Saturday, December 19, 2015
“Create & Restore”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV)
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
As we come close to the end of another year, many thoughts are going through people’s minds. These thoughts can be anything from complete joy to complete sorrow. The end of the year brings many thoughts about what our lives have been and what can be as we look to begin a new year.
Sometimes we really mess up during the year, but there are also times when we haven’t messed up, but bad things have ended up happening to us for one reason or another. This can really make us angry and distraught in so many ways. Maybe this year has been a really tough year for you with family or friends having a very difficult time. Maybe it’s been a tough year with your job. Maybe it’s been a tough year with some family situations you’d dealt with in your home.
There are endless scenarios we could bring up that can make a challenging year. At the end of the year, we tend to be in two different worlds, so to speak. We often dwell on the past year and the many things that we have done or said or that have happened to us. Then we also think of the New Year and all that we want to accomplish or try new.
Whatever your thoughts are at this time, there are seasons of sorrow and seasons of joy. Every human being experiences this. David is no exception. This is one of my favorite passages in Psalm. David became a man after God’s heart. He messed up big time and caused much grief, not only to himself, but also to others. He had a lot of pain as he thought about the past and then looked to the future.
We all need to ask God to create in us a pure heart for various reasons. We have thought and said bad things that we need to repent of. We also need God to restore to us the joy of His salvation and the life He has given us. He wants to create and restore in us a joy that only He can bring.
Whatever you might be thinking about as you end this year and begin a new one, why not ask God this very day, and every day to create within you a sincere desire to have a pure heart and a restored life through Him? He is so willing if you are willing to open up and let Him.
Monday, December 7, 2015
By Zach Wood
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year. Things are so festive and alive with different colors no matter where you go. The feeling of Christmas and festivities is all around and people seem to have a different kind of spirit. This is also one of my favorite times of the year because we talk about and focus on the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He was born into this world and had a mission unlike any other mission anyone has ever had before.
The stories we hear each year about the birth of Jesus are wonderful to remember and cherish. But I want to take this a bit further than just celebrating His birth. Not only was the Kind of Kings and Lord of Lords born into this imperfect world, He also lived a sinless life and went on a mission to make sure that we knew He loved us.
I am not only thankful for the time we spend focusing on celebrating His birth, but I’m also so thankful to know that we have a Savior Who came to this earth and lived among us. He lived among us filthy people and connected with those who truly needed Him. He came for the sick and for those who were completely lost. He reached out to people who were outcasts. He loved the unlovable. He opened His life to connecting to those whom most of us probably would never consider coming close to.
The one thing I am so thankful for is that not only did He come to rescue us from our sin, but also He knows and understands everything we go through. He knows the hurts we have. He knows the pain we endure in every situation and circumstance that is hard. He knows how we are feeling even when we can’t seem to really explain to anyone else. He knows what we are truly feeling even when we can’t express it to Him. He understands and knows all that we feel and all that we go through.
This time of year is hard for many people. A lot of people dread this time of year because of bad memories for one reason or another. If you are one of those people who hurt this time of year and you don’t know who to reach out to, remember that Jesus, and only Jesus, truly knows your heart and your hurt more than anyone. He totally understands when no one else does. He came to live among us and reach out to those who were hurting.
Reach out to Him. He understands and loves you and wants to hold you.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
“Thankful, Grateful, Blessed”
By Zach Wood
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
A couple of weeks ago, as we were on the road driving to church, I noticed a sign on the side of the road that drew my attention which read, “Thankful, Grateful, Blessed”. As the drive continued, I thought about those words and how they should apply to every day living.
First, we are blessed. This is something that has been done for us. We are blessed in so many ways. When we receiving a blessing, whatever the gift may be, that’s what it is, a gift. We receive blessings in so many different ways and forms. Blessings can come in very little ways or very big ways. However, whether big or small, they are from God. God loves to bless us and provide for us. The face that we are blessed has nothing to do with what we’ve done, but with what’s been done for us and to us.
Second and third, what is our reaction to the different ways we have been blessed? Are we indeed thankful and grateful for all that we have received? We have already been blessed, but being thankful and grateful are sole choices we make in response to what we’ve been given. We have the individual choice of whether or not to show thankfulness and gratefulness whatever the circumstances we face in life.
I think we would all agree that it’s so easy to be thankful and grateful when we receive nice gifts and when life is treating us well. However, when life hands us a basket or truckload of lemons, how often are we grateful and thankful despite those hard times? Do we push through, as Paul points us, and continue to be thankful and grateful? I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we aren’t always grateful and thankful as we should be. We all have a lot of room to grow here.
We all “know” that we should be thankful and grateful for all that we’ve been given, no matter what circumstances and situations that surround us each day, but actually living that out can be really tough. Paul learned to be thankful and grateful because he knew he was very blessed over and above anything he deserved. He rejoiced in the blessings in his life, even when things were tough.
I encourage all of us, not only at this time of Thanksgiving Holiday, but each and every day, to remember that we are truly blessed by God in so many ways. Are we going to be sincere in our thankfulness and gratefulness, no matter what?
Monday, November 16, 2015
“BIG or little God?”
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
If someone were to ask you, “Do you serve a big God?”, your answer would most likely be “Yes!”. How many of us would even think of or even consider saying that we don’t? You ask any Christian leader or minister in a church and they would quickly tell you that they do serve a very big God! To answer any other way would be absurd.
We talk so often in the church about how we serve a big God and how powerful He is. We talk often about the amazing things He has done in our lives and how He continues to work is mysterious ways. We have Bible study groups and sermons given on how incredible big our God is. It is absolutely wonderful to share how big God is, but don’t you think we should also be living our lives in a way that shows we believe?
For so long, we have talked this up so much in the church about an amazing and big God that works in unbelievable ways, but so often the way we live our lives doesn’t tell that story to others. We feel good talking about how wonderful He is and make Him sound really great, but then as we live our lives many days, we really don’t show others we truly have that faith in a big God.
Paul definitely believed in a big God! He served a God that was infinitely more powerful than anything he could ever imagine. Paul not only shared about his big God, but he also lived believing this and living it! How many of us actually live this belief out each and every day? How many of us not only talk about how immeasurably great God is, but also live that faith out?
If we’re honest with ourselves and with others, I think we’d have to say that we do a lot more “talk” than actually living that belief out. We cannot only talk about it, but we must live in a way that convinces others that we serve a big God as well.
So, do you serve a BIG God or a little God? Do you make Him little in your everyday life or BIG in the way you live so that others can see His amazing ways?
