Welcome to our Summer Bible Study on the Apostle Paul! It's Ann here, and I can't wait to dive in to some of his stories, taking a leaf or two out of his book.
Somewhat ironically, only this past Saturday I had a more difficult time as a Christian than I've had in a while. I spent the evening with a crowd of unbelieving friends, and loneliness crept up on me. That night I lay in bed thinking:
"Being a Christian is hard core, and there are spiritually some very hard places."
Well, the Apostle Paul specialized in the 'hard-core' places, and he did it so well for the rest of us. I'm sure when he was in prison for the Gospel it wasn't easy.... But his faith enabled him to write positive letters to the church, showing us how to do this thing well.
In today's post we're just looking at an introduction to Paul; but there's so much to his life that I can't do him justice in 750 words. Instead, then, I'll start with his most honored moment:
Paul was martyred for the Gospel.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all those who have loved his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:6-8)
Not long after he wrote the above, he was beheaded in Rome (as best we know). In dying that death, he joined the other apostles, also likely martyred*. Their blood formed a foundation of courage and truth for the church.
How on earth could Paul have been strong enough to walk into this? He knew it was coming, and said 'yes'. Well, Jesus equipped him. Part of this equipping was that Paul knew what was true. Just like we -- the SUM community - learn to do. In Paul's case, he had encountered Jesus and experienced the miraculous repeatedly (in the book of Acts). He'd also put up with so much hassle during his years of ministry that he became the ultimate in resilience:
"Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
My friends, I have to say this made me feel a whole lot better about my lonely Saturday night with unbelievers! Emotionally difficult, yes; but Paul went through worse. Therefore, so can I.
We read about Paul's life in the book of Acts; but his character and life also ooze out of his epistles in the New Testament. Fourteen out of the 27 New Testament books were likely written by him and they add brushstrokes of color to the main story in Acts.
Interestingly, Paul was a blend of different cultures. A heftily educated Pharisee, he was also a Roman Citizen, and entrenched in Hellenic/Greek culture. Coming originally from Tarsus in modern-day Turkey, he went all over the place for the Gospel, and his mixed background meant he could speak easily to a range of different audiences, opponents, and friends.
Those influencing skills were needed: His two primary issues were godlessness and doctrinal error. He tackled those two things in truth and love while dealing with tremendous opposition.
So yes, what a man. And can this help us navigate the hardship of a SUM? I believe for sure that we can get strength from his story.
Here's a question for today: What is your environment like? What kinds of people are in your sphere of influence?
Nice chatting! Lynn will be here on Wednesday to continue the study.
* Sean McDowell (2008). The Fate of the Apostles: Examining the Martyrdom Accounts of the Closest Followers of Jesus.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Psalms 91:1-16 NLT
My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, since school has reopened and we have been navigating these uncertain times with Covid 19, I decided to write my own prayer using specific verses of psalm 91.
We are faced with challenging times, but our Abba daddy is so great and merciful. Along with Yeshua (Jesus) and Holy Spirit He has also given us the power of words to declare and decree our protection for our schools, households, families, our children etc.
Some of us were in a limbo of whether we should do virtual learning or in person. So, my husband decided that he wanted our daughter to attend in person. I was very tense and nervous at the same time, but I remembered that God meets us in whatever situations we must face.
Since I live in a spiritually unequally yoked marriage, I decided I would petition my household's safety and protection with psalm 91. So, first thing in the morning, I read psalm 91 aloud and then I say my prayer I wrote. With all my prayers I stand on 1 Corinthians 7:14 - For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.
1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT
So here's my prayer I wrote:
Dear Heavenly Father, I stand on the verse 1 Corinthians 7:14 on behalf of my household and I declare that You, Lord, are our refuge and our place of safety. You are our God and we trust in you (Psalm 91:2)
I thank you Lord that you will protect my child and my household from every trap and protect us from every deadly diseases that includes Covid-19 (Psalm 91: 3)
Lord I thank you that your feathers cover me, and my household and you hide us under the shelter of your wings. I thank you, Lord God, that your faithful promises are our armor and protection (Psalm 91:4)
Lord your word says " We must not be afraid of the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day. (Psalm 91:5)
In the name of Jesus, me and my household will not dread the disease (Covid 19) that stalks in the darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday (Psalm 91:6)
Though a thousand may fall at our sides and 10,000 are dying around us, because of your faithfulness Lord God, this evil as will not touch me or my household [ I name each person that lives in my household and you can also add other family and friends names here) - (Psalm 91:7)
Your word also says that if I make you my refuge and shelter, no evil will conquer me and my household and no plague (no coronavirus) will come near our home (Psalm 91: 9-10).
Lord God I thank you that you order your angels with special orders to protect us wherever we go. I thank you Lord God, that right now your angels are holding me and my household up in their right hands, so we will not even dash our foot against a stone (Psalm 91: 11-12)
According to Luke 10:19 and Psalm 91:13- You have given us the authority to trample upon fierce lions, cobras and serpents under our feet in Jesus name. Therefore, we will crush coronavirus under our feet in Jesus name. Hallelujah!!!(Psalm 91:13)
Lord I pray for supernatural wisdom and strength for each and every teacher, every school official, janitors, bus drivers, bus monitors and the school staffs. I pray for a supernatural hedge of protection over the parents and the children through the blood of Jesus. I pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding over everyone of them in Jesus name.
I pray for a holy ring of fire of protection over and around the school property and around all the other schools. I plead the blood of Jesus over the school staff and all the parents and children in Jesus name.
Lord God, I especially stand in the gap and ask for supernatural protection through the blood of Jesus over both the little children and the older kids. Give them wisdom to use their hand sanitizers and practice safety at all times in Jesus name.
Lord we thank you for all answered prayers. We give the honor, the glory and the highest praise in the mighty name of Jesus.
Amen and Hallelujah!!!
I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful 5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles ,Missouri and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.
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 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.
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
Today I’m going to write something different than what we hinted at in the last post. The Holy Spirit changes our plans sometimes, and I believe he wanted us to look at this Bible character next.
Are you ready to meet her, this next one, this dark horse? Well, here we go: It’s Jael, who hammered a tent peg into the head of Sisera, Israel’s enemy, in the book of Judges.
Let’s read her story in Judges 4:1-24. The setting is Israel and it’s a dark time. It’s like the time we’re in now, actually, in that village life has ceased and the highways are empty (Judges 5:6-7). That’s eerily close to home. The evil King Jabin has oppressed Israel for some time but God’s servants are going into battle against the commander, Sisera, and they know they’ll win.
Now, the prophet Deborah foretells something sharp and curious:
“The Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” (Judges 4:9, NKJV)
It is unlikely she had any idea what this meant. But it was Jael. She was the one. And she was a SUMite.
Here’s how we know Jael was in a SUM: Scripture says specifically there was peace between the house of Jael’s husband and the evil king. To be fair to her husband, we can understand his choice. Alignment with Canaan seemed the safer option. But Jael’s heart held quiet allegiance to beloved Israel.
Because her husband had aligned his house with the enemy, this made Jael a hidden weapon. My friends, have you ever thought of yourself that way? As a hidden weapon?
Here’s what happened next:
“Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Hebert the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.” (Judges 4:17)
Having the army general Sisera arrive would have been crazily intimidating. I'm picturing a big guy with muscles, uniform, and a hard attitude. But Jael was on the winning side and had three humble tools: (1) a bowl of milk, (2) a blanket, and (3) a tent peg.
At this point it's like a riddle: How can a bowl of milk, a blanket and a tent peg win the battle?
Here’s how. Sisera, having been drawn to her home, thinks he can camp there. Jael knows this and goes straight out to ensnare him. He comes in, she gives him the milk, and he’s like a cat with cream. Purrr. Her blanket comes out, and she covers him gently: "Here -- Hide here." THEN the time is right. Her shaking hands reach ... softly, softly ... (oh Lord God, I'm scared) ... for the tent peg and SMASH!! Her blow is targeted and the tent peg drives through his head into the ground.
This woman of power made impact. Through her tools and her courage.
What does the Lord say next? Not only is she blessed among women, but she is most blessed (5:24). Blessed is she among women in tents (v. 24) It’s similar to the words spoken to Mary: ‘Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ (Luke 1:28).
My friends, this speaks volumes about our strength as SUMites. And perhaps these lessons apply:
I’ll finish with the following song verse about Jael, which celebrates her. There is much to celebrate. My prayer right now is, "Lord, make me like her when I grow up!"
“Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; Blessed is she among women in tents. He asked for water, she gave milk; She brought out cream in a lordly bowl. She stretched her hand to the tent peg, her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; she pounded Sisera, she pierced his head, she split and struck through his temple. At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still; at her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell dead.” (Judges 5:24-27)
Now for your comments: Do you relate to Jael? What speaks to you in this story today?
If there's one passage in the Bible that brings a SUM moment to life, it's the one where David dances to the Lord, his wife Michal sees him through a window, and she 'despises him in her heart'. Gulp -- Let's take a look:
“Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart."
