When You’re in the Fire

Borrowed this quote from a friend’s Facebkk story post. It got me thinking.
God had not promised to take away all our troubles. But God has promised:
– to never to leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6)
– power through the Holy Spirit to do the things Jesus did and greater things (Acts 1:8, John 14:12)
– power/strength in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 3:16, Philippians 4:13)
– if we let go, Jesus will bear our heavy burdens and give us His light yoke (Matthew 11:28-30)
– if we humble ourselves He will lift us up (James 4:10)
– if we trust Him with our whole hearts and acknowledge Him in all our decision making, He will make our paths straight (Prob. 3:5-6)
– if we ask, He will give us wisdom (James 1:5)…and so many more promises!

When God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He took them through the Red Sea and through the wilderness. It was their lack of faith and disobedience that caused them to suffer and make an 11-day journey last 40 years. The older generation’s hearts were hardened and God waited them out, to bring the next generation into the Promised Land. When we’re struggling with troubles we need to keep a check on our heart attitude and ask God to help us understand what we need to learn from our troubles to keep our journey through the wilderness, our fight against the giant, or our time in the furnace as short as possible. I believe our attitude and behavior can lengthen those times considerably. We must keep our focus upward instead of focused on the problem. The Lord is the only one who can change our circumstances. Worry, fear, and self-focused attention will only feed the anxiety and likely complicate the mess. Trying to find a way to focus outward (helping others) as well as upward will help is another way to find perspective in our circumstances.
Most of all keep if we keep trusting, never doubting, we will remember that no matter what this life may bring, our hope and our joy goes beyond the confines of this life into eternity! Our attitude, because of what Jesus has done for us, is a complete paradigm shift from the ways of the world. And we are forever grateful for that! And so, whatever comes into our lives does not have the same effect on our thoughts for the future as it does for those who have not found hope in Jesus. We live as children and heirs of the God and Creator of the Universe! Who chose us and loves us and calls us His own.
Hallelujah! Amen!Blessings of hope and joy,

Julia

©2019 All rights reserved. No part of this website may be copied or reproduced in any manner without permission.

How Can We Praise the Lord at All Times?

The verse above was the verse for the day on a group page. It reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18,

And Philippians 4:4-8,

It got me thinking. How can we praise the Lord at all times, thanking Him in all circumstances?

What it boils down to is our attitude toward our circumstances and whether we’re trusting God with them. We can’t decide to trust Him when things are good and then when times are hard decide He isn’t capable of handling things by worrying, being afraid, and trying to figure things out by ourselves. In my experience none of that works out very well. Even if it seems like God is taking too long to answer our needs, we must remember He is perfect in all His ways and timing.

It wasn’t until Abraham had Isaac bound on the altar, knife in hand ready to plunge it into his son, the son of promise, that God provided the ram for the sacrifice instead (Genesis 22 all).

God is never late, but He is also not early. He moves at just the precise time, after we have done what He requires of us. Abraham did everything to prepare to sacrifice Isaac, but he also believed God would provide. He trusted God’s promise that Isaac was the son that would lead to his descendants as plentiful as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5 & 22:17). God always has a part for us to play. As you read the Word start looking for the places where there are “if, then” types of statements. God says, “if you…” (aka obey me), “Then I will…” But we must make sure we’re doing what He directs and not making our own desperate attempts to fix the situation. We often make matters worse. If it seems God is late, perhaps we are missing His direction for what we are to do or we are afraid of the direction He has given to us. In either case we need to press in, listen carefully, and do what He is directing us to do. If we’re unsure, we can seek confirmation. God will usually give confirmation in some way – through Scripture, a friend, a book I’m reading, one time God even used the dialog of a TV show to get my attention when I was not listening.

We must always be listening for the voice of Holy Spirit, make time for silence in our lives, time in the Word and prayer which are the ways He most often speaks. But if we allow our lives and thoughts to be so full of noise all the time, it makes it almost impossible to hear His voice speaking to us.

Getting back to our attitude. Have you ever asked God for an “attitude adjustment?” I have and do. Holy Spirit helps me recognize when my attitude leaves a lot to be desired, I ask (with sincerity, repentantly) and He delivers and pretty much immediately. Attitude is a key component when it comes to faith matters. Paul writes,

Both of these passages are pointing to the same thing; a humble, righteous, and holy attitude like Jesus. We are His, made in His image, made new creations in His death and resurrection, and the attitude adjustments are a part of the process of the ever increasing glory we are attaining as we are being transformed into His image through the refining process (2 Corinthians 3:18, Malachi 3:3).

The more time we spend with the Lord, the more in tune with Him we will become. The more attuned to the voice of the Lord we become, the more we will know and trust Him with our circumstances, and we will be able to join David in exclaiming,
“I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1)!

Blessings and peace,

Julia

©2019 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce in any manner, including electronically, without permission.

Have you read The Grace Table: Your Faith Legacy yet?

Review from Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2779650144

See more reviews on Amazon (paperback):

(Kindle):

Benefits of Being God’s Children

God has perfect timing. He always lines-up things perfectly.

