27 posts categorized "Gospel of Love"

You Are Loved: Why Do We Wait and Hope?

Remember to share what you're learning in the comments. What is your believing statement? Share your heart, your doodles and your coloring pages! Hugs! ~Dineen

TWEETABLE TRUTH: 

“God’s Word will transform you. Reed it, believe it, and trust Him to do it—because He watches over His Word to fulfill it (Jer. 1:12).” pg. 37 #youarelovedcoloringbiblestudy  goo.gl/qG9HBT

You Are Loved Coloring Book Study Schedule

Aug 23: Bonus Coloring Page Download

Aug 25: (Share pages!)
Video: Is God Good?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: How Much Does God Love Us? (pages 49-53)

Aug 28: (Share pages!)
Video: How Much Does God Love Us?
Wrap up!

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Our Perception and God’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simon saw the woman as who she used to be. 

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

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

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

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

Copyright: semisatch / 123RF Stock Photo

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The Heart of God

GodsLove
Good morning, SUMites! I loved reading your prayers yesterday on Lynn’s post. I prayed in agreement with each one of you and prayed over our community for complete healing. Many of the things you prayed mirrored my own prayers too, my dear friends. I’m so glad we are taking this journey of healing together.

And that’s part of what I feel the Holy Spirit planted in my heart to share today, that some of you out there have been on a very lonely journey in your pain. You have felt alone, as if you’re the only one, in this struggle and even abandoned at times. 

Today the Lord wants you to know that is not true. You are not alone, you have never been alone. And as you walk this path of healing, you will see others walking along side you who have suffered in the same way, you will walk in a new hope and strength like never before, and you will finally reach your breakthrough.

My first breakthrough (yes, I am believing for many more!) happened last week with the help of dear friends who prayed with me, loved me and contended with me. And that is what I feel the Lord is doing in our SUM family as well—uniting us even in this time of healing to uphold one another and rejoice for each other as our breakthroughs come. This is not a journey we are intended to walk alone.

My friends, today I asked the Lord to reveal His heart for our SUM family. He showed me Jesus. He said Jesus is the full representation of His heart for us. Even unto death…

Wow, that just continues to blow my mind and bring home even more the magnitude of God’s love for us. Jesus is not only our Savior, He is our Healer. In the Bible, the Greek words for salvation (sōtēria) and saved (sozo) encompasses more than just our eternal residence but our health and wholeness as well. 

Here’s another nugget God showed me recently in 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)

Did you notice that Paul only says present and future? No mention of the past? That’s because Jesus dealt with the past on the cross. He even said, “It is done.”

And we know what happens with today? It becomes the past, so whatever heartache or challenge we face today, tomorrow it will be the past and Jesus declares it done! And as tomorrow becomes today, we can say the same about it as it passes into yesterday. It is done! 

Jesus is the heart of God. So whatever healing we are in need of, my friends, know that the Heart of God, Jesus, says it is done. He has already set our healing in place. It’s one of His promises to us. And He’s inviting us to walk in this truth.

I’m believing this is my year to be healed of emotional eating. Whatever is at the root of this issue will be revealed and healed. This is my need and the mountain I refuse to keep circling. I believe Jesus will move it and say, “It is done!” In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, my friends! Contending with you.
Dineen

 

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Reaction Mode

Dear friends, the following is a post I did a few years back. The Holy Spirit has continually reminded me of this post the last week or so, but I wasn't sure if it was a needed subject at the moment. Then on Thursday as I was working on the registration details for the Hope Ignited conference our healing rooms and my church were hosting, I heard the Holy Spirit say over and over again throughout the day, "Don't take offense."

I assumed it was for me, specifically something the Holy Spirit knew I would encounter at some point over the weekend at the conference. Then our worship leader gave a word on this very subject Friday evening. I knew then it was a corporate word. And then Lynn's post yesterday confirmed that! Wow! Don't you just love how the Holy Spirit speaks to us?

God is on the move, my friends, to restore this nation to peace and righteousness. I truly believe we will be astonished in how He does this through His amazing love.

So, I present to you, "Reaction Mode," originally posted in September of 2011. I pray it speaks to your heart and encourages you. I've updated it just a bit for our community needs right now.

 

Reactions Mode

6a00d83451ee9f69e2014e8b804fe8970d-320wiAre you in reaction mode in your marriage?

I remember to this day when I made this revelation about my marriage. I stood in our home office, about to react to something my husband said. I believe at that moment the Holy Spirit stopped me and then gave me a complete picture of the situation. And it wasn’t pretty. If this pattern didn’t stop soon, my marriage would soon crash and burn.

And even more sobering (i.e. convicting)? I was the heart of the problem, because my heart was in a bad shape. Years of resentment toward my husband and unmet expectations had created a barrier between us.

What I call “reaction mode” is this highly destructive and very draining place where you and your spouse are walking in your marriage more like adversaries than partners. Every comment is scrutinized under suspicion and communication has completely broken down.

Though not always true, I find this often starts with women. We stop communicating out of unforgiveness and resentment. Or, like me, we never learned to communicate in a healthy manner.

The saddest part of reaction mode is that it leads to contempt toward one another. And where there is contempt, respect and love no longer exist. They simply can’t coexist. For example, a husband reacts back to his wife harshly, because he’s not receiving his deepest desire, which is to be respected. The wife then retreats or closes herself off, feeling unloved when her deepest desire is to be loved.

Do you see the vicious cycle? That’s the first and most crucial step to breaking reaction mode—seeing this pattern in your marriage. Whether you are male or female, this pattern will not stop until you make the first move. What does this change look like?

  1. Be Careful What You Speak.

You know, there were times that I realized my reactions to my husband bordered on the behavior of a sarcastic teenager. Not a pretty sight but very convicting when recognized. Our words have the power to build or break down. If you’re inclined to speak without thinking first, stop right now and ask God to help control your mouth. This is a biblical principle and He will help you. Trust me on that.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. — Proverbs 15:1

We can also seek the Holy Spirit for the right words to speak as well. If we choose words that are honest and without an agenda to prove we’re right or place blame, we can be instrumental to restoring peace to our marriage.

  1. Dwell on the Positive.

It’s easy to fall into this place where we think our spouse has an ulterior motive to his or her words. Even simple requests can turn into a battleground, because we’ve somehow fallen into the lie that our spouse intends to harm us. This suspicion perpetuates the reaction mode and is its fuel. Suspicion can also be fueled by lies, so the best way to combat this is to counteract with the truth. What does your spouse do well?

Make a list. My husband is great about making sure the garbage goes out every week. I appreciate this even more when he’s out of town and I have to do it. Yuck! He’s also great about going grocery shopping with me, and he’s quick to show his love and affection. Start with small things and your list will grow. Then study it whenever you fall into thinking those negative thoughts about your spouse.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Philippians 4:8

A negative thought feeds the enemy and breeds more negativity. This can even evolve into scenarios playing out in your mind of how your spouse could potentially hurt you. Then you wind up hurt and defensive over something that never even happened.

