53 posts categorized "Identity in Christ"

Our Position in Christ

A dear friend was inspired by the Holy Spirit with this visual explanation of Christ in us, and it has spoken to my heart continually every since she shared with me, my friends. I pray it blesses you as much as it has me. 

Here are some Scripture references too:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; — 1 Cor 6:19

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. — 2 Cor. 1:22

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. — Col. 3:3

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. — John 14:20

Have an amazing weekend secure in WHO AND WHERE YOU ARE!
Love you!
Dineen

*****

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The Flutterby

FlutterbyMy friends, this will be a fairly short post, but it speaks a big truth. God has been using butterflies quiet a bit to speak His love to my heart lately. Kind of like He did the feathers. Every time I go on a prayer walk or sit by a window for my quiet time, a butterfly swoops by. Not an unusual thing, but the Holy Spirit has made me aware of this phenomenon. 

Last week I was out walking one of our precious poochies on a beautiful fall morning. The humidity had dropped and the temperature was pleasant and cool. Thick tree branches reached over me, creating a canopy of green leaves.

Movement caught my eye. I looked up and saw a butterfly. A large one fluttering by, reaching the highest branches above. She was larger than most of the butterflies I’d seen so far and fluttered her wings quickly to reach her perch.

Amazingly, this beauty had a deficit. On one side, half of her wing was missing. Yet she flew strong and landed high above. While I watched the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart something like this…

See her beauty. Look how large she is, how strongly she flies. Despite the damage to her wing, she still serves her calling to fly and reach the heights of the trees. You may see a lack or a deficit but the Father only sees the beauty of His creation doing exactly what He designed it to do.

SUMites, I was so moved by this site. This spoke to those things in myself or my life that I tend to focus on and see only through the eyes of limitation. Can you relate? I have a feeling you can. 

But Abba Father wants us to understand that whatever has hindered, damaged, or harmed us can’t keep us from being who He created us to be. These things in no way change who we are in His eyes for we stand before Him blameless and pure, nor do they take away any of His goodness and purposes for us.

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. — Col. 1:22

We are meant to fly for Him and fly high. And that’s how He sees us, as His precious children doing and living the life He paid so much to give us. He never expects us to be perfect. And He’s always ready to point out our beauty and His great love for and delight in us.

So I am thankful for that image of the “flutterby.” Next time I grow frustrated with myself when I see only limitations or when I become impatient with myself for not overcoming something as quickly as I think I should, I will remember her wings working to take her high into the trees regardless of the damage to her wing.

My friends, what do you feel God is speaking to your heart about this flutterby story? Let’s share and encourage one another in the comments.

Love you!
Dineen

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Someone New.

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Photo courtesy of khunaspix/FreeDigitalPhotos.nety/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My family loves Cirque Du Soleil. They bring a production down under every couple of years and we make sure we get tickets. We celebrated our youngest 21st birthday at the latest show, Kooza, a few weeks ago. It was extra special because Jake went on stage before the performance started. If you’ve ever seen a Cirque show some of the performers roam through the audience prior to the show starting and Jake got grabbed by one of them. She put a tutu around him and had him do a few ballet steps. I was so proud of him as he wasn’t put off by the 2,000 sets of eyes staring and gave it a real go much to the audience’s appreciation. It’ll be a memory that stays with him for a long time I expect.

The trapeze

One of the standout performances was the trapeze act where a singular performer dazzled us. She didn’t have a protective net, however, was hooked up to a wire so if she did fall she wouldn’t fall far. Last week I read something that used the trapeze act as a useful analogy to compare our old life before we met Jesus and the new one we have when in relationship with Him. I’ve found in my journey that I’m juggling the two. When I’m on the old life trapeze, doing what’s ingrained in me from my years living it, old habits, sin, and so, there’s a strange comfortableness about it because I’ve got that wire holding me. The new life trapeze is always swinging next to me but there’s neither a wire nor protective net. However, Jesus is standing on the platform smiling encouraging me to hop off the old life trapeze. Take the step.

Jump!

It’s scary especially when I look down. No wire. No net.

But when I keep my eyes on Him I’m emboldened to … jump.

“Gotta keep looking at Him. Keep looking at Him, Ian. Don’t take your eyes off Jesus.”

Now I’m swinging … “Keep your eyes on Me, Ian”

Okay … now I’m standing.

You get the picture.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You’ve probably read that verse a thousand times you know it off by heart. What I love about it is there’s no in between. It’s like being pregnant. You either are or you’re not.

We are new creations. The old us has gone. We are now filled with God. In us! He’s in us. Hallelujah.

But we still keep eyeing off that other trapeze bar and we hop back on it more often than we like. Don’t we? We get crabby at our partner, our children because we’ve had a bad day. We look enviously at the fancy new car our friends have just bought. You know the drill.

Fullness of Life

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

I’ve been studying Nehemiah recently. Here is a man who is besotted by God and by God’s purposes. So much so he does something crazy: asks the king to let him rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. The king affirms Nehemiah and off he goes, assembles helpers and despite lots of opposition they rebuild the wall in 52 days.

Nehemiah is a man who experienced life to the full. He was a man devoted to prayer, seeking the will of God and obeying it. And Nehemiah did something truly remarkable. God equipped him to do His work.

God wants to equip us to do His work to. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to do something like rebuild Jerusalem; it’s as simple as being kind to our partners and children when we really don’t want to.

We can only do that if we stay on the new trapeze bar with our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. In Colossians 3 (verses 1-5) it’s explicit that we can only let go of our old nature by looking to “things above”. It starts there.

If life’s a struggle at present for whatever reason can I encourage you to start looking at “things above”. Remember it’s not the truth that sets you free but “knowing the truth” (John 8:32)

You are a new creation.

You are one with Jesus.

Your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Know the truth in your heart, in your mind and you will be set free.

Grace and peace dear SUMite friends.

*****

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A Stunning Revelation of My Authority

LOVE
My friends, today I want to share a something God is showing me in my own life. And as God is so perfect in His ways, this ties into the series I’ve been writing about regarding words, the power of God’s Word, and the authority we walk in as His children. And I’ve no doubt this is something many in our community here (and this country) need to know as it’s something that affects the majority of women today in all ranges of ages.

First, let me set the stage. Last week I was listening to a podcast by a pastor and teacher I very much respect and he said something that I knew was true but didn’t fully understand in the moment how very deeply this truth can run.

His words were, “We can’t take authority over what we don’t love.”

When I heard it, my heart, soul, mind and spirit nodded in agreement. I believe God has planted the truth of 1 Corinthians 14:1 deep inside me since I was a child.

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. — 1 Corinthians 14:1

Love must always be our motivator, sustainer and final goal. I firmly believe that. And hearing these words from this pastor brought this truth to a whole new level for me. It’s also made me examine the places where I have have taken authority in my prayers, yet haven’t seen a shift or change. 

