77 posts categorized "Bible"

Community Fast - Day Five, We Are THERE!

Ann here Race

As I write it is 4pm on day five over here in New Zealand, and I have two hours left to go, woohoo!

Today I would like us to share in the comments how our fast has gone: Specifically, what have you experienced from God this week?

I'll share a little about mine in a moment, but first picture this:

This fast is like a race, where we're nearing the finish line, and we're running it together.

The sun sets on a Friday in New Zealand first, and so us Kiwis will end our fast. There are at least a couple of us here in Auckland who are fasting.

Two hours later the sun will set in Australia, and our Australian SUMites will finish.

Ten hours later the Europeans will finish.

And finally, about six hours after that, those on the American continent will end their race. Lynn brings up the rear in the final time zone, over in California, Pacific time.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)

As I finish this particular race, I feel spiritually refreshed. And here's something that characterized my fast this year:

I had this weird feeling that I wanted to read the Bible without stopping. And that led me to race through much of the New Testament in the style of Forrest Gump! I just had to ... keep ... reading.

Are you still running, Forrest? Are you still reading, Ann?

So over this week I galloped through the whole of Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy, the last part of Acts ... And finally, Hebrews.  Phew!

What's more, when I was sat there, on the couch, devouring his words, I did not feel the hunger pangs anymore. It was as if I was sat there in a beautiful bubble of comfort.

I would then pause, turn to my past journals, and read through things I have felt God say in my life. More feeding: This time I was feeding on his spoken word. And still, my hunger seemed to stay at bay.

His written word is power. His spoken word adds layers of blessing. We need both.

So that was my fast. And based on that I'm going to suggest a final prayer for us all:

Lord crack open your word in my heart. Implant it in me, and let it feed me supernaturally, so that I am full to the brim with you.

Ok, over to you, SUMites, how has it gone for you?

Ann


Leafing Through His Story

By Ann Hutchison Tree

My house is peaceful and quiet; everyone's still asleep. It's 6:30am, and I'm wrapped in a fluffy robe.

Time with Him. Ahhh.

I know us SUMites love our time with God, and many of us get up early to have it.

Well, I mentioned in my last post that today I would share how I connect with the story of the birth of Jesus. So here goes. But to tell the story I need to backtrack:

A few years ago, a colleague who had left his faith told me the Gospels were 'inconsistent with each other'. He suggested that because of those inconsistencies the Bible was not inerrant. I was reasonably new to my faith at the time, and I didn't particularly mind him telling me that. I thought "If he's right, then I should take notice." My primary concern was truth, and I didn't mind where that took me. So I investigated.

Were the Gospels inconsistent? I pulled them to me: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and I read them, event by event, side by side, from start to finish.

I didn't find them to be problematic. Instead, what I found was that they each provided a different piece of a puzzle. In any given story about Jesus, there are one, two, three or even four descriptions of the event (e.g., his crucifixion), and different things are highlighted in each Gospel.

The same is true with the birth of Jesus. We have different Gospel accounts that describe his birth, and we can pull them together like detectives to reconstruct a scene, a testimony, a story.

I love doing that with the Gospels: Pulling all the pieces together to reconstruct a particular story. Have you ever tried that? It's fun! 

A few years ago, then, I reconstructed the nativity story using the Gospels to determine the order in which things happened. Every December since then I have read the story in this particular order. I sit by my sparkling Christmas tree on an early December morning, morning after morning, and I read the story ... Sipping tea, and thinking about how amazing it was that God came to earth.

Fully human; fully God.

As I read, I do this:

  • I highlight in the scriptures any phrases that tell me who Jesus was, or what he was about.
  • I notice the things that were spoken about him by people like Simon, or Anna the prophetess in the temple.
  • I ask myself why we are told about his lineage twice, and why those two lineages are different. I wonder what it is God wants us to know.
  • I think about John the Baptist and what his purpose was.

And so on, and so on. It is such a rich story, I will never get bored of reading it.

So now, my friends, here's my order of reading the nativity story, and perhaps you might like to follow along with this reading plan sometime?

Luke 1:5-80: The story of Elizabeth, Zacharias, and Mary

John 1:1-14: The story of the Word becoming flesh, and John the Baptist

Matthew 1:1-25: The story of Mary and Joseph

Luke 2:1-40: The birth of Jesus

Matthew 2:1-23: A short time afterwards, the wise men, Herod's attack and the family's flight to Egypt

Well, ENJOY the nativity story!

What does it mean to you? What are you longing for this Christmas?

I'd love to hear your heart.

Ann


You Are Not Crazy!

1 john 4 18 smallSometimes we just need to know we aren’t crazy.

Hi, Lynn Donovan here.

Today, I want to share encouragement with you. This is for all of you who are walking the unequally yoked road. Those who are following behind me, headed toward the victorious life. All of you who have pain. The many who are facing uncertainty about their marriage and doubts about your faith life.

I’m here for you. You are not alone. And you are not crazy.

I’ll be the voice that assures you that your faith is the most valuable commodity in the world. God truly loves you. And He is listening. I will tell you that every prayer you utter is important. I will affirm that each choice you make to stand down fear and live in faith is powerful.

I will be the voice to say: RISE UP. Walk in the authority of Jesus and command evil from your home. I can lead you to know the Holy Spirit is for you and merely awaiting your invitation for Him to enter your heart, home, marriage, and circumstances. He IS the very power that raised Christ from the dead and now lives in you.

I will reaffirm that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. It is powerful and can heal, redeem, restore and create. Jesus SAVES and He is returning for His Bride and WE WILL BE READY.

You are enough, even when life hurts and circumstances are frightening. You are a victor when hurtful words are slung toward your heart. You can become a man or woman of God even in the midst of unbelief that surrounds you.

Do not doubt. Do not partner with fear. Always trust and believe. Speak the Word with faith and become a demon sniper.

Every promise in the Bible is real and God wants us to step away from the lies and walk in our promises, which are all…… Yes and AMEN!

Hallelujah.

Leave your name in the comments and I will bless you. Leaving your name is a declaration to the evil realm that clearly defines….

Who you are and

Whose you are.

I adore you. Stay strong in the Lord and let’s bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus name. AMEN

Love and blessings, Lynn

Leave your name and the scripture verse that is important to you today. Hugs.


His and Hers Bibles

By Ann Hutchison His n hers 3

My friends, some time ago I discovered my husband's Bible, and when I did, I discovered something amazing.

He and I each got given Bibles by our parents when we were young. His was given to him in 1983 in Auckland, New Zealand, when he was eleven years old. Mine, meanwhile, was given to me eleven years later when I was nineteen years old, in Texas, USA. That was before I met him. I was studying there, and my parents sent me some money from England and told me to choose myself a Bible. So I went out and randomly purchased one. I didn't know what I was looking for, I didn't know anything about Bibles, but I purchased a nice big leather one.

Well, guess what I discovered... Is the following a coincidence?

Bryce and I have the same Bible!

There are slight differences considering their different ages; but they are the same Bible.

The Holy Bible

The New King James version

Wide Margin Edition with center-column references, concordance, etc. 

Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Two leather-bound Bibles: One black, one dark red. The same size. The same Bible. His n hers 2

His n hers. Ann and Bryce. Always known by God to be together.  Always known by God to be growing in faith together.

On the spine, Bryce's Bible says NELSON 476 while mine says NELSON 475BG. This too is cool: his name is Bryce Gavin. BG. So you could say his initials were inscribed on my Bible before I met him!!! 475, 476: Well, one would always turn before the other. One would go first, the other second.

But in the Kingdom the first are last, and the last are first. It doesn't matter.

