WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the tag “Sanctification”

Hunger Pains

*Empty? Grace

Feeling Empty?
Hunger pains are not pleasant. They occur when the stomach empties and its walls come into contact, rubbing against each other. Eating food, which once again separates the walls of the stomach, relieves the gnawing sensation.

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (NASB)

When we have an overall sense of emptiness, it is likely that we are suffering from spiritual “hunger pains.” The living Word of God is our spiritual food. There are several scriptures that speak about feeding upon His word. Ezekiel equates the eating of God’s Word to the sweetness of honey, and Jeremiah tells how eating scripture echoed the joy and rejoicing found in his heart.

“And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” Ezekiel 3:3 (NKJV)

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)

Our body needs food for energy and it is essential for good health. Our spirit requires the wisdom, encouragement, and instruction found in the Bible to maintain spiritual health. As we move through our day, food fuels our physical body and helps us to think clearly. Without sufficient nourishment, accomplishing tasks become harder. Again, in the spiritual realm, without the Word freshly consumed daily, we will stumble and find ourselves less effective in our witness. Meditating on the truths and promises of God aids us in facing adversity and overcoming snares set by the evil one.

Our Lord does not encourage a “feast and famine” attitude when it comes to nourishing our spirit. Just as we eat food several times a day, we are encouraged to read the Bible daily. The Israelites were instructed to collect manna daily. (Exodus 16) This bread from heaven would rot if it were left for the next day. Additionally, it was collected in the morning, as it would melt under the heat of the sun.

Viewed as an analogy, this scripture suggests we consume the Word in the morning before our day begins. It is so easy to put God on the back burner and get caught up in the cares of the day. We need to put Him first! The instruction and encouragement we glean in our quiet time will carry us throughout the day.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10 (NKJV)

“But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You, in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

If we feel unsatisfied with life and empty, reflection is necessary. Why are we feeling empty when we know the Holy Spirit is alive within us? Has the enemy succeeded in stealing our hope? Have we set aside God’s will and turned our focus to fleshly desires and ambitions? Is the sovereignty of God and His position as our Creator now questioned or even disrespected? Have we forgotten the abundance of His love?

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)

“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)

Or, has God asked us to move in a new direction, and the fear of leaving behind that which is familiar, upsetting our peace of mind? Maybe the emptiness we feel is because God has more for us. Do we have a vice grip on the past and present? If we cannot open our hands to hold God’s hand, how can He lead us into new territory and new blessings? Trusting God to fill us with understanding, knowledge, and necessary skills is a test. He WILL test our faith!

“And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze” Exodus 35:31-32 (NKJV)

“He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” Ephesians 4:10 (NKJV)

The Lord will add many to His kingdom through believers who walk in the fullness of Christ Jesus. Grace will abound to those who walk in obedience. Joy will fill their hearts while they sow the seeds of His love and share the promise of eternal life.

“For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” Acts 11:24 (NKJV)

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (NASB)

When emptiness fills our spirit we ought to look towards service and opportunities to help others in need. By turning our focus upwards and outwards, God will fill us with new joy. This joy comes from having been found worthy to serve the King of Kings. Our pleasure brings contentment since pleasing God, through our service and love, has now become our delight. Brand new and astounding desires will begin to formulate in our weary hearts that are aligned to His will.

With God, nothing is impossible. When we put Him in the driver’s seat, He will take us on an incredible journey. Expect the unexpected! Detours are not really detours after all. They are an important part of our journey, full of lessons and life applications.

When God’s will for us has become our all-consuming desire, we will not suffer true emptiness. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are indeed filled. Any emptiness that comes from unfulfilled desires or sorrows will be refined in the Refiner’s fire. This takes time and the heat of the furnace is painful. Count your trial as a blessing. Our joy is not the trial itself, but the fruit that is born out of our adversity.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Arriving at utter submission, and a state of unquestioned commitment is difficult to say the least. For we wrestle not our flesh alone but also powers of darkness. When an absolute yielding of self has been achieved, emptiness will no longer prevail. For He is the only One who can completely satisfy every need. He alone makes us whole.

If we continue to feel empty, our sorrow or desire has not been completely restored by God’s healing love. Possibly, our hearts have yet to lay all the disappointment and pain at His feet. An “If Only” may remain, interfering with an utterly yielded faith and hope in Christ. An absolute faith that God has permitted what is best for us, and for those we love, is still working itself out.

Our focus on “self” is what gets in the way of complete joy and peace. When HE is our all-in- all, we are filled to overflowing. But everything, EVERYTHING else must be placed behind Him. God alone and HIS good pleasure is all we should want and hope for in life.
Easy to accomplish? NO!
But deserved? Yes, YES INDEED!

“To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19 (NKJV)

“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:11 (NKJV)

“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52 (NASB)

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.”

Your Spiritual Journey

*Light on Path

“Our spiritual trek is life long and life changing, so long as we yield to God’s will and purpose. Sanctification takes us through the Refiner’s fire over and over, until we are purified and reflect the very image of Christ. Then, when our allotted number of days is finished, we will reach our eternal home and receive our just reward.

