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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In The End

Are you doubting God’s love because you are in a time of crisis? “God! I just found out I have an incurable disease. I thought you loved me!” As we get closer to the time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, it reminds me of the suffering that led up to Easter.

The Bible is clear that Jesus underwent all kinds of emotional, physical and mental anguish leading up to His trial and conviction. Often, we picture Jesus as perfect, and though He is, it does not negate the fact that He suffered much.

In addition to Jesus, we find that many people that we would call “good” in the Bible went through times of persecution, illness, heartache and trials. Why would we think we are exempt? Where did we get it that if God loves us, He will keep all bad things from touching us?

1 Peter 2:21 “For God call you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”

Later Peter goes on to say (1 Pet 4:19) “…keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.”

Our job is simply to keep on doing what is right and leave the results up to God. So, today, no matter what may be going on in your life, or not going on, chose to keep doing what is right. Sure, it’s not always easy. Yes, there are others that do wrong, but seem to be doing just fine. The story isn’t over yet friend. Just like it looked as though Jesus was going through trials He didn’t deserve, the people didn’t realize it was part of a bigger plan.

He is still the God of the final word. Don’t give up too soon. Never let the enemy get you to believe a lie about God. Keep on doing the right thing, and in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

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Step Into The Water

Posted in Expectations, Faith, Faithfulness, Hearing God, Perspective by PCraig on October 6, 2016

How often are we waiting on God, when God is actually waiting on us? It goes like this, “I’m waiting on God to show me what job I should pursue.” Or, “I believe that if God wants me to meet that person, He’ll bring them into my life.” Maybe even, “If God wants me to do that thing, then He’ll make it easy for me to do it.”

Each of these scenarios is assuming that if something’s going to happen it is up to God. However, in studying the Scriptures, we discover that God is often waiting on us. We have been in the book of Joshua recently and when the people came to the river Jordan, rather than sit back on the bank waiting for God, God told them to go ahead and wade into the water. The record says that when the priests feet went into the water that the river dried up for them to cross. (Joshua 3:14-16)

What is God currently asking you to do? He speaks to us through the Bible, people, songs, and an inner voice or promptings. Is there an area that you feel God is speaking, but you’re not moving? When you step forward in obedience, that is where God will meet you and help you to cross over toward His promises.

So, just keep moving until the miracle shows up. Don’t be content, lazy or disobedient by sitting on the bank rather than wading into the water. It could be that the miracle is ready to happen and you’ll discover it as you decide to walk forward in obedience. What step do you need to take?

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Grace Is Enough

Posted in Attitude, Culture, Faithfulness, Perspective, Victorious Living by PCraig on September 4, 2014

A couple weeks ago I spoke from the passage in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh” and I still can’t get away from it.  I just think in a culture where we want to be able to take a pill and be skinny, shoot serum in our face to rid wrinkles, and get our groceries delivered; it’s difficult when things just won’t change overnight.  We want things instantly and when it doesn’t work that way, we often want out.

Paul wanted out of his situation, but instead of fixing it, God offers His grace to compensate.  Are we okay with that?  I mean, if God doesn’t fix your condition and offers grace and strength instead, are you ready to run to someone else?

Let’s get real; if God doesn’t give you a good boyfriend soon are you ready to hook up with any guy who comes along?  If He doesn’t fix your spouse soon, do you have the attorney on speed dial?  If He doesn’t give you that job, are you ready to walk out of church and give up on God?

What losers we are when we do this.  We lose out on experiencing strength in our weakness, grace in the midst of our turmoil and a sense of His presence that is only known in times of pain, hurt and heartache.

I know that God promising grace and strength might not be the answer you’re looking for, but it is enough to see you through.

Have you had great times with God in the hour of crisis, loss or loneliness?

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Bloom For God

Posted in Attitude, Character, Choice, Faithfulness, honor, Victorious Living by PCraig on September 5, 2013

“Bloom Where You Are Planted”

I heard that phrase a long time ago, but it still holds a great truth.  The idea is that regardless of your surroundings and circumstances you can choose to bloom there.

Paul shared this same concept in 2 Corinthians 12 when he asked the Lord to take away a “thorn in the flesh.”  Much speculation exists on whether this was a person, an ailment, a physical challenge in Paul’s life.  It really doesn’t matter what it is, what is important is how Paul dealt with it.

He asked the Lord to remove several times, but He didn’t.  Finally God speaks and shows that it is there to show God’s power in Paul’s weakness.  Isn’t that how God’s power shows up the most?  Otherwise people give credit to the person for accomplishments.

Paul goes onto say that because of this revelation he will boast about his weakness to bring more honor to God.  It could look like this: “I thought you said you didn’t like your job, yet you seem to give it everything you’ve got, what gives?”

When a Christian pushes through difficult challenges and keeps on going, it brings honor to God, which is our ultimate objective.

What weak area of your life could you leverage to bring more honor to God?

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Nehemiah Impact

I’ve had incredible feedback from the Nehemiah series that just concluded this past weekend.  God is stirring up a wave of commitment to get involved in making a difference in the world.

Since the series has had such an impact, I thought I would take some time to recap the principles from each week.

Week 1 we learned to express passion, seek God, and take action toward our cause by:

  • Ask what breaks your heart?  (human trafficking, poverty, other…)
  • Pray and ask God to speak, grant favor, and empower you
  • Activate your sense of personal responsibility rather than excuses

Week 2 we saw that we are a leader whether we think are or not.  God specializes in using ordinary people who:

  • Have clarity.  If you can’t define it you can’t do it.
  • Make a plan.  Define your next step and then take it (repeat this process).
  • Communicate passionately.  Get lit up about your cause and others will too.

