WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Promises”

Putting God First

*7

What is your greatest treasure? What is your most precious possession? The Bible mentions our connection to this treasure. It is a heart connection.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Luke 12:34 (NKJV)

If our heart treasure is money and success, we should take heed to Matthew 6:24. This scripture warns we cannot serve two masters. It is impossible to serve both God and money. Many a greedy man has been doomed by his ambition for power, wealth, and success. Queen Esther certainly played a part in Haman’s demise (Esther 7). His thirst for power and success was his ruination.

God is to be our first priority, in all things and in all ways. Putting a child or family member above God is a form of idolatry. Genesis 22 tells of how God tested Abraham. Abraham adored his son Isaac, but that did not hinder his obedience to God.

Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:2 (NKJV)

God waited until the very last moment, watching Abraham lift his knife to slay his son, before intervening and providing another blood sacrifice. God witnessed Abraham’s obedience. He saw the heart of his servant. Isaac was greatly loved, but Abraham had not placed him in a position above the Lord. He trusted God would fulfill His promise to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen 22:17).

“But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

So he said, “Here I am.”

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Genesis 22:11-12 (NKJV)

So, it is good to ask this question periodically. “Is God my top priority and how do I actively put Him first?”

We are told to Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)

Putting God first, in everything we do is not easy in this fallen world. There are so many distractions and temptations that keep us from our fellowship time with God. It is easy to get involved in family matters or work related issues first thing in the morning. Yet, in the life of a saint, God must be first. Our relationship with our Creator needs to be a priority. If we wait to pray, worship, and read the Word of God, it is easy to place Him on the back burner. We trudge through our busy day and come home weary and ready for bed.

As we drift off to sleep, God calls out to say, “I missed you today! I wanted to share some words that would have encouraged you and others. I had wisdom to impart and I wanted to teach you about ______. Am I your first love, your first priority?”

Jesus and other Bible characters are noted as early risers who sought God in prayer. Abraham, Hannah, and Job are just a few examples.

And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord.Genesis 19:24 (NKJV)

Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.1 Samuel 1:19 (NKJV)

So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus, Job did regularly.Job 1:5 (NKJV)

I encourage you to carve out a set time in the morning to fellowship with God. Sing His praises and read the Bible. The Word of God is what feeds our spirit. The Holy Spirit will store what we have read and supernaturally bring it back to memory when necessary.

Pray in the morning, before you get entangled with work and the cares of this world. Prayer is our way to communicate with God. It is also one way He communicates with us.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.” Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.” John 8:2 (NKJV)

Fear Hinders Our Labor For Christ

*8

God does not turn a deaf ear to any righteous person crying out for help. The Lord hears their cry. Every believer should embrace this promise. And although God is spirit, and we are spirit encased within flesh, He hears our petitions from His realm on high.

Furthermore, God delivers the righteous out of all their troubles. This deliverance can occur in many different ways. God may simply remove our adversary or obstacle. He is able to do what we deem impossible. But, more often then an immediate or supernatural intervention, He will enable us to face and overcome our obstacle through His amazing grace. He equips us to subdue the enemy, who schemes to deceive us into thinking we have lost a battle that has already been won.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:17-19 (NKJV)

Fear is often the root of our trouble, and it is an obstacle that hinders the work of Christ. It is bondage, yet we have been set free! When we ought to love the unlovable, fears of the unknown often rush at us instead. When an opportunity to share the grace and love of God stands open before us, we cower at the possible pain a wretched and lost soul might inflict, forgetting to walk in victory our risen Lord and provided.

They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:19 (NKJV)

A time of testing, where a loved one is placed in the way of danger or adversity, can be especially difficult. But God understands this pain. He watched His beloved son, our Lord Jesus, suffer and endure the very cross that set us free. His crucifixion and resurrection brought about such remarkable good, the redemption of mankind and a restored relationship with God! Jesus’ fearless trust in His Father’s will and provision enabled Him to overcome all His trepidation while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew pain was in His future, but He embraced it, trusting His Father’s plan.