This is the verse of the day for today.

And this is the passage my devotional was based on today. I think they go very well together. In the Philippians passage Paul talks of being mature in our thinking.

While Joshua tells us to meditate on the Word day and night. We need to make the Word one with our very being. How?

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 NLT

So, our three passages tell us:

– meditate on God’s Word day and night.
– let God (through His Word and Holy Spirit) transform our thoughts– the way we think, and therefore the way we behave.
– don’t follow the ways of the world.
– don’t rest on what we achieved yesterday.
– don’t be sidelined by past sins and defeats.
-keep straining forward to fulfill the calling God has placed in front of us, until the day He calls us home or Jesus returns.
– if we obey God’s Word we will be prosperous and successful in His eyes, in acheiving His purposes for our lives.

Joshua 1:8 isn’t telling us to follow a list of rules. Meditating on the Word makes in one with our thoughts and pur very being. Neither does this verse promise us that we will be wealthy and that we will never have problems. No where in the Bible does God ever promise us that. However, He has promised:

– that we will have troubles in this world. But He has also promised that when we trust in Him, we can have peace unlike anything the world can offer.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NLT

4Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9 NLT

23Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
27“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

John 14:23-27 NLT

– He will never fail us nor abandon us.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

Joshua 1:5 NLT

5Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” 6So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

Hebrews13:5-6 NLT

– to take our burdens, give us rest and His light yoke; a shared yoke that allows us to stay in step with Him.

28Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

– we can know true contentment when we stop worrying, trust God, and don’t rely on worldly things to satisfy our needs and desires.

24“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
25“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
28“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”
31“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
34“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:24-34 NLT

11Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 NLT

– we can know the fullness of His joy in our earthly lives, and it does not depend upon our circumstances, as does worldly happiness.

9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

John 15:9-11 NLT

23″At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.”

John 16:23-24 NLT

13“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
20“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

John 17:13-21 NLT

In this world as we grow and mature we are expected to become more and more independent.
But, in God’s Kingdom as we grow and mature we must become more and more dependent upon God. Our lives must become fully surrendered to His will for our lives. That is when we can enjoy all these benefits of being His children by adoption through repentance and salvation in Jesus. Praise God!

Blessings, Peace, and joy,
Julia

©2019 Julia Melatis, juliamelatis.com

All rights reserved. Sharing by linking back only.

How to Study the Bible and Live It

I just read a disturbing article claiming “the Jews” want anti-Semitic disclaimers added to the New Testament of the Bible and to the Qur’an. I’m not noting the source, because I have no idea if it is true or not. The only reason I mention it, it is a good start to an article on How to Study the Bible and Live It.The claim in the article is that Christians blame Jews for Jesus’ death. Any Christian who blames Jews for Jesus’ death has not read or understood the entirety of the Bible. God, Jesus Himself, is responsible for His death. It was God’s plan all along to redeem mankind from the fall into sin and death. God is Omniscient, All-knowing. He knew before creating anything the end of the story and everything in between. Yet, He created the universe, earth, all creatures, and rebellious “us” anyway.8And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the coolc of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”d 10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspringe and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
16To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary tof your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”
17And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
20The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
22Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:8-25 ESV [Emphasis added.]Right from the beginning of sin, God revealed the first inkling of His plan for redemption. The first Messianic prophecy, and the first animal “blood” sacrifice to forgive sins.Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 9:22 ESV [Emphasis added.]We must never take a single verse or worse, part of a verse, and turn it into a theological statement. Always study a verse in the context of the chapter and in light of all of Scripture to make sure you are understanding the meaning correctly. It is too easy to take one sentence and phrase and make it fit whatever you want it to say, without further research.In the case of Jesus’ crucifixion, reading the text or watching a movie about it, is heart wrenching for sure. On this side of the story it’s hard to understand why the high priests did not recognize Jesus for who He is, and why so many people, who had, just days before, praised Him with shouts and waving palms as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, now joined the high priests in shouting, “crucify Him!”. But, we cannot blame and hate the Jews then or their descendants now for Jesus’ death. Without His death and resurrection, we would not have the freedom from slavery to sin which we enjoy or have eternal life. It was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross, it was love. The same love that forgave those who crucified Him.32Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:32-43 ESV [Emphasis added.]Many taunted Jesus with the idea of saving Himself–the devil’s final temptations–but Jesus’ love for us kept Him on that cross. His mission was clear, redemption of the relationship with mankind. No thought of self could sway Him, though the pain be beyond anything we could begin to imagine. Thank You Jesus!!To properly study the Bible we need the right tools. A good concordance is of utmost importance! Or at least a Thompson Chain Reference Bible, which also has a decent concordance. That was what I used for decades before the Internet. Now I mostly use biblehub.com. It gives me many translations to read, context, cross references, Greek and Hebrew meanings (Strong’s and other dictionary/ references), and commentaries. Plus you can search the Bible by word and phrases.Always pray for Holy Spirit to be your teacher when you read and study the Word of God. Those two words should always go together. I would rather go slowly through the Word and savor it, than read quickly through it and not remember the taste of it. How can I apply what I am reading to my life if I zip through it like a comic strip.If you’re used to reading a specific translation try reading one or two other translations as well. Sometimes we get so used to reading a passage that we aren’t really seeing it, just skimming over it. A new translation can bring new life to a familiar passage. Also looking at the meaning of the original language can help, especially when different translations are using what seem to be very different words.There is a method I’ve found helpful, called verse mapping, that you may find useful as well. Verse mapping can really help with life application by personalizing the verse. Below are some instructional and sample images I gleaned from a Google search.There are many “methods” of studying the Bible. You can Google or search Pinterest for others. The main thing is to prayerfully be in the Word, daily, letting Holy Spirit teach you and guide you in applying the Word to your living. Without application there is not much point in studying.22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
James 1:22-25 ESV [Emphasis added.]Father God, in Jesus’ name we thank You for the precious gifts of salvation and eternal life purchased through Jesus’ death and resurrection! May our lives always reflect our gratitude in all we say and do, bringing glory and honor to Your name. Teach us through the Word, Holy Spirit, to walk in step with You, to hear and heed Your voice, and make us always aware of Your presence in us. Thank You, Lord, amen.Blessings and peace,Julia©2019 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved.

