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Weekly Dive Deeper

Change in direction

This week I want to start off with some verses, ‘When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” ‘ Acts 28:16-20 

This week I want you to encourage you to look at things that you think are holding you back from what God called you to do, it could be what God has placed on your life, not to hold you back, but to show you a different way of doing things. Paul may have thought that his ministry was over, but it was because of his jail cells that He wrote twenty eight percent of the New Testament, more than any other person. He was also able to reach all the guards that were supposed to be guarding him, instead they were really Paul’s captive audience for hours, so he could share the gospel with them. 

Maybe you feel like that the pandemic is holding you back from what God called you to do. But I want you to think is He calling you to minister to your family or whoever you are with during this time? Perhaps He is calling you to write like Paul did when He was trapped indoors or maybe He is calling you to something else, that this time has allowed you to do, that you would not have been able to do without the pandemic. He is calling you during this time to grow closer to Him and close everything else out and spend more time in prayer and reading the Bible.

So this week, I want you to pray and see what God would have you to do during this time in our lives, whether it would be to minister and grow closer with your family or friends you are around, to write a blog, a book, or a podcast. Is He just drawing you closer to Him during this time? He could be calling you to spend your time another way, pray and ask Him what He would have you to do during this time in your life, whether you are still sheltered in place or out and about. See how He can use you during this time in your life and when it feels like something is holding you back, take a step back and look and see what or how you can help others right where you are.

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Weekly Dive Deeper

The power of looking back

This week we are going to discuss the power of looking back. So let’s start off with some verses, ‘That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. ‘ Luke 24:13-35 In this passage, Jesus comes to Cleopas and a friend and they do not recognize Him until He breaks bread with them, even though they walked with Him a long way. It was not until they looked back that they realized what God was doing on the that walk with them.  He was ministering to them and showing them what they had missed when reading and interpreting the scriptures. He showed them starting with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Just imagine being able to hear Jesus telling all the things prophesied about Himself and all the pictures of Him as you walked with Him, that would have been incredible. But, they did not see that it was Jesus while they were walking through it. They did not see it until they looked back over their walk with Jesus and they realized the importance of what they had experienced. I think this means there are times in our lives when we do not realize how He is using something in our lives to minister to us, until we look back and see that it was Him right there with us the entire time, even though at the time we could not see it yet. But there is also a danger in looking back over our lives, if we do not have the right perspective. We could start to dwell on things we have done in the past that God has called us out of and that can make us less productive, if we dwell on those things instead of dwelling on things of Christ. So this week I want to encourage you to look back for the times when Jesus was there in your life and you did not see Him while you were walking through it to see what He was teaching you.  I also want to encourage you that if you do not feel like God is with you during this season of your life, then make sure your heart is right with God and wait because in those seasons when we do not feel Him, that is when He is teaching us for the next season even though we can’t see Him yet.

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Weekly Dive Deeper

Nothing without love

This week I want to start off with some verses, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1-3‬ ‭In these verses Paul tells the Corinthians, if you do not have love, you have nothing and you have done nothing. In our world today we as a people seem to prefer hate to love, it is what drives clicks and that is why everywhere you look there seems to be hate. If you look at the trend it is mostly about hate and very little stories about someone loving a homeless person or  helping others or showing the love of Christ. It happens so little that when it does, it seems to get hate for the way they did it or what they were wearing.  So many people are stirring hate, whether over race, religion, or politics.  I think this week God wants to remind us that those things are earthly problems, that will not last forever and that love is the one emotion that will last forever. We seem to be interested in hate now, but at the root we all are looking to others for approval and for love when we should be looking for those things from Jesus. If you are a child of God, then there is nothing you can do to make God love you less or more than He does right now. For some people, you have been serving God because you are trying to get Him to love you more, but you can’t do anything to get Him to love you more. That does not mean that you should not serve Him, it means that you should serve Him more not seeking love, but because He loves you the most He could ever love you now. You should serve Him not to be seen by Him or anyone else for boasting rights, but so that others may see Him through you and so they can feel the love of Christ.  So many people are looking for someone to show them love, rather by giving them your time to come to know them or by meeting their needs. This week I want to encourage you to realize that we all need to feel love sometimes and so many people are hurting during this time, because 2020 has thrown off their gathering with their family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. This week I would also like to encourage you to show the love of Jesus to all you meet this week and to think about finding some way to serve Him this week whether online or in person.

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Weekly Dive Deeper

Are you His Hands and feet?

