Redeemed & Willing To Say So!

September 23, 2016

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy…” (Psalm 107:1-2)

Redemption means to get something back that has been lost.  It is similar in meaning to the word “rehabilitation” which essentially means “to invest again with dignity.”  Psalm 107 is a marvelous hymn of redemption.  Repeated at the end of each of the five stanzas is a refrain that those who have been redeemed by the Lord should step up and say so – gratefully giving thanks for the various ways in which we have been redeemed.

The psalmist profiles dimensions of redemption, ending each description with the charge that we thank the Lord for God’s goodness in redeeming us in this way.  God redeems us from our chaos when God finds us.  God then redeems us from our chains when God sets us free from our sins.

This is followed by the way God redeems us from our foolish and sinful choices.  The psalmist emphasizes our responsibility for bringing on the consequences of our sins.

The psalmist then describes the way God redeems us from our complacency by meeting us in our crises from which God redeems us when we are at our wits end and don’t know what to do.

Meditate on these levels of redemption.  Ask God to continuously redeem you in all these ways.  As you reflect on each individual dimension of redemption step up and join the redeemed of the Lord in grateful worship.

And say so…

Dick Woodward, 27 June 2012


Prayer Changes Things!!

September 20, 2016

“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 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 challenging problems into prayer requests.  Paul writes that we are not to worry because worry is counterproductive.  He 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, we should resolve our two options into one.

When we realize we are anxious and 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.  God may deliver us from those problems or give us the grace to cope with them.  But, in either case, God will give us peace.

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

Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011


Creation: The Three Missing Links

September 17, 2016

“In the beginning God created…”  (Genesis 1:1)

Most people have heard about the missing link that turns up when comparing the theory of evolution with the Genesis creation account, but there are actually three missing links.  The first missing link is the issue: How did it all begin?  The Bible’s answer is recorded in just two words: “God created.”  It all began with a first act of creation that accounted for the universe, the earth, and all plant life.

The author uses an interesting Hebrew word for created, “barah,” which means “to create something out of nothing.” Since there are no samples that are half plant and half animal there is a second missing link.  The Genesis account again uses “barah” as animal life is created in the water.

There is also no sample that is half animal and half human.  So, for a third time the author of Genesis uses “barah” when God creates mankind.  What is usually considered the missing link is actually this third missing link.  In all three places where the secular scholar struggles for answers, the author of Genesis writes barah: God created.

God began the Bible with the creation account because God knew that one day we would realize that we need an act of creation in our hearts.  We would then also know where to take that need by joining David in the prayer: “Create (barah) in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NLT)

We can also go to Jesus, Who taught the new birth, and the apostles, who, agreeing with David, referred to the new birth as a new creation. (John 3:3-5; 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Dick Woodward, 19 November 2013


Asking, Seeking, Knocking

September 13, 2016

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Jesus taught that we are to be God passionate people (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10.) We are to ask, seek and knock.  Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking.  Jesus attached a tremendous promise to this teaching.  He promised that everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and everyone who knocks will find himself or herself standing before an open door.

Jesus was referring to our individual pursuit of God in prayer.  When people take this seriously and pursue God in the context of a sincere prayer life, they often describe their pursuit of God by gesturing upward.  My own personal pursuit of God was greatly helped by a short poem:

“I sought my soul but my soul I could not see.
I sought my God but my God eluded me.
I met my neighbor and I found all three.”

In one of His great discourses Jesus provided a basis for this when He taught that when we describe our pursuit of a deeper relationship with Him, we should not only gesture upward but stretch out our arms horizontally.  We should do this because we find Jesus when we give a cup of cold water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, provide clothing to the naked, take in a lonely stranger and visit the sick and those in prison.

When these words of Jesus take on human flesh they look like Mother Teresa.  What would these words look like if they took on your mortal flesh?

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2011


Jonah: Prejudice vs. God’s Love

September 6, 2016

“…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:2-4)

As a prophet, one of Jonah’s functions was to remove obstacles that were blocking the work of God in the world. Do you see the obstacle in Jonah’s story? Jonah’s prejudice.  As we reflect upon the prejudice of Jonah, we should ask ourselves if we have prejudice in our hearts that is blocking the love God wants to express through us to the hurting people of our world.

The real message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people! The love of God is a bottom line truth you find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.

Can you see why I believe the real message of the Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people or people swallowing whales? Refuse to get sidetracked. Come to the book of Jonah looking for truth. When you find that truth, you will find at the heart of this book, and in the heart of this prophet, a loving God Who values people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.

The message of Jonah is that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants.  The people of God, like you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation.  When the people of God are prejudiced, the very people God designed to be the vessels, models and channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love and salvation work of God in this world.  If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express God’s love and salvation for all people if God’s own people are hung up on their prejudices?

Did you observe Jonah did not answer God’s last question? To put the best possible spin on this, I would like to think Jonah’s silence this time was because, when Jonah finally saw the truth of God’s love and compassion for even wicked people, he was humbled to silence.  That is how the profound truth of the pure and unconditional love and grace of God, when it comes to you directly from God, can impact your life.  When your mind and spirit experience a personal revelation of the love and grace of God, which are not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance from us, you will be humbled into a submissive silence.

Dick Woodward,

from Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet


Storm Survival: Applied Belief

September 2, 2016

“Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”  (Matthew 7:26)

Jesus is clearly teaching that if we base our belief system on His teachings we will weather the storms of this life. When a counselor is disputing the belief system of a depressed person, a favorite disputation question is: “What are you telling yourself about the fact that you lost your job that has you so depressed?” That is the question you should ask yourself when you are experiencing emotional consequences like depression.

The medical director of a large mental hospital for the state of Virginia told me the purpose of psychiatry is to find the unconscious explanation for the conscious behavior of people.  He lamented the hard reality that so often today the psychiatrist is a pharmacologist who medicates a patient’s depression without ever getting to the cause of the depression.

The word “psychiatry” means “the healing of the soul.” Was there ever a greater healer of the soul than Jesus?    I believe that the values and the teachings of Jesus will give us the healthiest belief system for living as we pass through this world.

However, it is critically important that we implement that belief system as we respond to storms we encounter.  In this era we have gone bonkers over knowledge.  According to Jesus, it is not the knowledge of His teaching but the application of that belief system that builds the house that survives the storms.

Dick Woodward, 12 October 2012


Walking by Faith

August 30, 2016

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? (Proverbs 20:24, NIV)

When God spoke through the prophet Isaiah God told us there is as much difference between the way God thinks and does things and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth.  Building on that revelation the wisest man who ever lived proposed a logical question: if God is directing the steps of a person how can that person always expect to understand the way they are going?

As a God-passionate person, doing your best to follow the guidance of the Lord, have you ever found yourself completely baffled and blown away by inexplicable happenings like the sudden death of a loved one, or other tragedies?  When we put the two Scriptures quoted above side by side we should expect there to be times when we simply do not understand what God is up to.

Moses explained what he called the “secret things” belong to the Lord but the things God wants us to do God makes very clear (Deuteronomy 29:29).  That means there are secret things God is keeping secret.  If God is keeping those things secret nobody can explain them.

All these verses considered together are telling us that while we walk with God we should not expect to understand everything.  We walk by faith.

Dick Woodward, 19 October 2010