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Unread 06-23-2003, 07:17 AM   #1
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Encounter Devotionals

"Let Us Encourage One Another"
By: Zach Wood
Hebrews 10:24
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Has anyone encouraged you lately? Possibly during a time where you lost a loved one? Maybe during a serious family situation in which you needed someone to talk to? Or possibly during a time when you didn't feel close to God and felt unsure about your future?

We all need encouragement throughout life. Not a day goes by where we don't need some kind of encouragement. It can come by way of a phone call, a note, e-mail, mailed letter, or even an unexpected visit. There are so many ways to encourage someone. Many times, we may think the words we are led to share aren't really all that important. However, the words on our heart may just be the upliftment that person needs more than anything that day or week.

When we fill ourselves with God's Word and seek to serve Him, His love will compell us to help others and encourage them in mighty ways. We are called to encourage each other, whatever way that may be. Be creative and spontaneous. I enjoy giving encouragement. I'm not always great at remembering to do so, but I try my best when I can offer loving and caring words.

Who can you encourage today and this week?

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Unread 07-03-2003, 06:50 PM   #2
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Delight In What's Right

"Delight In What's Right"
By: Zach Wood
Psalm 119:16
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Each one of us delights in something or in someone. Possibly a gift someone gave you would be kept us well and protected with care. Possibly someone in your life, whom you love and care about greatly, it on your mind quite frequently and you search for ways to preserve that relationship and keep it healthy.

When you delight in something or someone, you work hard at pleasing. You will do whatever it takes and sacrifice the time needed to make sure there is no neglect. Neglect can cause erosion in a relationship or cause a special gift to locked up in a closet gathering dust or become broken.

Don't you think God feels it's important for us to delight in His Word and rejoice in His decrees? If we have the passion and desire to serve Him with all our heart, then neglect will not be consistent. That doesn't mean we'll be perfect in following Him and studying His Word, but the possibility of straying from Him and His Word will become less. Why? Because we'll desire above all other things to only delight in what He wills for our daily lives. His desires will naturally become our desires if we are closely following Him and growing closer to Him.

Delight in what's right to God....His Word. May the passion you have for Him grow immensely so that you continue to fall in love with Him over and over each new day.
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Unread 07-08-2003, 11:18 PM   #3
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Moment Of Decision: Shine Or Shun?

"Moment Of Decision: Shine Or Shun?"
By: Zach Wood
Matthew 5:14-15
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."

Isn't it wonderful to be living a life filled with Christ and His love? There is no love that's greater and no more of an awesome story to share than the one God called us to share. Most of us desire to know Christ more deeply every day. We say we want to live like Him and share His love with those people who do not know Him. We go to conferences, seminars, youth group outings, church activities and other events and we enjoy Christian fellowship. We love talking about how God has changed our lives and sharing that with other brothers and sisters.

However, it seems to me that a massive brick wall of fear stands before us when we find ourselves in a situation in which God wants us to share with a non-believer. And I'm not talking about a situation in which someone necessarily tells you they want to know more about God. You just find yourself faced with a moment of decision in which you can either decide to share your faith in what God has done through you or you can decide to shun everything and keep your mouth shut. It's difficult when you don't know how to respond to a dirty joke or vain reference to God's Name.

This past Sunday evening, I spoke for a worship session called "The Edge". I spoke about how we are created in God's image and how He has called us to take the light He lit inside of us and become a light to others who don't know Christ. I am humbled every time I speak because I'm usually the one who gets spoke to the most. I can't prove that, but it sure feels that way. God uses my message most of the time to really get MY ATTENTION! I felt so unworthy to be speaking on how we should shine the light of Christ because sometimes I feel like the worst sinner in the world. However, God still used me to speak His Word and share the problem of how we contain His Word when we're in situations that are uncomfortable.

