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10 entries from August 2020

ANNOUNCEMENT & CONGRATULATIONS

SUMites, Lynn here.

I can't do this alone.

IMG_1841I can't run the SUM ministry by myself. I need help just as Moses had Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms when he couldn't, I've been blessed by tremendous people to assist in ministry throughout the years. 

And in the past year or longer, Ann Hutchison, from the great nation of New Zealand, has assisted me in so much. Most of you know Ann, as she is a writer and a regular broadcaster on Facebook. But I know Ann as a woman sold out for God and on fire to help others on the path of the spiritually mismatched. Truly she's wholly here because she loves you and love Jesus.

So, I'm making it official, today Ann is stepping into the Director role here at SUM. She's already been carrying this responsibility for a year or more. So, I'm way behind in acknowledging her. 

Congratulations Ann. I adore you and I know you are bringing hope and help to others through Jesus Christ.

Take a look at Ann's videos on YouTube. Also, support her on our Social Media. Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Give her a high five and encourage her as I lean more upon her to march our ministry forward. Also, I'm not going anywhere. Your stuck with me. I'm merely dividing my time between here and my Kingdom blog.

Love you SUMite Nation. You are the most courageous and love-filled people I know! WELL DONE! Hugs, Lynn

 


In My Circumstances Did I Learn to Love?

By Ann Hutchison Did I learn to love

I grinned at my friend, Amy*, as we sat cradling cups of steaming coffee, delighted to be together again after weeks of social distancing. How good it had felt to give her a hug hello an hour earlier. Now, happily reunited, here we sat in a bustling café.

Amy was one of my all-time favorites. Her faith is deep, she makes me crack up laughing, and our coffees often extend into hours. This time was no different. Chat chat chat, we went.

Then it happened. The conversation turned to her church, and she began to share how much she and her husband were enjoying their ‘small group’. Cheerfully, she began to describe the group: A group of couples. Each of the couples was so supportive, deeply connected to God, and yet there were no pretences there, they were very real about their struggles. She went on to describe how much they did together and the meals they had on Saturday nights.

This beautiful friend of mine was sharing with me her blessing. I knew the back story: She and her husband had previously struggled to build a couples social life. Given that, I should have been thrilled for her. But you know what? At the risk of sounding like a terrible person, I'm going to tell you: Something appeared in my heart that wasn’t of God. It was a prickle. A thorn. It bubbled up and I felt myself go Grr.

Envy. From my struggles of attending church alone I’m sorry to say that some unhealed prickles in my heart came to the surface. Uggh.

Envy hit me; and I could have batted it away. But instead I fed it a little. I sat there at that café table and began to feel it: Frustrated with the church social scene -- Well, frustrated with my inability to take part in it.

Oh dear! 

I suspect a few who are reading this can imagine the prickles. As SUMites we struggle to fit. We don’t blend easily with the couples crowd at church, and social events can be no-go zones. But that being what it is, once I got home I realized something from this café-table moment: I realized that I need to learn to be gracious within my own circumstances. I had a friend in front of me and she deserved my cameraderie. 

Importantly, God tells me to LOVE. 

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJV).

In fact, God is love. And then, here's the deal: 1 Corinthians 13:4 says "Love does not envy." Love does not envy. I suppose when we envy we are not appreciating our own blessings, and we are failing to rejoice with others.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice." (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Putting this together, then, I have a way forward: The next time my dear friend shares with me her blessing of this small group (which is a blessing), I'm going to do something different: Celebrate it!

This is just one story of my own, but I thought it was a good way of introducing our next series for September. Starting next Friday, the series is going to be called Did I Learn to Love?  and we'll be taking some of the words from 1 Corinthians 13 to chat about what they look like practically in our circumstances: SUM circumstances. 

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV)

In these posts there might be the odd war story or two. After all, SUM living has a lot of material to work with, and it's pretty edgy. Our love challenge is not just about our spouses; it's also about learning to love the church, and others. So, let’s fasten our seatbelts ready for next Friday. Before then, though, Lynn and Ian will be back on Monday and Wednesday.

Which of those words in the passage above (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) is most challenging for you, and why? I'd love to hear a little of your own experiences.

Until next week!

Ann

* Not her real name


ANNOUNCMENT by Lynn Donovan

Martha F. BushSUMite Nation:

I have a few announcements and a few changes to let you know about.

