Partakers of the Divine Nature Mini Bible Study

Journal any notes as you go through today’s post. Ponder and Pray questions follow.

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2 Peter 1:3-9 BSB

Glorious news! God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Christ Jesus. Trust that! There are no if, and, or buts in verse 3. So where do we get the knowledge? Reading the Scriptures under the divine tutelage [guardianship, instruction, guidance] of the Holy Spirit and letting it soak into every part of us.

And the news just keeps getting better! God has given us precious and magnificent promises that allow us to become partakers of the divine nature. **Partaker come from the Greek word koinónos (koy-no-nos’) meaning a sharer, partner, companion, partaker, fellowship. It’s not just a morsel of the divine nature we are receiving. We’re receiving a partner’s share, and fellowship with the Almighty God. And it says we have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. It is already finished. Whoa! Selah. Take that all in.

Because of all that glorious news there are some things Paul tells us we need to do. There are always things we need to do in response to God’s works. Not the least of which are thanks and praise. The ones Paul lists are to build up our character and godly nature:
To faith add virtue;
To virtue, knowledge;
To knowledge, self-control;
To self-control, perseverance;
To perseverance, godliness;
To godliness, brotherly kindness;
To brotherly kindness, love.

I find it interesting the order in which Paul lists these things. When I studied the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, I looked at the way they are listed (though not proposed as a progression as these are), yet they seem to have a kind of flow from love, joy, and peace, through patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness, to self-control. Many of them similar to the current list. Actually either list I don’t believe is to be taken so literally as a do one at a time order. We must do them all somewhat simultaneously. Possessing these qualities makes us fruitful. They make us salt and light to make unbelievers thirst for Jesus and shine His light into their darkness [Matthew 5:13-16].

The Greek word translated here as virtue is areté (ar-et’-ay) meaning moral goodness, virtue, uprightness. Virtue is something that seems to have lost all meaning in today’s society. Our virtue is our righteousness in Christ and living in obedience to God’s Word. So many in this world have decided God’s Word is outdated, pick and choose, or completely irrelevant. For those of us who have chosen to live for Jesus alone, God’s Word is life and breath and every Word is true. It is our Standard for living, thus the basis of our moral virtue.

The word translated above as perseverance is from the Greek word hupomoné (hoop-om-on-ay’) meaning a remaining behind, a patient enduring. But it also needs to be noted that this is a cheerful (or hopeful) endurance. It is not burdensome.

Persevering is active waiting. If we’re in a season of waiting (and which of is isn’t waiting on something fairly often) we’re not literally sitting still in one place while we’re waiting for direction, healing, a loved one’s salvation…. We are living our lives, raising families, working, serving, playing, praying, worshipping…. While we’re waiting there are some other things we need to make sure we continue doing as well:

I will:
– Remain confident in the Lord
– Live boldly for Him
– Move forward in what He has
already
given me to do
– Walk in obedience
– Pray and praise
– Worship and adore
– Remain hopeful, joyful in the Lord.
while I wait
– Serve the Lord and people, thus also
serving the Lord.

Self-control is probably the toughest one. It appears on several lists, here, the Fruit, the lists of qualities for Elders [1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9], and one of my favorites 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” I will confess that self-control in certain areas of my life still eludes me, especially when it comes to certain foods, my sleep habits, and time wasters like social media and solitaire games. Since the pandemic started my sleep habits have been out of control. I have gotten them normalized for a few weeks at a time, but then they fade back into an up all night, sleep all day routine again. As I write this I am on night 1, day 1 of a more normal up in the daytime sleep at night routine. Yay!

I have taken steps to curb my time wasters. I removed all but 1 game app from my phone. Something about the one I left on there makes me sleepy, so I thought that might be a good thing. I am trying to limit myself to once a day for Facebook and Instagram. I can post what I need to post and check my notifications. Maybe scroll through my feed for a little while. I should set a timer for that.

Food is the hardest thing for me. It’s not like when I gave up smoking. We have to eat. Believe it or not, though I do love desserts, savory foods can be just as much a kryptonite for me as sweets. I don’t like really sugary sweets. Dark chocolate is my big thing! Then there’s the tanginess of cheesecake, and the earthiness of pumpkin pie. Because of the way I was raised, I equate food with love and also with reward and punishment. It’s a complex relationship I have with food. During the pandemic it has been harder because of my messed up sleep schedule I am doing very little cooking. So we’re often taking advantage of the various delivery services to get takeout. That right there leads to extra calories over home cooking, not to mention the availability of yummy treats like brownies (unfrosted) and cheesecake.

The way to succeed with self-control is to:
[✔] ask the Lord for help
[✔] seek the Lord and His strength
[✔] knock on the door and enter into His place of rest.
[✔] practically speaking, plan ahead. If I plan meals and grocery shop, I will be better prepared to cook at home. If I get my sleep, and get more “God time” I will be less likely to “need” my sweet treats. And I just need to make sure I set a timer when I go on social media or play games, so I don’t obsessively waste time. I also need to set a bedtime and stick to it, making sure to complete tasks such ad laundry for Jim to wear to work anf making his lunch long before bedtime. These are things I gladly do for Him, since I am able to stay home to be free to pursue my writing and ministry.

