164 posts categorized "Bible Study"

JESUS AND THE CHURCH ARE THE ULTIMATE MISMATCH

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

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

The wedding supper of the Lamb!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

NOPE.

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

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

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

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

Double WHOA!

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

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

Good grief!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Who Is Abigail? SUMites of the Bible Summer Study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that bother anyone else?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugs, Lynn


The Story of David and Michal

A warm welcome to any new readers of the blog today! My name's Ann, and we are in the middle of a study of marriages in the Bible with a faith difference. I hope you enjoy it as you read along.
Sumites in the Bible

As for our regular readers, I so enjoyed reading your comments and insights on Monday's post. Keep them coming!

Now, today's couple is David and Michal. Unlike Elizabeth and Zacharias (from Monday's post), David and Michal seem to be a classic couple with a clear faith difference. If we turn to 2 Samuel 6:16-23, we see David dance to the Lord, a whirling passion that came straight from his hunger for his Lord. Michal, meanwhile, looks out of an upstairs window and despises his faith. I wrote a little about that back in March -- You can re-revisit it here.

Essentially, Michal sees David dance and comes out with a cutting comment about his worship. She was not right to do so. But today I wanted to ask the question: Could it have been avoided?

Here's the thing: Michal had a raw deal. Her relationship history with David is shown in the Bible, and we can see that somewhere along the way it turned into a bit of a disaster. The day she looked out of the window and despised David might have been the culmination of a few things.

Early on she loved David (1 Samuel 18:20). These are sweet words. Perhaps he loved her too: To win her hand he was asked by King Saul (her father) for 100 Philistine foreskins (1 Samuel 18:25-27). That's some commitment. 

They started out settled, but then disaster struck: David had to go on the run from Saul; Saul married off Michal to another man. David was busy surviving for so many years, and then when he became King there were wars to fight, alliances to make. Years went by before he saw Michal again, and by that time he'd married six new wives!

Only AFTER marrying the six wives does David manage to get Michal back, snatching her from her new husband who follows her weeping (2 Samuel 3:13-16). We don't know if she loved the second husband, or what her will was; but as I write this I think to myself, 'Would any woman be happy to be one of seven, when previously she was the only one?' Biblical times were different, but I just can't imagine this being fun.

The thing is, men were meant to be husbands of one wife. God gave Adam one woman: Eve. It wasn't Adam and six women. Centuries later, admittedly the heroes of faith like David and Jacob did have more than one wife; but while God honored them for their open hearts of faith and their many acts of obedience, their sexual actions did have some dysfunctional consequences. Perhaps it was simply that they were products of their society.

My hunch, in any case, is that all this drama that Michal went through didn't help.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself." Ephesians 5:25-28 (NKJV)

Could it be possible that Michal's heart may have been hardened more than it otherwise would have been? She had the choice to receive God or reject him, as we all do, and scripture makes it clear that God made her barren because she rejected David's worship (2 Samuel 6:23). She was certainly in the wrong. But, could it have looked different?

As a man after God's own heart I imagine that David constantly grew in his honor of others, including his wives. After all, in this very story he moved straight away to bless his house after dancing for the Lord (2 Samuel 6:20). But I just wonder about that history and the brokenness it might have caused Michal. For me, I guess it's a reminder to cherish my own husband at every single turn, so that nothing I do -- oh I hope nothing -- gets in the way of his ability to love God.

Over to you, friends, for your insights. I'm looking forward to chatting more.


Summer Study: Let's Look at Elizabeth and Zacharias

Hello SUM family, welcome to our summer study! Sumites in the Bible

It’s Ann here, and this whole month we’re going to be looking at different couples in the Bible who had a faith difference. Today, I have the pleasure of kicking it off, and so let’s turn to Luke 1 to meet our first couple: Mr and Mrs Zacharias – That is, Elizabeth and Zacharias. We know the story well, but is there a SUM twist to it?

We find them living a settled life with friends and neighbors. Having each grown up in tradition they were always on the same page (Luke 1:6), but one day – Oh SHOCK– the power of the Kingdom broke in and divided them. Aggh!

That 'breaking in' involved the barren and elderly Elizabeth receiving a miracle pregnancy. The Lord put a seed of faith inside her, she conceived and, SUMites, we all know what happens next. A seed of faith comes into a marriage and it does interesting things – One spouse can respond quite differently to the other, which then has different consequences for each.

