Wednesday, December 21, 2016
“Dedicated To Prayer”
By Zach Wood
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward
. Three times a day he got down on his
knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Jerusalem
The past couple of weeks, I have been thinking about Daniel. What impresses me the most about him is that he was completely faithful in keeping his prayer life even though he was among the minority. For years and years, he prayed to God three times a day, no matter who was trying to stop him or ridicule him. He was absolutely faithful in prayer.
In my life lately, I’m ashamed to admit that my prayer life isn’t anywhere near what it needs to be. Don’t get me wrong, I do pray, but I know I don’t pray enough. I don’t dedicate myself enough to prayer in everything. I have my devotion time in the morning each day, but I don’t consume myself throughout the day in prayer as I should.
Prayer is such a wonderful privilege to come before God and share our concerns and communicate with a loving Father Who wants to commune with us. Prayer is so powerful if we will intentionally tap into it often, throughout our days.
Throughout the Old Testament, we find many others, including Daniel, who dedicated themselves to the power of prayer and continued their efforts often to go to Him. So many prayer warriors we can read about and learn from as we read His Word. I must admit that I let myself slack in making prayer a priority in my life and in my family. I want to be closer to Him in prayer and bringing things before Him and bringing concerns of others to Him.
What about you? Are you lacking in your prayer life? Of course, we all can always pray more for sure, but many of us, if we’re honest, don’t put a high priority on our prayer lives. We sure need to be more like Daniel who prayed, even in the face of adversity. He didn’t stop praying even though he was going to be thrown into the Lion’s Den. He stayed faithful even when he found out the new law was passed. He stayed faithful in prayer. He was dedicated to prayer.
Are we dedicated to prayer? If we’re not, then what are we doing about it? I want to be more dedicated and be more of a prayer warrior. I hope you do as well.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
“Running From Obedience”
By Zach Wood
Jonah 1:1-3 NLT
The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.
Imagine you are watching the World Series. There are 2 outs and the score is tied. This is so intense and everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens at this crucial moment. The batter swings and there’s 1 strike. The batter swings again and now 2 strikes. The batter swings for the third time and cracks the ball way out into the outfield. But, what if the batter then starts running toward third plate? Could you imagine how the players and fans would react? They’d all be yelling “You’re running the wrong way!” Not only would the runner look foolish, but this choice would not win the game.
Now imagine a basketball player getting the ball inbounds and he starts going down the wrong side of the court. He goes up for lay-up and he scores…..for the other team! The player would also look foolish. Why? Because the player didn’t do what he or she was told to do! The player ran the wrong way.
Now, if we were watching these games on TV, we would drop our jaws and open our eyes wide and shout, “What were you thinking??” Who would be that foolish? Who would jeopardize a game like that and be so careless and do the wrong thing intentionally?
These things would be foolish of course, but before we point our fingers in judgment, don’t we do the same thing? I have read the Jonah story many times and I think to myself why he would flee like that? And then I look at my own life and I see so often how many times I have disobeyed God and fled from His commands. He has asked me to do so many things in life and I have disobeyed Him a lot and done my own thing. I ran my own way and I paid the price. Jonah ran and he sure paid the price for what he did. The Lord let him run and let him suffer the consequences.
Aren’t we so like Jonah? What are we running away from? Are we running away from a conflict we need to address? Are we running away from a marriage that we should stay and work out? Are we running away from a relationship with a friend that we need to sort out? Are we running away from a choice at work that we need to be strong about making?
What are you running away from right now that you need to face? What is God calling to do that you are intentionally going the opposite way? Obedience is always the most successful way.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
“Thankful For His Perfect Faithfulness’
By Zach Wood
Isaiah 25:1 NIV
Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how faithful God is to me and my family. I’ve been thinking about how faithful He has been in my personal life and how He has been faithful with my wife and kids. No matter what seems to be going well, frustrating us or giving us some stress, He always seems to be faithful. Some how and in some way, He always comes through to teach me and to teach my family about continuing to trust Him.
Every morning I wake up, I know I have a decision to make. I can either worry and try to handle life that day on my own or I can trust in God’s faithfulness to carry me through, even if I have no idea what He is up to. I know that I should trust in His faithfulness every single day, but honestly there are so many days that I start out that way briefly, but then concerns and worries flood my mind and heart and I worry all day.
Consider these powerful words from Isaiah. He makes a powerful statement. He declares that God is faithful. He says that he will exalt God and praise Him, because in perfect faithfulness wonderful things have been done for him. What an amazing statement from Isaiah! More like a loud praise!
What if we all, when we get up and start our day, begin by saying these words that Isaiah spoke directly to God? And what if we not only said them, but truly meant them with all our heart? What if we continued to repeat them, write them down and place them where we’d see them often? We need reminded of this. We need reminded that God is perfect in faithfulness……ALWAYS!
God has been so faithful to remind me every day that He has things under control and that I need to stop doing things in my own understanding and the way I think they should be done. He reminds me that I need to let go and let Him lead. He will continue to do wonderful things if I just let him lead and stop running ahead of Him.
How about you? Are you finding yourself believing these words of Isaiah and praising God’s name from morning till night? Are you letting Him lead with His perfect faithfulness? I know we all need to be so much better in truly letting God lead as He is always faithful.
As we take time to focus on our thankfulness this week, let’s do more and continue to be thankful every day of our lives for His continued perfect faithfulness!