PONDER and PRAY
1) Jump up to the ** and re-read the Partaker paragraph. Was that as exciting for you as it was for me? How does being a Partaker of the divine nature affect the way you see yourself and your life as a disciple of Christ? We have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires, therefore perseverance and self-control should be easier WHEN we look for the escape God has provided and rely on His grace and strength in our weakness [1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Corinthians 12:9].

2) Take the perseverance list and make it your “watchword” for being an overcomer. Write it out and carry it with you, post it wherever you will see it often:
I will:
– Remain confident in the Lord
– Live boldly for Him
– Move forward in what He has.
already
given me to do
– Walk in obedience
– Pray and praise
– Worship and adore
– Remain hopeful and joyful in the.
Lord while I wait
– Serve the Lord and people, thus also
serving the Lord.

3) How can my testimony and the checklist help you overcome your self-control challenges?

4) Use the self control check-list, and the corresponding Bible verses below, to help you gain self-control over some area of your life:
[✔] ask the Lord for help
[✔] seek the Lord and His strength
[✔] knock on the door and enter into His place of rest.
[✔] practically speaking, plan ahead. What steps can you take, what plan can you make, to help reach your goal of self control over _______________?

7“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 NLT

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV

Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.
Proverbs 13:16 ESV

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3 ESV
“Literally, roll them upon Him, as a burden too heavy to be borne by thyself. ‘Thy works’ signify all that thou hast to do.”
Thy plans shall prosper, for they will be undertaken according to the will of God, and carried out by His aid.”
–Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, for Proverbs 16:3

Blessings of Hope & Joy,
Julia©2020 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries All rights reserved.
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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.

Journey into a Healthier Me – Part 1, A God-centered Eating Plan

I refuse to call it a “diet.”  The word “diet” just has so much negativity associated with it. I want an “Eating Plan.” Something that can become a lifestyle way of eating. Diets are usually strict, short term, weight-loss, goal-oriented things. I want to learn to be and eat healthy. I want to be the best me I can be.

I have a Pinterest board titled, A new me in 2014. At first I was pinning only recipes, healthy eating advice and exercises onto the board. Now, I am pinning other things as well, Scriptures, quotes…that can help me overhaul the entire me. Yes, the goal is to be a healthy weight and generally be healthier physically, but if I only focus on the physical it won’t last. It needs to be a mental and spiritual attitude adjustment as well.

As a part of this journey I am doing the online Bible study (OBS), Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst on Proverbs31.org. We just started week 4 of 6. Right afterward we will begin the Made To Crave Action Plan study. Which was written by Lysa and Dr. Ski Chilton. I want this to be about more than the numbers on the scale. Hence, this sign I’ve put on my scale:

 

image

I am taking a slow approach to learning about me and my eating habits and slowly making changes to my diet (how I cook, substituting healthier ingredients for some things, cutting down on others) and tracking everything on sparkpeople.com, so I can have a visual record of calories, fat, sodium, carbs, sugars… I am learning and making wiser choices. If there is something I really want (crave) I think about it and make a conscious decision about whether or not I want to allow myself to have it. So far I have been doing pretty well. Sweets aren’t usually my downfall, my taste buds are more tuned in to savory foods. That’s where my main temptations lie. Meat and potatoes with gravy, pasta, casseroles…. oh, the joys of savory foods. NOT! Not when you’re trying to get healthy. This takes a bit of work to get the flavors you crave without so much of the fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbs. That’s where the flavors often lie. A lot of that cannot be altered in some fashion to make it healthier, but it is a process for me to learn and make those choices. And I am learning.

 This journey is different than ones I have tried and failed at before. This one, I am letting God and wisdom be my guide. I don’t beat myself up if I give in to a craving, but I am not allowing myself to eat impulsively. I am making a conscious effort to make it a choice to allow it or not. Then, I make it a small/single portion and work it into my eating plan for the day. If it’s a high calorie/fat item will I have to take some other healthy food off my plan for the day to accommodate it?

I was at lunch with a friend at TGIFridays last week. I rarely get to go there, since hubby doesn’t care for their menu. I love their Korean Steak Tacos. When I looked up the nutrition info online I was crushed. The meal was 1080 calories. It’s 3 tacos and a small dish of rice. I looked at the menu for other healthier choices. Even their healthier choices were noted to be only under 750 calories. I made an informed  decision and had the tacos. I ate only half of the rice, and when I felt full I stopped eating the tacos (A major milestone for me. That’s so hard, I was brought up as a member of the clean plate club and when I love the flavor of something even if I feel full I don’t usually stop until it’s gone). Later in the day I was thinking about it and I could have easily trimmed off 160 more calories (+/-) by only eating one of the two soft corn tortillas on each taco. I enjoyed every slow bite as I enjoyed the company of my friend over a leisurely lunch. I did not feel guilty. I had eaten a sensible breakfast and I was cooking a sensible dinner. This splurge was deliberate and I did not feel guilty, because it had been well considered and not an impulse.

