25 posts categorized "Empowered Living"

Our Place of Authority and Power

IStock_000007310932XSmallDear friends, two weeks ago I wrote a post about seeing the gold in our spouses and calling it out. Since then the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about the power of our words, which seems to dovetail perfectly with what Lynn has been teaching us, specifically about praying with confidence. And that is what I feel like the Holy Spirit has been teaching me recently.

But not in the way one would expect. (There's that word again that things won't look the way we expect them to.) As I've shared before, God seems to want to take my perceptions of the truth and turn them on end to see them in a different way. An empowering way.

I'm going to share with you what the Holy Spirit told me as I was out for a walk to worship and pray. 

"You have nothing to lose, and the enemy has lost everything."

I asked for my clarity and understanding and this is what the Holy Spirit impressed upon me, my friends. We, as God's children, have gained everything through Jesus. Thus we can't lose. No matter what the enemy wants us to think or the lies he tries to throw at us, we win. We are called the victors in this life and whatever comes our way. We are even declared to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). 

And the enemy has everything to lose. In fact, according to Scripture, he's already lost everything.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. — Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV)

So let me say this as the complete thought the Holy Spirit impressed upon me. 

We have everything and nothing to lose. The enemy has nothing and everything to lose.

Plays with your mind a bit, doesn't it? But think about it, truly wrap your brain around this. Then think about the place of confidence and power this positions you in with your prayer life. Think about the impact your words can have when spoken out loud in prayers and in alignment with God's heart. That's empowered confidence in who we are as children of God and what He given us. As Christ said we would do the things He did and more.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. — John 14:12-14 (NIV)

SUMites, ponder this powerful truth and begin to apply it to the places in your life that you are waging war. This is what I've been doing this last week and I believe breakthroughs are coming as a result. 

But there's more to this journey I'm on that I'm looking forward to sharing with you and it has to do with our words. The power of our words and prayers. But not the way you think...not the way you expect...yes, God's turning this one upside down a bit for me too. Helping me see things in a whole new way. His way.

And in case your confused as to why I'm on the blog today instead of Lynn, we're changing things up a bit to give us more time to write and create new resources. We'll be sharing more about that in the days and weeks ahead so stay tuned. 

So tell me, SUMites, what do you think about your place of authority now? You have everything and nothing to lose.

I love you, my friends, so very much. Know that my prayers are with you for our pre-believers as we stand for God's salvation for them—Jeremiah 24:7! Amen!

Hugs!
Dineen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

This piece of Scripture alone tells us:

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

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

Ask questions like these:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you dearly, SUMites!
Dineen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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The Light of Truth

19268965_sMy friends, I want to share a recent revelation with you. It was one of those moments that the truth of something I already knew finally hit all the way home. Have you had one of those moments—a suddenly moment—where something you thought you understood suddenly becomes clearer and more powerful? 

For me is it was as if the seed that had been planted was watered and then sprouted roots downward and grew upward to take permanent hold in my heart. And as we are in the season of Lent it is the perfect time to speak of the work of the cross. 

Though the event of the cross is in our past, I believe the work of the cross is continuous. Paul even spoke of this ongoing process:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. — Philippians 2:12-13 ESV

During some very painful and difficult moments in my recovery the enemy tried to move in and take advantage of my weakened state, just as we know he did with Jesus in His wilderness time. 

And I let him. The enemy tries to convince us first that either he doesn't exist or that he is more powerful than God. I believed the latter at a very young age and had no one to tell me otherwise, therefore I learned fear and this has been an ongoing battle for me.

But God has been dealing with this fear and lie for the last few years, and I believe a major and much-needed shift occurred just recently. I've been reading a workbook about the healing ministry and this author's description of the enemy's place in our lives clicked in my mind and heart like never before.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. — Hebrews 2:14-15 NASB

In my own words, this is the understanding I have been meditating on that has brought this truth home fully for me. Christ's purpose in coming and dying on the cross was to save us by rendering the enemy powerless. Not mostly powerless, but completely powerless. Christ even shamed the enemy.

In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. — Colossians 2:15 NLT

My friends, I am not talking about spiritual warfare here, but the simple truth that the enemy is powerless (Our very own SUMite, Jo, has shared this with us too). He has absolutely no power of his own. At Christ's death, that power and authority was transferred from the enemy to us. 

Now this is probably repetitive, but I have a feeling some of you need this revelation as much as I needed it. It comes down to this: the presence and power the enemy holds in our own lives is because we have allowed it. For me this was the truth that finally hit home because if I have allowed it, I can disallow it. I am NOT at the mercy of the enemy. He is at my mercy, so to speak. I have to power and authority to boot him out.

Somehow this truth hit home at much deeper level, therefore disarming the enemy's power in my life, because it isn't his power! It's mine! And I am taking it back.

The challenge, my friends, is identifying the lies I have believed and replacing it with the truth. THAT is what completely boots the enemy out and keeps him from being able to come back. He can't, for God is light, and in Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5). Truth is light.

And like the story of the house delivered of a demon, yet seven more returned, we just fill the empty place left with truth, with God's presence (Matt. 12:45). Even the evil influences brought in from our pre-believers can't hold authority over us if we don't let them, which I'm finding is as simple—and challenging—as believing they don't. Yes, they will make our lives more difficult as we live with the repercussions this influence has on our spouses, but ultimately, the enemy can't hold any power over us.

The workbook I was studying gave a perfect analogy of this using garbage and flies. Think of the garbage as the lies we believe and the flies as the demons. We can swat at those flies but they will keep coming back to the garbage (the lies). When we get rid of the lies (the garbage) the flies have nothing drawing them back. 

"If we deal with the reason the demons are there in the first place, they can be permanently removed without a battle." —Edward M. Smith

I believe the final revelation for me came with the understanding that what I choose (or not choose) to believe limits and removes the enemy's influence in my life. The transformation of our minds (Romans 12:2) is an ongoing and life-long process and one we must be diligent about to maintain, but this truth finally brings home for me that the power lies in my hands through Jesus Christ who strengthens and empowers me, therefore I can do ALL things through Him (Phil 4:13).

My friends, I pray this revelation is making sense and is doing for you what it did for me. And please understand that this is in no way judging or condemning. I still have places in my life where I seem to keep going around the same mountain over and over again. I’m now changing my prayer strategy to ask Holy Spirit to reveal the lies I am believing so that I can root and boot it out. My heart today is to help you see that the choice is in our hands. We are not powerless victims of the enemy. We have the power and we can choose to take action.

Suddenly (I'm starting to truly get these "suddenly" moments now) the fear of the enemy's power in my life is gone. I see the lie for what it is and I know the truth. I do not have to be afraid or dread his attempts to harm me (Ps. 27:1). I hold the power through Jesus Christ's finished work in me (salvation), not the enemy, and I refuse to let him hold fear over me anymore. I am not at his mercy. I am the recipient of God’s mercy and grace.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:32

I am understanding this verse on a much deeper level now, and I am determined to keep this revelation rooted deeply in my soul and spirit. SUMites, I pray for each one of us that the ever-shining light of Jesus burning in each of us will expose the lies we have taken upon ourselves to believe so that we will know the truth and be set free. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Share your thoughts in the comments. I would love to “talk” more about this with you! Love you so much, my friends!
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*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


Conference At Merriman in Garden City, MI

Perhaps for a moment in time, just perhaps, we stood upon holy ground.

 

Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

I bet many of you know these ladies. They like to hang around SUM! 

SUMite Pillars
Gillian, Teresa, Melissa, Heidi, Joanne

 

Ohio Sumites
Some of the Ohio SUMites: Left to right: Judy, Mindy, Laura, Dawn, Chris

 

Fran Green
This is Beloved, Franie. This conference started in her heart last summer.

 

Lynn Donovan
The Holy Spirit moved. We laughed, cried and we were loved on by our Lord!


Skit
The skit was hilarious. I was cackling. Well done Merriman!
Conference Team
This is the amazing team of leadership that made this day possible. Thank you is inadequate but THANK YOU!

More photos are posted on our SUM Facebook page, click here.

 

The best part of the day is: WE PRAYED. I wish I had a photo to show you what happened at the end of our day. Can anyone who attended share what happened in your heart as you stepped out?

I'm overwhelmed at how the Lord moved on Saturday. Dineen was unable to make it due to her shoulder. So on Thursday I knew that I would speak the entire day. My friends, I can't perform. But I prayed and prayed that our Papa God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit would walk among us and I believe we honored our Lord and He showed up with love and power! I believe lives were touched and I'm teary reading the email messages such as the one at the bottom of this post.

If you were unable to attend, don't feel left out. You are loved and we talked about our amazing community on the web. And now let's pray that Jesus arranges another conference in your area. It would be my humble privilege to meet you, to pray with you and to love on you with our Daddy's love.

Breakfast in the gym
Love these ladies. They were on the front row!!

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From Jen:

Lynn,

I do not even know where to begin to thank you. 

I attended your workshop this past Saturday and I am moved beyond words.

When my pastor’s wife invited a small group of us to attend this together I admit I was a little apprehensive.  Not knowing whom she invited I assumed it was only sent to me (or a couple of people) and the other couple of people were nowhere close to my unequal marriage, (so I thought).  I immediately went online and bought your book and WOW!  By the end of just the intros of the both of you, I was in tears, so moved and so motivated. I thought I was the only one in this position, I was alone, I thought nobody understood my marriage, my life, I even questioned my position in my faith and how I possibly could continue to follow Jesus with an unbelieving husband, a daughter 20 years old whom has walked away from Christ and a 13-year-old daughter loving Christ, how could I keep going?

I read the first half of the book in one day and then started over so I could take notes, pages and pages of notes. Ready to register for this workshop, (alone because I figured nobody else in my bible study, church or small group of friends would ever be in the same position I am), the pastor’s wife emailed me again asking if I wanted to go and let me know there were a few others interested. I attended our bible study the next week to tell these women everything I had read and learned up to that point (which was 66% as I am an e book user 😊) and was floored to discover five out of ten women there that night were somewhat in the same position.  Then in our plans for carpooling across the border I find out there was eleven of us going from our church...eleven!!!! Seriously???? I am not alone!!!! So as soon as I got home from the workshop I went directly to your website and signed up, pinned my location and when I looked at all the other pin locations around the world, my heart swelled to see and feel the common love from all over the world.