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
“People-Pleaser or God-Pleaser?”
By Zach Wood
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
There is not a single person in this world that does not, in one way or another, desire to be liked by another human being. Every one of us, no matter our personality or how we were raised, desires to be accepted and liked by other people. Who wouldn’t?? Who would want to live a life being rejected by people all the time? Nobody desires that kind of life.
While we do have a desire to be liked and accepted by others, and there’s nothing wrong with that, we can also take that to an extreme and become obsessed with getting others to like us. It doesn’t take long for so many of us to behave in certain ways in order to draw attention to ourselves. Sometimes it’s just emotions getting the best of us. Sometimes we just get lonely and t desperate for someone to notice us.
Look at the title of this devotional and ask yourself whether you are a people-pleaser or a God-pleaser. Don’t answer that too quickly. It’s so easy to look and respond quickly that we desire to please God and not people. But if we took an honest look at our life each day, I think we would notice right away that we strive to please people way too much. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to impress others and present ourselves well, but we can go to the extreme of that just to get people to recognize us and like us.
I’ve often shared that Paul is one of my favorite characters in Scripture. He experienced more than any of us probably will ever experience. He went through so much and put up with much pain and strife. He struggled more than many others did and he learned much as he dealt with his tough experiences.
Of course he tried to please people, but he came to learn and realize that it was so much more important to be concerned with what God thought than what people thought of him. He got to the point where he didn’t care what people thought of him. He became more concerned about making sure he was pleasing God. He knew Who he was serving and that meant more to him than trying to people other people.
The question is very simple this week. Who are you trying to please? Is it God or the people around you?
Thursday, October 29, 2015
“Attitude In The Morning”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 59:16-17 (NIV)
“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”
My day just never seems to feel right unless I have my quiet time in the morning. For many years, I have had this routine as I start my day. It’s the one time I have to myself each day that is completely quiet and peaceful. I wake up early before getting my girls up for school and before I head to work. I want to have this time in the morning, otherwise the rest of the day just seems “off”. I don’t feel like myself. My attitude is always somewhat different if I haven’t had time with God.
My attitude in the morning and throughout the day can be determined by whether I’ve had that quiet time with Him. It doesn’t mean I always have a great day just because I have that quiet time, but it really helps knowing the Holy Spirit is there to guide me and lead my thoughts and my heart to do what is right and what is best. Does that always happen? No, of course not. I don’t always make the best decisions or do the right things. But God seems to be directing me a little more through the day when my thoughts begin with Him each day.
How is your attitude in the morning? How is my attitude in the morning? Do you start your day spending time praising Him? Do you go to Him for the strength you need for the day? Is He your fortress and do you completely rely on Him?
God desires for us to spend time with Him each day. He longs to hear us and for us to bathe in His presence as we contemplate the day before us. Can we choose another time of the day to spend with Him and not the morning? Well, of course you can. However, I really don’t know how you can’t start your day out with prayer and expect the day to go well without first having spent time with Him. It just has always seemed like the best time that I can get my thoughts right with Him and ask His guidance for the day.
I highly encourage you to consider, if you don’t already, spending some quality time with Him for a few moments to start your day. Help your attitude in the morning. It doesn’t have to be long. Start small and work your way to more time each day. This Psalm is intentional about how we need to spend our time each day giving praise to God and relying on Him to be our fortress in times of trouble and hardship.
How do you start your morning?
Thursday, October 22, 2015
“More Than We Deserve”
By Zach Wood
Romans 5:1-2 (NLT)
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”
We spend a lot of time in our lives acting like we deserve things. When we work hard at our jobs, we feel like we deserve a raise or some other promotion or recognition. If we do something nice for a family member, many times we want to be shown thanks for that. If we help out a friend, often we hope deep down inside that the person will do something in return.
If we bend over backwards for someone else and do many things to help them out, we honestly do expect something in return. We might not say it, but we honestly many times hope something will come back to us in return. What human being has never felt these ways?
So very often in our lives, we really feel strongly, for one reason or another, that we deserve something for what we have done, whether at work, at home or somewhere else. When I think of my faith in Christ and how far He has brought me through the years, I’m often reminded that I don’t deserve anything. He has given me so much more than I’ll ever deserve and only because He truly loves me. I need reminded that I don’t deserve anything I have.
Why do we so often think we deserve so much? Think about what Christ did for us so that we could be righteous before God by the blood. We have forgiveness from a Savior Who gave His life for us. Look at the word “undeserved” in the above passage. That’s a big word! Everything we have in our lives is undeserved. We deserve nothing, yet Christ gave us everything when He died for us. We have everything we need in life, yet so often we feel like we are so deprived.
Are you thankful for the undeserved blessings in your life with Christ? We definitely need to be thankful a whole lot more rather than spending so much time thinking about how we deserve more in life. Christ gave us His all. That’s all we need.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
“More Than Anything”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 73:25-26 (NLT)
“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”
Think back to all the years of growing up in your childhood when people asked you what you wanted for your birthday and for Christmas. Maybe you can think back to many times when you shared how you wanted a toy that had just come out. Perhaps it was a video game that you couldn’t wait to own. Whatever it was, you probably spent a lot of time and many days just thinking about it. No, that isn’t the right word. You spent many days daydreaming about it.
I think we can all testify to this in our childhood at one point or another. We had years where we couldn’t wait to get on our hands on a present to see if what we really wanted was behind all that wrapping paper we quickly rip off. The sheer joy of the mysterious gift, whether it was at Christmas or on our birthday, took hold of us and we just wondered what we might get.
I personally remember many years of excitement of presents and how anticipation built up and I lost sleep just thinking about what might be under the Christmas tree. As years have gone by, I don’t lose much sleep now and that excitement I had as a child has worn off. However, I do still enjoy presents!
As I consider the excitement so many people have toward getting gifts, which is a fun thing to witness for sure, I cannot help but think about our anticipation and excitement that we have for God. God surely wants us to enjoy what we have on this earth, but how often do we build up anticipation for things of this earth more than our desire for God Himself? That’s a tough one. Again, He wants us to enjoy what we’ve been given here in this temporary life, but not at the expense of making these things important in themselves.
I am so guilty of not desiring God each day in so many ways. I say I love Him and even share with others that He means more to me than anything else, but is my life really reflecting that? Is He really my hope and my strength? Do I look to no one but Him to provide the strength I need each day? My health could go up in flames and my spirit may grow weak, so do I long for Him more than anything else in this life that I have on earth? Do you?