How rapidly we travel upon our path is not determined by God. No, we set our own pace. The measure of our surrender will determine the depth ofknowledge we gain and how quickly we progress through difficult terrain. A yielded heart of obedience will do wonders for ones gait. By listening, obeying, and trusting God, we conquer even the greatest depths and heights on our journey.” ~ Cheryl Zelenka

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

Excerpt from FACING ADVERSITY WITH WISDOM PRAISE AND PROMISES. (Available on Amazon This November)
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Cheryl+Zelenka&sprefix=Chery%2Caps

Diamonds & Pearls

Diamond:Coal Quote

“Deep in the center of the earth, a diamond is formed. Though many will admire its beauty and usefulness, when its formation is complete, none views the process by which it is formed. It is hidden, unseen, in the darkness.  So is the work of God in the heart of man.”  -Diane Dew

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a Merchant looking for fine pearls. When He found one of great value, He went away and sold everything He had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV)

God looks down upon us and sees a mighty treasure. We are all precious jewels in His sight, for He took great care in our unique and marvelous design. And just as every snowflake, pearl, or diamond is rare and distinct, so are we! In fact, the Lord paid a great price to rescue us from a fate worse than death, and from the hand of an evil and powerful foe.

Pearls start off as grains of sand tucked inside a clam. Confined to a season of constant darkness and pressure, they eventually break free of their confines as transformed beauties. Humble and unpretentious, pearls are unique for they are the organic products of another living creature.

Diamonds are also created with pressure. However, they don’t emerge from the earth perfect and beautiful, like some natural pearls. Diamonds require additional work. Their transformation is not finished until a Master artist chips away their rough and pitted surfaces.

The skillful hand of this master craftsman is needed to finish their transformation. With careful hands He chips away unwanted surfaces from the diamond, eventually exposing the stark beauty within its specific shape and design.

Transformation requires intense pressure and this pressure involves pain.

Through the process of sanctification, we too endure extraordinary pressures. Our refinement is not an easy enterprise. Perseverance is vital while the Lord transforms us into perfect gems. A heart full of submission will spur on the refinement process. Our wills must completely surrender to the King if an honest transformation is to occur.

As you undergo this miraculous and life-long process, comfort is always near by. God provides His supernatural strength when it is most needed. He may send believers your way to share words of encouragement and hope. He will definitely speak to you in ways only you can acknowledge and recognize. There are so many encouraging promises written in the Bible and the Holy Spirit will faithfully guide you to them as well.

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”  John 17:17 (NKJV)

The Devil just can’t be happy when a saint receives victory over a sin during this refinement. It means that he has one less way to seduce, trap, and deceive. And since he is a prowling lion, ever hungry and forever watching for opportunities to pounce and devour, we must remain on the defensive. 

A soldier in battle never lets his guard down. He may be injured or weary from the fight, but he is always alert and awake. We too, are in battle…. Always! The principalities of darkness never forget us, so don’t think you have gone unnoticed during a season of rest and peace. These sinister principalities are always watching and know nothing of mercy.

As the rocky edges are chipped from your being, and God continues to transform you from coal to diamond, look up. Yes, the pain will end and the enemy will not have any place in your eternal home. There is hope in today and joy to be found, even in the midst of your present suffering.

You are the pearl in Matthew 13:45-46.  God is the Merchant.  When finding you, He sees your value and sells everything He has in order to purchase you.  Jesus purchased you with His blood.  You are His treasure.  Think about your value and cost to God.  With this in mind, will you now submit your whole heart and ask God to have His way with you? Are you ready for the astonishing process of sanctification?

CONSIDER THESE SCRIPTURES AND QUOTE DURING YOUR QUIET TIME

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)

“Submit to God and be at peace with Him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” Job 22:21 (NIV)

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain.”  ~UNKNOWN

Pearls and Diamonds

Pear In His Hands-Big

Deep in the center of the earth, a diamond is formed. Though many will admire its beauty and usefulness, when its formation is complete, none views the process by which it is formed. It is hidden, unseen, in the darkness.  So is the work of God in the heart of man.’    -Diane Dew

Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV)     Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a Merchant looking for fine pearls. When He found one of great value, He went away and sold everything He had and bought it.

Dear Reader,

You are a treasure belonging to God.  He took great care in your design.  Just as every snowflake, pearl, and diamond is unique, so are you!  However, it takes pressure to turn a lump of coal into a diamond or a grain of sand into a pearl. 

Intense pressure causes great suffering and turmoil. The transformation of our spirits, as we are sanctified, must endure pressures just as a grain of sand or diamond in the rough must.  In the end, we will be the spiritual diamond or pearl our Lord desires.  However, before the Lord can press and transform us into the gem He has envisioned, we must lay down our wills and submit to Him.

When you are undergoing the incredible but painful process of transformation, you will often find that the only comfort you can obtain is from the Word of God.  People, even with good intentions, will leave you unfulfilled and empty.  The Word is full of encouragement and hope.  The promises of God are many and should be read during times of weakness and doubt, struggle and hardship.

No soul, pearl, or diamond, will remain in the dark ocean or earth forever.  Something will come along to propel it to the surface.  You will be discovered, admired, loved, and treasured by the ones who find you.  The Almighty God already knows about your beauty.  I am speaking about those around you who finally discover your value as you live out His purpose in your life.

You are the pearl in Matthew 13:45-46.  God is the Merchant.  When finding you, He sees your value and sells everything He has in order to purchase you.  Jesus purchased you with is blood.  You are His treasure.  Think about your value and your cost to God.  With this in mind, can you now endure the sanctification process?

Job 22:21 (NIV)      “Submit to God and be at peace with Him.; in this way prosperity will come to you.”

Diamond Graphic Diamond

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