FREEDOM SERIES #3 – TRAINING UP OUR CHILDREN/GRANDCHILDREN

(My daddy and my youngest grandbaby).

Training up our children and grandchildren in the Word and to follow Jesus is so crucial! There is a lot of opposition in this world, so much more than what I had growing up, and much more access to information through the internet and even television, than ever before. Long before adulthood a child may come to an age of accountability before the Lord, when they will be responsible for a decision for or against Jesus. If they were to die or Jesus were to return would they be ready? Without a relationship with Jesus, no one is ready.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 NLT

No one is “good enough” on their own, because the measuring stick is Jesus’ own perfection, not comparison to other people. Without Jesus as our Savior we cannot stand before the judgment seat unstained. With Jesus we are washed clean.
Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” John 13:8 NASB
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 ESV
Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7 NASB

Statistically it is much harder for adults to come to faith in Christ. “The current Barna study indicates that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday. One out of eight born again people (13%) made their profession of faith while 18 to 21 years old. Less than one out of every four born again Christians (23%) embraced Christ after their twenty-first birthday. Barna noted that these figures are consistent with similar studies it has conducted during the past twenty years.”* These are startling statistics.

What can we do?
1- Pray, for and with your children daily. Don’t just teach them rote prayers, but to pray what’s on their hearts. Pray not just at meals or bedtime, but when they have a scraped knee, when someone is sick, a problem at school or with a friend, and so on. Let them know God is always listening and nothing is to big or too small to take to Him; to pause to listen for God to speak back to their hearts/spirits. And to remember to say thank you for answered prayers.
2- Teach them to count their blessings and to live with an attitude of gratitude toward God for all His provision.

3- Read the Word to them daily. And let them see you reading the Word and praying on your own. Set the example that it is an important lifelong habit and a real relationship with God.
4- Take them to worship and Sunday School. Observe the Sabbath as a day for God and family as God intended. As they grow, don’t allow extracurricular activities to interfere with the Sabbath day. Teach them that God and family must always come first.
5- Teach them who and whose they are in Jesus. Talk about salvation and what that means. We all must make our own decision to repent and receive Jesus as our Savior. Going to church, reading the Word, and even praying does not make one a Christian. Without repentance, believing upon Jesus and obedience to Him there is no relationship with Him.

Jesus said, “”If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15 NASB

9If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. Romans 10:9-10 NLT

What could be more important than making sure our children, grandchildren, and others we love are set free from the bondage of sin and death through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord? Absolutely nothing! Do not delay! Time flies swiftly and no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

Father God, in the precious name of Jesus we bring the names of our unsaved loved ones before Your throne of grace ___________. Holy Spirit touch each of their hearts, preparing the ground to be good soil for the seed of the Gospel message, that it may grow and flourish into a harvest of repentance and salvation for each one. Give us wisdom to stand out of Your way and witness through our behavior first and foremost. Teach us to live more and more as Jesus disciples, shining His light and love in all we say and do. When and if it’s time for us to speak to the stubborn soul, give us words to speak with love and compassion that will land on a prepared heart. May all we say and do bring glory to You. We give You thanks and praises! Amen.

Blessings and peace,

Julia Melatis

©2019 Julia Melatis, juliamelatis.com. All rights reserved.

*©2009 https://www.barna.com/research/evangelism-is-most-effective-among-kids/

Freedom Series #2 – I Am Unashamed

Last night I went to the second of 2 showings of Chondra Pierce’s third movie theater event, Unashamed. It was amazing! Interspersed with her stand-up routine were interviews with high profile Christians who have had to make very public stances for their faith that has made an impact on contracts, and so on. If you did not make it to either of the showings this week look for it when it comes out on DVD. It is a must see!

