Another Easter has passed. Ann led us through Holy Week and I thought I’d share some thoughts on one of the stories we read post Jesus’ resurrection.
Thomas and his doubts
When Jesus first appeared to the group of disciples in the Upper Room on Sunday night, Thomas was missing. Why? The Biblical accounts don’t tell us.
In the days following, Thomas catches up with his friends, only to be informed that he missed the return of Jesus. Incredibly, he doesn’t believe them. Why would his friends mislead him? Why doesn’t Thomas trust their words?
Thomas responds with his well-known statement: ““Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24 NIV)
Soon after, the disciples are all assembled in the Upper Room once again. This time, Thomas is with them. Lo and behold, Jesus turns up (not bothering to use the door. Remember, He’s fully divine now!) Jesus knows what’s going on in Thomas’ heart and not wanting him to feel left out, offers Thomas the same opportunity he gave the others the previous night: come and touch my wounds. Tellingly, he encourages Thomas to “stop doubting and believe.”
We’re all like Thomas
Jesus knew Thomas’ doubt. What does he do? Jesus knows what will eliminate that doubt: touching his wounds. Lovingly, Jesus invited Thomas to draw close, touch and believe.
We all struggle with doubt from time to time, don’t we? When will my spouse come to know the Lord? Will they ever come to know the Lord? What happens if they don’t? Why does God appear to be silent when I cry out for help: for peace in my family, for healing of an illness, for an end to this pandemic?
Like Thomas, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had doubts. Once again, Jesus gave them the best answer he could: Himself.
Jesus knows our doubts. He knows every single one of them. And like Thomas, Jesus invites us to experience … Him. Jesus asks us to do something, well, two things: act and believe.
Thomas missed the initial opportunity to stop doubting because he had separated himself from the others. I often do this too. When I’m fearful, or doubting, or simply fed up with the journey, I retreat. I shut myself off. I get lackadaisical with prayer and Bible reading. I stop listening, I allow myself to be easily distracted and stop being present.
Reading the Word, prayer and Christian community are all examples of acting. The reason these are so important are that Jesus is in all of them. He’s present. We’ll find Jesus in the Word, when we pray (and be still to listen) and when we meet with others (“when two or three are gathered”)
May I encourage each one of us to move towards Jesus. He always has open arms, inviting us to step into them, yes, to touch his wounds and simply, experience his presence.
Which of these three activities: Bible reading, prayer, Christian community do you find most challenging when life becomes difficult? Be wonderful if we could share with each other in the comments below.
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:
Joshua 6 - God gives specific instructions about the destruction and taking of the city of Jericho. In verse 20 we see the result of following God's plan and not their own: "So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."
Patty called us to march around our house 7 times and shout, declare, pray and praise things into existence. It was in the great shout that the walls fell flat down.
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).
There is so much more I could say but I've gone on a little long.
As we approach this Jewish New Year, what are the things you are coming to the Throne of Grace for? What do you hope to see in this new season?
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!
From our archives, articles which remain relevant for the spiritually mismatched marriage.
This post is part III in this series. Click on Part I and Part II to read the precursors to this article. This was originally posted on April 20, 2012.
Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs
A few months ago I was emailing back and forth to a friend of mine whose husband is a reader of atheist blogs. She was in such pain and in a quandary as to how to cope. Now I don’t pretend to have all the answers for each individual situation. I can only share what has worked in my life and marriage.
Let me say that I love this young mom and wife. She is in the midst of fiery battles daily and is yet living for Jesus under tremendous persecution from her own spouse. And to add to the dynamics of her situation is how she is hard-wired, she hates confrontation. Many of us would go to great lengths to avoid confronting anyone let alone our spouse who holds a great deal of power to hurt us.
I shared with my friend that there comes a time when we must say to our spouse that we are partners in marriage. That what our spouse believes does not diminish what we hold true. It’s appropriate to call them out and ask for our due respect as a spouse and a partner in the relationship. We must stand up and tell them that the words they speak against our faith are disrespectful and truly not what builds a marriage relationship. I know I advised her to tell her husband that she expected him to refrain from speaking about her faith and promise him that she would do the same about his atheist beliefs.
Okay, that’s one take. For me, my moment of truth came unexpectedly. It was many years ago and I remember it clearly still today.
My husband was angry. He was so riled up about my growing faith that he was constantly throwing arguments up for me to discount or contradict. He told me that I was foolish and that my faith embarrassed him. He was absolutely mystified that I, an intelligent woman, would ever even consider believing in a god.
He was adamant and determined to “prove” to me God did not exist.
At this point in our marriage, we had been down all these roads. You know, the paths of trying to defend my faith from a science point of view. Defending the truth of the Bible. Discussing intelligent design. Debates about the fossil record. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Etc. etc. etc.
My friends, I’ve had every conceivable conversation so if you feel like you are all alone in this, I know exactly how you feel.
Okay, after years and years of debate, conflicts and arguments with each of us trying to convince the other of the error in their thinking, I finally gave up.
Whew! What a relief.
What follows is the simple conversation that seemed to finally help my husband accept my faith. Here we go.
Me: Honey, why does it matter so much to you that I believe in God? My faith doesn’t make me stupid.
Him: I does too matter. (He states in great anger and frustration I might add.)
Me: But why? Why does it matter?
Him: Because you are living a lie.
Me: But how do you KNOW that I am wrong? You don’t know for sure. And let’s say that at the end of it all, we die and nothing happens. No heaven. No hell. We just cease to exist like you presume.
What I know is that I lived a life that was morally strong. I lived a life filled with joy. I have many friends who I love and who love me. I have given of myself to this world to make it a better place.
Honey, my faith makes me happy.
Now there is likely more to this conversation but I just don’t remember what happened after that. However, the dynamics in our marriage relationship changed upon that conversation.
Honey, my faith makes me happy…….
The key to this kind of conversation is waiting until they are truly ready to hear it. He was ready that day.
Pray that the Lord will give you several things to equip you to walk this journey.
First, that He and YOU seal your mind, heart and soul in the truth of your identity. Know who you are in Christ.
Second, pray for courage, Joshua courage to step up to the task of confronting immature behavior and words toward your faith.
Three, pray for discernment and wisdom and for an opening to have a conversation with your spouse. God loves to honor those prayers.
Identity Courage and an open door.
And this very day, I also give you dominion over your delete key. Decide today that you will not allow your husband to be used by the enemy to create doubt. Reject the fiery darts of the enemy. Live in joy. As Beth Moore says, “JOY, is our birthright in Christ.”
