Wednesday, June 13, 2018
“From Bad To Not-So-Bad”
By Zach Wood
1 Thessalonians 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
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”
By Zach Wood
2 Thessalonians 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.
Sunday, May 6, 2018
“Discipline: Painful, But Necessary”
By Zach Wood
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
All of us have come from different upbringing backgrounds as far as how we were disciplined. Every family does it differently for sure. Some of us experienced some pretty harsh circumstances when it came to being disciplined for things we did wrong. Others experienced less drastic and more reasonable punishments. There are so many different ways to discipline and most of us have experienced our fair share as we grew up.
I remember being disciplined when I was young. Whether it be my mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, a teacher or someone else who was in authority over me at any given time, I remember unpleasant times of being told I was doing something wrong and having to suffer a consequence for it. I often remember pleading often, “Please don’t do it! I promise I’ll never do it again!” I think I remember those words coming out of my mouth often. That pleading didn’t get me very far because the person giving out the punishment knew I needed to learn.
“Learn” is the key word here. We all want to learn, but sometimes we really learn best through our times of discipline. We all remember a time or times when we learned a very hard lesson and it was painful to experience, whether we were spanked, grounded from going somewhere or had something taken away from us. I remember times when I was disciplined and did not like it at all, but looking back later on, I was very appreciative someone took the opportunity to set me straight and give me a hard lesson.
God loves us very much, and because He does so, He also gives us hard lessons of discipline at times. We often plead with God, but He knows that so much good and learning will come from the discipline. We will learn and often those times are when we learn the most. When Paul received his “thorn” in the flesh, he pleaded for God to take it away. But God said “No” and said His grace was sufficient.
We don’t like to hear that. We want God take to take away our problems and our pain so often. We want to learn and grow, but we want it without the pain of discipline and punishment. It doesn’t work that way. Parents discipline to train children and God disciplines to also train us. It’s inevitable and for our own good. God wants to strengthen us to become better followers and to develop our faith more.
God’s discipline helps to build our character.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
“My Help Comes From ________”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 121:1-2 NIV
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
We all long to receive wisdom through our lives. As we grow up through childhood, our parents and other family members help to teach us things we need to learn. We also receive instructions and learning from teachers at school. As we continue to grow through our lives, we learn valuable lessons from various people that we come into contact with.
Some people we meet give us bad advice, while others give us great advice. We are always searching for insight and direction in life. It is wonderful to gain insight and wisdom from people who care enough to love on us and share with us valuable life experiences to help us avoid the same pain and mistakes.
We not only look to people for wisdom and insight, but often we end up looking to worldly things for insight and direction. We often turn to many things for help, other than God, when times get tough. We turn so often to temporary happiness through worldly promises that end up becoming an epic fail. This often brings pain, and sometimes tragedy, into our lives. We are desperate to grab onto something that brings temporary help. So often these things just provide a band-aid solution to our problems and don’t give us the long-term help we need.
I am so guilty of turning to earthly sources of wisdom instead of turning to what God tells me and how He wants to directs me. We need to be honest and examine our lives and fill in this blank, “My help comes from __________.” Where does our help come from? What are we putting our hope in? Where are we turning to? Who are we going to? What are we going to? What do we rely on most? What instant satisfaction do we turn to when stressful times come?
The answers may make us cringe. Is God really our true source of help in all times of need? We often answer “Yes” right away, but if we’re completely honest, He is often not Who we go to first. We have so many opportunities and temptations at our disposal to turn to when we need help. However, the only true and wisest source we can go to is God. We shouldn’t rely on our own ideas and what we know. We must turn to Almighty God. Most of us are fortunate to have good and trusting family and friends who will share Godly insight and advice to us suggesting that we pray and ask God for complete wisdom.
Who or what is your true source of help? Every day, I am praying that God will be my only source of help. I want to listen and be attentive to Him and not turn to the worldly ways of temporary help.
