Monday, November 20, 2017

Stop & Think Before We Ruin

“Stop & Think Before We Ruin”
By Zach Wood
Proverbs 13:13 NLT
Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.

There is not a single one of us reading this that doesn’t desire to have a long, fulfilling life, right?  We all want to live a very fulfilling life, making the most of all opportunities that come along.  We don’t want to do something or say something in our lives each day that messes things up.  However, this is exactly what many of us do without thinking often times.

There are many Scriptures that refer to us making wise choices in the words we use and how we say things to others.  Jesus taught us many things about how we use words and so did the Apostle Paul.  There were also others who mentioned how important it is for us to use words cautiously. 

I don’t think we realize sometimes enough how important it is for us to carefully choose the words we say to others.  We have all been hurt by some else’s words, but we have also hurt others by using words of our own as well.  Have you ever walked into a room or called someone on the phone only to say something you wish you’d never said?  Who hasn’t??? 

This is a powerful passage encouraging us to use our words wisely.  The second part of this passage should echo in our hearts and minds every single day as a warning for us to stop and think before we ruin a conversation or seriously hurt someone’s feelings.  So much can happen when we don’t think about what we say before the words come out. 

Every day, as I begin my day, I pray that God will use me to show His love to others I work with and anyone I come into contact with.  I pray that God will use my words to encourage.  However, I so often mess things up and don’t think before I speak.  How so often I find myself saying things that ruin a situation or make things awkward.  I try not to, but it happens.  And, I’m sure most of you do the same things as well. 

We all need to be wiser with our words, especially when we find ourselves in a heated situation and get frustrated.  It’s so easy to let words fly that we don’t mean and say things we will very soon regret. 

My prayer is that we will all stop and think before we ruin someone’s day or seriously hurt someone’s feelings.  Instead, let us stop and think and then do our best to encourage.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Willingness Without Hesitation

“Willingness Without Hesitation”
By Zach Wood
Isaiah 6:6-8 NIV
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Last week I shared about Isaiah’s experience coming into the very presence of God and how reacted to that encounter.  That was the first part of what happened and this week, I would like to continue with what happened after that.  Not only did Isaiah become completely humbled and realize how unclean he was in the presence of Almighty God, but what happened next is even better.

After Isaiah realized and confessed how wretched he was before a Holy God, his sin was atoned for and he was forgiven.  That is so cool that he was forgiven and became clean before God.  And then, what happens next is astounding when God asks him, “Whom shall I sent?  And who will go for us?

How does Isaiah respond to this?  He says what every single one of us should always say without hesitation when God asks us and calls us to do something.  Isaiah says, “Here am I.  Send me!”  Isn’t that incredible?  Isaiah doesn’t seem to hesitate in his response, at least from what we see here.  Many of us, if not most, would most likely give excuses back to God. 

I don’t know God, let me think a day or two on this and I’ll get back to you!”
“Why don’t you pick someone else who is better qualified to take this on?”
“I got a lot going on right now, God.  Maybe in the next week or month?”

We seem to always make excuses when God calls us to do something, especially something that makes us uncomfortable.  I heard a phrase many years ago and I don’t recall who I heard it from, but I remember hearing someone in ministry say, “Our response to God should always be ‘First God, my answer is yes.  Second, where do You want me to go and what do You want me to do?”

Could you imagine how life would be if we all told God that?  Wow!  I can only imagine how much more adventurous our lives would become if we would just completely surrender everything to God and hold nothing back and tell God, like Isaiah did, that we will go and do.  If we would only be willing to go and do whatever God leads us to.  Life would be so different! 

My hope and prayer is that we all consider our willingness to say yes to God no matter where He leads.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

I Can Only Imagine

“I Can Only Imagine”
By Zach Wood
Isaiah 6:1-5 NIV
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

A couple of weeks ago our pastor mentioned this passage in his sermon and as he talked about Isaiah’s experience, it got me thinking about how I would react and how I would feel if I were in his shoes.  What would I saw and how would I handle this kind of encounter? 

I think about all the times when I come before God in my quiet times and how I address Him and what all I say as I pray.  Do I make my prayer times all about what I want and what I think I need or am I totally focused on the greatness of God and realize what I am without Him?