We certainly need to examine whether or not God is ultimately Whom we desire more than anything this world offers.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
By Zach Wood
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
There have been many times in my past years in which I have taken things way too seriously. There have been times that I should have laughed, but I got bent out of shape. There have been times when a joke was cracked, but I was in too serious of a mood and didn’t laugh.
The opposite is also true. There have been times when something serious was going on and I chose to goof off and got in trouble. There have been times when someone needed a friend to talk to and I just laughed and didn’t care. Sometimes, we all goof off when we need to be serious. Other times, we are too serious when we need to lighten up.
Imagine the life of Jesus as He walked this earth and talked to so many people about His loving Father. He was all about getting the message out to people. Nothing was more important than His mission to share with others and to share with His closest men how to go about this mission of making disciples. I think there are times of course that Jesus and His men had a great time laughing and telling stories, but there were so many times when He was very serious about the mission He was teaching them.
Friends and family, it seems these days we hold too loosely the mission that Christ gave us. We “laugh” it off and go about our daily routines. Sure we believe in Him, but are we really dedicated to a life of sharing with others the Great Commission? De we really take His command seriously to share with others the greatest news we’ve ever known? Are we committed to reaching others with the love of Christ and helping them to come and know Christ?
Jesus sends us on the same mission He sent His men on. He wants us to seriously take this message to heart and share with others. Teaching them and baptizing them into Christ so that their lives are never the same. But it doesn’t end there. We must continue to encourage and help them understand. It’s a lifelong process and we need to be better about it.
Jesus wants us to have fun and enjoy life for sure. But He also wants us to take this mission seriously and share with others.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
“What Fills You Up?”
By Zach Wood
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you like to be filled up? We all do. When we eat, we like to have our fill of great food. When we go to the gas station, we fill our tanks. When we put water into a bottle, we put ice in and fill it to the top water. If we go shopping somewhere and take advantage of a fill-a-bag deal for one low price, we sure put as much stuff in as we can.
When we have opportunities to fill up, we take advantage of it! We want to be filled in many different ways. It’s not always about tangible things, however. We also like to be filled with encouragement. We like to be filled with love from other people. We like to be filled with compliments.
No matter what we like to be filled with, there is absolutely nothing that should be more fulfilling than what God fills us up with. He fills us with joy and peace and hope. This is a joy, peace and hope that the world cannot give us. Paul was emphatic about encouraging people to be filled with God’s presence and hope. He knew there was nothing more important than what God fills our lives with.
What are we filled up with these days? Are we longing, as Paul did, to be filled with God’s ultimate joy, hope and peace? Are we constantly after only what God can give us or are we chasing everything else in the world trying to find that fulfillment? If we’re honest, most of us would admit that we often chase and want to be filled with what the world offers because it’s immediate and enjoyable……for a time.
I am reminded everyday that God is my only source of true fulfillment. It’s amazing all the ways He reminds us of how much I need Him. We truly do need Him. Are we being filled by Him? What fills us up?
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
“Stop Pretending & Start Loving”
By Zach Wood
Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
One of the most favorite things kids love to do is pretend. My girls are always bringing back memories when they play pretend with each other and with their friends. It’s been so long ago, but I remember playing pretend and just having fun with our imaginations as we kept ourselves busy for hours. It was so much fun to just pretend and imagine ourselves anywhere and role playing whatever character we wanted.
I smile when I see my kids playing pretend. They have so much fun using their imaginations and being creative. It’s often something to laugh at when they do this as well. Kids really enjoy pretending to be someone they are not, just for the fun of it. They get goofy and make us smile.
It is fun to play pretend, but too often, we continue to play pretend in the relationships we have throughout our life. We play pretend in so many ways toward other people. We stop being genuine and we pretend to love them. We act like we do just so that we can get through our time with them. Instead of being genuine toward people that we should be reaching with love, we pretend. The sad thing is that people can see right through that.
Doesn’t it bother you when you can tell someone else isn’t really being genuine with you in how they treat you? It just feels awkward. It doesn’t feel natural. Not all relationships we have with others are always going to feel natural. That’s just not how reality of life is. However, we can do our best to be genuine in love toward others, whether they are easy to get along with or not. God sent Jesus to show us what true and genuine love is. His love is no pretend love.
We truly need to hold tightly to what is good and genuine. We need to love others, no matter whether they are easy or hard to love. Others want to see us being genuine in our love, not pretending. When they see us loving them in a genuine way, then the doors of opportunity to share with them open up.
It’s time we really stop pretending and start loving as Christ loves us.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
“Are We Eagerly Awaiting?”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.
We sure eagerly await a lot of things in life, don’t we? We eagerly await the arrival of a newborn baby. We eagerly await a promotion that we work hard to attain. We eagerly await that house that we will close on soon. We eagerly await the vacation we’ve been saving for. We eagerly await the day that we say our vows in marriage.
We eagerly await a lot of things. We get excited and worked up about a lot. We get excited and worked up about celebrations that happen throughout our years of life. We really like to celebrate, don’t we? Of course we do! God brings moments to our lives that we should enjoy and savor. There’s nothing like making memories that bring warm feelings to our hearts each time we remember them. We await and long for many things and we should. We should be able to enjoy life.
As much as we enjoy things in life, we should never place more importance on the things more than what is awaiting us as we seek to go home to be with Jesus Christ one day. The problem is that we do hold onto so much here in this life. Again, we should enjoy and savor the great moments we have here that God blesses us to have. But, we must never hold onto anything so hard that we wish to be here more than our eternal home with Christ.
This is not our home. Every single day, from the time we get up to the time we go to bed, we should be eagerly awaiting the moment we get to see Jesus face to face. However, so much of the time, I find myself honestly holding on and eagerly awaiting things in this life too much. I find myself focused on what the world offers and longing for worldly things way too much.
No matter what good things happen for us in this life on earth, there is absolutely NOTHING we could possibly eagerly await more than being in the presence of our Lord and Savior. When we are with Him, there will be nothing greater. So, while we await that day and moment, are you sharing that eagerness with others?
Thursday, August 27, 2015
“How Are Your Words?”
By Zach Wood
“Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
From the time I get up in the morning to the time I go to bed, I’m sharing words with various people throughout my day. Whether I’m chatting with my beautiful wife, my precious kids, people at work or friends and family, I’m using words to communicate with them. Whether I’m doing by talking in person, on the phone, texting or e-mailing, I’m using words to share something.
No matter how I’m communicating, one thing I always want to keep in mind and close to my heart is how I am using my words. Am I doing my best to encourage other people when I talk? Whether that’s with family, friends or people at my job, I want to say encouraging things. As hard as I do try, I find myself often becoming frustrating at different people for various reasons and not sharing words of kindness or encouragement.