Wisdom and advice from others is beneficial, but our main source needs to always be God.
Sunday, April 1, 2018
“Hold Tight And Trust In Him”
By Zach Wood
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
We hold tightly onto many things. Some things we hold onto a little tighter than others because of how important they are. We hold tight to our kids when surrounded by a large crowd and when there is a lot of traffic so that they don’t get lost or hurt. We hold tight to something fragile if we are surrounded by moving objects or other people that could bump into us causing them to fall.
Kids certainly hold tight to parents when something scary is surrounding them or they feel a certain fear of their surroundings. They don’t want to let go. They feel secure as long as the parent is holding on. We like to be secure and we like to feel secure about things we hold close. We want to protect and keep from harm.
In this passage, we see a call to persevere. We are told to hold close to the hope and faith we have in Christ because He can be trusted. There are a lot of things in this life that offer promises, but we know that only Christ can truly be trusted to keep His promise. We can trust Him especially because He died for us on the Cross, was buried and then rose from the dead to conquer death! He is alive and fully worthy of being trusted.
Now, let me be clear that trusting in Christ is not to say that we will have a trouble-free or pain-free life. Holding onto Him and trusting in Him does not mean there will not be times in life when our faith and trust in Him is not tested. It sure will be! I have heard so many stories and examples of people who have trusted in Christ, but then when hard times come, they give up and lose faith claiming that God does not love them or is not with them.
God never once said “In this life, you will never have problems and life will be filled with easy times. “ God never said this and never will. We are guaranteed there will be troubles and problems. However, just as Christ has overcome troubles, we also can over come through Him.
Out of all the years I have been a Christian, I am so very thankful I have God in my life because I know I would have given up on life long before now if I did not have God to trust. I have gone through some pretty tough times where I doubted and my faith was really put to the test. Even recent times in my life, I have had those tests and it became hard. However, all that God has done in my past taught me to hold on and stay faithful. It is hard when things do not make any sense and to keep going. But, stay faithful and hold tight to Him, no matter what!
Let us hold tight to the hope we have in God because He truly can be trusted.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
“The Ultimate Desire”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 27:4 NIV
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
For the past couple of months, our pastor has been going through various passages in Ecclesiastes and it has been opening my eyes to the fact that so many things I chase after in life are completely meaningless in themselves. In the past many years of my life, I have found myself chasing one thing after another, hoping to find true meaning. Solomon chased after so much and finally concluded that apart from God, any other longing or chasing is absolutely meaningless.
As I have continued to think about this over and over again, I am realizing how desperately more I really need God to lead me and to rescue me from my attempts to so often follow my own desires. I truly want my desire to be nothing but seeking God every day and doing the best I can to surrender and submit to His ways and His plan for my life.
I guess I sort of feel like Solomon in that I have chased after so many different things in life and just always come up dry. I think this or that will satisfy, but as David says, he wants to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. And, as Solomon found out, everything else apart from chasing God, is utterly meaningless.
Through the various personal journeys I have been on in the past years, I’m discovering more and more that God is teaching me to draw near and close to Him. He allows me to realize the ways I go on my own leave me out of breath and gasping for Him. Only He can truly satisfy me. I’ve found myself in the valleys and on the mountaintops at times. But I can truly say that I learn the most when I’m in the valleys and that’s where I find myself longing more and more for Him. My ultimate desire for Him grows and I just want more!
What is your ultimate desire? What do you find yourself chasing after so much? We all have to admit that we chase after a lot other than God in our lives. We find ourselves chasing after marketing promises of different things that promise to satisfy, but then only leave us so very thirsty for more.
I want to share with you all that my ultimate desire is to do nothing but chase after Him and gaze up on Him. I know only He will satisfy and provide ultimate fulfillment. Like David and Solomon, they both came to realize that nothing else is meaningful except being fulfilled by God and Him alone. I want God to create within me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Everything in life, apart from God, is absolutely meaningless.