This Gets God’s Attention

When you know a friend needs Jesus, how do you respond? There’s a story in Mark 2 about a man who couldn’t walk, so four guys literally carry him to Jesus. The problem is that by the time they get there, they can’t get into the house where Jesus was teaching because of the crowd. Rather than say, “Oh well, dude we tried to get you in.” They refuse to be denied and carry this man up on the roof. Once up there they tear open the roof (probably made of mud, tiles and maybe straw) and lower the man down to Jesus.

The Scripture says that when Jesus saw “their” faith, he responded. In other words, it wasn’t even the man on the mat’s faith; it was those bringing him to Jesus that touched the Master.

Here’s my question: who are you currently carrying to Jesus? Who do you know that needs a touch from God, forgiveness of sins, and a fresh start? Please understand that it is your responsibility to carry them to Jesus. This man got to meet Jesus, be healed, made whole and restored to God because someone cared enough to carry him.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,” and we are most like Him when we love others enough to take action. Friend, it’s too easy to get caught up in our Christian circles and ourselves and forget who Jesus came for. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. If you don’t know any lost people right now, you need to change that. Get out of your bubble and love like God loves.

It impresses Jesus when he sees us bring others to Him. If you want to get Jesus’ attention today, lift someone up and bring them to Jesus. Nothing moves God’s heart more than when we care enough to carry someone to Him.

Not only does this story come from today’s reading in the One Year Bible (that I’m doing again this year), but it is also our text for Sunday. I hope you can be with us as God anoints His Word to our ears. God has a word for you this weekend!

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Betrayed By Those Nearby

Posted in Choice, Forgiveness, Love, Offense, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on February 9, 2017

We will soon be coming into the season of Lent on the church calendar. It begins on March 1, 2017 and celebrates the 40 days leading up to Easter, often with prayer and fasting.

As I was reading today’s daily portion of the One Year Bible, one portion was on the last supper, Jesus praying in the garden, betrayal and arrest. No matter who you are, each of us will be let down by those around us. Even one of Jesus’ closest companions betrayed Him for just 30 pieces of silver.

When we are betrayed by those closest to us, we have a choice to make. We can either get bitter or we can get better. We can get over it, or let it get all over us. The choice is up to us. Too often, we use other’s shortcomings and failures to be our excuse for bitterness, resentment and revenge.

Jesus shows us a more excellent way. Rather than allowing ourselves to be reactionary in our response toward how we have been treated, we can respond with forgiveness, kindness and love. I know you may say, “But, you don’t know how many times they’ve let me down!” That may be true, but Jesus was betrayed in as hurtful of a way as anyone before or since. But, He chose to forgive and set the example for us.

Too often we fail to see that the person being hurt most by our unforgiving heart is us. So, if there’s someone you need to forgive, let go of and quit harboring resentment toward – today would be a great day to do it. No better way to get ready for Lent season, than following Jesus’ example of forgiving those nearby.

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God Will Provide

Posted in Encouragement, Faith, Miracle, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on February 2, 2017

In today’s Old Testament reading of the One Year Bible plan, I was struck by the way God provides for His people. In Exodus 15 He turns “bitter” water into drinkable H2O by a miracle. He also declares, “I am the Lord, who heals you.” I love that!

Then, in Exodus 16 God makes bread to appear each day. He warns them not to hoard it, for they must trust Him for “daily bread,” just as Jesus would one day teach us to pray. Quail even came in the evening, as God sent dinner long before drones were ever created. God can airlift provision to His people no matter where they may be located. Don’t even think that you are unnoticed or unable to receive from God. He knows your address and can get what you need faster than Amazon Prime can deliver it.

In Exodus 17 we find that God can even bring water from a rock for His people. We learn later that this is a foreshadowing of Jesus. That just like water came from the rock to quench the thirst of the Israelites; God would send the solid Rock, Christ Jesus, to satisfy the thirsting of every person’s soul. What drugs, alcohol, illicit sex, money and things cannot satisfy, we find filled in Christ alone.

I don’t know what you may be going through today. You may feel like you are in a desert place that is dry, desolate and discouraging. But, just as God proved Himself faithful and took care of the Israelites, He still cares for His people today. Stop trying to find satisfaction in things that cannot bring lasting contentment. Instead, trust the One who can bring water from a rock, airlift provision or drop it in overnight. God knows what you really need and is able to provide.

 

 

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Who Am I?

Just this past weekend, we wrestled with the prayer of “send me.” We learned that one response to God’s call on our lives (our purpose), is to say “send someone else.” This is exactly the response of Moses that I’m reading in the One Year Bible again today.

