God is Greater than Our Fears

English Standard Version (ESV)

There have been times in my past that I let fear hurt me and others in my life. I never want to let fear control me like that again! In Jesus I have found freedom from fear! Faith is the direct opposite of fear. We cannot have both.

As you may have read in other posts, I do have a diagnosis of depression and anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a type of fear. The medical definition of anxiety is:

A mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. Examples of anxiety disorders include panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

At it’s worst, the depression and anxiety did interfere with my daily life and with my physical health as well. This kind of anxiety is more than a spiritual problem. God could have healed me. I prayed for it, but I believe He chose to send me to my neurologist for a few reasons:

1- for me to learn that not everyone who is depressed or anxious is not that way because they’re not trusting God enough.

2- for me to experience God’s grace and strength in my weakness like Paul spoke about in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV), “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

3- for me to share my testimony of how God has worked in my life through medicine and that is okay for Christians to seek medical help for depression and anxiety. There is a terrible stigma among Christians that we should not need medicine for mental disorders. There are times we do and we should not be made to feel shame or less than when we do. Sometimes a chemical imbalance in the brain causes our need for medical help to overcome. God has His reasons for outright healing sometimes and other times using medical intervention. If we need help from a doctor we should seek it without fear.

4- to keep me humble and dependent upon Him. Even with the medication I can easily slip into depression or anxiety. It’s no where near the depths it was before being medicated. But I must stay close to the Lord to stay above the wind and waves in those storms.

Find someone with whom you can talk things out. When my doctor suggested it was time for me to see a psychiatrist I knew even with insurance I wouldn’t be able to afford that. So, I will sit down across from an empty chair and speak to Jesus like He is my psychiatrist. Holy Spirit will remind me of things that need to be resolved. One time He showed me I had unforgiveness I was holding onto, which I thought I had forgiven. We “talked” it out. He helprd me forgive abd let go. I felt a geeat weight lift off of me.

We need to check ourselves and ask the Lord to check our hearts, too.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Sometimes we push things down inside instead of letting go and forgiving. We may have moved it from our waking thoughts, but subconsciously it’s still eating away at us. It’s amazing what things Holy Spirit will bring to mind if we tune into His voice and listen.

I love how God orchestrates things in our lives. Some would call them coincidences, chance, or luck. I call them “Godincidences” or divine appointments, and blessings. He knows exactly what He is doing and how to arrange all the details for things, people, and circumstances to happen at just the right times and places. Only He can work those kinds of logistics! It was through the physical manifeststions from the depression and anxiety that I went to my regular doctor. She sent me for various medical tests. One of which showed something that sent me to the neurologist. After giving him the run down on what brought me there, he attributed almost all the symptims I haf to depression abd anxiety disorder. And the one thing that was seen on the scan by the radiologist that sent me to him, he said was nothing to worry about. But it got me to him. And I felt God’s presence there. I felt relief knowing whay was going on and that a doctor was taking time to talk to me and find a solution for me. [Other doctors in the past had assumed anxiety and thrown prescriptions at me, but never took time to pursue the right course of treatment or send me to a specialist. I had also fought taking pills, because of the Christian stigma discussed above.] But God, (those 2 awesome words) worked out the logistics to get me to a caring specialist just when I needed it most! Never let fear keep you from seeking the help you need like I did for far too long.

See how God worked out some awesome logistics for Zach Williams in this video testimony (below). I also just had to share a few of his songs. What he’s been through in his life and the truth and fire in His songs speak deeply to my soul and go especially well with today’s topic of fear.

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.

Passionately Seeking the Lord

I found this R.C. Ryle quote (below), and it really touched me. I’m sure it will touch you as it did me, and I have a lot more to say after you read it.

