Tuesday, November 6, 2018

We All Need A Sunrise Moment

“We All Need A Sunrise Moment”
By Zach Wood
John 14:27 NIV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Last Monday morning, as I was driving my oldest daughter to school, there was a beautiful sunrise that took my breath away.  As I drive her to school each morning, I always wonder if we will see a great sunrise or not.  Some mornings are really neat, but this one was really spectacular.  What was especially cool about this sunrise was that both my daughter and I needed it to brighten up our morning.. 

Did the sunrise take all of our worries and concerns away?  No.  Did the sunrise make everything perfect that day for her or for me?  No.  What it did do was create a moment of peace in the midst of a somewhat chaotic morning.  For a few moments I felt an overwhelming sense of awe coming over me.  It was like all frustrations and concerns left me for a few moments so that I could just enjoy seeing part of God’s wonderful design.  I was just in awe of God and His beauty! 

Sometimes, we just need a sunrise moment.  With all the chaotic moments in our lives so often, we need something to take our focus away from the chaos so that we can focus on God’s beauty to be reminded that He is always with us.  The world easily throws us into chaos, but God wants to remind us each day of His beauty and that He is in control. 

Do you need a sunrise today?  Do you need a sunrise moment in your marriage?  Do you need a sunrise moment in the relationship you have with your teenager?  Do you need a sunrise as you face your difficult job?  Do you need a sunrise as you face losing your job unexpectedly?  Do you need a sunrise moment as you deal with a friend or family member who has a life-threatening disease? 

We all need sunrise moments to feel a sigh wash over us and just feel at peace from God’s promises that He is with us.  How is He trying to remind you that He is in control?  He gives each of us sunrise moments to soak in and enjoy seeing His beauty.  The last thing God wants is for our hearts to be troubled.  It is so easy to get overwhelmed quickly with life.  He so much wants to give us sunrise moments so that we can be overwhelmed by Him and not the world. 

Look for these sunrise moments through your day.  Take them in and enjoy them.  Let God’s peace surge through you and refresh you. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Lay Them Down


“Lay Them Down”
By Zach Wood
1 Peter 5:7 NIV- Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
NLT- Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I read this passage this morning on my YouVersion Bible app and it really hit home with me.  When I looked up both translations that I often like reading, both of them really spoke to me.  God wants me to cast all of my anxiety on Him.  Another way to look at it is giving all of my worries and cares to Him.  Laying them all down before Him and letting them go.  Why?  So that I can fully focus on Him and not let them consume me.

I have a hunch that many of you reading this are experiencing the same issues in your life.  Are you feeling anxious a lot lately?  Are you overcome with worry?  Are you overwhelmed with concerns that are going on in your life? 

God definitely does not want us to live a life consumed with anxiety, worries and concerns.  When we are consumed with these, we cannot focus on Him.  So often we let our lives become dominated with these burdens.  I have always had a bad habit of letting worry consume me.  I don’t try to, but it just happens so often.  I am trying more and more each day to give these things to God and let Him fill me with peace.

I need to remember every single day to lay them down before Him and ask Him to fill me with His presence and let Him consume me instead.  I think we all need to be intentional about leaving these things at His feet each day so that we can live lives full of Him. 

I do not want my daily life full of anxiety and worries and concerns and I must be intentional about giving these to God each day.  We must all be intentional.  Perhaps you need to write these down so that they are all on paper and then pray about them.  Be intentional to mention to God each day the specific things that are making you worry and be anxious, asking Him to give you peace and to take away the consuming feeling of focusing on them.

However you feel like you need to give them up to Him, do it.  Fill your mind with Scripture and positive Christian music through the day.  Read a book that inspires you and encourages you to put positive thoughts in your mind. 

Check out the song “Cast My Cares” by the group Finding Favour on YouTube.  Listen to the words and let the message of this song fill you with hope. 

Lay all your anxiety, worries and concerns down.  Lay them all down before Him. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Associating With Sinners: Lost Sheep


“Associating With Sinners: Lost Sheep”
By Zach Wood
Luke 15:1-2 NLT
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.  This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

One of the things I most admire about Jesus was His ability to associate with the people who would be considered lowest on the totem pole.  Jesus was never into a popularity contest.  He did not spend time with people who only looked a certain way, smelled a certain way or dressed a certain way. 

Much of His mission was to associate with people who were close to hitting rock bottom or were already there.  I guess you could say he attracted people who were living in sin. 

The religious leaders did not like and could not believe that Jesus would do such a thing as to associate with the lowliest people.  Here was perfect Jesus associating with others that most would not associate with.  That is just how Jesus was.  He reached to people and places where most of us would never go.  He does not have barriers.  He does not have a checklist of things that keep Him away from others.  His love was real, genuine and reached out to those who needed Him most. 

I have to wonder about us today.  How many of us have a “checklist” of those we only associate with?  Who do we only allow ourselves to associate with?  We all have favorites and we choose to pay attention to those we choose to be around.  We do not like being around people who make us feel uneasy and uncomfortable.  And, we certainly do not like being around people who are completely different from us.  We often disagree and find it challenging to find common ground.

Jesus did not let barriers like this stop Him from reaching out.  He reached out to people we would avoid.  He touched people we stay far away from.  He had compassion on people that we would probably judge.  He reached out and He loved.  He associated with sinners and He loved lost sheep. 

The next few verses talk about how Jesus goes after lost sheep because they matter.  He would leave the 99 to find the 1 because that 1 totally matters.

I find it absolutely amazing that people who were lost and in sin were attracted to Jesus.  They were amazed that He took time to reach out to them. 

