Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Do We Really Follow?

“Do We Really Follow?”
By Zach Wood
John 8:31-32
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

It’s really easy for any of us to do something in our lives and think we are good at it.  We often try new things or get into a new hobby or other activity and think we do a pretty good job.  Maybe at our work we get into doing a new project and we consider ourselves to be doing a pretty decent job and we feel good about.  While it’s great to feel good about a job well done no matter what we are doing, it’s still important to make sure we are actually doing things correctly. 

It’s quite easy for us to go along through life and think we are doing things correctly and quite well.  Sometimes, a manager or supervisor at a job or a friend or family member needs to stop us and show us how to really do things right.  We’re often taken off guard when we realize we haven’t really been doing things right and need to shift gears and do things another way.  It’s not that we desired to do things wrong, but we thought we had a pretty good idea how to do them.

Sadly, this happens a lot in our walk with God.  We often go through life doing things we feel are worthy of Jesus and His teachings, but really we are just doing what we think is right.  It’s easy to go through each day of life and “think” we are doing things right, when many times we may not be.  We must constantly be in God’s Word and seeking His direction through the day so that we know we are in step with Him.  We can say we are true followers, but if we’re just doing what we think may be right and what we like to do, that doesn’t mean we are truly following Him.

Jesus says if we truly hold to His teaching, then we are really His disciples.  We cannot just think we are doing life right and go on our merry little ways.  We usually have great intentions, but if we are not truly seeking to follow Christ and checking His Word to make sure we are following, then we need to reexamine our ways.  When we choose to study His Word daily and pray for guidance, then we will know the truth more and that truth will surely set us free. 

We cannot just think we know what is right to be doing, we must be in sync with His Word so that we know what we are doing is from His teaching.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Loving Others

“Loving Others”
By Zach Wood
1 John 4:13-16
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

Does it seem to be easy to love others when we enjoy being around them?  Does it seem easy to love others when we get along with them and don’t argue?  Of course it does.  When our kids are behaving and using great manners, it puts a smile on our face.  When we are around family and friends who we really enjoy being with, loving seems to come naturally.

How about when we are around others who seem to be nothing but difficult for us?  How about when we are around our kids or other’s kids who do nothing but whine, complain and throw fits?  How about when we work right beside someone all day long who does nothing but use foul language? 

How do we feel about loving others when we are around these people and others that are challenging to be with?  Of course loving others with God’s love is so much easier when we are around those who don’t present a challenge to love.  We sure want things easy, don’t we?  We want things to be the easy way so much.  However, we often forget that God wants to work through others who are difficult to build our character and to teach us to love deeper. 

How could we possibly grow in loving others if we are always around those whom are easy to show love?  We would not grow.  God’s love is definitely beyond our love.  However, we can still strive to show His love, even though we will be imperfect many times.  We must make an effort to be sincere in our love for others, especially when other people seem to be more difficult.

What we must always remember when we deal with difficult people is that we are also difficult to deal for others to deal with as well.  As much as we sometimes want to focus on how others are toward us, we are the same way.  God’s love needs to be lived through us, always.  No matter how difficult others are, God wants to strengthen our hearts so that we learn to love regardless of how we are treated.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Listening Is Not Enough

“Listening Is Not Enough”
By Zach Wood
James 1:22-25
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”

Being a parent has been one of the most challenging things for me to deal with over the past eight years.  I absolutely love being a dad, but as any parent would claim and admit to, it has its very frustrating and challenging times.  No parent can escape this.  While we love our kids and would do anything for them, there are very challenging times, especially when they don’t listen.  It creates frustration to try to do the best parenting and not say or do something we will regret later. 

No matter how many times I have issues with my kids not listening, God always uses those situations to remind me that I often struggle with listening.  There are so many times I have problems listening to Him.  When I notice how my kids don’t listen, it’s often a great reminder God uses to show me how I don’t listen to Him often.  It’s painful to realize this, but this pain often helps me to grow and to be reminded how I need to listen to Him more. 

However, listening is only part of the battle.  Listening is great and we all need to be better and improve on this area in our lives, but it’s only part of what we need to do.  After we listen, then we need to do what we’re told to do.  We cannot just do things halfway and think we’ve done well.  Again, while listening is great and understanding what we’ve heard is wonderful, then we need to put into practice what we’ve heard. 

I appreciate how James explains that listening and not doing is pretty much worthless.  If all we do is listen and not put anything we’ve heard into practice, it’s about as useless as looking into a mirror and then forgetting what we look like.  God gives us commands and instructions for us to obey and put into practice.  If we don’t, we are not being obedient to Him.  We must break this “halfway” problem and do more than just listen.  We must do what we’ve been told to do. 

Just as we want our kids to do more than listen to us, we also must listen and do what God has told us to do.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Our Need Provider

“Our Need Provider”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” 

Jesus talks on the Sermon on the Mount about worrying in our lives and what it does to us and what it does not do for us.  It hurts us so much when we worry and it does not become a productive thing for us.  So many of us are great at worrying.

We tend to seek a lot of things in our lives.  We seek a good spouse.  We seek a great friendship. We seek a good job.  We seek to have good kids.  We seek to have a nice house.  The list could go on and on.  We seek a lot of things.  None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but when they become what we focus most on, then we’ve taken our eyes off Christ and we start to worry.

I like how this translation explains that we need to seek God above all things.  It is not at all that we cannot seek to have a good life by having things, but these things and relationships cannot be what we seek the most.  If we have our eyes completely on Christ to be our All in All, then He will provide all that we need in life. 

When our eyes are focused on Christ, it is much easier to not worry about little things that we so often focus on that we make bigger.  It is great how Jesus encourages us not to worry, but to make Him priority and He will provide everything we need.  Easier said than done, but what has Jesus ever asked us to do that would be easy?  His ways are not easy.  They are challenging and they are intended to build our character and make us stronger.

As you continue into this new year and throughout the year, I encourage all of us to focus on Him more so that our worries become less and less.  He will provide.  He will give us all that we need.  We desperately need to seek Him more than anything else we desire.  When we do this, we will see our worries lessen because we are relying more on Him.