(2 Samuel 6:14-16, NKJV)
David then returns 'to bless his household', and Michal is not feeling it:
“How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (v.20)
We don’t know what marriages were like in those days, but David must have felt sorely misunderstood. Nevertheless, his response shows determination:
“It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore, I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.” (v. 21-22).
To leap and dance for God like David is akin to the intimacy with God that we're currently talking about in our community. I think we all have a leap to take when it comes to intimacy, and for my own part I can say I found it ever so risky to leap towards God and trust he would catch me. Specifically, I struggled to trust that I would not lose Bryce's favor. That was a biggie.
I was helped in this area by a friend whose Dad was a pastor. I wrote to this friend one day when it was all feeling too hard. My words went something along the lines of, "I think Bryce will go off me if I keep going." My friend duly consulted the Dad, who was old and wise, then flicked me an email:
“Ann, with God, the only way to go is forward. Now that you know that God is real, what else are you going to do? Sit in a dark room with a blindfold on? The fence is too sharp to sit on. But here’s what my Dad says: The closer you get to God, the more Bryce will see the spiritual bloom on your cheek. So keep going!”
This was great advice in theory, but I struggled to believe that Bryce would see this elusive 'spiritual bloom on my cheek'. My friend was saying, “Take the leap, Ann. God will catch you!” but the lie I was believing was “If I move any closer to God I'll lose out.”
To cut a long story short, eventually I let go of the lie. Having leapt into God's arms I truly believe now that the more you love Jesus … Well, everything blooms. As David said to Michal, God has shown himself faithful.
David's response is a good one for us. Essentially he says to Michal, “Look, there is good reason I dance for him the way I do. I am going to carry on, and I will be playing my Christian music.”
Friends, did you catch that? Michal doesn't like his Christian music! I'm laughing as I type and I can't help but wonder if God slipped that part in for humor for us. Even in David’s day, Christian music was hard to play in front of the less believing spouse. Well, nothing there has changed. Eventually, like David, perhaps we stop caring and just play it. In fact, that's been a shift for me only in the last few weeks: I slip the Christian music on, Bryce laughs but doesn't really mind, I keep it on, and as I listen to it I leap -- In my heart.
Well on that happy note, I think the story got a bit more cheerful than at first it seemed. So keep on with that Christian music, friends. And perhaps we can chat in the comments: Has intimacy with God involved a leap for you?
Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here!
Sunday, September 29th is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. We've talked about this Jewish holiday over the years. In fact, the first time I'd ever been made aware of it's significance was because of a blog post from either Lynn or Dineen. For those who are not familiar or are new to this holiday, a simple "Rosh Hashanah" search on this site will provide you with a wealth of information. Feel free to check out the archives!
My prayer for us today is that we will each take away something fresh and new. Holy Spirit, reveal to us the heartbeat of God. Amen!
Rosh Hashanah isn't actually a biblical holiday but a traditional Jewish holiday. The term "Rosh Hashanah" means "head of the year" and is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. This is a two-day celebration that proceeds Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
In the beginning of this month, the Lord really pressed upon me to watch Patty Tower's talk that was given at the SUMite Summit this last April. I decided to go back and watch it again. (I will provide a link below so you can revisit that as well. It is absolutely worth a re-watch!)
As I sat down to think about Rosh Hashanah and what I would include in this post, I went back to my notes from Patty's message. There is so much good in this message but I want to point out one theme:
Rosh Hashanah isn't in the Bible; however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is. Let's take a look.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” - Leviticus 23:23-25
The Hebrew word, Teruah, in Leviticus for blowing trumpets is the same word used in Joshua 6 where they shouted with a great shout. The first day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, is a day of blowing trumpets or shouting.
Notice what else it says in Leviticus about this day - you shall have a sabbath-rest. Yom Teruah happens to fall on a Sunday. The day we, as children of God, call our sabbath!
So, why is this important for us? If we are not Jewish, what is the point of celebrating this time of year?
We've already seen in our community some amazing things worth celebrating. Many professions of faith and baptisms with our spouses, children or others we love. Libby gave us a beautiful word about the SUMite community with her picture of the mountain. The SUMite Summit where some gathered in California being at the top and from that trickle, the waters of our faith continued to pool together to create a river at the bottom.
I truly believe something was activated in the heavenlies and we have set off a chain reaction. The enemy has been stirred to anger and we have seen much push back from illness, discord with our spouses and children, financial struggles, backsliding, strongholds etc.
However, I truly believe that God is calling His children deeper. I believe that He is stirring in us a hunger and thirst that can no longer be quenched by fear, pain or opposition tactics from the enemy. I believe that NOW is the time for us to press in all the more into the God of Miracles. NOW is the time to storm the gates of Heaven for our spouses, children, our complete freedom and healing. I believe that NOW is the time for us to suit up and prepare for battle.
There is a shifting going on right now. As we are in this transition period, it is up to US if we are going to take God at His word - for our destinies, purposes, signs, miracles and wonders. We cannot afford to give up or give in. The future of generations to come hangs in the balance. It sounds intense but don't worry! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Patty's talk at the SUMite Summit: https://www.facebook.com/SpirituallyUnequalMarriage/videos/387269661859875/
There is so much more I could say but I've gone on a little long.
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! -- Psalm 47:1 (Shout here is the root word of teruah ::grin::)
We are going to shake the heavens and the earth with our shouts! In the comments, give a mighty shout to the Lord. Thank Him for the victory you've been praying and waiting for! Decree and declare that these prayers are answered in Jesus' mighty name! Now it is up to you to take Him at His word. Trust. Believe. Wait and see. God is so good. And He is worthy of the wait. Hugs!
We're now in chapters 4 and 5 of Esther.
As I begin this post, I have this in my head: Know your enemy.
I don’t talk about the enemy much. I deliberately don’t give him airtime. But I do take careful notice of his activities so that I can move appropriately in prayer.
One of my earliest questions as a Christian was whether there really was an enemy of our souls; a being, or beings who were influential in this world. Without going into detail, God did answer that question for me and showed me there is. On a couple of occasions, I’ve even heard a demon, though I’ve never seen one visually. Though I was surprised to hear the thing, it didn’t scare me one bit. It used a lot of F-words, and then spat out what its intentions were. My reaction was “You’re busted! I know what you’re up to.” I guess God allowed me to hear it so that I could pray.
Later, I told a pastor that I’d had this experience. I hadn’t told anyone as it seemed crazy. The pastor nodded, “Yes, they do use F-words, so that would’ve been a demon.” Okayyy… A wild experience.
Why this story? Because chapters 4 and 5 proclaim how we thwart the enemy, and we do it by uncovering hidden things. Esther’s moves are, in essence, spiritual warfare.
The first noticeable move of Esther’s is that she sought out, from Mordecai, Haman’s secret plot. Similarly, for us, beating the enemy involves asking the Holy Spirit to reveal things. If we ask, He will show. Like intelligence agents we can then roll up our sleeves and say, “I’m game! Show me more, Lord!”
Next, came a time of reflection for Esther, helped by fasting. Hearing Mordecai’s wisdom she recognized her own responsibility and the safest way forward. The safest way forward, in fact, involved her saying “If I perish, I perish”. So be it. Lord, so be it. That’s the point we get to, as Christians: “I'm dying to myself now. Let’s go.”
From that strength, she moves. The King extends his sceptre. She touches its top. And in that very move, where she extends her hand and makes physical contact, her favor is established. She will take the territory. I think something similar happens spiritually for us the moment we move forward with faith of a mustard seed. We’ll take the land.
Yet, there is still the process of the feasts. Esther fasts, then feasts. But her feast is not about her eating fun food. Instead, it’s a feast that draws on every ounce of courage. She invites her husband to her table, and it’s a table God has laid for her in the presence of her enemies (Psalm 23:5). Her husband says to her, “What do you want, my darling? You can have half my Kingdom.”
Half his kingdom: Gold. Power. Prestige. No. Esther wants salvation, single-mindedly.
The funny thing is, she doesn’t do this over one feast, she does it over two. That is, instead of leaping forward into her plan at feast #1, she waits and holds another one: feast #2. It’s as if something in her is saying, Not yet. Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it.
SUMites: Wait for it. Wait for it. Nearly there.
In between feasts #1 and #2, a critical process happens. The enemy's head expands to the size of a balloon as he soaks in his power among his minions. His wife Zaresh is egging him on; her name means ‘misery’ and ‘strange’. “Build a gallows!” miserable Zaresh cries. “YES!” he roars back. The point is, the wait between feast #1 and feast #2 allows him to expand to the point of defeat.
If we are waiting for victory, is there a place for process while the enemy builds his own downfall?
I'm currently reading a spiritual memoir* by someone whose own life conveys this very thing. The author’s life was racked with drugs, sex, and dysfunction for the entire time she raised her children to adulthood. What a waste, one might say. Her Christian parents watching, could only grieve. BUT, in her fifties a divine reversal came. She is now a deeply impactful minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All to His glory.
Friends, hope you enjoyed that. Do you have any thoughts or comments on these aspects of spiritual warfare?