We all have good days and bad days of using words. Sometimes we are encouraging others and then other times, we are tearing people down with what we say. We know there are many Scriptures throughout God’s Word that encourage us to speak with love and kindness toward others. It’s such a simple concept, yet is probably the hardest thing to sometimes do.
We use so many words each day in our conversations. I want to ask you if you are really thinking about what you say each day in every conversation you have with others? Are you doing your best to be kind even when the person you are trying to communicate with is upsetting you? Can you still share kind words even when they are not shared with you by another person?
All we can control is what we say to others. Our words to others can be so powerful in a good way or very powerful in a destructive way. What way are you choosing each day in each conversation? Are you finding yourself constantly getting irritated and using negative words with your spouse, kids, friends, co-workers and family? If so, then maybe you need to take a step back, think through your words and change how you talk.
Words are powerful. God wants us to use our words in a powerful way to bring Him praise by encouraging and lifting others up. This reminds me of a phrase that I’ve heard so often, yet is so hard to put into practice, “If you can’t say anything good, then don’t say anything at all”.
How are your words?
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
“His Faithful Love”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 107:1 (NLT)
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”
Being the parent of two children has taught me so much through the years. As much as I strive to be a Godly father and role model to them, I find there are so many days that I’m selfish or lose my temper with them. I have a good days spending time with them, then days when I feel irritated about every little thing they do. Each day I ask God to give me strength to be the best parent I can be for them to show His love.
One thing that truly amazes me is, even though I get angry and frustrated with them, they never stop wanting to hug me, give me kisses and cuddle with me. There’s never a day that one of them doesn’t want me to hold and hug them. I think of all the times that I’ve lost patience with them for one reason or another, and yet they still know that I love them and want to be with them. Daddy may have a bad day and get cranky, but they know I still love them.
It just amazes me that these girls know, without a doubt, that I love them. They want me to hold them and cuddle with them. I cherish those times. They know, even in the times that I get upset with them, that I still love them. They’ve learned to know that I will love them regardless of what they do. I’m glad they feel this way. Again, it amazes me. I am thankful for that affection they still show me regardless of how I sometimes am toward them.
Every one of these moments, I think about how amazing God’s love for me is even though I disobey Him each day in some way. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t do something that He may not be happy with me about. But, you know what? He still loves me and I know that. I know that His faithful love will endure forever.
Each day, to know my Father loves me and that His faithful love will never fail me is so reassuring. His promise to love me brings me to praise Him endlessly. I know His faithful love will endure forever. Just as my kids know that their daddy will love them regardless of how they act sometimes, our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us regardless of how we act sometimes. His faithful love will endure forever!
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
“Let’s Cheer On!”
By Zach Wood
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a TV show that my kids and I have really gotten into called “American Ninja Warrior”. I shared how impressed I was with the show and the stories of people’s lives that are shown before they go through the obstacles. Then, I also shared how they go through the obstacles and have a good time and usually have a smile on their face still even when they fall.
The more I have watched the show since then and thought more, something else really occurred to me and I want to share with you this week. Something very important on this show also is the fact that these people not only have a crowd cheering them on, but they usually have family and/or friends walking along as they complete the obstacles. With family and friends and the audience, I really appreciate all the encouragement that comes with hearing their cheers.
Could you imagine an intense sporting event with a cheering crowd? I couldn’t. What would it be like without hearing a crowd of familiar voices cheering you on and hearing your name spoken over and over again with the statement that you can do it and keep it up? There’s a completely different feeling when we have beloved friends and family cheering us on, no matter what event we’re taking part in. We need encouragement from others.
But let’s flip that and remember that others need encouragement from us as well. I can tell you that in my life, I would absolutely not be walking with God if it were not for some very, very special people throughout the years who took time to invest in my life. I will cherish these Godly people for the rest of my life. I’m thankful for them.
So, what ways can we work on inspiring and spurring others on? Often times we tend to focus on what others can do for us, but we also need to focus on giving that encouragement back. We are called to encourage each other in the Kingdom. Why are we not doing more of that? We see it on TV shows and at sporting events, but why do we lack this so much in the Kingdom?
We need to encourage one another and do if often. Christ is cheering us on everyday, so we need to do the same for others.
Thursday, August 6, 2015
“Imitate With Our Best Effort”
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
We do a lot of imitating in life, don’t we? When we’re kids, we imitate those who are older as we learn new skills and learn to do new tasks. As we grow older, we continue to learn as we get new jobs and study and watch others do various things we’d like to aspire to do.
We spend a lot of time in our life imitating what other people do so that we can be better in our jobs. We can sure learn to do things on our own, but we need some sort of detailed instructions from others at times when learning on our own isn’t enough. It’s important to learn from other people. We can always learn a new way to do something we’ve done the same way for so long.
Sometimes we like to try to imitate people to make others laugh. You and I have seen probably many comedy routines where people do their best to sound like a popular actor and we can be really amazed at how well they sound just like the person. How did they do that? They practiced and practiced. They tried over and over and over again to imitate that person.
Just like we need to learn from others in how to do certain tasks in life, most importantly, we need to learn and imitate what Christ did. There is no greater example to imitate. Often times, we make excuses that it’s just so hard to follow Christ and do exactly what He did and treat others as He treated people. When it gets hard to imitate Him and we want to give up, just remember all He went through to give Himself as a sacrifice for us.
How hard do you and I work daily to imitate Christ as we communicate and work with others? How much effort do we really put into being just like Christ? This is not a new concept to any of us, but a great reminder that we should put in our best effort daily to be just like Jesus. After all, He put in His best effort to give us life.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
“Know When To Quit”
By Zach Wood
Proverbs 23:4-5 (NLT)
“Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.”
I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I’ve read devotions, heard sermons or read articles that discussed the importance of not being hung up on money. We know God’s Word teaches us not to get hung up on being so concerned about wealth.
We have countless reality shows on TV where people compete for a big grand prize, which is always a large sum of money. Some of these shows have contestants that will do absolutely crazy things just to win money. Many of them don’t care who they hurt or what they have to do in order to win. It can get pretty crazy watching some of these people do whatever it takes to win.
Now, before we come down on those people we see on TV, we better not point the finger too much at them before we look at our own lives and see how much the same we really are. Just because we have Christ in our lives does not exempt us from becoming money hungry many times as well. We “know” we are to ask Him to provide, but often, we get just as hung up on the green stuff as people in the world do.