A positive thought feeds the spirit and releases the Holy Spirit to work in your mind for transformation (Romans 12:2). He also works in your heart to help you forgive and allow God’s love to flow more freely to and through you.

Which one do you want to grow “fatter” in your life?

  1. Respect Him Even When You Don’t Want To, Love Her Even When She’s Unlovable.

Our hubbies need to know we will still stand by them when they mess up. And they will mess up, just as we do. We need to extend that hand of grace and acceptance, just as we want it extended to us. I’ve never seen anything quite as destructive to a marriage as contempt. And it is subtle in its presence. This goes right back to number one in how we use our words.

Add to that how you sound. What is your tone? Are you speaking in a way that solicits cooperation or are you condemning and accusing? This was the biggest area that I needed to change, and I know I could not have done it without God’s help. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that our tone and words hurt those we love. Pull out that list you made and go over it again. When it’s hard to show respect to your husband, find the things you can respect and show it to him. Then watch him bloom under your praise.

… and the wife must respect her husband. — Ephesians 5:33b

And loving someone when they are unlovable is one of the most powerful and sacrificial things a person can do. I have watched a woman be astonished by the fact that my church was assisting her out of our own desire to help and we weren’t getting paid by the government to do it. I have been deeply humbled by my husband's love when I was in pain and cranky. Love speaks louder than anything. Anything! Love changes hearts, marriages, families, cities and nations.

God is love so when we love, even when a person hasn’t “earned it,” we display His heart and presence in the most powerful way possible by revealing His very nature. Love (1 John 4).

  1. Keep a “We” Mentality.

Isn’t this really the truth we forget? We enter in to marriage as two “I’s” and suddenly have to figure out what it means to be a “we.” This requires putting our spouse first, this means loving and respecting even when we don’t feel it, this means seeing our marriage truly as a team effort and pulling our weight even when we feel our spouse isn’t. God sees our heart and our efforts. Your actions to honor Him in your marriage are never wasted!

Don’t quit the team. Be the one who stands strong and keeps Christ in the middle—your faith and prayers do that (1 Cor. 7:14). Whatever issues you’re dealing with, remember that you and your spouse are a team. Blame solves nothing. Teamwork always gets the job done.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. —Genesis 2:24

Finally, remember that we can’t make these changes on our own. We need God’s help. Start with prayer and trust that God really can work in you, in your spouse and in your marriage to bring change and healing. It takes time, but when we desire God’s will for our marriage—a partnership built on love and respect—He will give us the desire of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

SUMites, I want to leave you with one final thought here (and this is a new part I'm adding). No matter where we are in our faith journey, God sees us the same way through His love and according to who He created us to be. We are His righteousness through Christ Jesus. And He never changes for He is the God of today, yesterday and tomorrow. He doesn't function within time as we do. He is present in all places—past present and future.

Now this is where it gets really interesting and may blow your mind a bit. Just as He sees us in this way, as who He created us to be, He sees our spouse the same way. He does not define them by their lack of faith but according to the measure of faith He has set aside for them. He sees them as they are intended to be, His children. I believe that is the heart of Eccl. 3:11 too. 

Father God, give us Your eyes, Your perspective of our spouse. Help us see them in the potential and in the light of eternity that You've placed within them so that we can love them according to that image and be part of releasing the truth of Your love in them. Thank You, Lord! Thank You! In the amazing name of Jesus, amen!

Love you so much, SUMites! And God loves you even better. ;-)
Dineen

 

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The Tale of Two Houses

NewHouseMy friends, I pray you are still discovering sweet revelations and blessings from last week's fasting and praying for Rosh Hashanah. Dawn did an amazing job leading us. Thank you, my friend! We love you so much! 

And my friends, your comments were moving and inspiring. If you didn't read Ann's comment about her revelation dream for us that she posted on Thursday, please go read it in the comments. It's very encouraging and confirmed many things for me. In fact, God used her comment and Dawn's story about her house to show me what I was to share with you next. 

Can I just say, I love our Father's heart for us and our spouses? He is so passionate about us, my friends! I'm overwhelmed by His love and heart for us.

Now about our house...we are just 16 days away from closing. We have watched our house transform from a cement slab and framed walls to a nearly completed home full of details—cabinets, counters, painted walls and landscaping. My husband and I are so excited that we go by our house about twice a day just to see what new things have been done that day.

Now something happened early on in this process that came full circle just a week ago and God has show me it's a word for us. But first, I need to tell you a story of how this all began.

Back in 2004...

My husband and I decided it was time to buy a house. We'd moved back to the U.S. (to California) from Switzerland two years prior and had rented a house so we could get acquainted with the area and figure out where we wanted to settle. However, as you may or may not know, the housing prices in California were/are quite high. And the houses that were in our budget sold fast, usually through bidding wars.

One Sunday I went to church full of despair. We'd not found a house and had decided we would continue renting. I asked my Sunday school group to pray for us. We planned to check one more area that afternoon, but if that didn't pan out, we'd call our landlord and negotiate another lease.

That afternoon we drove to the area a friend had suggested but didn't find it. We had a fairly small area to work in because of our oldest daughter's high school district. When we reached that outer street, we resigned ourselves to just go home.

Just a few blocks down, we saw an open house sign on a house that was just renovated and hadn't even been officially listed yet. We debated stopping and finally did. 

My friends, I kid you not, as I walked into that house and barely saw more than just the front living area, I said to my husband, "This is our house."

We contacted our realtor, who was (is) a believer and told her to make an offer. And then we went to war. Several offers came in for that house. We'd offered the full asking price but knew the chances were slim to get it. Mike and discussed offering more and decided we'd take the risk. Our budget would be stretched, and we weren't sure how we'd do it, but my ever-optimist husband said we'd figure out a way. 

I called our realtor and asked if we should offer more. She asked for a little time to pray about it. A half hour later she called and agreed it was a good plan. Then we waited. 

The next day my husband came home with a story of his own. He'd received an unexpected raise that day, and it was exactly what we would need to afford the higher price mortgage. 

We got the house. SUMites, every time I looked at our house after that, all I saw in my mind was this big red bow around it, because it was a gift from God. We walked through a lot in that house (including the miracles of my daughter’s cancer recovery) and God us blessed us richly, even in the sale of the home to a sweet family with a little boy.

Now, fast forward to our house we are building now. As I shared in my post in July, God showed me this new house is a also a gift from His hand and that I was to rejoice in it. 

On September 8th, God led me to the book of Haggai. 

"'The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” — Haggai 2:9 ESV

As I read this, I began to tremble, my friends. That may sound crazy, but I knew that God had spoken something very deep to my spirit. And He reminded me of two other times this Word was spoken over me in the last year and half. Now He was affirming that the house He was giving us  ow and all that He has planned and purposed for it (which He's given me just a glimpse of His kingdom plans there and let me just say, "WOW!") will be greater than our former house.

SUMites, as I have shared in this past, this new house has become a monument of God's presence, provision and plans for this community. Our SUM family.