Live victoriously and let the enemy quake with fear and the atheist blogs go wild, because we are children of the Most High God and NO ONE CAN TOUCH THAT.
“Away with Him!” roar the crowd. I open my curtains and peek out. In the crowd I see people I know: Atheists, agnostics, those who’ve left their faith, and some of other faiths.
I stand and watch for a while. My eyes scan them, person by person. Some of these people are my friends. Finally, I go back to the calm of my living room and sit on the couch. I pour myself another tea, and say: “Jesus, help me again: Show me You're real?”
Sometimes, I word it differently: “God, can I check again that I'm on the right path?”
His response always comes in some way or other:
It is Jesus.
Once, I had a night I'll never forget: It was a few years ago, and I'd been reading a book about another faith. I didn't know what I believed. That night, God interrupted my sleep with crystal-clear words. His voice made me sit up: Cling tenaciously to the risen Jesus Christ, your Savior.“Ok,” I whispered back; and from then on I went with Jesus.
Like many SUMites, I’m surrounded by strong-minded people of differing beliefs. Even if they are placid, their disinterest can be strong. The whole thing requires discernment: I examine their reasons, but the most useful thing I do is go back to my couch, have another cuppa, and ask God.
There is a fabulous analogy to all this, in an unlikely character of the Bible: Pontius Pilate. He might be a surprising one to compare ourselves against, but he had a real encounter. It’s an encounter like ours, in that Jesus was right there, real as anything, and yet those who had not had the encounter were exerting incredible pressure on Pilate to reject Him. Like the SUMites, Pilate's spouse was not by his side. Her conclusions were reached in a different time and place. Standing alone, then, he had a big call to make: yes or no.
I love Pilate’s process. Over and over he asks “Are you the King of the Jews?” and each time Jesus urges him on non-forcefully: "Are you speaking for yourself about this?"
Later, Pilate brings up a valid point: “The crowd is accusing you of so many things” (Mark 15:4). It bothers him, so he goes back to the crowd: “Why are you accusing Him? What evil has He done? Help me understand!” (Matt 27:23). The crowd can only give an ill-informed answer.
In culmination, Pilate asks the most important question a person can ever ask: “What is truth?” (John 18:38)
This story holds a gem that has helped me discern the crowd in my own life. It’s this: The crowd never once bothers to ask Jesus what is true. Instead, they only accuse, reject, and make a lot of clamor. Clamor is boisterous and grabs our attention, but it can be folly:
The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, (Proverbs 9:13-14, NKJV)
Like many SUMites, I sometimes face clamor in my social life. But now I ask: "Has this person asked God if He is real?" And "Have they asked God what is true?" Because if they haven’t, they've missed a crucial step. Believers have often had a different experience altogether. When the crowd roars, then, I will always go back inside and ask God. I guess I'm learning to speak for myself, regardless of the crowd's roar.
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'we will not walk in it'." (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV)
Do you have a loud crowd in your life? If so, I'd love to hear how God has shown you He is real. Perhaps we can encourage each other with our stories.
b: something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically: something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
(Merriam-Webster online dictionary)
Last post (This Is Just The Pits!) we began to take a look at the life of Joseph. We discovered that there are ten tests we must face in order to fulfill our God-given purpose (I highly suggest you read From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris for more on this topic). I want us to really dive into the deep end of the pool as we learn more about the pit test.
First, let's continue on in the story of Joseph. At this point he was ambushed by his brothers and thrown into the pit. Changing scenes, we see what happens with his family next:
So [Joseph's brothers] took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, "We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" And he recognized it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces" (Genesis 37:31-33).
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.
It is very easy to see the heaviness and struggle going on in the world. Just in our own community there is a weight of illness, backsliding (in ourselves or our spouses), addictions, anger, depression, anxiety, spiritual attacks to our identity, self-worth, motivation, and will to keep going in the faith. There is bitterness and envy, there is confusion and doubt - toward others and even God Himself. It's like we have lost sight of who we REALLY are (we'll talk more about this later).
Before I continue, I want to preface that I don't believe that our SUM community is in this bad of shape. I don't believe that we are all struggling at all times. I do however, see a trend of these things happening in the ranks...and it seems to be increasing. I myself have been struggling a lot lately. I feel as though I have opened the door to anger and fits of rage again and it is running rampant and tearing apart my family as I unleash it's fury over my husband and children. I know I am not a monster and YET...that is what the evidence has been showing me lately (tune in next time to learn more about evidence - it's life changing!).
This is where the grace of God comes in. Where the Spirit of the Lord is - there is what? FREEDOM!
In these next couple of posts, I want to share some things that I have been learning recently in God's classroom and I pray that as we work through these things together, we will gain ground in our faith and also in victory over struggles.
I have been reading From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris (you can find the book here). In this book he walks us through the life of Joseph and explains that there are ten different tests that we must go through in order to fulfill the purposes that God has on your life. Reading this book has been so insightful. I have been able to look at the life of Joseph in such a different way. The test I want to touch on is the Pit Test (chapter 2). Let's check in on Joseph:
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, "Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ' Some wild beast has devoured him.' We shall see what will become of his dreams!" But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, "Let us not kill him." And Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him" - that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father. So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it (Gen. 37:17-24).
As we just saw, his brothers conspired to kill him. In verses 4 and 8 of Genesis 37 we find out that his brothers all hate Joseph because he was Jacob's favorite. It made matters worse when Joseph so shamelessly shared the dreams that he had of being bowed down to by his brothers and his parents. Morris goes into more detail throughout the previous chapter (chapter 1) of his book but essentially Joseph's pride is what mainly caused this rift in his family. Out of his pride he helped fuel the events that led him to this pit moment.
So what about us? What is the pit test? How do we end up in the pit?
Like it or not, all of us will go through some times when we feel as if things are just the pits. We may not be sure just how we got into that pit - and even less sure as to how to get ourselves out. But one thing is certain - we won't move ahead into our destiny unless we get out of that pit...Jesus knew we would have trouble because He know we would be living in a world contaminated by the effects of sin. As a consequence of sin, this world is full of trouble - and pits are just one form of it. Pits are simply a by-product of a fallen world. (From Dream to Destiny, p.29, 31)
Next time I want to talk about the mind blowing truth I gleaned from this book about our time in the pit and how Satan schemes to keep us there. Until then, I can't wait to see you in the comments. What kind of pit are you in right now? How can we pray for you as a family to raise you up out of it?
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinth. 15:57
Image courtesy of 9comeback at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One Bible story that I keep coming back to each Advent season is the one that features Zechariah and Elizabeth. I hadn’t spent a lot of time reflecting upon it until a few years ago when I began to observe Advent.