Thursday, November 3, 2016
“What Are We Holding On To?”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 19:16-22 NIV
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
I was thinking about this story the other day while reading a chapter in a book. I was challenged in the chapter about how this wealthy man couldn’t let go of his possessions to be obedient to Christ. As I’ve considered this story so many times through the years through bible studies and sermons, I’ve often wondered why he was so selfish and could not let go of these things he held on to so tightly. He had so much and yet he turned away and didn’t follow Christ.
As I’ve considered this story more, let’s hold off on raising our eyebrow at this guy. Most of us are not wealthy I would guess. I don’t think many of you own a mansion or have houses in several states or countries you frequently visit. I’m sure most of you don’t have to split up your wealth between many banks because you have so much. However, even though most of us aren’t wealthy, we are rich indeed. We have many things.
While we wouldn’t consider ourselves to be like this rich young man, ironically we are just like him in so many ways! I thought the other day how much I am just like him. I am not wealthy compared to people who are loaded with money, but I am rich compared to others who live with a lot less than I do. As for possessions, I don’t think I have a lot, but when I look around at things I do have, I notice that I do have a lot of “things”. These things can easily take away from my time with God and my allegiance to Him. I am often times very distracted and finding myself filling time with other things than focused on Him.
So, before I pass this rich young man off and raise my eyebrow at him, I need to realize I am so like him in so many ways because there are things that I find hard to let go of if He asked me to. I want these things in my life and often find it hard to get away from them to focus on Him.
How about the rest of you? Do you have things in your life that you’d rather not let go of or get away from just to have some focused time on God? If you think about it for a while, you will agree. My question is…..what are we holding on to?
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
“Living In Constant Fellowship”
By Zach Wood
1 John 3:23-24 NLT
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
There are many things we enjoy to be constant in our lives. Most of us want things to be constant with updates on our computers, phones, tablets and other techie gadgets we own. Most of us would like our paychecks to be constant! Who wouldn’t? We want constant days of sunshine and decent temps to get out and enjoy it.
We could go on and on about things we would like to be constant each day. We really want consistency. Why wouldn’t we? Who would want anything that is not consistent, right?
As much as we strive for constant things in our life, how often do we fail to put in the effort to keep a constant fellowship with God? We want to have constant fellowship with family and friends, but so often we don’t put as much effort into having constant fellowship with our Creator Who has given us so much in life.
God asks us to obey His commands and to be in fellowship with Him. He wants us to believe in Him fully and completely dedicate our lives to being in fellowship with Him each day, all day. I hope it would be our desire to fully be in fellowship with Him all day, everyday. We can be, but so often we just aren’t living that way. I know I’m not everyday. I want to be and intentions are such, but so often my efforts reveal otherwise.
As the Apostle John shares, we must love one another. In this way, people will know that we truly do love God and care about reaching out to others. If we are in constant fellowship with Him, He will teach us better and better how to show love to others, even when it’s difficult to do so.
We all have things in our lives that we are constant about and things we are not so constant about. If we strive to keep our fellowship with God constant, our other relationships with people will become even more blessed as we learn to love them more with God’s love.
When we live in constant fellowship with Him, His Spirit guides and directs us each day to help us learn to love better.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
“From ‘Thanks’ to ‘Thank You’”
By Zach Wood
Luke 17:11-19 NIV
Now on his way to
, Jesus traveled along the border
between Jerusalem and Samaria Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who
had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud
voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the
priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came
back, praising God in a loud voice.
He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a
Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not
all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?
Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your
faith has made you well.”
Many years ago, when I worked at a computer warehouse in the cities, I had a conversation with a guy that I will never forget. He had heard me say “thanks” to others and to him when certain things were done for me. He knew the type of person I was and that I did mean what I say, but he made a comment that will remain forever with me. He said that he knew I meant it, but that to say “thank you” instead has much more meaning.
From that point on, I have had such a different view of “thanks” and “thank you”. Think about those two phrases for a few moments. Do they sound totally different to you? They sure do to me now! I never really considered it before, but after that conversation and to this day, I continue to share this concept with people and I always get a confirmation that saying “thank you” sounds so much more meaningful. I don’t know what it is about taking the time to say two words instead of just one, but there is just something more meaningful when you say “thank you” instead of just “thanks”. Please understand, I’m not saying “thanks” is wrong by any means, but just consider trying “thank you” instead and see how it makes others feel and how you feel when you say it.
Jesus heals 10 lepers here. They all start heading away when all of a sudden one does a 180 and realizes, “Hey, something really cool just happened and I’m going to take the time to tell Jesus how much it meant to me!” The 1 leper decided to take a trip back to Jesus and show his true thankfulness. Does that mean the other 9 didn’t care or took it for granted? I’m not quite sure and I don’t want to assume anything about them. However, we are led to think that they didn’t really think about showing appreciation to Jesus as the 1 leper did who took the time to turn around and thank Jesus.
I want to encourage all of us to consider showing appreciation to others by saying “thank you” instead of “thanks”. Most of all, we need to show God appreciation every day by taking the time to thank Him for all He has done and continues to do. From “thanks” to “thank you”. It may not seem like much at first, but it will change your thinking of how you say it and show it.
Monday, September 19, 2016
“Focused On Life Above”
By Zach Wood
Colossians 3:1-4 NLT
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
We do a lot of thinking every single day, don’t we? From the time we get up in the morning to the time we lay our heads down to rest, we are constantly thinking. We think about a lot all through the day. We think about what to eat for breakfast, what to wear for school or work, what needs accomplished at our jobs and in class, what to eat for lunch, what plans we need to make for dinner. We could go on and on and on about all that we think about each day.