Do we associate with sinners?  Jesus associates with us, and we are sinners.  He calls us to associate with others without barriers.  That is challenging and tough, but that is our mission. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

He IS Peace


“He IS Peace”
By Zach Wood
John 14:27 NLT
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be trouble or afraid. 

After reading this passage the other day for my morning devotional time, I thought about all the worries, concerns and things I have been anxious about lately in my life.  As I pondered this passage, I prayed to God for peace. 

Perhaps I’m not alone with this feeling?  Do some of you need peace in your life right now because of all the worries, concerns and anxious thoughts?  I think it is safe to say that most of us have lives full of challenges, whatever they may be.  We seem to find ourselves consumed every day with so many concerns, worries and anxious thoughts. 

I have to admit that I have always been one to worry and be anxious about things that haven’t even happened.  I struggle often with the “What if?” questions.  I really wish I was a person who didn’t worry and become anxious, but we all have bad habits that we wish didn’t consume us.

This passage was a great reminder to me that I need His peace more than ever.  I not only need His peace, but I need to learn to let go of trying to control life with my worry and anxious thoughts and just rest in Him.  I wrestle often with worries and concerns about being a Godly husband, father and servant as well as health and financial concerns. 

I am so thankful that I read this passage because I really needed it!  I’m wondering if many of you are also feeling chaos in life because you are weighted down by the worries and concerns of life?  The more we worry and become anxious, the more we become stressed out.  We all know that feeling and it is not fun. 

I would like to share a prayer with you as I end.  I hope it brings comfort to you and some ideas of how you can continue to pray and lift worries and concerns to Him. 

God, I need Your peace right now to calm my fears, worries, concerns and anxious thoughts.  You not only give peace, but You are peace.  Only You can give me the peace I need to get through the challenges I am experiencing in life.  God, please fill me with a peace that the world cannot give me.  Let me be totally consumed with Your peace that can calm my soul.  I don’t want to worry, be afraid, be concerned or be overwhelmed with anxiety.  Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, please give me a peace of mind and heart so that I can learn to better submit to You and surrender everything so that I am not holding on to these things.  Help me to rest in Your peace. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Love In A Land Of Confusion


“Love In A Land Of Confusion
By Zach Wood
1 John 4:9-12 NLT
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  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.

In 1986, Genesis came out with the song “Land Of Confusion”.  There are many songs Phil Collins sings that I enjoy listening to and I can thank my brother for getting me into the sound of his music.

Here is the chorus of this song:

There's too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see this is a land of confusion.
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

Great words here and Genesis band said it well!  This explains well what this world needs.  We live in a land of confusion for sure!  So many people need to know the love of Christ and we, as the church, need to share this love with them.  God has given us gifts, talents and abilities to go out and do something about this confusion.  People are confused by what they see in life and they desperately need and want to see something real. 

The world needs to see real love lived out in people who are being real in Christ.  Friends, we need to show this real love in our lives for people who are living in a land of confusion.  Too often, we have become the problem causing confusion with our fighting and self-centered ways.  If we are truly going to be the church that God wants us to be, we need to work together to do our best to make this a place worth living in. 

We not only need to show this love to the lost, but also toward each other in the body of Christ.  The world needs to see us loving one another as well as sharing that love with them. 

This world needs to see God’s love in a land of confusion.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Show Me Lord, Please


“Show Me Lord, Please”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 25:4-5 NLT
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.

I remember when I was growing up and would ask questions to my mom, dad, brother, grandparents and others how to do things.  I would try on my own several times, but then realize that I needed direction.  After a few times of failure, I knew that I needed someone to show me how a task was done who had actual experience doing it. 

It makes sense, doesn’t it?  If you don’t know how to do something, you find someone with the experience who knows how to go about doing the task you are trying to complete.  You wouldn’t ask someone who doesn’t know.  You seek out someone with wisdom and knowledge to do the task you desire.  We know we need to seek out someone who understands the task at hand and will know how to guide you through it. 

When we seek out the person, we often approach them and say, “Can you show me how to do this, please?”  This is usually after we give up on trying on our own and bring in someone who knows what to do.  After we have suffered so many failures trying to figure it out, we consult someone and trust the person to help us. 

The very same goes in our relationship with God.  So often, we desperately try to do things on our own without His help.  We try so hard to do life on our own and with our own understanding.  I couldn’t even tell you the number of times I have tried things on my own through my life and have failed.  I failed because I didn’t ask for help.  I should have asked.  I am reminded so often now that God wants me to seek Him out and simply ask, “Show me Lord, please”. 

I think God truly desires us to come to a point where we just throw our hands up, surrender and just ask Him to take over.  He is waiting for us to stop relying on our strength and, instead, to rely on Him alone. 

We need to let go of our pride and realize our desperate need for Him and come to Him.  He won’t ever treat us like we’re dumb or stupid for not figuring it out.  He won’t give us a hard time.  He will love us, open His arms to us and welcome our desire to have Him show us the way. 

We simply need to say, “Show me Lord, please”. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I'll Be The Branch, You Be The Vine


“I’ll Be The Branch, You Be the Vine”
By Zach Wood
John 15:5-8 NIV
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

This chapter of John has been one of my favorite passages of Scripture for many years.  I have always appreciated and cherished the example Jesus gives of how we are the branches and He is the vine of life.  The imagery of this Scripture is amazing and every time I think of the words, I am truly reminded how vital it is to remain attached to Him.

Back in 1997, White Heart released their album “Redemption” with the song “The Vine”.  Here are some of the lyrics:

I'll be the branch, you be the vine, 'cause I've been withering away for some time,
Now I feel your healing flowing to my mind, I'll be the branch and you be the vine.
I feel so free when you are my Lord and I am just me.”