You were not even five minutes into speaking and I was in tears.  I have come out of this past week with a new light, a renewed hope and joy that is just spilling out of my heart. I went to church this morning and together we found five women sitting alone and we all filled half a row, held hands, hugged, sang to the high heavens and supported and loved on one another like never before. One woman even had an argument with her husband before church today because he did not want to attend anymore and guess who had some loving words of advice for her?  ME!! Little old me! I walk into church today and out of church today with a new song in my heart, a skip in my step and a feeling like I belonged, and better yet, God wanted me there, He loves me! He loves me! He loves me!

So from the bottom of my heart thank you! Thank you for leading me closer to God, thank you for opening my eyes to the women near to me in the same unique position, thank you for introducing me to the thousands of women near and far that feel my pain, my joy, my love and have my back!

Forever indebted and much love, Jen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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

Image credit: carlacastagno / 123RF Stock Photo

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


They Are ALWAYS Listening. Our Authority

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comThis is one of the most important post to read. Please take the time to make it to the bottom. Hugs, Lynn

SUMites, after writing the post, Legal Permissions, that I was originally intended to post today, the Holy Spirit strongly impressed upon me that we need to first consider our authority in Jesus. That post will be shared later in this series.

In the past couple of weeks, Dineen and I have been hitting hard on our identity in Christ. Because it’s out of knowing who we are and whose we are that we then begin to exercise the authority we have been given through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

So let’s look at authority. Turn in your Bible to, Luke 9. If you have been a reader here for a number of years, you may remember that I shared an encounter with a woman I met at a conference named Maria. She said to me, “Lynn, read Luke 9:1&2. That passage is for you.” Those verses change my life, my prayer time, my authority when I pray over others became real. If you want to hear me pray in this context, listen to the short video in the sidebar titled: Praying with the power and authority of Christ….

The Belt of Truth is what girds our loins with power. The truth is this, Jesus gave His disciples power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  Luke 9:1&2. This authority is also for us and this is how I know. Turn to Matthew 28:20…. teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. See the word everything? That includes passages addressed to the Disciples.

For many years I didn’t understand that when Jesus was speaking to His disciples, that included me, a modern day believer. When I rejected that lie, immediately my prayers began impacting others because I prayed under the direction (intimacy & Holy Spirit) and authority of Christ (Word of God).  I’ve been privileged to pray with many of you over the phone. And even through phone calls, the Lord Jesus shows up and moves with love and power. Can I get an amen?

Okay, are you tracking with me? Truth (Word of God), replaces lies which leads to intimacy and through our intimacy and the Holy Spirit we hear the Lord’s will for our prayer life and receive the authority of Jesus to further His Kingdome here on earth.

Yep, MIND BLOW!

The best way I’ve heard this explained is this way. My daughter went off to college. She was given the privilege to be added to our credit card and received a card in her name. With that privilege came the full credit worthiness and power behind her father and me. We vouch for her and we also take a risk in that she could use this card irresponsibly. However, she retains intimacy and trust with us and always asks if she needs to use it. So when she makes a purchase, we honor her request and she leans on her father and me for the credit authority to use the card. Are you tracking? *

It’s a beautiful Kingdom principle. The Lord trusts us to ask in His authority as His children and within His will and then the spiritual realm must submit! DOUBLE MIND BLOW.

What does it mean to have this kind of authority…. Luke 9:1&2 Baby!!!!!

This scripture (and others) is our authority and it’s also our mandate for life. Our divine calling… To drive out demons, cure diseases, peach the good news and heal the sick! Astonishing isn’t it?

So how do we use our authority? We listen to the Holy Spirit and then we speak. Our WORDS bear great, GREAT power. Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…. Jesus spent a great amount of time in prayer but when he came face-to-face with the demonic, He didn’t stop to pray. He commanded. He used His Words to speak and command the demonic to leave. (Look up the story of Legion)

The spirit realm is always listening and responds to our words, good or evil.

The Spirit world cannot turn a deaf ear to the commands of God’s servants*. Hallelujah!

Matthew 12:36-27 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

 

Okay, so let’s put this new knowledge into practice. Let’s start with protection and blessing.

There is great power in proclaiming and speaking (out loud) our declarations of protection as well as blessings upon ourselves, our situations, our homes and upon others.

Here are some examples of speaking protection that I use all the time:

  • It says in Colossians 3 that we are hidden with Christ in God. So in the name of Jesus, I declare myself, my children, my spouse are hidden with Christ in God. The enemy cannot find us, hear us, nor make any plans against us to harm us.
  • I claim that I am protected from harm as I drive today.
  • I am protected from all attacks of the enemy and no demonic power can operate in my home, business, my classroom, my children’s life, my husband’s job, etc…. In JESUS NAME.

I always speak these truths with belief and in the name of Jesus. And I often repeat scripture promises.

Okay, let’s take a look at how we can bless.

In the last year I’ve battled foot pain. It started with Plantar Fasciitis. While on my walk n pray I would say something like this.

I bless my feet in Jesus name. All inflammation and pain must leave right now. I declare my feet healed and whole in the powerful name of Jesus. 

Today my feet are finally pain free. I’m currently speaking a blessing over my vision and eye sight. I want to watch Jesus do a miracle and restore my vision to a perfect 20/20 even though my eyes are older. I BELIEVE and will speak His blessing into my life. AMEN! Thank you Jesus.

Other blessings:

  • Lord, as your child, I speak blessings over my children, their relationships, their futures and ask that they would love you with a full heart.
  • I say that my finances are blessed and abundant. In Jesus name.
  • I declare that my husband will encounter the love of Christ in a life-changing moment.
  • I bless my body it is healthy and immune from disease, bacteria, weakness and I will walk in perfect health.
  • I bless this city where I live. I ask that Your Kingdom stands preeminent in the lives of the people.

I could go on and on. I talk all day to the Lord about situations I face and I speak His love into my life, family and community, especially the SUMite family.

Okay, this week let’s practice and believe. As things begin to change in your world, PLEASE write me. I want to praise Jesus with you. And be patient. This is a life-long journey where we learn how to listen and then speak with the authority of Christ.

Quiet Time Study: (Take these questions to the Lord in your quiet time. Then listen.)

  • Today begin to speak protection and blessing into your world. Make a conscious effort to speak daily. (All day long over your situations)
  • Speak out loud a blessing over your children for their school day, their current struggles, for their protection, joy and hope. Watch their faces. Priceless!!!

Community Questions (answer in the comments):

  • It’s my turn to bless you with the following.

I say that my SUMite brothers/sisters are blessed among millions. We are the living children of the Most High God and will walk in love, power and authority to change our circumstances, our marriages, empower our families and bring hope to thousands with our humble voice of obedience. We will shake the very foundation of satans kingdom and free ourselves and others from depression, illness, anxiety, fear, financial stress and every other assignment of the enemy. We demolish every argument and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We will thrive in love and our testimony will bring great glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Jesus name, AMEN 

  • In the comments share “I receive God’s promises”. Also, share with me a specific protection/blessing you are speaking into your life and I will stand with you in belief and prayer.

I love you, SUMite Nation. We are becoming a mighty nation with the love and authority of Christ. We are going to rise up and shatter the darkness and bring God’s goodness and glory to this earth. In Jesus name. AMEN

One more thing, what we are learning will transform your marriage. Hallelujah!!!

*Adapted from I Give You Authority by Charles Kraft.

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Are You Stepping Out From Under The Umbrella of God's Protection?

Under the Umbrella series small 400 versionThe response to our series is overwhelmingly enthusiastic. It’s becoming crystal clear that God’s people are yearning to know the truth about whom we battle and how to win. I’m so encouraged by your eagerness and your commitment to the process.

We need to start with understanding the Theater of War of the Kingdom of God.

It’s earth baby!

We are intricately involved in war whether we want to be or not or whether we realize it or not. So it’s WAY past time to put on our armor and recognize that:

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. —Ephesians 6:12

It’s war. —Move and Countermove

Move: God Created the angelic

Countermove: Lucifer sinned.

Move: God kicked him out of heaven to earth and created people to deal with and subdue the planet and the devil.

Countermove: The serpent deceived Adam and Eve and they forfeited their authority over earth.

Move: Jesus was born. The Godhead came to earth, fully human, to regain the authority for mankind.

Countermove: Satan temps Jesus

Move: Jesus rebukes satan. Satan flees.

Countermove: Satan kills Christ…….

NOW GET THIS!

Move of God: Jesus is resurrected from the dead. Descends to hell and returns with the keys to death and hell (Revelation 1:18) and with the following for all of His followers:

15 He (Jesus) said to them (His followers – US), “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” —Mark 16:15-18

My friends, the resurrection of Christ was the final move. His perfect life sacrificed, broke the spiritual laws that kept people in bondage and returned authority to people through the blood and name of Jesus. We are protected under the umbrella of God’s love, authority and purposes. So you may ask, “Well then, why do I still struggle so much with sin? Why is there such upheaval and pain in my life if this is true?”

The simple answer?

Because most of us step out from under the umbrella of God’s love and protection and out of His Kingdom. We remain clueless as how to remain under His umbrella and we have no idea how to make Mark 16 a reality in our life.

BUT…… That is about to change. (Queue cheering crowd) Hallelujah Jesus!!!

It’s critical to learn first how to stay under the protection of God who is the ruler of the spiritual & physical realms. We also must learn there are spiritual laws in effect just as there are physical, unbreakable and unchangeable laws in effect such as the law of gravity. In all my research, the pundits aren’t able to explain why God set it up that way but He did. And we were created to live and navigate through both the physical and the spiritual.

Let’s start with the first rule of battle: #1 We must acknowledge that we live in two worlds. The visible and invisible.

Battle Rule #2: Everything that we deal with, all that we face, everything that happens to us is first orchestrated, manifest, and/or created in the spiritual realm before it is evident in the physical realm.

Battle Rule #3: We have everything we need to battle and win this war. It was accomplished at the cross. When Jesus said, “It is finished.” We attained everything we will ever need for abundant living. All was accomplished – Past tense, at the cross!  (John 19:30) (John 10:10)

Battle Rule #4: Fight from victory not for victory. Stay under the umbrella of God’s love and operate in the authority of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Quiet Time Study: (Take these questions to the Lord in your quiet time. Then listen.)

  • Lord, do I truly believe these Battle Rules? Help me to understand and believe.
  • Am I willing to do what it takes to live under the umbrella of God's protection and provision even if I don't know what "all it takes" means right now?
  • Pray: Lord, I ask you to give me supernatural courage and wisdom as I walk through this study. Look up Ephesians 1:17 and pray it every day. Look up and write down Ephesians 6:10-17.
  • If you are journalist or taking notes, the scripture verses in this post are crucial. Look them up and write them down. I've provided links to most of them.

