Monday, December 30, 2019

As Real As it Gets

“As Real As It Gets”
1 John 4:9-10 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.

When we find certain deals advertised, we often wonder what the “catch” is and if the advertiser is really offering something real and legit.  These days, we’re often very skeptical about any advertisement that offers a deal that seems too good to be true.  The offer at first may seem very appealing, but the more we think about it and research, we often come to find out it’s a scam.

I have been disappointed to hear of so many scams in our world today.  We want good deals, but they are so hard to come by when so many places are trying to rip us off.  We want to find a good deal that doesn’t have any strings attached.  We want a real deal.  We want people at places of business to be honest with us as they try to sell good bargains. 

We are all victims of some kind of scam or bogus deal that someone has offered to us at one time or another.  We get frustrated when people aren’t honest about what they are offering us.  We want something real.  When we are offered something, we want to know the offer is legit. 

With all this skepticism circulating around trying to get good deals and being promised something of value, I am very thankful and grateful that God offers us a love that isn’t a gimmick.  I am thankful that God’s gift of love and salvation is not filled with “catches”.  He has given His life for me and loves me unconditionally.  I am glad I don’t have to worry about any small print that I have missed and might be surprised by later in our relationship stating certain contingencies.  He has and always will be genuine and very real. 

I have been burned so many times in life by people who say they want to offer me something real, but in reality turns out to be another gimmick. God is always real and genuine and will never let me down or disappoint me.  I may not always understand His ways and I often tend to get frustrated at some things that He allows to happen.  However, I know that He truly loves me and always wants the best for my life in Him.

God is the real deal.  He always has been and always will be.  When all other things and people fail you, He won’t.  When others try to scam you, God won’t.  He isn’t out to try to push you into anything.  He’s genuine and sincere.  His Word is full of the promises He has made to so many people and also to you and I. 

God’s love is as real as it gets.  This is real love and nothing will ever compare!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Are We Thrilled?

“Are We Thrilled?”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 92:4 NLT
You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!  I sing for joy because of what you have done.

We spend a lot of time in our lives finding ways to be thrilled, don’t we?  There are so many ways and circumstances where we find ourselves being thrilled in one way or another.  Movies can give us thrills.  Going on certain trips can give us great thrills.  Seeing a great sunrise or sunset can give us great thrills.  Or how about going to an amusement park?  You sure get great thrills from those!  I grew up loving those trips.  The faster and crazier the ride was, the more I loved it! 

We live our lives looking for ways to be thrilled.  May of us are thrill-seekers!  How many of you are storm chasers or just really like seeing storms come into your area?  I have always been a storm adrenaline junkie!  There’s just a rush that comes over me when the sky turns dark and the wind blows.  When everyone else is taking cover, I want to be out in the action!

I read this passage the other day in the NLT and I hadn’t considered before the words, “You thrill me, Lord.”  Think about that phrase for a few moments and let those words sink in.  Does the Lord actually thrill us?  With all that He has done for us and continues to do, are we really thrilled?  Do we awake each morning just feeling thrilled about all that He will do in the day?  Do we wake each day with joy in our heart just waiting to see what He will do in our lives?

This time of year, we seem to be thrilled with all the festivities of the Christmas season.  We are thrilled with snow, with the lights, with the hustle and bustle of shopping.  We get thrilled with all the baking and parties.  We get into a lot of thrill feelings and it is all very fun.  However, are we so full of the thrills of what surrounds us that we totally miss the greatest thrill of being filled with God?  We can get so full of everything going on around us that we forget to be thrilled by the very One who made us and created everything for us to enjoy. 

Do we live for more of the thrills of the world or for all that amazing things God does for us? 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

More Than Thankful

“More Than Thankful”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 4:11-13 NLT
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

It is that time of year where people will be traveling to gather together with family and friends to share in the festivities of eating lots of food and watching football.  Many people will sit around the table and take some time sharing who and what they are thankful for.  It is a great opportunity to take some extra time off work and be around people you might not spend too much time around on a regular basis.

This time of year, we see commercials on TV, hear songs on the radio and see ads in various places about being thankful.  This is absolutely great to be reminded to be thankful.  However, these past couple of weeks, I could not help but think a little deeper and really ponder what it means to be thankful. 

As I have thought more about this, I have to wonder if expressing thanks is enough.  For many of us, we do share that we are thankful for things and people that we care about and love, but when hard times come, we seem to not express our thanks as much as we endure various trials.  It is easier to be thankful when most things are going well for us.  It is much harder to express a thankful attitude when life is not going so well.  Simply saying we’re thankful is easy. 

I really think we need to be more than thankful.  It is deeper than just taking time to say that we are thankful for different things and people.  It is more about being content, grateful and learning to find joy in what God provides when things are both good and bad.  This has been on my heart the past couple of weeks and I just kept thinking of the phrase “more than thankful”.  It was like God was laying on my heart the need for more than just saying “thanks”.  Again, being thankful is great, but it goes deeper than that.  Are we thankful, grateful and content every day?

Let these words from Paul sink down deep inside of you.  Through the years of his life, Paul learned how to be content.  Through his various experiences, he truly learned what it means to be content.  He wasn’t just thankful when he received nice things from others or when people were cordial to him.  Paul learned to not let his emotions dictate whether he was thankful at certain times. He learned how to be content and express his thankfulness because God always provided what he needed.

