We Are the Temple of the Holy Spirit

Read the two theme verses in the images. Now notice the background images. Why do you suppose I chose a group of people for one and an individual for the other?The answer is the one verse the you is plural and the other it is singular. It is important to make this distinction betwen the two verses, because:

A) As an individual we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. If we were to read the surrounding verses Paul is specifically speaking about sexual sins in this passage. Sins that affect the physical body. Paul says that sexual sins are the only sins that we commit against our own bodies. I believe it is because the way God created sex to be between one man and one woman for life that it is so awful a sin against our own bodies not to mention what it does to our minds. That relationship of the two becoming one flesh is a type of the relationship the church has as the bride of Christ. We become one with Him. Sex in a marriage is more than the physical act of pleasure given and received. It is a spiritual bond beteeen two souls. Just as our relationship with God in Christ unites our spirit with Him as we abide in Him, the true Vine [John 15:1-8].

If we go to the beginning of this section in 1 Corinthians 6, we see it can also apply to other sins in the body. 12“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

Food is my trouble spot with my body and for many in the U.S.A. When I was growing up food was used as “love” and also in punishment and reward. I use food as comfort, as many do, instead of seeking comfort from the Comforter. Others have others unhealthy views of their bodies that can cause binging, purging, starving themselves, obsessing over every thing that is eaten, being sedentary, training too hard, and everything in between, that can keep our focus off of the important thing, our relationship with the Lord.

B) The plural temple is the body of Christ, the church, the body of believers. The Spirit dwells within us not just individually, but also corporately. Yes, God has a plan and purpose for each individual person. We tend to focus on that calling a lot. BUT GOD also has a purpose and plan for us a corporate body. There are things we can do together that cannotbe accomplished as individuals. We need each other.

23Let us hold resolutely to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. 25Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25 BSB

These verses list a few important purposes of the church body. To:

* spur each other on to love
-> And may the Lord mak your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 NLT
-> “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:12 NLT

* spur each other on to good deeds
-> 14What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? 17So too, faith by itself, if it does not result in action, is dead.
James 2: 14-17 BB
-> He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
Titus 2:14 BSB

* meet together [This is what happened when the early church met together:]
-> 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43A sense of awe came over everyone, and the apostles performed many wonders and signs.
44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need.
46With one accord they continued to meet daily in the temple courts and to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

* encourage one another
-> Therefore encourage and build one another up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5: 11 BSB
-> But exhort [strongly encourage or urge] one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 3:13 BSB [definition added]Right now with the Corona virus impeding in person meetings, it’s more important than ever for the body of Christ to be about the mission of being the plural you, the temple of God as one body. We need to keep reaching out to each other and others in phone calls, text messages, Zoom meetings, Facebook groups, every which way we can to stay connected, encourage each other, and spur one another to love and good deeds. Life goes on even in a pandemic. And there’s still a lot for us to do for the kingdom of God.Pray, most of all, for each other and all believers, for those in authority, for those on the front lines of this pandemic, for our police who are in the thick of it with the many protests and increased crime in some areas, for our military and their families, and for revival and good to come from all the troubles in our country. I believe God does not waste our pain. Let’s resolve to glorify God in every way we can during Corona. Keep looking up to God for strength and guidance; while looking outward to the interests and needs of others. When we do this, we will have no time to focus inward on our worries and fears. God will be taking care of our business, while we take care of His.

Blessings of Hope & Joy,
Julia©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries
I pray you will share this to your timeline as an encouragement of Hope & Joy to others.Scripture quotations marked BSB are from The Berean Bible (www.Berean.Bible) Berean Study Bible (BSB) © 2016-2020 by Bible Hub and Berean.Bible. Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.Scripture quotations marked ESV are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Up Against the Wall

Updated and expanded from a post dated July 14, 2018

Some birds instinctually build their nests in places that are up against a wall for shelter and support. However, people often use the expression “up against the wall” to describe feeling trapped with no way out of a situation. I would like to offer a different perspective for when we feel “up against a wall,” thanks to our feathered friends and Scripture.

2The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
10The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Psalm 18:2,10 ESV

The Lord is a place where we can run to seek His protection. He is our Rock. Refuge. Strong Tower. When we stand up against Him we are not trapped, but safe. If we continue to read through Psalm 18 (v. 28-40) we see that:
* God lights our lamp
* Lightens our darkness.
* Enables us to run against a troop,
* And leap over a wall.
* His way is perfect;
* The word of the LORD proves true;
* He is a shield for all those who take
refuge in him.
* For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?
* He equips us with strength and makes
our way blameless.
* He makes our feet like the feet of a deer
and sets us secure on the heights.
* He trains our hands for war, so that our
arms can bend a bow of bronze.
* He gives us the shield of His salvation,
* His right hand supports us.
* His gentleness makes us great.
* He gives a wide place for our steps
under us, and our feet do not slip.
* We pursue our enemies and overtake
them, and do not turn back till they are
consumed.
* We thrust them through, so that they are
not able to rise; they fall under our feet.
* For He equips me with strength for the
battle;
* He makes those who rise against me
sink under me.
* He makes our enemies turn their backs
to us,
* And those who hate us we destroy.

There are many battles raging here in 2020. The Covid-19 virus, racial injustice, masks vs no masks, natural disasters, global political upheaval, terrorism, sex trafficking, hunger, religious persecution and execution, you name it. It all seems so overwhelming on a global scale. Even just in the U.S. or in our own corner of it. What can we do?

The battles David fought were actual physical, flesh and blood battles. Most of us will never fight in battles like that. But we can take David’s Psalms as an analogy for the spiritual warfare that we do fight, or should be in there fighting, every day. If we are feeling overwhelmed and brain-fried it’s probably because we’re not facing the battlefield. Get alone, on a chair, on your knees, on your face, with your Bible and seek the Lord. This IS how we fight our battles. Face them, head on, in prayer.

God, our Rock and Refuge, is not a place to hide and cower, but a place to be trained and prepared for the battles to come while being protected. Not only is He our shelter, He is our Commander, our drill sargeant, and the one who goes before us leading the charge into battle. Yes, He fights for us [Exodus 14:14. Deuteronomy 3:22].

So maybe the birds’ instincts aren’t so bad. Up against the wall, with the Lord, is a good place to be. After all, His armor [Ephesians 6:10-18] is made to cover just the front of the body. No need to have a rear exit for escape. We are to stand firm in faith and trust, looking the enemy square in the eye, knowing we are armed and ready because the Lord is with us.

If we don’t feel ready, we need some one-on-one time with our Rock and in His Word, soaking in His radiance and gathering strength in soul and spirit, so we are able to wield the weapons of our warfare with His power, in praise with thanksgiving.

David knew what it was like to have the power of God working within Him. As a youth he had defeated the lion and the bear. He also knew what it felt like to feel overwhelmed. But he knew that in those moments He had a place to run for help, hope, and strength beyond his own.

