#FAITH: GIVING VS. GETTING

August 4, 2020

“… Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

This has been called the “Ninth Beatitude of Jesus.” Jesus began His greatest discourse with a check-up from the neck-up. He shared eight Beatitudes that can make us salt of the earth and light of the world. (Matthew 5)

The “Ninth Beatitude” of Jesus can transform and revolutionize our relationships.

If you are in a relationship, like a marriage, for what you can get from that other person, here’s a challenge for you. For one week, instead of thinking of what you are going to get, ask yourself continuously what you can give to that person.

You see, if you are in a marriage for what you can get from each other, neither of you is receiving anything because neither of you is giving anything. The relationship is a sterile vacuum. But this attitude can transform a relationship if one or both of the people in that relationship will dare to accept this challenge.

There is no place in the Gospels where Jesus speaks these exact words. However, in addition to having this quotation from the Apostle Paul, the spirit of this beatitude characterizes the relationships of Jesus we read about in the first four books of the New Testament.

I exhort you to accept this challenge for one week. If you do, the impact it will have on your relationships will convince you that this is inspired by the Word of God. You will also prove in experience that there is in fact more happiness (which is what the word blessed means) in giving than in getting.

Dick Woodward, 03 August 2009

#hope  #love  #Jesus  #Beatitudes  #relationships  #happiness


#FAITH: The Vine & Fruitful Branches

July 31, 2020

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”   (John 15:5)

The apostles had been in awe of the profound words and miraculous works of Jesus. In their last retreat with Him, Jesus essentially said that the key to His preaching, teaching, and supernatural ministry is that He and the Father are one.

The Word of the Father was spoken on earth and the work of the Father was accomplished on earth through Jesus because He is one with the Father. Jesus taught the disciples that after His death and resurrection, if they would be at one with Him He would do His work on earth through them.

While they were in a garden, Jesus pulled down a vine that had many branches loaded with fruit. He said: “I am the Vine and you are the branches.

In this metaphor the fruit does not grow on the vine. The fruit grows out on the branches because they are properly aligned with the Vine. The branches can bear no fruit without the Vine, and the Vine can bear no fruit without the branches.

If the Vine, Jesus, wants to see fruit produced, He must pass His life-giving power through the branches.

Jesus wants to see fruit produced far more than the apostles want to be fruitful. By this inspired metaphor, He was actually teaching two propositions: “Without Me, you can do nothing” and, “Without you, I will do nothing.”

It is the plan of God to use the power of God in the people of God to accomplish the purposes of God according to the plan of God. Jesus is a Vine looking for branches.

Are you one of His fruitful branches?

Dick Woodward, 31 July 2012


#FAITH & OPENNESS TO NEW THINGS

July 28, 2020

“I have brought you out that I might lead you in…” (Deuteronomy 6:23)

There are times when God wants to do a new thing in our lives. To do this new thing God faces three challenges. First God has to get us out of the old place. That is not easy because we often love the security of where we are. God therefore has to blast us out of the old. That can happen in many ways. We could be fired, or we may just know in our knower that it is time to make a change.

The call of God is often made up of a pull from the front and a boot from the rear.

The second challenge is that God has to keep us going to pull us through the transition time between the old place and the new place to which God is leading us. Transition times can be difficult!

The verse above describes the way God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to bring them into the Promised Land. Their transition time involved crossing a desert, which should have taken eleven days. They went around in circles for forty years.

They circled that desert because they did not have the faith to invade the land of Canaan. When God wants to do a new thing in our lives, do we go around in circles because we do not have enough faith to enter into the new place God is leading us?

The third challenge is that God has to make us right to settle us into the new place God has for us. One translation of 2 Corinthians 6:1 reads that we are “co-operators” with God.

When we realize what God is trying to do in our lives, are we ready to give God a little more cooperation?

Dick Woodward, 24 July 2009


STICKABILITY: #Faith + #Perseverance

July 24, 2020

“Let us rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

If you study the original language in which these verses were written, you will discover that the Apostle Paul is essentially saying: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces the quality of character that will not run when things get difficult.”

The Greek word Paul used for character conveys a meaning similar to various patches military people wear that show they have been tested and proven. Paul told us suffering produces endurance, and receiving from the Lord the grace to endure our suffering produces proven character.

When you have been tested and proved, the caliber of character that testing produces is often grown in the soil of suffering.

Paul also writes that proven character leads to confidence and hope. When you have developed character that perseveres, you will not be put to flight. Years ago visiting missionaries in challenging places overseas, I learned one of the most important abilities of faith is stickability.

Can we live out our lives as a fragrance of Christ, an irrefutable statement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who are hostile toward Jesus and His followers?

Our faith is living Christ until people we desire to reach “see Christ in our mortal flesh,” to borrow words from one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. (2Corinthians 4:11)

Perseverance is stickability: the ability to hang in there, and keep hanging in there. That is how an orange gets to be an orange; it just keeps hanging in there until it becomes an orange.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


#FAITH +The Seminary of Suffering+

July 21, 2020

“…as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness… through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report… beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing… having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)

Paul tells us suffering is like a seminary in which God trains qualified ministers of the Gospel. There is a sense in which this seminary never ends.

