ONLINE MAGAZINE

The Closet

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6 (NKJV)

The chair sat in a closet far away from the kitchen. Hidden in the dark, a person could easily slip into the space with little notice. It was not the usual coat closet or even a pantry filled with canned goods. It was a prayer closet.

The distractions that arise from a small house with six children are what originally motivated the daddy to build the small space. Alice, his youngest, loved to hide in the closet. Like him, she believed in the power of prayer and was thankful for the little sanctuary. It always reminded her of God’s presence and His desire for her fellowship.

Although prayers were said before every meal and family devotions were shared every night, Alice still made time for the prayer closet. Her siblings had no interest in it, so she never had to fight for access. Within the walls of the tiny closet there was room for just one small chair. Alice didn’t mind, for the moment she sat on that chair she entered the presence of God and all her worldly cares slipped into His hands.

Over the years Alice grew into a lovely young woman. She was known for her gentle and quiet spirit and for the graceful way she carried herself. She never married, so after her parents died, she inherited their home. Her brothers and sisters had all moved away to raise their own families and were happy she had become the new homeowner.

God gives all of His children spiritual gifts. To Alice He gave the gift of faith and a passion to intercede for the lost. Unseen by all, it was her joy to enter the prayer closet. She would daily lift up those in need of God’s grace and provision. The Lord would place neighbors, strangers from the grocery store, childhood friends and government officials on her heart. Faithfully, she would lift them up and ask God to reveal Himself to them. She asked for His saving grace.

For 87 years Alice lived a quiet life in her small community. She was well liked but nobody, including her siblings, thought she had accomplished much. She never went to college, worked only simple jobs, and left behind no family of her own. What would her nieces and nephews say at her funeral? Nobody knew of her time in the prayer closet. Nobody knew how the spiritual realm came to attention when she was on her knees.

When Alice took her last breath on earth and woke to her first day in heaven, there was a MULTITUDE of heavenly hosts waiting to greet her and give thanks. Her prayers had helped to bring many souls into the kingdom of God, but only in death was this finally revealed. She was humbled by the first words of her beloved Savior, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To hear these words had been her heart’s desire.

But oh, you cannot imagine Alice’s surprised when God revealed her heavenly treasure and the many crowns she had earned, including the Crown of Rejoicing.

MEDITATE ON THESE SCRIPTURES AND QUOTE BY TOZER DURING YOUR QUIET TIME

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NKJV)

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”          Matthew 25:21 (NKJV)

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.1 Corinthians 12:3-11(NKJV)

“The key to prayer is simply praying.” ~ A.W. Tozer

ONLINE MAGAZINE

God’s Instruction and Spiritual Maturity

*Spiritual Maturity

Read more devotions by Cheryl Zelenka at http://facingtrials.com

We begin our education from the moment of birth or even before birth, for we learn to recognize the beating of our mother’s heart while yet within her womb. In order to survive, we acquire information and learn what we can about it, then make intelligent applications. Our knowledge comes by self-discovery and through instruction.

 “I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.” Proverbs 4:11-13 (NKJV)

In our early years we crawl to get around but it is not long before we take our first baby steps. Assuredly, all babies fall down numerous times before mastering the ability to walk effectively. A tenacious perseverance to get back up and try again helps us in mastering each new challenge we face.

As Christians, we should adopt this same tenacity to persevere, but in our spiritual walk with Christ. He asks very little of us, just a forward movement. Baby steps are fine for a time but spiritual maturity does bring forth a more coordinated and developed walk. Sadly, some believers set aside very little time to seek out Godly instruction and end up crawling their entire spiritual journey.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NKJV)

With time, children increase their coordination in the physical world and grow more comfortable with their bodies. They learn to skip, jump, and run. They accept instruction from others and learn how to move in a new and wonderful gait.

God does expect His children to accept instruction and grow up, both physically and spiritually. Our measure of Godly obedience will largely determine the depth of our spiritual maturity. Sadly, the human race is a rebellion one, so there are many Christian infants in wrinkled and gray haired bodies.

These spiritual infants have not read much of the living Word, nor are they greatly concerned about seeking out Godly instruction. They are satisfied with having others feed their spiritual food to them, but a weekly sermon from some Pastor is not enough substance for any spiritual growth. They remain greatly undernourished and spiritually weak. They refuse to be weaned off their spiritual milk. They decide to let others eat a more substantial spiritual diet since their flesh calls them to other distractions.

In our physical world adults do not crawl to work dragging baby bottles of milk behind them. We would laugh at such a sight. Why then do we think nothing of remaining an infant in our spiritual life?

Maturity comes in many ways and one is through applying our hearts to knowledge and instruction. We have so many available resources and ought to take advantage of every one. But once again, the immature in Christ neglect fellowship time with God, which therefore stunts their spiritual growth.