Both Bibles have a satin ribbon bookmark. Mine is currently sitting in Jeremiah 40-41, where I left off reading this morning, the enthusiastic Bible-leader of the two of us. His? Well, let's take a look:

((I am turning to it as I write, curious what I will find ...))

Proverbs 2: The value of wisdom and Proverbs 3: Guidance for the young. Perfect verses for this blog post. I will write them below in a minute.

Bryce's Bible's sheets are crisp, with the odd highlighted passage from when he was a child. Clean, crisp pages, ready for a fresh faith start. Mine? Scribbled all over, from ten years of avid God-life. 

So, all in all, how cool is that? I love it. I love the fact my husband and I have matching Bibles. Is it one more God wink that He is all over this situation? I sure think so. After all, what would be the chances of this happening? 

I'll end with the passage that Bryce's Bible is book-marked at. It seems appropriate: His n hers 1

My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 2:1-3, NKJV)

And

My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. 

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:1-4, NKJV)

And that, my friends, sums up my heart and prayer for my precious, precious husband.

Now I'd love to hear from you: How easy do you find it to believe that your spouse is on this path with you?

In His love,

Ann


King Solomon and Science: Consider the Ant

By Ann Hutchison Ant

I love love love the Bible!

There are so many passages where I sit back and go 'WOW! How did the writer know that?'

It's truly an amazing book. Not only does it have scientific info in there, but quite often the Bible will 'show off' God's creation, inviting us to look deeper at certain animals or facets of nature so that we can fully appreciate just how amazing creation is. An example of this is the time King Solomon talked about ants.

Ants: Who knew they could be so fascinating?

Here are Solomon's words:

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.

(Proverbs 6:6-9, NKJV)

King Solomon had a special gift: he was given knowledge about nature and science by God and people would come from far and wide to hear him speak on things like this. But was he right?

He was. 

First of all, the use of the Hebrew in the ancient text refers to ants as female, a fact that scientists in Solomon's time could never have ascertained; and subsequent translations of the Bible continued to translate that verse in the female. So, are ants female?

Yes, scientists these days have confirmed that ants consist of large communities of sterile females, with a few fertile males and one or more queens. The males die as soon as they've mated, leaving the community primarily female.

So the Bible was right there: Ants can be described using 'she' and 'her.' 

Second, ants don't have a leader, as Solomon said. They have no captain, overseer or ruler. The queens are breeders but are not responsible for directing the ants. Instead, the ants process information as a group, and work as a group. And this is where it gets fascinating. Because it's not just that they have no leader, it's that they carry out such a startling degree of work with no leader. How do they do it? That's what the Bible is pointing out here: It's pointing out that this is amazing.

Here's why I say that:

I have a little newspaper clipping tucked away in my Bible by a journalist called Jamie Merrill (2014) who wrote an article called 'Ants more efficient than Google, say scientists'. Merrill wrote:

Research shows that ants flourish not only because they work hard and will slavishly sacrifice themselves for the collective. Their success is also due to their group ability to process information 'far more efficiently than Google' in the daily search for food, according to scientists.

A major behavioural mathematics study ... used complex computer modelling to reveal how ants bring order to chaos by creating "highly complex networks" to govern their actions. 

It found that not only are ants 'surprisingly efficient', but they are also able to deploy ingenious navigation strategies to divide themselves between 'scout' and 'gathering' ants during 'complex feed-search movements'.

According Merrill, the author of the above study concluded that "The learning strategy involved (by ants) is more accurate and complex than a Google search in processing information about their surroundings."

Isn't that amazing!

It's not only amazing that God created the ants to have this capability, but it's also amazing that Solomon identified that: That they work without a leader, and that if we consider her ways we would become wise.

There's more. In his article, Merrill also said: 

The study comes a week after a team from Georgia Institute of Technology revealed that ants' skills at building stable tunnels in loose sand could aid in the design of a new generation of search-and-rescue robots. The team used high-speed cameras to observe how fire ants can use their antennae as extra limbs to catch themselves when they fall, in a development that can be reproduced in the development of fledgling rescue technologies.

God's creation is genius. So genius, in fact, that us humans can study it and become wise ourselves. Just like Solomon said.

Love it!

Have you got a favorite thing about the Bible that shows off to you God's majesty? 

Ann


How I Read My Bible

How I read my Bible 2Hello my lovely SUMites, Amanda here! I have loved reading Ian and Ann’s posts on how they read their bibles! It is always inspiring to me to hear or read how other believers like to study Gods word. 

I have loved bibles since I was a teenager. I wanted the one with the trendy cover or cool maps inside. I ended up with several bibles in a variety of styles over the years. Sadly, I was more interested in the look of them than actually reading them.

You see, I struggled badly with condemnation in my teens. I felt I could only study when I was “being good”, once I stumbled and did something that wasn’t good, I would feel too guilty to keep studying. This was a cycle that repeated itself into my early twenties. The Bible, especially the New Testament, was a book of rules in my eyes. It was a list of all the things I would never be and could never do. The enemy had twisted my mind into being afraid to open the word! I was completely missing out on Gods grace and denying myself His forgiveness and mercy! That all started to change when I was introduced to two things: a fantastic couple of local pastors, and page on YouTube called The Bible Project.

I have so much to share so I will keep this part brief. I started regularly attending church alone when I was 25. I met the sweetest couple who were joint pastors of this precious little church. This husband and wife opened my eyes to Gods grace. I specifically remember the wife preaching on grace one Sunday and at just the mention of it she was close to tears. I remember her voice trembling, and how passionately she spoke to the congregation. Her message that day was a big step towards me believing that I was worthy of it too! And so, opening my bible got a little easier.

A few years later, my younger sister introduced me to these guys on YouTube who called their page The Bible Project. I had never seen videos like these before, and soon I was hooked! Not only were their videos beautifully done, but they were FILLED with the goodness and truth of Gods word. They helped me begin to understand the importance of context; the when, where, and why a book was written. And the creators of the page were so passionate and excited about the Word that I began to feel excited too! I ate it up like candy! It replaced my condemnation and fear with joy and hunger! I began to read my bible even more ;).

Fast forward to now, in my early thirties, the condemnation still tries to see where it can creep in, but I know how to kick it so it doesn’t stick around long. The way I prefer to read currently is one book at a time. I like to start by watching a Bible Project video on the book and learning as much context as I can beforehand. My favorite mornings start with me grabbing my bible and journal as soon as I wake up. I write down 5 things I am thankful for, a declaration for that day (something like “I will speak lovingly all day” or “Today I will walk in health and peace”), I pray, and I read. I typically read one or two chapters at a time. After that it is time to get up with my littles and start our day. My kiddos are still pretty young (7 and 10), so not all mornings are this peaceful! But I can definitely tell the difference between when I start my days this way and when I don’t. 

I also really enjoy reading with my kids! I usually stick with one chapter, or even half a chapter, and make sure it is something I know well enough so I can answer questions (ALWAYS pray for wisdom before you start answering questions!). My daughter is very inquisitive and asks all the hard questions, which I love! It was this very thing that lead to her asking to get baptized a few weeks ago! Praise God! Even if you never get quiet time, read the Word to your kids in the noise. It plants a seed, even if you can’t see it!

That’s all for me folks! I would love to hear about your favorite ways to study in the comments! 


How I Read My Bible: Ann's Story

By Ann Hutchison How I read my Bible 2

When I was 19, I was at University in Texas. My parents, who were in England, sent me money from home: "Go and buy a Bible, our gift," they said. 

So I did. I chose a beautiful leather-bound New King James Bible in a box.

Well, that box sat mostly unopened for the next nineteen years. But now I'm now going to fast-forward to myself as a 38-year old agnostic, living in New Zealand:

I had met Bryce in Texas shortly after buying that Bible, and moved to New Zealand, his homeland. The Bible moved with me. And one day while my two children were at school, in my house in Auckland I knelt down beside a cupboard to retrieve that precious box.