“If you desire salvation, and want to know what to do, I advise you to go this very day to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the first private place you can find, and earnestly and heartily entreat him in prayer to save your soul. Tell him that you have heard that he receives sinners, and he has said, “Him that comes unto me I will in nowise cast out.” Tell him that you are a poor vile sinner, and that you come to him on the faith of his own invitation. Tell him you put yourself wholly and entirely in his hands: that you feel vile and helpless, and hopeless in yourself: and that except he saves you, you have no hope of being saved at all. Beseech him to deliver you from guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin. Beseech him to pardon you, and wash you in his own blood. Beseech him to give you a new heart, and plant the Holy Spirit in your soul. Beseech him to give you grace and faith and will and power to be his disciple and servant from this day forever. Oh, reader, go this very day, and tell these things to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you are really in earnest about your soul.
— J.C. Ryle, evangelical Anglican clergyman and first Bishop of Liverpool, (1826-1900), A Call To Prayer (first published 1840).

Since beseech is a word that is not commonly used today, I want to define it. I always think of it as begging, and beg is listed as a synonym, BUT, the definition itself gives a much deeper and more accurate meaning to the word:
“ask (someone) urgently and fervently to do something; implore; entreat.”

I appreciate the word fervently in the definition, as there has been much emphasis of late on fervent prayer. A fervent prayer is one that is passionate, truly heartfelt.

When one is ready to seek Jesus for salvation there is a passionate urgency in the heart to seek His forgiveness, know Him, and know you are known and loved by Him. So, I will reprint that portion of the quote, starting with the first beseech, replacing beseech with “passionately seek.”

“Passionately seek” him to deliver you from guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin. “Passionately seek” him to pardon you, and wash you in his own blood. “Passionately seek” him to give you a new heart, and plant the Holy Spirit in your soul. “Passionately seek” him to give you grace and faith and will and power to be his disciple and servant from this day forever. Oh, reader, go this very day, and tell these things to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you are really in earnest about your soul.

That passionate urgency should remain within us after salvation, like a fire in our souls, to want to continue learning from Jesus and about Him. Just reading the words of this quote stirs my soul because we need to continue to “passionately seek” the Lord every day, to abide in Him (John 15), and let His grace and power enable us to walk by faith as His servant disciples forever. I am often reminded of Jeremiah:

“But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!”
Jeremiah 20:9 NLT

I, too, find it hard not to talk about Jesus or the Word of God. Sometimes even in prayer I wind up preaching to myself. God wants us to share our testimony, His Word, and Jesus with others. There are so many ways to do that. Plain ol’ conversation is the most natural way for that to happen. We want others to see the passion in us, the changes God has made in us, and the peace and joy of a life lived in Jesus; to light that burning desire in the unsaved so, they’ll seek and find Jesus in their lives.

This is my prayer, that we would keep that fervent fire burning, or if we’ve lost that fervor, the Lord would rekindle that flame to “passionately seek” Him every day, every moment of our lives. That we would seek to know Him intimately and make Him known to anyone around us that will listen to our story. Let it be so, dear Jesus, let it be so!

Life gets hard, sometimes it seems it’s all hard. But God (still my two favorite words) is always with us. He has promised He will never leave us or turn away from His children (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; John 1:12). Instead of allowing ourselves to drown in the pain of our troubles, we must learn to let go of those troubles, and the worry, and cast them upon our Lord, trust them to Him, and rest in His promises (Psalm 55:22; Matthew 6:25-34, 11:28-30; 1Peter 5:7). I know it is hard to “rest” when troubles surround us. We’ve been trained all our lives to worry. It’s hard to undo. Many feel they aren’t showing proper concern over a problem if they aren’t worrying. Worry only robs us of the peace and joy Jesus offers us despite our circumstances. We cannot say we have faith, and still worry. They are in direct conflict with each other. When we find ourselves worrying we must quickly repent and take our cares to the Lord. God has given us tools: His promises, His Holy Spirit, His salvation, His full Armor, and His yoke with which we can be assured of His presence and power at work on our behalf (2 Corinthians 1:20, John 14:25-27, John 14:6, Acts 4:10-12, Ephesians 6:10-18, Matthew 11:28-30). We can completely trust Him and see beyond what can be seen with the eye to what we can only be seen by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 11:1). Our troubles will likely not be resolved in the time frame we desire or necessarily in the manner we think best, but God sees the future we cannot see. He may also have to deal with stubborn, unyielding people in the problem, which can lengthen the time to resolution. Maybe I’m (or you’re) the stubborn one, or one of them. We need to check our heart attitude and ask God to check it, too (Psalm 26:2, 139:23-24; Proverbs 17:3; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-25). Whatever the trouble is we can be assured God’s thoughts, ways, and timing are perfect (Psalm 27:14; Ecclesiastes 8:6; Isaiah 40:28-31, 55:8-9; Lamentations 3:25-26; Habakkuk 2:3; Micah 7:7; Galatians 6:9). He can make a way where there seems to be no way (Isaiah 43:19). Our job is to trust Him, pray and never give up (Luke 18:1).

