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. 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Your Will, Not Mine


“Your Will, Not Mine”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 26:39 NLT
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

There are a lot of desires that we have in life.  At different times of our lives, we desire to do various things.  Some of those things can be big and some can be small.  Regardless, we all have desires.  We have different opportunities that pop in life and we often need to make some tough decisions as to what to do next, whether it is getting married, having a child, taking on a new job or buying a house.  These are among some of the biggest decisions that we make in life. 

I hope that in all decisions you and I make, we bathe these things in prayer, asking God to give us wisdom and direction as to the best route to go.  Sometimes, the way seems very obvious, while other times not so much.  It can be very difficult to discern what God wants us to do, especially in the times when He seems silent and we are not feeling any clear direction at all.  It’s in those times that we must trust that He is still working, even though we can’t feel a thing.

We often fight selfish desires when we pray for God to guide us in life.  He definitely has our best interests at heart, but only He knows exactly what is best for us.  Sometimes, the best road for us will be a very challenging and often difficult journey.  We often want the way that will be less painful and full of happiness.  Who doesn’t want to be happy, right?  However, God’s goal is not for us to be happy, but for us to grow in our faith and trust Him at all times.  In our journey of life, we can still be happy because our life is in Christ. 

Jesus definitely had a hard choice to make when He was agonizing and facing death, through His prayers, in the Garden of Gethsemane.  This is one of the most pivotal struggles He had as the Son of God and as a human being.  He knew He had to give His life for us, but He also struggled deeply because of the pain and agony of the situation.  We can learn from His example He actually prayed for the possibility of the suffering to be taken from Him.  However, He prayed as well for God’s will to be done ultimately. 

What decisions are you facing in your life right now that you find yourself struggling just as Jesus did?  You have desires, but you also want God’s will for your life more than anything.  It is hard to ask for God’s will above what you want in your life.  However, the ultimate prayer for us is that God’s will be done in our lives so that He can lead us where He wants us.  Even if the path is unknown, we must be obedient and submit to Him sight unseen. 

Right now, in my life, I am struggling with direction.  I am learning that I need to pray for His will in my life, not just what I think is best or what I want to do.  I want His plan for my life to prevail and to lead me.  Many days, I don’t feel a clear direction, but I just need to continue trusting that He’s working and will reveal in due time. 

May our prayers always be “Not my will be done, but Yours, Father.”   

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Calling All Husbands!


“Calling All Husbands!”
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 5:25-28 NIV
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I had the privilege of attending our first marriage retreat with Weekend To Remember in Minneapolis that is put on by Family Life.  I must share that it was one of the best investments we have made in our marriage to this day!  It was a weekend filled with much learning and a great revival for renewing our marriage. 

I am writing this devotional specifically to husbands this week.  I felt the need to share with you all after the powerfully inspiring weekend we had!  As a husband, I was challenged in ways I never thought I would be challenged.  Throughout the weekend, I felt so guilty of not being the Godly husband that I’ve needed to be for my wife.  Throughout our marriage, I so often haven’t been the supportive man I need to be for my wife.  This weekend allowed me to see a whole different perspective on how I should care for my wife.  It taught me how I need to turn from my daily selfish ways and consider my wife so much more. 

As the weekend progressed, I found myself becoming overwhelmed with emotion and God was revealing to me so much about how I needed to be much more loving and unconditional toward my wife.  Husbands, I want to challenge you to truly love your wives each and every day.  It is so important to not focus on just what your needs and desires are and to focus your love on making her feel truly cherished.  God calls us to treat our wives with respect and love because He gave them to us to take care of. 

I was so glad we attended this conference.  It was just what we needed to renew and revive so many things in our marriage.  I am thankful that God worked in my heart that weekend to change my perspective about the relationship that marriage should be.  It is a teamwork relationship and it is often hard.  It takes devotion and much effort.  I would recommend any couple take the time to attend this conference and be challenged. 

Husbands, I want to encourage you to love your wives in Christ.  Wives, I hope you will read this and be encouraged to be a team with your husband.  I am no marriage expert and never will be.  However, I know that any marriage without Christ cannot experience the growth that only a marriage with Christ can experience.  It is amazing!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Find True Rest In Him


“Find True Rest In Him”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 62:5-8 NIV
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.  Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.

One of the things I enjoy most about being a dad is when my kids come up to me and throw their arms around me longing to get a some loving from daddy.  Sometimes it’s a simple hug or they ask me to pick them up while hugging them.  I love doing both.  I never get tired of them wanting daddy to embrace them.  It will never get old.  I love it!  What I also cherish are the times they come sit by me on the couch or they nestle their head on me if we’re out somewhere together.  Sometimes, they just want me to hold them or they just want to rest on me gently.  Whatever it may be, I cherish those opportunities. 