A golden moment!

Setting the box on my bed, I peeled back its lid and withdrew the treasure within. I ran my hand over the red-brown leather, fingering the gold leafed pages. Would I find the Bible to be supernatural, or the hand of man? Bible in a box

And so I carried it over to an armchair, settled in and started to read. The house was peaceful. Genesis 1:1 'In the beginning...'

Well, once I opened that book, I can tell you, something happened to me. All the way through the laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy I read with fascination. The minor prophets felt like gripping page-turners. I realized there was a man called Paul who wrote much of the New Testament -- who knew? And by the time I reached Revelation 22, I sat back and closed its pages. "WOW", was my reaction.

That first time through I googled as I read. For example, I looked up the historicity of every king in Kings and Chronicles. The empires in the book of Daniel, I googled. I asked God questions throughout, sticking those questions on post-it notes into the Bible. My mind and heart were hungry. It was a highly personal experience.

And needless to say, by the fact I'm writing this, it's clear that I decided the Bible was supernatural. After that, it became my daily food.

Now I'm going to fast-forward to 2022: Old Bible

I rise with bleary eyes, throw on a robe and brew a cup of tea. I grab Bible, ruler and pen, and carry all that 'equipment' to my bed. I prop the pillow up, throw myself back into bed and read, luxuriously. I underline things and write prayers, thoughts and questions in the margin.

Bryce potters in the kitchen or gets dressed while I'm reading.

After that, the Bible and I move into the main area of the house, where I carry on reading, this time with the boys pottering around me, getting ready for school.

And then after they've gone and the house is peaceful, I read a little more.

How do I do it now? I read all sixty-six books of the Bible in no particular order, and tick off every book once I've read it so that I give all the books attention. I say to God, 'which book shall I read next?' and then I dive in, letting it speak to me. I've just finished Judges, and then jumped into Philippians today.

Why do I read all of it rather than just the New Testament? I feel that the whole thing is God's love letter to humanity. What's more, the Old Testament tells me just as many valuable things as the New Testament does about how God works with people, and about Jesus.

I write lots of questions for God as I read, but I don't mind mystery either.

And what I love is that the Bible I bought all those years ago was so fit for purpose -- God knew exactly what I'd need and like. It has wide margins for all my questions, and references to show where the same word or idea is found in other verses. I use those references daily, looking up linkages across the Bible and seeing how the different parts link to each other.

Wow... I could write so much more, but my word count's up. Funnily, I wrote this before I read Ian's post on Wednesday, and it delighted me to read his version. Amanda is next -- I can't wait to see her take on it.

In the meantime, have our two posts so far brought anything to mind for you? Share away in the comments!

Ann


How I Read My Bible

How I read my Bible 2Hello, everyone and welcome to this short series on reading the Bible. I’m excited to learn as much as I can and have the honour of kicking us off with my own Bible-reading habits.

I would suggest my Bible reading is a little eclectic. I read passages from the Bible every day in some form or other. These days, I rarely read a book of the Bible from start to finish (with one exception) tending to focus on specific topics or passages that my other reading has led me to.

The Psalms

The one exception is the Book of Psalms which I tend to continuously read from start to finish using some form of ‘guide’ to prompt my reading. At present, I’m working through a book called “Openings” which each day introduces the reader to a saint or sage and works through the 150 Psalms over the course of a year. Previously, I listened to the Psalms read by Dane Ortlund in his podcast series based on his book “In the Lord I Take Refuge”

Why the continual focus on the Psalms? I just love them as they are so expressive of the human situation. All our emotions are on show, and I feel I get to encounter God when I read them.

Information or Encounter

I’m a learner. In all those personality strength tests ‘learning’ comes out top or near top for me. It’s a family trait, all my siblings possess it; we’re constant learners. When I had my wakeup call over 10 years ago about not knowing God well enough (He prompted me), I dived into reading the Bible and acquiring knowledge. I’d study the Bible, research things, read commentaries, and so on which was all wonderful for the learner in me. My mind was filled with all good things.

Knowing God is very important. But interestingly, when the Bible refers to knowing God it often refers to an experiential knowledge of God. God doesn’t want us to just have an intellectual knowledge of Him but to experience Him, paralleling this nuance of ‘know’ (‘oida’ in Greek) with sexual intimacy. In John 14:7, Jesus says, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” Jesus and the Father had a very intimate relationship, one that we too can learn to develop.

Bible reading is a way of developing that intimate knowledge of Jesus. Remember, Jesus is the Word (as described in John 1). God has given us the Word, both the written and Jesus, to encounter, to experience. Not just to gain head knowledge.

Around five years ago I began reading the Psalms. And I haven’t stopped. I found in reading the Psalms that I began to develop an experience of God through my emotions. I praised, I cried, I lamented, I got mad, sad and happy all through reading the Psalms. Typically, I did this through putting myself into the Psalm. Psalm 23 is a beauty as I visualised myself with the Shepherd as I prayed each of the six verses. Try it.

Encountering Jesus

I was challenged a few months ago by God to go deeper in the gospels. As a friend of mine wrote, “… if I want to interact with Jesus as His disciple, I must keep company with him in the gospels.” Trevor goes on to say,” The Gospels offer us far more than information and inspiration. When read with expectant trust and faith, they make interaction with the living Jesus a living reality.”1

It prompted me to read ‘John’ slowly and mindfully. And now I want to continue with reading the other three gospels. Jesus is there in the gospels. We can encounter him, God, each time we read the Word.

Well, that’s me. Love to read any insights, thoughts you might have about your own Bible reading habits in the comments below.

Grace and peace,

Note: 1. Trevor Hudson, "Seeking God" (NavPress, Illinois, 2022)


New Series: How I Read My Bible

Hello SUMites How I read my Bible 2

It's Ann here and I want to quickly tell you about our next series, starting next week: How I read my Bible. The writers here at SUM are each going to take it in turns to share our personal stories about what the Bible means to us and how we go about reading it. 

I feel like I can't wait to hear what my fellow writers have to say... I've never asked them that question.

Maybe you'd like to share in the comments how you go about reading your Bible? What routines do you have? How do you tackle the trickier passages? The more comments, the merrier, we say!

Anyway, Ian will be kicking us off with that next Wednesday, so tune in for that.

I also want to say a big thank you for your survey responses so far -- I will write more on that later. It's been a joy to read your input. And, if any of you still want to complete the survey you can do so by clicking here.

That's all for today, much love,

Ann


Who Are We Becoming?

Pexels-anderson-guerra-1171521
Photo courtesy of Pexels.com and Anderson Guerra

Hello, Ian here. Fiona and I planted a lemon tree two or three years ago. And this year, we discovered we had some fruit, tiny green lemons. The yellow comes later. Gradually they grew a bit more each day, week and month. And then the colour began to change from green to yellow. That took months too.

Recently we picked them. Almost fully yellow lemons. We juiced the first one and it was nice and tart as a good lemon should be.

Productivity and Fruitfulness

We live in a world where achievement is highly recognised and rewarded. From an early age we are encouraged to be better, do better and achieve much in whatever field we choose to follow. It’s very hard for us to get away from wanting to keep up with the joneses. Even in things like our marriages and our children, it is very easy for us to compare ourselves and want to achieve great success in our marriage, the be the best wife or husband and for our kids to be the star student, athlete, and cheerleader. As parents, we can be exhausted simply meeting the demands of all the extra-curricular activities we take our kids to after school and on weekends.

The world and often the church tells us this is the best life. When we’re being highly productive and achieving much whether in secular activities or within the church.

