DAY 21 – DEEPEN MY LOVE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Heiden Ratner

“37 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 22:37–40”

Once upon a time there was a group of Pharisees (the religious elite of that day) who conspired against Jesus to “test” Him. They identified a lawyer on their team and sent him out of the bullpen to try and catch Jesus up in His words. This Pharisaic lawyer then mustered up enough boldness to ask Jesus: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36) At this point, I can imagine the other Pharisees giving each other fist pounds and discreet high-fives, thinking they finally stumped King Jesus. However, what happens next is powerful and still holds implications for us today.

Jesus looked at the lawyer and calmly replied: 37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-38) I know, deep, right? Jesus decided to sum up all 613 Old Testament laws with one word: Love. Love for God and love people. Essentially, Jesus was teaching that we need to go deeper in our love.

Think about these phrases: “All your heart, all your soul, all your mind.” Unless you can say with integrity you love like that – you need to go deeper.  Christ went on to add: “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” As if loving the Lord with everything in us wasn’t enough already, Jesus added the fact that we need to go deeper in our love for our neighbors. When we love the ways that Jesus calls us to love, we provide a powerful display of the love of Christ through us, while also giving evidence to what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus. (John 13:34) Together, let’s go deeper today in our love!

ACTION STEP: Read 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 and wherever you see the word love, replace it with your name. Take time to read the Scriptures out loud with you name inserted. identify areas within the text that would not totally be truthful for your life. Begin writing those items down, praying over them on a consistent basis, and get some accountability to help you grow in the areas listed.

PRAYER: Father, we come before You in Jesus name, by the power of the Holy Spirit, asking that You take us deeper in love. Help us grow in our love for You, O Lord, as well as in our love for our neighbors. I pray we would be defined less by hate and criticism, and more by the way we honor and love people in our church and those outside of it, as well. We need You to produce this love within us. We pray You will continue to take us deeper in love! In Jesus name, amen!

DAY 20 – DEEPEN MY ENDURANCE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Ilsy Bussey

““1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV”

In 2007 I decided to run in a marathon. I had never run in one before, but it was always a dream of mine. Twenty-six point two miles was a lot of miles, and although I was a runner, I had never taken on the task of running for that long. I realized that I would need some intense training – I was going to need to build up some endurance. So, like Forrest Gump, I just started running! My training happened over six months, and the miles increased slowly and steadily. Every week the training got harder and harder, but as race day approached, I felt “ready,” and I was enthusiastic about finally competing in the race. 

I did cross the finish line on race day, but not without some hurdles and hurts along the way. As hard as the training was, I realized that had I not trained so hard, there was no way I could have finished the race. 

When I read Hebrews 12:1-2, I think back to that day: I ran with light clothing, I prepared a hydration pack, and many supporters were on the sidelines cheering us on. Even though it was painful, and I sustained injuries, I still finished the race by God’s grace. 

Where are you at in your journey? Are you in training? I know it’s hard but keep pushing yourself! You can do it! It is preparing you to finish the race. Are you currently in the marathon? I know it is hard but keep going! It is so worth it when you cross the finish line! Don’t get discouraged. Instead, like Jesus, whose focus was on the joy that was set before him, take the eyes of your heart and look to Jesus, the founder and perfector of your faith. He is the prize! He is worth it!  

ACTION STEP: 

  1. Watch “Running – Sermon Jam – John Piper” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKQwxni_3as
  2. Identify some “weight” in your life that you can eliminate to help you run better. 
  3. Read Romans 8:18 and be encouraged!

PRAYER: God, please give me the endurance I need to run this race of the Christian life. I need you to give me the grace I need to show a heart posture that is pleasing to you because sometimes that race is painful. Help me to focus my spiritual eyes on you as I run because you are my prize and my truest joy! You are so worth it!

DAY 19 – DEEPEN MY PEACE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Jacki Ramirez

““Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” - 2 Thessalonians 3:16, ESV”

If your day is anything like mine, then you are probably suffering from running in the never-ending rat race that we call life. My days start early to get ready for work, I usually stay a little longer at work to avoid falling further behind, then I rush home to make dinner and spend time with my family. Before you know it, I’m two hours past my bed-time and I’m rushing to finish up whatever it is that I’m doing to get some much needed sleep, but it never seems to be enough.

On top of that, I’m constantly being bombarded with messages of strife, uncertainty and hatred. Between the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and political chaos there is very little in this life to bring me peace. It’s no wonder that I along with millions of others suffer from anxiety.

