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19 entries from July 2016

Want To Know How To Pray For Real Results?

A few weeks ago I experienced a breakthrough in my faith walk. Breakthroughs are amazing but I find in my life they usually follow a difficult season. This was true once again for me. However, the result of persevering in faith through the challenges is astonishing. So my friends, if you are in the darkest part of your valley, press in to the Father, because the breakthrough is SO worth it.

This particular breakthrough increased my belief in the prayers that I utter for others. I began to really see powerful and immediate things change when I prayed for people.

Say what?

Being filled with a fresh anointing of faith and exuberance, I posted something to my Facebook wall about breakthrough and how I was walking in a fresh anointing of Holy Spirit fire. At the end of this post I asked a simply three-word question:

Who want’s prayer?

Within minutes, prayer requests began to appear. After a few hours there were 66 requests for prayer.

I learned something from these requests. Many of God’s children are beleaguered with relentless assaults from the demonic. Terrible health issues, children with addictions, financial worries and the list went on and on. These aren’t minor things but really challenging assaults.

Reading through them I was grieved. And then I got mad. Mad, at the enemy because his relentless nit picking keeps believers tied up in their own swirling world of problems, so much so that we can’t come up for air to see the concerns and needs of our neighbors, church, community and especially our country.

Additionally, I realized that many believers truly don’t know how to pray effectively. It’s not their fault it’s just sometimes believers need to battle the demonic oppression directly and many churches don’t teach their congregants how to do this well. In fact, several wrote me to say they didn’t know how to pray and thanked me for the example I shared with them.

I believe effective prayer consists of several attributes. And on August 10th, I will be teaching a LIVE class on how to pray effectively using the Word of God and through our identity as an image bearer of Christ.

To sign up, complete the following enrollment form: Praying the Word of God with Lynn Donovan

Two LIVE classes will be offered on the 10th. 12:30 pm and 5:00 pm PACIFIC. You can attend either or both. Content will be similar but often there will be variances because I follow the Holy Spirit leading.

By the way, I prayed online for all 66 requests and I KNOW God moved upon many.

So GLAD to be back among my SUMite family. I have SO much to share with you this month. Matthew 24, Daniel 9 and Revelation have come alive for me. It’s not scary stuff and SUMites, you are more than ready for all that these books contain. Anyone interested??? Stay tuned.

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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From The Archives: Those Pesky Elephants

I was waaaaay back in the archives and stumbled over this treasure written by our beloved Rosheeda Lee. For those of you who don't know Rosheeda, she was a popular and frequent guest writer here at SUM. She always led our community through our January fast with power and amazing intimacy. She passed away in a car accident while on her way to meet up with us at a conference. You can read about Rosheeda Lee Legacy. We love and adore her and I can't wait to see her in the Throne Room. We plan to hug and dance and sign together for at least 10,000 years. 

But today, I want to share her thoughts about the foxes and the elephants. This was written during our fasting.

Have a great weekend my friends... I will be back with a TON of fantastic thoughts, classes and insights on August 1st. Love you so much, Lynn

Okay: Rosheeda Lee

Song of Solomon 2:15 "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom."

Corsac fox Song of Songs is such a great love story. The words, the passion, the utter romance, and suspense of it all. Grace, mercy, and unfailing love. All that is in this one little book. It really IS a great love story.

But it isn't THE greatest love story in my life. Not by far. And I hope that it won't be for you either. Because the greatest love story of my life is the love affair I have with Christ.

I know, I know. This seems pretty irrelevant when we talk about fasting, but just hear me out. There are a couple things we all know about being in love. First thing is that it takes time together to allow love to really blossom, especially when you've been together so long that what used to be exciting is now common place. There has to be intimate time between you to reconnect and to re-kindle that flame. (Sounds cliché, I know, but it's true.) That's what fasting is all about. One-on-one time with our First Love. Time to re-connect, re-engage, and re-discover all the reasons you fell in love in the first place.

The second thing we all know about love is that when there is an elephant in the room, you can't be completely connected until... well.. until the elephant leaves. Oh, it doesn't change your love for each other or the desire to be close. It just makes it pretty difficult. Our love story with God is the same. When there is an elephant in the room, we can't connect with Him as fully as either of us would like, because for the Believer, that elephant is always un-confessed or un-repented sin.

Which brings us the Song of Solomon 2:15. Here we are seeing the Lover ask that the small foxes be caught, because they are destructive. Because they will ruin what is blooming so beautifully. I just want to point out a few things, then I'll leave you to get rid of the elephants in your rooms.

First, the Lover doesn't say 'let us catch'.. he asks that the foxes be caught FOR them. Which means he understands that he is powerless to capture these foxes in his own strength. He recognizes the need of someone more powerful to step in and act on his behalf so that their vineyards aren't ruined. It also shows that the Lover has to acknowledge that the foxes are there in the first place. So it is with the sin in our lives. We have to acknowledge that it's there, and we have to recognize that we can't cleanse our own lives or hearts. That job has to be given to One more powerful than we.

And let's not forget that these foxes are called LITTLE. They aren't huge, overwhelming, obvious intruders. They're small. Easily hidden and easily ignored. Which is why the previous paragraph is so critical. We have to CHOOSE to acknowledge them and to have them captured, so that the work God is doing in our vineyard (our hearts, our relationship with Him and with others, our lives in general) isn't for naught.

Pretty convicting stuff, right?