Are we going to be like Paul and be consistent in our thankfulness, gratefulness and contentment no matter what life throws at us?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

BEWARE Of The Enemy's Power

“BEWARE Of the Enemy’s Power”
By Zach Wood
Romans 6:11-13 NLT
So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.  Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.  Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

We have a lot of examples of power every day in our lives.  We have power lighting our homes and allowing us to run appliances.  We have power in our vehicles that allow us to get from one place to another.  At our jobs, we have power allowing us to get work done in many various forms.  When we go to stores, power allows us to shop and purchase different items we need.

We are surrounded every day by so much power, and often, we don’t think twice about it.  It’s something we’ve become accustomed to having.  When we don’t have it, everything seems to “stop”.  We rely on power every day to do the things we need to do.  It is very important for power companies to do everything they can to continue give our homes, places of work and businesses the power we need. 

We definitely rely on power almost every moment of every day in some way or another.  If we really stopped to think about it and all the factors that go into powering our day, it would probably surprise us.  We are always surrounded by great amounts of power in one way or another. 

The one form of power that we don’t think about as much or consider as much as we should is the power of sin.  When I read this translation, the words “power of sin” catch my attention.  I start thinking about how we often we forget how powerful sin can become in our lives.  Do we realize how powerful sin becomes in our day to day lives?  Do we realize how easy it is for Satan to get a foothold in our day to day routine? 

God desires for us to be dead to the power of sin.  We have temptations throughout each day to do things that are not of God and so often we fall for them.  Sometimes, we are taken completely by surprise by the sin that crouches at our door because Satan has deceived us well.

I want to encourage all of us every day to consider the power Satan has so often in our lives and to combat that with the Word of God.  We need to strive to live for Him and Him alone.  The power of God is greater than any power in the universe!  No power is greater than His!  We need to plug in to that power and steer clear of Satan’s power.  Satan’s power is easier to follow and often satisfies the fleshly desire, but God’s power gives us true life and satisfies fully and in a pure way. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Getting Rid Of Conditional Praise

“Getting Rid Of Conditional Praise”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 34:1-3 TLB
I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of his glories and grace.  I will boast of all his kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart.  Let us praise the Lord together and exalt his name.

Back in 2006, the movie “Facing The Giants” came out and was a very inspirational football story.  One of the scenes shows the coach, Grant Taylor, talking to the team and explaining that they will start praying and praising God at the end of each game, whether they win or lose.  This sets a great attitude for the team as they focus on God being their source of strength no matter the outcome of the game. 

As I read this passage in the Living Bible translation, the words “praise the Lord no matter what happens” stood out to me and reminded me of the scene from the movie.  I thought about how it is so easy to praise God when things are going well and the outcomes of different situations of every day life are good.  However, when things turn out bad or don’t go the way we had hoped, it’s often harder to continue to lift up praise.

I admit that I am very bad about this conditional praise many times in my life.  It is so easy for me to praise Him when life is going well.  However, when bad days come, I’m not praising Him so much.  Rather, I’m complaining and grumbling.  I’m trying to be better about this, but it’s a weak area for me. 

In order for me to be a better witness to my wife, kids and others in my life, I need to improve the way I react to situations when bad things happen.  I need to have an attitude of thanks when life is good and when life is not so good.  I need to have constant praise in my life each day, no matter what is going on.

How about you?  Are you praising the Lord no matter what happens in your life each day?  Are you focused more on the aggravations of what is not going well or are you finding ways to praise God no matter what is happening? It is hard to do!!!  Not an easy task at all. 

We need to have an attitude of praise always.  Whether we feel we are winning in life or losing, He is God and is always faithful.  His goodness does not change in our bad days.  Does this mean we can’t be discouraged?  No, we are human and we have bad days.  We just need to work through that discouragement and realize that things will pass and we need to keep our attitude in check and continue to give God praise. 

We should never be conditional with our praise.  God deserves our praise, no matter what.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lord, Please Show Me

“Lord, Please Show Me”
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.

Each morning I get up during the week, I have my alone time with God, asking Him to direct my day and give me wisdom.  However, so often the actual way I live my day tends to look different.  I often try to flow with my own understanding by doing things my way.  I try to figure things out by myself and I don’t ask for help as often as I should.

Think about all the times in our lives when we ask others for guidance and wisdom.  We ask teachers, moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, mentors and others for advice.  This is how we learn.  Others teach us and then we continue to learn by doing things through our own experience of successes and mistakes. 

If we are really sincere about learning something, we will do our best and try hard to soak in as much wisdom as possible from whoever is teaching us.  We will devote time and attention to making sure we get things right.  We do mess up, but then we learn from those mistakes and figure out how to continue to do things better with less mistakes. 

The important phrase here is “Please show me”.  We say this to people after we have tried on our own and then realize that we need someone to help us.  How often do you use this phrase and allow someone else to show you how to do something?  No matter what age we are, we need people to help us learn and grow in certain areas.  We need to be humbled and realize we need help with some things and can’t do them on our own.

Is this our prayer in our lives with God?  Do we come to Him each day and ask, “Lord, please show me”?  Do we humbly come to Him and ask Him to guide us and give us His wisdom for the day?  There are so many situations and experiences we don’t know how to handle.  God is waiting for us to say, “Lord, please show me”.  He longs for us to ask Him and to see His wisdom. 

