Monday, September 19, 2016

Focused On Life Above

“Focused On Life Above”
By Zach Wood
Colossians 3:1-4 NLT
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.   For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

We do a lot of thinking every single day, don’t we?  From the time we get up in the morning to the time we lay our heads down to rest, we are constantly thinking.  We think about a lot all through the day.  We think about what to eat for breakfast, what to wear for school or work, what needs accomplished at our jobs and in class, what to eat for lunch, what plans we need to make for dinner.  We could go on and on and on about all that we think about each day. 

We think about so much stuff in a single day’s time.  I wonder what it would be like if we could watch a timeline of our thoughts all through the day.  What would that look like?  For many of us, it would probably be a bit shocking and somewhat scary to see all that we think about each day.  Maybe we might even be a bit embarrassed if not really embarrassed! 

As I was reading this passage last week from a daily devotional thought that I receive each day, it really got me thinking about what I focus my thoughts on each day.  I do think about a lot of things.  I have to admit that I think a lot about earthly things.  I think about things I would like to do, things I want and why certain things won’t or don’t happen for me.  Even though I have been richly blessed by God in so many ways, I still have so many selfish thoughts.

I’m sure all of you think about similar things whether you want to admit that or not.  Think for a few moments about your life in Christ.  We have so many Scripture references in the NT that describe how our thoughts should be like Christ always.  But you and I both know that doesn’t happen as often as it should.  We often think about what will make us happy.  We set our sights on things of this earth and not heavenly things. 

We are to set our sights and thoughts on Christ alone.  As we go through each day, whether we are at school or our jobs, we need to be constantly thinking how we can please God and how we can be a true servant.  Our life is now in God and we need to strive more to think of heavenly things and ways that we can bless others instead of so often being focused on ourselves. 

As we live each day, let us strive more to set our minds on Christ and be more aware of what He wants for us to do and what He wants for us to think about each day.  We have been raised to a new life in Christ!  Let’s truly live like we mean it!

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Greatest Rescue!

“The Greatest Rescue!”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 13:5-6 NLT
But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.  I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

Have you ever been through situation where you have been rescued?  Maybe you were trapped in a car and trained people came to pull you out.  Maybe you had a bad experience in a pool, lake or ocean somewhere and someone had to jump in to save you.  Maybe you’ve found yourself at some point behind bars and someone cared enough to bail you out and mentor you to not make the same mistake again.

Not everyone has had these extreme situations in their life in which someone had to rescue them from near death or from a place that might keep them locked up for years.  However, everyone one of us has had an experience or many of them where someone else rescued us from some situation that could have turned very bad and got us back up and going on the right path.

We all make bad choices in life, no doubt about that.  Isn’t it wonderful that we all have friends and family who have, at one point or another, taken time to help us get through a tough situation? Whether it was a situation in which we intentionally made a bad choice or if it was something we were unaware of that took us by surprise and they helped us?

No matter what the situation, I hope that we have been grateful to these wonderful people who have shown such love and concern for our lives.  We definitely owe tribute to these people who care enough to help. 

Again, we have all made bad choices in life.  When I read the passage above, I realize there are so many times in life that I forget how great of a rescue that Jesus Christ went through to save me and put me on the right path.  His love is truly unfailing and His gift of salvation to me is the greatest thing I could have ever accepted. 

What I need to remember most of all is how grateful I should be each and every day for His ultimate rescue of my life from eternal death.  He saved me from my sin, even though I deserve so much worse!  He has covered me in His blood and forgiven me.  In return, each day, I need to sing His praise and proclaim all He has done every opportunity I get.  I fail at this so often, but I am reminded each day that God is with me and helping me to become better. 

Jesus Christ has performed the greatest rescue ever known to mankind!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wherever, Whenever, However

“Wherever, Whenever, However”
By Zach Wood
Colossians 3:23-24 NIV
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

We just got done a couple weeks ago watching Olympians from all over the globe compete in the Olympics.  I was and always am amazed to watch the talent and abilities of all participants who perform.  It is fascinating to watch them do what they do at such high precision.  I often explain to my daughter, Jayda, that these Olympians practice and practice and practice.  They practice so much to prepare for these games ahead of time.  So much preparation, more than we realize, goes into preparing.  They work so hard.