Now, Elizabeth and Zechariah were each given the opportunity to believe this miracle, but faith is belief in things unseen (Hebrews 11:1) and for Zacharias it was just such a stretch. His go-to response was to say a ‘logical’ “Yeah? ... er....  Nah.” An angel was right in front of him telling him the GOOD NEWS, and yet he questioned it. Not even the visible presence of the supernatural could crack him. I'm smiling a little at that because I know what that looks like.  

He says: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And he receives a response:

“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” (Luke 1:19-20; NKJV)

Now, here's the SUM part: In the same passage, Elizabeth’s response is pointedly different. She says, “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” (v. 25), choosing to hide herself -- go deep with God -- for five months in wonder. Although it is unclear what then happened with Zacharias, the contrast between the two of them is a symbolic part of the story.

Elizabeth and Zacharias are then catapulted into strange things, and who knows how much is seen by the relatives and neighbors. Often a SUM situation is kept quietly in a home, a deeply private thing between man and wife. It’s something you often can’t explain to others. All the while, Elizabeth endures a spiritually intense time: Five months of believing something with no physical evidence is probably very difficult but does something profound to her. Emerging from her secret place (Psalm 91:1), she eventually begins to pour out the Holy Spirit:

“ ... and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice –" (Luke 1:41-42)

She speaks. He stays mute. My friends, how much is this like our life? But then the effortless way in which the Holy Spirit pours out of her is her visible reward for time spent believing.

The words Elizabeth spoke, in turn, were a banquet for the lonely teenage Mary, who had herself been divinely connected to Elizabeth for Kingdom purposes (Luke 1:26-36). Elizabeth’s faith propelled Mary into being able to understand her own difficult walk and to say: “My soul magnifies the Lord!” or, "Oh, Praise God!"

It occurs to me that God took Elizabeth on this lonely path so that she could support another. And so I ask, today, “Who am I here for, Lord, during this SUM time?” It doesn’t matter that my beloved Zacharias is on his own path; God has stuff for him ahead, but he also has stuff me to do so I will roll up my sleeves and get on with it.

I love this story and hope you enjoyed this first post in our study. Now over to you -- It would be great to chat in the comments. What thoughts would you like to share?


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."

 

 

 

 


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 - Destroy Christian Faith - On Repeat

EstherOpen your Bible to chapter three of Esther.

Before we get started on Haman, I want to revisit the word, EDICT. This is a governmental word and a word of great power when spoken by royalty over a Kingdom. It’s power and significance landed squarely upon my spirit one night when driving down a California freeway toward home following an evening church service.

As I’m driving, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me and this is what I heard: “Set and edict over…..” Immediately, I began to speak out loud in my car with a voice of authority. I spoke as a daughter of the King and in the authority of Jesus Christ, who gave me authority over all the power of the enemy in Luke 10:19. For the next twenty minutes I let loose a barrage of “edicts” over my family, my city, the churches in the valley and over the witchcraft that was floating in the air.

Example: “In the name of Jesus, as a daughter of the King, in authority I set an edict over the churches in our valley that every assignment of the enemy is now defeated, thwarted, and rendered powerless. All assignments of evil and witchcraft must fall to the ground powerless.” I took another deep breath and then launched directly into another edict.

“I set an edict over my family that the mandates and promised written in the books of my husband, children and grandchildren before time began, shall come to pass and they shall fulfill their potential and purpose for the Kingdom of God. In Jesus name.”

“I set an edict over our state legislature that the demonic spirits of lawlessness and rebellion shall be quelled. Honest men and women of integrity and who fear God shall rise up and step into places of governing and authority and the purposes of God shall be rendered from our legislature and all assignments of evil shall be defeated. In Jesus name.”

Okay, for twenty minutes, I let go of powerful edicts that came tumbling out of me through revelation of the Holy Spirit. It was the first time I was ever directed by God to release edicts into our land, family, legislature, ministry and more. THIS EXPERIENCE WAS AWESOME. I knew my words were spoken out of authority and I’m bearing witness that these words are moved upon by the angelic. I often issue edicts in my prayer time now as I follow the Holy Spirit.

The book of Esther is a teaching about the power of edicts. When a son or daughter of God KNOWS who they are and whose they are, then begins to walk fully in their authority and royal position, God backs up our words that are spoken in harmony with His will.