Genesis 3 records the story of God calling Moses to be His voice to the people of Israel and representative to Pharaoh. The call seems bigger to Moses than his ability to pull off, so he tries to talk God into using someone else.

I wonder how many of us do the same thing with God. We feel He might be asking us to step into something bigger than what we’re currently doing, and rather than saying “yes”, we hesitate and try to justify our reluctance.

Moses said, “Who am I that I should go?”  We say things like, “They are much more gifted than me”, or “they have more money to give than I do” or “they have more time, I’m sure, than I do, so let them volunteer.” Do any of these excuses work with God? What happened when Moses stopped making excuses and started making commitments? He witnessed first hand, the incredible power of God using Him to free a nation.

What might happen if you stopped making excuses and started making commitments? The One that enabled Moses to go beyond what he believed he could do, is the same God today for you.

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God Is With Us

Posted in Dreams, Encouragement, Perspective, Victorious Living by PCraig on January 19, 2017

Some of us think that if God is with us, then life will go smooth, when the Bible actually paints a different picture. For instance, over and over in Genesis 39 we find this phrase concerning Joseph, “the Lord was with him.” Yet, in that same chapter Joseph is falsely accused and thrown into prison. I guess the good news is that the Lord was still with him in jail.

Remember this today as you may be going through a struggle, just because your going through something doesn’t mean God’s not with you. Also, just because God is with you, doesn’t mean you won’t go through some stuff.

The main thing to focus on is God’s promise for your life. Joseph hung onto the dream that God had given him that would one day be fulfilled. Don’t let your current detour or distract you from the dream God has yet to deliver.

Joseph’s life is a witness to a God who will bring you through! Never lose hope or give up, for God is with you.

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Lessons From A Lame Man

Posted in Evangelism, Friendship, Relationships, Salvation, witnessing by PCraig on January 12, 2017

One day some men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus lying on a mat. The Bible (Matthew 9:2) says something interesting, that “when Jesus saw THEIR faith…” He did something. There are several things that speak to me out of this passage from the One Year Bible. One thing is that it’s important to have good friends. You need some friends that will carry you to Jesus if they have to.

Another thing is that Jesus is moved by the faith of people around you and not just you. That means you better how some people of faith around you. Who knows how many of us have been impacted by the prayers of a grandparent, parent or friend?

Then, I see that Jesus is more concerned about the man’s spiritual need than his physical need. Keep in mind that it was the physical need that drew him there, but Jesus wanted to remedy the paralysis in this man’s heart. His greatest need wasn’t his legs, it was his life.

Some lessons for us:

  • Be the kind of person that brings others to Jesus.
  • Listen for the pain in others that leads to an opportunity to invite them to Jesus.
  • Don’t be too busy to carry others burdens in prayer or personally.

The fact that these men got involved in this paralytics life, enabled him to walk away physically and spiritually healed. Who could you get involved with and bring closer to Jesus this week?

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I’m Gonna Let It Shine

Posted in Christian Lifestyle, Evangelism, Love, One Year Bible, witnessing by PCraig on January 4, 2017

We used to sing a song when I was in preschool Sunday School classes that went, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” My favorite part though, was when it came to the verse that said, “Hide it under a bushel, no…” The reason I liked that portion is because we were allowed to shout the word NO when asking about hiding our light. I must confess, that at the time, I really didn’t even know what I was singing about, but it was fun.

Later on, I came to understand that the meaning of the song came from this week’s reading of the One Year Bible in Matthew 5:14-16. Jesus proclaims that His followers are the “light of the world,” and just like no one hides a light under “a bowl,” likewise, we are not to hide our light.

During this year, my intent is to take a similar passage like this, from the One Year Bible reading, and to make comment on it in this blog. My hope, is that it will not only speak to those of you reading the Bible through this year, and keep you encouraged along the way, but it will also inspire you to let God’s Word speak directly to you. (We are providing 21-day devotionals this weekend to go along with our 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer this weekend, so don’t miss it!)

Getting back to our passage, I would like to suggest that each of us are carriers of the light of Jesus to our world in 2017. As a result, it is imperative that we feel that responsibility to let our light shine as Jesus stated. We cannot expect God to shine for us, we are to shine for Him. We shine when we do our work well, do more than is expected, love our enemies and show Christ’s compassion to all.

Another way to shine this week is by inviting someone into your life with Christ. You might respond to their need for help by offering to pray, or share an inspirational thought from Scripture you’ve been reading. One more way is to simply invite them to be your guest at your church. Statistics say that most people would be glad to attend church with a friend if only they were invited.

