Sunday, November 26, 2017

Make 'em Wonder What You've Got

“Make ‘em Wonder What You’ve Got”
By Zach Wood
Colossians 4:5-6 NLT
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Back in 1994, Newsboys released the hit song “Shine”.  In the chorus, they sing “Shine. Make ‘em wonder what you got.  Make ‘em wish that they were not, on the outside looking bored.”

This was one of my favorite songs from the band for many years.  It was catchy and just plain fun to sing and dance to.  But most importantly, it had a great message.  The song was about how we need to shine as Christians and show the world what they are missing by not having the awesome life of Christ. 

The Apostle Paul, in this passage from the NLT, says to let our conversations be gracious and attractive.  We often do things in life to make ourselves look good, don’t we?  When we go to a wedding or a funeral, we usually wear something formal because we want to look nice for the occasion.  When we go to an interview, we dress up to make a good impression.  When we go on a special date with a girlfriend/boyfriend, fiancĂ©, or spouse, we often dress up because we want to look good for them. 

Often times, we put in a lot of time and attention to make ourselves look good because it’s a special event.  I can’t help but to think about how we prepare ourselves everyday for the special occasions for when we get into conversations with others.  So often, we put so much attention on our job duties and other things, but we spend little time tending to our attitudes and the words we say to others. 

Paul has told us to live wisely among those who don’t believe and make the most of every opportunity.  As we live our daily lives, are we living in such a way that makes people around us wonder what we’ve got?  Do we make them wish they were not out the outside looking bored as the Newboys sing about?  Do we shine for others to see? 

Everything we do every day should catch the attention of others and make them wonder why we do what we do.  The words we say.  The way we do things.  Why we don’t say words most others are saying.  The way we won’t go along with others who are telling off-color jokes. 

Are we making them wonder what we’ve really got?  Are our words and actions “attractive” to them, making them “itch” to find out why we are so different?  I hope so.  Shine!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Stop & Think Before We Ruin

“Stop & Think Before We Ruin”
By Zach Wood
Proverbs 13:13 NLT
Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.

There is not a single one of us reading this that doesn’t desire to have a long, fulfilling life, right?  We all want to live a very fulfilling life, making the most of all opportunities that come along.  We don’t want to do something or say something in our lives each day that messes things up.  However, this is exactly what many of us do without thinking often times.

There are many Scriptures that refer to us making wise choices in the words we use and how we say things to others.  Jesus taught us many things about how we use words and so did the Apostle Paul.  There were also others who mentioned how important it is for us to use words cautiously. 

I don’t think we realize sometimes enough how important it is for us to carefully choose the words we say to others.  We have all been hurt by some else’s words, but we have also hurt others by using words of our own as well.  Have you ever walked into a room or called someone on the phone only to say something you wish you’d never said?  Who hasn’t??? 

This is a powerful passage encouraging us to use our words wisely.  The second part of this passage should echo in our hearts and minds every single day as a warning for us to stop and think before we ruin a conversation or seriously hurt someone’s feelings.  So much can happen when we don’t think about what we say before the words come out. 

Every day, as I begin my day, I pray that God will use me to show His love to others I work with and anyone I come into contact with.  I pray that God will use my words to encourage.  However, I so often mess things up and don’t think before I speak.  How so often I find myself saying things that ruin a situation or make things awkward.  I try not to, but it happens.  And, I’m sure most of you do the same things as well. 

We all need to be wiser with our words, especially when we find ourselves in a heated situation and get frustrated.  It’s so easy to let words fly that we don’t mean and say things we will very soon regret. 

My prayer is that we will all stop and think before we ruin someone’s day or seriously hurt someone’s feelings.  Instead, let us stop and think and then do our best to encourage.  

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Willingness Without Hesitation

“Willingness Without Hesitation”
By Zach Wood
Isaiah 6:6-8 NIV
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Last week I shared about Isaiah’s experience coming into the very presence of God and how reacted to that encounter.  That was the first part of what happened and this week, I would like to continue with what happened after that.  Not only did Isaiah become completely humbled and realize how unclean he was in the presence of Almighty God, but what happened next is even better.

After Isaiah realized and confessed how wretched he was before a Holy God, his sin was atoned for and he was forgiven.  That is so cool that he was forgiven and became clean before God.  And then, what happens next is astounding when God asks him, “Whom shall I sent?  And who will go for us?

How does Isaiah respond to this?  He says what every single one of us should always say without hesitation when God asks us and calls us to do something.  Isaiah says, “Here am I.  Send me!”  Isn’t that incredible?  Isaiah doesn’t seem to hesitate in his response, at least from what we see here.  Many of us, if not most, would most likely give excuses back to God. 

I don’t know God, let me think a day or two on this and I’ll get back to you!”
“Why don’t you pick someone else who is better qualified to take this on?”
“I got a lot going on right now, God.  Maybe in the next week or month?”

We seem to always make excuses when God calls us to do something, especially something that makes us uncomfortable.  I heard a phrase many years ago and I don’t recall who I heard it from, but I remember hearing someone in ministry say, “Our response to God should always be ‘First God, my answer is yes.  Second, where do You want me to go and what do You want me to do?”

Could you imagine how life would be if we all told God that?  Wow!  I can only imagine how much more adventurous our lives would become if we would just completely surrender everything to God and hold nothing back and tell God, like Isaiah did, that we will go and do.  If we would only be willing to go and do whatever God leads us to.  Life would be so different! 

My hope and prayer is that we all consider our willingness to say yes to God no matter where He leads.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

I Can Only Imagine

“I Can Only Imagine”
By Zach Wood
Isaiah 6:1-5 NIV
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

A couple of weeks ago our pastor mentioned this passage in his sermon and as he talked about Isaiah’s experience, it got me thinking about how I would react and how I would feel if I were in his shoes.  What would I saw and how would I handle this kind of encounter? 

I think about all the times when I come before God in my quiet times and how I address Him and what all I say as I pray.  Do I make my prayer times all about what I want and what I think I need or am I totally focused on the greatness of God and realize what I am without Him?

Isaiah came before God and he was brought to his knees and realized how very unclean he was.  Does that happen to us when we come before God?  Are we so focused on Him that we realize more and more how unworthy we are without Him in our lives?  Do we see the filth that is in our lives and that we desperately daily need His blood to wash us clean? 

Do we come before Him so flippantly and not even consider all His greatness?  Do we just throw our requests at Him and expect Him to move mountains in our time and in our way of thinking?  If we’re honest, we really do.

Remember “I Can Only Imagine”?  MercyMe became a very popular group, both in Christian music and in mainstream music, with this song.  It really made people, and still does, stop and think about what they would do if they were face to face with God.  What would we do?  How would we react?  What would we say?  Would we stand?  Would we fall to our knees?  Could we speak at all? 

I hope that this week and beyond we will all consider the greatness of coming before our God Who is so Almighty and being in total awe of Who He is.  I pray also that His greatness would cause us to see how unclean we are and how desperately we truly need Him, every moment of every day.