What are You?

May 5, 2015

“… He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated ‘Peter.’)   (John 1:42)

When Jesus met Peter, his name was Simon and his life was characterized by instability.  Yet Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter,” which means “rock” and essentially “stability.”

In Matthew 16 we have an intriguing interview between Jesus and Peter.  Jesus had done the “who are you?” question in reverse.  He asked the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter came up with the right answer.  The Lord then said in so many words, “You’re not that smart Peter.  That answer really didn’t come from you. It came from My Father.”

In this interview Jesus was telling Peter who and what Peter was, and what he was being called to be.  When I had a chance to meet with Ravi Zacharias in my home, I asked him, “who is Ravi Zacharias?”  He responded, “I think what really matters is how our Lord would answer that question.”  In this interview with Peter, Jesus answered that question for him.

In the Gospels Peter’s life is recorded like an unstable spiritual roller coaster. But after Jesus called Peter a ‘rock’ for three years, and after Peter experienced Pentecost, we read in Acts that this unstable man became the rock-like, stable leader of the New Testament Church.  When you read the Gospels and Acts, you realize Jesus was convincing Peter of what he could become because he had come to know his Lord and Savior.

Do you hear the voice of the Christ Who lives in your heart trying to give you His answer to this question, “What are you?”  Is He making you know what you can become and do for Him since He has made you a new creation?  Is He making you know what He can equip you to become as He is calling you and revealing what He wants you to be and do for him?

Dick Woodward, A Spiritual Compass (p. 71-72)


Two-Way Streets of Communication

April 10, 2015

“For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2Corinthians 2:2)

Every relationship we have is a two-way street. According to the Apostle Paul whatever we send down that street comes back up that street with a dynamic impact on that relationship.  Jesus states this same truth with a positive spin when He teaches hypercritical people, “With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

This was a relevant marketplace metaphor at the time of Christ.  If you were selling oats and a fellow merchant in the marketplace was selling wheat, when you bought from each other you could request to use their bushel standard of measurement.  Paraphrased, this is saying that whatever standard you use when you give to the other person in a relationship, they will use that same standard when they give to you. All of this means that we cannot control the weather or rainy days, but we can control the emotional climate that surrounds us in a relationship.

Communication is not only what is said but what is heard.  It is not only what is said but what is felt.  How does the communication you are contributing in a relationship make the other person in that relationship feel?  If you’re sending negative waves into that other person’s life, is that likely to inspire them to send positive waves in your direction?

Paul gave us another great teaching on this subject when he wrote, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for the building up of others, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

I challenge you to apply these teachings of Jesus and Paul in your relationships.

Dick Woodward, 05 February 2011


Letting the Light shine

March 20, 2015

“…  I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”   (John 9:39)

Jesus claimed that He is the light of the world.  He also commissioned His followers with the exhortation that we are the light of the world.  From the verses above we learn that the light of which our Lord speaks is a very strange quality of light.  It makes it possible for those who are blind to see and it reveals the blindness of those who think they see.

When I was a child I lived near coal mines.  One day a terrible explosion rocked a coal mine where 20 miners were trapped and isolated for three days in a small pocket of that mine.  When they were rescued there was great jubilation and celebration among the rescued miners and those who had broken through to them.  The celebration grew quiet when one of the rescued miners asked the question: “Why didn’t you guys bring any lights?” The rescuers had actually brought many lights.  The miner who asked the question had been blinded by the flash when the explosion happened.  He had been blind for three days, but in the pitch black darkness of the mine he didn’t know he was blind until the light came.

The light that Jesus is – and the light He tells us that we are – has that purpose and function.  It reveals the spiritual blindness of those who think they see and it gives sight to those who know they are spiritually blind.  Jesus told us we are that light.  Are you willing to let the light of Jesus shine through you?

Dick Woodward, 21 May 2010


At the Feet of Jesus

February 27, 2015

“… but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better…”  (Luke 10:42)

Every time we meet Mary, the sister of Martha, she is at the feet of Jesus.  The verse above describes her at the feet of Jesus hearing His Word.  Martha is frustrated because Mary is attending the Bible study while she herself is doing all the serving.  Jesus sides with Mary because she has chosen the number one priority that day.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, the brother of these two sisters has died.  When the Lord arrives too late to save Lazarus both these sisters greet Him with the same words: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”  However, when Mary spoke those words we read that she prostrated herself at his feet showing that she accepted His will.

In the next chapter a banquet is described at which their resurrected brother is the guest of honor.  We see Mary there worshiping Jesus at His feet.  She anointed His feet with perfume worth a year’s wages.  What would it mean if you worshiped Jesus with your annual income?

This Mary is a great example for all of us when she is at the feet of Jesus hearing His Word, accepting His will, and worshiping Him.  If we prostrate ourselves at His feet as we read our Bibles, we will hear His personal word to us and find His will for our lives.  If we continue to follow Mary’s example we will be at His feet accepting His will for our lives. And those who follow the example of Mary will find themselves forever offering costly worship at the feet of Jesus.

Dick Woodward, 19 February 2013


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


Multi-facted Forgiveness

July 25, 2014

“…If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins…” Matthew 6:14-15

We need forgiveness in three dimensions: when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in.

If we believe the Gospel, the first dimension is a given. The great Bible word for that is “justified.” It literally means to ‘un-sin’ our sin. You can break up the word this way: just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. Plus, the word means that He declares us righteous. In the 18th chapter of Luke, Jesus pronounced that anyone who prays, “God be merciful to me – a sinner,” is justified. Can you see why I say the first dimension of forgiveness is a given if you believe the Good News?

The second dimension is more complicated. You need a special measure of grace to forgive those who have greatly harmed you. And you can’t control whether or not those you have hurt will forgive you. But Jesus mandated that we have forgiveness in this second dimension. When He taught his disciples how to pray, He literally told them to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.”

At the end of His teaching His disciples how to pray He added a solemn commentary: “If you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, then My Father in heaven will not forgive you your sins. In other words, if you don’t have forgiveness in this second dimension you lose your forgiveness in the first dimension. What a solemn truth!

Those who have sinned grievously will tell you that the third dimension of forgiveness is the toughest one. When devout people fall into sin, they especially have a very difficult time forgiving themselves.

Pray for forgiveness in these three dimensions because the greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, 17 January 2009


Strategic salt & light: Zacchaeus

June 10, 2014

…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  (Luke 19:10)

In Luke 19, verses 1 – 10, we encounter Jesus interacting with the tax collector, Zacchaeus. The beautiful part of the Zacchaeus story is when Jesus goes to spend His only day in Jericho with this little crook, and all the people are griping about it. It would make a great painting if an artist would paint Jesus who was a big man, according to Josephus, walking home with His arm around small Zacchaeus.

Here we see the strategy of Jesus.  He is passing through Jericho. He obviously wants to reach the man who can impact and reach Jericho for Him after he has passed through and beyond the city limits.  It must have made a big impact upon the city when Zacchaeus started calling in the people he had ‘ripped off.’  Imagine their surprise, joy, and awe when they, thinking he was going to get into their purses even deeper, discovered that he wanted to pay them back 400% because he had met Jesus!  This is an illustration and an application of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to the effect that the solution, the answer, the salt, the light – is something we are, and that we simply must hear His word and do it.

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.142-143)


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