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Unread 09-23-2003, 10:07 PM   #16
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A True Worship Experience

"A True Worship Experience"
By: Zach Wood
Psalm 63:2
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.


I don't know about you, but I often find it difficult to get away and get alone with God for some realy quality time. Not just a few moments, but an actual extended period of time. No matter whether it's the beginning of the day, the middle or the end, we can find that time to totally get lost in a worship experience with God. You don't have to be in some specific building or room because your heart is a sanctuary to God. Satan wants nothing more than to constantly fill your daily time with agendas and routines which keep you far away from finding alone time with God.

I truly believe we experience deep worship when we allow ourselves to dive into a quality alone time with God. Forgetting what is going on around us, being in an isolated place where no one will bother us, and just meditating on God's presence. There are no words to describe the experience when you feel God's presence very strongly and you behold His power and glory. It's such a powerful feeling of presence and all you want to do is stay there and never leave. I hate to admit that I don't fall into that "presence" near as much as I would like to. I have shared before with you that Psalm 46:10 is one of the most difficult passes of Scripture for me to deal with, as I'm sure it is for many of you. "Be still and know that I am God." To be still is to completely be free from all distractions and have NOTHING on your mind and heart but the presence of God in complete surrender and worship. It's hard to do when you're not focused and consumed with daily chores.

I would like to invite each of you this day, this week and everyday after to find a time where you can just "get lost" in worshipping God. It doesn't matter where you go or how you do it. Maybe you can't get away from everyone in your family, but you can find a time perhaps when everyone else is sleeping at night or early in the morning and still be totally alone with God.

I pray that you would find that time daily to have a true worship experience with your Savior. He's waiting for you to experience Him in ways you've never experienced Him before. Get alone with Him and let Him take you far away from the busyness of the day and the world. It's so wonderful to feel His power and glory through us when we come to Him in that quiet place.

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Unread 10-01-2003, 11:45 AM   #17
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The Constant & Consistent Dwelling

"The Constant & Consistent Dwelling"
By: Zach Wood
Psalm 27:4
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.


After last week's devotional on "True Worship Experience", I've got to thinking more this week about our consistency in personal worship. God really laid it on my heart, when I read this Scripture a couple of days ago, about the word "dwell". We often talk about how we dwell so much on our past mistakes and problems that we have in life. When we dwell on those things, it takes all of our attention. Now, take that thought and apply it to the thought of always dwelling on and in the presence of God. Yes, we can go to a special worship service or have a specific Sunday morning service that's really powerful, but where do we go from there? I was convicted of this idea this past week and thought more about how we should be consistent in our true worship experience.

I believe God calls us and desires us to constantly be in a true worship experience by dwelling on His Word and presence at all times. The other day, my fiancée and I were eating lunch together and I shared with her how I see that we can go from having just a couple hours of true worship experience in a service to having that deep experience everyday, all day. So, I'm taking last week's devotional and adding on a thought that I feel we should focus more in on. It's great to have a great worship experience, but can't we have that daily and not just when we go to a service that only lasts a couple of hours? What about the "in between" times of special services? We should be dwelling in the presence of God all day, everyday. Now, I'm not one to raise my hand and say this is always evident in my life, which is exactly why I'm sharing it with you. I find that I go from worship experience to worship experience without really dwelling on Him in a constant manner.

What I encourage you to do this week and even past this week into the rest of your life is to consider how you can dwell on His presence as Paul talked about how we should pray constantly. Your eyes don't have to be closed constantly or in a silent meditation all the time. We can find ourselves in a constant dwelling if we are consistently seeking Him and reading His Word daily. It's important that we think and dwell on the Lord all through our day and have a meditation in our hearts of His goodness and greatness.

I pray that each day, the desire of your heart is to seek Him and Him only, to have the joy and happiness that only He can bring. It's a wonderful experience to constantly be captured by God's beauty and to have a peace in your heart that He's in control of your life all through the day, everyday, no matter what is going on around you. May our daily lives be a consistent worship experience that we may be dwelling on Him at all times.
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Unread 10-08-2003, 02:53 PM   #18
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Consumed: Release The Burdens

"Consumed: Release The Burdens"
By: Zach Wood
Psalm 68:19
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.


