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278 posts categorized "Trust"
Hello, SUMites! Can you believe we’re already in March? Time seems to keep speeding up on me, so I’ve made the decision to look forward to Christmas all year long. If this most precious season is going to keep fleeting by on me, I’m going to make the most of it the rest of the year.
Are you laughing at me? LOL! That’s fine if you are. But on a deeper note, I believe this is actually part of the journey God has me walking to know more joy and delight, especially delight in Him.
Which brings me back to Isaiah. Who would have, at first glance, thought that the book of Isaiah is one we can delight in? But it is. It is the book that holds the most prophetic words about the Messiah coming and who He would be to the Israelites. And to us…
That’s the delightfully stunning part, my friends. As this book was inspired, our Papa God was even thinking of us—you and me…and our spouses. Isaiah is a book about God’s ardent love for His people and His desire and plan for our redemption and restoration to Him.
In fact, the name Isaiah means “the Lord is salvation.” That right there makes my heart go ka-thunk. To think our Heavenly Father’s plans and love for us span from the very beginning to the very end, well, that’s just a stunning picture of how great His love is. We truly are rooted and established in love—His love.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. — Eph. 3:16-19 (NIV)
Read those same verses in the Passion Translation:
And I pray that he would pour out over you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.
Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life, providing you with a secure foundation that grows and grows.
18-19Then, as your spiritual strength increases, you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement, beyond academic knowledge—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! — Eph. 3:16-19 (TPT)
SUMites, this is what is blowing my mind this morning as I write this. And this is what I feel the Holy Spirit is impressing upon me right now. The entire book of Isaiah is a passionate declaration of God’s jealousy over His people and His great love for them. And it is a book that applied to the Israelites in their current times and spans all the way to us and beyond because of the promises it holds. It was the decree of the Messiah to come and a declaration of Who our Savior Jesus is today, for us.
This is the clarity the Holy Spirit has brought to my heart for two weeks now to understand how I can—we can—apply and pray these Scriptures over ourselves and especially over our spouses. This is the clarity He brought as He showed me Isaiah 12 and placed a knowledge and understanding in my spirit of how to pray it for my husband. And this is the clarity I feel He is telling me to share with you. I’m excited to share it with you, my SUM family.
In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
In that day you will say:
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” — Isaiah 12:1-6 (NIV)
This is how the Holy Spirit led me to pray/declare it:
On the day of your salvation, Michael, you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord.
Although your pleasure could not rest upon me,
You turned away your displeasure to pursue and love me.
I declare God is my salvation!
I will trust Him and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and defense;
He has become my salvation.”
And on that day, Michael will say:
“I give praise to the Lord and proclaim His name;
I will make it known among the nations what He has done for me,
and proclaim that His name is exalted.
I sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things in me;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people!
For great is the Holy One of Israel, the Almighty God, among us!
In the saving name of Jesus, amen!
My friends, I encourage you to not only do this with Isaiah 12, but with any piece of Scripture that seems to grab you, because, I promise you, that is the Holy Spirit revealing something to you. Ask Him what it is, speak it out, mediated on it, journal it, declare it and rest in it until He tells you to move on.
And never forgot the promise of Jeremiah 1:12, that God watches over His Word to perform it. Speak it, then trust Him for the time and place for it’s fulfillment. He is faithful to His Word. SUMites, if you've prayed this for your spouse, put his or name in your comment with an amen. I want to pray in agreement with you.
I love you, my friends, and I pray that the revelation of God’s Word is astounding in your heart, your life, your marriage and to those around you. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!
The Israelites were a people who waited. They waited for the promise of restoration to their homeland for over 70 years. My friends, we are like the Israelites. We are also a people group united in our time of waiting as we yearn and hope for the promise of salvation. And God has given grace-filled promises for every part of it.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. — Isaiah 40:28
Nothing is unknown to Him. Every possibility is the doorway to another, yet the ultimate goal is always the same. He is the one unchanging constant in this life, my friends. He exists beyond time as we understand, as He just is. He is our Creator, our Redeemer, our Savior—His heart is to be all things to us and His power, like His love, is more than we can comprehend. He never tires, falters, or doubts. He trusts us more than we trust ourselves. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. And how could He not? He knows what He has given us as a deposit, as His ultimate promise—His Spirit.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted; — Isaiah 40:29-30
The Hebrew word for "power" is ḵôaḥ and holds meanings such as to be firm; vigor, ability, able, chameleon, force, fruits, might, power(-ful), strength, substance and wealth. It is a "power-packed" word (yes, pun intended) that attempts encompass and define His indefinable power, presence and provision. It is who He is.
Our limited power and strength never diminish or change His plans. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Our weakness is the very condition that allows His power to be revealed and perfected (2 Cor. 12:9). And He never grows weary in His own strength and He never grows weary of helping us, providing for us, sustaining us and loving us. When we see impossible, He says possible. When we see a wall, He makes a doorway. When we see the end, He says it's just the beginning of a new time, a new season, a new opportunity...
Appointed Times and Seasons
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31
There are two Hebrew words here that hold vital meanings to our complete understanding. The first is "wait." Other translations use "hope." That's because the Hebrew word here, qâwâ, means both to wait and to hope. It also holds meanings such as to bind together, to expect, gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).
To hope in the Lord means to wait expectantly upon Him to fulfill His promises to us. He knows the times and season of our lives down to the smallest detail. He is always working to fulfill what He has promises us in the best timing and seasons possible. He wants us to have the fullest benefit.
The second noteworthy word in these verses is "walk." The Hebrew word here, yâlaḵ, and means to walk (literally or figuratively); causatively, to carry (in various senses), bear, bring, carry (away), come (away), depart, flow, follow, grow, lead (forth), let down, march, prosper, pursue, cause to run, spread, take away. Take not of the meaning "prosper" in this definition. As His children, no matter what time or season we are in, we are intended to prosper and thrive. Even in the toughest of times, God is working to help us reap our reward as we grow more like His Son Jesus.
And perhaps I'm not far off in say that is our greatest "opportunity," dear friends, to be more and more Christ-like. Our lives are a continual journey toward Jesus, to be like Him and one with Him. I used to wonder if we had to discard all that we are in order to be like Jesus, but the reality is, in doing so we become who we truly are intended and designed to be. Our identity in Jesus is a lifetime spent in revelation of our unity and inheritance in Him. And we are provided for in every way and for every aspect of that journey.
There is so much grace for us in the waiting, my friends. Both the Hebrew and Greek words for "grace" mean kindness and favor. So know that as you wait, God's grace is there providing His power, strength, hope and provision as we dwell in His great kindness and favor.
SUMites, you are greater in and through Him than you will ever know. You are destined to soar on wings like eagles!
Good morning, SUMites! I loved reading your prayers yesterday on Lynn’s post. I prayed in agreement with each one of you and prayed over our community for complete healing. Many of the things you prayed mirrored my own prayers too, my dear friends. I’m so glad we are taking this journey of healing together.
And that’s part of what I feel the Holy Spirit planted in my heart to share today, that some of you out there have been on a very lonely journey in your pain. You have felt alone, as if you’re the only one, in this struggle and even abandoned at times.
Today the Lord wants you to know that is not true. You are not alone, you have never been alone. And as you walk this path of healing, you will see others walking along side you who have suffered in the same way, you will walk in a new hope and strength like never before, and you will finally reach your breakthrough.
My first breakthrough (yes, I am believing for many more!) happened last week with the help of dear friends who prayed with me, loved me and contended with me. And that is what I feel the Lord is doing in our SUM family as well—uniting us even in this time of healing to uphold one another and rejoice for each other as our breakthroughs come. This is not a journey we are intended to walk alone.
My friends, today I asked the Lord to reveal His heart for our SUM family. He showed me Jesus. He said Jesus is the full representation of His heart for us. Even unto death…
Wow, that just continues to blow my mind and bring home even more the magnitude of God’s love for us. Jesus is not only our Savior, He is our Healer. In the Bible, the Greek words for salvation (sōtēria) and saved (sozo) encompasses more than just our eternal residence but our health and wholeness as well.
Here’s another nugget God showed me recently in Romans 8.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
Did you notice that Paul only says present and future? No mention of the past? That’s because Jesus dealt with the past on the cross. He even said, “It is done.”
And we know what happens with today? It becomes the past, so whatever heartache or challenge we face today, tomorrow it will be the past and Jesus declares it done! And as tomorrow becomes today, we can say the same about it as it passes into yesterday. It is done!
Jesus is the heart of God. So whatever healing we are in need of, my friends, know that the Heart of God, Jesus, says it is done. He has already set our healing in place. It’s one of His promises to us. And He’s inviting us to walk in this truth.
I’m believing this is my year to be healed of emotional eating. Whatever is at the root of this issue will be revealed and healed. This is my need and the mountain I refuse to keep circling. I believe Jesus will move it and say, “It is done!” In the name of Jesus, amen!
Love you, my friends! Contending with you.
My friends, I pray this video encourages you. As I suggested, read Ezra and this amazing story of how God used King Cyrus, the leaders of the Trans Eurphrates, King Artaxerxes and King Darius to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The very people and plans to stop this wound up revealing the original edict by Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. God loves to turn things on end and surprise us, SUMites. Remember, things won't look the way you expect. This is not a time of either or. It's a time of yes and both and AMEN!
So let's be in prayer together for our loved ones.
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. — 2 Kings 6:15-17
Lord Jesus, open the eyes of our spouses and loved ones that they me see YOU! In the name of Jesus, amen!
I love you so much, SUMites! You are amazing!
