The Most Repeated Command

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Encouragement, Happiness, Joy, Perspective by PCraig on April 12, 2018

The most repeated command in the Bible is probably not what you think it is. It’s be happy! It comes in many forms and words such as, blessing, blessed, peace, joy, prosper, and others. It is proof that our God is for us and not against us.

That means instead of thinking God is getting in the way of your happiness, He’s actually making a way for your happiness. He is the solution and not the problem. Most of the other commands in the Bible are actually to keep us from things that lead to unhappiness. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and life to the FULL” (Jn. 10:10). God is not just holy, He is happy, and the two go together.

Last weekend, we launched a new series called FINDING HAPPY. We learned that there are habits of happiness that can lead us to more peace, love and joy. Science says that only about 10% of what happens to you actually impacts your happiness. This explains why two people can undergo the same set back, but one bounces back while the other gives up. It’s not the circumstances, but our perspective that makes the biggest difference.

So, this week, I want to again encourage you with two new habits, and here they are:

Switch worry for prayer (Phil.4:6). What is you worried less and prayed more? Every time worry tries to land in your lap, toss it out like a hot potato. Say, “Oh no you don’t, I’m not accepting this worry, fear, fret, concern and anxiety. Instead I’m tossing it over to God in prayer and let Him carry it.”

Live Thankful (Phil. 4:7). Take it from the Apostle Paul, when you choose to be thankful, you can be in prison but free.   Just be thankful for the simple things like: “I’m forgiven, washed, liberated, free, I have family, friends, a home, a church…” It’s hard to be depressed and thankful at the same time.

What would happen this week if you let your feelings follow your actions, instead of the other way around? I believe, you’ll experience God’s peace that transcends our human understanding and find a joy you can’t explain.

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What Happened to Happily Ever After?

Are you depressed because life has not turned out the way you thought it would? Maybe your marriage is troubled, your kids are rebellious, your health is failing, or your job is ending. In these times, we might ask, “God! Can’t you stop this from happening?”

It’s tempting to wonder if God cares and is even paying attention in hard times. Especially if you begin to compare yourself to others and wonder, “Why do they seem to get all the breaks?” This is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading the Bible. God’s Word is not written like a fairy tale, where all ends “happily ever after.” Rather, the Scriptures are filled with pain, illness, trials, separations, murder, even rape and incest, to name a few. Yet, in the midst of all this ugliness, God so often revealed His beauty. In spite of what was going on around them, God showed His grace in troubled times.

This is what Easter is all about. Through the horror and pain of beatings, torture and crucifixion, God provided a way for you and I to have a fresh start. The Scripture says that we become a “new creation” when we surrender our lives to Him. Just because you put your faith in God, doesn’t mean it will end with “they lived happily ever after.” But, it does mean, you’ll never go through anything life slings your way alone. He said to be sure of this, He will never leave us or abandon us, but go with us always, even to the end of the world.

And, actually, the Bible does promise a “happily ever after,” – after this life is over, which will last forever. So, hang in there, eternity is a long, long time, and will more than make up for the suffering in this world.

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3 Things Jesus Says About Worry

Posted in Encouragement, God's love, Happiness, Worry by PCraig on January 25, 2018

Don’t worry, be happy. Sounds like a pithy statement without much substance, but I would argue that it has the ingredients of a happy life. Maybe it’s clearer if we look at it backwards: if you want to be happy, you can’t be filled with worry.

Jesus even addresses this issue when he says, “Don’t worry,” in his great sermon on the mount. From Matthew 6:25-34, he focuses in on the topic of worry as it relates to our everyday lives. Here’s three things Jesus says about worry:

  • Don’t worry about the basic needs of life, because it won’t change anything.
  • Don’t worry about clothes, food, or drink, because God knows what you need.
  • Don’t worry about tomorrow because it only ruins today.

For me, the biggest reliever is that I know my Father loves me, cares for me, and wants to provide for me. My part is to trust in Him and not in worry.

If you missed last week’s message on this topic, here’s the link to the podcast:

https://welcometocrossroads.org/messages/

 

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Seeking The Good Life

Posted in Finances, Generosity, Happiness, Pursuing Jesus by PCraig on November 17, 2016

Everyone I know wants to live the good life. But, for many, the good life is something we think will happen later. In other words, we haven’t gotten there yet. This translates into what I call, “when and then thinking.” The thought process is that “when” this happens, “then” I’ll be happy. The “when” can be making more money, hitting the lottery, marrying the right person, moving to a desired place. What folks are missing is that the good life is not something that happens to you, but something God does in and through you. It’s not based on the world around (that’s beyond our control), but rather has a foundation in a rich relationship with God.