If you are anything like me, you allow yourself to be weighed down by things going on around you. Whether it's a situation you're dealing with, a person you're trying to deal with, or just a mix of different situations and things going on around you, these things will wear you down. As I write this devotional, I am reminded of how much I have been consumed lately in my own life with things that should be laid at the feet of God. It's not that God wants me to forget about them and not deal with them at all, but rather He wants them so that He can bring me peace and give me the direction I need through the situations. I know I'm always going to be dealing with people, situations and many other things my ministry life and personal life bring. But the way I choose to deal with these things each day is up to me. I can either let myself become totally consumed by them or lay them down at His feet and allow Him to take weight He never meant for me to carry.

When we carry so much at one time by ourselves, we end up worrying and that totally throws our focus and concentration out the window. No wonder we become so stressed and worn out.

Look with me at the past part of this verse, "who daily bears our burdens". This part of the verse really struck me. Why? Because I realize that it's not saying weekly, monthly or yearly. I need to "daily" give my burdens and concerns over to God and let Him control my day. Life is busy enough without us trying to take on all that's going on around us by ourselves.

I don't know about you, but I'm sure thankful and glad that God is able to take our burdens each day so that we're not dealing with things alone. Do you find yourself consumed today or this whole week with something or many things? Take some time to go to God in prayer, alone by yourself, and just give your burdens to Him. This is not to say that everything will be perfect and run smoothly with no problems. But it will release you from bearing the burdens alone. It's so easy to become consumed and we shouldn't stay that way when we realize it's happened.

If you are dealing with many burdens and weights today, I would encourage you to check out Max Lucado's book, "Traveling Light". It's a fantastic book describing how we need to release burdens we were never meant to carry. It feels so much better to release concerns and worries to God and allow Him to guide us and direct us. That way, we can concentrate on the many things we need to do in our daily routine while still keeping focused on God and not being consumed.
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Unread 10-14-2003, 04:04 PM   #19
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Prudent & Wise: Think Before You Do

"Prudent & Wise: Think Before You Do"
By: Zach Wood
Proverbs 14:15-16
A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps. A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.


Many of us lives busy daily lives. No matter what our occupation, work is much and our pace is usually set on high-speed. Seems like most things today are of high-speed and only getting faster. Living in a fast-paced world/society makes it difficult for us to not only slow down and take a rest, but it also presents a challenge for us to slow down and think about what we're doing. Not only to our bodies and minds, but to those around us. Many times, when I get so busy doing something, I forget that others are watching me and seeing how I'll react. I hate to admit that I still don't have this "reaction" thing down very well. I mean, I'm better than I used to be growing up, but sometimes the "think before you do" logic comes into view after it's too late. My grandfather always used to give me this advice, "think before you do". I never really understood why I need to give thought to so many things before I act upon them. However, I am so grateful that he kept reminding of that phrase, cause I still remember it to this day and do my best to apply. So, I give many thanks to my grandfather for that constant advice. I still struggle with giving through to my actions before-hand, but with God's help, I can become even better.

How important it truly is to give thought to every step we take each day, no matter what it entails. I would have to admit that I've been the "fool" too many times in my life and become hotheaded and reckless with my decisions, no realizing how they affect people and situations around me. When we become busy and fast-paced, it's so easy to overlook little and important details that are crucial to our following directions and taking advice from others. We think we know how to act and react, but then are reminded of the Proverbs 3:5-6 instructions, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

Friends, we simply cannot afford to keep living life at such a fast pace and not slowing down to think about what we are doing. I'm not saying that you're not, but most of us would probably be able to admit to failure in many situations only because we refused to take someone's advice to slow down and actually think about something before we act upon it.

I'll admit it's difficult to slow down and think, especially when I know how I want to react and deal with someone or a situation, but also knowing God would want me to rationalize my initial thoughts and consider another plan of action. And that plan of action is many times considering my own attitude and heart condition in the matter.

"Think before you do" so that you won't say words you will later regret and leave a scar on a person's heart. "Think before you do" so that you won't go into a situation with your own agenda and ignoring other's advice. "Think before you do" so that you won't act on something that would prove to be a terrible witness to someone who is watching. We need to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ. No wonder we read so much throughout Scripture of how we need to be wise and prudent of how we go about dealing with situations and people in life. No, you can't go back and change what's happened in the past. However, you can begin this very moment to apply that phrase my grandfather instilled within me when I was child......Think Before You Do.