Suffering is found in the Refiner’s fire, and our refinement is a blessing. While in the throngs of great suffering, we might not understand the value or beauty it instills within us. But in time, it will be revealed. Understanding will come. But faith…FAITH in God’s character and goodness will propel us ahead to embrace the difficult task set before us. Grace… The GRACE of God will carry us through our test. Love…The LOVE of God that lives within us will soften our hard hearts and fearing nature to love the hateful that mock and persecute. With the eyes of Christ….Eyes that see us as we will one day be will be our own eyes, so long as we cry out to Him in righteousness.

Oh Lord, hear my cry. Make my eyes Your eyes! Let me see what You see when gazing upon the lost and spiritually dead. Help me to love them as You do and to love them as You love me.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  James 5:16 (NKJV)

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (NKJV)

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)

FEARS

Our Longing For God

_Long for God

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV)

“At night my soul longs for You, indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9 (NASB)

Our longing for God should be greater than any craving that consumes us. We need to be passionate, to the point of being overwhelmed, in our desire to sit in His holy presence. The scriptures compare our yearning for God to that of a deer panting for streams of water. To yearn for God means we long for His fellowship.

God is our friend. However, it is up to us to cultivate this precious relationship. He already knows us inside and out. He is waiting for us to get to know Him. If we don’t spend time with God, we cannot expect to know Him intimately.

Some of us are satisfied with friends who are simply acquaintances, surface friends who don’t require much time or effort. Acquaintances are great for small talk and chit chat, a friendly hello over the backyard fence, but these friends are superficial.

Then there are friends who take. They take our time, our energy, and a lot of our patience. They take and we give, and give, and give. The relationship is not balanced and we see them more of a ministry than an equitable friendship. I wonder if God looks down on us and see us in this same light. We take and He gives and gives… and gives.

True friendship is an investment of time and energy. It requires an open heart. God created us as relational beings, with a need for love and a desire to be understood. Since we were made in the image of God, it makes sense to conclude, although He does not NEED our love and understanding, He DESIRES our love and fellowship. He wants to be with us, and share His wisdom, love, power, and beauty. He wants US to know HIM intimately.

Are we so in love with God that we desire nothing else? Do we eat, breathe, and dream of Him? Are we so passionately desperate for His presence that we cry out for Him like a parched desert crying out for rain? Do the things of this world hold little worth when compared to KNOWING God? What are the secret desires in our heart? Are our hidden desires for heavenly treasure, or are they tied to earthly passions and belongings?

Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” Psalm 73:25 (NIV)

 I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah” Psalm 143:6 (NKJV)

When we are in love, it is hard to be parted from the one we adore. In fact, many have suffered a broken heart from loosing the love of their life. Should we not have the same yearning love for our blessed Savior?

My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times.” Psalm 11:20 (NKJV)

“With my soul I have desired You in the night, yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9 (NKJV)

God wants us to seek Him and He wants to be found! He does not want to play HIDE AND SEEK and remain hidden behind the sofa. Never far away or out of our reach, He rewards the seeker.

How does He reward the seeker? What is the reward? Dear Friend, it is with treasure. Our treasure is God, yes, God alone. What more do we need?

“So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us” Acts 17:27 (NKJV)

“I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently will find Me.” Proverbs 8:17 (NKJV)

“The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the SOURCE of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may love he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.”

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, The Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing. I thirst to be made more thirsty still.” (P.14 The Pursuit Of God by A.W. Tozer)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVQmZCK4Fiw

During your quiet time pray about your relationship with God. Do you long for His presence? Do you yearn for a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him?

My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:81 (NIV)

“I long for Him more than sentinels long for the dawn.” Psalm 130:6 (TLB)

Love Promises From God

*Love

“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.” Psalm 119:140 (NKJV)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19 (NKJV)

I am so thankful God has given us a multitude of encouraging promises to stand on. We must seek them out, but they are in the Word and easy to discover. Promises of His love, protection, provision and many other gems are there to give us hope. If we diligently seek Him, we will never fall short of encouragement and reasons to give Him praise.