Most of you will know their story is briefly told in Luke 1 before Mary’s story. I’d encourage you to read it again (v5-25) and as we’ve done in the past read it meditatively. Perhaps listen to it and put yourself into the story. Imagine you are Zechariah or Elizabeth or one of the crowd and see what the Spirit reveals to you.
This couple was probably in their late 50’s or early 60’s. He was a respected Jewish priest and would have been highly thought of within society. However, even though holding an elevated position in society they were probably looked down upon.
Why? Scripture tells us the reason:
“But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.” (v7)
Because child bearing and, particularly a son, were so significant in those times, Elizabeth was most likely not recognised and she would have carried great shame.
Besides the shame there would have been a deep deep longing. For a child. The preceding verse describes both as being blameless before the Lord. But still no child. Imagine their heartache, the number of answered prayers that had come from both of their mouths over perhaps forty-plus years.
We too experience a similar longing. For our spouses who don’t know the Lord yet. And the different life we might lead as a Christian couple. No more shying away, no more hiding in the background, no more missed opportunities, and no more sitting alone in church.
Astonishment and Doubt
Zechariah has an experience of a lifetime. He is fortunate to be the name drawn to have the honour of burning incense in to the temple of the Lord. This would have been a great day for him.
And then he meets an angel. Not any angel. Gabriel, “who stands in the presence of God.” That angel. Many would have fainted I suspect … his presence would have been terrifying, bewildering and just weird.
The news Zechariah receives is astonishing. After all these years of waiting and longing, answered prayer, his dearest Elizabeth would bear … a son. And not just any son; but one that “will be great in the sight of the Lord.”
Zechariah is so astonished that he questions Gabriel. I think we all would under similar circumstances. And interestingly, Mary a few verses later, asks almost the identical question when Gabriel shares with her. (“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” v34)
Doubt is part of the human condition. It is nothing to be ashamed of nor does it turn God away from us. He understands. Expressing our doubts to Him is okay. He wants us to share our doubts with Him. We only have to read the Psalms to see how David doubted.
Intercession by others
“And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.” (v10)
It’s easy to miss this verse. While Zechariah is in the temple, a multitude is praying. For him. Probably for Elizabeth. For their situation.
No doubt our couple had shared with many their sadness, their longing and yearning for a child. God doesn’t call us to journey alone. In seasons of doubt being able to share our situations can be beneficial not just to ourselves but those we share it with. When was the last time we shared our sadness about our situation with another? For most of the last twenty years, I wouldn’t say much at all unless directly asked. Recently, I mentioned it to someone in one of my prayer groups. And his first response was “that must be tough.” To which I nodded and said, “yep, it is.”
“Naming the ache of our yearnings is indeed faithful. It opens wide the gift of receiving and embracing the prayers of others.” (Enuma Okoro)
We’re blessed having this community where we can share our yearning and be praying for each other. Lynn, our ever faithful leader, a few weeks ago encouraged us to leave our spouses name in the comments so she could pray for each of us as couples. And I understand there is some wonderful sharing in the Facebook group.
If you are feeling particular sadness due to a longing in your heart or loneliness as Christmas approaches please share with us in the comments below so we can love over you with our prayers.
I had thought I’d write more on the next part of the story but I realise I’ve gone long enough so I'll leave it to next time.
My precious friends, last week God dropped this into my spirit and I've held it close, waiting for Him to tell me to share it. So read this and receive it from His heart to yours.
Love you so much! Dineen
This is My time of restoration and establishing My children in My timeline for them.
Look for the revelations of My heart, of My love. I have situated you in the midst of these revelations. One simply has to look.
There is no need or room for doubt. Remember, My love conquers all and My love lives in you—My Son. That is what makes you more than a conqueror. You are My child. Mine.
My love far outweighs the cares of this world and all the burdens you perceive. Apply My love to every one of them—to everything—like a salve. The name of Jesus and My love are one in the same. Understand this and you will have the greatest weapon, prayer strategy, comfort and peace than you have every known or realized.
Let Me reassure you of this: You lack nothing. I do not ill-equip My children. You have everything you need already. Just believe and tap into it. Ask and receive. It is My delight to give it to you.
Now is not the time to squander what I’ve given you by living in fear and doubt. Even in the remnants of your mind there can be no place for this. Not when I’ve given you everything. Everything. The very heavens are yours! Why else would I teach you to pray “on earth as it is in heaven”?
You are completely established in My righteousness. From this place you cannot fail. I’ve set you up for complete success. Be bold. Have fun. Walk in wonder.
And above all, know My goodness is perfect, unflawed—brilliant like a perfect diamond. I’m giving you jewels, my children, I’m giving you jewels.
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. Dineen
Of late, the Holy Spirit is shouting to my soul, two words: Prayer Strategies. Truly, just ask Dineen. Every time I’m on the phone with her, this comes up. And wow wee, am I ever receiving some powerful prayer strategies for this season.
My friends, so many of us aren’t experiencing the answers to our prayers and I’m grieved by this fact. Well, NO LONGER… We the SUMites are going to learn how to pray and pray with fierceness that sets captives free and releases the prisoners. What say you? Ready to learn more?
Simple really. But utterly so complicated.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. —Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
A key component to effective prayer is belief. Really, this is at the core of most issues of faith. We simply MUST believe. What does that mean and what does that really look like? Good questions.
In the early years of our mismatched marriage, I struggled for a long time in my faith because I had a relationship with church and not with Jesus. What I mean by that is, the primary focus of my time, learning, and prayer life was centered in church. I didn’t study the Word on my own, I only believed what I heard from the pulpit. I didn’t pray much. I only remember uttering crisis prayers from that time in my life. You know, the kind of prayers you beg God to intervene when you have totally screwed up your life? Yep, I was a crisis praying kinda girl. Good grief, so embarrassing to admit. But I’m not alone, am I?
Because my faith was built on sand, I lacked the depth of relationship and Bible wisdom I needed to cease doubting and truly believe what God said in His word. Praise be to God because for those people, like me, who are truly hungry for more of God, the Lord will go to great lengths to bring you into full faith…
We MUST believe in God, His Word, His plan and His purposes for us, our family, our community, nation and the world. When you take that step over that line in the sand and vow to never look back in doubt, a whole new realm of answered prayer begins to unfold.
Example: Recently, I have come to fully believe what the Word teaches about healing. I have experienced supernatural healing. Read my story here: Does Jesus Heal Today?
