WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Psalms”

Are You Wearing A Face of Joy?

*Snowman Face

Are you wearing a face of JOY today??

“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” Psalm 47:1 (NIV)

” 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)

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.”

Giving Thanks…. ALL THE TIME!

*Thanks

To have a heart of thanks is to have a heart of praise. It is easy to thank God for times of health and prosperity but it is not so easy to thank God for our times of trials, storms, and adversity. However, we are called to give thanks in All circumstances.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

God designs, plans, orchestrate, permits, and even sends difficult challenges our way. After all, we have to build up our spiritual muscles some how. A challenge from God often comes in the form of a test of faith.

Needless to say the Devil, who is always lurking about, will stick his nose in any situation hoping to implant discouragement. So, put in your earplugs and put on your spiritual armor. The Helmet of Salvation will keep your mind clear of confusion. By cinching up your belt of truth, you will expose all of his miserable lies.

Fruit produced from such tests of faith are well worth the temporary discomfort you may endure. Perseverance is needed to finish the race set before you, and spiritual tests will train you to endure. Nobody likes to eat unripe fruit and with every struggle you face, with God by your side, the fruit of the Spirit becomes riper and sweeter to the taste.

While bravely setting out on the journey He planned for you, the goodness and kindness of Christ will grown within your heart. You will notice gentleness and compassion have extended their boundaries, empowering your love for Christ and others to mature through sanctification. The Holy Spirit working within you is the only explanation for your budding capacity to love. Oh, what joy there is when we realize spiritual growth!

It takes patience and self-control to trudge through difficult times, but the peace of Christ will always greet us if we lift up our needs in prayer. A peace that transcends all understanding is available for every child of God. It is never withheld or out of reach. This peace comes when we surrender our challenges and submit to God’s plan, trusting Him to equip us for every obstacle.

I encourage you to train your eyes to see the goodness of God, trusting that everything you face has God’s stamp of approval. Just as Satan had to get permission in the throne room to test Job, the Devil must also get permission to buffet you. God did not look to destroy Job and He does not intend to test you beyond your ability to weather a storm.

Have faith in God’s intentions and purpose. Decide now to praise Him in the midst of your pain. This sacrifice of praise will give your heavenly Father much joy and cause the enemy much discomfort. It will also serve as a quiet witness to those all around you. Be brave and courageous. Be of a stout heart. Praise the name of Jesus in ALL circumstances because He is worthy of ALL our praise.

DURING YOUR QUIET TIME ENTER HIS GATES WITH THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE. THANK GOD FOR ALL OF YOUR BLESSINGS.

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1 (NIV)

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 118:1 (NKJV)

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” ~C.S. Lewis                         

This devotion is from FACING ADVERSITY: THOUGHTS OF WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISE… available the first week of December on Amazon. Check out my other books

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

In God Alone

*Hope In You

An all-powerful and sovereign Creator, who wants to have an intimate relationship with His creation, loves mankind beyond measure. God did not create the human race out of boredom or on a whim. No, He made us for His good pleasure and great delight. His attachment to us is so great that He longs for our fellowship and will one day live among us in paradise. He enjoys our company! Although we are corrupt and sinful in nature, He refuses to abandon that which His breath made alive. We are His. We belong to a King! He made a commitment to us…. we are His beloveds. In Him alone we find all hope.

But I will hope continually,and will praise You yet more and more.”   Psalm 71:14 (NKJV)

Hope is that push that moves us though another difficult day. Hope comes from our faith and it expands as our trust in God deepens. Hope grows when we accept God’s grace and believe every confessed sin is tossed as far as the east is from the west.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

When we need strength God gives us His. Some privileged saints are asked to bear incredible pain and debilitating illnesses, which leave them in a weakened state. Through these precious ones the power of God gives witness to His healing strength, love, and ability to perform miracles. Hope is often found in hospitals and in the presence of the dying. In such places there is hope for healing, hope for wisdom, and hope for eternal peace.