Whoa!!!  Could it be that we are more powerful than we understand? Just like Esther? Oh, the possibility…… Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm???

Chapter THREE:

Ya, this chapter is on repeat throughout human history.

Destroy the Jews. Destroy the believers. Wipe out God’s people. I see Haman as a pawn of evil, just like Hitler, same with King Herod who killed the babies hoping to destroy Jesus, the Romans persecuting Christians i.e., the lions in the Colosseum. Did you know the Romans used to place Christians on poles, light them on fire and use them as street lights in Roman cities. Sorry to be graphic, but let’s be real. Satan is more determined to destroy us that we are determined to do whatever it takes to follow Jesus. Ahem, okay not all of us…….  😊

If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.” — Esther 3:9

It remains the same today, powerful people are corrupted with the lure of wealth. And did you notice that Haman is pushing his agenda and asking for a decree? An edict? Fascinating.

So, with a little more alcohol --->(satanic spirit of deception, deceit and distortion), the edict was written and delivered throughout the Kingdom. The City of Susa was bewildered.

I know exactly how this feels. Let me ask you this. Were you bewildered in America the day the Supreme Court issued an edict that redefined marriage? --->A Biblical construct that has been in place for more than two thousand years, created for our benefit and its design is to prosper humanity through marriage and family.

I sat in utter astonishment and bewilderment that day. I cried…. Then pain…. Then remorse and fear. Oh, how I know how you felt City of Susa.

The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.  — Esther 3:15

BUT……. God is on the THRONE… And there is ALWAYS A SAVIOR…. Stay tuned……..

Gang, this story continues on repeat. Our Christian identity is under siege in every nation. We must pray. We must set an edict in the spiritual realm. We must become on fire, sold out, people of faith who march the Kingdom of God forward.

Today, I want you to practice. Set an edict over your life via your faith proclamation in the comments. Let’s watch God move over words of faith spoken by His children. I will echo your decrees and statements of faith. See you in the comments Kingdom Warriors!! 

March on Warriors… WE WIN!!  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

 

 

  


Jesus Invites us to Live a New Way

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Image courtesy of anankkml via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello friends, Ian from cold and wintry Sydney here.

For a few months now I’ve been reflecting on the first words Jesus spoke to the Galileans on His return from the 40 days in the wilderness. This is what He said:

“’The time has come,’ he said. ‘The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” – Mark 1:15 (NIV)

Like me you’ve probably read that verse many times and then moved on. But I’ve lingered over it for a while now and every few days it pops back into the forefront of my mind.

Besides it’s simplicity of four straightforward statements, it’s interesting when you think of the words as an invitation. In fact, it’s something I discovered a little while ago that rather than looking at Jesus’ commands as that, commands, read them like an invitation.

Why?

Because I think that’s what He’s doing – inviting us to experience something new. To experience the life He designed for us.

Let’s quickly unpack the four statements.

The Time has Come

The Israelites had been waiting, what 400 years, for the prophecy of the Messiah to be fulfilled. Well, Jesus is here announcing that He is in fact the fulfillment.

The Kingdom of God has Come Near

The Kingdom has arrived. Because He’s arrived. A Kingdom can only be such when there’s a King. And He’s the King. The King is Here and that automatically means His Kingdom is too.

Repent.

Our understanding of this word is significant. For much of my Christian life I’ve connected repentance with the act of confession and receiving forgiveness.  But it means far more than that. The MSG version of the same verse gives us a clue. It says simply, “Change your life”. Repentance involves turning one’s life around, so in the context of sin, completely removing it from one’s life in a lot of cases involves us doing things differently in order to resist the temptation. The story of The Prodigal Son is a wonderful example of repentance. The younger son, on coming to his senses, turns his life around by leaving it and returning home to his father being fully prepared to become one of his father’s servants. As we all know, the Father in his mercy restored him fully.

Believe the Good News

Simply believe it. Choose to believe that Jesus is who He says He is.

The Disciples Understood

Immediately after Jesus makes this invitation, He’s strolling along the beach on the Sea of Galilee and notices two brothers, Simon and Andrew, fishing. He greets them by inviting them to “Come follow me”. A little further along two more brothers are also fishing. He invites James and John to do the same, “Come follow me.”

All four responded positively to the invitation, dropped their nets and turned their lives upside down by choosing to follow the King.

