Whatever It Takes!

February 5, 2016

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV)

One of our American football teams has a slogan posted in conspicuous places all around their training center.  It is simply these three words: “Whatever It Takes!”  The meaning: every member of the team pledges, “I will do whatever it takes to win!”

In the verses quoted above Paul is referring to the way Olympic athletes from his time trained and disciplined their bodies.  They sacrificed whatever it took in discipline and preparation with one goal in mind: to win.

While they did this to win a prize that does not last, we should train and discipline ourselves that we may win a prize that is eternal.  As we run the race of our ministry we should have a strategy and a race plan.  When we fight the good fight of faith we should have a fight plan.  While we observe the way the athletes train and do whatever it takes to win, we should do whatever it takes to win the real race and fight the real fight for eternity.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to win the race and the fight today?

Dick Woodward, 09 September 2012


God Loves You!!

January 29, 2016

“…and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”   (John 17:23)

I learned from studying psychology that we are all a great network of needs.  From the Bible I learned that God is love. His Son, Jesus, was ‘God with skin on.’  Love was the most mesmerizing dynamic of His life on this earth.  The people who met Jesus were loved as they had never been loved before.

We are also designed to be ‘God with skin on.’  The Holy Spirit can be described as Love Incarnate: the love of God with skin on, yours and mine. Love is the primary fruit of the Spirit and evidence of the Spirit’s residence in us.  When people are filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit, they are always conduits of the love of Christ.

We should all ask God to make us conduits of His love. We should also ask to experience the love of God. In two places Jesus tells us to ask, seek and knock continuously with perseverance.  (Luke 11:9-13; Matthew 7:7-11)  Jesus described knowing God at a deeper level when He gave us this teaching.  When that happens we will not only be conduits of God’s love, we will know that God loves us by experiencing His love in our hearts.

Do you know and believe that God loves you?  Many people don’t feel worthy of being loved by anybody – not even God.  When someone says, “I love you,” a negative tape begins to play that says, “No, you don’t.  If you really knew me you wouldn’t!”

The two beautiful Gospel words mercy and grace declare that God does not love us if and when we are worthy, because He loves us even while we are sinners.  (Romans 5:6-10)

Jesus prayed that those who make up the Church would live in such a way that this world of hurting people will know and believe God loves them as much as He loves His only begotten Son.  If you do not know that God loves you, then we who are part of the Church have failed you. God does love you!

…Because by the grace and mercy of God, I know that He loves me.

Dick Woodward, from Happiness That Doesn’t Make Good Sense


A Go-To Prayer for Stormy Weather

January 22, 2016

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)

The Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who ever walked on water.  Yet millions only remember that he took his eyes off the Lord and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read that Peter’s magnificent faith was flawed.  He saw the wind.  Since we cannot see wind this actually means that when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and became afraid.  The remarkable thing here is that when he kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on water!

It was not until he was beginning to sink that Peter cried out this prayer: “Lord, save me!”  Two thousand years later, this remains a go-to prayer for us through the many storms of life.  Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and we should never think we will generate grace with God by our many words.  If Peter had prayed a longer prayer, additional words would have been glub, glub glub (as he sunk under water!)  When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname, “Little Faith.” (I believe our Lord was smiling when He did.) He literally asked Peter: “Why did you think twice?”

While very ill the past two weeks many people have been recruited to pray for me.  Yesterday it occurred to me that I had not prayed for myself.  I then fervently pleaded this prayer that the Lord always answers:  Lord, save me!

In your spiritual walk, don’t think twice and don’t be a “Little Faith.”  Instead, learn to plead this prayer…and soon you will find your way through the stormy waves of life walking on water.

Dick Woodward, 28 January 2014


Ministering Comfort

January 15, 2016

“…  who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2Corinthians 1:4)

They say an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”  Paul is telling us in this Scripture passage that a minister of comfort is “one hurting heart telling another hurting heart where the Comfort is.” According to Paul, every time you enter into a deeper level of suffering God gives you a diploma you can frame and hang on your wall of credentials.