First, I would like to thank Ann and Tiffany for the stellar Summer Bible Study series. It was fascinating to view the truths of the Bible through a different lens. Often, we can become stymied in our thoughts and beliefs in our presumptions about the Word. My experience, now over decades, leads me to know that the Word of God is living and active. There is new revelation to be found over and again.

What a blast to live in the Kingdom. It’s never boring.

I would also like to share a few changes that happened in July. First, Martha Bush stepped down from writing at SUM and has joined me to write at Lynndonovan.com. Currently I’m writing about Biblical healing, Jesus Heals the Soul, etc. You should pop over as this is where I’m writing about Kingdom concepts.

Here is the current series:

Jesus – A Study of the Triune God
Jesus – The Shepherd
Rescuing Back our Kingdom Identity
Jesus, Our Healer – Part 1
Jesus Heals the Soul

And please click on the top of the page and subscribe to receive posts in your inbox.  Thank you.

I want to thank Martha for how she served the Lord through writing her and how she continues to show up in the comments and on Social Media.

I want to thank all of you for being my friends. Thank you for stepping into this community. It’s one of the most amazing online communities in the Kingdom. Truly.

Hugs, Lynn


Our Summer Study: It's a Wrap!

Hello friends, Ann here. It's a wrap

Today I wanted to write a final word on our Summer Study to properly wrap it up. We’ve spent the last few posts looking at Jesus and the Church as the ultimate spiritual mismatch. And prior to that we raced through so many Bible characters. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Truly, I won’t ever read those stories the same again.

Which story did you enjoy the most? Perhaps it was David who danced nearly naked while his wife, Michal tut-tutted? Or Abigail who had to dig deep living with one who was militantly against her cause? For me, it was Mary, who carried a ‘crazy story’, hoping to share it eventually. Sometimes that one feels like my life.

We talked about the fact that a spiritual mismatch can be mild or extreme. This reminded me that in church circles I don’t own the corner on spiritual mismatch. It’s tempting to walk round thinking I do, but in fact, Christian couples face aspects of it all the time.

You know, I have at least three Christian friends who have an intense call to ministry. Their Christian spouse doesn’t share the same call and would be perfectly content if it was all given up tomorrow. Where does that leave these friends of mine? It leaves them desperate to move forward. In love, of course.

In fact, when I do spend time with Christian couples, the more I realize that a relationship with God is a deeply private thing that many don’t fully share with their spouse. My parents are a case in point. Both are deep believers, but they do business with God separately. They read different resources and focus on different things. Sometimes it seems to me they’re in completely different spaces to each other, each on their own personalized path.

Marriage is a quirky thing. And the work of the Spirit is unusual.

How do we walk out faith when it feels so deeply individual? Our summer study has shown me one wonderful ingredient that I am seizing: A can-do attitude.

See, here's what I notice from the characters in our summer study:

  • David took a can-do attitude by deciding to continue playing his Christian music despite his wife's criticism.
  • Elizabeth took a can-do attitude by believing in her pregnancy despite no clear evidence for months.
  • Jael took a can-do attitude by smashing a nail into an army general’s head, despite the fact he was her husband’s ally.
  • Mary took a can-do attitude by saying “I’m in.” Enough said.
  • Abigail took a can-do attitude by loading up her goods and donating them to King David despite her husband's position.

My motto today, then, is “I’m in!” Ask of me what you like, Lord. And I have to say I see so much 'can-do' in this community here that it inspires me. In fact, here's to many more moments of us going for it, and saying to God: "Yes, I can do that!"

So friends, how did you enjoy the study? What spoke to you the most, or what was new for you? We'd love to hear your final comments now that we've wrapped it all up.

Apart from that, have a great weekend, everyone. Lynn will be back on Monday with our next post.


JESUS AND THE CHURCH ARE THE ULTIMATE MISMATCH

Wedding Supper of the LambLynn here. THIS IS FROM THE LORD!

The entirety of our years on earth are rushing, headlong toward ONE SPECIFIC DAY! A Day that’s been destined in our future for eternity. A day the has been promised before time began. The greatest day of all eternity!!!

The wedding supper of the Lamb!

And SUMITE NATION, we have been given a beautiful gift that most the rest of the world completely cannot grasp.

We have been walking this spiritual mismatch with a human spouse for years. AND, OH, WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW!

