Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How Often We Forget

“How Often We Forget”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 119:89-94 NLT
Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven.  Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created.  Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans.  If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery.  I will never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life.  I am yours; rescue me!  For I have worked hard at obeying your commandments.

We often forget how powerful things are in life.  When we mess with wiring in the wrong way, we often forget how powerful electricity is.  When we are caught in or watching a thunderstorm, we often forget how powerful a bolt of lightning and crash of thunder can be.  When we are standing in the ocean and are suddenly taken underwater by a wave that crested behind us, we forget how powerful a surge of water can be. 

We so often tend to forget the power of some things in life until it is too late.  There are powerful things that can hurt us and if we forget to handle those things in a certain way, it could be disastrous.  We just need to realize the power of things and how they can affect us.

In the same way, we so often forget the importance of the great powerful of Almighty God.  We so often tend to take for granted how amazing He is.  The power of God is greater and more impacting than anything on earth we could ever imagine. 

I don’t know how many of you watch the Weather Channel, but it’s one of my favorite channels to watch.  The shows of severe weather and the crazy stories of weather caught on camera around the world is so intriguing to me!  I just can’t get enough of it!  I really enjoy those shows because of the powerful impact weather can have on things around us.  However, no matter how powerful a storm seems to be, there is no greater power that could ever be displayed than God’s power. 

Nothing in the world compares to His mighty power and all that He can do.  By God’s very power, He gives us life and He asks us to obey His commands. However, how often we forget how wonderful and powerful He is and we live our lives the way we want to.  We must not take for granted His amazing power and faithfulness to us.  He is greater than any power this world can ever behold.  Let us never forget!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Will You Still Praise Him?

“Will You Still Praise Him?”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 62:5-8 NIV
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the 2006 movie of “Facing The Giants”?  In the movie, a football coach of a Christian school is faced with many challenges, one of which is he and his wife cannot have children.  They are considerably hurt and frustrated over this, but they choose to trust in God no matter what He brings to their lives.  In one scene, the husband says, “If you don’t want me to have children, so be it.  I will still trust in You”.  Then, toward the end of the movie, the wife goes for one more pregnancy test at the clinic and says, “I will still trust in You”. 

In both situations, the husband and wife both put their trust completely in God even if things don’t come out the way they hope and pray for them to.  I’ve been thinking about that scene lately and just how things happen in life.  When things go good and prayers are answered in ways that please us, we’re happy.  However, when God doesn’t move in certain ways or keeps us from certain things that end up confusing us, the question is will we still trust in Him? 

God is our refuge and our strength no matter what is happening in our lives, good or bad.  He often does things we don’t understand and we must learn to totally trust Him even when life just doesn’t make any sense.  And, often times, it won’t. 

The times that I have found to be most frustrating is when it feels like nothing at all is moving forward and it seems God is not leading or opening any doors of opportunity.  Even thought we know we should trust Him, it’s often very hard to do and we get angry with Him.  It’s in these times that we must hold firm to the faith we have and believe with all our hearts that He is still working even if we cannot feel it.  He is always working and He will lead and guide.

What’s most important is for us to keep our minds and hearts open at all times to His leading.  He knows exactly what He’s doing and we just have to be still and trust.  I want to encourage each of you who are experiencing frustrating right now to hold on and trust always.  He is always on the move and working and most likely in ways you don’t see and don’t understand. 

Trust and continue to praise Him. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Putting It All On The Line

“Putting It All On The Line”
By Zach Wood
1 John 3:16 NLT
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

This morning on the way to work, I was listening to the local Christian station about the concerns of people who lost their lives in the Las Vegas shooting.  One thing they said today really struck me.  They mentioned not only how horrific it was what had happened, but then they talked about how incredible it was the people in law enforcement that ran to try to help protect others in the line of fire. 

