Jeanne Ritari

Do You Love Me?

Abide

Lately, everywhere I turn, I hear Jesus asking, “Do you really love me?” In passage after passage he says, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” John 14:15

“If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love…This is My commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you…You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15: 10, 12, 14)

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock…” (Matthew 7:24)

I sing about what a friend I have in Jesus, but do I truly obey him? Do I love my neighbor as myself?  As a demonstration of what it means to love your neighbor, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  When was the last time I gave extensively of my time and resources to help a perfect stranger simply because they needed help?  Honestly, I’m far more likely to be like the priest and the Levite and walk by on the other side of the road, thinking either, “I’m too busy” or, “That person got themselves into the mess they’re in.”

I often act contrary to the leading of the Spirit, thinking to myself, God understands.  He will forgive my weakness this one time.  I even have people around me counsel that it’s OK because “we are saved by grace and not by works.”  But I know that Jesus didn’t save me just so I could go to heaven.  As much as he loves me, he loves the people around me.  If I am a member of the Body of Christ, if he is my Head, then it is up to me to do what he says, to carry out his will and not my own, by serving those around me “that they may see my good works and glorify my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16.) The Church is not a place I go; it is the Body of Jesus himself, walking around on the earth, doing what he does.

There is a passage that has long been troubling to me.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:23)

I wondered how someone could be doing these mighty works but not be doing the will of the Father.  The truth is, the one prophesying and driving out demons and performing miracles isn’t the human being at all, but the Holy Spirit working through that person.  Jesus calls them “workers of lawlessness,” in other words, those who disobey the commandments. Jesus doesn’t say, “If you love me, work miracles.”  He says, “If you love me, obey me.”

By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments… By this we know that we are in Him:  Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked. (1 John 2: 3, 6)

This “abiding in him” is spoken of in many places, but here it clearly states what that looks like.  It’s not about going to church, or reading a devotional every morning, or memorizing scripture, or praying a lot, or talking about my faith.  He tells me what it looks like throughout the gospels:

Walk as Jesus walked.  Take up my cross and follow him.  Deny myself.  Lose my life for his sake.  What does this mean for me, today?? Jesus changed the lives of the people around him.  He got up before dawn to spend time with the Father, and then spent the day teaching, healing, delivering, discipling.  There were no wasted moments scrolling through social media or worrying about how he looked. Everything he did and said had purpose and meaning. I’m a long, far cry from walking as he walked. If I confess my sins, he is indeed faithful to forgive me, but I don’t want to continually repeat the cycle of sin > confess > sin > confess.  I want to be his friend, to show my love, to obey the first time, every time.

About a year ago during a time of worship, I had a quiet nudge to take a literal step forward in the place I was standing, as a sign of taking authority over that place for the kingdom of God.  It was a smaller step than Neil Armstrong took on the moon, but it has played a much bigger role in my life.  Because as I took the step, I experienced a sense of myself in Jesus and Him in me that I had never felt before.  It has stayed with me and to this day, I know, I sense, when I am walking in a direction that is NOT where he would go.  Simple things like making a snide remark about a family member, or indulging a “harmless” habit, or keeping the truth to myself out of fear it won’t be accepted or understood.  I can see myself walking away from Jesus with each of these acts.  He’s still there, but I’m not abiding in him.

The solution is simple. I just need to repent, which means to change my mind and my direction.  Instead of walking away on a path of my choosing, I choose to walk toward him in the direction he wants me to go. When I do, I experience far more joy and peace than when I go my own way.

What does it mean to you, to walk as Jesus walked?  What do you find helpful? Tell us in the comments!

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

To Know Him Is To Love Him

Hi Friends, Jeanne here. I have a question for you:

Heart rose“Who is Elon Musk? What is he like?” 

If you asked a hundred people, you would get a variety of answers, including several, “I have no idea.” You’d probably form some concept of Elon Musk based on what you’d heard and read.  But unless you know Elon Musk personally, you’d have no way of knowing what he’s really like. 

“Who is God? What is he like?”  If you asked a hundred people, you’d a variety of different answers, again including several “No idea.”  But God is who he is, regardless of what people believe about him.

