Monday, March 18, 2019

Find True Rest In Him


“Find True Rest In 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.

One of the things I enjoy most about being a dad is when my kids come up to me and throw their arms around me longing to get a some loving from daddy.  Sometimes it’s a simple hug or they ask me to pick them up while hugging them.  I love doing both.  I never get tired of them wanting daddy to embrace them.  It will never get old.  I love it!  What I also cherish are the times they come sit by me on the couch or they nestle their head on me if we’re out somewhere together.  Sometimes, they just want me to hold them or they just want to rest on me gently.  Whatever it may be, I cherish those opportunities. 

Every time I think about them doing this, I tend to tear up and get an emotional feeling of overwhelming thankfulness because they want daddy.  I am so thankful they still want to come to daddy to rest in my embrace.  I am a refuge to them, not necessarily when they are in trouble, but just moments where they want to snuggle up to me.  I will never turn that away.  It’s one of the moments I most cherish about my kids.  And, I always think to myself, “God, why do they love me so much like this?  I don’t deserve it!”  I used to ask them, “Why do you want me?” They would simply reply, “I don’t know.  I just do”. 

God wants us to feel much the same way toward Him as my kids do to me.  God opens His embrace to me each and every day.  So often I just need to rest in His embrace and be in His presence.  Not always for comfort from trouble, but just to rest in Him.  I love to rest in knowing He’s there for everything with me.

Years ago, the Christian rock group Skillet came out with a song called “Rest”.  It was a favorite song of mine and describes the simple longing to come to our Father to rest in Him.  Here are some of the lyrics:

And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of Your grace
And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of You
Take all the old and You make it new
Everything I give to You
You're the hope that can pull me through
Hallelujah

When is the last time you rested in the arms and embrace of our Heavenly Father?  We need rest and He is there for anything we need.   

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Joy Of Feeling Alive


“The Joy Of Feeling Alive”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 40:8-10 NLT
I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”  I have told all your people about your justice.  I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O Lord, well know.  I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.  I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

One of the commercials on TV that has caught my attention is from Mazda.  Every car company has some catchy slogan as a way of drawing us in to experience something great with their vehicles.  Well, with Mazda, my attention was drawn to their slogan of “Feel Alive”. 

We all want to feel alive, don’t we?  We want to feel excitement in our lives and experience a life like no other.  We want to experience great things in our lives and enjoy the great moments.  Who wouldn’t??  We all want to experience great things.  As I kept thinking about that phrase, “Feel Alive”, I could not help but to consider the lives we have in Christ.  Jesus Christ truly gives us joy like no other.  No matter what the world tries to offer us, there is absolutely no greater joy than serving Him and knowing Him.  He gives us the joy to truly “Feel Alive”!

Do you want to really feel alive?  Well, as much as I like Mazda’s slogan because it is catchy, I really doubt that will “Feel Alive” just by purchasing their vehicles.  There is no material possession that can give me an alive feeling more than knowing Jesus Christ.  Nothing.

Do you want to feel alive?  Do you want to experience a joy that is greater than any experience the world can offer?  No doubt we can enjoy many things in life, but there is no lasting joy like what Jesus can do for us.  The world cannot and will never be able to compare to Him.  Do we take great joy in doing God’s will?  Do we take great joy in obeying Him?  Do we take great joy in following what He calls us to do?  Do we take great joy in speaking out for Him, spreading His Good News and proclaiming His faithfulness? 

Friends, the only way to really “Feel Alive” is to know the joy that comes from the Lord.  There is no everlasting joy except through Him.  Whatever so-called joy you might be trying to find in the world, you won’t find it.  It will always fail you in some way.  The only true joy that makes us feel truly alive is through Christ.  This doesn’t mean that life will be peachy and roses when we do follow Christ.  He never promised a life of no problems.  However, through those times of trouble, we can find true joy and comfort in Him. 

Knowing Jesus is truly the way to feel alive!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Reminded Daily Of His Amazing Strength


“Reminded Daily Of His Amazing Strength”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 46:1-3 NIV
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

I need constant reminders in my life because there are many things I tend to forget.  There are things I need reminded about at my work place.  I have to make notes and be reminded by my boss and co-workers so that I don’t forget certain duties.  I need to be reminded by my wife and my girls of things that I forget with my home life.  They also help me to remember things I have forgotten about events coming up and things we have planned to do. 

