Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the tag “Cheryl Zelenka”

Christian Fellowship: Are You Read To Be Sharpened?


A dull knife is still a knife but far less effective than one that has been thoroughly sharpened. The same goes for Christians. A Christian who is lax in obtaining knowledge by way of reading scripture is still a Christian, but far less effective than a believer who reads the living Word daily. Both Christians will be used of God, but the one who is more spiritually minded will have greater success in leading others to Christ.

We were created for fellowship and a lone Christian is at a great disadvantage. Again let me refer back to the knife analogy. A single knife sitting in a drawer, with no other blade next to it, will eventually grow dull and less effective in its purpose. The same goes for the Christian who neglects fellowship with other believers. They are that solitary knife growing duller and more foolish every day, due to the absence of a sharpening “blade.”

The people who cross your path have been placed there for a reason. Nothing in this world is a coincidence and no meeting is by chance. Every person you work with, all of your family members, the homeless person on your street corner, even the neighbor next door has been placed in your life for some purpose. God has provided interactions with these individuals, although certainly in different measurements of intimacy. Everyone in your life is beneficial to your spiritual growth.

“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts into our lives, is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see.” Corrie ten Boom

The individual who causes you the greatest annoyance is sharpening your capacity to love unconditionally. The family members who borrow money they can never repay have been provided for your benefit as well. They are the means by which God is instructing you concerning the very profitable lessons of mercy and grace. And finally, the friend who refuses to turn an eye when the sins of your flesh rise up is God’s precious gift to you. This friend, who fearlessly exhorts in love and practices dauntless accountability, is invaluable and a true treasure. They have surely prevented your foot from slipping more than once, and hopefully you have returned the favor.

Fellowship with the body of Christ gives us strength, especially in the presence of evil. These are dark days we now live and the temptations of the world are closing in all around us. We need faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who will hold us accountable and this includes church leadership. Pastors should seek out mature believers who are not afraid to speak honest words of encouragement and exhortation.

“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)

The lamb who wanders off alone is the one most likely to be caught in the enemy’s snare. There is safety in numbers since more eyes are available to observe approaching danger. In turn, every precious lamb of God has a spiritual gift. The more sheep abiding in a flock, the more spiritual gifts available to use against evil.

Faithfully, God prepares and equips His children for each of their earthly tasks. He uses many people and surprising circumstances to train and equip each of us for battle, as stated in Proverbs 27:17. I pray that the men and women of iron now present in your life continue to sharpen your faith. May you be like a two-edged sword, mighty and swift in your attack and victorious over all evil in your path. Oh that we would all grind and hone our only offensive piece of spiritual armor… the sword, otherwise known as the living Word of God.

“Whoever heeds life-giving correctionwill be at home among the wise.”  Proverbs 15:31 (NIV)

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV)

“A righteous man who falters before the wickedis like a murky spring and a polluted well.” Proverbs 25:26 (NKJV)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

“Fellowship means among other things that we are ready to receive of Christ from others. Other believers minister Christ to me, and I am ready to receive.”   ~ Watchman Nee

This devotion is from my upcoming book FACING ADVERSITY WITH WISDOM, PRAISE AND PROMISES. Check out my other books on Amazon at this site….




Work In Heaven?

No Problems in Heaven

Are you afraid to die? Is it death itself or the journey to death’s door that causes you to fear? Maybe it is the idea of living for an eternity, or maybe you fear the possible pain that will come with your travel to heaven’s door? Why not dislodge your fears by focusing on this fact. You will not die!

Believers do not die, they transcend. Our earthly passing is simply the means God has ordained to transport us into our final destination. Regarding any pain we may face on our journey home, He will supply for all our needs.

“Are you afraid to die? Remember that for a child of God, death is only a passing through to a wonderful new world.” ~Corrie ten Boom

In the book of Matthew we read, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Indeed, we will be living spirit and flesh with new and improved bodies. These glorious and newly resurrected bodies will be magnificent.