The testimonies in this film are a great reminder of what our role is as ambassadors for Christ.
Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20 BSB
I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. Ephesians 6:20 NLT

Though Paul was physically in chains, he did not let that stop him from preaching the Gospel, writing letters of encouragement and instruction to the churches, and continually praying for others. He knew he would only really be imprisoned if he gave up.

How often do we imprison ourselves by allowing our circumstances to overwhelm us and drag us into the pit? We allow our thoughts and the voice of our enemy to drown out the call of Holy Spirit to come and be still and stop striving, be refreshed in His presence, strengthened by God’s grace, renew our thoughts in the Word, build our faith in Jesus’ promises, and set free from the chain that tries to pull us into that pit through praise and gratitude.

Even when we feel harassed or unfairly treated for our faith, in the U.S. we really haven’t begun to really experience persecution. Not to the point of being forced from our homes into exile, imprisoned, tortured, raped, enslaved, forced to watch our children tortured and killed, or being executed ourselves. We are on the brink of worse, if things don’t change. Our society is becoming much less tolerant of free speech and other “rights” we now enjoy.

Our freedom is not what the U.S. Constitution says it is, nor what other people would allow. Our Freedom as disciples of Christ Jesus and children of the One True God come from Him alone.
34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:34-36 NLT
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 ESV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:16, 25-26 ESV

Let us live in the freedom Jesus died to give us. Keeping in step with Holy Spirit, not ahead or behind, keeping pace with Him as He teaches, corrects, and guides each step. We cannot go wrong when we live this God-given way of life.

As Jesus’ ambassadors we must make every effort to shine His light always, in word and deed, in all circumstances. So many are doing the wrong things in the name of Jesus and pushing others farther from Him. True they should not be looking for perfection from imperfect humans, but we do need to reflect Jesus’ image, and bear the fruit of the changes/renewal that has occurred within us. If there is no fruit, there is no change, no testimony, no witness to the power of Christ to save and transform lives. Too many brand themselves as “Christian” because they say that they believe in God. Well, the devil believes God exists, too, but He isn’t going to heaven. He knows the Bible, too, and he will twist it and use it to trip up those that say they are Christians, but don’t know the Word of God for themselves. If we don’t know the Word, we can’t live the Word. If we aren’t living the Word, we’re still living in bondage to the world and the truth is not in us after all. We can’t say I believe in God or even I believe in Jesus and then live like hell and expect to inherit the kingdom like a child of God. It doesn’t work that way. Those that truly believe allow Holy Spirit to transform them and their lives from the inside out. It takes cooperation!

To be a disciple of Christ is a commitment to living like Christ.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24 NLT

This means denying all of our natural tendencies and selfish ways and motives to put Jesus and the needs of others above our own.

That is how we learn to experience true JOY! For more on this be looking for installment #3, Transformed and Free!

To be unashamed of the Gospel is to live a life sold out to the Gospel! That’s freedom in Christ!

At the end of the film Chondra sang this song. Take a few minutes to listen and sing along!

I Am Not Ashamed – The Heritage Singers

Blessings and peace in abundance be yours,

Julia

© 2019 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries, all rights reserved.

Scripture references used:
NLT, Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
BSB, The Berean Bible. (www.Berean.Bible)Berean Study Bible (BSB) © 2016, 2018, 2019 by Bible Hub and Berean.Bible. Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.

ESV, The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

FREEDOM SERIES #1 – Not Just Strength…Contentment in Christ Jesus our Lord

I was reading through past journal entries and came across one from October 26, 2018. This post is based on an excerpt from that journal entry.

11Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 NLT

Lord, I am weak. But in You I have the strength to do all things — to find and keep my contentment, to know my peace and my joy are in You, no matter my circumstances.
So many people skip over the contentment part of this passage. They focus so much on having the strength, that they miss the reason Jesus is giving us the strength, contentment in Him. That’s what we need more than anything.

1Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:1-2 NLT

We must dwell always in Your presence. Find our rest in You alone. Our confidence must not be in people, things, money or anything else of this world. Our utmost trust must be in You alone.

Since I visited Dad in 2017 after Mom died, and he showed me the book on Psalm 91, You have brought me back to this Psalm often. It is a wonderful Psalm about Your constant presence, love, and protection. I quite literally would never have survived this life without You, my Lord. You have surrounded me with Your love and protection even when I did my best to ignore You. I am ever so grateful for the faithful prayers of my Mom and Dad, which kept me surrounded by Your grace, even when I was far from You in my actions. That mustard seed was still there in my heart. May I continue to serve You all my days and keep the legacy of faith going, covering my extended family with prayer day and night.

28Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 BSB

This past weekend (May 3 -5, 2019) I led a retreat at Selah Among the Hills, in Arcadia, Missouri. The teaching theme was Jesus: The Chain Breaker. We explored the attributes of God, the Names of Jesus, and how this knowledge reveals the vastness of the power available to us to break every chain that binds us. God showed up in powerful ways! We’re not meant to carry the weight of our burdens. God gave me mental images such as these photos once when I was studying this passage. Alone, our yoke is that of a slave, heavy, painful, and tiresome.

