41 posts categorized "Bible"

The Book of Esther: Enemies Destroyed and a New Holiday

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this…

SUMites, when we last left Esther and Mordecai, the king had given them Mordecai his signet ring (authority). Esther seems to hold such great favor with the king that just her explanation of her relationship to Mordecai results in this transfer of authority.  

Esther again speaks to the king, falling at his feet in tears as she pleads for the lives of her people. The king gives both her and Mordecai permission to do what they feel best to save the Jews. The king’s scribes are summoned and a new proclamation is written to “react” to the one Haman had made. Since a Persian’s king’s decree could not be revoked, this counter attack was the best way to stop the annihilation of the Jewish population. Once again, the God of the Jews is protecting them.

Take a closer look at this stunning description of what happened next:

Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them. — Esther 8:15-17

Did you catch that last line? Not only were the Jews saved, but people were converted to Judaism as well. God’s presence among the Jews was unmistakable. We’ve seen that in the subtle hints by the author using the number seven. What’s so interesting, my friends, is in the midst of this study, I’ve been rather fascinated by the mention of the seven Spirits of God.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. — Isa. 11:1-2

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, — Rev. 4:5

Now interestingly enough, in reading through Esther the Holy Spirit began pointing out the characteristics of God present in this story. Seven of them. I began to wonder if these characteristics could be linked to the seven Spirits of God. Take a look:

God of Sovereignty (Spirit of the Lord—mandates us for position): God chose specific people to put in key places—Esther, Mordecai and Xerxes. He first placed Esther in a position to be queen and then Mordecai to be in an even greater position of power.

God of Justice (Spirit of Wisdom—equips us for position): The gallows built by Haman become his own death sentence. Esther and Mordecai create decrees that uniquely counter Haman’s plot by bringing justice to the Jews.

God of Provision (Spirit of Understanding—authorizes us for position): Esther’s favor is secure throughout the story. Mordecai’s favor continues to increase. And God is generous in His astonishing provision for Esther, Mordecai and the Jews.

God of Partnership (Spirit of Council—prepares us for position): God chooses to partner with His people to accomplish His plans and purposes. Even though we are not told He is there, we see His presence at work throughout the story, especially in the council Esther receives through Mordecai and Hegai.

God of Faithfulness (Spirit of Might—reveals us for position): God continues to save Israel even in her captivity, and uses two of their people to do it through.

God of the Impossible (Spirit of Knowledge—empowers us for position): Esther was a jew living in exile, yet she is made the Queen of Persia. And she uses her position and what she has learned to save her people.

God of Perfection (Spirit of Fear of the Lord—seals us for position): God’s time is perfect in the orchestration of the events. Especially in how Haman’s plots are revealed and used against him. The timing is quite uncanny. And Esther and Mordecai never question whether God is present or not. They know He is there and that He will answer their pleas. For the most part, they are secure in who they are and where God has placed them.

Now, what’s even more interesting is the new holiday that emerges from these events. As you probably guessed, the name Purim comes from the pur (lots) that Haman tossed to determine the date of the Jewish annihilation. 

In chapter nine we see one of the first things Mordecai does is make a decree to all the provinces that the Jews are to keep the 14th and the 15th days of the month of Adar as a celebration of their deliverance from their enemies. They were to be days of feasting, gladness, gifts of food and gifts to the poor. 

Today that holiday is still observed with the reading of the book of Esther (Megillah) once on the even of Purim and then on the following day, the giving of money gifts to at least two poor people, sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person, and a Purim feast, which often includes either wine or other intoxicating beverages.

Purim is actually one of the more livelier holidays on the Jewish calendar. On the day before, it is customary to fast in commemoration of Esther’s prayer and fasting. During Purim, children and adults wear costumes and indulge in sweets like hamantaschen, a three cornered, sweet-filled pastry. (For more information on Purim, click here.

What I found most significant in my research of this holiday is what God has done just recently for the Jewish people. In the early 1950’s, Joseph Stalin had brutal plans to deal with the “Jewish problem” in the U.S.S.R. At the crisis point in 1953, he died…on Purim.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded Kuwait and began firing SCUD missiles into Israel. U.S.-led forces attacked Iraq and ended hostilities…on Purim.

Fascinating, isn’t it? God continues to move “behind the scenes” even today on behalf of the Jewish Nation. So encouraging!

My friends, I have one post left in this series and it is the one I’ve been dying to share since I started this series. But the Holy Spirit has continually kept me on track to bring out key points first so that you may fully embrace what He is speaking to us right now. It is astonishing and awe-inspiring!

Love you, SUMites! Great things are happening!
Dineen

Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo

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The Book of Esther: The Queen Risks Everything

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this…

My friends, we’re moving deeper into the story of Esther where things are moving much faster and starting to heat up in a big way. We left the story with Queen Esther’s life hanging in the balance.

As chapter five opens, Queen Esther has put on her royal robes (put on her best dress) and enters the king’s throne room. We hold our breath and wait. What will her fate be? Yet we know who, I mean WHO, has her back, right? With God behind her, she is destined for victory.

Just as we are, my friends. Often, it’s all in how we look at it. Like Mordecai, we can turn every situation upside down and ask God, “What do you want to do here? What are the possibilities?”

King Xerxes extends his scepter, and she is welcomed in. And not only that. The king offers her whatever she wants, even up to half of his kingdom. My friends, here is where we see God’s heart working in a big way. He has placed Esther in even more favor in her situation, and, amazingly, displays this through the king, her husband.

Do we miss that sometimes? Do we miss how God can work through our spouses and show His extravagant love through them? I know I have. God has had to almost knock me upside the head at times, but when I see it, I am so overwhelmed. It’s unmistakable in its generosity and goodness.

Now, if you’re like me, the first time you read Esther, you probably expected her to reveal everything to the king at that moment, but instead, Esther invites the king and Haman to a banquet she prepares. And if you’re still like me, you probably asked, why is she prolonging this?

Based upon what we see in the beginning of this story with Queen Vashti, I wonder if Esther wanted to reveal who she was to the king without the presence of the king’s nobles, who clearly seemed to have a lot of power and influence over the king. In fact, King Xerxes seems like a puppet at times, allowing the opinions and ideas of those around him to rule his kingdom.

But then, why would she want Haman to attend as well, if that were the case? 

The plot continues to thicken yet again, my friends. Esther continues to withhold her request by asking the king and Haman to join her for another banquet the next day, with the promise to answer the king’s question. 

We can only speculate, but my thoughts here are that she was securing her place once again in the king’s heart and hoping Haman would lower his guard enough to be exposed. After all, she surely knew the place Haman held in the king’s court as his most honored noble. Queen Esther probably wanted to ensure that her favor with the king overruled Haman’s (vss. 5:7, 7:3). 

In the meantime, Haman is doing some plotting of his own. He is so certain of his place with the king and now the queen, he orders gallows to be built for Mordecai to be hung on at the suggestion of his wife and friends. (Note: the NIV translation describes a pole and that Mordecai was to be impaled upon it.)

But as we see in the Joseph’s story, what the enemy means to harm us, God uses for our good. That very night, a sleepless King Xerxes orders the book of memorable deeds to be opened and read to him. And what do you know, the story of Mordecai exposing the plot to kill the king is read!

And the king is reminded that Mordecai was never rewarded for his act. We are now in chapter six with Haman’s plan to have Mordecai killed waiting to be initiated, yet the king has decided to honor that very same man. Talk about a clash of the Persians!

My friends, I find this part of the story somewhat hilarious as Haman walks right into his own trap. Only God could orchestrate this "just" moment. “Just” as Haman is entering the king’s court with full intentions to petition the king for Mordecai's death, the king is calling Haman to consult him about honoring Mordecai.

And Haman’s assumption and expectation to be honored by the king with his own suggestions is turned completely upside down. He winds up the one ordered to lead the very man he hates, Mordecai, around the city wearing the king’s robe and riding the king’s horse, shouting, “This is what is done to the man the king delights to honor.” 

Haman is completely humiliated. I can’t help but wonder how Mordecai felt in all this. I can’t see him sitting on that horse too comfortably and gloating. I suspect he may have been a tad uncomfortable but was wise enough to comply since it was the king’s order to honor him. 

At the end of chapter six, even Haman’s wife and wise men tell him he didn’t stand a chance. They already see his imminent fall when pitted against the Jewish people, which tells us the remnant of Israel already has a reputation of having a God who comes through for them.

And so do we, SUMites. Our God is so faithful. He comes through for us. And in the most unexpected ways! If a people group who didn’t even follow Yaweh have such an expectation, how much more can our expectation be of our God, Who gives us everything. 

And not just half the kingdom, but the entire Kingdom through His Son Jesus…

We’re entering chapter seven and the demise of Haman. At this second banquet, Queen Esther answers the king’s question, “What is your wish?” She asks for her life and reveals she is one of the very people the king has decreed to be killed. At the revelation that Haman, the king’s most valued noble, is the one behind the decree, King Xerxes becomes enraged. 

Could part of the king’s anger be a realization that he so easily gave Haman his ring and authority to make such a decree? Could we question here whether King Xerxes held much authority at this point as he seemed to allow others to make decisions for him? He certainly seems to regain some of this when he orders Hamas to be hanged on the same gallows he built for Mordecai.

Yet by chapter eight, the king has already given his signet ring to Mordecai after Queen Esther explains who he is. This happens before she pleads with him to avert the pending threat against her people. My friends, in my introduction to Esther, one of my bullet points was “the shifting of positions of those in authority and those in leadership.”