Elephantroom Love is at its best when it is guarded and diligently cultivated. The blossoms are overwhelmed if we don't weed on a regular basis. Don't let your relationship with the Lord be overwhelmed by hidden sins. Take time today to think about your own love story with God. Now that you've decided to make time for the two of you to be alone together, take time to address the elephant(s) in the room. I can't promise it won't be difficult, but I CAN promise you won't regret it. Not at all.

Off to get rid of my own elephants.

Rosheeda

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Friday Prayer: No More Striving!

Lord Jesus, I pray in Your powerful name that the spirit of striving would be broken off every one of us in this SUM family. We declare we are free of all striving, set free by the blood of Jesus, and made and kept free by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Holy Spirit, we give You permission to overwhelm us with Your presence and remind us anytime we begin to strive that we have nothing to prove or gain as we already have everything in our identity and inheritance in Jesus Christ. Thank You, Abba Father, that we belong to You. That we are in Christ and He is in You. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you so much, SUMites! You're amazing!
Dineen

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY, part 2

IdentityHello, SUMites! Yesterday my hubby and I walked through our house to see the changes in just the last week or so. The drywall is up and the rooms are more defined now. As we passed through an unfinished doorway, my husband pointed a written Scripture still exposed there. He asked me, “Is this one of yours?”

I answered, “Yep.” And I laughed with delight inside, my friends. This was a victory for me, as I felt no concern about his reaction. I simply rejoiced in knowing what’s coming and seeing the evidence of it all around him, even though he isn’t seeing it…yet. Just like this house, seeing only the present stage, yet knowing so much more is coming and yet to be seen. The floor tiles, the walls painted, cabinets, kitchen, etc. So much more is coming…salvation. My heart dances with expectation of the coming promises.

As I thought about our Scriptures being a part of the structure of the house now, the structure that holds up the roof and defines the parts of the house, I began to see how we are like this house. As we read and learn about God’s Word and truths, they become a part of us. They transform our minds and make us stronger in our foundation and our structure. And not only that, they define us and our many parts. Like the walls define the rooms, these truths define who we are in Christ, what our spiritual gifts and purposes are and how were are to live as believers.

This is our identity. Everything God created us to be with unlimited potential. And the only things that limit us are ourselves and the enemy if we let him. I find this happens when we aren’t walking in the truth of who we are, and thus why our continual intentionality to know God and grow in intimacy with Him are so important. As we spend time with God learning about Him we are in actuality learning who we are. 

My friends, as I sought God for greater understanding about inheritance and identity, the Holy Spirit helped me understand they are very deeply interconnected. If we look at inheritance in the New Testament, we see two parts.

  1. We are Christ’s inheritance, His holy people.
    I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. — Ephesians 1:18
  2. We have inheritance in Christ as co-heirs with Jesus. And this is where our identity sits and is defined.
    So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. — Romans 8:15-17

This piece of Scripture alone tells us:

  1. We are no longer slaves to fear and have received the Holy Spirit.
  2. We belong to God and are His children.
  3. We have a heavenly Father who not only saved us but connected us directly to His Spirit. This is what happens when we accept Jesus. Our spirit is called out from the “dead” (Eph 5:14) and is united with the Holy Spirit in us. Thus why He is in us and we are in Him.
  4. As His children, we are co-heirs with Christ (not after, but with) and as His heirs, we also receive God’s glory! However, as we are reassured of receiving God’s promises as His heirs, we must also accept that persecution is going to be part of this journey and is another sign that we are God’s children. SUMites, we already understand this, which makes us unique in our experiences. I firmly believe God uses this understanding to equip us with a compassion and a heart to reach the lost in this world. 

So, who are you in Christ Jesus? That’s an excellent question and one I highly encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit. And I’m beginning to see and experience that the Holy Spirit loves questions as much as prayers, because our questions are the start of the answer to the prayer. 

Ask questions like these:

  • Lord, who am I in You? Show me how you see me so I may walk in peace and clarity of these truths.
  • What have You designed me to be and do? 
  • How have you gifted me uniquely to operate according to those truths?

My friends, identity is something we choose to believe and live as truth. Our culture has so imbedded a striving mentality in everything we do that we even apply this to our faith. As I shared in my video last week and my post on Tuesday, we can stop striving to be Christians and simply live in the truth of who we are—God’s kids!

I think we could spend weeks, even months on this topic, and that’s because it is so relevant and important that we stay aware of how we are operating in our lives. Are we operating out of a place to prove who we are, or are we living in the truth of who we already are according to Jesus? 

The amazing thing is, when we live from that place of truth, people are drawn to us, SUMites. It’s attractive, because we live in a peace and freedom the world is desperate for. So, as you live in and out of the truth of who are you are, you’r letting your light shine brightest! 

Isn’t that amazing? That’s freedom, my friends, and peaceful living. It’s so simple it’s almost ridiculous. But notice I didn’t say easy. Just ask God who you are and then live it out everyday as best you can. And when you don’t, God’s right there to help you get back into the center of that truth—Him. 

I will see you tomorrow (or rather you’ll see me—ha ha!) in my last prayer video for July. 

Love you dearly, SUMites!
Dineen

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THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Guest Post: Follow Me by Dee Rusnak

Steps“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26

I totally get where the Israelites were coming from in yearning to be like those around them, even to the point of desiring a king (1 Samuel 8:5). They were a very small nation, the "runt" of sorts among everyone else in the entire world. To them the outside world was the norm.

Yet, God set them apart to belong to Him in His very own way, making them unique, one of a kind, chosen to follow Him like no other. Runts were the smallest or weakest ones compared to the others in the litter. They didn't live long, expensive to care for, and pretty much worthless. That's why most farmers euthanized the runts - more out of an act of kindness to the struggling animal.