Please don’t get me wrong and think that working hard to make ends meet is wrong. I’m not saying that people who have to work extra, extra hard to keep food on the table and bills paid are wrong in what they are doing. Sometimes, families just have to do what they gotta do. However, what I do want to warn and encourage against is always wanting more and more and more. Thinking that if we just make a little more, then we’ll be set.
It’s important to provide for our families, but it’s also important for us to know when we need to quit and not do anymore for day or on the weekend because we need time with those we love. Working hard is good, but there comes a time when we have to put work aside and focus on those we love and spend quality time with them. Money needs will always be there and sometimes we just have to stop and focus on those who are important to us.
Let this Proverb be an encouragement to us all that God will provide for us. Yes, He wants us to work hard and provide for our families, but He wants desires for us to be part of that family as well and be present as much as we can to make family memories.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
“Obstacles Of Life”
By Zach Wood
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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.”
Over the past couple of months, one of my favorite TV shows has become “American Ninja Warrior”. My kids have been watching this with me and we really like it! The contestants have such determination as they enter the obstacle courses. If you’re not familiar with the show or have only caught glimpses of it, contestants from all over compete on very difficult obstacles that really test their strength and endurance as well as mental work.
The more I keep watching this show, the more I notice how people respond to how they do on the courses and how they react when they “fail”. There are actually more people who fall off the course than complete it. However, it’s amazing to watch people and their passion going through and doing their best. And, the other thing that most amazes me is their attitude when they are interviewed after falling. Most of them always have a smile on their face and talk about how they enjoyed it and will get it next time.
It truly inspires me every time I watch this how because of the determination and attitude of the contestants. I’m inspired how passionate they are for what they are doing. And, it’s usually not for themselves. Before they begin the courses, they always show a “back story” that tells how they came to be on the show and something about their friends and family and circumstances that brought them to the show. There is just something so inspiring about each of the contestants and makes it more than just a show.
When I see their determination, I can’t help but think of Paul. This is an amazing passage as Paul talks about pressing on and winning the prize in Christ. He kept his eye on the path and didn’t let things discourage him from continuing to follow Christ. Paul had a lot of obstacles for sure, but He did not let that pull him down. He trusted in Christ. From his past, he learned hard things and learned to put his trust in God and continue through life’s obstacles.
No matter what the past is for us, we can be assured that God is with us through all we experience. And, our attitude as we continue through the obstacles of life will determine a lot. Are we pressing on no matter what?
Thursday, July 9, 2015
“Praise Him For Faithfulness”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 33:1-4 (NIV)
“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”
I always love reading the promises throughout the Bible that God gives to us of His faithfulness. We have so much to praise Him for, don’t we? His Word is packed full of encouragement and promises to us that He will take care of us. Because of His faithfulness to us, we should praise Him everyday and all through the day.
Often it is hard to praise Him and give thanks because of the many trials and sorrows we experience. We often find it difficult to praise Him when we are consumed with so many worries and other things bothering us. It’s in these times we especially need to focus on praising Him and remember that no matter what, He is and always will be faithful.
One book that I especially like reading through in the OT is Psalms. When I read through the chapters, I am always encouraged and inspired. I never tire from reading this fantastic book. It’s full of inspiration and words to help when things seem down. And, even when things don’t seem down, it’s still inspiring to read.
No matter what happens to us in life, no matter what we experience and no matter what people say or do, nothing will ever change the fact that God is faithful in all He does and He will always be there for us. That is truly worth praising Him for!
He is surely faithful in all He does and His love endures forever!
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
“Get Excited To Share”
By Zach Wood
1 Chronicles 16:8 (NLT)
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.”
We tend to get really excited about a lot of things that happen to us in life. When we receive a present from someone for Christmas, our birthday or for another special occasion, we get really excited. When we receive a raise or job promotion at work, that makes us feel good and we celebrate. When we play different sporting games with friends and family, we can get quite competitive and worked up over what we play.
We could list many more things in life that we get excited and worked up over. It’s great that we get so excited about different things in life. However, I cannot help but think of all the times in life when I’ve gotten excited about something going on, but then my excitement for sharing my faith with others hasn’t shown the same enthusiasm. When I realize this, it’s a hard pill to swallow. I am convicted that my love for God and excitement to do His Work isn’t as exciting as the next event I’m going to.
It is easy to get worked up and excited about different things happening in our lives and that is okay. The problem comes when our excitement for sharing God’s love with others is less exciting that some event we’re pumped up about. When this happens, we seriously need to check our priorities. Where is our heart? How about the song, “Go Tell It On The Mountain”? The words of that song describe this very well. Are we excited and worked up about our opportunities to share His love with others?
This is not meant to give any kind of guilt trip for when you or I get excited about something going on in our lives. God definitely wants us to enjoy the different things that happen to us. But I also believe He really desires for the most joy and most excitement in life to come from knowing Him. Letting the world around us know why we have joy. We need to be giving thanks in all we do and proclaiming His greatness.
I pray that we would become more and more excited about sharing His love and proclaiming His greatness each day. Then, the world will notice and see Him through us more and more.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
“Our Daily Pursuit”
By Zach Wood
“Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.”
What have you found yourself pursuing in life lately? What are you striving for? What are you working so hard to accomplish? What has consumed your mind and heart lately? Are you working hard to provide a better life for your family? Are you working hard to achieve some goals you’ve listed in the past for yourself and your family?
These questions should fill our mind daily and be a reminder to us of what we work hard each day to achieve. We all want to achieve so many things in life. There’s nothing at all wrong with wanting to achieve and accomplish certain things in our lives. It’s great that we want to be the best in whatever we set out to do. God certainly wants us to do the best wherever we go and whatever we do.
Are we pursuing God and His Kingdom more than anything else in our life? Is it our daily goal to do what He wants to do in us, through us and with us? Do we awake in the morning and ask God to help us do what He wants to accomplish through us? Or do we awake and go through most days pursuing selfish things, only considering our needs?
If we want to live a life of righteousness and honor and love, then why would we not pursue God completely? Why would we choose to chase after other things in life that have no lasting meaning? This is a daily battle we all face. Do we long to fill our selfish desires or do we long to serve God and be used by Him to do what He wants? We know what the right answer is, but do we really live that way?
We definitely want to strive to pursue God and His righteousness. We want to strive to show His love to others in all ways that we can. I know this sounds cliché, but if we study His Word daily and let Him truly lead, then our lives will look more like Christ.
Are we pursuing Him each day?