What’s the Invitation to?

He doesn’t invite the four to a party. Well, not yet. He invites them to live a different life. The life He designed for them when He created them. A life that is only accessible by believing the Good News, that is, believing He is the Messiah, the King and the one who will restore their relationship with God.

The early disciples weren’t called Christians, rather the followers of the Way. And that’s what Christianity is – a way. It’s both a journey and a path in which we follow. It’s always in motion; we’re always on the path. And the best thing is we don’t walk that path alone, we walk it with Jesus. That’s why the Way can only be found by first finding Jesus. By letting go of our own lives and letting Him take over. We’re called, no invited, to follow the Way of the one who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Sometimes we think we can have His Way and our way or that His Way will give us everything we want. But that’s the thing about stepping onto his path, we don’t know what is ahead, and that’s why we gotta keep our eyes on our leader, our shepherd, who allows us to know and hear His voice, and to trust His Way is best and obey accordingly.

Daily Invitation

It’s exciting knowing that Jesus invites us with the same words of Mark 1:15 everyday. We get to choose to follow Him or go our own way.

If you’ve struggled recently in your walk with Jesus, know with every fibre of your being, that He is with you speaking those words of invitation to you. Say yes, today and accept His hand even if tentatively. And again tomorrow. Because His Way is the best way because it’s the way and the life that He wants and has always wanted you to have.

Would you mind if I finish with a prayer for us all?

Heavenly Father, thank you that you love us so much that you gave Jesus to us. To be born, to live in obscurity for most of his earthly years, to then step out into His role as King, only to then suffer and die at the Cross three years later. Thank you that death didn’t beat Him, in fact, Jesus defeated death by being resurrected from the dead.

Thank you, Jesus, that you established the Way; the Way to intimacy with the Father. Thank you that you left us the Holy Spirit as a guide to the Way.

Holy Spirit, we ask that we would respond positively to your daily prompts to say “YES” to you, to you leading us on the Way. Forgive us that we can be so fickle and forget or be distracted by our lives. Draw us back, dearest Holy Spirit, as we know that the Way of Jesus is the only way for us.

Amen.

 

Grace and peace, dear SUMite friends.


The Heart of the Matter

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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? 


Going Deeper ...

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Photo courtesy of Pexels.com
 

Hello, dear friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. It seems ages since I’ve written.  I trust the New Year has started well for you and you’re excited for what 2019 holds for you and your family.

Recently, I was reading something written by Will Graham, the grandson of the late Billy Graham, where he sought some counsel from his famous granddad on navigating the challenges of a ministry that required a lot of travel around the globe.

He was expecting some advice on how to run meetings better or how better to emphasize a point but instead received this simple message, “Pray, pray, pray” and “study, study, study.” It made good sense as this was what Will had seen his granddad doing most times he visited, praying and studying.

Abiding and Bearing Fruit

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless.” John 15:5 (TPT)

We desire to make an impact, don’t we? Even in the smallest way. Often we apply ourselves to various efforts and activities in order to make an impact. But what’s clear from the impact Billy Graham had was that he knew what was required to produce it – ‘live in union’ with God.

What I find fascinating about this verse is that Jesus tells us the answer to doing life well. And the answer is very straightforward: ‘live in union’ with God.

Living in Union

You’d think we’d all be doing this, right? It sounds pretty straightforward. Okay I’ll have my time with the Lord in the morning and everything will be sweet. Right? Well, that lasted 30 minutes (add you own number here), now what do we do for the next 23.5 hours of the day? BTW, how long do we need to spend with God to be ‘living in union’ with Him?

I’m no expert at any of this and I’m also very conscious of becoming overly religious about it all but what I sense matters is it all starts with the state of our hearts. As I think I’ve mentioned before, we gotta want Him. In order to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, body and soul we gotta want to do it.

Listen to David’s heartbeat:

“Here’s the one thing I crave from God,
    the one thing I seek above all else:
    I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house,
    finding the sweet loveliness of his face,
    filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace.
    I want to live my life so close to him
    that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.” Psalm 27:4 (TPT)

When I read this verse last week I was challenged by David’s ‘one thing.’ What’s my ‘one thing’? This is a man after God’s own heart as David is described. It’s very clear what’s his ‘one thing’. But he stuffed up. He got fearful and anxious many times but he kept coming back to the North Star of his heart: his desire for God.

