Monday, May 20, 2019

Trust In The Midst Of Confusion

“Trust In The Midst Of Confusion”
By Zach Wood
John 14:1 NLT
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

Ever had someone tell you that you were going to do something together or go somewhere and, at first, it totally confused you?  But then the person said, “I know you don’t understand, but just trust me.”  You probably followed, wondering what in the world was going to happen.  You were a little hesitant and perhaps your heart was pumping fast, but you still followed close behind and waited to see what would happen.

There are many situations in which we become frustrated because we don’t “get” something and it takes a while for us to finally figure out what is happening or the leader/teacher doesn’t explain fully for a certain period of time.  Why?  Perhaps the person wants us to completely trust in their leading and not trust in our own understanding.

It is definitely hard to follow when we don’t get what is going on in life.  There are a lot of times we don’t get what’s happening and it causes frustration.  At first, we may have a really bad reaction and get angry at the person who is holding information back from us.  They have reason for it and won’t let us in on all the info until later.  Often we’re like, “Hey, don’t leave me hanging!”  It’s not fun when we don’t know all the details.  We feel troubled and unaware. 

If you’re anything like me, things can “throw you” when you first feel troubled and unsure of what’s going on.  I often don’t like when things suddenly change.  It depends on the situation, but often I don’t adjust well.  I have to stop and think and ask God for strength to adapt to the newness, whatever that might be.  I don’t like to be troubled by things unaware.  It can be very confusing at times when life throws me curve balls. 

Jesus tells His men not be troubled.  He wants them to trust in Him.  He doesn’t want them to fret because He’s got everything under control.  It is hard to trust in the midst of confusion, but He tells us to fully rely on Him and trust. 

I have learned in the past years that it’s vital to trust even when things seem to not make any sense.  He is always working in ways we cannot see and we just have to trust Him.

If you are struggling in life right now and in the midst of confusion, hang in there!  Trust in Him!  Don’t give up!  Don’t throw in the towel.  Trust in Him and He will not let you down.  Hang tight just a little longer.  Don’t be troubled.  Let Him lead and see what awesome opportunities He has for your future.  Trust Him in the midst of your confusion.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Seeking Him Above All Else

“Seeking Him Above All Else”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 6:33 NLT
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

We all seek a lot of different things in life, don’t we? 

We seek to find a good paying job.
We seek to find a good house to live in.
We seek to find a good school for our kids to attend.
We seek to find a church that we can call home.
We seek to find good deals on products that buy.
We seek attend a great college where we can further our education.
We seek to find a mate whom we can spend our lives with.

We also seek a lot of other things in life.  The list could go on and on as to what we seek to find each day of our lives.  Sometimes, we look and look for days, months or even years to find a good deal on whatever it is we are hunting for.  It always seems we are seeking something.  We are always on a hunt for either something better that we want or getting something we need.  We want to bargain shop and get the best deals for the lowest prices.  My wife and I are totally like that!  We thrive on finding great deals and good bargains!

I cannot help but to think about all the time and energy that we put into seeking different things in life and often how little time we really invest seeking the Kingdom of God.  I know in my own life I often find myself seeking after a lot of things that don’t really seem to benefit my walk with God.  Not that they are bad things, but they just don’t really benefit my spiritual growth and I waste time on them. 

Jesus teaches on the importance of seeking the Kingdom of God.  He not only teaches on the importance of seeking God, but rather seeking Him above all else.  That’s the clincher!  We need to ask ourselves what we are seeking most in life.  It isn’t that seeking things is bad, but if we are constantly seeking things and not ultimately seeking what pleases God, then we’ve got issues.  Do we find ourselves waking up in the morning and then spending our day seeking tons of different things that don’t benefit our spiritual growth?  I think we all do much more than we want to admit.

I want to seek God’s Kingdom more than anything.  I am trying each day to do this, in whatever ways I can.  I want to find ways that I can seek Him and praise Him in everything I do.  He gives me everything I need, so why wouldn’t I seek Him ultimately?  This is my heart’s desire.  Seeking Him above all else.  We all need to make it our desire to seek Him and His Kingdom above everything else that matters in our lives.  He needs to come first, always. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Loving God, Loving People

“Loving God, Loving People”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 22:37-39 NIV
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Last week, I was reading a YouVersion Bible App devotional by Danny Gokey and he made a statement that was simple, yet so profound.  He shared, “So many times I think we overthink our calling and over complicate the Gospel, when really our purpose in this life comes down to two simple things; loving God and loving people.”

