The Best Counselor

Posted in Counsel, Decisions, Holy Spirit, Victorious Living, Wisdom by PCraig on May 25, 2017

I don’t think anything is more important in life than from whom you receive your guidance. Proverbs talks about if we want to be wise, then we should hang with the wise. If we take up company with foolish people, it’s no wonder we make foolish decisions. In today’s reading of the One Year Bible in John 14, Jesus talks about “another Counselor” that will be with us. He identifies this “Counselor” as the Holy Spirit. He then goes on to say a couple of things that the Holy Spirit will do.

One benefit the Holy Spirit brings is He will teach us things. I don’t know if you’ve had this happen, but many times when I’m reading the Bible, it’s like it jumps off the page and reads my mail. I mean it is like God is literally talking to me face to face through His Word. Sometimes I learn how to be a better man, husband, father, leader, while other times I understand more of God’s love for me. Powerful things happen as I allow the Spirit to teach me.

He also comes to remind us of Jesus’ words and teaching. Maybe you’re going through your day and feeling discouraged, then the words of Jesus saying, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” come back to you and your built up in faith. You decide that if He is with you, what can be against you? Amen! When this takes place, we are no longer operating in our natural abilities; instead we are plugged into the supernatural abilities of the Spirit.

These are just two of the many ways the Holy Spirit can enable us to live life to the full in Christ. We’ll be exploring these and more during the Breath, Wind & Fire series that begins this weekend. I hope you can join us in person or online via podcast, for what I believe will be a powerful three weeks focus on the Holy Spirit.  He’s the best counselor I know!

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Tapping Into God’s Power

Posted in Change, Deliverance, Holy Spirit, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 11, 2017

In today’s reading of the One Year Bible, I was reflecting upon the anointing of Saul to be the first king of Israel. The story is chronicled in 1 Samuel 10 where the prophet Samuel tells Saul that the Spirit of the Lord is going to come upon him in power. Indeed, just as the prophet declared, the Spirit of the Lord does come upon Saul with so much power that he is transformed.

This is a specialty of the Spirit of the Lord, a life that is transformed. I can relay so many stories of addictions, hurts, losses, physical illnesses, emotional scars and countless other issues, that have been changed by the power of the Spirit.

Like Saul, we just need to be open, receptive and expecting the Spirit’s power to come upon us as we walk out our journey each day. In the New Testament, we find every believer in a position to receive the Spirit’s power. Read the book of Acts in the Bible and you’ll find ordinary people moving in extraordinary power because of the Spirit.

Whatever stronghold, addiction, hurt, pain or habit you may be fighting, know that by tapping into the Spirit of the Lord, you can be changed. I don’t know about you, but in a culture like ours, I need all the power I can get.

Also, don’t miss the launch of our next series, Breath, Wind & Fire starting May 28, as we talk about the Holy Spirit.

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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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Revelation Explanation

Last weekend, I asked all my Crossroads family to read the first three chapters of Revelation and I’ve had some people asking questions.  So, I thought I would just use my blog and cover a few things.

First of all, did you realize that you are blessed if you read, hear and take to heart the message in Revelation?  Says so in Rev. 1:3.  That is an awesome promise!

Who are the angels and stars that are mentioned?  Most scholars believe these to mean the messengers of the seven churches.  This means that Jesus is holding these churches and leaders in His hand.  They are not sovereign, but under the authority of the One who paid the price for His church.  He walks among them and is very much concerned about them.  Just like He is still concerned and watching over His church today.  God is still the true leader over His church and it’s leadership.

What is the sword from his mouth?  The sword in Jesus’ mouth symbolizes the power and force of His message.  Even when Jesus walked the earth in human form, his voice had power to raise people from the dead and cause others to fall to the ground (John 18:6).  In Ephesians 6:17, we are told to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Back at the beginning of creation, God set things in motion through the power of His word.  True Christ-followers do not need to fear the words of Jesus, only those who will come under His judgment.  For them, it will be terrifying.

One has to keep in mind that much of Revelation is figurative language.  In other words, it most likely is not a true sword that will come from Christ’s mouth, but rather the power of His voice and words will be like a sword of spiritual power upon His enemies.  Also, consider how tough it would be for a man of 2,000 years ago (John) to write down the incredible things he was seeing.  How could his ancient mind even wrap itself around all that he was experiencing?

You might also notice the repetition of the number seven throughout the Bible, as this is the number of completion.  Though it is used over 50 times in Revelation and over 700 times throughout Scripture, we must be careful not to overemphasize it by attaching symbolic meaning in each instance.  Sometimes a seven is just a seven, especially if Scripture is not explicit about a meaning.  However, there are times, it seems, that God is communicating the idea of divine completeness, perfection, and wholeness.