Let’s commit to shine our light in the darkness of our world this year so others can find their way to God.

 

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How To Grow In Faith In 2017

Posted in Change, Church Growth, Faith, Fasting, New Year, Personal Growth, Prayer by PCraig on January 1, 2017

I want to encourage every Crossroads family member to take the following challenges in January to grow your faith like perhaps never before!

  • Begin reading the Bible everyday starting today. You can do this thru downloading and printing a reading plan to keep inside your Bible as a checklist. Another way is to purchase a One Year Bible and it will guide you through daily readings. Or, you can use the YouVersion Bible App and select a reading plan for 2017 to read from your phone, computer or other electronic device.
  • Attend church every Sunday for the next three weeks. We’re launching a new three-week series called PRAYING BOLDLY beginning January 8. For these three weeks you will learn how to pray more bold, powerful prayers that will literally change your life and relationship with God.
  • This is also a great time to invite friends, family and anyone who needs to grow in faith to be a guest at Crossroads. Be sure to carry the invite cards that are in the lobby to help you to share with others. These cards give our service times, location and web address so they have something in their hand after you’ve invited them.
  • Begin a 21-Day fast on January 8. Next weekend starts our 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer. Powerful things happen when people fast and pray. If you would like to learn more on this topic, you can follow this link: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/fasting-for-beginners. Just know that you don’t have to give up food only, there are other things that may have more of your time and life than what you place in your mouth. We’re going to believe God together for a spiritual breakthrough in our church, our families, our community and our country during these 21 days!

Don’t allow yourself to be left out of what God may want to do in your life this year! Get off to a great start by accepting this challenge and just see what God will do. I believe this could very well be the greatest year for our church and your life also. Get ready to be changed!

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God’s Plan For You

Posted in Expectations, Faith, holiday, Used of God by PCraig on December 22, 2016

I had some really great Christmas experiences growing up, but I realize not everyone did. Some of you may have had good memories from childhood, but adulthood has been rough. The thought of Christmas can be filled with hassles and hurt. Marriages that failed, finances that are a wreck and health that’s deteriorated. What do you do to restore the wonder, joy and happiness of the past?

The original Christmas story wasn’t one without hassle, hurt and confusion. Imagine Joseph being engaged to someone that now claims to be made pregnant by God. Really? I’m supposed to go along with this? Even though it wasn’t easy, Joseph steps into the plan of God for his life and things begin to happen. A manger is available, Wiseman bring gifts, God directs you on where to move and ultimately you realize God has a plan.

God has a plan for each of us as well. It may not involve mangers, moving and wisemen, but it won’t be without its challenges. At the same, it won’t be without God’s provision, because where God guides, He provides.

Instead of asking God to bless our plans this Christmas, let’s seek to join God’s plan for our lives. Read Proverbs 3:5-6 and let the promise excite you with possibilities as you seek to trust and lean on Him. In doing so, you’ll experience God leading you into a plan that only He could put together.

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A Mary Christmas

Posted in Attitude, Character, Faith, Giving, Used of God by PCraig on December 8, 2016

It’s Christmas time in the city, and the country, and everywhere else I suppose. I love Christmas! The music, decorations, lights and all of it are beautiful. But, let’s admit it, sometimes it can be stressful, burdensome, and a mess. It’s for these reasons and more we need to be reminded that it’s really all about Jesus! This is especially important if you’re having a tough time this season because of a loss of loved one, job, or illness. The good news is that you can experience a Merry Christmas anyway.

By looking at Mary, the mother of Jesus, we can find a way to have joy this season and potentially attract God’s favor as she did. Here are three characteristics she possessed:

She had a childlike faith. From Luke 1:38 we see that she lived in a simple faith that surrendered to God’s plan.

She had a giving attitude. We know she first of all gave her body to be used of God. So many in our culture think, “It’s MY body, so I’ll decide.” But, Mary said, “My body is your body God, so use it however you see fit.” No wonder God chose her!

She also shared the light with others. Before Jesus had ever done any public miracles, He and Mary were attending a wedding (Jn.2). When they ran out of wine and faced humiliation, Mary offered Jesus to help. Her words to the servants were priceless, “Do whatever He tells you.” You gotta love that! It’s one of the most powerful messages we need to hear.

To attract God’s favor in our lives we too can believe God with childlike faith, live life with an open hand, and share the hope of Jesus with others. Here’s hoping you have a very “Mary” Christmas.

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