You'll never regret being prudent and wise. That's when God is able to speak to us and work in us best because we have slowed down to think and evaluate from our fast-paced lives.
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Unread 10-22-2003, 12:04 PM   #20
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No Returns Or Exchanges

"No Returns Or Exchanges"
By: Zach Wood
Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building other up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.


We all have made bad choices in things we've bought. Some items, after they've been opened, cannot be returned, but most things do have a return policy on them. If you simply don't like it, have changed your mind and want something else or if it's defective, you can return or exchange for the desired item instead. You made a choice, but you're able to take it back and have a different item in return.

Too bad our words can't be returned or exchanged for something we would have preferred to say. We have all said things to friends, family and others we love and care about that we regret saying. Once the word is out of our mouths, that's it! No getting it back! The words have already either built someone up or completely torn them apart. We've all been the victim or have been the perpetrator and it's no fun. When we're angry or resentful toward someone, we have the burn inside to share some choice words we usually are not clearly thinking about. There's a song by the Contemporary Christian Band, Third Day, "Nothin' At All", which says that if you can't say anything good then don't say anything at all. It's so tempting to hurl words out when they come to our minds cause we want to state how we feel.

Now, I'm not saying that there's never a time to criticize or firmly and lovingly confront and make known a problem that someone has caused you. However, we are to think very carefully about our words and ask God for the direction and wisdom in what to say. Have you heard the saying, "The tongue is practically weightless, yet so few can hold it"? This statement rings very true and we need to be certain that the words coming from our mouths are either building people up for the Kingdom or that they are lovingly and prayerfully confronting and helping someone become a better follower of Jesus Christ.

I write this devotional as someone who is not always good with words. I can get angry or frustrated and forget how much my words can really pierce and forever scar another heart of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Our words need to always be wholesome, whether we're praising and affirming or whether we're confronting in loving criticism.

Remember, no refunds, returns or exchanges with our words. Once they're out the mouth, they've done the damage or they've encouraged and built someone up better. Which do you prefer to do? I pray that you and I would both consider choice words which are beneficial and loving.
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Unread 10-29-2003, 09:48 PM   #21
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Four Powerful Words

"Four Powerful Words"
By: Zach Wood
1 Cortinthians 16:14
Do everything in love.


Probably one of the shortest, if not the shortest, passages of Scripture I've used in a devotional in all my writing years. The more I've read these words, the more I realize and look back on my past to see how much I have failed at showing God's love in certain situations. I can't remember them all, but I know for a fact that I have not shown the proper love when dealing with people.

When we see the word "everything", it goes against our natural human impulse to react angrily when someone hurts us or does something to offend us in some way. We are human and we do get angry and frustrated with people. However, I have learned that no matter what the situation, we are commanded and instructed to show love. We must still be firm and direct so that a point gets across in our confrontations and conversations, but love must NEVER be absent.

It's quite often very difficult to show love, especially when we know we have a right to be angry and disgruntled. However, Christ always showed love in one way or another, no matter what He was dealing with. He knew how vital and crucial it was to show love despite the circumstances. Why do you think He's the greatest example we can learn from? Yes, He was perfect and we are not. But we use that as an excuse way too much. I know I do. There are times when I try to find every reason to justify my anger or frustration toward someone and react without love in my confrontation. That's exactly what Satan wants me to do. Temporarily, I'll feel better, but I'll also soon learn that without having reacted in love, I failed to show God's character.

These are hard words to put into practice, especially when we've been hurt and abused physically or emotionally. Give every situation to God and seek His wisdom and guidance before reacting in anger and frustration. When we do things in love, regardless of how difficult the circumstances, God is glorified and we grow in our understanding for future opportunities to show more of His love. We can't replace "everything" with "some things". God knows it's difficult, but He has promised to be with us always and give us the love through our actions.
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Unread 11-04-2003, 11:19 PM   #22
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Trust In God For Our Impossibilities

"Trust In God For Our Impossibilities"
By: Zach Wood
Exodus 7:13, 12:31-32
7:13- Yet Pharoah's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
12: 31-32- During the night Pharoah summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me".


Last Wed. night, our church had reenactment of the Plagues of Egypt set up in stations throughout the church building. Though there is no way to completely reenact how much of a reality it truly was during these plagues, we got a better picture and visual of what the people went through as Pharaoh continued hardening his heart. Let me tell you, if I was one of the Israelites, I would have been pretty fumed with Pharaoh not getting the hint that more bad things would keep happening if the release was not there. Pharaoh just kept hardening his heart no matter what God did to the people. You'd think after 2 or 3 plagues, the message would cut to the heart, but it didn't.

