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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This Changes Everything

Posted in Change, Expectations, Faith, Perspective, Stress by PCraig on March 28, 2018

Do you ever feel the icy fingers of despair on your soul? Maybe you’ve tried to get rid of a habit, but never seem to fully kick it. Perhaps you feel like you take two steps forward in life then three steps back. Or, maybe life has changed for the worse and it just doesn’t seem like it will ever improve.

Jesus’ followers knew exactly what this feels like. They had put their hopes and dreams in a man who taught like one with authority, performed miracles like they had never seen, and made promises for their future. Yet, after being arrested and tried, he was crucified like a criminal and buried in a borrowed tomb.

It seemed like it was over. All hope is gone. There’s nothing left to do. However, they were wrong. It really wasn’t over, hope was alive and the best was yet to come. Life has a way of trying to convince us that we can’t overcome the odds; that this last loss was the final blow and we might as well quit. My friend, what was true for the original disciples of Jesus is true for you. He is still alive and that makes all the difference in the world.

When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw Jesus, she came back proclaiming to the others, “I have seen the Lord!” In that moment, everything changed. All the despair was exchanged for joy. She went from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory in a second.

Where have you been discouraged? In the area of your finances? Your family? Victory over an addiction? Maybe you’ve been doubting that you’ll ever change. When Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, he solved your biggest problem. He has a solution for all the rest, if you’ll put your trust fully in Him and step out in faith. As you do, you’ll begin to see God work in your life, doing what only he can do.

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A Last Promise

Posted in Encouragement, Perspective, Stress, Worry by PCraig on March 22, 2018

Have you ever gone into the gym after not working out for a long time and be discouraged over the weakness you feel? Maybe you can’t push the weight you used to and you feel like a failure. Initially, it can seem like it’s going to take forever to get back to the place you were before. Discouragement has a way of dragging down your soul in whatever area you encounter it. And, it seems like when you get discouraged in one space, it has a way of spreading.

I can’t imagine how discouraged the disciples must have felt when the One they thought could be the Messiah was arrested, tried and killed. They could have thought, “I’ve wasted three years of my life following someone that wasn’t the real deal after all.”

Maybe you’ve had a marriage dissolve, a business fail, revenue is down, pressure is mounting, or physical ailments are taxing you daily. If we’re not careful, we can get caught up in the whirlwind of discouragement, which often leads to fear paralysis. It’s no wonder one of the most repeated commands in Scripture is “fear not.” God knows this is an area where we all can struggle.

During these times, it’s easy to dwell on the negative facts of our situation: lack of money, stack of bills, pain in our body, rebellion in our kids, emotional hurt and the list goes on. However, there are other facts that can help us during these times of testing. Here’s just one: God is with you always. He promised it more than once, but you can look it up in the very last verse of Matthew.

I’ve heard it said, someone’s last words could be some of their most important. I think Matthew wanted to share some last words of Jesus that gave him courage for the future: He is with me…He promised. Plus, He’s with you and me too!

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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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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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Get Excited For Christmas Again

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Expectations, holiday, Perspective by PCraig on November 30, 2017

I remember being a kid and being so excited about the Christmas season. It seemed like it took forever between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My heart was full of expectancy about everything that surrounded the holidays. I loved the lights, decorations, songs, parties and of course the gifts. Each year I looked forward to all the potential the season had to offer.

Something happens as we get older. We become the one to fix the lights when they don’t work. We have to put up the decorations, plan the parties and pay for the gifts. All of this can taint the season. If we’re not careful, we can transform from the expectant child to the Grinch.

This is not only a problem with Christmas; it’s a problem in marriages. Two people walk down an aisle to go live life in love, only to discover that there are pressures they never planned to experience. They didn’t anticipate one of them losing their job, or having a special needs child, or finding themselves attracted to someone else at work. When burdens come, it’s all too common for us to begin dreading the very thing we once anticipated.

My challenge to us all this season is to take joy in this time of year. The story is about a Savior who left His throne to be born in a manger, live and teach, then die a sacrificial death for our sins.  So, rejoice in forgiveness!  Also, be careful what comes out of your mouth. Instead of dreading the holidays, your marriage, your job, your family, why not expect the best? Let a spirit of expectancy build in your heart and find it’s way into your mind and mouth. Changing how you view things can go a long way toward how you experience them.  I’m choosing to celebrate the reason for the season.

