Sunday, September 17, 2017

Not A Solo Battle

“Not A Solo Battle
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

Most of us want to feel confident in doing things by ourselves and on our own.  It’s a great feeling when we can conquer things in life by ourselves.  When we learn to do things on our own and be independent in making decisions without first having to consult someone else before hand, it can make us feel pretty good.  This is where we can gain advances in our jobs and in certain situations where people come to trust us more to make good decisions. 

Now, while it’s great to accomplish things on our own, we bleed this mentality right into our lives in Christ.  We read His Word and build up our faith for a while and then, for some reason, we get the idea that we can do this battle on our own.  We get a little full of ourselves and think, “I got this!”  Only then we usually find ourselves falling flat on our face in various ways because we stopped consulting God before going gung-ho on our plans.

While it is absolutely wonderful that we can accomplish some things on our own, we must also remember that God gives us the abilities to do these things and He brings us into situations where He waits to see if we will still consult Him or take on the challenges all alone.  From personal experience, and I’m sure from yours as well, we come to find out often the hard way that we should have consulted God instead of plugging away all by ourselves. 

It’s like we’re telling God, “I got this, Lord.  I mean, I know You are God and my Savior and all, but really I can do this on my own.”  Why in the world do we think we can handle life’s challenges all alone sometimes?  We are in a spiritual battle every day and we simply cannot fight the battles alone.  We will suffer and we will eventually lose.  We think we can do it on our own, but we simply cannot.  

When we get full of ourselves and think we don’t need God, the enemy has a sly and nasty way of coming at us full force and landing us right on our face or back.  He beats us down and laughs at us. If we would have just put the armor of God on and let Him fight for us and with us, things would have turned out differently.

In what ways in my life am I battling alone?  In what ways in your life are you battling all by yourself?  Consider this during the week and days that follow.  This is a battle you definitely want and need God with you through.  

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Spotlight On Him

“Spotlight On Him”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 115:1 NIV
Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

For so many of us, we have enjoyed time after time the instances where the spotlight went to us for various reasons.  Perhaps you won first place in a sporting event in school and you got to stand on the #1 podium.  Maybe you won the grand prize for a drawing you entered.  Whatever the case may be, there was most likely a time and place where you won first and the spotlight was on you for period of time.  Who doesn’t like those times, really?  I think we would all admit we sometimes like the attention put on us for one reason or another.  We want to feel important for whatever reason. 

As I think through all of the years the various times I’ve had the spotlight turned on me, I can remember the hype and excitement that ran through me.  It didn’t last too terribly long, but I know that I have told about those times at gatherings and parties.  I’m sure you have as well.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these moments for a time, but sometimes we sure can get carried away and continue to bring the spotlight back on ourselves too much.  After a while, people get really tired of others who always want the spotlight.

This passage rings true in my life and I’m sure it does for you as well.  Too often we want the credit and the spotlight in our lives and we fail to give credit to the One who really gave us the ability to even do what we did to get in the spotlight.  I have admired, through the years, the people on TV who get interviewed and then turn the spotlight completely upon Jesus Christ.  They have no problem giving Him all the credit for their abilities.  Wow!  What a great testimony!

I am ashamed to think of all the times that I have taken credit and the spotlight when I should have solely given God all the glory.  It’s so tempting at times to consider the great things we have done and forget Who gave us the ability to do those things. 

Not to us, but to God alone.  We don’t deserve the glory, but He does.  His love and faithfulness should shine through all we do.  In the times when we are put in the spotlight for whatever reason(s), He is waiting to see if we will turn the attention all to Him and not take the credit ourselves.  It’s in these times that people will really see Who we are living for.  It is ourselves and our own efforts or will we direct others to the amazing God who gave us life? 

“Lord, I’m sorry for so often taking the credit and spotlight when You should be the One who ALWAYS gets all the glory.  Forgive me, Lord.  May You always get the praise and glory, not me.”  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Not Just Any Other Name

“Not Just Any Other Name”
By Zach Wood
Acts 4:12 NIV
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

This morning to end our church service we sang “What A Beautiful Name” by Hillsong.  As we were singing about how beautiful, wonderful and powerful the name of Jesus is, I couldn’t help but think of all that we consider beautiful, wonderful and powerful in this world. 

