Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Leaving The Past Behind

“Leaving The Past Behind”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

These are amazing and encouraging words as Paul gives a pep talk to the church in Philippi about pressing on and forgetting the past.  How many of us have a hard time struggling with our past and dwelling on it?  Yeah, c’mon, let me see all those hands!  Every single one of us has had this struggle and we often continue to struggle with the past.  The enemy loves to keep bringing up our painful past of hurt, sorrow and mistakes.  He wants nothing more than to make us fall in our walk with Christ and keep us from pressing on.

All of us deal with our past and the many things we have regretted.  There’s not a one of us that doesn’t deal with this pain.  It doesn’t take much to bring back memories of past failures and disappointments.  Our enemy is very good at bringing all that junk back into our radar so that we deal with it all over again.  However, Christ tells us we are special and that He has made us new and that we can press on and focus on the prize He has promised to us for following Him.  He has forgiven our sins and washed us clean, so we can focus on all that God has waiting for us.

For myself, I deal with my past often. And, when I do, I get down on myself pretty hard.  It’s a weakness I have and I work through it usually daily.  I have to be reminded that God loves me and is rooting for me, unlike the enemy, who wants nothing more than for me to be defeated.  I have to be reminded that my past does not define me, Jesus Christ does!  He makes me who I am.  I am a new creation in Him and that’s awesome!  And, so are YOU! 

I have heard this phrase many times through my life and want to share with you, “The next time Satan reminds you of your past, you remind him of his future!”  Let us press on and continue to strain toward what is ahead.  Forget the past and focus on all He has in store for you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Need To Slow Down

“The Need To Slow Down”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

It’s no surprise we have so many people in the world today who are tired.  They are tired from many things: work, family, friends, extracurricular activities, church functions, etc.  The list could go on and on with how incredibly busy some people have become.  This past Sunday we had a sermon talking about how we need to slow our lives down more and take the time to relax. 

So many of us these days are in a rush mode and we don’t stop.  It’s not that we don’t want to, but we have such busy lives that we feel we just need to keep going and going, just like the energizer bunny.  But you know what?  Even the battery in that bunny will soon lose its power and need a new one.  We all need replenishing and a constant, busy lifestyle is not helping. 

It’s hard to know the balance of when to be busy and when to rest.  Often, we feel guilty if we do rest.  We don’t feel productive just sitting around, but it’s something our bodies desperately need to become recharged.  We’re in a society that focuses so much on consuming more caffeine, pills and other things to keep our bodies going.  What our bodies need is real rest.  We were not meant to be on the go every waking moment, but often we are.

I would like to encourage all of us, in this fast-paced world, to take Jesus’ words to heart.  He is serious about us coming to Him, laying our lives before Him and getting the rest we need from the weary lives we often have.   Sometimes the most productive thing we can do is to take a time of rest, whenever that is.  Daily would be good.  It’s not healthy to run, run, run all day long and get very little sleep.  We just burn ourselves out.  Where’s the balance?  Hard question. 

We need to take notice each day of Jesus’ invitation to get the rest our bodies need so that we can be replenished.  He invites us to come to Him and rest.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Obedience Without Logic

“Obedience Without Logic”
By Zach Wood
Joshua 6:2-5
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.  March around the city once with all the armed men.  Do this for six days.  Have seven priest carry trumpets or rams’ horns in front of the ark.  On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.  When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”

Every time I read the story of Joshua and the wall of Jericho, I’m amazed at the fact that this wall came tumbling down from a set of instructions that had nothing to do with wall at all.  This story completely focuses on, not a wall, but on being obedient to God.  God wanted to see if the Israelites would be obedient to Him as He gave Joshua orders for them to march around the city. 

Doesn’t this seem crazy?  Why in the world would you march around a city for six days and then on the seventh day follow another strange set of orders that still had nothing to do with physically bringing down the wall?  God simply wanted them to obey Him.  He didn’t ask them to understand the logic.  He didn’t ask them to consider how crazy the idea was.  He simply commanded them to carry through with the orders.

For those of you who remember Veggie Tales and this story illustrated, I think of the silly song the French peas sang while the men were marching around the city.  “Keep walking, but you won’t knock down our wall.  Keep walking, but she isn’t gonna fall.  It’s plain to see that your brains are very small, to think walking will be knocking down our wall.”  While that’s funny, it really does show an important message in that God’s orders a lot of times make no sense to us at the time. 

How often have you found yourself shaking your head at what God asks you to do?  Not so much that you disagree with Him, but just the fact that what He’s asking you to do seems so far from being logical and you just laugh and say, “Yeah right, God!”  However, He wants us to be obedient just as He expected the Israelites to be.  God’s ways are usually never our ways and His thoughts are far beyond ours.  God commands us to be obedient even when we don’t understand what He’s doing.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Impossible To Please

“Impossible To Please”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

I believe that each one of us would agree that we desire to please God in everything we do.  I can’t imagine any of you shaking your head and saying otherwise.  It’s our desire to please God in everything that we do.  We want Him to be glorified in what we do, words we say and in the attitude we have toward other people. 

I think a lot of times how life would be without God and I cannot imagine that.  I could not imagine not having any hope or eternity to look forward to in the future.  That would seem unimaginable.  How could I live this life and not look forward to an eternity with God?  But then I think not only about life without God, but then living a life for God, but with no faith.  When I consider that, it doesn’t make any sense to me.  I think if I try to live a life for Him without faith, then my walk will grow stagnant and the fire inside will die. 

Now, no one wants the fire to die within, but we have to admit that often in our walk with God, we lose faith.  As a minister, I preach every week and teach others the importance of keeping faith strong and trusting in God, but then I find myself not even taking my own advice and counsel when certain situations arise with my work or at home with my family. 

I have a feeling I’m not the only one who deals with this problem.  We know we should have strong faith.  We know we need to trust in God, but sometimes it’s just downright hard to do!  Having faith is believing in what we do not see in front of us.  When we can’t physically see proof, it’s hard.  Trusting in God can sometimes be one of the most challenging things we’re told to do.  The words used in this passage are strong, “and without faith it is impossible…”  Think about those words.  It’s absolutely impossible to please God without faith.  That’s a strong truth.

Are you claiming to live a life that is committed to God, but failing to have strong faith?  We simply cannot have an effective life with Christ if we are not growing in faith and do not have strong faith.  We need to grow, trust in Him and have faith.