I thought about that and all the people who, day after day, put their life on the line for other people.  It’s their job to protect people every single day.  Police, fire fighters, those serving in the armed forces, etc.  There are people whose careers are dedicated to helping others in times of great despair.  Sometimes these people actually have to decide about putting their life on the line for others.  Sometimes these people make decisions to save those who serve under them and risk their lives to save others.  I can’t imagine being in that position.  I am so appreciative and thankful we have people who protect us like that.

After thinking about all of this, I feel ashamed for how selfish I become so often in life and only thinking of myself and what’s best for me and not what I can do for others.  What if I was in a situation that meant my life might be in the line of fire to save someone else?  Would I do it?  Would I risk losing my life for someone else? 

As I consider this, I cannot help but think of the absolute ultimate sacrifice that was made over two thousand years ago on the Cross.  Jesus Christ put His life on the line for us.  He gave it all and did all He could to save ours.  He held nothing back and gave it all.  Man that makes me feel so ashamed of my selfishness.  I become so focused on myself and I forget what was done to give me life. 

I’m not only thankful for what Christ did for me, but I am also thankful as I think about all the people who are daily putting their life on the line so that I can enjoy my freedom.  It’s really something I should be thankful and grateful to God for each day. 

Jesus Christ showed us ultimate love by putting it all on the line for us.  He also calls us to be willing to lay down our lives for others as well.  Are we willing to?  Are we ready to?  He calls us to always be ready, willing and able.  Are we?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Real Love

“Real Love”
By Zach Wood
1 John 4:10-12 NLT
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

We sure are bombarded every single day with sources claiming to show us “real love”.  From TV, movies, social media, books, magazines, etc. Everywhere we look we see some sort of message conveying what love should look like or how it should be.  Or, more than that, how it should feel.

We get a better picture when we consider the love that comes from family, friends and other loved ones.  People who are close to us often try hard to show us genuine love.  Not always, but they try. 

No matter how hard other people try to show us love, there is no greater display of “real love” than what God did for us on the Cross through Jesus Christ.  There is absolutely nothing greater, nothing.  You can search the world and the universe and find no greater display of affection and love than God Himself.  I’ve never personally known a greater love than Him.

I’ve trusted other sources of love in the past and been burned by many.  I turn one way and I think that will show me love then….burn.  I turn another way thinking I had finally found some sort of display of true love and then again….burn. 

We have all turned to many sources expecting something real with love.  We have all been burned.  Some of us have really been burned very badly.  Sometimes, we get burned so bad that we really don’t believe that true love actually exists anymore. 

Friends, God loved us so much that He showed us a form of love that had never been shown before and never will again.  God’s display of real love goes beyond anything we can ever imagine.  God’s display of love through Jesus Christ is the most real and genuine form of love we can ever possibly experience.

He not only gives His love, but then He also asks us to also show others as He has shown us.  It is a love that is truly hard to show others at times, but He asks us to do it unconditionally because He Himself has shown us that love unconditionally as well.  God’s love is true and genuine and full of life!  It is a love that He has shown to us and then commands us to pour out to others, as hard as that may be at times. 

God is truly real, authentic and genuine love to the core.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Not A Solo Battle

“Not A Solo Battle
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

Most of us want to feel confident in doing things by ourselves and on our own.  It’s a great feeling when we can conquer things in life by ourselves.  When we learn to do things on our own and be independent in making decisions without first having to consult someone else before hand, it can make us feel pretty good.  This is where we can gain advances in our jobs and in certain situations where people come to trust us more to make good decisions. 

Now, while it’s great to accomplish things on our own, we bleed this mentality right into our lives in Christ.  We read His Word and build up our faith for a while and then, for some reason, we get the idea that we can do this battle on our own.  We get a little full of ourselves and think, “I got this!”  Only then we usually find ourselves falling flat on our face in various ways because we stopped consulting God before going gung-ho on our plans.

While it is absolutely wonderful that we can accomplish some things on our own, we must also remember that God gives us the abilities to do these things and He brings us into situations where He waits to see if we will still consult Him or take on the challenges all alone.  From personal experience, and I’m sure from yours as well, we come to find out often the hard way that we should have consulted God instead of plugging away all by ourselves. 

