WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the tag “Jesus”

Plant A Seed In My Heart, Lord

Ancient Olive Tree:Garden Gethsamene

Plant a seed in my heart, Lord                                                                                        WATER it, so I thirst no longer

Make the seed that of an Olive Tree                                                                            Steady in its growth                                                                                                        Fruitful, feeding many who hunger

Roots deep                                                                                                               Supported by the words Jesus spoke                                                                         While in the Garden of Gethsemane

Make me an ancient tree                                                                                               With a substantial trunk                                                                                         Patiently waiting for the Lord’s return                                                                                A quiet witness of Your noble worth

Plant a seed in my heart                                                                                                   TEND it with Your loving hand

Make the seed a mustard seed                                                                                      Small and humble but eager to grow                                                                             Quickly sprouting to an amazing height

Faith resounding                                                                                                             No doubt present                                                                                                          Mature in the assurances of God’s Word

Make me like Joshua                                                                                                 Who called upon Your power                                                                                          To hold the sun and moon still                                                                                            Trusting Your faithfulness

Plant a seed in my heart                                                                                                  GAZE upon it, a flower of infinite beauty

Crush the buds, enjoy my fragrance                                                                         Transform me into perfume and oil                                                                            Wear my love, blessed Savior

Make me a seed                                                                                                               Sow where You desire                                                                                                             I know I’ll grow… No matter the soil.

Creator of all beauty                                                                                                  Sower of every seed in my heart                                                                                                                        I praise You!

*Inspired by my recent trip to Israel and the Garden of Gethsemane              https://www.facebook.com/cherylzelenkaauthor

Grace: Unmerited Favor

*8

Grace is unmerited favor: to get something that you do not deserve. Humility is a sure way to obtain the grace of God but pride will interfere and hinder God’s dispensation. Consider the character of Noah, Moses, Joseph, Joshua, Mary, and Esther. At some point, humility reigned in the hearts of these believers.

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

During the times of Noah, the book of Genesis reports God was, “sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”  Wickedness was everywhere, yet Noah was still able to walk with God. He chose to live a righteous life. In spite of his community, living beside evil neighbors and all kinds of debauchery, Noah strove to be just. God considered him perfect in his generations.

Noah was shown grace. He and his family survived the great flood. His obedient and constant faith produced an ark though it took between 50-75 years to build and his community most certainly ridiculed his effort. It provided safety from deadly waters. But since grace is a gift, freely given, Noah did not earn God’s favor. Rather, his effort to live with integrity got the Father’s attention.

“Grace, then, is grace, – that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.” ~ Alexander Whyte

Lot, Abram’s nephew, was another man who tried to live righteously among the corrupted morals of Sodom. But because of an outcry against the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent angels to investigate and destroy the entire city. Thanks to the prayers and intervention of his uncle, God provided His grace and delivered Lot, his wife, and two daughters. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife died when she looked back in longing for Sodom, which had corrupted her heart. Lot did not earn the grace, it was unmerited favor from God.

As America removes God from schools, government, and every day life, our present days are becoming darker and darker The blatant disrespect of God’s living Word and the blood sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ have corrupted many hearts. Mankind lives for self and not for the love of others. Just as in the days of Noah, evil intent and wickedness is busy in the hearts of mankind. Imagine a snowball rolling down a hill, sinfulness is growing bigger and faster in our land. But, there is always hope.

With eyes looking up, focused on our eternal home, we can live in righteousness, thanks to the grace of God. The moment we accepted Christ as our Savior, we became a new creation. Called to die to self and set aside our old nature, we have been commanded to live in holiness.