As Lynn shared Friday, there can be things that block our prayers, and perhaps this could be one of them. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If our heart isn’t filled with love for what we’re praying for, how can our prayers be? And I do believe this kind of love has to come from our Lord Jesus and our intimacy with Him. He pours His love into and through us.

So, what did I discover? I can best explain by sharing how this translated into a revelation for me the very next day.

I have had a love hate relationship with food, my weight and my appearance for as long as I can remember. God has brought me a long way over the years, but I still long for complete freedom. I know there are many of you reading this right now, SUMites, that get this. You’ve most likely struggled with it in some way, shape or form too.

And I am determined. I know my prayers are powerful, so I have blessed my body with divine health, perfect function as God designed my body to work and blessed areas that I know I need healing physically. But I’m not seeing the results I so desire. 

As I said, the application of this pastor’s words that the Holy Spirit wanted me to grasp came the next day. He showed me that yes, I have attempted to take authority over my body, but how can I stand in that authority when I don’t love my body and the way God created me?

I have whined and complained about my appearance, my health issues and weight for a long time. I have spoken and thought negatively about myself in more ways than I probably know. And please forgive me if I’m being a little too real and honest here, but I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to share this, because I do believe it is the answer I have sought for a long time to understand what the core issue is.

So now I am changing this. I am seeking God daily to help me love myself in all ways. I’m not talking about anything bordering on vanity or pride here. Just simple appreciation and acceptance of who God created me to be and look like. (Psalm 139:13-18, Luke 12:7, Ephesians 2:10—share more verses in the comments!)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Because I firmly believe that this issue begins in the heart and mind. And I believe as I partner with the Holy Spirit to transform my mind in this area and break old thought patterns too, I will begin too see the results of a healthy mind and body manifest more and more. 

As a person thinks, they are and do, right? (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV)

My friends, can you relate to this? Is this a truth you’ve wanted or needed and didn’t even realize it, like me? What area can you see applying to your life right now? Please share if you’re able. I truly sense this will be a revelation day for many of us and the beginning of new healing and freedom in places we have prayed and longed for.

I love you, SUMites. So very much. I want all God has for you, every single thing He has written down in the pages of His book about you—I pray He pours out every word, blessings, gift and provision He has written down for you today and that His presence is the greatest gift He reveals to you. I pray for more revelation of who you are to Him and who He created you to be, so that you walk in complete confidence in your identity and relationship with your Papa God. In the blessed name of Jesus, amen!

He loves us, my friends. Oh how He loves us…
Dineen

(P.S. Later the same day I noticed the toenail on my left foot—I have unsuccessfully treated it for three years so I began blessing it weeks ago—is now clearing up and growing normal again. Thank You, Lord, for Your sweet confirmations! You are so holy and wonderful!)

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The Power of Words

HeavenMy friends, on Monday we talked about our authority and place of power, that we have everything through Christ Jesus and nothing to lose because of His sacrifice for us, and that the enemy has nothing and everything to lose. That's because he's already lost.

With that I want to point to a truth that we sometimes forget to practice, because we do a fair bit of spiritual warfare in our mismatched marriages. Just after Jesus tells us about the authority He's given us, He points out where our focus and rejoicing should truly be focused.

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” — Luke 10:19-20

We are secure in Heaven! With Him! That's the promise that we have nothing to lose! And when we rest in and live from this place of security, guess what happens? The enemy loses influence, because we are filled with confident hope. That's the light that makes him flee before he can even get near us.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. — Romans 15:13 NLT

Now let's talk about the power of words. In Genesis, God spoke the world into existence with words. Much of the Old Testament where it reads God ‘said’ or ‘told,’ those words also mean to decree or to promise in the Hebrew translation. 

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah encounters the Lord and witnessed heaven in action as part of his commissioning as a prophet.

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. — Isaiah 6:3-4

Did you catch that last line? The praises and worship of the seraphim literally shook the foundations of the thresholds (doorways) and smoke filled the house. I have to say there is something profound that occurs in worship when we sing the word ‘holy’ and the angels know it. That’s because we are declaring the presence and character of God.

Take a look at this passage from Isaiah 11 about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus:

But with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. — Isaiah 11:4-5

Let’s not forget that Jesus is described as the Word in John 1. The Word—logos—in Hebrew embodies not only the obvious meaning of words spoken, but encompasses decrees, prophecy, mandates, precepts, conception or ideas, and even even addresses the function of the mind in reasoning and our relationship to God. It is a power-packed “word.” 

And even as Jesus spoke healing over people, He spoke more to their hearts—to the person they were created to be (Ecc. 3:11)—than He spoke to the demons themselves. He would simply speak the truth and evil spirits fled—the rod of his mouth and the breath of his lips. Light always removes darkness completely. You turn on the light in a room and the darkness is gone completely. Not part way—all the way.

Truth is the light that makes the darkness flee. Thus why it is important to replace lies with the truth. Keep the room lit with the truth of God’s Word! That is the power of a transformed mind as well, my friends (Romans 12:2).

I have more to share with you about words and it has to do with a story we know well in the Bible. Since this post is long enough already and I want you to absorb what I’ve shared today, I will save that for next week. We have a clear model and example of how we are told to declare truth according to God’s Words and what that transaction does. I am looking forward to sharing that with you, my friends, and I will also share examples of how we can use this model to decree truths over our pre-believers, loved ones and ourselves.

Have an amazing weekend, SUMites. Stand in the truth that you are chosen and dearly loved by Your Papa God. And absolutely nothing can snatch you out of His Son Jesus’ hand (John 10:28).

Love you!
Dineen

 

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Our Place of Authority and Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs!
Dineen

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You are Powerful!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The entire Bible. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday Prayer: No More Striving!

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

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

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Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

This piece of Scripture alone tells us:

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

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

Ask questions like these:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you dearly, SUMites!
Dineen

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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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Broken In A Thousand Pieces But..... Jesus..

SUMites, ANOTHER profound email. What is happening in our community? Ten years of praying, believing, trusting. The fruit is ripe and I celebrate every victory in our SUMite Nation. And I continue to pray and trust for those yet to come.

Today, please meet Kim Valentine. Her story is TRULY miraculous!!!!  Thank you Jesus. (Read to the end because this story is astonishing!)

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One day after 18 years of marriage my husband informed me he was moving out.  As soon as the words left his lips, I knew this time it wasn’t an idle threat. God immediately began revealing to me every sin I committed that degraded, emasculated and disrespected my husband. Every time I blamed, criticized, condemned or withheld intimacy was before my very eyes. The blinders were ripped off and the ugliness of my sin was repulsive to me! Here I was a Christian for 16 years, playing the part, talking the talk and holding the church positions. I felt so valued by my Christian “family” as one of Christ’s ambassadors to the world, but the witness to my own husband was like filthy rags before God.

