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.    

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Let Me Tell You!

“Let Me Tell You!”
By Zach Wood
Romans 1:16 NLT
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.

We all enjoy telling others when great things happen to us, don’t we?  We not only get excited about telling people about something cool that we’ve done or that happened to us, but also we get excited about things we have seen and places we have been to. 

Most of us could go on for hours and hours telling others about different things we like and dislike.  We often find ourselves getting excited and telling other people about so many things that are fascinating to us in this world. 

We get excited about sports.  We get excited about going on vacation.  We get excited about the newest movie that has come out.  We get excited about so many things and we cannot wait to get out to work, church or school and tell our friends and family about what we’ve experienced, seen or heard.

Friends, I cannot help but think that it saddens God’s heart that we get excited about so much in our lives, but then when it comes to the opportunities where we can share about our faith and we clam up.  When we get so excited to tell others things we often say, “Let me tell you!” and then we go into a long explanation.  However, when we have the opportunities to share Christ, how long do those conversations last?  Do we take the time to tell or do we clam up and lose our excitement to continue the conversation?

Are we really excited to talk about our faith in Christ?  Is it really exciting to us?  Are we itching to tell others of the wonderful salvation we have experienced in God?  The Apostle Paul was definitely not ashamed of the Good News.  He says that it is the power of God at work!  Is the Good News the power of God at work through us with others?  Are we excited to tell others, more than anything, about how awesome God is?

I must admit that I get into many conversations with others, most often in my workplace, and I find myself seldom bringing God into the discussions.  I’m not purposely looking for ways to beat people over the head with the Bible, but I also so often am not intentionally looking for ways to open up and share my faith.  I want to be different for sure and show Christ’s love, but sometimes that needs to come through my conversations.  I need to be more bold and open to sharing.  Not only sharing, but being excited about what I’m sharing. 

Let us be more like Paul, who wasn’t ashamed of the Good News and said often to people “Let Me Tell You!”

Monday, June 13, 2016

He Could Have, But Didn't

“He Could Have, But Didn’t”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 2:5-7 NIV
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus; Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

I want you all to ponder something for a few moments.  Imagine if you were promoted in your job to the highest position possible and given authority over everyone you used to work with.  How would that change the way you feel about everyone who works beneath you?  How would that change the way you feel about yourself?  There would be a feeling of celebration for sure!  We would all probably be filled with many emotions at the thought of being in charge of all the employees.

With this new position of authority, there also may be some temptations to take advantage of the people who work under you.  Would you treat them as you would want to be treated or do you think you’d be tempted to boss them around and make them do everything you want?  Don’t answer that too fast.  Even if you couldn’t imagine yourself like that, strange things can happen if we were ever given the highest position in a company and the complete authority to tell people to do what we want and how we want it done.

I hope that if we were all given this situation, that we would choose to do our best to make employees feel respected and appreciated, but never to take the advantage of bossing them around in a mean way.  Many people in high positions do just this because it gives them a feeling of power and boosts their ego big time!

Think about Jesus for a few moments in this way.  We know He never would have done that to people, but He had all authority from God.  He could have really taken advantage of the authority His Father gave Him and treated people terrible.  Imagine how that would have changed how we look at the Bible??  He did NOT use this authority and power in His position of Son of God to treat people wrong.  He did just the opposite!  He became a servant.  Why?  So that people would see just how the character of God really is and what love truly looks like in serving others.

I find it amazing that Jesus could have abused His authority, but that’s not what He was sent to do.  He was sent to love and serve and die for us.  He could have chosen to treat us as slaves and boss us around, but instead He loved us.  He loved us enough He went to the Cross to prove it. 

He was the epitome of love and servanthood.