Remember, Jesus invites us to take His ‘easy yoke’, to settle into His ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG). Also, the image of Mary resting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha keeps busy preparing the sumptuous meal for the gathering. Jesus invites us to abide, to intentionally choose to hang out with Him, in such a way that we discover how to be conscious of His presence throughout a day.

Jesus is less interested in our productivity as it is all about what we’re doing. On the other hand, He hopes in us choosing to abide with Him and discovering how to do life with that ‘easy yoke’, we will become fruitful. Fruitfulness is all about who we are becoming.

We Become what We Do!

We are creatures of habit and daily rhythms, even if they’re highly structured/planned or completely disorganised. We become what we do. Our soul is being fed all the time by what we behold and what we do. That’s why there are so many books on understanding how habits and the disciplines that consume our day.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to bear fruit. The fruit will come because of sticking with Jesus. This is the crux of the vine/branch analogy of John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5 NIV UK)

We bear fruit because we abide.

It Takes Time

Lemons take a lot of time before being ready to pick and juice. Bearing fruit takes time too. We’ve got to be prepared to hang out with Jesus. He will feed us with everything we need to bear fruit. Just like the lemons needed to hang on the branch for a couple of years. If they dropped off too quickly, they wouldn’t have grown or become juicy or tart.

Be patient. We will become the ripe lemon only if we continue to stay with Jesus.

Extend grace to yourself. Don’t rush it. It’s not like we can take a pill and suddenly be a great lemon full of juice. Jesus’s way is gentle. That’s the easy yoke. Like the growth of a lemon, it comes from the inside and is reflected in the peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness, patience and self-control we begin to experience. Similarly, our loved ones and others will see the fruit in us too.

I thought I’d leave us with this very apt quote from C.S. Lewis:

“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol [and now diesel and electricity], and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself.”

Grace and peace, dear friends.


A Backyard Miracle??

Mark 9_41
Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Hello SUMers!!

I pray as you read this you are blessed and filled with overwhelming hope!  Jesus is King!!!!

A quick story: This morning I was sitting in my new backyard enjoying the birds and the sun. While sipping my coffee and with my Bible open on my lap, my husband emerged and sat next to me. We chatted about the millions of tasks that we are still facing as we are slowly moving in.

After that discussion, I looked down into my Bible. And I said, "Do you want me to read to you from the Word of God?"

Sheepishly, "No."

That didn't deter me. I simply began to read a passage, "Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward."

Mike then says to me, "That what you do all the time when you give a bottle of water to everyone who comes here to do any repair work on our house."

I've been doing this for years. 

I looked up, "Wow, I didn't even realize that I was doing this." I smiled BIG. It's fun to discover that God lives in you so much that you live out His will even unknowingly.

BUT, this is the BEST PART OF THE STORY: Later in the day electrician, Gregg, arrived to repair our A/C unit. We blew a fuse, darn it!

I'm in my office as Mike and Greg are chatting. Then suddenly I hear Mike say, "Can I get you a bottle of water?"

My friends, THEY ARE ALWAYS LISTENING. I took one brave moment to read the word to my husband, even when he wasn't interested.

He was listening. 

They are watching and listening. No pressure. Just live an authentic love with Jesus. THAT is all.

I adore you. Lynn


The Word - A Sword

By Amanda Pace Sword

Hey there SUMite family! As most of you know this is my first blog post, and I am so excited to be able to share with you all what God puts on my heart! Are you ready? Because I am! Okay, lets dive right in!

As I was preparing for this new venture I sat down at my kitchen table, which tends to be my favorite prayer spot, and asked God what He wanted me to share with you all. And almost immediately I felt Him telling me to discuss the power of words. I know this is something we have covered before. But it has been a while, and this is definitely a subject we need to be refreshed in on a regular basis!

As I was beginning to write I thought it would be about our words, the affect they have, and the power they carry. But when it came down to actually writing God kept bringing to mind this verse, "For the Word of God is LIVING and EFFECTIVE and SHARPER THAN ANY TWO EDGED SWORD, penetrating as far as the separation of soul from spirit, joints and marrow."  Hebrews 4:12 (CSB). As we can see, this verse is about GODS Word and it's power. So because God knows better than I do 😉 I am writing today about the power - the WEAPON that is the Word of God. I felt especially pulled to that description of a double-edged sword. So lets dive a bit deeper into that!

What is a double-edged Sword?
A double-edged sword is, in a word, a weapon. A very powerful weapon, one that can cut from either side of the blade. When we open and USE the Word of God, speaking it out, reading it, declaring it, teaching it to our children etc. We are wielding a weapon! The mighty and powerful Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)

What does a sword do?
First, it protects! I don't know about you, but whenever I imagine angels guarding myself and my children, I always picture them with swords. Swords, in my mind, are symbols of protection. How can we wield this weapon for protection? One way is by praying the WORD over our homes and families. Pray the Lords prayer with fresh eyes and an open heart to really hear the words you're saying, Psalm 23 is a favorite of ours right now to pray before bed. The Word is FULL of protection verses! Use them!

The next thing this double-edged sword does is defends! Use the Sword of the Spirit to defend your home from attacks of the enemy! Remember, this sword cuts from both sides, so you can attack and defend forwards and backwards! 😉 So, knowing this, march around your house declaring Gods promises, "All your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be their peace" Isaiah 54:13 (NIV)! Lay hands on your electronics and screens and rebuke temptations and addictions, anoint your home while speaking Gods blessings out loud over every room! Put on your armor every day and teach your children to do the same. Pray over your spouse while they sleep! In the past, I have seen breakthrough when I pray Ezekiel 36:26 over my husband, "I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." (CSB)

Finally, a sword deflects. Use the Word to deflect the lies spoken about you and your family. Remind yourself of His promises whenever the enemy comes knockin'. Whenever someone mentions how alcoholism runs in your family, that you are likely to get cancer, that depression is genetic, or you will never cure your anxiety ect. Even the lies your own mind tries to tell you, like you're a failure, you'll never be good enough, you can't do such and such. Knock those words back to the pit of hell where they belong with that Sword! Open that bible and FIGHT BACK!

My dear SUMites, realize when you hold, and read, and speak the Word of God you are wielding a WEAPON! That Bible you hold, it is not some flimsy piece of leather with bits of thin paper wound up in it - oh no! That Bible is MIGHTY, it is a source of TERROR to the enemy, it strikes fear into them and drives them out! We are NOT helpless my SUMite family! We are NOT alone! And we most certainly ARE NOT DEFEATED! Hold up your swords, shout a battle cry (in your heart, or out loud! 😁), and fight for your family! 

What are some practical ways you all fight for your family with the Word of God? I would love to read them in the comments!


Paul and Silas Show Us What To Do in 2021 -SUMMER Bible Study

SUMite Summer Study 2021

Vignettes of Paul

Paul and Silas

-----


Paul 2SUMites,

Lynn here. I’ve noticed that many of us are living smack in the middle of the fight. And the fires are burning molten. For me, I experience more enemy push back than in any other time in my life. EVER!!

There was a day I felt battle weary, bloody and broken. I ask you, have any of you ever thought of me as broken? I was. I truly relate to the scars that are healing on your soul. Mine are too.

And for all of us who find ourselves beaten and chained by the enemy forces of evil, I want to say one thing:

IT’S ONE HOUR UNTIL MIDNIGHT! 

Let’s take a look at the midnight story from the life of Apostle Paul. -ACTS 16:16-34

  • Paul and Silas rebuke a demonize girl and set her free. (Doing the right and Godly thing.)
  • The greed of men rocked the city and set the “government officials upon Paul and Silas (This sound far too familiar to our current day.)
  • Beaten and chained in the depths of a prison. (They were completely helpless.)

Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” -ACTS 16:25-28

SUMites, we are facing a countdown to the midnight hour.  We may be rounded up.  Shut up. Denounced and abandoned by those who should love us. But midnight quickly approaches and God will show Himself and the prison doors will open. The chains will supernaturally pop off. This TRUTH is an utter mind blow!

As this hour draws near, there is no longer space for powerless Christianity. There is no place to hide our faith. Many of us are in a prison right now. A prison of our fears. A fortress of perceived failures. A marriage of iron resistance to Jesus.

BUT…….. Midnight is at hand! We have done the hard work of sanctification. Our vessels are filled with the midnight oil and we linger wide awake, waiting with anticipation for the King!

We will watch as the prison doors fling open. Then we will follow the angels as they lead us through the gates of our personal hell into the freedom Christ purchased. We will watch as Jesus sets captives free and release the oppressed from from their distorted prison of lies.

Keep singing. SING A LITTLE LOUDER. Shout to the Lord. Raise a Hallelujah.

We are not forgotten orphans. We are sons and daughters. Our Father awaits for the midnight hour at the gates with Jesus. Jesus holds the keys to death and hell. He paid the price. 

THE WAR IS OVER.

Thank you, Paul and Silas, for showing us the way. Your faith and example will save many of us from a fate worse than death.

Hallelujah.

I love you my friends. Keep marching. We will comfort one another. Bear with one another. Tend one another’s wounds and celebrate when one comes home. Love and hugs, Lynn

Paul & Silas Summer Study 2021


Saint Paul -- What a Man!

Dear friends,Paul 2

Welcome to our Summer Bible Study on the Apostle Paul! It's Ann here, and I can't wait to dive in to some of his stories, taking a leaf or two out of his book.

Somewhat ironically, only this past Saturday I had a more difficult time as a Christian than I've had in a while. I spent the evening with a crowd of unbelieving friends, and loneliness crept up on me. That night I lay in bed thinking:

"Being a Christian is hard core, and there are spiritually some very hard places." 

Well, the Apostle Paul specialized in the 'hard-core' places, and he did it so well for the rest of us. I'm sure when he was in prison for the Gospel it wasn't easy.... But his faith enabled him to write positive letters to the church, showing us how to do this thing well.

In today's post we're just looking at an introduction to Paul; but there's so much to his life that I can't do him justice in 750 words. Instead, then, I'll start with his most honored moment:

Paul was martyred for the Gospel. 

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all those who have loved his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:6-8)

Not long after he wrote the above, he was beheaded in Rome (as best we know). In dying that death, he joined the other apostles, also likely martyred*. Their blood formed a foundation of courage and truth for the church. 

How on earth could Paul have been strong enough to walk into this? He knew it was coming, and said 'yes'. Well, Jesus equipped him. Part of this equipping was that Paul knew what was true. Just like we -- the SUM community - learn to do. In Paul's case, he had encountered Jesus and experienced the miraculous repeatedly (in the book of Acts). He'd also put up with so much hassle during his years of ministry that he became the ultimate in resilience:

"Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)

My friends, I have to say this made me feel a whole lot better about my lonely Saturday night with unbelievers! Emotionally difficult, yes; but Paul went through worse. Therefore, so can I.

We read about Paul's life in the book of Acts; but his character and life also ooze out of his epistles in the New Testament. Fourteen out of the 27 New Testament books were likely written by him and they add brushstrokes of color to the main story in Acts. Fate of the apostles

Interestingly, Paul was a blend of different cultures. A heftily educated Pharisee, he was also a Roman Citizen, and entrenched in Hellenic/Greek culture. Coming originally from Tarsus in modern-day Turkey, he went all over the place for the Gospel, and his mixed background meant he could speak easily to a range of different audiences, opponents, and friends.

Those influencing skills were needed: His two primary issues were godlessness and doctrinal error. He tackled those two things in truth and love while dealing with tremendous opposition.

So yes, what a man. And can this help us navigate the hardship of a SUM? I believe for sure that we can get strength from his story.

Here's a question for today: What is your environment like? What kinds of people are in your sphere of influence? 

Nice chatting! Lynn will be here on Wednesday to continue the study.

Ann

* Sean McDowell (2008). The Fate of the Apostles: Examining the Martyrdom Accounts of the Closest Followers of Jesus.


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


Nabal, Abigail, and David -SUMITES in the Bible- Summer Bible Study

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWe left our story in 1 Samuel 25 with Abigail meeting David with provisions and a great big “SORRY.” Whew, that sorry and the honor she bestowed upon David saved probably more than 100 people from bloodshed. (verse 33 & 34)

She went home and arrived to ANOTHER drunken banquet. – Ugh!

Abigale was likely exhausted, angry at her mean husband, overwhelmed by the thought of what could have happened to everyone she loved on the ranch. And she came home, perhaps, somehow hoping her husband might ask her where she’d been and where she had disappeared to.

NOPE.

He was very drunk. The next morning when he sobered up and was in his right mind, she told him all about it. And the craziest thing happened.

Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 1 Samuel 25:37

It’s believed he suffered a stroke. Whoa! I wondered how Abigail processed this? The servants?

Then in verse 38; About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.

Double WHOA!

The Word tells us he was struck by God. Yikes. Now, this sounds all like crazy goodness in that Abigail was rescued from a vile and evil man. It is good however, we can’t look at this story as the happily ever after we all desperately want.

We do know that David honors her request and remembers Abigail and offers her marriage, as the estate would surely not pass to her, as a woman. And she would likely be married off to Nabal’s brother. So David took her in through marriage. But her life wouldn’t have been a picnic. She left wealth to live in a camp with a bunch of hooligans. She wasn’t his only wife and David took on more wives, Bathsheba who we know he really loved. And Michal was with Paltiel.

Good grief!

So what is it about Abigail that God has included her story in the Word?

She was a believer in Yahweh. She trusted Him to save her. She was humble. She was wise. She walked in a beauty in her countenance. She was quick to react and she followed the Lord’s instructions. She was aware of her reality and what was going on around her (David and his past, present and future and what God was doing in him). She loved people and acted quickly to save them, even a wicked man.

Verse 41 & 42: She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.

That’s the last we hear about our beloved, Abigail. But we know one day she will be a queen and live in a palace.

My dear friends, isn’t that what is ahead for all of us?

Where is God calling you to bow down? Where is He calling you into divine wisdom and humility? Where is the Lord asking you to wash the feet of others for a season? Is He calling you to the palace right now?

A queen in the Kingdom of God is a servant. Just as Jesus came to serve, our 80 years here are just that we are called to serve like Jesus. All we need is already provided in our King Jesus and the wedding supper of the Lamb will be our invitation just as Abigail was invited into a wedding by David.

Hallelujah! I love you, SUMites. Next time Ann will be writing about the GREATEST SPIRITUALLY MISMATCHED MARRIAGE in the Bible.

Okay, was this study of 1 Samuel 25 helpful? See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn


Who Is Abigail? SUMites of the Bible Summer Study

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comTodays passage, 1 Samuel 25.

Abigail was married to a wicked, unbeliever, Nabal (Hebrew name means mean, base, vile, unbeliever) who denied support to the future King of Israel. And if you read through 1 Samuel 25 again today, you will notice how much this woman was a woman of deep faith. And just as it is today when we face enormous challenges and situations, that we often cannot change, it’s our faith that develops and lives strong within. Hallelujah.

Now we know David sent men to ask for supplies after protecting the House of Nabal all summer. Nabal denied all provision and insulted the men who then turned back and told David all about it. David, being a passionate man, arose, dawned a sword along with 400 of his gang and set out to kill and ransack the House of Nabal.

