A Season of Anticipation

Sunday Word & Worship
2nd Sunday of Advent

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10 ESV

“Be still” – Strong’s Hebrew 7503: הַרְפּ֣וּ (har·pū) Sink, relax
I love that definition! That’s what our being still is supposed to feel like, surrendered trust and resting in the Lord our God!

This is not a typical Advent verse, but I’m throwing it in the mix because it’s perfect for the message God’s been giving me this year about preparing for and celebrating Christmas.

How many of you are all about the “doing” of Christmas — decorating everything, baking like there’s no tomorrow, shopping, wrapping, hosting and/or going to parties, arts & crafts fairs, festivals, Christmas light displays to see…? I’m exhausted just thinking about them. How many of these activities really help you remember the true meaning of Christmas? Do you make time to just “be” and experience the anticipation of the “waiting time.” God gives us times of waiting and resting and we tend to fill them up with activity. Why do you suppose that is? When it happens to me, it’s usually a sign I’m avoiding thinking about something. If I slow down I’ll have time to think and I will have to confront whatever is bothering me. This last week this behavior landed me in the hospital with chest pains and palpitations and undergoing 2 days of not eating or drinking, so they could run a battery of cardiac tests on me, including a cardiac catheterization. Praise God it was not my heart, it is in good shape. I need to stop pushing down my stressors and deal with them and let my body really rest instead of being in a perpetual state of anxiety. What reasons might you have for being busy, busy all the time? Do you use our Sunday Sabbaths as days of worship, rest, and family bonding time as God intended? Or are you just as busy and stressed out as on any other day? Let us try using this season of Advent (the beginning of the Christian calendar) as a way to build new habits of Sabbath rest and refreshment as God’s commands so blessed us (Exodus 20:8-11).

I Surrender – Hillsong

This year I saw one tree lot selling trees 3 or 4 days before Thanksgiving. I couldn’t believe it! And many people on Facebook were saying they had their Christmas decorations up a week or more before Thanksgiving. I still haven’t decorated my tree or put out my menagerie of Nativity scenes. I often don’t decorate until closer to Christmas Day. That’s okay, because Christmas Day is the beginning of the Christmas season, not the end. Did you know that the 12 days of Christmas begin on Christmas and end January 5th, which is the day before Epiphany, when we celebrate the arrival of the wisemen to visit Jesus?

Make Room – Casting Crowns feat. Matt Maher

I hope you will take time this Advent to enjoy the anticipation, and rest in the hope, peace, and joy Jesus came to bring us!

19And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:19-21 ESV

Breath of Heaven – Amy Grant

Father God, we thank You for the gift of having Jesus, “Immanuel-God with us,”* in our lives. During this season of Advent help us to make time to “be still and know You are God.”* To take advantage of this season of anticipation, not just of celebrating Jesus’ birthday, but of the hope we have in the eternal pleasures* You have prepared for us. May our lives shine the light of Your glory for all the world to see and know Jesus is the “good news of great joy for all the people”.* We rejoice in the plan of salvation that was born that first Christmas. Help us to be bold in sharing this gift everywhere we go to see lives changed and people saved! May this joy and boldness overflow into 2020 to bring revival and change to our cities, and our country. In Jesus’ name, amen.

*[Matthew 1:23, Psalm 46:10, Psalm 16:11, Luke 2:10]

Blessings of Hope & Joy,

Julia

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Happy Christian New Year!

Sunday Word & Worship
1st Sunday of Advent

Happy Christian New Year! Advent is the beginning of the Christian (seasonal) calendar. I thought since this is the beginning of a new year it would be appropriate to start with this song as our opening prayer. Really think about the words as you sing along. May it be your prayer and heart’s desire.

Keep Making Me – Sidewalk Prophets

14But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
15My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
16With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
17O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
19Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
20You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
21You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.
22I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23My lips will shout for joy,
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt.
Psalm 71:14-24 ESV

Amazing God – Anthony Evans
[Click the down arrow next to the title under the video to see the lyrics]

14“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’
Jeremiah 33:14-16 ESV

NOTES
Yes, God is truly amazing! He created Adam and Eve full knowing the fall would come and what He would do to redeem us. This passage from Jeremiah is just one of the many passages foretelling the coming of Christ. God’s heart is to restore relationship with those whom He created in His image. He has done all that is required to make that happen. We only need to agree that we need to be saved, repent, and receive His saving grace. That is the process that was set in motion in the Garden of Eden with the first Messianic prophecy…

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 offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

…and was completed on thst first Resurrection Sunday.