We sometimes are able to meet people in person that are a celebrity or popular in some other way.  When we meet them, we’ll tell everyone we know about the experience and post a picture on social media sites.  When some event comes up that is really cool and blows our minds, we do the same.  We will tell everyone about it and rave about the experience online.  We tend to think many things in life are beautiful, wonderful and powerful.  Granted, there are some pretty cool things that go on around us and in our lives.

No matter how much we rave about how great someone is or about how wonderful an event was, there is absolutely nothing more beautiful, wonderful or more powerful than Jesus Christ alone.  And sadly, often we don’t speak with as great intensity what He has done for us and how truly awesome He is.  I am so guilty of this.  I often find myself getting so excited about what other people have done or other things going on and I find myself less ecstatic about God.  I don’t do it purposely, but somehow I find things of this earth often so much more exciting.  That shouldn’t be.

Just like the song says, what a beautiful name it is, what a wonderful name it is, and what a powerful name it is.  Is that true in your life?  Is that true in my life?  Is the name of Jesus truly more beautiful, wonderful and powerful than anything else?  Greater than any other name. 

In this passage, Peter proclaims a powerful statement!  There is no other name anywhere by which we must be saved.  Salvation is found in no one else and there is no greater name, period. 

Nothing in the entire world can compare to this!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Let Us Consider & Encourage

“Let Us Consider & Encourage”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 10:24 NIV
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

A few weeks ago at church, this verse was read and it really got me thinking.  Sadly, I couldn’t help but to think about how terrible we’ve become today with encouraging one another.  We live in a culture and society where the focus is always on me, me, me.  Everything focuses on how we need to improve ourselves and better who we are.  We’ve sadly become trained to think of ourselves more than we think of others so often.  I’m super guilty with this and I often cringe when I think of how focused on myself I’ve become.

Throughout Scripture, we find so many references to how God wants us to reach out and help encourage others.  We know we should, but we get so wrapped up and busy with our own lives that we often just neglect the calling God has given us each and every day to invest in other’s lives.  And really, it doesn’t always have to be in really big ways.  Big ways are good to help out for sure!   However, God also wants us to help others in small ways.  Simple compliments.  Noticing things about others that most people don’t.  Words of encouragement in so many little ways can make a huge difference.

“Let us consider”.  Think about those words.  How often do we really stop and consider how we can encourage other people?  Do we really consider how we can help others become closer to God?  Are we focused on being the light of Christ to others all through our day?  Are we making it a point to spread the Good News?

“Let us consider”.  Think about these words in a different light now.  How about we consider all the opportunities we are passing up by being absorbed in our own lives.  Ouch!  That makes me cringe.  How often are we so wrapped up in our destinations and all that we have to do that we completely neglect opportunities right in front of us?  All too often!

We should even take this a step further.   How about we not only consider, but we actually……DO!  So often we say we’ll thinking about that or think about this with very little intention of actually doing it.  Let us consider how we may encourage others around us.

Let us make it a point and put forth more effort to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds as God has commanded us to.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What About You?

“What About You?”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 16:13-16 NIV
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Recently our pastor at church brought this passage up in his sermon and it just got me thinking a lot.  It got me thinking about how I view God.  What are my feelings about Him?  What do I think of Him?  Who is He to me?  What value is He in my life?  Who do I say He is?

When we are young, we learn from our parent’s faith a lot and kind of live faith through them.  We rely on them for a lot of things and trust that they will help us make good decisions.  However, there comes a time when we have to start thinking for ourselves and make decisions that we feel are best for our walk with Christ.  There comes a time when we have to decide how we are going to look at God and figure some things out on our own.  It’s not easy to do, but God wants us to do this.

Jesus asked this question first about what others thought about Him.  Then He turns the question to them about who they think He is.  He doesn’t want them to think only about what others say He is, but He wants them to think for themselves.

It is important that each of us considers who Jesus is.  Don’t go along with the crowd.  Don’t just go with someone’s answer because it sounds cool.  Think about who God is to you.  Who is He personally to you?  What does He mean to you?  Don’t spend your live living your faith through other people.  You must have your own faith and belief in who He says He is.  Have your own quiet time with Him.  Pray to Him.  Seek Him.  Ask Him to reveal Himself more and more to you.