It was so powerful and spoke volumes to me!  The more I thought about this statement, I considered how we so often do over complicate things every day of our lives when it comes to being a light for God.  What if we put this concept into practice from the time we get up in the morning to the time we go to bed and focus on nothing else but this?  What would our lives really look like if we simply focused on loving God and loving people?  What if that became our sole mission every day?

This concept has challenged my thinking in the past week and I continue to consider how I simply need to put this into practice as I live my every day life.  Loving God is actually pretty easy for me to do.  Even though I often don’t understand Him, I love Him very much.  However, loving certain people is difficult for me.  It is easy for me to love people who are easy to love, but very hard at times to love people who are not nice and who have treated me badly. 

Think about this passage and how important it was for Jesus to share it.  We need to not only love God with all our heart, but we must also love others.  We cannot say that we love God and then treat others like trash.  It just doesn’t work that way.  We absolutely must do our best every day to love others, regardless of how they treat us.  And, that is hard!

What would our world look like if we made it our passion every day to love God and love others?  We don’t need a seminary degree to do this.  All we need is a willingness to love and respect not only our Father, but also others who we come into contact with.  Let us not over complicate the calling God has given to each of us.  We all have different abilities, gifts and talents for sure, however, we all have the ability to love God and love others.  This is something we can all do, regardless of our education. 

Loving God and loving others.  It is not a hard concept to grasp, but it is a challenging concept to live out.  Why don’t we make it our mission and passion to fully love God and love others as we live every day of our lives? 

Who is with me?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Half Lived: Don't Leave Him Out

“Half-Lived: Don’t Leave Him Out”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 4:13 NLT
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

I have had this Scripture memorized for as long as I can remember.  I am sure I learned it in Sunday School when I was just a little guy.  I have used this Scripture in previous devotionals, in sermons and in Bible studies.  It is one of the most popular Scriptures quoted today.  Recently, I saw this verse in a new way and it really hit home with me. 

I thought about how so often we cut this passage off after “everything”.  We live out “I can do everything”, and then leave out “through Him who gives me strength.”   We live so much of our lives with the confidence that we can do most things all by ourselves and leave God on the back shelf telling Him that we will consult Him if things get a difficult.  We often think we can live life all by ourselves and in our own strength. 

We quote this passage so much and verbally proclaim that we can do always do all things through Christ, but then the actual ways we live out our lives shows the complete opposite.  We do our own thing and mentally convince ourselves to believe that we can do this life all on our own. 

I am so guilty of only living half of this verse.  I often live as though to leave God out of my life.  This is sadly true for so many of us.  We say that we can do all things through Him, but we only live half of the verse.  Jesus gives us a life to live that is unlike the life of our past.  He gives us true life. 

Is this verse half-lived in your life?  Are you trying to do everything all on your own?  Are you living solo?  We all know that we cannot live our lives without the strength of Christ.  We know we need Him.  We know He is the only One Who can get us through life.  However, each of our days is so often lived without us consulting Him and allowing Him to lead. 

We go to great lengths every day to make sure we have all we need to succeed through the day from the morning till the night.  Why not make certain that we go to great lengths to ensure that we are letting God lead our lives each day? 

My prayer is that we not only work to memorize great verses like these, but that we also remember to live them completely out, not leaving God out of what we do.  We can do all things, but we can only do them successfully through Christ Who gives us true lasting strength.

I can do everything…..through Christ…..Who gives me strength.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Understanding What Really Matters

“Understanding What Really Matters”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 1:9-11 NLT
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.  May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

I had many mentors throughout the years of my young life take the time to instill great advice and wisdom in me.  Whether it was my family, teachers at school, or youth sponsors at church, many took the time to teach me new and important things in life.  Their wisdom helped me to understand what really mattered in life.  When I would get off-course, they would lovingly nudge me to re-focus where I needed to be. 

We all have had people, whom we love and appreciate, take the time to steer us in the right direction.  We all need people who will care enough to help us understand what really matters.  We need proper instructions so that we don’t go off-course.  Understanding what really matters is vital to living a life of purpose. We don’t want to forget what matters and live the wrong way.  However, so many of us end up going a direction we shouldn’t.  Fortunately, we have loving friends and families who will see what’s happening and speak into our lives when we need it most. 

We have so many different situations in life where we need to understand what is important.  What should really matter to us?  This is a question we truly need to be faced with every single day.  We need to understand what really matters. 

