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Weekly Dive Deeper

Prayer can open jail cells, what will your prayer do

This week I want to start off with some verses, Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”  When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.  Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there. Acts 12:6‭-‬19  In these verses Peter is locked in prison and James has just been killed. It was a dark time for the church, but instead of dwelling on the bad they were praying for Peter’s deliverance. When they prayed God moved, not because they said the right things, it was because they had faith and it was in God’s will. But, I think just from their reaction when Peter was at the gate that they had doubt, because they did not believe Rhoda and part of that doubt could have come from the fact that she did not let him in. I think Peter at that moment when Rhoda did not let him in was probably thinking a lot of people know who I am and if they don’t open the gate I am going back to jail and will die in the morning. I wonder how close Peter came to going to another house of believers? Now imagine if they would have missed the blessing of seeing their prayers answered instead they would have just heard about it. I wonder how many times in our lives that we failed to ask at all or failed to have faith. I am not condemning you, if you doubt, we all have doubts, but when you do just think of all the things He has done for  you in the past. If you have never experienced a move of God in your life think of things in the Bible they are  actual events and not just stories. So this week let’s pray for a move of God in our nation and let’s remember that if we pray earnestly then God will move. It may not always be the way we want Him to move but he will move. Also this week, I want us to not just ask God for what we want and need, but praise Him for all He has done and all He will do.

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Weekly Dive Deeper

He can use even the bad days

This week I want to start off with some verses, Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. But striking a reef,  they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land. After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.  Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed. Acts 27:39-‬44, 28:1‭-‬10 Most people in Paul’s position right now would have been asking God why they were going through such struggles. He was in prison, on a prison ship on the way to Rome, shipwrecked, almost killed by the guards, and  bitten by a viper. I mean was Paul having a bad week or what, but Paul was going through all of this and yet, he was not like woe is me, no he keeps picking up sticks to help keep the fire going. He was probably also sharing his faith with the other prisoners and natives. We can see from these verses that Paul had found favor in the eyes of the centurion. I think this is because Paul had converted the centurion to christianity with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is the same person we talked about last week who was killing and imprisoning christians all over Israel. We can see how God used Paul’s bad week to reach the native people on this island. Here are my thoughts on why I think that he was able to reach the native people for Christ, consistently throughout the New Testament when there is healing, people believe in Jesus and come to know Him. From what I know of Paul he would have counted his years in prison as a win, if even one of the people came to know Jesus. A lot of us feel like 2020 has been a rough year, maybe God is trying to let you reach someone who would not have  listened to you in 2019,  but will listen to you because of the uncertainty of 2020. So this week share the good news of Jesus with those who God puts in your path, rather they are  in person or on the internet. A great way to do this would be by sharing this or another christian blog or sermon that shares the gospel with your unsaved friends or family.  If you do not know Jesus you can know Him today by admitting  that you are a sinner, by believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and confessing and accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. 

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Weekly Dive Deeper

Are you spiritually blind

This week I want to start off with some verses, But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”  The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.  Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying,  and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. Acts 9:1‭-‬19 Saul was a religious leader and later in his life he would write that he did everything he could to earn his salvation, he was the poster boy of what a jew was supposed to be. Saul thought he was as close as anyone could be to God, but as God showed him on the path to Damascus that he was spiritually blind by physically blinding him. So no matter who you are, whether you feel like you’re as close as you can be to God or you feel like you are too bad to come to God,  remember that Saul was killing and imprisoning the Christians all over Israel. And yet God came looking for him to be the biggest evangelist of his time, he would reach people of all races. So no matter who you are, reading or listening to this, He has come looking for you. He wants to know you and He has a plan for you, it may not be what you imagined for yourself, but you will be fulfilled with your life because that is what He made you for.  So this week no matter who you are, know that He wants to know you and He has a plan for your life. If you are reading this or listening, know that He came looking for you. He loves you and wants to know you, no matter what you have done or who you are.

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Weekly Dive Deeper

Jesus asked Do you love Me

This week I want to start off with some verses, When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.  Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”  (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:15‭-‬19 In these verses Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him, the exact number Peter denied Jesus. I think sometimes in our lives Jesus is asking do you love Me, what will your answer be? He asks us if we love Him when He offers us salvation. He loved you enough to die for you, do you love Him enough to have a relationship with Him? Jesus asks do you love Me enough to share the gospel and also when He reveals His plans for you. So what will your response to Jesus be, will you say you love Him and be prepared for what He asks or will you choose to walk away from the question, which is so easy to do in today’s world. It is so easy to do because when we hear the question we can run to distractions and drown out His voice. Probably days before this interaction the disciples were questioning what they were going to do with their lives, now that Jesus was gone. Would they go back to their old lives that they had lived just three years ago before being called, which now probably felt like a distant memory. Because when you meet Jesus how can your life ever be the same. It’s not that we will not fall, but we must get back up. After this passage Peter knew what He was going to do with the rest of his life, he was going to teach and lead the church. Pray and See what your path is with Jesus and He will make your path straight. This week maybe Jesus is asking if you love Him. Or possibly your answer is  that you do not know Him or you have questions about your future, bring them to Jesus and let Him guide you to the path He has for you. Whoever you are and wherever you are in your faith, come to Him and even in these uncertain times you can be on the sturdiest rock ever.