I intentionally worded it that way and you may have wondered what the difference was. This is part of what the Holy Spirit “talked” to me about one Sunday afternoon after church. Authority and leadership are not the same. You can have a leader without authority, but someone with authority will lead. He also explained that leadership without authority falls short of God’s plan.

Now here is where this discussion became very interesting. Using Scriptures, the Holy Spirit showed me there are different levels of authority. It is fascinating, my friends. Something I had wondered about in the past but now understand more clearly. This I will share with you soon and the stunning revelation that goes with it. 

In the meantime, share your hearts in the comments. We are nearing the end of Esther’s story and the beginning of another one. What parts of Esther speak to you, my friends? What revelations in this story are taking root and perhaps helping you see your situation in a different light?

Love you!
Dineen

Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo

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A Declaration of Salvation

IMG_0071Hello, SUMites! Can you believe we’re already in March? Time seems to keep speeding up on me, so I’ve made the decision to look forward to Christmas all year long. If this most precious season is going to keep fleeting by on me, I’m going to make the most of it the rest of the year.

Are you laughing at me? LOL! That’s fine if you are. But on a deeper note, I believe this is actually part of the journey God has me walking to know more joy and delight, especially delight in Him.

Which brings me back to Isaiah. Who would have, at first glance, thought that the book of Isaiah is one we can delight in? But it is. It is the book that holds the most prophetic words about the Messiah coming and who He would be to the Israelites. And to us…

That’s the delightfully stunning part, my friends. As this book was inspired, our Papa God was even thinking of us—you and me…and our spouses. Isaiah is a book about God’s ardent love for His people and His desire and plan for our redemption and restoration to Him. 

In fact, the name Isaiah means “the Lord is salvation.” That right there makes my heart go ka-thunk. To think our Heavenly Father’s plans and love for us span from the very beginning to the very end, well, that’s just a stunning picture of how great His love is. We truly are rooted and established in love—His love.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. — Eph. 3:16-19 (NIV)

Read those same verses in the Passion Translation:

And I pray that he would pour out over you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.

Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life, providing you with a secure foundation that grows and grows.

18-19Then, as your spiritual strength increases, you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement, beyond academic knowledge—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! — Eph. 3:16-19 (TPT)

SUMites, this is what is blowing my mind this morning as I write this. And this is what I feel the Holy Spirit is impressing upon me right now. The entire book of Isaiah is a passionate declaration of God’s jealousy over His people and His great love for them. And it is a book that applied to the Israelites in their current times and spans all the way to us and beyond because of the promises it holds. It was the decree of the Messiah to come and a declaration of Who our Savior Jesus is today, for us.

This is the clarity the Holy Spirit has brought to my heart for two weeks now to understand how I can—we can—apply and pray these Scriptures over ourselves and especially over our spouses. This is the clarity He brought as He showed me Isaiah 12 and placed a knowledge and understanding in my spirit of how to pray it for my husband. And this is the clarity I feel He is telling me to share with you. I’m excited to share it with you, my SUM family.

In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” — Isaiah 12:1-6 (NIV)

This is how the Holy Spirit led me to pray/declare it:

On the day of your salvation, Michael, you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord.
Although your pleasure could not rest upon me,
You turned away your displeasure to pursue and love me.
I declare God is my salvation!
I will trust Him and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and defense;
He has become my salvation.”

And on that day, Michael will say:
“I give praise to the Lord and proclaim His name;
I will make it known among the nations what He has done for me,
and proclaim that His name is exalted.
I sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things in me;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people!
For great is the Holy One of Israel, the Almighty God, among us!

In the saving name of Jesus, amen!

My friends, I encourage you to not only do this with Isaiah 12, but with any piece of Scripture that seems to grab you, because, I promise you, that is the Holy Spirit revealing something to you. Ask Him what it is, speak it out, mediated on it, journal it, declare it and rest in it until He tells you to move on.

And never forgot the promise of Jeremiah 1:12, that God watches over His Word to perform it. Speak it, then trust Him for the time and place for it’s fulfillment. He is faithful to His Word. SUMites, if you've prayed this for your spouse, put his or name in your comment with an amen. I want to pray in agreement with you.

I love you, my friends, and I pray that the revelation of God’s Word is astounding in your heart, your life, your marriage and to those around you. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!
Dineen

 

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The Rains of God’s Glory

My friends, I have something very special to share with you today. It’s something I was unsure about sharing at first, but a phone convo with Lynn helped me see I should indeed share it with you. And since then, God has revealed a bit more and connected more dots.

In early 2014 God told me to pray for California. This was before our move to Florida. II was sitting on my porch one morning with my favorite mug full of coffee and my Bible. As I read and prayed, God told me to “pray a wave a faith over California.” I didn’t quite understand what that would look like, but I did what He asked and began praying this obediently for months.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2015. We’d moved part time to Florida but still spent several months in California and still owned our home there. The Holy Spirit led me to read the book of Isaiah.

One particular morning, I reached Isaiah 55 and the Holy Spirit began to point out parts that had to do with the land and water over the next several chapters. I knew in my spirit this had to do with the drought in California. I continued to read, wondering why He would even show such things to me.

Now let me preface this to say that the He’d first set me up the day before with Isaiah 52:6. I underlined it, recognizing that as new covenant believers, this was connected to the promise of the Messiah to come. And we know the name of Jesus is powerful and thus why we pray it.

Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.” — Isaiah 52:6 (NIV)

So the next day when He stopped me at Isaiah 59:19, I already had this reference to connect to. As you can see in the picture, I dated my notation April 28, 2015. I suspected this was related to the Holy Spirit’s instructions to pray a wave of faith over California and that this also spoke of the end of the drought. In fact, that is what I heard in my spirit, that God was decreeing an end to the drought. 

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Within weeks of this revelation, several other Christian leaders in California began to say the same thing. I knew God was revealing His heart and plans for the state of California, and now we are seeing the full revelation of this.

What was predicted to take years—the return of the rains to refill the reservoirs—is happening in weeks. We are seeing God move faster than we ever have before, my friends. And He is moving in new and stunning ways. Right now it’s very important that we keep alert to these new ways and be willing to let go of the old. I believe this is also part of what He meant when He told me things wouldn’t look the way we expect and that He wants to do things differently. These are things I shared with you last year.

Now there is more to this moment in time, my friends, and it includes us. On that same day, the Holy Spirit stopped me at Isaiah 60:22. See the picture below with SUM written next to the Scripture.

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SUMites, we have grown from a small family and a tiny group to a mighty nation of over 2,000. I believe we are symbolic of what God is doing all over the world. He is bring up communities like ours to operate the way the church did in Acts 2. We are the new church He is bringing into place. 

Last July, I shared in a video message what I felt God was speaking about His church, that “His heart is to establish a new and holy church—not fix the old one.”

That doesn’t mean we are to abandon our churches, dear friends, it simply means God is transforming us to function in greater unity and love if we will allow Him to come in and do this in our places of worship, no matter where they are. Our church will no longer be limited and defined by physical walls and building. We will be the unified body of Christ, His bride made pure. Connections and partnerships (bridges) are being formed between churches in communities even now to work together to have greater impact in communities and cities.

My friends, I believe this also means God is working in new and significant ways in our marriages and in the hearts of our spouses. This is part of our salvation word from last year, which continues to be the seed planted that the Holy Spirit is watering. 

Let me share some of my observations and what I am seeing:

I believe the rain we are seeing in California and the overflow is symbolic of God’s glory pouring over His children and our loved ones (that they shall be saved too! Acts 16:31). I know it looks messy, but remember what I said in one of my previous messages about God’s favor. It can look messy at first (remember how God favored Mary to carry Jesus), but we can trust God to bring His plans and purposed to a good completion for His ways are always good (Rom. 8:28)

I believe we are going to see significant shifts in our homes and in our spouses, SUMites. Many of you already are. As Lynn has shared in the emotional healing series, we need to be healed so we can help those coming to faith to walk in wholeness as well. Part of the video message I shared last year was about God’s “harvest time” and the “fruit” (remember the figs), which are the many souls being called in. (Some of you may even remember the harvest dream I shared in 2013.)

I believe we are entering this time at a new level. We are stepping out of the old and into the new. We will see things happen in ways we never expected or anticipated. We will see God move faster than we thought possible. And we will see our faith increased to new levels as we step into our promises and new opportunities. 

My friends, I will stop there. I have something else from Isaiah that God is showing me to pray for my husband that I may share on Friday. I'm asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom on that first and for any more insights He wants to reveal for us. Be assured I will share as the Holy Spirit leads me. I don't know why the Holy Spirit uses the book of Isaiah like this to reveal things to me, but it is fascinating to say the least.

SUMites, we are living in exciting times! Reading this may very well bring things to mind and connect some dots for you. Please share you're thoughts and what you believe God is showing you. I can't wait to hear your hearts!

Love you, my mighty friends! You are greater in Him than you know!
Dineen

 

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Our Perception and God’s

17322952_sI’m fascinated by Jesus. I’m fascinated by how He interacts with people in the Bible and today. And I’m fascinated by the deeper meanings the Holy Spirit brings to us as we move closer to the truth of who we are and find healing in that process.

My friends, one such story is found in Luke 7, the story of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman. If you have a moment, read this account in Luke 7:36-50.