I honestly don’t know why I try so hard so often each day to live life all on my own.  I am reminded so often that it never works out right when I try to live life on my terms and not God’s terms.  I need to hang on to the vine and I will live strong.  Apart from holding on, I will not survive. 

All God wants each of us to be is just “me”.  That’s it!  He just wants us to be who we are.  He will take care of leading us and directing us.  Our job is to hold on and trust in Him for the ride.  We are the branch, He is the vine.  We are not to be in the control tower or the driver’s seat.  However, so many days this is exactly how our lives look. 

I want to encourage all of us today and every day from here on out, to let God be God and for us to just be who we are.  We will feel so free when He is our Lord and we are just who we need to be.  Only God provides the nourishment we need and we need to stay connected. 

We are the branches, He is the vine.  We need to stay connected or else we will just wither away.  We need His healing.  Are we abiding in Him?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Just Sit Back And Soak It In

“Just Sit Back And Soak It In”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 27:1 NIV
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

There are a lot of times in life where we like to kick back, put up our feet, and just soak in the environment around us.  Sometimes, we even like to close our eyes as well.  When we’re at the movies, at the beach, on our porch or back deck, sitting on our couch or recliner at home or sitting at the park somewhere.  These and other places we have all found ourselves and enjoyed the time of just sitting back, being still and soaking in the sun and the sounds around us or the music we’re listening to.

There is just something about chilling out, being still and taking in the beauty of the moment God has given to us.  We all enjoy these moments, but all too often we get so busy with life that we don’t have these moments as often as we’d like.  Some of my favorite times at home is when I sit back on the couch, recline and just relax.  I try to let go of the concerns and worries of life and just enjoy being still.  When I can actually relax, it feels so good and I don’t want to move or get up. 

There’s something about this passage that just relaxes me.  Perhaps because it reminds me of a song by Eden’s Bridge.  Look it up when you get a chance.  Very soothing and inspiring!  Sometimes, we just need a scenery, a nice breeze, or a perfect song that helps us to soak in the life and surroundings around us.  It can remind us of how amazing God is and the peace He brings.

I want to encourage all of us to sit back, relax and just let the words of this passage soothe us and remind us that God is our light and our salvation.  Most importantly, there is absolutely nothing to fear because He is the stronghold of our lives.  Isn’t that simply amazing? 

Sometimes, we just need to turn off the noise and chaos of the world around us and take Him all in.  God loves it when we take the time to just do nothing in His presence but to enjoy Him and His creation all around us.  For those of you who like being in the wilderness or camping, you know the peace of hearing birds and insects make their noise and the calming of being in that environment.  Something about nature can just bring peace and calming to us.  God’s precious Creation can soothe us. 

Find a time and place this week, wherever it might be, and just sit back, relax and take Him in however you can.  Let Him soothe your soul by remembering that He is your light, salvation and stronghold.   

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Nothing Else Satisfies


“Nothing Else Satisfies”
By Zach Wood
John 14:27 NLT
I am leaving you with a gift—a peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Almost everywhere I look these days, I am seeing an advertisement for some product that is either brand-new or it is an updated product that has been reformulated to help make my life so much better.  Whether it is a commercial on TV, ad in the paper, ad on social media, pop-up notification from a store app on my phone, store ad in the newspaper, or a billboard, I get flooded with different ways to consider how I could “easily” make my life better and be happier!

I have to admit, many of the ads are very enticing and I honestly think to myself, “That really would make my life just a little better.  It really would!”  Or, I’ll say to my wife, “Honey, I think we should get that and try it!”  No matter what, there always seems to be some marketing ploy or tactic that really catches my attention and leads me to believe all my problems will be solved if I invest in this one product.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find any product that will make my life complete and totally satisfying.  It just won’t happen.  And I know this, I really do, but I just get tempted to often believe products will satisfy some void I have in life.  Over and over again, God continues to remind me that I will not find any contentment, happiness, joy or fulfillment in the things offered by this world.  No matter how hard I try to look or what I buy into, nothing is going to make me happier or bring more joy as the ads claim.

These words from Jesus are so vital for our lives today.  They are as vital today as when Jesus first spoke them so long ago.  We need peace today in our heart and mind.  We need a peace that transcends anything the world can offer.  We need a peace that can be felt in the midst of a chaotic world that we live in.  We need more than the latest product which promises to make our live happier. 

What we all need to consider is what we are chasing after in this world to make us happy?  What are we buying into these days?  Are we looking for peace of mind and heart in all the wrong places?  Are we thinking it will be the next high-tech gadget?  Are we thinking it will be the next diet plan commercial we see?  Are we thinking it will be the next kitchen appliance ad we see on TV that will make life easier?

May I encourage all of us today and the days to come that all we truly need is the peace of mind and heart that Jesus gives?  Peace knowing that He will satisfy our every longing and always provide what we need.  Peace and provision that the world cannot and never will be able to offer.  Absolutely nothing else can or will satisfy. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Don't Be Afraid To Ask


“Don’t Be Afraid To Ask”
By Zach Wood
James 1:5 NLT
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.

I don’t know about you, but I have always been a person who fears asking questions in a group of people.  I don’t have a problem asking a question to someone one-on-one, but if you put me in a classroom or any other environment where there are many people, I get nervous to ask the most simple question.  I remember in college that I raised my hand a few times to ask questions and before the professor called on me, my heart started racing, my body shook a little, I got a little sweaty, etc.  I just always feared asking questions in public. 