Every time I think about them doing this, I tend to tear up and get an emotional feeling of overwhelming thankfulness because they want daddy.  I am so thankful they still want to come to daddy to rest in my embrace.  I am a refuge to them, not necessarily when they are in trouble, but just moments where they want to snuggle up to me.  I will never turn that away.  It’s one of the moments I most cherish about my kids.  And, I always think to myself, “God, why do they love me so much like this?  I don’t deserve it!”  I used to ask them, “Why do you want me?” They would simply reply, “I don’t know.  I just do”. 

God wants us to feel much the same way toward Him as my kids do to me.  God opens His embrace to me each and every day.  So often I just need to rest in His embrace and be in His presence.  Not always for comfort from trouble, but just to rest in Him.  I love to rest in knowing He’s there for everything with me.

Years ago, the Christian rock group Skillet came out with a song called “Rest”.  It was a favorite song of mine and describes the simple longing to come to our Father to rest in Him.  Here are some of the lyrics:

And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of Your grace
And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of You
Take all the old and You make it new
Everything I give to You
You're the hope that can pull me through
Hallelujah

When is the last time you rested in the arms and embrace of our Heavenly Father?  We need rest and He is there for anything we need.   

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Joy Of Feeling Alive


“The Joy Of Feeling Alive”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 40:8-10 NLT
I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”  I have told all your people about your justice.  I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O Lord, well know.  I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.  I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

One of the commercials on TV that has caught my attention is from Mazda.  Every car company has some catchy slogan as a way of drawing us in to experience something great with their vehicles.  Well, with Mazda, my attention was drawn to their slogan of “Feel Alive”. 

We all want to feel alive, don’t we?  We want to feel excitement in our lives and experience a life like no other.  We want to experience great things in our lives and enjoy the great moments.  Who wouldn’t??  We all want to experience great things.  As I kept thinking about that phrase, “Feel Alive”, I could not help but to consider the lives we have in Christ.  Jesus Christ truly gives us joy like no other.  No matter what the world tries to offer us, there is absolutely no greater joy than serving Him and knowing Him.  He gives us the joy to truly “Feel Alive”!

Do you want to really feel alive?  Well, as much as I like Mazda’s slogan because it is catchy, I really doubt that will “Feel Alive” just by purchasing their vehicles.  There is no material possession that can give me an alive feeling more than knowing Jesus Christ.  Nothing.

Do you want to feel alive?  Do you want to experience a joy that is greater than any experience the world can offer?  No doubt we can enjoy many things in life, but there is no lasting joy like what Jesus can do for us.  The world cannot and will never be able to compare to Him.  Do we take great joy in doing God’s will?  Do we take great joy in obeying Him?  Do we take great joy in following what He calls us to do?  Do we take great joy in speaking out for Him, spreading His Good News and proclaiming His faithfulness? 

Friends, the only way to really “Feel Alive” is to know the joy that comes from the Lord.  There is no everlasting joy except through Him.  Whatever so-called joy you might be trying to find in the world, you won’t find it.  It will always fail you in some way.  The only true joy that makes us feel truly alive is through Christ.  This doesn’t mean that life will be peachy and roses when we do follow Christ.  He never promised a life of no problems.  However, through those times of trouble, we can find true joy and comfort in Him. 

Knowing Jesus is truly the way to feel alive!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Reminded Daily Of His Amazing Strength


“Reminded Daily Of His Amazing Strength”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 46:1-3 NIV
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

I need constant reminders in my life because there are many things I tend to forget.  There are things I need reminded about at my work place.  I have to make notes and be reminded by my boss and co-workers so that I don’t forget certain duties.  I need to be reminded by my wife and my girls of things that I forget with my home life.  They also help me to remember things I have forgotten about events coming up and things we have planned to do. 

There are commercials on TV often that I see of a supplement to improve memory and I think I need it!  I think most of you out there could relate to me, regardless of your age.  We easily forget things.  We need constant reminders.  I not only need reminders of things I forget to do, but I also need reminders daily of things I don’t need to worry about.  All my life, I have been guilty of often being a worry-wart.  I really do not like that fact about myself, but I just have to deal with it daily and try each day to be better about it. 

I often find myself not only needing reminding about things I need to do, but also needing reminded of the powerful strength of God in my life and all that He can do and still does!  My precious wife has to repeatedly remind me that He is in control and I need to stop worrying about things of the future.  God calls out to me daily in many ways to remind me that He is bigger than anything in the world and He can handle everything in my life.  I just need to take a chill pill and let Him be in control of my life.

Friends, we have absolutely nothing to fear in life.  We don’t need to worry.  We so often forget that God is way bigger than anything that can scare us or worry us in life.  He cannot be outdone!  Nothing can be bigger than Him or overtake Him!  We all need to be reminded daily that He is our refuge and strength.  He is our security when we don’t feel safe.  He is our Rock to lean on.  He can handle everything that we cannot. 

I hope and pray that today and every day we will be reminded that God is Almighty God.  We can rest in Him, knowing that He is in total control.  So many things are going on around us in our lives, often at the speed of light.   However, He reminds us that He is in control and that we just need to trust and put our hope in Him as our refuge and strength.  He is our help in ever-present trouble.  He is always will be!