Now back to Granddad Graham. I expect the North Star of his heart was similar to David’s and he kept fuelling his desire by always praying and studying the Word. The reason we need to do both is that the Word is a key way in which the Lord speaks to us (not the only way). We can be continually reminded of God’s greatness and goodness, His immense love for us through studying the Word. In so doing it helps build up our faith and so prayer becomes easier.

(One thing a lot of us forget is the best way to enhance one’s prayer life is by building up one’s faith. The greater our passion for the Lord, the stronger the desire we have to spend time with Him.)

I struggle with being intentional about studying the Word. It’s very easy to quickly read a passage or a few verses and then move on. But I find the more time I set aside meditating and reflecting on some verses the greater my desire for prayer and reading even more of the Word becomes. As I mentioned before, one of the things I’ve done these past few years is to continuously read the Psalms (because I want what David has!) I love how they’re full of emotion: joy, anger, anxiety, fear, love and passion.

May I encourage you this year to set the North Star of your heart to more of God, not more from God, but more of Him. Dive into the Word. Try different methods, mix up which books of the Bible you read, do it with friends, journal some notes each day on what you discovered, use a commentary, listen to it in your car, etc etc.

Share in the comments something about how you study the Word as it's likely to give all of us some different ideas.

Would you mind if I finished with this blessing from the book of Numbers: (pray it over yourself :))

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV)


Do You Want The Evidence Or The Truth?

Hey SUM Family,

Tiffany here:

ev·i·dence -  

a : an outward sign : indication

b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
(Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

Last post (This Is Just The Pits!) we began to take a look at the life of Joseph. We discovered that there are ten tests we must face in order to fulfill our God-given purpose (I highly suggest you read From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris for more on this topic). I want us to really dive into the deep end of the pool as we learn more about the pit test.

First, let's continue on in the story of Joseph. At this point he was ambushed by his brothers and thrown into the pit. Changing scenes, we see what happens with his family next:

So [Joseph's brothers] took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, "We  have found this. Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" And he recognized it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces" (Genesis 37:31-33).

F.E.A.RJoseph's brothers did not flat out lie and say that Joseph was killed. Jacob came to that conclusion because of their leading question, "Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" This is what we would call fabricated (false) evidence.   Remember evidence is an indication or something that furnishes proof. This evidence in Jacob's mind was proof that his favorite son was dead - to him it was the truth.

For over 20 years, imagine Jacob as he says in v. 35, "For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning." Imagine a father so heartbroken that he was not able to be consoled. I don't know for certain but I can imagine countless nights of crying himself to sleep, restlessness, no appetite, deep depression...unable to move on. Not only that but his other sons could have easily freed him from all of it...over 20 years of seeing and living with their father. What callous and prideful hearts!

What about you? What fabricated evidence has been stacked up against you? Your marriage? Your parenting? Your identity in Christ? What lies of the pit have kept you trapped for far too long? 

We live in a sin-hardened world, and we will be tempted by fabricated evidence just as Jacob was. And like Jacob, we will suffer unnecessary grief if we allow the lies of the pit to determine what we believe.

This is very important. If you want to get out of the pit, you must learn to discern the lies of the enemy. Because when you are in the pit, you are especially vulnerable. When you are in the pit, circumstances usually don't look very favorable - and that is exactly when Satan will manipulate those circumstances in order  to deceive you. He will hold up those circumstances before you as evidence that you should believe him rather than have faith in God. But fabricated evidence is not the truth. Joseph's brothers held up a bloody coat as evidence, and that evidence looked pretty convincing. But it was fabricated evidence. It was not the truth. If you want to overcome the lies of the pit, you must learn to focus on what God has said. When you are in the pit, you must remember that nothing is too hard for God, no matter what evidence the enemy might produce...