So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
1 Samuel 16:14 NLT

God had given David a promise and dream when Samuel anointed him to be king, but their were many years and troubles between the anointing and the coronation. God created each of us unique with a plan and purpose for our lives. He may not have sent a prophet or priest to your house to anoint you with oil, but every breath you take is purpose and you are “anointed” by the calling God has placed on your life and gifting He had imparted to you to fulfill that purpose and plan that had existed just for you since before creation.

When David found himself “up against a wall” of hardship, he knew God was the source of His power and skill and the only place to run when he was overwhelmed by his circumstances. It was there he found the strength and courage to keep moving, to do things that he could not possibly do without the power of the Lord with him and within him.

I love how in the midst of this 50 verse Psalm about God’s conquest with David in battle is verse 35, “… your gentleness made me great.” Wow! It’s not the battles that make us great. It is how we handle ourselves in the battles and the rest of the time as well. Maybe it was that gentleness that caused David to refrain from taking Saul’s life himself [1 Samuel chapters 24, 26]. Though God’s favor had been removed from Saul, he had been anointed by God and David refused to kill God’s anointed one. There were those that encouraged David to kill Saul. No person would have blamed him for doing so, BUT GOD was testing David’s faith and trust in Him. David knew God would take care of Saul in His timing. It was not for David to take his life. He just needed to keep trusting God’s timing, protection, and provision.

We need to learn to follow the Lord in the same way. All too often we think so small. We need to learn that He is our Strong Tower, the place where we always find shelter and safety, even when the world seems to be closing in on us. “Up against the wall”, our uncomfortable place, is the place where He is and where we will find peace. It is in the “uncomfortable” that we grow and get to know Him even better. It is here God will train us for the battles we have ahead, too. He will equip us with the weapons we need (through the Word, prayer, and in communion with Him) to enable and empower us to go forth and face the enemy knowing He has equipped us with strength, trained our hands for war, given us the shield of His salvation, supports us with His right hand, and has made us great by His gentleness.

David started this Psalm as a song of praise for the defeat of his enemies with the words, “I love you, O LORD, my strength.” Throughout the next 44 verses he recounts how God has trained him and fought for him. Now, beginning in verse 46, David closes the song with praises and exaltation. “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—”

I just love David’s Psalms. The flow of emotion from danger and despair, to trust and obedience, and joy and praise. The neverending trust in God, even in the most dire of circumstances – back against the wall; or hold up in a cave, as David often was in his flight from Saul.

Faith and trust bring us to our Strong Tower for the refuge we need. Jesus Himself beckons us to come to Him when we are weary and burdened so we can find rest (shelter from the storms of life) [Matthew 11:28-30]. Paul tells us, 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]. That is a continual process, as we need to always be in the Word. However, even more so in times of stress and battle, when the world seems to be closing in and is loud with so many voices, we need to get still before the Lord and let Him speak to us with the Word of truth to guide us, sure, through uncertain times. Paul also reminds us to think about whatever is:
true
honorable
just
pure
lovely
commendable
excellent
worthy of praise [Philippians 4:8].

Keeping our thoughts on the things of God, things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely…helps us to keep our wits about us in the throes of battle. We have no confusion, doubts or fears. Our cause is sure, our mission is clear.

5Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
6in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
7Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7 BSB

11But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession before many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:11-12 BSB

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 BSB

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you. 7Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
8Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
1 Peter 5:6-9 BSB

13Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14And do everything with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT

19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in 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 28:20 ESV

These six passages do a good job of summarizing key points of Christian living and our mission. They’re a good place to start. I would have to copy nearly the whole of Scripture to get it all. The Peter and passages are particularly important. We must remain humble, realizing we always need God. We are never equipped to go it alone. We are always meant to be united with Jesus’ Spirit in all we do. And when people quote the James passage they have a tendency to forget the submit to God part and go right to resist the devil. Ahem. We must submit to God, so we have the power to resist the devil and make him flee. He’s not afraid of us. We need Gods power to make him and his minions run.

If we are wise we will live as David did, “I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” [Psalm 16:8 BSB]. With the Lord as our Strong Tower behind us, as our guiding light before us, and as the strength of our hand we cannot fail. So you see, since God’s plan has always been to equip us for frontal attack, we never need fear having our back to the wall. He has our back covered. We can stand firm and strong for He has us surrounded with His presence, strength, love, and grace [Psalm 139:5]. Let’s build our “nests” (our lives) on the Strong Tower, our Rock and Refuge. There we will be secure and ready for storms and battles that come. When they do come, we will be ready to come out armed and ready, because we have used the time in the stronghold to prepare for battle.

Pray this Psalm:

1Keep me safe, O God,
for I have come to you for refuge.
2I said to the LORD, “You are my Master!
Every good thing I have comes from you.”
3The godly people in the land
are my true heroes!
I take pleasure in them!
4Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.
5LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.
6The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!
7I will bless the LORD who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
9No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.
10For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy oned to rot in the grave.
11You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 8:1-11 (all) NLT

All glory to God!
Praise the Lord! Amen.

Blessings of Hope & Joy,
Julia

©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries All rights reserved.
You may share the link to this page on your social media accounts as an encouragement of Hope & Joy to others.

Scripture quotations marked BSB are from The Berean Bible (www.Berean.Bible) Berean Study Bible (BSB) © 2016-2020 by Bible Hub and Berean.Bible. Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked ESV are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Freedom in Christ = Love & Service

I Am – Crowder

Read the image verse.

In this world freedom and being a servant are in opposition to each other. But like so many things, in the Kingdom of God this is a complete 180° shift from the ways of this world.

Look at Jesus. He is God. Yet He gave up the privileges of being God to come to earth in the form of a man, as a servant AND a sacrifice for our sins.

When the mother of Zebedee’s sons (James and John) came to Jesus asking Him to “Declare that in Your kingdom one of these two sons of mine may sit at Your right hand, and the other at Your left.” Jesus replied “You do not know what you are asking,” . “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” the brothers answered.
25But Jesus called them (the disciples) aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. 26It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:20-22, 25-28 BSB

To be followers (disciples) of Jesus we have to be imitators of Jesus. Jesus used those three years of ministry to teach His followers as much by how He lived as by His teachings. This is how the whole WWJD movement from a couple decades ago was launched, for us to be imitators of Jesus’ life. It became quite a phenomenon for a while, then, unfortunately, became somewhat of a cliche`. Another one I really liked that didn’t catch on as much was Jesus must increase I must decrease out of John 3:30. Unfortunately I don’t have a cross icon on my phone, so I’m using an anchor for this illustration: ⚓ > I <. I still have my bracelet somewhere. I think this one actually affected my thinking more than WWJD. After all as Paul wrote,
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved e and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20 NLT

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children, 2and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 BSB

I Must Decrease – Matt Papa

Some keys to living the disciple (disciplined) life:

  • A gentle answer to deflect anger. Proverbs 15:1 NLT
  • Love makes up for all offenses. Proverbs 10:12 NLT
  • Show deep love for each other, for. love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 NLT
  • Set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
  • Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (See also Philippians 4:8) Colossians 3:1-2 NLT
  • Since God chose you to be the holy
  • people he loves, you must clothe
  • yourselves with tenderhearted mercy,
  • Kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
  • Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (See also Matthew 6:14-15)
  • Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
  • Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.
  • Always be thankful.
  • Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
  • Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
  • Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
  • Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17 NLT
  • Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
  • Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.
  • Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:2, 5-6 NLT
  • We urge you, brothers, to

° admonish the unruly,
° encourage the fainthearted,
° help the weak,
° be patient with everyone.