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
“Days Filled With Encouragement”
By Zach Wood
Romans 15:5-6 (NIV)
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What if you went through your day and everywhere you turn, someone gave you encouragement? How would you feel if every conversation you had through the day had an encouraging word for you to take with you? What if all we heard all day long from people, no matter where we would go or do, was encouragement? Would we feel different? Would we be able to endure more than we do now?
Is it impossible to even consider that we could fill our daily conversations with constant, encouraging words? Some days, it certainly seems so. There are often days when all we hear is what we aren’t doing right and what needs to be done better. No doubt we want to hear encouraging words from others, but we should also be people who wish to give encouraging words as well. How can we expect to be encouraged if we aren’t giving encouragement?
The Apostle Paul knew what it meant for the church and people’s lives to be filled with unity and encouragement. Paul made it a point to encourage others to be unified. This attitude starts by watching the things we say each day to others, no matter where we are. We can’t expect to be encouraging to one another in the body of Christ if we spend our days dishing out discouragement to others in our attitude. This attitude of encouragement must become a daily habit.
Each of us makes decisions each day of what we are going to say to others and how we treat them by our actions. It’s imperative that we keep in mind how God wants us to treat others and how He calls us to love others. He wants us to be encouraged so that we can endure. He encourages us through His Word and through other people. We must also make it a point each day to strive to be encouragers to others. When we do this, we spread a message of unity in the body of Christ that is contagious for the lost to see and hear.
God desires a spirit of unity among His children so that encouragement will flow through conversations each day as we grow in Him.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
“Words Of Love”
By Zach Wood
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
What’s the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning? What immediately consumes your heart as you awake? Some of us are morning people and others are not. Some of us it takes quite a while to “wake up” and be completely alert while others just pop up out of bed and are ready to tackle the day.
What is first and foremost at the top of your mind and on your heart as you get up? Is it all the worries, cares and schedules for the day at hand? For many of us, it sure is. Or, do you awake and look forward to first spending time in God’s Word and meditating on the things He wants you to do? So often, we get up and start hurrying through our day before we even get out the door. In such a fast-paced world today, it’s often hard to get up and not get into a rushed routine.
When we get up and start rushing through our day, it’s so much easier to not be focused on asking God to guide and direct our way. It’s also so much easier to not be alert about what we say to others. How many of us have gone through the day and messed up our conversations with others because we have not asked God to guide and direct our words through the day?
This Psalm from David is amazing. What a prayer David has to God that he would use words that would bring glory and honor to God. All of us want to encourage others and bring glory to God with what we do and say. However, how many of us specifically ask God, as we begin our day, to give us loving and caring words to share with others? It’s a simple concept, yet so hard to live out each day because we are faced with so many pressures.
Be encouraged today and everyday after to pray these words of David as you go through your daily routine. May the words we say through our day bring encouragement and light to others so they may see Christ through us.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
“Purchased & Restored”
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 1:7-8 (NIV)
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
I have admired people, through the years, who intentionally go to garage sales and other sale places to look for things that don’t appeal to most others. They look for broken things. They look for items that possibly have been through much use and have been left to not work. I find it amazing, whether seeing it in person, on the news or reading about it in the media, when these people have taken these broken or worn down items and then restored them. It is amazing how they look.
If you or I walked into a store today to purchase an item, the chance of us intentionally buying something broken would be very small. We usually do not walk into a business and set out to buy something broken? Why? Because we are paying money for a new item, not a broken one. If we do see an item that is broken, we pass it up and possibly show it to a store employee to take it from the shelf. We don’t usually like buying things that are already broken or worn down.
The passage today describes what Jesus Christ has done for us and how amazing that is. He came to this earth and bought us with His blood and redeemed us. Why would He do such a thing for us sinners? Because He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. He sees broken and worn out people and wants to give them life. He intentionally looks for those who are broken to pieces and wants to restore them. He is in the business of restoring lives.
It is often easy for us to forget how broken we were before Jesus rescued us from our sin. We are all broken, but thankfully we’ve been bought by the blood of Jesus and we can now be restored in Him. Isn’t that amazing? Through Jesus and Him only do we have restoration. Because of the great love He has lavished upon us do we have life now so abundant. He takes our brokenness and restores us. We have been redeemed through His blood.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
By Zach Wood
Psalm 95:3-7 (NLT)
“For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!”
Kids never cease to amaze us, do they? It seems they are always looking for ways to be creative, goofy and get us to laugh at the silly things they do. One of the greatest things kids do often is getting the parent’s attention to look at something they’ve found. When they discover something, there is sheer excitement and it doesn’t stay bottled up.
Children are always so excited to show parents new discoveries. However, it’s not always a new discovery, but could just be a simple noticing of God’s wonderful creation. My girls often find things outside and with other friends and they get so excited about it. They quickly want to show mommy and daddy. It’s in these times that God wants to teach us, as adults, to stop and take time to notice the simple, wonderful things of God’s creation.
Kids are great at getting us adults to stop and take life in. We tend to get so caught up and busy with daily life that we forget to take notice of the many simple blessings God gives us to enjoy in His creation. In this Psalm passage, I am reminded that God wants to get my attention so that I don’t miss moments of just stopping to admire His creation all around me. He wants to speak to us. He wants to show us things that are all around us that we so often forget to notice.
God wants to remind us of His Majesty in any way He can. He wants us to never forget how amazing, powerful and beautiful He is. Wherever we go and whatever we are doing, we can always be reminded of God’s wonderful creation and how beautiful He has made things. Do we take the time to stop and take this in? Do we take the time to admire and praise Him for all He has given to us to enjoy? He is a great and mighty God and He deserves our praise.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
“Our Spiritual Vision”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 5:8 (NLT)
“God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.”
How many of us, if we had blurry vision, would just let our sight be as it is and not go see an eye doctor to determine if we need glasses? We certainly would not pass on that. We would want to see and fix the problem. What if we were driving through rain and our wipers were messed up or broken? Would we not stop to fix that problem or buy new wipers? Of course we would.
What if we had a windshield covered in frost and ice in the winter and needed to go somewhere? We would be absurd to drive the vehicle and think we are still safe and can see where we are going. We would defrost and scrape so that we can see through to the road.
If we have anything hindering our physical sight ability, we would do something about it and correct as soon as possible. We would want to make sure we remove anything that obstructs our ability to see and carry on. It makes sense and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Often times we take care of our physical sight, but care a little less regarding our spiritual sight. We put our eyes where they shouldn’t be and when we take notice of things that pass by our eyes, we have the tendency to wander and become distracted. These distractions take our eyes off God and we are tempted to focus on things that are not pure.