It’s like we’re telling God, “I got this, Lord.  I mean, I know You are God and my Savior and all, but really I can do this on my own.”  Why in the world do we think we can handle life’s challenges all alone sometimes?  We are in a spiritual battle every day and we simply cannot fight the battles alone.  We will suffer and we will eventually lose.  We think we can do it on our own, but we simply cannot.  

When we get full of ourselves and think we don’t need God, the enemy has a sly and nasty way of coming at us full force and landing us right on our face or back.  He beats us down and laughs at us. If we would have just put the armor of God on and let Him fight for us and with us, things would have turned out differently.

In what ways in my life am I battling alone?  In what ways in your life are you battling all by yourself?  Consider this during the week and days that follow.  This is a battle you definitely want and need God with you through.  

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Spotlight On Him

“Spotlight On Him”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 115:1 NIV
Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

For so many of us, we have enjoyed time after time the instances where the spotlight went to us for various reasons.  Perhaps you won first place in a sporting event in school and you got to stand on the #1 podium.  Maybe you won the grand prize for a drawing you entered.  Whatever the case may be, there was most likely a time and place where you won first and the spotlight was on you for period of time.  Who doesn’t like those times, really?  I think we would all admit we sometimes like the attention put on us for one reason or another.  We want to feel important for whatever reason. 

As I think through all of the years the various times I’ve had the spotlight turned on me, I can remember the hype and excitement that ran through me.  It didn’t last too terribly long, but I know that I have told about those times at gatherings and parties.  I’m sure you have as well.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these moments for a time, but sometimes we sure can get carried away and continue to bring the spotlight back on ourselves too much.  After a while, people get really tired of others who always want the spotlight.

This passage rings true in my life and I’m sure it does for you as well.  Too often we want the credit and the spotlight in our lives and we fail to give credit to the One who really gave us the ability to even do what we did to get in the spotlight.  I have admired, through the years, the people on TV who get interviewed and then turn the spotlight completely upon Jesus Christ.  They have no problem giving Him all the credit for their abilities.  Wow!  What a great testimony!

I am ashamed to think of all the times that I have taken credit and the spotlight when I should have solely given God all the glory.  It’s so tempting at times to consider the great things we have done and forget Who gave us the ability to do those things. 

Not to us, but to God alone.  We don’t deserve the glory, but He does.  His love and faithfulness should shine through all we do.  In the times when we are put in the spotlight for whatever reason(s), He is waiting to see if we will turn the attention all to Him and not take the credit ourselves.  It’s in these times that people will really see Who we are living for.  It is ourselves and our own efforts or will we direct others to the amazing God who gave us life? 

“Lord, I’m sorry for so often taking the credit and spotlight when You should be the One who ALWAYS gets all the glory.  Forgive me, Lord.  May You always get the praise and glory, not me.”  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Not Just Any Other Name

“Not Just Any Other Name”
By Zach Wood
Acts 4:12 NIV
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

This morning to end our church service we sang “What A Beautiful Name” by Hillsong.  As we were singing about how beautiful, wonderful and powerful the name of Jesus is, I couldn’t help but think of all that we consider beautiful, wonderful and powerful in this world. 

We sometimes are able to meet people in person that are a celebrity or popular in some other way.  When we meet them, we’ll tell everyone we know about the experience and post a picture on social media sites.  When some event comes up that is really cool and blows our minds, we do the same.  We will tell everyone about it and rave about the experience online.  We tend to think many things in life are beautiful, wonderful and powerful.  Granted, there are some pretty cool things that go on around us and in our lives.

No matter how much we rave about how great someone is or about how wonderful an event was, there is absolutely nothing more beautiful, wonderful or more powerful than Jesus Christ alone.  And sadly, often we don’t speak with as great intensity what He has done for us and how truly awesome He is.  I am so guilty of this.  I often find myself getting so excited about what other people have done or other things going on and I find myself less ecstatic about God.  I don’t do it purposely, but somehow I find things of this earth often so much more exciting.  That shouldn’t be.

