Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

“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?

“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?

“People-Pleaser or God-Pleaser?”
By Zach Wood
Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
“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?