In the book Charlotte's Web, the farmer's daughter begs her father not to kill the runt of the litter of piglets, Wilber. Not only was Wilber on the chopping block, but was snubbed by other barnyard animals because of his size. He is befriended by a spider named Charlotte, who weaves words of praise for Wilber so others can see him differently and not be slaughtered. He became renown because of her words and his life was spared.

In Judges 6 we read about Gideon, who thought of himself as the "runt" of the tribe of Manasseh. The Angel of the Lord called him a mighty warrior and sent him to save Israel out of the enemy's hand. "But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord encouraged him, "I will be with you." Gideon had to believe what God said about him instead of thinking of his own limitations, and he followed.

I struggled with the path God had chosen for me with this mismatched marriage thing. None of my Christian friends have spouses who are unbelievers. Just me, and I often felt small, the runt among those in my church. My mindset was that if only my husband were saved, then I can be like everyone else. What I failed to see is what God has purposed for me in spite of the condition of my husband's soul.

Jesus called us at the time of salvation with His powerful words “Follow Me!” and we got up and followed. As with the small nation of Israel, as with Gideon, as with Matthew the hated tax collector, as with the ordinary fishermen, as with the adulterous woman, as with the leper, and everyone else who definitely did not appear to be the logical choice to follow, Jesus wants us to continue following Him in this very unique ministry saying “I will be with you.”

Winning our spouses without words in our own homes does not sound logical. Almost lame. Bordering on lazy. It’s not common, and few understand it. You can almost see the proverbial question marks hovering over the heads of those confused by it. When thinking of missions, imaginations carry the mind to a far away place from their own front door, while ours takes us directly behind it.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

As my retirement approached, I had it all figured out. I would dive into every bible study and outreach available, not only to learn, but to get me out of the house and away from my husband. The Lord had other plans and said to me, “Come with Me by yourself to a desolate place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31) He showed me this barren place filled with those whose hearts were very dry and thirsty. Those with unsaved spouses who felt all alone, almost ashamed, runts of sorts, because they weren’t like everyone else in the church. That was me. I immediately dropped my agenda and followed Him to the SUM nation where everything changed.

EVERYTHING!

I found myself in this refreshing oasis of constant living waters that soothed and quenched this parched heart. I found truth, hope and encouragement at every turn that salvation for my lost husband was not an IF but a WHEN! My mission became crystal clear as the Lord took my hand and pointed to the one who sleeps beside me every night whispering go there!

God sees no one as “normal” or as a“runt.” We are His precious children, His very own whom He cherishes and treasures, His workmanship set apart for His extraordinary plan (Ephesians 2:10). He established an online ministry and set two remarkable women at the helm. Dineen and Lynn have spent the last 10 years gathering all of us who are in this same EXCEPTIONAL situation – a spiritually unequal marriage – while nurturing us with the Word of God to dispel the lies, giving us hope in our desolate valley, camaraderie in our loneliness, determination in an unfamiliar ministry, understanding in our confusion, and great love in our thirsty hearts.

Here we can be ourselves, sharing, confessing, praying, blessing, and encouraging each other. I’m convinced that the Lord plans to bring more and more SUMites out of the woodwork and into the church pews where God is preparing us to minister for that very scenario. We were chosen for such a time as this. And, on that day when we step aside and watch all the lost souls come valiantly to Christ, we will all triumphantly praise God for initiating, establishing, and setting in motion this vital ministry of winning them without words!

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:5

 

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!

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Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY

HeartDear friends, in this foundations series we’ve talked about the foundational truths of salvation, love, hope, faith and specifically God’s love. That one seems to be the one I keep coming face to face with. I’ve grappled with the full truth of God’s complete love for us and now God is connecting me to others that need the same truth. As desperate as I was for this truth to come to full bloom in my heart, spirit, soul and mind (something that is still happening even now), I am even more desperate for others to know it and find myself hating the enemy for stealing this truth from us. And I am not one to use the word “hate” lightly. 

SUMites, I honestly didn’t plan to write more on this subject, but it is a very near and dear subject to my heart. Most likely because this was a huge struggle for me, one that nearly made me want to give up on trying to be a Christian. And that is exactly what I’ve had to do—let go of trying to be a Christian and simply live in the truth of who I am in Christ and the truth that God really and truly loves me. It’s a very freeing place to be!

God loves us because that is who He is and He chose us. And all that God has for us comes from His love for us, including Jesus. When we struggle in that truth and continue to believe the lies the enemy throws at us that say, “God is angry with me, I can’t please God no matter what I do, or there is no way God can work through me,” we aren’t living in the truth of God’s love for us. And His love is a foundational truth of our inheritance and our identity, which are intertwined and inseparable—another mystery of God.

So, let’s talk about what these words mean, because I know my journey to understanding required a choice and a question.

  1. I chose to believe the truth of God’s Word that told me He loves me and that nothing can separate His love from me (Romans 8) and to go after the lies and the feelings that told me otherwise. As I did this, intentionally capturing every thought and bringing it before Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5), my thinking changed and the truth that was in my heart finally came to sit on the throne of my intellect. Along with Jesus!
  2. I asked what did this mean for me in terms of identity and inheritance. These are words we see used a lot, but I’m not sure we fully understand their meanings. So that is where I am now with the goal to bring deeper understanding and wisdom of what this truly means for us.

