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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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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3 Things Jesus Says About Worry

Posted in Encouragement, God's love, Happiness, Worry by PCraig on January 25, 2018

Don’t worry, be happy. Sounds like a pithy statement without much substance, but I would argue that it has the ingredients of a happy life. Maybe it’s clearer if we look at it backwards: if you want to be happy, you can’t be filled with worry.

Jesus even addresses this issue when he says, “Don’t worry,” in his great sermon on the mount. From Matthew 6:25-34, he focuses in on the topic of worry as it relates to our everyday lives. Here’s three things Jesus says about worry:

  • Don’t worry about the basic needs of life, because it won’t change anything.
  • Don’t worry about clothes, food, or drink, because God knows what you need.
  • Don’t worry about tomorrow because it only ruins today.

For me, the biggest reliever is that I know my Father loves me, cares for me, and wants to provide for me. My part is to trust in Him and not in worry.

If you missed last week’s message on this topic, here’s the link to the podcast:

https://welcometocrossroads.org/messages/

 

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4 Helps To Fight Depression

Posted in Attitude, Counsel, Encouragement, Perspective by PCraig on September 1, 2017

We’re just a matter of weeks before the leaves begin falling from the trees. For me, that can be depressing. I much rather watch the leaves sprout in spring, rather than tumble to the ground in fall. But, there is a time and season for everything, the Bible says, so I can choose to accept what I cannot change.  If we’re not careful, some of us can get depressed over things we can’t change. What good is that? There are countless reasons to get depressed, but can you avoid it? Or, at least minimalize it?

Here are the some things to consider:

  • Stop Hiding It. Until you admit you’re depressed no one can help you.
  • Ask For Help. This may mean joining a Life Group, go to counseling, or visit a doctor.
  • Take Action Today. Delay keeps us down. Quit postponing & procrastinating. You know what you need to do, now go do it! Make the phone call or set up the appointment.
  • Seek The Healer. Jesus wants to help you more than you know. Don’t doubt Him, attempt to hide from Him or run from Him. Instead, we need to run to Him. (Ps. 147:3; Isaiah 61:1-3)

The enemy will try to get you to focus on what’s wrong with your life, on things you don’t have, and the hardships of life that often can’t be avoided. Instead of biting his bait, fix your eyes, mind and senses on what you do have and the promise of God to never leave you or abandon you. It may look dark at the moment, but hope and help is on the way and God can turn things around for you. Don’t give up, instead take action and I believe you’ll begin to come out from under the dark clouds of despair into a new day full of God’s sunshine.

One of the very practical things that lifts me is positive, uplifting music. What helps you? Whatever it is, take time to activate it in your life today.

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Coming Apart

What is the one thing that many of us fail to guard in a fast paced culture? -Our time. Especially to cultivate ideas, listen to God, and allow ourselves to get in a contemplative mode. Instead we hurry around with our cars, phones, iPods & other gadgets and people filling our lives with noise.

Even in the ancient times of the Bible, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come apart.” One person commented on this that, “if you don’t ‘come apart’ you will come apart.” (Get away from the noise before you come apart at the seams)

Do you have a problem hearing from God? When is the last time you pushed all the sources of noise in your life aside and sat quietly and waited on God…for more than a minute?

Could it be that many of our stress related issues might be resolved if we took time for concentrated meditation? Allowing the Spirit of God room in our lives to operate from within.

Try it. Take a look at your calendar and when could you make this happen? Here’s a few suggestions on finding this time: stay off Social Media for a day, don’t watch TV, return calls tomorrow, tell the people around you that you need to take some time to “come apart.”

Have you had some times where God refreshed you in His presence just by waiting? Do you need some de-stressors in your life today? Give this a try and feel free to share what happens after you “come apart” in a good way.

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Is Being Offended A Choice?

Posted in Attitude, Choice, Forgiveness, Offense by PCraig on June 29, 2017

Are you a person who gets easily offended? You probably wouldn’t want to admit it if you are, so here’s a test to see:

  • Is there someone you having a hard time with right now?
  • Did someone say something to you that you didn’t like even though it was true?
  • Do you feel justified in taking offense?

There are two kinds of offended people:

  1. Those who have truly been treated unjustly or with cruelty.
  2. Those who believe they have been treated unjustly or with cruelty.

The second group have convinced themselves that they are justified in feeling like they do, even if the conclusion was drawn from inaccurate information. Some get offended because of gossip, “Well, I heard that…”, while others make assumptions, “I imagine they intended to do…”

How many of us have ever had a conversation with someone, and what you heard them say and what they really said was two different things? Often offenses, if allowed to stay in your heart will produce more sin. God is so faithful; He has the Holy Spirit within us to reveal to us our sin.

We can spend our whole life blaming others and being bitter or we can choose to trust God to work in and through us to bring about His plan and purpose. If you choose to stay offended, you will wander in the wilderness until you repent, forgive and let God put you back on path again.

Prison left Joseph with an opportunity to get bitter or better. He chose to get better and even used his prison experience as an opportunity. God is all knowing, He knew what Joseph’s brothers would do with him before they did it. When he had the opportunity to pay back, instead he chose to not take offense and offered forgiveness. (Read Genesis 45) I love Joseph’s story and attitude!

If you are offended and don’t take care of it, it will follow you and come up again and again. Many people float from church to church because their roots don’t go deep, leaving them so weak that they find themselves unable to endure any hardship or persecution.

God calls us to live in family, in unity, and to learn to work through our problems with each other, dealing not only with their flaws but our own. Part of being in a church family has greater expectations of spiritual growth than our earthly families require. Unfortunately, spiritual growth is not a matter of time or more learning, it comes through obedience.

It is usually not the big things that shake us but the little things. The enemy tries to pervert our attitude about the real issue to deceive us. The real issue is not “have you BEEN offended?”   The real issue is, “did you choose to TAKE offense?” No one has the power to MAKE you offended. The ONLY way you can be offended is to TAKE offense.

Would you want God to forgive you in the same way you have forgiven others? According to the Scriptures, this is exactly how we will be forgiven. Our debt of sin was overwhelming, but God gave us salvation as a free gift. Many people cannot receive healing, comfort or deliverance all because they would not release others and forgive them.

Make no mistake: God is a just Judge and He will see to it that justice is done. God avenges us, it is unrighteousness for us as believers to seek to avenge ourselves. When we try to correct wrong done to us we become the judge, trying to take God’s place. Jesus likened the condition of our heart to soil. The ground can only produce what is planted. If unforgiveness, offense, and anger are planted, then instead of God’s love, another root comes up, the root of bitterness.

Some steps to healing and freedom from an offended spirit:

1) Admit you are offended and hurt.

2) Open your heart to the Lord’s correction or discipline for you.

3) Forgive and release the person from everything they have done.

4) Stay open and tender to the Holy Spirit’s voice and obedient to His Word.

5) Choose to not let negative thoughts reign in your spirit. Just like you can CHOOSE offense, you can choose to not be bound by it

Life’s too short to spend it all knotted up in a ball of offense. Get free today! Your wife wants you to, your husband, your friends and everyone around you. Let go of offense and let God be God!

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