Juxtaposition

It’s such a juxtaposition to think that the way up is down. Most people would assume that the way up is up. But, Jesus clearly taught something different when it comes to greatness.

One day Jesus was asked if He could arrange who would sit next to Him in eternity. The question was asked by two disciples, and probably really ticked off the others. Jesus defused the situation by defining what it would take to be great. He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43b-44)

The desire to be on top will hinder, not help. Rather than seeking to have your needs met, look for ways that you can minister to the needs of others.

It seems backwards, but Jesus gave us an illustration of how it works with His own life. Here He is this eternal King, but comes as a poor child in a manger, lives a simple life as a carpenter, teacher, preacher, Rabbi. He then dies a death for a criminal, yet it was this act of humility that formed His rise in popularity. By the time He’s resurrected, the story of His life is the most popular topic in town. Now, over 2,000 years later, He’s considered the greatest person who ever lived by most.

The key to all that greatness was His willingness to humble Himself and serve us by giving His life. In a culture that thinks up is up, let’s choose to follow the true path that Jesus showed by example.

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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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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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Help For Interpreting Life

Have you noticed that if you get around negative people that you can be tempted to start talking negative also? Same thing happens when you get around positive people, by the way (thank God for that). Or, if you watch movies with vulgar language, those words might come to your head next time you hit your shin on the end table leg. And, if you read romance novels constantly, you might think your husband is a total bore.

It struck me the other day that by reading the Bible, my view of the world gets impacted. Like when I read about the value of life, how God formed me in the womb, had purpose for me before I knew it, then it makes the thought of abortion (especially late term) almost intolerable. I want to cry out against the injustice of the unborn that have no voice, but should.

I find that I need this clear, wise, voice in my head to combat all the competing unwise, and often hypocritical voices all around me. I’m thinking the same thing applies to you. If left unchecked, we can begin to be influenced by the loudest, strongest, and closest voices to us, that may not necessarily be right, wise or good.

Paul writes in 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

What in your life needs corrected? Do you still have an awareness of right or wrong? How might God’s Word help you be able to identify what is true?

Don’t just get into the Bible; let the Bible get into you.

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Stop Eating Junk Food

I’m not writing about the poor eating habits many practice (though that would be a great idea). My concern today is more about the people you and I can choose to hang around.

Just like any dieter knows, if you get around people with poor eating habits, chances are, you’ll eat more like them as well. I know when my wife Rachelle is dieting, I tend to lose some weight also. Why is that? Because when she is eating less, I do too!

Whoever you hang with can influence what you eat or take in, such as movies you watch, books you read, or music you listen to.

So, it just makes sense that if you want to increase your appetite for godly things then you need to get around godly people. Spiritual hunger is contagious. As you get around people who love God, love to worship God, love to read the Bible, love to attend church, and love to serve – your loves are going to change.

Whether it’s losing weight or getting closer to God, you need to watch who you hang around, they are probably affecting you more than you know or admit.

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A Perspective on Opposition

Posted in Attitude, Christian Lifestyle, Decisions, Perspective by PCraig on July 30, 2016

Ever feel like everything is against you when you are trying to do the right thing? Maybe you decide to lose weight and someone brings cupcakes to work? Or, you are trying to get out of debt and the car breaks down? It can get really discouraging and, if we’re not careful, fill us with the temptation to give up or quit.

It can be like this in regards to living a life of faith. We make a commitment to serve and live for God and then all hell breaks lose in our home, boss, career or girlfriend. What is up with that?

Jesus said that we should consider ourselves “blessed” when it happens, according to Matthew 5:10-12. I don’t know about you, but “blessed” is not the first word that pops into my mind. However, it is important to see it from a different perspective. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

So, whatever your day looks like, understand that persecution, difficulties and challenges are going to come our way. It may not be a result that you are doing something wrong, but that you are doing what’s right. Spiritual opposition is going to happen.

You may not be quite ready to take it as a complement, but, it may just be that because you are trying to do what’s right, there’s an enemy trying to stop you. Let the friends make fun of you for praying before lunch. It’s okay if someone else wants to do a deal that’s unethical, you won’t. Others may dress their daughters like call girls, but you want to live holy.

When you make decisions such as these and desire to pursue godliness and heaven’s approval over man’s, something happens inside of you. A strength begins to build, a power is released an intimacy with God floods your soul, and you feel good about yourself. All this happens when you don’t allow yourself to quit in the midst of the battle. Be encouraged today that maybe the opposition you face is a better sign you’re going in the right direction.