 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26

I felt stripped bare to the core that day, but in that process God miraculously transformed my heart for my husband. I experienced an infilling of unconditional love for him that was beyond human comprehension. The persistent nagging inside my being that had to speak up and criticize my him was miraculously gone. So many things that irritated me in the past were washed away.  I began to see him through God’s eyes as a precious human being created and loved by Him.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

We had become strangers in the same house living separate lives. We were more like roommates than a married couple and our lives rarely intersected. We hadn't shared a bed for over eight years but I was comfortable with that arrangement, so I didn't care to change.

Had I not realized over the years I was not treating my husband well? I could say “no” and blame other men who had hurt me, other people or society. I have to confess that deep on a spiritual level I knew my actions were damaging to my husband and our whole family.  All factors may be reasons for my behavior but no excuse to treat him with disrespect he didn't deserve.

This new love for my husband welled up inside me and overflowed. I had never felt this way and I wanted him to receive this love from me, but was it too late? I had taken control and removed him as head of our family where God intended him to be all along. Would he think that my actions were nothing more than a ploy to make him stay? Regardless, I started to treat him with respect and submission the way I should have all along.

But I was not completely obedient and trusting God. I fought for control of the situation by plotting and intervening like an amateur detective. I intercepted emails and monitored his bank account justifying it because I was trying to save our marriage. God began to convict me of my intrusion and I realized it was actually an invasion of my husband’s privacy. The harsh reality was, he was leaving and there was nothing I could do to control or manipulate that outcome.

After he moved out I withdrew and began to focus on my own pain.  I started to dwell on my husband’s contribution to the marriage breakdown in my own private pity party. I remember lying on my kitchen floor weeping and begging Jesus to take me Home. I felt like my heart was broken and I was in a thousand pieces. I now believe it was my own sin and lack of “control” eating me alive. One morning I woke up in tears telling the Lord that I couldn't go on any longer, I was too weak.

I turned to my devotional and the scripture verse was from 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God wanted to heal my heart and life before He could ever heal our marriage. This journey of reconciliation wasn’t only about our marriage but also about my disconnection with the Lord. I took my eyes off Him and lived life my own way.

God used prayer and study to open my eyes and discover I was the contentious or quarrelsome woman of Proverbs. In the message Proverbs 27: 15-16 reads: A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; you can’t turn it off, and you can’t get away from it.

 “It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” Proverbs 21:19

God now had my complete attention and I wept in brokenness. Even though my heart had been transformed, I continued to hold on to control. I had to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, renew my mind, be accountable to the Lord for my own actions and not blame anyone else. My obsession with control destroyed our marriage.

A week after this epiphany, my husband contacted me out of the blue and asked me to go out for coffee. I hadn’t heard from him in months. The first meeting started as a casual meeting between “friends “but was actually the beginning of our restoration journey.

My husband had a new softness to him I had never before seen, so I knew his heart was changed. He is back home now and we don't just have a marriage restored but a one that's transformed. I tell people I have the husband I’ve always wanted but never allowed him to be. We are blessed to fall into a deeper love with each other. I am witness as he grows in confidence as the head of our household. There are days I still struggle with wanting control, but being aware helps me learn to surrender it to the Lord.

Learning to be a wife as God intended is counter cultural as the world dictates women be independent. We are supposed to take control in marriage and family instead of depending on the Lord but this is so counterproductive. I have new joy embracing the role God has graced me with as wife and help mate for my husband. I know that after God, my husband is my priority. This is how I honor the Lord.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.

I have had the privilege of watching the Lord draw my husband to Him.  It has been more than two years since our reconciliation and my husband has recently become a follower of Jesus Christ. I stand in awe at how the Lord is developing him into the spiritual leader in our home. It’s all about Him!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

For many years I sought to find my identity and affirmation in education, positions and career but these pursuits became my gods. I had built my foundation on sinking sand destined to wash away. It gave me a feeling of superiority over my husband. I lost focus that my true identity is found in only in Jesus Christ and the role he has for me as His child, a wife to my husband and a mother to our children.

Kim Valentine 2016I am a  50-something  daughter of the King, wife to one awesome husband, mother to two amazing children and one special "son in love", future grandmother and nurse.  I strive to be a woman after God's own heart and walk in His steps.

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps"
1 Peter 2:21

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Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs

Weekends we re-post from our archives, articles which remain relevant for the spiritually mismatched marriage.

This post is part III in this series. Click on Part I and Part II to read the precursors to this article. This was originally posted on April 20, 2012.

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Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs  

Part III

A few months ago I was emailing back and forth to a friend of mine whose husband is a reader of atheist blogs. She was in such pain and in a quandary as to how to cope. Now I don’t pretend to have all the answers for each individual situation. I can only share what has worked in my life and marriage. 

Let me say that I love this young mom and wife. She is in the midst of fiery battles daily and is yet living for Jesus under tremendous persecution from her own spouse. And to add to the dynamics of her situation is how she is hard-wired, she hates confrontation. Many of us would go to great lengths to avoid confronting anyone let alone our spouse who holds a great deal of power to hurt us. 

I shared with my friend that there comes a time when we must say to our spouse that we are partners in marriage. That what our spouse believes does not diminish what we hold true. It’s appropriate to call them out and ask for our due respect as a spouse and a partner in the relationship. We must stand up and tell them that the words they speak against our faith are disrespectful and truly not what builds a marriage relationship. I know I advised her to tell her husband that she expected him to refrain from speaking about her faith and promise him that she would do the same about his atheist beliefs. 

Okay, that’s one take. For me, my moment of truth came unexpectedly. It was many years ago and I remember it clearly still today. 

My husband was angry. He was so riled up about my growing faith that he was constantly throwing arguments up for me to discount or contradict. He told me that I was foolish and that my faith embarrassed him. He was absolutely mystified that I, an intelligent woman, would ever even consider believing in a god. 

He was adamant and determined to “prove” to me God did not exist. 

At this point in our marriage, we had been down all these roads. You know, the paths of trying to defend my faith from a science point of view. Defending the truth of the Bible. Discussing intelligent design. Debates about the fossil record. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Etc. etc. etc. 

My friends, I’ve had every conceivable conversation so if you feel like you are all alone in this, I know exactly how you feel. 

Okay, after years and years of debate, conflicts and arguments with each of us trying to convince the other of the error in their thinking, I finally gave up. 

Whew! What a relief. 

What follows is the simple conversation that seemed to finally help my husband accept my faith. Here we go. 

Me: Honey, why does it matter so much to you that I believe in God? My faith doesn’t make me stupid.

Him: I does too matter. (He states in great anger and frustration I might add.)

Me: But why? Why does it matter?

Him: Because you are living a lie.

Me: But how do you KNOW that I am wrong? You don’t know for sure. And let’s say that at the end of it all, we die and nothing happens. No heaven. No hell. We just cease to exist like you presume.