Top photo credit: https://www.history.org/foundation/journal/summer08/power_slideshow/Bottom photo credit: https://auction.catawiki.com/kavels/20983753-great-antique-human-yoke-for-carrying-buckets-or-load

When we choose to come to Jesus with our burdens, first He removes them. Then He removes the heavy, painful yoke we having had to bear alone, and gives us His yoke, a shared yoke (such as those used with a pair of oxen, see below), which allows us to be yoked to Him and keep in step with Him. With this yoke we are not sharing the weight of our burdens with Jesus, they are gone. He promises His yoke is easy and His burden is light. His “burden,” is covered by grace and, I believe, is the work He has for us to do, the purpose He has for our lives. We no longer havr to worry about “performance issues,” because it is in our weakness that His strength is made perfect and thst is His grace to us.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 BSB

Can we, along with Paul, delight in our weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, so we can experience the strength of God’s powerful grace?

Grace does not keep us from experiencing troubles. Jesus warned us that we will have tribulations (see John 16:33 below). But when we are yoked with Jesus, we are empowered. We cannot go in the wrong way. God is the Teamster (driver) and He will never drive us in the wrong direction. Oxen go through much training before they are yoked in a team. They learn to follow the teamster’s commands. We must learn to heed Holy Spirit’s voice. If two oxen were to misunderstand their Teamster’s commands and one try to turn left and the other try to turn right, they would not go anywhere. Follow Jesus’ lead. The yoke for oxen is designed for their comfort, so they are able to pull a great amount of weight with relative ease for long periods. With Jesus we can do both small and great things for the Kingdom of God with great power, because we are yoked to Him.

Photo credit: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/23419/josephs-yoke

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” John 16:33 BSB

Ah, peace. The peace that Paul speaks of in Philippians 4,
“4Always be full of joy in the Lord…. 6Don’t worry about anything; instead,pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7 NLT, Emphasis added).

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 NLT

This peace is unlike anything we can find in the world. It can only come through a faith-filled, trusting relationship with Jesus. And it is only with this kind of peace and trust in the Lord that we can have His strength to walk in His yoke with Him and have that contentment (delight, pleasure, gladness, satisfaction) that is so hard to put into words. I felt that this past weekend. It is such a pure and utter peace and joy that is really beyond words. But, we don’t have to wait for those special retreat times to feel this contentment. We can have it every day. All too often we jump out of Jesus’ yoke and allow the cares of this life to weight us down. Those buckets hanging from that single yoke are overflowing and the edge of that yoke is cutting into our neck and shoulders. If we find ourselves doing this, we need to give it to Jesus and get back in His yoke to find rest for our souls once again. Let’s not let anything steal the peace and joy and the strength of grace from us. Jesus already bought and paid for it. Open your hands. Stop holding onto that single yoke and put on Jesus’ yoke to receive the contentment that only comes through Him.

Dear Jesus, we hear you calling, “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 GOD’S WORD®). Help us to let go and hand you our burdens and place your yoke on our shoulders, so we can walk in step with You every day of our lives. We want to know that pure peace and joy and the strength that comes only from You, so we can be content in all things and work in tune with You all of our days. We thank and praise You, Lord and give you the glory! Amen.

Blessings, peace, and His contentment be yours,

Julia

©2019 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible translations used:

NLT, Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

BSB, The Berean Bible. (www.Berean.Bible)Berean Study Bible (BSB) © 2016, 2018, 2019 by Bible Hub and Berean.Bible. Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.

GOD’S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations. All rights reserved.

Shine in The World, Yet Not Of This World

I was reading an article about the Amish this morning. I have always been fascinated by them having grown up very near Lancaster, PA. The article was an interview with a a new order Amish men. In it there were some quotes I want to examine.

#1 – “Our faith will be lost if we adopt technology.” & “But if our people get lax and rub elbows too much with the world, then the world may not look too different – we become like the people outside.”**

How sad that they see their faith so weak that it cannot stand outside their community. Yes, there are many temptations that bombard us in this world every day.
God’s Word promises that we don’t have to face temptations alone or even in our own power.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

10A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12For wec are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Ephesians 6:10-13 NLT

Jesus said, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”
John 17:15‭-‬21 NLT

Jesus explicitly stated He was sending His disciples and us into the world, not as part of the world, but as messengers of the Gospel. We cannot follow the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20 to go make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey all the commands He gave us if we stay completely separated from the rest of the world.

Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NLT

Taking up our cross is crucifying our flesh, our sinful desires to live and walk as Jesus did and leads. When Jesus walked the earth He mingled with sinners, He ate with them, He met needs for them, He preached to them, but He went “home” to His disciples, those who believed in Him, shared faith and lifestyle with Him. He did not dwell in/with the worldly. He did not adopt the ways and lifestyle of the the sinners, that would have invalidated His message (not to mention His sinless sacrifice). We must maintain our biblical values and lifestyle while still living among the worldly as a light in the darkness.

