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10 entries from February 2021

God's Promises from the SUM Archives

Ann here! Record

Dear SUMites, do you remember last year I said I would pull out some of the words that God has spoken to our community over the years? In particular I’ve been interested in key promises we have received from the Lord -- Corporate promises for us that we can look at together.

Here's the first post I wrote on that last year: God's promises for the SUMites, part one.

This ‘collating of God’s words to the SUMites’ has been a project of mine for some time now. I have been reading through the archives in date order, starting from May 2006, with the hope of sharing important words on here every now and then. It's a refreshing and remembering of what God is wanting us to know, I guess.

So this brings me to the next series. Starting on Friday I’m going to spend a few posts sharing some words from the archives on a key theme: What God has promised us and what he wants us to know. For this series I’m using the above picture of an old record, as these words are records of things God has spoken.

When we see that picture of the record player, I love the idea of us thinking, “For the record, God has said…”

To go back for a moment down memory lane, we know that in 2012 Lynn and Dineen (our then-leaders) both had a transformative experience with the Holy Spirit and after that they began to receive the occasional vision, dream, or message for our community. This was all part of God lifting us into a Kingdom lifestyle where we bravely welcomed in more of the Holy Spirit’s activity.

Prophetic words are part of that Kingdom lifestyle. By definition, a prophetic word is simply an inspired word from the Holy Spirit. It can come in a dream or a vision, or the still small voice, and we can learn to receive these things from the Lord by asking him to speak to us. Anyway, Lynn and Dineen both began to receive the occasional word for this community, and they would bravely write it up into a post saying “This is what God seems to be saying to us right now.” (I say brave because it is a responsibility and they would have thought carefully about it.)

Many of us have been readers here a long time. And we might even remember these words. They are part of the love story God has for us, and enable us to charge forth in hope. 

The hard part is that sometimes promises are given to us a long, long, LONG time before they happen! Psalm 105 talks about that: Joseph was given a promise but then ended up in prison for years. God's perspective on this? The word of the Lord tested him.

“He had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
His feet were hurt with fetters;
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the LORD tested him.”

(Psalm 105:17-19, ESV)

So, dear friends, if you -- like me -- read promises from God on here several years ago but they haven't happened yet there's nothing wrong with that. It's just, those words have tested us. It's as if God says to us: “Will you persevere?”

Now to these upcoming posts: I’m going to share a series of words that the Lord gave to Lynn and Dineen in 2013. They wrote five posts about a particular set of promises from the Lord: Promises about where we are heading as a community, and what we are all about.

Are you ready to receive them again? I hope so. It will be exciting.

In the meantime, perhaps a question we can discuss in the comments is this: Do you have promises from God that you are holding onto tenaciously in your SUM? 

Looking forward to chatting more about this one!

Ann


Transition Season For the Carter Crew

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

It has been quite the busy time around here for the Carter Crew! We are officially closed on our old house and have made selections for our new house. I have to say that it has been so 20210221_163858_1fun to pick out what we want for countertops, cabinets, flooring, paint colors. I have included a picture of our family. One last photo before we pulled away from our first home for the last time.

Our new home is not set to be completed until the end of 2021, beginning of 2022. In the meantime we are staying with Jason's parents. Two families in one household. It is an adjustment to say the least. We have done everything we can physically do to prepare for this new season. Now we wait.

Merriam-Webster defines transition as passage from one state, stage, subject or place to another: change; a movement, development or evolution from one form, stage or style to another.

In a Spiritually Unequal Marriage we are very familiar with transition. We pray, intercede, bless, nudge, hint, coerce (gulp, I am guilty with that one) our spouses. Will today be the day? Will they come into the fullness of Christ? Will they surrender? Will their hearts soften? Will they repent? Will they.....?

I have learned to see things more simply. Most of our stuff is locked away in storage units. We have chosen some things that we felt we absolutely needed to have and have put the rest "on the back burner." I have learned to be grateful and appreciate what I truly have. There is a new perspective on my life. It's like a fresh pair of eyes. The Lord has opened my eyes in context of my SUM.

I've spoken before about praying and interceding for Jason in a new way. I have a couple of instances where I saw his faith in the spiritual. I have observed my husband and seen how simple the faith life really should be. I tend to think, over think, worry and compare. Jason throws it up (in my mind's eye to heaven), does what he can physically do, and then moves on.

I want to propose some questions to stew on -

What if our spouses are closer than we realize?