Just like the song says, what a beautiful name it is, what a wonderful name it is, and what a powerful name it is.  Is that true in your life?  Is that true in my life?  Is the name of Jesus truly more beautiful, wonderful and powerful than anything else?  Greater than any other name. 

In this passage, Peter proclaims a powerful statement!  There is no other name anywhere by which we must be saved.  Salvation is found in no one else and there is no greater name, period. 

Nothing in the entire world can compare to this!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Let Us Consider & Encourage

“Let Us Consider & Encourage”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 10:24 NIV
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

A few weeks ago at church, this verse was read and it really got me thinking.  Sadly, I couldn’t help but to think about how terrible we’ve become today with encouraging one another.  We live in a culture and society where the focus is always on me, me, me.  Everything focuses on how we need to improve ourselves and better who we are.  We’ve sadly become trained to think of ourselves more than we think of others so often.  I’m super guilty with this and I often cringe when I think of how focused on myself I’ve become.

Throughout Scripture, we find so many references to how God wants us to reach out and help encourage others.  We know we should, but we get so wrapped up and busy with our own lives that we often just neglect the calling God has given us each and every day to invest in other’s lives.  And really, it doesn’t always have to be in really big ways.  Big ways are good to help out for sure!   However, God also wants us to help others in small ways.  Simple compliments.  Noticing things about others that most people don’t.  Words of encouragement in so many little ways can make a huge difference.

“Let us consider”.  Think about those words.  How often do we really stop and consider how we can encourage other people?  Do we really consider how we can help others become closer to God?  Are we focused on being the light of Christ to others all through our day?  Are we making it a point to spread the Good News?

“Let us consider”.  Think about these words in a different light now.  How about we consider all the opportunities we are passing up by being absorbed in our own lives.  Ouch!  That makes me cringe.  How often are we so wrapped up in our destinations and all that we have to do that we completely neglect opportunities right in front of us?  All too often!

We should even take this a step further.   How about we not only consider, but we actually……DO!  So often we say we’ll thinking about that or think about this with very little intention of actually doing it.  Let us consider how we may encourage others around us.

Let us make it a point and put forth more effort to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds as God has commanded us to.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What About You?

“What About You?”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 16:13-16 NIV
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Recently our pastor at church brought this passage up in his sermon and it just got me thinking a lot.  It got me thinking about how I view God.  What are my feelings about Him?  What do I think of Him?  Who is He to me?  What value is He in my life?  Who do I say He is?

When we are young, we learn from our parent’s faith a lot and kind of live faith through them.  We rely on them for a lot of things and trust that they will help us make good decisions.  However, there comes a time when we have to start thinking for ourselves and make decisions that we feel are best for our walk with Christ.  There comes a time when we have to decide how we are going to look at God and figure some things out on our own.  It’s not easy to do, but God wants us to do this.

Jesus asked this question first about what others thought about Him.  Then He turns the question to them about who they think He is.  He doesn’t want them to think only about what others say He is, but He wants them to think for themselves.

It is important that each of us considers who Jesus is.  Don’t go along with the crowd.  Don’t just go with someone’s answer because it sounds cool.  Think about who God is to you.  Who is He personally to you?  What does He mean to you?  Don’t spend your live living your faith through other people.  You must have your own faith and belief in who He says He is.  Have your own quiet time with Him.  Pray to Him.  Seek Him.  Ask Him to reveal Himself more and more to you.

“What About You?”  That’s a very important question.  Think about it every day. Who is Jesus to you?  Who do you say He is?  Do you believe He is who He says He is?  Talk to Him.  Be honest with Him.  And, when you’re presented with a situation where someone asks you about the faith you have, you can answer confidently that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. 

I remember making this confession of faith before a crowd of people when I gave my life to Christ and was baptized.  I confessed before a crowd that I wanted to make Him Lord of my life.  Every day, I need to continue to ask myself what He means to me.  Who do I say He is today?  Who do you say He is today?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

God Be Greater, Stronger & Louder

“God Be Greater, Stronger & Louder”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 18:30-32 NIV
As for God, his way is perfect:  The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.