Only God knows the path we need to take each day.  He will guide us in the truth and point to where we need to go.  Are we willing to let go of our own understanding and ways and let Him lead?  I know that I need to let Him lead a lot more in my life.  How about you?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Filled With His Richness

“Filled With His Richness”
By Zach Wood
Colossians 3:16 NLT
Let the message about Christ, in all of its richness, fill your lives.  Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.  Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

When was the last time you ate food that was really rich in taste?  Maybe it was something one of your family members made that no one else could make?  Whether it’s a snack, main entrĂ©e, dessert, or a beverage, we all have had experiences where we tasted something that was unlike anything we’ve ever had.  The richness of the flavor just exploded in our mouth and made our taste buds dance! 

These experiences often make us long for the next time when we know we will be satisfied by whatever the person makes.  You know that your tummy will be filled with something great!  You have confidence it will taste amazing.

As we all have experience with rich foods or beverages that make a lasting impression on us and fill our tummies with satisfaction, there is a richness no food or beverage could ever replace or compare with.  As great and wonderful our experiences are with things we consume, nothing can compare to the richness of how God fills our lives.  The richness of God’s Word far outweighs anything that the world can offer.

We spend so much of our time being awed and amazed by what the world offers, but then we so often become less awed and amazed by what God offers.  We sadly often choose the richness of the world over the richness of what God offers.  This does not mean that we cannot enjoy what we have in this world, but we shouldn’t enjoy it more than what God gives to us.

He fills us with the richness of His love so that we will not only enjoy and benefit from it, but also share that with others so they can also be filled.  It’s the “water ripple” effect.  This richness and love should continue to be shared over and over again so that others will come to know His love. 

Jesus Christ came filled with the richness of God and taught us how to choose the richness of God over the richness of what the world offers.  Are we chasing more after the richness of the world or of Him? 

We should all ultimately be filled with His richness!  Nothing compares to the richness God offers!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Focus On Today

“Focus On Today”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 6:34 NLT
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.

The past few weeks have been filled so many different happenings and it has been so crazy to see the days and weeks just zip by!  I have had my mind on many things with preparations for sermons and different activities we have been doing each weekend.  Sometimes, it seems like life won’t slow down.  I am trying to let God be in control and not be consumed with all that is going on, but it is a challenge.    

It is easy for us to become bogged down and consumed with so many things in our daily lives.  It seems we cannot just focus on what is at hand today because we are busy planning vacations, different activities and all kind of other things that go into summertime.  Sometimes it seems we just don’t have enough time to do all that we want to do. 

I have been blessed this summer with an interim preaching opportunity and that has been a growing experience for me, but it has also shown me that I need to better prioritize my time since I have a full time job and a family.  It is easy for me to become consumed with too much and neglect certain other areas that need attention.

Are you totally consumed this summer?  Are you worried about not only today’s happenings, but tomorrow’s and the next day and so forth?  With summer, there’s so much happening and it’s easy to get busy with everything and worry about the days, weeks and months ahead. 

We are told to only focus on what is at hand today.  We only have today and not tomorrow.  What if we just focused on what we have going on today and spend our time enjoying what is going on and taking time to be with God and just take a day at a time?  That is hard to do because we not only have become programmed to constantly think of today’s happenings, but also focused on the days and weeks to come.  Planning isn’t wrong, but we become so consumed that our days become filled with worrying about all the upcoming things that we don’t take time to enjoy the here and now of today. 

Today and each day on, remember to focus on the day at hand and not worry about all that is coming ahead.  Give that to God and enjoy today!  God wants us to enjoy the blessings of today.  Tomorrow will definitely bring its own worries.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Wake-Up Call

“Wake-Up Call”
By Zach Wood
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

We’ve all had experiences that have either scared us or gotten our attention to the point where we make a change.  We’ve had friends and family scare us to be funny and we have done the same to others as well.  We’ve had moments where certain things scare us in one way or another.  Alarm clocks can scare us awake sometimes, right?  We don’t like them.  I don’t like mine!  Why is that little box making that annoying sound??  I want to sleep!! 

We all get scared by different things.  We also have experiences where our attention quickly focuses back onto someone or something.  As humans, we easily become distracted and taken off-course from where we should be focused.  It happens every day.  I often tell people I have a bad memory.  Some things I remember and other things I have to be reminded constantly of because I forget.  I hate that!  I need to be reminded as well as many of you.  We all need reminded of things and need our attention redirected often.

We all need so-called “wake-up calls”.  We don’t like them at first, but we find that they are just what we need to refocus on whatever task we need to focus on.  God has to do this often in our lives.  He works hard to give us “wake-up call” moments so that we will get back into gear and on to the path where He wants us.  His Word is full of wisdom, advice and commands to help get us back on the path where we need to be. 

His Word should inspire us and teach us what is Truth and make us realize what we are doing wrong in our lives so that we can come back to following Him.  His Word points out the bad in our lives so that we will repent and turn back to Him.  His Word is alive and active and penetrates deeply into our very souls.  His Word is powerful and it needs to often “set us straight” again. 

I know we often don’t like the “wake-up calls” we get, but we know we need them and we come to appreciate the ways God uses to bring our attention back to focusing on Him.  His Word is to be a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path. 

We all need to heed His “wake-up calls”! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Continued Challenge To Love

“The Continued Challenge To Love”
By Zach Wood
2 John 1:6 NLT
Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

If you were to ask me if I love my family, I would quickly give you an answer of “Of course! Why wouldn’t I?”  I strive hard every day to be the husband and father that I know I need to be for my family.  It is quite the challenge each day, but I am trying hard and asking God to give me the strength and wisdom I need to be not only a good husband and father, but a Godly one most of all. 