Paul wanted to make sure that people understood what really mattered.  It was to love each other as Christ loved the church.  Wow!  What would be more important than that?  Nothing!  Loving one another is what is most important.  Jesus Christ gave His life for us so that we could understand what mattered most.  As we are celebrating Easter this weekend, we celebrate the greatest love to ever walk this earth.  Jesus wanted us to grasp what really matters…Love.  He gave us the greatest demonstration and lesson of love.  What could be greater?

I need to understand what matters most.  Every day, I need to be reminded that the way I love my family and others matters more than anything.  They need to see God’s love through me.  Jesus giving His life for us and being resurrected is the greatest story of love.  Do we really understand what matters most? 

May the love of Christ be all that truly matters in our lives as we seek to share His love with the world. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Beware Of Over Self-Confience

“Beware Of Over Self-Confidence”
By Zach Wood
1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.

We have all had moments in our lives where things are going just fine and we think there is nothing that can ruin the moment.  We might sail on for days, weeks or even months without anything pulling us down.  Then, all of a sudden, “wham!  We’re not too sure what happened or what exactly hit us, but all we know is that life came crashing down, so to speak. 

There is not one of us that has not experienced this in life.  Life seems to be plugging away and then some tragedy or temptation takes us down and we feel like we’re down for the count.  We ask ourselves, “what just happened???”  We often times cannot figure out what went wrong or why all of a sudden things just spiraled south.  And, most of us don’t usually react the best way to these sudden changes.  We feel a wide-range of emotions.  We wonder what we did wrong and how this all happened.  Sometimes life simply takes us by surprise.

It’s in these times that we do some deep thinking and examine our life choices.  Many people in these situations question God and His goodness.  I know in all my years of vocational ministry and volunteer ministry, this is one of the toughest situations to deal with.  This goes both for seeing people experience this and myself having dealt with it.  We get very frustrated and wonder why God allowed bad things to happen to us.

There are many times we need to realize in life that we do make bad choices.  We make decisions to follow temptations and we fall hard.  We don’t mean to, but we do and then life comes crashing down.  We must remember that we cannot do life on our own, period.  We need God 24/7/365.  Not a moment goes by each day that we don’t need Him.  We tend to get a little cocky in life, if you will, and we think we are doing pretty good.  We feel pretty good and can’t imagine anything spoiling our mood.  Before we know it, but something goes wrong and things seem to spiral out of control in one way or another.

As I study this verse, I think of all the times when I get to feeling pretty good in my life and how I wish things could just stay good and not go sour at any time.  As much as any one of us would like that, life just doesn’t work that way.  This is not to say we should live life expecting bad things to happen, but that we just need to be prepared at all times.  We need to strong in the Lord and be prepared, so when things do start spiraling down, we can remain confident, not in ourselves, but in the Lord.  God definitely wants us to have self-confidence in our lives, but not so much that we forget that He is in control and depend on our own strength.  Beware of over self-confidence because we always need Him!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Undivided Loyalty

“Undivided Loyalty”
By Zach Wood
James 1:5-8 NLT
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

We all have different stores and food places that we frequently visit.  For me, there are certain stores and certain food places where I know that I will always get a good deal.  I want to go to certain stores where I know I will get good quality products and great service.  I also like to go to certain food places where I know I will enjoy the food and the service that is provided.  I am loyal to these places when we choose to go out to eat and go to buy certain products.

You all have certain places, just like me, that you like to go frequently.  The places have given you a type of service that keeps you coming back.  Even if you get a bad experience here for there for whatever reason, you’ve had enough good experiences to know that you will still get good service if you go back.  We have all had bad experiences at places.  Sometimes, we choose not to go back, but other times, we know it was just a bad day or what not, so we still choose to go back because we have had good food, good products and good service in the past.

We all have developed undivided loyalty in one way or another with these different places.  Even with the occasional bad experience, these places have gained our trust enough to keep us coming in.  Loyalty is a big word.  When people develop loyalty not only with places, but also with people, that is a big thing as well.  We want loyal people in our lives so that we know we can trust them. 

How about our loyalty to God?  We all have great experiences with God, but we also have times in our lives where we get frustrated with the so-called “service” we think God is giving us.  We get frustrated when life gets tough a lot of times.  We wonder what He’s doing.  We tend to forget He has wisdom beyond our understanding.  He knows what He’s doing.  We need to remain loyal to God, through the good times and bad times.  God wants undivided loyalty in our lives. 

When we seek after God for wisdom, do we seek with undivided loyalty, no matter what the journey brings?  Do we continually seek Him when the going gets tough and when we aren’t getting answers?  Is our loyalty unwavering?  These are tough questions, but ones we must ask as we consider our loyalty to Him.