My life seems to demand so much of me, that I can rarely find time for myself, and more importantly find time for the Lord. Most times, I feel like my life is in chaos. So much so that my husband got me license plates which say “Rebolu” which is Cuban for whirlwind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well versed in time-management techniques and understand the importance of work-life balance. I’ve read the books on meditation and relaxation, but none of them seem to offer me the peace that I desire. I find that the only real time I experience peace is when I turn to Jesus. When I put my faith and my fears on his shoulders and release them. I long for more of those moments. I want to go deeper in peace, and only Jesus can provide that for me. I know that I need to make better choices and be more intentional about carving out time to spend with Jesus and experience more peace in life. I’ve done my best to make that a habit in these 21 days of prayer and fasting, and I have already experienced more peace.

ACTION STEP: What is causing anxiety in your life? Are there areas where you can reallocate your time to take your worries to Jesus? (Maybe during your daily commute, a break at work, while you cook dinner, etc.) I encourage you to spend more time taking your worries to Jesus, and experience the peace that only Jesus can provide.

PRAYER: Lord, we love you and we give you thanks. Your presence Lord provides an incomparable feeling of peace. I pray Lord that you continue to guide my steps and my days so that I seek you more, and release my worries, burdens and fears.  Jesus you are my rock, and my steady hand. My comforter. Help me go deeper in peace. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.  

DAY 18 – DEEPEN MY PATIENCE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Shelby Nash

““The end of something is better than it’s beginning. Patience is better than pride.” Ecclesiastes 7:8”

In today’s day and age sometimes in our lives we have a tendency to move so fast. Since we’re moving fast paced we want everything else to move just as quickly. We want instant coffee, instant success, faster traffic, and high(er) speed internet. It’s understandable because we have goals, errands to run and an endless list on our todo list. But the trouble with this mentality is that some things take more time than we are willing to spend in order to come about.

In Genesis, we are introduced to a man named Abraham who God promised would be the Father of many nations. Not only were Abraham and his wife old, but the two had no children, so who would be the offspring to which Abraham would father? It was an impossible task but Abraham believed God would do what he had promised. Although Abraham and Sara believed God, they became impatient in their waiting. They decided to take matters into their own hands and Sara gave her servant to Abraham so she would bear him children. Although Abraham soon became a father it wasn’t in accordance to God’s will. God had something bigger planned, something more beautiful than what Abraham could cultivate on his own. All that was needed was more patience. 

From the story of Abraham we learn that we can’t throw Gods will in the microwave to be done quicker! Desiring to take things into our own hands instead of waiting on God is impatience- a form of pride in disguise.

Sometimes having patience is difficult, especially when there’s an anticipation for things that are to come. Whether in our relationships with friends or family, or even with God. But we should daily choose to rest in God’s promises knowing that He will do exactly what He said He would…In…His…time.

ACTION STEP: Spend time seeking the Lord to see if there is anything you have been impatient with. Ask Him for forgiveness and for Him to give you a new outlook on whatever it is. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit so continually abide in God’s Word and in prayer so that as you do, your Patience will be developed.

PRAYER: Oh sovereign Lord, thank You even when I am unknowing that  You are all knowing. Thank You that when I am doubtful You are definite. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Lord help me to trust You. Help me to be patient in the midst of uncertainty. I pray that I won’t pick back up what I have laid at your feet, but instead empower me by your Spirit to lean into you more, in patience and in trust. In Jesus’ faithful and mighty name I pray, amen!

DAY 17 – DEEPEN MY TIME IN THE WORD

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Jorge Hernandez

““For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 ESV”

Are you hearing from God?

There are many voices we listen to each day. The one voice we hear most is our voice in our mind. We also hear many other voices throughout the day. You turn on the TV, social media, YouTube, our family, and friends are voicing their opinions. We can find ourselves overwhelmed at times and lose peace by letting in all the different voices of the world speaking to our hearts and minds. 

So the questions I’m asking myself are, “Am I hearing from God today? Is God speaking into my life today? Am I resting in God’s promises today? Is God’s word guiding me today? Is God’s Word “living and active” in my life today?”

To hear most effective from God, we need to deepen our time in God’s word. I believe God wants to be the single voice instructing us on how to think and how to function in this world as His children. HE desires for us to look to Him and hear from Him, so we’re not confused by the voices of this world and the enemy of our souls. The writer of Hebrews describes this relationship with God’s word as, “living and active.” We can have a living and active relationship with the creator of the universe through daily abiding in God’s Word. 

ACTION STEP: Position yourself. Position yourself over a section of scripture today. Position your posture to be ready to hear from God’s word. Position yourself in a time and space where it’s quiet. Position yourself to learn and receive from the very words of God today.

PRAYER: Father in Jesus name by the power of the Holy Spirit I thank You for your word. I thank You that Your very words in Scripture are alive and active ready to speak and transform my life. I thank You for Your truthful conviction in Your word that pierces me and transforms me from the inside out. Father may You activate my desire for me to open Your word and hear from You today. Help me to see Your heart in the scriptures. Help me to rest in Your promises and make me look more like Jesus by being a doer of Your word. In Jesus name, I pray amen.