But I have also prayed for others for their healing and have watched Jesus, Holy Spirit and the angels move and bring emotional healing and healing of physical ailments. I have prayed healing over myself many times and it happens. Say what? I’m still mystified about how this all works but I have belief that God heals, thus He does.
So here is a recent story: A few weeks ago, two weird, red and ugly and swollen sores showed up on my face and they were something other than acne. They were mean looking and had been on my face for a couple of weeks and showed no sign of healing or leaving. I pointed them out to a friend whom I was praying and said to her, “I believe God will remove these sores from my face. They are illegal and the demonic is not going to mar my face because I am a Child of God.”
Two days later these weird sores were gone. I texted my friend and gave witness that I had been blessing my face and praying over these sores and commanding them to go. They had to go and I believed. I prayed in faith and they were banished. By the way, she had a breakthrough as well! Hallelujah our God, our amazing Father, is soooo good and kind. Thank you Lord!
My friends, we need to step into belief. Did you read the last half of the verse I shared earlier?
He rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Let’s choose to believe. Really believe. How do we do this. Start to pray for supernatural faith. Declare you believe the Word of God. And when a moment in time arrives to choose fear or faith.
Let me leave today’s post by reiterating three essential components of effective prayer.
Create a time and space devoted to Bible reading and prayer.
Use the Word of God in your prayers.
Believe – Hebrews 11:6
Okay, who needs to state clearly and publicly that they want to step into a new level of faith? In the comments pray that you want supernatural faith and belief. Declare it in the comments for all SUMites to read. We ALL will come into agreement with you, you with all of us.
This is your time to activate your faith and begin to walk in your destiny.
I LOVE you all so much. I will be echoing your declarations in the comments. Hugs, Lynn
God's love is complete. Jesus made sure of that at the cross. So if God did that in order to love us that way, why would He be angry with us or withhold His goodness from us? Something to think about. The truth always turns the lie upside down. Love you, my friends! Dineen
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!
Whether we know it or not, following an unexpected disappointment, we will find ourselves at an intersection. Before us lies two paths and we choose which one to walk down. Faith or doubt. And In mid-June I was turning down a path that was purposely cultivated by the devil. My confusion turned to distrust and out of my pain I allowed an oppressive spirit access through an open door to my life.
Even my husband noticed I was in a really bad place.
I wrestled with, “Why Lord?” Anyone?
And once I allowed that demonic oppression in, it was hell to kick it back out of my life. (A post for later. I want you to know how to do the same.)
My friends, I will own my failings in this moment. Because what I needed to do is to focus on two “Key Truths” that I know deep within my heart.
My God is good. Always!
I have a lifetime (years and years) of experiencing the faithfulness of God.
It bugs me that I caved to doubt in a moment of confusion. And can I just restate very clearly. My disappointment was not about being published. Not at all. I was struggling with a lie the enemy was telling me. He wanted me to believe that God told me to do something and then He pulled the rug out from under me. The root lie: God is not good nor is His Word reliable. Just to be clear, I’m truly not needing affirmation of a published book. This was much deeper.
Even before all this went down in June, I began to hear the Holy Spirit speak this verse to me. It came in the middle of the night with whispers in my dreams. I would wake with the verse on my lips. This verse arrived in email. It was in the articles I read online. It came through many different venues.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight —Proverbs 3:5-6 (1984 NIV version. This is how I memorized it.)
God knew what was coming. He was preparing me. And because of this verse, it made it so much easier to flee the path of doubt and return to my vibrant faith walk.
But how do we pull ourselves out of the pit? I was truly under demonic oppression. I remember walking around the park and all of a sudden a great wave of sadness settled over me. I knew in the moment exactly what it was, I allowed this demonic spirit access. And even though I didn’t want it near me, I had to fight against it with all that I am.
My friends, to start climbing out of our oppression, we need prayer partners. People who will hold us up. We need community and we need people in our lives who really know us, the good, bad and ugly. We must be in transparent and authentic community. I have several people I reached out to and those women held me before the throne. They dragged my sorry butt with them every day in their intercession. They picked up my broken heart and placed it before Jesus with tears and pleading.
I THANK GOD for the Saints. I don’t often need this kind of prayer support but I’m so grateful God gave me prayer warriors. And you can bet that I have been on the other end interceding for many. I have interceded for so many of you my SUMite friends. I bring your brokenness before our Jesus with tears and pleading. I really do. And I count it a privilege to do so. And I will NEVER stop praying for those who call SUM home.
In addition, we need to have cultivated a strong faith walk over the years in order to persevere through trials. We must remember a lifetime of faithfulness and begin to give thanks, even in the confusion.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-8
Sometimes we won’t receive an explanation, at least right away. But I have experienced 30 days of life full of pigeons instead of The Dove. And can I just say….. That kind of life, well, it sucks.
On Friday, I will share with you how I battled for my faith and how you can too.
I want to be the voice for your life today and encourage you to take a step out of fear, pain, disappointment then determine yourself to choose to remember and trust the faithfulness of God and reject the lie of doubt.
My friends, where do I begin? I have experienced tremendous defeat and disappointment in the last 30 days as well as amazing breakthroughs coupled with providential appointments, miracles and more.
The spiritual warfare has been relentless.
My friends, now I’m mad. I want to punch satan in the face and I promise you this, my mission for the rest of my life is to hurt the devil and destroy the demons.
But before I bring you to this place of war, what I found is that God needed to teach me about surrender. And man, can I just say, bummer! It’s hard.
Most of you know that I’ve been working on a new manuscript for over a year. My ability to write came under intense warfare last year through my son’s arrival in California. His family moving in, baby and all. His marital separation shortly after and what followed was six months of illness. Both myself and the baby. I kid you not, I was ill every two or three weeks, on the couch, in the doctor’s office, ill. I couldn’t pull myself out of bed let alone try to be creative and write. A entire year of warfare in one form or another was at hand.
But there are great answers to prayer even in the midst of spiritual warfare. My son’s wife returned to her marriage nine months later and the family is doing well. This was an outright miracle! Truly! Time marches on. I finally complete my book proposal and four chapters of the book.
Then on June 16, 2015 my manuscript was turned down for publishing. My title and content were now old and many new manuscripts with similar content and title were already in the process of coming to market.
I missed the window.
Disappointment doesn’t come near to describing the feelings that swirled within. I have learned to release offense and disappointment which I experience at the hands of people. But my friends, what do you do when you feel disappointed by God?
You see, I KNOW the Lord gave me the outline for this book. He spoke the title to me, clearly during my prayer time. I had several people, who don’t know me, speak prophetically over me about it. So, what do you do when you feel like God set you up for a great disappointment?