“That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, a sin your ignorance;  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NKJV)

Just as Noah and Lot were able to forsake the norm and strive for righteous, we can tool Living in a fallen world is very challenging, but His grace is sufficient. His favor enables man to resist temptation and sin. May the grace of God be with you always.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)

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“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NKJV)

(“John testified concerning Him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’) Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.John 1:15-17 (NIV)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

The Peace of Christ

**5

Jesus did not enter this world to bring peace. Rather, He came wielding a very sharp sword. In fact, this weapon is so keen and precise that it pierces between soul and spirit. With supernatural power, it discerns our thoughts and the intent of our heart.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

 Confusion can arise when reading John 14:27, for Jesus speaks of giving us peace. If He did not come to bring peace on earth, why would Christ speak of leaving His peace? There is a clue within the scripture, “He does not give as the world gives.”

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.John 14:27 (NKJV)

Jesus does offer peace to individuals, but He did not come to earth bringing political peace. His message was radical. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. But the message written in Exodus 21:23-25 directed Jews to act without showing grace. To understand the new message, Jews first had to believe Jesus was the Son of God. They also had to embrace the power in love, the greatest and most powerful gift of all. The blood of Jesus provided forgiveness of all sin and believers were to practice and model forgiveness.

But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV)

Man often spurs political agendas. Greed, selfish ambition, and power are all motivators. Sin prevents peace in the realm of politics. It is too saturated with self.

But Christ came to us in humility, with a servant’s heart. He brought a peace beyond comprehension, yet obtainable through a sincere faith and a trust in His perfect will. He is the Prince of peace.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

When man looks to the Father, seeking the Wonderful Counselor for help, there shall be peace. When man reflects on the power of God, He who is Mighty, there shall be peace. When confused thoughts afflict and we lay our burdens at Christ’s feet, there shall be peace. For with a Savior who loves us we have hope, and in that hope we also find peace.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.1 Corinthians 14:23 (NKJV)

The blessing, “The peace of Christ be with you” is perfect for these days of trouble. Christ is our peace. So, when political leaders attempt to force their agendas on the world, we should rest knowing God is in control. The Lord knows about every atrocity and will transform them, some how, into good.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

It is not for us to understand how He acts, or His perfect will. But, it is our responsibility to wait, trust and believe in His character. God is faithful. He is love. He is all-powerful. He is gentle and merciful. Jesus already won the battle, which the devil is trying to overturn. The enemy should read the book of Revelation! The Lord reveals the ending and he ends up in a pit of damnation.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.Revelation 20:10 (NKJV)

 May you find encouragement in these scriptures.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7 (NKJV)

 

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)

Relying On God

Rely on God Begins w:Each Day

“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” ~ C.S. Lewis

A mountain climber must rely on his equipment to sustain him if climbing alone. A child riding to school in a car must rely on the driver for his safety. Sometimes we put our trust in objects and other times we put our trust in man. But the reality is, God alone sustains us! We are to rely on HIM for all of our needs. To rely is to depend on with full trust or confidence.

Relying on God requires faith, so there needs to be a certainty of His love hidden in our hearts. With this assurance, we are then able to trust His character and believe our every need will be met. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as a “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

A month after leaving Egypt, the children of God started to worry about running out of food. Many of the animals taken in the great exodus had already been slaughtered to feed the masses. The Lord was aware of their anxiety and wanted the Israelites to depend on Him for their survival. Therefore, He spoke to Moses and said,

“Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” Exodus 16:4 (NKJV)

In a miraculous way, God provided food for His children. Manna, the bread God rained down from heaven, tasted like wafers made with honey. Their supernatural provision was sweet to the taste AND met their need for nourishment.

Had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full.” Psalm 78:24 (NKJV)

“Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NKJV)

Jesus is the “Bread of Life.” He is our spiritual food. The Bible is the living Word of God and so we are to feed upon it, daily. Normally, one does not go a day or even a week without food. We need to eat in order to stay healthy and strong. Food gives our body energy and enables us to move throughout the day.

