Monday, October 14, 2019

Getting Rid Of Conditional Praise


“Getting Rid Of Conditional Praise”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 34:1-3 TLB
I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of his glories and grace.  I will boast of all his kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart.  Let us praise the Lord together and exalt his name.

Back in 2006, the movie “Facing The Giants” came out and was a very inspirational football story.  One of the scenes shows the coach, Grant Taylor, talking to the team and explaining that they will start praying and praising God at the end of each game, whether they win or lose.  This sets a great attitude for the team as they focus on God being their source of strength no matter the outcome of the game. 

As I read this passage in the Living Bible translation, the words “praise the Lord no matter what happens” stood out to me and reminded me of the scene from the movie.  I thought about how it is so easy to praise God when things are going well and the outcomes of different situations of every day life are good.  However, when things turn out bad or don’t go the way we had hoped, it’s often harder to continue to lift up praise.

I admit that I am very bad about this conditional praise many times in my life.  It is so easy for me to praise Him when life is going well.  However, when bad days come, I’m not praising Him so much.  Rather, I’m complaining and grumbling.  I’m trying to be better about this, but it’s a weak area for me. 

In order for me to be a better witness to my wife, kids and others in my life, I need to improve the way I react to situations when bad things happen.  I need to have an attitude of thanks when life is good and when life is not so good.  I need to have constant praise in my life each day, no matter what is going on.

How about you?  Are you praising the Lord no matter what happens in your life each day?  Are you focused more on the aggravations of what is not going well or are you finding ways to praise God no matter what is happening? It is hard to do!!!  Not an easy task at all. 

We need to have an attitude of praise always.  Whether we feel we are winning in life or losing, He is God and is always faithful.  His goodness does not change in our bad days.  Does this mean we can’t be discouraged?  No, we are human and we have bad days.  We just need to work through that discouragement and realize that things will pass and we need to keep our attitude in check and continue to give God praise. 

We should never be conditional with our praise.  God deserves our praise, no matter what.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lord, Please Show Me


“Lord, Please Show Me”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 25:4-5 NLT
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.

Each morning I get up during the week, I have my alone time with God, asking Him to direct my day and give me wisdom.  However, so often the actual way I live my day tends to look different.  I often try to flow with my own understanding by doing things my way.  I try to figure things out by myself and I don’t ask for help as often as I should.

Think about all the times in our lives when we ask others for guidance and wisdom.  We ask teachers, moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, mentors and others for advice.  This is how we learn.  Others teach us and then we continue to learn by doing things through our own experience of successes and mistakes. 

If we are really sincere about learning something, we will do our best and try hard to soak in as much wisdom as possible from whoever is teaching us.  We will devote time and attention to making sure we get things right.  We do mess up, but then we learn from those mistakes and figure out how to continue to do things better with less mistakes. 

The important phrase here is “Please show me”.  We say this to people after we have tried on our own and then realize that we need someone to help us.  How often do you use this phrase and allow someone else to show you how to do something?  No matter what age we are, we need people to help us learn and grow in certain areas.  We need to be humbled and realize we need help with some things and can’t do them on our own.

Is this our prayer in our lives with God?  Do we come to Him each day and ask, “Lord, please show me”?  Do we humbly come to Him and ask Him to guide us and give us His wisdom for the day?  There are so many situations and experiences we don’t know how to handle.  God is waiting for us to say, “Lord, please show me”.  He longs for us to ask Him and to see His wisdom. 

Only God knows the path we need to take each day.  He will guide us in the truth and point to where we need to go.  Are we willing to let go of our own understanding and ways and let Him lead?  I know that I need to let Him lead a lot more in my life.  How about you?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Filled With His Richness


“Filled With His Richness”
By Zach Wood
Colossians 3:16 NLT
Let the message about Christ, in all of its richness, fill your lives.  Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.  Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

When was the last time you ate food that was really rich in taste?  Maybe it was something one of your family members made that no one else could make?  Whether it’s a snack, main entrĂ©e, dessert, or a beverage, we all have had experiences where we tasted something that was unlike anything we’ve ever had.  The richness of the flavor just exploded in our mouth and made our taste buds dance! 