Through the years, I still feel the same way when I am in a group of people.  There is just something intimidating to me when I am around a lot of people and I think of even asking a question to the person in charge.  I often think everyone else is going to have a better and more reasonable question than I will.  It isn’t a good way to look at it, but it is just what goes through my mind. 

Sometimes, we approach God the same way with the questions we have.  Even though we have direct access to God, we often hesitate to ask Him for wisdom or for anything because we are afraid of how He will respond to us or we feel we do not want to bog him down with petty questions when He has so much other things to deal with.

We need to get this mindset out of ourselves and know that God welcomes us, no matter what we ask of Him or come to Him about.  If we want wisdom, He wants us to ask Him.  He definitely does not want us going after the wisdom of the world.  He wants us to come to Him with our requests and He loves to communicate with us.  We should never be afraid to approach Him and lay our requests at His feet.  He is never too busy for our questions or too busy to give us wisdom. 

I often tell my kids that I do not want them to be afraid to ask me questions.  Sometimes, they are afraid of the question they ask and nervous what my reaction and answer will be.  I admit, sometimes I do not react the best to their question, but I try hard to be sensitive and open minded about what they ask.  I want them to feel comfortable coming to me to ask me anything.  They might not always like the answer, but I try to understand what they want or need and talk to them about it. 

We should never be afraid to approach God with our requests and our desire for wisdom.  Our God is a very generous God Who loves us and will give us what we need. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Too Awesome To Comprehend


“Too Awesome To Comprehend”
By Zach Wood
Romans 11:33 NLT
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!  How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

There are a lot of things in life that we consider great.  We think movies are great.  We think food is great.  We think some songs are great.  We see a fireworks display on July 4 and think it is great.  We think some people are great who have neat talents and abilities. 

When we see a good movie, we often wonder how they did the special affects.  When we eat good food, we wonder what the secret ingredient is and how they cooked to such perfection.  We hear a great song and we wonder what the inspiration was behind writing the song.  When we see a fireworks show, we wonder how those things look so cool in the sky.  When we see people perform, we often wonder how they’ve been blessed so much to be that good.

So often, we cannot understand why things are so great.  We wonder and try to figure out why.  We research and we talk to others to try to understand better.  We want to know and we want to be filled with the knowledge to understand better. 

As we so often want to know and learn these things, nothing can be better or greater than knowing our awesome and wonderful God!  He is too awesome to fully comprehend.  No matter how much we read His Word or how much time we spend getting to know Him more, we will never be able to comprehend Him.  His ways are just so beyond what we can understand.  He will always be a mystery to us while we are in this life and here on this earth.  One day, we will fully understand all of His ways and glory. 

I want to encourage each one of us to take time to just pause and consider how amazing and great our God is.  Take time to just be in awe of Him and to know that He is so awesome and so far beyond anything we can understand.  This is a good thing!  We so often get frustrated because we cannot understand things.  Well, in the sense of not being able to comprehend God, that is great that He is so awesome that we cannot fully understand!

Next time you find yourself totally amazed at something you hear, watch or eat, be reminded that God is more awesome and greater than anything we can experience here on earth. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

From Bad To Not-So-Bad


“From Bad To Not-So-Bad”
By Zach Wood
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The beginning of last week, right as I was about to go on my lunch break at work, my wife called to tell me that the hose spigot broke off and she could not get it to turn off.  Apparently my youngest daughter turned it on and turned too hard.  As I was driving home, all I could think about was how we could get it turned off.  I was thinking that it would take me a while to get things figured out and I may have to call my supervisor to tell him I would be a while.

Once I got home, I tried turning it off at the spigot, but then decided to just try shutting the main water valve off in the house.  When I went inside to locate the valve, I noticed that there was a single line specifically going out to the spigot and it had its own valve.  Turned it off and that took care of the problem within just a couple minutes of being home.  Problem temporarily solved.  

As I was on my way back to work, I was relieved and thankful the situation was not any worse.  It could have been a lot worse and I was so glad and thanked God for the situation that turned out easier than I had planned.  Not only was it a quick, temporary fix at the time, I realized that I had also made a ham sandwich that day, instead of taking a lunch I had to heat up.  I was able to eat that on my way home. 

After looking at the handle later that night, I discovered it was just a broken handle and the spigot was intact still.  All it took was a trip to Menards and less than five dollars, it was fixed!  Yay!

I share all of this with you to say that something that could have been really bad turned out to be very simple and was better than I first thought.  That happens a lot in life.  We often think the worst at first, but then so many times, things are simpler than expected and God provides a very easy solution.  Not always, but many times. 

I was reminded that day to be thankful for the ways God provides.  I was reminded to be thankful when something seems bad at first, but then turns out better than expected.  When it is a cheap fix, that is even better!  And, I did not have to heat a lunch up!

I encourage all of us to be reminded to look for the ways God provides in the simplest ways to show us that it could always be worse and to be thankful when circumstances turn out better than we thought at first.

Thank God for the times when bad turns to not-so-bad. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Purest Promises


“Purest Promises”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 12:6 NLT
The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.

People have the best intentions in their heart when they make promises, but so often, those promises become broken for one reason or another.  It is really tough when someone makes a promise to us, because in the back of our mind, there’s usually just a slight thought of “What if he/she breaks the promise?”  We want to believe someone is genuine and will always keep the promise, but human beings make mistakes and often break hearts.

While we often have the best intentions when we make a promise to others, there is One Who will never break a promise and His promises are always true.  In all the years I have been a Christian, I am so very thankful I can rely on God’s promises to be pure.  There is absolutely nothing more pure that His promises.  They are greater than anything I can possibly imagine.  They are real and full of life.