We hope for security but the world is uncertain. Only in the arms of grace can we find stable ground. If we are declared impoverished and found hungry, we can still feed upon God’s daily bread… the living Word of God. With this manna we nourish our spirits, and find rest in the hope and promise of a new and better day.

“You will be secure, because there is hope;you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor.” Job 11:18-19 (NIV)

If hope is absent from your life then consider the faithfulness of God. Are you still alive and breathing? Your positive reply means that up until this moment God has faithfully preserved your life for a reason. Maybe you lost a job. There is the hopeful possibility that a better one is in your future. By placing your hope in Christ, you will soon see He has carried you through your adversity.

God did not spare His own Son the suffering of the cross. It was for our benefit that Jesus became man, died, and was raised again. God sent Jesus to redeem us and has exalted Him in the heavens. He is our Victor and blessed Mediator.

Take your burdens to Jesus and pour out your heart. He is the Savior of the world and our only hope. Ask Him to be your guiding light as you attempt to stand and move forward through your storm. Your struggle will have an end but His love and care for you is never-ending.

To persevere is to ascend the mountaintop of God. It is a necessary trait, a requirement if we wish to see the face of God. When you place your hope in the Father, you will always have victory and a supernatural peace.

READ THE SCRIPTURES AND QUOTE BELOW. REFLECT ON WHAT IT MEANS TO PUT YOUR HOPE IN CHRIST JESUS.

“But I will hope continually,
 and will praise You yet more and more.”   Psalm 71:14 (NKJV)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
 and in His Word I do hope.”   Psalm 130:5 (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)

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 43:5 (NKJV)

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
He made me weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do great things;
He gave me grace that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
He gave me poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of others;
He gave me weakness that I might feel a need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
He gave me life that I might enjoy all things.
I received nothing I had asked for;
He gave me all that I had hoped for.                                                                                                                                                                                                              ~ Author Unknown

This devotion is found in FACING ADVERSITY: THOUGHTS OF WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISE. Available 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

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

 

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)

 

Wailing Into Dancing

Ps 30 Wailing 2 Dancing TL

A devotion from Cheryl Zelenka’s soon to be released book of devotions FACING STORMS. Available on Amazon this October.

“No one will calmly and quietly submit to bear the cross except those who have learned to seek their happiness beyond this world.” John Calvin

“For His anger is but for a moment, 
His favor is for life; 
Weeping may endure for a night, 
but joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)

“You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; 
are they not in Your book?”  Psalm 56:8 (NKJV)

“Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.” You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing Your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise You forever.”  Psalm 30:10-13 (NIV)

Have you ever heard somebody say, “You’ve got to praise Him in the storm?”  This concept might seem insensitive or even ridiculous to you, especially if eating, speaking, and even waking up requires a monumental effort. The idea of lifting your voice in praise during your dark moment may even be offensive, especially if you can barely manage to get out of bed or utter a few words over your morning coffee. But let me ask you this one question: Does God deserve our accolades and appreciation in good times AND bad?

After my brother died(Over 25 years ago), I had many disturbing dreams.  None of them were comforting. I longed to hug him one last time and hear an assurance that he was okay. I desperately wanted to say goodbye and enjoy one last conversation, even if it were only in a dream. This never happened. My grief was devastating and at the age of twenty-five my grief left me shattered and broken.

My sorrow drove me out into a black and very deep sea of depression. One moment I was drowning in despair and the next moment I was tossed to the beach. On dry land I had but a few seconds to catch my breath before high tide pulled me back into my living grave. Hopeless and exhausted, my tears would then mix with the seawater. It seemed as though this endless cycle would never end. 

How then do we recover from depression and despair? It is only by crying out to God and accepting His helping hand that we are able to overcome our greatest sorrows. When we finally choose to lay down our wills and surrender our complaints, trusting in His goodness, we permit Him to mold and work us into the image of His son. Through yielding to His sovereignty and by declaring His right to work within us, without the slightest need for understanding, we enter into an even deeper and more intimate walk. 

