Category Archives: Reflections

Hope in the Dark

WAITING ON GOD

THREE THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU ARE HURTING

1) LISTEN

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he [God] will say to me … Habakkuk 2:1

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2) WRITE

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets …” Habakkuk 2:2

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3) WAIT

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingerwait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”Habakkuk 2:3

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slowdo not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3 TLB

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  • If it’s not God’s time, you can’t force it!
  • When it is God’s time, you can’t stop it!

“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness—”Habakkuk 2:4

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But the Lord is in his holy temple. …” Habakkuk 2:20 NLT

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All Scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted.
Experience the Scriptures referenced in today’s message and much more by downloading the free YouVersion Bible App for your smartphone or tablet at www.bible.com/app.

  • What’s it like for you to wait and listen for God to respond to your pain? What could you do to make more room for listening?
  • What are some answers God has given you in the past that you can write down as an anchor for the future?
  • Share about a time in your life when you either waited on God or tried to force His timing. What did you learn?
  • Let Pastor Craig lead your conversation: www.life.church/groups
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Walk in Truth

Walking in Truth

“I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.” (2 John 1:4)

This beautiful metaphor, “walking in truth,” is found only in the two one-chapter epistles of John—here in our text, and in 3 John 1:3 and 4.

This principle should indeed characterize our daily lives, since our Lord and Savior is Himself “the truth” (John 14:6), the Word of God that we believe is “truth” (John 17:17), and the Holy Spirit who indwells our bodies is the very “Spirit of truth” (John 15:26).

The New Testament also uses other characteristics of the Christian life under this figure of walking. When a person is born again through faith in Christ and testifies of this by following the Lord in baptism, he or she is said to be raised to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Then, since the Holy Spirit has come to indwell our bodies, to comfort, guide, and constrain us as needed, we are exhorted to “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Furthermore, we are commanded to “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (Ephesians 5:2). This is not erotic love, of course, or even brotherly love, but unselfish agape love that sacrifices its own interests for the needs of others.

There are still more such exhortations. “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). Furthermore, we are to “walk in the light, as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7).

All of these and other similar admonitions can be summarized as simply following the example of Christ. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). “He that followeth me,” said Jesus our Lord, “shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). HMM

God Help Me

Where does my help come from?

How do I heal and move forward?

Am I strong enough to overcome this?

I am going though a really hard time right now. After a while with stable moods, my bipolar disorder  is causing major issues in my life.

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My previously helpful medication and treatment plan have not worked to push this mania away. It crept up over a year ago. There have been ups and downs, but for the most part I have been hypomanic. Stress and other triggers cause it to flare up. This is the case these last few weeks. I am battling anxiety, struggling to sleep, my mind is scattered, memory disabled, and thoughts are constantly racing.  Although I try to contain them, my words keep spilling out.

I try to do what I know works. I set A schedule, try and get enough sleep, prioritize tasks, spend time with God, and avoid triggers such as caffine. If I suddenly get the urge to organize everything, I need to step back and think about my thinking. Why do I suddenly have a desire to do the chores I usually put off because I dislike them so much?

I know I need to put God first. They only way for me to get better is to rely on Him. He loves me and wants what is best for me. When my mind is scattered and I struggle to make good choices. God leads me along the right path and carries me when I am too week to walk.

God also helps me through others. My family loves and supports me. I try to listen to their advice and accept their help. Normally, I try  to do everything myself. Obviously that has not worked. I need to let go of my pride and take care of myself. I know I will come through this and be better for it. My pain serves A purpose and I will persevere!

What Comes First in Your Life?

Do you  value love most? God is love. By putting God first, everything else will fall into place. We will best love and support ourselves, our family and our friends. By choosing love, we put God first. He is a light in the darkness, our helper in the storm. If we seek Him first, He will help us and show us how to love others and how to take care of ourselves.

God loves us more than we can imagine and only wants the best for us. God does not cause bad things to happen. We live in a lost and broken world plagued with darkness. The good news is that light has overcome the darkness. This is not our home. and as the song says, “We are just taking the long way home”  (Steven Curtis Chapman-lyrics) There is something better. God sees the whole story beginning to end and He has defeated death. We only need to have faith. We can never earn His love. We are all broken in our own way. No one is perfect and God doesn’t expect us to be.