We think about so much stuff in a single day’s time. I wonder what it would be like if we could watch a timeline of our thoughts all through the day. What would that look like? For many of us, it would probably be a bit shocking and somewhat scary to see all that we think about each day. Maybe we might even be a bit embarrassed if not really embarrassed!
As I was reading this passage last week from a daily devotional thought that I receive each day, it really got me thinking about what I focus my thoughts on each day. I do think about a lot of things. I have to admit that I think a lot about earthly things. I think about things I would like to do, things I want and why certain things won’t or don’t happen for me. Even though I have been richly blessed by God in so many ways, I still have so many selfish thoughts.
I’m sure all of you think about similar things whether you want to admit that or not. Think for a few moments about your life in Christ. We have so many Scripture references in the NT that describe how our thoughts should be like Christ always. But you and I both know that doesn’t happen as often as it should. We often think about what will make us happy. We set our sights on things of this earth and not heavenly things.
We are to set our sights and thoughts on Christ alone. As we go through each day, whether we are at school or our jobs, we need to be constantly thinking how we can please God and how we can be a true servant. Our life is now in God and we need to strive more to think of heavenly things and ways that we can bless others instead of so often being focused on ourselves.
As we live each day, let us strive more to set our minds on Christ and be more aware of what He wants for us to do and what He wants for us to think about each day. We have been raised to a new life in Christ! Let’s truly live like we mean it!
Monday, September 5, 2016
“The Greatest Rescue!”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 13:5-6 NLT
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.
Have you ever been through situation where you have been rescued? Maybe you were trapped in a car and trained people came to pull you out. Maybe you had a bad experience in a pool, lake or ocean somewhere and someone had to jump in to save you. Maybe you’ve found yourself at some point behind bars and someone cared enough to bail you out and mentor you to not make the same mistake again.
Not everyone has had these extreme situations in their life in which someone had to rescue them from near death or from a place that might keep them locked up for years. However, everyone one of us has had an experience or many of them where someone else rescued us from some situation that could have turned very bad and got us back up and going on the right path.
We all make bad choices in life, no doubt about that. Isn’t it wonderful that we all have friends and family who have, at one point or another, taken time to help us get through a tough situation? Whether it was a situation in which we intentionally made a bad choice or if it was something we were unaware of that took us by surprise and they helped us?
No matter what the situation, I hope that we have been grateful to these wonderful people who have shown such love and concern for our lives. We definitely owe tribute to these people who care enough to help.
Again, we have all made bad choices in life. When I read the passage above, I realize there are so many times in life that I forget how great of a rescue that Jesus Christ went through to save me and put me on the right path. His love is truly unfailing and His gift of salvation to me is the greatest thing I could have ever accepted.
What I need to remember most of all is how grateful I should be each and every day for His ultimate rescue of my life from eternal death. He saved me from my sin, even though I deserve so much worse! He has covered me in His blood and forgiven me. In return, each day, I need to sing His praise and proclaim all He has done every opportunity I get. I fail at this so often, but I am reminded each day that God is with me and helping me to become better.
Jesus Christ has performed the greatest rescue ever known to mankind!
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
“Wherever, Whenever, However”
By Zach Wood
Colossians 3:23-24 NIV
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
We just got done a couple weeks ago watching Olympians from all over the globe compete in the Olympics. I was and always am amazed to watch the talent and abilities of all participants who perform. It is fascinating to watch them do what they do at such high precision. I often explain to my daughter, Jayda, that these Olympians practice and practice and practice. They practice so much to prepare for these games ahead of time. So much preparation, more than we realize, goes into preparing. They work so hard.
What I think about with these athletes is how much they prepare off the camera when most people don’t see them. They are practicing for hours, days, weeks, years. So much commitment goes into their dedication to be the best they can be. Their attitude and ability can take them very far. They know they need to be on their game at all times. They need to watch their diet, their lifestyle and more. They must be totally dedicated and committed to preparing and keep their focus.
The Apostle Paul encourages us that no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, we need to do our very best however we can. Just like the participants in the Olympics train and train and train, we must realize we are also in a training mode each and every day as we continue to learn, focus and rely on Christ to be our lead. No matter where we are, we need to be on our best behavior and be doing the absolute best we can in servant hood. Are we as dedicated in our walk with God as these athletes are in their determination to continue moving forward?
One thing I really enjoy is when we see and hear participants giving glory to God for their talent and abilities. That is so awesome! We need that same attitude as we strive to serve God each and every day. We need to be doing our best wherever, whenever and however we can. Living each moment of each day doing our very, very best to serve God.
It is imperative that we focus on giving our absolute best in our service to God, no matter where we are and what we are doing. Why would we give Him anything less than our best? Will we mess up? Of course! But, we get back up and press on! Remember, we are ultimately working for the Lord, not for man. Let us give Him our best, wherever, whenever and however!
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
By Zach Wood
Matthew 7:24-27 NIV
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
Last week, as I was out on my afternoon walk break at work, I was thinking of all the work that goes into not only my company, but with companies in general all over the world. Most people in companies work very hard to make things right in what they do. No matter what work environment, people work hard to crunch numbers and they spend endless hours making invoice numbers match purchase orders. There is often so much work making absolutely sure that our work is completely up to par.
As I continued to think about all the hard work that we put into our jobs, I could not help but be heartbroken to ask myself why I don’t put as much effort into my relationship with Christ. I am ashamed to think of how much effort I will put into my job to make sure my numbers match, but then slack in giving my utmost to God. I often put in so much energy and effort into doing the best I can for my employer, but then I have the mentality of “It’s good enough” into my relationship and effort to serve God.
