Preparing with Hope April 16, 2023

disciple: someone who follows Jesus and leads others to do the same.

We're beginning a new series this week.  We will be studying some verses or sections in the Bible that have often been misunderstood.  My "hope" for this series is that we will not only discover what the verses were intended to say but hopefully we will all learn more how to study the Bible better.  I hope you enjoy this 10-week series.


It's really important to start by listening.  God desperately wants to hear how your day is going, but He also wants us to listen to Him.  the Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to "guard your heart, for everything you do flows from" this.  How do you do that?  By taking time throughout the day...and pause and listen to God.  Sometimes, for me this can take a long time.  When life is busy and chaotic.  Sometimes, it can happen quickly.  But pausing and aligning out heart to God is a necessity for all of us.  
Especially as we study the Bible.  the Bible is a letter written by God.  And when we become a follower of Jesus, God places His Spirit within us.  When we pause and align our heart to God we allow the Spirit to be heard as we read the Bible.  The Spirit helps us to understand what was the original intent of the letter.  And what God is wanting to say to us today too.  


Read all the way through this week's verses.  Matthew 22:15-22.  What questions do you have?  Don't try and answer them at first.  Just write them down.  What do you think is happening here?  Who are the characters in this story?  Do you know anything about the audience that this book was written to?  Some of these questions you might know the answer to right away.  Others you may still wonder about.  Don't try and find the answer yet.  Just write down all of the questions that you have.  After you have written all of the questions that you down, got back and read the verses again from a different translation.  Did this help to clarify anything for you?  I sometimes like to read from the New International Version first.  (This is the version we use most Sundays.) But then I like to go to the English Standard Version.  This is a more literal translation from the original language.  (Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew  and the New Testament was written in Greek originally.  I will then usually read from either The Passion Translation or The Amplified Version of the Bible.  Both of these are usually add some important details to help us understand what is being said.  


Now, after you have read through these verses at least three times, see if you can answer any of the questions you previously wrote.  If you don't know the answers, begin searching for them.  Many Student and Study Bibles will include answers to the questions that you have.  Two websites I used are  called Blue Letter Bible and Biblegateway.  They both have respected tools to help you study the Bible.  If you still have questions that you can't find the answer to, don't hesitate to post them in the comments below.  I'll do my best to try and respond to them and I hope others will as well.  And maybe I'll answer your question on Sunday.  


As you study the Bible, it's intended to change you.  Don't just read the Bible to read it.  God loves us so much that He wants to change the way we THINK and ACT.  So, how is God wanting you to allow these verses to change you?  Is there a way that God is wanting to change the way you interact with others?  Talk?  Think?  Don't rush through this step in the process.  This may be THE most important step.  

Get Ready for Sunday

Alright, now let's all get ready for Sunday.   We prepare for Sunday by praying now.  Whatever day of the week you're reading this, start praying now.  Pray for all the staff that will be serving on Sunday.  Pray for all the volunteers.  (Did you know that on a "normal" Sunday, we usually have at least 25-30 people volunteering?)  Pray for them.  Pray for our worship team.  Pray for our children's ministry team.  Pray for our Connect team.  
As you're praying, pray for more volunteers.  The Bible says that the Harvest is ready but pray for people who are willing to do the work.    God wants to bring people into His family.  We have to be ready and willing to welcome them.  Serve them.  Love them.  Invite them.  So, be praying for them  today.  
Pray for your heart to hear God.  Pray for an eagerness to encounter God.  He will join us.  I hope you're ready to join Him this Sunday!

Matthew 22:15-22

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.


Suzanne Charity - April 14th, 2023 at 12:25pm

I like the way Jesus came right out and spoke the truth to them that He was aware of what they were trying to do. Though He is a loving God He still let them know that He knew their thoughts. Really it is love to hold the people accountable for their actions to hopefully bring them into alignment with God's will.

Suzanne Charity - April 15th, 2023 at 8:12am

The Passion Translation really helped!

“Jesus said, “Precisely, for the coin bears the image of the emperor Caesar. Well, then, you should pay the emperor what is due to the emperor. But because you bear the image of God, give back to God all that belongs to him,” Matthew 22:21 Passion Translation.

Wow! That's amazing! I like the last part of this verse, that because we bear God's image we should give back to God all that belongs to Him, which is EVERYTHING of us belongs to Him!