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.
You may share a link to your social media accounts as an encouragement of Hope & Joy to others. No other copying, printing, sharing, storing, or transporting of this material is allowed.

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.

Gone Astray

I am sorry it has been a month since my last blog post. It’s been a challenging month for me with migraines, sinus issues, and other personal issues that have distracted me from the tasks God has given me to do. This is a timely message for me, as I need to hear it as much as anyone. I have not only allowed these things to distract me from writing, but from much of my prayer and reading/studying times, also.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV, 11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Do you feel like you are in “exile” from the presence of God? God is always near us. If He seems far away, it is likely because we are not seeking Him or we are involved in a pattern of sinfulness. It is sin that first separated people from their God. Can you imagine what life would have been like for us if Adam and Eve had resisted the temptation of the serpent and called out to the Lord for help? 
To find the Lord and know His presence in our everyday lives we just need to seek Him with all our heart (v. 13 above). If you are feeling like God is far away from you, take some time to examine your life:

1 John 1:9 NIV, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Are you living in a pattern of sinfulness? If so, God is always ready to pour out His grace and forgiveness upon us when we repent (turn away from) and confess our sins. Come before Him in faith and pour out your heart to Him.

Isaiah 55:6 NLT, Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.
Are you making time for the Lord? Do you pray daily? We cannot expect to feel close to God without spending time with Him (in the Word, worship, and in prayer) any more than we can feel close to another person if we don’t spend time talking and sharing life with them. Prayer is the way we communicate with God. Starting our days with prayer gives us a good start to our days. It helps us focus on what is important and prioritize our days. But prayer should be a part of everything we do. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 urges us to pray continually. Every decision we make, every problem we face, and even every good thing we enjoy in life is reason to pray what some refer to as “popcorn” prayers. It’s as simple as saying:
Thank You, Lord, for this great parking space!
Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful day.
Father, help me stay focused at work and complete this project on time.
Lord, keep me alert as I drive and get me to my destination safely.

Psalm 119:11 NASB, Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
Do you spend time reading and meditating on (thinking about) the Word every day? We cannot expect to know God if we don’t learn about Him through His Word and prayer (conversation). The Bible is an instruction manual on godly living for us, but it also reveals the Father’s heart and character to all who take the time to seek Him.

John 14:26 NLT, But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
When you read the Word, do you ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you’re reading and show you how to apply it in your life? That is one of the reasons God gives us His Spirit when we receive Jesus as our Savior.

Psalm 46.10 NLT, “Be still, and know that I am God!
When you pray, do you rush through a list of requests without spending time being still before the Lord and soaking in His presence? The NASB version of this verse is, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” I think it says it well. If we are striving to do life in our own power we are not seeking the power of the Lord in our everyday circumstances. That is the way God created us to live our lives in His power.

1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV, Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
The NIV and NASB versions translate it as, “seek His face continually.” We all too often seek the hand of God (provision, healing, help), but we don’t seek face time with Him as often as we should. Oh the joys we miss because we rush through our days. Nehemiah said it this way (v. 8:10),  “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” It is in His presence that we find the strength to live our lives and He fills us with His joy. This is the joy Jesus spoke of when He said (John 15:9-11 NLT), “9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” This joy does not depend on our circumstances, but only upon the the relationship we have with the Lord. His presence is our joy no matter what life brings. I am reminded of Stephen in the book of Acts (7:54-60 NLT). Even in the face of being stoned to death, Stephen found joy in God’s presence.

Here are a few more verses on seeking the Lord:
Mathew 7:7 NLT, “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.
Psalm 34:4 NIV, I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 37:4 NIV, Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Of course, when life gets us down we are also supposed to bring our requests (Philippians 4:6-7) and all our cares (Psalm 55.22, 1 Peter 5:7) to God in prayer. We just need to remember he is not a genie in a lamp who is there to grant all our wishes. He is our Sovereign God and our Heavenly Father. As our Lord and God, He deserves our praise and worship, and as our Father He wants our obedience (which Jesus equated to love in John 14:15, 21, 23 & 15:10) and relationship (face time) with His children. Hear the words of Jesus (read out loud):
Matthew 7:7-11 NLT, 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. 9“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

May the peace and joy of the Lord’s presence be yours,
Julia

Seek the Lord

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

Do you ever feel alone? Do you long for the presence of a person in your life to share your ups and downs? We do need people, but we should remember that if we have Jesus as our Savior, we are never truly alone. He is not only our Savior and Lord, but also our best friend. Yes, we need good friends and family in our lives to love, support, and celebrate life with us. No one is meant to go through this life alone. But, we must not forget to seek the Lord first in our lives and keep Christ in the center of all of our other relationships. He is the Third Strand in our triple-braided cord that gives us the strength to face life’s challenges.  

My husband and I moved half-way across the country for his job almost 3 years ago. We left our friends and our entire family behind – my parents, our sibling’s families, our kids, their spouses, and now our grandkids. Even though I knew it was completely a God thing that we made this move, I did freak out when we first got here. And I will admit that from time to time I still get a bit depressed and stressed. If I did not have that relationship with the Lord I would not be able to handle it. He fills the void in my life with His presence, the ministry He has given me, and He led me to a church full of people who reached out to me and became a surrogate family. But even when I am feeling alone or disconnected from my family, I have Jesus right there with me.