While I strive hard to be loving in my home, I also need to remember that I am commanded to love those outside my home as well.  I am called to love other people in my family, my co-workers and others I come in contact with on a daily basis.  I may not be close to every single person I meet, but God has given me the charge to do my best to love everyone I meet. 

Loving can be downright hard to do at times.  I find that there are really easy people to love and then there are really difficult people to love.  Then, I remember a quote I read recently from TobyMac that says, “Love difficult people.  You are one of them.”  Ouch!  Just a huge dose of reality there!  When I think it’s challenging to love others, others find it challenging to love me as well.  Tough pill to swallow!

We all have a continued challenge to love others.  Every day of my life, I am trying to learn more of what it means to not only love God, but how He wants me to love people around me.  In doing that, I am loving God when I love others. It is often hard to love others!  We all struggle with it.  When we consider it tough to love difficult people, just remember how challenging it was when Christ poured out love to others even when people spit in His face and when they crucified Him.  He prayed for them!  Wow!

What is our problem with loving other people?  God has commanded us to set aside petty differences and do our best to appreciate one another.  Even dealing with differences that are hard to live with, we still need to make an effort to show love in any ways we can.  We should not only love because He tells us to, but we should desire to love because He loved us and His unconditional love drove Him to the Cross to demonstrate that love.  Now that is a dose of deep love! 

We have a continued challenge to love each day.  What will we do with that challenge? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Challenge Of Being Financially Content

“The Challenge Of Being Financially Content”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 13:5 NIV
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

How many of you are satisfied with what you make in your job?  Do you have a job that you really enjoy?  If you had the choice between having a job you really enjoy or having a job that pays a lot of money, which would you pick?  Don’t answer right away.  Think on that for a little while.  Let the question sink in. 

There are many people who have jobs and they make a lot of money, but they are miserable.  There are also people who have a job they really enjoy and are satisfied because they are content with how much they make.  Which one are you?  Maybe you have a job you enjoy and you make good money.  Kudos to you!  However, we need to remember that with more money in a job comes more responsibility.  Perhaps you make a lot because you’ve been there a long time and you’ve raises with years of experience. 

Whatever the case, I think we would all like to have a job that we enjoy, plus make good money.  I don’t know which situation you find yourself in, but I want to ask you a challenging question, “When will it be enough?”  Will you be content with what God has given you with a current job?  Now, this doesn’t mean you’re wrong for going to a job that offers you more money.  There are always many things to consider when choosing a job.

I want to challenge all of us to consider these words in Hebrews.  We are told to keep our lives free from the love of money.  God has promised to always provide for us and never leave us in need.  Somehow, He always provides for us.  We need to change our perspective many times and be thankful for what He has given us instead of so often wanting more.

In the past few years, I have had some work experiences that have taught me to be content with what I make and the relationships I have at my work place.  I hear a lot of people complain about what they make and I always think to myself, “When will it ever be enough?”  The truth is that if we aren’t content with what God gives us now, then no matter how much wage we chase after, it will never be enough.  That’s a tough truth, but I firmly believe it from what I have learned from my own experiences.  I would much rather have a job that I truly enjoy and people I like working with over having a higher paying job. 

God tells us to keep our lives free from the love of money.  Are we doing that?  Are we focused on money more or are we content with what God has promised to provide?  It’s a challenging and tough question we all must answer.

Are we financially content with what He has provided?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

His Faithful Love Endures Forever!

“His Faithful Love Endures Forever!”
By Zach Wood
Psalm 107:1 NLT
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  His faithful love endures forever.

This past week was a crazy busy week and I did not get a chance to send out a devotional like I usually do.  While last week and this week was filled with many good things that went on, it was exhausting and I found myself tired every day just longing to get some rest.  I know that all of us experience days and weeks like this in our lives often. 

While the weekend and week was very busy, I read this passage the other day and it filled me with refreshment to know that God is always with me and will sustain me.  Sometimes just the simple promises of God are a great reminder of His faithfulness in the midst of our crazy lives. 

We have so many things to be thankful for with God in our lives.  No matter what chaos enters our lives in any given day, week or month, we always have reasons for being thankful to God.  Sometimes, in my life, I can easily find reasons to complain and find dissatisfaction with life, but then God reminds me that He has given me so much and I have every reason to be thankful instead of feeling dissatisfied. 

The NLT states this passage in different way by saying, “His faithful love endures forever.”  Not just His love, but His faithful love!!!!  He is completely faithful, in our good day and our bad days.  We have so much to give thanks to God for what He has and continues to do in our lives! 

We definitely need to remember this passage on the days when we feel in despair.  We need this when we feel hopeless.  We need this when we feel like things are out of control.  We need this when we feel like everything around us is falling apart.  It’s important to remember this passage, and so many others, when we have bad days, weeks or months. 

It’s also important to be reminded of this when we are having good days as well.  Just to be reminded of the absolute great and loving faithfulness of God!  It is bigger than any feeling we can have.  He is so faithful and His love will endure forever!  When you are having a crazy day, week or month and you’re struggling just to catch your breath and rest, remember that He is always with you and wants to give you rest and refreshment from your crazy life. 