What I know is that I lived a life that was morally strong. I lived a life filled with joy. I have many friends who I love and who love me. I have given of myself to this world to make it a better place. 

Honey, my faith makes me happy. 

Him: (silence) 

Now there is likely more to this conversation but I just don’t remember what happened after that. However, the dynamics in our marriage relationship changed upon that conversation. 

Honey, my faith makes me happy……. 

The key to this kind of conversation is waiting until they are truly ready to hear it. He was ready that day. 

Pray that the Lord will give you several things to equip you to walk this journey. 

  • First, that He and YOU seal your mind, heart and soul in the truth of your identity. Know who you are in Christ. 
  • Second, pray for courage, Joshua courage to step up to the task of confronting immature behavior and words toward your faith. 
  • Three, pray for discernment and wisdom and for an opening to have a conversation with your spouse. God loves to honor those prayers. 

Identity
Courage
and an open door. 

And this very day, I also give you dominion over your delete key. Decide today that you will not allow your husband to be used by the enemy to create doubt. Reject the fiery darts of the enemy. Live in joy. As Beth Moore says, “JOY, is our birthright in Christ.” 

Live victoriously and let the enemy quake with fear and the atheist blogs go wild, because we are children of the Most High God and NO ONE CAN TOUCH THAT. 

Be blessed, Lynn

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Your Mismatched Marriage Isn’t a “But” (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d16111a0970c-320wiMy friends, I want to touch on an area that I feel the Holy Spirit has placed on my heart. I sense there are some of you out there who are reading this spiritual warfare series and seeing your marriages (regardless of how you got there) as blocks to all that God has for you. As a “but.”

Instead, I want to encourage you to think of your marriage not as a “But God…”

We’ve talked about sanctification before so I encourage you to go read this post on that subject and study and seek God for more truth and understanding of 1 Cor 7:14. That is a powerful foundational truth to understanding the influence your faith has on your marriage, your pre-believer and your children.

But today I want to talk about our places in these marriages, the truths that protect us and how this relates to spiritual warfare. First, we need to understand that our pre-believers choices and criticisms against our faith do not change these truths:

  • God is good, is good to you, and is working for your good—always (Rom 8:28). (You could say your pre-believer is the beneficiary!) 
  • God’s love for us is unchanged and unaffected by your pre-believers choices or criticisms (Rom 8:38-39).
  • God’s plans for you stand regardless of the choices and decisions of your pre-believer (Jer 33:11).
  • Just as God loves and desires to bless and delight in you, He also holds this same love and desire for your pre-believer (2 Peter 3:9 & 15).

This may seem simplistic in some ways, but I find this truth as powerful as the truth of God’s love for us. God is unchanged, unaffected and unmoved by our pre-believers lack of faith. Period. God will always pursue our pre-believers in His relentless love for all to repent and know Jesus, but this does not stop His plans, purposes and blessings for us. 

Salvation is an individual choice. In other words, our salvation and standing as a child of God with all the benefits, inheritance and blessings is in no way dependent upon any other person except for Jesus. And He already did the work. It’s done.

So, let’s talk spiritual warfare in our marriages. Yes, we may face more warfare because we are on the front lines contending for our pre-believer’s salvation, but we also are way more aware of this warfare than a lot of believing couples, SUMites. We know the enemy’s plan is to destroy marriages. We are on guard and praying against his tactics. We have skills!

Let’s start with an awesome Scripture Lynn quoted last week from Colossians and look at some others from this powerful book about our standing with God and the enemy.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. — Col. 1:11-14 (ESV)

Our reality is that we have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Jesus. Paul continues to expound upon this truth in verse 22 with a word of caution:

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it. — Col. 1:22-23 (NLT)

Paul is admonishing us to believe and stand in the truth of our salvation, which again is true regardless of what the world says about our faith, what our pre-believers think of our faith, or even what we may mistakenly believe about ourselves. Jesus has made us holy and blameless before Him without a single fault.

My friends, I'm going to stop here for now, but come back Thursday, because I have more to share with you on the spiritual warfare side of this. 

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

  • Sit down with God and ask Him how or where you have limited Him working in you or your marriage because you believed the enemy's lie that mismatched marriage disqualified you. SUMites, we serve a gentle God who adores us. He will not condemn you. He will lovingly reveal truth to you, so don't be afraid of this.

Community Questions (answer in the comments):

  • If you are comfortable sharing, what lie has the enemy led you believe regarding God's plans and purposes for you?
  • How has the Holy Spirit helped you overcome this lie or any other lie that once held you back from walking in your callings and purposes in God (divine destiny)?

I love you, my friends. I'm excite to share the rest of these truths with you and I pray they revolutionize your thinking in some way that frees you to walk in the fullness of your faith. In the name of Jesus, amen!
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Wearing Our Armor—God’s Word

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d15b17ab970c-320wiMy friends, I want to share with you today how I “pray on” my armor. And I do this out loud whenever possible. I know that can be awkward at times in our spiritually mismatched places, but I find bathrooms, closets and cars to be good places when needed!

Lord, today I am putting on my armor. 

My belt of truth, which is You, Lord Jesus. You are my way, my truth and my life. In You I live, move and have my being. (John 14:6, Acts 17:28).

My breastplate of righteousness, because I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21).

My shield of faith for the righteous live by faith and You, Jesus, are the author and perfector of my faith. My shield is strengthened and empowered by the truth of Jesus to deflect the barbs of the enemy. (Rom. 1:17, Heb. 12:2)

My sword of the Spirit, the very word of God that is alive and powerful. Lord, Your promises are my armor and protection (Heb. 4:12, Ps. 91:4).

My helmut of salvation for I am saved and made holy by the blood of Jesus through His salvation (Heb. 9:12-14, Heb. 10:10).

My feet shot in the gospel of peace, because I stand on the Truth of Jesus and He is my foundation (Matt. 7:24-25).

And the glory of the Lord is my rear guard (Isa. 58:11).

In the name of Jesus, amen!

The reason I say to pray this out loud is so that you hear these truths over and over again. Not only are you putting your armor on, you are declaring who you are in Jesus, your identity. And that makes the enemy lose all power over you, my friends. You are literally changing your thinking—transforming your mind with God’s truth (Rom. 12:2)—and building your faith.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. — Romans 10:17

These are just the Scriptures I use. Study your Bible and as you find certain Scriptures capture your heart and connect to your identity (and you will, I’m certain of of it), personalize your armor. This isn’t a one size fits all suit, yet then again it is. That is the mystery and fun here, SUMites. We get to take it and personalize it.

I have just one more crazy wild truth to share with you regarding God’s Word. Take a trip with me to Mark 4. Jesus has told the parable of the farmer scattering seed, and it’s the very first parable that Jesus shares, at least according to Mark’s account. 