Even in the times when it’s hard to trust God, I can always lean on His everlasting arms and rest on His promises.  Some of you reading this today I know are experiencing some real heartache.

Your marriage is falling apart.
You just lost your spouse.
You just lost a child.
You or a loved one has an incurable disease.
You just lost your job.

Perhaps you are dealing with one of these scenarios or another one in which your trust and hope in God is being challenged.  It’s understandable.  You would not be human if never questioned God.  It is important in these times to hold on to that hope you have and not let go of His promises.

There are some days when I know that I am told to trust and hope in God, but it is so hard because I feel nothing and I wonder what He is doing.  However, holding on to the hope of what I know He has done in my life in the past teaches me to trust Him. 

Trust in His purest promises.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Peace Like No Other


“A Peace Like No Other”
By Zach Wood
2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation.  The Lord be with you all.

Life can surely become hectic and chaotic and some days it seems we don’t even have time to catch our breath.  Whatever the situation or circumstances, we often find ourselves caught up in the busy, non-stop lifestyle of activities we are involved in. 

Maybe you are not caught up in that busyness, but perhaps life has been crazy, hectic and chaotic because of one dilemma after another.  Maybe there has been sickness, death and disease in the family or friends and loved ones going through very difficult times lately. 

Let these words from Paul be a comfort to you in whatever hard times you are experiencing.  Maybe you need some peace in your life right now, whatever your situation may be.  Perhaps you need to just feel one day of peace amidst all of the frustrations you are going through.

Do you need peace in the midst of a troubled marriage?
Do you need peace as you are dealing with the recent loss of a loved one?
Do you need peace as you deal with a teenager who is in trouble?
Do you need peace as you are on your last bit of hope for a friend or family member dealing with a disease?
Do you need peace as you deal with a daily job you cannot stand going to?

God provides peace that is beyond our understanding.  He will provide a peace that will calm our soul.  Sometimes, we just need one hour or one day of feeling a little peace to give us some hope.  God promises to never abandon us.  Does He promise to remove the struggles or the situation?  No.  But He does promise to give us peace if we will just trust Him.

I hope and pray that whatever situation you may be experiencing right now in your life, allow God to be your peace.  Pour your heart out to Him and ask Him to fill you with His peace that transcends understanding.  No one knows you better and no one understands your pain or situation more than Him. 

Turn to Him and feel His peace. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Discipline: Painful, But Necessary


“Discipline: Painful, But Necessary”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 12:11 NIV
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

All of us have come from different upbringing backgrounds as far as how we were disciplined.  Every family does it differently for sure.  Some of us experienced some pretty harsh circumstances when it came to being disciplined for things we did wrong.  Others experienced less drastic and more reasonable punishments.  There are so many different ways to discipline and most of us have experienced our fair share as we grew up. 

I remember being disciplined when I was young.  Whether it be my mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, a teacher or someone else who was in authority over me at any given time, I remember unpleasant times of being told I was doing something wrong and having to suffer a consequence for it.  I often remember pleading often, “Please don’t do it!  I promise I’ll never do it again!”  I think I remember those words coming out of my mouth often.  That pleading didn’t get me very far because the person giving out the punishment knew I needed to learn.

“Learn” is the key word here.  We all want to learn, but sometimes we really learn best through our times of discipline.  We all remember a time or times when we learned a very hard lesson and it was painful to experience, whether we were spanked, grounded from going somewhere or had something taken away from us.  I remember times when I was disciplined and did not like it at all, but looking back later on, I was very appreciative someone took the opportunity to set me straight and give me a hard lesson.

God loves us very much, and because He does so, He also gives us hard lessons of discipline at times.  We often plead with God, but He knows that so much good and learning will come from the discipline.  We will learn and often those times are when we learn the most.  When Paul received his “thorn” in the flesh, he pleaded for God to take it away.  But God said “No” and said His grace was sufficient. 

We don’t like to hear that.  We want God take to take away our problems and our pain so often.  We want to learn and grow, but we want it without the pain of discipline and punishment.  It doesn’t work that way.  Parents discipline to train children and God disciplines to also train us.  It’s inevitable and for our own good.  God wants to strengthen us to become better followers and to develop our faith more. 

God’s discipline helps to build our character.        

Sunday, April 22, 2018

My Help Comes From _______


“My Help Comes From ________”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 121:1-2 NIV
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

We all long to receive wisdom through our lives.  As we grow up through childhood, our parents and other family members help to teach us things we need to learn.  We also receive instructions and learning from teachers at school.  As we continue to grow through our lives, we learn valuable lessons from various people that we come into contact with.

Some people we meet give us bad advice, while others give us great advice.  We are always searching for insight and direction in life.  It is wonderful to gain insight and wisdom from people who care enough to love on us and share with us valuable life experiences to help us avoid the same pain and mistakes. 

We not only look to people for wisdom and insight, but often we end up looking to worldly things for insight and direction.  We often turn to many things for help, other than God, when times get tough.  We turn so often to temporary happiness through worldly promises that end up becoming an epic fail.  This often brings pain, and sometimes tragedy, into our lives.  We are desperate to grab onto something that brings temporary help.  So often these things just provide a band-aid solution to our problems and don’t give us the long-term help we need.

I am so guilty of turning to earthly sources of wisdom instead of turning to what God tells me and how He wants to directs me.  We need to be honest and examine our lives and fill in this blank, “My help comes from __________.”  Where does our help come from?  What are we putting our hope in?  Where are we turning to?  Who are we going to?  What are we going to?  What do we rely on most?  What instant satisfaction do we turn to when stressful times come?