  • We understand what it feels like to be a spouse who loves in the face of pain, rejection, and disappointment. —Just like Jesus loves His Bride.
  • We feel deeply the struggle to build a moral family life, raise children and grow in our faith without the support of the one we chose to be our life partner. —Just like Jesus!
  • We pray without ceasing for our spouse of this world to be awakened and embrace the Living and True God. —Just like Jesus!
  • We sacrifice dreams of life together in harmony, church attendance, strong family and ministry with our spouse. —Just like Jesus!

WE THE UNEQUALLY YOKED. We understand Jesus. He lives in this scenario with 7.5 billion human souls that He died to save, heal, and set free. We see it so clearly. We understand Jesus. We know how He feels. He grieves over the lost and broken of this world, the spiritually mismatched Bride.

But through the long years of faithful perseverance we comprehend the heart of Christ for us, our family, our spouse, and humanity.

  • And just like Jesus, we will never surrender hope and will fight hell itself for the souls of those we love.
  • And just like Jesus, we will always believe a heart and a home can and will be redeemed and changed.
  • And just like Jesus, we know without-a-doubt that all things are working for our good to the glory of the Father.
  • And just like Jesus, we believe that it’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance.

Today, and every day, we continue to stand in the gap for a lost generation of spouses that are cloaked in darkness. And we stand alongside Jesus.

My SUMite brothers and sister, we know this better that any other person on the plant. Because we live this out every…..single…..day.

Jesus always believed for us. And in response we have followed His example in very challenging and extraordinarily difficult marriages. And in seasons when our heart breaks and disappointment vows to swallow us up, just like Jesus, WE WILL NOT RELENT! Jesus will never stop hoping, interceding, protecting and believing for us.

We can, AND WILL, do the same for a lost and broken man or woman.

AND YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE WE ARE THE CHURCH!!!!!!!!

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” —Revelation 19:6-9

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. —Hebrews 12:22-23

So what say you, Church??? Will you be at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Will you be standing by your spouse, your children, grandchildren and their children’s children?

This is this your legacy! YOU are the one person who took one small brave step into faith and you changed an entire family line for a thousand generations. Let revelation bring this profound truth of your life’s impact for the Kingdom of God into your reality today. Then sing, praise, and walk in complete faith.

We have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!! THAT is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Hallelujah!!!

I love you SUMite Nation! March ON!!!  The world is the Lords and we shall see every knee bow to the name of our beloved, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah. AMEN Hugs, Lynn


A Royal Wedding and Our Earthly Marriages

Hi friends, Ann here.

I remember, as a 5-year-old girl, being mesmerized by the wedding of Lady Diana and Prince Charles of England in 1981. Little girls are funny like that. They can be the ultimate dreamers. Knowing this, my mum bought me a little hard-backed book about the wedding and I would pore over it.  Ladybird book

Now, sometimes God romances us. I’d forgotten about that little book, but last night he brought it back to me by popping images of Lady Di's dress into my head. He seemed to be saying, “Remember this? Remember how much you liked it?” It was a sweet Father-God moment. "You're still that little girl to me."

Every detail of Lady Di's preparation was exquisite. It surely brings to life what it means when the Bible says Jesus is preparing for himself a glorious 'bride' (Ephesians 5:25-27).

It also brings to life a lesser known passage in scripture that has recently caught my attention. Ezekiel 16:9-13 describes the care that God takes when he is preparing a people who are his. It's worth reading a few times over: 

“ ‘I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine’ says the Lord God. 'Then I washed you in water; yes I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty' ” (Ezekiel 16:9-13, NKJV)

Sadly, this passage is followed by a description of how God’s people turned their back and it is yet another caution to us. As I said on Monday, 'Help us, Jesus!' But for today's post I think this scripture is a great one for illustrating the amount of effort and care Jesus puts into our beauty.

Often we won't see what Jesus is doing. During this COVID time, for example, we're having tough tests. But in it I am sure he is adorning us in different ways. He might be strengthening our faith, sharpening our eyes, refining our tongues, softening us in our mercy towards others, or making us more obedient. All of this happens through a shaking. Whatever needs doing in our faith lives, he will be doing it. If we yield to it, we will come out more beautiful than before.

As for our marriages, is there a lesson there? Well, it tells me that if Jesus makes that much effort to make me beautiful, shouldn't I also put the same effort into my husband?