As we forgo our urge to wrestle with past events and their painful effects, we experience the rolling back of suffering. In its stead, we find ourselves within the supernatural peace that transcends all understanding. Through our submission to His will, and by acknowledging His ways to be so much higher than our own, our tragedy becomes bearable. He had a plan, and it included the circumstances of our heartache even before He knit us together.  At all times, our need for understanding must side step when faith wants to take the lead. 

Turning our wailing and sorrows into joy and dancing will happen with the passing of seasons. By allowing some time to pass, we will eventually look behind us and thank God for the precious moments, days, and years we had with the special someone we so dearly loved, or the life we were so content to play out. Faith helps us to accept and find comfort in knowing that “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  (Ro. 8:28). 

Loss, be it the death of a loved one, deteriorating health, lost dreams, or some kind of divine interruption ….. Will usually include a measure of pain.  Your positive attitude, perspective change, and faith are what will turn your wailing into praise and joyful dancing. The Lord equips you to sing songs of joy in good times and bad times. On some days you may have to look a little harder for the blessings in your life but they are always present.

God rescues His children from pits filled with vipers, caves, cisterns, and sinking ships rocked by hurricanes. Sorrow is only for a moment and joy WILL come! Since we are called to praise Him at ALL times, even when our hearts are breaking, a hushed and barely audible “thank you” is considered a glorious sacrifice of praise….  A very pleasing one indeed.

May the grace of our God be with you always. As He has turned my wailings into dancing, I humbly ask that you too find yourself in the same place I am now resting….in joyful wonder and awe of His miraculous healing power and love. 

TAKE SOME TIME TO CONTEMPLATE THE FOLLOWING WORDS 

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.”  John 16:20 (NKJV)

“Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together; for I will turn their mourning to joy, 
will comfort them, 
and make them rejoice rather than sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13 (NKJV) 

“We can experience joy in adverse circumstances by holding God’s benefits in such esteem that the recognition of them and meditation upon them shall overcome all sorrow.”  ~John Calvin

Finding Joy In God’s Presence

*Pleasure

Many in society have adopted the philosophy that life should be a trouble free existence filled with ongoing pursuits of lustful pleasure. Is our time on earth meant to be a continuous party filled with inordinate and excessive pleasure? Does said pleasure seeking produce a satisfying and lasting joy?

1 John 2:16 states that the lust of the flesh is not of the Father but is of the world. We are to live as aliens/foreigners while on earth. Our real home is in heaven and our earthly existence is a preparation for what is to come. We must therefore ask, how should we utilize the time and life we have been given.

“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16 (NKJV)

And so… why not live our life fully committed to the pursuit of earthly pleasures and fulfilling the lusts of our flesh?

All selfish pursuits of the flesh are contrary to the love of God. Love means we put the welfare of others first. Within this practice we find our joy, for this is how Christ loves the church. He put our welfare above His own and willingly suffered a painful death on the cross. He left His eternal home to live alongside man in a humble existence serving others. To be great in heaven is to be a servant on earth. Jesus found pleasure in loving and helping others.

While seeking selfish pleasures, we are not thinking of others or how our actions affect them. We do not put their needs before our own. We do not question if our behaviors please God or consider whether our decisions glorify Him. We simply seek out pleasure for enjoyment. We neglect to recognize God created that which we are using for our enjoyment, and are oblivious to how the enemy has perverted it to fit our level of debauchery.

I suggest that we are in a spiritual classroom in this life and should use our time to learn the things of God, exercise our spiritual gifts, and serve others. In heaven we have the promise of a life with no more tears or sorrow. There will be abundant joy in paradise. However, there is no biblical mention that this life is provided for mere searches of pleasure, nor does it suggest we will be free from grief and sorrow. There WILL be trouble in this world and no amount of avoidance though pleasure seeking will prevent adversity from occurring.

However, we were not created to live mundane, joyless, and boring lives full of continual suffering either. This is contrary to the very love of God! It is where we seek our joy and pleasure that should be examined. Is not our joy and pleasure to be found and realized in the very presence of God? Our Lord absolutely wants to bless His children with times of incredible joy and delight. All of creation and its beauty have been provided for our pleasure, while giving testimony of His existence and power. God is undeniable. Who can deny the pleasure of seeing a snow capped mountain or hearing a baby’s first giggle?