“What About You?”  That’s a very important question.  Think about it every day. Who is Jesus to you?  Who do you say He is?  Do you believe He is who He says He is?  Talk to Him.  Be honest with Him.  And, when you’re presented with a situation where someone asks you about the faith you have, you can answer confidently that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. 

I remember making this confession of faith before a crowd of people when I gave my life to Christ and was baptized.  I confessed before a crowd that I wanted to make Him Lord of my life.  Every day, I need to continue to ask myself what He means to me.  Who do I say He is today?  Who do you say He is today?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

God Be Greater, Stronger & Louder

“God Be Greater, Stronger & Louder”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 18:30-32 NIV
As for God, his way is perfect:  The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.

One of my favorite Christian bands is We Are Messengers and they have a song called “Magnify”.  I have come to really enjoy this song and appreciate the lyrics.  I want to share part of those lyrics with you.

God be greater than the worries in my life, be stronger than the weakness in my mind, be louder let Your glory come alive, be magnified.”

I have thought about these words in this song the past couple of weeks and they’ve made a huge impact on how I feel each day. I want to share this devotion as a prayer through each of these lines I’ve shared with you.

God, be greater than the worries in my life:
Father, I ask that You and You alone with greater than all the worries I have in my life.  God, You know me better than anyone in the world and You know how I’m so consumed with the worries of life and I need to not be.  I worry about things going on, things not yet to be and if I will continue to be the servant, husband and father You have created me to be.  God, be greater than any worry in my life and help me to not worry, but let Your way be perfect and reflected in my life.  I pray that Your flawless Word would be evident in the way I live my daily life.  Help others to see that You alone are my strength and Whom I take refuge in.

God, be stronger than the weakness in my mind:
Lord, my mind is so weak so often.  I allow negative thoughts to invade my mind and sin creeps in to take over.  God, help me to be stronger in my mind and allow Your Word to take control and push those negative thoughts out.  Lord, I am weak, but You are strong.  I pray that Your mighty power would invade my mind and take over crushing the weakness in my mind to remind me that I am strong through You. 

God, be louder let your glory come alive, be magnified:

God, I want Your voice to be louder than any other voices trying to get my attention.  There are so many things trying get my attention in the world every day around me.  It’s hard to know what to listen to and what to avoid.  Father, I need Your voice louder than all of those so that I can follow and obey and magnify Your Name.  So many days Lord I try to follow all other voices and do my own thing.  God, forgive me when I ignore Your voice and become distracted from what You want me to do.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Let's Do This Together

“Let’s Do This Together”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 34:1-3 NLT
I will praise the Lord at all times.  I will constantly speak his praises.  I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.  Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.

One of the greatest things a parent can do for their child is to say, “Let’s do this together”.  As a dad, I find myself wanting to take care of things for my kids all too often when what I really need to do is show them and then offer for us to both do it together.  That way, they learn better and I don’t take care of it every time.

It is great when we can do other things together with someone as well.  There are many times when we want to do things in our own and at times it is great when we can do things solo.  However, there are also times when it’s so much better to work together as a team with someone else or a group of people. 

When we work with someone or a group of people, it’s so important that we strive to work hard to accomplish a common goal.  If we work with co-workers, we know that we need to collaborate and strive to help each other to a better job individually and as a whole group.  It’s important that helping each other is a priority so that everyone is encouraged. 

It is obvious that we are all different and work in many different ways to do our jobs.  Even with this challenge, it’s important that we strive to do what we can to ensure that we work together as a team with others whatever the situation may be.  Whether it be at a job, with siblings in a certain situation, or volunteering somewhere. 

No matter what we are doing, it’s important that we work together to achieve a common goal.  We absolutely must apply to the Kingdom work as we work together in the church to achieve a common goal and that is encouraging each other to grow closer to the Lord and to win people to the Lord.

The last line of this passage is vital.  We absolutely need to strive to work together in the church to exalt His name.  Our desire and passion should be ultimately to bring glory to His name and not promote our own agenda.  When I read this passage the other day, it just really hit me that we need to do a better job in the church today to strive to encourage one another as we seek to exalt His name. 

God calls us to seek Him and to tell of His greatness.  We need to do this together as the family of God.  However, we cannot be stuck in our own selfish ways and desire to promote our own plan or agenda.  We must work together and serve together to exalt Him.  Instead of “Let me do this”, we need to say, “Let’s do this together!”