Isaiah came before God and he was brought to his knees and realized how very unclean he was.  Does that happen to us when we come before God?  Are we so focused on Him that we realize more and more how unworthy we are without Him in our lives?  Do we see the filth that is in our lives and that we desperately daily need His blood to wash us clean? 

Do we come before Him so flippantly and not even consider all His greatness?  Do we just throw our requests at Him and expect Him to move mountains in our time and in our way of thinking?  If we’re honest, we really do.

Remember “I Can Only Imagine”?  MercyMe became a very popular group, both in Christian music and in mainstream music, with this song.  It really made people, and still does, stop and think about what they would do if they were face to face with God.  What would we do?  How would we react?  What would we say?  Would we stand?  Would we fall to our knees?  Could we speak at all? 

I hope that this week and beyond we will all consider the greatness of coming before our God Who is so Almighty and being in total awe of Who He is.  I pray also that His greatness would cause us to see how unclean we are and how desperately we truly need Him, every moment of every day.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

It Was Very Personal

“It Was Very Personal”
By Zach Wood
1 Peter 2:24 NLT
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  By his wounds you are healed.

There’s nothing like the feeling of someone doing something personally for you.  Whatever the situation was, we have all had people in our lives that took the time to do something specific for us, whether it was a favor asked of us or something that was done as a surprise.  When someone does something specifically for us, we feel very important and special. 

Maybe a friend or family member drove hundreds of miles to be with you for a special day or event?  Perhaps someone you hadn’t seen for many years came to visit you in the hospital because they heard you had surgery or were sick?  Or someone took the time to help you when you had car problems?  There are endless scenarios we could bring up where someone did something for someone else and it wasn’t expected. 

Whether someone does something for you, coming to make a visit or making something specifically for you, there is no describing how that makes you feel.  It’s a feeling of appreciation and can make us very emotional just being overwhelmed by the love and care of that person.  These are wonderful moments each of us have appreciated and never forget. 

We all love when things are done on our behalf.  We don’t necessarily feel special when we received a mass mailing in our mailbox or when we receive a mass e-mail list.  If someone takes the time to send us a message, or make a phone call or send us a text personally, we feel so much more important.

Let’s consider what Jesus Christ did for each one of us.  I really like how the New Living Translation expresses this passage.  Jesus “personally” carried our sins to the cross.  By His wounds we are healed.  Do we even understand what He did for us?  It was the most special act of love anyone could ever do for us.  He died for you and for me.  We were on His mind.  He knew we needed Him and He was willing to give up everything so that we could have Him.

He did the most personal thing anyone could and will ever do.  As great as it is to have people we care about and love do unexpected things for us personally, nothing could ever be greater than the personal sacrifice that Jesus made for us. 

Nothing in all the world could be more personal than what God did for us on the Cross.  Amazing!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Daily Recharge/Refuel

“Daily Recharge/Refuel”
By Zach Wood
Luke 6:12 NIV
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Here is one passage among so many we find in the New Testament where Jesus goes away to plug in to recharge his batteries, so to speak.  He always makes it a point to recharge with His Father, daily.

The past few weeks, I have been thinking about how we spend so much time and attention recharging our electronic devices so that we stay recharged and informed.  We live in a world now where using mobile devices is constant for many of us.  Whether it’s our smartphones, tablets, smart watches or apple watches, we want to make sure they are fully charged for us to stay connected. 

I have always been a geek for these devices and enjoy using them, probably too much sometimes.  If my smartphone gets low on battery, I want to make sure I’m close to a way to recharge it, whether the wall charger or car charger.  If it’s the tablet, I want to make sure I get it charged to use it on full strength. 

How about our vehicles?  We have to keep fuel in them to keep them going, don’t we?  Do you think we would go very far if we just let our tanks run on empty for days?  It wouldn’t happen!  We would run out of gas!  We would have to refuel in order to keep the vehicle going.  Same thing with our devices.  If the battery dies, we have to charge it to keep using it.  None of us would even think of letting our batteries or fuel tanks go uncharged or go empty.  That would be absurd!