If it doesn't appear so, how can we partner with our spouse's act of faith and intercede in heaven on their behalf?

How do expectations of our spouse's faith blind us from seeing their faith in the spiritual?

Is there anything that can be put on the "back burner" to get back to simple faith?

What would our SUM look like if we drop the expectations and give our spouses more grace?

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

Let's talk in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts on these questions. I am certainly chewing on these lately!


If I DId Not Stick It Out I Would Have Missed This Life Lesson

Hello SUM family, Tiffany here! You-x-ventures-Oalh2MojUuk-unsplash

"I want you here, watch me work."

I heard this from the Lord some months ago as I contemplated whether or not I should be looking into a career change. The last 12+ months have been very rough at work. It has been one hard blow after another. I've written about this trial here before so I won't go back through it all. However, I do want to share something that the Lord revealed to my heart this past week.

My husband is always looking at the job market. He has been trying to find another job for over a year. I honestly believe that God wants him in his job and that is why the door stays closed. (That is another story... ::grin:: ) When he is looking, he has found jobs that he thought I should apply for. Knowing what the Lord has said, I have tried to simply stay focused on His plan for this season.

Jason found a job that would have me working for the county that he works for. We would most likely be in the same building (different department), the pay is much better and I more than meet the qualifications. I told my husband I would apply. The more he talked about the pros of me getting this job, the more I thought I could see it working. I began to pray, Lord - I would love to get out of here. I can see the perks that Jason is talking about. I can see myself  doing well there. I applied and I waited.

After applying for the job and praying for favor, I was at work. Things as usual were rocky at work. Sitting at my desk, the Lord spoke to me again.

"You might as well get comfy, you're going to be here for a while."

Instantly I said, "Don't tell me that" as I chuckled in my mind. I played with the thought that it wasn't Him I was hearing. I smiled because I knew it really was. When things got really bad, I took all of my personal items down from my desk and brought them home. All things that my my desk feel more like it was "mine." Photos, coffee mugs, food, etc. I packed them up and symbolically emptied my workplace of me.

The Lord's comment that day was a nod to this gesture. It was reaffirming what He had told me previously.

Shortly after this second word from the Lord I got a notice at work. I won't go into any details here. We will call it another tactic from the enemy (we are in a spiritual battle and it is raging in my life right now) to get me to quit. As I sat and read this notice, the Lord came rushing in.

"Have I not told you, ' I want you here, watch Me work?' I am the one who fights for You. I go before you. I am beside you. I am with you."

It comes as no surprise that I did not get the job that I applied for. I didn't even get a call for an interview.

I am still waiting this whole process out at work. It seems like there are good days and bad days. I would love to think that God is just going to swoop in and obliterate the problem in an instant. However, knowing what a good Daddy He is, I know that I have a lot to learn. I am in the refining process. Just like the pressure it takes to turn sand into diamonds, I am being turned into something spectacular.

Before I go any further, you may be wondering why I am bringing up my job when this blog is focused on our marriages.

This last week I was told to do something at work that I didn't agree with a co-worker on. To put it bluntly I thought it was stupid and a waste of time. I knew there was a better way to do it. At first I thought, "I'm not going to do this. I will do it the way I want to. I've been here longer and I know what I'm doing." At first I didn't do it. Although this person is not my supervisor, she was acting in that capacity at the time. The Lord convicted my heart and opened my eyes.

"This is not something that violates any of your morals. You need to submit to authority."

It was like a flood of revelation came rushing in. I haven't been submitting to authority at my job. In fact, because of my stony stubborn heart, it was my refusal to submit that got me into the mess at work in the first place.

I began to think about other interactions in my life - the biggest one being with my husband.

We walk a hard road sometimes in our SUM. Do we submit, do we not. Do we dig in, do we back down. Do we listen to our spouse or do we listen to God?

I began to think of instances where I refused to do what my husband said. The phrase rang through my head again, "This is not something that violates any of your morals. You need to submit to authority." I found that a majority of the time, I was wrong. I should have submitted.

This was not a moment of condemnation. I did feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. But, this was a gentle but loving moment of clarity. I just love the Holy Spirit. He convicts us in such a way as not to hurt us but to free us.

I remembered the verse in the Bible that calls us to work as though working for the Lord and not for man (Colossians 3:23). I chose to be obedient to His command. I did the thing that my co-worker told me to do. I may not have agreed with it but I felt the smile and favor of the Lord in my decision. That made it all worth it.