Advent means coming or arrival. It’s supposed to be a time of anticipation and excitement! When you’re preparing for Christmas is that how you feel? Or do your preparations cause you anxiety? If so, let Jesus change your attitiude to focus on whay is truly important and let everything else go.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3 NLT

Can we anticipate and celebrate Advent and Christmas with a child-like heart and eyes?

I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy

Father God, thank You for keeping Your promises. Your Word never comes back empty or void. You promised a Savior the day sin happened. Over the centuries and millennia you gave Your Word, You gave the Law, promises and prophecies that You would redeem what was lost. Us. Relationship with You. Holiness. Jesus willingly chose to come to us as a babe and leave all His privilege and glory behind in heaven, so He could become the final sacrificial Lamb to finally fulfill every prophecy, promise, and feast. You raised Him up again on the third day in power and glory to break the final curse of eternal death and hell. We recommit ourselves to You today, this New Year day, as we anticipate the glory that awaits us at Your second coming, Lord Jesus! Your birth at Christmas is just a foreshadow of the joy that awaits us when You come again! In Your name we pray, amen. Hallelujah!

Blessings, Joy, and peace,

Julia

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What Does Giving Thanks Look Like?

1Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Psalm 147:1-11 ESV23

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Luke 9:23-26 ESVThen Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.
Matthew 21:21 NLT

25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:25-33 ESV

A FEW THOUGHTS

With the Thanksgiving holiday being this week I wanted to focus on thanks. Then when I was picking music I came across this song and I was blown away by what Holy Spirit was speaking to me. First listen to the song.

Giving thanks to the Lord is not merely the words of gratitude we speak about the things He gives us. “Thank You God for my family, friends, church, our jobs, home, cars, food, clothes,” and so on. We worship and show our gratitide to Jesus in our attitude and in our actions.
By how we:
– live our lives in public and in private.
– trust Him with all parts of our lives- work, recreation, as well as, spiritual, home and family.
– include Him in making decisions, not just the big ones.
– take care of what we’ve already been given.
-bless others.Have you ever thought about these things as acts of Thanksgiving. Some of them I have, but others I’ve thought they were things we should do, but not necessarily as a way of expressing gratitiude. When I think about it, everything in our lives, as disciples of Jesus, really should be an act of Worship and gratitude for what He has done for us, everything He continues to bless us with, walk with us through, burdens He shoulders, things He heals for us and more. Is there any reason not to trust Him? Any reason not to thank Him?

16Always be joyful. 17Never stop praying. 18Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT

I used to read verse 18 wrong. It says be thankful IN all circumstances not for all circumstances. No matter what is going on in our lives we can find something to be thankful for, even if it is nothing else than our salvation itself and who God is, for He is love and is always good, just, righteous, and holy. He has given us a hope for our eternal future that does not disappoint us. Can I get an amen?!

[1 Peter 1:3-9, 1 John 4:8 & 16, Psalm 135:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:6, Romans 1:17, 1 Samuel 2:2, Romans 5:5, Titus 1:2]

Father God, we do thank You for the abundant blessings and favor You have poured out upon us, Your children.
Some of us may have had a tough year, may still be going through it, or just starting a rough patch, but we know without a doubt that You are with us every step of the way. Remind each of us of Your Word in Psalm 139:5 (NLT) “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Remind us, too, to ask You, “What do you want me to learn from this trial?” We are never alone and we need but seek You to find You, and to be still (stop striving) and listen to hear Your voice. May we remember to be thankful IN all circumstances and rejoice because Your presence and power are within us and this is Your will for us in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
Thank You, Lord, for all those who put their lives down (literally or figuratively) for us every day: every branch of the military, police, government agents, fire, forest/park rangers, emts/ambulance, tow truck drivers, highway workers, snow plow drivers, electric line workers, storm chasers, nurses & doctors, and others I may have missed, bless, protect, and favor them and their families, Father.
Thank You for others who work in service industries who also don’t get holidays off: food service workers, custodians, gas station workers, retail/grocery workers, and others. May we and those who use their services be kind and generous to them and Lord, please bless, protect, and favor them as well.
Thank You most of all for Your only begotten Son Jesus/Yeshua to come as a babe, live a sinless life, preach the good news of redemption, become our substitutionary sacrifice, and our risen King, so we can receive salvation and eternal life! What sacrifice! What a gift! We can never thank You enough! Help us Holy Spirit to live our lives as a continual act of worship and gratitude to Your glory and praise! In Jesus’ holy and precious name, amen.