I truly struggled with trust for the first time in a long while. During the past year, I believed scripture promises and I spoke them over myself and my writing. I believe so fully that this book would come to market, that I had set a number of things in motion in support of the future book launch. I was that confident in my faith and in hearing the Lord.
Devastated, I wrestled with confusion. My prayer time faltered. I felt a terrible and great distance come between myself and God. I cried. A lot. I asked Dineen to pray for me. I tried to understand why God would tell me to do something then allow the warfare to ensue to keep me from completing the assignment.
Am I alone in this?
In this season that I experienced beginning mid-June through early July, faith was difficult and the core of my belief was challenged. But ………
Praise be to Jesus because He will not leave us in this place.
I have so much more to tell you, so stay tuned, as you have me all week. (Dineen is traveling this week) Get ready for some blondeness, some crazy antics, and get ready as we learn to deal with “our stuff.” Do you truly want to walk in freedom? Do you want to walk in powerful faith? Well stay tuned as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. There is something waiting at the end. And can I just tell you…. Everything is going to be okay.
Today, in my heart I’m moved to pray for you. Perhaps you are also dealing with faltering faith or great disappointment, let me pray for you. Tell me how to pray and the specifics in the comments. Because our God is not dead. He will bring beauty from ashes. We are on the road to learn all about His redemption of disappointment. We need to know how to walk fully in this kind of tried and true faith because it’s going to take every bit of our conviction to walk in the months ahead in this world that is growing increasingly darker and more evil.
I love you, SUMite Nation. You are more powerful than you know. You are braver than you think. God has not abandoned you. He will, in due time, explain all things. He loves you WAY TO MUCH to leave you where you are.
See you in the comments. Love you so much, Lynn And stay tuned because there is MUCH more to come. Hugs.
Peter’s story of restoration is one of my favorites in the Bible. And I think knowing where he came from gives us even deeper appreciated of his letters which reflect the man of faith he became. So let’s just jump to John 21 and look at the foundation Jesus built in the man we know as Peter.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “ Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “ Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “ Follow me. —John 21:15-19
This transaction is very symbolic. First Jesus told Peter he would deny Jesus three times, which Peter did. And it is Jesus who also restores Peter, three times. I believe Jesus knew exactly what Peter needed to be able to move forward as the rock upon which Christ’s church would be built.
Just as Peter denied Christ three time, Jesus gives Peter the chance to “choose” him three times thereby reaffirming Peter’s place in relationship to God’s kingdom and also to Christ himself.
But let’s dig a little deeper into the Greek meaning behind the two version of the word “love” used in this passage.
The first time Christ asks Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” he uses agape, which portrays love as volitional (a choice) and self-sacrificing. Peter answers him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” But he uses phileō, which means a brotherly type of love with common interests.
The second time Christ asks Peter this question, He again uses the agape form (“Do you truly love me?”). And again, Peter answers the same, using the phileō form of love.
Finally, a third time, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Only this time he too uses the phileō form of love and in a sense he’s asking Peter, “Are you really my friend?” Peter didn’t quite seem to catch on to what was going on, and though hurt, he affirms his love for Christ in the same form he had the previous two times, phileō.
I wonder if Peter was afraid to confess such devotion out of fear. He’d let his Messiah down once. Was he afraid he would again, that he didn’t have what it took for the long haul? As I read this part of Peter’s history and imagine how he would have felt, I believe his self worth was at an all time low, which gave Jesus the opportunity to not only restore him but to define him.
Peter was about to learn who he was and whose he was—his identity in Jesus. And as we enter into his letters, we will see Peter as the man Jesus created him to be. A man sold out for Jesus because of his agape love for his Messiah.
I love Peter’s story because it reminds me that even in our worst moments, our bad choices, our failures, our losses...Jesus restores us and we can move forward in grace and truth.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:10
Peter shares this bold truth with us because he understood it more intimately than most. On a beach as he sat soaked to the bone with the smell of fish cooking on a fire, Jesus himself restored, confirmed, strengthened and established Peter, the rock on which He would build His church.
My friends, my heart is so full of love and awe—of you! Reading your comments the last two days…I’m so touched and blown away by your prayers for Lynn and I and for each other! Wow! I can just see Abba nodding His head with pride and pointing out this online community to the heavenly host and saying, “See? This is what the body of Christ really looks like."
Wow, wow, wow…
And it’s with that full heart that I share today what God spoke to me about our community. On Sunday as I was worshiping at church I was also praying for the words to share this week, for whatever was on Abba's heart for us.
The word "annihilation" came clearly to me. Now that's a pretty strong word and not one I use often. I asked Abba to clarify, to help me understand His heart. And this is what He revealed for our SUMite community:
Annihilation of all fear, doubt and unbelief. I am declaring a "holy war" on all fear, doubt and unbelief. 2015 will be a "Year of Freedom."
I am lifting this community up to a whole new level of strength and belief. In Me. In My Word. In My promises. No more of the old. The New is in place and now I will reveal it. My strength is yours and all you need I have already provided. Your strength is found in Me and Me alone. I am your destiny. I am your hope. I am your future. It is done.
As I wrote this down, my friends, I began to sense that today God is asking us to put an offering on the altar, to release those things we've been holding onto:
Pain and hurts
Our very selves
This is our holy offering, our incense to the Lord. There is significance to the offering and "the burning" (releasing) of that which we place there. This is an act of faith, a choice to let go more than we ever have and to trust God even more, a deeper trust than ever before.
It is an act of love.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. — Ephesians 5:1-2
Take time today or in the morning to sit quietly and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what God is asking you to give to Him, to trust Him with. Then make that offering. Write it in your journal, because I believe that later this year Abba will take you back to this moment and show you what He has done with your offering.
My friends, share what you are offering up to the Lord in the comments so that we may pray for each other. As I said, this is an act love, and it's also an act of faith and trust. Not an easy thing to do, but when we make the choice and offering, I believe the Holy Spirit comes to help us walk in trust and faith. We are not required to provide the sacrifice, just to have a willingness to let go and trust, just as Abraham did with his son Isaac.
And of course, share any breakthroughs you are having and let’s be encouraged together!
King Jesus, we offer these “things” we've held on to, our selves and our pre-believers to you today as a holy offering, sweet with the aroma of our love and adoration for You. We pray that it pleases You and brings you great glory. We praise You now for what You will do with these offerings—what only YOU can do because You are Holy and Mighty and Faithful!
Abba Father, we believe YOU. Make us strong and raise us up as You have declared. In the Powerful name of Jesus, amen!
