Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Just Sit Back And Soak It In

“Just Sit Back And Soak It In”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 27:1 NIV
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

There are a lot of times in life where we like to kick back, put up our feet, and just soak in the environment around us.  Sometimes, we even like to close our eyes as well.  When we’re at the movies, at the beach, on our porch or back deck, sitting on our couch or recliner at home or sitting at the park somewhere.  These and other places we have all found ourselves and enjoyed the time of just sitting back, being still and soaking in the sun and the sounds around us or the music we’re listening to.

There is just something about chilling out, being still and taking in the beauty of the moment God has given to us.  We all enjoy these moments, but all too often we get so busy with life that we don’t have these moments as often as we’d like.  Some of my favorite times at home is when I sit back on the couch, recline and just relax.  I try to let go of the concerns and worries of life and just enjoy being still.  When I can actually relax, it feels so good and I don’t want to move or get up. 

There’s something about this passage that just relaxes me.  Perhaps because it reminds me of a song by Eden’s Bridge.  Look it up when you get a chance.  Very soothing and inspiring!  Sometimes, we just need a scenery, a nice breeze, or a perfect song that helps us to soak in the life and surroundings around us.  It can remind us of how amazing God is and the peace He brings.

I want to encourage all of us to sit back, relax and just let the words of this passage soothe us and remind us that God is our light and our salvation.  Most importantly, there is absolutely nothing to fear because He is the stronghold of our lives.  Isn’t that simply amazing? 

Sometimes, we just need to turn off the noise and chaos of the world around us and take Him all in.  God loves it when we take the time to just do nothing in His presence but to enjoy Him and His creation all around us.  For those of you who like being in the wilderness or camping, you know the peace of hearing birds and insects make their noise and the calming of being in that environment.  Something about nature can just bring peace and calming to us.  God’s precious Creation can soothe us. 

Find a time and place this week, wherever it might be, and just sit back, relax and take Him in however you can.  Let Him soothe your soul by remembering that He is your light, salvation and stronghold.   

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Nothing Else Satisfies


“Nothing Else Satisfies”
By Zach Wood
John 14:27 NLT
I am leaving you with a gift—a peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Almost everywhere I look these days, I am seeing an advertisement for some product that is either brand-new or it is an updated product that has been reformulated to help make my life so much better.  Whether it is a commercial on TV, ad in the paper, ad on social media, pop-up notification from a store app on my phone, store ad in the newspaper, or a billboard, I get flooded with different ways to consider how I could “easily” make my life better and be happier!

I have to admit, many of the ads are very enticing and I honestly think to myself, “That really would make my life just a little better.  It really would!”  Or, I’ll say to my wife, “Honey, I think we should get that and try it!”  No matter what, there always seems to be some marketing ploy or tactic that really catches my attention and leads me to believe all my problems will be solved if I invest in this one product.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find any product that will make my life complete and totally satisfying.  It just won’t happen.  And I know this, I really do, but I just get tempted to often believe products will satisfy some void I have in life.  Over and over again, God continues to remind me that I will not find any contentment, happiness, joy or fulfillment in the things offered by this world.  No matter how hard I try to look or what I buy into, nothing is going to make me happier or bring more joy as the ads claim.

These words from Jesus are so vital for our lives today.  They are as vital today as when Jesus first spoke them so long ago.  We need peace today in our heart and mind.  We need a peace that transcends anything the world can offer.  We need a peace that can be felt in the midst of a chaotic world that we live in.  We need more than the latest product which promises to make our live happier. 

What we all need to consider is what we are chasing after in this world to make us happy?  What are we buying into these days?  Are we looking for peace of mind and heart in all the wrong places?  Are we thinking it will be the next high-tech gadget?  Are we thinking it will be the next diet plan commercial we see?  Are we thinking it will be the next kitchen appliance ad we see on TV that will make life easier?

May I encourage all of us today and the days to come that all we truly need is the peace of mind and heart that Jesus gives?  Peace knowing that He will satisfy our every longing and always provide what we need.  Peace and provision that the world cannot and never will be able to offer.  Absolutely nothing else can or will satisfy. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Don't Be Afraid To Ask


“Don’t Be Afraid To Ask”
By Zach Wood
James 1:5 NLT
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.