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives. - 1 Peter 3:1

I have found that when I have failed to submit to my husband's authority (evaluate in context to what God said - does your spouse's request violate your morals, in accordance with God's Word) than it tends to be a turn off. I want my husband to be won over by my actions.

What are some examples in your life that you  have excelled in submitting to your spouse's authority? What are some examples in your life that you need to work on submitting to your spouse's authority? What advice do you have to better submit?


Master, Are YOU Worried?

Hello friends, Ann here. Feather

I’ve had a little discovery this week that has totally made me smile, and I thought I’d share it. It’s to do with my husband:

Bryce has a trait that can teach me a lesson or two about my walk with God. It’s this: He has not an anxious bone in his body.

Oh, how I wish I had that trait myself! For me, I have to grow it with God. But for Bryce it comes easily: No matter what the situation, he will not worry about it. His view:

"It does no good to worry. So why would I?"

He is right, of course -- What good does it do? But for those of us who are naturally of a more anxious disposition, 'not worrying' is easier said than done.

There’s me, fretting about some scenario and I will ask him: “Are you worried about this situation?” His answer will be: “No, I’m not.” I take a deep breath at that. “Neither will I be, then.”

He is, essentially, my ‘worry barometer.’ My stability in a storm.

Are you worried about this situation?

No I’m not.

Neither will I be, then.

In fact, yesterday he said something even better: "Look, Ann, you can either hope for the best or fear the worst. Either is a possibility, so choose to hope for the best!" I liked that. Yes, perhaps it was a little infuriatingly pragmatic but I still liked it.

Most importantly, I realized this week that this is how Jesus would like us to be with him. After all, two of the fruits of the Spirit are peace and joy (Galatians 5:25-26), and so that is what he would like us to have in any storm. 

Are you worried about this situation, Lord?

No I'm not, My child.

Neither will I be, then.

“Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34, ESV).

Amen to that. To continue, I just love the story of when Jesus slept during a storm! There was Jesus and his disciples, one day, on a boat in a vicious storm. The disciples were beside themselves, hopping up and down in fear, but what was Jesus doing? Oh .. He was sleeping! (Matthew 8:23-27). Sleeping?

It was clearly a tough storm for these hardy fisherman who knew the waters. In fact, they would have correctly recognized the threat. But that very story tells us the contrast between Jesus' perspective and ours. Yes, it is a threat. And He is not worried. 

In that storm, Jesus rose and said to the storm, "Peace. Be still." The storm went. That's not to say the disciples didn't have to endure it. It's just, they were eventually made safe.

I know there are a few situations within this community where we are enduring some worries. In fact, COVID is not proving to be exactly fun, so that's one obvious one. And I know some are struggling with other things. But, we can practice leaning on Jesus in this way:

“Lord, are you worried about this storm?”

“No, My child, I’m not.”

“Neither will I be, then.”

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)

Even writing this out has cheered me along, so I hope it has you.

Lovely chatting, and have a great weekend everyone!

Ann


Are You Weary? Let's Take Communion

My friends, Ann here. Couch

I normally try to write something on the cheery side but sat down earlier to do that and ... Mm, I'm not quite in that space. See, for the last two weeks I’ve been mostly horizontal on my couch feeling a bit physically unwell.

So that's the tone of today's post: Somewhat sedate. 

It's ok, I think -- There are a few in this community who are feeling battle-weary so perhaps this post will be for you today.

When we're feeling weary it's the perfect opportunity to do one of the most important things we can do: Take communion. So, today I would love to share communion with you! At the end of this post we'll do that so you might like to grab a wine and cracker before reading on.

These past two weeks on my couch have put on my heart those in our community who are struggling. When you're ill all you want is to be well again. And when things are tough all you want is for it to be made right straight away. There are many, many battles we face in this community and at times you do feel wiped or knocked. During those times you need to call on two or three strong friends and you need a few easy strategies of your own. Communion is perhaps the best of those strategies.

I think of communion like one of those little stones that the young David stooped to pick up, popped into a sling, and eventually used to slay an intimidating giant, Goliath. These stones were so easy to pick up and handle. God-given tools.

Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:40, MSG)

Communion: Gentle, accessible, and yet so powerful. A smooth little stone.

In fact, however fearsome our battle we can always take a moment to grab from our cupboard a little wine (or juice), a cracker, take a knee and say to the Lord: “This I receive.”