This word, that our latter "home" will be greater than our former one is for all of us. Ann's comment last week confirmed this for me. And showed me now was the time to share it as we near the completion of this home.

But God has given me another specific word, my friends. One that starts with an event that would require me to forgive someone connected to the completion of this home for lying and breaking our trust. It's a crazy story of God's unexpected justice and protection of His provision and plans. You will be utterly amazed.

Please be sure to come back for the rest of this story on Friday and to hear God's heart for us right now. This is a message you don’t want to miss, straight from the Father’s heart.

We are on the precipice, my friends. I know it's challenging to be on the mountain top with an assuredness and determination to pray into what God reveals to us, then to wait and pray, wait and pray, wait and pray and not see any visible change. But let me be the voice of truth to you and reassure you that our God is working diligently to bring forth His promise in reply to our prayers. 

Today I'm asking you to make a new declaration in the comments that you trust the Lord for all that He has promised you because He is your God.

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” — Psalms 31:14

Declare what you are trusting Him for too, my friends. Let's speak out into the natural what God is setting into place in the heavens! (Heb. 11:3)

I love you, SUM family. Please know that I am faithfully praying Jer. 24:7 and the Scriptures you sent me over you and your spouse. God is faithful to His Word!
~ Dineen

 

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Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

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

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

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus prayed…

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

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

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

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SUM Books 4


Lord of the Harvest

15753952_sHe said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

My friends, I don’t know if you remember me sharing in June of 2013 a dream God gave me, which I believe was a precursor to our salvation word this year and what’s to come. There are several pieces to this that the Holy Spirit is showing me, and I am excited to share with you. So let’s start with a refresher of that dream and then pray in this harvest!

May 2013 (date of dream)

I was half awake, half asleep, but the dream was very vivid. I stood before a tall cornfield—taller than me. Jesus stood next to me.

He gestured to the crop and said, "This is the Great Harvest.”

I said, "Lord, I can't see past this, can you show me more?”

Suddenly I was up higher and could see tall mountains in the far distance. The crop spanned all the way to the mountains!

At the time I found it very curious that I saw corn in this dream as opposed to wheat. With some investigation and research, I discovered that the Bible references to grain can mean either corn or wheat and are often connected with oil and wine.

“From the dew of heaven and the richness of the earth, may God always give you abundant harvests of grain and bountiful new wine. — Genesis 27:28

Isaac said to Esau, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?” — Genesis 27:37

“If you carefully obey all the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat. — Deut. 11:13-15

Look at this Scripture from Joel, which is part of God’s promise of restoration:

The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. — Joel 2:24

Grain and wine were such integral parts of the Israelites lives and culture that it makes complete sense that Jesus would use bread and wine to bring such powerful symbolism, connection and power to what we practice today as communion.

And harvest time is always about prosperity, provisions and promise—of abundant life. The Old Testament displayed this in the physical sense first through manna and then provision from the promised land. Jesus took this provision of physical sustenance and connected it to our spiritual need as well. 

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. — John 6:35

Now recently several SUMites have shared stories of how their spouses have walked away from their faith either on this blog or on our 1Peter3Living Yahoo group. My friends, I can’t tell you how deeply this grieved me. These are the stories that break my heart and bring me to tears before God. 

And that is what I did one day last week. It made no sense to me in light of the promises God has been sharing with me—with all of us. I went to Him in tears and asked, “Lord, what is going on? You’ve promised us salvation and even shown me this is coming. Have I missed something, not prayed enough? Is the enemy winning this battle?”

I saw only two possibilities, but our God of the impossible replied with His, “I’m revealing the greater glory.”

Dear friends, my tears turned to laughter as the Holy Spirit whispered this to my heart, “The prodigals are being called back and the unbelievers are being drawn in.”

Our Papa God is so good! He’s bringing our loved ones to His Son just as Jesus said He would. 

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” — John 6:44

SUMites, I believe this with all my heart, soul, mind and spirit! Will you pray with me?

We praise You, Mighty Lord Jesus, for You are the bread and wine to our lives, our souls and our spirits. Thank You for giving this provision to our spouses too! Lord, send the workers needed for this Great Harvest. Send people into our midst to reveal Your presence and love to our pre-believers. Reveal and show that love to them through us, for we are Your workers too, Lord! 

Lord Jesus, there is Resurrection Life in all You do. We ask for this resurrection life to be released over our pre-believers, our lives, our marriages, our children and every place in our lives where dry bones need to be called back to life. Breathe Your breath of life over all of us. We call these dry places to life, in the Saving and Life-Resurrecting Name of Jesus. 

Lord Jesus, we ask for vengeance against the enemy and the demonic for all they have stolen from us, the SUMites, from our pre-believers, from our children and even from our ancestors. We ask for full recompense and restoration of what has been lost and stolen (Isa. 35).

Lord, call in the harvest of our pre-believers and prodigals. Bring them to You, Lord, every single one of them. Lord Jesus, when You walked this earth, every person who came to You was healed. We present our prodigals and pre-believers to You like the man lowered through the roof and ask that every single one be saved and healed. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen

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Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you!
Dineen

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Foundations Series: GOD'S LOVE

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

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Foundations Series: FAITH, HOPE, LOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which then sheds a whole new light on this verse:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It's Palm Sunday - How Did You Come To Faith?

It’s Palm Sunday! I’ll finish up the remaining few posts about my mom’s story in April. Also in April, I’m compelled to talk about weariness. In the last few months, my heart has ached for SUMites who have told me they are weary in the waiting. Man, do I ever feel a revelation of the Spirit coming to speak to weariness in our community!! Look for that in April as well.

Three-crossesBUT TODAY!!!!  Let’s turn our focus, thoughts and worship toward Calvary!

My friends, did you know that everything we will ever need, was accomplished through the cross! Everything, in that moment, was made available to us who believe in Jesus, the Son of God, our Redeemer! 

So often the enemy gets us to look at our struggles. Our challenges. Pain. He is relentless to make sure we focus on the galactic mountain we are facing. He draws us away from the truth of our inheritance, our authority, our provision, and our faith to see the dark and thrust us into fear.

Hallelujah for the Cross!

When we remove our eyes for just a second to look clearly on the truth of the Resurrection, we see that we have everything we need to say to that mountain….. MOVE!!! 

Our resurrected Jesus became a man, to show us, to model for us, exactly how to live a life of victory, love and receive our inheritance as a Child of God right now on earth as well as in eternity.

I know the very mountain that many of you are facing right now. And there are many SUMites who are facing what appears to be unsurmountable cliffs of doom that I can’t even imagine, However, our Jesus is bigger than all of it. Truly!

Today, this hour, take out your Bible. Turn to Matthew 17:20. Underline it! Write the name of the Mountain you want to move and then put 2016! And say aloud the passage.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”— Matthew 17:20 NIV

The truth of this single verse just ROCKS my world.. Nothing will be impossible… Jesus, I dream pretty big. I pray even bigger. Lord, the SUMites aren’t cowards. We stand in the cross-hairs every day in our own homes. Jesus, MOVE OUR MOUNTAIN! We cry out. We believe. We believe. WE BELIEVE!!!!