We are all guilty of this and we must remember that God blesses those who strive to keep their hearts pure and away from evil things. Throughout our days, we are faced with temptations. Some of these times can be temptations to say things we don’t mean to say, but other times they are temptations to look at things we shouldn’t view.
Do we really want to see God and truly follow Him? Do we desire to keep our eyes on pure things? Jesus has this amazing teaching in the Beatitudes about how we need to strive to keep our hearts pure. When we strive for this, God blesses us. When we strive to be pure in heart and turn away from vile things, our spiritual sight and journey become strengthened.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
“Rich With Godly Contentment”
By Zach Wood
1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT)
“ Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.”
We live in a world where the market saturates us with the “have more” mentality. It seems everywhere we turn, there is some ad or gimmick to try to sell us another product that will make us happy. If we don’t try this, we won’t be content. If we don’t have this in our home, we don’t have enough. I must say that these marketing ads are powerful to tempt us. Many of us, if not most, have given in to such marketing ploys to get us to acquire more.
Whether we’re listening to sales pitch or we’re engrossed into an infomercial, we’re often tempted to get things that we really don’t need. We often buy into the lie that if we just had more, we’d be content. If we just had that next thing, life would be merry and we’d be just peachy. Unfortunately, no matter how much more we try to get, we simply will not be happy.
Paul’s letter to Timothy is very encouraging in that if we have Godliness and contentment, we will be happy and joyful. It’s a mindset we must battle with each day. Do we realize that God gives us what we need each day? Are we content with what we already have? Or, are we always wanting more? We came into this world without anything and we will leave everything behind when we leave.
No matter how much we’ve been taught this principle of life, we still often long for things that don’t matter one bit. The excitement of the next great thing is almost always short-lived. Then, we just want the next thing. All the while, God is trying to tell us that if we just focus on Him, then we will have all we need. Paul’s words here specifically address the love of money, but we can replace “money” with any material possession that is taking our contentment away.
Are we happy and content with what God has given to us or are we always wanting more?
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
“Because Of His Great Love”
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
Take a few moments, if you will, and think about some of the greatest things someone else or other people have done for you. Consider different milestones in life where family and friends have celebrated with you. The more time you take to think about this, I’m sure more and more memories will flood your mind in remembrance. It’s nothing but pleasant when we look back and remember the wonderful things others have done for us.
We sure hold on to these memories of what others have done for us, don’t we? These are memories that make us smile and make us thankful that people take the time to show they care and love us. It is a wonderful feeling when people do things for us, whatever the occasion might be. It makes us feel important and that our lives are worth celebrating.
Out of all the wonderful things that have ever been done for you by friends and family, there is nothing more wonderful and exciting than what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross of
Calvary. Isn’t it wonderful that we have been made
alive in Christ? We didn’t do this. Christ went to the cross for us. He gave His life so that we could have life
through Him. We did nothing. He did everything. Does that put it into perspective? It should for all of us.
Look at the first part of this passage. Because of what God did for us because he loved us, we now have the opportunity for eternal life through Christ. We didn’t deserve what God gave us through Christ. However, because He loved us so much, He wanted to see us connect through a relationship in Christ. That is real love that we’ll never fully comprehend.
What God did for us through Christ gave us the chance to be made alive even though we didn’t deserve it. That is truly the greatest act of love and importance anyone could have ever shown us.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
By Zach Wood
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 (NIV)
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
We try to hard these days to persuade people to buy into things. Maybe some of us are in sales positions. Perhaps some of us are in other positions that require being persuasive. Now, there’s nothing at all wrong with doing these types of jobs as long as we’re not trying to persuade others for selfish gain. That’s the key point. If we are in a position where we try to persuade, then why are we doing it?
This is a good question we also must ask ourselves when we are trying to persuade others to follow God. How do we share with others? What is our plan of reaching out? How do we mingle with people and find opportunities to share God’s Word with them?
The Apostle Paul made it very clear that he was not interested in trying to persuade people to just “buy into” something. He was not trying to preach and teach a message with fancy and eloquent words so that others would be impressed and follow God. Paul had a sincere desire to see others impacted by God’s Word. He was not trying to rely on his own abilities or his own wisdom, but only by what God empowered him to do.
Why do we try so hard sometimes when what we really need to do is just let God use us? Often times we try to reach others and use different tactics to get people to follow Christ. What we need is sincerity and a genuine love that will far outweigh any effort we try to make on our own. What people want these days is to see genuine people loving and caring for them, not people who are just trying to get them to “buy into” something.
When we share with others, we need to allow God to use us however He wants to. We shouldn’t try to impress other people or try to persuade them by showing how much we know. We simply need to be genuine, loving and caring, relying on God’s Spirit to direct us and lead. We try so hard so often and what we really need is to let God lead completely, in His wisdom.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
“A BIG Deal”
By Zach Wood
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We often make a big deal out of things that happen in our lives. We make a big deal out of getting married. It’s an exciting time when we pledge our lives to love, honor and cherish another person as our partner for life. We make a big deal when our children are born. It’s a fantastic time of celebration as we welcome a new birth into the world. We make a big deal when someone graduates from high school or college. One chapter of life closes while another new one opens.
We could name countless other occasions where we make a big deal out of something that is truly worth celebrating. We like to do this and congratulate people whatever the accomplishment.
As followers of Christ, we have something to make a very big deal about. This passage is packed with so much meaning as John describes how wonderful and amazing it is that God came down to us in human form and dwelled with us. It’s so much to wrap our minds around and I don’t think we truly ever will be able to fully.
If there’s one thing that we should make the biggest deal about in our lives, it is Jesus Christ coming and giving all He had to be our Savior, our lifeline. Out of all the occasions we make a big deal about through our lives, I hope that Jesus Christ being our Savior is what we make the biggest deal of. So often, though, this becomes common knowledge and our excitement wanes regarding what He has done for us.
Let us never let this big deal fade. We often do and we need reminded daily of the amazing redemption God gave to us by sending Christ. I hope we will all make this a very BIG DEAL!
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
By Zach Wood
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them”.
There are many things in life that we must prove. If we say we’re committed to doing something, we must show that proof by following through. If we say we love someone, we must prove that by the way we treat the person. It doesn’t make any sense to talk all about how we are committed or how much we love someone if we aren’t willing to follow through and show that proof by the way we live.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? We couldn’t expect someone to believe us, just from what we say, if we aren’t committed to proving that we mean it. If we are committed, we will follow through. If we love others, we will show that by the ways we treat them.