So glad you're back, my friends. The end of this series is so near and dear to my heart, because it's written with a deep love and desire for you to live in the fullness of Jesus and all He has for us. I believe we will see great tremendous breakthroughs individually and as a community in 2015 and I don't want you to miss any of it. I don't want to miss any of it either!
Now for the final part of this series. Scroll down to part one if you need to catch up. The links for the previous parts are there as well.
As I shared in part one, this journey was so unexpected for me. I had to face some dark places in my heart and mind and allow the Holy Spirit to peel back layers of lies and pain so that He could bring the healing Jesus wanted me to have. And as I faced the additional challenge of being patient in the process, the Holy Spirit gave me this prayer:
Lord, help me to be patient so I can focus on what you're doing right now instead of what You haven't done yet.
And just this week I found this nugget in Romans:
But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.— Romans 8:25 NLT
God's process will entail whatever is necessary to stop the enemy's ultimate plan to destroy our faith by stealing the one thing that he can never attain—hope.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! —Psalms 42:11 NLT
In a dark moment of despair, David recognized his disappointment and saw that his hope needed to be placed again in God. And with it came his decision to praise and thank God, no matter what the circumstances around him looked like. Sadly, by destroying our hope, the enemy keeps us from being the aroma of Christ to our prebelievers.
Dear friends, we have powerful tools to fight the three Deadly Ds of doubt, disbelief and disappointment and they are:
A thankful heart
Praise and worship
These are also keys to kingdom living, to the abundant life, to sustaining our hope, joy and peace.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” — Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT
No matter what, choose every day to read God's Word, to thank Him for everything (even the bad stuff—for the good He Will bring out of it) and praise Him for what He has done, is doing and will do in your life. Jesus will meet your needs in astounding ways as you do this, because you're diving deeper in intimacy with Him.
And when your mind begins to race again with all the doubts, disbelief and disappointment, return to this place of rest and wait patiently for Him to act (Psalm 37:7). You will find yourself entering this place more frequently and easily until one day you will realize that not only have you persevered, you are now stronger than you have every been. You have defeated the enemy. You have moved to a whole new level of faith. God's anointings and gifts for you are growing stronger. You find yourself in situations (divine appointments) to now bring all that you have learned to others.
Just as I am doing right here, my friends, sharing all this with you. For that I give Abba Father, Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit all the praise and glory! As this community prays and waits for our prebelievers to come to faith, my heart and prayer for you, SUMites, is the same as Paul's was for the Philippians:
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
My friends, we’re at the last Deadly D in this series, Disparaging Disappointment. God is so faithful—He answered your prayers for Words with reminders and a special email from one of you (Thanks, Jim!). I truly thought I'd lack words for the last two parts of this series, but quite the opposite has proved true! So many words came that I will breaking this one into two parts, so be sure to come back for part two on Saturday.
In Dubious Doubt, Part One, I talked about how the enemy tries to steal our faith with his fiery darts of doubt, and in Part Two I shared some personal breakthroughs in this area (and even more came after that! God is good!). Then on Wednesday I covered Debilitating Disbeliefand shared how the enemy tried to destroy my faith with a spirit of torment and gave you some tools to fight back. Now let’s talk about Disparaging Disappointment.
First, let me say that this journey was so unexpected for me. I thought I was solid in my faith but Abba used this dark night of the soul and year of intimacy to dredge up lies and expose some sandy areas in my foundation. And He has gently and faithfully restored and rebuilt my faith that is now based completely upon Him, not me. In other words, I no longer rely upon my ability to believe Him but now trust God, His Word, His promises and His truth—all this is the foundation of my faith. Not my feelings, not my interpretation and not by my strength (Zech. 4:6).
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. — Hebrews 12:2-3
Back to disappointment. Once doubt and disbelief have squatted illegally in our soul, disappointment enters in and taints the atmosphere. We aren’t believing God’s promises and sadly, we’ve lost our trust in Him along the way too. This is the place where we are faced with a pivotal choice—press in and cling to Jesus for the very life and breath of our spirit, regardless of what our soul, mind and heart are telling us. Or walk away, believing that God doesn’t care enough to move in our lives and nothing will change.
You can imagine where the enemy is in this process—he’s on the sidelines disparaging (belittle, denigrate, deprecate, trivialize, make light of, undervalue, underrate, play down; ridicule, deride, mock, scorn, scoff at, sneer at; run down, defame, discredit, speak badly of, cast aspersions on, impugn, vilify, traduce, criticize, slur) Father God, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
This is truly the place we must die to ourselves (let go of everything, even our pain) and take a true leap of faith into the arms of Jesus. And trust me, He will catch you. This is the place where God asked me one day, "Will you trust Me with your pain?"
For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. —Hebrews 4:10-13 NLT
A few months back I shared a series on transforming the mind that started out as the battlefield of the mind. And this is truly where the battle is, in our minds. And the enemy will use this against us. That is why it is so crucial, imperative and life saving to study and know God's Word. Without it, our lives are vulnerable to the enemy's tactics.
Disappointment keeps us from believing and waiting expectantly for God to act(Psalm 37:7).
My friends, let me reassure you that if you are in this place, you are not alone, even if you feel like you are. The most astounding thing I learned through this journey was that I could do nothing to "fix it." God had a plan and purpose in it all along and the only thing He wanted me to do was to submit, rest in Him and trust Him to do what needed to be done.
On Saturday I will share the flip side to this place of disappointment and specific keys that restore our faith and hope. If you are in this place of disappoointment, I do hope you'll leave a comment and share your heart as much as you can. This is a place of encouragement and prayer. I have been astounded over and over again by the love and care shown here.
Until Saturday, dear friends, my heart and prayers are with you.
Dear friends, before Thanksgiving I started a series on the Three Deadly Ds: Dubious Doubt, Debilitating Disbelief and Disparaging Disappointment. In Part One of Dubious Doubtwe talked about how the enemy comes in and plants seeds of doubt, as he did with Adam and Eve, and in Part Two I shared some examples of breakthroughs that came as a result of pushing doubt aside and re-establishing God's truth firmly in its rightful place.
Today, let's talk about Debilitating Disbelief. And that is exactly what the enemy's intention is, to debilitate (weaken, enfeeble, enervate, devitalize, sap, drain, exhaust, weary, fatigue, prostrate; undermine, impair, indispose, incapacitate, cripple, disable, paralyze, immobilize; informal knock out, do in) our faith. Once doubt has come in like a ravaging worm, disbelief moves in to fill those empty places like a fungus or mold.
