57 posts categorized "Bible"

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?


The Heart of the Matter

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Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

From the beginnings of my faith journey as a teenager Romans 12:1-2 has been a favorite. It was the one I first memorized and regularly prayed seeking the Lord to help me not to conform to the world by transforming me through the renewal of my mind. Even at that immature stage of my faith I perceived that we were supposed to be different. We weren’t supposed to conform to the world. What does not conforming look like?

It’s not necessarily about vocation nor how we spend our time but it starts within our heart. Heart? But didn’t I just mention ‘renewal of my mind’? I can do something with that? Read some books, listen to some podcasts, watch some of those great preachers on YouTube. I think that’s what I thought for so many years and so I hungered for knowledge. Don’t get me wrong knowledge is critical but what I’ve discovered is transformation only occurs when that ‘head-knowledge’ drops into our heart.

Let’s look at a couple of key verses that reveal this. Another of my go to verses is Proverbs 4:23 - “And above all, guard your heart, for everythingyou do flows from it” and then there’s what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 - “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Just from these two verses we can see the heart is fundamental to everything we do, say, and think.

If you’re not convinced let’s look at a couple more. The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus and at one point asked him what was the greatest commandment. Jesus’ response was simply, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, body and soul.” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV). Yes, the mind is there to, but it falls behind the ‘heart’ in order of priority. The verse that was pivotal to the writing of my first novel, Angelguard, was another from Jesus in Matthew 12:35 – “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” Once again, we see that all good and evil effectively comes out of our heart.

A Man after My Own Heart

But let me add one final verse, which is perhaps the most compelling. This one is in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. God has just rejected Saul as king which Samuel, the prophet finds devastating. God sends Samuel to find the one He has anointed to eventually succeed Saul. Samuel goes to Bethlehem to find the one. To Jesse who has many sons. On seeing how impressive the eldest one is, Samuel thinks he’s found the one. But God tells him it’s not that one, nor the next one, and nor the next 5 sons. Samuel on being guided by the Lord asks Jesse, who I expect is by this time thoroughly confused and probably a lot irritated, if there is another son. Indeed there is one of ‘ruddy appearance with beautiful eyes and handsome’ who tends the sheep. The youngest, David. What does God see in this young man that even his father doesn’t see? His heart.

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (v7 ESV) and later in Acts 13:22 the Lord describes David as such, “a man after mine own heart.” The criterion for reigning in life as far as God is concerned has nothing to with appearance, our status (for example, being the first born) or our achievements. It has everything to do with … the heart.

I hope that this is sufficient evidence to suggest the heart is essential to us being different to the world. But this can be hard for us, especially we men, to get. Men, particularly, like order and logic with a tendency to be analytical and want to be the problem solver. Heart matters can be messy, complicated and hard to solve quickly. So we tend to place less importance on the heart and rather emphasize what we know, what comes more easily to us, and also what doesn’t require us to be vulnerable and reveal what’s going on inside us.

How do we open our heart?

But it’s clear the Lord has given us the ability to “love Him [the Lord] with all your heart and with all of your soul, and all of your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) or why would He say to do it. And actually make it our number one priority.

So how do we do it? I know I don’t have all the answers but there are a couple of things that are essential to being able to do it.

  1. Talk to God. Ask Him about it. Ask Him to help you discover how to love the way He asks us to. He’s not mean, He’s not going to ask us to do something and not show us a way to do it.
  2. Get stuck into the Word. I’ve spent the last three years reading the Psalms. What I so love about the Psalms is we get to see the full gamut of emotions being played out, repeatedly. Plus you get to spend time with King David. This guy’s probably my all time favorite person in the Bible because he “has a heart after the Lord’s” so why wouldn’t you study the guy. He’s got what we all want.

A lot of men love David because he was the Goliath slayer. It was a heroic act of incredible audacity, slaying this nine-foot giant of a monster when David was still a skinny runt of a teenager. I think we often forget this aspect. I can see this pimply skinny kid who is full of bravado hurling this slingshot at the giant. But what many of us forget is that he was full of bravado because he knew God was in this. He knew he could trust God to deliver. He was purely the instrument by which the Lord would do it. It’s one of the great examples of faith.

But David is also a man who wrote poetry and sang love songs to God as he cared for his flock of sheep. Further, his heart’s desire we’re told in Psalm 27 is “to live with him [God] in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.”(v4 MSG)

Here is a role model. Certainly not the only one but may I encourage you to spend some time reading and re-reading the Psalms and meet this David. Discover the passion he has for the Lord. It will blow your mind.

Note: this is a snippet of a project I’m working on that examines the ‘heart’ and what intimacy with God looks like, especially for men. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it here and trust you’ve found it of interest/useful. :)

 


I've Never Understood God In This Way Before...Have You?

*Photo credit: Arkdiscovery.com, this is the forever blackened top of Mount Sinai, where God's presence came in fire.

God is angry and full of wrath...and I want no part of that! Mt Sinai

I've heard throughout my lifetime that the God of the Bible (specifically the Old Testament) is mean and unmerciful and a murderer. I'm sure you have heard things similar...maybe even last week. There are a lot of people who hold this viewpoint. I never knew how to really answer these types of comments. Sure I could mention that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for our sins to take the wrath of God upon Himself. But I was always left confused when my heart and mind could not make the connection with all of the death and destruction in the Old Testament with a loving God. I mean after all God never changes right? (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 33:8)

I would like to place a quick interjection here. Thanks to you, my loving SUM family I have been taking ministry classes with my church. I cannot thank you enough for your generous support, love, and encouragement. 6-7 months into this 2 year program and I am absolutely blown away by all the things being revealed to me. It is amazing. I say this because it is in a recent class that Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.

There are 5 major covenants that God made with His people throughout history. I won't go into detail here because there is a lot to explain (and quite frankly I am still trying to soak it all in) but suffice it to say, each and every one of these covenants was for the benefit of His people. (A covenant is simply an agreement between two parties. I say this with all sincerity. If you would like a copy of my class notes to better understand the covenants, I would love to share. This stuff is truly fascinating and has really opened up my eyes in how to read the Bible!)

The covenant made with Moses is where God introduces the law. Here is the kicker though. God did not want to give a set of rules for His people to be bound by. Did you know that the covenant relationship we have right now with God - through Jesus - is what He wanted for His people all along?

And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19)

This is the covenant that God wanted. He wanted all of Israel to priests. A holy nation, set apart from the rest of the world to be a light and represent God to the rest of the world. What? I had no idea! So what happened?

Exodus 19:8 - Israel agreed to it

Exodus 19:9-13 - God is giving them a consecration period (this is always the case where there is covenant or relationship with God)

Exodus 19:18-19 - God shows up in with lightning, fire, a loud trumpet, etc (see Deuteronomy 5:23-27 fore more details of this) which scared the Israelites.

Exodus 19:20-25 - Moses and the priests (which in that time were simply the oldest males from each family line, meaning every family was represented on the mountain) go up on the mountain and decide, now we don't want any of this. We don't want to have a face to face relationship with God. Let's send Moses as a mediator and whatever he says, we will do.

What does this mean for us today? The work of Jesus on the cross opened us up to the exact covenant that God talked about in Exodus 19:3-6. Check this out:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2)

Family, I don't know about you but understanding God's heart in Exodus 19 is absolutely wrecking me. I hope I explained it well here. I don't feel like I can do it justice. We serve a truly loving and merciful God! He has always had a heart for His people. He has always desired a face to face relationship. He has always desired to draw and woo and take good care of us. This doesn't sound like a mean, wrathful, and unmerciful God to me!

Thank you Jesus that you gave us the greatest gift we could ever have. Relationship with our Daddy God. I pray this has blessed you. I've run a little long but let's chat in the comments. How does this insight into God's Heart in the Old Testament affect your view of His heart for you today? 


Who Wrote the Gospels?

Hi everyone, Ann here!