As I pondered this story, I thought how hard it was for the Israelites, Moses and Aaron to understand why Pharaoh was being so stubborn and hard-hearted. It's something I honestly can't figure out, no matter how many times I read the text. Finally, after the passover, Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron to leave and take the Israelites with them because he had then had enough.

Are you encountering situations in your life right now where you see it impossible for anything to go right? Maybe you have a situation in your family, place of work, church, or relationship with a friend that you simply cannot work with or figure out. With our understanding as human beings, it's impossible to see the future and what God has in store down the road. We can't figure things out and get results. Sometimes, we try to hard on our own strength and understanding and fail to give these situations solely to God. I'm convinced more and more that we must fully give our impossibilities over to God. If you're anything like me, when you encounter situations that seem impossible to overcome or people who are unwilling to change for God, you get very frustrated and worn out trying to figure out why nothing is happening or going in the right direction.

Moses and Aaron just had to keep their trust in God that He knew what He was doing. I'm sure the plagues got tiresome for everyone and there was probably a lot of confusing as to why Pharaoh wouldn't get the hint to let the Israelites go. There are situations and people in life that only God can work on and change. Yes, God can use us and minister through us, but we must ultimately give over to God what is impossible for us. He takes the impossible and makes possibilities come to life. I'm just glad He's in control and not me.

Trust God for the impossibilities in your life. God is always working on solutions that our human eyes and hearts cannot see or comprehend. God is working. Just trust in His timing. Watch your impossibilities become God's possibilities.
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Unread 11-10-2003, 10:40 PM   #23
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His Help Is Always Available

"His Help Is Always Available"
By: Zach Wood
Exodus 18:17-20
Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.


One of my favorite movies is Disney's "The Kid". It's mixed with humor and heart touching moments. Bruce Willis has gone to seek out advice from a friend he met at the beginning of the movie. They meet for coffee and do some chatting. Right before they depart, he looks to her and thanks her for the help and advice. She responds, "Don't ever stop asking for help....You just might get it".

Asking for help is something we really don't want to do. It seems logical at first that we would want to seek help and support of others instead of trying to master a task alone. However, we look to Scripture and see that Moses was trying to take on the responsibility of dealing alone with the disputes of his people. It wasn't that Moses should not have been trying to help, but he was taking on the full load without bringing the disputes before God. Now, I don't take this to mean that Moses never consulted God before this. But this was a time when Jethro, Moses' father-in-law saw that Moses was taking on a task God never intended him to do alone. Jethro made a visit and simply gave helpful and loving advice for Moses to bring matters before God.

We are just like Moses in many ways. We want to do things on our own and offer advice to people that we think is appropriate. However, with this being great, we tend to not consult God and feel we can master a situation on our own. It's nice to know there are people around us who can take notice often when we are trying to master life all by ourselves and they care enough to give us a loving nudge to remind us that we shouldn't be doing it on our own. Whether you're helping a couple through a problem, taking with a teen through a confusing time of life, or helping a friend in a desperate time, we should always consult God. It's a good feeling when people come to you for advice and you feel honored to help and provide counsel. However, prayer should always be a tool to seek wisdom and advice from God.

Help is always available and God is right there waiting to help and guide us. When we consult Him, He almost always provides direction, understanding and words we never would have thought of if we had tried to help with our own willpower. Our own strength is not enough. We constantly need the direction and help from God so that we may effectively minister to and help others in time of need.
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Unread 11-19-2003, 10:30 PM   #24
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What Is Your Goliath?

"What Is Your Goliath?"
By: Zach Wood
Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Life hands us many obstacles, trials, dilemmas, challenges and frustrations. It seems many times when we encounter a situation that seems too big for us to handle, we get panicky, nervous, scared and deal with loss of self-confidence. We see with our eyes a situation that is just too monstrous for us to handle alone. We think, "It can't be done! There's just no way!" And, you know what? That's correct thinking.....if we are considering our own strength. There's many things in life we can do on our own, but there are a lot more situations presented to us that require more than what we can handle by ourselves. So, what's the solution?