I have doors.
Yep, doesn’t take a whole lot to make this gal happy. I can now close the doors of my office and play worship music whenever I want and speak privately on the phone on the occasions when I’m blessed to minister to someone.
And I’m learning some new lessons in this season about expectations. Specifically my expectations of God. Early on God made it clear this home was a blessing from His hand and I was to receive it as such.
But what I didn’t expect were the complications that came. Foundation issues, mistakes (the tub vs. the shower) and a backed up sewer line on our fourth day, just to name the big ones. I expected the little ones, like an unfinished wall behind a toilet that went unnoticed until the toilet backed up. Yet, I assumed that since God was clearly behind it all, we’d not have so many big hitches that turned an expected four to six month build into a year.
So not true.
Those are the moments that make you stop, pause and wonder. Don’t you think? If God is clearly the force behind the event, then why do we still hit complications that threaten to take us off track?
This is what I’m discovering and please add your own thoughts and wisdom in the comments, my friends.
- The obvious first answer is the enemy. We do have an enemy intent upon destroying God’s kingdom and all that it entails. John 10:10 tells us that. I have to say, I scratch my head at that one and wonder why he bothers when he knows he’s already lost, but he’s just a bully and a trouble maker. So, it makes sense that he’d try to come against this home in light of the kingdom plans God has for it. Most of it, my friends, it just inconveniences that could easily keep me frustrated if I didn’t continually turn them over to God. He’s the burden (yoke) carrier. I get to be His kid and stand in confidence that He’s got it covered. Yet the more serious side of this is to remember that the enemy will hinder us to order to keep us from reaching the lost. He may have lost the war, but he’s still battling for souls. And we are part of God’s army to defeat him. Amen? Our godly and kingdom inspirations will meet opposition.
- Which brings me to a little “ditty” I created and have written on a piece of paper that I keep on my desk right above my keyboard.
“For every trial and conflict we face, God has already put a promise and provision in place.”
Our challenge as God’s children is to remember to look for it, ask for it, and/or pray for it. God not only has a solution, He is the solution.
- Sometimes we perceive a complication or delay as the enemy when, in actuality, it is God’s hand of protection. The biggest example I’ve witnessed Him do this is one I’ve shared in the past. When my daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, the procedure to put a port in her chest for her chemo treatments fell through three times. It was ridiculous. What I didn’t understand at the time was that God had a plan to literally change the chemistry of that tumor. After her surgery they reassessed the tumor to be a grade 3 instead of a grade 4. They even sent it to another hospital in another state to be sure. If they’d put the port in her chest, they would have had to take it right back out. She didn’t need it, because she didn’t need chemo after all. Praise Jesus!
SUMites, I imagine you can think back to at least one of those stories yourself. They are powerful testimonies of God’s protection and presence!
- There is no such thing as perfection in this world. Though we seek it, want it, even long for it, we won’t find it here. And that longing is just a sign of our deep and true longing for our real home in heaven. So in the waiting, I believe God calls us to look for the beauty in those imperfections, because then we can witness His presence and power at work. He does the perfecting (2 Cor. 12:9). And there is always a good to be found in everything, because God is working in everything to reveal it. That’s one of our greatest promises in the Bible and one of my favorites, Romans 8:28. He turns every negative into a positive. Amazing!
My friends, sometimes we will see the reason or the good in the trial or complication quickly. Other times we will scratch our heads in confusion every time we think about it. Those are the times we must rely on faith and trust in our God that His ways, thoughts and plans are much higher and grander than we can imagine. And just because we can’t see Him working doesn’t mean He isn’t there. I think we, as SUMites, have an advantage of experience in this area. We live in this level of faith every day as we wait for our spouses to come to faith. God is faithful and relentless in His pursuit of everyone to know Him (2 Peter 3:9).
So, my friends, these are some of the things God is teaching me at the moment. How about you? What are you seeing and witnessing God doing in you, around you, in your family, etc.?
And one final thought. Our best stance is abiding and resting in Him (a.k.a. trusting Him). Because that’s when Abba does His best work. Why? Because we get out of the way. LOL! Amen? Amen!
Early in the summer we went to check on our house and see the current progress. As we walked through unfinished doorways, we noticed the tubs had been installed. However, I was certain one of them was supposed to be a walk-in-shower. Yet when I questioned this, the building supervisor insisted this bathroom always had a tub per the design.
When I pointed out we paid for shower doors, he told they would be added to the tub. That, in fact, they had them once in the model, which I checked and saw no evidence of this. Yet I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
My friends, I wasn't happy at all about this, because I don't like tubs. And something in all this didn't sit right with me. But out of respect for my husband's desire for peace in this issue and the apparent wall I'd hit, I let it go. And my reasoning kicked in to say, "It's just a bathroom."
But in my heart, I secretly asked God for vindication in this situation. I knew I was right. However, I also recognized that I had to let go of that need to be proven right. So I gave it to Him. Unbeknownst to me, God began moving to bring the right person and circumstances into place to reveal the truth…
Now fast forward to about two weeks ago. With the tiling now completed, it was time for shower glass to be installed. Except that bathroom with the tub? Yep, no glass doors. So I asked the new building assistant manager appointed to our house about it. He said they don't usually put doors on tubs, but he would look into it.
My friends, an anger flared up in me that burned hot as the reality that we'd been lied to began to come into clarity. And I was frustrated. I knew we'd be refunded anything we'd paid for in error, but that need in me to be proven right flared up again. I had to keep giving it to God, even when it woke me up in the middle of the night.
The next day, the assistant manager called us to say we were right, we were supposed to get a walk-in-shower. Just not in the bathroom I originally thought. Okay, well, I was mostly right, I thought. Giggle...
Then the question became, did we still want this at the risk of it delaying our closing? Our house had already taken twice as long as promised because of errors on the builders part. My friends, again, I warred in myself about this just being a bathroom, but I wanted what was promised to us. Mostly I wanted this house to be what God had planned for us. The assistant manager said he would see what he could do it get it done on time without affecting our closing date.
So, I confess here that this was where I gloated just a bit. Only to my sweet hubby who affirmed that I'd been right. Yet part of me still wasn't settled about it all. I know this sounds crazy, but it still seemed incomplete. And we still weren't sure if our closing would be delayed, which could cause problems with the whole move. We have to be out of our rental house by the end of this month.
Over the next few hours I began to process the full picture of what God was doing with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course. First, I was finally vindicated and proven right. As I praised God for working all this out for us, He reminded me of how I had prayed for this very thing months ago.
For a bathroom.
I know—sounds crazy, doesn't’ it? But God had a deeper plan and purpose here. As the complete picture came into view, I realized how the former building supervisor (yes, he was moved to a another subdivision) had outright lied to us. I've never been lied to like that before, SUMites. Not that I'm aware of. And it cut me deeply.
I am quick to see the best in people and trust them. I felt a deep betrayal by this person and found myself several times going to my computer to craft a letter to make it known to our realtor and our sales rep. But God stopped me and called me to forgive. So I prayerfully asked for His help to do so and began to pray for this person too, to become a man of integrity as God was calling him to be.
The next morning, the assistant manager called again to apologize and say he'd read the plan wrong, that the bathroom I originally thought (and had asked about months earlier) was actually the one that was supposed to have a full shower. He also said they were committed to making it right and completing it on time for our closing.
I was stunned, my friends, as I realized that was the part that had felt unfinished in my spirit. I had prayed specifically about this one bathroom. But where I thought God was done, He wasn't. He made sure it was the specific bathroom I had prayed for. Down to the detail. And I'm very aware that this part fell into place after I'd chosen to forgive and pray for this person.
SUMites, I am still stunned at the "completeness" of God's vindication. He's impressed upon me not to settle for almost done when it comes to His plans and purposes. That He is a God who completes what He says and promises all the way.
And a beautiful bonus blessing came from all this. We were so grateful for this assistant manager’s help, attention and commitment to detail—and his integrity and honesty—that we wrote a letter to the division president commending him. And now this man, who I know God clearly placed to help us, has been promoted to building supervisor! God is so amazing. I love that another person was blessed in this crazy ordeal.
And yet there is more. God always has a deeper plan and purpose in all He does. As I reviewed all that had happened, He impressed upon me that this story of a bathroom is actually one about vindication, forgiveness and obedience. One I thought would simply live in the archives of my memory, but God had a plan for it all along, to be shared.
Abba impressed upon me a message from His heart for all of us right now, as we stand on the precipice of what He's about to do and reveal in our lives, our marriages and this community. This is what I hear God telling us right now:
The past must be forgiven—the lies, the betrayals. Know that I have seen each one for I am a God of justice. But I am also a God of forgiveness—Your Good Father, Your Savior Jesus. With the Holy Spirit, we are One in Our great love for you and your family.
For the full revelation of what I have for you, let the hurts of the past go and choose to forgive. Even let go of your regrets. What I hold for you is so much better. I promise.
Let Me be your defender and justice giver. You will see in Me a greater love in this process than you can even imagine. I make all things good. I make all things right. Trust Me. Trust me with your heart.
And someone reading this—possibly several—need to hear this from your Papa God:
I have already forgiven you, my child. Now it’s time to forgive yourself.
My friends, here's the truth I've learned in this. Our enemy is not the person who hurts us—its satan. When we don't forgive those who hurt us, we empower the enemy in our life. And we empower him in the life of the one who hurt us.