Captured during the Vietnam War, Jeremiah Denton spent 7 years of solitary confinement in Hanoi.  Alone in that cell he made an amazing discovery: God was there and God Himself comforted him.  Have you entered into a level of suffering that was deep enough for you to make that same discovery?  If you have, then you are a qualified minister of comfort and you can tell other hurting hearts where the Comfort is.

As a pastor for just under six decades I have made a discovery.  The best one to comfort a parent who has lost a child is a parent who has lost a child; and the best one to comfort the person who has lost a spouse is someone who has lost a spouse – when those who have suffered these losses have been comforted by God Himself.  The same is true for women who have had mastectomies, those who are going through divorce, battling cancer and every other shade and grade of suffering.

When God Himself has comforted you in your deepest levels of suffering are you willing to reach outside yourself and become a qualified minister of comfort?

Dick Woodward, 17 June 2010


Grace and Mercy

January 8, 2016

“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
(Psalm 23:6)

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are mercy and grace. The mercy of God, which is the unconditional love of God, withholds from us what we deserve, while the grace of God lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we do not deserve, accomplish, or achieve by our own efforts.

As we thank God for our blessings, at the top of the list we should thank Him for the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows. The good news of the Gospel is that when He suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved was laid upon Christ that we might have peace with God (Isaiah 53: 5, 6; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

If you want to grasp the meaning of these two words observe when and why they turn up in the Bible. Try to understand what we deserved and why. That will grow your appreciation of the mercy of God. Then investigate all that is bestowed upon us by the grace of God. As you find these two beautiful words throughout in the Bible, you will understand why I challenge you to pray with thanksgiving for: “The mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009


New Year’s Eve Question

December 31, 2015

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)

The last days of the year are a good time for reflection and resolution.  Have you ever had a year that was so bad you could not live with the idea of another year of the same?  Are you there now? If you are, you could be ready to hear the question quoted above that God likes to ask people from time to time.

This is the consummate question of direction.  It implies that if we do not have a crisis that changes things, we are going where we have come from.

Sometimes we are the thing that needs to change. Jeremiah actually mocks us for trying to change ourselves: “Why do you gad about so much to change your ways? …  Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots?  Then may you also do good, who are accustomed to doing evil.” (Jeremiah 2:36; 13:23)

There is a big difference between trying to change ourselves and being changed by God.  Unless we are changed by God, or God changes what only He can change, we’re trapped in a cycle of going where we have come from.

With great spiritual discernment David asked God to create in him a new heart and God answered that prayer for him (Psalm 51:10).  God can do that today.  We’re not doomed to that cycle of going where we have come from.  We can be changed and God can change the things that must change so we will not go where we have come from next year.

Confess that you can’t change yourself or your circumstances, but believe God can as you enter the New Year… then watch at God work.

Dick Woodward, 30 December 2011


The Christmas That Shall Be (Part II)

December 23, 2015

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)

The Old Testament people of God lived their lives believing it was possible to ‘see the Good.’  In Psalm 34 King David challenges hopeless fugitives to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good,’ and the Lord is the Good they have been seeking all their lives.

In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us the three lasting, eternal values in life are faith, hope, and love (I Cor. 13:13).  Love is the greatest of these eternal values because God is Love.  Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God.  Hope is also one of the three great eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God.  In the heart of every human being, God plants hope – the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good is going to intersect our lives.  That is what the author of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1)

Every year, approximately 30,000 people commit suicide.  Research by sociologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists tells us they commit suicide because they lose hope.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have the Good News that can give hope to the hopeless.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share it with the people Jesus came to seek and to save.  (Luke 19:10).  We show that we really believe in the Christmas that shall be when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men we should ask the question, “Where is He?,” seek Him until we find Him, worship Him, and give the gift of our lives to Him.  Then, like the shepherds, we should tell everybody the very Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world!

Dick Woodward, A Christmas Prescription


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 668 other followers