Till the next post,
*Haynes, A. (2018). Too many voices: My journey from confusion to clarity. San Diego, CA: Eternal Voice Publishing.
Hey SUM Family,
a : an outward sign : indicationb : 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).
Joseph'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)
Hi everyone, Ann here!
My husband and I have been 'spiritually different' for almost five years now, and it’s become easier for us both. However, there is one thing that continues to floor me and I thought I’d share it with you today.
The act of giving my husband a kiss goodbye on a Sunday morning, getting in the car, and turning on the ignition to go to… church.
Hubby and I are like peas and carrots, we’re a packaged pair, and this whole walking out the door on a Sunday feels somehow wrong. Or is it?
Each Sunday morning I drive through the quiet city, and the minute I turn on worship music it sends an oomph to my heart. At that moment the disconnect between that music and the breakfast clatter I've just left feels stark.
I reach the church car-park and walk towards the hall. The sound of singing wafts out. It occurs to me every single week how weird he would find that.
And then I walk in.
“Do I need to be doing this?” I ask myself quite often. “Will I look back and regret having left him for so many Sundays?”
Last week I asked those questions again, just as I was getting out the car at the supermarket. A phrase came to mind: Lean not on your own understanding (From Proverbs 3:5-6). I paused, took a breath, and changed tack:
“God, I need to acknowledge you in this. Help me?”
Seconds later, I walked into the supermarket and right there in the entrance was someone from church. He said, “Great to see you, Ann, see you on Sunday!” Um.. Ok.
This journey of whether to go to church is one that has evolved over five years. Initially, 'church’ was a couple of Christian acquaintances on Facebook who helped me with my questions and thoughts. Bryce called them my ‘Christian cronies’, he didn’t mind. More importantly, I spent hours with God on my couch, scripture on my lap, with endless cups of tea. It was a time of learning.
However, the Holy Spirit began to urge me to go and be physically present with the Church where it gathered. It was a gentle but growing conviction.
“Mm?” I responded. “Yes, I suppose I am a wanderer, with a backpack on my back. Perhaps I do need to settle.” One thing led to another and I found myself visiting a church that met in a converted carpark building. It was a bit unpolished round the edges, and I liked it. Sitting at the back, I thought I’d be unnoticed. Yeah right. Not when God is in charge. Suddenly, the pastor says into the mic:
“I feel there’s someone here who has a backpack on their back and God is saying to them, now you can unpack. Make yourself at home!”
Hilarious! So I did. I tried to join small groups and such things. And it was at this point that Bryce expressed how profoundly he disagreed.
He never stopped me from going, nor did he question my faith; it was purely about how he felt about churches. I became extremely uncomfortable pursuing something he fundamentally disagreed with. Over the months, then, I repeatedly stopped going.
Ultimately, I could stop no longer, though. Why? Because God made it clear that He wanted me at that little church on a Sunday morning. The pull was unavoidable.
So church it is, and we've had to learn to cope. I’ve begun to get inklings about why God wants me there. There are specific people for whom I'm there. One of them is a fellow SUMite. We wave at each other across the room. If it's just for that wave, it’s worth it.
As I've grown attached to these people, I've started to invest in them, whether it’s speaking hope to someone at coffee time, passing a scripture to them, or being someone's prayer warrior. I never conceptualized that this was what church was about.
Finally, perhaps this one weekly act of walking out to worship God conveys something of importance to my family. Even though it feels oh, so risky.
So that’s me. Do you relate to this story at all? If so, where have you got to with it? Or, if you've been through this season, what wisdom can you share?
Thanks for listening.
The Israelites were a people who waited. They waited for the promise of restoration to their homeland for over 70 years. My friends, we are like the Israelites. We are also a people group united in our time of waiting as we yearn and hope for the promise of salvation. And God has given grace-filled promises for every part of it.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. — Isaiah 40:28
Nothing is unknown to Him. Every possibility is the doorway to another, yet the ultimate goal is always the same. He is the one unchanging constant in this life, my friends. He exists beyond time as we understand, as He just is. He is our Creator, our Redeemer, our Savior—His heart is to be all things to us and His power, like His love, is more than we can comprehend. He never tires, falters, or doubts. He trusts us more than we trust ourselves. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. And how could He not? He knows what He has given us as a deposit, as His ultimate promise—His Spirit.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted; — Isaiah 40:29-30
The Hebrew word for "power" is ḵôaḥ and holds meanings such as to be firm; vigor, ability, able, chameleon, force, fruits, might, power(-ful), strength, substance and wealth. It is a "power-packed" word (yes, pun intended) that attempts encompass and define His indefinable power, presence and provision. It is who He is.
Our limited power and strength never diminish or change His plans. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Our weakness is the very condition that allows His power to be revealed and perfected (2 Cor. 12:9). And He never grows weary in His own strength and He never grows weary of helping us, providing for us, sustaining us and loving us. When we see impossible, He says possible. When we see a wall, He makes a doorway. When we see the end, He says it's just the beginning of a new time, a new season, a new opportunity...
Appointed Times and Seasons
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31
There are two Hebrew words here that hold vital meanings to our complete understanding. The first is "wait." Other translations use "hope." That's because the Hebrew word here, qâwâ, means both to wait and to hope. It also holds meanings such as to bind together, to expect, gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).
To hope in the Lord means to wait expectantly upon Him to fulfill His promises to us. He knows the times and season of our lives down to the smallest detail. He is always working to fulfill what He has promises us in the best timing and seasons possible. He wants us to have the fullest benefit.
The second noteworthy word in these verses is "walk." The Hebrew word here, yâlaḵ, and means to walk (literally or figuratively); causatively, to carry (in various senses), bear, bring, carry (away), come (away), depart, flow, follow, grow, lead (forth), let down, march, prosper, pursue, cause to run, spread, take away. Take not of the meaning "prosper" in this definition. As His children, no matter what time or season we are in, we are intended to prosper and thrive. Even in the toughest of times, God is working to help us reap our reward as we grow more like His Son Jesus.
And perhaps I'm not far off in say that is our greatest "opportunity," dear friends, to be more and more Christ-like. Our lives are a continual journey toward Jesus, to be like Him and one with Him. I used to wonder if we had to discard all that we are in order to be like Jesus, but the reality is, in doing so we become who we truly are intended and designed to be. Our identity in Jesus is a lifetime spent in revelation of our unity and inheritance in Him. And we are provided for in every way and for every aspect of that journey.
There is so much grace for us in the waiting, my friends. Both the Hebrew and Greek words for "grace" mean kindness and favor. So know that as you wait, God's grace is there providing His power, strength, hope and provision as we dwell in His great kindness and favor.
SUMites, you are greater in and through Him than you will ever know. You are destined to soar on wings like eagles!
SUMites, we’ve just come out of our week of prayer & fasting. I must say I am blown away at how powerful this year’s fast seemed to be in our community. Abba is really taking us to new levels and places this year, my friends.
Don’t be surprised if things continue to be revealed, shift and unfold over the next several weeks. We’ve set the stage for 2017 in a powerful way and God does not disappoint.
Over the week, God revealed some truths in Scripture and connected some dots for me. One I’d like to share with you today, because it’s a new prayer strategy for me. And in light of some of the things God showed me this week and Lynn’s upcoming series on emotional healing, I believe it is timely.
We’ve studied this verse before. In fact, Lynn has a video about it over there in the sidebar.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:5
Standing on the truth of 1 Cor. 7:14 (chapter eight in our prayer book) and combining it with Jer. 24:7, this is how the Holy Spirit led me to pray it for my husband (and children):
Lord Jesus, I stand before you in my authority as the believing wife who sanctifies her husband through her faith and repent for Mike for his unbelief, doubt and choice of atheism. And in my authority I demolish these arguments of unbelief, doubt and atheism that have set themselves up against the knowledge of God and I take captive every thought bombarding or residing in him that perpetuates or agrees with these lies and make them obedient to the truth of Jesus Christ. And I declare he is a holy man of God, has received a heart that knows God, is now therefore a son of God and will return to God wholeheartedly. In the saving name of Jesus, amen!
In the name of Jesus Christ, I destroy every argument and every pretension raised against the knowledge of God that resides in my heart, my mind and/or in my life in any way and declare them gone and done. Demolished! And I take captive every thought, doubt, or insecurity and make it obedient to the truth of Jesus. I am a child of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, welcomed before the throne of grace and anointed by God to proclaim and speak truth. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!
Anytime we remove an untruth (lie), it is important to replace it with truth. And based upon what I experienced last week and am sensing the Holy Spirit saying now, God has set something into motion and that which He has placed in us during our time of prayer and fasting will become powerful tools over the weeks and months ahead. Thus we must defend and protect those truths and not allow the enemy to take them away (make us forget) or muddle the truths with his lies (confusion, doubting if you truly heard God, etc.).
On Friday I will share a bit more of what God revealed to me over the week as He connects more of the dots for me. And boy, do I need a lot more dots connected. LOL!
Love you, SUMites! Share in the comments whatever the Holy Spirit lays on your heart.