As I read this story recently, the Holy Spirit answered a long-held question I had in a very unexpected way. This question came from Jesus’ statement, “But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

I asked the Lord once again, “Lord, do I have to be forgiven of a lot of things in order to love you better?”

The question sounded ridiculous to me as I wrote it in my journal, because I knew that sin is sin to Jesus and that He took care of it all on the cross. But I wanted to understand the heart of this story at a deeper level. And if the Holy Spirit was telling me to read this particular piece of Scripture, then I could be assured He had something to reveal to me that would move me closer to the truth.

He brought me back to the beginning of this story and said, “Read it again.”

I did. I read it again, repeatedly over several days. I read of the woman’s weeping and reverent treatment of Jesus. I read of Simon’s thoughts toward the woman. And I read what Jesus says of Simon and how he welcomed Jesus into his home.

Jesus saw Simon and the woman in the very same light. His love for each of them was equal and His gift of forgiveness the same. In fact, the story isn’t at all about how Jesus saw these two people at all.

It’s about how they saw themselves. The woman knew her need and saw Jesus as the answer. Though the perfume was costly, her tears and love were priceless to Jesus. Only He could receive her sacrifice with love and forgiveness.

And restore her…”Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Simon didn’t see his need. He didn’t see himself at all actually. He lived in the deception that he was good, because as a Pharisee, he’d followed all the rules, therefore keeping himself blind to his need. He saw the woman as the sinner, not himself. 

Simon saw the woman as who she used to be. 

Jesus saw the woman as who He always created her to be.

My friends, that is how Jesus sees us. He always sees us from the place of our complete identity and destiny. And everything He is doing in us right now is to reveal more and more of that, what He’s already declared us to be.

On Friday I plan to talk a little bit more about this subject and share more of what the Holy Spirit is teaching me right now about connecting our identity in Christ to our destiny and how to live it right now. It’s an adventure full of the mystery of God and abiding in Him with peace. I can’t wait to learn more!

I love you, SUMites. I see you through the eyes of God’s love and you are more amazing than you can ever imagine!
Dineen

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The Times They are a Changin'

My friends, I pray this video encourages you. As I suggested, read Ezra and this amazing story of how God used King Cyrus, the leaders of the Trans Eurphrates, King Artaxerxes and King Darius to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The very people and plans to stop this wound up revealing the original edict by Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. God loves to turn things on end and surprise us, SUMites. Remember, things won't look the way you expect. This is not a time of either or. It's a time of yes and both and AMEN!

So let's be in prayer together for our loved ones.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. — 2 Kings 6:15-17

Lord Jesus, open the eyes of our spouses and loved ones that they me see YOU! In the name  of Jesus, amen!

I love you so much, SUMites! You are amazing!
Dineen

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Defending the Bible

A few days ago, I received a prayer request from a new reader. As I answered her email, I realized that her situation is also similar to many of us. So, I want to share her question/prayer request and my answer.

Let me know if you are in this season of marriage and struggle and I will be so glad to pray for you. Hugs, Lynn

Provers 3  1-6From B:

My husband says he believes but every time that I open my Bible or talk about God he makes me feel like I'm wasting my time and brings up controversial issues in the bible to try to prove it’s not true. It weakens my faith because he makes really good points and it then makes me feel stupid for believing it. I don't want to feel this way and I know it's Satan trying to steal my joy and my faith and he’s using my husband to do it. So, I'm asking my sister's in Christ to be in FERVENT prayer over my husband. Thank you all.

Dear B:

Girl, do I ever know how you feel. Indeed, this was my life as well in the early years of my marriage. I will assure you it’s all real. Jesus is real and the more you grow in your faith the easier it will be for you  to walk in confidence in the truth of the Word. Also, do not feel as though you must defend your faith or the Bible to your husband. It’s impossible to make them see the truths in the Word without the Holy Spirit. It’s not a book of logic. It’s a book of faith. Faith is believing. But right now, I will be the voice to tell you it’s all real. Hold on to those words when the enemy uses your husband to shame you.

Keep walking in joy and hope because you will not be disappointed. You may need to have a conversation with your husband. Pray first for wisdom and timing. Let your husband know that you don't have every answer he is looking for but your experience and the joy in your heart outweighs the questions you have. And over time you will receive answers because God loves to reveal himself to those who are diligently looking for Him.

Ask your husband to just respect your faith because it makes you happy. Ask him not to tear you and your faith down and then promise him you won’t push your faith on him. Prayerful and hopefully this kind of conversation will develop into peace in your marriage.

In the meantime, pray…. Your prayers are utterly powerful. Claim your husband and marriage with 1 Corinthians 7:14. It is our power passage. Read about there here.

I pray for your husband and I bless you with love, a peace that passes all understanding, joy, forgiveness and more faith. In Jesus name. AMEN

Hugs, Lynn

SUMites, have you struggled like this? Do you have any words of encouragement to give to B? See you in the comments. Lynn

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The Power of God’s Words

SwordCloud
"Jesus is your sword."

One of the things I love about living in Florida is the cloud formations. They are tall and fluffy, filling the sky with a terrain of fluffy like cotton. Then other times they are imposing and dark, flashing with lighting and pouring down rain. Rarely is the sky completely devoid of these puffy wonders.

One bright and humid Florida morning, I went for a walk to worship and pray. My conversation with God that day was about prayer and words. I wanted to understand more about what He seemed to be impressing upon my heart to understand.

I looked up in the sky and noticed a could that looked just like a sword, which I thought was so interesting. But what made it relevant was what the Holy Spirit spoke to me as I looked at this simple formation.

“Jesus is your sword.”

My friends, this truth clicked into place in my heart and then my mind and the Scriptures I’d ready many times seemed to take on even deeper meaning. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:1-5

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14

This truth already blew my mind, SUMites, but then to think of it in terms of our spiritual armor, brings a whole new level of awe. 

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, — Ephesians 6:17

Jesus is the Word and the sword of the Spirit is God’s Word, so Jesus truly is our sword! So what does that mean?

The Ezekiel Model

In the book of Ezekiel, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over dry bones to hear the word of the Lord. First of all, prophesy simply means to speak by inspiration. We are all call to do this and since we have the Holy Spirit living in us, it makes sense that we can do this. (That’s a whole other series best saved for another time.)

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! — Ezekiel 37:4

So Ezekiel is told by the Spirit of God to speak God’s words of life over these bones. The word ‘hear’ in Hebrew is šâma’ and holds such meanings as to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.), declare, discern, give ear, (cause to, let, make to) hear(-ken, tell), listen, make (a) noise, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, (make a) proclaim(-ation), publish, regard, report, shew (forth), (make a) sound, tell, understand, whosoever (heareth), witness. And that’s the edited down version. 

In similar intensity, ‘word’ means ḏâḇâr in Hebrew and translates to such meanings as a word; by implication, a matter (as spoken of) or thing; adverbially, a cause: act, advice, affair, answer, commandment, commune(-ication), concern(-ing), confer, counsel, decree, deed, duty, effect, eloquent, errand, glory, manner, matter, message, portion, power, promise, provision, purpose, question, rate, reason, report, request. Again, the edited down version.

These are two hefty words that hold a lot of meaning and impact. Which then led me to Jeremiah 1:12 where God asks Aaron what he sees. 

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

Did you know that word ‘watching’ means to be alert i.e. sleepless? Now look at Isaiah 55:11

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. — Isaiah 55:10-11

My friends, this is like a double promise. God decrees (shall) His Word will not only be life giving but also powerful and effective to accomplish His purposes. So, think about this in context of praying Scriptures, which are God’s Word and are thus in alignment with His heart and purposes, and what could happen as a result of doing so. And I mean literally praying Scriptures out loud, word for word. 

For example, our salvation word this year is Jeremiah 24:7. Almost every day I am praying this:

Lord, thank you for giving every one of our SUMite spouses a heart that knows You are God. Thank You that You have declared they will be your sons and daughters and You will be their God. Thank You that they are returning to You wholeheartedly and will follow You all the days of their lives.

We can do this with any Scripture in the Bible, SUMites. Speak God’s Word out as truth. 

Lord, Your Word says that by the stripes of Jesus Christ I am healed, therefore I declare that I am healed of (name specific illnesses, diseases and conditions). (Isaiah 53:5). And I declare the blood of Jesus over my entire body and declare I walk in divine health. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Lord, you are not willing that any should be lost so I rejoice and thank You that You are pursuing my spouse, my children, my family members with your relentless love and I stand in agreement with You that me and and my entire household will be saved. In the name of Jesus, amen! (Matthew 18:14, Acts 16.31).

My friends, whenever you read your Bible and find yourself stopped or stuck on a piece of God’s Word, ask the Holy Spirit what it means, what you need to know about it, and how you are to pray into it, believe it and then decree it. 

One last story…

In my post last Friday I talked about Isaiah six and how the praises of the seraphim shook the place. Did you know this happened in the New Testament too, with the disciples? The disciples were faced with great opposition, so they joined together and prayed.

And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. — Acts 4:29-31

What did they pray for, my friends? Boldness to share His Word. They asked for healing power, miracles and wonders (what Jesus had taught and sent them out to do), all done in the name of Jesus. And what did God do? He shook the place with His presence! They prayed according to His Word (Jesus) and God answered.

So, my friends, I’m not saying that every time we pray, our houses are supposed to shake, but what if they did? What if we asked God for that kind of boldness and courage to pray and share Him with others and walked in miracles and wonders as the evidence of it? What if we already are?

I believe our prayers “shake” the heavens more than we realize. And the more boldness and courage we have, the more we shake the rafters!

