Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nothing Else Compares

“Nothing Else Compares”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 3:7-9
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God is by faith.”

These words of Paul have really inspired me this week and want to share with you all as we look this week more about what we’re thankful for.  While Thanksgiving time should be all year around, we really need to take time to be reminded what we have and all that we should be thankful for.  While it’s wonderful to have such great families, friends and things in our lives, we need to be reminded that God has given us everything we need.

Paul looks at all he has accomplished in his life and all that he has, but then he clearly shares that all these great things in life are nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ personally and following Him.  Paul came to a point where nothing in the world meant anything more than what Christ had become to him.  He found contentment through Christ and that everything else in his life was considered a loss if Christ was not his priority.

What will it take for us to feel the way Paul did?  When will we come to a realization that nothing in the world matters more than Jesus?  We easily say He is number one priority, but so often our lives say the exact opposite.  This is a daily battle and challenge.  We must surrender our lives to Him every day and hold onto Him more than we hold on to the relationships and things we hold so dear. 

Is Jesus our treasure chest?  Do we seek Him more than anything else we desire?  When we think of all our accomplishments, our relationships, our inheritances, or whatever else we have in our lives that we’ve accumulated, how do they compare to how much Christ means to us?  Are they more or is He the ultimate longing for us?

May Christ alone be the treasure chest we solely desire to seek.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Joy Through Contentment

“Joy Through Contentment”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 4:11-13
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

I can’t tell you how many times throughout my life that I have read through these verses and not really given them any deeper thought other than thinking that Jesus gives me strength to do whatever it is I need to do.  While that’s true, there’s something far deeper here than that.

Paul is one of the most powerful and influential people we find in Scripture, especially the New Testament.  He goes from the extreme of murdering Christians to boldly proclaiming the name of Christ everywhere he went.  Talk about a life change!  What I find most appealing about Paul is how strength didn’t just come naturally to him.

One word here really sums this whole passage up, “learned”.  As strong and bold as Paul was, there was so much learning he had to do before he became content.  That’s a big word for us these days, “content”.  Who is content?  Are you?  You may quickly mutter “yes”, but I would caution you before doing so.  Look at your life and what you have and what you don’t have.  Are you satisfied and happy with what God has given you even if there are some things you’d like to have, but don’t have now?

Paul really learned how to be content, whether he had much or very little.  But that didn’t come easy.  He had to learn through some very rough times.  It’s all a part of learning and growing.  None of us are perfect about it.  However, if we continue to learn and grow and base our joy and strength on God and not what the world offers, we will truly learn how the Lord becomes our only source of joy and strength.

We all certainly need to learn how to be content, no matter the circumstances.  I know I do!  Being content is a daily struggle for me and I’m sure it’s for you all as well.  For Paul, the joy of the Lord certainly became his strength.  He was content, but it was only after years of growing through good and difficult times.  We must learn and grow to be content with whatever we have or whatever we don’t have.  The joy of the Lord should be our strength and we should be content with what He’s given to us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Appreciation For Freedom

“Appreciation For Freedom”
By Zach Wood
1 John 2:2
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

As we’ve just celebrated Veteran’s Day, we take time to remember the men and women who have so faithfully served our country and the ones who have given their lives so that we can have freedom in this country.  This past week, I was reminded not only what so many men and women have done to give me this incredible freedom, but also the freedom that has been given to me through Christ.

I find myself so guilty, when these days of tribute come around each year, that I don’t express my gratitude for the wonderful freedom I have been given in this country.  But I also find myself feeling guilty that I don’t express my appreciation and take so much for granted the freedom that Jesus Christ has given to me by paying the price with His life.  Just as these faithful men and women have given freedom by serving and many have died doing so, Jesus Christ has been faithful to come and serve and give up His life so that we would have life.

I am guilty of taking the freedom of this country and the freedom that Christ gives to me for granted.  We are all so guilty of this and it’s important for us to be thankful each day, most importantly for what Jesus Christ gave to give us life.  While these men and women of this country give up so much to give us freedom, the greatest sacrifice ever given was through the death of Jesus on the cross. 

Do we really understand and appreciate what He did to bring us life?  Has Jesus’ death on the cross just become commonplace to us?  Do we sincerely, every day, feel a deep appreciation and sense of true gratitude for what He did? 

I’ve heard the phrase “Freedom is never free” so often through my life.  And, you know what, it’s true!  Freedom always comes with a price that someone has paid.  Faithful men and women have paid that price for us in this country.  Jesus Christ ultimately paid the greatest price by serving and giving His life for us for true freedom.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Choose To Follow Daily

“Choose To Follow Daily”
By Zach Wood
Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’”

The Apostle Peter makes a confession that Jesus Christ is the true Son of God.  Right after, Jesus challenges each of the disciples and says that following Him is going to be challenging and difficult.  The one word that stands out to me in this passage is “daily”.  The choice to completely follow Christ is a decision each of us makes every single day as soon as we begin our day.

We tend to wake up in the mornings with many things on our minds.  We have so many things to tend to and places to go.  We have our jobs, families to take care of and various activities to get around to.  Our daily lives are filled to the max these days.  No wonder we get so consumed with what we need to get done and that our daily lives with Christ often get tucked back into the corner of the day as it begins.

If we are really sincere and committed to a life of living for Christ, we must completely surrender everything to Him and pick up our cross to follow.  We must surrender to Him and allow Him to be in control of the day, leading and guiding us.  However, most often, our schedules lead and guide us.  We take care of what we need to do and often consult Christ’s guidance when we get into a situation that’s problematic or dealing with people who are frustrating us.

If we are going to fully follow Christ, we must be committed to a life daily lived through Him.  This is a life that should begin from the time we awake to the time we lay our heads down to the pillow at night.  It’s a choice we make every single day.  Are we going to follow Him?  Are we going to obey Him?  Are we going to let Him completely lead? 

To truly follow Christ means we completely deny ourselves of what we want to do and let Christ lead us to what He wants us to do.  He must be in the lead and we must carry our cross.  Too often we are comfortable and barely carrying any cross because that’s the life that is most comfortable.  If we are to claim a life lived in and through Christ, we must count the cost of truly following Him and be willing to deny ourselves each day.