Let’s take this concept and apply it to our relationship with God. This passage really hits the nail on the head in this regard. We are really good these days talking a good game when we discuss our love for God. However, the true test comes when we actually live that out. Do we really commit to following His commandments? Do we strive to obey God in all that we do? If we say we love Him, why wouldn’t we strive to obey and follow? That makes sense.
In writing this, I am in no way suggesting that we do not love God as we say we do. But what I am suggesting is that we examine our lives and our hearts to check whether or not we are truly genuine in proving that love to Him by the ways we live. Our work places wouldn’t believe that we are committed if we are habitually late or don’t show up much at all. Our kids wouldn’t believe that we love them if we are constantly coming down on them all the time. We must prove our love by actually showing it to them.
If we truly love God, the proof or our claim will surely come from the way we live. We will obey His commands and strive to not only our love for Him, but also to others.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
By Zach Wood
1 Peter 2:2-3 (NLT)
“Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”
We crave a lot of things in life, don’t we? Most of the time it’s some kind of food that pops in our mind and we think about it and desire it. Sometimes all it takes is a picture that reminds us how good the food was and we desire to go eat it again. We can laugh a lot at ourselves and others when the desires come up and we talk dramatically about we can’t wait to have the food again.
As much as we crave things in this world, it saddens me how much we have fallen away today in craving God’s Word. It isn’t that we don’t want to read it or that we purposely try to avoid it, but in our super-busy routines that we have each day, it is so easy for us to neglect reading and filling ourselves with the spiritual nourishment we desperately need.
As we were discussing this in our small group bible study yesterday, I shared how I am as guilty as anyone else when it comes to reading and filling up on God’s Word. I can get so caught up in preparing for different things each week that I fail to really take time to get deep into God’s Word. There so are many distractions that easily come, whether it’s thoughts of things I need to do or other distractions around me.
We all need to be spending much more time with God’s Word, craving that spiritual milk. We need that nourishment. God’s Word is the ultimate authority in our lives. While it can be great to consult with other Godly people for advice, wisdom and guidance, God’s Word should ultimately be our main source for growth and learning. We must crave His Word more than we crave anything else.
Just as a newborn baby craves to receive milk, we should also desperately crave to know Him more and be filled with His spiritual nourishment.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
“We Are His Masterpiece”
By Zach Wood
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Isn’t it an amazing thought to know that God created each of us individually and not all the same? How crazy would it be if we were all alike and knew the same things and behaved all the same? Can you imagine that? That would definitely change the world up a bit, don’t you think? Fortunately, God did not make us all the same, but very different and unique and we should be thankful He has done so.
One thing that I’m always amazed by is how God describes creating us. We are His workmanship, His masterpiece. The NIV describes us as His workmanship, while the NLT says masterpiece. While both descriptions are wonderful, I tend to lean more toward masterpiece as being my favored description. How wonderful and beautiful that we are God’s created masterpiece. I immediately think of sculptures and different artists taking time to make something very detailed and elaborate.
The enemy sure has his ways of getting each of us to feel like we are worthless and no good to God at all. While we know what God says to us in His Word about being unique, the enemy is very sly at getting us to believe many times that we are not worth anything to God. He gets us to believe the lie that we have messed up too many times and that God will not love us anymore. That is so far from the truth it is crazy!
You and I are an absolutely beautiful masterpiece created by the very hands of Almighty God. What is even more beautiful is when we come to Christ and we are made new through Him in a new birth. We are His masterpiece, each of us. Now, how does that make you feel?? If you are reading this and you’ve been taunted so many years by the lie that God does not love you anymore and that you are worthless, you are completely wrong. He loves you and nothing will ever change that.
You and I are His beautiful masterpiece!
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
“Look Up, Look Around”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT)
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”
I remember times as a child that I would go outside and lay down somewhere in the yard or just stand in the yard and look up and just gaze at the beautiful night sky. There’s something so peaceful about looking up into the sky and seeing all the stars and knowing God created all of them. It’s peaceful and amazing.
When I read this passage, I’m always reminded of the amazing craftsmanship of our Almighty God. His creation is so beautiful and we are often so negligent of this. Every one of us gets caught up in the busyness of daily life and we forget how truly beautiful God’s creation is. His creation is all around us everyday and especially in the night sky, gazing up at the stars that burn bright.
We all need reminders every single day of the many activities we take part in. We’re always adding things to our calendars and special dates so that we do not forget. The problem is that we get so focused on not forgetting these dates and the things we have planned to do, and we forget to praise God and take in His beauty all around us.
This is a challenge for all of us. I easily get caught up in all the busyness of everyday life and work that I forget to acknowledge the beauty that God has put all around me. We all become forgetful. We don’t doubt God’s beauty and craftsmanship, we just get caught up in our routines and put to the side all the beauty He is trying to show us.
Let us take the time each day to look around and look up at His beauty.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
“Just Leave It Alone”
By Zach Wood
Proverbs 4:14-15 (NLT)
“Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers. Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving.”
I remember often as a child being told or hearing other parents tell kids around me, “Don’t even think about it!” Now as a parent and being around other people’s kids, I say and also hear other parents saying the same thing at times. Kids get pretty curious about things. I don’t think there’s a child alive today that hasn’t found his or her way into some kind of trouble, whether just out of curiosity or actually purposely doing something wrong.
We often talk about kids doing these things, but as adults, we often do the same things. We often think about evil things we could do because we are mad at someone or we are just so curious that we don’t care what the outcome is. We can get pretty risky sometimes and not in good ways. We often become very curious, just like kids, and we go exploring where we shouldn’t be. Our minds often wander away and we allow Satan to lure us where we shouldn’t be going.
It is quite easy for all of us to put on the mask trying to show others that we are good men and women and that we follow God and are committed. However, we often, in our minds and hearts, devise schemes to get back at people for doing us wrong. We don’t like to admit that, but we do. We know that God wants something better for us, but the human part of us just doesn’t want to let go and let Him be in control.
When we are tempted to let our emotions and curiosity take over and lead us down the wrong path, we need to make the choice to steer completely clear and not even flirt with the wrong path. Often times we just want to get a little bit closer and see how close we can get without getting burned. The best thing to do is just leave it alone completely. Following His way is the best way, every time. It’s not always what we feel like doing, but His way is always best for us.
I think my dad really said it best when I was a child and I often deviated from what was the right thing to do and the advice still comes back to me as an adult. He often said, “Just leave it alone”. Very good advice, not only for children, but for us as adults. Don’t even think about it and just leave it alone. Go the other way and keep moving forward with the path God wants for us. The path of wrongdoing will always burn us in some way.