Fortunately, the servants, by the way the servants always know what’s really going on. That’s why it’s great to be a servant of God. Well, they servants alerted the one person who was wisest of all on the ranch, Abigail, the Godly wife of this wicked man.

Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs (=60 pounds) of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. – 1 Samuel 25:18-19

Wow, so much in these two verses. Abigail acted quickly. She “KNEW” what to do because she lives in intimacy with God and follows His voice. And interestingly she didn’t tell her husband. Could it be that there are times we just need to take action and we don’t need to pass everything we want to do for God by our unbelievers? I’m just asking?????

I’ll share my experience here. YES, there are times that I’ve made decisions to send someone money or to tithe into the Kingdom or to give something I own to someone else because it’s the right thing to do. And I didn’t run it by Mike. Now, I didn’t give away the car or our dog. But I’ve over the years I’ve chosen to give and Mike was gleefully oblivious. It’s okay. Just don’t give away the house without consulting your spouse. *humorous grin*

I love Abigail. She immediately sets out with a tremendous amount of provisions toward David. She finally meets up with him and listen to her words:

Vs. 28-31 - “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

Wow, look at how her faith in God. It's at the center of her life. She knows what God is doing and is affirming her belief to David.

David responds: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands 1 Samuel 25:32-33

There are a number of lessons we can take from the life of Abigail:

  • Abigail responded quickly. She didn’t let fear of the potential geocide nor her vile husband stop her from responding rightly and with haste.
  • She had wisdom from heaven to know what to do. She provided the supplies and the “honor” that was appropriate.
  • She took responsibility herself even though she didn’t create the toxic situation.
  • She humbled herself and sought mercy.
  • Eventually she discusses the events the following day with her husband AFTER he sobered up.
  • She did what was right without knowing there was a rescue around the corner.

My dear SUMites, is Abigail’s story in the Word just for us? Is her example our example. Is her faith our faith? Do we choose to do the right thing in our difficult marriages?

Oh the Word of God, it makes us look deep within and challenges us at the core. I love Abigail and I can’t wait to meet her in heaven one day. She isn’t merely a character in a book. She is/was a real woman who we will one day meet face-to-face. I can’t wait to sit at her feet and ask her questions. What a blast that will be.

Okay, what do you think about our Abigail? What details did I miss about her character and response. Do you agree with what she did. How do we take her example and apply it to our modern marriages and life?

Next post: What about Nabal? What happens to Abigail and where does this leave David?


Here's One For the History Books - Literally- SUMites in the Bible

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUMers, I could write for days about 1 Samuel, chapter 25. Whoa. There is so much in here. So, get a cup, sit down, strap in, and hold on as we jump in and learn from God’s Word. Hallelujah!

PLEASE go read the chapter, click here for the NIV version. I’m going to be teaching from the NIV as well as the One New Man Bible which is a direct rendering from the Hebrew. Ahhhhh, we are granted a rich and deeper understanding when we look at the original language.

The setting: The books of Samuel are a history of the Priesthood in Israel and the Kings of Israel. It’s the telling of how the people of God left Him as their King and turned to an earthly King. Samuel means heard of God. This was because his mother prayed for a baby and God heard her. Read that story, it’s awesome as well.

Let’s start with the couple we will be reading about today:

Nabal: The Greek meaning from the NIV, fool. Ah, yep we knew it *grin*. Hebrew: Naval, means mean, base, vile, unbeliever. (Whoa, didn’t know that. So interesting.)

Abigail: NIV describes her as an intelligent and beautiful woman. But I LOVE the Hebrew rendering of her name, Avigayil means, My Father rejoices exuberantly. And she is described as a woman of good understanding and beautiful countenance. There is a striking difference here, in that the Hebrew describes her spirit and the Greek describes her physically. Interesting. Personally, I believe her countenance is what provided her with tremendous influence and also favor with God. Her favor with God brought her great understanding and wisdom.

David: In this portion of the story David is an outlaw. Truly, he is being hunted by the King, Saul, who has been abandoned by God. What I find fascinating about David is that he led a band of marauders who ransacked entire towns, killing the people and taking all the spoils. Say WHAT??????

Does that bother anyone else?

Well, let’s add to the understanding. Most of the people of Israel know David. Remember the army watched this 12 year-old-boy defeat the Philistines as David slew Goliath. They knew Samuel anointed him to be King. They knew of his exploits in battle to defeat the enemies of the Crown. And this is all in line with God’s purpose and plans. God still intended Israel to cleanse the Promised Land of the filth of the nations who practiced divination, idol worship, and who sacrificed their own children in the fire to Molech. And if you know anything about this practice, it’s absolutely revolting. Trust me on this.

So, David’s ransacking may not have been an evil in the eyes of God. ---- Doesn’t the Bible really mess with your head?---- That’s a good thing.

Another note I find fascinating is that Nabal is described as a mean, vile, and an unbeliever with whom no one can reason. Wow, I wonder how many of us know people like that??? And in this scenario in 1 Samuel 25 he is living up to his reputation. I wonder, however, how many of us would reject helping someone because a person was an outcast of society, a law breaker, an intentional defiler of all that we adhere to? Dang, I like to ask the challenging questions. *grin*

An overall summary of this passage is David protected Nabal’s men while they shepherded the flocks during the summer. Come fall and harvest, David needed provisions and naturally assumed he would be rewarded for his service. Nabal said, “No way. I’m not giving anything to a gang of fugitives.” Even though he knew David was anointed the next King and was likely aware that he protected his men and possessions.

At the core here is absolute arrogance and greed. And likely a lifetime of little repentance, consequence, nor love for others. People of great wealth rarely face consequence. It's a travesty that leads many of wealth into a poverty of soul.

God is so patient. Even waiting for a man like Nabal to experience a change of heart. Even giving to him a wise and beautiful wife and a life of comfort. The truth surrounded Nabal each and every day. He chose to ignore the truth: David will be King and this future King had protected his possessions and servants. Nabal was selfish and felt untouchable. What is fascinating about this scenario, Nabal was going to die either way.

Now it’s easy to go down this road that my spouse looks like Nabal. Don’t do it. Most of us are married to good men and women who are honorable and love us. Even if we might think they could do a better job of it.

What the real story in the chapter is all about is Abigail. And I can’t wait to talk with you about this woman.

Okay, did I mess with your head looking into the introduction of this story? I hope so, *grin*. What do you think about the Nabal? Why is the Lord sharing so much of this man’s character, his name, his behavior? I really want to hear your opinions. There is wisdom in here. Let Jesus show you. And I’ll see you in the comments. And I can’t wait to chat about Abigail next time.

Hugs, Lynn


Be Like Nehemiah: Rise up and Rebuild

Rebuilding-the-wall

By Martha Bush

During this Thanksgiving season, I am so grateful for the “rebuilding blueprints” Neheniah passed down to us as he rebuilt the broken down walls of Jerusalem.

Join me today as I outline his plans for rebuilding. Let’s start in Chapter 1 and listen in on a conversation he is having with his Jewish friends.

How are the Jews getting along who have returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian Exile?”  “Well, things are not good; the wall of Jerusalem is still torn down, and the gates are burned,” they replied (Nehemiah 1:2-3 TLB)

Nehemiah knew that the Temple in Jerusalem was being reconstructed. Now, his friends were telling him that the city had no protection from its enemies while they were rebuilding the Temple.

Weeping and fasting for several days, Nehemiah asked God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the king who gave him permission to rebuild the walls around the city. In spite of opposition, the wall was rebuilt in 52 days.