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Living On Purpose

Posted in Personal Growth, Perspective, Purpose by PCraig on November 2, 2017

Too many people in our world settle for a mere existence rather than discovering their life purpose. How sad to go through life simply going through the motions when you could have lived God’s dream for your life.

God told the prophet Jeremiah that He had a purpose for his life already established while he was in his mother’s womb. Isn’t that awesome! I believe God had a purpose for your life as well before anyone ever got to see your slick body come out into the world.

Here’s my question: are you living your purpose or just going through the motions? Have you allowed this world to squeeze your into its mold and lost your drive, ambition and dream? What did God have in mind for you before you were ever born? Are you being the you He intended?

If not, here are some ways to get on track:

  • Pray, and ask God to reveal His original plan & design for your life
  • Examine your life and see if it’s headed in that direction
  • Look for God’s guidance through open doors & opportunities
  • What strengths or gifts are you currently not using for His glory?
  • Ask wise people around you to speak into your life concerning what they see in you
  • Form a plan of steps that can lead you to your life mission

How are you doing with living your purpose? Have you made any recent steps to get on track with your life mission?

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Hearing God Better

Posted in Decisions, Perspective, Will of God by PCraig on October 5, 2017

I’ve never had the need to wear hearing aids, thankfully. I guess I just haven’t attended enough concerts! But, from what I understand, these devices amplify the sounds in your ear so you can hear well. What if we had some ways to amplify God’s voice to us, especially in regards to making decisions? What might some of those ways to hear God speaking be?

  • Get spiritually tuned in. One passage talks about God speaking in a gentle “whisper”. The only way to hear a whisper is to get really quiet and wait.
  • Go with what you know. God usually leads us a day at a time. He likes it that way because we’re more dependent upon Him. So, wherever you find yourself, look for the opportunities you do have over what you don’t have.
  • Get in an atmosphere to hear. Those wearing hearing aids don’t like rooms with many voices, because all of them are amplified, making it more difficult to distinguish. Get in an atmosphere where God often speaks, such as solitude, Scripture reading, worship services, godly friends and mentors.

The apostle Paul learned a secret about God while in the lonely confines of prison, after being arrested for preaching the gospel of Jesus. He said, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We learn profound things when we are in better positions to listen.

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Positive Thinking

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Expectations, Faith, Hope, Perspective by PCraig on September 14, 2017

I remember growing up and watching Dr. Robert Schuller preach from the Crystal Cathedral. For those who knew him, Schuller was huge on possibility thinking. Each week he would encourage his listeners that they could rise above their circumstances by focusing on the possibilities rather than the difficulties. I know he had his critics, but I think most people could use a good dose of Schuller’s message.  Some a double dose!

How many people do you know that give into the power of negative thinking? They can moan, groan, gripe and complain for endless hours. No matter what your problem is, they have it worse.

What would happen if we began to practice possibility thinking? Not that we can just think good thoughts and everything will be okay. But, what if we stopped thinking of how bad we have it, what more could go wrong, and why isn’t God doing something about it? Instead, we could spend the same amount of time thinking of how well off we really are (especially compared to most of the world), what could go right, and where is God currently trying to direct us if we would just pay attention?

People all around us are looking for hope. What if you became a source of it? Would there be a promotion in your future, better relationships, or greater influence? I think so. Take some time today to think of the possibilities.

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A Good Comparison

Posted in Attitude, Perspective, Thankfulness by PCraig on September 7, 2017

It’s often not a good thing to compare ourselves to others, especially when it comes to social media. The reason is that we get to look at people’s highlight reels, while we are living the behind the scenes lives. We see people, as they want us to see them, yet we know what we are at our worst.

I’ve discovered that there is a good time to compare ourselves with others and it’s when we are having a pity party. When we feel unappreciated, unloved, undesirable, blaming others, and feeling like we’re not getting our fair share. It’s in these moments that looking around can actually help. Because if you’ll look long enough, far enough and close enough, you will discover people who are worse off than you. There are people who would gladly trade you places.

While we’re grumbling about how full our three-car garage is getting, there are people who would love to live in our garage. It would be a lot nicer than the shack where they currently live (tin roof and dirt floor).

So, just keep in mind that it’s better to stick to your own business. But, if you do insist on comparing, make sure you look far and wide to gain a full perspective. You might just want to change your grumbling into gratitude.

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