  • Make sure that no one repays evil for evil.
  • Always pursue what is good for one another and for all people.
  • Rejoice at all times.
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 BSB
  • Don’t be selfish;
  • Don’t try to impress others.
  • Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
  • Don’t look out only for your own
  • interests, but take an interest in others, too.
  • You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
  • For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
  • Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you.
  • Live clean, innocent lives as children of God,
  • Shine like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
  • Hold firmly to the word of life; Philippians 2:3-8, 13-16a NLT

How many times did thankfulness come up in that list? It wasn’t where I was headed when I started making the list, but as I was reviewing the list it was quite evident God has a theme here. I was looking for how we can love each other, being servants, filled with grace, humility, forgiving, and live at peace with one another. There is so much of the opposite in our lives and culture right now!

Yet here it is in black and white clear as day, be thankful. Think about it for a moment. What would happen if we, individually and even more so collectively really began living a truly thankful life? An attitude of gratitude. How would that change our lives, our country, our world?

  • It would make us look at things more positively, instead of always looking for the negative point of view.
  • We would see many more smiles on the faces around us.
  • Feelings of contentment and satisfaction with what we have would go up.
  • We would appreciate the people in our lives more.
  • Most importantly we would acknowledge God as our source of salvation, provision, and help.
  • And maybe we would no longer be afraid to share our joy in Christ with others.

Oh happy day! That day won’t magically happen all at once for everyone, BUT GOD can make it happen for you, and you, and you, and me when we stop fighting Him, slow down and acknowledge Him every day.

“Stop your fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 CSB

Seek out the LORD and His strength; seek His face always.
1 Chronicles 16:11 BSB

Seek His face and not only His hand. Look for the good, the blessings, His presence in our everyday lives. Acknowledge it and bless Him for it. Let it fill us with His joy and peace. It is all about attitude. When mine is out of whack, I simply pray, “God, I need an attitude adjustment right now.” It may sound like a silly prayer, but if it is sincere, which if I’m praying it, it is and it’s desperate. And you know what? God shows up and answers it big time!

We just have to trust, believe, and obey. There are times in our interactions with others, especially those closest to us, ironically, that it is very hard to love and serve. Anger and frustration beg us to let loose on them. But if we stop for even a moment to consider how thankful we really are for that person, that anger and frustration can melt away.

True story here. You know how little things can just get under your skin after a while until you blow up? One day a couple years ago, I walked into the bathroom to a sink littered with whiskers. I was ready to fuss and fume when I heard Holy Spirit say, “One day you will miss those whiskers.” Talk about a jolt! I cleaned up the whiskers and I continue to do so, as well as toast crumbs or spilled coffee with a happy heart, because it means there is a hubby in the house. One who still works very hard to provide for us. It only takes a moment for me to wipe up a small mess, and it gives me a moment to thank God for my hubby with a grin on my face, rather than grumbling and fussing over such a small thing and making us both grumpy. But it is my choice each and every time. There are still times I am tempted to fuss at him, but I quickly remember Holy Spirit’s warning and move on. And if there are days I see just a couple stray whiskers, I know he made an effort to keep it clean and that makes me smile and be grateful too. Besides, I’m not exactly a neat freak. I have no room to complain. Like Jesus said,
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
Luke 6:42 ESV

Where the Spirit of the Lord Is – Life.Church Worship

So let us keep following Jesus with a humble, servant’s heart full of love and gratitude toward God and people. Just as Jesus said with the two greatest commandments:
37Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 BSB

Love (for God & People)
+ Service (to People for Jesus’ sake)
—————-
Freedom (in Christ)

Make this your In-Dependence Day! The day you realize your true freedom comes from complete dependence upon Jesus and the grace of God to sustain and strengthen you as you put all your faith and trust in Him to live your life in Him.

Blessings of Hope & Joy,
Julia

©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved.
Please share this to your social media accounts as an encouragement of Hope & Joy to others.

Scripture quotations marked BSB are from The Berean Bible (www.Berean.Bible) Berean Study Bible (BSB) © 2016-2020 by Bible Hub and Berean.Bible. Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked ESV are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Waiting on the Lord

Sunday Word & Worship

While I’m Waiting – John Waller

13Still I am certain to see
the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14Wait patiently for the LORD;
be strong and courageous.
Wait patiently for the LORD!
Psalm 27:13-14 BSB

20Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
21For our hearts rejoice in Him,since we trust in His holy name.
22May Your loving devotion rest on us, O LORD, as we put our hope in You.
Psalm 33:20-22 BSB

5I wait for the LORD; my soul does wait,
and in His word I put my hope.
6My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning—
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6 BSB

Lately the Lord keeps leading me to verses about waiting.
Taking COVID and quarantine out of the picture for a moment, has God had you in a waiting season? Before this pandemic started I thought I was beginning to see a waiting season coming to an end. Instead, it confirmed I am still in a season of waiting. Waiting seasons can take much longer than we anticipate or desire. They will last as long as the Lord deems necessary and/or for us to fully cooperate and surrender to what He is working to accomplish in and/or through us.

24Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psalm 31:24 ESV

What I find interesting in this verse, and some others as well, is some translate it “hope in the LORD!” I’d like to ponder this for a moment.
Waiting on the the Lord is not a passive thing. When we wait we ARE putting hope in God. Not hope as those of the world, who are merely making a wish for all to work out. But ours is a confident hope in the faithfulness, love, and goodness of Almighty God.
Going to the source bears this out. The Hebrew word translated above as wait is yachal (yaw-chal’), meaning to wait, await; by implication, to be patient, hope. So, waiting well requires faith and confident hope, which grows patience within us. This allows us to endure and persist through the waiting time and thrive, not just survive through it.

Many biblical figures had extended periods of waiting to prepare them for their ministries or purposes to be fulfilled, or for God’s perfect timing of events to take place.

If you read through Hebrews 11 it highlights the faithfulness of some significant saints in the Old Testament, many of whom never got to see the results of what they hoped for in their lifetime. Their faith, hope, and trust in God’s promises became their legacy to future generations, even us today.

As some of the passages above indicate, waiting does require us to be strong and courageous. And I know one of many verses that tells me how to find that, one of my life verses, “Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9 BSB. The LORD our God has promised to be with us wherever we go; how can we be afraid or discouraged? God has proven His unfailing love, protection and provision in various ways, even if it seems like He has failed us at times by allowing some harm to befall us. It happens for a greater purpose and makes us all the stronger for it. Even Jesus had to suffer very much to make possible our redemption. There was no other way. If harm is allowed to come to us, it must be the best or only way to produce the results that are needed somewhere. It was so hard when something horrible happened to one of my children. Yet, as bad as it was, I saw God’s hand of protection over that child that though very bad, it was not worse and is still here and serving God 30 years later. It became one of many precious testmonies to be shared to help others that had a long, painful waiting and healing period between. The fires of pain God uses to shape and purify us, if we don’t let bitterness take root and let God have His way in the waiting time. Pain is just one of many reasons for a waiting room.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted over the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 BSB

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
Psalm 37:7 NLT

Whatever the reason, it will require much “be still and know” time. Faith, trust and patience.

