Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Holds You Back?

“What Holds You Back?”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 19:21-22

Here is the story of the rich young man that so many of us have read about time and time again.  I’m sure many of us learned about him in Sunday School through the years and have heard several sermons as well regarding his encounter with jesus.

This man was ecstatic at first because he told Jesus how he had kept the commandments and had done his checklist.  This man accumulated a lot of things and great wealth and wanted to follow Jesus.  However, we see that he was not willing to let go of what he had and give it all to Jesus in order to follow.  It wasn’t that what he had was wrong, but that his heart attitude was all wrong.  He wasn’t willing to give all he had to serve. 

In the man’s eyes, Jesus was asking way too much commitment.  He held onto too much to completely follow Christ.  This is a huge lesson for each of us to consider in our lives.  We may not be wealthy or have many material things, but with what things we do have, are we willing to give up anything Christ asks us to in order to serve Him better?  If He would ask us to get rid of something or sell it to bless someone else financially, what will we do?

There’s so much that can keep us from completely following Jesus.  We just need to ask ourselves every single day if we are completely committed.  We need to examine our hearts and ask God to reveal what it is that keeps us from being fully committed.

What holds us back from full commitment to Christ?   

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Beauty From Pruning

“Beauty From Pruning”
By Zach Wood
John 15:1-2

This passage was part of the main text I used for Sunday’s sermon.  Jesus is very clear in telling us that if we are not connected to Him, we are not growing and receive no nourishment.  This is so clear and we need to take notice of this in our lives.  We all desire to grow, but when the pruning process takes place, we’d rather skip the pain and long for growth the easy way.  But, that is kind of contradictory.  How can we possibly expect to grow in our lives and not be pruned? 

Through the growing process, we live life and learn and make mistakes.  This is a part of our journey.  Mistakes are going to happen and we will fall down, but if we hang onto Jesus Christ and continue to stay connected to Him, He will prune us and help us grow more into the person He desires us to become.

There’s a book Max Lucado wrote many years ago that this passage brings to mind.  The book is “Just Like Jesus”.  The subtitle of this book reads “God loves you the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.  He wants you to be just like Jesus.”  That hits the nail on the head!

God desires so much for our lives and it saddens Him when we don’t desire to grow.  If we want to grow in our faith and be strengthened, He must prune us so that we can bear more fruit.  Without this pruning and discipline, there will be no growth.  It’s painful, but produces not only fruit, but endurance. 

My prayer is that every one of us will allow Him to prune our lives so that we can bear more fruit. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Are We Completely Committed?

“Are We Completely Committed?”
By Zach Wood
John 6:66

Jesus talked to the crowd about He Himself being the Bread of Life after He just served a huge feast to them.  So many were just coming for the food and for the “show”, but Jesus wanted more commitment.  Jesus shares with them that He expects more with the commitment in following Him and being a truly committed follower.  He’s asking for more than them coming again and again to get their “fill”. 

Then He watches so many just walk away.  Wow!  That had to have been heartbreaking for Him!  I cannot imagine the agony He felt when he literally watched so many people turn away and essentially say, “This is just too much to ask.  Sorry, Jesus, but this is just not for me right now.”  Following Jesus is the greatest life anyone could imagine to live, but it is also the most challenging and committed life you could ever live.  It’s very rewarding, but requires much effort for us to stay committed.

I look into my own life and I see so often how I am not fully committed and I just want the blessings without putting forth the effort to really follow Him. 

I want to encourage all of us to stay committed in our lives to Jesus Christ.  When things get tough, keep the faith and stay strong.  He asks us to follow Him and be 100% for Him as we follow.   

Will we be 100% committed?  It’s a daily journey.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Seek To Encourage

“Seek To Encourage”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 34:12-14

This past Sunday, I had a message about how it’s good for us to consider the lessons we have learned through the years and in the past year as we look into a new year.  It’s good for us to take some inventory of things we’ve done great and maybe other things we haven’t done so good and ask God to give us strength to be better servants for His Kingdom. 

None of us have the intention of speaking discouragement to others.  However, the enemy works in very sly ways to get us to be unloving in the ways we communicate with others.  That’s the last thing any of us wants to do.  It’s important for us to seek God all through the day asking Him to guide our words, especially through stressful and frustrating times.  Those are the times when it’s easy to let words fly and say things we don’t mean and end up hurting others.

Seek to encourage your spouse.
Seek to encourage your kids.
Seek to encourage your co-workers.
Seek to encourage your friends.
Seek to encourage your extended family.

Who can you seek to encourage today and the days that follow from here?

As we embark this New Year, ask God for strength each day to be encouraging to others in any opportunity.  May we all be encouraging through the words we share with others so they may see and come to know better the awesome God we serve!