God likes to speak to us through analogies, so the feeding of our body with food is aligned to feeding our spirit with the Word of God. Our spirit needs the living Word to energize and move us through each day. Just as our physical body becomes weak and unhealthy without nourishment, our spirit becomes weak and unhealthy when we neglect the scriptures. But when we feed upon the Word, His instruction will become our encouragement. His love within us will become more obvious to others. Our actions will be more like that of Christ.

It is worth noting that the Israelites had to collect their food daily (except on the Sabbath). It took some measure of effort on their part to gather the manna, for it was as fine as frost. Our heavenly Father will always provide for our needs, but He expects an effort on our part.

If the Israelites did not collect the manna in the morning, it melted in the heat of the day. They had to make an effort to rise in the morning and gather in God’s provision before it spoiled. Furthermore, they could not gather extra (except for the Sabbath) and keep it overnight because it would go bad and breed worms. In order to sustain themselves, they had to collect manna daily. We are to follow their example and feed our spirit with the bread of life, daily.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 (NKJV)

For forty years, the Israelites wandered through the wilderness. Every day they ate the manna God provided. This is a reminder to rely on God for strength and provision during personal times of adversity and testing. Encouragement is provided throughout the Bible. We can find great comfort by reading about the many ways God helped His people in the past. He will help us today as well.

Meditate on the following scriptures and pray about seeking God daily.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)

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

My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning—Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:6 (NKJV)

Look to the Lord and His strength; Seek His face always.” Psalm 105:4 (NKJV)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

The Sovereignty of God

*8

At some time in life, everyone becomes overwhelmed by life circumstances. Maybe it is a sudden illness or the death of a loved one that catches us off guard. Maybe it is a financial loss, new job, or move. All of these examples are prone to bring about personal worry or stress. However, God is never frazzled by the situations in our life. He is completely aware of what we face every hour in every day. We  often forget that He is in control and an ever-present help during times of trouble.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea”  Psalm 46:1-2

God is Sovereign. He is King of all the earth and the Creator of the universe.  He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.  

OMNISCIENT means that God is ALL KNOWING.  

OMNIPOTENT means that God has ALL POWER and can DO ALL THINGS

OMNIPRESENT means that God is present everywhere at the same time.

The Sovereign power of God to help us is only a prayer away! With these definitions in mind, why do we get so worked up and worried? We are told NOT to be anxious. 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” 

R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God

Are we doubting His goodness and power? God is constant and never changing. If He is good and all-powerful during good and pleasant times in our life, is He not also good and all-powerful during the dark and painful times as well?

“For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” Malachi 3:6 NKJV

Furthermore, the LOVE of God is full of compassion and abundant in mercy. We may not see our circumstances as loving and filled with mercy but God does not lie. This is when we must have faith. Faith to trust that His mercy is carrying us through our trial.

“But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,

Long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth.” Psalm 86:15 NKJV

The power of God is beyond our comprehension, but we do have a glimpse of His might. By His Word alone, the heavens were made and the starry host was created by the breath of His mouth. Amazing!

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth.” Psalm 33:6 (NIV)

He is all knowing, so He is well aware of what we are experiencing right now. He does not forsake His children. He does not leave us to fight alone.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” 

Finally, when we are at the end of our rope, we must remember that God is present everywhere. He is not so busy solving problems on the other side of the world that He ignores our plea for mercy and grace. Rather, He is big enough to handle ALL the troubles in the lives of All His children…… big and small.

Let us decide (with our free will) to trust our heavenly Father and let go of our worries. Let us choose to place every daily concern at His feet. He is mighty and powerful, and loves us beyond measure. The enemy cannot touch a hair on our head without His permission. Our Lord has equipped us for EVERY circumstance, including the one we are facing now, or the one in our future. And although we may feel weak, HE will be our strength. 

God wants us to rely on HIM! In order to do this, we have to give up all control and trust Him. His way is always perfect and right, even though it is often painful and wearisome. Let the promises found within the living Word of God be our hope and encouragement.

Remember, Jesus wept. He understands our pain, even when we do not understand His will.