Hello, SUM Family! Life at the new Miller Home has been crazy busy and hectic to say the least. We’re mostly settled in with just a few boxes here and there.My daughters and son-in-love will soon arrive to spend Christmas with us—our first Christmas in our new home. Needless to say hubby and I have been busy little bees getting things put in place and finishing some projects ourselves like towel bars and and a few light fixtures.
Then, of course, decorating the house for Christmas, gift shopping, social events…my list is growing, my friends. How about yours? I think we all share this common challenge of managing the business of the season while trying not to lose the heart and hope of what it truly means.
Christmas is all about promise. Our Messiah Jesus was/is the greatest promise given to us. The Old Testament is all about that promise. God moves and weaves Himself into the lives of His people with great care, often giving us just a glimpse into a picture too large for us to fully comprehend. But every story points to His faithfulness to His promises.
Here’s are two translations of a verse that captured my heart this week:
This is why I wait upon you, expecting your breakthrough, for your word brings me hope. — Psalm 130:5 (TPT)
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; — Psalm 130:5 (ESV)
The first version from the Passion Translation brings to light the position of waiting, to wait expectantly for God to bring breakthrough. Sometimes we can get tired in this place of waiting and give up right before that breakthrough comes. The key here, my friends, is to be tenacious and one of the best ways to do this is to have a support system. This is one reason why having a church home, small group or prayer partner is vital.
Last Sunday I went to church weary from a lot of spiritual warfare. The enemy targeted my daughters and family to try to undermine my choice to stand in a place of peace. I went up for prayer at the end of the service. A friend spoke wise words to my heart, “to speak what I know, not what I see.”
In other words, I could speak the trouble and chaos I was witnessing in my children’s lives, or I would speak the truth of God’s Word and promises into the situations and into their lives.
Both of these translations also contain “word,” which means promise. The Bible is God’s promise to us, and Jesus is the manifestation of those promises as He is the Word become flesh (John 1). That kind of blows me away, SUMites. That’s a huge promise and God fulfilled it. Nothing is impossible with Him.
My friends, like you there are promises that I have prayed into all year long (like my daughter’s health and restoration so she can work again) that I’m still waiting to see manifest. Those are the ones that put our faith to the test. Will we continue to contend for what God has promised us no matter how long it takes? These are the waiting places that require us to guard our hearts from doubt and encourage ourselves in the Lord. His love conquers everything!
As Ian shared in his beautiful post Wednesday, we are a people who wait. We know this position well, my friends. SUMites, we are all standing and praying for the promise of salvation for our spouses—a promise God spoke to my heart specifically for this community at the beginning of the year. I know He continues to work in our spouses in ways we can’t even see yet. Seeds are being planted and divine appointments put in place. I believe God is “setting-up” our spouses to walk into belief in ways we can’t even imagine right now. I am contending for this for my own spouse and yours. And I have been asking God for testimonies.
Well, I have a story to share with you that I think will strengthen your faith and reenergize your prayers. Last week we received a testimony from Jamie about her marriage and her husband. This is a stunning story of God working in the most unexpected ways. All evidence pointed to this marriage ending in divorce, my friends, BUT GOD… It’s powerful, awe-inspiring and beautiful. All things are possible with God.
Read ‘God Saved Our Marriage…and My Husband’ here. I pray it encourages you and ignites a new hope in your spirit. That is the promise we hold within, the hope of Jesus, and it’s the focus of this first week of Advent.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. — Romans 5:1-5
SUMites, I bless you with a fresh anointing of hope that will ignite your faith to a whole new level as we close this year well.
I love you all so much,
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!
Dear friends, two weeks ago I wrote a post about seeing the gold in our spouses and calling it out. Since then the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about the power of our words, which seems to dovetail perfectly with what Lynn has been teaching us, specifically about praying with confidence. And that is what I feel like the Holy Spirit has been teaching me recently.
But not in the way one would expect. (There's that word again that things won't look the way we expect them to.) As I've shared before, God seems to want to take my perceptions of the truth and turn them on end to see them in a different way. An empowering way.
I'm going to share with you what the Holy Spirit told me as I was out for a walk to worship and pray.
"You have nothing to lose, and the enemy has lost everything."
I asked for my clarity and understanding and this is what the Holy Spirit impressed upon me, my friends. We, as God's children, have gained everything through Jesus. Thus we can't lose. No matter what the enemy wants us to think or the lies he tries to throw at us, we win. We are called the victors in this life and whatever comes our way. We are even declared to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
And the enemy has everything to lose. In fact, according to Scripture, he's already lost everything.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. — Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV)
So let me say this as the complete thought the Holy Spirit impressed upon me.
We have everything and nothing to lose. The enemy has nothing and everything to lose.
Plays with your mind a bit, doesn't it? But think about it, truly wrap your brain around this. Then think about the place of confidence and power this positions you in with your prayer life. Think about the impact your words can have when spoken out loud in prayers and in alignment with God's heart. That's empowered confidence in who we are as children of God and what He given us. As Christ said we would do the things He did and more.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. — John 14:12-14 (NIV)
SUMites, ponder this powerful truth and begin to apply it to the places in your life that you are waging war. This is what I've been doing this last week and I believe breakthroughs are coming as a result.
But there's more to this journey I'm on that I'm looking forward to sharing with you and it has to do with our words. The power of our words and prayers. But not the way you think...not the way you expect...yes, God's turning this one upside down a bit for me too. Helping me see things in a whole new way. His way.
And in case your confused as to why I'm on the blog today instead of Lynn, we're changing things up a bit to give us more time to write and create new resources. We'll be sharing more about that in the days and weeks ahead so stay tuned.
So tell me, SUMites, what do you think about your place of authority now? You have everything and nothing to lose.
I love you, my friends, so very much. Know that my prayers are with you for our pre-believers as we stand for God's salvation for them—Jeremiah 24:7! Amen!
I convinced He does. Just take a look in the Word. The Lord commands us to be courageous and to “Fear Not.”
Yep, easy to say. But what does a life of courage look like in 2016? What does it mean to pray without fear?
I’m convinced that the attributes we have studied over the past several weeks, praying the Word, belief, confidence, engaging your will, all lead up to courageous praying. Prayers that ROCK the heavens and defeat the demonic realms.
All of these attributes lead us into the supernatural realm of powerful prayers, fueled by unwavering faith.
There comes a day when you have settled your doubt and truly believe. There is a moment in time when the Word of God comes alive and is truly a sharp, two-edged sword that you wield. There is a season after walking in step with Jesus that you become a courageous, sold-out, Jesus-freak. That is the moment where love over takes fear of defeat, fear of man, fear of failure, fear of condemnation, guilt, shame and comparison. You step into the reality that you are a Child of The Most High God and are empowered and enthroned as royalty. When you speak you have the power of life and death upon your tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)
(Wow, when I grow up, I want to become this person.) I hope I’m mostly there! *grin*
Those who arrive at this place in their faith walk are intercessors clothed in humility and also of, …… great power! They are the Believers who have spent time in the Presence, in the secret place, alone with God. Believers who know the Word and how to pray it and when the Word is aptly spoken, it’s as beautiful as baskets of fruit of silver and gold (Proverbs 25:11)
You may think that these intercessors are the “Big Names” in our Christian communities such as Beth Moore and Tony Evans. And they likely are but I’m more impressed with the ordinary mom who rises early to pray for her little ones by name. I’m moved by the Dad and husband who prays every day on his way to work for his family and for the Kingdom of God to advance in his workplace. I’m undone to consider the ordinary widow who is alone at home, but not truly alone because at the utterance of her small voice, literally thousands of angels are sent on assignment to save this world and shape culture.
Oh how I want to be one of THESE believers. I want to pray and see people healed emotionally and physically. I want to pray and see America return to her Christian roots. I want to pray and see those who are tormented by fear and illness set free. I’m moved to pray and see this:
The name of Jesus, glorified!!!
If you are a SUMite, you are already headed toward this purpose. God chose you to know how to pray with power and to bear witness to the salvation of your family. You were chosen to bring love, forgiveness, healing and hope to many people through your prayers.
So, right now all you need to do is say this: I BELIEVE.
I believe in God our Father.
I believe in Christ the Son.
I believe in the Holy Spirit.
I believe I can pray with power.
I believe I can utter words and angels move.
I believe that I was born for such a time as this to bring the Kingdom of God into its rightful place in our world.
I believe God listens and loves to answer my prayers, even the outlandish stuff.
I believe I am commissioned to be an intercessory, a prayer warrior and a powerful servant of the Most High.
Today, I will pray with purpose, power, belief, using the Word, with conviction and confidence and finally with unfailing courage. I will not relent or give up or give in. I will stand for goodness, honesty, integrity and truth. I will love lavishly and forgive easily. I will offer hope and a hand to those who I can and I will always forever remain loyally in love with my Jesus.
This is my high and holy calling and I will believe nothing less. In the name of Jesus. Amen and Hallelujah!!!
Stand tall SUMite because your prayers are bringing His Kingdom to earth. Now can I get an amen in the comments? And share a courageous, outlandish prayer, dream, hope, request in the comments. And let’s pray with courage for ourselves, our families and for one another.