“But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,  ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.”  Matthew 22:31-33(NKJV)

And what will life be like in heaven? Will we find ourselves bored with endless feasting and continual choir practices? Does all work end the minute we pass through those pearly gates? I really don’t think so dear one.

God created mankind for His own pleasure. He takes great delight in us and rejoices over us with singing! (Zephaniah 3:17) And because God is love, He wants us to enjoy all that He is and all that He has done.

Therefore, heaven is a place of revelation, exploration, and learning. Why would God impart spiritual gifts and talents, while we live out our lives on earth, and take them away once we reach paradise? Doesn’t it make more sense that we continue to improve our skills and talents in heaven and use them to magnify our Savior?

If you are presently a gifted composer and your music pleases God, why wouldn’t you continue to hone your talent in heaven? Surely in heaven you will have a greater understanding of sound and a more excellent ability to create with you new heavenly resources. Why would music stop in paradise? I see no reason why those with musical abilities would cease from creating, learning, producing, and performing, as it would all be for His praise and glory. Think of our human design. God values music, otherwise He would not have designed our bodies as living instruments.

I see our time on earth as one spent in a gigantic classroom. Each person and experience we encounter has been planned and foreseen by God, and is being used to train us for our future heavenly labors. Yes, I said work. But this work will fill us with joy and great satisfaction. To serve God will be our fulfillment and pleasure.

And since God designed us with the need for fellowship, there will be times of worship, feasting, working side-by-side, and playing. Yes, fun games and entertainment… so long as it glorifies God. Can you imagine climbing the mountains in heaven? What would a game of football look like up there? Imagine saints inventing new sports for the glory of God and for everyone’s good pleasure.

Heaven, I do believe, will be a place of endless learning, laughter, joy, fellowship, praise, and labor. However, our labor will give us great enjoyment. I love to garden, so maybe I will work the soil in one of God’s magnificent gardens. Maybe you like to design and build, imagine the new buildings you could create for His glory! If you like to explore, God could ask you to search out new realms of His kingdom and bring back stories and resources. You may then attend a feast and share your stories with friends who are gifted writers. They might even write down your adventures for enjoyment of others and the King of Kings.

Heaven is a destination we should all dream about and never fear. I pray I see you there!

“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV)

“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:3-5 (NKJV)

“In the dark dreary nights, when the storm is at its most fierce, the lighthouse burns bright so the sailors can find their way home again. In life the same light burns. This light is fueled with love, faith, and hope. And through life’s most fierce storms these three burn their brightest so we also can find our way home again.” ~Unknown

Divine Interruptions: A Bible Study Through The Book Of Job




“LIFE lessons are so challenging!
God never promised us an easy life, but it’s not all darkness and suffering. We have a choice to see things with a positive mind set. Recognizing the negativity in our thinking is the first step toward a perspective transformation. This is a big step in the healing process, and usually produces Christian growth and greater spiritual maturity.”

Cheryl Zelenka

Now, About That Elephant In YOUR Living Room….

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being positive about what could go right! God has filled the Bible with encouraging words, and He commands us not to be afraid. An obstacle we encounter in life will often lead us into elephant sized fear. That fear will turn into anxiety and worry. Worry will then lend itself to hopelessness and depression, and then right back to fear, where it all started. Well, almost…

I suppose the obstacle is the beginning point for fear. The trial, struggle, hardship, or mountain that God asks you to overcome can often deliver a shock to your system. You may look up to the heavens and say, “Really? Really, God?” This is when your faith and trust in His love needs to kick into gear.

He offers a peace that transcends all understanding, but we are told to go to Him in prayer and with a thankful heart in order to receive that peace. Bending a knee and falling into prayer when an obstacle is looming over our heads requires a sincere faith. The obstacle may not move, at least not for a while, but the peace could come immediately.