This week I want to start off with some verses, “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at a table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew‬ 9:9-13‬ In this passage Jesus calls Matthew, the Pharisees ask; why does Jesus hang around with those who are sinners and tax collectors, but Jesus says, “He came not for the righteous, but for the sinners and that a physician does not come to the healthy but for the sick”. This is why Jesus called a tax collector, typically tax collectors are known for being corrupt, because they control how much you were to be taxed and most would charge you more than the Romans ask for and keep the difference. They lived in larger houses with lots of money and protection, while under Roman authority most struggled and the people felt betrayed, because they were Roman by choice. Matthew left all that to be homeless and poor as He followed Jesus. What will you have to leave or to give up to follow Jesus? I have heard people say that they had done too much wrong  to come to Jesus, but if you think you have, then you are probably exactly who God is looking for. He is looking for sinners to choose to follow Him and become His hands and feet and show His light to the world. So this week no matter who you are, Jesus wants you to follow Him and to know Him. If you think you are too far from His grace you are not, He is in the practice of saving sinners.

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Weekly Dive Deeper

Greatest Celebration

This week I want to start off with some verses, “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭2:11‬; “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:20‬ There are several things we can learn from these verses. The first things we can learn from the wise men and shepherds is that Jesus came for all, from the magi who pick kings in a foreign land, to a shepherd who is not even allowed into a synagogue  (what today is a church) to worship God or make sacrifices. God sent angels down into one of the greatest celebrations in human history and this is the  closest any mortal has  come to being in the throne room of heaven. The wise men got to come into the presence of Jesus, it was probably sometime after the shepherds visited, based on the age of the children that King Herod had killed, after the wise men left. So, no matter who you are Jesus came for you, no matter what you have done, He loves you and wants to know you. Another thing we can learn from the shepherds is that they were some of the least in their communities, the outcasts that could not even come into the synagogue because they were considered unclean and the fact that they often were so poor they would not be able to clean themselves. Angels came down and brought them the good news, to the least first, they did not go to the kings or  the religious leaders, but came to the shepherds first, who were not even welcome in a synagogue. So this week if you do not know Jesus, there could not be a better time to know Him than here at Christmas time. You can click the link below to find out more about coming to know Jesus.  Also this week I want you to think about how God wants everyone to know Him and we should tell everyone about Him. Because as I discussed last week, I do not think in our lifetime there has ever been a time when people have been more open to hearing the gospel. 

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Weekly Dive Deeper

Seeing the needs

This week I want to start off with some verses, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:25. Some people have been thinking about what a post COVID world looks like and I get it, I am looking forward to that day too, but we as a church and as Christians have an opportunity to step up during COVID. Which may not be in person,  but there are other ways we can show up and be a light to our community. It is estimated that 1 in 6 Americans, that means 20 million Americans over 16 percent of the entire population needs food and water. We as the church can step up and meet these needs, maybe not all of us are doing well financially during these times but the ones who are can step up and meet these needs. We also don’t need to just meet their physical hunger, but also their spiritual hunger, people are looking for hope and we have it. I believe that this is the most open people may have ever been in our lifetime, because we are in a pandemic  and it is Christmas time. Jesus came over 2000 years ago in a manager to die on the cross for the sins of the world. I think this time more than any other that people are open to talking about God. Because they are all struggling with the question of where am I going to go when I die. We have the answer to their question, we see their needs so we should go and fill both their spiritual and physical needs. Samaritan’s Purse has a feed the hungry program that is local and international, this is one way you can reach others with the gospel by meeting their needs. There will be a link below where you can donate. So this week I want you to pray and seek God to see how you can meet the needs of others. If you are going out share the gospel with others or share this blog or another Christian blog or podcast. 

https://www.samaritanspurse.org/donation-items/hunger-relief-programs/

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Weekly Dive Deeper

No longer slaves to sin

This week I want to start off with a verse, “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” ‭‭John‬ ‭8:34‬ ‭In this verse Jesus says that anyone who practices sin is a slave to it and according to Romans 3:23 we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So we are all slaves to sin, but back in Bible times there was something called the Year of Jubilee where all the slaves were freed every 7 years and were allowed to live as free men or women.  When Jesus came at Christmas, it was like we were on the eve of Jubilee for the slaves of sin, every year after Jesus died for our sins would be the Year of Jubilee and whenever you come to know Him you are free. But even back then some slaves chose not to go free and would stay and serve their masters. Some people decide not to accept the gift of salvation, because they want to keep serving the master of sin. I want to encourage you if you are reading or listening to this, He wants to know you and He wants to set you free from sin. The Year of Jubilee is now available to all slaves of sin. He came to set all of us free on that first Christmas over 2000 years ago. So why would anyone stay a slave to sin, when salvation is a free gift offered by God. This week I want you to make sure that you are no longer a slave to sin. If you want to know Him click here. If you are already saved I want to remind you to live like you are no longer a slave to sin, but as a free man or woman and on top of all of that you went from being a slave to sin to being a child of the King.