“If there is one single reason why good people turn evil, it is because they fail to recognize God’s ownership over their kingdom, their vocation, their resources, their abilities, and above all their lives.” 

Erwin W. Lutzer 

The Highway of Holiness

*Highway

“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.” ~ John Wesley

Many of us are praying for a revival: A revival that restores our faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. We ask that revival once again comes, sweeping over our land like a wildfire out of control. A spiritual wildfire that would bring many prodigals home and open the eyes of the lost.

However, it is not enough to merely understand we have been saved and redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. We lack passion. It is the reverent fear of God and an indescribable thanks for His eternal love that is absent in so many of us today. Humility has not brought us to our knees, prostrate with gratitude and submissive in our absolute repentance.

Are we merely speaking empty words of godly sorrow, without the earnestness and sincerity of heart our Lord so desperately desires? Every move to remove God from our government and ignore His truth is breaking His heart and causing Him anger.  For we are turning away from the One who has blessed and protected our nation. He will not have it! We will see the consequences of our sin and rebellion… unless we turn from our wicked ways and repent.

“See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point,  you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”        2 Corinthians 7:11 (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NKJV) says, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.”

We are called to be holy, for He who has called us is Holy. This means our conduct. We are to take the life of Christ as our example, and the wisdom found within His Living Word and apply it to our lives. Our family, friends, neighbors and even strangers should know we are Christians by our actions and lifestyle. They should see our love and willingness to serve. We are not to compromise Biblical truths for the sake of avoiding adversity or hurting the feelings of those who have been deceived. We are to witness and share the truth, but always with gentleness and respect. America does not want to offend anyone, although offending God does not seem to matter as of late.

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV)

If there was a revival of holiness in our day, what would it look like?

Chastity would be practiced and honored. Integrity would be valued and honest words would once again serve to instruct and advise. Love would rule our hearts and compassion would cause us to intercede throughout the day. Our personal relationship with Jesus would grow in intimacy and our ability to hear the Holy Spirit would be fine tuned. With our closer walk with God, our faith would grow and our trust in God’s provision and grace would carry us past times of persecution and suffering. Our actions and decisions would not be based on fear, for nothing is impossible for God. He is ALMIGHTY.

We would live among the dirt of this ailing nation, but remain pure and clean in His sight. Our light would be evident to the lost and they would be drawn to us. Some drawn for a desire to be more like us… others are drawn with evil intents and a desire to put out our light.

However, hope is eternal and living a life of holiness promises great reward.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”    Philippians 2:14-16a (NIV)

How do we live out our faith with a “No Compromise” attitude? Is it even possible to live a life of holiness in a world so bent on hate and debauchery? Yes. Yes it is, with the help of Christ. Will it take personal sacrifice and be the cause of conflict. Most likely. However, we are not called to be man pleasers. We are called to serve and honor God. We have one judge and that Judge is God alone. We should consider our ways daily and determine if they please or grieve the Lord.

The heavenly Father gave us free will. He also gave us an instruction manual… The Bible. We must read it daily (even memorize it) so that we know what God says about certain behaviors/actions. What God expects from His children and what He finds as abominations are also written in scripture. Just as God tested Abraham, Moses, and Mary, He will test our faith as well.

These are dark times and the days ahead will prove to be even darker. Find encouragement in the community and Body of Christ.  There is a comfort to be found with like-minded believers. Surround yourself with brothers and sisters who will hold you accountable and lift you up in prayer. We need each other to maintain our calling to be holy. Blessings to you as you continue to travel the highway of holiness.