This promised peace must be actively claimed. It will just sit there if you do not reach out, grab it, and claim it. The choice to trust God with the matters troubling our heart is the result of our faith in His goodness and provision. Confusion, anger, and fear may destroy the peace God promises us. While it is human nature to be confused, confusion is not from God. Also, having fear and anger will delay our experiencing peace.

It is not our responsibility to fix things; God is the one in control. All a believer needs to do is submit to God, give the burden to Him, trust He will resolve the matter, and then claim the peace. This sounds easier to do than it is, since human nature is always colliding and battling things that are spiritual in nature. We will all wrestle with God at some point.

Remember that Jacob and the Virgin Mary struggled with burdens they did not wish to carry. Even the most humble and mature believer will struggle with releasing his or her burdens to the care of the Lord. However, the fact remains that the peace that transcends all understanding is available, and He tells us to be anxious about nothing.

Like an elephant in a room, the obstacle can sit. It might decide to sit for a very long time. You can watch and obsess over the problem, allowing stress to rob you of sleep. You can worry about how everything is going wrong and falling apart. Or you can stand on the promises of God and step out into life with a positive attitude. The Word tells us that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. So, let the elephant sit in your living room. That’s fine, but get on with your life.

Just as an ignored young child who is acting out for attention and then realizes he no longer has an audience, obstacles will go away. Once you have given the matter completely over to God, the obstacle will no longer be such a distraction. Satan will see that he no longer has power over you and will leave the room. There is no benefit to worry and fret. Worry only leads to evil in that it often grows into disbelief, doubt, and discouragement.

Choosing a positive outlook when faced with hardships will allow you to be a mighty witness to believers and unbelievers. The people in your life will be encouraged and amazed by the calm way in which you are walking through the fire. God may have designed the trials you face so that you have an opportunity to share God’s love with someone.

It takes a mature faith to say you are glad for your trials.

Therefore, “Count it pure joy when you encounter trials of many kinds, for the testing of your faith will develop perseverance.” (James 1:2)

This perseverance will allow you to keep your chin up. God’s strength will allow you to hold onto your hope while facing the obstacles of life.

Will things always work out in the way you hoped and wanted? Of course not! You are not the illustrator of your life’s painting. God has all the hues and brushstrokes worked out. The painting He is creating, thanks to the struggle He has given you, is a masterpiece. So, once again, please stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being positive about what could go right.

Pause and Consider the Words of these two Scriptures 

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT) 

A Gentle Answer Turns Away Anger

Gentle Answer

When anger rises within you, consider the power found within a softly spoken word. An enemy who is hard of hearing and unable to hear shouts of fury will strive to hear a whisper. Although you may FEEL like yelling out your complaints, you will get more notice and consideration if you avoid harsh words and an unfriendly tone.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”                  Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18 (NIV)

Using a gentle answer in the midst of an irritating situation, problem, or quarrel will propel you forward in your attempt to remedy a matter of contention. Angry words and a loud reply only serve to stir up conflict and cause delays to possible solutions. One who has the self-control to remain patient and calm during an argument is wise and perceptive.

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”                  Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)

If emotions are on the rise and anger is in the picture, you can be sure that “FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE” is close at hand. Saying something you will regret later is very probable if you let your feelings rule a situation. It is a fool who speaks words without considering their long-term affect.

Is it easy to calm yourself and speak words of love when you are angry? No.

Is it a sign of maturity when you think before you speak? Yes.

Is maintaining inner peace while addressing conflict a sign that the fruit of the spirit is evident in your life?  Yes.

Can you take back hurtful words once they have been uttered and pitched? No.

Can forgiveness follow harshly spoken words? Yes.

Did Jesus use patience and soft answers with His disciples? Yes.

Is the saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me” true? No, Not at all!

We are called to love. We are told to witness with gentleness and respect. Speaking with unkind words or a tone of voice that sends shivers down the back is not love. Love speaks the truth but it is always patient and kind.

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how canhe love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20 (NKJV)

The next time you find yourself in an argument, pretend you are looking in a mirror. Observe your face. Would your expression put someone on the defensive? Can you see love and honesty in your eyes? How would you react if you were talking to a person wearing this face?