I often wonder how it must break God’s heart for Him to look down upon us, the children He created, and see us working so hard at building our earthly house upon sand instead of building a solid house on a firm rock foundation. Who in their right mind would even think of building a house on sand and expecting that to last? We wouldn’t even consider just throwing up some wood, pounding a few nails into it and calling it “good”. A house is built with wisdom of those who know how to build a house. We pay people good money to build houses with firm foundations.
God wants us to be wise in how we live our lives. Are we living our lives by focusing on how we are living for Him or are we more concerned about the earthly pursuits we have? Don’t get me wrong, it’s imperative that we do our best in all we do in life. But what I am saying is that we often pour so much more time and effort into what we do here on earth that we spend less time actually building wisely into our families, our spiritual lives and investing time in other people’s lives. We do a little for God and we say, “Eh, it’s good enough”.
God sent Jesus Christ to die for us. He gave his best. We owe it to Him to live our lives wisely and give Him our very best. Building wisely.
Monday, August 8, 2016
“The Need To Stand Out”
By Zach Wood
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Whether we are driving down the road, taking a walk, going to run errands or visiting with friends and family, we always seem to find something that really catches our attention. Whether it be a sign on the road, a landmark that is decorated or someone dressed in a costume, it catches our attention. We all have something that easily catches our attention and draws our concentration away from everything else.
Many times while we are driving to different places around town or out of town, we will see one of those old time cars drive by. We quickly get our girl’s attention and we all gaze upon the stylish looking vehicle. It’s fun to see those cars.
There are so many things that look different that seem to catch our attention. Why is that? Because it’s something that looks different. It stands out. It’s easily noticeable. It draws our attention away from everything else. We are captivated by what we see. It brings a smile to our face and a sense of awe to our senses to see something that is really cool looking. It’s out of the norm. It’s unique.
There are certain things that stand out and draw attention just because they are different. They’re not normal sightings. They capture attention.
I can’t help but think this is exactly how Jesus wants us to be in our life with Christ. We shouldn’t be like the rest of the crowd. We shouldn’t be just like everyone else. When people see us walk through the crowd, when they see us interacting with others, they should see something different and very unique. They shouldn’t be the same old, same old. When they look at us, they should notice something different and out of the ordinary.
With Christ living in us, we should shine a light for others to see. What we do should stand out from the rest of the world. God has called us to be unique and to stand out from the rest. There should be something very different about the way we live our life. In this world we live in today, there is a great need to stand out and be different than the rest. God calls us to stand out and shine our light so that others know there is something different. That in turn will eventually compel them to ask what is so different about us.
God needs us to stand out. Are we willing to be different?
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
“Constantly Loving & Faithful”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 117 NLT
Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.
Most of us notice many changing things every single day. Whether we are going with our family somewhere, going to work, out on a walk or somewhere else, we notice changing things.
I don’t have a long drive to my job each day, but one thing I notice each day is the gas prices. I have to laugh, both at the gas prices and at myself because I react to them. Sometimes I say, “Oh sure, there they go up even higher!” when other times I say in a surprised voice, “Wow, they went back down!” We all know there’s nothing consistent about gas prices other than they’re constantly inconsistent.
I notice a lot of other things throughout my day, whether I am driving, at my workplace, at home with my family or other places. It seems no matter where I go or what I am doing, I notice something that constantly changes. Ads and products are always changing. Weather is always changing. Fads are always changing. Technology is always changing.
I could go on and on about all that changes. It’s like I can’t rely on anything to stay the same. No matter what, something is always changing around me. Sometimes, it really drives me crazy because I’d like to see something stay consistent.
While things are changing all the time around me, it is such a great encouragement to know that each day I wake, God is always the same. His unfailing love never fails me and it never changes. He doesn’t love me less or love me more. He doesn’t change His condition on loving me. His faithfulness isn’t different today than from yesterday. I’m so thankful that I can totally and completely rely on His promise to always be faithful and loving to me no matter what.
Friends, I want to encourage you all with this Psalm. We can praise God each day because He is unchanging. His love never fails. He will always remain the same. He is always faithful no matter what. Even when times are tough and life seems unbearable, His love endures.
Praise Him today and every day for His unending love and faithfulness!
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
By Zach Wood
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
We have all done it. Every one of us has had a day when it seems like no matter what we say, it gets us into trouble somehow. We have all had days that we treat our spouses, our kids, other family, loved ones and friends with terrible words that hurt. It’s not that we mean to start our day with the intention of hurting others, but it just happens.
There are some days when nothing but positive things come out of our mouths. Then, there are days when it seems like nothing but insults and criticisms flow. There are days for many of us that either we have thought of using vulgar language toward someone, we mutter it quietly, or we lash out with it to someone around us. Before we know it, we’ve changed the other person’s view of us at that moment.
You wouldn’t be human if you’ve never had a day where you said something you regret. I think of the past 40 years of my life and all the things that I have said to others. I hope and pray that I’ve encouraged more than I’ve discouraged. But I’m sure that I’ve said some pretty rotten and nasty things to people that have hurt deeply. I am human and sometimes I have some pretty rancid thoughts and feelings toward others. I pray that God would not only change my words about them, but my heart attitude toward them as well.
This proverb is powerful. Those who work hard to guard what they say will bring wonders to their life. I think sometimes we grow the most when we “bite our tongue” when we could say something really harsh toward another and, instead, speak words of love. When we let our words fly, so often we regret what we have said in the heat of a discussion.