Yet even worse than his fabricated evidence is Satan's biggest lie: "You've messed up too badly. It's too late for you. You've messed up too badly to ever fulfill God's destiny for your life." Do you realize that the Bible is a book entirely about restoration? The Bible is filled with stories of people who messed up so badly that it seemed even God couldn't do anything about it - and yet He restored every one of them. He wants you to know that nothing is impossible for Him. As long as you have breath, it is never too late to call out to God. It doesn't matter what pit you are in. If you call out to God, He can fix it. And that is the real purpose of the pit. (pp. 38-39, From Dream to Destiny, Robert Morris)

Next time I want to finish up with the hope we have - the light at the end of the tunnel - in times of experiencing the pit test. But for now, let's meet in the comments. Let me speak truth into you and pray with you as we debunk the lies of the pit. Lean into this reality that fabricated evidence, no matter how convincing or real it appears, is NOT the truth. I promise you that this assurance will transform your life and catapult you out of the pit.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

-- Colossians 2:13-15 (NLT)


Spending Time in the Secret Place

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Image courtesy of alex_ugalek at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s fast approaching the Christmas season when life can get especially busy. In addition, for we in mismatched marriages can have extra challenges as a result of a desire to intentionally reflect on the reason for the season. Jesus. Whether it’s attending gatherings with the church girls (or blokes), the various services our Church’s hold or even decorating our houses with symbols of our faith, we can all get a little self-conscious of doing things that our partners may not enjoy. And not to mention that we may be away from the house more often which can cause stress.

Often due to our busyness our time spent with the Lord may wane. There are only so many hours in the day, right?

The Secret Place

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 NKJV)

 The Lord loves spending time with us. Often we think due to life’s demands spending time with our partners and family is the best solution, if only to keep the peace. But I’ve come to realize in fact that the best option is to spend time in the secret place.

“All fruitfulness flows from intimacy.” (Heidi Baker)

Check out the second sentence in the verse above: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” The Message says “… and you will begin to sense his grace.” 

Reward. Grace. Yes, please.

I know this might be hard to read especially if home is a bit of a battlefield at the moment but I’ve learnt (and I’m sure Lynn, Dineen and others would also vouch for it too) that it’s in experiencing that intimacy with Jesus that peace does indeed come in our houses. Sometimes quite miraculously.

But the reward and/or grace shouldn’t be our motivation for spending time with God. Rather intimacy with Him. To know Him better and His deep deep love for us.

Listening to the Word

I mentioned in my comment to Dineen’s post last week that I sensed the Lord was drawing me back to His Word. My Bible study has been a little bit all over the shop in the past few months and I sensed the Lord saying to me to spend quality time in it. In John, specifically.

But before I dived into John I started reading a book on Lectio Divina that is a practice of enhanced listening and receptivity to what the Lord wants you to hear when reading His Word. I don’t want to spend time discussing the practice but more encourage you to read this passage from Hosea. Slowly. And mindfully. And receptively. And meditatively. With open hears as well as eyes.

Firstly, get somewhere quiet. Allow yourself 15 minutes, longer if you can. I appreciate those of you with little kiddies even that small amount of time can be difficult to get but I hope you might be able to grab it somehow.

Settle your heart. Take a few deep breaths so you can slow your mind down.

Ask the Lord to come close.

And read these verses twice over. Ideally, out loud. And slowly. And listen. What words jump out at you? Don’t worry if nothing does. The Lord works differently with all of us.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’;
    you will no longer call me ‘my master.’

I will betroth you to me forever;
    I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
    in love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
    and you will acknowledge the Lord. (Hosea 2:14-16,19-20 NIV)

 

Now read the passage again and allow those words, phrases that grab you to fuel your imagination. Picture yourself with the Lord. Let the words speak even more deeply to you.

Share your thoughts with the Lord and if relevant connect your meditations to what’s happening in your day. Try to take your reflections with you through the day.

I hope you found this useful and I encourage you to continue the exercise with whatever your current Bible reading plan is. Perhaps reduce the number of verses you read a day and spend longer on fewer verses.

Dear loving Father, take us all further into the secret place that we might know your heart so that our lives can bring your glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

Love to read how you found it and what you heard the Lord saying to you. Please share it in the comments below if you are willing.

Grace and peace,


Fall, Lattes, and Back To School

SUMites,

Raising Godly KidsI love this time of year…. I enjoyed my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Starbucks yesterday. Can I just say, Yum and eee. I love the colors the leaves, and it’s Back To School. Back to church and just an all-around fun time as we move through the holidays in the weeks ahead.

Every year at this time, I think about parenting. I was on the phone today to my now grown daughter, Caitie, who moved to Indiana last month. She is now teaching at Purdue as well as doing her Master’s work. We talked for more than an hour. It was sweet and interesting, fun and a bit melancholy. I loved the years we had together when she was small, working on homework, decorating the house with pumpkins, and slowly but relentlessly training her up in faith.