This morning, I want to share a special story that happened to me last Christmas. It was an event that wowed me and as we're deep in the gospels it seems timely to share. Joy to the world

The story began when I sat sipping coffee with a favorite colleague. He’s twenty years older than me, a lovely man with a sharp mind. He also happens to have different views to me about Jesus. We agree to disagree, and we stay polite. Yet, this particular morning he couldn’t resist throwing an argument my way:

“Ann, the gospels weren’t written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.”

I did not hold the same view, but to my surprise, out of my mouth came this: “I know.”

Why on earth did I say that? As I left him to go back to work, it bothered me. Grrr. I could have engaged in a debate, but I didn’t. Perhaps I was just too fatigued by the constant pressure to not believe, pressure that was coming from so many close to me.

I continued to be bothered by my response until Christmas, when God turned that moment on its head and reminded me how genius He is compared to men. Here’s what happened:

I was lying in bed, found myself thinking about the 'gospel comment' once again, and said to God: “What would You have said to him? Can you tell me?” Then I drifted off to sleep…

The next morning, as I woke to birds singing, an inaudible voice hit me, clear as day, with these words:

"Which author wrote the Augustus books?"

“Augustus?  Augustus?” I went, rubbing my sleepy eyes. “Who’s that?” I’m chuckling as I write this, I’m probably one of the few who didn’t know. As a teenager I messed around during history lessons, missed a lot, and Roman history was never my thing. This meant I had to look Augustus up. Here’s how my Wikipedia search went:

Who was Augustus?  Augustus was Emperor of the Roman Empire during the time of Christ.

Did Augustus write any books?  Yes. He wrote a series of books about himself, a multi-volume set of memoirs.

How can I get hold of these books? The books are lost (sorry, did Wikipedia say lost?? How on earth?!) Only fragments remain. According to one website, they might have been one of the most revealing texts of Roman history, had they survived. But they didn’t.

Ok, here I paused my search: The leader of the Roman Empire, Caesar Augustus, wrote a set of memoirs, which would have been historical gold, and yet they were lost. In contrast, four biographical accounts of a homeless carpenter survived intact from the same period with this much manuscript attestation?   

In conclusion:

Who wrote the books of Augustus?  Augustus did. And they got lost.

Who wrote the four gospels?  God did.  And for that reason: 

“Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” (Romans 10:18, NKJV)

Indeed, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Bible, is the world’s best-selling book, having spread just as Jesus prophesied when He said that the woman who broke her flask of oil over him would be celebrated throughout the world:

“Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Mark 14:9, NKVJ)

The four gospels are a beautiful gift to us; they are like four puzzle pieces that, when put together, bring to life the most beautiful tidings of great joy which will be to all people (Luke 2:10). Their genius is only magnified by their differences that so cleverly fit together; and I can never get enough of them.

So like the woman with the alabastar jar, I hope I never stop wasting my life on Jesus and digesting the beauty of his birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.

No, Matthew, Mark Luke and John didn’t write the gospels. God did.  And that's why those words came out of my mouth so readily: "I know". 

"Marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." (Psalm 139:14 NKJV)

SUMites, do you have any further thoughts about these amazing gospels? Let's keep sharing our insights as we wander through the gospel together this Christmas season.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!

Ann


Because of The Manger... Our Voice Is Restored!

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com While reading the Christmas story in the book of Luke on Monday, I pondered Zechariah’s story. The Holy Spirit began to speak to me about Zechariah’s angelic encounter, his response, and the significance and similarity in many believers lives today.

Let’s read it together and then I will share the revelation that could very well change the course of your life this very day. 

Let us recall that Zechariah was the High Priest serving in the Temple, in the Holies of holy. He and his wife Elizabeth were devoted to the Lord, however, they lived in shame as they were childless. Childlessness was considered a curse in ancient Biblical times.

In Luke, chapter one, Zechariah received great honor when chosen to burn incense in the Temple. While ministering to God behind the curtain the angel, Gabriel, appeared before him and said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to call him John….”

Gabriel continues to declare the destiny of John who becomes The Baptist. Let’s pick up in verse 18 and listen to Zachariah’s response:

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people. — Luke 1:18-25

Now this is where the Lord began to speak to me, “Lynn, I know that you are aware through your many prayer session, that many of my children have experienced this very thing.”

“Huh?” I pondered until the Lord went on to explain. “You see, many of my children’s voices have been stolen from them. They suffered much at the hands of those in authority over them who silenced their cries for kindness, consideration, and cries for help. CRIES TO BE HEARD!”

“What happened to Zachariah continues to play out in millions of lives today."

"And Lynn, it wasn’t by My Hand that Zachariah lost his voice. No. His voice was stolen by the demonic the instant Zach decided to doubt and believe a lie. He believed this miracle birth was impossible. He chose by his free will to partner with doubt and deceit, two principalities of darkness. Thus, giving the enemy an entry point to come in, snatch his voice, which was ordained to be a powerful witness of the Kingdom. He believed a lie even though my powerful angel stood before him speaking truth.”

“Stealing a believer’s voice is the goal of every demon. Your voice carries so much power to change everything in the world. But the devil tricks, swirls doubt, pain, and trauma to snuff out the realities that I offer. My children partner with deception even though they have My Word, the Holy Spirit and the testimonies of millions of believers who declare the reality of My power and love."

"Lynn, I’m so glad that you pray with My children and restore their voice.”

“I’m so glad too, Papa.”

“Lynn, but did you see what happened when Zachariah acted in faith and partnered with Me, with My son, Jesus, and with truth? The demonic stronghold was immediately broken, and Zechariah’s voice was restored. Read on!”

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him. — Luke 1:61-66

“Meditate on this truth. Partner with Me no matter how impossible the circumstances. If I have decreed a thing. IT MUST HAPPEN!”

-----

Whoa, Gang!

Who knew the Christmas story could be this powerful.

This is the season of miracles and receiving gifts. Has the devil stolen your voice? Ask the Lord about your voice. Has it been silenced? Do you use your voice to bless and not curse?

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:6

For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. —Luke 6:45

Share your thoughts with me in the comments. Let me pray for you in the comments today. I love you Merry Christmas. AND, I can’t wait to discover more on our journey toward Bethlehem!


Spiritual Leadership For The Unequally Yoked

Love ring bibleLeadership of the family is absolutely challenging when married to an unbeliever.

Years ago, my husband was far away from God. It was obvious that he would not be leading our family in daily devotions nor praying with us. My reality at the time was on the receiving end of his hostility toward all things of faith. He was adamant that he wouldn’t attend church. I think in that season every emotion on the spectrum would bombard my thoughts. Taking them captive to Christ saved me from unending confusion and fear.

In the early years of marriage, as a young wife, I Christian leader on the radio say: If your husband has abdicated or refused to step into the role as the spiritual leader of your home then God expects, you, as the wife to take that place in the family.

FREEDOM!!!

I was freed to become the leader for the salvation and eternal life of my children. I would teach them about Christ and I would pray at meals. It was me that readied them for church, took them to Sunday school, youth group. I was solely responsible for growing in my faith and for praying for my families struggles, fears and concerns. All. By. My. Little. Self.

It’s not fair, you cry.

Indeed. But if you aren’t praying for your kids, who is. If you aren’t spending time in the Word, how can you make Godly decision for yourself, guide your children or influence your husband toward morality and goodness?

Gang, if we arrived in an unequally yoked marriage, God KNEW we could do it and do it well. So, hang up the phone on despair and the victim mindset. Leave fairness and laziness at the door. YOU CAN DO THIS. How do I know. Because I did it and I’m not easily convinced but by the Grace of God, I am so glad I pushed through the pain and loneliness.

The reward that came to me through intimacy, powerful faith and identity was worth the struggle. I would do it again to be where I am now with the Lord.

Today receive this if you are unequally yoked: I DECLARE YOU ARE STRONG, WISE AND BACKED UP BY ALL OF HEAVEN TO BE VICTORIOUS IN YOUR MARRIAGE AND FAMILY. YOU CAN LEAD THIS FAMILY IN FAITH AND DO IT WELL.