Friends, our words are heavy. They can either be heavy to encourage or to discourage. Which do you want to do? Do you want to bring ruin to your conversations or do you want to light conversations up with your encouragement and love of God? Do you want to completely restore someone in a conversation or do you want to completely destroy their feelings?
It is amazing what our words do. I want to encourage all of us that we need to work harder and pray more that God would guard our lips so that love will flow from us. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing and anything we say should show that we truly love God.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
“Let Me Tell You!”
By Zach Wood
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.
We all enjoy telling others when great things happen to us, don’t we? We not only get excited about telling people about something cool that we’ve done or that happened to us, but also we get excited about things we have seen and places we have been to.
Most of us could go on for hours and hours telling others about different things we like and dislike. We often find ourselves getting excited and telling other people about so many things that are fascinating to us in this world.
We get excited about sports. We get excited about going on vacation. We get excited about the newest movie that has come out. We get excited about so many things and we cannot wait to get out to work, church or school and tell our friends and family about what we’ve experienced, seen or heard.
Friends, I cannot help but think that it saddens God’s heart that we get excited about so much in our lives, but then when it comes to the opportunities where we can share about our faith and we clam up. When we get so excited to tell others things we often say, “Let me tell you!” and then we go into a long explanation. However, when we have the opportunities to share Christ, how long do those conversations last? Do we take the time to tell or do we clam up and lose our excitement to continue the conversation?
Are we really excited to talk about our faith in Christ? Is it really exciting to us? Are we itching to tell others of the wonderful salvation we have experienced in God? The Apostle Paul was definitely not ashamed of the Good News. He says that it is the power of God at work! Is the Good News the power of God at work through us with others? Are we excited to tell others, more than anything, about how awesome God is?
I must admit that I get into many conversations with others, most often in my workplace, and I find myself seldom bringing God into the discussions. I’m not purposely looking for ways to beat people over the head with the Bible, but I also so often am not intentionally looking for ways to open up and share my faith. I want to be different for sure and show Christ’s love, but sometimes that needs to come through my conversations. I need to be more bold and open to sharing. Not only sharing, but being excited about what I’m sharing.
Let us be more like Paul, who wasn’t ashamed of the Good News and said often to people “Let Me Tell You!”
Monday, June 13, 2016
“He Could Have, But Didn’t”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 2:5-7 NIV
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus; Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
I want you all to ponder something for a few moments. Imagine if you were promoted in your job to the highest position possible and given authority over everyone you used to work with. How would that change the way you feel about everyone who works beneath you? How would that change the way you feel about yourself? There would be a feeling of celebration for sure! We would all probably be filled with many emotions at the thought of being in charge of all the employees.
With this new position of authority, there also may be some temptations to take advantage of the people who work under you. Would you treat them as you would want to be treated or do you think you’d be tempted to boss them around and make them do everything you want? Don’t answer that too fast. Even if you couldn’t imagine yourself like that, strange things can happen if we were ever given the highest position in a company and the complete authority to tell people to do what we want and how we want it done.
I hope that if we were all given this situation, that we would choose to do our best to make employees feel respected and appreciated, but never to take the advantage of bossing them around in a mean way. Many people in high positions do just this because it gives them a feeling of power and boosts their ego big time!
Think about Jesus for a few moments in this way. We know He never would have done that to people, but He had all authority from God. He could have really taken advantage of the authority His Father gave Him and treated people terrible. Imagine how that would have changed how we look at the Bible?? He did NOT use this authority and power in His position of Son of God to treat people wrong. He did just the opposite! He became a servant. Why? So that people would see just how the character of God really is and what love truly looks like in serving others.
I find it amazing that Jesus could have abused His authority, but that’s not what He was sent to do. He was sent to love and serve and die for us. He could have chosen to treat us as slaves and boss us around, but instead He loved us. He loved us enough He went to the Cross to prove it.
He was the epitome of love and servanthood.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
“He Knows And Understands”
By Zach Wood
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
I imagine that at some point in your life, you’ve told someone “I know exactly what you’re going through.” Maybe you’ve told many people that throughout the years of your life? Perhaps you have heard many people say that to you? You know they mean well and are concerned, but often we wonder if they really know just exactly how we feel. While it’s great in life to do our best to relate to people, we really don’t exactly know how someone feels, even if we’ve been in the same situation. We can’t truly know just exactly 100% how someone else feels. Maybe close, but not completely.
When we get into discouraging times of life, it is a great comfort to know others are there to share with us in our pain, even if they don’t know exactly how we feel or what we’re going through. It gives us a great relief to know someone can relate to us. However, no matter how much others are able to relate, there is no one who can relate more than Jesus Himself. In the times that you are all alone by yourself and your friends and family are not around, He is the One Who understands and sympathizes completely with what you’re going through.
It is such a comfort to know that no matter what we deal with or what pain we experience, every time we come to Jesus, He can give us comfort like no one else can. He has experienced every situation of temptation, yet He never fell to it. He is our High Priest, the One Who gave His life to save ours. You think if someone would give up His life for ours that He would know what we go through?
Have you gone to Him lately for your ultimate comfort? Do you go to Him more than you go to your friends and family? It’s wonderful to get comfort and support from friends and family, but we can’t rely on them to give what only God can give. There are times when God just wants us to come to Him and bask in His presence and comfort instead of always running to family and friends. We need to be alone with Him and know that He always knows and understands our pain. As much as others are able to relate to us, only Jesus truly knows how we feel and what we’re experiencing.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
“No One More Amazing”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 1:3-4 NLT
The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.