Give thanks to Him because His FAITHFUL LOVE endures forever!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Call Of Humility

“The Call Of Humility”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Humility is the word that has been coming to my mind the past few weeks.  Whether it is a preaching opportunity that I’m preparing for, a devotional article that I’m working on or reading a story dealing with humility, God has been reminding me the importance of staying humble.  I am thankful for the opportunities God has given me in various ways to minister for Him and He continually reminds me, in different ways, to stay humble. 

Even though He reminds me often, it is still challenging to stay humble.  It is so easy to become full of pride and think a lot of myself at times.  It is often tempting to become conceited and think boastfully, but God reminds me who I am and what He has done for me.  I’ve constantly been reminded, through various devotionals, of the importance to remain humble.  I am so thankful He is reminding me how important it is practice humility. 

I hope that we can all be reminded daily of how humble we should be.  Jesus became a servant and He taught the Disciple’s true humility by washing their feet.  He wants to teach us the same.  We need to think of others and how we can better serve others and not think about what we want so much of the time. 

We are all very guilty of being prideful and conceited.  Some lessons of humility are easier than others.  Sometimes we have to swallow a very large pill of humility or, as I’ve heard the saying, “eating a piece of humble pie”.  God will definitely find ways to teach us to stay humble. 

One of the reasons I am so thankful for God’s lessons of humility is that they remind me that He gives me the abilities to do what I love to do for Him.  I couldn’t write the devotionals I do if He didn’t give me the ability.  I couldn’t preach sermons if He didn’t give me that ability.  I always want to fee honored and humble for the opportunities He gives me and not take them for granted.  I want to constantly learn humility. 

I hope this will be a reminder for all of us that when God gives us opportunities, we will always be thankful for what He has done and continues to do.  Never take a boastful attitude and consider yourself better than others.  We all constantly need God to remind us how to stay humble.  Imitating Christ’s humility is so important in our daily lives.  I hope that we will all consider more how we can be humble to others around us. 

God calls us to true humility. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

One Thing You Can Count On!

“One Thing You Can Count On!”
By Zach Wood
Hebrews 13:8 NIV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

As I drive to and from work each day, one thing I take notice of is the gas prices.  I like to keep an eye on them often.  As we drive around from town to town and going various places, I often do the same.  I like to keep an eye on where gas may be the cheapest and it’s just interesting to see the fluctuation of prices.

As I was driving home today from work, I chuckled and thought to myself, “Wow, these gas prices just fluctuate constantly!”  And they do, often.  I thought about how so many things around us each day change from one moment to the next.  It seems we cannot find anything these days that stays the same.  Things are constantly changing and it’s very hard to keep up with. 

I don’t mind sometimes when things change, but I do like consistency in many things.  It’s nice to know when some things will remain the same and kind of creates a comfort zone, so to speak.  As I continued thinking through these thoughts, I thought about how crazy things are in the world with a continuous cycle of change.  It really does seem things are constantly changing and it just doesn’t provide a feeling of security.  Technology is one of the biggest things that change.  What’s new one day is old and obsolete in no time!  Crazy!

I am so very thankful to know that God never changes.  No matter what is going on each day of my life, I can count on the fact that God’s love will always remain within me.  He will never love me less and I don’t have to do anything to make Him love me more.  His faithfulness is always present.  I never have to be concerned that He will abandon me.  He is always there.  When I’m having a bad day at work or at home, He’s always there to comfort me. 

There is such a comforting feeling to knowing that God remains the same no matter what is going on around me.  I don’t have to worry about His love and faithfulness fading away.  With all the changes that happen around me daily, it’s a peaceful feeling knowing that I can rest in His presence. 

I hope you can be comforted today knowing that God loves you no matter what.  With all that changes around you, His love won’t abandon you and He will remain faithful in the coming days.  Rest assured you can count on God’s love to pour out on you every day of your life. 

One thing you and I can always count on is the great love and faithfulness of God!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Trust In The Midst Of Confusion

“Trust In The Midst Of Confusion”
By Zach Wood
John 14:1 NLT
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

Ever had someone tell you that you were going to do something together or go somewhere and, at first, it totally confused you?  But then the person said, “I know you don’t understand, but just trust me.”  You probably followed, wondering what in the world was going to happen.  You were a little hesitant and perhaps your heart was pumping fast, but you still followed close behind and waited to see what would happen.

There are many situations in which we become frustrated because we don’t “get” something and it takes a while for us to finally figure out what is happening or the leader/teacher doesn’t explain fully for a certain period of time.  Why?  Perhaps the person wants us to completely trust in their leading and not trust in our own understanding.

It is definitely hard to follow when we don’t get what is going on in life.  There are a lot of times we don’t get what’s happening and it causes frustration.  At first, we may have a really bad reaction and get angry at the person who is holding information back from us.  They have reason for it and won’t let us in on all the info until later.  Often we’re like, “Hey, don’t leave me hanging!”  It’s not fun when we don’t know all the details.  We feel troubled and unaware. 

If you’re anything like me, things can “throw you” when you first feel troubled and unsure of what’s going on.  I often don’t like when things suddenly change.  It depends on the situation, but often I don’t adjust well.  I have to stop and think and ask God for strength to adapt to the newness, whatever that might be.  I don’t like to be troubled by things unaware.  It can be very confusing at times when life throws me curve balls. 

Jesus tells His men not be troubled.  He wants them to trust in Him.  He doesn’t want them to fret because He’s got everything under control.  It is hard to trust in the midst of confusion, but He tells us to fully rely on Him and trust. 

