November 4, 2014
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
This verse is not teaching the random chaos of life. This verse instead parallels a truth emphasized in the Bible and expressed by the word ‘grace.’ The truly significant events in the life of a believer are the result of grace and not the results of self effort. The charisma of God upon the work of your hands will make the difference between your life having eternal significance and your life’s work amounting to wood, hay and stubble in the eternal state (I Corinthians 3:12-15; Psalm 90:17).
The writings of the Apostle Paul are filled with an emphasis upon the concept of grace. The word grace means ‘unmerited favor.’
The blessing of God upon His people is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. The grace of God and the love of God are unconditional. When you understand the meaning of the word grace which is found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it follows that the race is not to the swift or strong or wise or skilled…
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook, p.428
October 31, 2014
“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:10)
The devotional and practical application of this Scripture shows us that these thoughts are directed to people who have labored long and hard in the ministry without much visible affirmation, encouragement or reward. These words are instructing them to think about the One for Whom they were doing this ministry to God’s people.
Abraham heard three words from God which are recorded in Genesis 17:1. “Walk before Me.” These three words remind us that we need to know Who we’re doing it for and we need to know how He feels about everything we do in the way of ministry to His people. When there is not much fruit and very few encouraging accolades, it can be a great consolation for faithful servants of the Lord to be reminded of the glorious reality that God has seen and He will never forget our faithful labors.
The story is told of two elderly missionaries who returned to New York after nearly half a century serving in Africa. They had lost their wives in Africa and were very, very lonely in that large city. Sharing their discouragement when they met at the YMCA where they were staying, one of them said to the other, “We are not home yet, George.”
Sometimes the recognition and the reward for faithful service may only come when these words are heard: “Well done good and faithful servant.”
If you are a faithful servant without much affirmation or encouragement let these words console you today.
Dick Woodward, 04 June 2010
October 28, 2014
At Dick’s Memorial Celebration his grand-daughter shared a moving tribute. Be blessed and challenged today by Morgan’s words & ‘inbox discipleship.’
“Granddaddy was, and still is, my hero. He was so compassionate… He was always there for me – loving me so well, exactly where I was, providing endless affirmation. When I was 18 and wrestling with my faith, Granddad was there to disciple me. I may have gone to a ‘missionary school,’ but the true discipleship in my life took place in my e-mail inbox. I would ask the most difficult theological questions you can imagine and he would take the time to answer them in full. One of my favorite responses he gave is this:
Precious Granddaughter, do not judge too quickly about the context in which you find yourself. It is easier to move to a consistent and problem-free extreme than to remain at the center of tension on any biblical issue; but the truth is found at the center. One of the greatest things you will learn in this adventure out there is that God can use you. That truth is on a need to know basis. When we place ourselves between the love of Christ and the pain of hurting people, we discover that He loves to turn us into conduits of His love (I John 4:16.) When that happens we find out where He is and where we want to be for the rest of our lives. You know my four spiritual secrets. We learn them best when we are in over our heads and He is using us to do what only He can do. The miracle is that He does work through us. Looking back, standing on the finish line, I see clearly that His plan for me was perfect and wonderful! What He gave me or did not give me shaped me into the person, the unique person He wanted me to be for His glory, not my own. He is doing the same thing in your life, precious granddaughter.
“…And the Lord is doing that for us all. Let us all pick up the baton today and follow Granddad’s legacy as we lean in to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ – that we may all be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Morgan Perry (15 March 2008)