The Great Commission doesn't mention anything about sitting on our rear-end and watch lost people go to Hell. God tells us we must GO into the world. That two-letter word seems to be the hardest word in our walk with Christ. When He tells us to GO and teach, God many times sees a "deer in headlights" expression on our face.

One of the comments I made while speaking this message was that of how well should know Christ so that we can recognize Satan anytime he tries to sway us onto his path. We need to know Christ so well that we can "spot" Satan and his moves without second-guessing. How can we? By reading His Word diligently and being the Light that shines each day for those who don't know Him. Yes, God has given us a huge responsibility. However, is it our desire to shun Him when we are the only one who might be different in the crowd, or will we be proud and shine for Him no matter what anyone else thinks?

God put a candle in you so that you can be a light for others of His Love. He wants that candle to start a FOREST FIRE within your heart! Then, you'll be ablazing with His Love for all to see!
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Unread 07-12-2003, 07:14 PM   #4
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The Shepherd's Voice

"The Shepherd's Voice"
By: Zach Wood
John 10:4-5
"When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

Do you have a problem with listening at some time or another? Maybe when your mom when she tells you to clean your room? Possibly your father telling you the chores are not completed? Maybe a teacher/instructor explaining how to do an assignment correctly? Or maybe even your parents trying to explain to you the dangers of a situation you're heading toward with some friends? You can't see it coming, but they can because they are older and wiser.

We go through life hearing advice about a better choice of career or how we can more cearly understand a confusing time of life. I'm truly thankful to every person in my family who helped me while growing up. I did a very fair share of "shutting out" what I didn't want to hear, which usually got me into trouble. However, the voices of reasoning came from experience and a perspective I could not yet understand.

We are sheep and our Shepherd is God. Our Savior goes ahead of us, leading us through life. When He sees danger that we don't see, He will speak to us of the warning in one way or another. We need to know and recognize the Shepherd's voice so well that His voice is all we hear and all others are shut out. If we clearly recognize the Shepherd's voice, any other voice of reasoning will not seem familiar or comforting. We must know and be familiar with our Savior's voice.

You probably feel comfortable around someone you know and trust. But if you came upon a stranger who was directing you in some way, you may not see much wisdom in what that person is saying to you. Why? Because you do not recognize the VOICE and you don't KNOW the person. A stranger won't have the effect on you as someone who you know and trust. Jesus Christ is our Shepherd. His voice should drown out all other voices so we're sure it's Him directing us and guiding us. If we can give up our own agendas and accept what He tells us, we'll be able to pick out His familiar voice as each obstacle comes into our life.

I challenge you to find ways to better improve your impaired hearing of the Savior's voice. Sometimes, I think we need a hearing aid. But, instead of a hearing aid, become familiar with your Savior's voice and you won't as likely accept any strangers giving you false advice.
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Unread 07-19-2003, 07:43 AM   #5
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7 Days Of Faithfulness

"7 Days Of Faithfulness"
By: Zach Wood
Daniel 6:4
At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

I was just reading a short devotional on e-mail recently and this Scripture was used. The devotional spoke about how we need to become living vessels for God instead of just Sunday. It's so easy to put on our best smile, nice clothes, and friendly conversation when we come to meet with others for Sunday Service. However, when we leave the church walls and go out into the world for our daily routine throughout the week, are we STILL the same person who was in church and praising God on Sunday?

Do we remain faithful to God beyond the church walls? Or do we let Satan scare us from sharing our faith and being who God wants us to be? Can people at our workplaces or in our homes find fault in our consistent walk with Christ? Are able to withstand the ridicule and insults thrown our way when we are trying to live out God's will? These times are the most tempting sometimes to forget what Christ did for us.

However, Daniel withstood all the obstacles set before him. He prayed to God and sought to serve Him beyond the Sunday service mode. He went out through the week and remained faithful. The administrators and satraps could not find any fault or corruption in him. He remained trustworthy to God. He practices 7 days of faithfulness, not just one.