I cannot help but think of how we so often focus so much attention on making sure we keep our vehicles fueled and our devices charged, but then we go so long without filling up our spiritual charge with God.  Jesus went away so much to recharge and refuel with His Father because He knew He needed to reconnect.  How sad so often we don’t even think twice about a day or a week or even a month or more and barely crack open our Bible or even pray much.  We are all so guilty of this. 

Friends, we MUST recharge and refuel daily with God in order to keep our lives going.  How in the world do we expect our walk of faith to grow if we don’t stay recharged and refueled?  It won’t happen!  I’m so guilty of not taking the time I need to fully recharge and refuel with my Father.  I could always take time to pray more and seek Him more.  I need Him more and so do all of you. 

We all need a daily recharge and refuel time with God.  We simply cannot expect to let our spiritual tanks run dry and grow in our faith.  We must connect with Him more.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How Often We Forget

“How Often We Forget”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 119:89-94 NLT
Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven.  Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.  Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans.  If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery.  I will never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life.  I am yours; rescue me!  For I have worked hard at obeying your commandments.

We often forget how powerful things are in life.  When we mess with wiring in the wrong way, we often forget how powerful electricity is.  When we are caught in or watching a thunderstorm, we often forget how powerful a bolt of lightning and crash of thunder can be.  When we are standing in the ocean and are suddenly taken underwater by a wave that crested behind us, we forget how powerful a surge of water can be. 

We so often tend to forget the power of some things in life until it is too late.  There are powerful things that can hurt us and if we forget to handle those things in a certain way, it could be disastrous.  We just need to realize the power of things and how they can affect us.

In the same way, we so often forget the importance of the great powerful of Almighty God.  We so often tend to take for granted how amazing He is.  The power of God is greater and more impacting than anything on earth we could ever imagine. 

I don’t know how many of you watch the Weather Channel, but it’s one of my favorite channels to watch.  The shows of severe weather and the crazy stories of weather caught on camera around the world is so intriguing to me!  I just can’t get enough of it!  I really enjoy those shows because of the powerful impact weather can have on things around us.  However, no matter how powerful a storm seems to be, there is no greater power that could ever be displayed than God’s power. 

Nothing in the world compares to His mighty power and all that He can do.  By God’s very power, He gives us life and He asks us to obey His commands. However, how often we forget how wonderful and powerful He is and we live our lives the way we want to.  We must not take for granted His amazing power and faithfulness to us.  He is greater than any power this world can ever behold.  Let us never forget!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Will You Still Praise Him?

“Will You Still Praise 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.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the 2006 movie of “Facing The Giants”?  In the movie, a football coach of a Christian school is faced with many challenges, one of which is he and his wife cannot have children.  They are considerably hurt and frustrated over this, but they choose to trust in God no matter what He brings to their lives.  In one scene, the husband says, “If you don’t want me to have children, so be it.  I will still trust in You”.  Then, toward the end of the movie, the wife goes for one more pregnancy test at the clinic and says, “I will still trust in You”. 

In both situations, the husband and wife both put their trust completely in God even if things don’t come out the way they hope and pray for them to.  I’ve been thinking about that scene lately and just how things happen in life.  When things go good and prayers are answered in ways that please us, we’re happy.  However, when God doesn’t move in certain ways or keeps us from certain things that end up confusing us, the question is will we still trust in Him? 

God is our refuge and our strength no matter what is happening in our lives, good or bad.  He often does things we don’t understand and we must learn to totally trust Him even when life just doesn’t make any sense.  And, often times, it won’t. 

The times that I have found to be most frustrating is when it feels like nothing at all is moving forward and it seems God is not leading or opening any doors of opportunity.  Even thought we know we should trust Him, it’s often very hard to do and we get angry with Him.  It’s in these times that we must hold firm to the faith we have and believe with all our hearts that He is still working even if we cannot feel it.  He is always working and He will lead and guide.

What’s most important is for us to keep our minds and hearts open at all times to His leading.  He knows exactly what He’s doing and we just have to be still and trust.  I want to encourage each of you who are experiencing frustrating right now to hold on and trust always.  He is always on the move and working and most likely in ways you don’t see and don’t understand. 

Trust and continue to praise Him.