Lord, Save Me!

September 19, 2014

“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 of us only remember that he took his eyes off the Lord and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read that his magnificent faith was flawed.  He saw the wind.  Since we cannot see wind this actually means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and he was 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 he prayed the prayer that is a model for us all.  Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and we should never think we will generate grace with God by our ‘much speaking.’  If Peter had prayed a longer prayer, the words beyond the third would have been glub, glub glub! When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname “Little faith” and I believe our Lord was smiling when He did. He literally asked Peter “Why did you think twice?”

Rick Warren took his entire congregation of twenty thousand people through the eight steps of what is called “Celebrate Recovery.”  When asked why, he responded: “Because we are all in recovery.  What do you think the word ‘salvation’ means?” When we truly understand the meaning of “salvation” we will frequently pray this model prayer.

Pray this three word prayer of Peter often and don’t think twice:   Lord, save me!

Dick Woodward, 25 March 2012


Improve Your Serve!!

September 16, 2014

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…”  Matthew 20: 25-26

The incident recorded in Matthew 20 (verses 20-28), precipitated by Mrs. Zebedee and her two sons, James and John, sets the stage for one the great teachings of Jesus Christ.  We can assume these two ‘sons of thunder’ (the nickname the Lord game them), who were partners with Simon Peter in the ‘Zebedee Seafood Corporation,’ were obviously the instigators of their mother’s request that they be seated on the right and the left of their Lord when He was crowned King.  When the other apostles griped about this, Jesus called them together.  In so many words, He told them the world plays the game of “Over-Under!” This is a world of credentials and status symbols that often say, “I am better than you,” or “I am over and above you.”

Acknowledging that the secular world is like that, Jesus tells them not to play the world’s little games.  To paraphrase, Jesus says, “this is not to happen among you. If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, you should join the ‘Order of the Towel’ – get a towel and basin, assume the position of a slave, and start washing feet.”   He uses Himself as an example when He says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28)  Think of how He spent His last hours before He went to the cross, literally washing the feet of His disciples. There is no place in the church and body of Christ for the “Over-Under” philosophy of this world.

If you want to be great in the fellowship of Christ, you must improve your serve!

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook, p.86


Enduring Grace

September 12, 2014

“…we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand..” (Romans 5:2)

Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, to a quality of grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world, and live lives that glorify God. Then he writes that we should rejoice in our suffering, because God sometimes uses our suffering to force us to access that grace.

How must God feel when He sees us struggling in our own strength to live as we should, knowing He has provided us with a way to access all the grace we need? We are to rejoice when God uses suffering to make us an offer we cannot refuse that drives us into His grace.

There are levels and degrees of suffering we simply cannot endure without the grace of God. When our suffering drives us beyond the limits of any human resources we have within ourselves, these times of severe testing become God’s opportunity to provide and prove His grace to us.  A devout hymn writer expressed that truth this way:

“When we come to the end of our store of endurance.
When our strength has failed and the day is half done.
When we have exhausted our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving has only begun.

“His love has no limit. His grace has no measure.
His power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite wisdom and mercy
He gives and He gives and He gives yet again.”

According to Paul, it is the love of God that sometimes uses our suffering to force us to access the grace he prescribed in Romans 5:2 and in the great verse about grace in 2 Corinthians 9:8.

Are you willing to let the problems you cannot solve and suffering you cannot endure drive you to access the amazing grace of God today?

Dick Woodward, 23 October 2009

Editor’s Note:  If you would like to learn more about the hymn, “He Giveth More Grace,” by Annie Johnson Flint, click here to read her inspiring story.


One Day at a Time

September 9, 2014

Give us this day our daily bread…”  (Matthew 6:11)

The Lord is using the symbol of bread here to represent all our needs.  We are a veritable ‘Internet” of needs.  Our needs are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  This first personal petition should not be limited to our need for food but for all the needs we have as creatures of God.

Observe that the concept ‘one day at a time’ is repeated twice in this petition of just seven words.  Alcoholics and drug addicts with years of sobriety tell me that when they took their first step, they could not even entertain the thought of being sober for more than one day.  This prayer of Jesus prescribes that we pray ‘this day’ and ‘daily’ when we present our creature needs to our Heavenly Father. This principle of one day at t time is a proven therapy that has made the difference between life and death for some of my closest friends who are celebrating many years of sobriety.  Observe how Jesus concludes His great teaching about values with the same emphasis later in Matthew 6:  “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow.  God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”  (Matthew 6:34, Living Bible)

We read in the book of Numbers that when God miraculously provided bread from Heaven (manna) in the wilderness, the Israelites were only permitted to collect enough manna for one day. That story, recorded in Numbers 11, is also applicable to the one-day-at-a-time principle Jesus prescribes in the prayer He taught.

