WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Evangelism”

Suffering Unites Us All

UTR May I Know the Fellowship of His Suffering

God has a plan and a purpose for everyone. Nobody is insignificant. We are after all, created in the very image of God. This includes the homeless person living in a cardboard box and the abused child in a home of neglect. We all have a part to play in God’s divine design, and sharing in the sufferings of Christ is part of His game plan.

Suffering is an effective tool God uses to refine our spiritual character. Adversity is permitted, or sent, as a loving gift from heaven above. Perspective is critical here. God gives good gifts therefore trials are beneficial.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)

So how can our painful moments be of any use? How can something hurtful, shameful, or grievous actually be a blessing? Do not trials teach us valuable lessons? Do we not gain insight, knowledge and wisdom as we muddle through our adversity? Is this not something we can share with others? Healings and lessons of perseverance are not only a witness of God’s grace but also an encouragement to others.

The process of sanctification chips away self-reliance and causes even the most prideful of mankind to cry out for help, help that only God can provide. Learning to depend on the Father is a major lesson in our spiritual walk. When we trust Him with all things and remain peaceful in the midst of an uncertain fate, faith has carried us. Others will notice our manner and desire the same inner peace we exude. Life style witnessing is a powerful tool and useful in the work of the Great Commission.

Suffering unites us all. Each person has experienced pain. Therefore, we can compassionately connect with others through this common bond. No race, creed, social status or level of education can escape the reality of suffering. Because of this fact we have an open door, a first step in sharing the Good News. We can build relationships in many different ways and there IS a fellowship of suffering, with Christ Jesus AND with others.

Here then is the great blessing found in adversity. Because of the pain you endured, thanks to the grace of God, you are now equipped to encourage and bless others. Your victory over tribulation will give them hope. But wait; there could be an additional blessing. You might have an opportunity to lead someone to Christ. God could use your story to change someone’s heart. What a blessing it is to witness a spiritual rebirth! What a special honor and service God provides for those who are willing.

Our heavenly Father does not set out to crush His children. We are His beloveds! It is in love alone that He disciplines and uses painful circumstances to teach. Yes He does test us but remember, He is the Master Teacher. His gift to us is His wisdom, knowledge and instruction.

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Ps.103:14 (NKJV)

The furnace of affliction is never pleasant but it is for our benefit and for the benefit of others. By refining us into the very image of His son Jesus, who was a bruised reed but never broken, God purifies and commands us to share His love with others. Not wanting anyone to perish, God moves us to carry His message of hope and salvation.

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

Are you seeking opportunities to proclaim His truth to your family, friends and neighbors? If not…. Why not? Our Savior and Redeemer, the comforter of all souls is looking for those who will say, “Here am I Lord, send me.”

 “It was good for me to be afflictedso that I might learn Your decrees.”  Psalm 119:71 (NIV)

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19 (NKJV)

The instruction of the Lord is perfect,renewing one’s life;the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,making the inexperienced wise.The precepts of the Lord are right,
making the heart glad;the command of the Lord is radiant,making the eyes light up.The fear of the Lord is pure,enduring forever;the ordinances of the Lord are reliable
and altogether righteous.” Psalm 19:7-9 (NKJV)

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”Isaiah 6:8 (NKJV)

“There are no lessons so useful as those learned in the school of affliction.”    ~J.C. Ryle

*The devotion is in my upcoming book FACING ADVERSITY WITH WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISES. Look for it on Amazon this December, just in time for Christmas gifts!

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&fieldkeywords=Cheryl%20Zelenka&sprefix=Chery%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3ACheryl%20Zelenka&oqid=1410851640

 

History Behind “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus” Will Inspire You!

*Follow Jesus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTNy674setQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvZp87bIxU8

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a Christian hymn originating from India.

The lyrics are based on the last wordsof a man in Assam, north-east India, who along with his family was converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary.

Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.