#2 – “You might hear Amish people say something along the lines of ‘let your light shine, but don’t shine it in anyone’s face.'”**
This quote I like. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Matthew 5:14‭-‬16 NLT

We are to be a beacon drawing people to Jesus, not a blinding light that confuses and frightens like a deer in the headlights. Look at the image.

A city on a hill all lit up at night, especially in Jesus’ day with no other light around, would have been visible for many, many miles. We can’t be all in your face with people about their life choices as though they have already found Jesus. Brow beating them with their sins will not cause them to repent. It was Jesus’ mere presence – His difference – and kindness that often brought people to repentance. Have you ever had someone see Jesus in you and tell you that they want whatever it is you have? I have. That’s how we need to be living, loving, caring, noticing people, helping, serving, listening to Holy Spirit prompting us to action.

This is how we live in the world, but not of the world. Shine, do, be for Jesus, but don’t become part of the worldly. Always live as a kingdom-dweller.

Grace and peace be your in Christ this week, dear ones,
Julia Melatis
© 2019 All rights reserved.

**quotes from an article at http://amishamerica.com/a-visit-to-the-weavers-candid-amish-thoughts-on-technology-family-more/

Uniquely You! 2019 New Year Mini Virtual Retreat

SUPPLIES NEEDED:
_ A quiet place
_ Phone, Tablet, Laptop, or other device to get YouTube worship videos
_ Bible
_ Pen
_ Index Cards, Post-It Notes, or similar
_ Notebook, journal, or paper
_ 1 Envelope
_ Your Calendar for 2019 (wall or phone)

READY TO BEGIN?
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10 NLT

22The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV

18“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV

Father God, as we begin this retreat, first we seek Your forgiveness for any unconfessed sins. We confess them now______. We don’t want any hindrances to our time with You today. Search our hearts Lord, for anything offensive. Any unforgiveness toward someone else. Any habits we need to break or behaviors that do not honor you. We confess and surrender these all to You now. Help us to be overcomers in these areas and be set free, in Jesus’ name.
Lord, help us to find a quiet, restful place where we can have an amazing encounter with You today. Come fill our spaces with Your presence. We seek Your face, Lord, Your wisdom, Your Word for us today to guide us into this New Year. Refresh us with Your Holy Spirit. Remind us of who we are because we belong to You! Engrave upon our hearts Your name for us – highly favored, child of the Most High God, co-heir with Christ, redeemed, holy, and dearly loved. We lay down our distractions, anxieties, fears, doubts, and receive Your peace, focus, joy, grace, strength, courage, and wisdom. Be glorified In our time here today and in the year to come. In the precious and powerful name of Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

* OPENING WORSHIP
You Say – Lauren Daigle

He Knows My Name – Tommy Walker

I Surrender – Hillsong

* WHO ARE YOU?
I find that most people, especially the women I meet, have identity (self-esteem) issues. Well, if we’re only looking at ourselves that can be a problem, but if we belong to Jesus, our worth is insured by the work He did through His death and resurrection.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 NASB

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
Ephesians 3:12 NLT

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Hebrews 4:16 NLT

We can be confident in who we are when we belong to Jesus. We no longer have to do life alone, in our own power and wisdom. We have been redeemed, freed from slavery to sin by payment of the ransom with Jesus’ blood, so we can be reunited with God in the relationship that we we’re created to have with Him. We’ve been given a down payment on the eternal inheritance we’ve been promised with the indwelling of Holy Spirit.
Below are just two of many lists thay come up when I Google “identity in Christ” images.

Using these lists, and maybe others you find, write an “I Am” statement of who you are in Christ Jesus.
Start you statement with something like:
I am _______________ (your name) and I am a child of the Most High God, holy and dearly loved, _______________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Write it on an index card to carry with you. Write it on another to post on your bathroom mirror or anywhere else you will see ot everyday.

* WHAT IS MY CALLING?
This is the call God gave to Jeremiah:

4Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” 9Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Jeremiah 1:4-10 ESV

God created Jeremiah a prophet. When Jeremiah objected, God showed him that He would equip him to do the work God had created him to do, by putting His words in Jeremiah’s mouth.
It is the same with us. We may not have audible conversations with the Lord, but we have even better, the indwelling Holy Spirit, to guide and equip us every step of the way.
God has created each of us with unique personality traits, talents, and abilities which prepare us to do the work He has already prepared for each of us to do. As we learn to use them God works with us to expand and perfect them within us for His glory and praise.
What talents were you born with?
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________

What personality traits make you uniquely able to be and do the things God created you to do?
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________

What spiritual gifts has God bestowed upon you?
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________

If you have no idea what spiritual gift(s) you have I suggest you do a spiritual gift survey. This is the one I prefer:
https://blog.lifeway.com/explorethebible/downloads/spiritual-gifts-inventory/
You should find it easy to do as well as score.

What other abilities do you have that can serve the Lord? (We can glorify the Lord in all aspects of our lives.)
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Fill in the blanks on this personalized verse 5 from Jeremiah 1:
5“Before God formed __________ (your name) in the womb He knew me, and before I was born He consecrated me; He appointed __________ (your name) a _____________________________________________________________________________________.