Are we faithful everyday of the week for God? Are we strong enough to live a consistent Christian lifestyle in faithfulness beyond the church walls after Sunday?

Daniel's faithfulness is astounding and a tremendous example we should look to and follow. Question is.....do we want to follow and remain faithful beyond the church walls? Don't let people find fault or corruption in your walk with Christ. We must live this life without any break time or days off.
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Unread 07-28-2003, 01:33 PM   #6
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A Lifetime Of Love Construction

"A Lifetime Of Love Construction"
By: Zach Wood
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the trust. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I remember one of my college professors discussing this Love chapter through a small group chapel devotional time one morning. I remember him going through all the statements about love and then asking us to go through and put our own name in place of "love" and seeing if we matched up to the characteristic well or not. He then made a statement explaining that if we can't see ourselves in those descriptions very well or at all, then we've got work to do.

Since then, every time I look at this Love chapter, I try to put my name in where "love" is to see how I'm personally doing with loving others. I'm sad to say that I have not come to a point I am comfortable with yet. I mean, yeah, I'm imperfect and ask God to give me strength to love others and share His love. But the problem is I create a barrier inside of my own heart so that I only give love when it's convenient and easy. What I mean by that is I love those who are usually easy to love. People who love back are very easy to love and share with. But those people who hurl insults and blow me off are difficult to love. Or some people who are just challenging to love because our personalities are so different and it just requires patience. They are not necessarily insulting me or blowing me off, but their personality is different from mine.

This past week, I attended a CIY (Christ In Youth) Conference in Bolivar, MO. The theme of the week was SNV-"to live". A Greek word which simple means to live. We went through Philippians and studied how we could live more productive lives for Christ, reaching people with His love. Well, Paul tells us in Scripture that if we do tons of works, but have not love, we are an annoying sound. Who wants to listen to an annoying sound all day long? I know I sure don't. Neither does anyone else.

As I recently read this Love chapter through, I found that I was not up to par on this love mission. I realize more even now that I will be working the rest of my life on loving people who seem unlovable. Those who blow me off and those whose personality differences I conflict with. Christ never told us loving would be easy. It sure wasn't for Him. However, He had a mission in mind that kept Him going. He didn't let obstacles stand in His way of loving others. Neither should we. Obstacles should motivate us to try even harder to love.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the Christian music group "Petra". They have a song called "Love" on their Beyond Belief album. This song is one of the best songs about love that I've ever heard. Every time I listen to this song, it startles my heart and challenges me to love without condition. If you get the chance to listen to it and/or read the lyrics, let them sink into your heart and bring a challenge to your life.

Friends, we all will be under "Love Construction" for the rest of our lives. God knows it's hard to love. Think how much He loves us even when we are neglectful of Him and turn away for things of this world. Love is hard many times to give when the receiver isn't grateful, accepting, or returning that love. But Christ calls us to love without condition. This world is in serious, desperate need of the love of Christ. It's about time we got motivated with unconditional love for those who we see hard and challenging to love.
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Unread 08-02-2003, 05:54 AM   #7
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you're right about that............i admit that also that i am not that perfect when it comes to such stuffs..................

nway...God will make a way for everything......don't worry!

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return."
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Unread 08-03-2003, 01:11 PM   #8
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Needless Passions & Desires

"Needless Passions & Desires"
By: Zach Wood
Galatians 5:24
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

You and I both have witnessed a lot of passions and desires in ourselves and other people that many times seem pointless. We wonder why someone struggles so hard to obtain a goal that really won't bring fulfillment. There are so many ways and forms of unhealthy fulfillment. I don't need to list them all, cause this devotion would go on in pages.

We seem to honestly be content with living for unhealthy fulfillment. Going through our lives each day striving for selfish desires that lead to nowhere. I can't count the number of times I've done my own thing and gone after pointless passions and desires that were not needed in my life to live a life for Christ.