One of my favorite Christian bands is We Are Messengers and they have a song called “Magnify”.  I have come to really enjoy this song and appreciate the lyrics.  I want to share part of those lyrics with you.

God be greater than the worries in my life, be stronger than the weakness in my mind, be louder let Your glory come alive, be magnified.”

I have thought about these words in this song the past couple of weeks and they’ve made a huge impact on how I feel each day. I want to share this devotion as a prayer through each of these lines I’ve shared with you.

God, be greater than the worries in my life:
Father, I ask that You and You alone with greater than all the worries I have in my life.  God, You know me better than anyone in the world and You know how I’m so consumed with the worries of life and I need to not be.  I worry about things going on, things not yet to be and if I will continue to be the servant, husband and father You have created me to be.  God, be greater than any worry in my life and help me to not worry, but let Your way be perfect and reflected in my life.  I pray that Your flawless Word would be evident in the way I live my daily life.  Help others to see that You alone are my strength and Whom I take refuge in.

God, be stronger than the weakness in my mind:
Lord, my mind is so weak so often.  I allow negative thoughts to invade my mind and sin creeps in to take over.  God, help me to be stronger in my mind and allow Your Word to take control and push those negative thoughts out.  Lord, I am weak, but You are strong.  I pray that Your mighty power would invade my mind and take over crushing the weakness in my mind to remind me that I am strong through You. 

God, be louder let your glory come alive, be magnified:

God, I want Your voice to be louder than any other voices trying to get my attention.  There are so many things trying get my attention in the world every day around me.  It’s hard to know what to listen to and what to avoid.  Father, I need Your voice louder than all of those so that I can follow and obey and magnify Your Name.  So many days Lord I try to follow all other voices and do my own thing.  God, forgive me when I ignore Your voice and become distracted from what You want me to do.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Let's Do This Together

“Let’s Do This Together”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 34:1-3 NLT
I will praise the Lord at all times.  I will constantly speak his praises.  I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.  Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.

One of the greatest things a parent can do for their child is to say, “Let’s do this together”.  As a dad, I find myself wanting to take care of things for my kids all too often when what I really need to do is show them and then offer for us to both do it together.  That way, they learn better and I don’t take care of it every time.

It is great when we can do other things together with someone as well.  There are many times when we want to do things in our own and at times it is great when we can do things solo.  However, there are also times when it’s so much better to work together as a team with someone else or a group of people. 

When we work with someone or a group of people, it’s so important that we strive to work hard to accomplish a common goal.  If we work with co-workers, we know that we need to collaborate and strive to help each other to a better job individually and as a whole group.  It’s important that helping each other is a priority so that everyone is encouraged. 

It is obvious that we are all different and work in many different ways to do our jobs.  Even with this challenge, it’s important that we strive to do what we can to ensure that we work together as a team with others whatever the situation may be.  Whether it be at a job, with siblings in a certain situation, or volunteering somewhere. 

No matter what we are doing, it’s important that we work together to achieve a common goal.  We absolutely must apply to the Kingdom work as we work together in the church to achieve a common goal and that is encouraging each other to grow closer to the Lord and to win people to the Lord.

The last line of this passage is vital.  We absolutely need to strive to work together in the church to exalt His name.  Our desire and passion should be ultimately to bring glory to His name and not promote our own agenda.  When I read this passage the other day, it just really hit me that we need to do a better job in the church today to strive to encourage one another as we seek to exalt His name. 

God calls us to seek Him and to tell of His greatness.  We need to do this together as the family of God.  However, we cannot be stuck in our own selfish ways and desire to promote our own plan or agenda.  We must work together and serve together to exalt Him.  Instead of “Let me do this”, we need to say, “Let’s do this together!” 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I Know, I Know, I Know

“I Know, I Know, I Know”
By Zach Wood
James 1:22-25 NLT
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

“I know, I know, I know”  The phrase that so many parents hear all too often from their children.  After being a parent for almost 11 years now, I have heard this phrase so many times.  And, as you can imagine, it becomes quite frustrating at times when my kids don’t listen or act like they aren’t listening.  My wife and I will tell them something over and over and over again, but still yet to see them go off and do what we just told them not to do. 

