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Weekly Dive Deeper

What is the fruit of your root?

This week I want to start off with some verses, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,  for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:43‭-‬45  In this passage Jesus uses an example of fruit for those who are saved and those who are not, that we will know them by their fruit which are their actions and their words. It is not the fruit that controls whether you are saved or not, it is the heart that makes the fruit the way it is. A person who is not of God can only make bad fruit, they can only mask the bad fruit to look like good fruit for so long. This week I want everyone who reads or listens to examine their words and actions to determine what kind of fruit they are producing. We can think our fruits are good, but we need to examine the heart to determine why we are doing what we are doing and saying. Is it to put on a persona to make ourselves feel good or is it to bless other people because we are over flowing with the Holy Spirit. So this week examine not only the action and the words you say, but also the root of why you are doing them. And let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to overflow in our lives not that we may have the glory, but that others may see our actions and glorify Jesus.

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Our limitless God

This week I want to start off with some verses, He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”  And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.  And he went about among the villages teaching. Mark 6:1‭-‬6 In this passage Jesus goes back to His hometown not just to visit His family, but also to teach them and show them that He was the Son of God. He taught in the synagogues. They marveled at His wisdom, saying is this not Joseph’s Son who used to help him around the carpenter shop. They also marveled at the miracles He had done in their midst. It says they took offense to Him, so that He could not do any mighty works, except that he healed a few that were sick. It also says that He marveled because of their unbelief. I think so often in the church and our society today we put Jesus in a box and say He can do this, but don’t touch this. We limit God to what He can do and forget that He is God. He can move in miraculous ways, but because we have preconceived notions about what God can and cannot do, that we limit His power in our lives based on what He has done in the past. And we miss the blessing of seeing Him move in our lives, because we limit God. It is not that God could not move, it is that He wants you to believe and then see, not to see and then believe. He could have moved in miraculous ways, but they already had Him in a box. He was a carpenter’s son and that was all they could see. I think a lot of us treat God like a genie, we call on Him when we need something, but the rest of the time we keep Him in a bottle and we don’t let Him come out to move in our lives during the good times. So this week let’s tear down our preconceived beliefs about God and allow Him to move in the good and bad times. Let’s get to know Him for who He is and seek Him in prayer and through His word.

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Weekly Dive Deeper

A cultural river

This week I want to start off with some verses, But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them  in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake I consecrate myself,  that they also may be sanctified  in truth.   “I do not   ask for these only, but also for those   who will believe in me through their word,  that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:13‭-‬21  In these verses Jesus is praying to His Heavenly Father about us and I think every christian should read the entire chapter of John 17, it is amazing what Jesus says about us in this prayer He prayed on our behalf. He says that we need to be sanctified by His word and that He does not want to take us out of this world, but that He wants to keep us from the evil one. This is the verse I am going to focus on for the rest of this blog. He does not want us to be separate from the culture (the world), but for us to be kept from the evil one who influences culture and yes the world may hate you, but He will be with you. An example I thought of was being in a boat on the river surrounded by boats, this is a huge river with lots of branches. The boaters choose their paths by what influential people say they should do, they are ahead of everybody else, so others watch to see what they do and copy them. The river is the culture and as christians God did not call us to get out of the river and set ourselves apart from the people in the river. He wants us to think differently instead of racing  to the front and trying to be a cultural influencer, instead He called us to see the people who are  around us in the river. It is not wrong to be in the front if God placed you there. Instead of trying to impose the gospel on them, we should let them see the way we live out the gospel. Just like the old saying, we might be the only Bible they ever read. One reason I chose a river for this illustration is that it is always moving just like our culture. We don’t have to follow culture but as Christian we should try to be cultural guardians. Make sure that if something the culture says is right and it is not right in God’s eyes, then we should speak out about it. So this week remember to show the light of Jesus to others, instead of trying to reach your corporate or social goals, see who you can reach right where you are. No matter how small it feels, it still makes an impact. If every christian lives their lives like that, then imagine what our world would look like if we lived by Jesus’s prayer. 

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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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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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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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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.

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Pointing to Jesus

This week I want to start off with some verses, ‘Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. ‘ Acts 3:1-10 In this passage Peter and John healed a lame man lying at the gate which is called Beautiful, he was asking for alms. This man had been lying at the gate for a long time and everyone who was at the temple that day probably had seen him many times. Peter and John were going for the hour of prayer, they were seeking God and  they were able to bless this man who had never walked. Think of all the people that were at the temple who believed because they saw that this man was healed and believed in Jesus. But the religious leaders of the day questioned the man and his family because they thought that it was a hoax. See the spotlight was on Peter, John, and the lame man and they all point to Jesus, who will you point to, will you point to  yourself or will you point to Jesus. If you live your life like everyone is watching then when someone is watching, they will ask you what is the hope that you have within you? Then you can share the gospel with them. Another thing is that if Peter and John had not stopped and had compassion on him and if they were not seeking Jesus, then they would not have been able to bless the lame man. If you are not seeking Jesus who will you miss that Jesus has put in your path to bless. So this week see who God puts in your path to bless and seek God. If this is the first time you have heard of Jesus, know that he wants to know you and to have a personal relationship with you.

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Turn your chains into blessings

This week I want to start off with some verses, About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.  But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. Acts 16:25‭-‬40 In these verses Paul and Silas are thrown in jail for preaching the gospel, but being in jail did something that their preaching could not do in Macedonia, it helps start the church. When Paul was thrown into jail he did not just preach with his voice, but also with his actions. They were beaten with rods before these verses and then they were thrown into the inter prison, which is the most secure place and they were singing hymns while being chained up in a foreign city. Imagine being one of the other prisoners who were trying to sleep and because they were in the center of the jail, everyone in the jail could hear them. The reason Paul was able to sing while in prison, was that being imprisoned could be used to share the gospel. When we see what we think is holding us back, it could really be where Jesus has placed us. The purpose not to be a burden but to be a blessing to others or to share the gospel. So this week instead of thinking about what is holding us back let’s see who we can help or share the gospel with. Also this Week let’s Stop seeing our barriers as a burden, but see them as a way to bless others and to share the gospel.

Stop seeing our barriers as a burden, but see them as a way to bless others and to share the gospel.

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What ladder are you climbing?

This week I want to start off with some verses, we who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:1‭-‬7 These verses tell us how to be an example of Jesus, not for our glory, but for His glory. So much of today’s culture is to try to get to the top of the social and economic ladder to find happiness. But when we arrive we do not find happiness, we find that we are less happy than when we were at the bottom of the ladder. It is fine to be at the top of the ladder, but if you are trying to make that your life’s goal, then you will find that it is lonely at the top. Because we have been just trying to please ourselves and not trying to think of the needs of others and serving as Christ served us. But if we are always seeking to go higher up the ladder, then church will become a religious obligation instead of a rejuvenation of the fire within us. So this week let’s strive to break cultural trends and instead of seeking happiness from making our way up the ladder, we should see the needs of people around us. See if we can help them and shine the light of Jesus through helping others. Showing them that Jesus is still in control even with everything going on in today’s world. Also, this week let’s set an example to others of who Jesus is and not be a stumbling block on their way to Jesus. Be in the world, but not of the world.