What is God really like?  Unless you know him, you’re going to take someone else’s word for it, just like you would with Elon Musk.  I was raised in a family that believed in God, that went to church regularly, that participated in “religious education.”  I had a concept of God that was influenced by what people said about him and by what I read. 

As a kid I was taught the Ten Commandments (and thanks to all that “Religious Education,” I can probably still recite them.)  Jesus even referred to the greatest commandment:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength.”

My line of thought went something like this: How do you love God, an invisible being so far away? And who would know whether or not I obeyed this commandment?  In my mind, love was a warm fuzzy feeling.  Thinking about God didn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling, but I could say it did and no one would know the difference. So, I could “check off” the first commandment and move on to worrying about the easier commandments like “Thou shalt not steal.” Is it stealing if you sneak a cream puff out of the refrigerator when you’re supposed to wait until after dinner?

When I became a follower of Jesus, I realized there is a whole lot more to the Christian life than going to church and trying to obey the commandments.  The question remained: how do I love God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength? I understood that this all-out love is much more than admiration, or general gratitude for a wealth of blessings.  But to be honest, I still didn’t love God this way right off the bat.  Rather, I spent years getting to know who he is and how he feels about me.  There is nothing that describes this process better than the phrase “falling in love.”

When you meet someone special, you think about them a lot.  You want to spend time with them, getting to know them, and sharing yourself with them. As time passes you become closer and closer until you can’t imagine doing life without them.  This has been my experience with God. 

The process is different than human romantic love, of course.  God is not going to keep you on the phone for hours or send you twenty texts a day.  His love-gifts won’t be delivered by a florist or UPS driver. I fell in love through the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  I read the Bible to learn what God says about himself.  I also learned prayer as a conversation, not a monologue.  The best part of my relationship with God is that he both listens and speaks to me. Often his voice is a gentle whisper; but occasionally he rocks my world with a virtual shout!

When people fall in love, sooner or later they realize that their beloved isn’t quite perfect, but I’ve never experienced that with God.  Not only does he never hurt me, but he always forgives me when I hurt him.  He doesn’t hold grudges, and if I run away from him, he follows me and welcomes me back the moment I turn around.  He only wants what is good for me, no matter what it costs him.

There were plenty of times in my past that I thought God was being unfair or unloving, but I was wrong. The evil that’s in this world is not from God at all, but from our enemy. The devil and his minions attack us and try to make us think that it’s God doing it.  He’s so good at it that even many Christians don’t realize that God is essentially being framed, but that’s a topic for another day.

I have come to know that God can be absolutely trusted; that his plans for me are far better than anything I could think of for myself.  I have begun to experience the joy of his kingdom right here, right now. 

I can’t give you a shortcut to this place, but I can assure you that if you honestly seek him, you will find him.  It will be worth everything you have to know and experience how much he loves you.  There was a time when truly loving God seemed impossible to me.  But now I can say without reservation that the more I know him, the more I love him, and want to know him more.

How about you?  How have you experienced the love of God?  As always, your comments and questions are welcome!

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Thrive Ministry Update

IMG_5622Hello Everyone,

This is a Donovan Clan update. Well, MOVING!!! Ack! It's been a month and there remains a number of boxes to unpack. But, Mike and I a plowing through. Our new home is a dream home. However, there is a ton to still do on the property. I've build planter boxes, a new kitchen table, a garden work bench. And all by myself, I might add. 

Mike had to help put together the wheelbarrow! Yep! That was a doosey.

Living on the edge of the oak woods is a steep learning curve. Just this morning, a gopher invasion. But the deer resting outside of our bedroom window is sheer bliss. 

The abundance of this season is due to the truth that we have a good Father. And after years of my faithfulness in the thin years and better years, the Lord has given me the house of my dreams as Mike and I enter senior years.

Say what??? When did we grow older? I know this, I am wiser.

Because I am obsessed with Jesus Christ. And HE is all that matters in this life!

Anyhoo, with all that remains to be completed and all the company that is headed here in the next two months, all the writers here at Lynn Donovan Ministries will take a sabbatical through the end of July. 

But, come August, I'll be fired up and ready. I plan to offer live teaching regarding physical healing. I've truly had a breakthrough in this area. I hope you watched my video of my healing from arthritis. This healing is for everyone. And I think I've uncovered why we don't possess supernatural power more often.