My Prayer: I pray for every nation to come to the truth that Jesus is the son of God and through Him they have the abundant life now and for all eternity. I approach the Throne of Grace with boldness to contend for the full salvation of my husband and family members. I pray that the fire of the Holy Spirit falls on me with such intensity that I can pray for others and they are healed, delivered and receive a powerful encounter with the love of our Father. I pray for everyone here that this day, they see the goodness of the Lord in that land of the living. In Jesus name. AMEN
Let me leave today’s post by reiterating six essential components of effective prayer.
Have an amazing encounter with our King. I Love you. Lynn
Okay, your turn! Hugs.
Not a topic that any sane person should delve into, however, I’m wondering how many of you are dealing with conflict at home because of differing views over the Presidential election in America?
I suspect I’m not alone. For those of you who are in harmony with your spouse over political choices, give the rest of us grace as we try to wade through this issue. And for the SUMite family who live outside of the USA, PLEASE pray for us. We need it!
I want to start this conversation by stating clearly a few things. One, I’m not supporting a specific candidate nor trying to sway anyone toward or away from a candidate. Two, we will have this conversation in this house covered by grace and without condemnation or anger. Three, I absolutely believe that God’s people should vote.
What I really want to talk about is how do we handle the election seasons with an unbelieving spouse? I want to talk about this because this issue is very personal. So bear with me if you can’t relate so much. Try to apply what I share to other areas where you have extreme conflict with your spouse, and let’s apply some wisdom to all of our lives (and politics).
Okay? We good?
I’m going to share what happens in the Donovan Clan house during an election cycle and also share some personal insights. Your experience may be similar or somewhat different.
First, I’ve come to understand that every four years our home falls under a distinct tension. Mike and I have been married for nearly 25 years and I know that every summer heading to a November election, strain arises in our marriage, especially if we watch the evening national news broadcasts together which is typical for us. I can almost feel it in the air: division, anger, disgust, unbelief etc. etc. etc. and these are just my emotions. *grin*
The political process is geared to divide. Divide the country and it divides our unity in marriage. This fact makes me fume, personally.
You may ask, “Lynn, why do you let it get to you?”
Well, in the last few years, political decisions have greatly affected the moral compass and positions of our citizenry. The Supreme Court irrevocably impacted the sanctity of marriage through a ruling last June. The judges on the Federal Bench in California have ruled time and again against principals and positions that are Biblical in their truth and standing. Right now the California Legislature is poised to remove all codes of conduct from the 20 plus Christian Universities in our State. You can bet the laws they are passing right now to change the morality at the Christian universities will be drawn up against our churches in the state in a matter of months. The ramifications are disastrous for marriages and families and for people of faith.
Our voice and our votes matter.
So, you can see how I might be a little concerned about the political system.
Now here is the rub. My husband is usually a very mild-mannered, phlegmatic man, however, when it comes to politics he is as far left as you can get. He is very passionate about politics. In fact, I’ve come to realize that the DNC is his god. He gets truly fired up about his beliefs and wholeheartedly supports the direction the DNC takes regarding all issues. He is not like this about anything else. (No offense intended democratic SUMites. I’m only stating how extreme my husband is.)
So this brings me to the nightly news and what I have learned over the years. I share my hard-fought lessons with you in the hopes you won’t spend as much time and grief in the arena with your husband over politics.
One: God is on the throne no matter who is in the house (White house). Can I get an amen!
Just reading that doesn’t it bring your heart peace? My friends, I can just imagine God sitting on the throne, looking down at earth at the ceaseless whirring of the political machine. He sits back and then gives a hardy, belly-laugh about all the nonsense that is spinning on earth.
SUMites, we can take a second, catch our breath and KNOW that God isn’t up there fretting that the world seems to have gone mad. He isn’t surprised by the climate and insanity in our world. He’s actually seen it all before. It’s frustrating to say this -but history repeats itself. Mankind continues to fall away from God.
He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. —Daniel 2:21 (NLT)
This passage gives me comfort in its truth.
What I think makes God shake His head is this. His Kids, that would be us, -we don’t pray. We are a vital piece of the solution to create unity and bring Godly people and decisions to our world. Our prayers have enormous impact upon the demonic realm that is the source of all conflict, especially in politics. So, let’s pray.
I challenge you to meet with friends and pray specifically for our election and our country between now and November. Did you know that the last Great Awakening began because people in New York City began to meet in homes and businesses and they prayed. Prayer works and right now our world NEEDS another Great Awakening.
I pray with a couple of gals in my home every other Friday and Wow Wee. We set the heavenly realms ablaze with our prayers for our country. So, I ask you right now, be intentional and gather one or two around you to pray once a week or biweekly.
Now let me tell you what I think is really happening. The next Great Awakening is already underway. I know you are overwhelmed by the unrelenting evil in the world right now. But there is enormous good. The good people and good deeds and the miraculous doesn’t make the evening news but it’s happening all over the place. And you, SUMites, you are part of this Awakening. You are leaders in preparing our world for the end times. (Okay, I’m getting off topic, but God has recently shared so much with me about how He has been grooming the unequally yoked specifically for future events. I have SO MUCH to share about this. But alas, it must happen after this series.)
So, are you up for the challenge? Can you pray at home in your quiet time? Will you stick with me as we meander down this road? And did any of this help someone?
I have more. On Monday let’s look at item number two… It’s awesome. LOVE you my family, you are an amazing bunch of God’s Kids and I adore you. Hugs, Lynn
SUMites, I promised to share more of what God is showing me for our community right now. I believe this next part will be so encouraging to you and will strengthen your spirit greatly. Let’s go back to Isaiah 60. There are several parts to this chapter that God has in the works for us right now.
I will exchange your bronze for gold, your iron for silver, your wood for bronze, and your stones for iron. I will make peace your leader and righteousness your ruler. — Isaiah 60:17
This verse is about upgrades. As we grow in our faith and intimacy with God, He upgrades us to new levels of understanding (revelation) of what our calling and purposes are. He also takes our spiritual gifts to higher levels of operation to work toward and accomplish those works, which He prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). He establishes (a very important word right now) these purposes, gifts and us in Him to come from Him and—most importantly—to work with Him, because God intends all of it to operate within the boundaries of our intimacy and relationship with Him. And He equips and prepares us to step into each level.
I know that’s a lot to chew on right now so let me put it into context. Think about the challenges and trials that have taught you to trust God more and to operate more in your gifting. For example, let’s say your gift is exhortation—you are an encourager. Yet recently you have been greatly discouraged by either external circumstances or internal conflict, which could very well be an attack from the enemy.
Maybe you “wallow” for a day or two but then the Holy Spirit reminds you who you are and that you have skills—big skills created and gifted to you because you are God’s kid. You begin to seek Jesus for comfort and direction by praying, reading your Bible and worshiping, therefore deepening your intimacy in Him, which then results in you being encouraged.
You’ve now learned how to encourage yourself in the Lord, which then becomes experiential for you. Let me also say there are many ways to encourage yourself in the Lord—think of David who wrote Psalms and Paul and Silas who sang hymns in the darkness of a prison cell.
Then a barely a week later a friend tells you she is struggling in the exact same thing you did and you know exactly how to encourage her through this difficult time, and because you have experienced it first hand, you realize you have authority to pray and wisdom to share in this type of situation. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing this many times to help others. All that is part of what God uses to bring us to each new level of how we are called to function in the body of Christ.
Right now, God is very much on the move (yes, can’t get away from that song and I believe it’s very relevant and prophetic for right now) and things are happening, my friends. We are being upgraded to new levels according to what we have overcome and in preparation for what is coming next. It’s exciting, but I know that in some ways it’s grown more difficult.
Some of you have shared that you feel like you’ve come under greater attack. Since the release of our corporate word in January, I came under one of the worst enemy attacks I’ve ever experienced. Many of you praying over the prayer list have shared you are experiencing more warfare than ever in your marriages. I’ve noticed this too in my own marriage over the weekend, but recognized it for what it was—the enemy’s attempt to distract and discourage—and prayed blessings and protection over all my relationships.
I want to let you in on a little secret the enemy likes to keep us blind to. The very place he attacks you repeatedly is the very place of your gifting. If you are gifted to be an intercessor, he will try to make you think your prayers aren’t making a difference, that they don’t matter, until finally you find yourself hardly praying at all. And a prayer-less believer is a powerless believer.
When you see a place in your life that the enemy is hitting you harder than normal, take stock and ask these questions:
Most importantly, SUMites, don’t back down as that’s exactly what the enemy wants you to do. He only gets louder when he knows he’s losing ground. And that is what we’re doing, we are taking ground that the enemy has no legal right to in our own life and the life of our spouse and our family who are sanctified by our faith (1 Cor. 7:14).
There is truth behind the saying it is darkest before the dawn. We are on the verge of so much breakthrough as we surround our lives, families and this community with our prayers. Here’s the exciting part of our unfolding promise of salvation from Jesus:
Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there. — Isaiah 60:18b
Look at that, SUMites! Turns out this church without walls is getting walls after all! An upgrade to walls of SALVATION! And here’s the next part of the promise I feel God wants us to know is coming.
Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. — Isaiah 61:7
This promise is about restoration. God restores what the enemy attempts to destroy. Trust Him to do this and to do it in His way and timing. I believe this is in answer to our prayers for peace and prosperity in our marriages—part of what God asked us to do in January as part of His salvation word to us.
This is what we are heading toward, SUMites. Stay close to God, go deeper with Him. Our hearts to listen and obey His leading are an important part of what’s happening right now. And I will tell you what God spoke to me last week,
Things won’t look the way you expect.
Now that’s the next part of this series, so stay tuned. I’m looking forward to sharing that one with you. Love you so much, SUM family! I’m praying daily for each of you to be strengthened, equipped and encouraged! In the name of Jesus, amen!
On Tuesday I wrote about God’s promises and asked you to choose one promise you are standing for right now, write it on an idea card and as a prophetic act, stand on it and speak this promise over yourself, your family, or whatever the situation this promise is for.
I want to back up just a bit and be sure that our community understands just how powerful it is the speak God’s Word back to Him, to speak what came from the supernatural into the natural realm (Heb. 11:3). If if you read the Psalms, you’ll notice King David was a master at this.
Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. — Psalm 27:13
In the early years of my Christian faith, I didn’t understand this. I always read my Bible, studied Scriptures and memorized verses here and there, but it wasn’t until much later that I was taught the power of speaking God’s Word out loud, speaking it back to Him. Scripture even tells us this.
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” —Isaiah 55:10-13 NLT
As I’ve learned to do this more and more, I’ve seen God’s Word produce the fruit He promised. I believe we give Abba great pleasure when we trust His Word and speak it back to Him. And there are many ways you can do this, my friends.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. — Romans 10:17 NKJV
During a difficult time I spoke back 1 Peter 5:6-7 and 10 to God almost every day.
Vs. 6-7: Lord, I humble myself under Your mighty power, and I know that at the right time, You will me up in honor. So I give you all my worries and cares, because I know You care about me.
Vs. 10: Lord, in Your kindness You called me to share in Your eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after I have suffered a little while, You will restore, support and strengthen me, and You will place me on a firm foundation.
Why did I do this? Look at verses eight and nine:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. — 1 Peter 5:8-9
The enemy was hitting me hard at the time and this was one of many verses God led me too. Then one day while in church during worship, I heard God clearly say, “I am lifting you up today.”
God spoke back His Word to me as I had been speaking it to Him. And He did exactly what He said, my friends. I find myself wanting to do this very type of scriptural prayer more and more, because I love to hear our Great God speak it back. He’s so faithful!
SUM family, I know many of us are feeling down trodden. I am battling new discouragement over my health—I was finally feeling almost back to normal from my shoulder ordeal and now my body is having some kind of allergic reaction that is making life very unpleasant. In the last four months I wasn’t as diligent due to the pain I was in and the enemy took full advantage. Just as 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, but that doesn’t change God’s faithfulness. I am committed to praying these Scriptures and more over myself and my family. And over you, my friends. I often pray over your comments with Scriptures.
“I trust You, Oh Lord, for You are my God (Psalm 31:14)! And I KNOW Your are working all this out for our good (Romans 8:28)!
My friends, I want to take our theme of standing for Jesus and move to standing on His promises. What does that mean? How do we identify a promise in the Bible? How do we pray and stand upon them, especially when what we see happening in our lives or those we love or in the world around us doesn't agree?
I love God’s promises. I firmly believe and declare regular that they are my shield and protection as it says in Psalm 91. When daughter Leslie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, I stood on every promise He gave me through that and He was faithful to His Word. God has proven His faithfulness to me mainly through my daughters and my marriage.
But I will also be honest and authentic in saying I feel like this area of my faith has been tested more in the last two years than I ever imagined they could be. Right now I can also honestly say I’m beginning to understand Job and even identify with the poor dude. My family and I are getting slammed in ways I didn’t see coming—my daughter’s and my health, a marriage in our extended family is threatened, and some other unforeseen challenges have emerged. Yet in other ways, God’s blessings have poured out in abundance and remain sure.
I remember walking and praying one day as my mind contemplated God’s miracles, specifically how we see and perceive them as opposed to our spouses. I tend to try to look at things from my husband’s perspective as well in order to understand him better—I’m still trying to figure the guy out!
And in this reflective moment I could honestly see how someone could “reason” away the evidence of God. But quicker than I could finish the thought, God stopped me in my tracks and said, “No, Dineen, everything is birthed in the supernatural first. Never forget that.”
Then He led me to Hebrews 11…
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. — Hebrews 11:1-3
I was quite familiar with verse one, but it was verse three that He wanted me to see that day to bring His point all the way home to my heart.
Everything starts with the word of God.
With His Words.
With His promises.
And He’s reminded me of this for the last several days as I contemplate the chaos that seems to be swirling around my immediate and extended family.
Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled. — Romans 15:4
And that’s the key, to read the Bible and ask Holy Spirit to reveal the promises we need for that moment, that day, that situation, or whatever need and challenge we are facing. Or even just the reassurance of His presence, love and protection. Because He knows we need hope and encouragement constantly to walk in faith and STAND on His promises.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises… — 2 Peter 1:3-5
Yes, God has given us everything we need, because He gave Himself to us through Jesus. And His Word is full of those great and precious promises. But there is a role we play in this divine exchange, my friends. It’s in that very last line of the Scriptures above, a line that captured my attention just yesterday as I sat with my Bible on my lap, searching for a much needed Word of promise, hope and encouragement.
He reminded me through Peter’s words to make very effort to respond to those promises I searched for so hungrily. There in lies our side of this divine exchange, to receive His Word as truth and stand in belief and agreement with it.
When God says He will never leave or forsake us, He will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). So when we feel like God is distant, we can claim His promise that He will never abandon us and declare this truth to make the enemy and his lies flee.
When God says He is for us, not against us (Rom. 8:31), then we can trust we have the Creator of the Universe backing us up (Isa. 58:8). All those “things” that seem to be coming against us will actually be turned around and used for our good (Rom. 8:28).
When we wonder how we can love like Jesus and be His light in the world, we can trust that He had already told us we are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14) and also trust that He is giving us the power and the desire to be that light and do the things that please Him (Phil. 2:13).
And when we run into doubt, we can stand on His very Word that says He is faithful to do what He says, because we have entered into partnership with His Son, Jesus (I Cor. 1:9).
My precious SUM family, I want you to take one promise from the Bible—one you already know and want to stand for, or ask the Holy Spirit to show you one you need right now—and write it on an index card or piece of paper. Then as a prophetic statement, I want you to stand on it and speak that promise out loud over yourself, your family, and/or whoever or whatever it is for. Do this every day for a week, a month, or however long it takes to become your truth.
Then when your promise is birthed from the supernatural into this earthly realm, come and give your testimony. For we are the SUMites and we stand in faith as uniquely as any church or faith based community as I have ever encountered. And I am so grateful for you, my SUM family. I am standing with you just as I know you are standing with me.
I love you so very much,
A week ago I shared in my post the things I am standing for. I sensed then Holy Spirit might be leading me to share a story that began in 2013 that had to do with the word and command in the Bible, to “stand.” Jesus presented it to me as a question, but its full meaning wouldn’t become clearer until almost a year later.
Will you stand for Me?
The question came as I worshiped with over a thousand others at a faith based conference.
Will you stand for Me?
So unexpected and suddenly there. Often I would hear something and wonder, “Is that me or is that you, Lord?” This time I knew it was Jesus.
I went to my knees. Yes, Lord, I will stand for you.
That was at the end of 2013 and before I understood that this question was the beginning of what was to come—a very challenging time that would transform my mind and restore my soul.
Months later I would come to understand that this question was part of His preparation, and a year later, He would show me a connection in His Word that brought all the pieces together.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. — Matthew 16:24 ESV
This verse showed up in my email inbox—twice in one day. I’ve learned to pay heed to such things, so I mined this verse for the nuggets it held. I’ve always wondered about and wanted to understand exactly what Jesus meant by “taking up our cross.” So I looked up the Greek translation of this word, “cross” — stauros.
I found the expected definitions: a stake or post, a pole or cross, figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial, etc. But I noticed it had a root word as well, so I followed the trail to yet another word, one I recognized from another verse. Histēmi, which means “to stand.”
My heart quickened and my fingers dashed over my iPad to Ephesians 6—the armor of God:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. — Ephesians 6:11-15 ESV
And there it was. The same word, histēmi. To bear our cross for Jesus meant to stand for Him. That was the cross He’d asked me to carry, to stand for Him through a difficult time He knew had to come but I didn’t. And as I stood (though wobbly and grateful for the prayer warriors holding up my arms), He fought for me. He never left. He never forsook me, never rejected me, never judged me. Just loved me with a relentless passion that would calm, claim and heal my fractured heart.