In Jesus name. I love you. I will be traveling for the next 10 days. I will likely post a guest post or a few devotions. Be back on May 18. Be good to yourself. Allow Jesus to heal your heart and speak peace, love, joy, hope into your family. I adore you. Lynn


Spiritual Leadership When Unequally Yoked       

BibleNation of SUM Warriors,

To follow up on my post from Monday, there some discussion about the perspective I shared. It’s interesting to me that a few readers were uncomfortable with my perspective on the old English, King James Version of 1 Peter 3.

I get it!

Of course, I’m not a theologian. I’m only an ordinary wife and believer who is on this faith journey along with the rest of you. And I only pointed out my perspective because sometimes the Lord is the one who is longing to bring greater understanding to scripture. I will add one more comment about the King James rendering. For centuries the church in general accepted this particular rendering which included the word conversation. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that new translations came into the public readership and were widely received, that the rendering of conversation changed to behavior. King James was written in 1,611. NIV, 1973. So, how did believers from 1,611 to early 1,900’s deal with 1 Peter 3? Were they silent or did they present themselves as the living Word to their unbelieving husbands and talk with them about faith? Or in fact, did they do both? One day in heaven I plan to ask them. *grin*

However, I won’t ignore the fact that we can easily present the translation of the word “conversation” from the Greek which the King James was derived. The Word in the Greek is: anastrophé:

This is closely translated to: Behavior, manner of life.

And as I looked at other passages in the Word, time and again, the word behavior was translated, conversation, manner of life, conduct. But they were intertwined. Here is an example from Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:22 N-AFS
GRK: τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφὴν τὸν παλαιὸν
NAS: to your former manner of life, you lay aside
KJV: the former conversation the old
INT: the former conduct the old

When you consider the Greek meaning, it comes together for me as how our entire life is presented to others. It’s our behavior, our conduct, our conversation…. Our manner of life. It’s our whole-self. Our true identity.

What I love is that the Word remains the same within these translations. We must present ourselves as a wife, a woman worthy of the High calling of God. Let our spouse behold this kind of life, conduct, perhaps even humble conversations. This is the Gospel lived out in the home of the unequally yoked.

In all my years of living in an unequally yoked marriage this is what I know. We are the Word of God being lived out in front of our pre-believer. It’s our year-upon-year, leaning into the truth, living with growing faith. It's not perfection. NO, it's living authentically. Our spouse discovers we are serious about our faith and they, even grudgingly, watch as our life, values, conduct changes before their eyes. Sometimes they quietly admire our adjustments. Sometimes they don’t like our lifestyle changes because they are fighting with lying voice that share their mind and are offended in their deception.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A man can ignore a nagging wife, but he can't ignore the truth of a transformed life!

As a woman with more than 26 years of marriage, I will state clearly and with confidence for your life and marriage. It’ does become easier. Even as I’m typing this I hear my husband in his office, praise music is playing in the kitchen. Gang, earlier in our marriage, praise music playing anywhere was the beginning of a fight.

Last week I was facing some difficult issues and in passing I asked my husband to pray for me as I headed out to a meeting that had me uncomfortable. Upon arriving home, he said to me, “I prayed for you.”

Yes, indeed! That happened!

And it was real. He truly prayed. I hope it was to Jesus. I’m not sure but I was deeply touched that he prayed for lil’ ole me. And the meeting went fantastic.

SUMites, get a grip on Hope. Take hold of with all your might Perseverance and grab Faith and never let go. I will be the voice to assure you, it’s all worth it. There is hope and while we wait, we are invited into the most astonishing adventures with our Papa God, Jesus and the entire realm of His Kingdom! Hallelujah!

If you agree, say it in the comments. I stand on faith. I grab Hope. I invite in perseverance and I accept the invitation to every adventure the Lord offers. In Jesus name. AMEN Signed:______


Begin Thanksgiving With Thanks

The predawn light slips through the window as I sleepily rub my eyes and wait for the coffee to trickle into the pot. The aroma awakens a gentle smile. I swirl in the creamer then shuffle to my prayer room. There I gather my life-line, my Bible and the spiral binder. My Daily Bible

All is quiet. The family slumbers. It’s peaceful in this early morning hour.

My hands clasp about the cup, glad warmth seeps into my fingers. The warm air from the heater begins to circulate the room, as do the angelic. Seated under the lamp, I slowly open the pages. The precious and powerful pages that literally saved my life, changed my heart and continue to do so. These are the very pages where I met Jesus. I turn to the latter days of November. Rough and worn pages reflect scribbles of familiar writing, my thankfulness across the top, of years passing.

November 19, 2007 Praying for wisdom that comes from heaven.

November 20, 2009 My husband received offer for employment after a year of no work. Thank you, Lord!

November 22, 2004 Submitted article to magazine. Thank you, Lord.

November 22, 2007 Thanksgiving Day. Thank you Lord for your boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again.

November 26, 2006 Thank you for the new blog.

November 27, 2003 Thanksgiving Day. My Jesus, salvation, my daughter, son, time off, our home, my husband….Lord, may this year be the year of husband’s salvation.

The handwriting speaks softly to me of years gone by. Of markers of God’s provision, His love, His grace and His ever-present love in my simple life. I step into the words on the page this November 24th, 2011 and thank Him for the rich blessing of another year, a book, a chance to share the hope I have with others, a family that is healthy and under the profound protection of God Almighty.

Faithfulness. This is a record of faithfulness of a good Father in a life of an ordinary daughter.

Daniel, chapter one: I hear the LORD's voice, beckoning through the sentences, Be a woman of courage, of integrity, commitment and purpose. Serve God alone and never bow to idols of greed, gluttony, and self. In Peter chapter three: I’m met with such power. I'm wrecked and overwhelmed. It’s as if on this cold morning God is confirming once again, keep walking the walk, talking the talk, living it out the truth I hold in my heart before my unbelieving spouse. Jesus died for sinners that he might bring them safely home to God (vs 18).

Another sip of sentiment and little Peanut jumps up beside me. He paws the sleep from his eyes and waits for me as I speak tenderly to my Abba, Father.

I smile at his tawny face, pat his back. I sense he smiled.

Turning to my journal, I'm touched by the softness of the morning. The Presence of the Living God falls, heavy. Rushing to my knees, I whisper thanksgiving. Praying from the depths of my soul, filled and overflowing earnest for what truly matters in this world.

O Lord Jesus, my Savior,

Step with me before the throne of grace on this special morning. Allow me favor that I recount my blessings to our Father. Lord, You, have protected and prospered me with all the power of heaven this past year. You have saved my family and my friends from evil and sheltered from disaster. Lord you have spoiled me. I know life is unexpected. Nothing is a guarantee. Yet, today, I acknowledge that the luxuries of Your provision, exceed my dreams. I rejoice that You love me and delight to give gifts to Your children.

Father, thank you for my salvation, for knowing the truth that sets me free, for the healing of hearts, souls, and bodies. Thank you for sharing your Words with me that draw me closer to your heart and conform me to the likeness of Jesus. Thank you for my husband, my children, my home, my church, my online sisters and brothers. You know that my love for them is eternal, passionate, and sacrificing.

Thank you that ……. I am chosen.

I am chosen. I am chosen. I am chosen. Thank you that on this day day in November millions of your people pause with gratitude for Your hand. I love you Lord, your humble servant, Lynn

Moist lashes, trembling hands. The room has grown lighter. Peanut is scratching for his breakfast in the kitchen and I hear a stirring in the distant bedroom. The house is awakening. A full day awaits but for this moment on this day of thanks, I spent time with my King.

And I experienced HIM.

THAT is a perfect Thanksgiving.

Lynn

Give Thanks SUM



Part 2: You Are Loved! &The Mystery Revealed

Dear friends, I'd love it if you'd post a quick review on Amazon. We so appreciate that. Every sale benefits this ministry and pays our bills. And reviews help us tremendously. Thank you! Love you! ~Dineen

Tweet this!: “So my philosophy has shifted from seeking an easier life to seeking God for a more fulfilling life.” pg. 9 #youarelovedcoloringbiblestudy

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Digging for Truth in the Bible

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My friends, a few weeks back several of you left comments about wanting to know how I study the Bible and dig out the truths and revelations. I want to share that with you today so you can start digging deeper and seeking to know God more intimately too!