I have learned in the past years that it’s vital to trust even when things seem to not make any sense.  He is always working in ways we cannot see and we just have to trust Him.

If you are struggling in life right now and in the midst of confusion, hang in there!  Trust in Him!  Don’t give up!  Don’t throw in the towel.  Trust in Him and He will not let you down.  Hang tight just a little longer.  Don’t be troubled.  Let Him lead and see what awesome opportunities He has for your future.  Trust Him in the midst of your confusion.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Seeking Him Above All Else

“Seeking Him Above All Else”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 6:33 NLT
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

We all seek a lot of different things in life, don’t we? 

We seek to find a good paying job.
We seek to find a good house to live in.
We seek to find a good school for our kids to attend.
We seek to find a church that we can call home.
We seek to find good deals on products that buy.
We seek attend a great college where we can further our education.
We seek to find a mate whom we can spend our lives with.

We also seek a lot of other things in life.  The list could go on and on as to what we seek to find each day of our lives.  Sometimes, we look and look for days, months or even years to find a good deal on whatever it is we are hunting for.  It always seems we are seeking something.  We are always on a hunt for either something better that we want or getting something we need.  We want to bargain shop and get the best deals for the lowest prices.  My wife and I are totally like that!  We thrive on finding great deals and good bargains!

I cannot help but to think about all the time and energy that we put into seeking different things in life and often how little time we really invest seeking the Kingdom of God.  I know in my own life I often find myself seeking after a lot of things that don’t really seem to benefit my walk with God.  Not that they are bad things, but they just don’t really benefit my spiritual growth and I waste time on them. 

Jesus teaches on the importance of seeking the Kingdom of God.  He not only teaches on the importance of seeking God, but rather seeking Him above all else.  That’s the clincher!  We need to ask ourselves what we are seeking most in life.  It isn’t that seeking things is bad, but if we are constantly seeking things and not ultimately seeking what pleases God, then we’ve got issues.  Do we find ourselves waking up in the morning and then spending our day seeking tons of different things that don’t benefit our spiritual growth?  I think we all do much more than we want to admit.

I want to seek God’s Kingdom more than anything.  I am trying each day to do this, in whatever ways I can.  I want to find ways that I can seek Him and praise Him in everything I do.  He gives me everything I need, so why wouldn’t I seek Him ultimately?  This is my heart’s desire.  Seeking Him above all else.  We all need to make it our desire to seek Him and His Kingdom above everything else that matters in our lives.  He needs to come first, always. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Loving God, Loving People

“Loving God, Loving People”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 22:37-39 NIV
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Last week, I was reading a YouVersion Bible App devotional by Danny Gokey and he made a statement that was simple, yet so profound.  He shared, “So many times I think we overthink our calling and over complicate the Gospel, when really our purpose in this life comes down to two simple things; loving God and loving people.”

It was so powerful and spoke volumes to me!  The more I thought about this statement, I considered how we so often do over complicate things every day of our lives when it comes to being a light for God.  What if we put this concept into practice from the time we get up in the morning to the time we go to bed and focus on nothing else but this?  What would our lives really look like if we simply focused on loving God and loving people?  What if that became our sole mission every day?

This concept has challenged my thinking in the past week and I continue to consider how I simply need to put this into practice as I live my every day life.  Loving God is actually pretty easy for me to do.  Even though I often don’t understand Him, I love Him very much.  However, loving certain people is difficult for me.  It is easy for me to love people who are easy to love, but very hard at times to love people who are not nice and who have treated me badly. 

Think about this passage and how important it was for Jesus to share it.  We need to not only love God with all our heart, but we must also love others.  We cannot say that we love God and then treat others like trash.  It just doesn’t work that way.  We absolutely must do our best every day to love others, regardless of how they treat us.  And, that is hard!

What would our world look like if we made it our passion every day to love God and love others?  We don’t need a seminary degree to do this.  All we need is a willingness to love and respect not only our Father, but also others who we come into contact with.  Let us not over complicate the calling God has given to each of us.  We all have different abilities, gifts and talents for sure, however, we all have the ability to love God and love others.  This is something we can all do, regardless of our education. 

Loving God and loving others.  It is not a hard concept to grasp, but it is a challenging concept to live out.  Why don’t we make it our mission and passion to fully love God and love others as we live every day of our lives? 

Who is with me?

Monday, April 29, 2019

Half Lived: Don't Leave Him Out

“Half-Lived: Don’t Leave Him Out”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 4:13 NLT
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

I have had this Scripture memorized for as long as I can remember.  I am sure I learned it in Sunday School when I was just a little guy.  I have used this Scripture in previous devotionals, in sermons and in Bible studies.  It is one of the most popular Scriptures quoted today.  Recently, I saw this verse in a new way and it really hit home with me. 

I thought about how so often we cut this passage off after “everything”.  We live out “I can do everything”, and then leave out “through Him who gives me strength.”   We live so much of our lives with the confidence that we can do most things all by ourselves and leave God on the back shelf telling Him that we will consult Him if things get a difficult.  We often think we can live life all by ourselves and in our own strength. 

We quote this passage so much and verbally proclaim that we can do always do all things through Christ, but then the actual ways we live out our lives shows the complete opposite.  We do our own thing and mentally convince ourselves to believe that we can do this life all on our own. 

