A Christmas Challenge (all year long!)

December 19, 2014

“So the Word became human and made his home among us…And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”  (John 1:14 NLT)

God became human and made His home among us so we could see and not just read what He wrote in the 39 books of the Old Testament.  We should find a Christmas challenge in the words of the Apostle Paul which tell us “… that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2Corinthians 4:11).

One of the reasons God did Christmas was because He felt that a written Word was not enough.  He wanted us to see as well as read His Word to us.  Everything Jesus was, said, and did was one great spoken Word from God to you and me (John 1: 1, 14, 18).

It is the plan of God that unbelievers in this world today should see as well as read His Word through your mortal flesh and mine.  That truth, which is clearly articulated by the Apostle Paul, moved me to make an important decision in my ministry as a Bible pastor/teacher.  In the early sixties I was praying about accepting an opportunity presented to me to be a radio Bible teacher.  Those words of Paul were used by God to direct me to be the pastor of a church where people could see as well as hear the Word of God in my mortal flesh.

“We’re writing a Gospel a chapter each day by things that we do and things that we say.  Men read what we write whether faithless or true.  Say, what is the Gospel according to you?”

That should be our Christmas challenge all year long.

Dick Woodward, 16 December 2011


Sharing Hope @ Christmas

December 16, 2014

“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  (I Corinthians 13:13)

Do you know, or do you remember what it is like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope? 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.  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 will intersect our lives.  That is what the author of the Book of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1).

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have Good News that can give hope to the hopeless, and we must not let unbelief silence us.  If we never share the Good News of the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be, we should ask ourselves if we really believe the essence of the Gospel of Christmas.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share that Good News with the people Jesus told us He came to seek and to save (Luke 19:10).  We show that we really do 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, and then worship Him and give the gift of our lives to Him.  Then, like those shepherds, we should tell everybody the Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world.

Dick Woodward, from A Christmas Prescription

 


Comfort for Heavy Hearts @ the Holidays

December 12, 2014

“…whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26)

Has the joyful happy holiday season found you with a heavy heart because you have lost a loved one?  I have suggested that if you want to find the happiness and comfort Jesus promised in His second beatitude to those who mourn, you should ask the right questions and listen to God’s answers to the right questions.  My third suggestion was implied by Jesus as He gave an excellent right answer to Martha when he asked her, “Do you believe this?”

My third suggestion is that you believe God’s answers to the right questions.  When we ask, listen, and believe, the death of someone we love is like an investment in the world to come.  We have simply bought shares in heaven and we have increased our motivation to be there in the eternal dimension with Christ and with them.

A devout surgeon I know says that the word we use most in this life is “Why?” However, the word we are going to use most in the next world is going to be “Oh!” An old hymn I don’t hear much anymore proclaims: “Friends will be there I have known long ago.  Joy like a river around me will flow.  Yet just a smile from my Savior I know,  that will be glory be glory for me!”

The whole Bible is filled with God’s answers to the right questions.  When we believe those answers we will discover that the happy state Jesus promised those who mourn in one word is salvation.  Salvation and the comfort He promised can begin right now and last forever if you will ask, listen, and believe!  Will you do that now?

Dick Woodward, 17 December 2010


Glorious Music

December 9, 2014

After last week’s post regarding how music expresses the inexpressible, today we are taking a time-out from the written word to enjoy words put to glorious music.  My father loved music! With speakers wired all over our home in Va. Beach, he roused us to the table every morning @ 6:15a.m. blasting the theme from “Rocky” by the Boston Pops. He & Mama so loved to sing hymns.  They would memorize all the verses & go over the words together, checking them in a file he used on his voice-activated computer, before singing them together with gusto.

Papa especially loved this time of year filled with carols. The Williamsburg Community Chapel piped in the amazing Christmas concert every year by video-feed for my parents to watch. He kept a picture of the WCC Choir singing Fairest Lord Jesus in pride of place in our living room.  (It was a no-brainer including that one during his Memorial Celebration.)

We also recorded many Christmas concerts during the holiday season.  The other night we watched his annual favorite, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and heard them sing the glorious “From Heaven on High” by Felix Mendelssohn (from his “Weihnachtslied.)  Be blessed to listen!