In the Old Testament, the Lord called Israel His inheritance and in Ezekiel 44 God declares that He is the inheritance and possession of the Levitical priests.

whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” — Isaiah 19:25 (ESV)

“This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession.” — Ezekiel 44:28 (ESV) 

When God spoke to Jeremiah of His plan to restore Israel, He said of their enemies that they “have filled My inheritance with their abominations.” 

Now this I find so fascinating—when we look at inheritance in the New Testament, we see that the saints (that’s us—all believers) are Jesus’ inheritance. The Israelites were symbolic of what was to come—the fulfillment of God’s plan for a people set apart and made holy through the final blood sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus. And as the Levitical priests were set apart, so too are we set apart as the inheritance of Jesus through salvation.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. — 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. — Ephesians 1:18 (NLT)

Again, I’m fascinated with the symbolic and prophetic connections between the Old and New Testaments. God intended to build a strong example of legacy and inheritance, because what He had in store for us was the ultimate inheritance in Jesus—our identity as children of God. The Israelites learned about inheritance through the possession of the promised land. We learn about inheritance through our “possession" of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God. Both are given as rights of ownership (co-heirs with Christ) through the love and bequeathal of God.

Okay, my friends, I will stop here for now and let you digest this a bit. On Thursday I will continue this search for understanding of inheritance and identity and how they are so very much inseparable. Until then, be sure to come back tomorrow for a beautiful guest post from a fellow SUMite. 

And please share your thoughts in the comments. What has Jesus shown you about His love and your inheritance and identity in Him? I can’t wait to read your comments. 

Love you!
Dineen

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Foundations Series: GOD'S LOVE

God's love is complete. Jesus made sure of that at the cross. So if God did that in order to love us that way, why would He be angry with us or withhold His goodness from us? Something to think about. The truth always turns the lie upside down.
Love you, my friends!
Dineen

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Dealing with Disappointment

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You know when you’re in church listening to the sermon and you feel the pastor is speaking specifically to you and only to you? Well I had that experience a week ago. The message was all about disappointment. But I also sensed the Lord wanted me to share some of it with us.

Yes, leaning on my pastor for inspiration once again. I trust you don’t mind.

Misplaced Expectations

We’re often disappointed aren’t we? Things aren’t turning out the way they should be or how we hoped they would? Our spouse still hasn’t made a commitment to the Lord even though we’ve been praying for it for however many years. In fact, they appear to be even more opposed to it. Our kiddies are struggling too which grieves us so and increasingly sends us to our knees.

What about our dearest friendships? The intimacy we once shared has disappeared. Why, we don’t know. There’s an open wound in our heart that brings us to tears most weeks.

Why God why? It wasn’t mean to be like this!

We want our situation resolved now. We get disappointed when it doesn’t. Our hope fades. How many times have you wondered whether your spouse will ever come to the Lord? Me, too many to count!

The Road to Emmaus

We’re all familiar with the story of the two disciples who have left Jerusalem on their way to Emmaus. I’d encourage you to read it again today (Luke 24:13-32).

Jesus (out of nowhere) comes alongside and asks them a question:

“What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” (v17)

The two disciples were “restrained” from recognizing it was Jesus in their presence.

Remember this is on the day Jesus is resurrected. The greatest day in history.

They had heard (whether firsthand or from other disciples) that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb and that angels said He was alive! (v23)

But they were sad! So sad in fact they were getting out of town.

Seriously?

Why?

“But we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israel.” (v21a)

They had expected someone else; someone like Moses who was going to free them from the Roman rule. Jesus brought something far better: freedom from sin and death so we could enjoy relationship with the Father.

Misplaced expectations.

“When your hope is misplaced you are guaranteed disappointment.” (Phil Pringle)

This disappointment also blinded them from Jesus’ Presence. They couldn’t recognize Him. Ever felt that when you’re so upset with disappointment you struggle to draw close to the Lord? Even when He’s right there? I have.

The Power of the Word

Jesus proceeds to give them the best bible study they (and anybody) have probably ever heard. They so marveled at His words they asked Him to dine with them when they arrived in a village.

They still didn’t know who He was.

It was only when He had blessed and broken bread that the duo’s eyes were opened, “and they knew Him.” (v31)

Then He vanishes. They now believe. So they return to Jerusalem and tell the other disciples all about their experience with Jesus.

I’m sure some of the eleven would have asked the question, “But you didn’t recognize Jesus for how may hours while He walked with you?”

Disappointment can do that. It steals our hope and blinds us.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick. But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NKJV)

If you’re struggling with a particular disappointment right now please share it with us in the comments if you feel comfortable doing so and we can pray over you. Grab a hold of the Word and draw close to Him. Let His Word minister to you. Remember He has never left you and is always working in the background. Just as He is with all of our spouses.

Grace and peace, dear friends.

*****

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Foundations Series: FAITH, HOPE, LOVE

GodsLoveMy friends, how are you doing? There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is discouraging and heartbreaking. The more I watch how God is working in our community here; at the healing rooms as we pray Jesus’ truth into hearts, lives and bodies; through the connections and bridges I see Him building and creating between all of us—the more I understand His heart for us to know these foundational truths. Our foundations need to be firmly built in His truth.

And, SUMites, perhaps it sounds a bit trite and cliché because it’s been said so many times, but we are not of this world. We live in it, we have a mission and a purpose here, but God’s plans, purposes and HIS PROMISES go way beyond the now and span all of eternity. In other words, He’s got us covered. We can rest in the reassurances He’s given us and walk in the truth of Who He is and who we are in Him. That’s our identity—another part of this foundation series I sense is coming.