12The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,e some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 14Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 NLT

Maybe you’re still having trouble with identifying your calling. Can you pinpoint a body part which describes your gifting (as in the body of Christ)? ______________________________________________________________________________________.

I would say that I am a mouth, corresponding to my gifting as a teacher, an encourager, a prayer warrior, and at times a truth bringer (prophet). Sometimes I am an ear that listens, a shoulder to lean on, arms that hug, hands that do, cook, & create, feet that go, eyes that see beyond the surface… but my primary gifts are as a mouth.

Now, what body part are you? What are the gifts and talents that God created in you to use for His glory?
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV

1And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2 NLT

Have you renewed your mind in the way you think about the way you behave, the ways you use your talents, gifts, time, energy, even take care of your body and mind (thought life)? _______________

How well are you using your gifts and talents for God’s glory? (This doesn’t always mean in ministry.)
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

How about in your job? Do you do your job with integrity, in ways that honor God and show the fruit of your faith?
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Do you use your “calling” in all aspects of your life?
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Pray about ways you can improve in these area and journal His answers.
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________

* SETTING GOALS

13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4:13-15 ESV

8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:8-11 ESV

Pray for guidance in setting up to 3 major goals for 2019.
What would you like to accomplish this year? I only had one really major goal for 2018. To complete and publish a book. It is complete and will be released soon. So, almost completed in 2018. ☺

1_________________________________________________________________________________

2_________________________________________________________________________________

3_________________________________________________________________________________

* EVALUATING PRIORITIES
As our lives move forward seasons change and so must our focus and priorities, from time to time. Prayerfully consider your calendar, all the things which make up your daily life. What are your must-dos (job, eat, sleep)?

Must-dos
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________

What are your want-tos (daily God time, time with hubby, exercise, small group Bible study, hobbies)?

Want-tos
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________

If it seems like there are never enough hours in the day maybe it’s time to reevaluate some of the things

on your want-tos list. Set godly priorities and have JOY:
Jesus first
Others second
Yourself last

This of course does not mean don’t take care of yourself. It’s more of a reflection on Matthew 6:33,
33Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (NLT)

and Philippians 2:3-4, 3Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (NLT)

When we focus our attention upward toward God and outward to the needs of others rather than inward, to our own needs, desires, and emotions, God honors our obedience and takes care of our needs.

3Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. 4Take delight in the LORD,and he will give you your heart’s desires. 5Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalm 37:3-5 NLT

Set priorities that honor the Lord. Delight in His ways.

* A WORD FOR THE YEAR
Pray asking the Lord for a word for the year. Maybe you’ve never done this before or never even heard of doing this. That’s okay. I hadn’t either until about five years ago. I have found that having a word or words (sometimes He gives me two) helps me to focus on a direction for my life for the year. It never ceases to amaze me how the word(s) remain a constant theme for my life. For 2018 God gave me abide and thrive for my words. In 2017 I had courage and action.
Whatever word(s) the Lord gives you look up some Bible verses to go with it/them. I like to post the words and verses around the house where I will see them often using Post-It Notes, index cards, and so on. Pray over them weekly or monthly to keep your focus on this “theme” for the year. Ask the Lord how to apply it in your life. Journal about how your life changes as you focus on, work through, and grow in this area throughout the year.
Word(s)____________________________________________________________________________

Verse(s)___________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________

Observations, insights, and/or questions about your word(s) ______________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________________

In addition to praying for a word, this quiz may also be helpful.
https://www.dayspring.com/yourwordquiz#/home

*WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER
Reflecting upon all you’ve written in this retreat, write a letter to your July 2019 self. Mention your goals, priorities, your word(s), “I Am” statement, and any other significant thing you want yourself to remember from this retreat today. Seal the letter in an envelope and put it away somewhere. Write it on your calendar (wall, phone) where the letter is and to read it on July 1st. At that point you can evaluate the status of your goals, make a plan to fulfill your goals for the next 6 months, and write yourself a new letter for 12/31/19.

* CLOSING WORSHIP

Shine Jesus Shine

Who You Say I Am – Hillsong

Every Praise – Hezekiah Walker

Thank You, Father, for blessing this time in Your presence. Thank You for guiding me in the path You have prepared for me. Help me to continue abiding in You and following after You all my days. May all I do and say bring You glory and praise. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
1 John 2:6 NLT

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Matthew 5:16 NLT

Have a joyful, blessed,
and healthy New Year!
Julia Melatis
© 2018 All rights reserved.

Unknown credit for identity in Christ list images.

Is the Bible Your Looking Glass?