Words can be destructive or life giving, toxic or encouraging. They have the power to bind up or set free. What will your words serve up today, misery and heartache or exultation and delight?

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”                        Galatians 5:22 (NKJV)

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A Leader’s Guide will be available in a few days. If your church is looking for a serious and in depth study, or if you want to lead your own small group, please consider my study.

Read a review for this newly released book….

“Because this Bible Study is written from a unique ‘first person’ perspective it will minister to so many who are in the throes of depression or know someone who is. Cheryl’s real life experiences shout the glory of God’s work in bringing her through the devastation of having a brain tumor to becoming a writer to encourage others in God’s love. I love the Scriptures and the challenges of the questions. Great for a small group or to do on your own. Get this Bible study and watch God work in your life!”

The Promises of Knowledge And Wisdom

Wisdom is Knowledge Applied

“The ultimate ground of faith and knowledge is confidence in God.” ~ Charles Hodge  http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-bible-verses-about-knowledge/#ixzz2wAFsNz8H

 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6 (NKJV)

Time and time again I catch myself thinking I have endured enough sorrow and pain, that I have proved myself to God and that the tribulations and testings in life will stop. The truth is they will never end until I reach my heavenly home. This life is a spiritual race and it is an uphill climb. God refines His children and the purification process is a heated and uncomfortable one.

My goal is to keep a positive perspective as I weather each storm. If you are facing a hardship, I encourage you to ACTIVELY search for the blessings and the lessons God has sent your way. Don’t focus on your pain. Focus on the good that is growing out of your suffering… in you and in those around you. The treasure from such times of hardship is the knowledge and wisdom you acquire from overcoming your adversity.

It is so easy to fall into self-pity when a new struggle steps in and blocks our path demanding our attention. We may choose to disregard the circumstances or solution for a time, but eventually the issue grows beyond our ability to ignore. Through prayer, we need to ask our heavenly Father for the wisdom and knowledge needed to continue on with life.

If we don’t confront and accept the reality, there’s a danger the mud puddle we have created with our tears will turn into a pit of tar or even quicksand. The more we struggle against the will of God the deeper we’ll sink in our pit of despair. We can’t change what has already happened but we can receive the wisdom to maneuver our way through it, James 1:5-6 speaks of this promise.

Knowledge should be sought after and with knowledge there comes understanding. God is the ultimate teacher and desperately wants to share His insights with His children. If we seek Him with all of our heart, He promises to be found. By learning about God’s character we’ll find that we have equipped ourselves for battle against the evil one. Reading scripture and learning from those who lived and struggled before us will be of great encouragement and help in your battle with doubt, anger, despair, and fear.

The fear of the Lord, a respect and awe of the Creator of the universe, is the BEGINNING of knowledge. This is a clue to how we gain and acquire knowledge! How do you approach the throne room of God? What attitude do you wear when you pray and petition God? Is your approach one of humility and submission, wonder and reverence?

I pray you spend time with God, asking Him for the knowledge you need that applies to your situation. He is close. Reach out and seek His face with a diligent heart, He will be found. It is a promise you can trust. Be confident in His love for you and obtain as much knowledge as you can! If you apply it to a heart of wisdom, your next trial will be filled with greater understanding and peace.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:5-6 (NKJV)

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If you are in need of some quick daily encouragement please visit my FB Author page at https://www.facebook.com/cherylzelenkaauthor

Are You Praising God In ALL Circumstances?

Praise Don't Feel Like It

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

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

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

“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                                                                                                                                                http://christianity.about.com/od/thanksgiving/fl/Thanksgiving-Quotes.htm

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 struggles, storms, and adversity. However, we are called to give thanks in All circumstances.

I’ll never say that God won’t design, plan, orchestrate or even send a challenge our way. After all, we have to build up our spiritual muscles some how and what’s wrong with a little exercise? A challenge from God will often come in the form of a test of faith.