What effort can I make? Here are a few thoughts that spring to my mind from scripture:

1. Pray for him every single day (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

2. Respect him with the words I speak to and about him (1 Peter 3:1-2)

3. Bless him with the words I speak about him (James 3:1-10)

4. Bring him truth with wisdom and kindness (Proverbs 31:14 & 26)

For sure, none of these points are easy because marriage is a place of growth. But with Jesus Christ adorning us and propping us up, we can give this thing a good go. 

How else can we put effort into our spouse’s spiritual life?  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments.


Jesus and the Church: The Ultimate Marriage Story

Hi friends, Ann here!Bride of Christ

I hope you've enjoyed our race through different Bible marriages this summer. We had much to look at and there were some marriages we didn’t even cover, such as Hosea's. Alas, summer is nearly over.

In the middle of this summer study I received a message from one of our friends, Libby Finan. Libby often has great words for this community, and what she said was this (paraphrased by me):

“I think I hear the Holy Spirit say that Jesus and the church are the ultimate unequal relationship. You could write about that next?”

“Sounds great!” I responded, ready to rise to the challenge. But where could I start? The one question I have is, "Lord, what are you wanting us to know?"

In scripture, as you know, there are a few passages about our Lord, Jesus, and his church, but we'll start with this one:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to Himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:25-33 (ESV)

Marriage, the joining of a man and woman surely is a mystery. It's delicious and difficult all in one go. But Jesus and the church being unequal? That is an interesting truth: Positionally, we are sanctified through our union with him. But in practice we might not always walk in line. Help us, Jesus! 

In our summer study we've considered different kinds of spiritual mismatch. We’ve noticed a mismatch can be nuanced or extreme. Sometimes it is simply that one partner is quicker to recognize the Holy Spirit than the other. Other times it’s more extreme. Perhaps it is like that for Jesus in his relationship with different Christians.

Jesus loves us. And he is not going anywhere. That we know. But just because he loves us it doesn’t mean he isn't grieved by some of his church's choices. This is hard to say, but in the New Testament it is a clear message. Revelation chapters 2 and 3, for example, set out various problems in the church, from being 'lukewarm' to 'loveless' to 'lawless' to 'dead'. It is a hard truth. In the midst of all this, Jesus wants a spotless bride. 

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, KJV)

If I reflect on this, I think about our heavenly bridegroom being delighted by parts of the church's progress, but also feeling her faithlessness in other parts. At times he will sit back, watch the church face the consequences of its choices, and grieve. 

And so, my friends, could it be that our experience of tenderly caring for a ‘more worldly spouse’ is exactly what Jesus does with his church? Does Jesus watch his church and think “I love them so much. I'm fully committed. But I wish their focus would be adjusted?” 

That’s convicting. In fact, when I started writing this post I didn't quite expect it would turn out this way. But hey. I will listen for more of his voice. Truly, listening is the best thing we can do, especially at this time when the world is going through something of a wake-up call and we need to represent him.

My prayer today, then, is this:

Lord Jesus, help me take care how I hear. Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in me. And Lord, make me the bride you want me to be. Always yours. Amen.

I'll be back on Friday, to talk about a different facet of Jesus and his church. Meanwhile, feel free to share in the comments any thoughts that come to mind. 

Ann


Abraham and Sarah - SUMITES in the Bible - Summer Bible Study

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! Sumites in the Bible

Today I want to talk about Abraham and Sarah. Before God changed their name, they were known as Abram and Sarai. It was to Abram that God spoke of some amazing promises. Let's take a look shall we?

Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

- - - - - - -

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, [a]your exceedingly great reward.”

But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I [b]go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one[c] born in my house is my heir!”

And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:1-6)

I want to highlight a couple of things here. In Genesis 12, these promises are very broad. I think of it as an eagle eye view. "Look at the big picture with Me. Look what I have to bestow upon you." What a good good Father! Showing His hand of mercy and favor over Abram. There is a lot of content that happens in between Genesis 12 and Genesis 15. Unfortunately I don't have the ability to go in depth into it. However, we see Abram inquiring of God.

This is where I often feel that I am with the Lord. God gives a promise. He speaks His plans for my destiny. I am encouraged. Life happens. I begin to wonder if I heard correctly. Don't you think this is where Abram was coming from as well? I am sure that he had much more time for contemplation and thought. BUT God! He steps in and calms Abram's wondering. I love that the Lord accounted Abram's belief for righteousness.