The Lord reminded me of this important tool yesterday. I was unloading the dishwasher and saw my communion cup in there. Right then I thought to myself: “I should keep taking communion while sick. God is my medicine.” It might've just been a thought but only a few hours later a friend emailed me with that very suggestion: Take Communion. 

So, here we are. Here is my cup, and my cracker. Would you join me today? Communion 2

The body of Jesus:

I say from the bottom of my heart, “Thank you, Lord. I know you’ve walked through things worse than any of us have to endure. I receive everything you want to give me through your broken body.”

And the blood of Jesus:

“I say to the Lord: What situation in my life can that blood cover today? This blood has power over any enemy intent in my life. No weapon that's formed against me can stand.”

We thank Jesus our Savior for this precious gift of his body and his blood. And, from my couch to yours today, my friends, I link arms with you. 

Whatever battle it is you have today may the bread and wine bring you power, peace, comfort, and whatever else you need in the storm.

Can we pray for you today? If so, leave a prayer request in the comments and let's gather round each other a little.

With love,

Ann


A Fasting Reflection, by Vidya Rodney

Hi SUM family, Ann here!
 
Many of you will know Vidya Rodney, who sends us lovely guest posts for the blog. Today she has shared a little about how the community fast in January went for her. It's a good thing to reflect back on a fast after the event. Once we have recovered, that is! Now, over to Vidya: --
***
 
"This was my very first time fasting no solid foods for a whole week. Vidya
 
I had been looking forward to this corporate fast, as I believe in the power of community. So I made sure to pray weeks before on this. And I knew I needed to be realigned with God.
 
When the fast began, I started to hear lies that I wouldn't be able to do it. However, I started declaring "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).  I kept declaring that when I wanted to eat solid food. My refrigerator was filled with all the delicious foods you can think of, but I was determined to remain steadfast.
 
Anyway, the Lord led me on day two to Isaiah 58:6-7 which tells us all about fasting. You can read chapter 58 for yourself. But see scripture below:
 
“ (6) Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
(7) Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood" (Isaiah 58:6-7)
 
Now look at verse 7. Right away, 'feeding the hungry' stood out to me. So there I was pondering how to do this and, of course, asking the Lord.
 
Now mostly when I do groceries almost every month, I buy extra groceries and give to my local church who sets up blessing bags to give to the homeless. And I did make my husband aware of this, since he is against giving money to church. I am sure many of you face this challenge as well.
 
But after reading that verse, I was led to a Christian friend of mine who has an organization that feeds and finds shelter for the homeless. She posted on Facebook that there was a homeless mom who has four kids and lives in her car. My Christian friend was raising funds to help this mom get put up in a hotel room since she couldn't find shelter, and this mom needed food and other donations until she could get a job.
 
Now my flesh did not want to, but I know the Lord placed it on my heart to give. Apart from that, I also remember Pastor Jenezten Franklin's book on fasting talks about giving to the poor as part of fasting. So I was determined to be obedient.
 
I had some money I had received for Christmas. My Mom and I came together with some cash and I also bought some extra dried goods. I spoke to my husband about the grocery part and he seemed ok with it. So I went ahead.
 
I went into this fasting with a mindset of intentionally hearing from God and that was what he led me to do. I'm thankful that I was able to contribute to this mom who was in need of help. It breaks my heart when people are homeless and I pray in the future I may be able to do more of this.
 
I'm not looking forward to rewards for these acts, but I want to know that when I do meet Jesus, he will say "Well done, faithful servant" and I'm quite sure I'm building my home he has for me in Heaven, as every single thing we do for the Lord is counted. 
 
My friends, this is indeed a very hard season for me, but my hope and trust is in God our Father that he is going to finish what he started in me in Jesus' name (Philippians 1:6). Amen and Hallelujah!
 
I pray this story inspires you all.
 
I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful  5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles, Missouri, and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.

Belief vs. Unbelief: A Final Thought

Hi SUM family, Ann here. Ingredients of belief

It’s been fun this past week thinking about the different factors that go into belief vs unbelief. Thanks for reading along, and for your comments -- Reading what you had to say was like iron-sharpening-iron!

I know theologians write about deep matters like predestination and free will. But for us SUMites, we live out those questions every day and our view will be home-spun. We tend to do a very personal analysis right in our home, asking: “What is going on here, Lord?” After all, we desperately want to understand our spouse’s story.