What I think about with these athletes is how much they prepare off the camera when most people don’t see them.  They are practicing for hours, days, weeks, years.  So much commitment goes into their dedication to be the best they can be.  Their attitude and ability can take them very far.  They know they need to be on their game at all times.  They need to watch their diet, their lifestyle and more.  They must be totally dedicated and committed to preparing and keep their focus.

The Apostle Paul encourages us that no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, we need to do our very best however we can.  Just like the participants in the Olympics train and train and train, we must realize we are also in a training mode each and every day as we continue to learn, focus and rely on Christ to be our lead.  No matter where we are, we need to be on our best behavior and be doing the absolute best we can in servant hood.  Are we as dedicated in our walk with God as these athletes are in their determination to continue moving forward? 

One thing I really enjoy is when we see and hear participants giving glory to God for their talent and abilities.  That is so awesome!  We need that same attitude as we strive to serve God each and every day.  We need to be doing our best wherever, whenever and however we can.  Living each moment of each day doing our very, very best to serve God. 

It is imperative that we focus on giving our absolute best in our service to God, no matter where we are and what we are doing.  Why would we give Him anything less than our best?  Will we mess up?  Of course!  But, we get back up and press on!  Remember, we are ultimately working for the Lord, not for man.  Let us give Him our best, wherever, whenever and however!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Building Wisely

“Building Wisely”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 7:24-27 NIV
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Last week, as I was out on my afternoon walk break at work, I was thinking of all the work that goes into not only my company, but with companies in general all over the world.  Most people in companies work very hard to make things right in what they do.  No matter what work environment, people work hard to crunch numbers and they spend endless hours making invoice numbers match purchase orders.  There is often so much work making absolutely sure that our work is completely up to par. 

As I continued to think about all the hard work that we put into our jobs, I could not help but be heartbroken to ask myself why I don’t put as much effort into my relationship with Christ.  I am ashamed to think of how much effort I will put into my job to make sure my numbers match, but then slack in giving my utmost to God.  I often put in so much energy and effort into doing the best I can for my employer, but then I have the mentality of “It’s good enough” into my relationship and effort to serve God. 

I often wonder how it must break God’s heart for Him to look down upon us, the children He created, and see us working so hard at building our earthly house upon sand instead of building a solid house on a firm rock foundation.  Who in their right mind would even think of building a house on sand and expecting that to last?  We wouldn’t even consider just throwing up some wood, pounding a few nails into it and calling it “good”.  A house is built with wisdom of those who know how to build a house.  We pay people good money to build houses with firm foundations.

God wants us to be wise in how we live our lives.  Are we living our lives by focusing on how we are living for Him or are we more concerned about the earthly pursuits we have?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s imperative that we do our best in all we do in life.  But what I am saying is that we often pour so much more time and effort into what we do here on earth that we spend less time actually building wisely into our families, our spiritual lives and investing time in other people’s lives.  We do a little for God and we say, “Eh, it’s good enough”.

God sent Jesus Christ to die for us.  He gave his best.  We owe it to Him to live our lives wisely and give Him our very best.  Building wisely.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Need To Stand Out

“The Need To Stand Out”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 5:14-16
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.

Whether we are driving down the road, taking a walk, going to run errands or visiting with friends and family, we always seem to find something that really catches our attention.  Whether it be a sign on the road, a landmark that is decorated or someone dressed in a costume, it catches our attention.  We all have something that easily catches our attention and draws our concentration away from everything else.

Many times while we are driving to different places around town or out of town, we will see one of those old time cars drive by.  We quickly get our girl’s attention and we all gaze upon the stylish looking vehicle.  It’s fun to see those cars. 

There are so many things that look different that seem to catch our attention.  Why is that?  Because it’s something that looks different.  It stands out.  It’s easily noticeable.  It draws our attention away from everything else.  We are captivated by what we see.  It brings a smile to our face and a sense of awe to our senses to see something that is really cool looking.  It’s out of the norm.  It’s unique.

There are certain things that stand out and draw attention just because they are different.  They’re not normal sightings.  They capture attention. 