I am so guilty of only living half of this verse.  I often live as though to leave God out of my life.  This is sadly true for so many of us.  We say that we can do all things through Him, but we only live half of the verse.  Jesus gives us a life to live that is unlike the life of our past.  He gives us true life. 

Is this verse half-lived in your life?  Are you trying to do everything all on your own?  Are you living solo?  We all know that we cannot live our lives without the strength of Christ.  We know we need Him.  We know He is the only One Who can get us through life.  However, each of our days is so often lived without us consulting Him and allowing Him to lead. 

We go to great lengths every day to make sure we have all we need to succeed through the day from the morning till the night.  Why not make certain that we go to great lengths to ensure that we are letting God lead our lives each day? 

My prayer is that we not only work to memorize great verses like these, but that we also remember to live them completely out, not leaving God out of what we do.  We can do all things, but we can only do them successfully through Christ Who gives us true lasting strength.

I can do everything…..through Christ…..Who gives me strength.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Understanding What Really Matters

“Understanding What Really Matters”
By Zach Wood
Philippians 1:9-11 NLT
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.  May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

I had many mentors throughout the years of my young life take the time to instill great advice and wisdom in me.  Whether it was my family, teachers at school, or youth sponsors at church, many took the time to teach me new and important things in life.  Their wisdom helped me to understand what really mattered in life.  When I would get off-course, they would lovingly nudge me to re-focus where I needed to be. 

We all have had people, whom we love and appreciate, take the time to steer us in the right direction.  We all need people who will care enough to help us understand what really matters.  We need proper instructions so that we don’t go off-course.  Understanding what really matters is vital to living a life of purpose. We don’t want to forget what matters and live the wrong way.  However, so many of us end up going a direction we shouldn’t.  Fortunately, we have loving friends and families who will see what’s happening and speak into our lives when we need it most. 

We have so many different situations in life where we need to understand what is important.  What should really matter to us?  This is a question we truly need to be faced with every single day.  We need to understand what really matters. 

Paul wanted to make sure that people understood what really mattered.  It was to love each other as Christ loved the church.  Wow!  What would be more important than that?  Nothing!  Loving one another is what is most important.  Jesus Christ gave His life for us so that we could understand what mattered most.  As we are celebrating Easter this weekend, we celebrate the greatest love to ever walk this earth.  Jesus wanted us to grasp what really matters…Love.  He gave us the greatest demonstration and lesson of love.  What could be greater?

I need to understand what matters most.  Every day, I need to be reminded that the way I love my family and others matters more than anything.  They need to see God’s love through me.  Jesus giving His life for us and being resurrected is the greatest story of love.  Do we really understand what matters most? 

May the love of Christ be all that truly matters in our lives as we seek to share His love with the world. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Beware Of Over Self-Confience

“Beware Of Over Self-Confidence”
By Zach Wood
1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.

We have all had moments in our lives where things are going just fine and we think there is nothing that can ruin the moment.  We might sail on for days, weeks or even months without anything pulling us down.  Then, all of a sudden, “wham!  We’re not too sure what happened or what exactly hit us, but all we know is that life came crashing down, so to speak. 

There is not one of us that has not experienced this in life.  Life seems to be plugging away and then some tragedy or temptation takes us down and we feel like we’re down for the count.  We ask ourselves, “what just happened???”  We often times cannot figure out what went wrong or why all of a sudden things just spiraled south.  And, most of us don’t usually react the best way to these sudden changes.  We feel a wide-range of emotions.  We wonder what we did wrong and how this all happened.  Sometimes life simply takes us by surprise.

It’s in these times that we do some deep thinking and examine our life choices.  Many people in these situations question God and His goodness.  I know in all my years of vocational ministry and volunteer ministry, this is one of the toughest situations to deal with.  This goes both for seeing people experience this and myself having dealt with it.  We get very frustrated and wonder why God allowed bad things to happen to us.

There are many times we need to realize in life that we do make bad choices.  We make decisions to follow temptations and we fall hard.  We don’t mean to, but we do and then life comes crashing down.  We must remember that we cannot do life on our own, period.  We need God 24/7/365.  Not a moment goes by each day that we don’t need Him.  We tend to get a little cocky in life, if you will, and we think we are doing pretty good.  We feel pretty good and can’t imagine anything spoiling our mood.  Before we know it, but something goes wrong and things seem to spiral out of control in one way or another.

As I study this verse, I think of all the times when I get to feeling pretty good in my life and how I wish things could just stay good and not go sour at any time.  As much as any one of us would like that, life just doesn’t work that way.  This is not to say we should live life expecting bad things to happen, but that we just need to be prepared at all times.  We need to strong in the Lord and be prepared, so when things do start spiraling down, we can remain confident, not in ourselves, but in the Lord.  God definitely wants us to have self-confidence in our lives, but not so much that we forget that He is in control and depend on our own strength.  Beware of over self-confidence because we always need Him!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Undivided Loyalty

“Undivided Loyalty”
By Zach Wood
James 1:5-8 NLT
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

We all have different stores and food places that we frequently visit.  For me, there are certain stores and certain food places where I know that I will always get a good deal.  I want to go to certain stores where I know I will get good quality products and great service.  I also like to go to certain food places where I know I will enjoy the food and the service that is provided.  I am loyal to these places when we choose to go out to eat and go to buy certain products.

