Prayer for Peace

August 15, 2017

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

When I was in a very difficult situation, the prayer of Saint Francis had great meaning for me.  I memorized it and prayed it every night for several months. I know you are very familiar with it but in case you don’t have a copy there, here it is:

 “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console: to be understood, as to understand: to be loved as to love: for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”   Saint Francis of Assisi

Dick Woodward (email, 05 March 2005)

Editor’s Note: This was Dick Woodward’s favorite photo, used in all his books & booklets (ICMers will definitely remember how much he liked it!) Circa 1987, it was taken during the blog-posting-elf’s graduation from The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, when Papa was still getting out and about in his Amigo. Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Charlottesville, our state, and our country: where there is hatred, may we always sow the love of Jesus Christ.


THE GRACE OF CHRIST BE WITH YOU

August 11, 2017

“Grace to you… from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7)

Studying the Apostle Paul’s inspired letters you will find common salutations and greetings in all of them. Paul begins his letters with “Grace to you” and concludes with words like these: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16: 20)

In nearly every generation of language and culture people use certain words when they first encounter someone. After visiting together there are words used at parting. Some of these salutations and greetings are shallow and not intended to have meaning. (“Hi” and “Goodbye?”) It was not like that, however, with the way Paul began and concluded his letters.

One of Paul’s favorite concepts was grace. He emphasized the truth that we are saved by grace and not by works in many of his letters. He also wrote that we have access, by faith, to grace that makes it possible for us to live a life that glorifies God. (Romans 5:2)

A great verse describing this empowering dimension of grace is 2Corinthians 9:8. Paul writes that God is able to make all grace abound toward us so that each one of us may always find the spiritual dynamic we need to abound in every good work God is calling us to do.

All grace – all the power we need – each and every one of us that we might find all sufficiency we need to abound in every good work – ALWAYS!

As you come to appreciate the meaning of grace, could it not be an appropriate heartfelt concept to include in your greetings with your sisters and brothers in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 10 August 2010


Waiting and Leaping (by Faith!)

August 9, 2017

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Picture an eagle sitting on the side of its nest, waiting for the velocity of the wind to become strong. In the same way, we must “wait on the Lord.” We are not to go charging ahead into life without clear direction from the Lord. We are exhorted to follow the example of the eagle by waiting until the wind of the Spirit builds up to a certain velocity to direct, support and empower us.

Then we should follow the example of the eagle and take a leap of faith directly into the adversity that is challenging us. As the power of the Holy Spirit drives us into the strong winds of the storm, the energizing unction of the Holy Spirit will give us the spiritual aerodynamics needed to lift up and soar over the storm.

In the Gospels, Peter’s leap of faith illustrates this tension between waiting on the Lord and leaping. In the middle of a great storm, Jesus came to the disciples by walking on the water. Peter said, “Lord, if it really is You, invite me to walk on the water to You.” The Lord then invited Peter to walk on the water to Him. (Matthew 14:22-32)

Peter had great faith, yet he did not get out of the boat until he was sure of two things: that it was the Lord out there in the middle of the storm, and that the Lord was inviting him to walk on the water to Him.

The obvious application is that we should never take a leap of faith until we are sure the Lord is in our faith venture, and that the Lord is leading us to take that leap of faith.

Dick Woodward, from As Eagles: How to be an Eagle Disciple


Giving & Receiving

August 3, 2017

“… 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 by sharing eight beautiful attitudes that can make us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This ninth beatitude 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 from the person, ask yourself continuously what you can give that person. After giving this assignment to many married couples I’ve seen it revolutionize their marriages.

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 really giving anything. The relationship is a sterile empty vacuum. But this attitude can transform your marriage or any relationship if one or both people in that relationship will dare to accept this challenge from Jesus.

There is no place in the Gospels where Jesus speaks these exact words. However, in addition to having this quotation of 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 of Jesus for one week! If you do, you will 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


The Lord is My Shepherd (But?)

August 1, 2017

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” (Psalm 23)

These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible beloved by devout people everywhere. According to this Shepherd Psalm of David, the key to the real blessings of this life and the next is a relationship with God. The green pastures, still waters, table of provision, God’s blessing of anointing oil and cup that runs over all the time are all conditioned on our relationship with God. That relationship is established in the second verse when David writes, “He makes me to lie down.”

However, the spirit in which we recall these words is often something like this: “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I have a health problem.” Or, “the Lord is my Shepherd — but I have marriage problems!” Or, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I cannot control my children.”

When we say, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but” we are putting our “but” in the wrong place. We need to get our “but” in the right place and recall the precious promise of these words this way: “I have a health problem, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I have marriage problems, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I cannot control my children, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd!”

One way the Lord makes us lie down is to use health problems, marriage problems, problems with our children, finances, careers, and any other kind of problems we can imagine to teach us about the relationship with God which is key to all the blessings profiled in Psalm 23.

Will you let the Great Shepherd use whatever challenges you are facing to establish the deeper relationship with God David described so beautifully three thousand years ago?

Dick Woodward, 14 August 2008

Editor’s Note: This was Dick Woodward’s first blog back in August of 2008, which means this Four Spiritual Secrets blog has been sharing devotional truths in the blogosphere for 9 years. Although we miss him, the blog posting elf hopes (& prays) his words continue to yield Kingdom fruit – as long as we have our ‘buts’ in the right place!! 🙂


When are We Going to Get Some Faith?

July 28, 2017

“And a great windstorm arose…but He said to them, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’…and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4: 35-40)

If you read the story recorded in the fourth chapter of Mark you will see Jesus directing the disciples to get into their boat and cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. On this sea crossing a great storm fell upon them. They woke Jesus with the question, “Don’t you even care that we (including Him) are all going to drown?” After turning the great storm into a great calm, Jesus asked them the great question:

“How is it that you have no faith?”

Jesus had been teaching them that He was King of the Kingdom of God and they were subjects in that Kingdom. Did they really think all of this was going to come to an end at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee? One translation renders His great question: “Do you not even yet believe in me?” Another puts it: “When are you going to get some faith?”

Before we are too hard on the apostles, let’s apply the essential truth of this story personally. Jesus has promised us that He will take us from the other side of this life to the next dimension called Heaven. While we are on that journey, if a great storm falls upon us do we believe that storm declares all His promises to be null and void? Or do we have a quality of faith that can turn that great storm into a great calm?

Storms in our lives are a classroom in which God wants to strengthen, grow and authenticate our faith.

Dick Woodward, 20 August 2010


God’s Great Faithfulness & Love

July 26, 2017

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

After World War II, a devout woman named Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her: “There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”

When the suffering of Job brought him to the bottom of a pit of despair, he received his great Messianic revelation: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given Corrie ten Boom and Job. God made Jeremiah know this marvelous truth about the love of God when Jeremiah’s weeping bottomed out in his grotto: “I have never stopped loving the people of Judah!”

The unconditional love of God is taught from Genesis to Revelation. It is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. Meditating on God’s miraculous revelation to Jeremiah, I am deeply inspired that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved the people of Judah.

Millions have affirmed this great truth singing the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College OT Handbook (p.501)