A Prescription: Blessing God’s Name

September 29, 2015

“Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100: 4, 5)

In the ancient Hebrew culture names had great significance.  When parents named their child, the name they chose often expressed their desire for the life of their child.  Sometimes the name was given to a child because certain events occurred surrounding the birth of the child.  The significance of names is especially important when we consider the names of God in the Bible – they tell us much about God.

In Psalm 100 we are instructed to praise the name of God.  We are to praise God because He is good.  Rick Warren told us life is like railroad tracks.  The left rail represents this reality: there is always something negative in our life because God is more interested in our character than He is in our comfort.  The right rail represents this reality: there is always something good in our life because God is good and He loves us.

In this very short psalm we are instructed to bless the name of God by focusing His goodness, His everlasting mercy, and His enduring truth.  Mercy is His unconditional love and forgiveness.  That word is found 366 times in the Bible because God knew we would need it every day and He even included leap year.

If we read the Bible looking for truth we will discover truth that endures to all generations.  In the last verse of his shepherd psalm David informed us that the mercy of God pursued him like a hound of heaven.  Will you fill and take this prescription for blessing the name of God?

Dick Woodward, 14 March 2012

Spiritual Wars

September 15, 2015

“Now the works of the flesh are…but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control.” (Galatians 5: 19, 22, 23)

One of the most important New Testament passages of Scripture is found in Galatians chapter five where Paul identifies a war that is taking place in the life of every authentic disciple of Jesus Christ: the war between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh is “human nature unaided by God.”  According to Paul our human nature unaided by God is a monster and it produces what Paul labels “the works of the flesh.”

In contrast to a list of qualities that are like an immoral “train wreck” in slow motion, Paul gives us nine qualities that are the fruit and evidence of the reality that the Holy Spirit of God lives in us.

When we look in, Paul writes that we will find that we have a quality of love coming out of our life.  We will also find a quality of joy and a peace we’ve never experienced before.

For a cross section of this love we should consult verses 4-7 of First Corinthians 13.  We find it is a love that doesn’t make good sense because it is completely others-centered.  Our joy is a happiness that doesn’t make good sense and the same could be said of our peace because all three are not related to our circumstances.

There is something to believe and Someone to receive.  It is only when we receive God’s Holy Spirit that we can win the war between the flesh and the Spirit.

Dick Woodward, 19 November 2010

Working the Works of God

September 4, 2015

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. The night is coming when no man can work.” (John 9:4)

The Gospel of John gives us another window into the way Jesus felt about the works God wanted Him to do. According to this vision statement of Jesus He knew the reality that He had less than three years to do those works.

In 1956 the famous missionary Jim Elliot was speared to death, along with his four colleagues, by the tribal people they were trying to reach with the Gospel. Jim was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. About four years before he died, he wrote in his journal, “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

We can’t understand how God decides the day of our death. We don’t know when our own finish line will come. But we should all live in such a way that when we come to the finish line of our lives there will be no unfinished business, no works our Father assigned to us that we’ve left undone.

Do you have the magnificent obsession of Jesus to work the works God has assigned to you while it is day not knowing when the night is coming and you cannot work anymore? Can you accept the challenge of being like Jesus in your attitude toward the works God wants you to do?

Dick Woodward, 18 August 2009

Distress-driven Balm from the Psalms

August 28, 2015

“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”  (Psalm 4:1 KJV)

One of my favorite Scripture verses is the first verse of Psalm 4 in the old King James translation. David is in a wringer and he is talking to God about it. Almost parenthetically he drops this thought, “You have enlarged me when I was in distress.”  As I reflect upon my wringer years of disability, and I think of the growth I have experienced while in the wringer, that little phrase says it for me. Truly God has grown me in my time of distress.  In His providence, I believe God always has that agenda when He is growing His children…

As I mentioned on the phone, Psalm 46 is a great psalm that applies to servants of the Lord when they are living on the edge and the whole world seems to be coming unraveled like a cheap sweater. An NASB footnote says the opening verse could be interpreted this way, “God is my refuge and strength.  He is abundantly available for help in tight places.” This psalm inspired Martin Luther’s great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It can be applied devotionally to believers who live in contexts like where you are.  The Living Bible paraphrases the Psalm, “Even if the earth blows up and the mountains are thrown into the sea, the believer can say, “the Lord of hosts is with me, the God of Jacob is my fortress.”  The punchline comes when the Psalmist instructs the believer in the midst of chaos to, “Be still and know that I am… and that I will be.”