I hope that by reading these first three chapters, you have allowed the Holy Spirit to speak a new, fresh word into your spirit.  Perhaps one of these seven messages is meant for you today so you can “hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

 

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Getting Prepared For Thanksgiving

Before you load up the car and head over to spend time with friends & family eating, watching football, and possibly taking a nap (if you’re lucky), what else might you do to get prepared for Thanksgiving?  For some, it might be psyching yourself up for a new debate over an issue, getting set for another fight over the past, or watching other dysfunctional members remind you of why you don’t overly enjoy these gatherings.

But, as a follower of Christ, knowing there might be family present who aren’t believers, what might we do to prepare?

  • Pray, for you to say the right things, for them to be impacted and for the Holy Spirit to fill the house.
  • Listen, to all they are saying around the table.  Ask some questions to gain greater understanding and resist the temptation to “set them straight.”  This is true love in action.
  • Remember, it is only natural for people who don’t know Jesus as Savior and Lord to act like they don’t.  Don’t allow yourself to be upset about their choices and lifestyles, rather, be sympathetic to their lost state of heart.
  • Obey the Holy Spirit’s prompting to share only what He tells you to share. Stay away from debates and focus more on how you have been impacted by God’s love and presence.
  • Leave the results of any sharing up to them and the Holy Spirit.  Don’t be discouraged if they don’t put down their pumpkin pie and ask how to be saved.  Sometimes you plant, other times you water and only God can control the harvest.

I hope you and I have an opportunity to be show and tell followers for Jesus this Thanksgiving.  Let’s be ready for more than just turkey, pie and football (and hopefully a nap).  May God show his light through us to our family and friends, giving us another real reason to be thankful.

I’m thankful for you!

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Help For Weakness

Posted in Holy Spirit, Prayer, Victorious Living by PCraig on May 22, 2014

I was reading today how “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” in Romans 8:26.  Combine that with a book we’ve been reading as a staff and board called Overcoming The Dark Side Of Leadership by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima in which it discusses our “dark side” or weak areas.  This made me think all the more about personal weaknesses and how they impact us and what we can do about it.

Are you aware of yours?  Some are probably all too aware as you struggle to put down the drink, stay away from certain websites, keep your tongue in check or attempt to avoid skewing information to others in a deceptive way (lying).

We each have weaknesses and I guess the first step is to be aware of them so you can guard that area.  But, secondly, it’s good to know that the very Spirit of God is ready, willing and able to help us in our weakness.

One of the ways this passage tells us that the Spirit helps is in our prayer time.  Have you ever wondered how or what you should pray?  Like, “Do I pray for this job to happen or not?” or, “Should I pray that we break up or stay together?”  Sometimes we just don’t know what is best.  In those times, the Bible says that the Spirit intercedes for us.

I’m going to encourage you to read Romans 8 and ask the Spirit to do what is promised, and pray for you and through you.  This experience could be just what you need to help in your weakness and overcome!

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How To Fast

Posted in Fasting, Holy Spirit, New Year, Prayer by PCraig on December 18, 2013

Here’s some thoughts I’ve gleaned from the writings of Bill Bright on the topic of fasting as we get ready to begin the NEW YEAR with another time of fasting & prayer.

How to Begin Your Fast

 How you begin and conduct your fast will largely determine your success. By following these seven basic steps to fasting, you will make your time with the Lord more meaningful and spiritually rewarding.

STEP 1: Set Your Objective

Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.

Through fasting and prayer we humble ourselves before God so the Holy Spirit will stir our souls, awaken our churches, and heal our land according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Make this a priority in your fasting.

STEP 2: Make Your Commitment

Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide how long and what type of fast you will undertake.  I am challenging those who can to a 21 day fast.  There are many resources for a Daniel type of fast for 21 days.  Here’s some other things you could fast:  TV, Facebook or social media, shopping, or other potentially controlling things for 21 days (for some, these could be more difficult than food).

Making these commitments ahead of time will help you sustain your fast when physical temptations and life’s pressures tempt you to abandon it.

STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually

The very foundation of fasting and prayer is repentance. Unconfessed sin will hinder your prayers. Here are several things you can do to prepare your heart:

Ask God to help you make a comprehensive list of your sins.
Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3,4).
Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you.
Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to His command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in 1 John 5:14,15.
Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1,2).
Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9,10; 103:1-8,11-13).
Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6).
Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16,17).

STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically

Fasting requires reasonable precautions. Consult your physician first, especially if you take prescription medication or have a chronic ailment. Some persons should never fast without professional supervision.

The first two or three days are usually the hardest. As you continue to fast, you will likely experience a sense of well-being both physically and spiritually. However, should you feel hunger pains, increase your liquid intake.

STEP 5: Put Yourself on a Schedule

For maximum spiritual benefit, set aside ample time to be alone with the Lord. Listen for His leading. The more time you spend with Him, the more meaningful your fast will be.

When possible, begin and end each day on your knees with your spouse for a brief time of praise and thanksgiving to God. Longer periods of time with our Lord in prayer and study of His Word are often better spent alone.

A dietary routine is vital as well. Dr. Julio C. Ruibal – a nutritionist, pastor, and specialist in fasting and prayer – suggests a daily schedule and list of juices you may find useful and satisfying. Modify this schedule and the drinks you take to suit your circumstances and tastes.