Community Questions (answer in the comments):

  • So how do we stay under the umbrella my friends?
  • What can remove us from the protection of the umbrella? 

I’m going to shed more light on the last two questions Friday. SUMites that is when the hard work begins. But it’s so worth it to live continually under the umbrella and not out in the rain where every drop adds to the rust of our armor and to the pain and struggle of our life.

Step out of the rain. Dawn your armor and your wield your sword. IT’S OUR TURN TO DO SOME DAMAGE TO THE DEVIL AND HIS MINIONS. AMEN JESUS. AMEN!!!

Upcoming posts:

  • Umbrella crushers – The truth about our protection (umbrella)
  • The Devils game – Our identity
  • What is legal permission?
  • Authority
  • The Full Armor of God
  • Demonic structure
  • Defeating lies and restoring truth. Truth=freedom
  • Curses, vows, ancestral encroachment
  • And more…. Much more.

Hang on to your hats because it’s about to get real. Real dangerous for the dark king.

In Jesus name. AMEN

Jesus, as we leave today we ask that you would conceal us from the devil. In Colossians 3:3, you say we are hidden with Christ in God. Hide us and our family from all demonic plans and assignments. We ask to be continually under the umbrella, the wings, of the Most High (Psalm 91) Jesus walk with us and teach us how to live out your commands through your name and authority. We ask that you continually speak to us through the Holy Spirit. Be our hope, our peace and our security this day and forever more. In Your powerful name. AMEN

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Fight The Demonic

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comIn fighting against the tide of the demonic there is nothing more powerful than our words.

The tongue has the power of life and death —Proverbs 18:21a

I literally believe this. So I speak two kinds of words. Words of life - faith, belief, affirmation and truth from the Word of God over my life and family. And second, I speak words that bind, cancel, blind, silence and cast out the enemy.

If you could walk with me one morning in the vineyards, you would likely think I’m wacked. I pray out loud. I shout, wave my arms, raise my arms and let the Holy Spirit inspired words flow. The spoken Word in prayer wields great power. I tell the devil he is a liar and my God who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.

I will pray something like this:

In the name of Jesus, I command the demonic spirit of fear, confusion, sadness (any others that have been revealed to me by the Holy Spirit) I cast you into the pit. I silence you and you have no voice. I command the warrior angels sent to protect me to take you to the pit and to cut off your head. I have the authority of Jesus, my Savior, to cancel all assignments of the enemy. No weapon formed against me will prosper.

Angels, I have been given authority to trample of the enemy (Psalm 91). This very moment I trample on him and all his works and effects assigned to my life. I command the demonic into the pit along with all their works and effects. This spirit of fear, anxiety, sadness cannot go to my children nor follow any of my family line. I rebuke it and command it to leave me and my family forever. I plead the blood of Christ over my home and my family. In the name of Jesus and by His authority.

Jesus, I ask that you would surround me and my family (I name each one by name) with a hedge of protection. Place your holy angels around us. Prosper me and my family. Protect our hearts, soul and bodies. I ask for more of Your Presence and your anointing of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let our homes be a place of safety, freedom, love, security, peace and joy. Lord, help me to bring heaven into our home.

Papa God, thank you for your faithfulness (I name several specifics). Thank you for your blessings and your provision. I will live to publish your deeds among the nations. Let everything I do, say and think, be anointed and inspired by the Kingdom. Thank you for Your Word. I believe it. I will proclaim it. I will use it as a powerful sword to bring freedom and healing to people.

Keep me humble and always looking to You. The only thing important in this world is Your Presence. I praise you. I worship you. I will always be loyal to you. I am your daughter. In Jesus name. Amen.

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The Goodness Of God

FreeMy friends, I’ve shared many a time over the years that my life verse is Romans 8:28. I’ve built my faith life upon it and in 2014 went through a dark night of the soul that made me question that stance for the first time ever. I questioned whether God was really good.

But what I really ached to know without a doubt was this: Is God good to me?

At the time of this revelation, I didn’t feel like He was, but as the Holy Spirit helped me identify the lie that I’d mistakenly built my foundation upon, I realized I’d somehow connected His goodness to me. To who I am, to how hard I work for Him, to how good I was at being a Christian. 

It’s called a striving mentality and it isn’t pretty. I was striving to earn the very things God had already given me. Specifically His love and acceptance as His kid.

As much as I hated going through this process, and I don’t use the word hate lightly here, my friends, I know it was necessary to go through the transformation of my thinking as it says in Romans 12:2.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:2 ESV

Amazingly, I think many believers are coming to this understanding, because God is focused on not only transforming His children but also His church. He is focused on the message of His love, clear and simple. And He wants that to be the message in the church as well.

I must say, I’m learning that these truths often take time to settle in and take root. I had one of those moments at church one recent Sunday, and I could even feel the shift in my mind. Here I’d thought I had this down finally, for the most part anyway. I can now recognize when the enemy tries to shoot the darts of those old lies, and I deflect them.  

But this wasn’t a day for the enemy’s darts. It was a day about God’s goodness. It was a simple phrase the pastor said, and I can’t even tell you what exactly he said. I do know that the Holy Spirit brought it front and center to my attention so loudly that I no longer heard anything else the pastor said. 

Here’s what I perceived this day—a truth that still overloads my brain to think about it. And maybe that’s because of the place I used to function in my belief system and can now clearly see it was just so slightly off center of the truth.

God is good. Just as the Bible says in 1 John 4:8 that God is love, God is good. That’s actually part of the definition of the Greek word used, agapé—goodwill.

The part that overloads my brain is that it has absolutely nothing to do with you, me, our pre-believers (though the good Lord knows they need to have something to do with it!), this planet He created, the work we do for Him, and not even our faith can affect God’s goodness. Nothing. At. All.

Even evil and worldly goodness world have no effect upon His goodness, because His goodness is completely dependent upon Him. His goodness simply is. It’s Who He is, Who He has always been and Who He will always be.

This causes me to look at a Romans 8:28 in a whole new way.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28 NIV

God works for the good of those who love Him because He is good. Not because we love Him, but dare I say in spite of it. We are imperfect and can never love Him perfectly. Yet He works for our good, because in our love for Him we invite Him in to do so in order that His plans and purposes for us may grow and flourish in our lives. 

In other words, His love and His good plans for us were set in place way before we ever knew Him. We simply have answered the door to His knock when we said yes to Jesus.

And that brings me to a little experiment. Another verse that has meant so much to be in this last year and half journey of intimacy with God. Another verse from Romans 8…

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39 NLT

Let’s try a little change in wording to bring out this beautiful truth that is the final piece of my transformation in this area. 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s goodness. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s goodness. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the goodness of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I don’t know about you, my friends, but this blows my mind. And brings God’s love and goodness into clear cut focus like never before. A focus that has no dependency upon my thoughts, beliefs, interpretation or acceptance. 

It simply is fact. God is love. God is good. Nothing changes that either. Absolutely nothing.

BUT…this truth changes everything…if we let it. How we see ourselves, our lives, our marriages, our children, and even our pre-believers. Even their unbelief can’t separate us from God’s love and goodness.  

My friends, walk in that reassurance everyday. Speak it out loud even if you don’t fully understand or believe it yet. I promise you, hearing the truth will change your heart and mind and set you free. And as you do this, everything around you will begin to shift.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” — Jesus (John 8:32)

Praying for your freedom, my friends!
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New on myKLOVE

My friends, this week I have a video on myKLOVE that demonstrates our identity in Christ Jesus. This was truly a Holy Spirit inspired idea that I am blessed to share with the myKLOVE community and with our SUMite community here. 

If you haven't downloaded the myKLOVE app, go check it out here. Lynn and I are so thankful for the opportunity to contribute to myKLOVE. It's an amazing ministry.

So, let's be the glass God has created us to be, my friends. When we know who we are and Whose we are, we are secure and set on a firm foundation. And that is the most powerful message we have for our pre-believers, for our children and for a world that is desperate for hope and love.

I love you, SUMites! Hugs! ~Dineen

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Persecution - The Books Of Peter - Will The Church Go Underground?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSo…… Ahem, ya. (long sigh)

I planned on writing about suffering. So this week I experienced persecution, first-hand. Sheesh! Why does that always happen?

Peter shares a few common themes through his two books. Today we are going to look at suffering. Specifically let’s read:

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. —1 Peter 4:14

Most of the passages within Peter’s books focus on suffering for our faith. Persecution.

Stay tuned as we will discuss suffering and physical healing next. But today, I believe we should focus on the suffering we endure because of our faith.

It’s obvious when reading through the books of Peter that he was a persecuted man. His feelings and his charge to the churches for endurance are evident. I personally believe that persecution is the only suffering that God truly expects us to experience.

For our SUMite Nation, persecution is very real. We endure a rare and difficult persecution because we face ridicule, shaming, hatred and discord within our home. We also endure persecution in the public realm.

For me, I am equipped to handle the words that come at me from the public realm, well at least, most of the time. When an ugly email arrives or people criticize me for my faith, call me "over the top", a zealot, crazy. I’m really okay. Some of these words have been uttered by close friends and even close relatives. Sometimes it hurts. I take those hurts and their lack of understanding to the feet of Jesus. He always centers me in truth and love. Therefore, I can walk forward, certain of my identity and my purpose and forgive their ridicule.

But it’s different when your faith is mocked and you are insulted or shamed by a loved one with whom you live. That happened to me with week. Ugh!!! It’s pain and it’s hard. I cried. You cry. I get it.

But even through the pain I know I’m blessed. I remain alert and of sober mind. As the enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour me. But I RESIST HIM. I STAND FIRM IN FAITH (truth). And I also know that the God of all grace who called me to his eternal glory in Christ, after I have suffered a little while, will restore me, personally and make me strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:8-10 my paraphrase)

My friends, I believe that persecution is only going to ramp up. Today, believers are unable to be honest about their beliefs in the public realm about many issues which are clear in scripture, gay marriage comes to mind, without being called out as haters. I’m not a hater. I have gay friends and I grieve that they haven’t found their identity in Jesus yet. I grieve that this particular subject brings great grief and discord into our marriages, between our children, and between close family members.

This is where persecution “gets real.” We aren’t afforded the peace and protection that other Jesus followers have within an “all-believer” home. We remain on the front lines of the battle every day, every news broadcast, every image of Bruce Jenner, every article where a bakery is shuttered because the owners hold fast to their convictions. These moments are real flash points in our homes.