The solution may seem pretty obvious at first, but many of us rarely rely completely on the option. That option just happens to be God's Power. Even with God's power, there is one problem we still have......our eyes. Yes, our eyes. Why? Because looks can be very deceiving and we are all deceived by so much already in this world. I don't know how many of you are Veggie Tales fans, but one of the episodes is "Dave And The Giant Pickle". These videos are humorous ways of telling Old Testament stories while still leaving a wonderful visual lesson. What I like most about the video is how small they make Dave and how big they made Goliath appear. I can read the Bible and see that it says Goliath was a giant, but I am more affected when I see a visual of size. It just gives me more of an idea of how much Dave was up against. This little guy takes on this humongous giant, takes a sling and knocks the giant down. Nobody thought Dave was capable of doing such a task. And....he really wasn't. However, Dave had God on his side and was confident in the strength God would give him.

So, what's our problem with these so-called "Goliaths" in our lives? Simple. We fear them and forget that God is bigger than anything we come up against. The situation may seem too much at first, but with God, nothing is impossible. I wrote a recent devotional about how God works through our impossibilities and makes them possible. Our impossibilities are "Goliaths". However, God is the God of possibilities because He sees what we do not.

Having problems with the kids at home and don't know how to handle the situation? God is bigger! Having problems in your marriage? God is bigger! Having a week where nothing seems to be going right? God is bigger! So many situations in life and there is One who can handle them all and help you through. God is ready to do more than we can possibly imagine or even ask Him to do. And all He's waiting on is for us to ask Him to "go to work". Do we believe He can actually help us conquer the great obstacles that come at us in this life? No matter how big or deep the problems seem, nothing can be greater or more conquerable than God's strength.

So, your strength and willpower alone will not work. You were never meant to take on life all by yourself, so stop trying. And, you know what? I'm pointing the "preaching" finger right back to myself here. I try to take on too many obstacles all on my own and God always shows Himself in some way to remind me I can't do it alone. Whatever your Goliath is, God is BIGGER! Lean completely on Him and He'll do so much that you won't be able to describe the feeling inside when you see Him work.
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Unread 11-26-2003, 08:12 PM   #25
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Positive Over The Negative

"Positive Over The Negative"
By: Zach Wood
Ephesians 5:19-20
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


It's often easiest to give thanks to God for life and the blessings He has poured on us when times are good. However, when negative things start happening in our life and things go wrong, our vision is clouded then from continuing to give thanks to God. It's not that we don't thank God for anything, but our thanks seem to be lessened and pessimism sets in. Satan throws a curve ball at us and we forget many of the good things God has done for us. It's easy then to focus on negative things. To complain, bicker, argue, and become pessimistic. Now, who likes to be around someone who is negative? I know I don't. Well, I say that, but many times, I am the person who becomes very pessimistic. I don't want people to become contagious to that kind of an attitude. I've got tons of things to be thankful for.

I want to encourage you, as we approach the week where we celebrate Thanksgiving, to think beyond this week. It's a holiday where we eat a lot, enjoy family and think of what we're appreciative of that God has blessed us with. We see time and time again in Scripture where encouragement comes for us to be thankful to God for everything we have in life. Not only should we be appreciative of what He does for us in our lives now, but also for what He did over 2000 years ago on the Cross of Calvary.

Be thankful for the blood that was shed to provide forgiveness of sin. Be thankful for the body that was broken, beaten and tortured so that you and I could have a chance for eternal life. Be thankful that He did not give up, but went all the way to the cross for YOU and ME.

No matter what you are experiencing in your life today, this week, this month or this year, you can overpower the negative pull with a positive attitude because God is good and is always taking care of us. Be an encouragement to others in your life. This past Sunday morning, our minister put away his planned sermon notes and took some time to share Scripture and thoughts from his heart as to why we should be thankful for what God has done for us. He made the mention that when we start being more positive and thankful for what we do have and not concentrating on what we don't have, how much our attitude changes and we feel better.

Let the positive overpower the negative. It's all in your perspective.
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Unread 12-03-2003, 12:45 PM   #26
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Opportunities Seized Or Lost?

"Opportunities Seized Or Lost?"
By: Zach Wood
1 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.


I tend to feel that we get caught up too much in the hustle and bustle of everyday living so much that we tend to overlook opportunities for sharing God's love to others. As I read this passage, it reminds me that Jesus is coming back and we have no idea when. That thought alone should prompt me to take advantage more of the opportunities I see to share God's love, but many times am in too much of a hurry to take. Each one of these opportunities could be to share God's love with someone for the first time.