Your mind is riddled with questions and you may even feel tormented at times.
You try to read God's Word but find yourself questioning its truth or thinking it's true for other believers but not for you.
Praise and worship become difficult.
Your attitude of gratitude has fled the scene and his unwanted cousin, grumbling negativity, has moved in.
Fear subtly increases and can even move into physical manifestations such as anxiety and health issues.
Guilt and shame move show up like uninvited guests and make you think you've messed up and that God will never be pleased with you again.
You cry out to God but feel like He's abandoned you.
This is why it's so crucial to to seek God in prayer and in His Word, especially in these dark times, and in a mismatched marriage as we don't have a believing spouse to uphold us in prayer and encouragement. And, despite how we feel. The enemy will use your feelings against you to keep you from running to Abba, to our Lord Jesus, for the truth.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. — James 1:22-24
Community becomes even more important because the enemy's final tactic is to isolate you so you'll forget who you are and Whose you are. God's Word and those who carry it are our greatest source of healing, hope and restoration.
My friends, a burden Abba seems to be asking me to carry right now is for those of you whose spouse used to walk in faith with you but has recently walked away. I've received several emails from many of you in this place and have had divine appointments with several dear women who find themselves in this painful position of betrayal.
Let me say that I get why some walk away. Much of what I've shared today is from my own experience. The enemy tried to destroy me earlier this year and now I understand why someone would walk away, or be tempted to walk away, especially if their faith foundation is shaky or built on sand (Matt. 7:26-27).
Part of my journey to freedom came one night when the demon assigned to torment me finally revealed himself. Amazingly (to me, not God) Abba had prepared me the day before, even though I didn't realize it until after the encounter. He'd shown me more about my authority in Jesus. That night this enemy revealed himself in the darkness, with oppression and hissing. He tried to make me fearful and afraid in my semi asleep/awake state. As soon as I realized what was happening, I rebuked him and went back to sleep! To God be the glory!
What I have learned is that disbelief opens doors to the enemy, who tries to steal our divine destiny and destroy our peace and joy in the Lord. These are the tools that brought me through this dark night of the soul and taught me so much.
Read the Bible every day and write down key Scriptures that speak to your spirit and soul. Go back and reread them later in the day and to start your quiet time the next morning. You’ll be surprised at how much more you receive out of God’s Word by doing this. Our bodies sleep at night but our spirit doesn’t. Give the Holy Spirit a chance to work God’s truth into your heart, soul and mind. Believe His Word—it’s true for you too!
Worship and worship more. There are many ways one can worship. With music, by reading Scriptures out loud (the Psalms are great for this), by speaking out praises to God about His character and who He is. Take a walk and praise Him for His creation. Pet your dog and praise Him for putting the fur baby in your life.
Invite that attitude of gratitude back home and boot his ungrateful cousin out!
Rebuke the spirits of anxiety, fear, oppression, depression and confusion (and any others the Holy Spirit brings to mind). In the name of Jesus, they must go!
Plead the blood of Jesus over your mind, your thoughts and your feelings and speak God’s Word against guilt and shame (no condemnation in Jesus—Romans 8:1).
Know, believe, profess and remind yourself that no matter how things seem, God loves you, He always has loved you and He always will love you. His word says He will not abandon you, so believe it. He is with and for you!
I still have much to learn and continue to press forward into more of God (Phil. 3:12). My faith is stronger and I am better equipped to recognize the enemy’s darts. And this translated into helping others to be released from this spirit of torment when I’ve prayed with them in the healing rooms. The places we find freedom and victory will be the places God calls us to pray for and help others find that same freedom and victory (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
My friends, the next and last part of this series will be about disparaging disappointment. I’m waiting on Abba to give me the words and message He wants conveyed for us, His children. Please pray that I hear Him clearly amidst all the hustle and bustle of this move and Christmas.
Remember, Jesus came to heal, to set the captives free and release prisoners. He is always on our side and always fighting for us. Amen!
On Wednesday I shared the first part of the first of the Deadly Ds, “Dubious Doubt.” Scroll down and read part one if you haven’t already, that way you get the full picture of how doubt can impact our faith and what happens when we start to see it and push it off, with the help of the Holy Spirit. I’m excited to tell you the rest of this story because I want you to learn this valuable lesson and begin to walk in more breakthroughs like I am, praise God!
Now the conclusion of Dubious Doubt…
As a result of God lifting this shroud and showing me the full scope of what doubt does to our faith, I have been praying for Abba to remove this doubt in my mind and heart, I have chosen to believe all the things God has told me and I have begun reclaiming what the enemy has taken away from me. I believe that was lost will be restored, just as God’s Word says:
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. — 1 Peter 5:10
My friends, I have been praying this truth for months and declaring it will be done. And that is exactly what is happening as I have begun to refuse doubt and choose belief. An astonishing shift and breakthrough has come as a result.
On Tuesday I worked in the Healing Rooms in our area. Nothing was going to keep me from going—the enemy often tries to prevent me from going. Knowing that I had been praying for God to clear the way and prevent any hinderances. We are in the middle of a repipe in our house and issues have cropped up, keeping me at the house to monitor the work. And it was looking like I would have to be at the house again on this day.
But God answered my prayer in my sweet hubby, who offered to work from home so I could go. My pre believer husband stayed home so I could work in the healing rooms. How cool is that? God makes me laugh a lot at how He does stuff.
Now, I had been asking God for more for our healing room’s team and for those coming for healing. I stepped into belief as I never have before in asking God for more of His presence and healing power to be present and released in our healing rooms. If you look at the accounts of Jesus’ healings, it always says everyone was healed. Not some—everyone. I wanted that for our team and especially for all who were coming for healing.
As my teammate and I prayed for our first person (we start out knowing only if the person is male or female), God shared His heart with me about this person, much to do with His pleasure over how she carried His holiness, His plans for her (divine destiny) and a promise to do what she asked.
Then I heard “knees.” Seemed a little off track, but I wrote it down anyway. Then we brought her into the room to pray, she shared a list of health issues and finished with the one that bothered her the most.
We shared the precious words God had given us for her and then began to pray. As she sat there, I placed my hands on her knee, believing that Jesus would do what He said. I believed it, told Jesus since He said it, it would happen. He told me “knees,” right?
At the finish of this prayer, I asked her if she felt any difference. She again described what was wrong. I was not about to give up! I had chosen to believe what God told me was true, and I wasn’t about to back down now.
I told her to stand up. With my hands on her knee we prayed again, believing that Jesus would do what He said. But this time, I prayed for Jesus to remove all doubt. I don’t know why, but I have learned that the breakthroughs we receive become the power behind our prayers and are often the very thing God winds up calling us to pray for another person.