Truly, we live in confusing times. The challenges to our faith are growing. It’s difficult to walk this path of righteousness. But, we walk with the King! This current tide of public opinion didn’t take Him by surprise. He isn’t up in heaven nervously tapping His fingers, pondering, O, what should we do? He is brilliant, kind, loving, filled with mercy, and unending love. He will walk us through all of this and He stands as our defender and He will bring us through the fire with a supernatural love that overcomes words of hate, misunderstanding, fear and demonic deception.

This one thing I know, 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials…..

So, my friend, I will cry with you when the words spoken by a loved one cuts through your heart. I will sigh as I watch the path toward the gates of hell grow ever wider. I will pray with never-failing energy, conviction and passion for you, your spouse, your children, our world. I pray and I pray. I trust and I believe. I stand firm and know that I know, in my knower, God is good. He is faithful to rescue, restore, and heal. Our God is able! Peace and love define Him!

And remember, if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. How amazing is that? 

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1 Peter 1 & 2: Foundations and Identity (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiMy friends, I know summer is upon you and many of you are in the throws of school ending, schedules changing, and summer plans. Please know that we love that you make this place a part of your busy lives—Lynn and I are honored to be a part of your lives.

On Saturday, I left you with two questions. What was a cornerstone and Who was/is that cornerstone?

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. — 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV

Peter is quoting that last part from Isaiah 28:16, which is a prophetic word about the Messiah. Jesus is the cornerstone, which references the foundation of the temples when built. Usually larger, a cornerstone was placed in the corner of the foundation to ensure the building was square and stable. The cornerstone “set the foundation,” so to speak.

Peter is very carefully connecting our identity to who Jesus is in his reference to calling us living stones with Jesus as our cornerstone. And not only that. This is about the church. Not only were people now reborn. So was the church. Living stones to build a spiritual house…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. — 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV

Peter has laid the ground work to bring understanding of how this all happened so that the early believers would be clear in who they were now. Their identity.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people…

And their purpose in this new church as well. No longer would it be up to priests to teach and share the message of God. All were and are now called to share the message of the Good News. Interestingly, the NLT includes a little more. Take a look at verse nine again. 

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. — 1Peter 1:9 NLT (emphasis mine)

Which then leads to what Peter says in verse 12. 

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. — 1 Peter 1:12

My friends, we live with unbelieving “neighbors” every day, right in our own homes, and because of who we belong to and who God says we are, we are like that cornerstone in our own homes because Jesus lives in us. This reminds me yet again of the verse that speaks of how we sanctify our homes.

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1 Cor. 7:14

So, in this all encompassing plan of God that literally makes my head hurt and my heart swell when I try to comprehend it all, we were “set up” to be the children of God, precious and chosen to be the church of Christ, built upon an amazing legacy.

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

Now you know that Lynn and I know this is challenging. We live it too. But when we stand firm in knowing who we are and whose we are, we rest in the power and provision of our Most High God. 

Peter even tells how to follow Jesus.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.

He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

By his wounds you are healed.

Once you were like sheep who wandered away.

But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. — 1 Peter 2:21-25

This list is so power packed with God’s truth and provision. Let’s break it down to how it applies to us today, especially in our mismatched homes.

  • Jesus never sinned, nor deceived. He is our model to not only emulate to live godly lives, but He also empowers us to do so with the help of His Holy Spirit who indwells us, because Christ died to put this into place. He is our truth. Don’t compromise to accommodate. 
  • Jesus did not retaliate. I don’t know about you, but when I’m “attacked,” I naturally want to defend myself. But I’ve learned and am still learning that I don’t have to defend myself. I have nothing to prove (i.e. I don’t have to prove myself to others in order to be secure in who I am), nor do I have to prove God. He’s much better at it than I am anyway. God has taught me to trust Him to be my defender, which brings us to the next point.
  • Jesus left His case in the hands of God. Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t need to prove it, because He knew God would. Events would play out and reveal the Truth—Jesus. My friends, I have seen God do this over and over again. It isn’t easy, trust me, I know. But if I try to defend myself, I look foolish. If I trust God to do it, He will often make my accuser look foolish. That doesn’t give me permission to gloat, and often in this process, God works in my heart to have compassion for my accuser. Whoever it may be. Follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting for what to say or NOT to say and trust God to be your defender. 
  • Jesus personally carried our sins so we can live for what is right. And He did this for our pre-believers just as He did this for us. We are freed to live for what is right. Our pre-believers have not embraced this truth yet, so we can’t expect them to live according to that standard. They can live moral lives within their own ability, but they will fall short, just as we did and still do at times. The point here is what Peter said, “do good, what is right, even if it’s hard.” There are times when we can compromise without sinning, but we must not sin to compromise. I hope that makes sense. Sometime standing for the truth makes us a target, but will we stand? For Jesus, yes, I will stand.  
  • The wounds Jesus suffered healed us. And I believe they continue to heal us. As Paul says, continue to work out your salvation. It’s an on-going, transforming process. We are saved from the pit of hell the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord, but our salvation is an ongoing process. Jesus died once but He loves forever. His love transforms us. Declare this truth over your life.
  • He guards our souls. He is the lover of our souls. He did all this to ensure our place with Him. The greatest deception the enemy has accomplished among believers today is to believe God doesn’t love us. But when we really think it through, we can see the lie for what it really is. Why would Jesus suffer and die for us if He didn’t love us? He didn’t just do this to be done with us. He did it to have a deep and intimate relationship with Him. He has drawn us to Him out of love, not duty. 

Wow, this post has gone long. Sorry about that, my friends. So much good stuff in this part of Peter. I especially love the third point about leaving our case in the hand of God. How about you? Which point spoke to your heart most?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
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Decluttering the Mind and the Home

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Our growing third batch of stuff to donate.

I find it so interesting how things we may be doing on the outside can often wind up reflecting what’s going on in the inside. I’ve shared that my word for this year is “sanctuary.” So far, the Holy Spirit has been taking me on a journey to declutter my mind and heart to create this place of peace and rest that originates and exists in Him, regardless of what is going on around me.

The interesting thing that has resulted in this process is how it is showing up in the physical aspects of life, in the sense that I’m on a mission to create this place of peace where I live. I’ve done this in our home in Florida without even realizing it. Several people have commented that our house there is peaceful. Even my new office has garnered this comment several times. I believe it is a combination of what is happening inside of me and as well as outside.

Now that we’re back in CA for a few months, I feel the need to do the same here. I’m cleaning out our house here and “purging” 12 years of clutter. Now I’m a pretty neat and organized person. My daughters might even tell you I’m a tad OCD about it at times, but this goes beyond the stuff and flows into the connection between our mind, body and spirit. We know if we are not healthy spiritually, our physical bodies reflect it. And vice verse. God created us in these three parts to be a whole, much in reflection of His Trinity.

So, as my spiritual health is improving, as the Holy Spirit has been “decluttering” my mind and heart of the old lies and misconceptions I’d inadvertently picked up or allowed in from the enemy, I’m finding this is now showing up in my physical home. And what’s even more interesting is that my husband is doing it too. 

We are cleaning and purging. Bags and bags of clothing have gone to Goodwill. Five or six bags of books have been donated to a neighborhood library program. Pieces of furniture are being eliminated and either passed on to family or given away.

And I find also there is a parallel to this physical decluttering to our mental decluttering. The question becomes, what do I really need? And it is a process done in layers. As layers of lies are peeled away, there is more room for God’s truth. As His truth infiltrates, more lies are revealed and purged, layer by layer.

My friends, I’m finding this applies to our homes too. As we are peeling back layers of stuff, we begin to see more layers of stuff that we really don’t need. And as it is freeing mentally and spiritually, I find this to be true of our surroundings too. There is a definite connection and I’m determined to bring more of God’s peace into my home and environment. God’s peace and chaos cannot coexist. I believe this is true of our minds and our homes.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people. — 1 Cor. 14:33

I’m excited to see how this unfolds and how it affects those around us. I never expected my word for this year to have such a far reaching affect to not only change the “environment” inside me but around me as well. And that is what we want, to bring God’s kingdom to the forefront so that others will be touched, moved and changed, especially our pre-believers.

I wonder, my friends, what are you thoughts and experiences with this. Do you see areas in and/or around you that you can change to invite more of God’s peace to rest and reside there? In you? Around you? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Love you!
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A Big Word for a Little Man

23765716_sDear friends, I've finished reading the book of Luke and have one final story to share. Again I thought this was two stories, two nuggets but the Holy Spirit impressed upon me the bigger picture AND how they are linked together to my previous post about the the Kingdom of God Within Us. I just love it when He helps us make those connections!  

This time the story begins with Zacchaeus. Is that Sunday School song going through your head?

​He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 

So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” — Luke 19:1-10 EVS

This story has always fascinated me in how this "wee little man" had such a dramatic turn of heart. No doubt, the Holy Spirit was already at work, but I found a little more to this story in that one word Jesus uses.

Must. Jesus says He "must" stay at his house. I looked up the Greek meaning of this word and was astounded by the force behind it:

dei — behoved, be meet, must (needs), (be) need(-ful), ought, should, must, ought, it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper, necessity lying in the nature of the case, necessity brought on by circumstances or by the conduct of others toward us, necessity in reference to what is required to attain some end, a necessity of law. 

But this last part especially grabbed me:

necessity established by the counsel and decree of God, especially by that purpose of his which relates to the salvation of men by the intervention of Christ and which is disclosed in the Old Testament prophecies concerning what Christ was destined finally to undergo, his sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension.

After looking this word up, I understood how Zacchaeus had such a stunning and powerful transformation! This one power-packed word spoke to Zacchaeus the heart of his Savior and literally holds the promise and power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

God's Word is powerful. It is life. Our own Joanne has been sharing this very message with us frequently in the comments, and I have a little more I want to share along these lines. We so often discount how powerful our words can be, to encourage and give life, because we think we don't have something to say, or we don't know what to say. 

Guess what? You don't have to have the words, because the One who lives in you does. Take a look at what Jesus said:

And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” — Luke 12:11-12 ESV

This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. — Luke 21:13-15 ESV

My friends, as we carry the kingdom of God within us, it makes perfect sense that the Holy Spirit will give us words of life to speak in any and every situation, whether in witnessing to a stranger or sharing our heart with our pre-believer. We can apply and expect this in every situation we encounter.