“Suppose for a moment that you were allowed to enter heaven without holiness. What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you feel there? To which of all the saints would you join yourself and by whose side would you sit? Their pleasures are not your pleasures, their tastes are not your tastes, their character not your character. How could you possibly be happy, if you had not been holy on earth?” ~ J.C. Ryle“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.” ~ John Wesley

 

Running Home

*0

For just a moment, imagine that you can see the colors and beauty of a robe woven from all of your demonstrations of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It would take your breath away! Unique in design, for everyone shows kindness in a different way, your robe would be singularly remarkable and noteworthy.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

Every small and unselfish act of kindness is noticed by God and used for His glory. A smile offered to a crying child, a dinner sent to a sick neighbor, even the helping hand offered to a stray dog is recognized. We are told to bind kindness and truth around our necks. A necklace to remind us that, with each new day, we are given opportunities to share the love of Christ.

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.Hebrew 6:10-12 (NKJV)

Additionally, we are called to put on our spiritual armor…. And it is called, “the armor of light.”

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”  Romans 13:12 (NIV)

We walk in a world where mere hints of heaven’s beauty abound, and if we take the time to acknowledge it, we are often at a loss for words. Heaven and all of its glory are much more than we can imagine. It will take an eternity to see every beauty and wonder that Father God has created for us.

This knowledge of a better place, in another world, spurs us on. It comforts those who have lost loved ones and encourages those lacking hope and faith. We are but aliens in a foreign land while we live out our lives on earth.

We must run the spiritual race God ordained, and often it is a marathon. We see the finish line but the upward climb leaves us panting for breath. Panting to the point where we no longer have any strength to continue, so the heavenly hosts cheer us on and we continue the upward climb.

Our earthly beloveds run along beside us for as long as they can, but as the race comes to an end they no longer can follow. They assure us that it is well with them and that we must finish our race on our own. Parting is so hard, but we hear the call of angels and the voice of our Father. We say our good-byes and move towards the radiance ahead, dressed in our armor of light and wearing our robes woven from the righteousness we inherited through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Every kindness, selfless act of love, compassionate act, patient response, and gentle word of grace offered in this life will continue to live on in the hearts of those we leave behind. God will cause others to water the seeds that we have sown in His name. Parting with loved ones is just another lesson from God; it chips away at our sinful man, causes us to reflect on heavenly things, and serves to refine us into the image of His son.

Reminding ourselves that death is just part of the journey called life will indeed renew our hunger for our forever home, for in heaven we will no longer be aliens in a foreign land. In heaven, a new journey will begin. A journey where there is no more sin, death, pain, or sorrow. A journey full of adventure, service, wonder, and joy.

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.Proverbs 3:3 (NASB)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) 

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelations 21:4 (NKJV)

This devotion is dedicated to my wonderful mother…. Barbara Ann Hentschel Zelenka. She passed away on May 18th, 2015

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Pray Away Confusion

*6

This devotion is found in my book FACING STORMS: DEVOTIONS FOR THOUGHT AND MEDITATION. Available on Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Storms-Devotions-Thought-Meditation/dp/1502487551/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1430870978&sr=8-2&keywords=cheryl+zelenka

“Storms can bring fear, cloud judgment, and create confusion. Yet God promises that as you seek Him through prayer, He will give you wisdom to know how to proceed. The only way you will survive the storm will be on your knees.”  ~Paul Chappell

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints,”   1 Co 14:33 (NKJV)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”   2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Confusion has the ability to rob us of the peace given by God. It can ransack our sleep and distract our thoughts. It is the cause of much mental stress and many health issues. Without the guidance of God, we will not escape its fog or snare. Indeed, prayer and quiet meditation are required to sort out the troubles that greet us every day.

Since God is NOT a God of confusion, He is the God of peace, we can conclude that our head scratching is the result of personal sin, bad choices, or a spiritual battle has ensued. Confusion is an instrument of deceit often employed by the enemy.

He is a talented deceiver who continuously invents ways to confound the children of God. Relentless and ever watching, he waits for moments of weakness to attack. He will invent new ways to baffle and bewilder even the most spiritually mature. Nobody is beyond his reach.

