Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Positive New Year

“A Positive New Year”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”

This time of year is big for many people to think about the past twelve months and all that has happened.  Many of us think about what we have done for the past year and what has affected our lives.  We tend to think about the good things we’ve done and regret the bad things.  Who wouldn’t regret the bad things? 

None of us want to remember or reminisce about negative things that have happened.  However, these are the very things we tend to dwell on and we get so caught up in the negative at times that we forget all the great things God has done for us, through us and in us.  Paul is very adamant to the church in Philippi that they focus their thoughts on anything that is positive and encouraging and praiseworthy.  Who wouldn’t want to focus on positive things? 

As this year comes to a close and we look into a new year, what positive things can you focus on and encourage others to be better about?  What new attitude could you have toward people and situations that maybe you didn’t react to very well this past year?  It’s wonderful when we can learn from our past so that we make better choices and have better attitudes toward things in the future.  God can use past mistakes to help us learn to make better choices as we move along in our lives each day. 

We definitely need to focus our attention to being more positive and praiseworthy, especially in the hard times when we are tempted to do nothing but complain.  I encourage all of us to make it a goal, as we begin a new year, to start each day in thanksgiving to God for all that He’s done and continues to do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

True Christmas Celebration

“True Christmas Celebration”
By Zach Wood
Luke 2:6-7
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

As I write this today, I am looking out my office window and watching the beautiful snow fall to the ground.  There’s always been something fascinating to me about watching snow fall since I was a child.  It’s not only fascinating, but it’s beautiful as well.  The same goes for a clear night when I can look up at the beautiful sky and see all the stars.  What beauty to behold!  And one of my favorite sights to see is a sunrise or a sunset.  That is truly breathtaking!  The vast array of colors that comes through on the horizon is just awesome!

These are all creations of a wonderful and mighty God!  We are reminded every single day, through His Creation, of how wonderful and awesome He truly is!  While these are wonderful and beautiful, they are just a reminder of the greatness of God Himself.  The greatest thing that has ever happened to us is that Christ came into this world, lived a perfect life and gave His life so that we would have eternal life and choose to follow Him.

As we gather together for this Christmas season, let us never ever forget the true reason we have life and why we even celebrate.  We would have nothing if we didn’t have Jesus Christ.  Mary gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, but not just any boy.  That boy would grow up to teach others and give His life so that we could experience a truly beautiful life that only He can give. 

While there are many beautiful sights to behold throughout our days through His Creation, the most beautiful sight is the life that was born into this world and was given up so that we could have life.  There is nothing greater or more beautiful that Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God.  He is truly the reason we should celebrate, not only as Christmas, but every day throughout the year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A True Desire To Seek

“A True Desire To Seek”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 119:10
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” 

We all know things we are supposed to do in life.  There are rules to keep us in line and obedient.  Growing up, we became accustomed to hearing rules set by our parents.  We knew we needed to clean our room.  We knew we needed to take out the trash.  We knew we needed to take our turn washing the dishes.  If we didn’t obey, there would be consequences and we would get punished in some way. 

I’m guessing most of us didn’t grow up with an enthusiastic attitude toward doing these chores and possibly many others we were asked to do.  As years grow on us, we hopefully come to grasp the idea of being a servant and doing things with a glad and sincere heart.  Maybe we grow with more of a desire to do these things not only for our parents, but for others out of an attitude of service. 

There’s a difference between doing something out of obligation and doing something because you want to.  This passage describes someone who sets out to seek God with their heart.  Hopefully this passage describes you in that you desire God and seek Him with all your heart.  When we truly seek Him and desire to follow Him completely, our lives will stray less and less.

The more we read, the more we put into practice in our daily walk with Christ, the more we grow in His image.  This desire grows inside of us and we seek to do nothing more than follow Him and be obedient.  This doesn’t come from an obligation, but from a sincere desire in the relationship we have with Him.  When you really want to do something, you show strong desire.  When we have a sincere desire to follow Christ, that desire will shine and be visible to others. 

Do we find ourselves asking this question from childhood into our relationship with God, “Do I have to??”  Or do we find ourselves going from “having to” to “wanting to” with following God?  Our relationship with Him must be a sincere desire to follow, otherwise it’s merely obligation and no true desire.    

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Time To Listen

“Time To Listen”
By Zach Wood
Proverbs 18:13 (NLT)
Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”

I’ve read this passage so many times from the NIV, but the other day I read it from the NLT in a devo book that I recently purchased.  This translation just struck me in a way it hasn’t before.  I’m not even going to ask how many of us have struggled with speaking before listening.  Why?  Because every single one of us have done this and later really regretted not listening first. 

I so much wish I could go back in time and first listen before speaking to so many people that I either misunderstood or hurt because I was so foolish not to first listen.  Even if I didn’t agree with what the person was saying, I still should have listened to at least show that I respected how the person felt.  I cannot go back and change those times, but what I can do is learn and remember for the future when I do get into a conversation that I need to listen completely before responding.

Christ calls us to love and to be compassionate toward others, no matter how we are treated.  There are many people we come in contact with that say things we don’t agree with and share advice with us that we don’t like.  What I have learned, and am still learning, that when I’m talking to someone who is offering their opinion, no matter how much I disagree, that I need to fully listen to every word before I respond. 

I’ve learned that sometimes this shows so much more respect and love for others than trying to tell them about Christ.  Showing His love through our actions.  Showing His love as we listen to people, respect their perspective and talking with them.  It’s okay if we don’t always agree.  That’s just not going to happen!  We won’t always agree.  However, as we learn from this proverb, we must work harder in our lives to stop and listen to what others are sharing with us and hear them out fully before we even attempt to respond. 

It’s truly amazing what we come to learn when we actually take the time to listen to people, learn the facts, understand how they feel and where they are coming from before we even attempt to give any response.  God can do some amazing work in our hearts and minds when we take the time to listen closely.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

God's Perfect Faithfulness

“God’s Perfect Faithfulness”
By Zach Wood
Isaiah 25:1
O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.”

It’s always an inspiration to read Scriptures that specifically address God’s faithfulness.  The key word here is “perfect”.  Who on earth could ever be perfect in faithfulness?  There is no one who can promise us this and remain faithful to that promise.  God’s faithfulness is never ending.  It’s always been there and will always be.

From the time you get up in the morning to the time you lay your head to rest, you can count on God’s faithfulness to lead you through the day and to be there always.  He is faithful.  There is no doubt about it.  While everyone else in the world fails us because they are imperfect, we have an awesome God to rely on that is always there and is always perfect in every way.

Isaiah sends this amazing prayer up to the heavens declaring the greatness of our faithful God.  He not only has faithfulness, but perfect faithfulness.  We can rely on Him no matter what we experience.  No matter how deep our pain and strife may become, there is no greater source of faithfulness than what God provides.  He has done marvelous things, continues to do so even today and He will be that way forever.  Isn’t that a great promise?

Maybe you’ve always known that God is faithful and perfect, but the reminder today is something you desperately need as so many around you have failed in their faithfulness.  Maybe today you’re struggling and you just need little reminders that God is always there and watching over you. 

Isaiah’s words here should echo into our lives each day as we seek to serve and praise our awesome Father.  He is the only source of perfect faithfulness we have to rely on.  Every day, all day, in every way.  There is none greater and none more powerful.