My parents dealt with me on this more times that I can ever imagine!  I’m sure they are reading this and probably getting a good chuckle or rolling their eyes just thinking back to those times.  What kid does not deal with this? 

There is not a parent in this world that has not experienced this with their kid or kids.  However, I can’t come down too hard on them, because I flip that situation around and I see myself acting this very same way toward God.  I have His Word available to me each and every day to read and learn and… OBEY.  But…do I?  Many times I don’t.  I tell God, “I know, I know, I know” and I go on my merry little way like it’s no big deal.  I tell God I’ll try harder next time.  I tell Him I’ll listen more next time.  I tell Him I’ll be better about things later.  I put them off and I fail to work on them….NOW.

God is not happy when we choose to obey Him in our own time frame.  He commands obedience now, not later.  Could you imagine if we treated our jobs this way? What if we said to our bosses and supervisors “I know, I know, I know”, but kept on doing the wrong things?  Do you think we’d have a job much longer?  No!  Why would they keep an employee who doesn’t listen? 

It’s so easy for us to hear what God tells us to do and to listen to it, but it’s a whole different ballgame to actually put action to what we’ve heard.  We must do the other part and actually make a change and live it out.  James is very direct about how we need to live our lives by intently listening to God and obeying Him.  And, just like a child to a parent, if the child doesn’t listen, there are consequences.  We have consequences when we don’t listen to God.  Sometimes, they can be drastic.  Other times, we can get off with a warning when we come close to a problem and stop it before it happens and learn from that. 

I hope and pray that each one of us heeds God’s commands and that we don’t just fool ourselves thinking we’ve done something grand when we’ve just merely listened and done nothing more.  That’s like listening to a sermon every week and telling the minister “Good message” and doing nothing about that message we’ve heard.  What will we do about it?

So, we need to change our “I know, I know, I know” to “I will, I will, I will”.  That comes through being willing to surrender and submit.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Challenging Love

“Challenging Love”
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.

While I was at work today, a convicting thought came to mind.  I thought about the different people we come into contact with each day.  First, there are those we get along with really well and enjoy being around and talking to.  Second, there are those we may know and have some casual conversation or small talk when we pass by them.  Third, there are those people whom we don’t really get along with for one reason or another and try to avoid.

The more I thought about this, I was convicted mostly by the idea of those whom I try to avoid perhaps because I don’t get along with them or things just feel awkward anytime I try to talk to them.  We have all done it.  We see someone we’d rather not talk to and we think quickly how we can “look” distracted to avoid talking to them.  Or perhaps we try to find another way to walk so that we don’t have to pass by them.  We all have to admit there are those people in our lives that we just don’t want to communicate or come into contact with.

As much as it pains me to think about talking to some people that I just cannot get along with, Christ has commanded that I do my best to show love to everyone.  He does not give me the permission to avoid others just because they are tough to love.  And…you know what?  I’m tough for some people to love as well!  Ever think about that?  When you find yourself thinking about how hard it is to love some people, remember that others probably find it hard to love you as well. 

This passage is vital to our daily walk with Christ.  Don’t just pretend to love others.  Really show genuine to them.  No matter how difficult it might be, hold tightly to doing what is right and what is good.  Put others before yourself.  Yes, it’s hard, but Christ never called us to what is easy.  Loving others is hard.  Just think about what Christ went through and He never stopped loving. 

I hope and pray that we all will be convicted of this no matter where we are or who we’re around.  God has called us to be real and genuine with everyone.  As hard as that may be sometimes, we need to strive to do our best to love others the best we can.  Don’t try to avoid people.  Instead, do the best you can to show love to them in any way possible.  That’s what Christ would do.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Complete Submission

“Complete Submission”
By Zach Wood
James 4:7 NIV
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

This time of year, many people have made resolutions of things they want to change in their lives.  They may list many different things they would like to change or be better at in life.  So many people make these decisions and try to follow through on them.

