Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What Offer Do We Crave?

“What Offer Do We Crave?”
By Zach Wood
1 John 2:15-17 NLT
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

As I was reading this passage recently from the New Living Translation, the word “offers” stuck out to me.  It really hit me how there are so many different ways the world tries to offer us great things.  We see and are bombarded by different offers everywhere we go each day.  Some offers are pretty good, while others can get us into serious trouble if we accept them. 

My wife and I really like to shop for great offers.  We enjoy getting coupons through the mail or by e-mail with good discount offers at stores and places to eat.  We also like walking into stores and going right for the sale and clearance areas.  We are bargain shoppers!

It’s always great to find good deals and offers, but the more I think about all of this, I am reminded that these moments are short-lived.  They are enjoyed for a while, but they don’t last forever.  I’m often reminded of the offers I am bombarded with promising to make my life so much better!  I’m ashamed to admit that I often buy into the different offers from the world.  I get sucked into deals that end up not satisfying me.  I get frustrated when I think I find a good offer, but it turns out to be a rip off. 

We all have experiences like this.  So often, we buy into what the world offers for satisfaction and happiness.  It shouldn’t surprise us why God warns us so much about not loving the world.  He tells us to avoid getting sucked into the promises of what this world offers.  Why do we crave the things of this world so much, but crave God so little?  And then we are surprised when we come up feeling dry from the junk the world offers. 

Please understand, God is not telling us that we cannot enjoy things here in this world.  There are many things to enjoy for sure!  However, when we find ourselves longing for and craving the things of this world more than Him, then it becomes a problem.  Only what God offers to us will satisfy us eternally and not leave us dry. 

Are we craving what the world offers or what God offers?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lip Service is NOT Enough

“Lip Service Is NOT Enough”
By Zach Wood
1 John 3:18 NLT
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other, let us show the truth by our actions.

We are so good at trying to persuade people with words, aren’t we?  Depending on the situation, we will use words in so many clever ways to convince people so that we can get what we want.  We easily and often use words to persuade others to do something for us or give something to us.

So many people use words in sly ways to get something from others.  People in different job positions can use words in order to trick people into buying something.  The last thing I want when I go somewhere to look for something to buy is to have a sales person pressure me with words to buy something.  Words can be so strong and persuasive.

As Christians, we use words to try to show people that we love God.  It is great that we use words to express to others our love for God, but words simply are not enough.  Words are good up to a point, but then our actions must speak louder.

In all my years of secular work world and vocational paid ministry, I have seen such a great need to show non believers the very love of God through actions.  We not only need to share God’s truth through words, but through our actions of love for others. 

Friends, we absolutely cannot just say that we love others.  We must prove that love by the way we act toward them and how we treat them.  Our actions will always speak so much louder than the words we use. 

Lip service is simply not enough in today’s world.  People want to see so-called Christians living out the faith they proclaim.  The world needs to see genuine love through our actions to back the words we share.  God proved His love by sending Jesus Christ to die for us.  His actions spoke louder than words.  Our actions also need to speak louder than words. 

We can never expect the world to believe what we say if we are not going to back those words up with genuine love.  Make sure your lip service is followed by love in action.  God depends on us to not only share words of love, but to put feet on those words so they become actions of love. 

When it comes to our words versus actions, actions will always speak louder. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Wholehearted Commitment

“Wholehearted Commitment”
By Zach Wood
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NLT
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

It seems we live in a culture where commitment is very hard to come by.  People so often become as fickle as the weather.  It seems everywhere we turn, people are giving us promises or guarantees, only to turn around and break our hearts moments later.  It saddens me how little commitment people have these days toward things.  People don’t want to commit to many things because of the hard effort involved when things get tough.  People seem to want the convenience of walking away from any commitments when times get tough.