Today’s foundational truth is found in a verse we know well, and Paul is the scribe who wrote these words of God’s truth.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. — 1 Corinthians 13:13

As I sought Holy Spirit’s help to understand what He wants us all to understand about this truth is that these three are like the Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. They cannot stand alone as they are part of the whole. 

Love is, as Paul says, there greatest of these three and represents the God-head.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  — 1 John 4:16

Hope represents Jesus, who is the hope of the world. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. — 1 Peter 1:3

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, — 1 Timothy 1:1

When I did a search for the word “hope” throughout the Bible, Psalms had the most references, but can you guess which book came next? The book of Job. Did you know that in the Old Testament the words hope and wait are used interchangeable because the Hebrew word is the same? And in the New Testament the definitions for the various forms of the Greek word for “hope” used always included the definition “joyful and confident expectation”?

Which then sheds a whole new light on this verse:

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross… — Hebrews 12:2

Faith is representative of the Holy Spirit, whose highest purpose is to teach us about Jesus and grow the seed of faith we are given when we received salvation. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:8-10

Like the three fold cord spoken of in Ecc 4:12, faith, hope and love are intertwined and purposed to function as a whole. The real clue, amazingly, came when I looked up that fascinating word, abide

menō — to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), to wait for.

Without love, hope and faith lack the soil for their roots to grow deep and strong. Without hope, love wanes and faith dies. Without faith, love shrivels and hope fades. My friends, as a wordsmith of sorts I find it very difficult to fully explain this mystery for a mystery it truly is.

What I do know is that God’s love is the substance, the birthing place, of miracles. That hope is a divine expectation of God’s love to overcome and save. That faith holds love and hope in the birthing room of those miracles with great tenacity and perseverance. 

The entire Bible is about these three words, because the Bible is about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And these three words embody the heart of God.  

Perhaps the mystery isn’t so mysterious at all and is simply and ultimately a decision to believe the Truth (Jesus) and trust and look for God in every part of our lives. We are not meant to live our faith only during our quiet time with God and church attendance, but as part of every aspect of our lives. To do otherwise keeps God in a box and leaves us disappointed. But to live the abundant life, full of God’s love, hope and faith brings joy, peace and prosperity.

Faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest, the most powerful force on this earth. And all we have to do is ask for it, my friends. Ask God to overwhelm and flood us with His love so that it pours out all around us. Ask Him to love others through us. Ask Him to show us how He loves others and do likewise. There is no set formula, no pattern, no correct way to do this. Just simply follow His lead. He’s an expert!

I love you, SUMites, with the love of God, with the hope of Jesus and with the devotion of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord drench you with His amazing love and renew your spirit. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Dineen

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Friday Prayer: God's Heart for Our Loved Ones and His Church

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A SUMite Question: How Do I Stay Connected to My Spouse?

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My friends, one of the most challenging areas in a SUM is staying connected to our spouse, so today I want to tackle a reader question. Actually, this is a question that is asked frequently so I’ve edited this most recent one and included some additional parts from past questions so that it will encompass more.

 

y hubby and I have been married for many years. I came to faith only a few years ago and now there’s this enormous area of incompatibility and difference between us. I’ve looked to my church for support, but how do I build a church life when my other half is not in it? 

My husband has also shared he’s concerned about losing my love. I feel so sad that he feels this way…and how can I keep going to church when he feels like this? I don’t know what to do: do I stay home now and make him feel secure and loved, or do I keep on going to church for my own needs?  And what about our kids? They’re still young, and I want them to grow up knowing who God is now and not when they’re already adults like I did.

The other issue is that all our friends aren’t believers, and I’m finding those friendships so difficult to relate to now – so I need church and other believers for encouragement and support.  

I feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction to take care of my hubby and avoid erecting barriers, but what does taking care of him look like?  I’m feeling quite stressed about it, and I feel bad he feels so sad! Any advice?  

My friend, you’ve described the dilemma we all seem to face in our mismatched marriages. Staying connected to our husbands can be a real challenge, because we are very much changed—reborn. After my hubby told me he’d decided he was an atheist, I had no clue how to move forward, and I mourned deeply. So deeply. The next day he asked me if I’d ever be able to look at him again. I didn’t even realize I’d done that and like you, I felt horrible! I had to reassure him that I loved him and nothing would change that. 

From that point on I had to be very intentional to follow God’s leading in what I committed to at church. I think it’s important that we’re plugged into a faith community in some way, because it’s very difficult to stay strong without it. We need other believers so we are challenged and can grow, as well as be supported and encouraged. 

Early on I did wind up stepping down from my position as a youth minister, because it was very demanding and required traveling for youth trips. I realized my hubby and my two young girls needed more of my time and that was okay. I had put my marriage and family first.

During that time I expressed to my husband my need to go to church, but that I could be flexible if we wanted to make plans. Or just wanted an occasional quiet morning together. I can count on one hand how many times he’s asked me to miss church for him in 20 years. 

And I also explained that I wanted to take our girls to church. He was fine with that as long as they would be allowed to make their own choice when they grew older. I agreed and trusted God for that. They both chose Jesus, btw. :-)

More than anything, I think our spouses just need to know they are still important in our lives. I’ve explained to my husband that loving God helps me love him better, and my actions have proved that out. Amazingly, my husband has become more loving and giving over the years as well.

Just be honest with him. Tell him how it grieves you that he feels bad and talk about how to work it out. Just as you want to respect his needs, he should respect yours too, and you need a faith community. You may need to limit some of your extra activities if you find you’re doing a lot. Find a balance that works for you and follow what God is telling you. Trust Him to show you what to do and to keep you growing. It may not be what you expect, but I know it will be really good! And trust God to take care of your hubby’s heart when He does call you to do something. God is in the details of everything in our life and He works for our good in ALL of it. Unbelief will not stop His love!