These experiences often make us long for the next time when we know we will be satisfied by whatever the person makes.  You know that your tummy will be filled with something great!  You have confidence it will taste amazing.

As we all have experience with rich foods or beverages that make a lasting impression on us and fill our tummies with satisfaction, there is a richness no food or beverage could ever replace or compare with.  As great and wonderful our experiences are with things we consume, nothing can compare to the richness of how God fills our lives.  The richness of God’s Word far outweighs anything that the world can offer.

We spend so much of our time being awed and amazed by what the world offers, but then we so often become less awed and amazed by what God offers.  We sadly often choose the richness of the world over the richness of what God offers.  This does not mean that we cannot enjoy what we have in this world, but we shouldn’t enjoy it more than what God gives to us.

He fills us with the richness of His love so that we will not only enjoy and benefit from it, but also share that with others so they can also be filled.  It’s the “water ripple” effect.  This richness and love should continue to be shared over and over again so that others will come to know His love. 

Jesus Christ came filled with the richness of God and taught us how to choose the richness of God over the richness of what the world offers.  Are we chasing more after the richness of the world or of Him? 

We should all ultimately be filled with His richness!  Nothing compares to the richness God offers!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Focus On Today


“Focus On Today”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 6:34 NLT
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.

The past few weeks have been filled so many different happenings and it has been so crazy to see the days and weeks just zip by!  I have had my mind on many things with preparations for sermons and different activities we have been doing each weekend.  Sometimes, it seems like life won’t slow down.  I am trying to let God be in control and not be consumed with all that is going on, but it is a challenge.    

It is easy for us to become bogged down and consumed with so many things in our daily lives.  It seems we cannot just focus on what is at hand today because we are busy planning vacations, different activities and all kind of other things that go into summertime.  Sometimes it seems we just don’t have enough time to do all that we want to do. 

I have been blessed this summer with an interim preaching opportunity and that has been a growing experience for me, but it has also shown me that I need to better prioritize my time since I have a full time job and a family.  It is easy for me to become consumed with too much and neglect certain other areas that need attention.

Are you totally consumed this summer?  Are you worried about not only today’s happenings, but tomorrow’s and the next day and so forth?  With summer, there’s so much happening and it’s easy to get busy with everything and worry about the days, weeks and months ahead. 

We are told to only focus on what is at hand today.  We only have today and not tomorrow.  What if we just focused on what we have going on today and spend our time enjoying what is going on and taking time to be with God and just take a day at a time?  That is hard to do because we not only have become programmed to constantly think of today’s happenings, but also focused on the days and weeks to come.  Planning isn’t wrong, but we become so consumed that our days become filled with worrying about all the upcoming things that we don’t take time to enjoy the here and now of today. 

Today and each day on, remember to focus on the day at hand and not worry about all that is coming ahead.  Give that to God and enjoy today!  God wants us to enjoy the blessings of today.  Tomorrow will definitely bring its own worries.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wake-Up Call


“Wake-Up Call”
By Zach Wood
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

We’ve all had experiences that have either scared us or gotten our attention to the point where we make a change.  We’ve had friends and family scare us to be funny and we have done the same to others as well.  We’ve had moments where certain things scare us in one way or another.  Alarm clocks can scare us awake sometimes, right?  We don’t like them.  I don’t like mine!  Why is that little box making that annoying sound??  I want to sleep!! 

We all get scared by different things.  We also have experiences where our attention quickly focuses back onto someone or something.  As humans, we easily become distracted and taken off-course from where we should be focused.  It happens every day.  I often tell people I have a bad memory.  Some things I remember and other things I have to be reminded constantly of because I forget.  I hate that!  I need to be reminded as well as many of you.  We all need reminded of things and need our attention redirected often.

We all need so-called “wake-up calls”.  We don’t like them at first, but we find that they are just what we need to refocus on whatever task we need to focus on.  God has to do this often in our lives.  He works hard to give us “wake-up call” moments so that we will get back into gear and on to the path where He wants us.  His Word is full of wisdom, advice and commands to help get us back on the path where we need to be. 

