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?  

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Pleasing Aroma

“A Pleasing Aroma”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 19:14 NLT
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We have all walked into restaurants, bakeries and houses where something was cooking and completely overwhelmed our senses.  Just imagine the last time you walked into someone’s home and they just baked cookies.  Or, one of my personal favorites, walk by or into a restaurant where steaks are cooking.  (I’m salivating as I write this!)  How about walking into a store were fragrances are sold or candles and the aroma just brings a smile to your face. 

We all like walking into places and smelling these aromas.  There is nothing quite like it.  Each of us has a specific aroma that we enjoy smelling and we know where to go to get that experience.  The smell can really “take you away” and leave you stunned at times.  We all like great aromas.  Who wouldn’t? 

Aromas attract us.  They bring us closer and closer to whatever is giving off the great scent or whatever is cooking that smells irresistible.  Now, consider the words we say each day and whether or not those words become an aroma for others to be attracted to?  Most importantly, are the words an aroma that would be pleasing to God?  Just like people can’t resist a great scented candle burning, a steakhouse nearby or fresh cookies from the oven, the words we use each day should be used to help people come to not resist knowing God. 

The way we live, the words we use, the thoughts of our heart should all be a pleasing aroma to God and to those around us.  He is the One we live for and the One Whom our hearts should long for.  We should be living to please Him and Him alone.  The way we live and the words we use should be an irresistible aroma for others to help bring them into an understanding of God and our relationship with Him. In doing that, help people come to understand better there is a very loving and compassionate God Who loves them. 

As we continue into this New Year, I want to challenge all of us to consider whether our lives each day, with the words we use and our actions, give off a pleasing aroma not only to others, but most importantly to God.  How am I living my life each day to please Him?  How am I living my life each day to attract others to Him?  I have to admit that most days I feel like I’m giving off a stench instead of an aroma.  My life often becomes a stench because I’m in my own world and doing my own thing, when I should be focused on living solely for Him and being an example of Him to others. 

Are you living as a pleasing aroma?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

He Deserves All Glory

“He Deserves All Glory”
By Zach Wood
Revelation 4:11 NIV
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.

All too often in life we tend to focus attention on ourselves with things we have done.  We all like being in the spotlight at certain times in our lives.  Even if we’re not outgoing people, we still have that deep down feeling of desired attention.  There’s not a human being in the world that doesn’t, as some point in life, like having attention on them. 

There is nothing wrong with desiring some attention at times in life.  However, it depends on the situation and how we deal with it.  Again, so often we take credit for things that we have done, when in reality, God has done them through us.  Our desire in life may be to serve God, but we get tempted so much, for different reasons, to turn the spotlight on ourselves when it should be on God. 

I remember attending a concert back when I was in Bible college in Tennessee. A friend of mine and I went to a Rebecca St. James concert and her stage presence hit me and I’ve never forgotten it.  After some of the songs, when people clapped and whistled and hollered, she simply stepped back and motioned upwards with her hands.  She wanted all of the praise to go to God and not to her.  It was really impressive and I’ve never forgotten that.

As we approach and begin this New Year, let us make a genuine effort to do the same thing.  Let us lift our hands in praise to God and step back, so to speak, when the spotlight turns on us and give Him praise.  Let us show the world around us that we don’t deserve the praise and glory, but He does!

One of my favorite songs from the group Unspoken is “Higher”.  Some of the lyrics say, “I may never get money, I may never have fame.  But if I'm ever in the spotlight, I'll point it back Your way'Cause standing at the top was never-ever my goal. But if You put me on a mountain then I'll tell the whole worldSinging hallelujah 'til I hit the dirt.

Let us have an attitude this year to always point the spotlight to God when we are in a situation where we get attention and recognition.  He is our Creator and our goal, as the song says, should never be to be at the top.  Our goal should be to lift Him high above all and shine His light for all to see. 

The title of this devotion pretty much sounds clichĂ©, but when will we truly learn to live out that He deserves all glory?  We deserve nothing.  He deserves all. 

Give Him all glory!