I don’t know about you, but I have always been a person who fears asking questions in a group of people.  I don’t have a problem asking a question to someone one-on-one, but if you put me in a classroom or any other environment where there are many people, I get nervous to ask the most simple question.  I remember in college that I raised my hand a few times to ask questions and before the professor called on me, my heart started racing, my body shook a little, I got a little sweaty, etc.  I just always feared asking questions in public. 

Through the years, I still feel the same way when I am in a group of people.  There is just something intimidating to me when I am around a lot of people and I think of even asking a question to the person in charge.  I often think everyone else is going to have a better and more reasonable question than I will.  It isn’t a good way to look at it, but it is just what goes through my mind. 

Sometimes, we approach God the same way with the questions we have.  Even though we have direct access to God, we often hesitate to ask Him for wisdom or for anything because we are afraid of how He will respond to us or we feel we do not want to bog him down with petty questions when He has so much other things to deal with.

We need to get this mindset out of ourselves and know that God welcomes us, no matter what we ask of Him or come to Him about.  If we want wisdom, He wants us to ask Him.  He definitely does not want us going after the wisdom of the world.  He wants us to come to Him with our requests and He loves to communicate with us.  We should never be afraid to approach Him and lay our requests at His feet.  He is never too busy for our questions or too busy to give us wisdom. 

I often tell my kids that I do not want them to be afraid to ask me questions.  Sometimes, they are afraid of the question they ask and nervous what my reaction and answer will be.  I admit, sometimes I do not react the best to their question, but I try hard to be sensitive and open minded about what they ask.  I want them to feel comfortable coming to me to ask me anything.  They might not always like the answer, but I try to understand what they want or need and talk to them about it. 

We should never be afraid to approach God with our requests and our desire for wisdom.  Our God is a very generous God Who loves us and will give us what we need. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Too Awesome To Comprehend


“Too Awesome To Comprehend”
By Zach Wood
Romans 11:33 NLT
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!  How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

There are a lot of things in life that we consider great.  We think movies are great.  We think food is great.  We think some songs are great.  We see a fireworks display on July 4 and think it is great.  We think some people are great who have neat talents and abilities. 

When we see a good movie, we often wonder how they did the special affects.  When we eat good food, we wonder what the secret ingredient is and how they cooked to such perfection.  We hear a great song and we wonder what the inspiration was behind writing the song.  When we see a fireworks show, we wonder how those things look so cool in the sky.  When we see people perform, we often wonder how they’ve been blessed so much to be that good.

So often, we cannot understand why things are so great.  We wonder and try to figure out why.  We research and we talk to others to try to understand better.  We want to know and we want to be filled with the knowledge to understand better. 

As we so often want to know and learn these things, nothing can be better or greater than knowing our awesome and wonderful God!  He is too awesome to fully comprehend.  No matter how much we read His Word or how much time we spend getting to know Him more, we will never be able to comprehend Him.  His ways are just so beyond what we can understand.  He will always be a mystery to us while we are in this life and here on this earth.  One day, we will fully understand all of His ways and glory. 

I want to encourage each one of us to take time to just pause and consider how amazing and great our God is.  Take time to just be in awe of Him and to know that He is so awesome and so far beyond anything we can understand.  This is a good thing!  We so often get frustrated because we cannot understand things.  Well, in the sense of not being able to comprehend God, that is great that He is so awesome that we cannot fully understand!

Next time you find yourself totally amazed at something you hear, watch or eat, be reminded that God is more awesome and greater than anything we can experience here on earth. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

From Bad To Not-So-Bad


“From Bad To Not-So-Bad”
By Zach Wood
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The beginning of last week, right as I was about to go on my lunch break at work, my wife called to tell me that the hose spigot broke off and she could not get it to turn off.  Apparently my youngest daughter turned it on and turned too hard.  As I was driving home, all I could think about was how we could get it turned off.  I was thinking that it would take me a while to get things figured out and I may have to call my supervisor to tell him I would be a while.

Once I got home, I tried turning it off at the spigot, but then decided to just try shutting the main water valve off in the house.  When I went inside to locate the valve, I noticed that there was a single line specifically going out to the spigot and it had its own valve.  Turned it off and that took care of the problem within just a couple minutes of being home.  Problem temporarily solved.  