Week 3 we learned that whenever you move forward for God, your enemy wants to stop you.  To defeat discouragement you must:

  • Overcome attacks from the outside by taking criticism to God and get back to work.
  • Overcome attacks from the inside by remembering the Lord is with you, and keep fighting for your cause.

Week 4 we discovered that our enemy distract us and discredit us.  To avoid this we must:

  • Not allow the good to keep us from the great work God has for us to accomplish.  We must declare: “I’m doing a great work and I’m not coming down!”
  • Not allow any compromise that would blow our testimony.  We must declare: “I’m not giving up…on my good name, my integrity, or my cause!”

Nehemiah stood the test and completed the project as an ordinary cupbearer.  Without any grand miracles, he just put these principles into practice and with God working with him a great work was done.  The same can happen for you.  What great work does God have in mind for you?  What distractions, discouragements and excuses have kept from making progress?

God specializes in using ordinary people, so why not you and me?  Let’s get busy on the wall today and do something great for God, what do you say?

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Away From Me Satan

Guest post by John Money:

Today I feel compelled to offer a spiritual warning….a “heads-up” to all who have joined our church-wide 21 day Fast.

Scripture tells to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8)

Our enemy, the devil, hates us and he hates that we are seeking to draw closer to Jesus through fasting and prayer.  He wants to ruin your fast.  Ruin your faith.  Ruin your relationship with the Lord.

How do I know?  The Bible tells me so!

Satan hates us; just like he hated Jesus.  Look at what he tried to do to Jesus during his 40 day fast.  Satan came to tempt him at the end of the fast and when Jesus was hungry, tired, and weak.  Satan will try to do the same thing to us.  We are at day 18 of a 21 day fast.  It is time for us to be spiritually alert and ready to refute Satan’s lies/attacks with faith and the truth found in God’s Word.

Matthew 4:1-3 -Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Let’s be ready like Jesus was.  We too have been led by the Spirit to Fast.  The devil will try to tempt us to give up, to take short cuts, to doubt, to despair.  Let’s do what Jesus did and answer with the Word of God.  Let’s put on the armor of God and say to Satan, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10)

“Away from me, Satan!”  “Away from my family!”  “Away from my friends!”  I have been fasting for 18 days and I am connected to Jesus….get away from me!”

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Are You A Good Waiter?

I’m not a very good waiter are you?  I’m not talking about being a server in terms of waiting tables.  The kind of waiting I’m referring to is standing in line at Walmart.  Or, being backed up in the turn lane at a light in which the first person takes forever to get rolling when the arrow turns green.

How are you at waiting on God?  Does it ever seem like He’s about a week, month, or years late on coming through?  Here are some things to consider when in a season of waiting:

  • Maybe what I’m waiting for is not best for me after all (and God knows it)
  • Maybe I’m not seeing all that is going on behind the scenes to bring it about.
  • Perhaps God is attempting to work something IN me that more important than what I’m wanting Him to do FOR me (like grow in my character).
  • The delay might be an opportunity for God to reveal His glory in a greater way.
  • I might need to grow in my faith and that takes time to develop.

These are just a few reasons to consider when the thing you are praying for doesn’t seem to be happening.  Joseph waited 20 years (in Genesis) for the dream God gave him to come to pass.  In the meantime, he proved himself through incredibly challenging circumstances.  How are you doing with that?  Do you continue to stay faithful, with a good attitude, outlook and desire to grow?

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When Hope Was Born

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Expectations, Faith, Faithfulness, Hope by PCraig on December 22, 2011

Do you remember how agonizing it was to wait for Christmas as a child?  It seemed like forever to get from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  Now, as an adult, it seems like Christmas comes too fast!

Does it seem like you are in a waiting period in your life currently?  Waiting on a job, or a marriage, healing, direction can seem to take forever to happen.  It can even seem like God is late in bringing these things into your life can’t it?

The very first Christmas seemed like God was late to those who were waiting for Messiah to come.  It had been hundreds of years and yet each year they were disappointed.  But the Scripture teaches that it all happened at the “proper time” (Luke 1:20).

The lesson is that God has a “proper time” for everything.  He’s never late and He’s always on time.  But, it’s His calendar and not ours!   In the meantime what do you do?

  • Don’t lose hope.  Things could change tomorrow.
  • Never give up.  God can do anything at anytime without restrictions.
  • Do allow this waiting time to be a time of growth spiritually.
  • Keep trusting in the God who still has a plan for the world and you!

It may look like a dark night, but remember, it did in Bethlehem 2000 years ago when hope was born!

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Posted in Business principles, Faithfulness by PCraig on May 12, 2010

Have you ever had someone make a promise to you like, “I’ll call you about this tomorrow”, only to fail to follow through?  Is there anything any more irritating? 

I just had this happen again recently.  A vendor (with truss systems) came and looked over a job I wanted them to do and said, “I’ll send you a quote by email tomorrow.”  Only problem is, that was last week and I still haven’t heard from him.  What is wrong with these people!  Do they think that customers like being lied to?  What would happen if they actually did the work (which I’m thinking I need to find someone else who follows through) and I delayed payment?  Would they be as understanding as they expect me to be? 

The Bible even talks about not making empty promises.  You see, I would rather you didn’t promise me anything at all, rather than promise and fail to deliver.  Or, here’s another suggestion, if for some unforseen reason you couldn’t get me the quote the next day, then email or call and let me know that, don’t just leave me hanging. 

In a sluggish economy, where everyone should value actually having a job, you would think people would pay more attention to the customer.  I’m I the only one in America bothered by this? 

Seems to me that if someone would actually put the other person first, they could have more business than imaginable.  I know I’m looking for them, and if I find them, I’ll let you know all their contact information so you can avoid the frustration of the over-promisers.  I bet there are tons of others who would do the same.

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