God’s Word proclaims that there is no fear in love, that perfect love casts out all fear. Indeed we are to respect and honor our God, demonstrating awe when we enter into His presence (He is our Creator), and we can rejoice in knowing He loves us unconditionally. What comfort this is for all believers! We need not ever fear approaching His throne and mercy seat. He freely offers His love and forgiveness time, after time, after time.

God’s love for us is an enduring love. It is constant. He remains faithful in His affections even when we are faithless in return. His love is also unconditional. Therefore, if we rebel like the prodigal son, we are always welcomed home with open arms. God’s love is continuous even when it is one-sided. However, if we decide to love Him back, our relationship with God will deepen to such a level of intimacy that no other could ever compare.

God rejoices over us with singing. Did you hear that? God sings and rejoices over us! This is not just when we repent and return to Him, like a lost lamb I believe He rejoices over us when we make choices that glorify His name. He must sing every time someone shares the Good News. Indeed, every time we choose to live and love in righteousness He surely smiles.

Abounding in His everlasting love for us His affections are always in action. He longs for a relationship with mankind, His own creation! Would you want to befriend something you made with your hands, like a knitted sweater or a piece of pottery? What an idea! What a concept!

If you think your sins have left you unfit to approach God’s mercy seat, you are wrong. The Father looks directly into the heart of man and sees past his sin. He recognizes you as the masterpiece He designed long ago. Come before Him and He will lovingly wash you as white as snow with the blood of the Lamb. You will be cleansed with His righteousness. Free from sin, He will then dress you in clean clothes.

“Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.’” Zechariah 3:3-4 (NIV)

Do not let sin separate you from the love of God. He longs for your fellowship and calls out to you. With loving- kindness He is drawing you even now. Can you feel it? Knock on the door of His heart and He shall answer with much singing and rejoicing. Just as a groom longs for the affection of his bride, God longs for your fellowship and adoration.

READ THE FOLLOWING PROMISES OF GOD THEN MEDITATE ON HIS LOVE FOR YOU.

“I love those who love me, and those who seek Me diligently will find me.” Proverbs 8:17 (NKJV)

“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:26 (NKJV)

“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

The great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go God’s love for us does not.” ― C.S. Lewis

A Biblical Attitude of Hope

*anchor

Where does your hope come from and where does it rest? Is it in the economy or political system? Is your hope resting on your career or financial and social status? Have you placed your hope in your spouse or even in your kids? Hope is where your confidence lies. The only secure and lasting hope is found in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul understood this fact as evident in how he opens the book of 1 Timothy. The very first verse states, that Jesus Christ IS OUR HOPE.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope.” 1 Timothy 1:1 (NKJV)

Abraham also understood that his hope had to rest in God. With a mighty promise the Lord spoke these words to Abraham ….

“By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—  blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”      Genesis 22:16-18 (NKJV).

Abraham means “Father of a Multitude.” But it was not until he was 100 years old that his child Isaac was born. Can you imagine introducing yourself with such a name and not have a single child to boast about? To see the promises of God occur, we must trust the character of God and His faithfulness to His Word. God cannot lie and as there is no other name above His, He swears an oath with His own name.

In Hebrews 6:17-18 God reveals His determination to give THE HEIRS of this promise a solid hope by reminding them that He is UNCHANGABLE. In a world that is always changing, the promises of God never change. He cannot lie.

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

AND

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)

Therefore, we can take comfort in knowing our hope, found in Jesus, is our refuge. We all suffer from trials and tribulations and become refugees at some point in life. We look for comfort and help so He is that “Strong Tower” we must run to for protection and strength.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV)

Hebrews 6:19 draws an analogy between our hope in Christ and an anchor. Our hope rooted in Christ is an anchor for our soul, the seat of emotions, our will, and the mind. An anchor is that sure and steadfast presence that keeps us steady and safe in the most turbulent of storms.