The disciples ask Jesus what it means. Here’s the beginning of his answer:

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word.” — Mark 4:13-14

This is astounding to me, my friends. This parable about God’s Word is foundational to understanding all the other parables that Jesus shares. He wants the disciples, and us, to understand the importance of not only growing in God’s Word but the importance of sharing it. As believers in Jesus Christ, everything we are and do starts in God’s Word, because He IS the Word.

We are His farmers! And we are to sow the Word of God into others. Not beat people over the head with it, but pray it over them like we do our pre-believers, live it out in our lives in front of others, and share it when we are led to or see the moment of need. 

And we are to speak the truth in love. 

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. — Eph. 4:15

Quiet Time Study:

Take the armor prayer I shared and make it uniquely yours, one you can remember no matter where you are or what you may be doing. 

Community Question:

What kind of farmer is God calling you to be and where is He asking you to “sow” His word?

I love you, SUMites, so so much. My heart is for us all to walk in these truths and our families too. As I finished writing this post, my oldest daughter called, upset over a situation she had no control over. I was able to pray with her, speak words of truth for her heart and spirit to hear, and encourage her to study her Bible so that next time she will already know these truths and can speak them out in prayer over herself. My testimony to her was based upon my firm belief that God’s Word is what delivered me from fear, anxiety and depression, because I knew what to pray—God’s truth!

Walking with you in faith, my friends! I can’t wait to hear YOUR testimony.
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Lies, Fear and Armor. Oh my!

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d15b17ab970c-320wiOver my next couple posts (possibly more) I want to talk to you about our identity and our armor. I’ve felt the need the last few weeks to pray on my armor every day and as I’ve done so the Holy Spirit has shown me a stunning truth. Our identity in Christ and the Armor of God are the same.

Our identity in Christ is our armor.

My friends, I’m so enthralled by this revelation. Once I understood this truth, suddenly the Scriptures that support it came to life and that is what I’m excited to share with you. Some of it you may find challenging as it will require you to look inward to identify some lies that you may still be operating under, what we’re calling “umbrella crushers” for this series, but I promise you that once you identify a lie, sweet freedom rushes in are you will be changed and charged up!

So, let’s get started with our Belt of Truth (Eph 6:14). First let’s establish that Jesus is our belt. 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6

He is truth, therefore He is the one who holds us, defines us and protects us.

For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” — Acts 17:28

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. — Col. 1:17

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:10

The thing is, if we are operating under some lies, we will step out of God’s protective umbrella more easily. For instance, if you don’t trust God to answer your prayer over a matter in which you need leading and grow impatient for the answer, you will be tempted (there’s the opening for the enemy to come in) to take matters into your own hand and wind up making a decision based upon that deception. The story of Abraham and Sarah is a good example of this (Gen. 16). 

And lies create fear. We will feel insecure and unprotected when we put what we fear in a higher place than our belief in God and His Word to help us overcome it. Then our human need for security will propel us to do things to create a sense of security (like taking control) in order to feel safe.

So how do we reveal a lie? First I will used myself as an example. I shared recently that the Holy Spirit showed me that I had believed the enemy’s ability to deceive me was greater than Jesus’ power to lead me (He is our Good Shepherd).

My first clue was that I realized I didn’t feel safe. Though I thought I had overcome my misconception from my youth that the enemy was more powerful than God, I still didn’t feel safe. My second clue was that I constantly prayed for the Holy Spirit to not let me be deceived. That’s when the Holy Spirit helped me identify the lie that I believed the enemy’s ability to deceive me was greater than Jesus’ power to lead me. This lie made me doubt whether I heard God’s voice correctly all the time and kept me from stepping into all that God has for me in many ways.

Truth (and confidence in Him) has since replaced the lie, and I’ve operated under the umbrella of God’s protection and free of fear in this area ever since. Plus I hear God even better!

Now I’m going to use a character from a story I’m working on right now to show you how we can walk through this process and identify a lie. (Yes, writers draw from real life to build our characters. What better way to make them believable, right?) 

I have a character who is operating under a lie. Selah gets her name from her parents who were a major force in the Christian music industry, and she is gifted by God to write anointed music that heals people. Yet she has no desire to work in that industry. 

Why not?

Because she doesn’t want to be like her parents and feels she has to prove herself in a different market. This need has driven her decisions through college and her career.

Why doesn’t she want to be like her parents?

She saw how much they gave to their ministry and God, and that it was while serving in this way that they were tragically killed. Thus serving God with her gift scares her.

Why does it scare her?

Because she blames God for taking her parents away from her and believes this is how God operates. She must overcome this lie with the truth that God is good, that God didn’t take her parents away from her, and that the dream she is pursuing is actually from God and He wants to make it come true, even better than she could imagine. Because where she sees the secular and Christian market as separate, God wants to use her to create a bridge to join them.

Now it’s your turn, my friends. I would not ask this of you had I not discerned that this is God’s heart for you right now. He wants you free of whatever lie you may be operating under so that you can walk in confidence with the Truth, with Jesus, girded around your waist holding you and keeping you safe.

Quiet Time Study:

Sit before God and ask yourself these questions. If you get stuck, then share in the comments (if your comfortable to do so) and let’s help each other find the freedom Jesus has for all of us. Or email me privately.

  • What scares you? Think about what have you been praying against.
  • Why does it scare you?
  • Where do you see God in this situation?
  • What is the truth? 

When you get down to the truth, find Scriptures that support your revelation, write them out and pray them out loud until you truly believe them as your truth. Any time your fear creeps back up, pray them again. My truths are now Psalm 32:7-8, Isa. 41:13, John 10:27-30 and several others about God’s protection.

Community Questions:

  • What lie has misdirected your faith and choices in the past (share as you feel comfortable)?
  • How do you walk in truth in this area now?

On Thursday I will talk about our Breastplate of Righteousness and the Shield of Faith. This is where it gets really interesting my friends. I’m stunned just by what I discovered about these two areas of our identity/armor. 

Holy Spirit, I pray for every SUMite reading this post today that You would come gently to them and reveal any lie they are operating under that hinders their intimacy with You and causes them to be fearful, depressed or anxious. In the name of Jesus, I ask that these lies be broken off them, removed and never allowed to return. Holy Spirit, lead them to the truth in God’s Word so that they can begin healing and living their faith in security and confidence in the truth of who they are in Jesus. Remind us to put on our belt of truth every day! In the truth-filled name of Jesus, amen!

Love and praying for you, my friends!
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Power Prayer For Your Child That Moves Heaven

Sumites:

Junior move in BIOLA Apts 2
Roommate and Caitie

Saturday my husband and I drove my daughter to college. She is a Junior this fall at BIOLA and has moved into an apartment off campus with her roommate. It’s the next step in her life toward independence and adulthood.

Wow.