My friends, Jesus does this for you too. He stands with us as we stand for our spouses, our marriages, our children, our family and for each other. He is our Savior, our Friend, our Advocate, our Healer. He is the source of our strength and joy.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:12 NIV
Lord Jesus, I stand with my SUMite sisters and brothers and ask that You restore the joy of Your salvation to each one and give each of them a willing spirit to sustain them in all areas of their lives. Let their hearts be comforted and filled with Your peace. Thank You, Lord Jesus, our Prince of Peace, amen!
My friends, I’m so glad to be back at home in Florida. I’m still catching up with emails, writing, and unpacking boxes, but my heart is relieved to be back not only in our Florida digs (well, our temporary ones until our house is completed) and back here with you. You are my precious friends. You are my faith family. You are my sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus. And for a gal who grew up an only child wanting siblings, how cool is that?!?!
I want to tell you a quick story, or rather, tell you about an image that is emblazoned upon my mind like a photograph. I saw it while traveling cross country. I don’t remember which state we were in, but it doesn’t really matter.
What matters is what I saw. From my passenger side comfy seat I glanced up and saw an EMT vehicle. Not one of those average ambulances but one of the full blown, decked out rescue vehicles that we often send up prayers for when we see them flying down the road, lights flashing.
Except this one didn’t have its lights on. It was just cruising down the road next to us. As I glanced up, I noticed the driver had his arm resting against the window and his tattoo was pressed against the glass. Not an image but words and numbers.
Now I’ve seen quite a few faith-based tattoos, and they usually have an evangelistic message to them. I didn’t know this verse off hand, yet assumed it served the same purpose. But I wanted to know for sure. Love my cell phone Bible app…
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. — John 15:13
What a fitting verse for a man who risks his life to rescue others. Perhaps not every day is filled with peril, but I’d expect he leaves every day for work with that expectation. This is his life verse, his statement of purpose, the motivation behind what he does every day.
To lay down his life…
My friends, as I pondered this in the days that followed, the heart of this message expanded to you. As believers, we have laid down our lives for Jesus. As SUMites, we have laid down our lives for our spouses. As soldiers in God’s army, we day our lives for each other. Or should I say our hearts?
That’s what we do here, with every post. We love on each other, we pray for each other, we encourage each other, we empathize and often sympathize with each other. We wear each other’s shoes, so to speak.
We live the truth of John 15:13 every…single…day.
So my dear friends, I am celebrating you this week, this month, this year—how about always? Always in my heart. I can’t think of better words than to say (and please receive them from my heart), I am so proud of you. Of us. Of what God has done in the SUM community to grow us into a church without walls.
We are coming up on 10 years for this community. We have grown so much and in so many ways. And so much more is coming.
So much more. In the last week or so God has been showing me His great heart for us, SUMites. He is drawing us together even more in unity and purpose.
More is coming. More is coming. More is coming. I sense this deep in my spirit and my soul. We’ve walked a long journey, we’ve grown and God has prepared us. Now all that is being called into place. I don’t know what that will look like or what it means, but I just somehow KNOW it’s coming.
As we stand in faith for our spouses and with each other, God is moving. I can’t wait to see what He does next. How about you? What are you hearing Holy Spirit speak to your heart?
Copyright: scottff72 / 123RF Stock Photo
My dear friends, I hope the journaling exercise to "pay attention" to how you hear God has been a blessing and encouragement to you. Your comments have encouraged me greatly! I love how God speaks to us in many ways and specifically to our need and relationship with Him. Let’s review that verse again:
“So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” — Luke 8:18 NLT
Today I will share that story I promised you, one that will show another form of how God can speak to us. I've had the joy of training and working in two different healing rooms (Silicon Valley and now Manatee County). In fact, just this past weekend I attended more training and had the joy of facilitating as well.
And God has used the last several years to teach me so much about healing prayers through teachers and mentors in these places and especially through the Holy Spirit, our greatest Teacher and Mentor of all. Over time, I've learned to recognize better when He's showing me something. I believe He communicates this way with me, because I am an artist and a very visual person.
If you study the book of Acts, you will see many descriptions of the disciples receiving images and even visions of God's leading. Just before his death, Stephen is given a glimpse of Jesus and heaven (Acts 7:55). Ananias heard the Lord instructing him in a vision to go to Saul because God had given Saul a vision of Ananias as part of Saul's conversion from a Pharisee to a believer who would be known as Paul (Acts 9:10-19). And God showed Peter through two visions that he was not to discriminate against Gentiles (Acts 10:3-33).
I love serving people in the healing rooms. We are there to pray with people for their needs, to encourage and edify them as Scripture directs, and we work in teams of three because we are stronger as a three-fold cord.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. — 1 Thess. 5:11 ESV
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Ecc. 4:12 NIV
On this particular day, a woman came in for prayer about the purchase of a house. She and her husband had felt clear leading to buy a specific house and had made an offer, but the inspection now showed issues that they would not be able to afford. Confusion had set in.
As our team sought God for leading in how to pray for her, I saw an image of a house in my mind. At first I simply thought it was the natural reaction of the mind to connect an image to thoughts, but as I said, I have learned through experience and practice to pay attention when I get an image, especially in this type of setting. Yet I am always careful to defer to Holy Spirit's leading to share a word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8).
Our sister in Christ then joined us in the prayer room and we began to speak truth into her heart to help her refocus on God and His leading for her. I felt Holy Spirit direct me to share the image so I did.
I described the image of the house in the detail the Holy Spirit had given me. I'm always a bit nervous to do things like this, but again I'm learning to trust Him more than myself. It's not easy. It’s a risk and an act of faith to trust in what God is doing and not what I understand or perceive is happening.
Turned out the image was the house she and her husband wanted to purchase, and sharing with her what God had shown me, along with what the other team members felt Holy Spirit telling them, confirmed and affirmed this dear woman on the God-lead path she was obediently trying to follow. She just needed reassurance that even though complications had cropped up, God was still in the lead and would provide. She left encouraged and felt even closer to God as a result. As we all do when we see, hear, feel and sense God's presence with us—we are drawn closer to Him and hunger for even more.
And I was too, as was the prayer team. These encounters never cease to astound me and draw me closer to God. I pray they never do. The end of this story is wonderful. The couple moved forward in faith and made another offer. They purchased the house for a price that gave them room to make the repairs. God did exactly what He said He would.
Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. — Deut. 7:9 NLT
My friends, the amazing thing is I am learning to apply this way of praying to my family. One night Holy Spirit showed me that I didn't believe He would show me what to pray for my family like I do in the healing rooms. I'm learning to first seek and listen before I start praying what I think my husband or daughters need.
Sometimes our best intentions and love can keep us from hearing what God wants us to know, because we are more focused on the issue at hand instead of the answer God is waiting to give us.
Now as I pray for my husband, I wait for a leading or image to show me where God's working in him. That way I know how to pray and work with God in this transformation process. God wants me to see my husband as already saved and pray and praise accordingly. Just as God instructed Peter in his vision to not make a judgement of a person's place in God's kingdom, I feel God telling us the same thing, my friends. This verse spoke that truth to my heart this week:
Peter told them, "You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. — Acts 10:28
Right now we need to be seeking God for His heart and how He sees our spouses, our loved ones, and pray and declare in agreement. We only have a partial picture with our own perspective. God has the full picture and He knows our spouses (1 Cor. 13:12).
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6
That day of Jesus Christ is now, my friends. The Greek translation for the word "day" means the space between dark and dawn. I believe this is the time between Jesus' coming and return and we are in that time right now! So don't be discouraged! He is faithful to complete what He has told us He will do. SALVATION!
Dear friends, we live in an incredible time of witnessing God move in our spouses' lives and hearts! Be assured He is working. Seek Him, ask Him to show you and trust Him to complete the good work He has started as you join Him accordingly in prayer and trust for your spouse's salvation. Amen? Amen!
Can you believe it? Today, is my last post in my Spiritual Warfare series. I truly hope that you were empowered and found yourself with more armor, more protection and greater understanding of the real battle that is at hand every day and every moment of our life.
We have talked about the Word of God, or the Sword, as our truth and it ties into all the other pieces of armament in Ephesians chapter six. My friends, the Word is our offensive weapon. It is double edged, in that when we swing it, speak it, read it, love it, believe it, follow it. Two things happen. It slices one way, upward, as it pierces into the heavenly realms to open up more of God’s favor and revelation. (Faith and belief comes by hearing the Word of God) and it also slices downward at the same time, cutting off the attacks of the dark kingdom.
And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God. —Ephesians 6:17
In the last month I’ve come to understand the Word of God in an expanding knowledge.
Graphe (Greek) means: Writtings. 66 books that compose the cannon of scripture.
Logos (Greek) means: The Message of the writings. When you read a passage and you understand it, you have just experienced the Logos, the message.
Rhema (Greek) means: Utterance. The spoken or declared Word of God. The spokeness of the logos (message) that you received from the graphe.
The rhema is the spirit and the power of God’s presence with you!
So what does this look like practically?
Jesus used the Word to defeat Satan during His 40 days of fasting in the wilderness – where he went to be tempted by the devil.