As the New Year approached, there was really one though on my mind and heart.  I was thinking about how I can get closer to God and what I need to flee in my life in order to accomplish this.  I’m not a person who makes long lists for resolutions.  I’m not into making a huge list of things I want to change.  What I do like to do is think of one or two things that I really want to see change in my life and pray about God helping me to do this.

What if we all made it our prayer this year to work on complete and full submission to God each and every day?  What does that look like?  What does it mean for each of us to fully surrender our lives each day?  James tells us to submit our lives entirely to God and by doing that we resist the devil and he flees from us. 

I really want to make it a point in my every day walk this year to strive better in making God my priority.  I want to grow closer to Him so that I can resist what Satan throws at me each day, throughout the day.  It is downright hard some days to keep my focus on Jesus because I have so many selfish thoughts and other thoughts that keep me from thinking of Him.  I have to be very intentional many times through my day to focus on Christ and not let my mind wander.

So what does it look like for you to completely submit as you continue in this New Year?  What does it look like in your life to be completely devoted to Him?  Let this be a main question that dictates how you life your every day life.  What decisions are you making that glorify Him or are you turning from Him in what you decide?  What words are you saying and what ways are you living that either glorify Him or turn away from Him?

I want to resist the devil every day.  I want to turn away from him when he throws impure thoughts at me and tempts me to be unfaithful in so many ways.  I want to be strong in the Lord and stand up to the enemy and resist his flaming arrows.  I want to be in complete and full submission to Him.  But you know what?  It’s going to take a lot of work and daily commitment.  It’s going to be hard and will require much effort. 

I hope that we each will make this our prayer to be in complete and full submission to Him every moment of every day.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Help Me To Listen, Lord

“Help Me To Listen, Lord’
By Zach Wood
John 10:27-28 NIV
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

There are many challenges to being a parent.  One of the greatest is talking to my kids and giving them instructions to follow, whether that is asking them to clean up something in their room or another room in the apartment, or asking them to go get something or take care of something quick.  So often I find myself saying to them, “What is so hard about the concept of cleaning up?”  My hands go up in the air in front of them and I repeatedly say that they need to listen to instructions and follow. 

If you are a parent reading this, you are probably shaking your head in agreement and thinking through how your kids act as well.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this feeling at all.  When our kids don’t do what we ask them to do, it is frustrating and we often find ourselves thinking about how we were when we were their age.  Sometimes we do forget how much we struggled with doing what our parents asked us to do.

Our kids so often “hear” our voice, but they choose to do what they want to do instead.  Or, they actually “listen”, but still don’t feel like carrying out what we ask them to do.  Often I’ve literally asked them “Why aren’t you listening to me and doing what I ask you to do?”  Sometimes I get a few responses or I get a shrug of the shoulders.  That leaves me speechless often not knowing what to say next. 

As much I find myself getting frustrated at times when they don’t listen, I cannot help to think how God feels when I don’t listen to Him.  How does God feel when He instructs me to do something or not do something and I simply avoid following His voice and instruction.  If I really cared enough and truly wanted to follow Him and obey, I would listen to His voice and be obedient, but often I do not. 

John tells us that if we listen to His voice and focus on Him, then we truly know His voice and allow Him to penetrate our hearts instead of the voices of the world.  It’s often so easy to let voices of the world dictate what we do instead of letting God’s voice dictate what we do.  We follow the ways and voices of the world way too often.  I know I do all too often. 

I’m not into making a bunch of New Year’s resolutions, but one thing I really want to do be better at this year is paying attention more to His voice and knowing Him more.  I hope and pray that is your prayer this year as well.  Let us all make an effort to listen to Him more and let Him guide us more in all things.  It’s a simple concept, but very hard often times to follow through on. 

God bless you all and Happy New Year!