First and foremost, understand that this is how the Holy Spirit and I operate together. He leads, I follow, and He reveals truth. First, let’s start with the tools I use:

  • A journaling Bible (ESV translation)
  • A journal and pen
  • An iPad
  • The Olive Tree Bible App

In this Bible app, I have multiple translations (11 to be exact) of the Bible, several of which include the Strong’s Numbers that give you the Greek and Hebrew words and definitions. I also have three commentaries, study notes for two translations, and a cross reference.

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For example, here is a screen shot of my Bible app as I looked up the Greek word for ‘rooms’ in John 14:2, using the ESV Bible with Strong’s. By simply touching the word I want to know more about, a second window appears with the definitions and cross references for that word. 

This is where my interaction with the Holy Spirit is key. As I study the words, He makes the connections to the meanings and brings additional revelation and understanding to the meaning and intention of the words being used. 

When we dig a little deeper like this, we discover that there are multiple Greek words that are translated into one single word in the English language. The words love and healing are good examples of this. We have one word for love, but the Greek has four. This is when the intention of the word can open up the full meaning of the Scriptures. And this is where I have a lot of fun as the Holy Spirit brings the Word to life and knocks my socks off with fuller revelations and understanding of the truths in the Bible.

Also, understanding additional definitions to the word brings the fuller meaning and intention of the Words to life as well. An amplified translation is very good at doing this as well.  

What gets really fascinating is when you start to recognize words from other areas of the Bible. This is why I journal the meanings in my journal Bible (see the picture above) and can flip quickly back to them and compare. I could make notes right in the Bible app, but I’m a visual person and can remember visually easier where I’ve written certain notes. That works much better for me.

So, my friends, I hope this helps you figure out ways to study the Bible more deeply that work for you. Ask the Holy Spirit for His inspiration and leading to show you how He wants to do this with you. He’s quite brilliant at it and loves doing it with us! That’s His job after all, to reveal Who Jesus is and His truth to us. 

And now, my dear friends, I will pray the prayer over you that I have prayed over myself for years, each day as I sit down to study my Bible.

Holy Spirit, give every person reading this the wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, to know Him better through His Word. I ask that eyes of their hearts be enlightened, that they would know more deeply the hope You have called them to and the understanding that as saints, we are the inheritance of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus, amen! (Eph 1:17-18)

Now I pass on one finally piece of wisdom in your pursuit of God’s truths in His Word. Have fun studying your Bible. God once told me, “Don’t make Me a duty.” He wants us to seek Him joyfully and know the fullness of His delight in us. Remember, as you seek to understand the Bible better, you are actually growing closer to the Lord!

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14

I love you, my friends!
Dineen


The Rooms in God's House

Hello, dear friends! So good to be back with you this week! I couldn't wait to share this beautiful revelation from John 14. God's Word is so very present and for us now. I pray this insight brings that home to your hearts in an astounding way. 

The words I am referencing:

Rooms: monē — a staying, abode, mansion, abiding, dwelling, metaphor of the God the Holy Spirit indwelling believers
(comes from menō — to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): — abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), thine own, live, not to depart.

House: oikia — a house, an inhabited edifice, a dwelling

Way: hodos — way, journey, metaphorically a way (i.e. manner) of thinking, feeling, deciding.

And I hope this prayer blessed you and your marriage as you wait in expectancy for God to fill the "room" of our spouse's heart with the love of Jesus. Amen!

Love you!
Dineen


Seeing Our Spouse Like God Does

Ecc11We live in a world that defines us by what we do, but as believers we are called to walk to the beat of a different drum. That beat is the pulse of the Father's heart and who He says we are.

SUMites, our Heavenly Father’s heart beats for our spouse too, because he has placed an eternal identity in them as well, just waiting to be unlocked, and I firmly believe we are called to partner with God to help identify, reveal and release that identity in them.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. — Ecc 3:11

I also believe this is a key part of our authority in Christ and in our marriage as the spiritual leader in the home. We are the aroma of Christ in our homes and our faith sanctifies our spouse. 

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. — 2 Cor 2:15

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1 Cor 7:14

As I’ve shared before the Greek word for ‘sanctify’ means to ‘lay a claim upon.” My friends, we not only sit in the heavenly realms with Jesus (Eph 2:6), we also sit in very real places of influence in the lives of those we love and pray for. We can speak death (negativity, blame, accusation, condemnation and even curses) or we can speak life (positive words, encouragement, affirmation, edification and blessings).

What I want to focus on is this place of influence we hold and how God wants us to sit, walk, and stand in this place of influence. I am using these words metaphorically, but there are actual biblical references to these positions of faith, which we can learn from. 

These aren’t new concepts, my friends, but I want to approach these truths from Ephesians with the goal of applying them to our mismatched marriages and how we can sit, walk and stand in faith in life and mismatchdom. And I will be addressing some of the topics you shared in the survey, in which you expressed a need, a challenge, or a desire for your marriage.

Finally, my friends, I want to share a hope that is growing in my heart and spirit. As I learn more and more about God’s heart to heal and restore His people (all people, because He sees them all from His perspective of who He created them to be), I’ve come to realize I’ve separated healing and salvation into to two categories, when they are in fact the same thing.

If you look at the Greek word for salvation (sōtēria) and save (sōzō), both include health and healing in their definitions. So, in a sense, we are praying for our pre-believers to be healed in their spirit. Salvation is so complete and so perfect in its provision from Jesus Christ. We tend to see it merely as the rescue from hell and a guarantee of heaven, but it is so much more. 

Amazingly, Jesus displays this in John 5 with the story of the invalid man waiting to be healed in the pool of Bethesda. Where the English translations use only one word for ‘healing,’ the Greek, in fact, uses four. And there is a progression in this passage that reflects not only the man’s physical healing but his spiritual healing—salvation and the revelation of his identity in Jesus—as well.

In doing word studies of the Greek text, I’ve found some precious nuggets. And I would love—and I do mean love—to share those, but I fear you would get bored. Plus I’m reaching the sweet spot of how long a good post should be in the blogosphere and don’t want to wear out my welcome. 

Suffice it to say, this progression reveals the limitations that we as humans beings place on what Jesus can do and what Jesus really can do. So I will share the best part of this exchange between Jesus and the invalid. 

In verse five where Jesus asks the man if He wants to be healed, He’s not just talking about the man’s body. Jesus means healed, saved and the understanding of who the man is to God. Notice the man doesn’t reply with a yes, only with reasons why he isn’t healed yet. He’s not comprehending what Jesus really means at this point, but it’s clear he does want to be healed.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. When Jesus says ‘get up’ in verse eight, He’s actually saying wake up and rise up out of his disease and sin. Jesus is calling him out, in a good way. What’s so interesting is that Jesus finds the man (whether by happenstance or intentionally isn’t clear, but I suspect it was very intentional), He finishes what he started in the man’s physical healing by giving the man a revelation of his new state—a transformation of the man’s thinking (Rom 12:2).

“See, you are well!” 

The Greek word for ‘see’ (ide) means behold, look. In other words, Jesus was saying, “See yourself as I do.”

And it gets even better. The Greek for ‘well’ is ginomai and means to become, come into existence, finished as with a miracle, be made.

Jesus was telling the man to see himself as the new creation (reborn) he now was, as the man God created him to be. Jesus was calling out the truth placed in the man—eternity, which is the intention of God to heal, save and deliver (sozo) and be the child of God he was always intended to be. A man of God, complete and equipped with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph 1:3).

My friends, this is what we can “call out” of our spouses with how we sit, walk, and stand in our faith. And that is what I’m so looking forward to exploring with you. What do you think? Is this something you’re interested in pursuing? If so, start asking the Holy Spirit to help you see your spouse through His eyes and give you a revelation of who he or she is to God. 

