Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Peace Like No Other


“A Peace Like No Other”
By Zach Wood
2 Thessalonians 3:16 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


“Discipline: Painful, But Necessary”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 12:11 NIV
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 _______


“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


“Hold Tight And Trust In Him”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 10:23 NLT
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


“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.   

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Don't Buy Into The Lie

“Don’t Buy Into The Lie”
By Zach Wood
Genesis 3:4-6 NLT
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.  “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”  The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

We have all bought into gimmicks in our lives, haven’t we?  Whether it’s an infomercial that we stumbled onto as we clicked through channels, an advertisement that came through our e-mail or a very persuasive sales person who knew how to get you to agree, we have all bought into something like this at one time or another.  We became persuaded when we thought we never would.  Somehow, something that doesn’t look good at first slowly starts to grab our attention and desire if we focus on it long enough.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we have all bought into lies in our lives at one time or another.  Perhaps some of us have found ourselves buying into one lie after another, not realizing that we were being tricked.  There are certain people who really know how to win us over with their sly persuasion.  They know the words to say to get us to sign on the dotted line. 

Consider the scenario that started the first gimmick.  We might read this story again after having read it who knows how many times in Sunday School and wonder why Eve allowed herself to get worked over mentally and emotionally by Satan.  We might look at her with a raised eyebrow and think, “How could you Eve?  What were you thinking?” 

However, before we even consider picking up that stone to cast her way, we need to think about our lives and how so very often we also buy into the lies of the enemy.  Every single one of us is guilty of this scenario.  Probably multiple times throughout our lives.  Unfortunate as it is, it happens all too often.  We get tricked and the enemy knows how to win us over and sugar coat things to entice us.  Before we know it, WHAM!  He’s got us!  Ouch, that hurt!  We feel the pain later as we realize we bought into yet another lie.

I want to encourage all of us to think through situations in the future as we come to decisions where we choose whether to buy into a lie or walk away.  It isn’t easy to walk away when we’re enticed.  We must learn to listen to the Spirit and His leading when these times come.  Take a few extra moments and really consider the outcome.  Pray and ask God to give you wisdom. 

Don’t buy into the enemy’s lies.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Worry About Nothing, Pray About Everything


“Worry About Nothing, Pray About Everything”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 4:6 NLT
Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Confession time!  I have a little trouble with the first part of this passage.  Okay, okay, I struggle a lot with it!  If this passage actually was written to describe me, it would probably read, “Pray about a few things, but worry about everything”.  Yeah, you heard it right!  I often find myself not praying as much as I should and I tend to worry about almost everything.  Doesn’t everyone know that if I don’t worry about something all of the time, then life just isn’t going to be right??? 

That’s crazy talk, isn’t it?  But how many of us are actually living this day to day, but we don’t want to admit it?  Paul tells us to pray about everything, but not to worry about anything.  And, I’m so guilty of messing this passage all up.  I do tell God what I need, but then I go right back to worrying about everything again.  Ahhhhhhhh!  Make it stop!!! 

It’s hard to not worry.  We spend so many days of our lives worrying about things that probably won’t even happen or probably aren’t even true.  Sometimes we worry ourselves sick.  It’s a good idea when we start to worry, to pray and ask God to bring us peace.  Just having that communication with God and asking Him to give you peace during your time of worrying can really help you to feel better. 

I want to encourage all of us to come to God every day, give Him our needs, thank Him for all He has done and stop worrying about so much.  Yes, so much easier said than done, I know!  Sometimes, we might literally stop praying about anything and worry about everything.  I think we’d all have to admit that often times we do fall prey to even this.  There are honestly times when I stop to think if I’ve even prayed through the day at all when I’m worrying about so much.  I’m ashamed of that, but God helps to remind me that I need Him and I need to stop and take the time to pray and connect with Him.

Not only are we to pray about everything, but we need to take time to thank Him for all He has done and all He continues to do.  It’s so important!  I challenge and encourage all of you to make it a point to connect with God to begin your day and ask Him to help you not worry, but to pray about everything.  Maybe just little prayers throughout your day.  A few words here and a few words there as you go through your day.  Or perhaps you might have more time to bring a few sentences or paragraph prayer to Him.  Whatever it might be, bring it before God and ask Him to give you peace and guide you. 

Worry about nothing, pray about everything.  Good challenge from Paul!