I'll be honest in saying that I'm not a natural with evangelizing. I mean, I'm an outgoing person who enjoys being around people. But, when it comes to sharing God's love with someone for the first time, I find it hard to bring up. I don't like that quality about myself, but I know it's something I must continue to pray about, practice and ask God's strength for.

I believe that if we had a paper in front of us listing all the opportunities we've lost and been too busy to stop for, our hearts would break and would probably gasp. I know I would. I don't realize how many opportunities I've missed and I probably would cry if I knew how many. So, what comes next? Not some big 5-step program. Just simply slowing myself down and taking the time to notice people around me. If I'm truly asking God for opportunities to seize and share Christ, I'll take the time to notice people around me more. Now, this doesn't mean I'll have to bombard a person with religious words and tons of Scripture. I can simply share a compliment and a kind and caring attitude. Many of our opportunities begin with a simple conversation and just sharing general information. It's amazing, when you're sharing with someone, how God gives the opportunity to share a nugget of His love and truth.

I want to encourage you this day, this week, this month, this year and for the rest of your life, to be on the lookout for opportunities to share. We just don't know when our Savior will return and I know we would all be heartbroken to realize how many opportunities we've passed up simply because we have been too busy to notice people who don't know Jesus and need to hear of His love.

Will you and I take the time to notice and share with others?
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Unread 12-05-2003, 03:59 PM   #27
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I agree. Many oppurtunities come to us daily, yet we are too busy to care or to notice. We should slow down and be looking and searching for those oppurtunities. It's worth. Thanks
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I think that if we really knew what it was like to be in the presence of God, then there is nothing on this earth that would keep us from living every moment for Him and worshipping Him with all of our hearts. Praise be to God for the day when we finally stand face to face with our LORD and Savior.
Although... perhaps it will be our face to His feet.
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Unread 12-10-2003, 09:56 PM   #28
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The Long Haul

"The Long Haul"
By: Zach Wood
Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.


I just recently finished reading a book on Discipleship for youth and it was very impacting on me. It created a deeper desire in my heart to minister more to teens and help them go deeper in their faith and relationship with Christ. This Scripture was on the last page of the ending chapter. As I read and reread this passage, I thought back to so many times in my past where I've either given up or almost have given up on trying to be effective in someone's life. I cringe at the fact that I have given up in many situations on people. However, I do remember times that I hung in there with those I refused to give up on and minister to. We all have these times in our lives. We think we're not making an impact on anyone around us, and then later on, God surprises and proves us wrong in our thinking. Somehow and in some way, God reveals to us that we've made an impact in ways we could never have imagined. I like those times, but sometimes you have to wait a long time for them.

We live in an instant world where so much is at our fingertips. If it's not instant, we move on to what is. Not all the time maybe, but most of the time. We want to do good, be obedient to God and serve Him even when it seems useless and a waste of time to do so. We become weary because we can't see instant results and we think our time is all spent in vain. At least I do many times. Being in the ministry, this is something I am faced with quite often. It's not that nothing is happening because God IS working. However, it sometimes takes a long time to see results and growth in people. I have to remember that I cannot give up or consider my time investment worthless because I don't see immediate change. There are times when I feel that way and then times when I have total trust in God and believe He is working even if the change isn't immediate. We all go back and forth on these feelings, whether we're in full-time ministry or serving voluntarily.

I really like the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus" starring Richard Dreyfuss. He works hard throughout the movie trying to make a difference in lives and he comes to a point where he feels everything has been in vain. Only then does he discover something that totally blows his negatives thoughts out the window. He enters an auditorium to see a large crowd of people, from throughout the years of his teaching life experience, welcoming him in support for the difference he has made in each of their lives. It's a very emotional part of the movie for me every time I watch it. I think it just reminds me of life and of my ministry experience. I am reminded that God is using me in so many unknown ways to glorify Him and make a difference in people's lives, even though I can't always physically see the results or hear the results all the time.

I know I am a part of "The Long Haul". But, aren't we all? Do we give up easily when we can't see immediate results and have to wait days, weeks, months or even years to see the impact we've made on people? Rest assured that you ARE making a difference in the lives of people around you and remember to not give up. God will use you and He will use me everyday to touch someone's life. He will also choose and ordain times when it is revealed how much of an impact you've made. I know that God is using me in my ministry life to impact people. I'm not saying that I see everything right now, but I do know and believe God is working and He has already shown me much of the impact I've made. He will continue to do so as I live life.

