fulfillment really matters or trapped in the perpetual cry of the shallow, “What about me?”  We are no threat whatsoever to Satan's kingdom of the self-centered.

“I will give You all this domain and its glory”

If we are not so easily succumbed by comfort, Satan will turn up the heat.  Seeing that Jesus easily leaves behind his own physical needs and immediate gratification he turns to his next tool; power, control over other people's lives.  He will instantly give Jesus control of all his things if Jesus just gives Lucifer control of his being

This temptation also includes the supposed right of Satan to use beings as things.  As far as Satan is concerned we are a means to an end.  He has no desire for relationship with us; he wants only to use us towards his end.  And, what is his end?  He wants glory, to be treated like God, to be God.  Only Lucifer has no need for free will and independence.  He has no interest in the life of each individual or a relationship with his followers.  He wants slaves; slaves with one purpose - to bow before him and serve his every whim for adulation.

Satan seeks to destroy our will, he seeks to use us to hurt God and then toss us away like leprous skin.

Yet, as you will see, this is also Satan's downfall.  For Satan is unable to tempt us with anything but shallowness, anything but the lowest form of selfish greed.  Satan cannot even comprehend love or virtue - therefore he cannot use it to tempt us.  He cannot imagine love; he sees it only as a weakness.  He can only envision using and abusing people - love is manipulation to him and that is how he WAS defeated.

By Christ's love; a love with no agenda but to love.  Love with no conditions but to love.  Love pure, love unadulterated, love consistent, love transparent.

Can we love like that?  I know many who claim Christ - but cannot love in this manner.  They love for the sake of conversion - but not for the sake of love itself.  Can we love for love's sake? Can we love because God first loved us?  Can we trust in God's love knowing that God is pure love, that God is love, that God is love without fear?

It is purported that Francis of Assisi once made that statement: “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

Can we love with that kind of selfless love; a love without agenda?  Must we start our conversations with, "Do you want to know Jesus?  Or, am I comfortable with just saying; "I'd like to get to know you." 

Do we need a cup of control to go with our love?  Can we understand love without demands and strings?

Satan cannot.  And to the degree that we cannot - we need to deal with his influence in our lives.

“Throw Yourself down from here”

If we can love beyond the physical, if we can be in relationship without power or control, then Satan may increase the intensity another notch.  Fame is the saddest substitute for genuineness in our society.  Fame is adulation: admiration without love and commitment.  Fame is achieved by jumping off temple walls while the crowd watches; it is a cheap alternative to the respect that can only be earned by consistently showing up in people's lives with humility, honesty and with compassion.  In our culture fame comes with being the most outrageous; it is a shortcut for the absence of attention and love that people long for today.

Satan can offer adulation, he can offer fame, but all of his tricks have one thing in common; they all leave you emptier.  Even with more fame there is more emptiness, with more power there is more fear, with more avarice there is more emptiness.  We cannot satiate what Satan offers us.

If Jesus had jumped off the temple the crowds wouldn't say; "Wow, we will worship you now and forever."

They would say; "Hey, my buddy wasn't here the last time you did that, do it again."  They would say; "We've all seen that, do it backwards this time."  He wouldn't be Messiah; people would say; "Didn't you use to be someone?"

Sensuality, power, fame; they all leave you dry.  They all leave you empty, they all desert you as will their master.  Behind Satan are husks of broken lives that are sucking dust for hope.  Dust devils disappearing as if they never existed.

Luke 6:13

[13] When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. (NAS)

Every temptation

Has there ever been a time when you thought that Jesus could not possibly understand what you are going through?  Then, be comforted in these words; "When the devil had finished every [GSN3956 pas] temptation [GSN3986 peirasmos]."

The terms mean every and all trials and persecutions to their fullest extent.

·         Hunger in all its forms;

·         Powerlessness in all its depth;

·         An identity crises in all its magnitude ("If you are the Son of God").

Yet, Jesus turned every and all trials to God's fullest glory.

·         He embraced hunger in this world as a longing for intimacy with God;

·         He embraced powerlessness in this world as availability to God's power;

·         He embraced obscurity in this world as humility and availability to God's call.

Jesus knew every and all trial to their fullest extent.  He experienced all our emptiness to its fullest depth.  He took all of our sin with all of its horror and rather than run or recoil he said; "Father forgive them, they know not what they do."

We can go to him in confidence, we can go to him for comfort and we can trust in him for strength.  Our Lord has 'been there.'

Until an opportune time

One could wish for a happier ending than; "and the devil left him until an opportune [GSN2540 kairos] time."

Why couldn't it just say; "and the devil left him."

Satan is an opportunist; he knows when to press in and when to retreat.  You can count on Satan:

·         Being an opportunist;

·         He will assault you when you are most vulnerable.

·         Being a deceiver;

He knows that head-on attacks are least effective and increases the pressure as you get closer to Jesus.

The farther you are from Jesus the more comfort and status quo are your enemy.  The closer you get to Jesus the more persecution is your enemy.  You know you are within a touch of Jesus when starts to attack your health, your loved ones and your identity (see the Book of Job).

The Evil One is ruthless but you can also trust in this; "The battle is won and Jesus is the Victor!"

Yes, Satan waits for the 'opportune time' [GSN2540 kairos]; but so does God.

Kairos [GSN2540] is the term used as the time about:

·         The time of the Messiah's arrival [Mk 1:15]

·         The harvest will be gathered [Mt 13:30, 21:40, Mk 12:2, Lk 20:10];

·         When the servants will be rewarded [Mt 24:45, Lk 12:42];

·         The time of our Lord's sacrifice [Mt 26:18, Jn 7:6];

·         The time of our Savior's return [Mk 13:33, Lk 21:36, Acts 1:7].

·         The time [GSN2540 kairos] inevitably does not belong to Satan.  It belongs to you and I because of our Lord's sacrifice.  The same Lord who knew every and all of our trials to their fullest extent will deliver every and all of his children that has sought his shelter.

This is the opportune time; but it is God's opportune time!

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