Faith: Testing and Trusting

November 20, 2014

“…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.”   James 1:2-6

When you encounter a storm in your life, that trial will often bring you to the place where you just don’t know what to do.  You realize you need more wisdom than you have.  James writes that we must let the test of faith lead us to the trust of faith.  When we lack wisdom, we must ask God, Who will be delighted to share His wisdom with us.  It the Old Testament when the people of God were fighting against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was, “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2Chronicles 20:12) … Ask God for the wisdom we do not have, and believe our loving Heavenly Father wants to give us that wisdom.

The JB Phillips translation writes that we should not treat our trials as intruders but welcome them as friends. The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith.  I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990′s.  I have, therefore, thought much about the suffering of disciples.  God is not in denial about the hard reality His people suffer.

In the Bible we are warned that God does not think as we think, nor does He do as we do.  (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the will and ways of God, wouldn’t it logically follow that I should not always expect to understand the way I’m going?  Obviously, that includes our suffering.

…Where did we ever get the idea we should expect to understand everything that happens to us? If God gave us an explanation for everything and the answers to all of our why questions, the very essence of faith, the need for faith, would be eliminated.

Almighty God has willed that without faith, we cannot please Him or come to Him (Hebrews 1:6.)  God is pleased when we come to Him in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “if you heal me, that’s all right.  But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.278-281)


Prayer Changes Things!!

November 14, 2014

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you rest in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 6-7 NLT)

In these two verses the Apostle Paul is challenging us with two options: when we are facing challenging problems we can worry about them, or we can turn our problems into prayer requests.  The reason Paul writes that we are not to worry is because worry is counter-productive.  He therefore prescribes that if we are overwhelmed with problems, we should let our mountain of problems turn us into prayer warriors.

So here we have two options.  We can be worriers, or we can be warriors. Prayer changes things!  Worry, on the other hand does not change anything except for the severe negative consequences it can have on our body, soul and spirit.  When we consider the devastating effects of worry and the miraculous results of answered prayer, that no-brainer should resolve our two options into one.

When we realize we are anxious or uptight and we know it is because we are choosing to be worriers, we should ask God to convert us into prayer warriors.  We should hold our problems up before the Lord and trade our futile worries for powerful prayers.  He may deliver us from those problems or give us the grace to cope with them.  But, in either case, He will give us peace.

Paul writes that God will stand guard like a soldier over our hearts and minds and give us supernatural peace as they rest in what Christ will do.

Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011


Commissioned by Jesus

November 11, 2014

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

“The Great Commission is the charter of the Church. Like any other organization the Church must fulfill the terms of its charter or it should cease and desist.” So wrote a missionary statesman of another generation.

For more than twenty years I was the pastor of a church near a naval base – more than seventy percent of our church members were military. I soon learned that when military personnel received their orders they read them very carefully and obeyed them to the letter. Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ gave us our orders in the Great Commission.

During World War II General George Patton once arrived before dawn at a station in North Africa much earlier than he was expected. Everything was in disarray. He kicked a soldier asleep on the floor. When the lowly GI realized who had kicked him he jumped to his feet, saluted and said “I’m sorry sir. I was just trying to get some sleep!” The general responded, “That’s OK son.” In his profane way, which I will not quote, the general essentially continued, You’re the only one around here who knows what he’s trying to do!

How it must grieve the risen living Christ to realize that so many in His Church today don’t know what they’re trying to do. We not only ignore His clear orders – many have never even heard that He gave us our charter, which is repeated at the end of every Gospel and at the beginning of Acts, the inspired history book of the Church.

Dick Woodward, 25 January 2010


Where is your confidence? and hope?

November 7, 2014

“… Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ…for it is God at work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” (Philippians 1:6; 2:13)

The Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote these words to his favorite church. Chained between two Roman soldiers without any privacy, he was not able to shepherd these believers he loved so very much. But is he stressed out because he fears that they will fall away from their faith? No, he has a beautiful confidence that they will continue in their faith until the day when Christ returns for His church!

The source of his confidence is found in two realities: he knows that the risen, living Christ has begun the miracle of regeneration in them, and he is completely convinced that Christ will continue any miracle work of salvation He begins. His confidence is not in the fact that he has led these people to Christ. His confidence is in Christ! 

In Philippians 2:13 Paul adds that his confidence is in God Who is at work in them giving them the will and the power to do according to that which pleases Him. Why is it that some people want to please God and others do not? Why is it that some people have the grace to do what pleases God while others do not? Paul answers those questions when he writes that it is God working in these believers giving them both the want to, and the power, to live in a way that pleases God.

Where is your confidence that you will continue in what Christ has begun in your life? What a miracle it is when we see evidence that God has begun the work of salvation in the life of one of our loved ones.  Where is your confidence that those you love will continue in what Christ has begun in their lives? Is your hope in them? Is it in your ability to shepherd and mentor them?

Or is your hope in Christ Who began that miracle and in God Who can give them the will and the power to do what pleases Him?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2009


The Race vs. GRACE

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


Faithful Labors & Laborers

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


Grand-daughter Discipleship (via email!)

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)


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