I enjoy watching amazing things that people do. Whether it’s on TV, a Netflix series or in a documentary, I really enjoy watching people do bizarre and amazing things. I like when someone does something and my jaw drops and my eyes become as wide as saucers and I just say, “How did they do that??”
We have all been amazed by different people and different things in life that we see people do. We get a thrill from watching people do some amazing stunts and perform tricks that totally blow our minds. I enjoy watching magicians perform. I know they have a very simple trick to what they do, but it really amazes me when I see them do what they do.
What amazes you? What makes your jaw drop? What makes you say, “Wow! Did that really just happen?”
As much as I like to be amazed by things and people, I often wonder how much more I should be completely amazed by the things God has done and still does. I wonder how much I focus so much on the amazement of things in this world and how little I sometimes focus my attention toward an amazing God. That breaks my heart. I often find myself more amazed at what people do than what God can do and still does.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who was sinless and radiated God’s own glory, came to be an exact replica of God. He was God in the flesh. After all these years of being a Christian, it still baffles me how God can be 3 in 1, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It’s just amazing! I cannot wrap my mind around it! Jesus radiates His Father’s glory perfectly. Everything is sustained by His command. Wow! Does that amaze you?
Not only did He represent His Father’s glory, but He cleansed us from our sins. He died for those sins. These are all things I should be totally amazed by every day in my life, but so often my actions reveal that I am not really that amazed. I find myself waiting for the next thing I can see with my eyes on this earth and not in anticipation for what God will do.
There is absolutely no one more amazing, incredible and majestic than our Creator God.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
“Sometimes We Forget”
By Zach Wood
1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
If you’re anything like, you forget things often. It doesn’t seem to matter what age you are, you forget things all through life. It is easy to be forgetful. We tend to forget the simplest things in life and then we do a smack on the forehead when we come to recall what we’ve forgotten and we say, “I cannot believe I forgot that!” You wouldn’t be a human being if you didn’t forget things.
Sometimes we forget important dates. Sometimes we forget promises that we’ve made to others. Sometimes we forget to pickup the kids after an activity if we’ve had a crazy day at work. Sometimes we forget we’ve left stuff in the yard and rain comes to soak it down.
We often forget, sadly, how destined we are to death if Jesus Christ hadn’t come to give His life for us. We get so wrapped up in life that we often forget we cannot do anything without Him. We tend to think so much of ourselves by all the things we can do on our own and in our own strength and we forget how destitute we really are when we take life on our own. If we really think about it, as Paul describes here, we are the worst sinners. Paul didn’t think highly of himself. Even though he became one of the greatest influences in the NT and in the church, He was easily reminded that he was the worst of sinners.
Sometimes, we certainly need a reality check to remember and realize how far off from God we really are and how desperately we need Him. Jesus came to save us because we are filthy. We have turned away from Him and gone our own way so many times. But we often tend to just go through life thinking we are pretty awesome. We get pretty full of ourselves and think we’re doing pretty good. God looks at the prideful heart and sees a sinner who desperately still needs Him. He sees through our beaming attitude of arrogance and knows that we really need Him more than ever.
God is certainly patient with us. He wants us to completely rely on Him and most of all to never forget how very much we need Him. Paul considered himself the worst of sinners. How do we see ourselves? Do we think more highly of ourselves than we ought? Or do we see ourselves as filthy rags that need His cleansing? We are nothing without Him. That’s blunt, I know, but it’s the truth. Jesus saves us from our life of disgust and we need to be reminded of the wonderful cleansing He has given us.
Sometimes we forget.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
“Take Time To Just Praise Him”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 103:1-2 NLT
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
This past Sunday, the pastor at church read this passage and brought something to mind that really challenged me. How often do we come to God each day filling our time alone with Him with many, many requests? Don’t get me wrong here, God does ask us and longs for us to bring Him the concerns of our heart and the many things that weigh us down. However, as I was listening to the sermon and thinking about these verses, I couldn’t help but think of how often I bring my needs and wants before God, but rarely just take the time to be in His presence and just praise Him.
I’d like to ask that you think back over the past week, month or year and consider how much you’ve just taken time to do nothing but come before God to praise Him and thank Him for Who He is and what He has done? I know for myself, I am so guilty of turning my quiet time with God into endless requests and very little time of just giving praise to Him.
Does God invite us to bring our requests before Him? Absolutely! Again, He is always there for us, no matter what is on our mind and heart. But just think about how amazing it would be if we took a morning that we usually lay out tons of requests and, instead, just focused on giving Him praise and thanking Him for all the good things He has done and continues to do.
Take time to praise Him when you get up. Take time to praise Him on your way to work. Take time to praise Him as you drive the kids to school. Take time to praise Him as you take your kids from one activity to another. There are so many times that we can stop and take in His beauty around us and praise Him.
May we always be mindful of what He has done for us, wherever we are at and whatever we are doing. Our God deserves and longs to hear the praises of His children. He cared enough to send the very best to us, Jesus Christ. Shouldn’t we take time out of our way, not only to bring our concerns and needs before Him, but also to just praise Him because of Who He is?
Monday, May 2, 2016
“Living To Harvest A Spirit-Filled Life”
By Zach Wood
Galatians 6:8 NLT
Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
Have you ever taken a bite out of a piece of food that appeared to look good on the outside, but then it tasted rotten once you sunk your teeth in? Yuck!!! The only thing you can think of is spitting all of that gross stuff from your mouth and getting some water to rinse your mouth of the horrible taste. Not one of us likes taking a bite of anything only to discover something rotten on the inside.