His Word should inspire us and teach us what is Truth and make us realize what we are doing wrong in our lives so that we can come back to following Him.  His Word points out the bad in our lives so that we will repent and turn back to Him.  His Word is alive and active and penetrates deeply into our very souls.  His Word is powerful and it needs to often “set us straight” again. 

I know we often don’t like the “wake-up calls” we get, but we know we need them and we come to appreciate the ways God uses to bring our attention back to focusing on Him.  His Word is to be a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path. 

We all need to heed His “wake-up calls”! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Continued Challenge To Love


“The Continued Challenge To Love”
By Zach Wood
2 John 1:6 NLT
Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

If you were to ask me if I love my family, I would quickly give you an answer of “Of course! Why wouldn’t I?”  I strive hard every day to be the husband and father that I know I need to be for my family.  It is quite the challenge each day, but I am trying hard and asking God to give me the strength and wisdom I need to be not only a good husband and father, but a Godly one most of all. 

While I strive hard to be loving in my home, I also need to remember that I am commanded to love those outside my home as well.  I am called to love other people in my family, my co-workers and others I come in contact with on a daily basis.  I may not be close to every single person I meet, but God has given me the charge to do my best to love everyone I meet. 

Loving can be downright hard to do at times.  I find that there are really easy people to love and then there are really difficult people to love.  Then, I remember a quote I read recently from TobyMac that says, “Love difficult people.  You are one of them.”  Ouch!  Just a huge dose of reality there!  When I think it’s challenging to love others, others find it challenging to love me as well.  Tough pill to swallow!

We all have a continued challenge to love others.  Every day of my life, I am trying to learn more of what it means to not only love God, but how He wants me to love people around me.  In doing that, I am loving God when I love others. It is often hard to love others!  We all struggle with it.  When we consider it tough to love difficult people, just remember how challenging it was when Christ poured out love to others even when people spit in His face and when they crucified Him.  He prayed for them!  Wow!

What is our problem with loving other people?  God has commanded us to set aside petty differences and do our best to appreciate one another.  Even dealing with differences that are hard to live with, we still need to make an effort to show love in any ways we can.  We should not only love because He tells us to, but we should desire to love because He loved us and His unconditional love drove Him to the Cross to demonstrate that love.  Now that is a dose of deep love! 

We have a continued challenge to love each day.  What will we do with that challenge? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Challenge Of Being Financially Content


“The Challenge Of Being Financially Content”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 13:5 NIV
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

How many of you are satisfied with what you make in your job?  Do you have a job that you really enjoy?  If you had the choice between having a job you really enjoy or having a job that pays a lot of money, which would you pick?  Don’t answer right away.  Think on that for a little while.  Let the question sink in. 

There are many people who have jobs and they make a lot of money, but they are miserable.  There are also people who have a job they really enjoy and are satisfied because they are content with how much they make.  Which one are you?  Maybe you have a job you enjoy and you make good money.  Kudos to you!  However, we need to remember that with more money in a job comes more responsibility.  Perhaps you make a lot because you’ve been there a long time and you’ve raises with years of experience. 

Whatever the case, I think we would all like to have a job that we enjoy, plus make good money.  I don’t know which situation you find yourself in, but I want to ask you a challenging question, “When will it be enough?”  Will you be content with what God has given you with a current job?  Now, this doesn’t mean you’re wrong for going to a job that offers you more money.  There are always many things to consider when choosing a job.

I want to challenge all of us to consider these words in Hebrews.  We are told to keep our lives free from the love of money.  God has promised to always provide for us and never leave us in need.  Somehow, He always provides for us.  We need to change our perspective many times and be thankful for what He has given us instead of so often wanting more.

In the past few years, I have had some work experiences that have taught me to be content with what I make and the relationships I have at my work place.  I hear a lot of people complain about what they make and I always think to myself, “When will it ever be enough?”  The truth is that if we aren’t content with what God gives us now, then no matter how much wage we chase after, it will never be enough.  That’s a tough truth, but I firmly believe it from what I have learned from my own experiences.  I would much rather have a job that I truly enjoy and people I like working with over having a higher paying job. 

God tells us to keep our lives free from the love of money.  Are we doing that?  Are we focused on money more or are we content with what God has promised to provide?  It’s a challenging and tough question we all must answer.

Are we financially content with what He has provided?