Thursday, March 28, 2013

Press On: Go For The Prize!

"Press On: Go For The Prize!"
By Zach Wood
Matthew 7:13-14

(As you begin, I encourage you to go to You Tube and watch the Balance Beam illustration from Francis Chan and then continue.)

We all want to achieve things, but we won’t get very far if we choose to straddle the balance beam of life.  We get scared to press on and choose sometimes to live the safest life possible.  We often choose not to take the path less traveled.  We choose many times to follow the ways of this world because it’s easier and safer than going against the flow. 

Jesus shares some very important words from the Sermon on the Mount in this passage about pressing on and going against the flow as we set our eyes on the prize.

So many people will live life and enter through the wide gate because it’s easy and it’s what so many other people are doing.  But we must remember that Jesus has called us to live a life that is unlike the rest of the world.  If we are to achieve a prize that is heavenly and not of this world, we must go against the flow and go for the only prize that will last. 

I think of the words Francis Chan shared through this balance beam illustration.  He said that this safe life is the way so many Christians are headed for.  That is scary.  We cannot expect to life a safe life, keep our faith to ourselves and not do anything crazy for God and then expect God to say to us one day, “Well done” and do our dismount off the balance beam of life.  We simply cannot expect Him to be congratulating us for that kind of life.

All my life I have been intrigued and amazed when I watch the gymnastics segment of the summer Olympics.  Watching these Olympians perform is absolutely mind boggling.  To see their strength and dedication is inspiring.  But remember they didn’t start out being that good.  They had to practice and focus on putting a lot of invested time into doing that to be where they are now. 

When we walk the balance beam of life, we are going to have struggles, frustrations and times when we just want to give up and life a safe life because we’re afraid to go on.  However, just as the Olympians do, we need to keep going and keep striving for the goal.  Keep going and remember that Christ is cheering us on and telling us that we can do it!  When we fall, with His help and guidance, we can get back up and keep pressing on!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Renewed Each Morning

“Renewed Each Morning”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 51:10

I am sure there are many people who choose to start their day off with quiet time with God.  I hope this would be the case for most of us, but not saying morning time has to be everyone’s decision.  For me, personally, I cannot imagine starting my day without having quiet time first. 

There is just something special and unique about starting the day off with communicating with God and asking for His guidance and strength through my day.  It helps me so much to connect.  I read this passage this morning during my quiet time with God and it really spoke to me.  I have read it many times before and every time I do, I am reminded of the song “Create In Me A Pure Heart”. 

I find it so encouraging and so vital, at least for me, to start my day asking God to create in me a pure heart and to help block out the pressures that may arise throughout my day.  I ask Him to help me focus on His plan and direction for my day.  I want to be focused and have His Spirit renewed through me to teach me and guide me.

This is a powerful prayer coming from David.  He is earnestly seeking God and asking God to create a pure heart within him.  In this world today, I honestly cannot think of a better prayer to start out the day.  With all the temptations we face, how can we not start our day asking God to create in us and help us keep a clean heart?  I believe it is of utmost importance to start the day asking God to give us a clear mind and heart. 

David messed up big time, but he was repentant and asked God to give him a pure heart and to renew a steadfast spirit in him.  What a heart-felt prayer!  Shouldn’t we follow and echo that same prayer in our lives to start the day?  We have all messed up and we turn away from God and do our own thing.  How can we not start our day asking Him to fill us, guide us, and create in us a pure heart?

I hope and pray that each of us seeks and desires to be renewed each morning.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Choose To Rejoice

“Choose To Rejoice”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 118:24

It seems each day I am faced with different things that challenge my attitude and outlook.  As you all do, I have hard days and good days.  This is part of being a human being.  Some days we feel great and are loving life.  Then other days it seems we are just trying to hang on and survive.  It seems every time we turn around, something falls apart or seems to go wrong somehow. 

Now please understand, I am not trying to put a damper on your mood right now or depress you, but I am simply stating that life gets tough many times. 

I was just thinking about this passage the other day and how we are told to rejoice in each day that God has made.  Yes, we mentally know God has made each day and that He wants us to rejoice in that He made it.  However, that is often hard to do when so many things pull us down and overwhelm us.

We could probably acknowledge the first half of this passage and agree it is the day the Lord has made, but when we come to the second half, sometimes we honestly say, “But don’t ask me to rejoice in the day!  This day stinks!”  That’s many times our attitude. 

I want to encourage you that if you are having one of those  bad days or maybe several bad days, just to remember that our circumstances should not determine whether we are glad or not.  I’m not telling you to be happy about the problems you may be facing, but to say that we should rejoice in the fact that God is awesome and that He will take care of us.  God is good whether you are having a good day or a bad day.  That doesn’t change the fact that He made the day and gave it to us to make a difference in someone’s life. 

I want to challenge you each day to rejoice in the day God has made.  Even if things are tough, there are still many things you can rejoice in that He has done for you.  Sometimes, we just have to stop, think and remember all of His blessings even in the midst of the frustrations and heartaches. 

I hope today that you will choose to rejoice regardless of what happens to you.  This is the day He made.  Rejoice and praise Him for all He’s done.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sold-Out Love: From Fan To Follower

“Sold-Out Love: From Fan To Follower”
By Zach Wood
Dueteronomy 6:5

For the past six weeks, I went through a sermon series with my church from “Not A Fan” by Kyle Idleman.  Let me tell you first, these were some of the most challenging and convicting sermons I’ve ever given.  When I consider my heart and my devotion to God and whether or not I’m totally devoted and committed, I think of my love for God. 

Most of us would say that we are completely and totally sold out for God and love Him with our whole being.  However, if we looked closely and really examined our lives, we would probably see otherwise if we’re really honest.  I know that by looking in my life, I saw that I have failed a lot and need some much improvement and need to be more devoted and committed.

As you read this passage, consider if you really love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  As yourself if you really believe this and ask God to search your heart, as David asked God to do, and see whether or not you are truly committed to living a life that is putting God first and foremost.

For many of us, we say we are completely devoted to God and whatever He calls us to, but when we examine where are hearts are, we probably will see otherwise.  This is a constant, daily struggle for me.  I just put God first and commit to loving Him completely without any reservation.  If I am not totally devoted to Him, then I am choosing to follow some of my own ways and the ways of this world. 

I ask you today as I’ve been asking myself, “Are you totally sold-out for Him?”