So, today my friends, tell me, how did you come to believe? How old were you? Share your salvation experience. Together let’s thank Jesus together as we were chosen to be children of the Most High God before time began! (Ephesians 1:4) Hallelujah!!

I can’t wait to hear your story and pray over your mountain in the comments. Have an astonishing week. Make plans to attend church. Attend a Friday service if you can. Do some kind of activity with your kids that brings the significance of this week alive in their hearts. I share in our book, Not Alone, how the Resurrection Eggs, greatly impacted my young daughter. This year, I get to open each one with my granddaughter. Oh, my heart swells!

SUMites….. He is risen! Just as He said! AMEN!

I love you, Lynn

Matthew 17 20

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Specifics of the Spiritually Mismatched

Well I realize that that past few posts have challenged us as we consider suffering. We also looked at what Jesus clearly told us. Jesus said:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’—Matthew 10:34-35

Sometimes I find that Christians only want to read the passages that affirm. But becoming a mature believer, means that we must wrangle with these difficult and challenging passages. When I read this scripture, it offered me two things. One, I realize my life with an unbeliever is actually not surprising to God. And two, it relieves me of guilt or condemnation that somehow I’ve failed because my husband hasn’t come to faith.

And by the way, most of us who have been unequally yoked have felt that guilt. Many of you have told me that your pastor or some other “well-meaning” person from church has asked you the stupid questions such as:

  • Didn’t you know he was an unbeliever when you married him?
  • Perhaps you haven’t prayed enough for his salvation.
  • Maybe if you just witness a little harder he will find Jesus.
  • Perhaps you aren’t living enough like Jesus in front of him.

Can I just tell you these irk me? Now hear me, THESE ARE LIES FORM THE PIT OF HELL.

You can’t save your spouse. Only Jesus can save him. Your responsibility is to love. Love God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Spirit first and obey His Word, then love your spouse the best that you can and finally believe that God will do all that is possible to reach your spouse.

So today I want to speak to your heart. I stand in faith and through the truths of the Word and by the power and blood of Jesus Christ, I speak over you truth. You are not responsible for your spouse’s salvation. Only Jesus saves.

I release you from guilt and fear over this issue. I say to you that your heart is made whole in Jesus and words of pain from others now lose their power. I speak to your heart and life and say that the condemnation you have carried over your marriage to an unbeliever is broken. I also refute and renounce the lie that God is mad at you or is punishing you because you find yourself in an unequally yoked marriage.

The truth is that God desires families to thrive and His plan to demonstrate love begins in marriage and family.

I understand that our unique marriages are very difficult and there are some marriage situations where oppression and abuse are present. Hear me clearly now as well. God doesn’t want us to cling to some ideal version of marriage where abuse and oppression exist. Get help and separate yourself from the abuse and find your healing.

Today, I once again want you to realize the great authority to pray and protect your family through the Word of God.

For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. — 1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT

This verse has become a powerhouse in my life. I hope to tell you one day all that has resulted in my family and marriage because God in His great love and mercy placed this passage in His Word. Stay tuned *grin*

Okay, how many of you have receive words of condemnation from other "well-meaning" believers? How did you process through their words? What passages of scripture have been life-changing in your marriage?

I will see you in the comments my family. Today, live in utter confidence because 1 Corinthians 7:14 is for us. Just as God is for us! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!!!!!  Hugs, Lynn

Romans 8 1

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Love Conqers All

IMG_4126My friends, I am overwhelmed by the force of God's love. It is powerful, relentless, consuming and vast. It is tender, gentle, perfect and complete. It is who He is, what we long for, what the world needs, and the answer to every thing.

Love. God's love. The greatest force on earth and the conduit to faith. The longer I walk this path of the mismatched the more I am seeing—now—that love is the key. Lynn and I have said this all along and you know it, but right now in this time and place, I sense a greater call to love than I have ever discerned before.

God's love enables us to love Him and love others. All we have to do is let go and let Him do this in and through us. That's faith expressing itself through love.

What is important is faith expressing itself in love. — Galatians 5:6b

On Tuesday I put my youngest daughter on a plane to go back home. I wept to see her go, yet my heart was so full of thankfulness for all the love God has put in my life. It's not been easy at times and moving 3,000 miles away from my girls is not the direction I thought my life would go. But God has filled every aspect with His love and presence.

He showed me as a child that love is what "makes the world go round." And I am understanding more and more I that it is His love that holds all things together (Col 1:17). 

All things. Everything.

SUMites, as we enter this time of Thanksgiving, let's take stock of the love God has placed in our lives. The people He has given us to love. The ways He is has shown and is showing us to love. And the incomprehensible, relentless and unending love He has for us.

Our greatest impact on this world is our love. Let it shine, SUMites. Look upon everyone you know and meet with love. Let them see God's love shining in you and watch what happens. I’ve noticed that as I do this, as I meet people eye to eye, they hesitate at first and then smile. I’m just starting to notice this, and I know it’s the love of Jesus shining through. 

This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples––when they see the love you have for each other. — John 13:35 (MSG)

We change the world by loving the people in it, my friends. We are the SUMites, and we know how to do that better than most I think! You are amazing! Love you!
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How Do We Love?

3KeysMy friends, I’d planned to talk briefly about love and then move into thankfulness, but the Holy Spirit impressed our Father’s heart on this subject upon me and I want to give that ample space. So today we will talk about love, the second key in this Abundant Life series. 

I want to tell you that this series simmered in my heart for a few weeks and at first I thought love should come first since it is so foundational to all we feel, think and do. But I realized that unforgiveness needed to be covered first because when we hold that unforgiveness we are actually trying to control a person or situation, and we have talked in the past about how love and control can’t coexist, especially in a marriage.

And your comments were so good, so honest! Never discount how much sharing your heart here ministers to others. That is one of the aspects of our community that I love so much, SUM family. You’re amazing in the love that you show!

As I prayerfully prepared for this post, the Holy Spirit told me to read Galatians. I suspected He had a nugget for me there and wow, did He. This one piece of truth from Paul in his letter to the Galatians says it all:

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. — Galatians 5:6 (NLT)

Paul wanted the Galatians to return to the truth of their salvation in Jesus and not listen to the group of Jewish Christians who had come and was teaching they still need the Law in order to be saved. Paul’s statement was a powerful truth for the Galatians then and for us today.

Without love, we can’t represent Jesus accurately, because He is love. 

All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. — 1 John 4:15-16

This piece of truth reveals that it is because of God’s love and His love for us that we are able to love others. And not only love others, but love Him. And that is what I feel the Holy Spirit wanting us to truly embrace today about God’s love. 

You see, God designed us with a need to be loved. This need is even stronger than our need for food. I remember as a child somehow understanding that love was the answer to everything and the key to solving all problems. My understanding was limited though because I only understood love as the world defined it.