How many of us would ever choose to pick up something rotten and eat it? We wouldn’t because we now only know it looks and probably tastes gross, but we could also very likely become sick. It would be dumb to eat it and expect to enjoy it and have our bodies nourished from it. We would throw it away and get rid of it.
I cannot help but think of how often we do this in our lives with our walk in God. How often do we take a “bite” from the things of this world thinking we will reap some benefits by chasing after our desires of the flesh? We chase for so long thinking that the next “bite” will finally satisfy. We only find ourselves, unfortunately, continuing to bite the same spoiled or rotten things and wonder why we aren’t growing in our relationship with God.
If we get up in the morning and go through our day and only seek to satisfy our selfish desires, then we will only reap decay and death. There is no life found in chasing after what we think will make us feel good. If all we wish to do is go after what we think is good or what makes us feel good, we will find no growth in our faith. However, if we wake in the morning and do all we can to seek Him and turn away from worldly desires, we will be amazed at the life we find in the Spirit.
So, my question for all of us is this, “Why do we keep repeatedly chasing after the same desires day after day when they do nothing but leave us dry and longing for only what the Spirit can give us?” My hope and prayer is that each of us will live each day with no other desire than to harvest everlasting life by chasing after fulfillment from the Spirit of God. There is no better refreshment.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
“The Great Inheritance”
By Zach Wood
1 Peter 1:3-4 NLT
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
How often do we stop and seriously consider what our life in Christ really brings us? Maybe we go to church every Sunday, hear a good sermon, attend a Bible study and meet up with some church friends through the week to have a fun time. While this is good, we so often get into a “churchy” routine and we forget how truly amazing our life in Christ is.
We can get so caught up in the things we have in this life on earth that we forget the great importance of what we have in Christ. Do we live in great expectation of all that He can do through us and with us? Do we wake each morning with a wonderful feeling of “Okay Lord, what will be new today?” Many of us wake each morning with nothing but feelings of anxiety, stress, worry and guilt. Our minds are loaded each day with anything anticipation of what God can do.
No matter what some of us may have inherited in life, there is no greater inheritance than what Christ has waiting for us in heaven. All that waits for us can never spoil, fade, change or decay. This inheritance is completely priceless. Nothing in the world could ever compare to the life we have in Him and the life that is to come when we go to be Home.
As much as I enjoy the time I have with my family each day and time with friends and other family throughout the year, there are some days when I think about how wonderful it would be to just be Home with God. I am thankful for His great mercy and the salvation I have through Him. I desire God to do great things each day and to show me new things about life and great discoveries.
I want to live in great expectation everyday for what He can do and appreciate all that He has done. Are you and I thankful for the great inheritance and life we have in Christ?
Thursday, April 14, 2016
“Our Amazing God Of Amazing Abilities”
By Zach Wood
Isaiah 40:28 NLT
Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
Isn’t it crazy how busy life seems to get these days? It seems we are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off with work, school, sports events, church activities, etc. The list could go on and on and on. We absolutely wear ourselves out these days because we feel it’s best to always be busy.
Most of us work a hard day’s work at our jobs and find ourselves exhausted at the end of the day. Sometimes we have energy in our day to do some extra things, but many times, we just want to kick our feet up and relax for the evening. However, many of us then find ourselves going from day to day with activities in the evening and through the weekends.
With this all being said, we are busy people and we lead busy lives. When do we rest? When do we just “chill”? Many times we find it hard to do that. With all the busyness we find ourselves in these days, I am so glad that we serve an Almighty God that never grows tired or weary. Could you imagine serving a God who takes a day off or goes on vacation? Could you imagine trying to talk to God and only hearing a voicemail greeting and having to leave a message for Him to get back to you?
As much as you and I both get tired from exhausting work and other activity days, it’s such a comfort to know that no matter how we are feeling or what we are dealing with, God never sleeps and He is always there to hear us when we need Him. How is the possible? How can He be everywhere and available to each one of us at all times? Isn’t that crazy? It really is! No one can possibly comprehend His depths of understanding.
Our amazing God is everlasting. He never grows tired or weak or weary. He is never too tired or busy to spend time talking to you. He won’t turn you away. He won’t put you on “hold” until He is ready to speak to you. He won’t turn on the “auto responder” when you try to reach Him. He won’t say as many of us parents do “Just a second!” No, He will always be available, no matter when or where we are.
Let this devotional and passage be a great reminder that we serve an Almighty God Who is always there for us. He’s never too busy to spend time with us. What an amazing God we serve!
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
By Zach Wood
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
How many of you are sports lovers? I can just hear the guys yelling with a macho, “Oh yea! You got that right!” Whether you are a child, teen or adult, when you play a sport, you prepare yourselves. Not only do you put in the practice so that you and your team can win, but you also prepare by putting on proper padding that the sport calls for to ensure safety.
Could you imagine NFL players showing up to each game with no padding or helmets? How about a MLB catcher showing up behind home plate with no face guard? How about NHL players showing up without any masks or padding on their bodies?
It would be plain dumb for any player to show up without proper protection for these games. Why? Because that lack of proper equipment could result in some serious injury. Sure, injuries can happen no matter how padded or equipped you are. However, the injuries can be quite lessened when players are protected properly. My family watches a lot of football and I can’t begin to imagine how much more serious injuries would be without all that padding and the helmets they wear.