The answers may make us cringe.  Is God really our true source of help in all times of need?  We often answer “Yes” right away, but if we’re completely honest, He is often not Who we go to first.  We have so many opportunities and temptations at our disposal to turn to when we need help.  However, the only true and wisest source we can go to is God.  We shouldn’t rely on our own ideas and what we know.  We must turn to Almighty God.  Most of us are fortunate to have good and trusting family and friends who will share Godly insight and advice to us suggesting that we pray and ask God for complete wisdom. 

Who or what is your true source of help?  Every day, I am praying that God will be my only source of help.  I want to listen and be attentive to Him and not turn to the worldly ways of temporary help. 

Wisdom and advice from others is beneficial, but our main source needs to always be God.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hold Tight And Trust In Him


“Hold Tight And Trust In Him”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 10:23 NLT
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

We hold tightly onto many things.  Some things we hold onto a little tighter than others because of how important they are.  We hold tight to our kids when surrounded by a large crowd and when there is a lot of traffic so that they don’t get lost or hurt.  We hold tight to something fragile if we are surrounded by moving objects or other people that could bump into us causing them to fall. 

Kids certainly hold tight to parents when something scary is surrounding them or they feel a certain fear of their surroundings.  They don’t want to let go.  They feel secure as long as the parent is holding on.  We like to be secure and we like to feel secure about things we hold close.  We want to protect and keep from harm. 

In this passage, we see a call to persevere.  We are told to hold close to the hope and faith we have in Christ because He can be trusted.  There are a lot of things in this life that offer promises, but we know that only Christ can truly be trusted to keep His promise.  We can trust Him especially because He died for us on the Cross, was buried and then rose from the dead to conquer death!  He is alive and fully worthy of being trusted.

Now, let me be clear that trusting in Christ is not to say that we will have a trouble-free or pain-free life.  Holding onto Him and trusting in Him does not mean there will not be times in life when our faith and trust in Him is not tested.  It sure will be!  I have heard so many stories and examples of people who have trusted in Christ, but then when hard times come, they give up and lose faith claiming that God does not love them or is not with them. 

God never once said “In this life, you will never have problems and life will be filled with easy times. “  God never said this and never will.  We are guaranteed there will be troubles and problems.  However, just as Christ has overcome troubles, we also can over come through Him. 

Out of all the years I have been a Christian, I am so very thankful I have God in my life because I know I would have given up on life long before now if I did not have God to trust.  I have gone through some pretty tough times where I doubted and my faith was really put to the test.  Even recent times in my life, I have had those tests and it became hard.  However, all that God has done in my past taught me to hold on and stay faithful.  It is hard when things do not make any sense and to keep going.  But, stay faithful and hold tight to Him, no matter what! 

Let us hold tight to the hope we have in God because He truly can be trusted. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Ultimate Desire


“The Ultimate Desire”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 27:4 NIV
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

For the past couple of months, our pastor has been going through various passages in Ecclesiastes and it has been opening my eyes to the fact that so many things I chase after in life are completely meaningless in themselves.  In the past many years of my life, I have found myself chasing one thing after another, hoping to find true meaning.  Solomon chased after so much and finally concluded that apart from God, any other longing or chasing is absolutely meaningless. 

As I have continued to think about this over and over again, I am realizing how desperately more I really need God to lead me and to rescue me from my attempts to so often follow my own desires.  I truly want my desire to be nothing but seeking God every day and doing the best I can to surrender and submit to His ways and His plan for my life. 

I guess I sort of feel like Solomon in that I have chased after so many different things in life and just always come up dry.  I think this or that will satisfy, but as David says, he wants to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.  And, as Solomon found out, everything else apart from chasing God, is utterly meaningless. 

Through the various personal journeys I have been on in the past years, I’m discovering more and more that God is teaching me to draw near and close to Him.  He allows me to realize the ways I go on my own leave me out of breath and gasping for Him.  Only He can truly satisfy me.  I’ve found myself in the valleys and on the mountaintops at times.  But I can truly say that I learn the most when I’m in the valleys and that’s where I find myself longing more and more for Him.  My ultimate desire for Him grows and I just want more!

What is your ultimate desire?  What do you find yourself chasing after so much?  We all have to admit that we chase after a lot other than God in our lives.  We find ourselves chasing after marketing promises of different things that promise to satisfy, but then only leave us so very thirsty for more. 

I want to share with you all that my ultimate desire is to do nothing but chase after Him and gaze up on Him.  I know only He will satisfy and provide ultimate fulfillment.  Like David and Solomon, they both came to realize that nothing else is meaningful except being fulfilled by God and Him alone.  I want God to create within me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Everything in life, apart from God, is absolutely meaningless.   

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Don't Buy Into The Lie

“Don’t Buy Into The Lie”
By Zach Wood
Genesis 3:4-6 NLT
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.  “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”  The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

We have all bought into gimmicks in our lives, haven’t we?  Whether it’s an infomercial that we stumbled onto as we clicked through channels, an advertisement that came through our e-mail or a very persuasive sales person who knew how to get you to agree, we have all bought into something like this at one time or another.  We became persuaded when we thought we never would.  Somehow, something that doesn’t look good at first slowly starts to grab our attention and desire if we focus on it long enough.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we have all bought into lies in our lives at one time or another.  Perhaps some of us have found ourselves buying into one lie after another, not realizing that we were being tricked.  There are certain people who really know how to win us over with their sly persuasion.  They know the words to say to get us to sign on the dotted line. 

Consider the scenario that started the first gimmick.  We might read this story again after having read it who knows how many times in Sunday School and wonder why Eve allowed herself to get worked over mentally and emotionally by Satan.  We might look at her with a raised eyebrow and think, “How could you Eve?  What were you thinking?” 