You all have certain places, just like me, that you like to go frequently.  The places have given you a type of service that keeps you coming back.  Even if you get a bad experience here for there for whatever reason, you’ve had enough good experiences to know that you will still get good service if you go back.  We have all had bad experiences at places.  Sometimes, we choose not to go back, but other times, we know it was just a bad day or what not, so we still choose to go back because we have had good food, good products and good service in the past.

We all have developed undivided loyalty in one way or another with these different places.  Even with the occasional bad experience, these places have gained our trust enough to keep us coming in.  Loyalty is a big word.  When people develop loyalty not only with places, but also with people, that is a big thing as well.  We want loyal people in our lives so that we know we can trust them. 

How about our loyalty to God?  We all have great experiences with God, but we also have times in our lives where we get frustrated with the so-called “service” we think God is giving us.  We get frustrated when life gets tough a lot of times.  We wonder what He’s doing.  We tend to forget He has wisdom beyond our understanding.  He knows what He’s doing.  We need to remain loyal to God, through the good times and bad times.  God wants undivided loyalty in our lives. 

When we seek after God for wisdom, do we seek with undivided loyalty, no matter what the journey brings?  Do we continually seek Him when the going gets tough and when we aren’t getting answers?  Is our loyalty unwavering?  These are tough questions, but ones we must ask as we consider our loyalty to Him. 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Your Will, Not Mine

“Your Will, Not Mine”
By Zach Wood
Matthew 26:39 NLT
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

There are a lot of desires that we have in life.  At different times of our lives, we desire to do various things.  Some of those things can be big and some can be small.  Regardless, we all have desires.  We have different opportunities that pop in life and we often need to make some tough decisions as to what to do next, whether it is getting married, having a child, taking on a new job or buying a house.  These are among some of the biggest decisions that we make in life. 

I hope that in all decisions you and I make, we bathe these things in prayer, asking God to give us wisdom and direction as to the best route to go.  Sometimes, the way seems very obvious, while other times not so much.  It can be very difficult to discern what God wants us to do, especially in the times when He seems silent and we are not feeling any clear direction at all.  It’s in those times that we must trust that He is still working, even though we can’t feel a thing.

We often fight selfish desires when we pray for God to guide us in life.  He definitely has our best interests at heart, but only He knows exactly what is best for us.  Sometimes, the best road for us will be a very challenging and often difficult journey.  We often want the way that will be less painful and full of happiness.  Who doesn’t want to be happy, right?  However, God’s goal is not for us to be happy, but for us to grow in our faith and trust Him at all times.  In our journey of life, we can still be happy because our life is in Christ. 

Jesus definitely had a hard choice to make when He was agonizing and facing death, through His prayers, in the Garden of Gethsemane.  This is one of the most pivotal struggles He had as the Son of God and as a human being.  He knew He had to give His life for us, but He also struggled deeply because of the pain and agony of the situation.  We can learn from His example He actually prayed for the possibility of the suffering to be taken from Him.  However, He prayed as well for God’s will to be done ultimately. 

What decisions are you facing in your life right now that you find yourself struggling just as Jesus did?  You have desires, but you also want God’s will for your life more than anything.  It is hard to ask for God’s will above what you want in your life.  However, the ultimate prayer for us is that God’s will be done in our lives so that He can lead us where He wants us.  Even if the path is unknown, we must be obedient and submit to Him sight unseen. 

Right now, in my life, I am struggling with direction.  I am learning that I need to pray for His will in my life, not just what I think is best or what I want to do.  I want His plan for my life to prevail and to lead me.  Many days, I don’t feel a clear direction, but I just need to continue trusting that He’s working and will reveal in due time. 

May our prayers always be “Not my will be done, but Yours, Father.”   

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Calling All Husbands!

“Calling All Husbands!”
By Zach Wood
Ephesians 5:25-28 NIV
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I had the privilege of attending our first marriage retreat with Weekend To Remember in Minneapolis that is put on by Family Life.  I must share that it was one of the best investments we have made in our marriage to this day!  It was a weekend filled with much learning and a great revival for renewing our marriage. 

I am writing this devotional specifically to husbands this week.  I felt the need to share with you all after the powerfully inspiring weekend we had!  As a husband, I was challenged in ways I never thought I would be challenged.  Throughout the weekend, I felt so guilty of not being the Godly husband that I’ve needed to be for my wife.  Throughout our marriage, I so often haven’t been the supportive man I need to be for my wife.  This weekend allowed me to see a whole different perspective on how I should care for my wife.  It taught me how I need to turn from my daily selfish ways and consider my wife so much more. 

As the weekend progressed, I found myself becoming overwhelmed with emotion and God was revealing to me so much about how I needed to be much more loving and unconditional toward my wife.  Husbands, I want to challenge you to truly love your wives each and every day.  It is so important to not focus on just what your needs and desires are and to focus your love on making her feel truly cherished.  God calls us to treat our wives with respect and love because He gave them to us to take care of. 

I was so glad we attended this conference.  It was just what we needed to renew and revive so many things in our marriage.  I am thankful that God worked in my heart that weekend to change my perspective about the relationship that marriage should be.  It is a teamwork relationship and it is often hard.  It takes devotion and much effort.  I would recommend any couple take the time to attend this conference and be challenged. 

Husbands, I want to encourage you to love your wives in Christ.  Wives, I hope you will read this and be encouraged to be a team with your husband.  I am no marriage expert and never will be.  However, I know that any marriage without Christ cannot experience the growth that only a marriage with Christ can experience.  It is amazing!