And I have a feeling you are doing this more than you realize as well. Those nudges to speak and act that we know are from the Holy Spirit are "living proof" of the Holy Spirit's presence and the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to us. Living in this understanding and awareness will open our eyes and heart to hear more and more.

Zacchaeus' big word is a powerful example of the Holy Spirit's presence in words. Pray for discernment snd believe that He's there and will teach you when and what to speak. I’m always amazed when the Holy Spirit does this. And don't be surprised if those words you wind up speaking come back to speak to your heart as well. Your faith and trust will grow too!

I love you, my friends, and I love walking this amazing faith journey with you!
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Anxiety's Remedy

My Friends,

I will confess that I experienced an upside down week. On several occasions I was pulled into anxiety (fear). Can I just tell you I don’t dwell in the land of anxiety often and as I look back on the two incidents that threw me off my game, I’m now mad.

The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy our peace and joy. And many times in our unequally yoked marriages, he schemes to use our spouse and our children. Sheesh!  Does that somehow seem unfair to you as it does to me? Well, today SUMites. Let me share some truths and this next week, we will not live in anxiety but in peace and joy; the atmosphere of heaven.

Are you in?

Happiness- The root word is happenings. Our circumstances.

When our circumstances (happenings) overwhelm us and we feel all alone, isolated, distant from God. The enemy is aimed straight at your life and his goal is to keep you in anxiety fretting over all the “happenings” in your life.

Joy- is rejoicing in the Spirit. Rooted in God. The goodness and faithfulness of our Papa.

When we remain in the posture of joy, we DEFEAT the enemy. So how do we do that? It’s on our face crying out and it’s a life of thanksgiving. I’m telling you that if you spend even 20 minutes thanking the Lord for all that you have, you will change the atmosphere of your heart, your day and dare I say, even your spouse and kids.

So I challenge you. Every morning this week, take out your journal, write down in any random order the gifts, blessings and abundance you have in your life. Then watch as all of heaven rejoices with you and hell trembles.

Thankfulness is the key to open heaven’s gates and to rest in the reality of our Lord’s Presence.

Now here is your promise:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:4-7 

Now the challenge: In the comments we are going to break anxiety. Praise the Lord with Thanksgiving there. I will be praying along with you and I want to know on Friday that you experienced the power, love, peace and joy of our Father and the Kingdom of heaven.

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The Power We Have To Sanctify Our Spouse

SUMites. 

Matthew 18 19In the last week, through scripture, other books I’m reading, and email, I’ve been continually drawn to OUR power passage. 1 Corinthians 7:12-14. (See it below.)

I am coming into new revelation that this passage is even more powerful than we think. When combined with the passage from Matthew 18:19, which is also being hammered home in me, I’m in a place of powerful belief and prayer. 

So, I think I want to revisit this passage and re-inspire you with what the Lord tells us when we are in a mixed – mixed up *grin*- marriage. I know that we have a ton of new readers who perhaps haven’t found our writings on this passage. So while I’m busy working away on my next book, please let me share again from Winning Him Without Words: 

I’ve lived many seasons unequally yoked and only now am I reaping the rewards of the hard work of forgiveness. I am able to teach my children about Christ, to love my husband unconditionally, and to dwell daily in the presence of my Savior. But, because I have traveled through the difficult seasons where many of you are at right now, I have a heart for your pain and I understand the real struggles you face. I have lived where you are living, and I wasted too many years stuck on the path. More than anything, I don’t want one more woman wasting years imprisoned in a bad season. It is God’s desire for us to discover that marriage is fun, fulfilling, rewarding, and godly. 

Godly, you may wonder. How can a believer and an unbeliever have a godly marriage?

For the rest of you who are in mixed marriages—Christian married to non-Christian—we have no explicit command from the Master. So this is what you must do. If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be left out; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God (1 Cor. 7:12-14, THE MESSAGE). 

Let this passage bring you comfort and security. You are a follower of Jesus and it’s by your faith he will bring about his good and perfect will in your home. Can I get an amen? AMEN! 

I was reading something recently from Smith Wigglesworth. This man astonishes me at his antics within the power and love of God. He paid a visit to a woman whose husband was an unbeliever and who had left her. Smith said the following to her: The situation is yours. The Word of God says that you have power to sanctify your husband. Dare to believe the Word of God. …. The situations is yours. Get down before God and claim him for the Lord. Get into the glory just as you have got in today, and the Spirit of God prays through you, you will find that God will grant all the desires of your heart. 

My friends, I don’t fully understand how our faith sanctifies our spouse, but I’m willing to learn. I’m willing to believe. 

PS. Wigglesworth saw the woman a month later. She told him how her husband had come home that night and she prayed through the night right through to victory then laid hands upon him. He cried out for mercy. The Lord saved him and baptized him in the Holy Spirit. The power of God is beyond all our conception….. 

Such a great story. Makes me smile to imagine my husband crying out for mercy… So let’s stand together today upon God’s promise of Matthew 18:19 and pray together for our spouses full, Holy Spirit, deliverance, salvation. In Jesus name. 

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I'm Pissed Off!!!

Can I say that on a Christian blog?

Well, at least it's a righteous anger.....

Read with me and then share with me your thoughts. Hugs, Lynn

Believing Wife – Agnostic Husband (names have been omitted for privacy) 

IMG_2524[1]Earlier in the week, Dineen and I received an email from a reader who was seeking some perspective about her husband. When Dineen and I read it, almost simultaneously on different sides of America, the same thing happened. We both were filled with emotion. Heartbreak for our sweet SUMite and also a righteous anger. Here is a portion of her email and then a portion of my reply: 

My husband, a life-long believer, has become agnostic/atheist  after reading about evolution and every book & lectures from a (well-known agnostic author), and has also become very politically liberal in his worldview.  He has been sharing with our pre-teen (still believes) and teen (says she doesn't anymore and that God isn’t real) his reasons. 

My husband says he has vastly researched, is very sure he has the truth, and will never go back to Christianity and that it is important that our kids know his view point and "the truth" because he doesn't want them to have false hope, guilt, etc, and because while the bible does have some good things to say, it is not true and Christianity (along with other religions) can be dangerous.  This is a huge change in our almost 2 decade old relationship. 

I am trying to "not fear anything frightening" but this has been very difficult on me and our marriage.  I am extremely concerned for my children as they hear these things, and for myself, and of course for my husband….. Sister Sumite 

First of all my heart breaks for you (name omitted). I am so sorry you're in this place. But I'm so glad that you reached out to me and Dineen. And I will also tell you that Dineen received this email at the same time I did. I spoke with Dineen this morning and the same thing happened to her, she rose up in a righteous anger about your situation. 

So I want to share my thoughts about your husband leaving Christianity and choosing to be agnostic. As clear as I could hear it from the Lord himself, I heard this: This man, this atheist author, may write his little atheist books but they will not be around past 50 years from now. And he may be deceiving people through his writing; however, these silly little books propagated by the demonic realm will come to nothing. And most of them will never be read after 20 years from now. 

But My Holy Word has been around for not only several centuries but two millennia. Great armies have come against My Word but they cannot stop it from reaching into people's lives and bringing my love, hope, and freedom. 

(My friend), when you put this into perspective I hope the truth of God's word rises up before you and becomes very powerful. Your husband has not treated you fairly either as a wife and mother. For him to lay down rules that everyone in the family must follow, according to his belief system, I find that absolutely reprehensible. Marriage is a partnership not a dictatorship. You and your children deserve, and should be enabled and empowered to practice and speak about your faith in your own home. I have very strong convictions about this so please read my words and pray about them. I'm praying for you to have courage to go to your husband and bring some balance back into your relationship with regard to faith matters. 

And now Sweet Sister, I want to share my thoughts about your teenage daughter. And I ask that you would read through this and take these thoughts to the Lord in prayer and ask him about what I'm going to share. When I read the sentence that your daughter, your 15-year-old daughter, has now lost her faith because of her father, I was deeply grieved in my spirit. Because teenage girls, especially a girl your daughter’s age, face some of the most difficult challenges to their identity during the teenage years. They are under a barrage from every direction that challenges their hope, their identity, and their self-worth and many other things that have lasting, lifelong, effects on their lives. And what I see your husband has done to your daughter through his doubt in God, he has stolen her hope. And right now more than ever a 15-year-old girl needs to have hope. She needs to know there is a higher power that has got her back, that will never leave her nor forsake her, that loves her for who she is and not what she looks like. I'm deeply grieved that the hope of the living God has been stolen from your daughter by her own father. Please forgive me if this seems harsh, but this is really how I felt deep in my heart. And I know this is exactly how Jesus feels right now about your daughter. And he feels the same way about you. 

My friend, let Dineen and I be the voice from Jesus that you need to hear today. God is absolutely real. I have experienced him personally and so has Dineen. He loves us. He will take care of us. And he is our hope. Every. Single. Day. My friend I ask that you might go speak to a pastor to have someone help to shore up your faith and learn to walk in this situation with courage and to stand your ground on what you know is true. Also, if your husband pushes these books by this author at you again, you can simply say I've made up my mind. I don't need to read these it doesn't make me less of a person, if I don't have an open mind to every book that you shove at me. Personally, for me, I told my husband that I don't need to explore any other faiths, religions, or books. I know in my heart that the living word of God is the absolute truth. And millions upon millions of people throughout centuries and centuries have discovered the same thing. The Bible is the blueprint for living a happy and joy filled life. 

I promise you, in 50 years, no one will be reading this atheist’s books. But in 50 years from now, millions will be reading the Bible. Love you much, Lynn and Dineen 

I wrote more to her about praying for her and I hope and pray my words encouraged her. I hope and pray now that these words reach deeply into anyone else that is walking in a journey similar.

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Empowered Living: Romans 8:31-39

Psalm119-1622My friends, we’re at the end or our Romans study. I’m amazed at how much the Holy Spirit has been showing and teaching us. I never imagined this series would wind up being nine parts. I absolutely love studying and teaching God’s Word. Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. I’ve loved reading your comments and hearing your hearts so much. God is movin’ and “groovin’” in the SUMite community!

On Wednesday I shared my favorite verse (Romans 8:28) with you and how the enemy tried to make me doubt what I knew to be true—that God is GOOD, always. This last part of Romans 8 holds a truth that meant more to me last year than I ever imagined. Let’s take a look at Romans 8:31-39:  

ESV: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

VOICE: 31 So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? 32 If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don’t you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him? 33 Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared. 34 Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed who died, but more importantly, conquered death when He was raised to sit at the right hand of God where He pleads on our behalf. 35 So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. 36 As the psalm says,

On Your behalf, our lives are endangered constantly; we are like sheep awaiting slaughter.