If we belong to Christ, we must put away the sinful nature we were once accustomed to. This doesn't mean we are always going to live for Christ 100% without failing. It means that we strive more than any other desire to fulfill our duty as a Christian. Not chasing after needless passions and desires, but doing the work Christ called us to do. If we don't turn away from our unhealthy ways, we won't be fulfilling what Christ called us to do.

No one can make us choose what Christ desires for us. We must choose for ourselves. The question remains.....Do we want to live for our passions and desires that will only last for a temporary time or live for Christ and discover a fulfillment of passion and desire that will overflow our hearts with more joy than we could have ever dreamed? We belong to Christ, so let's get rid of the needless and pointless ways which take us nowhere.
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Unread 08-19-2003, 11:18 AM   #9
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Existing Or Growing?

"Existing Or Growing?"
By: Zach Wood
Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Do you ever feel like you're just another person in the crowd? Maybe another "number" waiting to be called into the doctor's office? Possibly you feel like you're just a person who punches their time card and leaves without being noticed for your work? Isn't it tough to be part of a huge crowd and feel like you're totally unnoticed? Sure it does. You want to do more than just "exist". You desire to be someone with importance making a difference. But sometimes it doesn't feel like you are. I know, I've been there. Even though you may not be noticed much by other people, God knows you are doing your job and putting your part and effort into making a difference.

Let's look at this in a different light now. Consider your existence in your life and walk with Christ. Do you sometimes feel you're just existing in this life and trying to survive without really doing anything big? Maybe you're content with just living from day to day asking God to help you survive. Or maybe you've not been encouraged to do anything other than exist in your daily walk. We all need encouragement to keep us going and fruitful in life.

Each one of us has a light inside. It's our decision whether we want to shut that light out, slam it into a dark room of our hearts or let it out so that others can see the light of Christ within us. I'll tell you that when I heard someone the other day mention the two words "exist or grow" in a sentence, it really caught my attention! I started thinking of how I live each day. Being in full-time vocational ministry work hasn't nothing to do with it. It's just the fact that I'm a Christian and commanded to live a life shining my light for Christ!

No matter where you are, what you're doing for a job or who you are with, it isn't enough to just live and exist trying to make it through another day. That puts us into a rut. Granted, there are times when we strive to get through a day or several days because of trials and pain. But, we can choose whether or not we want to grow in Christ or just remain mediocre. I don't know about you, but the thought of just "existing" when Christ has SO MUCH MORE for us to experience and grow through makes me want to live for Him more.

Christ did exist in this world, but He went on to do marvelous things in His lifetime and grew. He existed and He grew. We have the same choice. Do we merely want to just exist, or do we want to grow in our walk with Christ? You might be thinking, "Well, yeah Zach, of course we would want to grow in our relationship with Christ". Well then, why aren't we making more effort? Cause I look at myself and others and I see that many of us just live to exist and are so caught up in the matters of this world that we neglect our consistent growth in Christ.

I pray that each of us would feel a conviction this day, this week and everyday after to live and grow strong in our walk with Christ and not just exist.
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Unread 08-27-2003, 12:00 PM   #10
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True Belief In Our Prayers

"True Belief In Our Prayers"
By: Zach Wood
James 1:5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

When was the last time you prayed earnestly for a situation in your life truly believing God would work and move mountains? Last week, through some deep conversation and a sad personal prayer life reality check, I came to realize that many of my prayers in life are prayed without true belief. It's not that I don't trust God to do His works, but I pray without believing with 100% of my heart. It's almost as if I've just prayed for someone to witness to or for a situation I'm struggling through and I immediately send a message from my heart to God saying, "But it's never gonna happen." Where is the belief in that???