Now here's the revelation that brought me to tears and to my knees. When we forgive, we are acting like Jesus. When we forgive, death is defeated. The enemy is literally defeated. Forgiveness is one of our greatest weapons against the enemy. This stunning truth was exhibited on the cross. Forgiveness renders the enemy utterly defeated. And there is an exchange of power in this, SUMites. When we forgive, we release the power of God just like the death of Christ released the Holy Spirit. In our lives AND in the lives of those we forgive.
SUMites, if you feel led, make a declaration in the comments that from this day forth you choose to forgive and that any ground the enemy had in your life is now restored to you. In the mighty name of Jesus, so be it! AMEN!
I love you, my friends! I’m standing and praying with you always!
My friends, I pray you are still discovering sweet revelations and blessings from last week's fasting and praying for Rosh Hashanah. Dawn did an amazing job leading us. Thank you, my friend! We love you so much!
And my friends, your comments were moving and inspiring. If you didn't read Ann's comment about her revelation dream for us that she posted on Thursday, please go read it in the comments. It's very encouraging and confirmed many things for me. In fact, God used her comment and Dawn's story about her house to show me what I was to share with you next.
Can I just say, I love our Father's heart for us and our spouses? He is so passionate about us, my friends! I'm overwhelmed by His love and heart for us.
Now about our house...we are just 16 days away from closing. We have watched our house transform from a cement slab and framed walls to a nearly completed home full of details—cabinets, counters, painted walls and landscaping. My husband and I are so excited that we go by our house about twice a day just to see what new things have been done that day.
Now something happened early on in this process that came full circle just a week ago and God has show me it's a word for us. But first, I need to tell you a story of how this all began.
Back in 2004...
My husband and I decided it was time to buy a house. We'd moved back to the U.S. (to California) from Switzerland two years prior and had rented a house so we could get acquainted with the area and figure out where we wanted to settle. However, as you may or may not know, the housing prices in California were/are quite high. And the houses that were in our budget sold fast, usually through bidding wars.
One Sunday I went to church full of despair. We'd not found a house and had decided we would continue renting. I asked my Sunday school group to pray for us. We planned to check one more area that afternoon, but if that didn't pan out, we'd call our landlord and negotiate another lease.
That afternoon we drove to the area a friend had suggested but didn't find it. We had a fairly small area to work in because of our oldest daughter's high school district. When we reached that outer street, we resigned ourselves to just go home.
Just a few blocks down, we saw an open house sign on a house that was just renovated and hadn't even been officially listed yet. We debated stopping and finally did.
My friends, I kid you not, as I walked into that house and barely saw more than just the front living area, I said to my husband, "This is our house."
We contacted our realtor, who was (is) a believer and told her to make an offer. And then we went to war. Several offers came in for that house. We'd offered the full asking price but knew the chances were slim to get it. Mike and discussed offering more and decided we'd take the risk. Our budget would be stretched, and we weren't sure how we'd do it, but my ever-optimist husband said we'd figure out a way.
I called our realtor and asked if we should offer more. She asked for a little time to pray about it. A half hour later she called and agreed it was a good plan. Then we waited.
The next day my husband came home with a story of his own. He'd received an unexpected raise that day, and it was exactly what we would need to afford the higher price mortgage.
We got the house. SUMites, every time I looked at our house after that, all I saw in my mind was this big red bow around it, because it was a gift from God. We walked through a lot in that house (including the miracles of my daughter’s cancer recovery) and God us blessed us richly, even in the sale of the home to a sweet family with a little boy.
Now, fast forward to our house we are building now. As I shared in my post in July, God showed me this new house is a also a gift from His hand and that I was to rejoice in it.
On September 8th, God led me to the book of Haggai.
"'The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” — Haggai 2:9 ESV
As I read this, I began to tremble, my friends. That may sound crazy, but I knew that God had spoken something very deep to my spirit. And He reminded me of two other times this Word was spoken over me in the last year and half. Now He was affirming that the house He was giving us ow and all that He has planned and purposed for it (which He's given me just a glimpse of His kingdom plans there and let me just say, "WOW!") will be greater than our former house.
SUMites, as I have shared in this past, this new house has become a monument of God's presence, provision and plans for this community. Our SUM family.
This word, that our latter "home" will be greater than our former one is for all of us. Ann's comment last week confirmed this for me. And showed me now was the time to share it as we near the completion of this home.
But God has given me another specific word, my friends. One that starts with an event that would require me to forgive someone connected to the completion of this home for lying and breaking our trust. It's a crazy story of God's unexpected justice and protection of His provision and plans. You will be utterly amazed.
Please be sure to come back for the rest of this story on Friday and to hear God's heart for us right now. This is a message you don’t want to miss, straight from the Father’s heart.
We are on the precipice, my friends. I know it's challenging to be on the mountain top with an assuredness and determination to pray into what God reveals to us, then to wait and pray, wait and pray, wait and pray and not see any visible change. But let me be the voice of truth to you and reassure you that our God is working diligently to bring forth His promise in reply to our prayers.
Today I'm asking you to make a new declaration in the comments that you trust the Lord for all that He has promised you because He is your God.
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” — Psalms 31:14
Declare what you are trusting Him for too, my friends. Let's speak out into the natural what God is setting into place in the heavens! (Heb. 11:3)
I love you, SUM family. Please know that I am faithfully praying Jer. 24:7 and the Scriptures you sent me over you and your spouse. God is faithful to His Word!
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…
(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!)
One of the things I love about living in Florida is the cloud formations. They are tall and fluffy, filling the sky with a terrain of fluffy like cotton. Then other times they are imposing and dark, flashing with lighting and pouring down rain. Rarely is the sky completely devoid of these puffy wonders.
One bright and humid Florida morning, I went for a walk to worship and pray. My conversation with God that day was about prayer and words. I wanted to understand more about what He seemed to be impressing upon my heart to understand.
I looked up in the sky and noticed a could that looked just like a sword, which I thought was so interesting. But what made it relevant was what the Holy Spirit spoke to me as I looked at this simple formation.
“Jesus is your sword.”
My friends, this truth clicked into place in my heart and then my mind and the Scriptures I’d ready many times seemed to take on even deeper meaning.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:1-5
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14
This truth already blew my mind, SUMites, but then to think of it in terms of our spiritual armor, brings a whole new level of awe.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, — Ephesians 6:17
Jesus is the Word and the sword of the Spirit is God’s Word, so Jesus truly is our sword! So what does that mean?
The Ezekiel Model
In the book of Ezekiel, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over dry bones to hear the word of the Lord. First of all, prophesy simply means to speak by inspiration. We are all call to do this and since we have the Holy Spirit living in us, it makes sense that we can do this. (That’s a whole other series best saved for another time.)
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! — Ezekiel 37:4
So Ezekiel is told by the Spirit of God to speak God’s words of life over these bones. The word ‘hear’ in Hebrew is šâma’ and holds such meanings as to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.), declare, discern, give ear, (cause to, let, make to) hear(-ken, tell), listen, make (a) noise, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, (make a) proclaim(-ation), publish, regard, report, shew (forth), (make a) sound, tell, understand, whosoever (heareth), witness. And that’s the edited down version.
In similar intensity, ‘word’ means ḏâḇâr in Hebrew and translates to such meanings as a word; by implication, a matter (as spoken of) or thing; adverbially, a cause: act, advice, affair, answer, commandment, commune(-ication), concern(-ing), confer, counsel, decree, deed, duty, effect, eloquent, errand, glory, manner, matter, message, portion, power, promise, provision, purpose, question, rate, reason, report, request. Again, the edited down version.
These are two hefty words that hold a lot of meaning and impact. Which then led me to Jeremiah 1:12 where God asks Aaron what he sees.
Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” — Jeremiah 1:12
Did you know that word ‘watching’ means to be alert i.e. sleepless? Now look at Isaiah 55:11
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. — Isaiah 55:10-11
My friends, this is like a double promise. God decrees (shall) His Word will not only be life giving but also powerful and effective to accomplish His purposes. So, think about this in context of praying Scriptures, which are God’s Word and are thus in alignment with His heart and purposes, and what could happen as a result of doing so. And I mean literally praying Scriptures out loud, word for word.
For example, our salvation word this year is Jeremiah 24:7. Almost every day I am praying this:
Lord, thank you for giving every one of our SUMite spouses a heart that knows You are God. Thank You that You have declared they will be your sons and daughters and You will be their God. Thank You that they are returning to You wholeheartedly and will follow You all the days of their lives.
We can do this with any Scripture in the Bible, SUMites. Speak God’s Word out as truth.
Lord, Your Word says that by the stripes of Jesus Christ I am healed, therefore I declare that I am healed of (name specific illnesses, diseases and conditions). (Isaiah 53:5). And I declare the blood of Jesus over my entire body and declare I walk in divine health. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Lord, you are not willing that any should be lost so I rejoice and thank You that You are pursuing my spouse, my children, my family members with your relentless love and I stand in agreement with You that me and and my entire household will be saved. In the name of Jesus, amen! (Matthew 18:14, Acts 16.31).
My friends, whenever you read your Bible and find yourself stopped or stuck on a piece of God’s Word, ask the Holy Spirit what it means, what you need to know about it, and how you are to pray into it, believe it and then decree it.
One last story…
In my post last Friday I talked about Isaiah six and how the praises of the seraphim shook the place. Did you know this happened in the New Testament too, with the disciples? The disciples were faced with great opposition, so they joined together and prayed.
And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. — Acts 4:29-31
What did they pray for, my friends? Boldness to share His Word. They asked for healing power, miracles and wonders (what Jesus had taught and sent them out to do), all done in the name of Jesus. And what did God do? He shook the place with His presence! They prayed according to His Word (Jesus) and God answered.