However, He knows our heart and true motives. If we honestly pursue God first and want His will for our lives, He will use all things for good. That terrible heartache, health problem, broken relationship, anxiety, depression, addiction, or other struggle give you a power you did have before. We grow through our pain and our character is strengthened in the hard times. We are overcomes. Mandisa says it best in her song Overcomer

Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing’s really going right
Looking for a ray of hope
Whatever it is you may be going through
I know he’s not gonna let it get the best of you
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when he reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
Everybody’s been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Ooh, You’re not alone
Just take a breath, don’t forget
Hang on to his promises
He wants you to know
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when he reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
The same man, the great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of you
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There’s nothing he can’t do
He’s telling you
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when he reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
See don’t quit, don’t give in
You’re an overcomer
Don’t quit, don’t give in
You’re an overcomer
Don’t quit, don’t give in
You’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
Songwriters: Benjamin Glover / Christopher E. Stevens / David Arthur Garcia

Prayer: You are Holy, Lord. Thank you for the Blood of Jesus to wash us and cleanse us from sin. As a born again believer I ask You to help me to put off these things that hinder my life from being completely surrendered to You and show me the ways to put on Christ so that I may please You. Amen.

What Matters Most in Your Life

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What Comes First in Your Life?

Do you  value love most? God is love. By putting God first, everything else will fall into place. We will best love and support ourselves, our family and our friends. By choosing love, we put God first. He is a light in the darkness, our helper in the storm. If we seek Him first, He will help us and show us how to love others and how to take care of ourselves.

God loves us more than we can imagine and only wants the best for us. God does not cause bad things to happen. We live in a lost and broken world plagued with darkness. The good news is that light has overcome the darkness. This is not our home. and as the song says, “We are just taking the long way home”  (Steven Curtis Chapman-lyrics) There is something better. God sees the whole story beginning to end and He has defeated death. We only need to have faith. We can never earn His love. We are all broken in our own way. No one is perfect and God doesn’t expect us to be.

However, He knows our heart and true motives. If we honestly pursue God first and want His will for our lives, He will use all things for good. That terrible heartache, health problem, broken relationship, addiction, or other struggle is nothing compared to the power of God. In order to use that power to be an overcomer, we must have faith and rely on God’s strength to pull us through. We will never make it on our own.

I am going though a really hard time right now. After a while with stable moods, my bipolar disorder  is causing major issues in my life. My previously helpful medication and treatment plan have not worked to push this mania away. It crept up over a year ago. There have been ups and downs, but for the most part I have been hypomanic. Stress and other triggers cause it to flare up. This is the case these last few weeks. I am battling anxiety, struggling to sleep, my mind is scattered, memory disabled, and thoughts are constantly racing.  Although I try to contain them, my words keep spilling out. I try to do what I know works. I set A schedule, try and get enough sleep, prioritize tasks, spend time with God, and avoid triggers such as caffine. If I suddenly get the urge to organize everything, I need to step back and think about my thinking. Why do I suddenly have a desire to do the chores I usually put off because I dislike them so much?

I know I need to put God first. They only way for me to get better is to rely on Him. He loves me and wants what is best for me. When my mind is scattered and I struggle to make good choices. God leads me along the right path and carries me when I am too week to walk.

God also helps me through others. My family loves and supports me. I try to listen to their advice and accept their help. Normally, I try  to do everything myself. Obviously that has not worked. I need to let go of my pride and take care of myself. I know I will come through this and be better for it. My pain serves A purpose and I will persevere!

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How Do We Put God

First, ask God to help you put him, ask him to help you see what to do, and to guide your steps

Have faith that God keep His promises. You are loved more than you know. You are forgiven through grace. Trust that He wants what is best for you and that if you rely on Him, you will overcome your struggles and find true joy.

Eliminating obstacles such as, desires for fortune and fame, work overload, addiction, or other temptations by confessing them to God.

In place of sin, struggle, and heartache, we are to rely fully on Christ. We do this by being accountable to a Godly friend, spending time in God’s Word and prayer every day, attending and becoming involved with church worship regularly, and listening to Godly music and messages are a few ways to put on Christ. A little bit of sin can add up to making provision for the flesh, so putting on Christ will add up to making provision for the Holy Spirit.

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Prayer: You are Holy, Lord. Thank you for the Blood of Jesus to wash us and cleanse us from sin. As a born again believer I ask You to help me to put off these things that hinder my life from being completely surrendered to You and show me the ways to put on Christ so that I may please You. Amen.