The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian, and entitled “Assam” after the region where the text originated.The fierce opposition is possible as various tribes in that area were formerly renowned for head-hunting.  

An American hymn editor, William Jensen Reynolds, composed an arrangement which was included in the 1959 Assembly Songbook.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus

Pure Joy or Mere Happiness?

*Joy

To pursue joy is to lose it. The only way to get it is to follow steadily the path of duty, without thinking of joy, and then, like sheep, it comes most surely unsought, and we “being in the way,” the angel of God, bright-haired joy, is sure to meet us.” ~Alexander MacLaren  

“The Lord has done great things for us,and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3 (NIV)

Look carefully into the Word of God and you will notice that scripture teachings on the topic of HAPPINESS point to our trust and relationship with God.

“He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he” Proverbs 16:20 (NKJV)

A dictionary definition of happiness is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.”

The definition of the word “rejoice,” from which our word “joy” comes, is “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.”

Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” and “rejoice” appear over 300 times.
http://www.gotquestions.org/joy-happiness.html#ixzz3CgX0g78m

Happiness is short-lived because it depends on things outside of ourselves. Joy comes from within and is based on our relationship to Christ. The Bible does not command us to pursue happiness or even seek it out. Happiness is an emotional response to and the result of God’s goodness and blessings. However, JOY is very apparent in the Bible and this joy comes through God and God alone.

Yes, there are good times and bad times in life. During bad times we experience emotions of fear, sorrow, and depression. In good times we experience emotional happiness and pleasure, but this is not the supernatural joy God speaks of in James 1:2-3. The difference between happiness and joy rests in our focus. We can be joyful in the midst of great adversity because our focus is on God and in the blessing of sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings. Feelings of happiness are absent when we are experiencing pain, sorrow, and tribulations.

Happiness is a self-centered emotion. We experience happiness when we receive a gift or experience something apart from acknowledging God for the blessing. We can even be pleased for somebody else yet remain self-centered in our happiness: “I am happy because you are happy.”

When we receive a blessing that produces a happy feeling AND we turn our focus to God, acknowledging and thanking Him for the favor and benefit, joy is experienced. Pure joy comes by giving God His due. His desire to fellowship with us…. His creation, and build an intimate relationship full of intimacy should leave us awestruck.

Presently, there are some popular church leaders who teach that worship should be for our own happiness and benefit, that when we are happy God is happy. We may experience spiritual joy while praising His name but our motive behind worship should never be self-centered. We ought not think of how our time of praise will benefit us, it should be for God’s pleasure alone. Thinking about our time of worship as a means to profit is hedonistic.

http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/blog/?p=24785

“This is a hedonistic view-a doctrine that teaches that the chief end of life is one’s personal pleasure-to worship God or attend church for what man can obtain in return.”

“If we participate for a pragmatic benefit—to say, ‘Just worship because look how much better you’re going to feel’—that is minimizing the worth of a holy God and making self the benefactor of worship, when worship is simply the glorifying of God entirely,” he outlined.

http://christiannews.net/2014/09/06/i-stand-by-my-point-joel-osteens-wife-unrepentant-over-remarks-of-worshiping-god-for-self/

Complete joy comes from God. In times of selfless worship we will receive joy because our focus is entirely on God, but never when our focus is on ourselves. And yes, there are benefits that come as a result of our worship, for the Word says He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and that if we draw close to Him… He will draw near to us(James 4:8). Time spent with God will always bring forth a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Creator.

“Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.’ Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.”   Psalm 96:8-12 (NKJV)

When we enter into the awesome throne room of God and witness His power and might, we should be filled with reverent fear. This holy and righteous fear should purge us of all self-focus. Why? Because the Creator of the universe is omnipotent and fearsome in His might yet still, He appreciates the songs of praise offered by that which He created.

Our God seeks a pure heart. A pure heart is not a selfish or self-centered one, nor do the pure of heart look for gain and prosperity while worshipping their Savior. Because God has done great things we are filled with joy and that joy is indeed our strength.