When your designated time for fasting is finished, you will begin to eat again. But how you break your fast is extremely important for your physical and spiritual well-being.

STEP 6: End Your Fast Gradually

Begin eating gradually. Do not eat solid foods immediately after your fast. Suddenly reintroducing solid food to your stomach and digestive tract will likely have negative, even dangerous, consequences. Try several smaller meals or snacks each day. If you end your fast gradually, the beneficial physical and spiritual effects will result in continued good health.

STEP 7: Expect Results

If you sincerely humble yourself before the Lord, repent, pray, and seek God’s face; if you consistently meditate on His Word, you will experience a heightened awareness of His presence (John 14:21). The Lord will give you fresh, new spiritual insights. Your confidence and faith in God will be strengthened. You will feel mentally, spiritually, and physically refreshed. You will see answers to your prayers.

A single fast, however, is not a spiritual cure-all. Just as we need fresh infillings of the Holy Spirit daily, we also need new times of fasting before God. A 24-hour fast each week has been greatly rewarding to many Christians.

It takes time to build your spiritual fasting muscles. If you fail to make it through your first fast, do not be discouraged. You may have tried to fast too long the first time out, or your may need to strengthen your understanding and resolve. As soon as possible, undertake another fast until you do succeed. God will honor you for your faithfulness.

I encourage you to join me in fasting and prayer to begin 2014.  May God help us to truly experience revival in our homes, our church, our nation, and throughout the world.

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More Where That Came From

Posted in Hearing God, Holy Spirit, Victorious Living, Weekend Reflections by PCraig on November 14, 2013

Last weekend I ran out of time and I hate it when that happens!  So, I decided to give some more of what I didn’t have ability to share on the weekend, here on the blog.

As many of you know, we launched a new series last weekend called SPIRIT that is focusing on who the Holy Spirit is and what He does.  The passage of Scripture that we concentrated on was from 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 and I would encourage you to read it.

We said the Holy Spirit is more than just an add-on that makes cameo appearances in our lives.  People demonstrate this mindset when they say things like, “The Holy Spirit was really here today!”, implying that He’s not always there, but can show up on occasion.

Also, many tend to get prideful and divisive as they experience more of the Holy Spirit.  In verses 10-16 Paul says that the Spirit reveals things to us, but not so we can get puffed up about our knowledge or experience.  That’s the last thing the Spirit is trying to do!  The real thing the Holy Spirit should reveal is just how much we NEED Him and have to HAVE Him.

Finally, the Holy Spirit is not weird.  What He is though is mighty, unpredictable, unchained and amazing!  People get strange and start telling other people that “God told me to tell you”.  Let me be clear, if you are a believer, then you don’t need someone else to tell you what God says, He can speak to you directly.  Now, He may use someone else to confirm something you are already sensing, but if you are filled with the Spirit, then you don’t need someone else to tell you what you need to do.

The fact remains that God knows stuff you don’t know.  So, instead of trying to hear God through others (and their spin on it), why don’t you tune into God yourself?  What would happen if you did?  What might God say?  What if He wants to tell you not to take that job you’ve applied for because He knows something?  What if He wants to tell you not to get married to that person because He knows the future?

Maybe you’ve already missed some messages that wanted to get through to you.  Some of you might have already missed one when you were 18, 20, or 25 years old.  Isn’t it time to get the insight of the Holy Spirit in you?  Paul says “We CAN have the mind of Christ”, so get tuned in.

*Don’t miss this weekend’s message on the Holy Spirit’s power!

**Also, if you missed last weekend, go to crossroadsavon.com or just click here: http://crossroadsavon.com/podcast/

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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.

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It’s Just Emotion

My emotions got the best of me!  Ever hear someone say that?  What they are usually communicating is that there was a circumstance and rather than thinking rationally, they reacted emotionally.

We see this play out in marriages, when the pressures of finances are causing unusual stress and then someone says, “Well, if you didn’t spend so much” or “If you made more money” and things escalate from there.

Last weekend, we took a look at making emotional decisions and the danger of doing so.  It got me thinking of how God made us emotional beings, but he also made us spiritual at the same time.  Yesterday I was reading the Apostle Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 6 about many of the stressful things he had endured.  Then, when it comes to explaining how he got through it, he says it was “in the Holy Spirit.”  In other words, Paul says, “The way I got through all these emotional times in my life was through the help of the Holy Spirit.”

What would happen if you made it a personal goal to yield more and more to the Holy Spirit and less to your emotions?

What might that look like for you?

Try these:

  • Pray each morning: Holy Spirit, I yield and surrender to you today”
  • Practice being more attentive to what your spirit says over your emotions
  • Read passages about the Holy Spirit & our emotions (Gal 5; Eph 4:17-5:21)

The more you practice living in the Spirit, the more your emotions will come under the control of the Spirit.  I think you’ll find your foot spends less time in your mouth, which can lead to athlete’s tongue and other issues! 🙂

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