I learned a lot that day. And many days before and after. Although I made that choice to allow myself those tacos, that cannot be a daily thing to allow this kind of indulgence. Otherwise, I would train wreck not only my weight loss goals, but also my health in general. What I need to do is learn how to make a healthier version of those tacos at home. Hmmm…there you go! I need to make that a plan. That’s really what this journey is going to be about for me. Planning. God-assisted, wise planning. It’s about controlling the food and NOT letting the food control me. It’s about depending upon a power greater than my willpower (or lack thereof). The power of God is Christ in me. I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He gives me wisdom and strength when I acknowledge that I cannot do this on my own. So many times I’ve tried and failed because I tried to do it in my own power. I just cannot do that. I don’t have it in me to do this on my own. We aren’t created to go it alone. We were always intended to be in a constant, intimate relationship with our Creator and Lord, Father and Friend. He is the God who sees us and He knows us by name. He cares so much about us that Jesus said, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” We have a God who wants to be a part of everything in our lives, not stuck in a box to come out on Sunday mornings and when we have a problem and need His help like a genie in a bottle. With Jesus as my constant companion I know that this time will be different. It already feels different. My focus is different on God and getting healthy, not on a list of NOs I cannot eat and a list of DOs I don’t want to eat. I have to live by this and many other truths of God’s Word:

Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything ” (1 Corinthians 6:12 HCSB).

So, I take this journey, with God as my guide. He is my inspiration, my strength, my power, my will to succeed. Not, so I can wear skinny jeans, not so I can say I weight 125 pounds like I did when I got married, not so I can feel sexy or any other reason other than, I want to take care of this body because it is the temple of the Lord. I want to be healthy and strong enough to serve God for as long as He has planned for me, to accomplish everything He has purposed for me to accomplish, and, God willing, to be healthy and live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.

“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” Proverbs 21:20 NIV

I found this verse today. I have read Proverbs many times over, but this verse never stuck out to me as it did today. This verse made me think about making wise choices when I plan meals and when I grocery shop to buy the choice (best, healthiest) foods and to also think about what I’m eating and not just gulping it down, in a hurry, without a thought as to what it is or why I’m eating it. I think the actual meaning of the verse is to store up food for the future (no grocery stores back then), rather than feasting on the abundance now without regard for future needs. That actually works for now, too, because sometimes I eat things just because they’re there, whether I’m truly hungry or not. Hmmm… So, I am trying not to buy too many things that aren’t all that healthy. I’m trying to be prepared enough that if we get snowed in a few days we have plenty to eat, yet not so much of the wrong things that I will eat just because they’re there. I do have a couple things I keep around as a treat. I do allow myself 2 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises a day. It’s dark chocolate and therefore it is healthy, but a half a bag in one sitting would not be healthy. Two chocolates is only two-fifths of a serving. I don’t feel the need to eat a whole serving, if for no other reason, the calories begin to add up, but usually two and sometimes one is satisfying enough for me as I take small bites and savor the flavor. I also have a package of Stella Doro Breakfast Treats (Jim and I call them air cookies) on hand most of the time. If I really want something more cookie/cakey I’ll eat one of those. Especially if I’m having a coffee or hot tea. One is only 90 calories. Granted, they are pretty much “empty” calories, but for that little bit I can deal with it, if it keeps me from pursuing something more decadent. I don’t like sweets so much that I will indulge in more than one of these cookies. Now, if it were an Oreo that would be a different story. And I can’t have Oreos without a glass of milk for dunking. Pretty soon that becomes a very fat, calorie, and carb costly indulgence. 

 

1When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, 2and put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite; 3don’t desire his choice food, for that food is deceptive (Proverbs 23 :1-3 HCSB).

This verse really puts hunger vs appetite into perspective. If I am truly hungry, I will look for something more healthy and satisfying than a cookie. One (air) cookie will not satisfy true hunger. It would probably take a whole package to make a dent in that and all I’d have to show for it is 1080 empty, unsatisfying calories. A good portion of a whole days calories wasted. I am taking to buying ready to eat packages of carrots and celery. A tablespoon of peanut butter or hummus rounds out these veggies as a very satisfying low calorie snack. Sometimes I will snack on a serving or even just a half a serving of roasted almonds – natural or Blue Diamond’s dark chocolate ones just to take the edge off if I start getting too hungry between meals. It’s better than going into a meal so hungry that you eat very fast and too much, because you don’t give your body a chance to recognize it’s full. It’s working, too! Yay! I am learning that a lean protein at each meal, and as part of a snack, can be much more satisfying than carbs alone. That was a trap I was in for so long. Eating carbs without protein just wasn’t satisfying and led me to eat more of it and more often. Fiber, also, helps curb the hunger and keep it at bay longer.

So, I am working out a plan as I go. Learning from the food tracking I’m doing on sparkpeople.com how to use wisdom in planning and that planning works out better than last minute decisions, especially if those decisions take you to fast food restaurants in desperation. I am learning to consider each thing I put in my mouth before I eat it. No more regrets. No more mindless eating. Just God-centered, wisdom choices. Amen, thank you Jesus!