By passing through this seminary of suffering, we become ministers of God. When Paul uses “minister,” he does not mean a clergy-person; he means the minister every believer is designed, created, and recreated by God to be. Everyone who has experienced the miracle of reconciliation to God through Christ has been commissioned to carry out the ministry of Christ.

How do we prove ourselves to be ministers? Paul writes, “In afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”

I call these adversities “wringers.” When we find ourselves in a wringer, the important thing is our response to that wringer. In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul shows us how to respond: “By pureness, knowledge, patience, kindness.”

In verses 6 and 7 of this passage, Paul tells us where to find the spiritual resources to respond: “By the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

Loving Heavenly Father, use our suffering to make us faithful ministers for You in this world, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


A Message of #LOVE

July 17, 2020

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11)

The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10) He follows that with the words quoted above: if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Hours before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus challenged the men He had been apprenticing 24/7 for three years to love one another as He had loved them. He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples.

Peter wrote that by His death on the cross Jesus has given us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps. (1 Peter 2:21)

The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us yet another reason we are to love one another. In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in.

Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world. The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.

If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would be beating our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities. Everyone has a need to be loved and to belong. The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given His Church.

Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for His glory?

Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010


God’s Mandate for #LOVE

July 14, 2020

 “…because as He is, so are we in this world…” (1 John 4:17)

As the Apostle of Love continues to give us reasons why we must love (in 1 John 4), having told us twice that God is love (verses 8 and 16), he writes that as God is, so are we in this world. He also told us in verse 16 that God lives in us. If God is love and God lives in us, then it follows that as God is (love), so are we (to be love) in this world.

This is yet another reason why we must love.

The perfect example of this is Jesus Christ when He was God in human flesh for 33 years. The greatest dynamic of His personality was love. If you met with Him for a day like Zacchaeus, the Chief of the Publicans (Luke 19), or for an hour like the Samaritan woman (John 4), or briefly like the young man we call the rich young ruler, you would know that you are loved as you have never been loved before.

We are told that Jesus, looking intently at the rich young ruler, loved him. (Mark 10:21)

The Apostle John, the author of the fourth Gospel, lived with Jesus 24/7 for three years. John refers to himself in his Gospel many times with these words: “I am the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Sixty years later, he dedicated the last book of the Bible to Jesus with the words “…unto the faithful Witness Who loved us…”

When people meet with us today do they feel that they have been loved as never before because we are God’s Love with skin on in this world?

Dick Woodward, 16 July 2010


#LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!

July 10, 2020

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God Whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20)

Tradition tells us that the Apostle John escaped from the Isle of Patmos by swimming out to a ship that was bound for the city of Ephesus where he lived to a very old age and was buried. With white hair and a long white beard he was so feeble they had to carry him to the meetings.

While at the meetings he would bless those who attended and cry:

“Little children, love one another, little children, love one another!”

As we have seen in this chapter, John gives us ten reasons why we must love one another. One reason is that God is love and if we plug into the love God is we make contact with God, and as we become a conduit of God’s love God makes contact with us.

John gives us a second reason that if we say we love God and we hate our brother we are liars. Because if we do not love the brother we can see how can we love God Whom we cannot see?

His point is that it’s not easy to love God because we cannot hug a Spirit. There is an inseparable vertical and horizontal dimension of this love that God is.

These two dimensions form a cross.

We cannot say we love God if we do not love one another.

Dick Woodward, 09 July 2010


Conduits of God’s #Love

July 7, 2020

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.” (1John 4:16)

In the epistle of First John, the apostle of Love is giving us ten reasons why we must love one another. Among those ten reasons is the one expressed above.

We must love one another because God is love and the person who loves in this way is living in God and God is living in that person.

One application of what he is writing is that when we plug into the love that God is, we live in God and God lives in us. In the 1950s I made a great discovery. As a social worker while responding to a night call at 3:00AM, I prayed a prayer like this:

“God, You say You are a special quality of love. I believe You are doing Your love thing where people are hurting. I’m now going to where hurting people are. When I get there please pass the love You are through me and address their pain.”

There were times when I prayed that prayer I thought I was being electrocuted with the love of God. I challenge you to accept the challenge of the Apostle John.

Go where the hurting people are with that prayer on your heart. When you become a conduit of God’s love, you will never be satisfied with anything less than having that experience again and again.

This is because as a conduit of the love of God you will experience Who, What and Where God is – and where you want to be for the rest of your life!

Dick Woodward, 06 July 2010


A Prayer for God’s Peace

July 3, 2020

“Heavenly Father, You tell us in Your Word that You can keep us in a state of perfect peace if we meet Your conditions for peace. Please give me the wisdom to worry about nothing, and the faith to pray about everything.

May I receive from You the discipline to think about good things and the integrity to do the right things.

May I always have an incurable optimism that believes in goodness, and such an insight into what You are doing in my life and in my world that I will give thanks in all things.

May I never try to push You or run before You, but always wait on You, experiencing the gentleness and patience that are the evidence of Your Holy Spirit living in me.

As I sort out my priorities, may I always value Your approval of who and what I am, and not walk before others to be seen by them or to please them.

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, Heavenly 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 Jesus.

I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, and for Your glory. Amen.”

Dick Woodward, (“A Prescription for Peace”)