You will show me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy;At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

This lie of a life without pleasure or joy is certainly one the enemy hopes we buy into. It furthers his cause in leading God’s flock off the path of righteousness. The Prince of Darkness is privy to every weakness known to mankind and is skilled in weaving webs of deceit and temptation. He is constantly constructing new situations and objects that give us pause. Thankfully, no temptation exists without a trap door for escape. God sees to this and it is faithful to His promise.

An attitude of pleasure seeking at all costs has corrupted the morals and virtue of many in our society. It is a selfish pursuit unable to fill the void and need for love within each one of us. Only by seeking out God and entering into a personal relationship with our Savior will we find fullness of joy. He holds pleasures in His right hand that will last an eternity.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11 (NKJV)

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful onesand delivers them from the hand of the wicked.Light shineson the righteousand joy on the upright in heart.” Psalm 97:10-11 (NKJV)

“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Galatians 6:8 (NKJV)

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” C. S. Lewis

*A devotion from my next book FACING ADVERSITY WITH WISDOM PRAISE AND PROMISES…. inspired by the book of Proverbs and Psalms

Hope Radiates In The Dark

Be Strong All Who Hope in God Ps 31

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” ~Anne Lamott http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2009/01/Hope-Quotes-from-Christian-Leaders.aspx?p=2

Unexpected storms often knock us flat and the testing of faith can leave us exhausted. Our will to persevere may even be hindered. This is when the hand of God will appear to lift us out of our dark waters. All we have to do is cry out His name. He is the very definition of hope.

The Lord takes pleasure in all who hope and trust in His mercy. He waits for His creation to cry out to Him. He longs to show us mighty love and strength. However, we can’t give up and surrender all hope if we want to receive His assistance.

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

Hope is born in the dark. Like a lighthouse calling out to a lost ship at sea, hope will bring you through your personal storm. It will encourage and guide you to safety. Hope is found in the arms of God.

“Be of good courage, 
and He shall strengthen your heart,
 all you who hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24 (NKJV)

When you are met with spiritual roadblocks don’t forget to call out for God’s help. He will bind all your confusion and guide you through each obstacle. His provisions will be incredible. Any lost hope will be restored when you witness the faithfulness of God.

Unfortunately, loosing hope in God means you have lost some measure of faith in His ability to sustain you. Have you lost sight of who created you and the universe? Do you doubt His ability to work things out and enable you to carry on in life?

Why not give God the benefit of the doubt and trust that your circumstances are for good and not for evil? In some way He is creating good fruit from your circumstances, though pain may be His watering can in your situation. We are promised in Romans 8:28 (NKJV) that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Dear One, I know suffering and I know heartache. None of my sorrows have been easy but they have served me well. Through the furnace of affliction God allows His children to share in the sufferings of Christ. Our spiritual transformation and refinement will always produce a deeper measure of spiritual fruit. Are we not called to be more and more like Christ?

Therefore, ask yourself this question. Do you want to live as an alien in this world, as a foreigner in a land that is not your eternal home? If so, then accept the storm you are riding out as a gift from your Father. He sent it because He loves you. It should remind you that your greater hope waits for you in heaven.

God did not spare His own Son the suffering of the cross. It was for our benefit that Jesus became man, died, and rose again. God sent Jesus to redeem us and has exalted Him in the heavens. He is our Victor and blessed Mediator.

Take your burdens to Jesus and pour out your heart. He is the Savior of the world and our only hope. Ask Him to be your guiding light as you attempt to stand and move forward through your storm. Your struggle will have an end but His love for you is never-ending.

To persevere is to ascend the mountaintop of God. It is a necessary trait, a requirement if we wish to see the face of God. 

 “But I will hope continually,
 and will praise You yet more and more.”  Psalm 71:14 (NKJV)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
 and in His Word I do hope.”   Psalm 130:5 (NKJV)

“Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”  Romans 12:12 (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)

Psalm 91

Ps 91 Image

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+91&version=NKJV

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