I wasn’t a perfect parent, by far. But I love my kids and I was determined to raise them to know Jesus even in a home where their father didn’t believe.

So, thinking about this, I have a life-time of knowledge of how to help you also parent your children to faith. Dineen and I wrote about our experiences and victories, wisdom and prayers in our parenting book. That book was recently re-released with a new title, Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home – teaching Your Children to Love God Without Limits!

If you want time-tested and real wisdom on how to raise your kids in faith in our unique marriages, get your hands on this book. Dineen added a powerful chapter for parenting your adult kids as well. So many of our fears are address such as:

  • Am I enough to hold the family together? To teach my kids what they need to know about God’s love? To actually sanctify this house? (1 Cor. 7:14)
  • Am I enough to teach them the truth of Jesus Christ and lead them to salvation? Am I enough to be a godly mom and wife, a good role model, and help support them emotionally and spiritually?
  • Am I enough to be a Mom and wife too? How do I balance both?
  • Am I enough for my kids, husband and everyone else depending on me?
  • Am I enough to point the way to True North for my children, and never let my flag waver no matter how fierce the storm of the world may blow—even when the storm may be my own husband?
  • Am I enough to overcome my junk so I don’t pass it on to my kids?
  • Am I enough to overcome my own fears so my kids don’t experience them firsthand?

Take time to read this book. If you purchase it through the SUM store, all the proceeds go to our ministry. You can listen to it on audio book in the car on the way to work also. Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home

You are enough my friend but we need each other and we need wisdom. As an older mom now, I can be the voice to tell you that YOU CAN DO THIS. IT IS POSSIBLE. And you can do it well.

Have a great weekend. Hug your kids. Take them for ice cream. Swing with them at the park and tell them about Jesus every “catchable moment” that you are given. Hugs, Lynn

One other fun fact. I had the new book sitting on my desk. I picked it up to read Dineen’s new chapter. As I raised the book up, I noticed tiny flecks of gold dust all over the cover. Wild! Where did that come from? IT’S A BLAST LIVING THE BELIEVER’S LIFE!

 


You Are Loved: How Much Does God Love Us?

My friends, did you experience a breakthrough through our study together? What do you feel God did in you through the revelations of His love and promises for you? Please share your heart, your doodles and your coloring pages.

And thank you again for joining me as we walked through the truths of Romans 8 through Scriptures and coloring. I pray you are continually embraced in and transformed by God's great love for you!

Love you so much! 
Dineen

TWEETABLE TRUTH: 

“Jesus has the authority to condemn, but He chose another way—the way of sacrificial love. For He knew to condemn would drive us away and His desire was to be the solution to draw us near.” pg. 50 #youarelovedcoloringbiblestudy  goo.gl/qG9HBT

 

Romans8BookCover

Order from The SUM Shop or Amazon


You Are Loved: Is God Good?

 

Remember to share what you're learning in the comments. Did you identify a struggle? What is God's promise and provision for that? For you? Share your heart, your doodles and your coloring pages! Hugs! ~Dineen

TWEETABLE TRUTH: 

“His loves reaches us from the past of the cross, carries us through the present, and ushers us into eternity. It’s constant and relentless—for us and for those we love and pray for.” pg. 46 #youarelovedcoloringbiblestudy  goo.gl/qG9HBT

You Are Loved Coloring Book Study Schedule

Aug 28: (Share pages!)
Video: How Much Does God Love Us?
Wrap up!

Romans8BookCover

Order from The SUM Shop or Amazon


Another 'You Are Loved' Bonus Coloring Page!

PaisleyProverb
Download Paisley Proverb

Hello my friends! Here's our second bonus coloring page, Paisley Proverb. Just had to finish with paisley, of course! 

If you can't download it, email me and I will send it to you directly.

Enjoy the coloring, my friends! Hope you're having a blast with the study. Hard to believe we're almost at the end!

Hugs!
Dineen

 

You Are Loved Coloring Book Study Schedule

Aug 25: (Share pages!)
Video: Is God Good?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: How Much Does God Love Us? (pages 49-53)

Aug 28: (Share pages!)
Video: How Much Does God Love Us?
Wrap up!

Romans8BookCover

Order from The SUM Shop or Amazon


You Are Loved: Why Do We Wait and Hope?

