Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Seek Him With All Your Heart

“Seek Him With All Your Heart”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 119:1-2
Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.  Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”

My favorite part of this passage is the last phrase “seek him with all their heart”.  When I consider that phrase, I think about how God desires for us to serve Him, from the time we awake in the morning to the time we lay our head to the pillow at night.  The question I need to ask myself and that we all need to ask ourselves is this, “Is the first thought on my mind when I awake to serve Him?” 

We may be quick to nod our head that this is the way we begin our day, but is it really?  Do we awake with an immediate sense of joy of serving our Lord for another day?  Or, do we really awake with stress and tension and the worries of the day on our minds and hearts?  I’ll admit that the latter is what I really wake up with on my mind and heart each day.  I don’t want it that way, but often times I do awake with many thoughts, ideas and worries of the day.  I think of all I need to get done and many times I am careless to not ask God to give me strength for the day.

How can we expect to live our everyday lives in a Godly way, but fail to even spend time asking God to guide our day as we begin?  It seems easy for us to expect wonderful things from God each day, but then not seek Him with all our heart.  We simply cannot expect our hearts to grow closer to Him if we’re not willing to make the effort to spend time with Him.  It just doesn’t work that way.  To grow with Him and in our faith each day, it’s imperative that our heart’s desire to be commune with Him as we begin our day and to continue that throughout the day. 

Blessed we truly will be when we seek Him with all our heart and follow His ways only.  By keeping our eyes on the prize and striving for what He has in store for us, then we will experience a fulfilling life.  Our lives will certainly not be void of problems or frustrations, but we have hope then knowing we are focused on the eternal rewards.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Staying Alert

“Staying Alert!”
By Zach Wood
1 Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Here we have a simple passage from the Apostle Peter regarding the importance of staying alert to what is going on around us.  It’s an important warning for us as we seek to live our daily lives for Christ and avoid evil. 

Anytime we are out somewhere with our daughters and are crossing a street, my wife and I will constantly remind them, “Look both ways before you cross!”  Often this is not the case and they start sprinting to the car or across the road in excitement to get somewhere and we have to remind them that it’s not safe to just cross the road.  This is something we have to teach kids over and over again because it’s easy for them to forget.  As adults, we also don’t always remember to look when we cross the road. 

Why is crossing the road so dangerous if you’re not looking?  Because who knows what vehicle is out of our sight before we cross?  There can be bushes, trees, vehicles or other things blocking our vision of what’s coming.  It’s important as we teach our kids to stop and look both ways in order to avoid a terrible tragic event.  We don’t want to get hit and we don’t want our kids or others to get hit either. 

Just as crossing the road is dangerous without looking, also living our daily lives without being on the alert is very dangerous as well.  Why would we attempt living each day without being on the lookout for the sly, sneaky, and deceiving enemy?  If we don’t remain alert to what’s going on around us, he will easily slip in and pull us away.  When we get pulled away and lose control, bad things happen.  We’re not to live our lives each day being paranoid of what the enemy might do, but we must remain alert and know that he is sneaky and deceiving in so many ways and we need to constantly be aware.

We can become better self-controlled and alert by reading His Word, praying and being more aware of our surroundings.  The enemy attacks when we least expect him to, so we certainly need to be aware and on the alert at all times.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Are Our Words Reckless Or Wise?

“Are Our Words Reckless Or Wise?”
By Zach Wood
Proverbs 12:18
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

In our weekly small group, we are studying the book of James and we just covered chapter 3 where James talks about taming the tongue.  It’s a great and powerful passage encouraging us that words have such an impact in our lives.  This passage in Proverbs is one we looked at that also talks about how powerful words can be. 

We use words every day and all through the day many times.  Some of us have jobs where we are talking to people all day long and others have jobs where communication is a little more limited, depending on where you are and what you do.  Regardless, we all use many words each day, whether we are talking to family, friends, co-workers or even strangers. 

I have to wonder how conscious we are all being when we talk to others.  Do we really think about what we are going to say before it escapes our lips?  Are we being wise in what we say and how we say things to others?  James is very clear that our words can be like a forest fire if we use them in negative ways.  Those fires can spread fast!  Of course we don’t want that to happen, but when emotions run high, it’s amazing what comes from us. 