Expressing the Inexpressible

December 5, 2014

“And they sang a new song…” (Revelation 5:9)

 Have you ever wondered why God gave us the miracle of music?  We find a clue in the Old Testament book of Chronicles where David divided the Levite priests into courses of four thousand: “four thousand praised the Lord with musical instruments, ‘which I made,’ said David, ‘for giving praise’.” (1Chronicles 23:5)

There are times when we have a need to express the inexpressible.  When we are infatuated with love we often give each other nicknames.  I had an old girlfriend in California I forgot to tell my wife about when I married her in Virginia.  I called that girl “Punky” and she called me “Hunky.” We had written letters to each other using those nicknames.  One evening during the third month of our marriage when I came in from work my wife called me “Hunky darling!” How I wished I had burned those letters. We invent nicknames because we are trying to express the inexpressible.*

The greatest need we ever have to express the inexpressible is when we enter into the divine presence of Almighty God.  In the last book of the Bible, we read that when a door opens into heaven we find every creature in heaven worshiping a Lamb on the throne of heaven.  For that occasion they are given a new song because the need to express the inexpressible will be so very great. I can’t wait to hear what that new song will sound like!

For believers the purpose of music has been, will be, and is now to express inexpressible praise to God.  Whether it is in a congregation with a choir, or a worship group leading a large congregation, or in your private prayer closet let music express the inexpressible for you.

 Dick Woodward, 17 July 2011

*Editors Note:  After 56 yrs of marriage (& counting), Dick still calls Ginny his “Angel Face” and she calls him her “Angel Pie.”    (written on 17 July 2011)  An addendum today, Papa & Mama kept calling each other Angel Face & Angel Pie until he went to glory… : )


Ability and Availability

December 2, 2014

“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9)

There is a myth many of God’s people believe today.  It goes something like this,”God uses super-duper people to do super-duper things because they are super-duper people.”  The truth is the exact opposite.  Throughout Scriptures we are told that God loves to use very ordinary people to do extraordinary things because they are available.

As a pastor I have often observed that people who are long on ability are very often short on availability, while people who are short on ability are very often long on availability. The exhortation in Scripture comes down to this: whether we are long or short on ability, the important thing is to be long on availability.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, we find the great miracle of Jesus called ‘the Feeding of the Five Thousand.’  Jesus actually fed 5,000 men and their families, which means that He probably fed at least 20,000 people.

An important part of this miracle has to do with where Jesus got the bread and fish that He blessed and multiplied.  Simon Peter’s brother, Andrew, discovered the little boy who was willing to give up his lunch that was probably five little biscuits and two sardines.  “What are they among so many?” It’s a profound question.  The answer is, “in the hands of Jesus they are enough to feed 20,000 hungry people.”

The application is that little is much when God is in it, and little is much when placed in the hands of Jesus. In the early 1980’s God laid it on my heart to put together the Mini-Bible College.  Once in place, He spoke to me through the availability of the little boy’s lunch, so I placed the MBC in His hands…

May I challenge you with the missionary vision of Jesus Christ, and the missionary vision of a little boy who placed what little he had in the hands of Jesus?  Many of us say we would give to the cause of Christ or serve Him if we had much to give or great abilities to serve.  We must see, however, that our stewardship is not based upon what we do not have, but upon what we have.

God is looking for people who can take whatever they have and place it in the hands of Jesus.  The greatest ability is therefore availability.

Dick Woodward, MBC Report (Fall, 1993)

Editor’s Note: By the grace of God, the MBC has been translated in over 31 languages with 10 more in process. As the ministry of ICM has built thousands of churches, thousands upon thousands of people in most every corner of the globe have come into deeper faith through the MBC.  To God be the glory, great things He has done (& is doing!)


Gravy-on-the-Table Faith

November 29, 2014

“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)

As we ponder the definition of faith we often hear it said that believing is seeing.  “When I see it, then I’ll believe it” is the way some put it.  In Psalm 27 David clearly writes that if we believe first, then our believing leads us to the seeing of what we believe.

Biblical faith always has an unseen object.  According to other Scriptures there will always be evidence that the unseen object of our faith exists, but when our faith is biblical faith the object of that faith will be unseen (Hebrews 11:6).  Seeing does not lead to believing because we already have the object of our faith when we see, but believing does lead to seeing according to David and other authors of the Bible.

A rural pastor told his people that when they invited him home for dinner after church he was always hoping they would have southern fried chicken.  If he had no reason to believe that would be the menu he could only hope there would be chicken for dinner.  But when he came into their home if he smelled chicken and then saw from the living room chicken gravy sitting out on the dining room table, those things were the evidence of the object he could not see.  He could now believe with certainty there was chicken in the kitchen and that he would have it for dinner.

David tells us that after the believing that leads to seeing, all we have to do is wait on the Lord until we see the object of our faith.  Are you believing God for something you cannot yet see?

Dick Woodward, 02 March 2013


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