So, my friends, I’m not saying that every time we pray, our houses are supposed to shake, but what if they did? What if we asked God for that kind of boldness and courage to pray and share Him with others and walked in miracles and wonders as the evidence of it? What if we already are?
I believe our prayers “shake” the heavens more than we realize. And the more boldness and courage we have, the more we shake the rafters!
O Lord, give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching Your word. Stretch out You hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. Amen!
Love you, SUMites!
My 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).
Dear 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!
Hello, SUMites! I have to say I’m so excited to share the rest of this story for you. God did some pretty awesome things during the week of the ACFW conference. I was so blessed to hug old friends I hadn’t seen since last year and to make some new friends as well. Since I serve there as head of registration, I come in contact with so many of the attendees, and let me tell you, the Holy Spirit always has a plan for each year. And He never tells me until He puts me in action!
This year, He randomly told me to pray for people, usually as they shared a simple concern or health issue. The Holy Spirit would nudge me to pray with them, so I would ask if I could pray for them, right there. Do you know, that not one person declined? And every time, we both wound up so blessed and encouraged. God is so amazing!
Now back to my story…
As I shared on Tuesday, my sweet hubby seemed to connect with my friend, Jim. Seeing Mike so warmly congratulate Jim just about burst my heart with pure joy. I still get teary eye to think of my husband that night. He was warm, caring and full of humor. I watched him intentionally engage with those at our table, and he even made one of my shy friends sitting next to him feel more comfortable. I’m so proud of this guy.
The next day, Mike left early to drive home. I would fly out later in the day once we had the conference office packed and shipped out for next year. Later that morning, I saw Jim in the lobby and headed his direction, curious to hear what he thought of Mike’s intentionality to congratulate Jim on his awards.
What Jim shared confirmed all the prayers I’ve been praying over the years according to God’s leading and also confirmed what God has spoken to my heart about Mike and what’s coming.
Jim said something like this, “Your husband wasn’t at all what I expected. When I looked at him, I saw Jesus. He is right there, shining out of your husband already. And what’s so amazing is, he doesn’t even realize it yet.”
My friends, we’ve prayed for years for our spouses. We’ve stood in the gap for them with our prayers and love. We’ve called out the gold iGod has placed in them. And your comments from Tuesday are part of the confirmation God so lovingly has given me through all this that He is moving in our spouses more than we realize. And sometimes it takes someone outside of the day-in and day-out to help us see it.
SUMites, ask God to show you what He wants you to know about your spouse right now and then pray it in truth, out loud whenever you can. At night when they are sleeping. In the house while they are at work. From your car as you drive to work or in the carpool. I’ve even prayed the Scriptures God has given me and declared them over my husband as I looked at him through a window in the house while he was outside on the porch.
And here’s another one I’ve started to do. Scripture is full of examples of angels delivering God’s Word. When my husband is away, I command the angels assigned to him to speak those same truths that I have over him. So God’s Word and truth are constantly being spoken to my sweet hubby. And I am watching his spirit awakening (Eph 5:14).
And when you see that gold in them, point it out and confirm it to your spouse. Then watch them grow and become more and more like the amazing man or woman of God they’ve been created to be. This is what our prayers do, my friends. God’s truth spoken by the righteous is powerful (James 5:16).
Lord Jesus, give every SUMite a Word and promise for their spouse and give them boldness, faith and opportunities to pray and speak it out loud. And we command the angels assigned to our pre-believers to speak these very same truths over them, to call their spirits to arise and wake up for Christ is giving them light! In the powerful name of Jesus, amen!
Love you, SUMites! We are going to be amazed by what God doing.
Dear friends, I'm traveling this week and will be in Nashville for the ACFW conference. I'm thrilled to share this most encouraging post by SUMite, Dee Rusnak. How amazing to think our Lord and Savior Jesus understands our mismatched places because He lived it too.
Thank you, Dee, for once again sharing your beautiful heart and encouraging words with us! Love you!
See you next week, SUMites!
The Mismatched Family
By Dee Rusnak
How often have we learned that God is never in a hurry, or at least within our time frame? Or better, never in the way we expect? We read in Joshua how ripe Jericho was for the taking, but God said not so fast with the Israelites who were hungry to take the land. And, when they did, it was in such an unorthodox way (Joshua 6 - marching around the city). Why do we want to rush things and do it in our own way? For me it's so I can rest knowing my ducks are all in a row. If my entire family were saved, then peace would be upon me, or so I think. But God is drawing them in His time and according to His ways. I struggle with that.
In reading through God's Word we find that the family of Jesus didn't believe while He was among them, even to the point of sarcasm. "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to Him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world' For even His own brothers did not believe in Him." (John 7:3-5)
Mark (3:21) recounts that His family thought "He is out of His mind!" How did Jesus handle the fact that His own family didn't believe? Matthew 13 lists them as James, Joseph, Simon and Jude, and some unnamed sisters. Jesus certainly had the power to change their hearts. After all, time was ticking and He wasn't going to be on earth much longer. Time to get Your ducks in a row here, Lord! Did Mary teach them and groom them as they were growing up, especially nearing adulthood, about their older brother as Savior? Did His true identity come as a total shock to His younger siblings? Where were they during His crucifixion? Didn't they love Him or try to defend Him? Interestingly, none of this is mentioned in God's Word.
However, we know that some were saved. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul writes "He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of His followers at the same time...Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." Mary and His brothers waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit following His ascension, "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." (Acts 1:14) But, which brothers, if not all? Two brothers that we know of, James and Jude, were converted and wrote books in the New Testament. James later became a leader in the Jerusalem church. What about His sisters? Did He pray for His Father to draw them? Were there still family members who did not believe? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins?
If Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are, was He as concerned for the souls of His family, just as we are for those in our lives? "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was quite familiar with God's ways and His timing. Never do we see Him fretting throughout His life. As Psalm 37 says "Do not fret - fretting only brings harm." Yet He entrusted God with all things, including Himself, and the salvation of His earthly family…and us!
“I do not pray for these alone (disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)
SUMs, Jesus had a mismatched family! We are literally walking in His shoes (sandals)! When we read that He has experienced everything we go through, did you ever consider this situation? We’ve never been alone, SUMs, nor will we ever be! He’s been where we are! He gets it! In His great compassion and love for us, He has given us an example to follow of what we’re to do while we wait: Pray. Trust. Obey. Look what happened with James and Jude! Not only did they believe, but were used by God as Bible authors! Forget the ducks. Instead, together let’s listen intently to God’s very heartbeat: "who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and let us watch Him do what's impossible for us but is so very possible for Him!
I went through my old files today and found a post I’d written about my husband’s positive qualities. The list made me think about a verse in Ecclesiastes that I absolutely love. Why? Because it’s a picture of God’s heart and how He sees us.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. — Ecc. 3:11
There are three little words in this verse—made, put and heart. But the Hebrew translation of these words holds a list of meanings that would fill a page. I’m just listing a few of them to give you a taste:
Made—to do or make in the broadest sense, become, bear, bestow, fashion
Put — give with greatest latitude, restore
Heart — feelings, will, even intellect, inner man, soul
And to think He did this with everything—everything—kind of blows my mind. He’s fashioned us with beauty and bestowed beauty upon us to grow in beauty as we resemble Jesus more and more. He’s given us eternity with the greatest latitude and restored us to Him, to His kingdom through Jesus. And He put all of this promise in our hearts, wills and souls—the very essence of who we are.
Now take a look at this truth:
As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. — Romans 4:17
How amazing to think that the same way God called into being this “gold” He placed in us, He’d doing the very same thing with our spouses, our family members, our friends—every single person He places on our heart to pray for. In fact, that nudge should tell us He’s already in action and He’s asking us to partner with Him with our prayers.
So as we look at our spouses, think about the eternity that God has already placed into them. Ask God to show you what it looks like, to see your spouse through the eyes of God.
Deep friendship is a calling forth of each other’s chosenness and a natural affirmation of being precious in God’s eyes. — Henri Nowen
Then as we see and treat them according to that chosenness (and pray), they begin to walk in that truth. I’m witnessing this right now with my husband.
That old post I found? Here’s part of what I wrote about him in 2007:
He’s the kindest, most loving man I have ever met. I’ve always felt cherished in our marriage. He’s a great dad, provider, and all around great guy. He’s affectionate, loves his girls to pieces, enjoys hanging out with his family, and actually saved a binky (a pacifier) from each of our girls as a memento.
He’s generous, quick to give of his resources, and wants only the best for not only us but for his extended family as well. Part of the reason I fell in love with this guy was because of his big and wonderful family.
He’s patient, even-keeled, passionate about his interests, loves his work, and is constantly stretching his mind.
Shortly after I read this, he brought me a yellowed piece of paper with big child-like letters, written by our oldest daughter when she was about five years old. He’s still a big softy...and more. I love watching what God is doing all around my husband and how he responds without even realizing it. I see the calling on his life now and the love of God already flows through him in ways that surprise me.
My friends, I want to challenge you today to make a list about your spouse. Write down all the positive qualities you see in him or her. Then hold this before God and praise Him for creating your spouse to be that person. And ask God to show you more of what He’s placed in him or her to add to your list. Don’t be surprised if this becomes new inspiration in how to pray for him or her.
And feel free to share in the comments. We can have a little “brag-fest” and inspire one another with our hopes and prayers for our loved ones.
SUMites, we hold great hope for ourselves in our growing intimacy with God. We can hold that same hope for our spouses as well and trust God to bring them into that hope of Jesus in His perfect timing.