I was drawn to this story years ago when everything in my marriage was crumbling. Even though we were spiritually unequally yoked, we had a loving marriage. But, when I followed a new direction the Lord had given me, it was as though an army invaded our home stealing, not only our relationship, but our earthly goods as well. The comfortable lifestyle we had grown accustomed to was gone. Added to this scenario, serious health problems arose. With all the devastation around us, we both wanted to vacate the premises, as in SEPARATE.

Nehemiah’s example of rebuilding was a trumpet call to me to “rise up and rebuild” the broken down walls.

1. Nehemiah confessed the sins of his country, himself, and his ancestors.

I’m praying day and night in intercession for your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel. And I’m including myself and my ancestors among those who have sinned against you. (Neh. 1:6 MSG)

Like Nehemiah, I first confessed my sins for the part I had played in our situation. Next, I confessed generational sins on both sides of our families.

2. Nehemiah EXAMINED every broken wall.

By night I examined the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. (Nehemiah 2:13 NIV)

I asked the Lord to show me where the walls of protection in our marriage had broken.

  • Communication: We’d never learned how to communicate effectively, so when the hard times hit, we yelled and screamed because that was the only way we knew how to communicate.
  • Finances: Our financial strain was due in part because of bad decisions we had made, but some of it was a result of the enemy using various means to steal from us.
  • Parental Influence: Though we both had great parents, we had brought their problems into our own marriage.
  • Not understanding one another’s temperaments: When Mr. Choleric and Miss Phlegmatic came together in the heat of the battle, our opposite traits produced quite an explosion.

3. Nehemiah Had a Vision.

“Face it: we’re in a bad way here. Jerusalem is a wreck; its gates are burned up. Come—let’s build the wall of Jerusalem and not live with this disgrace any longer.” (Neh. 2: 17 MSG)

Andy Stanley, author of Visionary said, “Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be.’ Vision often begins with the inability to accept things the way they are. Over time that dissatisfaction matures into a clear picture of what could be.”

Something inside me clicked. “Rise up and rebuild!”

4. Nehemiah Faced Opposition.

“What are these miserable Jews doing? Do they think they can get everything back to normal overnight? Make building stones out of make-believe?” What do they think they’re building? Why, if a fox climbed that wall, it would fall to pieces under his weight.” (Nehemiah 4:1-3 MSG)

Unfortunately, for a long time, my husband did not share the same vision for rebuilding as I did. “Do you really think God can fix this mess? You need to get your head out of the sand, and face reality! It is over!”

5. Nehemiah’s Response to Opposition.

“Hear us, O Lord God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back upon their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their sin. Do not blot it out, for they have despised you in despising us who are building your wall.” (Nehemiah 4:4-5 TLB)

Nehemiah said nothing to his opposition,  prayed, and kept on building. Jerusalem was a city worth fighting for.

I finally realized it was useless to fight back with words at the opposition. By the grace of God, my husband finally joined me, and we have restored most, (not all yet) of those broken down walls that almost destroyed our marriage. Granted it took more than 52 days to get to the place we are today - we are a stiff-necked couple. The fullness of the vision is for an appointed time.

*****

My Sumite Friends, in the comments tell us how Nehemiah’s example for rebuilding the broken down walls applies to your marriage, finances, health,  church.  Together, we can "rise up and rebuild."

 

 

 

 


Some Thoughts on Arguments Against the Bible

Ann here! Ask God about the Bible

Recently a reader posted a question for the SUM community that many of us would relate to. It seems a good one to share here, and I wonder if we could add any answers to her question in the comments?

Her question was this (paraphrased slightly):

“My husband is reading and using a particular anti-Christian book to ‘convince’ me the Bible is not the truth. Does anyone have any input, or has anyone read this book?”

The book that she attached to her question (in a photo) had words splashed across the cover, proclaiming in big letters that the Bible was full of absurdities, contradictions, and other things 'wrong'.

I spotted her question and dived in. I’ve never been an atheist, but I have been in the shoes of one reading such a book, having been agnostic and difficult to persuade. Quite honestly, it took a lot to get me over the line into full belief in God. Given that experience, here’s what I wrote back:

“Hi! 

During my process of conversion I read a lot of atheist/anti-Christian arguments and looked into them. My biggest thing to say in response to a book like this is that people can intellectualize themselves into any corner, but the only way to know what is true is to straight-out ask God if He is real and, if so, what is true. Unless people have asked that question of God directly, they haven't been sufficiently thorough. Really, they often don't want to know.

The Bible does stand up to scrutiny perfectly well, but in certain parts one has to have the Holy Spirit when reading it. Without the Holy Spirit something might appear to be an absurdity or a contradiction. WITH the Holy Spirit, that same 'absurdity' or 'contradiction' becomes a work of genius where all you can do is fall on your knees because it's so clever.”

In our current culture there’s a lot of clamor against the Bible. It can be loud and dominating (Proverbs 9:13-15). However, my question to a clamorous one would be: “Yes, but have you asked God?” After all, He promises in scripture that those who seek Him will find answers.

That process of asking God is something that takes effort, will, and integrity. It takes time on our knees. It takes thought. It is something quite different to picking a popular book off the shelf and believing one author's personal argument that God is a 'delusion' without properly questioning God open-heartedly. This effort is captured in Proverbs 9's description of wisdom, showing that there's a lot of work that goes in -- Perhaps years of work:

Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars; she has slaughtered her meat, she has mixed her wine, she has also furnished her table. She has sent out her maidens, she cries out from the highest places of the city, 'Whoever is simple let him turn in here!' As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, 'Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding'.

Proverbs 9:1-6, NKJV.

At this point I might hand over to everyone else to add their thoughts. It'd be interesting to hear your comments on the following:

  • Does your spouse read these atheist books?
  • If so, how do you handle that?

Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend!

Ann


SUMites, You Are Brave Enough.....

EstherSUMites,

All of the undertones that we uncovered in Esther are powerful and new gifts to our faith.

Today, I want to talk about the unequally yoked aspect of this story. I also want to point out Esther’s divine calling and how it’s fulfilled.

In reality, all of us that are unequally yoked, could take a few notes from Esther. What truly is astonishing is the influence she extended over the most powerful man in the world. Whoa!! So, how did she achieve this kind of power?

She listened. Esther must have been extraordinarily bright. Upon her arrival in the Kings palace, she was intentional to keenly follow the instructions of Hegai. Now, most of you know I have a vivid imagination so go with me here. Hegia was no fool. He knew what the King liked – in the bedroom- I’ll bet money he told Esther what and how to do…. It…. *grin* Also, she wore and took with her only what the King’s eunuch suggested (Esther 2: 15)

What is suggested all over the place but isn’t mentioned emphatically is this: Esther realized the implications of her potential. She was selfless and willing to follow advice from wise counselors. She listened to Mordicai. She listened to Hegai.

I wonder, who are we listening to? Where are we obtaining our truth? Esther listened to the right people and she perceived the greater assignment that awaited. She saved a nation! One little girl!

Esther fulfills her highest and greatest destiny that God wrote in her book before time began (Psalm 139:16). She gathered her courage and stepped before the scepter, risking her life. She was brave in the face of fear.

If we take anything from this study, let’s choose to be brave. We must petition the King for the deliverance of our unsaved family members. It’s risky to stand up for what is right. Let’s choose to be self-less in our pursuit of the highest and best.

So today let’s choose BRAVE:

  • You are brave enough when you choose to believe the impossible. (With Christ all things are possible.)
  • You are brave enough when you forgive. (Forgiveness frees you.)
  • You are brave enough when you are patient (The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9)
  • You are brave enough when you wake up every morning and choose LOVE over fear. (For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • You are brave enough when you say “NO” and when you say “YES.”
  • You are brave enough when you ask for help and prayer.
  • You are brave enough to show your love even in difficult and risky relationships.