Thankfully, everyone belonging to Yahweh is engraved on the Father’s palm. We are under His eternal protection. We are always before Him and continually on His mind. He will never abandon us to this foe.

One of the most deceitful and heinous ways the Devil achieves our befuddlement is by misusing God’s own Word. The enemy knows the scriptures well; so don’t be surprised when you become perplexed by his subtle lies for they will be mixed with gospel truth. He may be cunning and clever but we have the Holy Spirit within us and He will always provide the necessary discernment needed to cast him off. If we resist the Devil he must leave. Complacency has never won a war.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NKJV)

Prayer brings us into the throne room of God. We can always lay our petitions at His feet with the assurance of knowing our prayers have been answered, in His way and in His time. However, there are times when we will find ourselves entangled in spiritual warfare. Who knows the reason? There is a multitude of possible answers but for whatever reason, the Lord will ask you to persevere and fight. With the armor of Christ, you will not only fend off fiery darts, but with the Living Word you will attack this fallen angel.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”       Ephesians 6:12-17 (NKJV)

To carry a sharp sword, one that is effective in bringing down strongholds, a soldier of Christ should be in the Word daily. It is the bread of Life and we shouldn’t neglect our spiritual diets. An undernourished body is weak, so too is an undernourished spirit.

It takes diligence and a true conviction on our part to seek out God’s truth. We are responsible for our own spiritual walk and should heed the example given to us by the Berean Jews. They heard what Paul preached, but they did not take it for truth until they had examined the Scriptures themselves. They worked to verify the truth. They were involved and active in their spiritual education.

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 (NIV)

We too must study Scripture when trials or events cause us confusion. We should also search the Bible if a Christian leader says something that causes a check in our spirit. The Holy Spirit is a guardian of truth, and unsound doctrine will set off our internal alarm. Don’t rely solely on others to feed you. Go directly to Scripture and study it yourselves. The Holy Spirit will be your guide.

“ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”           2 Timothy 3:16-17

We live in challenging times and it will only get more difficult as the return of our Lord draws near. The Bible warns us that false prophets existed in Paul’s time, and they do so even now. These men and women come to tickle our ears and tell us what we want to hear.” 1 John 4:5 (NKJV)

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1 (NKJV)

“They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.”            1 John 4:5 (NKJV)

We cannot pick and choose parts of the Bible to believe and obey, and then create our own truth. God is love, but love also involves truth, order, and discipline.

The Devil wants to beat us down and convince us that God has left us in our spiritual desert forever. This is a lie! The Father brings his children out of their wilderness in His time. Sorrows are for but a season.

Confusion will discourage the best of us but the best way to attack it is with Scripture and prayer. Ask God for direction and wisdom if you are struggling with decisions or suffering from doubt. Request the Holy Spirit to direct you to truth and then be prepared to face the facts and realities He reveals. The truth and revelations may cause you to make choices or personal life changes.

2 Timothy 2:7 (NIV) commands, “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

If you are facing trials, struggles, or you simply have questions and concerns, diligently seek the truth. Like a buried treasure, you will find the answers and a cherished prize. Be a Berean today! Don’t let confusion rob you of the peace of Christ.

STUDY THESE WORDS DURING YOUR QUIET TIME:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV)

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)

“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” 1 John 4:5 (NIV)

“What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes bt I do not hear Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers“Storms can bring fear, cloud judgment, and create confusion. Yet God promises that as you seek Him through prayer, He will give you wisdom to know how to proceed. The only way you will survive the storm will be on your knees.”  ~Paul Chappell

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints,”         1 Co 14:33 (NKJV)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”                 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Confusion has the ability to rob us of the peace given by God. It can ransack our sleep and distract our thoughts. It is the cause of much mental stress and many health issues. Without the guidance of God, we will not escape its fog or snare. Indeed, prayer and quiet meditation are required to sort out the troubles that greet us every day.