Lord Jesus, thank You for creating us and holding us together with Your amazing and complete love. Thank You that You do this for our spouses too. I pray for fresh eyes for every SUMite to see his or her spouse through Your lens of love and grace. Reveal the “gold” you’ve placed in them so that we can be part of calling it forth. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Love you, my friends! My prayers are joining with yours.
(P.S. I will be in Nashville next week for the annual American Christian Fiction Writes conference. Woohoo! I get to spend the week hanging out with fun people who have characters talking in their heads (just kidding...well mostly...). See you on the 30th!)
My friends, how are you doing? There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is discouraging and heartbreaking. The more I watch how God is working in our community here; at the healing rooms as we pray Jesus’ truth into hearts, lives and bodies; through the connections and bridges I see Him building and creating between all of us—the more I understand His heart for us to know these foundational truths. Our foundations need to be firmly built in His truth.
And, SUMites, perhaps it sounds a bit trite and cliché because it’s been said so many times, but we are not of this world. We live in it, we have a mission and a purpose here, but God’s plans, purposes and HIS PROMISES go way beyond the now and span all of eternity. In other words, He’s got us covered. We can rest in the reassurances He’s given us and walk in the truth of Who He is and who we are in Him. That’s our identity—another part of this foundation series I sense is coming.
Today’s foundational truth is found in a verse we know well, and Paul is the scribe who wrote these words of God’s truth.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. — 1 Corinthians 13:13
As I sought Holy Spirit’s help to understand what He wants us all to understand about this truth is that these three are like the Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. They cannot stand alone as they are part of the whole.
Love is, as Paul says, there greatest of these three and represents the God-head.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. — 1 John 4:16
Hope represents Jesus, who is the hope of the world.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. — 1 Peter 1:3
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, — 1 Timothy 1:1
When I did a search for the word “hope” throughout the Bible, Psalms had the most references, but can you guess which book came next? The book of Job. Did you know that in the Old Testament the words hope and wait are used interchangeable because the Hebrew word is the same? And in the New Testament the definitions for the various forms of the Greek word for “hope” used always included the definition “joyful and confident expectation”?
Which then sheds a whole new light on this verse:
…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross… — Hebrews 12:2
Faith is representative of the Holy Spirit, whose highest purpose is to teach us about Jesus and grow the seed of faith we are given when we received salvation.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:8-10
Like the three fold cord spoken of in Ecc 4:12, faith, hope and love are intertwined and purposed to function as a whole. The real clue, amazingly, came when I looked up that fascinating word, abide.
menō — to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), to wait for.
Without love, hope and faith lack the soil for their roots to grow deep and strong. Without hope, love wanes and faith dies. Without faith, love shrivels and hope fades. My friends, as a wordsmith of sorts I find it very difficult to fully explain this mystery for a mystery it truly is.
What I do know is that God’s love is the substance, the birthing place, of miracles. That hope is a divine expectation of God’s love to overcome and save. That faith holds love and hope in the birthing room of those miracles with great tenacity and perseverance.
The entire Bible is about these three words, because the Bible is about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And these three words embody the heart of God.
Perhaps the mystery isn’t so mysterious at all and is simply and ultimately a decision to believe the Truth (Jesus) and trust and look for God in every part of our lives. We are not meant to live our faith only during our quiet time with God and church attendance, but as part of every aspect of our lives. To do otherwise keeps God in a box and leaves us disappointed. But to live the abundant life, full of God’s love, hope and faith brings joy, peace and prosperity.
Faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest, the most powerful force on this earth. And all we have to do is ask for it, my friends. Ask God to overwhelm and flood us with His love so that it pours out all around us. Ask Him to love others through us. Ask Him to show us how He loves others and do likewise. There is no set formula, no pattern, no correct way to do this. Just simply follow His lead. He’s an expert!
I love you, SUMites, with the love of God, with the hope of Jesus and with the devotion of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord drench you with His amazing love and renew your spirit. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Hello my dear friends. I just love the Scriptures you’re sending in response to my post on Tuesday. Thank you for sharing your treasures with me. I’m so blown away by your stories of how God is moving! I will be writing these precious Scriptures on the beams of our house and holding them close in my heart and prayers as I stand with you. God is so good and so amazing!
This next foundational truth—salvation—seems pretty obvious, my friends, but I feel like Abba wants us to understand there is more to it than what we think. So much more that we can comprehend actually. And it’s all about Him.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:8-9
Yes, God’s thought are not ours. They are pure, perfect and all encompassing. All-encompassing—that right there blows me away when I contemplate (or attempt to) the depth of God’s heart and thoughts toward us, let alone His relentless and enduring love. How His plans are always for good and how He works things out for our good no matter how complicated they are or how many people are involved. He’s magnificent!
So, here’s what has my heart burning about the foundational truth of salvation, SUMites. We know what this word has meant to our own lives and we hold it like a hidden treasure, pursued by our prayers for our loved ones to know its precious worth as well.
First let’s take a look at another Scriptural truth (I’m a big fan of 2 Peter 3:9) that addresses God’s desire that ALL people would be saved.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. — 1 Timothy 2:1-6
The word saved here in Greek is sōzō and means to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): — heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole.
1. to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction: A. one (from injury or peril) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. B. to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue to save in the technical biblical sense negatively to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment, to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.
That’s a lot of meaning. Normally I try to bring out just the key parts but this one is so full of meaning that I find to be “all-encompassing” so I’ve included the full definition according to Strong’s.
Now here is what I sensed Abba speaking to my spirit. We wait for the moment of salvation, we pray into it, anticipate it, and at times even despair of it ever happening. Yet God waits for the heart of the one He pursues and as He waits, He builds, prepares, woos, establishes, equips, prepares, celebrates and rejoices. We may not see Him, but that doesn't mean He's not there.
In other words, my friends, salvation is so much more than a moment. And its process begins long before we are ever aware of it. As Scriptures says, it is the Father who draws us to the Son (John 6:44 & 65). This is a mystery we don’t fully understand but know to be true. Abba Father sets into motion His great plan according to His wise timing.
And looking at the full meaning of sōzō, we see something that is much more than a moment. It’s about building. It’s about preparing the ground for the framework, laying down the rebar and materials to make the foundation solid and able to support the rest of the structure—all this before the concrete is even poured.
Yes, my friends, in our time of waiting and praying, God is working to build the foundation so that when the rest of the structure is built, it will stand with integrity and truth. It’s a process that is done with such care and intentionality.
After the foundation of our house was completed, they discovered an error in the blueprints. If not corrected the foundation under the stairs would not be sound. The process was stalled for a time to figure out how best to correct the foundation to make it right. Two areas of the cement had to be cut out, reinforced and re-poured.
At times we feel this kind of delay in our loved one’s journey to salvation. We question what’s happened so far and doubt. Wonder if we misunderstood. But what if that’s simply a time that God is reinforcing the foundation so that the structure to come will stand strong? What if we shifted our prayers along those lines, asking Abba, “What needs to be covered with prayer as the process continues?” Or to simply ask Jesus, “What are you doing now? What can I be doing to partner with You?”
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. — Philippians 2:12-13
For even after the “moment” we come to the truth of Jesus, the process must continue so that we become more and more like Him. What joy is it to walk in salvation and not reflect the image of the Gift Bearer? What sense is there in the seed of the tree that remains a seed and never reaches its full potential to grow deep roots and tall branches to bring life and shade to the world it inhabits?
My dear friends, salvation is so much more than the solution to the question of heaven or hell. It is life, the very breath of God, intended to fill us, save us, heal us, restore us and love us beyond reason. It is all-encompassing for our every need that is designed to bring wholeness to our past, present and future.
I don’t confess to full comprehend the full ramification of the word “salvation” that is simply nine letters, yet encompasses the entire heart of our Creator. He doesn’t expect us to either, my friends. He simply asks us to believe. Trust. Love.
And this is where I will leave us today, my friends, with the prayer that the all-encompassing truth will firmly solidify in the foundation of our faith and the ones we are contending for. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!
Don’t miss my prayer video tomorrow. Next week, more foundational truths and a reader question I know will speak to your heart for your marriage.
Love you so very, very much, SUMites!
My friends, are you ready for more of God’s amazing truth and love? Are you ready to have your thinking transformed a bit today? Let’s go back to the book of Jeremiah and take another look at King Zedekiah’s story.
Let’s look at the first five verses of Jeremiah 34, because this is where things get really interesting.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.
“‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD.” — Jeremiah 34:1-5
I just recently listened to a faith message that presented a concept I hadn’t considered about God’s character and plans of us. Then God showed me the truth of it here in this passage in Jeremiah 34.
In every difficulty we face, there is a God-given promise.
If you think about it, if you think about God’s nature and promises like Romans 8:28 that God works for our good in ALL things, then it makes perfect sense. That alone is the promise in a nutshell. Especially believers in Jesus who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. God will not and cannot deny Himself.
If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2 Timothy 2:13
God gave Jeremiah a message for King Zedekiah of what was going to happen, that Nebuchadneezzar would take the city of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and there would be no escape. Yet God has made a provision for Zedekiah—a promise. Jeremiah even says, “Listen to this promise form the Lord…”
In Jeremiah 38:17-20, King Zedekiah questions Jeremiah again, and again Jeremiah repeats God’s promise. Which if you look back to what Jeremiah said in chapter 34, showed God’s intention to honor Zedekiah’s obedience with a legacy of honor and praise. Sadly, Zedekiah admits his afraid to surrender and fears King Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath more than he trusts God to keep His promise. In chapter 39 we read of his failed attempt to escape with resulted in him watching his sons be slaughtered before his enemy gouged out his eyes.