Notice in both of these conversations, Sarai is no where to be found. I wonder if Abram spoke to her of these things. In Chapter 16 we see the story pick up with Sarai hatching a plan. "I cannot have children, maybe I can bear a child through my maidservant." Here is where I interject a hard earned lesson. God's plan without God's timing is no longer God's will.

How many times have I heard a word from the Lord and taken things into my own hands? It is hard enough when we are left to our own devices. It is even harder when we don't necessarily have our spouses to discuss the "God things."

We know the story. Abram does what his wife asks. They get the result they wanted; however, this causes turmoil in the family. Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born. It was thirteen more years when God had another "promise" conversation with him. I won't post it all here but take a chance to read Genesis 17. Think of this as the microscopic view.

Notice in Genesis 17:19 what God says, "19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him." It was always God's intention to fulfill these great promises through not only Abraham but also Sarah. It is their partnership - their covenant marriage - that brings about the promise. And what a beautiful promise it is! Through their union, the next generation with bring these plans of God to fruition.

Think about the promises that God has given you. How amazing to think that the promise doesn't stop with you. I mean I am blown away when I realize how much God is a generational God! It isn't simply about me. It truly is great to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I love the Lord! But, my destiny goes far beyond my own one on one interaction with Him. The same goes for you. I want to wrap up with one of our key verses in the SUM community

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy." - 1 Corinthians 7:14

Take a look at the promises that God has given you. In what ways do you see God speaking those promises through you for your children, grandchildren, the next generations? We will not be around forever. These next generations are the future of our nations. How can we build them up and encourage and spur them on?

See you in the comments!


Learning to Love

Hello, dear Sumites. Ian from Down Under here. In this challenging year, it’s very easy to hop on the blame bandwagon and start griping about everything and anything. Life as we know it has been turned upside down and really the ‘new normal’ is still so uncertain. What will life be like in 2021, which is less than 6 months away now?

But the world has been here before. Sure, not in of our lifetimes, but in 1917-18 the Spanish flu pandemic was similarly crazy and in some places in the world, churches were shut for over a year. But they didn’t have such a thing as online church that allows us to worship at the top of our voices in our homes.

Who we are

God is love. That is His very essence. Love.

Everything God creates is out of love. And His great mission is one of love. To restore everyone to a love relationship with Him.

We’re made in His image. So that means, love is who we are. Love isn’t something we do. It’s who we are.

Accordingly, our purpose in life is simply to learn to love. Remember the two great love commands: love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And then love others as we love our self. (Matthew 22: 37-39) That’s it.

What Do we Do

Love. It’s a verb (as well as a noun). It’s an action. In these challenging times, we have the opportunity to love. To think love, speak love and do love.

It’s hard, isn’t it. Every morning we wake up and start thinking about our day. And it’s exacerbated in this season when the world’s gone crazy, our house is full of people ALL the time because of restrictions. And whenever we turn on the TV, radio, or internet, there’s some more bad news and/or someone is blaming someone for something. The extent of intolerance of people of different color, race, religion, gender, nationality is unprecedented. And in a season of COVID where mistakes have been made, people have got sick and people have died.

Before we speak, tweet, post, message, act and think, remember who we are. Love.

Agape Love

We’re all familiar with the four different ‘loves’ in the Bible. ‘Agape’ is the one perhaps most commonly used because it was what Jesus was continually demonstrating. Fundamental to its essence is its unconditional, sacrificial, putting someone else ahead of ourselves. Loving expecting nothing in return.

Jesus is ‘agape’ love. We too can learn it because we’re made in His image.

During the month of July we studied a number of SUMite women in the Bible. I’ve been reading the book of Ruth using a wonderful study by an author friend Tessa Afshar. In chapter 1 see this incredible decision by Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Ruth has just lost her husband. Naomi’s second son has also recently died but his widow chooses to follow Naomi’s advice and returns to her home.

Let’s see what Ruth says:

“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17 NIV)

Now remember Ruth is a Moabite, a Gentile. But she has chosen to follow Naomi, join her people and know God. She has surrendered her roots, her beliefs, her tribe, to be with her mother-in-law. Sacrificial. Unconditional.

What about Us

I’m challenged in this season to learn to love. It’s in love, we discover who we are. If the two great love commands are our life’s purpose, then learning to love is the great journey of life.

Yes, let’s get practical.

What’s it look like? Martha and I are list people so here we go. I’ll start it and perhaps we can all share in the comments how we can be learning to love.