During a tempest, the anchor of a sailing ship is deployed to the depths of an ocean floor. It keeps the ship secure so it won’t crash against rocks or get lost at sea. However, the anchor of a Christian is not tossed to the watery depths found on earth. No, instead it is cast high above into the heavenly realm where God the Father abides. Our hope is in Christ. Christ is our anchor. Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Father in HEAVEN. Therefore, our hope is in heaven interceding for us both day and night. He does not sleep.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

We have a secure line to our anchor in the throne room. It is made of supernatural twin. But to enter into the hope God has promised, we must FLEE TO the place of refuge. Yes, on our knees we must seek His face and ask for His help. To receive the blessings of God we must exercise our faith, trusting in His love for us and in His plan to give us a hope and a future. Hope is the confident expectation of coming good. This is a strong consolation based on the very character of God. God is love.

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” John 4:8 (NKJV)

MEDITATE ON THESE SCRIPTURES. WHERE YOU HAVE PLACED YOUR HOPE?

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 147:11 (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)

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
 And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
” Psalm 57:1 (NKJV)

“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV)

“For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” Isaiah 25:4 (NKJV)

* SPECIAL THANKS to Pastor Eric Cartier of Rocky Mountain Calvary. His sermon on Hebrews 6:13-20 inspired this devotion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkMapZB8qMk

MY HOPE IS BUILT

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness seems to veil His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath His covenant and blood
Support me in the ‘whelming flood:
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound,
O may I then in him be found.
Clothed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before his throne.

Words by Edward Mote (1797-1874) and others
Music by Francis Blight (PRS)

 

The Humility Of Christ’s Birth

*Manger

Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.”  Proverbs 15:33 (NIV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14 (NKJV)

Amazing!

Jesus left His heavenly home and His eternal fellowship with Father God to take on human form and humbly live among man. The Son of God, free of all sin, agreed to live among a menagerie of sinners. Our transgressions had separated us from the love of God and His blessed fellowship. We desperately needed a Savior. Only through Christ’s death and resurrection could God consider reconciliation. When Jesus took the sins of the world to the cross our fellowship with the one and only Creator was restored.

God planned the virgin birth of Jesus Christ before Adman and Eve had spent a single moment in the Garden of Eden. He knew they would be tempted and deceived by the serpent. He knew they would fall. I am sure God’s heart broke when sin was birthed in the paradise He had created for them.

The humble emergence of baby Jesus gives us insight into the heart of God. He did not pick a wealthy couple of immeasurable means to care for His son. He did not pick a mighty man of power and influence or a famous and prominent woman to raise His son. Instead, God acknowledged the quiet and sincere faith of both Joseph and Mary. He selected them for the wondrous honor of raising His son Jesus, an honor that was both costly and a blessing. But because of their humility, they too become special examples of God’s grace.

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud,
 but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6 (NKJV)

Humility is important to God. Take note of Christ’s place of birth…. a stable. God provides for all our needs, so Mary was not forced to give birth to the Son of man in the wilderness. No, a warm stable that was out of the elements was God’s provision. This humble environment was the setting God chose for our Redeemer to enter the world…. But why? There must be a reason!

When we are in need, there is a greater urge to call upon God and rely on His provisions. Because Mary accepted the honor of being the Mother of Jesus, she faced much ridicule and doubt from her community, including her betrothed. She fell upon the grace of God and in her humility He smiled and provided.

When God’s son was about to enter the world, He again saw Mary’s need and provided a warm and safe place for the birth. He did not provide a wealthy establishment or mansion. It was to rural shepherds that angels appeared and announced the Savior’s birth. This environment shows the concern God has for His people, and it is not dependent social class and vocation. We all matter to our heavenly Father. God is not a respecter of man or of position for HE is the one who provides said position and wealth.

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Acts 10:34-35 (NKJV)

Jesus came into the world to save sinners, yet sinners are both rich and poor! Again I ask, why did God give Jesus such a humble birth and life, especially since leaving heaven was already a sacrifice of humility beyond our comprehension? We find the answer in Scripture.

By reading Philippians 2:3-9 we see the importance of putting others first, esteeming them better than ourselves. God wants us to be concerned with the needs of others. This is one way to grow in love. In addition, we are told to have a mind like Christ. Jesus was humble and therefore we too should walk in humility. It pleases our Creator. Jesus humbled himself by becoming the Son of man, taking on our humble appearance. And because of His humble obedience at the cross, God rewarded Him with a name above all others.