Know (Be Still) – Jeremy Riddle

16We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Hebrews 2:16-18 NLT

So, while we are waiting, even if there is sometimes suffering involved, we can know and be comforted by Jesus who endured so much Himself. He understands what we’re going through, because He’s been through it and He is able to help us through it also.

I Surrender – Hillsong

Walk by Faith – Jeremy Camp

Is there a particular testimony of a Biblical person (Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David…) or someone more current (Elizabeth Elliott, for example) that encourages you in your walk during times of waiting? Would you mind share who it is in the comments?

While I Wait – Lincoln Brewster

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NLT

“Let waiting be our work, as it is His. And, if His waiting is nothing but goodness and graciousness, let ours be nothing but a rejoicing in that goodness, and a confident expectancy of that grace. And, let every thought of waiting become to us the simple expression of unmingled and unutterable blessedness, because it brings us to a God who waits that He may make Himself known to us perfectly as the gracious One. My soul, wait thou only upon God!”
–Andrew Murray, Waiting on God

Blessings of Hope & Joy,
Julia

©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries
I pray you will share this to your timeline as an encouragement of Hope & Joy to others.

Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are taken from The Berean Bible (www.Berean.Bible) Berean Study Bible (BSB) © 2016-2020 by Bible Hub and Berean.Bible. Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked ESV are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Put On the Whole Armor of God


I felt an urgent need to write this tonight. We have been under quarantine for so long. I see so many on social media crying out in one way or another that appear to be under attack from our enemy, the devil, satan himself. It was one such post tonight that stirred my spirit and got Holy Spirit flowing within me.


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 we 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 armork so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT


Do you ever pray on the Armor of God? Before we do, we need to take each piece of God’s Armor and do what we need to do to prepare it before putting it on for battle. Real Armor is prepared by a blacksmith. The metal is hardened by heat and hammering. Here’s what we need to do to prepare our Armor:
1. Be strong in the Lord – Know who you are in Jesus. Read and know these and other verses that tell us who we are in Christ. I know that many, myself included, struggle or have struggled in the last with this. It is a favorite place of attack for our enemy. He wants to keep us down by reminding us who we once were before we were made new creations in Jesus. We must remind him, “we were cleaned and made new when we received Jesus’ saving grace. Our pasts are erased. And he hold no power over us, because we’re not going to believe his lies anymore!” We must hold onto the truth and live in the freedom Jesus died to give us (John 8:32, Galatians 5:1).
2. Stand firm against all strategies of the devil – the Word is clear about our enemy’s strategies. Learn about his tactics, then you will be able to prepare a strategy in how to fight against his wiles and lies such as:
   A. Memorize verses that apply specifically to the areas in which the enemy attacks you most. Apply those truths to his lies (see more on this under Sword of the Spirit.)

    B. Avoid people and places that cause us to stumble. For example, if hanging with certain friends will cause you to gamble to excess or drink to excess or whatever, make new friends (1 Corinthians 15:33).

    C. Worship, not just on Sundays. There is power to break strongholds when we worship Almighty God. In worship we acknowledge God’s sovereignty over our lives and praise all He is and has done for us. We need to make it a part of our daily routine.

    D. Pray continually. A quick prayer in the morning to satisfy our daily obligation is not going to keep us focused, fed, or free. We need to have quality time with our Father God every morning and then, keep the conversation going throughout the day. Then, close out our day with Him, to release our burdens and allow Him to minister to our needs. This is the only way to keep our spirits healthy and ready to recognize and fight the temptations and attacks of the enemy. Another of his favorites being weariness. When we are weary in body mind, &/or spirit we are more apt to give in to temptations. But we have a promise from God we can lean upon:

        a. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” 1 Corinthians 10:13.

        b. 28″Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Matthew 12:28-30.

        c. “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me” Psalm 3:5.

        d. “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” Psalm 4:8.



3. Resist the enemy – “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” James 4:7 NLT. We cannot resist the devil in our own power. We must humble ourselves before God and submit to His authority and in His power resist the devil and his schemes.To do that we need to keep our relationship with Jesus constant. Prayer is not just a life preserver for when we are drowning, it is like Jesus’ description of the Vine and branches in John 15. We as branches cannot survive or bear fruit unless we are continually connected to the Vine for water and nourishment. When we are a “healthy plant” we are better able to resist the attacks of the enemy.
    A. “We 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.” They really do exist and we cannot fight spiritual forces without a greater spiritual force, the Holy Spirit. In John 4:24 (ESV) Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” To put on the Armor, we must have the Armor made strong and prepared.  So that after the battle we will still be standing firm.


4. Stand your ground – don’t flinch, don’t waiver, and do no be afraid. It’s said there are 365 do not fear verses in the Bible. I haven’t found them all yet, but I have found nearly 200. Fear is the opposite of faith. We may have a gut reaction to an event of fear, such as a fire, that’s normal and life preserving, so long as we don’t let it paralyze is. Our faith should kick in and override the fear, assuring us that God has our back no matter what the situation may seem.

Put on the Armor of God:
5. Belt of Truth – the truth of God’s Word holds the body armor in place. Truth is important in holding us together. We started the talk about truth in bullets 1 and 2.  3″We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT. As you’re about to see these are all connected in usage. We take thoughts captive by saying no to the lies satan is trying to plant and replace them with a truth from God’s Word. When I first started teaching the devil would say to me, “Who are you to teach and tell people how to live. Look at what you did (in my past).” I had to stop those thoughts in their tracks and start quoting verses to remind me I am redeemed, a child of God, loved, gifted to teach by Holy Spirit (believe me it wasn’t my idea 😉), and so on. Find the truths you need. See also bullet #10.
6. Body Armor (Breastplate) of Righteousness – we have no righteousness of our own. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Corinthians 5:21. Because of Jesus we have a righteousness we can live in that protects our heart from evil. That’s why all the preparation of pur armor discussed in #1-3 are so important.
7. Shoes of Peace (of the Gospel of peace) – it is only in relationship with Jesus that we can truly have peace. The shoes are the Gospel of Peace, because of the great commission. “19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in 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 28:19-20. We are to GO take the Gospel to the world (or at least our corner of it) and bring the peace of mind and heart that surpasses understanding to them (John 14:27, Philippians 4:7). And it is that same peace that will keep us standing firm in the heat of battle knowing God fights with and for us. “The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” Exodus 14:14 NLT.
8. Helmet of Salvation – protects the head, the mind. The brain controls the rest of the body. Every thought, word, and action begins in the mind. Attacks most often begin there. We need to be confident in our salvation. If we are not confident in our salvation we either are not saved or we are listening to too many lies. If you truly are saved you will not continue to live in “lifestyle” sins. This is ways of living that directly contradict the Word of God. Most likely your conscience (Holy Spirit) and other believers may be warning you about this. If you seek the Lord and your conscience is clear, it is probably lies of the enemy planting doubt in your mind. Do the capture and replacement with the truth we discussed in #4 and seek the Lord for wisdom and assurance of your salvation.   “21But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus” Romans 3:21-26 NLT. This is of utmost importance for your eternity. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s arrogant to think we can know for certain if we are saved (as I was as a child). We are blessed that our salvation is NOT based on our works, but on God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8). Hold fast to Jesus and the sure foundation of your salvation.
9. Shield of Faith – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1. Our faith is a shield against accusations, doubts, fears, the unknown, and more, because though we may not know or understand what is going on we can trust that God knows and He will be with us through whatever it all. There is often waiting involved. I wrote something the other day on my Facebook page about waiting. https://www.facebook.com/946246502168100/posts/2860047990787932/ In it I went to a passage familiar to many in Isaiah 40. I’m going to use the NLT here for a fresh look: “27O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles?

