Thursday, January 31, 2013

Always There

“Always There”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 139:7-10

The past couple of days I have been reading this passage from the book of Psalm.  This prayer from David’s heart to God in this close, deep and personal encounter is beautiful.  It clearly expresses how close God wants to be to us and how close He desires for us to be with Him. 

I find it amazing how God knows every single thing about us.  There is nothing we can hide from Him.  He knows all.  Even if you don’t tell Him, He still knows it. 

Sometimes it’s hard when we go talk to someone about issues we are having and troubles that we are facing.  Many people can try to comfort us and can understand some of the issues, but only God truly knows exactly how we are feeling and what we are going through.  When no one else can clearly understand the exact, intimate details of our lives, He does.  To me, that is a comforting thought. 

When you go to Him in prayer and are just hurting and don’t know what to pray, He knows that hurt and will provide the comfort you need.  Sometimes we don’t even need words.  We just need to bask in His presence and let ourselves be filled with His presence. 

I pray today and from this day forward that you will feel the presence of God in your life and working through you and in you to give you what you need.  There is no place you can go to where God will not be.  He is always with you, hearing every prayer and He is faithful and true.  Kind of sounds like an old favorite Hymn, doesn’t it?  Reach out to Jesus, He’s reaching out to you.

I hope and pray that each day, you will feel this closeness in your relationship with God.  He knows you from the inside out.  He will understand when others cannot.  He will hear the cries of your heart when you don’t have the words to express them. 

Do you feel that closeness and comfort today?  I hope so.  He’s always there. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why Are You There?

"Why Are You There?"
By Zach Wood
John 6:1-2

I think sometimes in our walk with Christ, we must really take some time to ask ourselves “why do I go to church”?  Ask yourself “why am I there on Sundays”?  This is not a question to bring any guilt to you at all.  Many times through the Gospels, Jesus asks questions to separate the fans from the followers.

Here Jesus is in the height of His ministry and we read that large crowds were following Jesus because He was very popular and was working miracles. In John 6, He was providing a feast for this crowd from just five loaves of bread and a couple fish. In verse 2 it just says they were coming “because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.” The main reason the crowds were showing up was because of the spectacle. They didn’t care as much about the teaching and the life changing lesson. They were there for the show.

So, why do you go to church?  What is your “because”? Is it because you think the seats are comfortable, or you really like the music? Is it because you like the chit-chat and the friends your kids make? These things are great for awhile, but at some point the relationship must be defined. Why are you there?

Take a look at John 6:66.  Jesus is talking about being the bread of life and what it means to follow Him.  Many went away because Jesus says, “Let’s define what we’ve got here,” and what He offered isn’t what they wanted.

He wants there to be a point where you define the relationship. Why are you there? Because …? For Jesus, his because is that He wants to have a deep relationship with you.

This past Sunday, I started a new sermon series with my congregation called "Not A Fan" where it challenges us to ask ourselves if we are just fans of Christ and admirers or if we are truly committed followers.

So, this Sunday, when you walk into the doors of your church, ask yourself the challenging question, "Why am I here?  Am I just a fan or am I a follower?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lose The Gavel

"Lose The Gavel"
By Zach Wood
James 1:19-20
I know this sounds like a silly question, but how many of us would walk into a store and ask to buy only part of a picture frame?  Or how many of us would buy a painting and ask to only have half or just part of it?  No, we want to buy the whole thing and see the whole picture.  We don’t just break off half of it or part of it.  We want the whole picture to look at.  If we only buy half or part of it, then we can’t look at the whole thing.  Makes perfect sense, right? 

We do this in the way we view others and their situations.  In a sense, we’re only seeing part of the picture and not the whole picture.  Many pieces of the picture are not there and we just choose to react quickly and not see it.  This is where most of us get into trouble.

We judge people before we even know who they are and what their situation is.  We really do not take the time to listen before we get angry.  This sadly tends to happen in churches today as well.  People get immediately judged when they walk into a church building for worship.  They are feeling very insecure and nervous already and then they end up dealing with people who glare at them right after they walk into the sanctuary. 

One way we are judgmental, at least I know I am, is when someone is tailing me in traffic.  As soon as this happens, boy do the assumptions and thoughts starting flying through my head!  Why are they riding my tail so hard?  Why can’t they just slow down? 

How quickly we seem to judge people and get in our own world and forget what other people may be dealing with.  We think what we want to think and do not give people the benefit of the doubt.  We easily look at others and we fail to just stop and think that maybe they are having a horrible day or something bad has just happened to them or they may be dealing with multiple things and they are just ancy to get to their destination.  We really have no idea what they are dealing with. 

This is a powerful passage from James in reminding us that we need to become much better at listening to other people and their situations before we jump to conclusions and become angry.  Listening is something we need to become much better at doing.  If we take the time to listen and understand the whole situation and see the whole picture, we can learn to understand better.

Remember the next time you are tempted to judge someone quickly, lose the gavel and take the time to understand.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

He Makes All Things New

"He Makes All Things New"
By Zach Wood
2 Corinthians 5:17

This passage has been on my mind lately a lot.  As we begin this new year, I take a look at the things I have done in the past year and also I think about all that God has done in my life to change me, challenge me and strengthen me. 

I have had many hard times of understanding, but also many times of being totally awed at the wonderful things God has done for me and placed before me.  More than anything, I've been so amazed at the wonderful and awesome things He has brought into my life that I never thought He would do. 

As this new year begins, I am asking God not only to strengthen me, but to continue to mold me into His image.  I am a new creation since I am in Jesus Christ.  The old has gone, the new has come.  The old things that used to be part of my life when I did not follow Christ I do not want to follow me or haunt me.  Those things do tend to come back and haunt sometimes, but with Christ by my side, I have strength to overcome them. 

Many of you make new years resolutions.  Whatever those resolutions are or if you're not even someone who makes any, I encourage you to consider the things God has brought you from in your past to who you are now.  Take some time to think about the old life you used to have when you didn't know God and now how He has changed your life and made you new.  Not only think on these things, but take time to give God praise for all that He has brought you through. 

Perhaps you are dealing with some serious struggles right now and you need strength just to make it through each day.  Maybe your past has come back to haunt you and it's really tugging on you and pulling you down......again.....and again.  If that's happening, you're not alone.  Many around you are probably dealing with that as well.  We are all imperfect and deal with tempting and haunting issues with our past. I encourage you to surround yourselves with others who will encourage you and help you in your walk with Christ.  But, most importantly, rely on Jesus Christ and His Word to get you through. 

God makes all things new in our lives.  That doesn't mean we are not going to have struggles, but it does mean we have a Savior who is right there to help us through and carry us.  We cannot live this life on our own.  If we try, we will fail.

Let the words of this passage echo through your mind and heart as you begin this new year.  If you are in Christ, you are a NEW CREATION.  You are made new in Christ.  Your past is in the past.  When it comes back to haunt you, rely on God's mighty power to help you through and get it back in your past.  He will strengthen you and make all things new.