I KNOW this is what all of God's people want to understand. So watch for class sign ups.

I want to thank Martha for her tremendous writing. Faithful every Monday. And such powerful teaching. And thank you to Jeanne, who always speaks from her heart. She's working on a book that I can't wait to read.

Okay, have a blessed summer and in the heat of August we will be back with a ton more. And I may still post randomly as the Lord leads. 

I love you all. Hugs, Lynn

Deer looking into our front door at me!
Deer looking into our front door at me!
Mike Dog walking
Dog walkin' at one of the community lakes.

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

Do You Trust Me?

Sheep tiffany gobert

Tiffany Gobert Art

Part 1

Jeanne here.  You might be familiar with that scene from the end of John’s gospel, where Jesus asks Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”  The third time, it goes down like this:

Jesus asked a third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?” Peter was deeply hurt that Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” “Lord, you know all things,” he replied. “You know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” (John 21: 15-17)

I feel like I’m living through something similar these days, but instead of asking if I love him, Jesus keeps asking me if I trust him.  I keep avoiding the question because I know he’s going to tell me to feed his sheep.

I know I’m not here on this earth to have a Jesus-and-me love fest.  There is a whole flock of people that he wants someone to take care of, and that someone is me.  I don’t know all the sheep I’m supposed to feed, but Jesus does, and he loves them, and he wants me to feed them.

Jesus has been working on me for a while to get out of my comfort zone and start walking the path he had laid out for me since before I was born.  My life is supposed to be a showcase for God’s love and power.  The Lord has provided everything I need to do this, but I’m still the one who has to do the work.  And to be honest, sheep scare me.

If left to myself, I could happily spend the rest of my life sitting on my couch, reading my Bible, and sending money off to support people who are doing the real work. But the Spirit won’t let me.  As an example, God has been telling me since at least 2018 that I’m supposed to write a book.  Recently this leading came with a bunch of details about what’s supposed to be in it, and how to approach it, and who to collaborate with. It all seemed possible in the moment, while I was hearing from the Spirit.

But within a few hours, I was incapable of even imagining myself writing this book.  All the unknowns overwhelmed me. Who do I think I am? I don’t know anything about this topic!  What if I never finish it? What if people judge me? What if no one believes me?  And the dream died a quick death.

Have you ever gone through something like this? I’m pretty sure it’s a fairly universal experience… God lights your fire and the devil does his darnedest to put it out. So then it’s back to me and Jesus, on the beach, early in the morning. He’s got the coals going and the fish sizzling, and he’s saying, “Jeanne, do you trust me?”

Lord, you know everything.  You know I trust you.  It’s myself I don’t trust. I just can’t.

Part 2

Love is patient, love is kind. The next morning, Holy Spirit gets back to work on me, bringing to mind the words of our good Lord. 

“For you are My workmanship, created for good works, which I prepared beforehand for you to walk in.”

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

And finally,

“My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”

I don’t like being weak and dependent on someone else to help me.  I’m not comfortable starting something without a solid plan of how I’ll be able to finish it.  But I am learning that the place in my journey where my ability comes to a dead stop, and I’m incapable of taking another step – that’s where God shows up and does more than I could have ever asked or imagined.

A good friend told me that the book is already written in Heaven, and I just need to yield to the Spirit and let him put the words on paper in this realm, through me.  That takes the pressure off!  This whole thing is his idea, and I can trust him to make it happen. My worries and limitations don’t matter at all because it’s not up to me. 

What about you?  Who are your sheep and how does God want you to feed them? 

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb

The Tomb

Alexander-ivanov-cave6

Today I listened to someone recite Psalm 22.  With my eyes closed, I gained a new understanding of the time in between the cross and the resurrection.  Bits and pieces of scripture came together like puzzle pieces to form a picture I’d never seen before, almost a vision.

God, my God!

Why would you abandon me now?

Why do you remain distant,

refusing to answer my tearful cries in the day

and my desperate cries for your help in the night?

I can’t stop sobbing.

Where are you, my God?

Yet I know that you are most holy.

You are God-Enthroned, the praise of Israel.

Our fathers’ faith was in you—

through the generations they trusted in you

and you came through.

Every time they cried out to you in their despair,

you were faithful to deliver them;

you didn’t disappoint them.