He may show you a small detail or give you a bigger image of who your spouse is in Jesus. Because the promise is already there, SUMites. As we are told in Psalm 139, Father God knew us before we were ever born. That is true for our spouses too. They may not know God yet, but God definitely knows them.

And that, my friends, is what I want us to partner with God to release in our spouses. Oh, this is going to be so good! Amen!

Love you so much!
Dineen


The Book of Esther: Enemies Destroyed and a New Holiday

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this…

SUMites, when we last left Esther and Mordecai, the king had given them Mordecai his signet ring (authority). Esther seems to hold such great favor with the king that just her explanation of her relationship to Mordecai results in this transfer of authority.  

Esther again speaks to the king, falling at his feet in tears as she pleads for the lives of her people. The king gives both her and Mordecai permission to do what they feel best to save the Jews. The king’s scribes are summoned and a new proclamation is written to “react” to the one Haman had made. Since a Persian’s king’s decree could not be revoked, this counter attack was the best way to stop the annihilation of the Jewish population. Once again, the God of the Jews is protecting them.

Take a closer look at this stunning description of what happened next:

Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them. — Esther 8:15-17

Did you catch that last line? Not only were the Jews saved, but people were converted to Judaism as well. God’s presence among the Jews was unmistakable. We’ve seen that in the subtle hints by the author using the number seven. What’s so interesting, my friends, is in the midst of this study, I’ve been rather fascinated by the mention of the seven Spirits of God.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. — Isa. 11:1-2

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, — Rev. 4:5

Now interestingly enough, in reading through Esther the Holy Spirit began pointing out the characteristics of God present in this story. Seven of them. I began to wonder if these characteristics could be linked to the seven Spirits of God. Take a look:

God of Sovereignty (Spirit of the Lord—mandates us for position): God chose specific people to put in key places—Esther, Mordecai and Xerxes. He first placed Esther in a position to be queen and then Mordecai to be in an even greater position of power.

God of Justice (Spirit of Wisdom—equips us for position): The gallows built by Haman become his own death sentence. Esther and Mordecai create decrees that uniquely counter Haman’s plot by bringing justice to the Jews.

God of Provision (Spirit of Understanding—authorizes us for position): Esther’s favor is secure throughout the story. Mordecai’s favor continues to increase. And God is generous in His astonishing provision for Esther, Mordecai and the Jews.

God of Partnership (Spirit of Council—prepares us for position): God chooses to partner with His people to accomplish His plans and purposes. Even though we are not told He is there, we see His presence at work throughout the story, especially in the council Esther receives through Mordecai and Hegai.

God of Faithfulness (Spirit of Might—reveals us for position): God continues to save Israel even in her captivity, and uses two of their people to do it through.

God of the Impossible (Spirit of Knowledge—empowers us for position): Esther was a jew living in exile, yet she is made the Queen of Persia. And she uses her position and what she has learned to save her people.

God of Perfection (Spirit of Fear of the Lord—seals us for position): God’s time is perfect in the orchestration of the events. Especially in how Haman’s plots are revealed and used against him. The timing is quite uncanny. And Esther and Mordecai never question whether God is present or not. They know He is there and that He will answer their pleas. For the most part, they are secure in who they are and where God has placed them.

Now, what’s even more interesting is the new holiday that emerges from these events. As you probably guessed, the name Purim comes from the pur (lots) that Haman tossed to determine the date of the Jewish annihilation. 

In chapter nine we see one of the first things Mordecai does is make a decree to all the provinces that the Jews are to keep the 14th and the 15th days of the month of Adar as a celebration of their deliverance from their enemies. They were to be days of feasting, gladness, gifts of food and gifts to the poor. 

Today that holiday is still observed with the reading of the book of Esther (Megillah) once on the even of Purim and then on the following day, the giving of money gifts to at least two poor people, sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person, and a Purim feast, which often includes either wine or other intoxicating beverages.

Purim is actually one of the more livelier holidays on the Jewish calendar. On the day before, it is customary to fast in commemoration of Esther’s prayer and fasting. During Purim, children and adults wear costumes and indulge in sweets like hamantaschen, a three cornered, sweet-filled pastry. (For more information on Purim, click here.

What I found most significant in my research of this holiday is what God has done just recently for the Jewish people. In the early 1950’s, Joseph Stalin had brutal plans to deal with the “Jewish problem” in the U.S.S.R. At the crisis point in 1953, he died…on Purim.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded Kuwait and began firing SCUD missiles into Israel. U.S.-led forces attacked Iraq and ended hostilities…on Purim.

Fascinating, isn’t it? God continues to move “behind the scenes” even today on behalf of the Jewish Nation. So encouraging!

My friends, I have one post left in this series and it is the one I’ve been dying to share since I started this series. But the Holy Spirit has continually kept me on track to bring out key points first so that you may fully embrace what He is speaking to us right now. It is astonishing and awe-inspiring!

Love you, SUMites! Great things are happening!
Dineen

Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo


The Book of Esther: The Queen Risks Everything

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this…

My friends, we’re moving deeper into the story of Esther where things are moving much faster and starting to heat up in a big way. We left the story with Queen Esther’s life hanging in the balance.

As chapter five opens, Queen Esther has put on her royal robes (put on her best dress) and enters the king’s throne room. We hold our breath and wait. What will her fate be? Yet we know who, I mean WHO, has her back, right? With God behind her, she is destined for victory.

Just as we are, my friends. Often, it’s all in how we look at it. Like Mordecai, we can turn every situation upside down and ask God, “What do you want to do here? What are the possibilities?”

King Xerxes extends his scepter, and she is welcomed in. And not only that. The king offers her whatever she wants, even up to half of his kingdom. My friends, here is where we see God’s heart working in a big way. He has placed Esther in even more favor in her situation, and, amazingly, displays this through the king, her husband.

Do we miss that sometimes? Do we miss how God can work through our spouses and show His extravagant love through them? I know I have. God has had to almost knock me upside the head at times, but when I see it, I am so overwhelmed. It’s unmistakable in its generosity and goodness.

Now, if you’re like me, the first time you read Esther, you probably expected her to reveal everything to the king at that moment, but instead, Esther invites the king and Haman to a banquet she prepares. And if you’re still like me, you probably asked, why is she prolonging this?

Based upon what we see in the beginning of this story with Queen Vashti, I wonder if Esther wanted to reveal who she was to the king without the presence of the king’s nobles, who clearly seemed to have a lot of power and influence over the king. In fact, King Xerxes seems like a puppet at times, allowing the opinions and ideas of those around him to rule his kingdom.

But then, why would she want Haman to attend as well, if that were the case? 

The plot continues to thicken yet again, my friends. Esther continues to withhold her request by asking the king and Haman to join her for another banquet the next day, with the promise to answer the king’s question. 

We can only speculate, but my thoughts here are that she was securing her place once again in the king’s heart and hoping Haman would lower his guard enough to be exposed. After all, she surely knew the place Haman held in the king’s court as his most honored noble. Queen Esther probably wanted to ensure that her favor with the king overruled Haman’s (vss. 5:7, 7:3). 

In the meantime, Haman is doing some plotting of his own. He is so certain of his place with the king and now the queen, he orders gallows to be built for Mordecai to be hung on at the suggestion of his wife and friends. (Note: the NIV translation describes a pole and that Mordecai was to be impaled upon it.)

But as we see in the Joseph’s story, what the enemy means to harm us, God uses for our good. That very night, a sleepless King Xerxes orders the book of memorable deeds to be opened and read to him. And what do you know, the story of Mordecai exposing the plot to kill the king is read!

And the king is reminded that Mordecai was never rewarded for his act. We are now in chapter six with Haman’s plan to have Mordecai killed waiting to be initiated, yet the king has decided to honor that very same man. Talk about a clash of the Persians!

My friends, I find this part of the story somewhat hilarious as Haman walks right into his own trap. Only God could orchestrate this "just" moment. “Just” as Haman is entering the king’s court with full intentions to petition the king for Mordecai's death, the king is calling Haman to consult him about honoring Mordecai.