37 But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. 38 For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, 39 height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.

Right off the bat, Paul takes the truth, turns it around and asks us a question: If God is for us, then what can measure up to that or threaten that? I mean really, think about it. If you have the Creator of the Universe on your side, what can possibly come against you? David said the same thing in Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? — Psalm 27:1 ESV

And that is one truth I spoke over myself over and over again last year when fear tried to grow and take over. Speak it out loud, my friends. The Lord is my light and salvation, I have nothing to fear! 

In verse 32, Paul again takes the truth and turns it into a question: If the God of the Universe is willing to give up His Son for you, then how could He withhold any of His goodness and love from you?

Let’s revisit another verse that says the same thing:

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. — Psalm 84:11

In verse 33 Paul goes back to where he started, that there is no condemnation in Christ. He repeats this point in light of all the exhortation that he has given thus far, especially after the questions he asked in verses 31 and 32. In essence he is asking, “In light of these truths, how can anything come against us?”

But even then, Paul isn’t finished making his point, because he’s building to one of the most profound truths in the Bible. He asks who has the authority to condemn and then answers the question with Jesus. Jesus has the authority to condemn but He chose another way—the way of sacrificial love. For He knew to condemn would drive us away and His heart was to be the solution to draw us near—into relationship and not religion and fear. He did what had to be done to defeat all that had formerly come against us, separating us from Him. The separation would now be forever removed.

Most likely Paul understood better than most what it felt like to wonder if God could truly forgive all he had done. As Saul, he had persecuted the church, watched Stephen stoned to death as he held the coats of those throwing the rocks. He cheered it, welcomed it, believed it was his mission to stop this new group identifying themselves as “The Way.”

Recently I asked Abba again if He was sure He had the right girl for a calling He has made clear for my life. I seem an unlikely choice in light of all I know this will mean and entail. He told me that was precisely why He has called me to it, because I am the least likely.

As was Paul, yet his voice and testimony had more power and truth precisely because of his past origins. Paul could understand, speak and encourage because he knew what Jesus had done for him. And if Jesus could use a man like Saul for his Kingdom, then Paul knew Jesus could forgive and bless anyone willing to answer that call.

Profound. The truth. Jesus.

Thus begins Paul’s point to one of the greatest truths in the Bible. Nothing can separate us from God’s love for us. Nothing can separate us from a love so great, so sacrificial that He was willing to die for us. Nothing can separate us from a love that is so beyond our ability to understand it that we must pray for understanding of it.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith —that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul finally brings his conclusion to this: Our place of victory is already assured because of God’s great love and even makes a list of everything that we might think could come between us and God and says, “No, not even that.”

My friends, one dark morning last year as I sat with my Bible, reading Romans 8 again, as the Holy Spirit told me to, I reached the end of this chapter and the still small voice of God whispered in my ear.

“Not even you.”

Nothing I had done, thought, or felt could separate me from God’s love. The truth finally broke in and burned away the shame and guilt I had accepted from the enemy and had been carrying far too long. I finally understood the magnitude of this truth.

Nothing I did or could do (or not do) could stop God from loving me. And when this truth settles deep into our heart, it doesn’t give us free license to do whatever we want. No, it brings us to our knees in gratitude and with a longing to love God more.

For how could we ever match such love—a love that is powerful enough to cast out fear? We cannot, and grace says we don’t have to. We don’t have to measure up. We only need say yes, and let the fruit of the Spirit grow in us so that we can love Abba Father, King Jesus, and Holy Spirit more and more each day.

This is the way, the truth, and the life, my friends. To walk in the truths of God’s Word and understand that every single promise and truth in its pages is our inheritance in Jesus. He is ours and we are His.

Thank you again for walking through Romans 8 with me. On Friday, our dear friend Trish Fuhlendorf has a wonderful message for us, “Happy vs. Holy.” You don’t want to miss this one.

Love you, SUMites!
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Links to previous parts to this series:

 

A Introduction to Empowered Living
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part one)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part two)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:5-8
Empowered Living: Romans 8:9-11
Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17
Empowered Living: Romans 8:18-25
Empowered Living: Romans 26-30

 

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Empowered Living: Romans 8:26-30

Psalm119-1622My friends, we are at one of my all time favorite promises of the Bible. God laid the groundwork for this truth in me before I could even read as a child. I grew up knowing it, and I remember being surprised when I read it in the Bible the first time. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. (Cliffhanger!) We are about to get there though. First I want to start with our Scriptures and tell you a story. Go ahead and read Romans 8:26-30 below and in your preferred translation if it isn’t included. I’ll meet you on the other side…

ESV: 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

VOICE: 26 A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. 27 Don’t you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? 28 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. 29-30 From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters. As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory.

Verse 26 is profound when we think about the Holy Spirit actually speaking and praying for us. I will never forget this sound. I’ve heard it only once, and it was the night my pre-believer finally told me he’d decided he was an atheist. I was grieved deeper and ached more than I can even describe. 

As I laid down, trying to sleep after hearing this devastating news, I heard this groaning in the silence of the night. It was deep within me but didn’t come from my throat or mouth. I could hear it only in my spirit. I later came to understand that groaning was the Holy Spirit stepping in when I couldn’t, and I believe Abba Father allowed me to hear it so that I could be comforted. I don’t know what He was “groaning,” but I look forward to one day finding out how He prayed for me that dark night.

Verse 27 further expounds on this amazing gift of being “known.” My friends, I know this path we walk with our pre-believers can be lonely because we don’t feel like our spouse “gets us.” We are limited and even unable to share the depths of our relationship with our Abba Father, Savior and Friend Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. But know right now, this very day, that YOU ARE KNOWN BY HIM!  

Paul states this truth too:

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. — 1 Corinthians 13:12

I believe this word is specifically for several of you reading this right now. So I will say it again and if you feel a piercing in your spirit, then know that this word is for you today, my friend.

You don’t “feel” understood and “known” right now, but God knows you inside and out. He knows everything you are walking through right now and He. Is. There. He sees you. He loves you. He KNOWS you.

Wow, now I felt that one roll over me big time as the Holy Spirit guided my words. That’s from His heart to yours, my precious friend. And think about this: He’s given me this word for you and I’m writing it down hours before you even read or knew about it. See how He turns His thoughts to you (Psalm 139:17-18)?

The rest of this powerful verse describes how the Holy Spirit pleads for us, His saints (Eph 1:18), to align us with God’s will and heart. And that brings another powerful verse to mind because in this process of the Holy Spirit praying for us, to align us with the Father, we begin to delight in Him. Now look at the verse from a new perspective:

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it. — Psalm 37:4 NASB

So we have the Holy Spirit, who knows us best, interceding for us when we don’t know what to pray, working on our behalf and aligning us with God’s plans and purposes. And now we move into that truth I told you about, that God ingrained in me as a child.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28 

And all means ALL, my friends. This is an astonishing truth that you won’t find in the world. It is the heart of the redemption message. God redeems everything. He brings good out of everything, which means we do not suffer, endure, and persevere without purpose. He is not wasteful. He will not allow us to walk through or into anything (bad or good) that He doesn’t have a plan and purpose for our good.

He knows us, He is for us, and He is good.

This is one of the most profound truths in the Bible, and when we can truly embrace it and fully believe that God is always good, then we walk in astounding freedom from sins like unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, envy and more. How about freedom from fear?

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. — 1 John 4:18

This is also the place the place the enemy likes to hit us hard, to make us stumble and doubt. This is where I got hit last year. I’ve stood on the truth of Romans 8:28 for years and proclaimed it as my life verse. I shared it, taught it, lived it. But I’d allowed the enemy in and listened to his darts of doubt. Suddenly the very truth I’d built my life upon wasn’t standing strong. My foundation began to crumble, and the hardest part was that God allowed it.  

I questioned. I railed. Until I saw that I’d allowed these lies to be part of my faith foundation and the only way to get rid of them was to tear it apart until only the truth remained. The truth of Romans 8:28: God is always good and He is always working for our good. That’s His character and the only way He works. 

When doubt creeps in, dear friends, ask yourself this: “What do I know to be true?” Ask the Holy Spirit to show you. I promise you, He will. I love what Kris Vallotton says about the truth of Romans 8:28. “If it isn't good yet, then God’s not done.” 

And finally, verses 29 and 30. I know there is discussion and confusion about predestination, but for me, these verses spell it out clearly. What is our destiny? To be like Jesus. That’s it. It’s that simple. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. — Ecc. 3:11

Abba Father created us to be like His Son, Jesus, even to the point of sacrificing Him for our benefit (can I get a God is REALLY GOOD here?). That is His heart for us. And in the moment we accept that calling, we are justified and then glorified. For Him. We are His and He is ours.

Now I will close with this jewel from verse 29 in the Voice translation: 

From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. 

Think about this and let it soak deep into your bones. His loves reaches us from the past of the cross, carries us through the present and ushers us into eternity. It’s constant and relentless—for us and for our pre-believers.

Just one more part to this series and I just love this one too. It’s a promise that brought His bright light into some dark moments last year. I can’t wait to share that one with you too!

Love you, my friends!
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Links to previous parts to this series:

A Introduction to Empowered Living
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part one)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part two)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:5-8
Empowered Living: Romans 8:9-11
Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17
Empowered Living: Romans 8:18-25

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Empowered Living: Romans 8:18-25

Psalm119-1622Hello, my dear friends. I’m fascinated with the way God is working through this study of Romans 8 to reveal more truths to us and how to live empowered by the Holy Spirit! I even will dare to say that some answers will come for things we have been asking for breakthroughs for a long time. 

Lynn talked about secret sins on Monday and many of us shared things we are struggling with. I shared my own battle with overeating (gluttony) and how that has affected my perception of my appearance and weight. I have battled with this since I was a young teen. I can look back and see how the enemy moved in during a very difficult time in my life and deceived me to believe food was my comfort and then condemned me over and over again as it affected my weight and appearance, even to the point of depression at times. 

Well, you know what I say now? I am dead to that sin and I am no longer a slave to it (Romans 6:6-7). I declare the truths in Romans 8 that there is no condemnation for this anymore, that I am set free from the law of sin and death and am alive through Jesus and the law of the Spirit (Romans 8:1-2). I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome this issue and I will make this declaration every day, over and over again until I walk in complete freedom from it. because the more I do this, the more the truth lives in my thoughts, feelings and emotions and the less power the lie of the enemy has until it is completely defeated.