Not pleasant, I know, but my dear SUMites, here’s the other part of this amazing thing God is showing me. That promise in our challenge is the key to our breakthrough and our victory, and we walk as conquerors. And the more we do it, the more afraid of us the enemy is!
This is what it means to fight from victory, not for victory. A promise for every thing we face is already in place for us to find and claim. We are already victorious, already declared conquerors. Now it’s up to us to live like it.
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. — Romans 8:37
Not just partial victory, my friends. Overwhelming victory. God won the battle for us when He put our promise in place. Ask Abba what promise He has put into place for the circumstances you are struggling with. Has He already given you a Scripture or two, like He has given me for my daughter Leslie? Has He spoken a word of reassurance to you in the dark of night that you’re afraid to hope for?
My friends, this beautiful SUM family is a huge testimony of God’s faithfulness. He will not fail you. And trust me, I know how hard it can be to look for God in a situation so difficult that all we can see is the mountain of our pain, yet not a glimpse of what God is doing in the midst of it. But I know—have learned—from those very situations that He’s most definitely there. Just not how we expect Him to be. It may not make sense…yet, but it will.
And I’m discovering that those are the most astonishing moments of God’s undeniable presence manifesting all around us. He’s always been there. I just needed to quit looking for what I expected and see Him.
I love you, my friends. Know that God is giving you the power and the desire to do whatever it is He’s asking you (Phil. 2:13) and He absolutely adores you.
Father God, bless Your SUM Nation with every spiritual blessing You have already set aside for each of us. Fill us, Holy Spirit, with wisdom and revelation to know the direction to go no matter what the circumstances around us look like or are telling us to do. We want only Your voice, Lord Jesus, our Great Shepherd, who gave everything for us to live the abundant life You’ve set before us. Fill us with great courage to take the next step, and the next and the next. Your will be done, Lord, on earth, right now as You have already declared it in Heaven. And to You, Lord, be all the glory. We love You! In the name of Jesus, we pray, amen!
Love you, SUMites!
Recently, I sat in a big room with about 50 people worshiping God in their own way, creating one big mass of noise. But when I closed my eyes, Holy Spirit tuned my ears to hear each individual sound—instruments, voices singing and praying. Each one was distinct and clear. Then I opened my eyes and heard God in my spirit say, “Things won’t look the way you expect.”
The next day, God brought me to Jeremiah 33-39 and sat me there for at least a week. I’m still trying to digest the full range of God’s heart in this, my friends, so I suspect more will unfold as I share with you what God is teaching me right now in this season.
So let’s start with the story of King Zedikiah of Judah and Jeremiah the prophet. There are so many details to this story so I encourage you to read these chapters yourself and study them. But let’s set the stage for the story about obedience and promises.
The attack against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is in actuality a tool God is using to discipline the Israelites who have continually disobeyed God. Yet God has made a provision for His people to still live. He’s warned His people repeatedly through Jeremiah, yet the leadership continues to refuse to do what Jeremiah is telling them.
First he warned King Zedekiah’s predecessor and brother, King Jehoiakim, who burned the scroll recording God’s instructions and provisions to Jeremiah. Jeremiah dictates another scroll to his secretary with even more detail. Then Zedekiah is appointed king over Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, but is warned by God through Jeremiah not to believe the forces of Babylon will stay away.
And there is a Pharaoh and an Egyptian army involved in all this but I won’t go into that. To say the least, Jeremiah is a complicated book with many pieces, people and armies coming into play. Meanwhile, God is instructing them to stop fighting against the Babylon invasion—to surrender to their enemy— so that they may live. Despite Jeremiah’s continual warnings, the kings and officials continue to resist.
Why? Because it doesn’t make sense. None of it did. I can just imagine them sitting there, remembering the promises from Jeremiah 29 about a hope and a future, and more words of provision in Jeremiah 33, and scratching their heads at the disconnect. In their mind, surrendering to their enemy seemed an impossible path to peace, prosperity and restoration—the very things God promised them if they obeyed His direction to surrender.
Like that moment in a room full of people worshiping, as I observed with my eyes, I could only discern the whole as a noisy mass. Yet when I closed my eyes and trusted the leading of the Holy Spirit, He revealed to me the details of each part and the beauty each held separately. He wanted me to understand that what I observed with my logic, assumptions, and perhaps even presumptions didn’t encompass God’s perspective, nor His plans for me that evening.
He wanted to use circumstances that made no sense to teach me something and to prepare me for what He has provided for me in the coming weeks and months. I knew then He was about to change things up big time. And He did. Basically, my friends, He’s turned my world upside down (in a good way) and changed up how I hear Him and brought new clarity to who I am in Him, how I am to function in my giftings, and what I’m called to do in this great big adventure of His.
But I had to walk through a lot of things that didn’t makes sense and do the things He showed me that also didn’t always make sense. In some areas, He’s still leading me doing things I don’t quite understand, but I am learning to obey and trust Him to show me what I need to know when I need to know it.
This is all part of the upgrades I spoke of last week and is also His provision for what’s coming. So, my friends, I want to encourage you to dig a little deeper in the circumstances of your life that aren’t making sense. Ask God to show you want you need to know and/or do. Perhaps it’s a time for you to close your eyes and let Him separate the pieces to help you understand what He’s doing in each part to bring clarity and purpose. Read Proverbs 3:5-6, study it, make it your way of living life with God. There is such great peace in this.
In the next part of this series, we'll return to the story of King Zedekiah and Jeremiah where I will share a stunning truth about the difficulties we face—a provision for each and every one. This one’s rockin’ my world a bit—in a great way! I can’t wait to share that one with you.
Love you, SUMites! Remember God’s truth that He is ALWAYS for you and NOTHING can separate you from His love (Romans 8:31-39).
SUMites, I promised to share more of what God is showing me for our community right now. I believe this next part will be so encouraging to you and will strengthen your spirit greatly. Let’s go back to Isaiah 60. There are several parts to this chapter that God has in the works for us right now.
I will exchange your bronze for gold, your iron for silver, your wood for bronze, and your stones for iron. I will make peace your leader and righteousness your ruler. — Isaiah 60:17
This verse is about upgrades. As we grow in our faith and intimacy with God, He upgrades us to new levels of understanding (revelation) of what our calling and purposes are. He also takes our spiritual gifts to higher levels of operation to work toward and accomplish those works, which He prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). He establishes (a very important word right now) these purposes, gifts and us in Him to come from Him and—most importantly—to work with Him, because God intends all of it to operate within the boundaries of our intimacy and relationship with Him. And He equips and prepares us to step into each level.
I know that’s a lot to chew on right now so let me put it into context. Think about the challenges and trials that have taught you to trust God more and to operate more in your gifting. For example, let’s say your gift is exhortation—you are an encourager. Yet recently you have been greatly discouraged by either external circumstances or internal conflict, which could very well be an attack from the enemy.
Maybe you “wallow” for a day or two but then the Holy Spirit reminds you who you are and that you have skills—big skills created and gifted to you because you are God’s kid. You begin to seek Jesus for comfort and direction by praying, reading your Bible and worshiping, therefore deepening your intimacy in Him, which then results in you being encouraged.
You’ve now learned how to encourage yourself in the Lord, which then becomes experiential for you. Let me also say there are many ways to encourage yourself in the Lord—think of David who wrote Psalms and Paul and Silas who sang hymns in the darkness of a prison cell.
Then a barely a week later a friend tells you she is struggling in the exact same thing you did and you know exactly how to encourage her through this difficult time, and because you have experienced it first hand, you realize you have authority to pray and wisdom to share in this type of situation. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing this many times to help others. All that is part of what God uses to bring us to each new level of how we are called to function in the body of Christ.
Right now, God is very much on the move (yes, can’t get away from that song and I believe it’s very relevant and prophetic for right now) and things are happening, my friends. We are being upgraded to new levels according to what we have overcome and in preparation for what is coming next. It’s exciting, but I know that in some ways it’s grown more difficult.
Some of you have shared that you feel like you’ve come under greater attack. Since the release of our corporate word in January, I came under one of the worst enemy attacks I’ve ever experienced. Many of you praying over the prayer list have shared you are experiencing more warfare than ever in your marriages. I’ve noticed this too in my own marriage over the weekend, but recognized it for what it was—the enemy’s attempt to distract and discourage—and prayed blessings and protection over all my relationships.
I want to let you in on a little secret the enemy likes to keep us blind to. The very place he attacks you repeatedly is the very place of your gifting. If you are gifted to be an intercessor, he will try to make you think your prayers aren’t making a difference, that they don’t matter, until finally you find yourself hardly praying at all. And a prayer-less believer is a powerless believer.
When you see a place in your life that the enemy is hitting you harder than normal, take stock and ask these questions:
- Is this a place where God has called me to do something specific?
- Is this attack in the area of my spiritual gift(s)? If it is a direct contradiction to your gift, then the enemy’s trying to keep you from doing what God has set you up to do best.
- Is this actually an area you often feel weak and want to grow stronger? Then ask God to turn the enemy’s plans around for good. Ask Holy Spirit to show you what you need to do in that area and teach you to think differently about it (Romans 12:2). That’s when God perfects His strength in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)
Most importantly, SUMites, don’t back down as that’s exactly what the enemy wants you to do. He only gets louder when he knows he’s losing ground. And that is what we’re doing, we are taking ground that the enemy has no legal right to in our own life and the life of our spouse and our family who are sanctified by our faith (1 Cor. 7:14).