But now, as I walk closer and closer to God, I realize I was almost right. God’s love is the answer to everything—to all our needs, wants, conflicts and dreams; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

God created us to need love, to need Him. And He created us to love Him and others. Thus our primary commandments to love God and love others isn’t just a command to please God. It is basic instruction to do what we have been created to do.

God living in us means Love is in us—His love. When we let Him increase and overflow in us, we are transformed. And that ripples out to everything around us. We’re not the only ones changed. Those around us are affected, influenced and changed. Lives, communities and nations.

God’s love is the most powerful force in heaven and on earth, because it’s Him. God is love. No matter how many times I say and think it, I’m astounded by the magnitude of this truth. He is vast. No wonder we need the Holy Spirit’s help just to understand it!

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. — Ephesian 3:17-19

My friends, we will spend our entire lives here on earth and eternity learning about God’s love. And you know what? That’s what our Abba Father wants most. To love us, for us to love Him, and then to release that love into others. And it happens in that order. Faith expressing itself through love. The abundant life...

Earlier this year I prayed and asked the Lord for a key to breakthrough. He said, “Love.” And He led me to this verse, the first one that follows 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter.

Let love be your highest goal! — 1 Cor. 14:1.

Love as our highest goal…that’s so powerful, my friends. And that is the story of my marriage. I made loving my husband my highest goal. Not to change him or convince him God was real. Just to love him because I believe in God and I believe He, His love, transforms everything. And it has transformed my marriage and filled it with so much love, I’m blown away by it almost every day. That’s God, present and living and loving.

Share your thoughts in the comments, my friends. Share how God’s love has touched and changed your life. Share how loving someone changed a life, a heart—possibly yours. Because love always ricochets as a blessing.

And I love you, SUM family! With all the love God pours into my heart for you! He is love and He is GOOD!
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Even Bullies Need Love

NotAloneStudyImageHello, SUMites! Welcome to week three of the Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture series. This week I’m zeroing in on chapter six in our book, Not Alone, about Generous Kids

I share some stories in this chapter about my daughters, stories that are near and dear to my heart and one that nearly tore my heart out at the time. I bet just about every one you out there has a parenting story like that. I’d rather suffer myself than see my children suffer. Anybody else out there feel the same? 

Years ago, I asked Jesus to help me love others as He loves them. I still pray this prayer and ask Him to help me see others as He sees them, including my kiddos and my hubby. And without judgement. That can be a tough area to walk in today’s world, especially when we are being mistreated. Or our child is being mistreated.

How do we love the kid that’s bullying our child and making him or her miserable? How do we love the friends our children bring home who have an attitude of entitlement? How do we love our own teenager when we find out they’re not as “well behaved” as we thought? 

Moms and Dads, as I get older and hopefully just a little bit wiser, I’m finding it has everything to do with love—God’s kind of love that is full of mercy, forgiveness and grace. We can’t love people like that on our own and neither can our children. And as we learn and model this, they will learn it from us. 

As much as I wanted to hate the pint-sized bully who terrorized my youngest daughter, I knew I couldn’t. I knew for my own sake and hers, we had to pray for him. I prayed not only for the situation but also for understanding of what caused this young boy to behave so horribly. I had a hard time believing a child capable of such actions. And helping my daughter understand was no easy task. 

But as I prayed, God revealed the situation to me and to my daughter. We discovered this was a boy who had a father who traveled all the time and a mother who was a severe alcoholic. Just a few months after I began praying for this boy and his family, they moved away. My daughter and I both learn a valuable lesson about God’s faithfulness.

Today, my daughter sees this experience as part of the experiences that have shaped who she is today and even now, her first reaction to an offense is to try and understand the why behind the what. 

My friends, I think most people expect one kind of reaction to the offenses of this world, but when we, as believers, don’t react but reach out with a heart to love and understand, we shock the world. We bring the truth of Christ into full scope—and the evidence of His salvation.

And I believe we walk in God’s favor to do such things. When we seek God’s heart first, we can work with our child’s teacher to peaceably find a solution to stop the bullying with a heart to not only help our own child but the one doing the bullying. You could very well be the answer to the prayer of a hurting or abused child.  

When we seek God’s heart first, we can see the more challenging friends our child brings home and welcome them with the love and grace of Jesus. We can be firm in our rules, but loving and encouraging too. You may plant a seed of truth in a child that will sprout and bloom at just the right moment when they are faced with a decision that could take them down the wrong path.

When we seek God’s heart first, we can help our own children navigate the challenging and painful places in their lives, and teach them that no situation or person is beyond God’s reach. And we can teach them to love others without judgement, no matter where they come from or who their parents are.

My friends, this is the hope we carry and are called to pass on to our children. This hope burns bright like an torch, and we are called to carry it everywhere we go. The light we carry brings solutions by changing atmospheres. That is what truth does—when revealed, lies and darkness can no longer operate. The atmosphere shifts and brings change. And hope.

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. — 2 Tim. 2:24-26 

Question: Do you have an area in your life in which God is calling you to love others specifically? How can you teach this to your children?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see and love people through Your eyes and heart. And help me teach my children do the same. In Your name Jesus, amen!

SUMites, our ministry verse is 1 Peter 3:1-2 and tells us our godly lives will speak for themselves. We are mismatched with this world too, my friends. Our godly lives and love, and the growing godly lives and love of our children will show Jesus, the hope of the world.

All in His love,
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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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SUM Books 4


Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, on Wednesday we talked about how it was Peter’s intent to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers, to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above disagreements and insults. 

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.” 

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13

I also proposed that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not, and that what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now. Launching from the truths I listed on Wednesday of what we have learned and are learning in our mismatched marriages, we can:

  • seek unity with those we encounter everyday, not to adjust our beliefs but show freedom of choice as God has given us and therefore show others they too have the freedom to choose Jesus, and not feel forced.
  • love others unconditionally with tenderness and humility so they catch a glimpse of Jesus’ heart for and acceptance of them just as they are. They don’t have to clean up their act first to earn salvation.
  • use our words to bring encouragement and love to those who need it and as we do this and earn their trust, we can speak the truth of Jesus into their lives in that same love.
  • practice hospitality so that others may see what a home filled with the peace of Christ looks and feels like.
  • stand before our God and lift up the ones we know need Him and ask the Lord to bring His presence and help.
  • be alert to opportunities to help others with whatever resources we have. God always seems to provide exactly what is needed for the present situation. Remember the fish and loaves. Look at what you do have and how you can use it help. God will multiply it.
  • be a blessing everywhere you go. At the grocery store, on the phone with the insurance company representative (that’s a challenging one for me!), at your child’s school, at church, shopping at the mall, at the restaurants you frequent. Even at the park or playground. Smiles and kind greetings open doors of opportunity for us to show Jesus. Most likely it won’t happen the very first time, but the more we do it, the more those divine appointments will present themselves and we’ll be ready. 

My friends, I am so moved to seek Abba for this place of security. I want to live what I picture in my mind. That when I am faced with opposition to my belief in Jesus and His Word, I can share the truth in love without feeling threatened or defensive, so that the other person will feel unthreatened and even shocked by what they see. As they see Jesus in me.