And Haman’s assumption and expectation to be honored by the king with his own suggestions is turned completely upside down. He winds up the one ordered to lead the very man he hates, Mordecai, around the city wearing the king’s robe and riding the king’s horse, shouting, “This is what is done to the man the king delights to honor.” 

Haman is completely humiliated. I can’t help but wonder how Mordecai felt in all this. I can’t see him sitting on that horse too comfortably and gloating. I suspect he may have been a tad uncomfortable but was wise enough to comply since it was the king’s order to honor him. 

At the end of chapter six, even Haman’s wife and wise men tell him he didn’t stand a chance. They already see his imminent fall when pitted against the Jewish people, which tells us the remnant of Israel already has a reputation of having a God who comes through for them.

And so do we, SUMites. Our God is so faithful. He comes through for us. And in the most unexpected ways! If a people group who didn’t even follow Yaweh have such an expectation, how much more can our expectation be of our God, Who gives us everything. 

And not just half the kingdom, but the entire Kingdom through His Son Jesus…

We’re entering chapter seven and the demise of Haman. At this second banquet, Queen Esther answers the king’s question, “What is your wish?” She asks for her life and reveals she is one of the very people the king has decreed to be killed. At the revelation that Haman, the king’s most valued noble, is the one behind the decree, King Xerxes becomes enraged. 

Could part of the king’s anger be a realization that he so easily gave Haman his ring and authority to make such a decree? Could we question here whether King Xerxes held much authority at this point as he seemed to allow others to make decisions for him? He certainly seems to regain some of this when he orders Hamas to be hanged on the same gallows he built for Mordecai.

Yet by chapter eight, the king has already given his signet ring to Mordecai after Queen Esther explains who he is. This happens before she pleads with him to avert the pending threat against her people. My friends, in my introduction to Esther, one of my bullet points was “the shifting of positions of those in authority and those in leadership.”

I intentionally worded it that way and you may have wondered what the difference was. This is part of what the Holy Spirit “talked” to me about one Sunday afternoon after church. Authority and leadership are not the same. You can have a leader without authority, but someone with authority will lead. He also explained that leadership without authority falls short of God’s plan.

Now here is where this discussion became very interesting. Using Scriptures, the Holy Spirit showed me there are different levels of authority. It is fascinating, my friends. Something I had wondered about in the past but now understand more clearly. This I will share with you soon and the stunning revelation that goes with it. 

In the meantime, share your hearts in the comments. We are nearing the end of Esther’s story and the beginning of another one. What parts of Esther speak to you, my friends? What revelations in this story are taking root and perhaps helping you see your situation in a different light?

Love you!
Dineen

Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo


A Declaration of Salvation

IMG_0071Hello, SUMites! Can you believe we’re already in March? Time seems to keep speeding up on me, so I’ve made the decision to look forward to Christmas all year long. If this most precious season is going to keep fleeting by on me, I’m going to make the most of it the rest of the year.

Are you laughing at me? LOL! That’s fine if you are. But on a deeper note, I believe this is actually part of the journey God has me walking to know more joy and delight, especially delight in Him.

Which brings me back to Isaiah. Who would have, at first glance, thought that the book of Isaiah is one we can delight in? But it is. It is the book that holds the most prophetic words about the Messiah coming and who He would be to the Israelites. And to us…

That’s the delightfully stunning part, my friends. As this book was inspired, our Papa God was even thinking of us—you and me…and our spouses. Isaiah is a book about God’s ardent love for His people and His desire and plan for our redemption and restoration to Him. 

In fact, the name Isaiah means “the Lord is salvation.” That right there makes my heart go ka-thunk. To think our Heavenly Father’s plans and love for us span from the very beginning to the very end, well, that’s just a stunning picture of how great His love is. We truly are rooted and established in love—His love.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. — Eph. 3:16-19 (NIV)

Read those same verses in the Passion Translation:

And I pray that he would pour out over you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.

Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life, providing you with a secure foundation that grows and grows.

18-19Then, as your spiritual strength increases, you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement, beyond academic knowledge—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! — Eph. 3:16-19 (TPT)

SUMites, this is what is blowing my mind this morning as I write this. And this is what I feel the Holy Spirit is impressing upon me right now. The entire book of Isaiah is a passionate declaration of God’s jealousy over His people and His great love for them. And it is a book that applied to the Israelites in their current times and spans all the way to us and beyond because of the promises it holds. It was the decree of the Messiah to come and a declaration of Who our Savior Jesus is today, for us.

This is the clarity the Holy Spirit has brought to my heart for two weeks now to understand how I can—we can—apply and pray these Scriptures over ourselves and especially over our spouses. This is the clarity He brought as He showed me Isaiah 12 and placed a knowledge and understanding in my spirit of how to pray it for my husband. And this is the clarity I feel He is telling me to share with you. I’m excited to share it with you, my SUM family.

In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” — Isaiah 12:1-6 (NIV)

This is how the Holy Spirit led me to pray/declare it:

On the day of your salvation, Michael, you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord.
Although your pleasure could not rest upon me,
You turned away your displeasure to pursue and love me.
I declare God is my salvation!
I will trust Him and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and defense;
He has become my salvation.”

And on that day, Michael will say:
“I give praise to the Lord and proclaim His name;
I will make it known among the nations what He has done for me,
and proclaim that His name is exalted.
I sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things in me;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people!
For great is the Holy One of Israel, the Almighty God, among us!

In the saving name of Jesus, amen!

My friends, I encourage you to not only do this with Isaiah 12, but with any piece of Scripture that seems to grab you, because, I promise you, that is the Holy Spirit revealing something to you. Ask Him what it is, speak it out, mediated on it, journal it, declare it and rest in it until He tells you to move on.

And never forgot the promise of Jeremiah 1:12, that God watches over His Word to perform it. Speak it, then trust Him for the time and place for it’s fulfillment. He is faithful to His Word. SUMites, if you've prayed this for your spouse, put his or name in your comment with an amen. I want to pray in agreement with you.

I love you, my friends, and I pray that the revelation of God’s Word is astounding in your heart, your life, your marriage and to those around you. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!
Dineen

 


The Rains of God’s Glory

My friends, I have something very special to share with you today. It’s something I was unsure about sharing at first, but a phone convo with Lynn helped me see I should indeed share it with you. And since then, God has revealed a bit more and connected more dots.

In early 2014 God told me to pray for California. This was before our move to Florida. II was sitting on my porch one morning with my favorite mug full of coffee and my Bible. As I read and prayed, God told me to “pray a wave a faith over California.” I didn’t quite understand what that would look like, but I did what He asked and began praying this obediently for months.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2015. We’d moved part time to Florida but still spent several months in California and still owned our home there. The Holy Spirit led me to read the book of Isaiah.

One particular morning, I reached Isaiah 55 and the Holy Spirit began to point out parts that had to do with the land and water over the next several chapters. I knew in my spirit this had to do with the drought in California. I continued to read, wondering why He would even show such things to me.

Now let me preface this to say that the He’d first set me up the day before with Isaiah 52:6. I underlined it, recognizing that as new covenant believers, this was connected to the promise of the Messiah to come. And we know the name of Jesus is powerful and thus why we pray it.

Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.” — Isaiah 52:6 (NIV)

So the next day when He stopped me at Isaiah 59:19, I already had this reference to connect to. As you can see in the picture, I dated my notation April 28, 2015. I suspected this was related to the Holy Spirit’s instructions to pray a wave of faith over California and that this also spoke of the end of the drought. In fact, that is what I heard in my spirit, that God was decreeing an end to the drought. 

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Within weeks of this revelation, several other Christian leaders in California began to say the same thing. I knew God was revealing His heart and plans for the state of California, and now we are seeing the full revelation of this.