I was posting the verse of the day to Pinterest and decided to scroll down to view some of the “more like this” pins. It was the worst list of “more like this” I have ever seen. The verse I posted was from Psalms. I had to scroll down quite a bit to find even one Bible verse and that was from Ephesians. Most of the pins were for Ramadan (wrong God) and paid ads. The remainder were random things and a lot of “worldly wisdom.” I hope this was a fluke and not a new agenda, but I am not writing to pick on Pinterest today.
I am writing today because maybe Pinterest is as confused as many people, unbelievers and believers alike. I all too often find believers posting tidbits of “worldly wisdom” on their social media accounts. It sounds good, so they post or re-post from someone else in hopes of encouraging others. If viewed from a worldly point of view, they certainly seem to make sense.
Let’s take a look at four examples I pulled from the selection given to me by Pinterest. We will be viewing them through the “looking glass” of the Bible. As a believer everything needs to be put under the microscope of God’s Word before I make it part of me.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1 ESV

The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

Proverbs 14:15 ESV

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3 NLT

As a believer I cannot allow myself to be swayed by the teachings of people just because it sounds good to my ears. The responsibility is just too great, because I will be accountable if I lead anyone astray.

1And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.
Luke 17:1-2 ESV

Even moreso for those of us God has gifted to be a teacher.

1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

James 3:1 ESV

Not that I want to discourage teachers, on the contrary, I want to encourage everyone to be well versed in the Scriptures, so we are prepared to lead in whatever way God uses us.
To some extent all believers are teachers by example and in discipling other believers in their walk. We must all, therefore, be grounded in the Word, so we know that by which we live is truth. We also must be in tune with the Holy Spirit, so we can hear His voice speaking wisdom, direction, and correction throughout our days.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11 ESV

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you.

John 14:26 BSB

However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come.

John 16:13 BSB

2if you incline your ear to wisdom and direct your heart to understanding, 3if you truly call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, 4if you seek it like silver and search it out like hidden treasure 5then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. 6For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk with integrity, 8to guard the paths of justice and protect the way of His saints.

Proverbs 2:2-8 BSB

Anyone who believes in the One true God’s existence knows the Bible is the instruction manual for life written by the Creator Himself.

16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

We are to not only live by the Word, but pass it on to our children and others.
4“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5You shall love the LORDyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV

18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inb the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

This has the slightest bit of truth to it. It is our heart attitude that plays a big part in how we handle what comes our way. It is our choice as to the attitide we choose to have in facing our circumstances. But true contentment and joy in the midst of our circumstances can only be found in Jesus Christ. That heart attitude comes from an abiding relationship with Him as our Savior and Lord.

4″Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5-6 ESV

We must allow the truth of His Word to renew our minds and transform us from the inside out. It is only with complete faith and trust in God and His love and plan for us that we can find that real joy, peace, rest and contentment that the world so desperately craves and seeks in all the wrong places. We can never find it within ourselves alone, in alcohol, drugs, material possessions, wealth, power, other gods, philosophies, or other people.

1Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 BSB

11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

John 15:11 ESV

“Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

John 16:24 ESV

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 ESV

1In God alone my soul finds rest; my salvation comes from Him. 2He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
5Rest in God alone, O my soul, for my hope comes from Him. 6He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken 7My salvation and my honor rest on God, my strong rock; my refuge is in God 8Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. Selah
Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8 BSB

Now this one almost sounds like it could be straight from the Bible. And it sounds remarkably similar to a quote attributed to St Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” And that leads me to the reason I included this one. Some people do seem to manage to live a “good” life by worldly standards. But if Jesus is not the center of your life, it will all turn to dust in the end. Good character, from a worldly point of view will not preach a message pf eternal value. Our lives must preach the eternal-life-giving message of salvation, repentance, and the good character of follower of Jesus. Our outward actions must match the words we speak. Others don’t care what we have to say until they see who we are.

1Tell believers to live the kind of life that goes along with accurate teachings. 2Tell older men to be sober. Tell them to be men of good character, to use good judgment, and to be well-grounded in faith, love, and endurance.
3Tell older women to live their lives in a way that shows they are dedicated to God. Tell them not to be gossips or addicted to alcohol, but to be examples of virtue. 4In this way they will teach young women to show love to their husbands and children, 5to use good judgment, and to be morally pure. Also, tell them to teach young women to be homemakers, to be kind, and to place themselve under their husbands’ authority. Then no one can speak evil of God’s word.
6Encourage young men to use good judgment. 7Always set an example by doing good things. When you teach, be an example of moral purity and dignity. 8Speak an accurate message that cannot be condemned. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed because they cannot say anything bad about us.
Titus 2:1-8 GOD’S WORD® Translation

12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ESV

What good does it do me to be “more me” if there is nothing good in me (without Jesus.)

10As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. 11No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. 12All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”

Romans 3:10-12 NLT

Instead, I want to be the best representative of Christ I can be. For it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 ESV

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Colossians 1:27 ESV

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 317 ESV

So do not be quick to speak or post “words of wisdom” when you see or hear them. Look at them through the looking glass of Scripture to find the real truth and wisdom by which to live you life. Share that wisdom with your friends and family. Sharing our faith and love for Jesus, and all He has done for us, should be just as easy as it once was to share gossip.

Blessings and peace,
Julia Melatis

© 2018 All Rights Reserved. You may and are encouraged to share and post links back to this site.
Please do not print copies, copy and paste, or otherwise duplicate this content without express written consent from Julia Melatis.