However, before we even consider picking up that stone to cast her way, we need to think about our lives and how so very often we also buy into the lies of the enemy.  Every single one of us is guilty of this scenario.  Probably multiple times throughout our lives.  Unfortunate as it is, it happens all too often.  We get tricked and the enemy knows how to win us over and sugar coat things to entice us.  Before we know it, WHAM!  He’s got us!  Ouch, that hurt!  We feel the pain later as we realize we bought into yet another lie.

I want to encourage all of us to think through situations in the future as we come to decisions where we choose whether to buy into a lie or walk away.  It isn’t easy to walk away when we’re enticed.  We must learn to listen to the Spirit and His leading when these times come.  Take a few extra moments and really consider the outcome.  Pray and ask God to give you wisdom. 

Don’t buy into the enemy’s lies.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Worry About Nothing, Pray About Everything


“Worry About Nothing, Pray About Everything”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 4:6 NLT
Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Confession time!  I have a little trouble with the first part of this passage.  Okay, okay, I struggle a lot with it!  If this passage actually was written to describe me, it would probably read, “Pray about a few things, but worry about everything”.  Yeah, you heard it right!  I often find myself not praying as much as I should and I tend to worry about almost everything.  Doesn’t everyone know that if I don’t worry about something all of the time, then life just isn’t going to be right??? 

That’s crazy talk, isn’t it?  But how many of us are actually living this day to day, but we don’t want to admit it?  Paul tells us to pray about everything, but not to worry about anything.  And, I’m so guilty of messing this passage all up.  I do tell God what I need, but then I go right back to worrying about everything again.  Ahhhhhhhh!  Make it stop!!! 

It’s hard to not worry.  We spend so many days of our lives worrying about things that probably won’t even happen or probably aren’t even true.  Sometimes we worry ourselves sick.  It’s a good idea when we start to worry, to pray and ask God to bring us peace.  Just having that communication with God and asking Him to give you peace during your time of worrying can really help you to feel better. 

I want to encourage all of us to come to God every day, give Him our needs, thank Him for all He has done and stop worrying about so much.  Yes, so much easier said than done, I know!  Sometimes, we might literally stop praying about anything and worry about everything.  I think we’d all have to admit that often times we do fall prey to even this.  There are honestly times when I stop to think if I’ve even prayed through the day at all when I’m worrying about so much.  I’m ashamed of that, but God helps to remind me that I need Him and I need to stop and take the time to pray and connect with Him.

Not only are we to pray about everything, but we need to take time to thank Him for all He has done and all He continues to do.  It’s so important!  I challenge and encourage all of you to make it a point to connect with God to begin your day and ask Him to help you not worry, but to pray about everything.  Maybe just little prayers throughout your day.  A few words here and a few words there as you go through your day.  Or perhaps you might have more time to bring a few sentences or paragraph prayer to Him.  Whatever it might be, bring it before God and ask Him to give you peace and guide you. 

Worry about nothing, pray about everything.  Good challenge from Paul!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Continuous Longing

“Continuous Longing”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 42:1 NLT
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.

The past few weeks, our pastor has been preaching on the book of Ecclesiastes.  It has been such a blessing to hear these sermons and to learn more about how Solomon longed for so many things, had and experienced all he wanted, but was still dry and longed for satisfaction and fulfillment more than ever.  As I have continued to think about this, this passage came to mind one morning as I drove to work.  I was overcome with emotion and immediately told God that I was so sorry for longing after things of this world continuously and always being left dry. 

I thought about how I so often chase after fulfillment in the world, when what I should be doing is chasing after God alone and allowing Him to be my only source of fulfillment and satisfaction.  I find myself becoming so desperate and certain the next things will bring fulfillment and a quench of my thirst for satisfaction.  However, I continue to feel dry and left dry.  God nudges me as if to say, “Zach, why do you keep chasing after the things of this world when you know I am the only One Who can quench your thirst for more?” 

As I continued to think about this verse through the day and the rest of the week, I just had a desire to long for God and to think more about how I try to chase after fulfillment in this world instead of Him.  Why do I keep chasing and chasing and chasing?  All I do is wear myself out and become more and more and more dry from the world.  I keep thinking about Solomon and all his experiences and how we came to realize nothing he experienced in the world gave him satisfaction or fulfillment.  We have a lot to learn from him!

My question for all of us this week and on is why do we keep chasing after the world when we know that God is the only One Who truly satisfies?  Why do we not long for Him more and more and more each day?  As we continue to chase after Him, He fulfills us and satisfies us.  However, something extraordinary happens when He does this!  We continue to long and yearn for even more and more.  We can never get enough of Him and we just continue to long for more!  That’s an amazing journey!  I want that!  Don’t you?

Do you want a continuous longing for things of this world and continue to be left dry and unfulfilled?  Or, do you want to long for a wonderful and amazing God who leaves us not only truly fulfilled and satisfied, but also leaves us with a desire for even more of Him?  I want that!!!!!  Do you? I hope so!


As the deer longs for streams of water, my prayer is that we will also long continuously for the Living Water!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Be Excellent At Good-Be Innocent Of Evil

“Be Excellent At Good-Be Innocent Of Evil”
By Zach Wood
Romans 16:19 NIV
Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Through many years of my experience in church services, youth group, church camps and youth conferences, I’ve enjoyed the song “Romans 16:19”.  I’m sure many, if not most, of you know this song.  “Be excellent at what is good, be innocent of evil.  And the God of peace will soon crush Satan.  God will crush him  underneath your feet.