O Lord, give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching Your word. Stretch out You hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. Amen!

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen

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Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

Dear friends, I'm traveling this week and will be in Nashville for the ACFW conference. I'm thrilled to share this most encouraging post by SUMite, Dee Rusnak. How amazing to think our Lord and Savior Jesus understands our mismatched places because He lived it too. 

Thank you, Dee, for once again sharing your beautiful heart and encouraging words with us! Love you!
See you next week, SUMites!
Dineen

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

JesusTestedHow often have we learned that God is never in a hurry, or at least within our time frame? Or better, never in the way we expect? We read in Joshua how ripe Jericho was for the taking, but God said not so fast with the Israelites who were hungry to take the land. And, when they did, it was in such an unorthodox way (Joshua 6 - marching around the city). Why do we want to rush things and do it in our own way? For me it's so I can rest knowing my ducks are all in a row. If my entire family were saved, then peace would be upon me, or so I think. But God is drawing them in His time and according to His ways. I struggle with that.

In reading through God's Word we find that the family of Jesus didn't believe while He was among them, even to the point of sarcasm. "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to Him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world' For even His own brothers did not believe in Him." (John 7:3-5)

Mark (3:21) recounts that His family thought "He is out of His mind!" How did Jesus handle the fact that His own family didn't believe? Matthew 13 lists them as James, Joseph, Simon and Jude, and some unnamed sisters. Jesus certainly had the power to change their hearts. After all, time was ticking and He wasn't going to be on earth much longer. Time to get Your ducks in a row here, Lord! Did Mary teach them and groom them as they were growing up, especially nearing adulthood, about their older brother as Savior? Did His true identity come as a total shock to His younger siblings? Where were they during His crucifixion? Didn't they love Him or try to defend Him? Interestingly, none of this is mentioned in God's Word.

However, we know that some were saved. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul writes "He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of His followers at the same time...Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." Mary and His brothers waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit following His ascension, "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." (Acts 1:14) But, which brothers, if not all? Two brothers that we know of, James and Jude, were converted and wrote books in the New Testament. James later became a leader in the Jerusalem church. What about His sisters? Did He pray for His Father to draw them? Were there still family members who did not believe? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins?

If Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are, was He as concerned for the souls of His family, just as we are for those in our lives? "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was quite familiar with God's ways and His timing. Never do we see Him fretting throughout His life. As Psalm 37 says "Do not fret - fretting only brings harm." Yet He entrusted God with all things, including Himself, and the salvation of His earthly family…and us!

Jesus prayed…

“I do not pray for these alone (disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)

SUMs, Jesus had a mismatched family! We are literally walking in His shoes (sandals)! When we read that He has experienced everything we go through, did you ever consider this situation? We’ve never been alone, SUMs, nor will we ever be! He’s been where we are! He gets it! In His great compassion and love for us, He has given us an example to follow of what we’re to do while we wait: Pray. Trust. Obey. Look what happened with James and Jude! Not only did they believe, but were used by God as Bible authors! Forget the ducks. Instead, together let’s listen intently to God’s very heartbeat: "who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and let us watch Him do what's impossible for us but is so very possible for Him!

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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What Does God Want From Me?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHello SUMite Nation,

The Holy Spirit is speaking the Word – PRAYER! (Don’t tune out. This is good.)

“Oh man, did she just write – PRAYER.”

Did you just whisper this under your breath?

Let me explain what I feel the Lord is impressing upon me as well as upon most of His church right now.

Prayer.

Some of you may remember that I served on staff in Women’s Ministry at my local church for years. I led Bible study groups, choose studies for our women and directed a lot of the Bible study efforts. I left that position four or five years ago as our online and book ministry began to grow.

What I always found fascinating and utterly disappointing in the years of choosing Bible studies was the fact that if we chose a Bible study about prayer, no one signed up. Yep.

Bummer! But true.

However, what I’m discovering in 2016 is that God’s people are hungry to learn about prayer and learn to pray effectively. It was evident by the online class on prayer this past Tuesday. And it seems that every time I post a prayer on Facebook, it gets shared around. I’m so truly excited about this change in the heart of the Church. Hallelujah.

So over the next few posts I want to pour more into prayer. I want to encourage all of you who attended the class with more information. And for those of you who missed it, now is your time to also gain wisdom, knowledge and anointing to pray with power for REAL results!

Sound good?

A word before we continue: Prayer is NOT a way to arm twist the Lord into doing our will. Prayer is a conversation between a Father and His child. It's learning to listen to God and then obeying His will. 

I want to look at a few keys to vibrant prayer as well as “blocks” that keep us from breakthroughs. Such as:

  • The Word of God
  • Belief
  • Confidence
  • Will
  • Courage

And finally we will discuss the “why.” When prayer remains unanswered, why?

I might throw a few extras in somewhere along the line. Also, I won’t spend too much time on discussion about praying the Word of God because that was covered in the class on Tuesday. (I hope to offer that class again in the future, for those of you who wanted to attend and couldn’t.)

You know maybe we actually need to start at the beginning. How do we create a prayer life? What do we do when we just can’t pray? How do we respond when we feel so beaten that our prayers are full of defeat and tears? Anyone?

I’ve shared many times that all I have in the Kingdom, is the result of my intentional efforts to create time and space to be with God. I know this is often THE most challenging part of prayer but even a few minutes a day will change your life. You can read about that here: Breakthrough Praying for Breakthrough Living. (Skip down to where you see the Bible and start reading there.)

Today, I pray significantly different than I did in 2008 when that post was written. I often pray about the same things but the way I pray, the words I speak and my convictions are what has changed and is also what moves heaven in response.

So, today, I challenge you that if you to create and stick to a time to read the Word and pray everyday.

Let me leave today’s post by reiterating two essential components of effective prayer.

  1. Create a time and space devoted to Bible reading and prayer.
  2. Use the Word of God in your prayers.

Okay, what might be helpful is for all of you to share how you created time and space in your life for prayer. Share in the comments. Someone reading this need to emulate what you did. Especially help mothers of young children with suggestions.

Also, share in the comments if you learned news tips from the class, Praying the Word, and how you will now pray the Word in your prayer life. Someone reading this also needs to read how you pray the Word.

SUMites, God intends to set His praying people upon a broken, dark and evil world. He expects His kids to pray and bring His Kingdom to earth. Are you ready? It’s gonna be fantastic.

I’m traveling the next couple of weeks. I will be checking in here as I am able and pop in to be part of our astounding community.

Okay, PLEASE take a minute to write what you have learned to help a SUMite on the road behind you. Love you a ton, Lynn

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You are Powerful!

James5-16My friends, today’s post came as a complete surprise to me. Interesting way to start, isn’t it? 

Well, the Holy Spirit seems to be doing things quite differently in me these days, so I’m doing my best to follow His lead and trust He has a something already in mind even when He waits to the last minute! For this planner girl who likes her ducks in a row, that’s a bit of a stretch, but I am more than willing to walk this adventure with Him. It’s full of surprises! 

So how did this unexpected post unfold? An email. I was answering a dears sister’s plea for help about praying for her family. As I wrote to her, the verse keeps speaking to my heart right now became a key element, which then led to another verse that I’ve held dear for a while. And then in the midst of it, the Holy Spirit led me to a third piece of Scripture that bridges the two. 

When God told me He’s building bridges and making connections, I didn’t expect this kind of connection too! God is a lot fun, my friends. I think He absolutely loves it when He surprises us with new revelations of His Word, which reveals more of Who He is. 

So, that first verse comes from Jeremiah, during a conversation, or rather a revelation from God, to help Jeremiah see his calling. God had chosen him to be a prophet to the nations and a mouthpiece for His plans and intentions toward His people. And after reassuring Jeremiah that He is (present tense) with Jeremiah all the way, God gives Jeremiah words. And not only that, He tells Jeremiah what He does with His words. 

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

Now think about this, SUMites. Just as God gave Jeremiah His words to speak, God has given us His Words as well.

 The entire Bible. 

And just as God gave Jeremiah authority as His prophet to speak God’s Words, we’ve been given that are authority too as God’s children through the blood of Christ.

And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. — Romans 5:9-11 (Read verses 1-8 and let the fullness of God’s love wash over you too.)

Now the last Scripture that you’ve probably heard me repeat rather frequently:

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. — James 5:16b

So what’s the full connection here? We are made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as righteous people our prayers are powerful, effective and produce wonderful results, because God watches over His Words to perform it. 

In other “words,” when we pray Scriptures out loud, we can expect our prayers to be effective because one, we are righteous people through Jesus, and two, God is watching over those Words to perform it. Why does He do this? Because His words are full of His heart and love, so when we pray it, we are praying in alignment with His heart, will and love for us and others. And because His Word says so! 

SUMites, I want you to really think about this. The revelation of this is mind blowing if you take it in and BELIEVE it. That’s the key ingredient in this scenario is to believe it. I don’t mean have faith or bigger faith. I mean, just believe it. Know it’s the truth. How else could it be?

This is not about us trying to control or manipulate God. We are simply praying His words back to Him and His Word says: 

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. — Isaiah 55:10-11

Okay, yet another connection! I love the connections in God’s Word, my friends. They are constant, continuous, multi-layered and fascinating! 

Now if you feel you need to understand more about praying Scripture out loud or creating prayers from Scripture, be sure to sign up for Lynn’s class, Praying the Word. You don’t want to miss it!