Now, before we start nodding our head in complete agreement about all of those people, here is the harsh reality.  Christians are often the worst at keeping commitments.  We talk a good talk, but so often we fail at matching that talk with a life of commitment.  This is a tough pill to swallow, but it is a reality.  And, I will admit that I have been terrible at keeping commitments in my life.  Not all of them, but many. There are so many times I fail at keeping my commitments to friends and family.  I say that I will do something and then I turn around and break that commitment because life gets tough and I use excuses. 

We not only break commitments to others, but we also break our commitments to God as well.  Why are we so flippant when it comes to committing to things in life?  What we often do is plead with God to do more in our lives, but then we don’t even give ourselves wholeheartedly to Him.  It is like we expect Him to move mountains in our lives, but then we don’t want to hold up our commitments to Him because life gets tough.

I want to live my life better.  I want to live with wholehearted commitment to Him.  I don’t want my devotion to Him to be fickle.  I desire to serve Him and give my best.  I really want to live for and serve God, but I get so distracted by my selfish desires and I fail miserably. 

Instead of looking at others around me in this world and shaking my head in disappointment because of the lack of commitment, I need to look at my own life and see where I am failing and how much I need to improve my commitment.

Do we have wholehearted commitment to God?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Make The Time To Be Still

“Make The Time To Be Still”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 46:10 NIV
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

This past weekend, my wife and I had a weekend date while the girls were away.  My wife worked for a couple hours Saturday night and I was home alone for 2 hours.  When she left, I sat on the couch and read, with no TV or music on.  It was completely quiet.  And, I have to be honest, it was really weird.  I sat there reading in complete silence and it just bothered me.  Why?  Because I am not used to having much quiet time to myself. 

I am so used to being on the go and doing things all day long, whether at work or at home with my family.  I am not good with being still.  I just don’t sit down long.  And, if I do, I’m usually wiggling my feet or bouncing my knee (which drives my wife nuts!)  I don’t know why, but I just have the hardest time sitting still and being quiet.  I guess I don’t feel productive when I’m not moving or doing anything. 

This passage is probably one of the hardest passages in all of Scripture.  It is hard for many people.  We have become accustomed to always being on the go and not slowing down.  It is hard for so many of us to make time to just be still.  Well, God has a problem with that.  We need time to slow down and just be still before Him.  We need that quiet, that stillness.  As uncomfortable as it might be, we desperately need it.  We truly need that stillness in our lives, often.  And, we actually need it daily.  I know, many of you are probably thinking, “Yeah, right!  I don’t have time to slow down!”

Plain and simple, we need to quiet our day somehow and take time to just be still and be in the presence of God.  During that two hours I was home by myself reading a book, I kept thinking about how quiet it was and how uncomfortable that felt.  I just am not used to it and I know that I need more of that.  I just needed the time and quiet to clear my mind and focus on what God wanted to communicate to me while reading. 

I realize that we are all very busy people.  We seem to pride ourselves with being busy because busy equals productivity, right?  Well… some degree, but not always.  I want to encourage all of us to really consider how much stillness we are putting into our day to spend with God.  We absolutely must make the time to be still.  Wherever you have to go and just have some moments along and in quiet, do it!  Make it a habit everyday if you can. 

Make the time to be still!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Let It Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine

“Let It Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine”
By Zach wood
Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

We all know that song we learned back in Sunday School, “This Little Light Of Mine”.  I remember learning that song and singing it time and time again as I grew up.  It was fun to sing about letting that light shine for others to see.  As fun as that is to sing and still is, it is often difficult to actually let that light shine around people who don’t believe in God. 

As this year winds down to a close and the new year approaches, I consider how I might be better about letting God’s Light shine through me no matter where I go.  How can I better shine His Light and be a witness for Him?  How can you and I make it a point to share the Light of the World with those who are lost?

One of the verses of this song says, “Won’t let Satan blow it out”.  The enemy is pretty good at trying to blow our flame out.  He wants nothing more than to kill the joyous Spirit within us and discourage us from sharing any further.  We must be prepared for what he tries to do in getting our flame to blow out.  We need to keep the faith and stay strong against opposition.