What a great song this is and I’ve had so much fun singing it at the various services I’ve attended.  Not only is it a great song to do motions to, but it’s got a fantastic message.  The Apostle Paul is very clear in this passage to encourage us to be wise and excellent at what is good.  We need to focus on those things which please God and bring Him glory.  He also says to be innocent of evil.  Stay away from it.  Don’t go near it!  Don’t play with it!  Don’t mess around near it!  Don’t “poke the bear”! 

We often find ourselves in situations where we end up doing just the opposite.  We become weak at doing good and we become more guilty of evil.  We all fall victim to this.  Satan knows the buttons to push!  It is so very important that we stay focused on growing in God’s Word so that when the times of testing and trial come, we can be strong and stay excellent at doing what is good and steer clear and be excellent of evil.  We don’t need to be curious of what the evil is and go anywhere near it.  As my dad used to tell me when I was growing up and I’d mess around with thoughts of doing bad things or get tempted to do them, he’d say “Just leave it alone”.  Good advice dad! 

There are times in life when we just need to leave things alone and that includes evil.  Don’t go near the edge of the cliff.  Stay as far away from it as possible.  Be excellent at the good things and smart about the traps of evil.  The only way we can grow in this way is to stay strong in His guiding Word of wisdom and to grow in our faith. 

When we do these things, we can definitely relate with these words, “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan.  God will crush him underneath your feet.”  God will work in our lives do exactly as He has told us He will do.  God is on our side and will defend us.  We need to do our part and stay strong so that we can be wise in His Word to avoid the evil traps. 


Be excellent at what is good, be innocent of evil.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Making The Cut

“Making The Cut”
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 2:10 NLT
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

We have all been through painful experiences in our past where we didn’t “make the cut”.  I remember in grade school, at recess, when we’d pick teams and the cool people were always picked first and the least favorite were always picked last.  Even though those who were picked last still made the team, it didn’t feel as if they were “wanted”.  It’s not a good feeling.

Think about when a player tries out for sports team.  He or she plays so hard and gives their best to try to “make the cut”.  However, there comes a time when the results come in and you know someone or some people won’t make the team. 

How about if you’ve applied for a certain college and you really want to get in?  They won’t let just anyone have admission.  You must fill out a form and give references and put a lot of hard work into proving to the college why you deserve to attend.  Some people will be receiving an admission letter inviting them to become part of the student body.  Others, they will receive the rejection letter no one wants to receive. 

None of us likes to be given a rejection letter or told we didn’t “make the cut”.  It’s a terrible feeling.  It’s not always necessarily meaning that we weren’t good enough, but then other times, that’s exactly what it means.  It leave us with a horrible, sick feeling at times knowing we weren’t good enough to make the list of people who apparently had what they were looking for.  We end up not feeling good enough. 

Whatever your situation was, every person experiences some kind of experience where you don’t “make the cut”.  It can be heartbreaking.  You wish they’d just accept you for who you are and not what they want you to be.  As I was thinking about this the other day, and all the experiences in my life where I didn’t “make the cut”, I thought about how God doesn’t work like that at all.  God loves each and every one of us and in us, He has created a beautiful masterpiece.  He doesn’t sit with a checklist when we give our lives to Him and say, “Nope, sorry!  You weren’t good enough!  Maybe next time!” 

God accepts us for who we are and is never exclusive.  We are a beautiful masterpiece and we don’t have to change ourselves or try to be someone better for Him to accept us.  With God we always “make the cut”!  Isn’t that a great feeling?  He accepts us regardless of what we are and what we are not.  He then takes us and continues love on us and mold us more into who He wants us to be. 


Aren’t you grateful to have “made the cut”?   

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Reality Of Putting Him First

“The Reality Of Putting Him First”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 6:33-34 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In the sermon this past Sunday at church, this passage was shared and then Lauren Daigle’s song, “First” was played to close out the service.  It was the perfect ending to a great and challenging message.  As I sat there and listened to how we so often make excuses for not putting God first in our lives, I felt so guilty and my heart sank thinking of all the times in my life I have done and still do this.  I am so good at making other things a priority, but then putting His Word on the back burner and saying I’ll get to reading more later.

The clincher of the message was when our pastor challenged us about how so many people say that they are close to God in their own way, but hardly ever read His Word.  He illustrated how other relationships in our lives would be affected if we never actually talked to the person or spent long periods of time away from them.  If we greatly lacked in our communication with our spouse, kids, fiancĂ©, boyfriend, girlfriend, aunt, uncle, best friend, etc., how in the world could we possibly believe we are getting to know them better?  How could we possibly claim to know the person better if our communication with them is little to nothing?

As I sat there and soaked all of this in and listened to the closing song, this question echoed in my mind and heart, “What does putting Him first look like in your life and mine?”  This question has haunted me, so to speak, since yesterday morning.  What would our lives truly look like if we really and sincerely put God first in every part of our lives?  What would the deep down truth of this look like in our lives?

I know in my life, it would look so different than how I am living.  You all have been a part of my writing life for so many years and you know that I try to be very transparent in what I write so that I can try to relate to others who read these writings.  I want to be as transparent as possible so that you all know I am doing my best to be genuine.  I am servant of Christ, a husband and a father.  I try so hard each day to be successful at all 3 of those areas.  But so many days, I feel like I’m doing my own thing and trying to be good enough without actually putting too much effort into it. 

What would it look like for you to put Him first?  Think about that and take some time to let that question sink in.  What would it really and truly look like in your life right now to actually make Him priority over everything else?  Making Him first over every decision you make? 


Do we really seek Him first?