It’s a profound truth, as things change, they stay the same. Although this is a season of great change in my daughter's life, I’m compelled to pray similar prayers to those that I prayed during the years she lived at home.

As I prepared to leave her in her new home, I embraced her on Saturday and pulled her head to my shoulder. I prayed protection over her. I blessed her in Jesus name and prayed for her mind, her heart and her spirit. I also blessed her roommate. They probably think I’m just a bit wacky as I also walked about the apartment and prayed the blood of Jesus over it and for angels to come and stand in watch. I don’t know if they saw me doing this but this mama leaves nothing to chance. *grin*

As I think of chapter eight, Triumphant Kids, in Not Alone, I’m moved mostly by the prayer in the middle of the chapter. It was a prayer I prayed fiercely as my daughter dealt with a bully in high school. I’ve adapted it to my daughter’s current season. So, today moms and dads, please pray this over your children and let this school year be the best ever for your sons and daughters:

Lord, my holy God, This very moment I’m asking for Your presence to surround Caitie. Lord, go with her into the halls of her college and in her apartment. Father, in the name of Jesus I take authority from the enemy who is speaking lies into my daughter’s heart and mind. I renounce any lies that my daughter believes, such as she is insignificant. I bind the enemy who has told her that she is ugly, stupid or a fool. O Holy Spirit, rush to my daughter and remove thoughts of insecurity or fear from her heart, mind and soul. Powerful Lord, my Father, Abba, now I hold up my daughter, Caitie, and in place of the lies, I ask You to affirm her.

Place Your truth in her. Let others say things about her and to her that are truthful and uplifting. When others hear her name, change their thoughts toward her to be good and not evil. When her name is spoken, prompt her friends and professors to affirm her and to build up her character. Lord, speak through her friends to break the lies and to pour Your truth into my girl. Father, speak gently into my girl, and remind her that she is beautiful. She is a daughter of the King. She is confident in her identity. She is a believer in truth and justice. Affirm her worth, and let her see herself as You view her. Affirm, protect, love on her with passion, and reveal Yourself to her daily. I pray this in the name of Jesus and by His authority and power. Amen.

I will join you in prayer for your children. Leave their names and we will stand unified under the Banner of Love for their identity and life in Christ.

I love you moms and dads. You are amazing and you are parenting better than you believe. God is standing right next to you. Now let’s help our children SOAR!!! Have a great week. I’ll see you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn  

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PS. Winning Him Without Words is also on sale for $2.99 (e-book) this week and Not Alone remains $1.99

Find me today at lynndonovan.org as I share the Power of Ephesians and my personal testimony.  Leave your kids names before you leave. Hugs.

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New on myKLOVE

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

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

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

I love you, SUMites! Hugs! ~Dineen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which then leads to what Peter says in verse 12. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter even tells how to follow Jesus.

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

He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

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

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

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

By his wounds you are healed.

Once you were like sheep who wandered away.

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

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

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

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

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
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1 Peter 1 & 2: Building Foundations (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiMy friends, we’ve been set up. But in a good way. A great way. Let me explain. Or better yet, I’ll let Peter explain…

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. — 1 Peter 1:10-12 NLT

We walk in this truth today, the very truth of salvation that the prophets and even the angels eagerly awaited. What must it have been like for those prophets to catch a glimpse of God’s plan, yet not be given the opportunity to experience it? I can easily picture Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah along with the other prophets, standing among the angels as they watched God’s plan unfold in the birth of a baby and explode on a cross. Did they point and exclaim, “God told me He was going to do that!” 

Stunning to think about this grand set up and we are the “set-up-ees.” Peter further expounds on God’s plan by reminding us of the cost.

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. — 1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT

I believe Peter wanted his readers to clearly understand that God’s plan of salvation was not the invention of men, but the long term solution from God. Man had already turned the early commandments given to Moses into a religion (Judaism) with twice as many rules and more coming. Peter wanted to be very clear that this was the FINAL answer and not just another rule or method.

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

 And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. — 1 Peter 1:23-25 NLT

Peter’s last line there gives key insight. The New Testament uses two Greek words that describe Scripture, which are translated as “word.” John referred to Jesus as the Word, using the Greek word, logos, which has a list of meanings that would take a blog post of its own. In essence, it refers to a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea, the sayings of God, decree or mandate. The Divine Expression—Christ.

But when Peter uses it in verse 25, he uses the Greek word, rhēma, defined as that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word. Essentially, Peter is saying that the words preached to them held the truth of the Good News—the new message of Christ and His salvation, which would become the New Testament as we know it today and is the revelation of all that was foretold in the Old Testament. Some call these Holy Spirit inspired words, rhēma words, which agree with Scripture and are life-giving to the recipient. 

Jesus was the Word that already existed, through whom all was created and through whom all would be saved (John 1:1-5). Jesus was the living and final WORD, the word become flesh. That is what Peter wanted his readers to know. That although the Good News as preached to them was not written (yet) in scrolls as the Old Testament, they still held the truth of God.

All this Peter did to build up to his case of who we are in this Good News preached by the disciples. The very definition of who people were in God’s great plan was about to shift to a place of equality and uniqueness that people hadn’t heard as of yet, but would in actuality be the revelation of what God intended all along. 

No longer would people define their relationship with God with the help of the Law and a priest (Pharisee). For the first time since the Garden of Eden, men and women would know the One True God personally and intimately, because He made His home in temples of flesh instead of stone, and they were essentially their own priest, so to speak. The Holy Spirit had come to dwell in each person, connecting all to God the Father through Christ and to each other as the body of Christ. 

In essence, our identity changed from being outwardly defined to inwardly created. We are new creations, and royal priests, as Peter says. He also calls us living stones, chosen and precious in the sight of God,like Jesus was chosen and precious.

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

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

My friends, I will stop here and save the rest for next week. What Peter told the early believers was life changing then, and it still is today. In the meantime, think about the reference to a cornerstone. 

What was a cornerstone and Who is the cornerstone? I bet you already know the answer to the second part, but have some fun finding out the first part. I’ll share that in part two.

Love you, my friends! Having a blast with you as we study Peter!
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The Temptation of Jesus

BibleStudy-TemptationofJesusMy friends, the Holy Spirit has me reading the book of Luke right now. Again, He seems to be pointing out particular stories and giving me deeper revelation as part of our preparation right now. These are exciting revelations and exciting times. We are hearing more and more reports of breakthroughs throughout this community and all over the world, actually.  