As I was on my way back to work, I was relieved and thankful the situation was not any worse.  It could have been a lot worse and I was so glad and thanked God for the situation that turned out easier than I had planned.  Not only was it a quick, temporary fix at the time, I realized that I had also made a ham sandwich that day, instead of taking a lunch I had to heat up.  I was able to eat that on my way home. 

After looking at the handle later that night, I discovered it was just a broken handle and the spigot was intact still.  All it took was a trip to Menards and less than five dollars, it was fixed!  Yay!

I share all of this with you to say that something that could have been really bad turned out to be very simple and was better than I first thought.  That happens a lot in life.  We often think the worst at first, but then so many times, things are simpler than expected and God provides a very easy solution.  Not always, but many times. 

I was reminded that day to be thankful for the ways God provides.  I was reminded to be thankful when something seems bad at first, but then turns out better than expected.  When it is a cheap fix, that is even better!  And, I did not have to heat a lunch up!

I encourage all of us to be reminded to look for the ways God provides in the simplest ways to show us that it could always be worse and to be thankful when circumstances turn out better than we thought at first.

Thank God for the times when bad turns to not-so-bad. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Purest Promises


“Purest Promises”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 12:6 NLT
The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.

People have the best intentions in their heart when they make promises, but so often, those promises become broken for one reason or another.  It is really tough when someone makes a promise to us, because in the back of our mind, there’s usually just a slight thought of “What if he/she breaks the promise?”  We want to believe someone is genuine and will always keep the promise, but human beings make mistakes and often break hearts.

While we often have the best intentions when we make a promise to others, there is One Who will never break a promise and His promises are always true.  In all the years I have been a Christian, I am so very thankful I can rely on God’s promises to be pure.  There is absolutely nothing more pure that His promises.  They are greater than anything I can possibly imagine.  They are real and full of life.

Even in the times when it’s hard to trust God, I can always lean on His everlasting arms and rest on His promises.  Some of you reading this today I know are experiencing some real heartache.

Your marriage is falling apart.
You just lost your spouse.
You just lost a child.
You or a loved one has an incurable disease.
You just lost your job.

Perhaps you are dealing with one of these scenarios or another one in which your trust and hope in God is being challenged.  It’s understandable.  You would not be human if never questioned God.  It is important in these times to hold on to that hope you have and not let go of His promises.

There are some days when I know that I am told to trust and hope in God, but it is so hard because I feel nothing and I wonder what He is doing.  However, holding on to the hope of what I know He has done in my life in the past teaches me to trust Him. 

Trust in His purest promises.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Peace Like No Other


“A Peace Like No Other”
By Zach Wood
2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation.  The Lord be with you all.

Life can surely become hectic and chaotic and some days it seems we don’t even have time to catch our breath.  Whatever the situation or circumstances, we often find ourselves caught up in the busy, non-stop lifestyle of activities we are involved in. 

Maybe you are not caught up in that busyness, but perhaps life has been crazy, hectic and chaotic because of one dilemma after another.  Maybe there has been sickness, death and disease in the family or friends and loved ones going through very difficult times lately. 

Let these words from Paul be a comfort to you in whatever hard times you are experiencing.  Maybe you need some peace in your life right now, whatever your situation may be.  Perhaps you need to just feel one day of peace amidst all of the frustrations you are going through.

Do you need peace in the midst of a troubled marriage?
Do you need peace as you are dealing with the recent loss of a loved one?
Do you need peace as you deal with a teenager who is in trouble?
Do you need peace as you are on your last bit of hope for a friend or family member dealing with a disease?
Do you need peace as you deal with a daily job you cannot stand going to?

God provides peace that is beyond our understanding.  He will provide a peace that will calm our soul.  Sometimes, we just need one hour or one day of feeling a little peace to give us some hope.  God promises to never abandon us.  Does He promise to remove the struggles or the situation?  No.  But He does promise to give us peace if we will just trust Him.

I hope and pray that whatever situation you may be experiencing right now in your life, allow God to be your peace.  Pour your heart out to Him and ask Him to fill you with His peace that transcends understanding.  No one knows you better and no one understands your pain or situation more than Him. 

Turn to Him and feel His peace.