There is one final part to this, my friends, that I feel compelled to share. This place of security must be grounded in humility. As Peter says, “a humble mind.” The Greek translation uses only one word for this phrase, philophrōn, and it means to act kindly from a mind-set of personal affection.

For if pride enters in any way, then we become that clanging cymbal, because pride crowds out love. 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. — 1 Cor. 13:1

It is a fine line that we walk, my friends, but we have a great big God who equips and guides His kids well. The beauty of this has become my simplest prayer of simply living authentic faith. As we reach the end of our study of Peter, let’s pray it together.

Lord, help us be the people You created to be so that by just being who we are and secure in Whose we are, we show our pre-believers, our children and the world Your Son Jesus. In His saving name we pray, amen.

We live it. He does it. This is the kingdom of God on Earth.

Standing with you, my friends!
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SUM Books 4


The Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wi

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13 NLT

My friends, these passages have come together with something I felt the Holy Spirit impressing upon me during my walk and pray the other day. We live in a time of opposition and daily see what that looks like all over the world. Yet it is more likely in places like our churches, on Facebook and social media, and the internet that we come in direct contact with opposition. And let’s not forget that we SUMites live with it every day as well. Whether it is spoken or not, we stand in places where our beliefs are not accepted in our very homes.

As I walked this particular day, the thought or pondering came to a question. 

What would happen if we were so secure in who we are in Jesus and what we believed that no matter what the opposition we faced, we did not feel threatened or the need to prove ourselves or God.

It starts with our identity and along with that knowledge, understanding that we are truly secure in Christ. The Bible says throughout the Old and New Testaments that God is our refuge and our safety. 

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? 

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.— Psalm 27:1 & 3

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. — Psalm 91:2

David faced great opposition, yet stood his ground in his faith and trust in the God he knew would not fail him. That didn’t make his path any easier but the truth sustained him to keep going, to keep believing and in the end, it was God who proved him.

I remember as a new believer feeling overwhelmed by my husbands questions about my growing faith and also feeling so ill-equipped to defend it. And I am thankful for that because it thrust me into the Bible to study its truths and truly understand what I believed. That is the foundation I have now that enables me to answer my husband’s questions without feeling threatened or the need to prove myself, because I trust God to prove His presence and truth in me. Even if I must risk my husband’s opinion of me, I know I must stand on God’s truth.

Peter’s intent in these Scriptures was to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers. He encouraged them to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above the disagreements and insults that seem inevitable as human beings who interpret everything we perceive, read and see in our own unique ways. 

Peter calls us, challenges us, to rise above and agree to disagree when needed so that we can maintain the true focus of doing good out of love for one another. Let me propose that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not. We know this better than most, SUMites, and what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now.

In line with 1 Peter 3:8-13 we have learned and are learning to: 

  • seek unity in our marriages with our pre-believer.
  • love our pre-believer unconditionally with tenderness and humility in our acceptance of them just as they are, just as Jesus does.
  • hold our words with more care and speak with love and truth.
  • bring peace of Christ to our homes and maintain it through prayer.
  • stand before our God in the righteousness of Christ Jesus as we pray and seek the Lord’s face not only for ourselves but for our pre-believer and our children.
  • be zealous to do good even when we have felt limited.
  • be a blessing to our pre-believer and to bless them even in the face of opposition.

No matter what I am faced with, my friends, I want to be so secure in my knowledge of and faith in God that I can listen to another person share their beliefs and not feel threatened within my own. Because I believe when we are secure in such a place, that we can listen and not try to change their mind, they are more willing to hear what we have to say. 

It is not our job to change their mind or their heart. It is God’s. When we leave that to Him and simply share in an exchange of beliefs with another person, we allow the love of Christ to be present and begin that change of heart and perspective in a lost soul.

I will stop here for now. In the second part of this post I will share what these things we have learned look like when we apply them to the world at large and live our faith from this place of security in who are and Whose we are. My friends, it’s a place I firmly believe will have greatest impact on the world and those God is bringing into our realms to love and share Jesus. And there is an element to doing this that Peter mentions right in his words that I feel is crucial to the mix. Can’t wait to share that with you!

Love you, my friends. So thankful to be living this life with you!
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SUM Books 4


No More Chains

20056895_sMy friends, my post today is a kind of merging of two stories. You see, I thought they were separate, yet as I prayed for Abba's clear leading on what to write, He impressed upon my heart that they are indeed connected.

The first story is one we are very familiar with. The prodigal son. I find myself caught by the father's love for this wayward boy of his...

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. — Luke 15:20 ESV

For several days I kept reading and examining this one line, because I was so touched by the father's heart before he even embraced his son with forgiveness. It's that small little word that we can often overlook.

The son's father saw him. I looked up the Greek for this word (horaō), and it means to see with the eyes, to see with the mind, to perceive, know. It is also compared with another word that implies to be seen with wide-open eyes, as at something remarkable and signifies an earnest but more continued inspection.

In other words, this father waited and watched expectantly with love and hope for his son's return.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. — Luke 15:24 ESV

This verse moves my heart to the realization that even though the son believed he was lost to the father, the father was never lost to the son. His father watched and waited, expected and yearned. And though the son could not "see" his father, his Father "saw" him.

Can you feel the Father's heart here? This is His heart for our pre-believers and for us, because there are times that we may feel lost, forgotten, unseen.

So, this brings me to the second part of this story. I received a letter in February, a long letter filled with the pain of a heart that feels lost. I read it for the first time just two days ago, because it  wound up in a pile of mail waiting for my return to California. I share that because I am hoping this dear woman, a fellow SUMite sister, will be reading and know she is heard. 

She didn't sign her name except for a first initial, nor did she put her name on the envelope, but her heart is all over the page in her words. She carries the heavy burdens of shame, anger, guilt and self-hatred. Her words...

I thought of writing her back privately, but I want this dear woman to know that she is seen and heard.

My friend,

I hear your heart in every painful word you shared. I want you to know that your heavenly Father sees you, even if you feel He is far away and intermittently present, He watches you with a longing heart to comfort and heal you. Please do not stay in the darkness of your suffering any longer. The chains of shame, anger, guilt and self-hatred that you feel are the lies of the enemy designed to bind you and keep you from being the influence and aroma of Jesus to your husband that you desperately want to be.

My sister in Jesus, I stand with you in the power and authority we have in Him and rebuke the spirits of shame, anger, guilt and self-hatred, in the powerful and capable name of Jesus Christ. These spirits can no longer plague you. They are bound as of this moment and cannot return. For what the Lord binds is bound and what He looses is loosed. And we stand in that same authority and stand on the same truth, that what we bind is bound and what we loose is loosed.

And in this "vacancy" left by these defeated spirits, I release the love of Jesus in all fullness and power into your heart. I release the full assurance that you, my friend, are dearly loved, chosen, accepted, adopted, blessed, forgiven and redeemed by Him. 