Remember to share what you're learning in the comments. What is your believing statement? Share your heart, your doodles and your coloring pages! Hugs! ~Dineen

TWEETABLE TRUTH: 

“God’s Word will transform you. Reed it, believe it, and trust Him to do it—because He watches over His Word to fulfill it (Jer. 1:12).” pg. 37 #youarelovedcoloringbiblestudy  goo.gl/qG9HBT

You Are Loved Coloring Book Study Schedule

Aug 23: Bonus Coloring Page Download

Aug 25: (Share pages!)
Video: Is God Good?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: How Much Does God Love Us? (pages 49-53)

Aug 28: (Share pages!)
Video: How Much Does God Love Us?
Wrap up!

Romans8BookCover

Order from The SUM Shop or Amazon


You Are Loved: How Do We Live Free?

 

Remember to share what you're learning in the comments. What is God's promise for you? Share your heart, your doodles and your coloring pages! Hugs! ~Dineen

TWEETABLE TRUTH: 

What is God's promise for you? pg. 33  #youarelovedcoloringbiblestudy  goo.gl/qG9HBT

You Are Loved Coloring Book Study Schedule

Aug 21: (Share pages!)
Video: Why Do We Wait and Hope?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: Is God Good? (pages 43-48)

Aug 23: Bonus Coloring Page Download

Aug 25: (Share pages!)
Video: Is God Good?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: How Much Does God Love Us? (pages 49-53)

Aug 28: (Share pages!)
Video: How Much Does God Love Us?
Wrap up!

Romans8BookCover

Order from The SUM Shop or Amazon

 


You Are Loved: Who’s Really in Control?

  

Hey there, friends! I hope you enjoyed coloring 2 Cor 5:17. Like I said, I’m particularly fond of that page. And the truth it imparts to us! We are new creations in Christ Jesus. The last part of that verse says, “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

The Greek word for come is ginomai and holds such meanings as to be made, finished of miracles, to be performed, wrought, to become. What Jesus did for us and what the Holy Spirit does in us is miraculous! I hope that brings to your heart just how important you are to God.

Remember to share what you're learning in the comments. What lie did the Holy Spirit reveal to you? What truth did He show you to replace it with? Share your heart, your doodles and your coloring pages! Hugs! ~Dineen

TWEETABLE TRUTH: 

“Look at your God in heaven and then measure every challenge and trial by His size, not by your scope of vision.” pg.26  #youarelovedcoloringbiblestudy  goo.gl/qG9HBT

You Are Loved Coloring Book Study Schedule

Aug 18: (Share pages!)
Video: How Do We Live Free?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: Why Do We Wait and Hope? (pages 37-41)

Aug 21: (Share pages!)
Video: Why Do We Wait and Hope?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: Is God Good? (pages 43-48)

Aug 23: Bonus Coloring Page Download

Aug 25: (Share pages!)
Video: Is God Good?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: How Much Does God Love Us? (pages 49-53)

Aug 28: (Share pages!)
Video: How Much Does God Love Us?
Wrap up!

Romans8BookCover

Order from The SUM Shop or Amazon

 


You Are Loved: How Do We Live Empowered Lives?

 

Remember to share what you're learning in the comments. What lie did the Holy Spirit reveal to you? What truth did He show you to replace it with? Share your heart, your doodles and your coloring pages!
Hugs! 
Dineen

TWEETABLE TRUTH: 

“The Holy Spirit's revelations of truth, healing, strength, and growth transform our minds more and more to have the mind of Christ.” pg.20  #youarelovedcoloringbiblestudy  goo.gl/qG9HBT

You Are Loved Coloring Book Study Schedule

Aug 14: (Share pages!)
Video: Who’s Really in Control?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: How Do We Live Free? (pages 31-35)

Aug 18: (Share pages!)
Video: How Do We Live Free?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: Why Do We Wait and Hope? (pages 37-41)

Aug 21: (Share pages!)
Video: Why Do We Wait and Hope?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: Is God Good? (pages 43-48)

Aug 23: Bonus Coloring Page Download

Aug 25: (Share pages!)
Video: Is God Good?
Decorate, Delight & Discover!: How Much Does God Love Us? (pages 49-53)

Aug 28: (Share pages!)
Video: How Much Does God Love Us?
Wrap up!

Romans8BookCover

Order from The SUM Shop or Amazon