And most importantly, don’t let the spiritual mismatch define your marriage. Find other things you two can do together to stay connected and have things in common. You will need to do this because otherwise you both could wind up living very separate lives. This will happen to some degree, because you both will be interested in doing things that don’t overlap. My hubby does disc golf and I do church. LOL! We have friends that we spend time with together, and we both have our own friends. 

Don’t lose hope, my friend. Look at this situation as temporary, because one day we will be united in faith. Trust God to do what He says He will do. And in His timing. He is so faithful!

 

SUMites, I pray this encourages and inspires you too. If you have ideas of how to stay connected to your spouse, please share them in the comments. Let’s inspire one another. And if you have a question, feel free to share that too. 

Love you, my friends! Next week I will return to our foundations series and explore truths about faith, hope, love and inheritance. And whatever else Holy Spirit is wanting to show us. And tomorrow—another Friday prayer.

Big hugs!
Dineen

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Guest Post: Glowing in the Dark

Fireflies"For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'" — Acts 13:47

I could hear the explosion of fireworks near my house on the night of July 4th. I peered out my back window, but too many large trees were in the way to see anything in the sky. I could see, though, a continual sparkle of light coming through the branches. Wow! The remnant of the fireworks!

Then at closer look, those weren't fireworks at all. They were fireflies (or a.k.a. lightning bugs)! Hundreds upon hundreds of them! I was mezmerized by their beauty as they quickly flashed in the dark of night, putting on a show much grander, and quieter, than the fireworks themselves. But in reality, they were just doing their thing, being who they are.

I found some interesting information on the Mother Nature Network website listing "the 12 things you didn't know about lightning bugs." A chemical inside their abdomin/tail called luciferin (yes, oddly enough the same latin root as Lucifer - is this why he's known to appear as the "angel of light?") mixes with oxygen, calcium and adenosine triphosphate causing a chemical reaction to create their spectacular light.

There are more than 2,000 species of lightning bugs, but only some come equipped with the ability to glow. The light these bugs generate is the most efficient light ever made! Almost 100% of the energy in the chemical reaction is emitted as light. In comparison, an incandescent light bulb only emits 10% of its energy as light, while the other 90% is lost as heat. Each species of the lightning bug has a specific pattern of light flashing, and males use this pattern to draw the ladies to create that perfect match. Some species actually synchronize their flashes creating a beautiful light show, such as the one I had seen out my window.

"For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness,' has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ." — 2 Corinthians 4:6

Do you see yourself in this description? We glow because that’s who we are and what we do naturally! Jesus is our light, and recently our SUM family synchronized our lights to be in earnest prayer for our spouses, not to mention how we continually uplift, encourage and support one another. What a spectacular show that must appear to the heavenly hosts as our prayers rise to the One in whom we place our hope and trust.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." — Matthew 5:16

Sharing our wounds, our brokenness, and our flaws actually attract the lost. Here’s a light they can relate to and be drawn to. In this world of darkness, the lost don't even realize how desperate they are to see light. Sweet SUMite family, may we simply be who we are, shining Christ's light, not as a pest, but as a magnificent wonderment so the fireworks of salvation may take place in our very own homes. Not that our spouses would behold us, but behold the ONE who is the giver of that light

"Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." — Ephesians 5:14

 

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!

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God is Watching Over This House!

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My daughter Leslie is visiting and helped us write Scriptures!

Hello SUMites! Today I wanted to share with you how amazing it was Saturday to write those beautiful Scriptures on the beams, doorposts and stairs. There are now over 30 Scriptures written all over this home. As we wrote, we prayed, blessed the house and even prayed over the workers who will see them as the drywall goes up. My spirit jumps for joy just thinking about the possibilities of what can happen, because God is faithful and watches over His Word.

Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” — Jeremiah 1:12

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BFF Heather came and helped too!

I think of all those beautiful promises from God's Word that you sent and see God watching over them to perform what He has said He will do. Oh, my friends, that reaches deep into my soul and spirit and sends such excitement through me. Such great hope and expectation! I pray this encourages you and fills you with great hope. God is watching over this house, and He is watching over this SUMite home right here, our "church without walls."

Thank you again for sharing your hearts and promises and allowing me to be a part of God's heart for you. I have these Scriptures compiled now in a list with yours and your hubby's names so I can pray them over you. I am praying over our entire community, for our loved ones and for you, SUMites, to be strengthened, renewed, restored and energized for whatever God is doing in and around you. That you would be filled with great hope, peace and reassurance as you rest in the truth that He is faithful and so very good. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you!
Dineen

 

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Foundations Series: SALVATION

SalvationHello my dear friends. I just love the Scriptures you’re sending in response to my post on Tuesday. Thank you for sharing your treasures with me. I’m so blown away by your stories of how God is moving! I will be writing these precious Scriptures on the beams of our house and holding them close in my heart and prayers as I stand with you. God is so good and so amazing! 

This next foundational truth—salvation—seems pretty obvious, my friends, but I feel like Abba wants us to understand there is more to it than what we think. So much more that we can comprehend actually. And it’s all about Him.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:8-9

Yes, God’s thought are not ours. They are pure, perfect and all encompassing. All-encompassing—that right there blows me away when I contemplate (or attempt to) the depth of God’s heart and thoughts toward us, let alone His relentless and enduring love. How His plans are always for good and how He works things out for our good no matter how complicated they are or how many people are involved. He’s magnificent!