To open your ears to knowledge is to live life with a passionate intent to listen for, and consider, new ideas and information. With a sincere desire to learn, our hearing and our spirit will sharpen automatically with incredible focus. This enables us to gain the necessary knowledge we need to navigate life and victoriously handle the challenges it hands us.

Everyone starts their spiritual journey crawling and yes, some wander along the entire way on their hands and knees. Kingdoms journey is not an easy one, so their unwillingness to seek out instruction and knowledge makes for an even more challenging climb. They are greatly hampered by their malnourishment and the uncomfortable posture they have embraced.

Thankfully, some of these infants do make it to Kingdoms door. Other believers who are healthier and stronger spirituality (for they are better equipped from their daily feeding upon God’s word) end their race upright and still running. They are the ones who hear God say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Many treasures have been laid up in your eternal home.”

Of course the most important thing is to finish the race. Giving up and quitting will not get anyone into heaven, and malnourished infants find the uphill climb incredibly difficult to complete. They are more susceptible to doubt and fear since they have not planted much of God’s Word in their hearts.

How we enter the Kingdom of God is up to us. I predict the lessons learned and the talents used on earth will be perfected in heaven and used to continue our praise for God. We all must stand before the throne of God and He will reward each of us for our good works. Gaining a heart of knowledge that is open to instruction will be recognized.

Therefore my dear reader, are you ready for a change in your spiritual diet? Will you throw out your baby bottle of milk and accept some solid food today? Do you have a sincere desire to search out scriptures that instruct and guide? Can you put on an attitude of diligence? Will you seek God with a heart bent on attaining and applying the instruction He will so faithfully and lovingly provide?

DURING YOUR QUIET TIME CONSIDER THE EXHORTATIONS FOUND WITHIN THESE SCRIPTURES AND QUOTE.

“My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother;

For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.” Proverbs 1:8-9 (NKJV)

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.Proverbs 19:20 (NKJV)

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.” Proverbs 16:20-21 (NIV)

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 5:12 (NKJV)

“Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” 1 Corinthians 14:20 (NKJV)

Five minutes after you die you’ll know how you should have lived.”    ~ Leonard Ravenhill   http://www.heprayed.com/quotes/

This devotion is in my soon to be published book FACING ADVERSITY WITH WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISES.   Be sure to visit Amazon and leave a book review for my other books. THANKS!

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

 

ONLINE MAGAZINE

Kingdom Pets and Animals

**Willow Looking Up

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

Most of us have had a pet at one point in life. Many of us are presently enjoying their company right now. I am a big dog lover and have lived with one or two dogs for most of my life. They are a part of my family and dearly loved.

I see dogs as lessons in unconditional love. God created them to be a help and companion for mankind. I am thankful for the amazing capacity they have to forgive and love their humans, in spite of our unkind and selfish ways. Time and time again, Willow or Frisky will forget the angry words we spoke or the lateness of their supper, and sit at our feet in complete submission, friendship, and faithfulness.

The love of a pet has comforted many of us in our time of need. Loneliness is less of an issue when there is a soft coat of fur to hug and a gentle tongue willing to lick away our tears. Sweet-tempered and sensitive, pets often seek us out when they sense our sorrow and pain.

Protection is obviously a part of a dog’s character, why else create an animal that growls and barks when danger is near? Barks of warning have saved sleeping families from burning flames, alerted parents to their children’s upcoming seizures, and told rescue workers where to search for avalanche and earthquake survivors. They courageously fight alongside our soldiers and bravely die serving their country.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NKJV)

Randy Alcorn, in his book HEAVEN, writes about the possibility of pets living with us in heaven. C.S. Lewis, the famous Christian author of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE also believed pets would go to heaven. If our God created dogs and other creatures to be companions and helpers in our life, why would He abandon them all and forbid their entrance in the heavenly realm? I don’t see this happening, especially since the Bible mentions animals in the after life. In fact, it is written in the book of Revelations that Jesus rides a white horse upon His second coming.

 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He hada name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,followed Him on white horses.” Revelations 19:11-14 (NKJV)

What a comfort and joy it is to imagine the greeting our faithful pets will lavish upon us, once we enter our eternal rest! Though they had but a short lifespan, they remain fresh in our memories while we finish our spiritual race on earth. It is beyond my ability to write and share how my pets were able to comfort and change me with their unconditional love.  I can merely say, I am blessed and thankful for every dog who has been in my life. I am thankful God created such animals for His adopted children.

MEDITATE ON THESE COMFORTING AND ENCOURAGING SCRIPTURES

All creatures recognize Jesus as the Savior of the world. They praise God right alongside redeemed men.

“And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

“All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You.” Psalm 145:10 (NKJV)

“And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendantsafter you,and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.” Genesis 9:9-10 (NKJV)

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze;Their young ones shall lie down together;And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9 (NKJV)

“In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” Job 12:10 (NKJV)

“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19 (NKJV)

ONLINE MAGAZINE

Work In Heaven?

No Problems in Heaven

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

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