There is truth behind the saying it is darkest before the dawn. We are on the verge of so much breakthrough as we surround our lives, families and this community with our prayers. Here’s the exciting part of our unfolding promise of salvation from Jesus:
Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there. — Isaiah 60:18b
Look at that, SUMites! Turns out this church without walls is getting walls after all! An upgrade to walls of SALVATION! And here’s the next part of the promise I feel God wants us to know is coming.
Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. — Isaiah 61:7
This promise is about restoration. God restores what the enemy attempts to destroy. Trust Him to do this and to do it in His way and timing. I believe this is in answer to our prayers for peace and prosperity in our marriages—part of what God asked us to do in January as part of His salvation word to us.
This is what we are heading toward, SUMites. Stay close to God, go deeper with Him. Our hearts to listen and obey His leading are an important part of what’s happening right now. And I will tell you what God spoke to me last week,
Things won’t look the way you expect.
Now that’s the next part of this series, so stay tuned. I’m looking forward to sharing that one with you. Love you so much, SUM family! I’m praying daily for each of you to be strengthened, equipped and encouraged! In the name of Jesus, amen!
My SUM family, I have felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to share how God has worked in very subtle ways to progress this ministry and the SUM family. This part of this story is probably one of my favorite parts because one, it shows how clearly God is in the smallest details and two, how subtly He can work to bring change.
When this blog first started, it was just that, a blog. Lynn and I wrote for the growing readership God was drawing here, and we referred to our spouses as unbelievers.
As time progressed and readership grew, God began to change our perspective and thus our words. I remember clearly one day writing a post for the blog and sensing the Holy Spirit’s nudge to begin referring to this blog as a community. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I found it so interesting and faithfully obeyed.
Then God lifted up our dear friend Rosheeda to lead our yearly fast in January, and it was during one of those times she dubbed us the SUMites. From this also evolved the term SUM Nation.
And yet, God wasn’t finished. Holy Spirit nudged again and I found myself using the term “pre-believers.” It was a statement of faith and trust in God to do the very things His Word says.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9
And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him… — 2 Peter 3:15
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” — Acts 16:31
And yet again, God wasn’t finished. He’s evolved this community to become a family—the SUM family. We have become a “church without walls,” my SUM family.
And now I find myself hesitating to use the word “pre-believer” since God declared our corporate word for 2016 to be SALVATION (read that post here). Dare I say that God has another shift coming to our nomenclature? I believe He does, and I am standing in prayer and faith for this shift because I’ve no doubt it will be a big one. How does believer sound to you? I’m right there with you…
My friends, this ministry started with the desire to share with others what God had taught us. God is the one who brought this beautiful progression of faith and unity to what it is today.
And you, SUMites, have gone from being readers and spectators to full participants and members who pray and encourage each other, including Lynn and I, right in the comments! Many of you have even forged friendships outside of this ministry. Again, how amazing is all that?!?!
I find it astoundingly beautiful. Unexplainable except for the only possible explanation.
God—Abba Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit—is love.
No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. — 1 John 4:12
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. — 1 John 4:16-17
SUM family, that is what makes us so unique. Our desire is to trust in God’s love so that our love grows more perfect—love for our spouse, love for our children, love for each other, love for the world. We know it’s not easy, yet we make this choice every day.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.. — Galatians 5:6 ESV
So, my dear friends, never forget that when we aspire to love our spouses through and with the love of Jesus (agape) we are walking in faith. And may I say, SUMite Nation, we do it well.
I love you, SUM family, and pray the joy and peace of Jesus fills your hearts today and every day, to sustain and empower you for whatever our Abba Father is calling your heart to do. In the name of Jesus, amen!
On Tuesday I wrote about God’s promises and asked you to choose one promise you are standing for right now, write it on an idea card and as a prophetic act, stand on it and speak this promise over yourself, your family, or whatever the situation this promise is for.
I want to back up just a bit and be sure that our community understands just how powerful it is the speak God’s Word back to Him, to speak what came from the supernatural into the natural realm (Heb. 11:3). If if you read the Psalms, you’ll notice King David was a master at this.
Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. — Psalm 27:13
In the early years of my Christian faith, I didn’t understand this. I always read my Bible, studied Scriptures and memorized verses here and there, but it wasn’t until much later that I was taught the power of speaking God’s Word out loud, speaking it back to Him. Scripture even tells us this.
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” —Isaiah 55:10-13 NLT
As I’ve learned to do this more and more, I’ve seen God’s Word produce the fruit He promised. I believe we give Abba great pleasure when we trust His Word and speak it back to Him. And there are many ways you can do this, my friends.
- Simply read His Word out loud. As powerful as playing Christian music in your home can be to change the atmosphere, reading God’s Word out loud in your home is even more so. I know this isn’t always possible with our mismatched situations, but take advantage of the times you can. I did this quite frequently over my children’s rooms as they were growing up and I speak God’s Word over my marriage bed and room. Bless and protect!
- Make it a prayer. Take the Words and speak them as prayer to God with your name or a loved one’s name in it. One piece of Scripture that I used quite a bit in recent years is from Psalm 91. Here’s an example:
“Because Dineen loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges My name. She will call on me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” — Psalm 91:14-16 NLT
I even did this with the entire Psalm and still personalize it as prayer of protection. This spoke to my heart and gave me comfort. And the more I heard it, the more I believed it.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. — Romans 10:17 NKJV
- Speak it back to the Source. When we read a verse and speak it back to God as a statement of truth, again our faith is strengthened and so is our trust. And as I shared on Tuesday about God’s faithfulness, He returns that trust with His faithfulness to His Word and to us.
During a difficult time I spoke back 1 Peter 5:6-7 and 10 to God almost every day.
Vs. 6-7: Lord, I humble myself under Your mighty power, and I know that at the right time, You will me up in honor. So I give you all my worries and cares, because I know You care about me.
Vs. 10: Lord, in Your kindness You called me to share in Your eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after I have suffered a little while, You will restore, support and strengthen me, and You will place me on a firm foundation.
Why did I do this? Look at verses eight and nine:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. — 1 Peter 5:8-9
The enemy was hitting me hard at the time and this was one of many verses God led me too. Then one day while in church during worship, I heard God clearly say, “I am lifting you up today.”
God spoke back His Word to me as I had been speaking it to Him. And He did exactly what He said, my friends. I find myself wanting to do this very type of scriptural prayer more and more, because I love to hear our Great God speak it back. He’s so faithful!
SUM family, I know many of us are feeling down trodden. I am battling new discouragement over my health—I was finally feeling almost back to normal from my shoulder ordeal and now my body is having some kind of allergic reaction that is making life very unpleasant. In the last four months I wasn’t as diligent due to the pain I was in and the enemy took full advantage. Just as 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, but that doesn’t change God’s faithfulness. I am committed to praying these Scriptures and more over myself and my family. And over you, my friends. I often pray over your comments with Scriptures.
“I trust You, Oh Lord, for You are my God (Psalm 31:14)! And I KNOW Your are working all this out for our good (Romans 8:28)!
As I pondered and prayed over this, Holy Spirit brought to mind first "trust" and "strength." Specifically these pieces of Scripture.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. — Proverbs 3:5-6
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." — Zechariah 4:6
I then began a search for the word "rest" in the New Testament and discovered there are at least five different Greek words used for this one word. The more obvious one would be koimēsis—to rest, recline, lay down, sleep as used in John 11:13.
Acts 7:49 and Hebrews 3:11 both use katapausis, which refers to a place of rest, the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells. Hebrews 4:8-10 uses the word, sabbatismos, which you can probably guess has to to with the Sabbath. This word holds the promise of “entering now into this rest means ceasing from the spiritual strivings that reflect uncertainty about one's final destiny; it means enjoyment of being established in the presence of God, to share in the everlasting joy that God entered when he rested on the seventh day (v. 10).” — ESV Study Bible Notes
But in Matthew 11:28-29, which is about taking Jesus’ yoke, this little word gets very interesting and takes on implications such as refreshment, freedom and salvation. This word, anapausis, comes from the word, anapauō, which means to rest, refresh, take rest, to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation and is also used in Luke 11:24 about unclean spirits seeking rest but finding none. They live in constant unrest.
Now, if I haven’t lost you (and if I have, just keep reading because this next part if the good stuff). Take a look at this nugget of Scripture.
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” — Mark 6:31
This verse comes at the point when the disciples have returned from traveling and ministering to tell Jesus about all they had done. He calls them to a time of rest to refresh and to possibly reflect (anapauō). What I find very interesting in His direction is that He calls them to a desolate place (Mark 6:30-44).
Now the meaning of this word also means isolated and solitary but even still in these definitions it holds the intent of loneliness and uninhabited. It was a desert, a place uninhabited by people. Yet as they go to this place, the multitude rushes ahead and fills this "desolate" location.
I encourage you to prayerful read this part of Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to fully bring its symbolism to your heart. I find it quite deep and exciting to reflect upon. This is what I felt Holy Spirit wanted me to see.
Even with a group of people in this place, the disciples still called it desolate. There was hunger there (not just physical), deep needs, unfulfilled desires and wants. Remember, these people lived under ether heavy religious yoke of the Pharisees.
I can remember once years ago being with a group of people I knew yet feeling lonely in that moment and place. I believe the use of this word "desolate" was not just to describe a physical place but the spiritual state of the people thronging Jesus and the disciples. They are desperate for relief, restoration and healing in their lives.
But then something amazing happens. Jesus now tells them to do something about it. The disciples seem confused by Jesus' command, as they can only see what is there—the desolation and lack of provision.