I hope you have a chance to check out Psalm 143.  As I meditate on this one, having memorized it, the Lord brings you to mind.  David cries to God, “Answer me speedily because my spirit fails. Cause me to hear Your loving kindness in the morning.  Cause me to know the way in which I should walk.” I like the last part when he prays, “Revive me.”  The old King James reads “quicken me.”  That word, quicken, means something like, “touch me to life – give me a touch from You that will spring to life the work of the Spirit in my heart and life.”

… Well, as your ‘ole daddy and pastor I just wanted to unload some of these Scriptures that mean so much to me.  You may be down in the well, but we are holding the ropes. Recently I heard somebody say, “When saying goodbye to a fellow soldier of Christ, we should never say, ‘take it easy.’ We should say, ‘Hang tough, and fight the good fight.'”

Gobs and gobs of agape….

Dick Woodward, 01 April 1997 (fax to his overseas daughter)

Editor’s Note: Found this fax while sorting dusty boxes this week. Although much longer (many more Psalms, all typed out!) thought it might bless someone out there like it did Papa’s kid, again, after 18 years.  Kinda long, but since The Editor has averaged only 1 post per week the last 2 months, this can make up for two.   Bi-weekly posting grooves will hopefully be back on track soon.

Maintaining the Peace of God

August 21, 2015

“…never forget the nearness of your Lord.”  (Philippians 4:5)

When the Apostle Paul experienced his last horrible Roman imprisonment, visiting him was very dangerous. If you came to see him, the Romans might chain you next to him. And nobody did. He writes: “They all forsook me. May God not lay it to their charge.” But he also wrote: “Nevertheless the Lord stood by me and ministered to me.” (2 Timothy 4:16, 17)  That is what he means when he prescribes: “Never forget the nearness of your Lord.”

This is why I am continuously emphasizing the ground rule that a personal relationship with the Lord is an absolute if you are serious about applying Paul’s prescription for maintaining the peace of God. If you would like to have a relationship with Christ, follow His directions. Our Lord prescribed:

“Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For every one who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9, 10 Amplified Bible)

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking. If you cannot understand the concept of “the nearness of your Lord,” give yourself to the pursuit of God as described by Jesus in the passage above to find and maintain the peace of God.

Dick Woodward, 19 June 2009

Thimble vs. Truckload Faith

August 14, 2015

“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress..” (Psalm 4:1)

While I was learning that God is there, real and personal I met with one of my mentors after experiencing the divine presence of God in a mighty way.  I told Paris Reidhead, “My cup is just running over, Paris!” His response was: “How big is your cup, Dick?  It doesn’t take much to run over a thimble.  Why don’t you ask God to turn your thimble into a cup, your cup into a bucket, and your bucket into a truckload?”

I did pray that prayer, fervently.  At that time I did not know that according to verse above God’s vehicle for that kind of growth is distress.  If you want to know what distress is, just drop the first two letters:  God uses stress to grow us spiritually, just as putting stress on our muscles grows us physically.

Over the next few years I found myself going through deep waters and fiery trials.  When we had three toddlers and two in diapers my wife was hospitalized four times in one year in a hospital 100 miles away from our home.  During that crisis, as I juggled pastoring a church and mothering our five children the Lord enlarged me, big time!

Years later I lost my health and became a bed fast quadriplegic. That is when I really learned the “Four Spiritual Secrets” which have enabled me to minister beyond anything I could have imagined.

When you want to grow spiritually I dare you to ask God to turn your thimble into a cup, your cup into a bucket, and your bucket into a truckload.

Dick Woodward, 08 March 2013

Editors Note: A reminder, the Four Spiritual Secrets are:

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I can’t, but He can.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I don’t want to, but He wants to.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

A Prescription for Knowing God

August 7, 2015

“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…”      ..(Hebrews 11:6)

Do you know God?  I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God?  Do you want to know God?  In the verse above we find a prescription that can help you know God.

The prescription is that we must believe that He is, and we must believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  My passion to know God led me to confess:  “I believe that He is.”  But what is He and where is He?

A very helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of the Apostle John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16).  After studying the quality of love God is, the prescription above led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is He likely to be doing His love thing?”

At that time I was a social worker.  Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this:  “God, I have an idea that You are loving where people are hurting.  That’s where I’m going, so when I get there pass the love You are through me and address their pain.”

As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and He touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between His love and the pain of hurting people.

Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011


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