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Don’t Read This At Work

Posted in Business principles, Christian Lifestyle, Time by PCraig on March 10, 2016

I just heard someone the other day mention that “50% of time is wasted or spent on personal issues at work.”  I couldn’t believe it!  So, I had to do some research myself to see if they were correct.  Well, here’s what I discovered, the number of people who now admit to wasting time at work every day has reached a whopping 89%.  Seriously?  Employees are spending longer periods than ever before wasting time.

Here’s the problem with that, Scripture tells us of the value of time and not to waste it, but instead redeem the time (Eph. 5:16).  And, “whatever  you do” we are to “do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).  How is wasting time at work bringing glory to God?

Not only are we cheating our employer and getting paid for goofing off or doing personal stuff, but also we are cheating ourselves out of performing with excellence and giving a poor testimony of a believer.

So, quit reading my blog, and get back to work! 🙂

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Gift Exchange

Posted in Christian Lifestyle, Fruit of the Spirit, holiday, Lordship by PCraig on December 10, 2015

One of the things that, I believe, keep people from committing to follow Jesus is wondering what they might have to lay down.  Some of us are pretty attached to habits, toys, and calling our own shots, so the idea that we might have to give up something to follow Jesus raises concern.  I totally get that, when looking at it from a natural perspective.  The problem is that we don’t understand what we’ll pick up in exchange for anything we lay down.

It may seem scary to lay, whatever it is, down and put God first, but it would be scarier to walk in the dark alone.  The bottom line is that anything or anyone, you need to lay down to fully follow Jesus would be exchanged for a love, peace and joy like you’ve never known.  It’s the greatest gift exchange you can imagine.

So, this Christmas, what do you need to give to Jesus?  What could be holding back more of the light of God from your life?  Just like you can’t see what’s waiting in a dark room, you’ll never know what God wants to bring into your life until you fully follow Him into the light.  The light reveals it.

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The Danger of Darkness

Posted in Character, Christian Lifestyle, Holy Spirit, Victorious Living by PCraig on October 29, 2015

Part of what makes Halloween more thrilling is the cloak of darkness.  Many people don’t like this part and so they only go out trick or treating while it is light outside, for many good reasons.  Statistics say most violent crimes happen during the hours of darkness.

But, there’s another grave danger with the darkness, and that is we cannot see as clearly.  My mom used to say it this way; “I look better in dim lighting.”  Of course she would say it to be humorous, but there is some truth in it.  For example, we can’t see flaws as well when the lighting is low.  If you go into a well lit restaurant, every crumb on the floor shows up.

Many of us not only choose to live our lives in dim lighting (spiritually), but we get ready to live in dim lighting.  I want to challenge us to dare to turn on the bright light of God’s Word and let it expose the flaws.  You can’t fix what you can’t see.  Rather than being content to walk around in darkness, where bad things hide, let’s allow the bright illumination of God’s Word and Spirit to shine.  You might not like what you see at first, but I’d rather eat in a clean restaurant than a dirty one any day.

Dare to pray, “God, light up my life today through your Word and Spirit.  Help me to see any dirt, crud, or ungodliness that is junking up my life.  Give me the courage to sweep out the things holding me back from being what I could be otherwise.”

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Last Day Lovers

The predictions of the Bible have always been fascinating to me.  Not so much that I spend all my time looking for a sign (Jesus said that’s what an evil generation does), but enough to know where are we at in God’s timeline.

Yesterday, I was reading in 2 Timothy 3 where Paul predicts what people will love in the last days: themselves, money and pleasure.  Wow!  Does that describe America or what?  There’s not much that can get in our way of loving ourselves, spending and thrill seeking.  So much so, we will often ignore the bigger items of life and settle for an incessant search for self fulfillment.

How do we know if we are what the Bible describes as “last day lovers”?  Here’s a little test to help diagnose where you fall.

Lovers of Themselves:  do you consistently think of yourself more than others?  When is the last time you went out of your way and gave of your time to serve others in Christ’s name?  Do you volunteer on a regular basis?

Lovers of Money:  do you give a percentage of your income regularly to further God’s kingdom causes?  Do you give to God’s work first and then save and live on the rest?

Lovers of Pleasure:  do you schedule time to enjoy God, His people, and His cause, or is it more about what you want to do?  Do you think of your time as your time, instead of living as a manager of God’s time?  Have you gotten to the level where you are thrilled about God’s work in the lives of others more than your own thrills?

Maybe you can tell from this little test if you fall into the category of last day lovers, or if your part of the remnant that Jesus is coming back to receive.

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