Jesus warns us that money can actually try to be our master (Matt. 6:24). This is so crazy, because many of us think that if we had more money we would be freer. Yet, we know from talking to people with more money than us, that they still don’t feel they have enough. Somehow having more is not a sign of living the good life Jesus came to bring.

The remedy is found when we put our treasure in God’s kingdom. Jesus says that our heart always follows our money (Matt 6:21), therefore, to have a heart of peace, we need to invest in the things of God.

Here’s the guarantee, Jesus said if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then “all these things will be added unto you.” In other words, when we put God’s kingdom first, our hearts are aligned, and He provides our needs. Both of which lead to a very good life.

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Let It Go Today

Posted in Choice, Happiness, Offense, Relationships by PCraig on August 25, 2016

If we all got what we deserved, we would all be in trouble. Am I right? Surely you don’t think you’ve lived such perfect life that even God is impressed with you – really? I don’t think so. The Bible says that we’ve all missed the mark and come up short in breaking promises to ourselves, God and others.

The most miserable people you know are resentful. They refuse to give up a grudge, let go of a hurt, and withhold forgiveness as though it were a prize. What these poor folks aren’t fully realizing is that they are hurting themselves. Un-mercifulness makes you miserable.

Proverbs 11:17 (NLT) Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.

We think it will destroy them, but often they are going on their merry way while we suffer for it. Holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

When I realize how much I’ve been forgiven, washed and cleansed of my past, then it makes it easier to forgive others. Maybe you don’t feel forgiven? Perhaps it’s your lack of being forgiven that is holding you back from issuing forgiveness?

Whether it’s your spouse, your neighbor, friend, boss, co-investor, parent or whomever, here’s what I know, it’s time to let it go. To let them go. And, I’ll even tell you when to do it – now! It’s already late as far as I’m concerned. But, the best time is to do it today. So, I don’t know what that means for you, what phone call or appointment you need to make (if you can), letter or email you need to write. I just know, after it’s released and you finally let go, you’ll be happier and glad you did. (Jesus said so, Matthew 5:7)

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No Substitute For The Right Piece

Posted in Happiness, Pursuing Jesus, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on June 30, 2016

I loved sitting and putting puzzles together as a kid.  I started with the big wooden pieces and worked my way up to the small, intricate and difficult puzzles with hundreds of pieces.  The frustrating thing that came with the more challenging puzzles was the way it seemed there were similar shaped pieces that looked a lot alike.  Invariably there would be an empty spot that would form with a odd shape, then I would joyously find a piece that appeared to be an identical match, only to have it not quite fit.  It was at this point; I would push, remove and repeat for numerous times.  My hope was that somehow it would turn into the missing piece that would exactly fit the hole.  But, in the end, it was the wrong piece.

It was not until I gave up and looked for another piece that I was able to fill the spot.  Much the same, many of us are living this puzzle called life and all of us want to be happy.  Yet, we find ourselves pushing and pushing the wrong pieces into the holes of our lives.  We think, “If I can just get married, obtain a new job, move to a new city, or reach a new high, then I’ll be happy.”  The reality is that we are trying to force something into a hole that only God can fill.

Each of us are made by a Creator that loves us and wants good things for us, but He is the missing piece for many.  We try to cram relationships, careers, money, things money can buy, positions, and other things and it leads to frustration, hurt, anguish and pain.

Just like getting the right shape in the right place can only complete the puzzle on a card table, we cannot find happiness until we get Jesus in the God-shaped hole in our lives.  Once we do, then we begin to experience life to the full that Jesus came to bring.

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A Sadness That Leads To Gladness

Posted in Change, God's love, Happiness, Joy by PCraig on June 16, 2016

The thing I enjoy most about going to the dentist is leaving.  Sorry to all my dental professional friends.  My reason stems from not taking care of my teeth overly well as a kid and needing a lot of fillings done along the way.  I never enjoyed them coming toward me with that big, long needle to numb me up for the procedure to follow.  Nowadays, I don’t have to worry about fillings; it’s more just the picking at my teeth with a small stainless pickaxe.  Yet, I love how clean my teeth feel when I leave.  That crystal clean sensation of teeth that have been scrubbed as clean as can be is wonderful.

This is a similar feel to what Jesus described, when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  It doesn’t sound like we will be happy if we’re mourning, but it depends on how you look at it.  We try to numb ourselves from our unhappiness by using alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, sexual adventure, entertainment, food and even work.  All of these things are an effort to escape or produce a fix.  But, not only are these temporary, they can lead us to addiction.