Finally, as Paul said in his letter to the church at Philippi, our strength to endure our circumstances comes from Christ alone (Philippians 4:11‭-‬13). As we abide in Jesus, live by faith, and keep our eyes fixed on Him and not our troubles, we will know the grace that gives the strength that can only He can provide (John 15:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 12:2, Matthew 6:31-33, 2 Corinthians 12:9). Never give up passionately seeking the Lord! He is the answer in all things!

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.

The Depth of God’s Love

The Word for Today – Thurday, Jan. 23

In one of my devotions for today, I read a portion of Jesus’ prayer from John 17 (see image for a portion of that passage). The first two reflection questions asked were:
“How much does God the Father love you? What does that truth mean to you?”
As I pondered these two questions, I began thinking of Jesus’ crucifixion, the ultimate statement of God’s love.

33At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Mark 15:33-34 NLT

I realized in a new way that when God removed His presence from Jesus on the cross, so He could experience in our place not only the weight of our sins, the punishment of death for our sins, but even a taste of the eternal separation from God that hell holds for those that do not receive Him.

God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 BSB

I always knew God had to turn away from Jesus because at that moment He became sin, the sin of all mankind, and God the Father could not stay connected to Him in that state. But today Holy Spirit revealed this to me that Jesus experienced separation from God, so we (all who receive Him – John 1:12) never have to experience true separation from God ourselves! That is true love! Thank You, Jesus!

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Joy Williams
https://youtu.be/FLDLU2QnFjM

No Longer a Slave – Zach Williams
https://youtu.be/3r2djNvPe9o

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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Ways of Practicing Silence

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

Be Still and Know That He is God- Steven Curtis Chapman
https://youtu.be/BgaHaioAjyg

The “be still” in this Psalm in the Hebrew is raphah (raw-faw’) meaning: sink, relax. Doesn’t that just give you a picture of being nestled in Jesus’ arms?

I have made it a practice to do silence during the day when I am home. When I was growing up my mom always had the TV on in on the background even if she wasn’t watching it. Hubby does the same thing. I did, too, for much of our marriage. But now that I stay at home again, I have learned to enjoy the silence and the ability to hear God without the noise. I have also discovered there are other “noises” that are not audible – visual distractions and my thoughts. No wonder even Jesus needed to slip away to a desolate place of solitude to be alone with His/our Father.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Mark 1:35 ESV

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Luke 5:16 NLT

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – Hillsong Worship
https://youtu.be/jR7r0Br_HNs

My own thoughts can be very distracting. I’ve learned to keep a pad of paper nearby to write down to-dos and other things that come to mind, so I can focus on the Lord. Also, I confess, I am not a great housekeeper and my home can become cluttered quickly. But it also makes the environment very stressful. I never know where to start to clean it up and put it away, which is also stressful, so it sits a long time. Anyway, that can be very distracting to being still in God’s presence and hearing His voice. I can sometimes tune it all out, but other times I just feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I find it easier to have my “silence” in a restaurant or coffee shop with music and people talking in the background, than I can a completely silent apartment with the chores screaming at me.
Sometimes the environment I have created gets the better of me and I can’t seem to connect to the Lord at all. Lord help me, I need to get a handle on this!

Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips.
Psalm 141:3 NLT

He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from distress.
Psalm 21:23 BSB*

May the Words of My Mouth – Internation Chapel of Vienna
https://youtu.be/w5JOFclZUpc

As far as silence where other people are concerned, yes I have been learning to edit myself (my words, attitude, and behavior), with Holy Spirit’s help. Most of the time I do pretty well now. Not so much “foot-in-mouth- disease” going on anymore. And when it does happen it’s more often with an attitude of good intentions instead of anger, and I have learned to apologize instead of being stubborn. A lot of the time I can just say nothing if it’s something petty and really doesn’t need to be mentioned. If something needs to be said, I have been learning to listen to the Holy Spirit and seek His wisdom for words and timing, so not only am I not responding in anger, but it will be a time when the other person is prepared to hear and discuss.