There are commercials on TV often that I see of a supplement to improve memory and I think I need it!  I think most of you out there could relate to me, regardless of your age.  We easily forget things.  We need constant reminders.  I not only need reminders of things I forget to do, but I also need reminders daily of things I don’t need to worry about.  All my life, I have been guilty of often being a worry-wart.  I really do not like that fact about myself, but I just have to deal with it daily and try each day to be better about it. 

I often find myself not only needing reminding about things I need to do, but also needing reminded of the powerful strength of God in my life and all that He can do and still does!  My precious wife has to repeatedly remind me that He is in control and I need to stop worrying about things of the future.  God calls out to me daily in many ways to remind me that He is bigger than anything in the world and He can handle everything in my life.  I just need to take a chill pill and let Him be in control of my life.

Friends, we have absolutely nothing to fear in life.  We don’t need to worry.  We so often forget that God is way bigger than anything that can scare us or worry us in life.  He cannot be outdone!  Nothing can be bigger than Him or overtake Him!  We all need to be reminded daily that He is our refuge and strength.  He is our security when we don’t feel safe.  He is our Rock to lean on.  He can handle everything that we cannot. 

I hope and pray that today and every day we will be reminded that God is Almighty God.  We can rest in Him, knowing that He is in total control.  So many things are going on around us in our lives, often at the speed of light.   However, He reminds us that He is in control and that we just need to trust and put our hope in Him as our refuge and strength.  He is our help in ever-present trouble.  He is always will be!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Do We Overflow?


“Do We Overflow?”
By Zach Wood
Colossians 2:6-7 NLT
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

We have all had experiences with something that overflows.  The kitchen sink or bathtub faucet is left unattended and, before we know it, we have a lake forming on the floor.  If you poor pop into a cup too fast, it ends up fizzing and overflows.  If a pipe gets clogged somewhere in a house, in a business building or in the street, there will be overflowing somewhere. 

Does this overflowing problem catch attention?  You bet it does!  People tend to move pretty fast and take notice when there’s an overflowing problem, no matter what or where it is.  It causes people to take action.  The action of overflowing draws attention.  It does not go unnoticed very long.  People are often affected by it, sometimes even dramatically. 

As I think of this concept and the attention it draws, I cannot help but think about our lives as Christians and the love of God that should overflows in our lives.  Are we drawing attention by the way we live our lives for God?  Are our lives filled with overflowing thankfulness for others to see?  If we are truly filled with God, we will overflow and won’t be able to contain what He has given us.  Our lives will naturally ooze His aroma of love and compassion.

I think we would all agree that we desire for our lives to overflow with thankfulness.  The life of Christ we have inside gives us every reason to overflow with constant thankfulness.  When we trust Christ each day and follow Him, our faith grows stronger and His love flows out of us to draw people to Him.  We want to draw the attention of others to Him through our love and actions. 

I want my daily life to overflow with God’s love and thankfulness for all He has done.  I’m ashamed to admit that often my attitude is not filled with thankfulness and that I’m not overflowing with God’s love.  I struggle with the selfishness and fleshly desire to please myself only.  I forget that my mission in life is to show His love at all times and not be self-centered. 

I hope we are all challenged to overflow with thankfulness so that others cannot help but be drawn to what overflows out of us.  May they be drawn to the Jesus Christ and all He has done in our lives. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What Offer Do We Crave?


“What Offer Do We Crave?”
By Zach Wood
1 John 2:15-17 NLT
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

As I was reading this passage recently from the New Living Translation, the word “offers” stuck out to me.  It really hit me how there are so many different ways the world tries to offer us great things.  We see and are bombarded by different offers everywhere we go each day.  Some offers are pretty good, while others can get us into serious trouble if we accept them. 

My wife and I really like to shop for great offers.  We enjoy getting coupons through the mail or by e-mail with good discount offers at stores and places to eat.  We also like walking into stores and going right for the sale and clearance areas.  We are bargain shoppers!

