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.

Show your support, add your comment now...

Where’s My Change?

Since the Bible says (Romans 8:11) that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in His followers, then shouldn’t it be noticeable?  I mean, shouldn’t people be able to see a difference in the way Christians and non-Christians live?

That doesn’t mean that we expect every new follower to have instant maturity.  It’s a life-long process.  Although we have a new nature, we don’t automatically think all good thoughts and have all pure attitudes when we become new in Christ.  But if we keep listening to God, we will be changing all the time.

So, here’s a suggestion, as you look over the last year, what changes for the better have you seen in your thoughts and attitudes?  Has the depth of your character increased so that more of the fruit of the Spirit is evident?  Is your walk with Christ more full of a sense of holiness?

Change may be slow, but you should be able to see it, especially over time.

Show your support, add your comment now...

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.

2 Comments made so far. Add yours...

Why Be Kind?

Posted in Attitude, Friendship, Fruit of the Spirit, Leadership, Relationships by PCraig on October 15, 2014

Do I really have to be kind? It’s almost like some people are asking that question.  Really?  Recently I had someone asking me about somebody we both know if I knew why that person is so mad, angry and arrogant acting. The sad thing is, I really didn’t have a good answer.

Here’s why kindness is important:

  • Jesus was kind.
  • You’re not filled with the Spirit if you’re not kind (see Galatians 5:22)
  • People get enough grief just from living life without you being unkind to them.
  • When you are kind, it draws people to you.  (you get more friends)
  • Unkindness repels people.  They just won’t tell you the real reason they’re too busy to go with you.

Of course, you don’t have to be kind, you just need to like loneliness, being a follower, and being the last one picked.

Show your support, add your comment now...

Under the Influence

I’ve never been drunk before.  Ever.  So, I can’t really tell you from personal experience what that’s like, but I’m sure many of you could tell me.  It’s interesting that the Apostle Paul takes drunkenness as an analogy of how we should be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18.  This made me think, “What happens when a person is drunk and how does that compare with being filled with the Spirit?”

People drunk on other “spirits” might have the following:

  • Released inhibitions.  I’ve heard of people doing things while drunk that they would never dream of doing when sober.  That must be why guys love visiting bars to pick up women, hmm?
  • Change of personality.  Some people become more vocal when they are drunk and get louder than they would be otherwise.
  • Loss of control.  People under the influence of alcohol are not able to do the things they normally could, like drive a car, perform tasks, and even walk a straight line.

Let’s just take those three and compare them to being filled with the Spirit as Paul suggests.  A person filled with the Spirit might:

  • Release their inhibitions and do things they normally wouldn’t do like, witness to strangers, use a spiritual gift, and serve outside their comfort zone.
  • Change their personality and act more like Jesus than the devil.  Instead of getting angry, impatient and unkind, they might release the fruit of the Spirit (Gal . 5:22, 23) from within.
  • Lose control and allow God to have more control over their lives.  Rather than asking, “What should I do?” a person might ask, “What would please God in this situation?”

These are just a few things I thought of that happen to a person under the influence of the Holy Spirit?  Can you think of some others?  This weekend (Nov 10) we launch a new series called SPIRIT that will look into this topic and more over the next four weeks.

Show your support, add your comment now...

Mastering Anger

Do you get angry?  In any relationship you’ll have conflict, because human beings disagree.  Conflict is inevitable but combat is not.  Anger can burn down your marriage, friendships and any other relationships in your life.

The Scripture says, “In your anger do not sin:  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” Eph 4:26-27.  You can be angry and not sin.  Anger alone is not wrong.  It might even be the appropriate response on the right occasions.  However, the wrong expression of anger can open the door to the devil.  How many people invite the devil into their lives, homes and relationships by not mastering their anger?  I don’t know about you, but I want to lock the devil out, not invite him in for room and board.