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
Psalm 32:7 ESV

For surely You, O LORD, bless the righteous; You surround them with the shield of your favor.
Psalm 5:12 BSB*

You Are My Hiding Place – Selah
https://youtu.be/ElVC6rfX3Z8

As far as retreating with the Lord goes, I do have a favorite retreat center that I try to do a personal weekend retreat about once a year or so. Sometimes I just take a day and go off to a park, walk, sit, talk (pray), journal – spending the day with the Lord. When that’s not possible I will spend an extended period of 2-3 hours in a coffee shop or a calm corner of our home with the Bible, coffee or tea, maybe a snack, and my journal. I seriously think Miss Clara in the “War Room” movie had the right idea about a prayer closet. In the Bible, too, Jesus said, “…go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray…” (Matthew 6:6).

Silence is wonderful, once we acclimate to it and it it’s one of God’s greatest desires for us to have that refreshing time with Him. It’s something we are unfortunately not taught. We even teach new moms to let their babies become accustomed to the household noises while sleeping. But we all need silence: time to listen to the voice of the Lord, soak in His presence, time to think and pray about our responses to life situations, and time to just “be” without all the “noise” of this world, so we can practicing being citizens of God’s kingdom.

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.
Ephesians 2:29 NLT

14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.a 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:14-17 ESV

How do you practice silence in your life?

Blessings of Hope & Joy,

Julia

© 2020 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.

*BSB is the Berean Study Bible

Looking Forward

2019 was a challenging year. It was a year of reaching some goals. Here are a few:

  • Published my first book.
  • Reached the first of many weight loss goals.
  • Finally found a new church fellowship.
  • Made a long distance road trip by myself.
  • Posting more consistently on my blog.

I did not reach my goal of writing 1-2 additional new books this year. One of the challenges I’ve dealt with has been the ups and downs of depression and anxiety, even though I am on medication. Because of this, I have been less than motivated to write, craft, or do a lot of things that I enjoy.

One of the bad things about the depression and anxiety is that if I am not deliberate about making time for God it just makes matters worse. I must become more purposeful about my time with Jesus.

Jim and I also had some health challenges this year, but praise God, we both ended the year in good health!

I started writing this a couple weeks ago. As I review what I’ve written I have to smile as I read the verse below. I was asking God for my word for the year on New Year’s Eve and He led me to this verse in a devotional on biblehub.com. Since then I have come across this verse 4 times already (including right now).

The words He gave me were not actually in this verse, though I think maybe He’s giving me a “theme” for the year as well of “I Am doing a new thing.” Also the “I will” statements jumped off the page. The words were in the devotional: victory, courage, and joy. I also got stand from the Dayspring quiz (here’s a link for the quiz if you want to try it).

Dayspring Word Quiz

I’m trying to learn from my missed goals and failures, no regrets, no looking back, to move into the new year with wisdom and tools to succeed in 2020.

God makes it plain in these verses that none of our goals can be made or accomplished with any real value in our own wisdom and power. We need to take them to the Lord and see where His plans and purpose leads us. We can do all kinds of “good” things, but if God is not in it we work in vain.

As I discovered from this last year, goals alone we not help us succeed. I spent all day New Year’s Eve seeking the Lord and putting together a DIY planner/journal with vision board for 2020. The objective with planner is that I will be able to:

  • Set mini goals within my larger goals.
  • track and schedule goals and new habits on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis.
  • Set priorities.
  • Keep my focus.
  • Plan meals, track my weight and health goals…

Here are several of the goals we set:

  • Be more purposeful about and spend more time with Jesus.
  • Build up my retreat and speaking ministries.
  • Write something everyday.
  • Publish 2 new books.
  • Continue my weight loss/health goals.
  • Be a more active long-distant Grammy.
  • Keep choosing joy with a gratitude attitude.

I’m feeling pretty good and inspired right now. It’s going to be a good year no matter what comes along, because God is in it!