As the year ends and the new year comes upon us, think of ways where you can better shine God’s Light.  Think of little ways and big ways where you can better His Light.  We definitely want to be a witness and shine His Light for others to see.  If we work on shining throughout our day, people will take notice and it will provide opportunities where people will ask why we are different.  What a great opportunity we have to share just a little of God’s Light and what He has done for us! 

What is important to remember is to keep that peppy, upbeat attitude that we have when singing this song.  We need that attitude when life gets us down.  When life gets us down, it is easy for Satan to dampen that feeling of excitement and to lose some of the flame. 

Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world for God.  Jesus counts on us to spread the message of the Father by continuing to shine the Light. 

The little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Missed Moments

“Missed Moments”
By Zach Wood
Luke 10:38-42 NLT
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.  Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.  But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”  But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!  There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I was reading this story to my wife and kids recently and we were discussing how Martha missed the incredible moment that Mary took advantage of.  After reading this, it has been on my mind about how we often miss so many moments in life because we are so wrapped up into what we think is important.

Please note that in this story, Martha is not wrong in choosing to do something for Jesus.  She is not wrong in preparing a meal for Him.  She is not wrong in wanting to put as much time and effort into this preparation.  We all put lots of time into preparing things for other people.  We prepare to do a lot of things, whatever it may be.  The whole point here is that Mary chose what was more important.  Mary chose to take advantage of a moment that would not last long.  Jesus would soon be on His way somewhere else, but Mary took Him all in. 

Sometimes in life we do this exact thing.  God gives us moments in life where He wants us to just stop what we are doing and take it all in.  Kind of the “sunrise” moment I wrote about recently.  God gives us moments to take notice of things apart from our busyness of life.  We often get upset in life and ask God to do things with us and through us and then wonder why He isn’t showing us certain things.  I believe we often miss these moments because we are so wrapped up in our own things.  We are not wrong in trying to be productive and do great things for others.  However, God sometimes wants us to just “stop” and take in a moment with Him. 

I tend to miss a lot of moments for one reason or another.  Whether it is a moment with my wife, my kids, a friend who needs to talk or family member that needs something.  I always seem to have an excuse to keep me from something that is a little more important.  I often have to ask myself, “Is this really more important right now?” 

So, the next time you are busy with something that is important and needs to get done, make sure you are not passing up another moment nearby that God wants you to take in from your current busyness.  

Monday, November 26, 2018

If Only We Had The Faith

“If Only We Had The Faith”
By Zach Wood
Acts 20:22-24 NLT
And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.  But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

The Apostle Paul was one of the most bold and courageous men we could ever read about in the New Testament.  He went from persecuting Christians to becoming one and then went on to do things for the Kingdom that makes most of our jaws drop in awe.  Paul was a bold man and he was on fire for the Lord!

Read through this passage a few times and let the words sink in.  Think about what Paul is saying here.  He did not know what awaited him, except that troubles and jail were in his future and he accepted that. The passion he had was so strong that it didn’t matter what was going to happen to him along the way.

Paul also said that his life meant nothing unless he could use it to spread the Kingdom message.  Nothing else meant more to him than this mission.

What about us?  Do we have this faith?  Come on, be honest!  I will tell you that I often do not have this faith, but I wish I did.  I think about it and am ashamed so often that I back down at the smallest obstacles that come to me.  I get timid to share my faith with non-believers.  I have no problem sharing my experiences with those who are in the faith, but I am not good at it with non-believers.  So many fears stop me and I become timid. 

I fear that so many of us have fallen prey to the convenience of life that we live each day.  We have so many things at our fingertips and the conveniences just go on and on.  We don’t have to wait for much these days and so much is catered to us.  We like convenience!  Let’s admit it!  The moment something arises that brings us out of that convenience and comfort, we tend to back down. 

I’m wondering what it will take to bring us to a point where we are as bold as Paul?  We all have different personalities and respond to situations in different ways.  However, God does not excuse us from fulfilling His mission because certain things become uncomfortable and inconvenient. 

I cannot help but read words of Paul and ask myself, “If only I had the faith!” 

Do we?