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?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

We All Need A Sunrise Moment

“We All Need A Sunrise Moment”
By Zach Wood
John 14:27 NIV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Last Monday morning, as I was driving my oldest daughter to school, there was a beautiful sunrise that took my breath away.  As I drive her to school each morning, I always wonder if we will see a great sunrise or not.  Some mornings are really neat, but this one was really spectacular.  What was especially cool about this sunrise was that both my daughter and I needed it to brighten up our morning.. 

Did the sunrise take all of our worries and concerns away?  No.  Did the sunrise make everything perfect that day for her or for me?  No.  What it did do was create a moment of peace in the midst of a somewhat chaotic morning.  For a few moments I felt an overwhelming sense of awe coming over me.  It was like all frustrations and concerns left me for a few moments so that I could just enjoy seeing part of God’s wonderful design.  I was just in awe of God and His beauty! 

Sometimes, we just need a sunrise moment.  With all the chaotic moments in our lives so often, we need something to take our focus away from the chaos so that we can focus on God’s beauty to be reminded that He is always with us.  The world easily throws us into chaos, but God wants to remind us each day of His beauty and that He is in control. 

Do you need a sunrise today?  Do you need a sunrise moment in your marriage?  Do you need a sunrise moment in the relationship you have with your teenager?  Do you need a sunrise as you face your difficult job?  Do you need a sunrise as you face losing your job unexpectedly?  Do you need a sunrise moment as you deal with a friend or family member who has a life-threatening disease? 

We all need sunrise moments to feel a sigh wash over us and just feel at peace from God’s promises that He is with us.  How is He trying to remind you that He is in control?  He gives each of us sunrise moments to soak in and enjoy seeing His beauty.  The last thing God wants is for our hearts to be troubled.  It is so easy to get overwhelmed quickly with life.  He so much wants to give us sunrise moments so that we can be overwhelmed by Him and not the world. 

Look for these sunrise moments through your day.  Take them in and enjoy them.  Let God’s peace surge through you and refresh you. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Lay Them Down


“Lay Them Down”
By Zach Wood
1 Peter 5:7 NIV- Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
NLT- Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I read this passage this morning on my YouVersion Bible app and it really hit home with me.  When I looked up both translations that I often like reading, both of them really spoke to me.  God wants me to cast all of my anxiety on Him.  Another way to look at it is giving all of my worries and cares to Him.  Laying them all down before Him and letting them go.  Why?  So that I can fully focus on Him and not let them consume me.

I have a hunch that many of you reading this are experiencing the same issues in your life.  Are you feeling anxious a lot lately?  Are you overcome with worry?  Are you overwhelmed with concerns that are going on in your life? 

God definitely does not want us to live a life consumed with anxiety, worries and concerns.  When we are consumed with these, we cannot focus on Him.  So often we let our lives become dominated with these burdens.  I have always had a bad habit of letting worry consume me.  I don’t try to, but it just happens so often.  I am trying more and more each day to give these things to God and let Him fill me with peace.

I need to remember every single day to lay them down before Him and ask Him to fill me with His presence and let Him consume me instead.  I think we all need to be intentional about leaving these things at His feet each day so that we can live lives full of Him. 

I do not want my daily life full of anxiety and worries and concerns and I must be intentional about giving these to God each day.  We must all be intentional.  Perhaps you need to write these down so that they are all on paper and then pray about them.  Be intentional to mention to God each day the specific things that are making you worry and be anxious, asking Him to give you peace and to take away the consuming feeling of focusing on them.

However you feel like you need to give them up to Him, do it.  Fill your mind with Scripture and positive Christian music through the day.  Read a book that inspires you and encourages you to put positive thoughts in your mind. 

Check out the song “Cast My Cares” by the group Finding Favour on YouTube.  Listen to the words and let the message of this song fill you with hope. 

Lay all your anxiety, worries and concerns down.  Lay them all down before Him. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Associating With Sinners: Lost Sheep


“Associating With Sinners: Lost Sheep”
By Zach Wood
Luke 15:1-2 NLT
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.  This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

One of the things I most admire about Jesus was His ability to associate with the people who would be considered lowest on the totem pole.  Jesus was never into a popularity contest.  He did not spend time with people who only looked a certain way, smelled a certain way or dressed a certain way. 

Much of His mission was to associate with people who were close to hitting rock bottom or were already there.  I guess you could say he attracted people who were living in sin. 

The religious leaders did not like and could not believe that Jesus would do such a thing as to associate with the lowliest people.  Here was perfect Jesus associating with others that most would not associate with.  That is just how Jesus was.  He reached to people and places where most of us would never go.  He does not have barriers.  He does not have a checklist of things that keep Him away from others.  His love was real, genuine and reached out to those who needed Him most. 

I have to wonder about us today.  How many of us have a “checklist” of those we only associate with?  Who do we only allow ourselves to associate with?  We all have favorites and we choose to pay attention to those we choose to be around.  We do not like being around people who make us feel uneasy and uncomfortable.  And, we certainly do not like being around people who are completely different from us.  We often disagree and find it challenging to find common ground.

Jesus did not let barriers like this stop Him from reaching out.  He reached out to people we would avoid.  He touched people we stay far away from.  He had compassion on people that we would probably judge.  He reached out and He loved.  He associated with sinners and He loved lost sheep. 