So I prayed in the Spirit and in faith. Jesus’ healing came down wave after wave so strong that I could barely breathe! We finished praying, then asked how her knew felt. This time she smiled, said it was much better, and not only that, God had given her a picture of the bone being restored.
Breakthrough! We continued to pray for each one of her issues and a couple more she boldly asked for healing for, including arthritis in her wrist. She moved her wrist more freely right away! Each step emboldened her to ask for more!
God gave her a special image for each part He was healing, showing her what He was doing. What’s so amazing is this was the ultimate purpose of God’s for her, because her deepest heart ache was that she felt she hadn’t heard God in a long time. Yet image after image was coming to her!
Doubt had been removed! Her faith was reaffirmed and she was encouraged!
My friends, this dear woman wasn’t the only woman who’s faith was emboldened. I saw first hand what happens when doubt is removed. Miracles happen. God showed me this clearly not only in this woman but in me.
I believed God would do what He said. And He did.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” — Mark 11:22-24
This is not a name-it-and-claim-it style of belief, or prosperity religion, or whatever you call it. I’m talking about God’s truth. This is about believing His Word and trusting Him to do what He says. All of it. What He has shown you in His Word, He will do. What He has spoken to your heart, He will do. Our God is faithful and He cannot lie.
The very next morning as I sat in my quiet time, I read this quote in my devotional book (The Listening Heart by Judy Morrow):
You have trust Him in few things, and He has not failed you. Trust Him now for everything, and see if He does not do for you exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ever have asked or thought, not according to your power or capacity, but according to His own mighty power, that will work in you all the good pleasure of His most blessed will. — Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911)
I knew right away God was saying, “See? See what happens when you refuse doubt and believe Me?”
My friends, I want to encourage you to begin a rampage on doubt, just as I am. Let’s capture every thought of doubt and bring it before the enlightened truth of God’s Word. Does it still stand? I bet you it won’t. The Holy Spirit will help us do this—I know He will.
Our God doesn’t want us to be doubters. He wants us to be His believers!
My friends, today I want to begin a series about the three deadly Ds: Doubt, Disbelief and Disappointment. Gods’s been showing me some very sobering truths about these three and how the enemy uses them very subtly to kill, steal and destroy our faith. I’ve been a victim to these three—perhaps you have been too. So let’s take our time and explore these three deadly Ds so that we can learn to recognize them in our life, learn to defeat them, and even learn to discern the enemy’s attempts to shoot these arrows at us so we can raise our shields of faith in defense (Ephesians 6:16) and deflect him like the fly that he is. Let’s begin where it starts…
Doubt is subtle and makes its entry slow and stealthily. This is the birth of sin. Lets go back to Genesis 3 a moment and take a look at the first entry of doubt into mankind’s existence.
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” — Genesis 3:1-5
The enemy enters shrewdly and begins his dialogue with a question—“Did God really say…?” That is the seed of doubt he plants with the intent of making his target question and doubt God and His truth. God told Adam and Eve clearly the truth about the tree of knowledge. The enemy cast doubt upon this truth, but even more subtly, the enemy made Eve doubt whether she could trust God. This is the subtext here, my friends. Read these and tell me if you relate to any of them:
God is withholding something (His goodness) from me.
Therefore, God doesn’t really love me.
So, I must not be good enough.
As Eve stood there, I can only imagine how these played out in seconds in her mind. That’s all it takes for doubt to implant and sprout.
She now perceived God’s protection as keeping her from something better.
She now perceived God’s stipulation as Him not loving her completely and she has somehow been rejected.
She now perceived a lack within herself that would only be solved by taking matters into her own hands and doing what she thought best. She doubts God.
My friends, the enemy’s tactics have not changed since the beginning. He uses the very same strategy he used on Eve to try to destroy us. And when we begin to entertain doubt, everything thereafter is affected from this tarnished perspective.
Let’s take a look at James:
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,” — James 1:5-7 NASB
"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” — James 1:5-7 NLT
I want you to look at both of these translations to see the full meaning behind them. And I encourage you to do your own study as well. In the NASB translation I’ve bolded the part that so clearly shows the meaning of James’ words about God’s generosity. Our God does not give according to our ability or perceived worth. If He did, He would not have sent His Son Jesus to die for everyone. And the Bible—which He gave us as His Word and truth, to learn from and grow in—is full of wisdom. God desires to give us wisdom.
In the NLT translation, the bolded statement is clear that our faith must be in God alone, not ourselves. Almost as if to say, “No back up plans.” When we do this we’re not trusting God. We’re not believing what His Word says. We doubt God and the truth of His word.
At the end of last year and early into this year, the enemy hit me so hard that this doubt crept in and began to attack my faith. I even began to doubt the truth of Romans 8:28! If you’ve been hanging out her for any length of time, you know that is my life verse. I’ve lived by it for years, have taught its truths and have built my faith upon it.
Yet there I was in total chaos doubting what I had once known to be true. The enemy had found an opening and snuck in asking, “Is God really good to you?”
If you look at the verses earlier in James 1, you’ll see he’s talking about our faith being tested. This leads to our need for wisdom. What James is saying is that when we ask for wisdom, we must believe we will receive it. And I believe this truth applies to all of God’s promises. He’s given us His Word and He is faithful. Instead of tossing back and forth like that wave looking for answers, we need to be still and wait upon Him to give us the answers, wisdom and grace that we need. And believe that He will.
I have danced around the truth of James’ words for years, my friends, not wanting to be that doubter tossed by the wind and sea—it’s very humbling and sobering to realize I’d allowed the waves of doubt to rock my boat. But now that the shrouding clouds have lifted, I’m learning to recognize doubt and eradicate it.
I love this quote from Jennifer LeClaire:
“The battle is in the mind but the war is for your heart. Believing in our mind is mental assent but believing in our heart—having pure faith in our heart—is where the miracles happen.” — Jennifer LeClaire, author of Heart of the Prophetic
God’s Word tells us that:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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 Corinthians 10:3-5
What are those weapons of war that we wield? God’s Word, prayer, faith, truth—our spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-17). My friends, the battle truly is in our minds first, thus why a transformed and renewed mind is crucial to a doubt free walk of faith.
Doubts diminish as faith increases.
I will stop her for now, but be sure to come back Friday for the rest of this revelation God gave me about "dubious doubt" and the stunning proof He gave me of what happens when we shift from doubt to belief. It's a story about miracles, my friends. I can't wait to tell you the rest!