I love you, my friends. You are more powerful and effective in the lives of your loved ones than you realize. Walk in confidence with your God and His Word. You are righteous and powerful through the blood of Jesus and in the name of Jesus! Amen!

*****

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Change The DATE - Praying The Word

OOPIE!

Yep, Lynn's back and I'm showing my blonde. 

Many of you have already registered for the LIVE online class, Praying The Word of God with me. AWESOMENESS!

However, I gave you the wrong date. The date of both classes is now scheduled for August 16th. Class times at 12:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. PACIFIC. This is the following week on a Tuesday.

If you already registered and cannot make that date, please forgive me. I hope to offer the class again later in the fall.

It's not too late to sign up. To register visit the registration page Praying the Word with Lynn Donovan. The class is FREE.

Let me ask you a few questions. Do you want to pray with power? Do you want to pray and actually know God heard you? Do you want to see the results from your prayers?

This class is intended to instruct you how to activate the angelic realm to respond to your prayers. We will look at several passages and I will teach you how to pray them with power and purposes in your life. One of my power passages is Matthew 18:18. Can't wait to teach you how to pray this with power. In this session we will also cover praying out of our identity and from the place of authority as a Child of our good Papa.

Once again sorry for the date change. Stay tuned because our prayers absolutely are intricate to the salvation and success of our spouse, children and our own lives.

Register today: Praying The Word with Lynn Donovan

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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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Dealing with Disappointment

ID-100382092
Photo courtesy of taoty/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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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Part Four: The Promised Provision

IMG_0009My friends, are you ready for more of God’s amazing truth and love? Are you ready to have your thinking transformed a bit today? Let’s go back to the book of Jeremiah and take another look at King Zedekiah’s story.

Let’s look at the first five verses of Jeremiah 34, because this is where things get really interesting.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.

 “‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD.” — Jeremiah 34:1-5

I just recently listened to a faith message that presented a concept I hadn’t considered about God’s character and plans of us. Then God showed me the truth of it here in this passage in Jeremiah 34.

In every difficulty we face, there is a God-given promise. 

If you think about it, if you think about God’s nature and promises like Romans 8:28 that God works for our good in ALL things, then it makes perfect sense. That alone is the promise in a nutshell. Especially believers in Jesus who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. God will not and cannot deny Himself.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2 Timothy 2:13

God gave Jeremiah a message for King Zedekiah of what was going to happen, that Nebuchadneezzar would take the city of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and there would be no escape. Yet God has made a provision for Zedekiah—a promise. Jeremiah even says, “Listen to this promise form the Lord…”

In Jeremiah 38:17-20, King Zedekiah questions Jeremiah again, and again Jeremiah repeats God’s promise. Which if you look back to what Jeremiah said in chapter 34, showed God’s intention to honor Zedekiah’s obedience with a legacy of honor and praise. Sadly, Zedekiah admits his afraid to surrender and fears King Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath more than he trusts God to keep His promise. In chapter 39 we read of his failed attempt to escape with resulted in him watching his sons be slaughtered before his enemy gouged out his eyes. 

Not pleasant, I know, but my dear SUMites, here’s the other part of this amazing thing God is showing me. That promise in our challenge is the key to our breakthrough and our victory, and we walk as conquerors. And the more we do it, the more afraid of us the enemy is! 

This is what it means to fight from victory, not for victory. A promise for every thing we face is already in place for us to find and claim. We are already victorious, already declared conquerors. Now it’s up to us to live like it.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. — Romans 8:37

Not just partial victory, my friends. Overwhelming victory. God won the battle for us when He put our promise in place. Ask Abba what promise He has put into place for the circumstances you are struggling with. Has He already given you a Scripture or two, like He has given me for my daughter Leslie? Has He spoken a word of reassurance to you in the dark of night that you’re afraid to hope for?

My friends, this beautiful SUM family is a huge testimony of God’s faithfulness. He will not fail you. And trust me, I know how hard it can be to look for God in a situation so difficult that all we can see is the mountain of our pain, yet not a glimpse of what God is doing in the midst of it. But I know—have learned—from those very situations that He’s most definitely there. Just not how we expect Him to be. It may not make sense…yet, but it will. 

And I’m discovering that those are the most astonishing moments of God’s undeniable presence manifesting all around us. He’s always been there. I just needed to quit looking for what I expected and see Him.

I love you, my friends. Know that God is giving you the power and the desire to do whatever it is He’s asking you (Phil. 2:13) and He absolutely adores you.

Father God, bless Your SUM Nation with every spiritual blessing You have already set aside for each of us. Fill us, Holy Spirit, with wisdom and revelation to know the direction to go no matter what the circumstances around us look like or are telling us to do. We want only Your voice, Lord Jesus, our Great Shepherd, who gave everything for us to live the abundant life You’ve set before us. Fill us with great courage to take the next step, and the next and the next. Your will be done, Lord, on earth, right now as You have already declared it in Heaven. And to You, Lord, be all the glory. We love You! In the name of Jesus, we pray, amen!

Love you, SUMites!
~Dineen

*****

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Part Three: When Things Don’t Make Sense

IMG_0008Recently, I sat in a big room with about 50 people worshiping God in their own way, creating one big mass of noise. But when I closed my eyes, Holy Spirit tuned my ears to hear each individual sound—instruments, voices singing and praying. Each one was distinct and clear. Then I opened my eyes and heard God in my spirit say, “Things won’t look the way you expect.”

The next day, God brought me to Jeremiah 33-39 and sat me there for at least a week. I’m still trying to digest the full range of God’s heart in this, my friends, so I suspect more will unfold as I share with you what God is teaching me right now in this season.

So let’s start with the story of King Zedikiah of Judah and Jeremiah the prophet. There are so many details to this story so I encourage you to read these chapters yourself and study them. But let’s set the stage for the story about obedience and promises.

The attack against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is in actuality a tool God is using to discipline the Israelites who have continually disobeyed God. Yet God has made a provision for His people to still live. He’s warned His people repeatedly through Jeremiah, yet the leadership continues to refuse to do what Jeremiah is telling them. 

First he warned King Zedekiah’s predecessor and brother, King Jehoiakim, who burned the scroll recording God’s instructions and provisions to Jeremiah. Jeremiah dictates another scroll to his secretary with even more detail. Then Zedekiah is appointed king over Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, but is warned by God through Jeremiah not to believe the forces of Babylon will stay away. 

And there is a Pharaoh and an Egyptian army involved in all this but I won’t go into that. To say the least, Jeremiah is a complicated book with many pieces, people and armies coming into play. Meanwhile, God is instructing them to stop fighting against the Babylon invasion—to surrender to their enemy— so that they may live. Despite Jeremiah’s continual warnings, the kings and officials continue to resist.

Why? Because it doesn’t make sense. None of it did. I can just imagine them sitting there, remembering the promises from Jeremiah 29 about a hope and a future, and more words of provision in Jeremiah 33, and scratching their heads at the disconnect. In their mind, surrendering to their enemy seemed an impossible path to peace, prosperity and restoration—the very things God promised them if they obeyed His direction to surrender.

Like that moment in a room full of people worshiping, as I observed with my eyes, I could only discern the whole as a noisy mass. Yet when I closed my eyes and trusted the leading of the Holy Spirit, He revealed to me the details of each part and the beauty each held separately. He wanted me to understand that what I observed with my logic, assumptions, and perhaps even presumptions didn’t encompass God’s perspective, nor His plans for me that evening.

He wanted to use circumstances that made no sense to teach me something and to prepare me for what He has provided for me in the coming weeks and months. I knew then He was about to change things up big time. And He did. Basically, my friends, He’s turned my world upside down (in a good way) and changed up how I hear Him and brought new clarity to who I am in Him, how I am to function in my giftings, and what I’m called to do in this great big adventure of His. 

But I had to walk through a lot of things that didn’t makes sense and do the things He showed me that also didn’t always make sense. In some areas, He’s still leading me doing things I don’t quite understand, but I am learning to obey and trust Him to show me what I need to know when I need to know it.

This is all part of the upgrades I spoke of last week and is also His provision for what’s coming. So, my friends, I want to encourage you to dig a little deeper in the circumstances of your life that aren’t making sense. Ask God to show you want you need to know and/or do. Perhaps it’s a time for you to close your eyes and let Him separate the pieces to help you understand what He’s doing in each part to bring clarity and purpose. Read Proverbs 3:5-6, study it, make it your way of living life with God. There is such great peace in this.

In the next part of this series, we'll return to the story of King Zedekiah and Jeremiah where I will share a stunning truth about the difficulties we face—a provision for each and every one. This one’s rockin’ my world a bit—in a great way! I can’t wait to share that one with you.

Love you, SUMites! Remember God’s truth that He is ALWAYS for you and NOTHING can separate you from His love (Romans 8:31-39).
~Dineen

 

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A Past and Present Story

Hello, SUM family. I'm with Lynn in wondering how this month has gone by so fast! Here I thought I'd run out of stories only to find I needed to pick and choose the best ones, because there are so many. And I will say they are truly God's stories—the evidence of His love and presence. We all have His-stories to tell, my friends. They are our testimonies.

My story today has it’s roots in the past and is blossoming in unexpected ways today today. I never expected to be ordained. In a way that truth is still settling into my heart and mind, because it's not something I ever felt worthy to aspire to. But we know our worth is determined by what Jesus did and not what we do. I find I must remind myself of that daily. I trust God daily to free me from that performance mentality.