Let us then decide to magnify God with the sole purpose of glorifying His precious name. Let us lay aside all self-interest whenever we enter into His courts of praise. May our heart and mind be completely focused on giving Him pleasure, without a thought to our own happiness. Shall we simply adore Him and the glory of His splendor? It is here where joy is found, and joy trumps worldly happiness every time.

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.  In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land.  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” Psalm 97:1-7 (NKJV)

“Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:2 (NKJV)

But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3 (NKJV)

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.My heart leaps for joy,and with my song I praise Him.” Psalm 28:7(NIV)

 

ISIS is Branding Christians

Nazarene

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV)

I am praying for the Christians who are being persecuted. Please stand with me.

“This is the letter “N” in Arabic. It is being used to brand Christians in Iraq who are being persecuted and murdered by ISIS terrorists. The letter “N” stands for Nazarene. I am posting this, along with thousands of others around the World, in hopes of raising awareness of their plight and lifting them up in prayer. May the Lord move and the World take action. Please join the fight and share this!”

“All Your commandments are faithful;
They persecute me wrongfully;
Help me!” Psalm 119:86 (NKJV)

“Have mercy on me, O Lord! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death,” Psalm 9:13 (NKJV)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35 (NKJV)

 https://www.facebook.com/kloveafternoons

Christians Under Attack

Christains Under Attack

Remember to watch Greta Van Susteren tonight for her special report, “Christians Under Attack,” She is spotlighting the persecution of Christians in Iraq and around the world.

Watch live or set your DVR for 7 p.m. EDT on the Fox News Channel. Tell your friends and family to watch, too.

The Great Commission: Patience Required

*Fruit:Patience

This is a devotional from my next book FACING STORMS: A DEVOTIONAL FOR THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

We have a great commission in life. We are called to make disciples of all the nations, including our own country. So, the rude co-worker and obnoxious neighbor is part of our assignment. God loves His entire creation and wants every person to accept Him as his or her Lord and Savior. This is every Christian’s most important calling and mission in life.

“It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbor.”   ~ Martin Luther

No, this appointment is not an easy one, but neither is loving a people who falls so short of God’s morality. Thankfully, God refuses to give up on us and throw in the towel. He perseveres in demonstrating His love daily and in every moment. He longs for our fellowship and makes Himself available at all times. He creates incredible sunsets for our enjoyment and gives pleasure in so many different ways. His heart and passion belongs to us so, to model Him, our passion should be for the lost…. Be they ever so challenging.

People who rub us the wrong way are the means God uses to sand off our rough edges. They are placed in our life for OUR benefit. For by having them near us, we soon see our shortcomings and identify the weak areas in our character and spiritual walk.

Are you an impatient person? Ask for patience and God will surely send someone your way that challenges your temperance. Only by God’s blessed grace will you see a righteous gift of compassion birthed in your heart. Your self-control and forbearance will astound you. The sincere love and affection you are meant to feel for this person will deepen over time. So profound will it become, if you practice it daily, you will find yourself perplexed at how you ever saw them as a thorn or irritant in your side.

Will you choose kindness over selfish actions of rudeness? Will you overlook an offense and remember the many times God has forgiven you? Through simple acts of love, you can change a stony heart into a softer one, a heart the Creator can easily fashion and mold into something new.

Discernment will be given for the sake of intercession. Do not gawk at their sin or find pleasure in fault-finding. The Spirit will guide you as you pray and witness to them. Once hard to love (only because their wounds had made them fearful and prickly) they will drop their thorns and rest in your company. Reckless words will cause much damage but wise words of encouragement bring much fruit. By establishing trust, they will share another side with you, one only a precious few have witnessed. It will be an honor to behold.

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go thereforeand make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15 (NKJV)

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”Luke 19:10 (NKJV)

“Yet if we would know God and for other’s sake tell what we know we must try to speak of his love. All Christians have tried but none has ever done it very well. I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme than a child can grasp a star. Still by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So as I stretch my heart toward the high shining love of God someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.” ~ A.W. Tozer

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ~ C.S. Lewis

 

Are You Wearing The Joy Of The Lord?