What goals, words, or other preparations for the new year have you made? Leave me a comment and let me know. Visit me on Facebook at Hope and Joy Ministries.

Blessings of Hope & Joy,

Julia

© 2020 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.

Rejoice in Hope

Christmas Day

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:8‭-‬20 ESV

Happy Birthday Jesus

Joy to the World – Jeremy Camp

May you not only remember whose birthday it is today, but evdn more importantly why He left heaven to come to earth:
16For God so loved the world that He gave His one and onlye Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
John 3:16-17 BSB
12But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God.

John 1:12-14 BSB
9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:9-11 ESV

May the Lord bless your day today! May you rejoice and be thankful for the gift of hope for salvation that was born on Noel, the forst Christmas Day.

Blessings of Hope & Joy,

Julia

© 2019 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.

Christmas is Coming

4th Sunday of Advent
1In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration whena Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
Luke 2:1-3 ESV

Make Room – Casting Crowns featuring Matt Maher

Christmas is Coming – Jason Gray

God has a way of orchestrating and using life events in ways we cannot begin to phathom. Look at Joseph in the Bible. God gsvd him dreams about his future, which made hos brothers jealous. Then his brothers sold him into slavery, which got him to Egypt where Potiphar’s wife accused him and jad him arrested, which positioned him to meet Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker and interpreting their dreams, eventually this led to his being brought to Pharaoh to interpret his dream. Tjst led to Pharaoh rewarding Joseph with a position of authority second only to himself in all Egypt fulfilling the dream God had given him many years before.

Mary believed the angel that said she would be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She said, “let it be done to me as you have said.” She did not refuse out of fear for her life or fear of losing her fiance Joseph.

What thing(s) has God prepared and fulfilled or is fuldilling in your life? Are you cooperative like Mary and patient like Joseph?

Father God, in Jesus’ name we ask Your blessings and wisdom upon each person praying this prayer. Speak life and purpose over us. Help us to be cooperative/submissive, obedient, and patient with waiting times, but also attentive that we may learn what You’re teaching us in the waiting well and without delay. May our lives glorify You in all things. We praise and thank You! Amen.

Blessings of Hope & Joy,

Julia

© 2019 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 Will Come Again

Sunday Word & Worship
3rd Sunday of Advent

10A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.
12O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.
Psalm 84:10-12 NLT

Better is One Day – Matt Redman

1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”
3At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, 4“This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! 5What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. 6I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!
7“I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

This is the first appearance of God’s name, El Shaddai – God Almighty or the All-sufficient One. God’s covenant with Abraham is also a step in the events and prophecies leading up to the coming of the Messiah, Yeshua/Jesus. As we prepare to celebrate His birthday we also look forward to His second coming when He will make all things new.

El Shaddai – Amy Grant

Father God, thank You for the gift of Jesus! He truly is the one gift that never stops giving! He gave up heaven to live a lowly life on earth

He humbled Himself as a servant to all and then, as the perfect, sinless, Lamb of God He became sin with all of our sins upon Him to pay our debt for us to make us whole and clean. What an indescribable gift that is! Then You raised Him from death to give us eternal life! Amazing!

Lord what can we give You in return? Our love and abiding devotion with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We give You our lives as a living sacrifice with open hands. May we love others as You have loved us and as we want to be loved. Make us useful vessels in Your hands, Our Potter. Prepare our hearts for a Christmas focused on Christ first. Make this Christmas a time of peace and reconciliation in families.

Thank you, Lord! On Jesus’ blessed name, amen.

Blessings of Hope & Joy,

Julia

© 2019 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.

A Season of Anticipation

Sunday Word & Worship
2nd Sunday of Advent

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

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

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

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

I Surrender – Hillsong

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

Make Room – Casting Crowns feat. Matt Maher

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

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

Breath of Heaven – Amy Grant

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

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

Blessings of Hope & Joy,

Julia

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Happy Christian New Year!

Sunday Word & Worship
1st Sunday of Advent

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

Keep Making Me – Sidewalk Prophets

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

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

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

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

14The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

…and was completed on thst first Resurrection Sunday.

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

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

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

I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy

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

Blessings, Joy, and peace,

Julia

© 2019 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.