I share this personal struggle because I know many of you struggle with the same thing. We pray for someone or for something to happen, but many times we lack the actual belief and faith that God will do "something" and move mountains! I'm convicted right now in my personal life and ministry life that I need to believe more when I pray. Just like James says, if we pray but then doubt and don't believe, we are unstable. How can we expect to receive rich and abundant blessings from God when we don't even put our whole trust into our prayers up to Him? How can He work with that? I'm sure it breaks His heart.

Will we commit to putting 100% faith and belief in the prayers we pray for God to work and move? No matter what the situation is or the amount of risk involved, if God is challenging you and moving in your heart to take a step of faith toward something, it's going to be imperative that you believe and trust God all the way with your prayers. Don't go to Him and lack the faith and trust that He will move. He probably won't move and work in the way(s) you plan, but He will move so that you'll know He's working. And when He does, our faith and belief grow stronger and we become more stable in going to Him with petitions and requests with 100% confidence that He will do something.
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Unread 09-03-2003, 12:08 PM   #11
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Keep Things In Perspective

"Keep Things In Perspective"
By: Zach Wood
Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It's fun in life to be excited about certain events and things to come. God wants us to look forward to important celebrations and other things in our future. However, we are only human and we have the tendency to rush certain things which God wants us to wait for. We may not see the reasoning behind why we should wait. No matter what our desire or planned event is, we store up so much excitement that we feel we just cannot wait for the event or happening any longer. We become anxious and that leads to us losing focus on the other things happening in our lives that need attention. Whether it's a new job promotion, a summer trip you're going to take, a wedding that is being planned, or someone that is going to be coming to visit you. These are all wonderful events to look forward to, but we can lose focus and forget other vital happenings going on around us while we are being so anxious.

God wants us to present our desires and requests before Him so that He can be in control and lead us the way we should go. If our hearts are not in tune with God and his understanding, we'll just go and do what we feel like doing whenever. Sometimes God has a reason for us to wait and focus on other areas of life while an event is being awaited on or planned for.

We need to let the peace of God rule in our hearts so that we can keep the focus on daily life and happenings around us while still having our excitement for future events. God will bless us and give to us when we are patient and trusting in His timing. It's hard to do that and easy to be anxious, but then we lose our true focus and end up only focusing on one thing. Live life daily without being anxious about things, but being excited about all things God is doing.

This week's devotional is an encouragement to you to just keep things in perspective. Allow God to guard your hearts and minds so that the proper focus and attention will remain for other areas of your life, not just one thing in the future. Give God your requests, thoughts and desires and He will give you the peace you need to keep concentration and understanding of the work you do daily.
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Unread 09-06-2003, 07:56 PM   #12
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Hey Zach!!!!!!!!

Two things:

First, this devo came at the perfect time for both me and my wife. Thanks so much!!!!

Second, I don't know if you get to hear this alot, but I will probably never be able to begin to explain how much of an impact your service to the Lord, through these devos, has made on my life. Thank you for being God's messenger.

Keep writin, keep rockin

"It would still be OK if I got trapped inside a pineapple mountain because I could just eat my way out"

Every idiot knows that you can't find a giant squid in the middle of the Arctic Ocean

Surging somewhere to send sound sentances so society shall select such a seductive savior

Bryan Faltynski
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Unread 09-09-2003, 06:26 PM   #13
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Bad Credit, Good Credit

"Bad Credit, Good Credit"
By: Zach Wood
Psalm 8:1a
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

The last thing any of us would want is to have a loan application or some other form of application denied to us because of bad credit. Bad credit looks bad on us because of decisions we've financially made perhaps. If this has possibly happened to any of you, you know it's not fun. The credit scale dives way out of your favor and it gets difficult to apply for future loans.

So, none of us wish to have "bad credit" in our name. We want to have good standing, right? Well, consider how God feels when we desire to take credit for things only He has done through us. Since I'm a full-time worship minister/leader, I deal with this problem more than I realize. Mostly because I've never been in a full-time worship leading position before. I'm learning many new things and the fact that I do like to have the spotlight sometimes. It's not that I'm trying to have a big head/ego. I might be focused too much on how good people think I'm singing, how great I play my guitar, how awesome my prayers and transitions are between songs. Let me note here that all these things are good to be excellent with, but am I sometimes drawing attention to myself rather than bringing people past me and to the Throne of God?