If we’re playing a sporting game, we want to be prepared and properly equipped so that we can play the game well. We put so much attention on preparing for different events so that we can win, honestly how sad that we put very little effort often into being prepared for what our spiritual enemy throws at us. We should put just as much attention, if not more, into our daily lives to ensure that we are ready for battle against Satan’s strategies. He is NOT dumb! He is quite intelligent and he constantly develops strategies to knock us out of the game.
Paul is very clear as he talks about how we need to suit up with the full armor of God so that we can be strong against the enemy when he attacks. If we are not prepared and not properly protected, he will take us down hard. Why would we even consider not putting the time and effort into studying God’s Word and applying what we read into our daily lives so that we can be strong against Satan?
Are you properly equipped? Do you want to stand strong with God at your side when the enemy attacks? If so, then digging into God’s Word daily needs to be at the top of the daily priority list. We all need to be properly equipped.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
“No Better Replenishment”
By Zach Wood
John 4:13-14 NIV
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
I am absolutely amazed and baffled by all the things that continue to promise fulfillment and refreshment in this world today. It seems no matter where I look, I’m seeing things that promise replenishment only end up delivering a greater thirst to search for something more.
I see food advertised promising to make the stomach happy, but is terrible in nutrition. I see beverages promised to quench thirst, but when I choose to drink them, I’m still left thirsty. I see ads for electronics that sound like a great deal and would make me happy, but then I see something even better a day later and want that instead.
No matter where I look for replenishment, I never seem to find anything that completely leaves me satisfied and feeling wonderful. Often I find myself chasing after all that the world promises will make me feel great and make me happy. If I just have this thing or buy that food or get that product, I will finally have it all and feel better.
No matter what I have chased after, I never feel replenished unless I am chasing after God and His replenishment. You’d think after all these years, I’d finally stop chasing after worldly desires, but I’m human and I just keep falling for the false promises that all these other things will somehow suffice.
This is a powerful encounter Jesus has with a woman at the well. She keeps wondering and seeking to find true satisfaction. Jesus finally offers her real replenishment, but she doesn’t quite “get it”. Before we nod in agreement and point our fingers at her, we need to realize that each one of us is in her shoes everyday. We all chase after something other than God to find replenishment and we ALWAYS come back dry and wanting something else.
No one will ever satisfy or replenish us like Jesus Christ, the true source of fulfillment in life. We can search and search and search and we will never find anything else more satisfying than Him. When will we learn?
Monday, March 21, 2016
“Getting Closer to Him”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 24:3-4 NIV
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
We spend a lot of time in our lives trying to get close to certain people, places and things. We’ll drive quite a distance to get to a place we’ve never been to before to explore new sights of nature. Sometimes we’ll stand in long lines to meet someone who is a popular public figure. We’ll spend a good amount of money to purchase tickets to have a great view at a concert of a popular singing group.
We could go on and on about ways we figure out to get closer to things and places and people we want to see. We may take hours or days to achieve these goals. It’s amazing how we’ll strive to do these things and how much time and money we’ll invest.
We “seek” a lot in our lives, do we not? We spend a lot of time investing in so much. When I consider how much we spend our lives investing in other things, I have to wonder how often we truly spend time investing in seeking God and investing in our relationship with Him? If we spent half the time we spend in doing other things and put that attention and energy more into searching the heart of God, I think we’d really be amazed at how much we’d grow in our faith.
We all say we want to get closer to Him. But how much do you really want to get closer? What’s “close” to you? Is it just knowing about Him? Is it just attending church on Sunday and hearing a good message and going about your daily life? This Psalm is pretty clear that if we truly want to be closer to God and invest our daily lives into knowing Him, then we need to strive to have clean hands and a pure heart.
You maybe be shaking your head and saying, “I know, I know, I know!” However, if we “know” we should be doing this, then why aren’t we?? Why are we not striving to know Him more and more? Do we really and honestly want to be in His presence and stand in His Holy place? Do we want to rid of the dirty hands and stained hearts and allow Him to cleanse us?
Do you sincerely want to grow closer to Him? If so, take some action and do something about it. We need to be more serious about getting closer to Him.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
“Nothing Better or Greater”
By Zach Wood
2 Corinthians NIV
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We tend to be amazed and excited at many things in life. There are some things, that when we see them, we just sit there or stand there in complete silence, perhaps with our mouths wide open and just stare. We are completely amazed at some of the things we see in life.
Some things totally astound us and we cannot wrap our minds around the concept. Some things we witness make us want to pinch ourselves and say, “Did that really just happen?” We find ourselves pretty awestruck and amazed at so many things that happen to us and around us. Sometimes we find ourselves at such a loss for words and can only think, “Wow, how can that really be possible?”
We have to admit we are moved by so many different things that happen around us and to us. We become filled with such emotion and are speechless at so much that happens in our lives. We so often find ourselves not having any words to really describe how we feel at those moments.
As amazed and overcome with emotion as we get about things in our lives, it troubles me and breaks my heart how we so often become less and less amazed and far less overwhelmed by what God has done for us. Many of us have attended church for so many years or our lives, yet we have very little amazement when we hear over and over again the wonderful messages about the Savior’s life of love.
Why do we get so much more amazed and awestruck about things in the world and less and less overwhelmed by what God has done for us? Why does it become so commonplace when we talk about what He has done for us? The truth is there is absolutely nothing greater or better than what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross. Nothing in the world could ever compare to that greatness. However, what do we really feel in our hearts? Are we absolutely still amazed and overcome with emotion over what He did?
God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us! Wow! That’s a really, really big deal! Is He greater and better than everything and anyone else in our lives? He should be, but is He?