My dear sister in Christ, stand in the truth now and walk forward knowing that as you are loved so is your husband. That love from Jesus will be what flows from Him into you and will be revealed to your husband. No longer will the lies of the enemy dictate your place in your marriage or in your Abba Father's heart. For He sees you. He knows the pain of your heart and He has wept with you. 

But now is your time for freedom, to rise above and see your place seated in the heavenly realms. Ask Jesus to show you how He sees you, how He loves you, how He delights in you. You are a daughter of the Most High God. He is waiting for you, arms open and ready to love you, strengthen you and do more for and in you (and your marriage) than you can ask or imagine.

In the powerful name of Jesus, amen! My friend, you are loved in this community as well. I pray you will allow us to love and support you here.

SUMites, join me in these prayers for our sister in Christ. And if you are standing in a similar place right now as she is, step out of this darkness of shame, anger, guilt and self-hatred and allow us to pray for you. I have lived in this place of shame and self-hatred and Jesus delivered me of these spirits. My heart is to pass the blessing I received on to you. Let today be your freedom day, too.

I love you, my SUM family, so very much. I am contending for you! No more chains!
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SUM Books 4


The Throne of Grace, Part Two

My friends, at the end of my post on Wednesday I said I had another stunning piece of this treasure hunt we are on. Below is a page from my Sanctuary Bible (yes, the very one Abba led me to) and it holds an excerpt from a book titled, Never Alone by David and Teresa Ferguson. Read it and then meet me below this new way to look at our marriages and pray into them.

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First, I want to speak to those of you who are separated and whose spouse has walked away from God. As I've shared in the past, my heart is heavy for you and remains so. My heart and prayers are with you. And today, I want to speak a message to you that I feel Jesus wants you to know more than anything.

Jesus understands your betrayal and rejection better than anyone. Read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and you will see that Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by those closest to Him. And even in the moment that He bore our sins to death, He felt abandoned by Abba Father. So, my friend, when I say He knows your pain, understand that He KNOWS it intimately as He has lived it. His compassion for you is great. Receive His comfort and peace today, in the mighty and overcoming name of Jesus.

As I read the devotion above for the first time, my spirit stirred dramatically at the thought of loving my spouse as an act of love and worship of Jesus. It makes sense. We've talked about how loving our spouses unconditionally honors God.

But the Fergusons' words took it deeper for me. And it is part of that grace flowing through us to our pre-believers that we've been talking about. I am seeking Jesus for more wisdom and understanding of how I can minister and love my husband and, in turn, minister to our sweet Jesus. Wow, just stunning to think about...

Will you pray this with me?

King Jesus, You are so worthy to receive glory, power, and blessings. Lord, we bless You! As part of Your creation, we declare that we want to bring You the pleasure You deserve. We want to minister to You with loving comfort, attention, acceptance, appreciation, support, encouragement, affection, respect, security, and approval through loving our spouse in this manner. Lord, we are in awe that You are such an intimate part of our mismatched marriage! And we worship You today as the only One worthy to receive glory, honor and praise. In the mighty and compassionate name of Jesus, amen!

Have a wondrous weekend, my friends!
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SUM Books 4


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 8:1-4 (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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We Have An Open Door. What Do We Do With It?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comI’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the doors God has opened to me over the past several years and specifically this past year. And as I read this passage once again this December, this open door given to the church of Philadelphia and the SUMite church became specific. 

On the same day I was reading a sermon by Smith Wigglesworth. Here is the excerpt: 

May God give us the hearing of faith that the power may come down like a cloud. Once I saw it (the mighty power of God) might at Stavenger in Norway — it was a great crowded place. God said to me: Ask! And I will give you every soul. It seemed too much. The voice came again. Ask! And I will give you every soul. I dared to ask. The power of God swept the meeting like a might wind. I had never seen anything like it up to that time.

 

It was as though the Spirit of God collided these two messages in my soul that morning. The open door and dare to ask. We are to ask for souls and more souls and believe we shall receive! 

I can’t articulate this better than what Libby wrote in the comments on Friday. It’s Holy Spirit inspired. Libby wrote: 

Thank you so much for this Lynn. So powerful! This has really spoken to me in many ways, I'm going to try and share the best I can. I asked the Holy Spirit what door has God opened for me that cannot be shut and the answer I got wasn't for me but for the whole SUMite community and it seems a little strange but the door that has been opened through our faithfulness is to be able to advance further into the enemy's camp and take action. Through the power of Christ, we are fighting against satan for the salvation of our pre-believers' souls. 

God often speaks to me by giving me words from worship songs and the phrase I kept getting about our SUM community is THERE'S AN ARMY RISING UP! This is from the Jesus Culture song break every chain, check out the lyrics 'There is power In the name of Jesus to break every chain!' Amen!!! EVERY chain that binds and holds us back is broken through His almighty name so we have freedom! But what I didn't realize until I listened again is the verse that talks about gates opening! 

All sufficient sacrifice
So freely given
Such a price
Bought our redemption
Heaven's gates swing wide. 

And God said yep that's what the key does! Opens Heaven's gates not just for us but for our pre-believers. Wow Holy Spirit tingles all through me! I feel like God has opened the door (whatever it may be to each of us) but it is up to us to actually WALK through it. The enemy will lie to us and tell us that door isn't really open or it is open to others but not to you but NO that is a lie. We can walk through that door with confidence and gratitude that God has honored our faithfulness and made a Way for us! 

This really is the season to believe! There is so much power in our prayers for our own and other people’s pre-believers and I really feel that although we may not be seeing the results in the physical world right now, in the spiritual world massive changes are happening and battles for souls are being won!!! This verse has been on my heart for some time for different situations but I feel prompted to share it again: Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

This is a season of change! It may get worse before it gets better because the enemy knows we are close to breakthrough and our loved ones salvation. But it is coming. Stay faithful. I feel massive anticipation and excitement because I know stories of breakthrough and salvation are going to be flooding these pages soon! Our Lord is so amazing and I am just floored by His unending love and compassion for us! 

Praying for strength, endurance and peace for every praying wife/husband/mother and lifting every name of our pre-believers to our almighty Lord in Jesus name. 

Love to you all, feel so honored to be part of this amazing powerful prayer army! ~Libby

 

Thank you Libby. My friends, right now in this season, let’s dare to ask! In Jesus name.

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Don't Know What to Pray?

PrayerOver the years I've learned that our mismatched situations come in all shapes and sizes. When I'm asked what mismatched means I explain that it can be as clear as one spouse believes in God and the other doesn't, as gray as differing faiths or degrees of faith (i.e. a believer married to a Muslim or one spouse growing in faith but the other isn’t) or as painful as one spouse walking completely away from God. Even this description is a broad attempt to capture its meaning. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Let’s leave that stuff to God and trust Him to make sense of it (Prov. 3:5).

Today I want to share from what I know to be true in my marriage. From my perspective, my hubby is like Fort Knox in letting anything about believing in God penetrate his fortress of atheism. I've been asked if something happened in the past to turn him away and many other questions that I can only shake my head to. I simply don't know what cranks my guy's head and heart in this direction.