1. Start the day praying this prayer in Ephesians 3. Pray it over yourself and pray it for your loved ones and anyone else the Spirit puts on your heart:

“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” (vv17-19 NIV)

2. Spend time looking at Jesus. I have a small cross by my computer which I continually look at during my day. I’m continually reminded of Jesus’s sacrifice. Let His unconditional love fill us continually during the day. As most of you know I love worship music. The song below is an oldie by one of my favourite worship singers, Christy Nockels, but it’s a beauty for getting focused on Jesus.

3. When your spouse says something hurtful, critical, offensive, don’t bite back. Stop, listen and think how best to respond. You might need to walk away. Try to be polite and come back when you’re ready and seek to engage in positive conversation trying to understand their perspective but also expressing your feelings. Ask questions and use “I feel” sentences.

4. Treat someone with kindness. Smile (might be hard with a mask) or wave to someone. Buy someone a treat. Say something nice. And don’t look to receive anything in return. That’s not the intention. The intention is to be kind.

5. Last month I mentioned the ‘everyone needs a Barnabas’ principle I live by. Every day I make sure I encourage someone with a text, a tweet, a message, a call. I don’t have to even think about it now. After doing it for so many years, it’s become normal for me.

6. Thank your spouse for something they did today. Once again, don’t do it expecting a response. This is what love is. Our hearts grow when we love. It’s one of those supernatural principles of being a spiritual being.

7. Write a letter to a friend.

8. Walk away from any blame bandwagon’s that are so prevalent at the moment. It's very human to think that everything is always someone else’s fault. What’s clear with COVID, we all have to take responsibility in making sure we don’t spread the infection. Wear a mask. If in doubt, wear a mask. Ask before you meet with someone if wearing a mask is appropriate.

I’ll stop there. Be great for us to add to the list in the comments.

May the Lord bless you, may His face shine upon you, be gracious to you and fill you with peace.

 

 


Mary - SUMITES in the Bible - Summer Bible Study

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! Sumites in the Bible

Luke 1

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; [e]blessed are you among women!”

29 But [f]when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I [g]do not know a man?”

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

I have to admit that I didn't really think this story could be applied to me and my SUM. I merely thought this was an account of how Mary was chosen to become the mother of the Messiah. However, Holy Spirit has pointed out a few things to me. I hope to impart them on you today.

Isn't it interesting that the Angel of the Lord begins with such a respectful greeting? "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" Mary, probably in her teens, was immediately lavished with honor. This to me is really important. Think about the time and culture. Women and children were not regarded of high importance in society. Mary could have felt as though she isn't very special. Just a girl, betrothed to a man - it is what it is. Nothing to see here.

I'm not sure about you but as a mother of young children, I can easily believe the lie that "there's nothing to see here." I often feel overlooked and under valued. The day in and day out of life can sometimes cause me to question, "Do I make a difference?" But God! Through Holy Spirit, we can always be reminded that we are indeed highly favored! Jesus gave everything - even His life - to show us how much He wanted to be with us. We can and should truly rejoice!

Notice, when the Angel of the Lord spoke to Mary, Joseph was not present for the conversation. This calling from Heaven is one that would be life-altering for them. It would have ramifications in all aspects of life. It isn't something that could or should have been taken lightly. What boldness and dedication Mary had to have! Later on in the story of Mary and Joseph, we see that an Angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. He was powerfully awakened to the plan of the Messiah.

A couple of years ago, God revealed some things to me. Like Mary, my husband wasn't in on these conversations. I am not called to carry the Savior of the World in a surprise pregnancy. But, I had to decide whether or not I would trust God with the purpose and plan that He had for me - for my family. Would I actively pursue it? Would I defend it? Would I cherish it? Would I keep it?

As the believer in your marriage, I can imagine there are things that God has called you to do. I am sure that these words have caused both hope and heartache in your life. What hope to know that God delights in you and trusts you with His plans. What heartache to see the resistance, pride or doubt coming from your spouse. I have experienced both. 

I am still waiting for God to reveal these plans to my husband. I am waiting for an awakening. Oh how I would love for a dramatic experience with Angels and intervention from Heaven. Regardless of God's timing or ways, I believe with all my heart that my husband is right where He needs to be.

I want to close with these life changing words: For with God nothing will be impossible.

Let's talk in the comments. What gives you hope in the words that God has given you? How are you holding onto those words as you wait for those plans to come to pass?