Well done Warriors! Esther has nothing on you. For you were born for EXACTLY such a time as this!

SUMITE, what are you being brave about right now? What holds your heart in the night? What do you pray in the morning? What is your brave heart asking of God today? Share with me. I want to pray with you in the comments. Your petitions will be heard in heaven because I’m asking with you.

Keep showing up! You are BRAVE!

Hugs, Lynn


Esther Summer Bible Study - It's Cray, Cray

EstherEsther Summer Bible Study: August 2019

SUMite Nation: Pick up your Bible. Turn to the book of Esther, that’s on page 793, please *grin*

Read chapter one.

I realize that most of us are very familiar with the story of Esther. So, my approach during our study is to point out some of the lesser known aspects of this classic book. I want you to ponder and wrestle with some of the underlying truths that are captured in these ten chapters.

Couple of things that immediate jump out at me.

This is a story about marriage and divorce. Then a remarriage. How like our current society. And this is a story about an unequally yoked marriage. Say what?? 

Ya, at this moment, I wonder how many of you have been asked by “well-meaning” Christians if you KNEW your husband was unsaved when you married him. Those were stinging questions in the early years that heaped on condemnation and were laced with judgement. Ouch. The Word of God is filled with stories and verses that indicate mismatched marriages continue throughout history. It’s not that uncommon.

Before we move on, let me take a moment to stand as a representative of all those who made off-handed remarks or straight-out accusations that hit home and caused you pain. I stand in place of them and I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please forgive those who spoke words out of arrogance, judgement and condemnation. They were unaware of how much the Bible speaks to the many of us who are living in faith and married to an unbeliever. God wants us to prosper, even within our mismatched marriage.

Whew…. Okay, I feel better.

In chapter one of Esther the shenanigans are on full display. Banquets, drunkenness, pride in the display of the vast wealth and splendor of the King Xerxes. Gold couches, mosaic pavement, marble and costly stones are the setting and the royal wine….. it was a flowin’ without restriction.

Let me ask you, what does this scene look like today in our current society? I’ll let you know something, I’ve been doing some research into some of the darker side of high society, Hollywood, High-level politics and high-level satanism. It’s eerie!!!!!

And, don’t even get me started about the King commanding his beautiful wife to appear before him so that she can be ogled by all the drunks. (frown face)

What is amazing about chapter one is Queen Vashti. – SHE REFUSED-

It’s likely that in that era, her disobedience presented her with the possibility of beheading. I wonder would we be, could we be, bold enough to stand up to shame even if it cost us dearly? This book really makes you think.

Queen Vashti is the only person with integrity in the bunch. She carries herself with dignity and honor. And demands that NO ONE, not even the King, take it from her. Wow and WOW!

Her position cost her the queenship.

Then all of the men of the Kingdom went into straight-out panic mode. They were facing a cataclysmic problem. CONTROL…. They feared all the women would demand dignity and honor. So, they launched into a demonically inspired protocol to retain their oppression and control over the women of the realm. (This comment may make some of you mad with me: But, I wonder, how much the control over women continues to go on an on, century upon century and even within the Christian church? Ahem, it’s best I don’t get sidetracked on this subject today.)

Chapter 1:18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord. ß-THIS, this verse, is the lie the devil propagated!

The truth is, it’s likely that if the nobles didn’t take action, the women wouldn’t respond with disrespect. Indeed, within their new freedom and position of honor, I’m convinced their response would have been greater honor and mutual respect for their husbands. Mutual respect births, trust, loyalty, fierce protection and genuine love.

Things that make you go….. hmmmmmmmm.

So, from my heart --- WELL DONE QUEEN VASHTI.

The second thing that I want to take from chapter one is this.

Verse 20: Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.

I want to comment on the second half of this verse before I get to the good stuff. Intimidation is not respect. It’s fear-based control. Control is rooted in witchcraft. (I deal a lot with this kind of stuff in my prayer sessions.)

The part I want to focus on is this. The book of Esther establishes details about how a Kingdom operates. And in this season of my faith march, I’m utterly intrigued with the nuances of the Kingdom of God. We are offered a great deal when reading between the lines of this story and catching the demonstration of a Kingdom. The structures exist in the spiritual realm. And do you want some really good news? Our Kingdom is ruled by a good, faithful, forgiving and lavish Lord who is our Father!

THAT’S THE BEST NEWS EVER!

I want to focus on the word edict. This is a decree. And I know that we post decrees often on Facebook, but do you know why? Do you understand what constitutes an edict? And what happens when an edict is issued. Who issues an edict and what happens in the realm when it’s released?

Answering these questions are essential to gaining our power and authority as a royal heir with Christ. I’ll share with you next week what God recently told me about “setting and edict.” It’s crazy good.

Now, what are your thoughts about this crazy-town King, his advisers, the women, the queen??? Do you want to know more about how the Kingdom of God operates and how we play a vital part? Talk to me in the comments.

I love you my dear friends. March on Warriors!!  We WIN! Hugs, Lynn

 

 

  


Could This Be The Answer You've Been Waiting For?

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

I have worked for my employer for a little over three years now. I do the same thing all day everyday. Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. I see the same computer screen as I fingerprint the numerous people who come into my office. The other day Holy Spirit alerted me to listen and pay attention to people's reactions to seeing their fingerprints on the computer screen, many of them for the first time:

Wow, that is so cool!

I have never seen this before!

Sorry, I am just amazed by this!

Look at that!

Can you believe that we all have different finger prints? No two prints are the same!?

Was I looking at the same machine? It is cool to see the detail, I guess.....

There are some of us who have forgotten how to be in love with and romanced by our King. Groom help bride up sillouetteWe have been on this journey for a long time.  Our eyes have adjusted to the normalcy of life. We've braced for life's storms for too long that we've gone into self-preservation mode. We have forgotten what is like to have childlike faith. This isn't a rebuke but a call to see things from God's perspective. Be refreshed! Be renewed! Be invigorated again!

I felt a strong impression from our Daddy God to lavish you with love today. If anything today resonates with you, my challenge is for you to take it and meditate on it. Don't allow the familiar to blur your vision of God's great love relationship with you. Don't doubt that you aren't good enough to receive it. Don't think, "He must be talking to someone else..."  This word is for you...yes YOU!

I have loved you, [insert your name here], with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3)

I will make you, [insert your name here], my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)

My thoughts of you are countless for you are very precious to Me. (Psalm 139:17)

You can give me all of your worries and cares. They are not meant to be carried by you. I love you so much! (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)

I am for you. You are my beloved and I am yours. (Song of Solomon 6:3)

I will give you everything that you need. You mean that much to me. (Romans 8:31)

There is nothing that can separate you from My love. (Romans 8:38-39)

I will rescue you. I will protect you. You can trust me. When you call on Me I am there. (Psalm 91)

One of my favorite things to do is watch over you as you sleep. (Psalm 3:5)

I will show you my goodness in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

I will never forsake you. I will never cast you off. (Psalm 94:14)

You are my masterpiece. My workmanship. I am so proud of you! (Ephesians 2:10)

You are my special treasure. You are so valuable to me! (Exodus 19:5, 1 Peter 2:9)

There is so much more that I could share. Every word in the Bible is dripping with His sweet love for you.

Beloved, stop striving. Stop trying to meet unattainable expectations of yourself...they're not from Him. Daddy God is so pleased with you. He delights in you so much that He breaks out in song over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I want to wrap up with this song. This is one to sit and soak in the love of your Daddy.

Let's share in the comments - sometimes life gives us a hard beating! What are some things that you do in order to remember the love God has for you? What are some things we can share with one another to fan the flames of our heart and fill us with hope? What keeps you standing firm and grounded in your relationship with Daddy God, Jesus and Holy Spirit?