But I am like a worm,

crushed and bleeding crimson,

treated as less than human.

I’ve been despised and scorned by everyone!

Mocked by their jeers, despised with their sneers,

as all the people poke fun at me, spitting their insults,

saying, “Is this the one who trusted in God?

Now let’s see if Yahweh will come to your rescue!

Let’s see how much he delights in him!”

Lord, you delivered me safely from my mother’s womb.

You are the one who cared for me ever since I was a baby.

Since the day I was born, I’ve been placed in your custody.

You’ve cradled me throughout my days,

and you’ve always been my God.

So don’t leave me now, for trouble is all around me,

and there’s no one to help me.

I’m surrounded by many violent foes like bulls;

forces of evil encircle me like the strong bulls of Bashan.

Like ravenous, roaring lions tearing their prey,

they pour curses from their mouths.

Now I’m completely exhausted.

Every joint of my body has been pulled apart.

My courage has melted away.

I’m so thirsty and parched.

My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.

And now you lay me in the dust of death.

They have pierced my hands and my feet.

Like a pack of wild dogs they tear at me,

swirling around me with their hatred.

A band of evil men surrounds me.

I can count all my bones.

Look at how they gloat over me and stare!

With a toss of the dice they divide my clothes among themselves,

gambling for my garments!

Yahweh, please don’t stay far away.

My strength, come quickly to my rescue.

Give me back my life.

Save me from this violent death.

Save my precious one and only

from the power of these dogs!

Save me from all the power of the enemy,

from this roaring lion raging against me

and the power of his dark horde.

  Psalm 22: 1-21, The Passion Translation

 

As I listened, I could see Jesus, ripped to shreds, huddled in a deep, extremely dark cave… the belly of the earth, the place of the dead.  Surrounding him are all the demons of hell, torturing him, taunting him.  HE CANNOT FEEL THE FATHER.  There is only darkness and torment.  He is cut off from all light and everything good and decent.  No angels minister to him, no friends comfort him. Hour after hour he endures unimaginable suffering as abuse is heaped on him. 

What sustains him is this psalm that he has memorized, and all the scriptures that refer to him, all the promises of great and glorious things to come:

I will declare your name before all my brothers

and praise you in the midst of the congregation. 

Those who fear Yahweh, praise him!

Let all the seed of Jacob glorify him with your praises.

Stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

For he has not despised my cries of deep despair.

He’s my first responder to my sufferings,

and when I was in pain,

he was there all the time and heard the cries of the afflicted.

You’re the reason for my praise; it comes from you and goes to you.

I will keep my promise to praise you before all who fear you

among the congregation of your people.

Let all the poor and broken eat until satisfied.

Bring Yahweh praise and you will find him.

May your hearts overflow with life forever!

From the four corners of the earth,

the peoples of the world will remember and return to Yahweh.

Every nation will come and worship him.

For Yahweh is King of all, who takes charge of all the nations.

The wealthy of this world will feast in fellowship with him

right alongside the humble of heart,

bowing down to the dust, forsaking their own souls.

They will all come and worship this worthy King!

His seed shall serve him.

Future generations will hear from us

about the wonders of the Victorious Lord.

His generation yet to be born will glorify him.

And they will all declare, “It is finished!” 

Psalm 22:22-31, The Passion Translation

Jesus raised his eyes from his suffering to the promises he knew could not fail.  Though there was nothing at all in his surroundings to give him hope, he held onto what he knew to be true: that the scriptures testified about him, and that they declared that he must die and rise again on the third day.

Because of what Jesus accomplished, we too have the ability to cling to the promises, cling to the truth, no matter how much dark desperation surrounds us, no matter what horrible lies the enemy flings in our faces, no matter how badly we are suffering in the moment.

In the end, it is no wonder that every knee will bow and every tongue declare that Jesus is Lord!

1 med Res Enforcer Front CoverLynn, I couldn't stop reading this book!  It is the best you have written! It's a "self-help-bible-based-do-it-yourself-demon-slaying-victory-winning book" like no other I've ever read. I learned some new prayer points as well as clarification on what exactly does my situation mean.  Everyone who reads this will want their bible, notebook and the Holy Spirit sitting next to them as they strategize with the tools you've given! -Barb