O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

28Have you never heard?

Have you never understood?

The LORD is the everlasting God,

the Creator of all the earth.

He never grows weak or weary.

No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

29He gives power to the weak

and strength to the powerless.

30Even youths will become weak and tired,

and young men will fall in exhaustion.

31But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.” You can go read the post for more details on what I wrote, but as you read this it’s obvious that the Lord is saying that He does not ignore our troubles. Then He goes on to say that as we wait on Him (His will, ways, and timing), He provides the power and strength we need to go through in whatever way is needed (fly, run, walk), perhaps they are different seasons,  or perhaps it’s whatever way we choose to go through? No matter which it is, God has promised to be there with the power and strength we need as we wait on Him. We need to trust that, have faith that all His promises are true for us. Occasionally I still struggle with my Identity in Christ (#1), mostly when I am praying for something big for myself. I can pray for healing and all kinds of things for others with all kinds of faith, but when praying for myself I sometimes doubt God will do it for me. I have to remind myself whose I am and bind those pies of the enemy. We need to keep our faith strong in the Lord. “5Trust in the LORD with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

6Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you which path to take.

7Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.

Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

8Then you will have healing for your body

and strength for your bones” Proverbs 3:5-8 NLT. 
10. Sword of the Spirit – is the Word of God. We already began talking about this under “stand firm.” Read Matthew 4:1-11 to see how Jesus used the Word as the Sword of the Spirit to fight the temptations of the devil in the wilderness. There is a reason John writes, “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world” (1 John 4:1 NLT). If we do not know the Word well we can be easily deceived. The devil knows the Word and manipulates it to try to deceive us as he tried even with Jesus. The devil is quite arrogant, isn’t he? To try to deceive the Word Himself by twisting the Word of God (John 1:1-3). Read the Word every day in small bites, so you really get to know it. Use a concordance or online Bible such as Biblehub.com (my favorite) to do a word study for verses that will focus on your particular area(s) of attack. For example, we could look up fear and then can choose several verses that speak to us best for our personal swords against the personalized lies the enemy uses against us. Write them down. Read them often. Memorize them one at a time. Post them on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, car visor, at work, anywhere we will see them often, especially if that place is a hot spot for temptation. We can make artwork of them, too, to decorate home or office.  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” Hebrews 4:12. Someone turned the word Bible into an acronym of Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. We can find help for anything in there with wisdom from Holy Spirit to guide us. Use that sword to divide truth and lie.
11. Prayer – it’s not a piece of the Armor, but it holds everything together. Prayer, along with the Bible, is our lifeline to God. Here Paul is pointing out that we need to be praying for all believers. We are blessed in the USA that we have such freedom to practice our faith. In most countries in the world that is not so. Many risk jobs, privileges, friendships, loss of their children to the state, prision, torture, even their very lives for keeping and expressing their faith in Jesus. We must pray for them and their persecutors (Matthew 5:44-45, Luke 6:27-28). We must pray about everything with thanksgiving and a joyful attitude (Philippians 4:4-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). It doesn’t say in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we give thanks FOR all circumstances, but to give thanks IN them. Big difference. If you continue into the next verse of the Philippians passage it tells us what to think about: “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” Philippians 4:8 NLT. Again a lot has to do with what we think about and our attitude. It will be reflected in our words, our actions, and our prayers. Like this: “2You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure” James 4:2-3 NLT. If we have wrong attitudes and motives in prayer they can keep them from being answered. So we will keep our thoughts fixed on the true, honorable, true, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things, the excellent and praiseworthy things.


Well there you are all dressed in the Armor of God. Does it feel comfortable and secure? Are your feet firmly planted? Did you notice that all the Armor goes on the front of the body so we can look our enemy square in the eye and never turn our back to him? No fear, no running away, no way but God’s way. Be strong, resist the enemy, and stand firm.


Blessings of Hope and Joy,

Julia


©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share the link to this website on your social media accounts. All other copying of this material is protected whether in print, electronic, or otherwise stored or distributed.



All Scripture references are from the ESV unless otherwise stated. ESV Text Edition® (2016). The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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.

LET THEM SEE JESUS

If you know anything about me, you know that it’s very important to me that people see Jesus in me and that I leave a legacy of faith behind me. I want to see lives changed and people saved. I will not see that happen from start to finish with most people.

We need to make the most of interactions we have, because we may not get another chance with some people. The quality of the seeds we plant will greatly affect the ability of the next person to water them, and tend them to help them grow (disciple them). If we don’t watch ourselves, our watering or tending might also poison good seeds planted by someone else.

To maintain our good seed and keep our lamps bright, we need to abide in the Vine of Christ by keeping in touch continually[1] and keep our lamps continually fueled with the Word of God[2].

Don’t let fear keep you from reaching others for Christ! If you’ve read my book you know that I believe the simplest and most natural way to reach others for Christ is just by talking to them. No preaching involved. No heavy-handed tactics. Just speak naturally about what the Lord has done in your own life. Let that light shine through you. It is our testimonies that can speak the loudest. Especially when they line up with what they can see in how we live. Our words and our walk must match[3].

In these days of lock down and stay at home orders people are on edge. We cannot visit with each other or even meet in person to worship. But even so, we are united in our love for Christ, in the Holy Spirit’s power, and through the blessing of the internet through Zoom, Facebook and other apps. Do not grow tired of doing good even in this season[4]. Keep praying for one another, for the unbelievers, and keep encouraging each other with texts, phone calls, and uplifting social media posts (especially Scripture and related things).

Play this song. Listen to it sing it, pray it. When he sings, “let them feel You when I sing,” insert your job, your hobbies, any things you do to interact with people.

Let Them See You – Colton Dixon

https://youtu.be/C8Be1on3JHk

PRAYER based upon Colossians 1:3-14:

We pray for everyone here and we give thanks to You God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. For our faith is in Christ Jesus and our love for all of God’s people, which comes from our confident hope of what God has reserved for us in heaven. We have had this expectation ever since we first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to us is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed our lives from the day we first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. Lord, continue the good work through those who so willingly go out to the corners of the world to share the Good News.