From writing about it this past week I am left with one main thought, which is a little humbling:

O the deepness of the riches, both of the wisdom, and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33, GNV)

Yep, much of it is unfathomable. In some ways that helps me sit back and rest a little. If, for example, the spiritual mismatch in my own marriage has an element of God's timing attached to it, then who am I to complain. Alternatively, if the reason for my family's unbelief is that the demonic realm is trying to thwart our faith lives, then my attitude can be: "Ok, Lord, teach me to see it and to fight."

Overall, knowing that our loved ones have free will but the demonic has a role, and (importantly) the Father has some kind of clock or plan, here is a final prayer for us today as we finish this mini-series:

Lord God. We know You are sovereign and we know You are good.

We know You have a book written about our lives. From this day forward help us to align our own feet with the book you have written for us.

Teach us how to fight the enemy for the freedom of our spouse.

Teach us how to fight the enemy for our own freedom.

Show us how to walk in a way that respects our spouse’s free will but brings them the truth You want them to know.

And please keep speaking to us, the SUM community!

In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray this. Amen.

My friends, that's all for now, and I'm praying about what to write next. I hope you are managing to keep marching and are keeping well out there.

With love,

Ann


Belief vs Unbelief: The Father's Grand Clock

Ann here! Ingredients of belief

We’ve been talking about the ingredients that go into belief vs. unbelief. In part one we talked about the power of free will. Then, in part two we talked about the influence of the demonic.

Well, today I want to talk about the Father's Grand Clock. That is, the fact that God might have specific times for specific things to happen. 

When I think about my husband, for example, even though I know free will is huge I often wonder this:

Is there a set time when his eyes are destined to be opened?

Perhaps the reason I ask that is that I feel my own conversion had an element of timing to it. I also know that it is Jesus's role to open people's eyes. The Gospels show that over and over again -- That is one of Jesus's main things he did: Open people's eyes. Physically, yes, but it seems to be a spiritual parable.

It's possible my husband’s heart is ready, but God is keeping his eyes closed for some reason. One of those reasons could be the hefty amount of improvement God needs to do on me. Amen to that, if so!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." 

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:2-8, NKJV) 

Grandfather clockIIn that passage there’s one phrase that seems absent in the above list: A time for a person to declare that Jesus is Lord! So I ask God, 'Where is that in this passage?' Is there a specific time for someone to believe? A time to be born again, perhaps?

Mm.. It's a teeny bit mysterious, but here's a thought:

Throughout the Bible, people have ‘moments’ in their lives where God moves them, changes them. Mostly, these are 'upgrade' moments like Paul’s flash of light on the Road to Damascus; but, there are some dark moments, such as Pharoah having a hard heart, which scripture says was part of God’s purpose (in the scripture below). Sometimes God will allow somebody to be hardened for a season for the more glorious story. Gulp.

Here's what the apostle Paul said about this:

For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." So then, it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to this Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Therefore, He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.“ (Romans 9:15-18, NKJV)

There are days fashioned for us, as Psalm 139:16 says. A book written in Heaven about our life. And yet, and yet, and yet: The free will – the heart -- of a person interacts with that book, those days, those plans. As does the enemy.

All of this perhaps reiterates what a mystery conversion is. Yes, our spouses do not believe as strongly as we do. But this is a marathon, not a sprint. Praise God for the Holy Spirit's role in any changes we see. Our journey towards belief as couples involves us all breaking out of demonic strongholds as adults -- And somehow it must intertwine with some kind of purpose on God's part.

What a ride!

Lord, we praise you for your perfect timing, plans and purposes!

Do you see plans, timing and purpose in your own life? Any thoughts on this topic? We'll chat in the comments.


Belief vs Unbelief: The Enemy's Influence

Dear friends, Ann here. Ingredients of belief

We’re in a series about what goes into belief vs. unbelief. Part one was about free will, and I loved reading your comments. Today I want to talk about another factor: The influence of the demonic.

One of the earliest questions I had for God was, “Is Satan really real?” It was one thing to believe in God, but to believe in Satan and demons was a notch further. It raised so many questions for me.

Apart from scripture, what ultimately led me to believe Satan was real was that a few trusted people I know (seasoned Christians) have encountered demons. Plain and simple. That was a start. I've since had several times of my own where I've heard a demon speak in a particular situation. Interestingly, it’s never scared me.