Humility gives God glory. He created us for fellowship but also so that we might glorify His name. When we live humble lives, whether we are rich or poor, we honor God. By putting the needs of others before our own we demonstrate the true love of God. This love is the light within us that should not be hidden under a bushel. (Mat 5:15-16) The reason Christ came into this world was so that all men and women would be saved. We could not ask for a better role model. The humility of Christ is astounding. http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Luke/Birth-Jesus

USE YOUR QUITE TIME TO READ THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURES AND QUOTE

“A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”   Proverbs 29:23 (NKJV)

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38 (NKJV)

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” Philippians 2:3-9 (NKJV)

We had long known the Lord without realizing that meekness and lowliness of heart should be the distinguishing feature of the disciple.” ~ Andrew Murray

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Facing Adversity: Thoughts of Wisdom, Praise, & Promise

_Facing Adversity Cover Final jpg

The last book of my devotion trilogy, Facing Adversity: Thoughts of Wisdom, Praise, & Promise, is now available on Amazon. Here is an excerpt from a devotion titled SUFFERING UNITES US ALL

http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Adversity-Thoughts-Wisdom-Promise/dp/1503377989/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417501877&sr=1-5&keywords=Cheryl+Zelenka

“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.

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? Healing 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.”

The Promise of Forgiveness

*Jesus Forgives

1 John 1:9 is a PROMISE. We will find forgiveness in Christ if we confess our sins and repent of our ways. This is a blessed assurance. God will never say, “No, I will not accept your confession of sin and heart felt apology. I do not forgive you. I do not want a relationship with you.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Some of you may know the heartache of unforgiveness. After humbling yourself and apologizing for a wrong, hoping to restore a broken relationship or bring healing to someone, you were rebuffed or ignored. Your cry to be forgiven was not met with love or a consoling pardon. The pain of unforgiveness is heart wrenching. All one can do is act on what the scriptures instruct and pray, leaving the rest to God.

Thankfully, we will never suffer this rejection with God. He accepts our plea for forgiveness and casts the memory of our sin as far as the east is from the west. We have been washed in the blood and sacrifice of the Lamb. Our Creator longs for an intimate relationship with us and since all sin separates us from His presence, He forgives us repeatedly.

We cannot however change people, or their reaction to our sin. We can only work on changing ourselves…. with God’s grace. Because God loves us, He works to perfect and refine our spirits until they eventually reflect back the very image of Christ. This act of sanctification requires man to lay aside pride and self-will. Everyone comes to the place of absolute surrender at a different time in life. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we eventually come to understand the necessity for making greater room in our hearts for God.

He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 (NIV)

A conflict between two people means that there are TWO individuals who need to work together on the resolution. One may want change and restoration but the other might not. We can influence people in a positive way by walking in the light, but God alone refines and transforms the heart. If one person is not willing or ready to consider forgiveness, reconciliation is put on hold.

There is always the hope of a restored relationship but sin, even confessed sin, will change an association in some way. We are not like God who is able to forget wrongs and cast them beyond His memory. Broken trust takes time to heal. It takes work and patience, understanding and tolerance. Wounds heal but some scars remain. Maybe the scar will serve as a testimony of God’s healing power, a witness to others who are living in broken relationships.

A restored relationship gives glory to God. It can become even better after suffering through affliction, betrayal, and sin. Love is the healing balm that makes this possible. Love is the greatest gift of all and can cover a multitude of sins, if we are willing to lay down our own pain and offer the wrongdoer (It usually takes two individuals to make a wrong and therefore two are necessary to make it right again) absolution.

Hold on to the promise that ALL of your sins are forgiven when you repent to God, even the unforgiven sins held against you by someone with a hard heart. You are cleansed from all unrighteousness the minute you confess to God. He pardons all unrighteousness and grants absolution. Guilt does not come from God, just Holy Spirit conviction that leads to humble repentance. You have been forgiven. You are forgiven. By the blood of Jesus Christ you are freely forgiven.