May we continually pray for those in our lives and those you will bring into our lives who are yet unsaved. Prepare us to share the Good News with them through our own testimony of how You have saved us, and work in and through us.  We ask You, God, to give us complete knowledge of Your will and to give us spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way we live will always honor and please the Lord, and our lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, we will grow as we learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that we will be strengthened with all his glorious power so we will have all the endurance and patience we need. May we be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled us to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

All glory to God with thanks and praises, amen.

With blessings of Hope & Joy,

Julia

©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share the link to this website on your social media accounts. All other copying of this material is protected whether in print, electronic, or otherwise stored or distributed elsewhere.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] John 15:1-5, Romans 12:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:17

[2] Psalm 119:105; Matthew 4:4, 5:16; Ephesians 6:17

[3] Galatians 6:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:13-22, 2 John 1:6

[4] Galatians 6:9

Jesus’ Presence: Waiting on the Lord

A friend sent me this photo of her devotional for today and it started me on a Word study of waiting on the Lord.It is so appropriate during this time of quarantine due COVID-19 that we take more time to be in the Word, remind ourselves what it means to wait on the Lord, and the benefits of waiting.

Generally speaking, we don’t like waiting. We live in our hi-tech, can’t-stand-to-wait-a-minute-for-the-microwave society. I don’t presume to know God’s reasons for allowing this virus to happen, but it is an opportunity for us, as believers, to be about our Father’s business in ways many don’t normally have the time to do. Spending more time in our Father’s presence and in His Word alone, as a couple, and as a family. Time to perhaps re-evaluate some life choices, schedules, and make some new habits. Time to read those books we’ve been too busy to read, complete those projects (crafts, home improvement, etc.), play games, and enjoy each other. Reach out to others via text, video chats, or even snail mail.

I will admit I have been a bit of a lump this last week myself. I have been getting some writing done, but not much else and otherwise I’ve been a bit blah. Not totally depressed, just eh. I awoke today with a good attitude. Yay God! Needing a good (social distancing) prayer walk today. Maybe a little spring cleaning, too. And getting started on my Easter “He is Risen” porch sign.

Waiting. Sometimes I feel like I have spent my whole life waiting for something. I guess in a sense we all are; we’re anticipating Jesus’ return. I think it’s a longing implanted in our hearts by Holy Spirit. But maybe there’s more to the waiting I’m feeling. Waiting on God’s timing in His calling and purpose for my life. I often try to run ahead of Him. Sometimes waiting out of doubt or fear when He has shown me what He does want me to do. Either way I could benefit from more waiting on the the Lord (lingering in His presence) in prayer and in the Word. It’s too easy to rush through our time with the Lord. But the waiting time, the lingering time, is the best and most beneficial time of all! I think that’s why it is the hardest to learn. It requires us to be still and quiet. Something very hard for us to do. I am better at it than I used to be. I used to need to have the TV on all day for the “company.” Now I can enjoy the quiet and often grumble when the silence is broken. The silence gives me opportunity to converse with God throughout my day and to hear Him speaking back to me.

25The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. 26It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:25-26

Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD!
Psalm 27:14

I wait for the LORD; my soul does wait, and in His word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:5

Waiting on the Lord is good. Why? Because His Word is true. He is trustworthy. He gives us hope, strength, and courage to face the waiting in our circumstances. We must learn patience in the waiting. Like it or not, patience is a fruit of the Spirit we must grow (Galatians 5:22-23).

28Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He never grows faint or weary; His understanding is beyond searching out. 29He gives power to the faint and increases the strength of the weak. 30Even youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall. 31But those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

This is one of my favorite passages! So much richness in just a few verses.

  • The Lord is everlasting God
  • Our Creator
  • He NEVER grows weary or faint
  • His knowledge is beyond our comprehension
  • He gives His power and strength to the faint and weak
  • To those who wait upon Him he gives the ability to soar above their circumstances
  • To run the race, to walk the life of a disciple

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray at all times and not lose heart:
Luke 18:1

Impatience can cause us to stop praying if we don’t get the answers to our prayers in our time frame. Jesus tells us to keep praying and never give up. I know God has His own timing, but if it involves other people, it can take as long as it takes for them to cooperate with Holy Spirit. We all have free will. God can use people and circumstances to try to turn someone around, but they have a choice, just like we do. When we’re praying regarding relationships with other people, we need to make sure we’re praying for oursleves and our own attitudes as well. Sometimes the waiting is because we are the hold up. We are the ones needing an attitude adjustment.

7Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18

9Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to the family of faith.
Galatians 6:9-10

so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.
Hebrews 9:28

1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is dismantled, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4So while we are in this tent, we groan under our burdens, because we do not wish to be unclothed but clothed, so that our mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5And God has prepared us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a pledge of what is to come.

6Therefore we are always confident, although we know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord. 7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we aspire to please Him, whether we are here in this body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Another thing about waiting that is implanted in our DNA as God’s children is eternity. Whether it’s at Jesus’ return or when we die, we look forward to eternity in His presence! We don’t want to be so in love with this life that it overshadows that anticipation. It is that longing that should spur our desire to spread the Gospel to see people saved and lives changed forever! So though we wait with anticipation, we don’t mind waiting, even if it means suffering at times, because we know it means we have more opportunities to see souls saved.

Blessings of Hope and Joy,
Julia

©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share the link to this website on your social media accounts. All other copying of this material is protected whether in print, electronic, or otherwise stored or distributed.

All Scripture references are from The Berean Bible (www.Berean.Bible) Berean Study Bible (BSB) © 2016-2020 by Bible Hub and Berean.Bible. Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.

Jesus’s Presence: Joy in Letting Him Have Control

I found this in my Facebook memories, I wrote this 3 years ago today. It is very timely for our present circumstances.Word, Worship, and Prayer

4What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple. 5You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. 6You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. 7You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. 8Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. Psalm 65:4-8 NLT

Our God is a great God! When we get into hard places we sometimes forget that. This Psalm is full of praises and assurances of God’s goodness and provision for His people. When the hard times come this Psalm reminds us of the power of God that has no limits. Turn to the Lord and place Your trust completely in His strength and not your own. It is not about us or the strength we can muster to overcome our troubles. It is about Jesus and what He has already accomplished on our behalf and He continues to work in us and through us. When we are weary and weak, His strength is still more than enough to carry us, shelter us, and make a way through the barren wastelands and streams of water to refresh and revive us. What JOY there is to be found just by being in His presence and care. Let go of control and let His peace and joy flow through You. When you get to the end of yourself it’s not the end, it’s the point God has been waiting for, so He can work. We are not meant to do any part of this life alone or in our own power. Let go and let Jesus have His way in Your life. He paid a very high price to do it.