DAY 16 – DEEPEN MY HUMILITY

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Andres Ramirez

““Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” - Philippians 2:3, ESV”

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of this world. You succeed in sports, in school, in business, and in life, and people keep commending you on your accomplishments. Soon enough, you’ve allowed the world to convince you that you are responsible for your success, and you forget that your gifts are a blessing from God meant for His glory and not yours.  The awards, the scholarships, the promotions, and the relationships begin to take priority in your life, and you continue to lose sight of the purpose of your God given gifts. You now become fully convinced that it’s you who’s awesome, and you begin to rely less on the Lord and more on yourself. That is when the road to ruin begins.

Sadly, this is the story of one too many. We lose our dependence on God and we lose track of our relationship with God. There is nothing wrong with success, or in taking pride in your success, so long as you keep perspective and humility that it is God working through you for His glory.  I’ve lost sight of that many times throughout my walk with Jesus, and have been fortunate to have grounded people to remind me that all my blessings are because of the Lord.

Staying humble is not easy living in a world that prizes success and especially in a city that promotes excess. However, it is not possible to deepen your relationship with God without increasing your humility. To understand and accept that there must be more of Him and less of you. This is a choice that I make everyday. To wake up and thank the Lord that it is His will that I am awake, and thank Him for allowing me to use the gifts He has blessed me with for His glory and not mine.

ACTION STEP: Take a moment to think about all the times that you took credit for something God did in your life. Those moments when you dusted off your shoulders, and thought you were amazing. Was that really you, or was that God working through you? Did you use God’s gifts for your glory or His? Regardless of what you think, the Lord knows what’s in your heart. Ask the Lord to deepen your humility and to change your mindset so that you are driven to use your gifts for Him and not for you.

PRAYER: Lord, I thank you for the gifts that you have bestowed upon me. I acknowledge that you are the awesome almighty one. I pray that you deepen my humility, and remind me that I all my success comes from you. Help me focus my mind, body and soul to use my gifts for your glory. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

DAY 15 – DEEPEN MY HUNGER

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Jeannie Hodges

“"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” - Matthew 5:6, ESV”

Think back to a time when you were so hungry that you couldn’t stop thinking about something to eat, or had a thirst for something cool and refreshing on a hot summer’s day.  Remember how the hunger and thirst took over your thoughts. Sometimes our thoughts and desires are so strong they can cloud our lives.  Webster’s dictionary defines both hunger and thirst with having a strong desire,  a craving or urgent need for something to satisfy us.  What is satisfying you?  What do you hunger and thirst for?  

In this scripture, we are given an understanding of the spiritual meaning for hungry and thirst and how it’s key for us to live.  He lets us know that our hunger for righteousness will be satisfied by Him when we live according to His will.  How are you living?  Are you living in your own desires? What does it mean to be satisfied?  The definition of “satisfied” is to be content and not need anything more. We can trust God that He will give us what we need to be satisfied. How do we get truly satisfied? In the time we spend with Him, our hunger for righteousness will be satisfied. What is feeding your thoughts and desires?  Is it things of the world or things of God.  God wants time with us! He craves time with us.  He will fill us spiritually if our hunger is for Him. God can satisfy you.  John 6:35  says “I am the bread of life, Jesus told them. No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again”. 

Allow God’s word to fill your thoughts and desires. He wants you to grow deeper in relationship with Him.  Spend time with Him today, and you can find righteousness and be satisfied.  

Everyday we have a physical need to eat to survive but we greater need to have time with God. Eating only once a week would be hard on us physically, likewise spending time with God once a week would leave us anemic as well!  He’s ready. Come ready to be satisfied.

ACTION STEP: When you’re ready take a seat at the table to join God; He is waiting for you.  Are you hungry?  Let’s eat!  Start today. Create a daily pattern. Even if it’s one single verse, take time to focus on how precious the time you are spending with Him is. Pray that He will set a hunger and thirst in you for more time with Him. Matthew 5:6. Exclaims “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”!

PRAYER: Thank you Father for this day!  Thank you for your Word!  Father, we come to you and ask you to place a desire for more time with You. A hunger that we can only satisfy through you. Oh, how we need you.  Please allow us to go deeper in our time spent with you.  I pray that we will be the righteous examples to the world around us.  We love you and thank you again for this day.

DAY 14 – DEEPEN MY HEART FOR THE NATIONS

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Wilson Morales

““After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" - Revelation 7:9-10, ESV”

I love the fact that I’ve been blessed to travel and see many places, each with their unique history, unique culture, unique language, unique cuisine, and so much to unpack and explore. Going somewhere far away from home and exploring a new place is a joy that I have missed, especially in this season. However, it is such a strong reminder that God has placed a deep love for the nations in my heart.