It’s always great to find good deals and offers, but the more I think about all of this, I am reminded that these moments are short-lived.  They are enjoyed for a while, but they don’t last forever.  I’m often reminded of the offers I am bombarded with promising to make my life so much better!  I’m ashamed to admit that I often buy into the different offers from the world.  I get sucked into deals that end up not satisfying me.  I get frustrated when I think I find a good offer, but it turns out to be a rip off. 

We all have experiences like this.  So often, we buy into what the world offers for satisfaction and happiness.  It shouldn’t surprise us why God warns us so much about not loving the world.  He tells us to avoid getting sucked into the promises of what this world offers.  Why do we crave the things of this world so much, but crave God so little?  And then we are surprised when we come up feeling dry from the junk the world offers. 

Please understand, God is not telling us that we cannot enjoy things here in this world.  There are many things to enjoy for sure!  However, when we find ourselves longing for and craving the things of this world more than Him, then it becomes a problem.  Only what God offers to us will satisfy us eternally and not leave us dry. 

Are we craving what the world offers or what God offers?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lip Service is NOT Enough


“Lip Service Is NOT Enough”
By Zach Wood
1 John 3:18 NLT
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other, let us show the truth by our actions.

We are so good at trying to persuade people with words, aren’t we?  Depending on the situation, we will use words in so many clever ways to convince people so that we can get what we want.  We easily and often use words to persuade others to do something for us or give something to us.

So many people use words in sly ways to get something from others.  People in different job positions can use words in order to trick people into buying something.  The last thing I want when I go somewhere to look for something to buy is to have a sales person pressure me with words to buy something.  Words can be so strong and persuasive.

As Christians, we use words to try to show people that we love God.  It is great that we use words to express to others our love for God, but words simply are not enough.  Words are good up to a point, but then our actions must speak louder.

In all my years of secular work world and vocational paid ministry, I have seen such a great need to show non believers the very love of God through actions.  We not only need to share God’s truth through words, but through our actions of love for others. 

Friends, we absolutely cannot just say that we love others.  We must prove that love by the way we act toward them and how we treat them.  Our actions will always speak so much louder than the words we use. 

Lip service is simply not enough in today’s world.  People want to see so-called Christians living out the faith they proclaim.  The world needs to see genuine love through our actions to back the words we share.  God proved His love by sending Jesus Christ to die for us.  His actions spoke louder than words.  Our actions also need to speak louder than words. 

We can never expect the world to believe what we say if we are not going to back those words up with genuine love.  Make sure your lip service is followed by love in action.  God depends on us to not only share words of love, but to put feet on those words so they become actions of love. 

When it comes to our words versus actions, actions will always speak louder. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Wholehearted Commitment


“Wholehearted Commitment”
By Zach Wood
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NLT
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

It seems we live in a culture where commitment is very hard to come by.  People so often become as fickle as the weather.  It seems everywhere we turn, people are giving us promises or guarantees, only to turn around and break our hearts moments later.  It saddens me how little commitment people have these days toward things.  People don’t want to commit to many things because of the hard effort involved when things get tough.  People seem to want the convenience of walking away from any commitments when times get tough.

Now, before we start nodding our head in complete agreement about all of those people, here is the harsh reality.  Christians are often the worst at keeping commitments.  We talk a good talk, but so often we fail at matching that talk with a life of commitment.  This is a tough pill to swallow, but it is a reality.  And, I will admit that I have been terrible at keeping commitments in my life.  Not all of them, but many. There are so many times I fail at keeping my commitments to friends and family.  I say that I will do something and then I turn around and break that commitment because life gets tough and I use excuses. 

We not only break commitments to others, but we also break our commitments to God as well.  Why are we so flippant when it comes to committing to things in life?  What we often do is plead with God to do more in our lives, but then we don’t even give ourselves wholeheartedly to Him.  It is like we expect Him to move mountains in our lives, but then we don’t want to hold up our commitments to Him because life gets tough.

I want to live my life better.  I want to live with wholehearted commitment to Him.  I don’t want my devotion to Him to be fickle.  I desire to serve Him and give my best.  I really want to live for and serve God, but I get so distracted by my selfish desires and I fail miserably. 

Instead of looking at others around me in this world and shaking my head in disappointment because of the lack of commitment, I need to look at my own life and see where I am failing and how much I need to improve my commitment.

Do we have wholehearted commitment to God?