I can’t help but think this is exactly how Jesus wants us to be in our life with Christ.  We shouldn’t be like the rest of the crowd. We shouldn’t be just like everyone else.  When people see us walk through the crowd, when they see us interacting with others, they should see something different and very unique.  They shouldn’t be the same old, same old.  When they look at us, they should notice something different and out of the ordinary. 

With Christ living in us, we should shine a light for others to see.  What we do should stand out from the rest of the world.  God has called us to be unique and to stand out from the rest.  There should be something very different about the way we live our life.  In this world we live in today, there is a great need to stand out and be different than the rest.  God calls us to stand out and shine our light so that others know there is something different.  That in turn will eventually compel them to ask what is so different about us. 

God needs us to stand out.  Are we willing to be different?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Constantly Loving & Faithful

“Constantly Loving & Faithful”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 117 NLT
Praise the Lord, all you nations.  Praise him, all you people of the earth.  For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.

Most of us notice many changing things every single day.  Whether we are going with our family somewhere, going to work, out on a walk or somewhere else, we notice changing things. 

I don’t have a long drive to my job each day, but one thing I notice each day is the gas prices.  I have to laugh, both at the gas prices and at myself because I react to them.  Sometimes I say, “Oh sure, there they go up even higher!” when other times I say in a surprised voice, “Wow, they went back down!”  We all know there’s nothing consistent about gas prices other than they’re constantly inconsistent.

I notice a lot of other things throughout my day, whether I am driving, at my workplace, at home with my family or other places.  It seems no matter where I go or what I am doing, I notice something that constantly changes.  Ads and products are always changing.  Weather is always changing.  Fads are always changing.  Technology is always changing. 

I could go on and on about all that changes.  It’s like I can’t rely on anything to stay the same.  No matter what, something is always changing around me.  Sometimes, it really drives me crazy because I’d like to see something stay consistent. 

While things are changing all the time around me, it is such a great encouragement to know that each day I wake, God is always the same.  His unfailing love never fails me and it never changes.  He doesn’t love me less or love me more.  He doesn’t change His condition on loving me.  His faithfulness isn’t different today than from yesterday.  I’m so thankful that I can totally and completely rely on His promise to always be faithful and loving to me no matter what. 

Friends, I want to encourage you all with this Psalm.  We can praise God each day because He is unchanging.  His love never fails.  He will always remain the same.  He is always faithful no matter what.  Even when times are tough and life seems unbearable, His love endures.

Praise Him today and every day for His unending love and faithfulness! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Speak Love

“Speak Love”
By Zach Wood
Proverbs 3:13 NIV
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

We have all done it.  Every one of us has had a day when it seems like no matter what we say, it gets us into trouble somehow.  We have all had days that we treat our spouses, our kids, other family, loved ones and friends with terrible words that hurt.  It’s not that we mean to start our day with the intention of hurting others, but it just happens.

There are some days when nothing but positive things come out of our mouths.  Then, there are days when it seems like nothing but insults and criticisms flow.  There are days for many of us that either we have thought of using vulgar language toward someone, we mutter it quietly, or we lash out with it to someone around us.  Before we know it, we’ve changed the other person’s view of us at that moment. 

You wouldn’t be human if you’ve never had a day where you said something you regret.  I think of the past 40 years of my life and all the things that I have said to others.  I hope and pray that I’ve encouraged more than I’ve discouraged.  But I’m sure that I’ve said some pretty rotten and nasty things to people that have hurt deeply.  I am human and sometimes I have some pretty rancid thoughts and feelings toward others.  I pray that God would not only change my words about them, but my heart attitude toward them as well.

This proverb is powerful.  Those who work hard to guard what they say will bring wonders to their life.  I think sometimes we grow the most when we “bite our tongue” when we could say something really harsh toward another and, instead, speak words of love.  When we let our words fly, so often we regret what we have said in the heat of a discussion. 

Friends, our words are heavy.  They can either be heavy to encourage or to discourage.  Which do you want to do?  Do you want to bring ruin to your conversations or do you want to light conversations up with your encouragement and love of God?  Do you want to completely restore someone in a conversation or do you want to completely destroy their feelings? 

It is amazing what our words do.  I want to encourage all of us that we need to work harder and pray more that God would guard our lips so that love will flow from us.  Wherever we are, whatever we are doing and anything we say should show that we truly love God.