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Attitude is Everything

Read the verses in the image.
Even in Old Testament times God’s people, Israel, were supposed to be God’s light to the world. To bring others to God. Sadly many took the “chosen people” thing too literally and shunned other people/nations completely.

Do we do the same thing? Do we as Christians, God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12), look down on the “sinners,” outsiders, avoiding them, condemning them, instead of shining Jesus’ light and showing them the love of Christ, His mercy and grace?

If people in the church, including my parents, had not shown love and grace toward me in my teens there is no telling where I would be today.

Growing up “going to church” is no guarantee of anything. Only a real relationship with Jesus through repentance saves.

My dad says I accepted Jesus when I was 3 years old, but I can’t remember that. I do remember praying a prayer alone in my bedroom one day when I was 14 or 15 years old. But I did not tell anyone and did not understand how salvation was supposed to change my life. The next several years were really a spiritual war inside me.

I got pregnant at 16 years old. He left our lives when I was 2 months pregnant. I was a mess, but because I was pregnant, I didn’t turn to the alcohol and pot I had begun to depend upon. Praise God!

Unlike the parents of other girls I knew, mine though disappointed, did not kick me out of the house. My church also, unlike others I knew, did not kick me out. They were kind and supportive, bringing me things for the baby. Years later during a Bible study some ladies told me that they had admired me for continuing to come to church when I got pregnant. I don’t think I could have if I had felt judged or ridiculed.

After she was born I still had dreams of a fairy tale ending for the 3 of us, and coupled with what I now know was postpartum depression, one day I came close to suicide. But God (my two favorite words!), But God intervened as I was crying out in desperation on the edge of my twin bed; my tiny babe (not yet rolling over or crawling) on the other side up against the wall. He said, “No you can’t do this, and you can’t do this to her.” Just then my baby was behind me putting her little arms around me in a hug. My whole outlook changed after that. God healed me! I began focusing on being a good mom and planning for our future. I started taking my faith more seriously. But, still not completely changing my ways. It was the 70s. A very confusing time for me, especially not really knowing the Word. It wasn’t until after marrying a different man just before my 19th birthday (against my father’s wishes because he is not a believer) that I really began getting into the Word and prayer and letting it transform me.

But what might have happened to me and my baby if my parents and church had not been supportive and prayerful toward me? I have lost touch long ago with those friends who had been kicked out of home and church, but last I heard of them they were not on good paths.

I have seen many “grow up in church” go down wrong paths in adulthood. Somehow, even in the church we often expect people, even the children, to get faith and salvation by osmosis or something. But it isn’t just talking about salvation; it’s living it! Has the Word of God so penetrated our very being that we live and breathe it?

Do we want to be instruments of healing and salvation or destruction? Our attitude toward others who are not believers is a critical component in determining whether they will ever become believers.

Look at our world. It has become a battlefield between Christians and non-believers. The non-believers are becoming more and more intolerant of our faith and many “Christians” become offended and lash back instead of turning it over to the Lord prayerfully and shining His light in love. Dark clouds of anger and hate move in and overshadow the light.

Yes, it is hard when the sin is being legalized, taught as “good” in our schools, flaunted in public libraries, and half naked in our streets.

It is important that we follow God’s lead in how to respond to these things and not let offense or any emotions be our guide. None of this is a surprise to God. We must use the fruit of the Spirit: from love to self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) to overcome evil with good. Only God can truly judge if someone’s heart is too evil to turn to Him. That is not our call. Our job is to obey whatever the Lord tells us to do.
Go….where He sends you.
Do….what He tells you.
Be….who He created you to be in Jesus.
Shine!

Shine – Newsboys

Blessings & Peace,
Julia

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When You’re in the Fire

Borrowed this quote from a friend’s Facebook 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.

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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.