Those who spew their anger need to remember the power of their words.  In anger a person can express things that later they regret, but it’s too late, they’ve already laid it out there.  Yes, the other person may forgive you, but they will not be able to forget what you said.  Others who stew in their anger, can do equal damage by building up walls instead of dealing with it.  Resentment, hostility, and other negative emotions develop in the dark room of anger.

What can you do about anger?

  • Admit your anger & accept responsibility
  • Decide in advance  what your response SHOULD be when anger rises up
  • Pray and let the Holy Spirit reveal the real issue (sometimes we argue and get upset about things that really aren’t the true issue.
  • Submit to the Holy Spirit and allow the fruit of self control (Ga.5:22-23) to grow in your life

If you are going to mad at somebody, why not be mad at the devil?  He’s the one that Jesus said has come to “steal, kill & destroy.”  Do something positive with anger, get mad about 1 in 7 people not having clean water to drink, 38 million carrying the AIDS virus, or 1.2 million children involved in human trafficking each year.

What steps do you need to take in mastering your anger?  What would God have you to be angry about to make a difference?  Is there a social justice issue that you could do something about?

Show your support, add your comment now...

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?

Show your support, add your comment now...

Fruit for Better Relationships

Posted in Attitude, Fruit of the Spirit, Holy Spirit, Relationships by PCraig on October 6, 2011

At last night’s 1st Wednesday service I shared about another of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit from Galatians chapter five called “Gentleness.”  At first glance, this may not seem like that desirable of a character trait for you in the “dog eat dog” world you live in.  However, as we learned, this trait is all about the power of your potential under God’s control.  In other words, a gentle person, is a person of power, reaching their potential under God’s direction.

What this looks like is instead of blowing up and burning down relationships with your tongue; you actually cultivate relationships with gentleness.  As people witness this incredible ability to control yourself in even the most difficult of circumstances, it earns respect.  They see us as being proactive instead of reactive.   Reactive people blame others for why the blow up all the time, or say it was the conditions they were under at the time.  They would rather do anything other than accept the blame themselves and acknowledge their lack of surrender to God’s Spirit.

If you have a fruit problem, you have a root problem.  Go ahead and make a list of all your personality traits that are hindering your relationships (write small so you don’t have to use as much paper! :)).  Then take that list before God and allow him to change you from the inside out.  When you fully surrender to the Holy Spirit, it’s amazing how gentleness fills our lives and brings life to our relationships.

What are you waiting for?  Invite the Holy Spirit inside you and give him total control today!

Show your support, add your comment now...

Show Some Love

Posted in Attitude, Fruit of the Spirit, Love, Offense by PCraig on December 2, 2010

Because I had so much positive feedback about last night’s teaching on the Fruit of the Spirit at 1st Wednesday, I thought I would touch on it today.  One reason is that we need to be reminded of truths over and over again.  Another reason is a lot of you weren’t able to be there and didn’t hear it the first time.

In reference to living in love, the first fruit named in Galatians 5:22, we should seek to do two things.  First, we should do all we can to avoid being offensive to others.  What does that look like?  It means holding your tongue instead of lashing back at others.  You refuse to start sentences aimed at your spouse that begin with the words, “You always…”  Really, you are just trying to emulate Jesus’ behavior around those who hurt him and were so unlike him. 

Second, to walk in love, you must avoid being offended.  Most don’t think of this, but you really can’t BE offended by someone.  No one has the power to change your mood and make you get offended.  You have to TAKE offense.  That’s right, you make a conscious choice and decision to take the words or actions of someone else and be offended by them.  How do you know if you are mature in Christ?  You no longer get easily offended by others. 

So, are you a person who gets offended easily?  How can you begin to grow up and mature so you are no longer controlled by others?  Do you speak quickly and think slowly, and as a result cause offense?  Try thinking faster and speaking slower and see if your relationships start improving and lasting longer.  Bottom line is to stop making excuses and start making commitments.  Show some love to someone who doesn’t deserve it this week! 

1 person commented on this so far, read and add yours...