So, here’s what has my heart burning about the foundational truth of salvation, SUMites. We know what this word has meant to our own lives and we hold it like a hidden treasure, pursued by our prayers for our loved ones to know its precious worth as well.

First let’s take a look at another Scriptural truth (I’m a big fan of 2 Peter 3:9) that addresses God’s desire that ALL people would be saved.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. — 1 Timothy 2:1-6

The word saved here in Greek is sōzō and means to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): — heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. 

1. to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction: A. one (from injury or peril) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. B. to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue to save in the technical biblical sense negatively to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment, to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.

That’s a lot of meaning. Normally I try to bring out just the key parts but this one is so full of meaning that I find to be “all-encompassing” so I’ve included the full definition according to Strong’s.

Now here is what I sensed Abba speaking to my spirit. We wait for the moment of salvation, we pray into it, anticipate it, and at times even despair of it ever happening. Yet God waits for the heart of the one He pursues and as He waits, He builds, prepares, woos, establishes, equips, prepares, celebrates and rejoices. We may not see Him, but that doesn't mean He's not there.

In other words, my friends, salvation is so much more than a moment. And its process begins long before we are ever aware of it. As Scriptures says, it is the Father who draws us to the Son (John 6:44 & 65). This is a mystery we don’t fully understand but know to be true. Abba Father sets into motion His great plan according to His wise timing.

And looking at the full meaning of sōzō, we see something that is much more than a moment. It’s about building. It’s about preparing the ground for the framework, laying down the rebar and materials to make the foundation solid and able to support the rest of the structure—all this before the concrete is even poured. 

Yes, my friends, in our time of waiting and praying, God is working to build the foundation so that when the rest of the structure is built, it will stand with integrity and truth. It’s a process that is done with such care and intentionality.

After the foundation of our house was completed, they discovered an error in the blueprints. If not corrected the foundation under the stairs would not be sound. The process was stalled for a time to figure out how best to correct the foundation to make it right. Two areas of the cement had to be cut out, reinforced and re-poured.

At times we feel this kind of delay in our loved one’s journey to salvation. We question what’s happened so far and doubt. Wonder if we misunderstood. But what if that’s simply a time that God is reinforcing the foundation so that the structure to come will stand strong? What if we shifted our prayers along those lines, asking Abba, “What needs to be covered with prayer as the process continues?” Or to simply ask Jesus, “What are you doing now? What can I be doing to partner with You?”

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. — Philippians 2:12-13

For even after the “moment” we come to the truth of Jesus, the process must continue so that we become more and more like Him. What joy is it to walk in salvation and not reflect the image of the Gift Bearer? What sense is there in the seed of the tree that remains a seed and never reaches its full potential to grow deep roots and tall branches to bring life and shade to the world it inhabits?

My dear friends, salvation is so much more than the solution to the question of heaven or hell. It is life, the very breath of God, intended to fill us, save us, heal us, restore us and love us beyond reason. It is all-encompassing for our every need that is designed to bring wholeness to our past, present and future.

I don’t confess to full comprehend the full ramification of the word “salvation” that is simply nine letters, yet encompasses the entire heart of our Creator. He doesn’t expect us to either, my friends. He simply asks us to believe. Trust. Love.

And this is where I will leave us today, my friends, with the prayer that the all-encompassing truth will firmly solidify in the foundation of our faith and the ones we are contending for. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Don’t miss my prayer video tomorrow. Next week, more foundational truths and a reader question I know will speak to your heart for your marriage. 

Love you so very, very much, SUMites!
Dineen 

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The Power of Love in a Confusing World

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Photo courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Another week has passed with more terrorism in Turkey and Iraq, more confusion in Britain over Brexit and here down under we didn’t get a winner in the Federal election that was held over the weekend (it’s still too close to call!)

As Lynn so positively pointed out in her last post a week or so ago, we don’t need to be afraid. Nor do we need to let this confusion, turmoil and uncertainty rattle us.

When I read Lynn’s post on my Monday it brought me back to the message my pastor shared with us over that weekend titled: “Face your Fears.” His message had some powerful content that I thought would provide additional encouragement for us all.

Fear and the Fall

Interesting he started by outlining fear started the very moment sin entered the world. Remember what Adam and Eve first did when God came looking for them? They tried to hide and were ashamed of their nakedness.

“The root of every fear is the deep awareness in your soul that through sin you are separate from God.
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But as a result of Jesus life and death He has provided an escape from fear by removing that separation from God. Hallelujah!

Set Free from Fear

The answer to fear is a greater fear; the fear of God.

I think I’m only really beginning to understand that statement. In being in awe of God and all he has done for us, all of a sudden He becomes very BIG and our fears don’t seem as big.

Fear is a spirit. But as we know from 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, of love and of a sound mind.”

I love that verse. We have the Spirit inside us and He’s all powerful.

And He loves us like crazy.

My pastor outlined three steps to being set free from fear.

1. Face the Fear – don’t walk away from it. Call it out and hand it to Jesus. Counter it with the Word of God. Use that sword of the spirit Dineen prayed over us on Friday. I have one or two key verses that I use to do this, eg, Isaiah 41:10.

2. Pray desperately – often we can pray for the “fear” to go, eg, the circumstance we’re facing to disappear but in praying desperately the situation may not change but we become acutely aware of His presence. As Ann Voskamp says:

“We simply want our situation solved – when God simply wants to be the answer.”

And that takes the sting out of fear.

3. Make a move – one of the sound bites that particularly grabbed me from Mark’s message was:

“Your fear is living in the territory God wants for you.”