But you know what I love most about this. I was ordained by this ministry—our SUM ministry. I never imagined such a thing possible ten years ago. Or even five years ago! It's just “right" that it comes from this beautiful place. You know what I mean? There simply aren't words to express the joy that brings me.

And there is a humorous side to this story, SUMites. I wondered what my hubby would think of this so I explained I was going to be ordained and then asked him, "How do you feel about being married to a pastor?"

He laughed. In a good way. You know what's so funny about this story? Only a week or so before this, he and I were talking about the churches I've been visiting with a my best friend who just moved here in January. I've been helping her find a church home. The thing is, I'm still in this church search myself now that we've settled in Florida year round. I love the church I've been attending, but it's a big church and I'm not sure that's where God wants me to stay.

Do you know what my hubby said to me?

"You should start your own church."

And he was serious! SUMites, I'm just stunned at how God works in our circumstances. That is the last thing I ever expected my husband to say. 

I shared this story with my friend and what she said stopped me in my tracks. "How crazy will it be when you're both pastors of a church."

SUMites, I don't aspire to pastor a church, and I still don't. I feel like I'm already doing that right here, which still blows my mind. But that statement fueled the tiny seed simmering in my heart to one day serve God with my husband, to be united in that calling, whatever it looks like. I know you understand that dream too, because it's a hope we all hold close in our hearts.

You see, the story gets a little more interesting here. I asked God a few months ago what spiritual gift(s) he'd given my husband, and He opened my eyes to see it was evangelism. God also showed me how Mike is already operating in that gift, which is absolutely mind boggling. 

Why? When I met my husband, he was one of the shyest people I'd ever met. He didn't like crowds and kept to himself. Even in the early years of our marriage, if we went to an event, he mostly stayed with people he knew. 

Now I watch up him go up to complete strangers on the beach, in a restaurant, or a store and strike up conversations all the time. Complete strangers! And he seems totally at ease about it. I watch, and I'm in awe of how God works in our spouses even when they don't know or want it. Even when we don't know or can't see it. He does, my friends. He truly does.

SUMites, God has planted and is watering this seed in my heart—a dream of possibility. A dream I realize I'd put in the impossibility column early on, even ten years ago, and now God has moved it not just to the "all things are possible with Him" column, but to the "DREAM BIG" column as well. God has done a great work in me too on that one!

How about you, my precious SUMites? What dream is God seeding in your heart? What hope have you held close, yet been too afraid to share with your Great Big God? Share in the comments—I'd love to pray with you for this dream or for God to seed a dream in your heart.

On Friday's post, Lynn shared Karen's one minute prayer idea and 78 of you left comments with your hubby's name. Seventy-eight! Many of you replied to other SUMites that you would pray for her spouse and have partnered up. I've compiled a complete list and will continue to update it. If you'd like a copy, email me

IMG_5046
My Bible at Jeremiah 24:7. I have a hand written version of the list too. Started the list by hand and Holy Spirit impressed upon me to keep doing it. So now I have both!
 

SUMites, I am standing on the word and Scripture God gave me for our community in January, and I am placing this list in my Bible at Jeremiah 24. I declare this over our spouses nearly every day and I believe like I have never believed before that God is and going to do this.

He is faithful and He will do what He says! Amen? Amen!

Love you so much, my SUM family!
~Dineen

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The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

19197771_sOn Tuesday I wrote about God’s promises and asked you to choose one promise you are standing for right now, write it on an idea card and as a prophetic act, stand on it and speak this promise over yourself, your family, or whatever the situation this promise is for.

I want to back up just a bit and be sure that our community understands just how powerful it is the speak God’s Word back to Him, to speak what came from the supernatural into the natural realm (Heb. 11:3). If if you read the Psalms, you’ll notice King David was a master at this.

Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. — Psalm 27:13

In the early years of my Christian faith, I didn’t understand this. I always read my Bible, studied Scriptures and memorized verses here and there, but it wasn’t until much later that I was taught the power of speaking God’s Word out loud, speaking it back to Him. Scripture even tells us this.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” —Isaiah 55:10-13 NLT

As I’ve learned to do this more and more, I’ve seen God’s Word produce the fruit He promised. I believe we give Abba great pleasure when we trust His Word and speak it back to Him. And there are many ways you can do this, my friends.

  1. Simply read His Word out loud. As powerful as playing Christian music in your home can be to change the atmosphere, reading God’s Word out loud in your home is even more so. I know this isn’t always possible with our mismatched situations, but take advantage of the times you can. I did this quite frequently over my children’s rooms as they were growing up and I speak God’s Word over my marriage bed and room. Bless and protect!
  2. Make it a prayer. Take the Words and speak them as prayer to God with your name or a loved one’s name in it. One piece of Scripture that I used quite a bit in recent years is from Psalm 91. Here’s an example:

    “Because Dineen loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges My name. She will call on me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” — Psalm 91:14-16 NLT

    I even did this with the entire Psalm and still personalize it as prayer of protection. This spoke to my heart and gave me comfort. And the more I heard it, the more I believed it.
    So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. — Romans 10:17 NKJV
  3. Speak it back to the Source. When we read a verse and speak it back to God as a statement of truth, again our faith is strengthened and so is our trust. And as I shared on Tuesday about God’s faithfulness, He returns that trust with His faithfulness to His Word and to us.

During a difficult time I spoke back 1 Peter 5:6-7 and 10 to God almost every day.

Vs. 6-7: Lord, I humble myself under Your mighty power, and I know that at the right time, You will me up in honor. So I give you all my worries and cares, because I know You care about me.

Vs. 10: Lord, in Your kindness You called me to share in Your eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after I have suffered a little while, You will restore, support and strengthen me, and You will place me on a firm foundation.

Why did I do this? Look at verses eight and nine:

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. — 1 Peter 5:8-9

The enemy was hitting me hard at the time and this was one of many verses God led me too. Then one day while in church during worship, I heard God clearly say, “I am lifting you up today.”

God spoke back His Word to me as I had been speaking it to Him. And He did exactly what He said, my friends. I find myself wanting to do this very type of scriptural prayer more and more, because I love to hear our Great God speak it back. He’s so faithful!

SUM family, I know many of us are feeling down trodden. I am battling new discouragement over my health—I was finally feeling almost back to normal from my shoulder ordeal and now my body is having some kind of allergic reaction that is making life very unpleasant. In the last four months I wasn’t as diligent due to the pain I was in and the enemy took full advantage. Just as 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, but that doesn’t change God’s faithfulness. I am committed to praying these Scriptures and more over myself and my family. And over you, my friends. I often pray over your comments with Scriptures.

Why? Because…

“I trust You, Oh Lord, for You are my God (Psalm 31:14)! And I KNOW Your are working all this out for our good (Romans 8:28)!

Amen? Amen!

Love you!
Dineen

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God Keeps His Promises

1Cor1-9My friends, I want to take our theme of standing for Jesus and move to standing on His promises. What does that mean? How do we identify a promise in the Bible? How do we pray and stand upon them, especially when what we see happening in our lives or those we love or in the world around us doesn't agree?

I love God’s promises. I firmly believe and declare regular that they are my shield and protection as it says in Psalm 91. When daughter Leslie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, I stood on every promise He gave me through that and He was faithful to His Word. God has proven His faithfulness to me mainly through my daughters and my marriage.

But I will also be honest and authentic in saying I feel like this area of my faith has been tested more in the last two years than I ever imagined they could be. Right now I can also honestly say I’m beginning to understand Job and even identify with the poor dude. My family and I are getting slammed in ways I didn’t see coming—my daughter’s and my health, a marriage in our extended family is threatened, and some other unforeseen challenges have emerged. Yet in other ways, God’s blessings have poured out in abundance and remain sure.

I remember walking and praying one day as my mind contemplated God’s miracles, specifically how we see and perceive them as opposed to our spouses. I tend to try to look at things from my husband’s perspective as well in order to understand him better—I’m still trying to figure the guy out!

And in this reflective moment I could honestly see how someone could “reason” away the evidence of God. But quicker than I could finish the thought, God stopped me in my tracks and said, “No, Dineen, everything is birthed in the supernatural first. Never forget that.”

Then He led me to Hebrews 11… 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. — Hebrews 11:1-3

I was quite familiar with verse one, but it was verse three that He wanted me to see that day to bring His point all the way home to my heart. 

Everything starts with the word of God. 

With His Words.

With His promises.

And He’s reminded me of this for the last several days as I contemplate the chaos that seems to be swirling around my immediate and extended family. 

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled. — Romans 15:4

And that’s the key, to read the Bible and ask Holy Spirit to reveal the promises we need for that moment, that day, that situation, or whatever need and challenge we are facing. Or even just the reassurance of His presence, love and protection. Because He knows we need hope and encouragement constantly to walk in faith and STAND on His promises. 

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises… — 2 Peter 1:3-5

Yes, God has given us everything we need, because He gave Himself to us through Jesus. And His Word is full of those great and precious promises. But there is a role we play in this divine exchange, my friends. It’s in that very last line of the Scriptures above, a line that captured my attention just yesterday as I sat with my Bible on my lap, searching for a much needed Word of promise, hope and encouragement.

He reminded me through Peter’s words to make very effort to respond to those promises I searched for so hungrily. There in lies our side of this divine exchange, to receive His Word as truth and stand in belief and agreement with it.

When God says He will never leave or forsake us, He will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). So when we feel like God is distant, we can claim His promise that He will never abandon us and declare this truth to make the enemy and his lies flee.