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;And I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV)

 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

He does not treat us as our sins deserveor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,so great is His love for those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west,so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12 (NIV)

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

This devotion is from my book FACING ADVERSITY: THOUGHTS OF WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISE. You will find it on Amazon the first week of December. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Cheryl%20Zelenka&sprefix=Chery%2Caps

It Takes Perseverance To Run A Race

*Run Race To Win

Perseverance helps one to overcome the greatest difficulties in life. Without a steadfast tenacity to press forward through challenging obstacles, conflicts, and unexpected problems we would never get anywhere or accomplish much. The problem with giving up without a fight is that we are told to run our spiritual race as “one intent on obtaining the prize.”

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”   1 Corinthians 9:24 (NKJV)

Nobody wins a race if they lack endurance and the will to persevere through hindrances. We must finish the purposes God has purposed for us! Sitting down to rest is understood by our Father. Sitting down in hopelessness and surrendering to defeat signifies lost or damaged faith.

Google defines PERSEVERANCE as, “Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”

Steadfast literally means fixed in place, but is chiefly used figuratively to indicate undeviating constancy or resolution: steadfast in one’s faith.”

 Obstacles should be viewed as challenges to overcome, opportunities to apply knowledge and surmount discouragements with the purpose of extinguishing all thoughts of defeat or hopelessness. We are victorious because our righteousness is rooted in Christ, and since He was victorious upon the cross and through His resurrection we share in His victory.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 (NKJV)

Our Lord was obedient unto death. However, this does not mean He never grew weary or overwhelmed with the path set before Him. Three times He asked His Father if there was another way to save creation, beside His ordained crucifixion. He struggled with God’s perfect plan, but He always ended His prayers asking for God’s will. Jesus persevered in His obedience to God.

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” Luke 22:42-43 (NKJV)

In the book of Romans, we are told that we are “more than conquerors” thanks to the love of God. We are to prevail, always trusting God’s purposes and plans for they never fail. All things are possible through the grace and power of God, including that which we deem to be impossible.

Weariness during adversity happens, but the truths found in the Word of God will always help to spurs you on. And even as angels were sent to minister to Jesus in His time of need, God will send ministering angels to you as well. Never grow weary doing what is right and just in the sight of God. He will reward your faithfulness and service with heavenly treasures.

Finally, there will be times when you slip and fall. God sees into hearts and knows your efforts to do what is right. When life knocks you down, Jesus will pick you up and set you back on your feet. It is then up to you to move forward with a steadfast heart, endurance, and a desire to persevere until you have finished your race. God will be cheering you on with every forward step you take.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”   James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”   James 1:12 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Revelation 3:10 (NKJV)

You will find this devotion in my upcoming book FACING STORMS: THOUGHTS OF WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISE. Look for it on Amazon this December!

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Cheryl%20Zelenka&sprefix=Chery%2Caps

Prayer: Brain Tumor Ashes To New Growth

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Those of you who know my story, and if you do not…. well, a brain tumor nearly took me in 2011. My life appeared to be ashes at my feet when I woke up in ICU. No home, no job, away from friends, uncertain financial issues, etc. But GOD IS FAITHFUL! (Read my testimony… on right under My Story)

Even though my future IS STILL pretty much in the dark… I am alive, healthy, working, and serving God. This is a prayer I wrote today. I hope it blesses you and makes you think….

“Lord, I praise YOU for YOUR love and stand in awe of YOUR might. I see now how there is growth coming forth from my ashes. YOUR living Word is such an encouragement to me. Help me to persevere in the new direction YOU have set before me. I know that YOU are the perfect guide and will help to move me forward on my path. Joy and gladness have already filled my heart, for I have all I need…. YOU and YOU alone.”

** Remember there is ALWAYS HOPE! God loves you and has never left your side. Keep praying and trust He has the very best for you!

” For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” Is. 51:3 (NKJV)

*6 Days aver brain surgery/ July 2014 visiting my dog Bubba.

**Me and Bubba

 

 

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