Since God is NOT a God of confusion, He is the God of peace, we can conclude that our head scratching is the result of personal sin, bad choices, or a spiritual battle has ensued. Confusion is an instrument of deceit often employed by the enemy.

He is a talented deceiver who continuously invents ways to confound the children of God. Relentless and ever watching, he waits for moments of weakness to attack. He will invent new ways to baffle and bewilder even the most spiritually mature. Nobody is beyond his reach.

Thankfully, everyone belonging to Yahweh is engraved on the Father’s palm. We are under His eternal protection. We are always before Him and continually on His mind. He will never abandon us to this foe.

One of the most deceitful and heinous ways the Devil achieves our befuddlement is by misusing God’s own Word. The enemy knows the scriptures well; so don’t be surprised when you become perplexed by his subtle lies for they will be mixed with gospel truth. He may be cunning and clever but we have the Holy Spirit within us and He will always provide the necessary discernment needed to cast him off. If we resist the Devil he must leave. Complacency has never won a war.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NKJV)

Prayer brings us into the throne room of God. We can always lay our petitions at His feet with the assurance of knowing our prayers have been answered, in His way and in His time. However, there are times when we will find ourselves entangled in spiritual warfare. Who knows the reason? There is a multitude of possible answers but for whatever reason, the Lord will ask you to persevere and fight. With the armor of Christ, you will not only fend off fiery darts, but with the Living Word you will attack this fallen angel.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”                     Ephesians 6:12-17 (NKJV)

To carry a sharp sword, one that is effective in bringing down strongholds, a soldier of Christ should be in the Word daily. It is the bread of Life and we shouldn’t neglect our spiritual diets. An undernourished body is weak, so too is an undernourished spirit.

It takes diligence and a true conviction on our part to seek out God’s truth. We are responsible for our own spiritual walk and should heed the example given to us by the Berean Jews. They heard what Paul preached, but they did not take it for truth until they had examined the Scriptures themselves. They worked to verify the truth. They were involved and active in their spiritual education.

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 (NIV)

We too must study Scripture when trials or events cause us confusion. We should also search the Bible if a Christian leader says something that causes a check in our spirit. The Holy Spirit is a guardian of truth, and unsound doctrine will set off our internal alarm. Don’t rely solely on others to feed you. Go directly to Scripture and study it yourselves. The Holy Spirit will be your guide.

“ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”           2 Timothy 3:16-17

We live in challenging times and it will only get more difficult as the return of our Lord draws near. The Bible warns us that false prophets existed in Paul’s time, and they do so even now. These men and women come to tickle our ears and tell us what we want to hear.” 1 John 4:5 (NKJV)

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1 (NKJV)

“They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.”            1 John 4:5 (NKJV)

We cannot pick and choose parts of the Bible to believe and obey, and then create our own truth. God is love, but love also involves truth, order, and discipline.

The Devil wants to beat us down and convince us that God has left us in our spiritual desert forever. This is a lie! The Father brings his children out of their wilderness in His time. Sorrows are for but a season.

Confusion will discourage the best of us but the best way to attack it is with Scripture and prayer. Ask God for direction and wisdom if you are struggling with decisions or suffering from doubt. Request the Holy Spirit to direct you to truth and then be prepared to face the facts and realities He reveals. The truth and revelations may cause you to make choices or personal life changes.

2 Timothy 2:7 (NIV) commands, “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

If you are facing trials, struggles, or you simply have questions and concerns, diligently seek the truth. Like a buried treasure, you will find the answers and a cherished prize. Be a Berean today! Don’t let confusion rob you of the peace of Christ.