Rather than trying to escape or mask our sorrow, we would do better to address it.  Jesus promises comfort to those who do.  How do we do it?  Realize that a loving Heavenly Father waits for us to come to us with our brokenness.  Many have a warped image of God, but the Bible says (Ps.119:76) that His “unfailing love” will be “my comfort.”

Much like going to the dentist, if we will come to God in sorrow for our sins, He can help us bring about the change we need.  His cleansing power can do for us what we cannot do ourselves.  This is how mourners can be happy.  Or to put it another way, happy are the sad.  When we declare ourselves spiritually bankrupt, then God can step in and begin the process of recovery.  As we take the crud of our guilt, shame, bad choices and sin to God, He can scrub away the past and clean us up for a sparkling future.

When was your last appointment for soul cleansing?  Don’t let the plaque of sin build up on your heart any longer.  Enjoy the freedom, joy, relief, and relief that only an appointment with God can produce.  Do it today.

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It’s Not God’s Fault

Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself, “What is the common denominator in all my bad relationships?”  Think about this – it’s you!  How many of our issues, challenges and problems are the result of us trying to play God.  When I act like God, I’m going to make choices that I want regardless of what God has spoken.  So, when my life is going in a bad direction, who’s fault is it?

The Bible talks about how there is a way that seems right, but in the end it leads in death. What it’s saying is that we think we know what will make us happy, and way too often we get our cues from the culture. I wouldn’t get my advice from a bunch of people addicted all kinds of stuff and still can’t get happy.  Just saying!

When Jesus wanted to tell people how to be happy, He starts off with be “poor in spirit.”  That doesn’t sound like something you read in a magazine.  Yet, the encouragement is to admit some things about you, to get authentic.  Admit you are broken, because we all are, just maybe in different locations.  Set your pride aside and declare that you are not enough on your own.  Then, ask God for help. We move from confession to petition. With less of you, there’s more room for God.

Finally, we accept help from other people, because God uses others when we dare to be honest.  We all need a place to go where people won’t judge us, but hear us and pray for us.  When you admit you are poor in spirit, that’s when the power comes.  As you position yourself, then Jesus comes in His power and takes us to places we could never go on our own.

Don’t be the reason you’re not happy.  Humble yourself, admit you’re not enough, ask for God’s help, and accept help from others, in so doing, you’ll find a joy you never dreamed!

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Garbage In – Garbage Out

Posted in Attitude, Change, Happiness, Victorious Living by PCraig on June 3, 2015

I’m amazed at how people can be surprised by bad outcomes when they had bad input.  They date a person for a short time, get married, then wonder why they are blind-sided by the other person’s faults.  We see someone struggle with depression, but learn they spend their time alone, watching TV and never reading God’s Word.  Or, we hear about a person that has an affair with someone from their past that they reconnected on Facebook and got extra cozy with.

The common denominator in all these scenarios is what the person was putting into their life.  Just like eating poor food will lead to poor health, when we take in negative thoughts, ideas and terrible advice, what do you expect?

If you want to live a life full of joy, peace, satisfaction and contentment, then you’ve got to first all address your intake.  You can’t put water in your gas tank and sail down the road.  Why would you expect to be able to load up on un-godly media, un-wise friends, and un-healthy thoughts and be an over-comer?

First look at the in-take and you’ll probably discover the cause of the out-flow.  If you don’t like the results you’re getting, then the good news is you can do something about it.

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You Can Choose Joy

Posted in Attitude, Change, Fruit of the Spirit, Happiness, Joy, Perspective by PCraig on April 30, 2015

I don’t think most of us think of joy as a choice.  Many think it is dependent upon their circumstances.  Some even go as far as thinking that joy is beyond them and something they’ll probably never really possess.

Looking at the writings of Scripture, I love what Paul says in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  Here’s some things I take away from this passage:

  • It is stated like a command rather than an option.  So, all Christ followers should pay attention and strive for it.
  • It is to be on-going and not based upon daily circumstances.  Paul was in prison when he wrote this.
  • This quality was important enough that he stated it twice, back-to-back.  Plus, the whole book emphasizes joy while in prison.
  • The ability to have joy daily must come from rejoicing “in the Lord.”  When I think about His goodness, grace, and love, I can be filled with joy.
  • We need to speak joy-filled words.  “I will SAY it again…”  The more we get in the habit of speaking joy, the more we’ll experience it.

Hope this helps you live a life that is full of joy.  Feel free to leave a comment about what you do to help live a joy-filled life.

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