Thy Lovingkindness – Maranatha Singers
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vdjV6Tt7oyMGreat Is Thy Faithfulness – Chris Rice https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0k1WhFtVp0oHeavenly Father, as we go into our weekend, some of us will be relaxing, playing, and enjoying our families, while others struggle with life-threatening illnesses, marital or family crises, addictions…the list could go on and on. We lift up the needs of each person here. You know the needs and You have the answers ready. Help each one to put their worries into Your hands, Your complete control. We trust You with the outcomes, laying down our fears, anxiety, and worries, and receiving Your peace and abundant joy!
Guide all your children in the path You have prepared for each of us. Help us to encourage and love each other and shine the light of Your love into the darkness around us.
We bring before Your throne all those we dearly love who are unsaved, especially ________. Drawn them to Jesus. Unveil their eyes to see and open their ears to hear and receive the truth confessing Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Lord continue to be with the everyone worldwide affected and threatened by the COVID-19 virus. Let Your hope prevail and use this to draw people unto Jesus.
Thank You for Your blessings that overflow to us! We give You all the glory, thanks and praises for the answers to our prayers! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Blessings of Hope and Joy,
Julia

©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share the link to this website on your social media accounts. All other copying of this material is protected whether in print, electronic, or otherwise stored or distributed elsewhere.

Jesus’ Presence: Stay Rooted, Drink Deeply

God Will Make a Way – Don Moen https://youtu.be/1zo3fJYtS-o

(Read aloud, with Thanksgiving)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

3Without speech or language, without a sound to be heard,
4their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun

5like a bridegroom emerging from his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6It rises at one end of the heavens and runs its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
7The Law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple.
8The precepts of the LORD are right,
bringing joy to the heart; the commandments of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
9The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true, being altogether righteous.
10They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
11By them indeed Your servant is warned; in keeping them is great reward.
12Who can discern his own errors?
Cleanse me from my hidden faults.
13Keep Your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless and cleansed of great transgression.
14May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19 BSB

The Lord is great and worthy of all our praises! In these uncertain times, it may be hard to find the words to praise and give thanks. But in these times we must remember to abide and cling to the Vine of Christ (John 15:1-5); to let the Word of God transform our thoughts, Jesus’ peace rule in our hearts, and to be thankful (Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:15). In 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 we’re instructed to, “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Do you see a theme here? It’s about keeping our focus upward on the Lord. As we pray, worship, read, study, meditate upon, and memorize the Word, keep His peace in our hearts, and  keep a gratitude attitude, our roots grow deeper, so when storms blow and droughts come we can withstand the elements without shriveling or withering away.

16Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the surging waters, 17who brings out the chariots and horses, the armies and warriors together, to lie down, never to rise again; to be extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:

18“Do not call to mind the former things; pay no attention to the things of old. 19Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

20The beasts of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people. 21The people I formed for Myself will declare My praise.”

Isaiah 43:16-21 BSB

1Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

We are never alone in our walk, in our fight, in our fears and doubts. God knows we will have those fears, they are a natural human response to circumstances. A response He programmed into our DNA. However, He wants us to know we can live and thrive beyond fear and doubts in and through Him by abiding, sending down strong, deep roots, and drinking deep of the Living Water, Jesus, He alone provides through His Word, His Spirit (presence), and His people (fellowship in community/the Church).

We cannot stay rooted, abiding in the Vine,  being well-watered alone. The Word says to not neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). That is a challenge in our current quarantine mode, but through social media we can stay connected to each other. The important thing is to remember is that even in this time, we live in an age that has many ways to connect without being face-to-face. Nothing can replace human touch, but while we have to refrain, we do have options. Many “churches” worshipped today via live streaming. I found ours almost as good as in person. The message was definitely on fire! There are apps for video meetings that can be used for Bible studies, and so on. We can make phone calls, Skype or FaceTime, and text to check on friends and family. There’s even good old snail mail. A note or card can really brighten someone’s day.

6Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in Him, 7rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7 BSB

Walk in Jesus. Let Him build us up by His Spirit, with His Word. Sending down our roots to drink in His presence, the Water of Life, to refresh and sustain us as we encounter struggles and troubles in our lives. And because our Great God uses and coordinates all things for the good of those who love Him, includong our pain, we can trust Him with the outcome even in the darkest of circumstances (Romans 8:28). We need to keep trusting Him even when we cannnot see where He is leading us. He is faithful. He has instructed us in how to be equipped with His courage and strength, and dressed for the battle that rages around and within us (Joshua 1:6-9, 1 Corinthians,2 Corinthians 12:7-10,  Ephesians 6:10-18).


Even If – Mercy Me

https://youtu.be/B6fA35Ved-Y

16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Daniel 3:16-18 NLT

I have always been encouraged by the faith of these three young men. They were steadfast in their faith even to the point of death. They did not complain against God for their circumstances or blame Him for them. They believed God could save them and would save them. Yet if for some reason He chose not to save them, they were resolved that their faith would not waiver.

25For I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,

Job 18:25-26 ESV

This faith declaration is from our “good friend” Job. Jesus was centuries from being born, yet Job proclaimed the glories of His Redeemer and his hope even while in the darkest place a person could ever be found: having had all his children killed, every possession taken away, and even his health attacked. Nothing remained for him, except a bitter, nagging wife and 3 accusing “friends.”

We can have this same faith and hope as Job and the 3 young Hebrew men  no matter our circumstances. By not giving up, staying in the Word, stay connected to the Lord and other believers, sending down those deep roots and drinking deeply of the Living Water that is Jesus, our source of life, peace, courage, and strength in all things.

PRAYER:
Father God, in Jesus’ name we thank and praise You for who You are and for the numerous blessing You have poured out upon us. We especially thank You today for [insert your specific blessings here], social media communities, all of our tireless emergency, medical, grocery, truckers, and other workers who continue to work and keep provisions and services going for us. For researchers working to develop a vaccine and cure for the COVID-19 virus, President Trump, our governors and other leaders here in the U.S. and around the world as they guide us through this crisis. Lord guide them and give them all the wisdom they need to do their jobs well, safely, and in good health. Lord, we pray that we have reached the top of this curve and that it will flatten out and go down dramatically and quickly in Jesus’ name.

We pray that by Jesus’ wounds those who are sick with the virus and other ailments and injuries [insert specific names here] are healed.

We know you don’t waste our pain and suffering. Use this pandemic as a time of revival and harvest. Awaken the lost to the truth of the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit and draw them to Jesus. Renew and revive the church, your body, your people through this to be stronger and more on fire for spreading the Gospel and seeing lives changed and people saved!

We give You all the glory and praises! Amen.

BLESSING:

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Ephesians 3:14-20 ESV

24Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jude 1:24-25 ESV

Blessings of Hope and Joy,

Julia

©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share the link to this website on your social media accounts. All other copying of this material is protected whether in print, electronic, or otherwise stored or distributed elsewhere

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Jesus’ Presence: I Don’t Have to Imagine it All

1 Corinthians 13:11-13 ESV

When I was reading a devotional on the verses above, it asked me to reflect on what it would be like to be face to face with Jesus, how I would feel, what I would say, and what impact that has on my view of today’s challenges and priorities.

As I thought about it I first thought about what it feels like to be in His presence now. Sometimes it just feels comfortable, like being snuggled in my favorite blanket with a hot chocolate.