Needless to say, the Devil will stick his nose in the situation and try to discourage you. So, put your earplugs in and put on your spiritual armor. The Helmet of Salvation will keep your mind clear of all confusion. By cinching up your belt of truth you’ll cast down all his miserable lies.

The fruit that is produced from the testing of God are well worth the temporary discomfort you must endure. Perseverance is needed to finish the race set before you in this life. Nobody likes to eat unripe fruit and with every struggle you face, with God by your side, the fruit of the Spirit becomes more powerful and sweet to the taste.

How rewarding it will be when you discover that the goodness and kindness of Christ has grown within you as you bravely faced the trial directly in your path! You’ll recognize that gentleness and compassion has deepened within your heart and your love for Christ and others has matured through your sanctification process. The Holy Spirit working within you can be the only explanation for the maturity of your greater capacity to love. Oh what joy there is in realizing spiritual growth!

It takes patience and self-control to trudge through difficult times and sorrows, but the peace of Christ will always meet you in your times of need. All you have to do is petition God in prayer. A peace that transcends all understanding is available for every child of God. It is never withheld from any of us. This peace comes if we submit to our challenge and God’s will, trusting Him to equip us to overcome 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 your 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 the miraculous power of God 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.

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

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8 (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)

Read other devotions by Cheryl Zelenka on her blog http://facingtrials.com

What Tomorrow Holds Is Unknown

Today's Been Ruff
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

“Look, all you who kindle a fire,who encircle yourselves with sparks:Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—This you shall have from My hand:You shall lie down in torment.” Isaiah 50:11 (NKJV)

Have you ever had a fantastic day that was followed by real struggles, disappointment, and hardship? Do you know what it feels like to be on the teeter-totter of emotional ups and downs? One day full of joy and hope, and the next day fearful and shocked by circumstances beyond your control? 

What was your response? Were you knocked to the ground? Did you throw a fit of anger? Were you so overwhelmed and hopeless that you refused to get back up, or even pray? Or, did you make lemonade out of your bitter lemons?

I have recently had this experience. One of the best days in life was followed by one of my most trying days. I know the fearful worry of loosing financial security and seeing a savings account get perilously close to empty. 

At such moments we must stand upon our faith and trust in His goodness and provisions. We might not understand the circumstance, but we can comprehend the promises found in the Word of God. It never pays to doubt them. Worry has no profit. He will always direct our path, even when we don’t have a road map.

When we don’t live a day-by-day reliance on God’s provision and direction, it is easy to forget nobody knows what tomorrow holds. We expect each day to be the same. We say, “Well, today was safe and full of joy, so tomorrow simply has to be safe and joyful as well. I am a good person. I deserve a good life.” Life, just like a broken and bumpy road, will always have potholes and obstacles to overcome. It has nothing to do with being good or faithful.

If you think your life is securely set and your future is clear of trouble, watch out! Who and what are you relying on each day? Is it your job or the money tucked away in a savings account? We are warned NOT to be self-sufficient (Isaiah 50:11).

The enemy loves to pull the rug out from under our feet and watch us fall. He is after all, the hungry prowling lion that tirelessly waits for an opportunity to pounce and devour. He is skilled in weaving webs of deceit and discouragement. He watches for opportune times when we have let down our guard or become complacent. Forgetting how much we daily need God and His provisions is just asking for trouble.
Routine may lead some to boredom, but many find comfort and safety in its supposed confines of predictability. However, routine can be an enemy. It lends itself to complacency. An expectancy that, “All is well and will be so forever more” is not what the Word of God teaches us. John 16:33 states, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The unknown and bumpy road called FUTURE is one we all have to travel. It will mold and refined us. We may look bruised and battered to the world while on this journey, but we are beautiful in the Lord’s eyes. He is transforming us into the work of outstanding artistry He always had in mind when first He created us. 

Dear friend, you must remember to ….
To read the rest of this devotion go tohttp://facingtrials.com/

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