Am I taking credit for the things God is doing through me or am I stepping back and letting Him have the credit? My attitude and motives of the heart say it all. I need to be a "little" worship leader so that God can be the "BIG" leader. He has given me musical gifts for me to use to help people come to His Throne. How could I possibly desire to take the credit and make myself the center of attention? Let me tell you, when that happens, things don't work out well in some way or another.

My point is that we are taking credit for things only God should praised for. We seem to take "your name" in this passage and replace it with "my name". You may have just gasped at the fact I would mention something like this. But do you realize that we do this a lot in our lives with Christ? God does awesome things for us and gives us so much, and then we end up taking the credit away from Him or not even bothering to thank Him for what He's done.

I was reading an article on this and saw that it mentioned our worst enemy is.....self. We become self-aware, self-focused, self-conscious, self-made, self-protecting, self-promoting, self-centered, and selfish. I don't know about you, but I see too many "selfs" there. And I think God sees too many, also. God doesn't see anything wrong with feeling good about something we've done for Him. It's just how we respond to what He does through us and if we turn to Him and give Him credit and thanks for the opportunity to serve for Him.

Please understand this doesn't just apply to worship leading, but to all of us as Christians. Are we taking the credit for ourselves and making it bad credit, or are we giving the thanks to God for His work in us and giving Him good credit?
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Unread 09-10-2003, 06:01 AM   #14
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Yes. Yes. Yes.

I thank God who gave Zach this insight. I need reminders like this continually. I wish this devo could be some kind of required reading for those entering into any kind of ministry.
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Unread 09-16-2003, 11:57 AM   #15
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From Here To There

"From Here To There"
By: Zach Wood
Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where is no water.

How many of you find yourself wishing you could be so much more farther and deeper in your relationship with God? Probably most of us would agree here. The more we learn about Christ, the more we realize how much more we need to do to be more like Him. It seems, just like a long traveled trip with the family, that there is so much distance from here to there. And you might often wonder how you can even get the motivation to increase your hunger for the Lord and desire to walk closer to Him.

I was sharing this whole chapter and verse with my fiancée the other day and the Scripture took on a whole new meaning for me. I was sharing so much of what God was telling me and teaching me about my hunger for Him and how it needs to grow. I want to earnestly seek Him. I want my soul to thirst like never before for Him. And I want my body to long nothing but to be right with Him every moment of each day. Okay, so I want, but how do I get there? It's such a long distance and I know I can just make this huge leap in one day. It's a step I must make each day. I must earnestly seek Him, thirst for Him and long for Him more each day in whatever ways I can. Through praying, reading His Word, sharing with others, and allowing His Word to become alive through my actions toward others.

My encouragement to you this week is to consider your passion and hunger for God and examine it. Are you hungry or too consumed by daily life to really even care about your growth? "Well, of course I want to grow! Why would I ever consider not wanting to grow?" you might be thinking. It's not a question of whether we want to, it's about whether we will make the effort willingly, passionately and excitedly to take the steps needed to increase our growth in Him.

If you want to get from "here" to "there" in your relationship with God, start your day earnestly seeking Him, thirsting for Him and longing for Him more than anything else in your life. Seek Him, thirst for Him and long for Him above all other desires in your daily life. If these actions are not present in your daily life, then your walk with Christ will become stale. Spend time totally alone and away from ALL distractions and start really seeking Him. Each day will be different. Some days, you might not feel as saturated or filled as other days, but keep remaining faithful and give that time to God each day. We need it and God wants to speak to us and help us get closer to Him.

From "here" to "there" is a daily journey. Enjoy it and get lost in worshipping God.
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