Devil: If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.
Jesus: It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
In Matthew chapter four, Jesus uses scripture to defeat satan twice. The above passage was in Deuteronomy chapter eight. And the second passage I find interesting is that the devil quotes God’s word to Jesus from Psalm 91. The devil knows scripture. Thus he clearly understands our authority as well as our lack of knowledge, that gives him power in our lives by default.
Devil: He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Jesus: It is also written: Do no put the Lord your God to the test.
Followed by Jesus telling the devil: Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.
Guess what happened? The devil left him.
Gang, if Jesus is quoting the Word of God to the devil, I think that it would be a very good idea for us to do the same. And we need to say more often and OUT LOUD: Away from me satan!
The devil will always tempt us with a legitimate need, just as he did in this passage with Jesus. But our defense and our offensive weapons are so powerful that we need only speak the Word to the situation and then watch as satan must flee and our Lord will take over and provide.
After this encounter angels came and attended him (Matthew 4:11) My friends, I could stand to use a few angels attending me. How about you?
I want to share a personal observation with you now. This is from my heart and from my experience in these many years of walking with God. So often, the Lord is looking for us to just take a tiny step of faith. He is watching the entire human race to see who will believe Him. He waits on the edge of His seat to see how we will respond to promptings of the Rhema as it moves in our life. His watchful eye is upon us to see if we will take one step out in courage to pray for a stranger, to share our faith with our spouse, to give to someone in need without anyone else’s knowledge, to show ourselves vulnerable but in absolute trust that God has got our back.
When I have followed God’s suggestions to go pray for a stranger or to give them the words I am hearing from the Holy Spirit, NEVER have I been left hanging in embarrassment. It IS a RISK to follow the Rhema and the prompting of the Spirit but each time that I choose to trust, I’m overwhelmed with the love of God. The great privilege is watching the love of Jesus flow into a heart and free them from fear. To be present as the Holy Spirit gently pours peace upon them and to see their countenance change. Even the shape of their face can change when they become free of the chains of fear and oppression.
THAT my friends, is worth any chance of being embarrassed. For me, I will risk it. I choose to RISK for the Kingdom because I have picked up the Rhema, the living Word, and have “experienced” Him.
John 1:1 New International Version (NIV)
The Word Became Flesh
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
God has given us everything we need to THRIVE in life. His blueprint for victorious living is in our hands. The Word, Christ Jesus and His shed blood. The living Word that heals, saves, elevates, and restores. Reading His Word is the gateway to the most glorious, fun-filled, adventurous, and triumphant life. Today, fall in love with the Word of God. Read it every day and ask God to open up the truths it holds because only good can come from its pages.
I know we could spend years in this lane of study of spiritual warfare, but for now, we have finished our tour of Ephesians chapter six. As we enter into the late fall season with Thanksgiving near and Christmas around the corner, I want us to reflect on our blessings. And we are indeed, rich!
Dineen and I have been thinking about a new series that you will love, beginning in January after our week of fasting. Until that time, we are going to be sharing what the Spirit of God leads through the holiday season.
I would love to hear any suggestions of areas in your marriage, faith-walk, raising kids, etc that you would like us to address. Leave a note in the comments.
I know that many of you have found freedom though this series. If you would, please share with me what you learned and how it’s encouraged you, healed you or how you grew in faith with me in the comments.
I love you deeply. Hugs, Lynn
This is an unlikely story.
This is a story of a God who loves one ordinary woman with such capacity and faithfulness that He would move His hand in astounding circumstances to touch her life and respond to the cry of her heart.
This is my story.
An ordinary blonde, sometimes whacky and somehow hopeful, found herself sitting in church holding her open Bible upon her lap. Her heart cry, “Lord, I believe your Word. Where are the miracles that I have read about all of my life?”
He heard me.
And a journey was set into motion.
God sent me to find the answer to my question in Grand Junction, Colorado. Yep, weird I know.
I was visiting my mother who moved there several years prior. In fact, my entire family was there that week in July of 2012. Sunday morning we had plans to travel to a Hot Springs resort and spend a few days swimming and lounging by the large pools. That morning dawned and in a very spontaneous moment I said to my mom, “Mom, let’s go to your church before we get on the road.” Everyone was still sleeping and it was evident we weren’t going to get out of town early.
Mom and I arrived at church. The worship rocked and then the pastor introduced a guest speaker, June Felhouer. June soon began to share stories of modern day miracles the kind I have read about all of my life. I was undone. I sat utterly stunned at the stories of broken legs mended, cancer healed, ears opened and more. I introduced myself to June after service and chatted briefly.
We continued on our vacation however, my heart, spirit and mind was now intrigued. Is it true that REAL miracles are happening at a church in America? An unlikely church, Bethel of Redding, CA. Arriving home I began to ask my friends who work in the Christian industry about this place of miracles. My editor said to me, “Lynn, if you ever get a chance to visit Bethel, you should do it.”
So without hesitation, I called my partner in all my God adventures, Dineen and said, “We should visit this place and see what it’s all about.” Now even more amazing, Dineen agrees. We were nuts but I was so hungry for more of God that I would have traveled far and wide.
Not knowing anything about anything, I booked us for the next available conference, Open Heavens. Little did I know that conference would forever alter the lives of two ordinary women. Dineen and I were forever changed by our experience with God at that conference.
I’ve written many of my stories of encounters with God and Jesus in that environment. Here is a link to my story of the vision I had of Jesus. The Vastness of Our God.
Today I’m home from my fourth visit to Open Heavens. And as I look back at the extraordinary circumstances that God went through to respond to my hunger, I’m undone. And this moment of humble thanksgiving was magnified when at the beginning of the conference the Holy Spirit whispered to me something very sweet.
Looking at this photo that we had just snapped of my group of friends, the Lord whispered, “This is your legacy, Lynn. These are the children that have come to find more of me because of you.”
You see, the next year in 2013, Dineen and I attended again. We invited Sue Louch (tall blonde in back) who was also desperate for God. She had battled cancer, shingles and fear for years. She was so desperate for God’s touch, she took this crazy journey with us. And she was fully healed! Praise Jesus.
From there Sue began inviting people. I invited more. We made friends in previous years in the line waiting to get into the building. (Some of the best things happen in line.)
Next year for the 2016 Open Heavens Conference, we are praying there are at least 40 of us gathering together to seek the face and voice of God. Forty more of our family who will receive healing from fear, anxiety. Forty in 2016 that will be healed physically and emotionally.
The legacy grows and I weep in humble praise. It’s all about our Jesus.
But as I type, I’m overwhelmed with love that my Savior would go to such great lengths to send me to Grand Junction to take me to Northern California and to bring the healing and anointing I received to this group of people.
But not only these in the photo. He graced me with so much of His love that I have poured it out here and upon hundreds of SUMites. I pray that because you have cried out for more of God, you have received a touch of love and encouragement from me and from Dineen. Two crazy women who took a chance on a outrageous journey to discover that modern day miracles are real and available for every one of us as children of God.
In the three days of the conference this year, I watched God heal hearts. I prayed for many of those. I watched as little girls danced and their eyes were healed. I saw people’s lives restored from the years of the devil’s oppression.
I listened as the Lord spoke through the guest speaker to people in the audience. He called out my friend, Barbara. I met Barbara and her sister, Paula on Friday morning. God woke me at ten-til-five, that would be am. He said to me, “You can sleep when you get home. GET UP!” I crawled from bed, slurped coffee, dressed and headed over to the church to wait in line before dawn. Barbara, Paula and Ruthie stepped in line behind me and it was a divine moment in time those three hours together. Later in the evening before the entire church God spoke to Barbara about her life and encouraged her. It has changed her and her sister’s lives forever. Oh, thank you God that you woke me. I would have missed
that beautiful time with my forever sisters.
Profound and life-changing encounters happened to the people but many, many happened to those whom I knew personally.
I will share one of those amazing stories on Friday.
Today, I want you to let me pray for your journey. Leave your prayer request in the comments.
My dear, sweet brother or sister in Christ. You are valuable. You are adored. The Lord DOES see you. He is standing before you right now with arms open, urging, pleading,
“Come to me and allow me to heal you. Allow me to set you free from the doubts, the lies of the devil and to show you a love that is unfathomable. Let me touch your face with gentleness and relieve your worry and pain. Let me speak words of kindness into your circumstances. Let me dance with you in the kitchen and kiss your children at night with you. Let me carry you when you are weak. Let me sing over you with gladness and bless you with every gift from on High. Let me love you well, my child.”
“My arms are wide open. I’m calling you to a crazy journey. The Grand Adventure of a lifetime that will heal, bless and change everything. Step into my arms of love and allow me to hold you like a protected and loved child. I adore you and will never forsake you.”
Do you want to join us on this fantastic and life-changing journey? It's a journey of HOPE. It's worth every sacrifice, every penny you spend, the time away from your family and job. I PROMISE that you will find it the best thing you ever did this side of heaven. Let me know and I will email you next July when registration begins. Hugs, Lynn