What was predicted to take years—the return of the rains to refill the reservoirs—is happening in weeks. We are seeing God move faster than we ever have before, my friends. And He is moving in new and stunning ways. Right now it’s very important that we keep alert to these new ways and be willing to let go of the old. I believe this is also part of what He meant when He told me things wouldn’t look the way we expect and that He wants to do things differently. These are things I shared with you last year.

Now there is more to this moment in time, my friends, and it includes us. On that same day, the Holy Spirit stopped me at Isaiah 60:22. See the picture below with SUM written next to the Scripture.

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SUMites, we have grown from a small family and a tiny group to a mighty nation of over 2,000. I believe we are symbolic of what God is doing all over the world. He is bring up communities like ours to operate the way the church did in Acts 2. We are the new church He is bringing into place. 

Last July, I shared in a video message what I felt God was speaking about His church, that “His heart is to establish a new and holy church—not fix the old one.”

That doesn’t mean we are to abandon our churches, dear friends, it simply means God is transforming us to function in greater unity and love if we will allow Him to come in and do this in our places of worship, no matter where they are. Our church will no longer be limited and defined by physical walls and building. We will be the unified body of Christ, His bride made pure. Connections and partnerships (bridges) are being formed between churches in communities even now to work together to have greater impact in communities and cities.

My friends, I believe this also means God is working in new and significant ways in our marriages and in the hearts of our spouses. This is part of our salvation word from last year, which continues to be the seed planted that the Holy Spirit is watering. 

Let me share some of my observations and what I am seeing:

I believe the rain we are seeing in California and the overflow is symbolic of God’s glory pouring over His children and our loved ones (that they shall be saved too! Acts 16:31). I know it looks messy, but remember what I said in one of my previous messages about God’s favor. It can look messy at first (remember how God favored Mary to carry Jesus), but we can trust God to bring His plans and purposed to a good completion for His ways are always good (Rom. 8:28)

I believe we are going to see significant shifts in our homes and in our spouses, SUMites. Many of you already are. As Lynn has shared in the emotional healing series, we need to be healed so we can help those coming to faith to walk in wholeness as well. Part of the video message I shared last year was about God’s “harvest time” and the “fruit” (remember the figs), which are the many souls being called in. (Some of you may even remember the harvest dream I shared in 2013.)

I believe we are entering this time at a new level. We are stepping out of the old and into the new. We will see things happen in ways we never expected or anticipated. We will see God move faster than we thought possible. And we will see our faith increased to new levels as we step into our promises and new opportunities. 

My friends, I will stop there. I have something else from Isaiah that God is showing me to pray for my husband that I may share on Friday. I'm asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom on that first and for any more insights He wants to reveal for us. Be assured I will share as the Holy Spirit leads me. I don't know why the Holy Spirit uses the book of Isaiah like this to reveal things to me, but it is fascinating to say the least.

SUMites, we are living in exciting times! Reading this may very well bring things to mind and connect some dots for you. Please share you're thoughts and what you believe God is showing you. I can't wait to hear your hearts!

Love you, my mighty friends! You are greater in Him than you know!
Dineen

 


Our Perception and God’s

17322952_sI’m fascinated by Jesus. I’m fascinated by how He interacts with people in the Bible and today. And I’m fascinated by the deeper meanings the Holy Spirit brings to us as we move closer to the truth of who we are and find healing in that process.

My friends, one such story is found in Luke 7, the story of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman. If you have a moment, read this account in Luke 7:36-50.

As I read this story recently, the Holy Spirit answered a long-held question I had in a very unexpected way. This question came from Jesus’ statement, “But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

I asked the Lord once again, “Lord, do I have to be forgiven of a lot of things in order to love you better?”

The question sounded ridiculous to me as I wrote it in my journal, because I knew that sin is sin to Jesus and that He took care of it all on the cross. But I wanted to understand the heart of this story at a deeper level. And if the Holy Spirit was telling me to read this particular piece of Scripture, then I could be assured He had something to reveal to me that would move me closer to the truth.

He brought me back to the beginning of this story and said, “Read it again.”

I did. I read it again, repeatedly over several days. I read of the woman’s weeping and reverent treatment of Jesus. I read of Simon’s thoughts toward the woman. And I read what Jesus says of Simon and how he welcomed Jesus into his home.

Jesus saw Simon and the woman in the very same light. His love for each of them was equal and His gift of forgiveness the same. In fact, the story isn’t at all about how Jesus saw these two people at all.

It’s about how they saw themselves. The woman knew her need and saw Jesus as the answer. Though the perfume was costly, her tears and love were priceless to Jesus. Only He could receive her sacrifice with love and forgiveness.

And restore her…”Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Simon didn’t see his need. He didn’t see himself at all actually. He lived in the deception that he was good, because as a Pharisee, he’d followed all the rules, therefore keeping himself blind to his need. He saw the woman as the sinner, not himself. 

Simon saw the woman as who she used to be. 

Jesus saw the woman as who He always created her to be.

My friends, that is how Jesus sees us. He always sees us from the place of our complete identity and destiny. And everything He is doing in us right now is to reveal more and more of that, what He’s already declared us to be.

On Friday I plan to talk a little bit more about this subject and share more of what the Holy Spirit is teaching me right now about connecting our identity in Christ to our destiny and how to live it right now. It’s an adventure full of the mystery of God and abiding in Him with peace. I can’t wait to learn more!

I love you, SUMites. I see you through the eyes of God’s love and you are more amazing than you can ever imagine!
Dineen

Copyright: semisatch / 123RF Stock Photo


The Times They are a Changin'

My friends, I pray this video encourages you. As I suggested, read Ezra and this amazing story of how God used King Cyrus, the leaders of the Trans Eurphrates, King Artaxerxes and King Darius to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The very people and plans to stop this wound up revealing the original edict by Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. God loves to turn things on end and surprise us, SUMites. Remember, things won't look the way you expect. This is not a time of either or. It's a time of yes and both and AMEN!

So let's be in prayer together for our loved ones.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. — 2 Kings 6:15-17

Lord Jesus, open the eyes of our spouses and loved ones that they me see YOU! In the name  of Jesus, amen!

I love you so much, SUMites! You are amazing!
Dineen


Defending the Bible

A few days ago, I received a prayer request from a new reader. As I answered her email, I realized that her situation is also similar to many of us. So, I want to share her question/prayer request and my answer.

Let me know if you are in this season of marriage and struggle and I will be so glad to pray for you. Hugs, Lynn

Provers 3  1-6From B:

My husband says he believes but every time that I open my Bible or talk about God he makes me feel like I'm wasting my time and brings up controversial issues in the bible to try to prove it’s not true. It weakens my faith because he makes really good points and it then makes me feel stupid for believing it. I don't want to feel this way and I know it's Satan trying to steal my joy and my faith and he’s using my husband to do it. So, I'm asking my sister's in Christ to be in FERVENT prayer over my husband. Thank you all.

Dear B:

Girl, do I ever know how you feel. Indeed, this was my life as well in the early years of my marriage. I will assure you it’s all real. Jesus is real and the more you grow in your faith the easier it will be for you  to walk in confidence in the truth of the Word. Also, do not feel as though you must defend your faith or the Bible to your husband. It’s impossible to make them see the truths in the Word without the Holy Spirit. It’s not a book of logic. It’s a book of faith. Faith is believing. But right now, I will be the voice to tell you it’s all real. Hold on to those words when the enemy uses your husband to shame you.

Keep walking in joy and hope because you will not be disappointed. You may need to have a conversation with your husband. Pray first for wisdom and timing. Let your husband know that you don't have every answer he is looking for but your experience and the joy in your heart outweighs the questions you have. And over time you will receive answers because God loves to reveal himself to those who are diligently looking for Him.

Ask your husband to just respect your faith because it makes you happy. Ask him not to tear you and your faith down and then promise him you won’t push your faith on him. Prayerful and hopefully this kind of conversation will develop into peace in your marriage.

In the meantime, pray…. Your prayers are utterly powerful. Claim your husband and marriage with 1 Corinthians 7:14. It is our power passage. Read about there here.