“Long Way Home”
by Steven Curtis Chapman | from the album re:creation

I set out on a great adventure
The day my Father started leading me home
Said theres gonna be mountians to climb
And valleys were gonna go through

But I had no way of knowing
Just how hard this journey could be
Cause the mountians are steeper
And the valleys are deeper than I ever would had dreamed

But I know were gonna make it
And I know were gonna get there soon
And I know sometimes it seems like, were going the wrong way
But its just the long way home

Some rocks on my shoes
Fears I wish I could lose
That make the mountians so hard to climb
And my heart gets so heavy with the weight of the world sometimes

There’s a bag of regrets,
Should’ve beens, and not yets
That keep on dragging around
And I can hardly wait till the day I get to lay them all down

I know that day is coming
I know its gonna be here soon
I won’t turn back even if the whole world says I’m going the wrong way
Cause its just the long way home

When we cant take another step
The Father will pick us up and carry us in His arms
And even on the best days, He says to remember were not home yet
So don’t get too comfortable
Cause we are just pilgrams passing through

I know that day is coming
I know were gonna be there soon
I keep on singing and believing
What all of my songs say

Cause our God has made a promise
And I know everything He says is true
He promised He would never ever leave us
He’s gonna lead us
He’ll lead us home

Every single step of the long way home
So keep on, were gonna make it
Were just taking the long way home
So keep on, were gonna make it
I know, were gonna make it
Its just the long way home

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Hope for Bipolar Depression

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Even in our darkest moment there is hope, a reason to keep going. Depression does not last forever. When we are in the middle of it, it can be impossible to see the light. However, there is room to grow and learn from our experiences, no matter how bleak and painful.

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Depression is an element of bipolar disorder that we cannot completely escape. Reaching out for help brings us on a journey of recovery and acceptance that makes it okay to not be okay. It is imperative to know that clinical depression is not always triggered by something in particular, and there is often not a ‘reason’ for the experience. We are plainly dealing with a mental illness that often has no specific logical circumstantial indicator. As we travel through the valleys, we must remember than one day, we will once again soar into a place of stability and balance. Taking the first step by reaching out may be the most difficult, but it is also one of the most vital decisions that you will ever make.

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Keep your heads up and know that you are worthy of understanding, acceptance, and empathy. Never be afraid to ask for the help that you so rightfully deserve.

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In Jesus’ Name

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)

In the gospel of John there are at least six promises that if we pray in Jesus’ name, God in Christ will answer our prayer. The first is in our text, which promises that God the Father may be glorified in God the Son. Note also the equivalent promises in John 14:14; 15:16; 16:23-24, 26.

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Such promises seem almost too comprehensive and unconditional to be understood literally. The key, however, is the significance of the phrase “in my name.” This obviously means more than simply beginning or ending our prayer with this or some similar phrase.

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In the first place, we must recognize that it is only through Jesus Christ our mediator that we dare enter the presence of the omnipotent God at all. “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6), He said. That being true, it also implies that our prayer must be in agreement with what Christ Himself would pray. No Christian should ask for something he knows to be against God’s will. “If we ask any thing according to his will . . . we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

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When we come to the Father in Christ’s name, we are in a very real sense representing Him. Therefore, we must come with clean hands and motives worthy of the One in whose name we profess to come. Unconfessed, unrepented sin would surely misrepresent Him, and we could hardly speak in His name in such a case. Finally, acknowledging His power and promise, we must come believing, not doubting His Word.

Then, not only is the Father glorified, as says our text, but we shall rejoice. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. . . . ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24). HMM

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How Should We Respond to Criticism

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I want my words to be life giving, to build up others. Because of our sinful nature, we can often be critical. In our ignorance we can think we are right and doing the right thing to offer our critical opinion. We need to guard our hearts against being opinionated. We can pick apart the way people do things differently than us.

Overcoming a Sensitive Spirit to Criticism

We have to become deeply assured of who we are in Christ. Being confident in our calling will keep us from being derailed by criticism. We should not be driven by praise. Therefore, don’t let compliments go to your head or criticism go to your heart.

One way to respond to critical people is to respond carefully, not rashly or instinctively.

A thoughtful answer can give a critical person a different perspective. If you wait to send that text or throw back a defensive comment, then you can think about your response. This allows you to act out of wisdom.

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Often, the criticism isn’t about you. Most angry people are actually hurting. They have a past hurt or something about themselves they don’t like.

Forgive in real time, don’t wait months or years to forgive. It will steal your joy and make it hard to love others. Resist the urge to defend yourself or explain why it is not fair. If we let the Spirit help us we can get above it.

Constructive Criticism

Accepting constructive criticism can help us be better. If there are not several things you have changed in the last year because of constructive criticism, then you are missing out on the opportunity for growth.