Why? Because the more I do this, the more the truth lives in my thoughts, feelings and emotions and the less power the lie of the enemy has until it is completely defeated.

Because I am now a witness to how the Word of God transforms our minds (Romans 12:2) and can testify to its power to do so. Because the Word of God transformed my mind to believe the truths and promises He has for me. Through the difficulties of last year, I stood on the truth of God’s Word, writing down Scriptures to pray and declare out loud. I did this almost every day. One in particular I am seeing happen in my life right now. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. — 1 Peter 5:6-11 

Nearly a year later, God has lifted me up, is restoring me, and is making me steadfast and strong. He is doing this, not me. What did I do? I believed His Word. I prayed it over myself and claimed its truth and promises. I rested in God and believed He would do this for me. Now He is and I am stunned at the things He is doing.

My friends, if there is only one truth I ever manage to share with you clearly, then let it be this one: God’s Word will transform you. Read it, believe it, and trust Him to do it.

So let’s delve into more of God’s powerful Word and take a look at the truths of Romans 8, specifically verses 18-25. I confess I find these a bit more challenging to understand but here goes:

ESV: 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

VOICE: 18 Now I’m sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. 19 For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. 20 You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God’s. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope 21 that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. 23 And there is more; it’s not just creation—all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete— 24 for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has? 25 But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation.

Paul gives us encouragement right off the bat with verse 18. He’s reminding us to keep our eyes upward, that our present situations and sufferings can’t compare with the glory God will be revealing to us. And I love what he’s explaining in verse 19 because we catch another glimpse of our Abba Father’s heart for us. Even creation waits for us to be freed, because it will be set free too! Is that not astonishing? 

If we go back to Genesis, we see God’s original plan for us to live in harmony with creation—trees, plants, animals, etc. And I personally believe when we see amazing stories of an animal rescuing a person (like a dog or a dolphin), or we see those cute home videos of a bird and a cat being buddies, or witness the comforting affects that pets have on people even to the point of healing (and I’ve witnessed this in my daughter’s life), that we are seeing a part of creation being revealed in truth. We catch a glimpse of what God intended this world to be. 

Just as we long to be liberated, so does all of creation. I love how the Voice translates verse 20: “Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope.” To think that just as we wait and hope for what is to come, so does all of creation. My friends, I find myself outside more and more when I spend time with God and pray. It’s a connection I have found growing stronger and stronger. I believe this shared hope is why. Can anyone else relate?

Verses 22 and 23 further the connection and yearning that we share with creation—our spirits recognize what is not right and what is to come. So we wait in hope and expectation for Christ’s return, when God’s plans and purposes will be complete and His will on earth will be as it is in heaven. No more sin or the enemy to create separation. No more warfare. No more sickness and disease. This the revelational promise of salvation—ETERNITY!

So, my friends, what challenges you as we walk in this place of living in the now, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and knowing there is so much more to come? What words of truth are you clinging to, praying and claiming in and over your life? How about your pre-believer? Let’s share and encourage each other! Your words of wisdom may be the very thing someone else needs to put the pieces together.

And I am so excited about the last two parts of this series. They hold two of my favorite truths and promises from our Great God. We’re almost there… 
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Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17

Psalm119-1622Happy Saturday, my friends! How are you doing? Feeling more empowered yet? Still soaking in the truths from Romans 8:9-11? I loved your comments on Wednesday, and I love that we’re on this journey together. Please keep sharing your thoughts in the comments. We inspired and encourage one another when we do that. 

Today we’ll dig into Romans 8:12-17. I’m only using the NIV and Voice translations to keep things a little less cumbersome, so pull out your favorite translation and be sure to read it there as well.  

NIV: 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

The Voice: 12 So, my brothers and sisters, you owe the flesh nothing! You do not need to live according to its ways, so abandon its oppressive regime. 13 For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. 14 If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. 15 You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy. 16 Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. 17 If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory.

In this section of Romans 8, Paul brings us to a conclusion about our relationship to sin—basically that we don’t have one. We have a relationship with the Father, as we are His children. And living as such is truly living. The part I’m still wrapping my brain around completely is in verse thirteen. 

The NIV translation says, “but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

But if we look at the Voice translation, this nugget is more fully revealed: “But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life.”

The NIV translation makes it clear that we can’t put a stop to sin in our lives by our own ability, strength, or power. If we could, then the law would still stand and Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come and die for us. We need the help and power of the Holy Spirit. 

The Voice translation brings out an additional nugget of wisdom to this process though. We must invite the Holy Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, sin and strongholds. Sometimes we know exactly where the battle lies. Other times we don’t and we need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these areas to us.

And more than likely He will show us one of two things:

  1. We are living in sin. Remember, He will not condemn us, just lovingly convict us and empower us to walk away from this sin and/or ask for help.
  2. It’s a lie that has permeated our thinking and understanding of who we think we are in relationship to who God says we are. This revelation will bring relief and, again, empowerment to overcome.
  3. The issue is actually a demonic influence. Again, this will bring relief and understanding, as well as tools (our authority in Jesus for starters) to rebuke it in the name of Jesus, and to recognize this influence if it tries to come back.

Often times the lie has allowed the enemy a foothold in our lives, or we’ve become entrenched in a lie that the enemy shot at us to begin with. Figuring out which happened first is kind of like the old chicken and egg question—which came first. But you know what, it doesn’t matter. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you identify it and show you how to root and boot it out. 

However, as it is written: 
“What no eye has seen, 
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived” —
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. — 1 Cor. 2:9-12

That help will come from Scripture and prayer, from the still small voice of our Abba (which is Greek for “Daddy”) telling us the truth, from the Holy Spirit in a clear thought or leading that we know didn’t come from ourselves, and may even come externally in a timely phone call, email, or a book or Bible study that seems to be exactly what we need at that moment.

Just tune in and you’ll see those answers to prayers to be freed from ongoing issues in your lives. Some answers come and the “fix” is immediate. Other times it will take time and we must persevere and remember that verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9 where God tells Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. We can take comfort and place our hope in this powerful truth, that in our weakness, God’s power is exhibited to it’s full capacity and will bring us to freedom and healing, in His way and His timing.

And finally, there are more promises here, my friends. Take a look:

Vs. 14: The Holy Spirit declares us children of God. We don’t have to prove ourselves to be His children. The Holy Spirit SAYS we are. (i.e. You don’t have to earn God’s acceptance and approval.)

Vs. 15: The Holy Spirit frees us from fear and deepens our relationship with God the Father, “as we would address a loving daddy.” 

Vs. 16: The Holy Spirit confirms to our own spirit that we are God’s children. 

(Do you see in vss. 15 and 16 how the Holy Spirit tirelessly works to bring the Father to us and us to the Father?)

Vs. 17: We are God’s heirs, just like His Son Jesus, with full benefits. We will share some of His sufferings, yes, but we will ultimately share in His glory too. 

Look what He said in John 16:

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. — John 16:20-21

The analogy of the pain of childbirth becoming joy is a perfect analogy, my friends. Many of us are feeling a bit “pregnant” with promise (I actually noticed I was waddling the other day, the way I did when I carried my girls!) and some of us are struggling to give birth to those promises, but that’s a topic for another day.

My friends, I’ll stop here. Just know that this is all building to what I consider to be two of God’s greatest promises to us near the end of this amazing, truth-packed chapter. 

Let’s chat some more in the comments! 
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Empowered Living: Romans 8:9-11

Psalm119-1622Hello, dear friends! Today we will delve a little further into Romans 8. I may need to include less translations so that I can cover more ground and the posts don’t get too long, but for this section of Romans I did want to include more. There’s so much to be gleaned here in verses 9-11.

First of all, these verses say we are not controlled by our sinful nature. We are controlled my the Spirit if we have the Spirit of God living in us. I’m sure you’ve noticed changes in yourself—things you used to do no longer hold any appeal or may even repulse you. I believe it’s also an ongoing process as we learn to be more spirit controlled in our minds and less controlled by our “fleshy” nature. Just as I’m sure you can see this in your pre-believer, we battle with it too at times, but we have the power to overcome! 

NLT: 9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

NIV: 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

The Voice: 9 But you do not live in the flesh. You live in the Spirit, assuming, of course, that the Spirit of God lives inside of you. The truth is that anyone who does not have the Spirit of the Anointed living within does not belong to God. 10 If the Anointed One lives within you, even though the body is as good as dead because of the effects of sin, the Spirit is infusing you with life now that you are right with God. 11 If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you.

The Message: 9 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. 10 But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. 11 It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's! 

Now I ended my last post with a hint at what that power is in us. You probably already know what it is, but what is astounding is the full ramification of it. It’s kind of like this: I know I have an engine in my car, but I couldn’t tell you how powerful it is.

Scripture tells us that the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the same spirit that dwells in us. Did you get that? How about this verse from Ephesians: 

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. — Ephesians 1:19 NLT

And let me broaden this understanding just a bit with another translation:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places… — Ephesians 1:18-20 NASB

First, understand we are saints, my friends. I remember the first time I said that in the Sunday School I taught years ago—everyone fell silent and looked at me as if I were crazy, but there it is, right in God’s Word. Every single one of us saved by grace is a saint. We are Christ’s inheritance and we are His. And His power, His Holy Spirit, is placed in us in accordance to same degree as was place in Jesus Christ to raise Him from the dead!

So why do we walk around thinking and feeling like we’re powerless? Because we’re deceived by the enemy (and the church, I dare say) into believing this. We are deceived and taught to live by what we see and not by faith. Our unenlightened eyes (see how Paul prays that in the beginning?) are still looking laterally instead of vertically. Look up at your God in Heaven and then measure every challenge and trial by His size, not by your scope of vision.

Now back to Romans 8:11 specifically because the promise there is not to be missed. I’ll use the Message translation to repeat it here:

It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's! — Romans 8:11 the Message

I chuckle at the start of this verse in this translation. “Stands to reason…” Yes, we can reason this out and it holds its truth and promise. God lives and breathes in us, empowers us with the Holy Spirit—His Spirit, just as He did to bring Christ back to life and back into Heaven from this place of death. Thus it also “stands to reason” that if we are also in this state of living, we are also seated in the heavenliness with Christ. Yes, we’re back to that verse again, my friends.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. — Ephesians 2:6

Even as I am teaching this here to you I am learning as well and am even more convinced that we have barely tapped into the full potential of our supernatural place and position with Jesus. I so want to break down all the barriers that hinder me in this race so as to walk more fully in the promises of my inheritance in Jesus.  