But the enemy is trying to stop us from claiming our territory. So our fear paralyses us. Our health, or our marriage, or our job, or friendships don’t improve.

Taking a step in faith to claim that territory reject the fear. And God meets us there. A miracle can only occur when we make a move.

Love Conquers Fear

I heard this lovely story a few days ago. My friend’s son is in London, England at the moment and he is living in share accommodation. On the night the Brexit vote was declared he and his friends were confused and a little perturbed by the outcome.

There was a knock on the door. Standing at the door were their neighbors who they didn’t really know. They were holding dinner in their hands and suggested they all sit down and have a meal together. So Chris welcomed them inside and they all shared a meal together which helped Chris and his friends feel better about what was going on. The neighbors were Muslims and as it was still Ramadan they shared their evening meal with Chris and his friends.

What a lovely story, don’t you think?

Grace and peace, dear friends.

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Foundations Series: A Monument for the SUMites

HouseHello SUM family! I hope your 4th of July celebration was full of fireworks, yummy food and family fun. My house was packed with close to thirty people (including my daughter Leslie who’s here for a visit!), which equated to me making a lot of hamburgers! The aroma of grilled burgers and hotdogs still lingers in the air here. How about you? 

Last week I laid the foundation (yes, pun intended) for this Foundations Series. And left you with a bit of a cliff hanger, didn’t I? Blame the fiction writer in me. It’s in my genes. Giggling just a bit here.

So, as I shared last week, my husband and I are building a house here. There is a God story behind this that is truly amazing and is part of this foundation theme. You see, roughly 26 years ago we moved away from Sarasota and family to find a better place for our growing family. At the early buddings of our careers, we couldn’t afford to buy a house. Though we loved being near our families, we didn’t see much of a future here. We moved away and lived in many places, including Switzerland for a short time.

Fast forward to the end of 2010. We (me, hubby and our girls) drove to Florida from California to spend Christmas with family. One day as I sat with my mother and my youngest daughter, we prayed a prayer that God answered so fast it made my head spin, yet would take four years to fully manifest.

I wanted to move back to Florida. My husband adamantly did not. Yet that day my mother, daughter and I prayed for God to soften my husband’s heart about moving back. Three days later hubby and I left the kids with the grandparents to run an errand and have a few minutes alone. Mike’s unusual silence told me something was on his mind. 

Suddenly he asked, “How would you feel about moving back to Florida?” 

I was so stunned I couldn’t speak a coherent word for about three minutes! Little did I know that the next four years would be filled with some tough times for us financially and would just about make me lose hope in that dream becoming a reality. Then everything “suddenly” fell into place.

So we’ve come full circle. From unable to buy a house here near our families to now building a home big enough to host family get togethers and holiday celebrations. This is part of my Jubilee year promise God gave me. (Lev 25:8-13)

In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors. — Lev 25:13

And also why I wanted that picture of our feet on the foundation of our house. Kind of silly, kind of fun, yet packed with meaning in light of the 26 years it took to return “home.” And there is so much more coming, my friends.

As we started this house process, God was showing me eagles in the Bible. I was praying that verse in Psalm 103 about renewing our youth like the eagles. Best aging remedy I know! One day we drove to our future neighborhood to see our empty lot, and there in the middle stood a bald eagle. I kid you not. 

God spoke to my heart that day a sweet confirmation that this was from His hand, His blessing and that I was to delight in it. He is so very good. So very generous.

And we are blessed to bless others, right? That was my inspiration behind a decision to share His generosity with this beautiful SUM family. 

We’re talking about foundational truths right now and salvation is one of them. More coming on that one, as I shared. But I wanted to create a monument to this, my friends. To God’s goodness and His salvation promise to us.

I just read about Jacob and and his Uncle Laban. Their story culminates in Genesis 31 with a pile of stones called Galeed, which means “witness pile” in Hebrew. I love monuments like these in the Bible, because they mark a moment of significance. Which is what I wanted to do with our new home, this community and our SALVATION word this year.

Package
Millers, Donovans and ENTIRE SUM NATION!

 

I printed out a copy of our 2016 SUM Word (see the sidebar if you haven’t read it) and wrote Lynn’s and my names on it along with our hubbies names too. And I wrote “The entire SUM Nation” with it. Then I tucked this along with a glass “stone” with Romans 8:28 engraved on the surface into a baggy.

This prophetic package is now part of the foundation of our house—our home. It is right at the corner of the entry to the house. 

IMG_4823The "promise package" is now a permanent part of the foundation, right at the entry to the house, under a "cornerstone."

 

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. — Ephesians 2:20

Wow! That’s giving me Holy Spirit chill bumps! And you know what’s even more amazing about this story? My husband is the one who put it into the foundation for me. Is God astonishing or what?

Now there is one more part of this story that’s incomplete. As I was praying and worshiping last night, God showed me He wants to fill the walls of this house with Scriptures. 

From you. 

Has God given you a Scripture and promise for your spouse? Email it to me so I can write them on the beams of this “monument” house built on the foundational promise of SALVATION God has given us, set in the corner to represent Jesus as the cornerstone. I’ve already enlisted a team to help me do this too!

In late August we are scheduled to close and move into our house. But even as the walls are going up and the rest of the house is being completed, I will be walking the rooms of this house, praying the prayers you have sent me for your spouse. I don’t fully understand the meaning behind all this, but I know He is bringing us together in a powerful way and has even shown me this in a dream. What God has planned for us is glorious, my friends! Together, we are His house!

Love you so much!
Dineen

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