Mirror

There are many scriptures that mention joy.  John 15:7-11 reminds us, “If we abide in Him and His Word abides in us, we should ask whatever we wish, and it will be done for us.”  We are then told to abide in His love.  It is important to note that if God’s Word abides in us, we will pray according to His will.  Therefore, anything we request in our prayers must be aligned to the will and purposes of God, if we expect them to be answered. This is a joyful hope and worth some meditation! 

Do you regularly meditate on the wonders of God, His blessings and kindnesses, His faithfulness and provisions?  What a wonderful way to slip into slumber; remembering the faithful acts of love God has demonstrated throughout your day/life! What sweet sleep you will enjoy, and what peaceful dreams!

“My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, 
I meditate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.”  Psalm 63:5-7 (NAS) 

We serve a God of eternal hope who fills us with joy and peace.  Why? So that we overflow with hope…. And serve as His reflection.  We are His representatives, ambassadors of Christ. With hope, and the grace of God, we can do all things. Hope enables us to journey down unknown and dangerous paths with a song of joy in our hearts. Hope has the ability to spur us on to do good works and push us through the darkest of times.  Joy, praise, and unspoken feelings of joy are one way we, His creation, can give Him the glory He deserves. 

Unfortunately, It is easy to loose joy when we are suffering a pain or sorrow.  Should depression or despair be your companions of late, it is most likely your focus has moved to something other than your Savior’s face. Jesus, because of the joy awaiting Him, endured the cross.  He looked beyond His present circumstances of suffering to the eternal glory He would soon partake. 

Can you look beyond your present circumstances and rejoice with a joyful heart, knowing that what you suffer now is not worth comparing to the glory soon to be revealed in you?  Can you maintain joy in your valley and sing of it to your Savior? This would be a beautiful sacrifice of praise and a witness to many. 

Let the joy of the Lord be your strength at all times. CHOOSE to be joyful.  Make a decision to see the positive blessings that are to come, or that are all around you. We have been gifted with an inexpressible joy, thanks to the love and sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. I pray you open His gift with a decision to sing, speak, or even whisper His praise. You will find your joy grows and matures when you praise Him in your valley. 

“There is nothing dreary or doubtful about (the life). It is meant to be continually joyful…We are called to a settled happiness in the Lord whose joy is our strength.” ~Amy Carmichael

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name.”  Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)

Memorial Day Event in Canon City, CO

I will be in Canon City, CO at the Holy Cross Abbey for the whole Memorial Day Weekend. Hope to see you there!

AbbeyBanner

Cheryl Is Available For Speaking Engagements

Purple Top

Check out some of the topics I would love to share at your event.

http://facingtrials.com/videos/

Are You A Humble Soldier Of Christ?

soldiers_of_christ

“A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Proverbs 29:29 (NKJV)

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, 
And before honor is humility.” Proverbs 15:33 (NKJV)

It is not easy to submit and give another person authority over your well-being. It requires humility and trust. I say humility, because you have agreed to let them lead and guide. You are a foot soldier under the command of a General. You must follow his instructions and do what he orders, even if you don’t have all the details. Trust is necessary because of the position he holds over you.

These words speak of our relationship with God. He is the General and we are His foot soldiers. We are to yield our wills and plans over to Him. If He sends us out on a seemingly dangerous mission, we must trust that He has already equipped us for that assignment. He does not want casualties. He is always victorious in His spiritual battles!

The blessing we must not forget is that our General is also our Father. Every time one of His children enters into battle, He goes before them. He is our commander but He is also our Creator. He loves us more than we can fathom and His mercies are never ending. This knowledge should aid us in trusting Him with our lives.

Unlike earthly Generals, we always have permission to “speak freely” to Him, offering up our…. go to  http://facingtrials.com   to read the rest of this devotion.

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