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. — Hebrews 12:1-2

How about you, my friends? What spurs you to keep persevering? What does it mean to your soul and spirit to know that the same Spirit that raised Christ from death lives in and empowers you? And how do we walk more and more in this truth?

I will meet you in the comments! Love you!
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Empowered Living: Romans 8:5-8

Psalm119-1622Welcome back to our study of Romans 8, my dear friends. I am just loving digging into God's Word and reading your comments! That is such a testimony to my heart and spirit of how the Holy Spirit unifies us and reveals the truth of God's Word to each of us as a community. Amazing! Please keep sharing.

Today let's start with Romans 8:5-8. Paul brings out a vital truth in this section that is so foundational to the heart and strength of empowered living—living empowered by and walking with the Holy Spirit.

It starts in our minds, my friends. If I can bring one truth across to you above all else is that in order for us to live empowered lives of faith, we must have transformed minds (Romans 12:2). If you recall, I wrote a seven part series on this last year, sharing my own journey of how I submitted to the Holy Spirit and God's Word to transform my mind. The Holy Spirit revealed lies I didn't even know were there. It wasn't easy—probably the most challenging walk of my faith to date, but I am grateful to King Jesus for what He did and continues to do in my mind and in my heart. 

NLT: 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

NIV: 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

The Voice: 5 If you live your life animated by the flesh—namely, your fallen, corrupt nature—then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit—namely, God’s indwelling presence—then your focus is on the work of the Spirit. 6 A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace. 7 You see, a mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God; it defies the authority of God’s law and is incapable of following His path. 8 So it is clear that God takes no pleasure in those who live oriented to the flesh.

The Message: 5 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! 6 Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. 7 Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. 8 And God isn't pleased at being ignored.

Verse six is a clear statement of our mental state with and without God. Think about this in your own life, how you feel, think and operate when you are more focused on yourself than on God, when you are in a state of worry instead of trusting God, and perhaps even before knowing Christ and the condition of your mind then. 

Now relate this to your pre-believer. We often grow frustrated with our pre-believers for not operating within the realm of having the mind of Christ, but how can they? Their minds are still self obsessed (some to the point of clinical diagnoses) and focused on things about themselves and the world. How can they operate otherwise without the Holy Spirit working in them? And thus why our prayers for their minds, hearts and lives are so important. Gives new meaning to 2 Cor. 7:14 about the believer's faith sanctifying the unbeliever, doesn't it?

For us, as believers, I believe this is an ongoing process that will not end until we are on the other side of the veil with Jesus. We continue to work with the Holy Spirit, submitting to His authority and power to bring this "control"—Godly guidance to revelation, truth, healing, strength and growth. AND, we must also guard our minds against the enemy's attempts to snatch these truths away. That is what he does to us as he prowls around and to our pre-believers as they come closer to the truth. That is when the enemy will fight harder (against God and us) to keep our pre-believers in darkness, and why the battle can grow fiercer right before breakthrough.

But let me remind you (and myself) that we do not do this in our own strength. We have a mighty power within us that transcends anything on this earth. In Romans 8:9-11, I will show you exactly what that power is and it is BIG! I’ll never forget the first time I came across this revelation—I about fell out of my chair. And my heart and goal has been to live from this place of empowerment ever since. I believe it and I want to live it. How about you?

Love you, my friends. Thank you again for going on this journey with me through Romans 8!

Empowered by Him!
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Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part two)

Psalm119-1622Welcome back to our study of Romans, dear friends. During the night the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that we are not just spiritual beings but supernatural beings. I love that verse that says we are seated in the heavenly realms with Jesus (Eph 2:4-7). The deeper I go in my relationship with Abba Father, King Jesus and Holy Spirit, the more this makes sense. The Word says He is in us and we are in Him. And Jesus is seated in the heavenly realms, thus, so are we. Amazing! That makes us supernatural beings as well.

Now back to Romans 8:3-4… When we go further into verse three, Paul gives more clarification as to why the law had failed. I so appreciate the way the Voice translation brings that understanding to the surface:

NLT: 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 

NIV: 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,

The Voice: 3 God did something the law could never do. You see, human flesh took its toll on God’s law. In and of itself, the law is not weak; but the flesh weakens it. So to condemn the sin that was ruling in the flesh, God sent His own Son, bearing the likeness of sinful flesh, as a sin offering. 

God’s law did and does serve a purpose in that it reveals sin, but it lacks the power to truly free us from the power of sin and death because of our sinful nature. Thus why Jesus says He came not to do away with the law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). He was the empowered solution that would restore the purpose of the law with the heart and love of the Father, that all would be saved (1 Tim 2:4-6).

What amazes me is to think of all the preparation that went into this. Have you every wondered why God chose the time that He did to give Jesus to the world? I believe God wanted to prepare us to receive Jesus in the fullness of our need. And the laws that established the animal sacrifices and brought understanding to the importance of the blood sacrifice were part of this.

As I’ve said in the past, so much of the Bible is about preparation and the Bible itself is our preparation—to understand, learn and grow from experiential stories—those we read about and those we live and learn from in our lives as we walk in faith and trust in God. These are the ones that “stick” with us because we relate to them. By setting the pattern of blood sacrifice and establishing the importance of God’s holiness in it, only then would we be able to understand the full magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus would be and is the final blood sacrifice. 

NLT: 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

NIV: 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The Vocie: 4 Now we are able to live up to the justice demanded by the law. But that ability has not come from living by our fallen human nature; it has come because we walk according to the movement of the Spirit in our lives.

The Message: 4 And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Here is the rest of Paul’s point that there is no more condemnation for us who belong to Jesus. Since Christ sacrificed his life for our sins and was raised to life for our justification(Rom. 4:25-Rom. 5:1), no one, nothing and no-thing can tell us otherwise. This IS the truth, our truth. Anything that brings condemnation is not of God and is therefore of the enemy. 

My friends, the battle is truly in our minds and learning to recognize the difference between the enemy’s condemnation and the Holy Spirit’s loving correction is key. Though we are no longer identified as sinners when we know Jesus, we still sin and will need to confess and make amends as needed. This process, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, brings relief, freedom and empowers us to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3). 

And that is the rest of verse four that we need to take note of and trust the Holy Spirit to do. He does this in us, we don’t. I find this very freeing indeed to know I don’t have to “fix” myself. Jesus did it with His death and each day the Holy Spirit is helping me to be more and more Christ-like.

The next section of Romans 8 that we’ll study will be verses 5-11. In these Scriptures we will see more insights as to what happens in our minds AND how we can relate this to our pre-believers. I’m looking forward to what the Holy Spirit has for us there!

Holy Spirit, we ask for the spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Jesus more and more. Bring the full power of God’s Word into our hearts and transform our minds. Make us hungrier than ever for more of You and Your Word. In the transforming power of Jesus, we pray and ask all this, amen! 

We are established in Him, SUMites!
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Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part one)

Psalm119-1622My friends, we're embarking on our study of Romans 8 today, but first, please take a moment and pray over Lynn and her family. Her granddaughter Elise spiked a fever yesterday of a 103 and there are other challenges she is dealing with in her family. Let’s pray a mighty force and hedge of protection around her and her family, for health to reign in the Donovan home and for great wisdom and strength to flow through her and her family to handle these challenges. 

With our prayers and in the mighty name of Jesus, we declare the Donovan home will overcome ALL these challenges by the Spirit of the Lord and with great victory and glory to God. In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus, amen!

Thank you, SUMites!

Now, onward with Empowered Living. Many of your comments to my introduction on Wednesday confirmed that we are following the Holy Spirit's leading here. I so love when He does that. And many of you have already shared insights you’ve gleaned from this chapter. Awesome! So let's continue to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and also continue to pray for revelations and insights to this powerful part of the Scriptures.

Holy Spirit, You are our Counselor and Friend. Your desire is to lead us into more wisdom and knowledge of Jesus so that we know Him better, know the Father better and walk in the freedom that Jesus so selflessly came to give us. We ask for divine revelations and understanding of God's Holy Word. Breath its truth upon us. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Let's begin with Romans 8:1-4, which work together to create the foundation of this powerful chapter. I will be using multiple translations for this but will indicate each one so you are clear which translation is which. My goal is not to confuse you but to bring even more clarity and understanding to God’s Word, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

NLT: 1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

NIV: 1 ​Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

The Voice: 1 Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King,

Verse one of Romans 8 is probably one of the most quoted verses of the Bible and one of our most powerful truths against the enemy, whose mission is to condemn us and destroy our faith by tearing away our identity in Christ. Paul makes this statement after his conclusion in chapter seven where he makes the distinction of between his mind and his flesh, yet states that Jesus Christ is our answer to this dilemma. Romans 8:1 begins with “therefore” and “so now” signaling the explanation to come.

And I want to point out that there is a huge and powerful difference between the enemy's condemnation and the Holy Spirit's conviction. The first places judgement of who we are defined by our sin and without the answer of forgiveness. The latter brings light to a sinful act with the answer of forgiveness, which frees us to learn and grow more Christ-like. When we learn to recognize the difference and reject condemnation and live in grace, the enemy loses power over our minds. We begin to shed bondages and walk in freedom.

That is why verse two is so crucial to our complete understanding of verse one:

NLT: 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

NIV: 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

The Voice: 2 because when you live in the Anointed One, Jesus, a new law takes effect

God implemented a new system or law to help us be who He created us to be—spiritual beings inhabited by the Spirit of God. We could not apply an incomplete system defined by the flesh to lives that would, in the new system, be led by the Spirit and made complete in Christ. It would be like asking the Holy Spirit to function without His power. 

And that is essentially what happens when we live by the law of sin and death (legalism—a spirit of religion that teaches we must earn grace, which then implies we can lose it by our imperfect actions) than by the law of the Spirit (it’s all about Jesus, His life, death and resurrection to bring us grace, a gift that we receive. We do nothing to “save ourselves.”) 

In legalism, we eliminate the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and no longer live empowered by grace. By definition grace and legalism are opposites but the enemy’s tactics to move us from grace to legalism are subtle. This is one way he makes us ineffective and even harmful to those around us.

My friends, I will finish verses three and four tomorrow, so please come back and see how Paul explains why there is no (and can't be) any condemnation for us who belong to Jesus.  Thank you for taking this journey with me, SUMites. I love you all so dearly!
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