The Revelation passage shows us that heaven is full of people who may look different from us, who experience daily life different from us, and who’s story can be entirely different from ours! However, in that moment, we see a huge gathering of people with shared vision, shared purpose, and a shared message. The right mindset to have is to appreciate what makes us different, see the beauty in all people, and realize that we share more with each other than we realize. If our Father in Heaven loved the world so much He gave His only Son, we should love each other just as much.

ACTION STEP: Allow culture to be the bridge between you and people. Ask the Lord for a heart for others, especially people from different backgrounds, and be intentional with connecting with them and loving them. Find out commonalities (such as appreciation for Jordans, coffee, or food), and grow deeper in relationship with them.

PRAYER: Father, I pray that you deepen my heart for the nations. You’re not just the God of the United States, but you are the God of the entire earth! Because you loved the entire earth, You gave Your son so that we may have eternal life if we believed in You. I pray that my heart would reflect yours, that because you love the entire world, I would love the entire world. Help me love those who don’t look like me, and use me to make You known across the nations. Amen!

DAY 13 – DEEPEN MY ABILITY TO FORGIVE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Melissa Diep

““Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” - Ephesians 4:32”

One of Satan’s strategies in keeping us in bondage is unforgiveness. When the root of unforgiveness is planted in our hearts it gives the enemy a foothold to trap us in our pain and to steal our joy. God gave us the perfect example of what forgiveness looks like through His perfect and pure son, Jesus who died for our sins even before we could ever ask for His forgiveness.   

I’ve gone through many hurts in the past. I’ve gone through the pain of betrayal, the pain of family turning their back on me, the pain of being physically abused. That pain turned into anger and led to many sleepless nights and anxiety. My biggest pain was finding out on the eve of my 21st birthday that my dad was having an affair with a woman who was my age. As we confronted this truth on the morning of my birthday, my dad had decided to leave me, my mom and my brother. This pain turned into anger and bitterness. As the oldest child, I took it upon myself to care for my family financially, to care for my mom and my younger brother. I was in the deep end of my pain and anger that all I had left in my heart for my dad was hate. When I let Jesus into my life, He wanted to take that pain away from me through forgiveness. The heaviness of that pain and hatred and everything ugly that came with it was lifted through forgiveness. I no longer needed to hear my father ask for forgiveness, I gave it freely just the way Jesus did for me. Along with the forgiveness in my heart, Jesus placed an urging for me to reach out to my dad and meet him exactly where he is at. To this day, my dad has never apologized but I can honestly say that there’s been so much healing that I never thought possible.  God gave me the strength to forgive as well as the strength to reach out and build a relationship with my dad. 

ACTION STEP: Today as you pray, ask God to examine your heart for areas of unforgiveness. Be still and acknowledge the hurt and pain. Ask God for strength to forgive and to love the way He does. If you are extra bold, reach out to the person who may have caused you pain and try to rebuild that relationship. 

PRAYER: Father, we thank you for your mercy, forgiveness, and the greatness of your sacrifice through Jesus Christ! Father, search my heart for areas where unforgiveness might still be hiding. Bring your light into those areas God and help me to forgive freely. Father, less of me and more of You, especially in the area of forgiveness. Help me to release this unforgiveness over to you that I may walk in freedom and in intimacy with you. 

DAY 12 – DEEPEN MY COMMITMENT

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Joseph Gibbons

““Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬”

In my personal life one of the greatest gifts that 2020 gave me was the ability to clarify and deepen my commitment.  Every time my plans were shattered I was forced to re-evaluate my level of commitment. It was frustrating for sure, every time we thought we had something figured out the plans changed. I’m sure you experienced similar things in 2020 or maybe even already in 2021.

What the Lord revealed to me in those moments was that I was far more committed to activity for God than a relationship with God. And by being more focused on the activity, I was actually committing my work to myself.  God was teaching me that he wanted me to commit everything I did and who I was to Him.

His desire was for the work of my hands to flow from a relationship with Him. The funny thing is that the more I trusted that Jesus wanted my commitment level to be to Him, He released me to do more for him. He began establishing plans I would have never dreamed of. He open doors I could’ve never opened on my own. He gave me a peace in my commitment because I recognized my commitment was not contingent on my plan but His purpose.

ACTION STEP: Identify the ways you’ve committed to God. Write them out. Beside each action write out how this flows from your relationship with God. For example: I serve on the Dream Team as a greeter. I do this because I’m reminded that God greets me with his love even in my darkest moments.

PRAYER: Jesus I love you so much. I love you more than I love to accomplish great things. I realize that nothing I can do on my own could ever compare to what I can do with You! Show me where I can deepen my commitment to you today. Show me how I can commit to you rather than complete a task. Let this be the year that my commitment goes deeper because my love runs deeper! All this by the power of the Jesus, Amen!