This passage in Proverbs says a lot about the things we say to others and how the words can affect, either negatively or positively.  We are all different in many ways and we take things differently depending on who is talking to us and how the person is using their voice.  Many factors go into each conversation and the intentions behind the words.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be encouraging and benefiting those who listen to us as Paul told the church in Ephesus.  We should be imitators of the Almighty God Whom we serve. 

No matter what our circumstances, we should be striving to be positive and encouraging through all our conversations with others.  I want to be that way more and I hope that you all do as well.  It’s tough when we experience difficult discussions with others where we disagree, but we must always remember to do our best to be encouraging.  Reckless words can emotionally scar people for life.  Are we thinking before we speak?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Are You ALIVE?

“Are You ALIVE?”
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 2:1-2
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

When I read this passage, two key phrases grab my attention: “you were” and “you used to”.  These are both past tense phrases that Paul uses as he talks to the church in Ephesus about the lives they used to live without Christ.  Paul is encouraging these people and saying to them that they used to live without hope, but not any longer.  They were dead in sin and they used to live by the world, but not anymore.

As Paul told the church in Ephesus, the message is the same for us who are in Christ.  If you have life in Jesus Christ, then you have a past that He has forgiven and redeemed you from.  You “were” dead in sin and you “used to” live apart from the ways of God, but now you have a new life that is completely different that Christ gave to you.  Are you living that life?

When I think about my past and the ways I used to live, I remember the desires which did not bring praise or pleasure to God at all.  They were moments of temporary pleasure and I never found satisfaction through those moments.  They were fun for the time being, but when I discovered new life in Christ, I realized a whole new life I should live that would be pleasing to Him.  Not only would this life be pleasing to Him, but it would also show people around me a life they should be living as well.

Often I find the past trying to haunt me and pull me back to the old life I once lived.  Sometimes, it’s easy to get off-course from the life Christ has called us to because the old life comes back to invite us for one more round of fun.  We would be very wise to not give in to those desires, but to hold onto Christ and trust that He will help us through and turn away from those desires once again.  We are made ALIVE in Christ!  Do we truly believe that and are we living a life that shows it? 

It is my hope and prayer that we would all really desires, deep down, to live this new life with great joy every single day.  The desire we should have, from the time we get up to the time we lay our heads to rest, is to serve Christ and live a life that is ALIVE through Him!  Are you ALIVE?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bring It Back!

“Bring It Back!”
By Zach Wood
1 Chronicles 16:8-11
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.  Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

My favorite part of this passage is the last sentence where we are encouraged to look to the Lord and His strength and to seek Him always.  “Always” is a hard thing to do.  We know we are to always follow Him and let Him lead our lives, but it’s often hard to stay focused.  We have the best intentions to do what He commands for us to do and we desire to serve Him, but it’s often hard to follow through and always be obedient. 

We deal with so many distractions in life and things that grab our attention away from where we should be.  Ever heard this phrase, “Bring it back!”?  I’ve heard this phrase used in various situations, usually a trainer or someone else in charge trying to get the attention of an individual or group of people.  It’s easy for most people to start out strong in whatever task they take on.  What’s really hard is to stay focused and diligent with what’s at hand. 

There’s no human being on this planet that hasn’t dealt with distractions in life.  If you haven’t, sorry but you’re not human.  We all struggle with keeping our attention and mind set on goals.  We try, but often we become distracted.  We often do this in our walk with God.  Maybe some days or weeks we start out strong and are determined to stay focused and not get off track.  However, somehow, we lose our focus and steer off the course from where God wants us.  We’re giving Him praises and we’re sharing His love with others, but then other things take our attention away from that and from Him and we get really sidetracked. 

We must remember the enemy, Satan, is very good at distracting us.  In fact, he’s a pro at it!  When we become distracted and start following the ways of this world instead of Him, we must bring it back!  We’ve got to bring our focus back to looking at Him.  When we stay determined to seek His face, we keep our focus on Him.  When we get off course, we must bring it back!