But God does.

Yes, praying for him has been a challenge, because what do I pray against or for, besides the obvious, "Lord, show him You're real. Soften his heart. Don't let him miss seeing you today in his day."

Those are all great prayers (I don't think there's really a bad prayer when our heart is for our loved one to simply know Jesus, right?), but after a while, I kind felt like I wasn't having any impact at all. Now I know that just because I don't feel it or see it, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

But on this particular day I needed some new directions, you know? So I ask Abba, how do I pray for this guy? I'm baffled.

Guess what? God has some really cool ideas. Imagine that! As I prayed that morning, Abba inspired me to pray for divine connections. Not with people but in his work. You see, my guy is very techy—he's a computer programmer and analyst—and he's very creative. He wrangles various computer languages to do some pretty technical and amazing stuff, much like an artist manipulates paint to create the overall illusion of parts that create a bigger image.

An artist can look at creation, and in her attempt to paint its essence, can begin to see the smallest parts and how they perfectly connect to create the whole and how that whole points to God. In that same sense, I'm praying for my hubby to see how the code and technology he is using to create a full picture reflect the perfection and synchronicity of God in our lives. My husband is surrounded by technology every day—this is the world he moves and works in so I'm basically asking God to come in and be present in a way my guy can relate to.

Sometimes it can be really challenging to keep praying for our prebelievers and even for our children, especially the challenging ones. God created each of us uniquely so it just seems to make sense that our prayers can be similar yet unique to the person. And ultimately, Abba knows what we need and what our prebelievers need before we even ask, right? (Matt. 6:8)

We don't have to have the perfect words or method to pray for those we love, because really and truly, it’s all about love—God’s for us and our prebeliever, ours for God and our prebeliever and the mysterious way God’s love transforms ours into this beautiful thing we know we could have never done on our own. But when we can understand the direction Abba is moving in that person's life and join Him there with our prayers, then we can become a part of an amazing and beautiful journey as we watch the pieces fit together and create a brand new picture.

And even in those times that we don’t know what to pray for, we never pray alone. (Romans 8:26) and “the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Romans 8:27)

Jesus is pleading for us, dear friends!
Love you dearly!
Dineen

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I've Been Corrected By God

Well my friends. This is a difficult post. 

I’ve been corrected by God. And now I must share with you what happened and why. As you know I’ve been on fire about kicking the enemy’s butt. And I have learned a lot about the spirit realm in which we contend and I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned in the last year. However, this morning I spent three hours with God and He clearly corrected me about taking this path. 

Let me explain. Several weeks ago I receive an email from one of the women who attended the Open Heavens conference with me last October. The email was written by Bob Hartley who was a prophetic speaker at the conference. So, this morning (Tuesday, January 28, 2014) I was up before 6:00 a.m. to spend time with my Papa and I was prompted to pick this email up (I have a printed copy in my Bible) and read it again. Every time I read these six pages of text I’m completely wrecked (in a good way) in the spirit. 

Today was no exception. But what I read today, corrected my spirit, and humbled me. I’m going to share a specific part of this email so you can understand the course of action I’m about to take: 

Bob writes: 

• The Lord said to all of us (His children) in a very kind but very firm tone, "Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it! Stop spreading this misery, this evil humidity that you have been spewing out that settles upon the mountains. If you cannot speak out of life, do not speak out of death. Look again from a better view, from My perspective. You are to get above the clouds. To fear Me is to see what I see."

• "It is harming, confusing and wounding My people...it puts My cities and nations under a dark cloud. It is speaking out of your own wounds...or your warfare, or your weariness, or your sense of rejection, or your isolation, or your disappointments, or your despair. I am bringing a healing model and restoring My joy to all those who have suffered pain in this life, and it is beautiful.

• "Let Me tell you how to fight with hope and love." (At this point He laughed and lightened the mood.) "Ask Me this, 'What would it be like if My servants simply focused on hope and love until the very end? What kinds of amazing solutions would I bring into this world?'"

• The Lord said, "Let's fight against this enemy together! I do not want both sweet and bitter waters to proceed from the same source. I do want to go with you! But follow Me with joy, love, hope, and adventure in your hearts. Band together and reveal to all 'The God of the Fifth Scene' and call them into the Hope Reformation...the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." (See James 3:11; Daniel 11:32.) 

Gulp. 

Immediately my spirit was chinked. God said to me, Lynn, “Stop it! I don’t want you or the House of SUM to focus on my enemy. Lynn, what would it be like if my servants simply focused on hope and love until the very end?” 

My friends, I write with tears in my eyes. I want to be the Hope-Restorer that helps my Father bring amazing solutions into our world. I want to be His child that bands together with others in the House of SUM to reveal to all, the God of the Fifth Scene (a scene of God high and lifted up of absolute light, power, love and hope) and to be strong… and to do exploits (astonishing adventures in His Kingdom). 

So my friends, I may disappoint you in that I am not going to write about spiritual warfare and bring any kind of recognition to the very real evil spirits of this world. God affirmed to me that yes, we do battle in these realms but what we need to know is two things. One, we battle FROM victory and not FOR victory. And two, we have already won because we have been equipped will all we need to win against every enemy, in every circumstance, every day. 

God reminded me that when I faced a very real demon who came into my room one night that I won that battle. In spite of the fact that I wasn’t mature in Christ. I barely knew anything about the spirit realm and all I had was my faith and scripture (2 Timothy 1:7) You can read that story here

After my three hours with God this morning where I cried, sang, spoke in tongues, prayed… wept in repentance…. I came home from my walk-n-pray and immediately called Dineen. We talked, marveled, reasoned and laughed as we spoke. We are absolutely certain about this change and that in this House, the House of SUM, we won’t ignore evil but we will teach and focus on what defeats evil every time. The joy, love, hope, and adventure of God. Worship of Him and His powerful Son and the wisdom of His voice, the Holy Spirit. We can and will write forever about these aspects of our Great King and never run out of words that prepare us and grow us and words that adore Him. 

My friends, you are reading this on Friday morning. And as you read this Dineen and I are going into day three of a four day Prophetic conference. We are expecting God to show up and lead us into these exploits. We don’t have a clue about most of what God is doing. We only have a heart full of love and a determined devotion to follow God through whatever door He opens. So, on Monday I hope to have heard God about where we are going next here at SUM. Today I don’t know but I’m excited because I know it will be the best, mind-blowing, heart-filled, adventure yet. 

Will you today do two things for me? Forgive me if you are disappointed. And today, ask God to reveal to you how you are to join this community to become Hope-Restorers and bring God’s joy, hope, love and adventure to our homes, our marriages, our cities, our nations, to the world. Share with me what that looks like for you. I really want to know. 

 

CONVERSATION:

So, what do you think about all this? Did God move your spirit? And what does it look like to you? 

IMG_1502[1]Dineen and I love you so much… SO, SO much. Forever and ever… eternally. In the name of Jesus.

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