In doing good, we will reap a harvest if we don't give up. You and I are making a difference for the Kingdom. Let's believe we are and continue sharing His love with others throughout the long haul.
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Unread 12-18-2003, 11:10 PM   #29
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Prayers Of Thanksgiving

"Prayers Of Thanksgiving"
By: Zach Wood
Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.(NASB)


Do you sometimes feel like your prayers are just sessions of giving God routine requests instead of having meaningful communication with Him? If you do, you're not alone! It seems like with the busyness of the everyday life, there's always something to keep us from trying to have some peaceful, quiet time with God. I used to think, before I went into full-time ministry, that I would easily be able to spend tons of quality time with God without much challenge. Boy, was I ever wrong. No matter what your occupation, it's difficult to find time to really communicate with God. This has been a struggle in my life since I don't know when. I often find myself lifting up the same prayers to God wondering if what I'm saying is routine or thought out. The problem here lies that I often do not give God thanks for what He's done in my life and what He continues to do.

Giving requests to God is very important, however, if that's all we ever do and neglect to offer up prayers of thanksgiving for what He has done, then I think we are missing a vital point of communication with God. God is there for us not just for requests, but also to receive thanksgiving. If He deserves anything, it's tons of thanksgiving.

The simple question this week to ask yourself, and for the rest of your life of prayers, is this, "Are my prayers all about requests and routine, or are they filled also with thanks to God for what He's done and continues to do in my life?" I pray that each of us would remember to include thanksgiving to God, in addition to our requests that we bring before Him. You know how wonderful it feels when someone thanks you for what you've done in their life. So we should do the same for God and thank Him for what He's done and for what He continues to do in our lives.
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Unread 12-24-2003, 04:55 PM   #30
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Christ Only Everlasting

"Christ Only Everlasting"
By: Zach Wood
Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.


I read this verse for part of my devotional one day last week. While reading it, I thought to myself of all the things in life that seem so wonderful at first, but then fade away. The list could be endless. Life is so full of wonderful moments, however, if we forget whom those wonderful moments come from, we have lost the meaning. There's nothing at all wrong with enjoying delicacies and material possessions in life, but if we are more focused on things our eyes can see, we will just continue through life waiting for the next moment to keep us joyful and afloat in our happiness.

No matter what's important to you or that you hold of utmost value in life, there's nothing more important than the One who makes those values so precious. Christ provides us with joy, blessings and laughter through friends, family, and acquaintances.

So, what's most important to you as you think of Christmas this year? I've been around a lot of talk this season and last year during Christmas time. Much of that talk has been about why people hold such value to Christmas. Is the value in the presents, the lights, the tree or is the value placed on the One who came to this earth to give His life so that we may have eternal life?

I'm not saying that I will stop celebrating Christmas, but I am saying that I am giving serious consideration and thought as to why it's so important to me. I'll tell you what's most important. Fellowship. Why? Because fellowship builds relationships stronger and brings people back to communication and bonding together. Who is the author of fellowship and relationships? None other than God Himself. The creator and sustainer of the universe. If He thought enough to send Jesus Christ to die for us so that we would still have the opportunity to be in right relationship with Him, then bonding and relationship building must be pretty important to Him.

Don't focus on the material things you're receiving this year, but focus on the One who makes fellowship and bonding possible. My greatest Christmas memories are of family and the fun we've had together. I'll admit I always loved getting presents growing up and still do, but it's family that makes the difference to me now. As I've grown up and moved on to my own life and living, I cherish family the most. And, I know Who gave me the opportunities to have those memories forever. Christ gave me a wonderful family and I am so blessed to have them. Christ gave me wonderful friends from many places all over the U.S. from traveling, ministry and schooling. Christ has continued to bless me with a wonderful church family here in Minnesota, a blessed ministry, a great new family that I'm marrying into in February, and a beautiful woman with whom I have the joy of spending a lifetime with.

What memories do you have this year? I hope that fellowship and bonding with loved ones and friends is what you enjoy. But to sum it all up, God is the One who allows all this to happen to bring joy, laughter and memories. Let us always remember, not just Christmas time, of what God has done for us and the wonderful blessings He has poured out upon us. May the Cross of Christ be always real in your heart and be the reason you truly celebrate this season.
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