I deliberately try not to give the devil glory in speaking about a situation. I'd rather talk about what Jesus is doing. However, the fact is that Satan is the god of this world, so privately I take absolute notice of his activities. "I've got my eyes on you -- I know the power of the blood of Jesus, and you're toast!" I say to him behind the scenes. When faced with an unbeliever, then, that’s where I go: What has the enemy done in this person’s life?

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4, NLT)

These precious people who currently do not believe are clay in God’s hands. We can work on the assumption that God wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). What's more, although God has sovereign plans and timings for things, he might have designed someone to be a vessel of honor, and the enemy might be trying to bar the clay.

That is, in fact, a word the Holy Spirit gave me a few weeks ago: The enemy tries to bar the clay.

In this word, barring the clay, for me it brings an image to mind where the enemy is constructing prisons around people to come between them and their Kingdom destiny. To bar them from becoming what they can be: A son or daughter of God.

The Good News, of course, is that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Hallelujah! By the power of Jesus's blood, the enemy can shrivel up into a helpless ball and disappear from a situation. IF we learn how to boot him out. Yes, Jesus asks us to cast out demons with the authority he has given us (Mark 16:17). For some seasoned ministers, this is a real calling and they understand the demonic realm and directly come against it. For the rest of us, we need to know that it can happen on the floor of our living rooms as we bind the enemy in our private prayers.

It can look like this, spoken by a humble mother on her knees:

“I know who I am in the Kingdom of Heaven. I take my authority in Jesus’ name and I bind the antichrist spirit in this particular situation.”

Then, we follow by releasing life with our very tongue:

“I pray for this person's intimacy with you Lord!

I release hope! I release faith! I release love in their life!” And so on. And so on.

My friends, that's what our prayers are doing in the Heavenly realm: Breaking those bars open, releasing people from enemy imprisonment. Hallelujah to that! 

I’ll pause there; but next time I'm going to talk about the role of God’s plan in a person’s life. 

For now, here's a question: How familiar do you feel with this area of praying against the enemy? Have you seen success when you have prayed in that way? 


A Blessing of Peace

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Image courtesy of blackzheep at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello, my SUMite friends. Ian, from Down Under here. I trust everyone is holding up okay under the continued stress of the global pandemic. It has sure been an unsettling time for all of us and finding ‘peace’ can be especially difficult.

One of the blessings of the Beatitudes refers to being peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9). However, to be a peacemaker we first need to be able to receive peace. I know I often struggle to engage the peace that is already present inside us through Christ. If I’m grappling with some internal struggle or feelings of anger, fear, bitterness or lust I may hide these away instead of drawing closer to Jesus and engaging the peace that resides in me.

Jesus Walking in the Room

I love the scene in John 20, the day after Jesus’ resurrection, when the disciples are locked in the Upper Room terrified the Jewish leaders are going to break down the door and haul them away.

Let’s read it together:

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23 NIV)

Jesus appears. Yes, he simply appears. He doesn’t need to open the door in his resurrected body because he has taken on his divinity that he let go of 33 years earlier.

And what are his first words: “Peace be with you.”

Put yourself in the scene. Yes, if you can listen to this scene and picture yourself as one of the terrified disciples it makes the experience even better. And God appears. Offering His peace.

Receive it. Breathe in His peace. And breathe out the stress, the worry, the whatever.

When Jesus says it for a second time, receive it. And picture yourself receiving his breath upon you as he breathes the Holy Spirit over you. Breathe it in, breathe out the worry.

Closed Doors

What doors have you closed in your heart and mind? Let Jesus appear in them. And picture him saying those wonderful words, “Peace be with you.” Not just once, but twice.

Breathe in the peace, breathe out the shame, the anger, the fear, the worry that has been locked up in that room.

Our Shepherd

Psalm 23 is my favourite Psalm. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. And what I love most about it is the peace I receive as I meditate upon it. We have a shepherd who says ‘we want for nothing’. This is what living in his Kingdom is all about: living in continual peace, irrespective of our circumstances.

And the Kingdom is here now. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 NIV)

May I encourage us to meditate on Psalm 23. Once again, you may enjoy listening to it. Picture yourself with Jesus, our shepherd. And after each verse, perhaps say, “I can relax”.

May I close with this blessing over us all. One we’re familiar with I’d suggest. Receive it as you read it:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

Peace be with us all. In Jesus’ wonderful Name. Amen.