So, please don’t lose hope if you’re still waiting for your breakthrough. God hasn’t forgotten you and He certainly isn’t mad at you. He’s always working for your good and putting things into place for your breakthrough. If anything, lately, I am stunned over and over again at the perfection of His timing. Trust Him to do this good thing in your life and just because you don’t see a shift or change around or in you doesn’t mean He’s not working. Just this week I was surprised by a major breakthrough that I thought God wasn’t dealing with yet, because I couldn’t see or feel any change or shift. How wrong I was…

Today I want to revisit something we’ve talked about in the past and expand upon it. Let’s look at the temptation of Jesus and four foundation areas the enemy attacks:

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 

The devil said to him, “ If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 

And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. ’” 

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. ’”

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  

And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. — Luke 4:1-13 

First I want to point out two things that were true of Jesus. One, he was full of the Holy Spirit as well as led by the Holy Spirit (vs. 1). This is our model of walking in the Spirit and living filled by His power. In fact, we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18) so ask Him to fill and empower you. He’s already there so get Him fired up! 

Two, Jesus endured every temptation (vs. 14). We are not shown every temptation, but we are shown four very specific areas that Jesus is tempted. This is what the Holy Spirit showed me— that these are four foundational areas for us as human beings and these needs were created specifically in us by the Father to be filled by Him.

The first one we’ve discussed already, which is identity. The enemy uses the phrase “if you are the son of God” in an attempt to create doubt in Jesus as to Who he is. Feel free to snicker here and say, “as if!” Jesus knew Who He was and Who He belonged to. And we can know this too as children of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). This is the rock and foundation of our faith on which all other parts are built. If built on sand, it will crumble. If built on rock—the truth of Jesus—we will stand firm even through testings and trials. Identity’s antithesis is anonymity, which makes us ineffective believers because we are swayed and influenced more by the world and the opinion of others than the truth of who we are.

The second test shown here is about provision and trusting God to provide. The enemy tells Jesus to command the stone to become bread. We know that Jesus was hungry and in need of food. In times of need the enemy will come in and tempt us to work in our own ability to provide instead of trusting God to provide (materially, mentally, physically, spiritually, etc.) for us. Trust is so foundational to faith, because if we doubt God’s goodness and His intentions to provide and take care of us, we are not trusting Him. We then become reliant on ourselves to provide instead of God. This trust of provision’s antithesis is self-reliance, which winds up burning us out.

I also want to point out that the rest of the verse Jesus referred to in man not living by bread alone is in Deuteronomy 8:3 and says “but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” So God’s Word is one of His highest forms of provision for our needs. Chew on that for a while…

The third test is about our significance in our purposes and callings as worship of God. The enemy tempts Jesus with the very glory He already knows is His, but the enemy puts the twist of placing himself as the recipient of Jesus’ worship. When we walk in accordance to what and how God has designed and equipped us, we are worshiping and serving Him in truth. When we seek the glory for ourselves, we become self-seeking and self-motivated—self-worshiping. In this case, the antithesis of significance is idolatry. 

The fourth test we are shown is about security. We have this basic need to know we are safe and taken care of. Here the enemy is tempting Jesus to test His security in the Father. But what this really is about is God’s character. Jesus’ answer to satan clarifies this with His reply about testing God. The Hebrew word ekpeirazō implies a test or questioning of God’s character. Makes me shudder to think about it. And clearly here, the antithesis of security is insecurity.

Finally, notice how each of these areas build upon each other. When we are clear in our identity as to who we are and Whose we are, we are able to trust God to provide for all our needs and we are secure in our significance and purpose in His plans for us.

Take notice too that Jesus was weak and most likely tired. The enemy knows he hasn’t really a chance against a child of God who is strong in these areas so he hit us in our times of weakness. The thing is, he still doesn’t seem to realize that in our weakness, we are strong in Jesus (2 Cor. 12:9). So, really and truly, we choose whether to give the enemy a “a chance in hell.” We don’t always recognize his attacks but when we do, we can still stand against him and his lies and turn back to the truth. Take notice that Jesus’ greatest weapon was the Word.

And there lies my final point (yes, cue broken record here). If we aren’t reading God’s Word, we won’t know things like our identity, that we can trust God, that we are significant to His kingdom and that we are secure in Him. It’s all in the Bible, my friends, just like I’ve shown you today. Read it regularly with a pure heart (1 John 1:9) and with the Holy Spirit’s help (1 Cor 2:10).

On Saturday, our very own Joanne M. with be sharing her insights on just how “puny” the enemy really is. I am so excited for you all to read her post. In the meantime, my friends, I pray you have an amazing week basking in the truth of who you are and whose you are. Strut around your house and say, “I belong to God and He’s got me covered in every way.” 

Wonder what our pre-believers will say… ;-)

Love you like crazy!

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The Greatest Romance of All Time

22641640_sOn Sunday I sat in church and watched a short video clip done by an energetic young man. I can’t remember much of what he said because partway through he said something that planted a thought in my mind that bloomed into something I’m finding quite amazing. Then today (yesterday as you read this), the Holy Spirit brought me to a Scripture that opened the fuller meaning and picture of this thought. 

I am a bit undone by it. Let’s see what you think, my friends.

As women, we long to be wooed. I remember as a young girl playing with Barbies, I would stage Barbie’s wedding to Ken. It was quite something actually, at least in my mind. As a teenager, romance books replaced Barbie and Ken to feed my imagination of what romance meant. And no, not in a good way.

So, as a young adult, my hubby’s formal proposal (or lack there of) kind of left a gap in my longing for a great romance, to be swept off my feet and carried away. After all, Ken always swept Barbie off her feet. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is a different kind of marriage proposal. The greatest marriage proposal of all. 

The cross.

This the thought that came on Sunday and has mulled and simmered in my heart and mind since. The cross of Jesus Christ is a marriage proposal. And when you think of the Biblical references to us being the bride of Christ, it fits.

Christ came down (went on bended knee?) and humbled Himself, sacrificed His dignity to woo us. To call to us out of His great love. To ask, “Will you bind your life with Mine forever?”

At our yes, He presents us with a gift to hold and seal the promise of the promise to be fulfilled. The ring—the Holy Spirit.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. — 2 Cor. 1:21-22 (ESV)

We could call our time here on earth our engagement period. We are promised to the One and we seek to know and love Him better as the romance continues in preparation for our coming life together (eternity). Or we could call our baptism (by water and/or the Holy Spirit) the wedding (a public ceremony) and our continued faith walk our “marriage” to the Lover of our soul.

It is a beautiful analogy, my friends. One I am still pondering as it explains to me the longings of a woman’s heart (and I am only speaking to women here as I am woman. I dearly hope we will have at least one male commenter to share his perspective of this great wooing). We long to be wooed, romanced, desired and yes, claimed in the sense of knowing to Whom we belong. And in the pure hands of Jesus, it is a beautiful and right thing. In the hands of the world and the enemy of our soul, it becomes twisted and selfish.