When God says He is for us, not against us (Rom. 8:31), then we can trust we have the Creator of the Universe backing us up (Isa. 58:8). All those “things” that seem to be coming against us will actually be turned around and used for our good (Rom. 8:28). 

When we wonder how we can love like Jesus and be His light in the world, we can trust that He had already told us we are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14) and also trust that He is giving us the power and the desire to be that light and do the things that please Him (Phil. 2:13).

And when we run into doubt, we can stand on His very Word that says He is faithful to do what He says, because we have entered into partnership with His Son, Jesus (I Cor. 1:9).

My precious SUM family, I want you to take one promise from the Bible—one you already know and want to stand for, or ask the Holy Spirit to show you one you need right now—and write it on an index card or piece of paper. Then as a prophetic statement, I want you to stand on it and speak that promise out loud over yourself, your family, and/or whoever or whatever it is for. Do this every day for a week, a month, or however long it takes to become your truth. 

Then when your promise is birthed from the supernatural into this earthly realm, come and give your testimony. For we are the SUMites and we stand in faith as uniquely as any church or faith based community as I have ever encountered. And I am so grateful for you, my SUM family. I am standing with you just as I know you are standing with me.

I love you so very much,
Dineen


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We Stand for Jesus

1415366_heart_cross_2A week ago I shared in my post the things I am standing for. I sensed then Holy Spirit might be leading me to share a story that began in 2013 that had to do with the word and command in the Bible, to “stand.” Jesus presented it to me as a question, but its full meaning wouldn’t become clearer until almost a year later. 

Will you stand for Me?

The question came as I worshiped with over a thousand others at a faith based conference.

Will you stand for Me?

So unexpected and suddenly there. Often I would hear something and wonder, “Is that me or is that you, Lord?” This time I knew it was Jesus. 

I went to my knees. Yes, Lord, I will stand for you.

That was at the end of 2013 and before I understood that this question was the beginning of what was to come—a very challenging time that would transform my mind and restore my soul.

Months later I would come to understand that this question was part of His preparation, and a year later, He would show me a connection in His Word that brought all the pieces together.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. — Matthew 16:24 ESV

This verse showed up in my email inbox—twice in one day. I’ve learned to pay heed to such things, so I mined this verse for the nuggets it held. I’ve always wondered about and wanted to understand exactly what Jesus meant by “taking up our cross.” So I looked up the Greek translation of this word, “cross” — stauros

I found the expected definitions: a stake or post, a pole or cross, figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial, etc. But I noticed it had a root word as well, so I followed the trail to yet another word, one I recognized from another verse. Histēmi, which means “to stand.”

My heart quickened and my fingers dashed over my iPad to Ephesians 6—the armor of God:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. — Ephesians 6:11-15 ESV

And there it was. The same word, histēmi. To bear our cross for Jesus meant to stand for Him. That was the cross He’d asked me to carry, to stand for Him through a difficult time He knew had to come but I didn’t. And as I stood (though wobbly and grateful for the prayer warriors holding up my arms), He fought for me. He never left. He never forsook me, never rejected me, never judged me. Just loved me with a relentless passion that would calm, claim and heal my fractured heart.

My friends, Jesus does this for you too. He stands with us as we stand for our spouses, our marriages, our children, our family and for each other. He is our Savior, our Friend, our Advocate, our Healer. He is the source of our strength and joy.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:12 NIV

Lord Jesus, I stand with my SUMite sisters and brothers and ask that You restore the joy of Your salvation to each one and give each of them a willing spirit to sustain them in all areas of their lives. Let their hearts be comforted and filled with Your peace. Thank You, Lord Jesus, our Prince of Peace, amen!

Love you, my friends!
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Reflections on the Apostle Paul and Life

19197771_sHello, my SUM family. I'm writing to you while on the road. An asphalt ribbon stretches before us as my hubby drives us across the United States. The U-haul attached to our trusty VW wagon holds the remainder of our possessions—at least all that we could fit. And in the backseat our 18 year old Mitty kitty rides trustfully with us to his new home. He's a good little beastie.

ImageWe have officially made Florida our home. Our daughters are now on their own adventures, living in different parts of California. As they helped us pack up the rest of our home of 11 years, my heart walked a dance of memories, both good and challenging. Yes, that house saw a lot of challenges and more importantly, a lot of love.

I will say leaving it was harder than I thought, yet in the same breath I was ready to let go. God provided that house for us miraculously (perhaps a story I'll share when we meet in eternity), and our current move and house building is by His hand of provision as well. You see, He is a faithful God who keeps His Word and promises to us.

Which brings me back to Acts and a man named Paul. Last week I wrote about his transformation. That if the man Saul, a Pharisee of high regard who made his life work to stop the believers of Jesus Christ, could be transformed to Paul, a man sold out for Jesus and determined to bring the Good News everywhere, then no one is beyond the life-changing presence of God. His desire is that all would know Him (2 Peter 3:9), and He is relentless in His pursuit of our spouses.

Paul inspires me. I want to stand for Jesus with that same determination and commitment. I'm sure you do too. Paul's continued defense would take him to Rome to present his case before Caesar, but he would endure great peril to get there. In Acts 27 we read of his journey by ship and the impending shipwreck. Once again he stands confident in God to do what He has said He will do. This time the promise is that none would perish on that ship.

So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.” — Acts 27:25-26

Once again, my mind wanders to imagine Paul standing before a frightened crew, making a bold statement he couldn't prove except for his confidence in Jesus Christ. He must have been very convincing because the crew followed his instructions and not a single man died.

As a newbie Christian reading the Bible, I used to think Paul was just arrogant but then with maturity has come the understanding that Paul was confident in God. And as I read Pau's words in Acts 27, I too believe it will be exactly as God said.

Every promise God gives us will be as He says. He is faithful and keeps His word. We may have to endure a shipwreck to reach the full realization of His promise but, my friends, we will endure and live to see the promise of His heart to us. I believe so passionately in this, that we will see our spouses come to faith this year and beyond. 2016 is just the beginning of the harvest promised to us.

I have stood in faith and confidence that my daughter would be healed of a brain tumor and she was. I am standing once again for her health, for the promise from God that she will be as a well watered garden. And thank you for standing with me with your prayers!

I have stood in faith for twenty years now that my husband will be a man of God and will be a mighty force for the Kingdom. And I continue to stand in faith and belief for this promise to me and to each of you. (Read that promise here.)

I have stood in faith and trust that God would direct my path to achieve the purposes He put me here to accomplish. The last two years alone have challenged me greatly in this area, but I will not relent and back down from what God has called me to do. No plan of the enemy can stand against this, me, or my family. Because God said so (Isaiah 54:17).

I believe, my friends, I believe. How about you? What are you standing for? Let's share in the comments and stand in faith in our God and with each other.

As I finish writing this, we've passed through much of the United States and are nearing home. My friends, please know that I love you, I adore you and I am standing with you. Always. SignatureGraphic2

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How do you "hear God? (part 3)

IStock_000001262149XSmallMy friends, in light of some of the questions generated by my post yesterday, Lynn and I swapped days so I can address some of those today, specifically the mention of fortune cookies. 

First, I want you to know that my heart is for every one of you to walk in deep intimacy with God and hear His voice clearly. I want His very best for you, because I love you so much and we are family. And having that kind of relationship with God makes all the difference in our lives and especially our marriages. When we put God first, He brings order and peace to our lives even in the midst of the storms in our lives and marriages. I know I would not have the marriage I have today had I not made the decision twenty plus years ago to put God first.

But I want to clarify something. My relationship with God and how I hear Him has come from years of studying His Word, sitting under the teaching of trusted leaders, Stephen Ministry and healing rooms training, and, most importantly, a daily commitment to spend time in His presence in prayer, reading the Bible and worship. At this point in my faith journey, this can be an hour or more daily. Usually as much as two hours or more at times. This is what God has called me to do.

I'm not sharing this to brag, but to help you understand the foundation I've built with God to discern and recognize His voice. Along with my continual heart cry to know Him better, I've asked Him to keep me from being deceived in any way. 

The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. — Psalms 32:8

So if I seemed casual about the fortune cookie discussion, please understand I am very careful about things like this. When I am in doubt, I am quick to seek God for wisdom or confirmation. If it doesn’t line up with God’s Word, then it’s not truth and needs to be discarded and ignored. Especially if you are just starting on this path, it’s even more important to be filling and transforming your mind with God’s Word. 

As I replied to Taylor, my goal was to generate some conversation so we could cover those "gray" areas. I think it's important that we carefully guard our minds and hearts. Anything that can create an open door for the enemy needs to be avoided. That is something each of us has to decide for ourselves, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, as we have similar and different areas of vulnerability.

The message Tiffany's shared clearly spoke the truth of Phil 4:19 to her heart, that God would provide for her every need. She received this in the light of the truth Jesus, and what she knew to be true biblically. The confirmations I received were for moves already in place that I knew God had set in place. It was like a love nod from God saying, "you're on the right track!" 

Some things are very clearly not of God, and we can make a clear decision. Other times it’s important that we take it right to Abba and ask for clarity, confirmation, or conviction. And His answer will always be filled with His love and direction, not condemnation (Romans 8:1). Even Jesus did this.