The next few verses talk about how Jesus goes after lost sheep because they matter.  He would leave the 99 to find the 1 because that 1 totally matters.

I find it absolutely amazing that people who were lost and in sin were attracted to Jesus.  They were amazed that He took time to reach out to them. 

Do we associate with sinners?  Jesus associates with us, and we are sinners.  He calls us to associate with others without barriers.  That is challenging and tough, but that is our mission. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

He IS Peace


“He IS Peace”
By Zach Wood
John 14:27 NLT
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be trouble or afraid. 

After reading this passage the other day for my morning devotional time, I thought about all the worries, concerns and things I have been anxious about lately in my life.  As I pondered this passage, I prayed to God for peace. 

Perhaps I’m not alone with this feeling?  Do some of you need peace in your life right now because of all the worries, concerns and anxious thoughts?  I think it is safe to say that most of us have lives full of challenges, whatever they may be.  We seem to find ourselves consumed every day with so many concerns, worries and anxious thoughts. 

I have to admit that I have always been one to worry and be anxious about things that haven’t even happened.  I struggle often with the “What if?” questions.  I really wish I was a person who didn’t worry and become anxious, but we all have bad habits that we wish didn’t consume us.

This passage was a great reminder to me that I need His peace more than ever.  I not only need His peace, but I need to learn to let go of trying to control life with my worry and anxious thoughts and just rest in Him.  I wrestle often with worries and concerns about being a Godly husband, father and servant as well as health and financial concerns. 

I am so thankful that I read this passage because I really needed it!  I’m wondering if many of you are also feeling chaos in life because you are weighted down by the worries and concerns of life?  The more we worry and become anxious, the more we become stressed out.  We all know that feeling and it is not fun. 

I would like to share a prayer with you as I end.  I hope it brings comfort to you and some ideas of how you can continue to pray and lift worries and concerns to Him. 

God, I need Your peace right now to calm my fears, worries, concerns and anxious thoughts.  You not only give peace, but You are peace.  Only You can give me the peace I need to get through the challenges I am experiencing in life.  God, please fill me with a peace that the world cannot give me.  Let me be totally consumed with Your peace that can calm my soul.  I don’t want to worry, be afraid, be concerned or be overwhelmed with anxiety.  Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, please give me a peace of mind and heart so that I can learn to better submit to You and surrender everything so that I am not holding on to these things.  Help me to rest in Your peace. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Love In A Land Of Confusion


“Love In A Land Of Confusion
By Zach Wood
1 John 4:9-12 NLT
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

In 1986, Genesis came out with the song “Land Of Confusion”.  There are many songs Phil Collins sings that I enjoy listening to and I can thank my brother for getting me into the sound of his music.

Here is the chorus of this song:

There's too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see this is a land of confusion.
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

Great words here and Genesis band said it well!  This explains well what this world needs.  We live in a land of confusion for sure!  So many people need to know the love of Christ and we, as the church, need to share this love with them.  God has given us gifts, talents and abilities to go out and do something about this confusion.  People are confused by what they see in life and they desperately need and want to see something real. 

The world needs to see real love lived out in people who are being real in Christ.  Friends, we need to show this real love in our lives for people who are living in a land of confusion.  Too often, we have become the problem causing confusion with our fighting and self-centered ways.  If we are truly going to be the church that God wants us to be, we need to work together to do our best to make this a place worth living in. 

We not only need to show this love to the lost, but also toward each other in the body of Christ.  The world needs to see us loving one another as well as sharing that love with them. 

This world needs to see God’s love in a land of confusion.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Show Me Lord, Please


“Show Me Lord, Please”
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.

I remember when I was growing up and would ask questions to my mom, dad, brother, grandparents and others how to do things.  I would try on my own several times, but then realize that I needed direction.  After a few times of failure, I knew that I needed someone to show me how a task was done who had actual experience doing it. 

It makes sense, doesn’t it?  If you don’t know how to do something, you find someone with the experience who knows how to go about doing the task you are trying to complete.  You wouldn’t ask someone who doesn’t know.  You seek out someone with wisdom and knowledge to do the task you desire.  We know we need to seek out someone who understands the task at hand and will know how to guide you through it. 

When we seek out the person, we often approach them and say, “Can you show me how to do this, please?”  This is usually after we give up on trying on our own and bring in someone who knows what to do.  After we have suffered so many failures trying to figure it out, we consult someone and trust the person to help us. 

The very same goes in our relationship with God.  So often, we desperately try to do things on our own without His help.  We try so hard to do life on our own and with our own understanding.  I couldn’t even tell you the number of times I have tried things on my own through my life and have failed.  I failed because I didn’t ask for help.  I should have asked.  I am reminded so often now that God wants me to seek Him out and simply ask, “Show me Lord, please”. 

I think God truly desires us to come to a point where we just throw our hands up, surrender and just ask Him to take over.  He is waiting for us to stop relying on our strength and, instead, to rely on Him alone. 

We need to let go of our pride and realize our desperate need for Him and come to Him.  He won’t ever treat us like we’re dumb or stupid for not figuring it out.  He won’t give us a hard time.  He will love us, open His arms to us and welcome our desire to have Him show us the way. 

We simply need to say, “Show me Lord, please”.