Connecting with God in an intimate relationship is so very important. That may sound strange if you have never experienced it, but it is possible and it is God’s intended purpose in creating us. Adam and Eve experienced that kind of intimate relationship with the Lord and walked with Him in the garden. It was the entrance of sin in their lives that separated them and us from that closeness with God. Jesus came into the world in human flesh to die in our place and rebuild that intimate connection between us and God the Father. When we receive Jesus as our Savior He gives us His Holy Spirit to live inside of us. He becomes our Teacher, Advocate, Guide, and Comforter. This gives us access to a personal relationship with the Lord we could not have otherwise.

Going back to our theme verse for today, Jesus’ presence is also in our relationships with other people to help us connect more deeply with each other. People can never completely fulfill our needs, but God can and does use the people in our lives as His hands, feet, heart, and mouth to enhance our lives and He uses us in the lives of others in the same way. But even if and when you feel alone, seek His presence first and foremost. You may think it’s not the same as a physical person near you, but you can feel His presence in your spirit. I have, at times, even experienced the feeling of the sensation of the Lord’s arm around my shoulders when I needed comfort or the joy of His presence dancing with me in worship. He makes His presence known when we seek Him with all our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). We need the Lord’s presence for healing of our hearts and souls and to give us the strength to face trials and temptations. Seek the Lord first in all things (Psalm 27). He is our hope, strength, and ever-present help (Psalm 46).

Blessings,
Julia

The Rock of Ages

Isaiah 26:4: Young’s Literal Translation, “Trust ye in Jehovah for ever, For in Jah Jehovah is a rock of ages”      

Darby Bible Translation, “Confide ye in Jehovah for ever; for in Jah, Jehovah, is the rock of ages.”

I’ve been listening to a new Steven Curtis Chapman CD (Deep Roots available at Cracker Barrel or Crackerbarrel.com) of old familiar hymns including Rock of Ages. I’ve sung that hymn probably 100s of times, yet it’s only since I got this CD that the lyrics really started speaking to me. I feel a smile come over my face as a picture forms in my mind when I hear, “Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” I see the Rock moving to form a space, a shelter in which I can hide. In that cleft (cave) I am enveloped in The Lord’s strength, embraced by His power, and safe in His love. Whether it’s translated The Rock ofAges, The Eternal Rock, or The Everlasting Rock, this Rock will never crumble, crack, or roll away. Our God is strong steadfast, and true.

1 Chronicles 16:11 (NASB),  Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

When we’re in the “cleft” of the Rock, we are in His presence. One of the reasons I like this verse is the word continually. We need to seek God’s presence continually, not just in the hard times. Could it be that we might be able to miss some of the hard times if we did this. Some versions of this verse use the word presence instead of face. Both words are good, but I like the face version of this verse because it emphasizes we need to be seeking God’s face and not just His hand of provision and protection. Face time with the Lord. I want face time like Moses (Exodus 33.11, 21-23) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:9-18) had with the Lord. Even Abraham was called God’s friend (Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23) and he conversed and even debated with the Lord (Genesis 18:16-33). God wants us to be real and truthful with Him. Even if what we are feeling is anger, fear, or doubt, we can bring it all to God because it is the real truth of how we feel. There is no point in prentending or sugar coating things for God. He knows our thoughts and the condition of our hearts. He just wants us to come to Him acknowledging that He is bigger than our problems and only He can help us through them.

I find much wisdom and solace in the Psalms. David sometimes lamented to God about the trials he was going through. Read Psalm 22. http://niv.scripturetext.com/psalms/22.htm This is a great example of how David cried out to God in his troubles, yet he never forgot that God was more than able to meet his needs and rescue him from his troubles. Sometimes we just need to pour out all those feelings, to let go of them. That’s okay, more than okay. Just don’t forget that He is The Rock of all the Ages and He will never let you down. It’s a matter of trusting God and His timing to make it all work out for us, the ones He loves, that He has called to fulfill His purposes for our lives (Romans 8:28) and the lives of people we touch. The hardest times we will have to face in our lives (tests) then become our testimony. Our testimony is what has prepared us to help others through similar experiences. God reveals Himself to us and through us to other people. So, when you are going through trials, seek the Lord, but also ask Him to direct you to another believer who can come along side of you to help you walk through the test/trial. Then, when you have gone through and have your testimony, keep your eyes and ears open for God to lead you to someone else who needs your help in the same way. I have found it truly amazing how the Lord has seen me through some of the hardest times in my life, brought someone else into my life with similar cicrumstances that I could be His hands, feet and mouth (to speak). I have seen God changes lives and I have been able to praise God for the troubles I had because I was able to relate to and help another person through their trials. It is healing to your own soul, too. Hallelujah! God is good!

David knew what it was like to be afraid and tired of his circumstances. He spent years running and hiding in caves as King Saul pursued him wanting to kill him (see 1 Samuel 19:1-31:6 for the story of Saul’s pursuit of David to kill him and how both men handled their relationship with God). David not only wrote psalms of lament, but also wrote many about the Lord being his Rock, Shield, and Fortress  (ex: Psalms 18,  19, 28, 31, 33…). He found safety and protection not only in the physical caves, but in the presence of the Lord. That’s where we need to live. In so personal a relationship with the Lord that we are comfortable in His embrace and continually talking to Him, sharing our inmost fears, wants, and needs.

Remember this when you are going through trials in your life and you don’t think you can take another moment in your circumstances: 2 Samuel 22:2-3, 47 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior– from violent people you save me. “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!

Blessings,

Julia