When we apply the story of that great miracle to our daily devotions, we should make the application that we cannot hoard our experience of a word from God, or the blessings of a time in the presence of God.  We must have our souls and spirits nourished with heavenly manna every day, one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


Legacies & Lasting Investments

September 5, 2014

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.” (John 15:16 NIV)

Jesus had been with the apostles for three years when He spoke these words.  It’s like these men had been in a three-year seminary with Jesus with no days off  – no weekends, holidays or summers, just being with Jesus 24/7.  He was now about to be arrested and suffer all the things Mel Gibson so graphically portrayed in his film about the Passion of Jesus Christ.

These words must have fallen like a bombshell on these men.  They had all made choices.  But Jesus now informed them that He had made the choices.  He had chosen them.  He chose them for a purpose.  That purpose was that they were to be fruitful.  They were to bring forth fruit that lasts.

That is the definition of what we call a legacy or legacy giving.  A legacy is fruit that lasts long after we have gone home to be with God for all eternity.

By application, we do not choose Jesus and take Him into our plans.  He chooses us that He might take us into His plans.  It is not all about us – it’s all about JESUS.  He adds commentary that when we understand this, God will start answering our prayers.

Mother Teresa told us that the only safe, sure, wise, and lasting investment is what we give to God.  Have you produced fruit for Christ that will last beyond your lifetime?  Wouldn’t you like to invest now to leave a legacy of lasting eternal values?

Dick Woodward, 20 January 2012


Examining our Hearts

September 2, 2014

Search me, Oh God, and know my heart.  Try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24)

David showed great spiritual wisdom when he prayed this prayer.  He asked God to take the lid off his mind and show him the thoughts that should not be there.  He then asked God to take the lid off his heart because he wanted to see the motives that should not be in his heart.  He prayed this prayer of self-examination because he wanted to walk in the everlasting way.  Another way of saying the same thing is that David wanted God to purify his thoughts and  motives because he wanted to be the man God created and re-created him to be…

Paul closes his second letter to the Corinthians with a verse that has a cluster of challenges regarding how they are to think of themselves. If you compare several translations of this verse (2 Corinthians 13:5), you will realize that these challenges can be summarized and paraphrased into just three:  “EXAMINE yourself, whether you are in the faith; PROVE yourself that you are an authentic disciple of Christ.  And KNOW yourself, how that Jesus Christ is in you.” …

Paul wrote to the Colossians that God called him to share a spiritual secret with the Church: Christ in our hearts is our only hope of bringing glory to God.  (Colossians 1:24-29)  In this great passage he writes that sharing this secret is his life’s work and is worthy of all his life’s energies.   “Christ in you the hope of glory.”  He exhorts us to know by experience that Christ is in us and we are in Christ.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Your Self


A Prayer for God’s Peace

August 30, 2014

Heavenly Father, You tell us in Your Word that You can keep us in a state of perfect personal peace if we meet Your conditions for that state of peace. Because I seek this peace in my life, give me the wisdom to worry about nothing, and the faith to pray about everything. May I receive from You the mental discipline to think about all the good things and the moral integrity to do all the right things.

May I always have that incurable optimism that believes in goodness, and give me such an insight into what You have been doing and what You are now doing in my life and in my world that I will give thanks always and in all things. May I never try to push You or run before You, but always wait on You, experiencing and expressing the gentleness and patience that are the evidence of Your Spirit living in me.

As I sort out my priorities, may I always value Your approval of who and what I am and what I do, and not walk before men to be seen of men or to please men. Never let me forget how near You are to me as I draw near to You, worshiping and enjoying You each day and forever.

And finally, Father, realizing that it is not who I am, but who You are that is important; acknowledging that it is not what I can do, but what You can do that really matters; agreeing that it should never be what I want, but always what You want; and remembering that in the final analysis it will not be what I did, but what You did that will have lasting eternal results, give me that absolute trust in You and total dependence on You that will truly rest my heart and my mind in Christ.

Enable me to meet these conditions for personal peace in the name of Jesus Christ, for my peace and for Your glory. Amen.

Dick Woodward, 03 July 2009


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