I pray for your husband and I bless you with love, a peace that passes all understanding, joy, forgiveness and more faith. In Jesus name. AMEN

Hugs, Lynn

SUMites, have you struggled like this? Do you have any words of encouragement to give to B? See you in the comments. Lynn


The Power of God’s Words

SwordCloud
"Jesus is your sword."

One of the things I love about living in Florida is the cloud formations. They are tall and fluffy, filling the sky with a terrain of fluffy like cotton. Then other times they are imposing and dark, flashing with lighting and pouring down rain. Rarely is the sky completely devoid of these puffy wonders.

One bright and humid Florida morning, I went for a walk to worship and pray. My conversation with God that day was about prayer and words. I wanted to understand more about what He seemed to be impressing upon my heart to understand.

I looked up in the sky and noticed a could that looked just like a sword, which I thought was so interesting. But what made it relevant was what the Holy Spirit spoke to me as I looked at this simple formation.

“Jesus is your sword.”

My friends, this truth clicked into place in my heart and then my mind and the Scriptures I’d ready many times seemed to take on even deeper meaning. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:1-5

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14

This truth already blew my mind, SUMites, but then to think of it in terms of our spiritual armor, brings a whole new level of awe. 

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, — Ephesians 6:17

Jesus is the Word and the sword of the Spirit is God’s Word, so Jesus truly is our sword! So what does that mean?

The Ezekiel Model

In the book of Ezekiel, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over dry bones to hear the word of the Lord. First of all, prophesy simply means to speak by inspiration. We are all call to do this and since we have the Holy Spirit living in us, it makes sense that we can do this. (That’s a whole other series best saved for another time.)

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! — Ezekiel 37:4

So Ezekiel is told by the Spirit of God to speak God’s words of life over these bones. The word ‘hear’ in Hebrew is šâma’ and holds such meanings as to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.), declare, discern, give ear, (cause to, let, make to) hear(-ken, tell), listen, make (a) noise, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, (make a) proclaim(-ation), publish, regard, report, shew (forth), (make a) sound, tell, understand, whosoever (heareth), witness. And that’s the edited down version. 

In similar intensity, ‘word’ means ḏâḇâr in Hebrew and translates to such meanings as a word; by implication, a matter (as spoken of) or thing; adverbially, a cause: act, advice, affair, answer, commandment, commune(-ication), concern(-ing), confer, counsel, decree, deed, duty, effect, eloquent, errand, glory, manner, matter, message, portion, power, promise, provision, purpose, question, rate, reason, report, request. Again, the edited down version.

These are two hefty words that hold a lot of meaning and impact. Which then led me to Jeremiah 1:12 where God asks Aaron what he sees. 

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

Did you know that word ‘watching’ means to be alert i.e. sleepless? Now look at Isaiah 55:11

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

My friends, this is like a double promise. God decrees (shall) His Word will not only be life giving but also powerful and effective to accomplish His purposes. So, think about this in context of praying Scriptures, which are God’s Word and are thus in alignment with His heart and purposes, and what could happen as a result of doing so. And I mean literally praying Scriptures out loud, word for word. 

For example, our salvation word this year is Jeremiah 24:7. Almost every day I am praying this:

Lord, thank you for giving every one of our SUMite spouses a heart that knows You are God. Thank You that You have declared they will be your sons and daughters and You will be their God. Thank You that they are returning to You wholeheartedly and will follow You all the days of their lives.

We can do this with any Scripture in the Bible, SUMites. Speak God’s Word out as truth. 

Lord, Your Word says that by the stripes of Jesus Christ I am healed, therefore I declare that I am healed of (name specific illnesses, diseases and conditions). (Isaiah 53:5). And I declare the blood of Jesus over my entire body and declare I walk in divine health. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Lord, you are not willing that any should be lost so I rejoice and thank You that You are pursuing my spouse, my children, my family members with your relentless love and I stand in agreement with You that me and and my entire household will be saved. In the name of Jesus, amen! (Matthew 18:14, Acts 16.31).

My friends, whenever you read your Bible and find yourself stopped or stuck on a piece of God’s Word, ask the Holy Spirit what it means, what you need to know about it, and how you are to pray into it, believe it and then decree it. 

One last story…

In my post last Friday I talked about Isaiah six and how the praises of the seraphim shook the place. Did you know this happened in the New Testament too, with the disciples? The disciples were faced with great opposition, so they joined together and prayed.

And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. — Acts 4:29-31

What did they pray for, my friends? Boldness to share His Word. They asked for healing power, miracles and wonders (what Jesus had taught and sent them out to do), all done in the name of Jesus. And what did God do? He shook the place with His presence! They prayed according to His Word (Jesus) and God answered.

So, my friends, I’m not saying that every time we pray, our houses are supposed to shake, but what if they did? What if we asked God for that kind of boldness and courage to pray and share Him with others and walked in miracles and wonders as the evidence of it? What if we already are?

I believe our prayers “shake” the heavens more than we realize. And the more boldness and courage we have, the more we shake the rafters!

O Lord, give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching Your word. Stretch out You hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. Amen!

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen


Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

Dear friends, I'm traveling this week and will be in Nashville for the ACFW conference. I'm thrilled to share this most encouraging post by SUMite, Dee Rusnak. How amazing to think our Lord and Savior Jesus understands our mismatched places because He lived it too. 

Thank you, Dee, for once again sharing your beautiful heart and encouraging words with us! Love you!
See you next week, SUMites!
Dineen

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

JesusTestedHow often have we learned that God is never in a hurry, or at least within our time frame? Or better, never in the way we expect? We read in Joshua how ripe Jericho was for the taking, but God said not so fast with the Israelites who were hungry to take the land. And, when they did, it was in such an unorthodox way (Joshua 6 - marching around the city). Why do we want to rush things and do it in our own way? For me it's so I can rest knowing my ducks are all in a row. If my entire family were saved, then peace would be upon me, or so I think. But God is drawing them in His time and according to His ways. I struggle with that.

In reading through God's Word we find that the family of Jesus didn't believe while He was among them, even to the point of sarcasm. "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to Him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world' For even His own brothers did not believe in Him." (John 7:3-5)

Mark (3:21) recounts that His family thought "He is out of His mind!" How did Jesus handle the fact that His own family didn't believe? Matthew 13 lists them as James, Joseph, Simon and Jude, and some unnamed sisters. Jesus certainly had the power to change their hearts. After all, time was ticking and He wasn't going to be on earth much longer. Time to get Your ducks in a row here, Lord! Did Mary teach them and groom them as they were growing up, especially nearing adulthood, about their older brother as Savior? Did His true identity come as a total shock to His younger siblings? Where were they during His crucifixion? Didn't they love Him or try to defend Him? Interestingly, none of this is mentioned in God's Word.

However, we know that some were saved. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul writes "He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of His followers at the same time...Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." Mary and His brothers waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit following His ascension, "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." (Acts 1:14) But, which brothers, if not all? Two brothers that we know of, James and Jude, were converted and wrote books in the New Testament. James later became a leader in the Jerusalem church. What about His sisters? Did He pray for His Father to draw them? Were there still family members who did not believe? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins?

If Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are, was He as concerned for the souls of His family, just as we are for those in our lives? "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was quite familiar with God's ways and His timing. Never do we see Him fretting throughout His life. As Psalm 37 says "Do not fret - fretting only brings harm." Yet He entrusted God with all things, including Himself, and the salvation of His earthly family…and us!

Jesus prayed…

“I do not pray for these alone (disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)

SUMs, Jesus had a mismatched family! We are literally walking in His shoes (sandals)! When we read that He has experienced everything we go through, did you ever consider this situation? We’ve never been alone, SUMs, nor will we ever be! He’s been where we are! He gets it! In His great compassion and love for us, He has given us an example to follow of what we’re to do while we wait: Pray. Trust. Obey. Look what happened with James and Jude! Not only did they believe, but were used by God as Bible authors! Forget the ducks. Instead, together let’s listen intently to God’s very heartbeat: "who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and let us watch Him do what's impossible for us but is so very possible for Him!

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!