Yet Jesus shows them that even a desolate place can be transformed to one of plenty and provision. Jesus called them to rest from their efforts and to rest in Him. They most likely expected a time to sit and physically rest. Not a lesson about true rest in Jesus, which can be so much more. That even in a time of rest, provision, growth and flourishing occurs. Healing, transformation and even miracles, such as five thousand being fed with two fish and five loaves. Just the symbolism in the bread alone, served by the “Bread of Life” is breathtaking.
And in the collection of the leftovers (vs. 43) we see that abundance. Jesus could have multiplied the fish and loaves to be just enough for the crowd, but He did more. The lesson of "rest" continued in those baskets to reveal the plenty of His provision, generosity, abundance and love.
As the disciples served those people, I dare say they found an unexpected rest. The kind that comes from placing ourselves in the hands of our Creator and saying, "Yes, Lord, whatever you will.” That's the trust of Proverbs 3:5-6 and the strength of Zechariah 4:6 to do what we may think is beyond us—the impossible.
So my friends, my understanding of resting in Jesus is confirmed in my heart by what I suspected and knew it to be, to trust in and rely upon Him. But now I see it as so much more. It's not just a set time apart with Him each day to grow and know Him more. It is an intentional choice to seek this constant state of mind and spirit. To trust in and rely upon Him to renew, restore, replenish, provide, guide and love us, even in our desolate places—spiritual, mental or physical—all of them.
For without Him, they are truly desolate. Jesus is the one who brings the baskets of life and love. We can bring nothing except a willing heart and spirit to receive what He has for us. Our striving can cease as we "rest" in the truth of what He has already done for us.
And there, my friends, we find our true peace, resting in Him regardless of what conditions or situation surround us. To the naked eye the place where the five thousand ate remained a place of desolation, but the desolation in the hearts of many that day were transformed into places full of lush greenery (growth), cool waters (hope) and restoration (revival).
The Way had come into their midst to show them a better way to rest. He beckoned them then just as He beckons us today. And ours is to simply heed His call.
Copyright: kwest19 / 123RF Stock Photo
My dear friends, I hope the journaling exercise to "pay attention" to how you hear God has been a blessing and encouragement to you. Your comments have encouraged me greatly! I love how God speaks to us in many ways and specifically to our need and relationship with Him. Let’s review that verse again:
“So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” — Luke 8:18 NLT
Today I will share that story I promised you, one that will show another form of how God can speak to us. I've had the joy of training and working in two different healing rooms (Silicon Valley and now Manatee County). In fact, just this past weekend I attended more training and had the joy of facilitating as well.
And God has used the last several years to teach me so much about healing prayers through teachers and mentors in these places and especially through the Holy Spirit, our greatest Teacher and Mentor of all. Over time, I've learned to recognize better when He's showing me something. I believe He communicates this way with me, because I am an artist and a very visual person.
If you study the book of Acts, you will see many descriptions of the disciples receiving images and even visions of God's leading. Just before his death, Stephen is given a glimpse of Jesus and heaven (Acts 7:55). Ananias heard the Lord instructing him in a vision to go to Saul because God had given Saul a vision of Ananias as part of Saul's conversion from a Pharisee to a believer who would be known as Paul (Acts 9:10-19). And God showed Peter through two visions that he was not to discriminate against Gentiles (Acts 10:3-33).
I love serving people in the healing rooms. We are there to pray with people for their needs, to encourage and edify them as Scripture directs, and we work in teams of three because we are stronger as a three-fold cord.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. — 1 Thess. 5:11 ESV
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Ecc. 4:12 NIV
On this particular day, a woman came in for prayer about the purchase of a house. She and her husband had felt clear leading to buy a specific house and had made an offer, but the inspection now showed issues that they would not be able to afford. Confusion had set in.
As our team sought God for leading in how to pray for her, I saw an image of a house in my mind. At first I simply thought it was the natural reaction of the mind to connect an image to thoughts, but as I said, I have learned through experience and practice to pay attention when I get an image, especially in this type of setting. Yet I am always careful to defer to Holy Spirit's leading to share a word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8).
Our sister in Christ then joined us in the prayer room and we began to speak truth into her heart to help her refocus on God and His leading for her. I felt Holy Spirit direct me to share the image so I did.
I described the image of the house in the detail the Holy Spirit had given me. I'm always a bit nervous to do things like this, but again I'm learning to trust Him more than myself. It's not easy. It’s a risk and an act of faith to trust in what God is doing and not what I understand or perceive is happening.
Turned out the image was the house she and her husband wanted to purchase, and sharing with her what God had shown me, along with what the other team members felt Holy Spirit telling them, confirmed and affirmed this dear woman on the God-lead path she was obediently trying to follow. She just needed reassurance that even though complications had cropped up, God was still in the lead and would provide. She left encouraged and felt even closer to God as a result. As we all do when we see, hear, feel and sense God's presence with us—we are drawn closer to Him and hunger for even more.
And I was too, as was the prayer team. These encounters never cease to astound me and draw me closer to God. I pray they never do. The end of this story is wonderful. The couple moved forward in faith and made another offer. They purchased the house for a price that gave them room to make the repairs. God did exactly what He said He would.
Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. — Deut. 7:9 NLT
My friends, the amazing thing is I am learning to apply this way of praying to my family. One night Holy Spirit showed me that I didn't believe He would show me what to pray for my family like I do in the healing rooms. I'm learning to first seek and listen before I start praying what I think my husband or daughters need.
Sometimes our best intentions and love can keep us from hearing what God wants us to know, because we are more focused on the issue at hand instead of the answer God is waiting to give us.
Now as I pray for my husband, I wait for a leading or image to show me where God's working in him. That way I know how to pray and work with God in this transformation process. God wants me to see my husband as already saved and pray and praise accordingly. Just as God instructed Peter in his vision to not make a judgement of a person's place in God's kingdom, I feel God telling us the same thing, my friends. This verse spoke that truth to my heart this week:
Peter told them, "You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. — Acts 10:28
Right now we need to be seeking God for His heart and how He sees our spouses, our loved ones, and pray and declare in agreement. We only have a partial picture with our own perspective. God has the full picture and He knows our spouses (1 Cor. 13:12).
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6
That day of Jesus Christ is now, my friends. The Greek translation for the word "day" means the space between dark and dawn. I believe this is the time between Jesus' coming and return and we are in that time right now! So don't be discouraged! He is faithful to complete what He has told us He will do. SALVATION!
Dear friends, we live in an incredible time of witnessing God move in our spouses' lives and hearts! Be assured He is working. Seek Him, ask Him to show you and trust Him to complete the good work He has started as you join Him accordingly in prayer and trust for your spouse's salvation. Amen? Amen!
GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.
Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr
This is so hard. I know that for me this was an area that was of intense and great struggle. Even today, I truly desire my husband to join me for church on Sunday. I’ve had to wrangle through all of the different aspects of church non-attendance with my husband. I’m certain many of you have as well.
First, dealing with the whole couple thing. Grrrrrr, again! Our Western society is significantly “couple” focused. Learning to do anything alone takes a ton of courage and prayer. At least it did for me and I’m usually a courageous person. But after remaining a floundering believer at home, there comes a day when your need for community outweighs fear and you timidly cross the threshold of a church.
Once conquering that fear, you then must overcome disappointment as you see other couples together in church. True that. Anyone???
My friends, I want to assure you that if you are currently in this season of walking unequally yoked and attending church alone, it does become easier.
Think about this. As you consider your life, most of us find that God has been amazingly faithful. Even in our periods of doubt or in my case, spiritual rebellion. God never left me nor did He forsake me. EVER. Even when I ran away from Him. As I slowly returned to my heavenly Father, I realized His faithfulness and it became the strength and my backbone. I made the decision to be faithful and return to church. And I’m so glad I did.
It was within my church community, women’s Bible study, that my healing began. I know I wrote about this our book, Winning Him Without Words. But it’s good to remember that God made us for community. At the core of all we are, we are designed for community, membership, authentic living, to be known and to know others in truth.
Knowing this, church became vital. It was my weekly re-charge. And when children became part of the family, they needed church too. That foundation of training in their early lives will live on in the next generation.
I’ve attended church alone for nearly 25 years. It’s been hard and it’s been glorious. Churches are challenging. You must remember they are filled with broken and needy people who are just like you. Attending church requires us to wear forgiveness like a cloak and to cry out for God to fill us with love, every, single day that we may love people like Him.
But at the end of the day, church is a hint of our future. One day THE CHURCH, will gather in the great assembly, with pure love in our hearts and will join as one people, one voice in worship. I promise we can’t imagine the depth of love we will feel and experience. I can’t wait.
So focus on Jesus and love even the broken and messy at church. And allow others who truly care about your life, to love on you. Be authentic and allow them to serve you.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned through sitting alone in church. One, I’m not the only one. My spiritual mismatched allowed me to see many others who don’t fit in. My heart is drawn to those who are alone, even those who feel alone but ARE sitting with a spouse. And my friends, churches are filled with these kinds of people who pretend their marriage is perfect. It’s simply not true. Every marriage, including your pastor's will struggle, even greatly struggle at some point. It’s just different from yours.
Allow yourself to set aside your loneliness and pain and truly look around you. It’s likely your training here at SUM and through the Word will allow you to speak love and truth into some other misfit who is sitting in the sanctuary. And that my friends, is exactly what delights the heart of God.
BTW: Ultimately we will discover we are all misfits and that is exactly what God intends!!!
Next up: Spiritual leadership