STUDY THESE WORDS DURING YOUR QUIET TIME:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV)

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)

“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” 1 John 4:5 (NIV)

“What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes bt I do not hear Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers

 

http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Storms-Devotions-Thought-Meditation/dp/1502487551/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1430870978&sr=8-2&keywords=cheryl+zelenka

God’s Unfolding Plan For Our Life

*9

God’s plan for our life is one that continuously unfolds. Minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and step-by-step He guides, all the while unfolding His glorious intentions. His wonderful blueprint for our lives was designed before we were even born. Every detail was considered when He assigned our mission, duty, responsibility, and occupation (s). He created and set circumstances into place that would refine our gifts and engage our specific attributes. Always, ALWAYS is our service for His glory and the blessing of His people. Moses is a wonderful example of this fact.

“Then the Lord said to Moses,  “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.  Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.” Exodus 14:1-4 (NKJV)

Pharaoh and his army pursued the Israelites, and overtook them as they camped by the sea.As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord.” Exodus 14:10 (NKJV)

The Israelites later turned on Moses and questioned why they ever followed him into the desert. They were prepared to return to Egypt and once again become slaves. Their faith in God’s power was weak and they saw no way out of their trap. The Red Sea was an apparent roadblock, but God would use that roadblock for His glory. Nothing is impossible for God! On that day the Israelites witnessed another incredible miracle of God’s provision and faithfulness as they walked on dry land, through the Red Sea, to safety.

Do you see how God’s plan unfolded? God gave Moses directions, telling him to encamp by the sea. God also told Moses that Pharaoh would pursue the Israelites. Furthermore, God revealed that He would gain glory for Himself through Pharaoh’s assault. But God did not tell Moses the Israelites would panic and turn on him. God often unfolds His plan measure-by-measure. He tells us enough to get us moving in the right direction but then, there are tests of obedience and faith that He intertwines in our journey.

Moses obediently camped by the sea and was not surprised by the appearance of the Egyptian army. Trusting God would faithfully deliver His people, Moses did not allow the Red Sea to become an obstacle. He remembered God said, “But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army,” and so the parting of the Red Sea fulfilled this prophesy.

God wants us to depend on Him daily. Moses did not have directions for the next week or month. He took one day at a time. He had to train his ear to LISTEN for God’s voice.

Now consider the apostles. Their lives were a continuous unfolding. After Jesus rose from the dead, He told His friends to go back to the city and wait for the Holy Spirit.

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 (NIV)

Jesus did not tell them what the promise would look like. He gave them only the directions they needed, go back to the city and wait. Obediently, they waited in the city for the promise to be clothed with heavenly power. Once the Holy Spirit arrived, they learned to discern His leading. They healed many in the name of Jesus, spread the gospel, established churches, and wrote words of encouragement that are now known as the LIVING Word of God.

Jesus told Peter to “Feed my sheep.” He did not give Peter detailed instructions on how to accomplish this request, but He did equip him. Every apostle went out and shared the good news. Apostles were persecuted for their faith, unfolded as part of their Christian race. God taught them to be content in times of plenty and times of want. They gave Him continuous praise as they knew He was ever present and in control.

Other examples of walking with God and trusting Him to unfold His plan include Abraham: Leave you homeland

Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ ” Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV)

Joshua: March around Jericho

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Joshua 6:1-5

God has a purpose and service for each one of us. Maybe it is in the prayer closet. We might not see the fruit of our labor, but the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Prayers are ALWAYS answered in God’s time and for His glory. God unfolds how to pray and who to pray for by using the Holy Spirit to direct us while on our knees.

We are all called to share the Good News. We must look for the opportunity and trust God to give us the wisdom and knowledge to share His love. Maybe we will help a stranger and God will unfold the best way to witness. A neighbor might need of a ride somewhere and you hear God say, “Drive!” After you obey this unusual request, God might unfold His real purpose for your service. Every day unfolds new mysteries of God’s love for us.

Wait on God to fulfill His promises. Wait for the Savior to unfold His plan for your life. He is equipping you now for what lies in the future. Patiently wait and remember that God looks for willing servants who say, “Lord, send me!”

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

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“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do. ”                        ~ Corrie ten Boom

“Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you who He is.”                                  ~Oswald Chambers

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