#FAITH: Praying with a God-First Mindset

April 26, 2019

…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:13)

[In the Disciples Prayer] Our Lord teaches us to begin our prayers with a God first mindset and conclude our prayers with that same focus. We begin our prayers looking through the grid: “Your name be reverenced, Your Kingdom come,” and “Your will be done (in earth and) on earth, just as it is willed and done in heaven.”

We are to conclude our prayers the same way.

Jesus wants us to conclude our prayers by making this commitment to our Heavenly Father: Yours is the Kingdom.”  By this confession, He means for us to pledge to God that the results of our Heavenly Father’s continuously answering our prayers will always belong to Him.

As we face challenges of life every day, we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God: Yours is the power.”  When I have entered into a challenging day, I have confessed this over and over in my journey of faith and ministry by saying, “I can’t, but He can.”

Finally, we are to conclude our prayers by confessing: “Yours is the glory.”  When we apply this third providential benediction, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but God did, all the glory goes to Him.” Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers every time we pray by making this solemn commitment to God: The glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayer(s), will always go to You.”

The essence of this benediction is:  “Because the power always comes from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


Psalm 19: God’s Glorious Sermon(s)

April 23, 2019

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge…The Law of the Lord is perfect… Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19: 1-2, 7, 14)

In Psalm 19 David writes that every day and every night God is preaching a sermon through the heavenly bodies. The text of that sermon is the glory of God. The “firmament” and space in which those bodies exist are also preaching sermons.

Space preaches to us about the infinite size of God.

His thoughts then turn to the “Special Revelation” of God. That’s what the theologians call the “Word of God” and David calls the “Law of God.” David is impressed and impresses us with what the Word of God can do: The Word can convert the soul, enlighten the eyes and make wise the simple.

The Word can rejoice the heart, and since the Word is true and righteous altogether it will endure forever. So will the one whose soul has been converted by the Word of God. As David meditates on what the Word can do, he claims that the Word is more to be desired than much pure gold.

Having reflected on what we might call “Natural Revelation” and “Biblical Revelation” David next guides us to consider “Personal Revelation.” His thought is that God’s revelation through nature is magnificent and beautiful. God’s revelation through Scripture is miraculous and perfect.

But what about God’s revelation through God’s people like you and me?

Dick Woodward, 26 April 2010


The Good News @ Good Friday

April 19, 2019

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”(Isaiah 53:6)

If you want to know what is good about Good Friday the verse from Isaiah quoted above will tell you. This verse describes with great clarity the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross when it begins and ends with the same word.

That word is “all.”

The verse begins with what we may call “the bad news.” Isaiah tells us that all of us are like little sheep and have gone astray. We have turned every single one of us to our own way. If you want to know the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, agree that you are included in that first ‘all.’

The ‘all’ with which this verse concludes is what we can call “the good news.” Isaiah tells us that the penalty for all the things we have done after turning to our own ways has been laid on Him (meaning Jesus.)

I don’t know about you, but for me that is very, very good news! If you and I confess we are included in the first and the last ‘all’ in this great verse, then we know what we need to know and we have done what we need to do to turn our bad news into good news.

And we know what is good about Good Friday.

If you want to make this Friday of Holy Week a Good Friday, believe what Isaiah has written:

“The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  

Dick Woodward, 02 April 2010


Holy Week: The Absolute Eternal Value

April 16, 2019

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Have you discovered that, to the authors of the four Gospels, Easter is far more important than Christmas? Of the 89 combined Gospel chapters, 4 chapters cover the birth and first 30 years Jesus lived, while 27 chapters cover the last week He lived.

Why is the last week Jesus lived so important?

The obvious answer is during that week Jesus died and was raised from the dead. Have you ever wondered why the apostles changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (seventh) Day to the first day of the week? If you read carefully, they never call Sunday the “Sabbath.” They call it “The Lord’s Day” because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Every Sunday the Church gathers for worship is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because on the first day of the week Jesus demonstrated the absolute eternal value.

This is the greatest and most important eternal value: Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for our salvation. The Good News is that when Jesus died on the cross, God laid on His only beloved Son all the chastisement we rebellious human beings deserve for our sins. In this way, God exercised His perfect justice while also expressing His perfect love.

The beloved Apostle John points to the cross and says: “Here is love. Not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)

Isaiah showed us how to confess this eternal value when he wrote: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

…Do you believe you are included in the first and last ‘all’ of this verse?

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values


Hypocrites or Conduits of God’s Love?

April 12, 2019

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13)

When I was a struggling college student I saw a sign in a window that read “Shirts Done 20¢.” I gathered up a pile of dirty shirts and took them into the store. To my utter disappointment I was told, “We don’t do shirts. This is a sign shop. We just paint signs!”

A preacher told the story of how a cat crawled into a model house in an empty new real estate development when it was many degrees below zero. The cat curled up in front of a fake fireplace and froze to death. He then preached that people often do that when they come into our churches. Looking for warmth, love and Gospel truths that can set them free from their sins, they “curl up and freeze to death.”

Jesus was even more honest and realistic than this preacher. He called the spiritual leaders of His day “hypocrites.” This was a negative word used in that day for people who wore false faces and masks.

Rather than decide that you are the true disciple and be judgmental of those who are not, ask yourself some questions: Are you, and the spiritual community of which you are a member, false or true? Are you authentic disciples of Jesus, or are you hypocrites?

Are you out there getting your hands sudsy cleaning shirts with the love of Jesus or are you just painting signs?

Are you seeing God’s grace and love changing lives?

Dick Woodward, 17 April 2009


Faith: The Good News of Forgiveness

April 9, 2019

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the Good News of the Gospel that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.

We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

In the New Testament we are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) After we confess our sins, however, we often show our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten them.

A Catholic monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. Summoning the nun to meet him, the monsignor asked, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question: What sins did I commit in Paris before I became a priest?” He instructed the nun to report back after she asked Jesus his question.

Several days later the nun requested an appointment with the monsignor. He asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?” She replied, “Yes, Reverend Monsignor.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?” The nun said she had indeed asked Jesus his question.

“And what did Jesus say?” The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

If we believe what the Bible teaches about forgiveness that is the answer we should expect to hear. As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values


LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!

April 5, 2019

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” (John 13:1)

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles. Luke writes that on the way to the upper room where that took place the apostles argued about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised.

What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!

Having washed their feet Jesus asked the question: “Do you know what I have done to you?” His question is answered in the verse quoted above. The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus is love. He loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

Jesus also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example. If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each other’s feet. He then made the connection between foot washing and love by giving them the New Commandment. They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them. This is the absolute credential that they were His disciples.

A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment. Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus but now they were to make a commitment to each other. This new commitment established a New Community. We call it the church.

Secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!”  If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence that we are followers of Jesus Christ?

Oh Lord Jesus, make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012