At times God’s presence is an enveloping sense of peace. To experience that peace, we need to be well connected to the Vine (John 15). We need to trust Him with all our hearts, so we can let go of worry, fear, and doubt. We cannot know true peace until we have this intimacy with our Almighty God. It’s been a long, hard road learning to trust the Lord this deeply and completely. There have been times He has had to take me to a place where I had no recourse except to trust Him and Him alone. Everything I tried to do in my own power just made things worse. I surrendered it all, fell on my knees, and just kept praying – leaving it all to the Lord’s wisdom, work, and timing. It is only in the hardest of circumstances that we grow and prove our faith and trust in the Lord, developing this strong intimacy with God. I highly recommend the book, Intimacy with the Almighty by Charles Swindoll for a more in-depth look at what it is to have intimacy with God.

On a few occasions in God’s “presence” I have experienced an overwhelming joy that could not be contained! I just had to beam with smiles and laughter! It is rather hard to explain the way this joy feels. It’s so pure, so complete! I just felt utterly overcome by the presence of the Lord. The first time was during worship at a retreat. I went down on my knees to pray and this joy filled me and I just began laughing. The next time was after I’d been prayed for and I was “slain in the Spirit.” I laid on the floor with the power of God surging through my body and a total sense of joy and peace filled me. The third time was immediately after coming up out of the water when I was finally baptized as an adult. I felt a joy and strength that time that was beyond description.

In some times of extreme depression or of earnestly seeking God, He has manifested Himself to me in many different ways:

– the feeling of an arm around my shoulders

– the presence of a white dove outside my home every day for a few weeks

– visions

– a timely word from a fellow believer, inspiring me to read a particular Scripture or devotional

at one particularly low point in my life He even used a television show I was watching to speak a word to me when one character said to another, “Stop the pity party!” He does have a way of getting my attention.

Sometimes depression makes it difficult to seek the Lord. I remember the first visit to my neurologist. I felt God’s presence in his office. What a relief after all the years of highs and lows. I had been able to fairly manage my bouts of depression until we moved away from all our family and friends in 2010. It then became so severe it was affecting my physical health. After much testing, the results sent me to this neurologist. He was able to attribute most of my symptoms to a diagnosis of depression and anxiety disorder. The medication has been a God send for helping with that for me. Still, there are times when the only prayer I can get out at first is, “Help me, Jesus!” But that is enough to grease the wheels of prayer, so to speak, and let me focus on Him again. I cannot begin to imagine how someone with depression manages if they do not know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

It is only because of Him that I am alive today. I was in such a deep state of post-partum depression after my first child in 1977 that I was contemplating suicide. I heard God (in my thoughts) tell me “No, you can’t do that, and you can’t do that to her.” He made it so that tiny baby who was too young to roll over or crawl moved from up against the wall on the other side of my twin bed all the way over to where I was on the other edge, facing away from her, and had her put her tiny little arm around me in a hug. God did a miracle that day with her and in me and took away the post-partum depression. My whole outlook on our future changed.

God shows up in so many ways, most of the time way more subtle. I see Him in nature all the time. I love to watch squirrels, they crack me up! Great for a quick laugh and that helps elevate my mood. Same with all the geese we have around here. They are hilarious! They will walk across the street in their own sweet time. They are not bothered by cars waiting or honking at them at all. The amazing appeatance of flowers like these that resemble egrets, ducks, doves, and monkey faces. How could something like this happen by “accident?”

Egret/dove orchid.
Flying duck orchid.
Dove or Holy Spirit orchid.
Monkey face orchid

Sometimes He speaks to me in the shape of a cloud. Recently I saw one in the shape of a strong arm when I needed a reminder of His strength.

The one in the center with exaggerated bulging bicep.

If you’re in need of a sense of God’s presence or comfort just open your eyes and look around. He is wherever you look. Look around with expectation; seek Him everywhere you are, especially in the Word. Ask Him to show you wisdom and insight as You read His Word. Ask Him to show You the answers you need.

You don’t need to wait for a quiet place to pray, although we do need those daily quiet times with the Lord. Prayer does not need to be a formal thing. Talk to Him like you would to me, in your thoughts or better yet, if possible, in an outloud conversation. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation. Some people call them “popcorn” prayers. Something you shoot up quickly. Most of my confessions are like that. I don’t wait until the end of the day to confess my sins. Right when they happen, when I am aware I’m doing something wrong, I confess and repent right then and move on. Tell Him about your day, your needs, your desires, your problems, your joys, thank Him in everything. He wants to be involved in every part of our lives. Remember, Jesus calls us His friends (John 15:12-15). Remember, too, to take time to listen to Him speaking to You. In addition to speaking theough the Word or through a trusted, mature, believing friend, Holy Spirit will speak to you in your thoughts. Jesus said,

14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:14 & 27 ESV

Most of the time, I just know He is there with me constantly like I am wearing Him as a robe and have Him as an implant at the same time. If there is an occasion when it feels as though God has departed from me, it isn’t because He has left, rather because I am not actively seeking Him. I have allowed depression, busyness of life, worry, sin, unforgiveness, or other things to block my vision of Him right there with me.

As I mentioned earlier, all we need to do is call out to Him and we will know He is there. He is always waiting to hear from us. But he also pursues us. The greatest example of His pursuit is Jesus Himself and what He did for us:

16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20 ESV

Before I give my final answer to the questions posed in the devotional I read today, take a moment and consider how would you answer the questions?

If you were face to face with Jesus, how would you feel? What would you say? What impact would that have on your view of today’s challenges and priorities.

I believe being face to face with Jesus will be closest to the overwhelming joy I described above, yet that is just a handshake compare to the all encompassing awe and joy we will continually experience in His presence for all eternity.

“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

When my mom died in 2017 God gave me a vision of her dancing and laughing with Jesus in a field of blue flowers (her favorite color). She loved to sing in the church choir! She had been unable to sing for about twenty years due to congestive heart failure. He said to me, “Now she can sing.” I believe when we are face to face with Jesus we will be so filled with joy, awe, and wonder, that we will be dancing, singing, laughing, and falling down in worship in gratitude! But we don’t have to wait for heaven to do that. His presence is with us now. His kingdom is with us now. It may not feel like it when we focus too much on the troubles in this world, but Jesus said:

20Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:20-21 ESV

The Kingdom of God is with us now when we have Jesus as our Savior and Lord. He sends His Holy Spirit to live in each of us as a deposit of the future inheritance as well as being our source of all His power and presence here and now (Ephesians 1:13-14, John 14:23-27). Let’s live like the kingdom is here now (in joy, with His peace), while keeping our eyes also on the future inheritance, so we can keep in mind the urgency of our work to reap a harvest of souls and bearing good fruit that will last through the fire that reveals and tests our work (John 4:35-38, 15:16; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Stay tuned to the voice of Holy Spirit and obey Him when He calls. Then you will know the power, guidance, and joy Jesus promised (John 16:13-15, 23-24; Acts 1:8). Let’s leave a legacy of faith and salvation in Christ to the generations behind us, so they too may know the joy of the Lord’s presence now and in the world to come.

Blessings of Hope and Joy,

Julia

©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share the link to this website on your social media accounts. All other copying of this material is protected whether in print, electronic, or otherwise stored or distributed elsewhere.

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