I had no intention of bringing up the movie 50 Shades of Grey, but as this imagery of the cross as a marriage proposal bloomed in my mind, I realized we are not much different really from the women (unbelievers and believers alike) who are flocking to this movie, for I also believe they are indeed seeking to fill this yearning. We are all God’s creatures, designed to have this longing for the eternal bond (marriage) with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

As the bride of Christ we have found the truest longing of our hearts—a place that can never be filled by a person or romance books or a movie. For these things translated into some sort of reality for an individual will lose their glimmer and promise in the enduring light of day. The truth is always exposed. The initial satisfaction of these false imitators of the love and passion of Christ will fade because our souls are wired with that eternity Abba Father has placed in us. It recognizes the imposter and rejects him. 

And we are left broken and longing yet again. The great awakening we truly long for is in Him, who longs for us out of the purest motivations for our good—our salvation and identity in Him. This is the place of satisfaction and excitement and wonder. A place where we are loved and cherished and valued, called worthy and beautiful and identified.

The romance never dies with Jesus. He is constant in His loving pursuit of us. He does not stop once He has captured our hearts. He continues to delight and love us more and more, as much a we will allow and follow Him. And there is always more. 

That is the seal and the promise we are given. It is stunning to think that God gave us a part of His very Self to give us a guarantee of His promise. I stand in wonder at this new realization of the depth of such sacrificial love.

For me. For you. For every woman out there. And for every man. We are the center of this great wooing by the heart of Jesus, that draws us to Him without overriding our will or demanding control. It is the purest form of love that seeks nothing but to give, to save, to free.

And in the freedom we are free to love and give ourselves to our Bridegroom who has waited for us since the very beginning of time itself. I can’t think of anything in this world that can match this level of romance, my friends. 

I will close with one final thought that continues to simmer and form in my spirit: This wooing is happening to our pre-believers, whether we see it or not. 

SUMite Ann H. left a comment on Lynn’s post about waking from a dream with the words “pray for the resting of grace” and the image of my face. And yesterday I read this sentence in the book, The Elijah Task by John and Paula Sandford:

Only the Holy Spirit gives the grace of belief—otherwise nothing, neither persuasion nor miracles, will bring about true belief.

So as Jesus woos my hubby, I will be praying for the “resting of grace” upon him so that the Holy Spirit will release this grace of belief into him.  

I believe, my friends. I truly believe this will happen. Jesus said that if we have faith and don’t doubt, we can move mountains. 

I am praying and shouting “GRACE” at his mountain of unbelief, and I am ready to see it move. I am asking Jesus to show me how I can be part of this great romance for my husband’s soul.

How about you, SUMites? I’m looking forward to reading your comments and hearing your thoughts. 

Love you dearly!
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Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look what He said in John 16:

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

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

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

Let’s chat some more in the comments! 
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Reflecting Back on 2014 and Moving Forward into 2015

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He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. — 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV

The devotional for December 29th in The Listening Heart brought me back to this verse that I'd highlighted earlier in the year. And a sweet moment of revelation entered in with it. I thought back over this year that started out so difficult that I wondered at times how I would endure and what would I look like on the other side, and the full reality of this truth came full circle.

Anything our Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor calls us to co-labor with Him to do, He will surely do it. There can be no doubt there because that begs the question: 

Why would God call us to a place and not complete what He said He would do?

That's not His way, nor His character. Anything He has ever asked you to do, pray, think and believe has been for a reason—to benefit you at the very least and to bless others at the very most.

As I thought of 2014 and where I started to where I sit now, all that Abba spoke to my heart in those dark and light moments have come or is coming to pass. He has and is doing what He has said He would do. I merely chose to believe, to step out a little more boldly in faith, even when it didn't make sense. I chose to quit trying to make sense of it and simply trust God.

Every year I ask Abba Father for a word and Scripture for myself, my husband and daughters. My word for 2014 was "chosen" (now also the title of a book He is calling me to write). This year has been all about deeper intimacy with God, shedding lies and more fully embracing my identity in Christ. Many of us have walked in this place and now I dare to say that this isn't merely a year's goal but in full revelation the high calling to all of God's children—to seek God, to pray continuously, to wait upon Him.

It's all about our relationship with Him. Not to Him, but with Him.

And now we are about to enter 2015. I'm praying for those words and Scriptures as I reflect upon the ones from this year and what God has so faithfully done. 

  • For my oldest daughter Rachel and her husband Keith, their word was "faithfulness," to God and to each other. I've prayed this over them all year and watched their marriage continue to flourish and I even had the chance to talk to my son-in-love about worship this Christmas and what it meant to him. I learned even more about this young man's heart for God and again I am so grateful for God's faithfulness to my prayers for the "right man" to be my daughter's husband.
  • For my youngest daughter Leslie, her journey this year has been about humility and restoration, for "all things to be made new." I've watched this young woman who has endured so much step into her life and begin living it in fullness and independence. Astonishing...to think I wondered in the past if this was even possible for her.
  • For my husband...I still don't understand the full ramifications of what God gave me for him this year, but I've prayed faithfully. I believe in my heart, in my soul and deep in my spirit that 2015 will be the year of "turning" for him. The divine connections I've prayed for him are being revealed through the holes punched in his unbelief. I don't see this yet, I don't see the washing of his eyes "in the pool of Siloam" (John 9:7), but I believe he will soon "return seeing" and believing. And I do see God moving and working around him.

My friends, as we prepare for our week of fasting and praying, I encourage you to look again at all God has done for you in 2014. Ask Him to show you. You most likely will be encouraged, affirmed, and/or astonished. Sometimes we miss things.

And begin asking Him for what He has in store for you for 2015. How God communicates this to you may be very different than He does to others, so be sure to remain open to that. It doesn't have to be a specific word or Scripture. It could be an object, an image, or even an impression. Be assured that He will communicate it in a way to you that is specific to your heart and need. Don't compare to others, just receive what He has for you. It will be so much better that way.

Dear one, God has called you to this place for such a time as this. He will surely do what He has promised you. Trust Him even if you don't completely understand it all and wait on Him to move (Psalm 37:7). He will surely do it. 

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. — Psalms 62:1 ESV

We are about to embark on an amazing journey for 2015. I feel it so deeply in my spirit that it permeates my physical being with excitement. I believe 2015 will be a great year for each of us individually and as a community. We will be more united that ever and will see breakthroughs, promotions and salvations as we have never seen them before. God is standing at the door of this community as a whole and knocking with one hand as His other is fully loaded with all His goodness, gifts, grace and so much more, ready to give it to us in abundance. 

Our fast next week will be preparation for 2015—what is to come. So let’s get ready. In the comments share what you are sensing and expecting in your spirit, what you are asking Abba Father for, what you want prayer for. And if you have a story to share about how He moved in you and your loved ones through past fasts, please share that as well. More than ever before, God is calling us to share our testimonies. The enemy wants to shut us up, but from this day forward and into all of 2015, it is our time to be heard! 

My precious friends, I’m so excited and joy-filled to be on this adventure with you and with God. I know He’s about to blow us away with all He has in store for us.

Love you all so much,
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