“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” — John 5:30

This is why it's so important that we are constantly reading our Bibles and spending time with God. Our spiritual foundation needs to be strong so that we know the difference between God's voice and the enemy’s.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. — Isaiah 30:21

My friends, Lynn will continue her story about her mother next Tuesday and as this post is long already, I will save my story for next Thursday. Please keep sharing how you are hearing God. The are wonderful and so encouraging! I find myself nodding as I read them and saying, “yes, yes!” SUMites, you are amazing. I know it’s challenging being the spiritual leaders in our homes, which requires us to be more diligent, but look at how much you are growing and living stronger in your faith. God is so faithful!

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. — 1 Cor 16:13-14
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Recovering the WOW!

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As December progressed I began to meditate upon a word for 2016. Last year, my word was ADORATION. I’ve loved taking a few moments at the beginning of a day reflecting on a characteristic of God.1

Over the past couple of years I’ve felt the Lord calling me to want more of Him. So much of my life had become ‘me-focused’; even my devotional time would be spent on building me up. Fears and anxiety had dominated too much of my thinking in recent years: fears of illness, unemployability and so on have filled many a session with my counselor plus anxiety over a bevy of stuff. This was what my wife and sons were seeing: the fearful and anxious husband and father. How was I demonstrating the love and power of having Jesus as my Lord?

As my pastor said only yesterday in his message: “the number one scheme of the devil is to throw fear at you. He wants to hinder your purpose.” But God's love has no fear. 

But through soaking in Scripture I’ve begun, slowly, to believe the many promises in it. We really are His chosen people. Yes, God, the creator of everything, chose me. And you! And guess what we’re holy and dearly beloved.2 By Him! It still kinda blows my mind.

Awe

So staying on a word that helps me keep focused on Him kept percolating in my heart. One of the books sitting next to my table is titled “Awe” by Paul David Tripp. So for a week or two I bounced that one around in my mind. It clicked in my mind but something in my heart was holding back from adopting 'Awe' as my word for the year. BTW, I’ve read the first few chapters of “Awe” and it’s tremendous. BTW No 2., I love everything Paul Tripp writes. His thoughts on grace and sin are brilliant.

The New Year

January 1 came around and I’ve started working through Tim Keller’s new book on the Psalms. It’s a year long devotional where each psalm is covered. So January 1 starts with Psalm 1.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

Blessed are those who delight in the Word, so much so they meditate on it day and night. They don’t just obey it, but love it. It’s in the loving it, that we obey it.

My mind immediately went to another one of my favourite verses on “delight”, yes, you’ve guessed it:

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

For years I reflected on the second half of that verse until it dawned on me that to realise the second half you gotta do the first half.

Hmmm … delighting.

Revelation

Have you ever wondered why Jesus was able to resist temptation? He was fully human and we’re told He faced all the same temptations we do?

I have. Often. And have often asked Him.

On Sunday the third of January I was out walking and I reflected on this once again and asked Him. Then it hit me.

The reason Jesus was able to resist temptation was that communing with the Father was that much better! He spent so much time with the Father, they delighted in each other. There was a ‘knowing’ that was so much better than anything … yes, anything, that the world could offer.

That kinda blew my mind.

Still does.

And that’s what I want!

Delight

“When we live with an intense love for Him, we find our delight in fulfilling His desires.” (John Bevere)

Sorry for dragging this post out but I wanted to share the process and reflections I’d had to discover my word for 2016 – DELIGHT.

Do you have a word for the year? Don’t worry if you don’t. It’s a relatively new thing for me as up until about three years ago I’d never heard of the idea. But I like it especially as I try to start everyday doing something in relation to it. It provides a focus for my day. It can really set the day up.

I know some shared their words last week, but it would be great if we shared them. Also, please feel comfortable to share any further reflections on last week and how it might have helped shape your year. Even just a little.

Do you mind if I pray for us all:

Heavenly Father, your love is better than life so we praise you with our lips. We love you, we worship you, and we give our lives to you again this week. We desire the same communion that Jesus had with you here on earth. The knowing, the intimacy, the companionship. We declare that we are one with you, just as Jesus is one with you. Holy Spirit, lead us as we pray each day and fill our hearts afresh with the love of the Father. May your love flow abundantly through us in our homes. Help us to love our spouses as you love us. Open their hearts to your great love for them. We give you all the glory and all the honour. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Notes: 1. I found Sara Hagerty’s monthly adoration verses especially useful last year. One verse that focuses on a characteristic of God’s nature. 2. Colossians 3:12

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The Promise of His Covenant

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SUMites, I pray this week of fasting has brought you encouragement and strength this week. I wish I could have fasted more, but my pain medication only allowed me to fast a couple mornings. I am encouraged however that even in the midst of this recovery, which has made focusing on God very challenging, I was still able to hear His heart for our community. That right there knocked another lie out of my spiritual life. For that I am grateful. He has shown me that even in such places of challenge when I don't feel close to Him, He is still speaking and He will make sure I hear Him. 

Our own Cindy C. shared this profound truth perfectly: "Trust God's hold on you MORE than your hold on God." (Thank you, Cindy!)

Now, the rest of Abba's message for us is in Jeremiah 33, where I started on Tuesday. I am sharing here only the key verses so read the entire chapter if you can and seek God to bring this promise into your heart and home.

Then this city (our homes) will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them. — Jeremiah 33:9

The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for the Lord is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord. — Jeremiah 33:11

And this will be its name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ (Yahweh Tsidqenu) —Jeremiah 33:16 (Prophetic reference to 2 Cor. 5:21: We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus)

“This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me." — Jeremiah 33:20-21 (The covenant with David was the prophetic word and promise of Jesus coming.)

My friends, as I read this part, Holy Spirit whispered John 3:16 to my heart. We know this verse well...

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:16-17

And this is God's reassurance that He will do what He has said. My friends, I hear God speaking this to us right now, that He is faithful and nothing will stop or hinder the promise He has given us. 

But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.” — Jeremiah 33:25-26 

SUMites, this is a powerful promise. Jesus is the final covenant. For two weeks now 2 Peter 3:9 has shown up over and over again. Our God has not been slow to answer our prayers for our pre-believers. He's just been setting things up for the right time so the revelation of His covenant (Jesus) to our pre-believers would be so full that they would turn to Him with their entire hearts (wholehearted!), just as He said in Jeremiah 24:7.

I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. — Jeremiah 24:7

I believe with my whole heart that time is now, SUMites. It's our harvest time! Hallelujah and Praise Jesus! Amen!
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From the Archives: Feasting on God's Word

On Saturdays we continue to post from our archives. Last year starting in April I did a series about the transformed mind. I'm feeling led to rerun that series over the next fews week, my friends, and I pray it gives you more encouragement and inspiration to let the Holy Spirit transform you with the Word of God and His truths! Amen! Love you! ~Dineen

 

The Transformed Mind: Feasting on God's Word 

ThemindWhat are you thinking right now? What are you worried about? What has your heart and mind twisted in knots on a daily basis?

Do you know you have control over this? That you are not at the mercy of your thoughts and emotions?

I didn't understand this for a long time. Only recently have I come to more ably see just how much I judged my faith (and myself) by my emotions. It’s an ongoing process that I want to share with you, my friends, so we can grow together in this area—one I believe is crucial to every area of our lives and especially in our mismatched marriages. Because as we are transformed, you better believe your prebeliever is going to notice!

And what I thought would be one post has now become multiple parts. So welcome to this series about the battlefield of our minds and how we can truly have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). I’m excited to share this with you and especially excited to hear back from you about your own journey in this area.

Let’s start with faith. Faith is based upon truth—the promises found in the Word of God—whether seen or unseen (Hebrews 11:1). Our minds can take these very promises and, through the lens of the world, our past hurts and the enemy's lies, turn them into mere shadows of the truth, void of the power they are intended to have in our lives.

My friends, of all the territories God calls us to claim in our lives of faith, I believe our minds are the most crucial territory of all that we must be constantly tending and feeding. The last three months have taught me this very well.

So how do we stand and hold our place in victory over this battlefield of our minds?

I know you’ve heard this one before: read and study the Bible. A big part of how God transforms us is through His Word (Romans 12:2). You don't have to be in seminary or even in a Bible study at your church (although this can be a very helpful part, don’t be dependent upon this one way of studying God’s Word). Just make time each day to sit down and read it. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God's promises and when one speaks to you, write it down in a journal. Ask God to help you understand what it means for you and record that as well.

You can follow a reading plan, follow God's leading as to where He wants you to read, or start with a devotional and read the Scriptures before and after the main verse. Just be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's nudges as you read. If you find yourself deeply touched by a verse, stop and let it sink in. Let the God speak to you through His words on the page.

Even if you've barely read a paragraph that day, you have received gold! It's not about how much you read, but about how much you listen and take in. Don't rush. Just relax and enjoy it. Even if nothing in particular stands out, you've fed your spirit and your soul with God's truth. Remember, it’s not about how we feel, it’s about believing, it’s about faith.

One resource I've found to be very helpful is Charles Stanley's InTouch Ministries website. I have the app on my iPad and use it daily to read the devotionals and especially if I want a list of Scriptures specific to an area, like fear or purpose. (God’s Promises on InTouch Minsitries

If you have a Bible app on your phone or an iPad, do a word search and write down the Scriptures that apply and give you comfort and peace. You can even do this online at BibleGateway.com with multiple translations.

The next part of this series will be about claiming and praying these promises over our lives and I’ll even share some examples, so have at least one or two ready that you have found so you can practice. Until then, my friends, feast on God’s Word daily. It’s the most important meal of your day!

Love you dearly!
Dineen

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