#FAITH – A Formula For Vision

January 31, 2023

“… But for this reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” (John 12:27-28)

When we have a vision we must also have a plan. It has been said that without vision the people perish, but without a plan the vision perishes. Nehemiah not only had a vision to repair and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, he had a plan to do so. As an enslaved exile his plan was to present his vision to the emperor for whom he was a cup bearer.

This was extremely dangerous because there was a death penalty for being sad in the presence of the emperor, or for bringing anything negative to the emperor’s attention while he was serving him. Nehemiah had the faith to pray and then present his vision to the emperor. The emperor showed empathy and compassion for Nehemiah. He not only approved his plan, he supplied everything needed to see the plan was followed to the letter.

Has God put a vision in your heart of what He wants you to do? If you have a vision do you have a plan? In that context consider this formula for your vision:

vision + faith + sacrifice = miracle

If you have a vision and a plan to carry out the vision, are you willing to sacrifice for that vision? Are you willing to die for that vision?

Jesus had a vision and a plan. He was willing to sacrifice and die for His vision. He mandated that we follow His example. Regarding your vision and plan, are you willing to pray: “Father glorify Yourself and send me the bill. Anything Father, just glorify Yourself…”

Dick Woodward, 30 January 2010


a heavenly vision!

January 27, 2023

“…what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem…” (Nehemiah 2:12)

When Nehemiah learned of the dreadful condition of the wall around Jerusalem he wept, fasted and prayed. He then became a supreme example of what it means to have a vision. His definition of vision is what God put in his heart to do. I have heard missionaries describe how they were reading the Gospels and when they got to the Great Commission they knew what God put in their hearts to do.

When I was a new believer studying for the ministry I heard a great Bible professor survey the entire Bible. He made it so clear and relevant. I felt he was introducing us to sixty-six of his holy little friends and I wanted to spend the rest of my life getting to know them better. I also knew in my heart that God wanted me to put together a devotional, practical survey of the Bible for lay people and make it even more simple than the one I was taught. That vision eventually became a reality.

As you grow in faith and your relationship with God, have you been close enough for God to put in your heart what He wants you to do? The Bible and church history affirm the reality that God loves to work that way.

The Apostle Paul stood in chains before a king and said some beautiful words. He said he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision God gave him. (Acts 26: 19) Has God put in your heart what He wants you to do? Will you make the commitment that you will not be disobedient to that vision?

Dick Woodward, 28 January 2010


Sanctified Unselfishness

January 24, 2023

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own…” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

I have heard people say, “I don’t get mad, I get even!” When God’s love is being expressed through us, we don’t get mad or even. The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated as patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so.

As we examine “love is kind,” we realize this love refuses to play the game of getting even. The Greek word for kindness means “love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.” Then we read: “Love does not envy.” The Greek words Paul used here prescribe “an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.” In other words: sanctified unselfishness.

The one who is applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness. 

Their love commitment is not “I love me and I need you,” or “You love me and so do I.” They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness. My love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.” Think of how this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident or illness that seriously limits them…The one who is a conduit of this love is others-centered, not self-centered.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Champions for Christ

January 20, 2023

All our steps are ordered by the Lord; how then can we understand our own ways?” (Proverbs 20:24)

Solomon poses a wise question in Proverbs 20:24: “If we are going the way God wants us to go, how can we expect to always understand the way we are going?” I believe it is obvious that God is making you an original in an original way. 

There isn’t anybody like you and there isn’t supposed to be.

My thoughts turn to six powerful Bible verses: the last four verses of Romans 11 and the first two verses of Romans 12. They tie in with Isaiah 55 and the reality we do not know what God is doing. The profound truth focused is that God is the source of, the power behind, and His glory is the purpose for everything He is doing. 

The application in Romans 12 is that you should worship by surrendering your body as a living sacrifice (not a dead one.) Ask God to transform your mind so you think as He does. Then, having met these prerequisites, prove one day at a time that His will for you is good and moves toward spiritual maturity.  (This passage is especially good in the Phillips.*)

God is shaping you to be a champion for Christ in dimensions that are far beyond anything you could imagine or even think to imagine! Whatever spiritual help it takes you must master this problem or it will master you. Every time God wants to do a great work like what He is doing in your life, the evil one is there trying to defeat it. 

Put on the whole armor of God to defeat what the evil one is trying to do.

Dick Woodward (email, 20 January 2007)

(*J.B. Phillips translation of The New Testament in Modern English)


Temple Maintenance!!

January 17, 2023

Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal…”  (I Kings 19:18)

The great prophet Elijah reached the zenith of his career on Mt. Carmel when he challenged the people of God to stop being spiritual schizophrenics. When they committed themselves to serving the living God, they experienced a great revival. (I Kings 18) The next day we read Elijah “went a day’s journey into the wilderness and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die.” (I Kings 19:12)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. The drastic change we see in him is due to many things, but one factor is that he neglected what I call Temple Maintenance. The Apostle Paul said our bodies are the temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17) Therefore, anything we do to maintain our bodies is temple maintenance. Neglecting our temple maintenance can have serious consequences on our health and ministry.

Observe in that dramatic victory for Elijah on Mount Carmel all the physical stress and effort he put out. He dug a deep ditch around that altar and filled it with water. Have you ever dug a deep ditch? …At the end of that long day, he ran in front of a chariot for 17 miles. Elijah must have been exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The physical dimension of our lives directly affects our mental, emotional and even spiritual perspectives. Elijah obviously allowed his physical stresses to affect him. We know all his blubbering about being the only true servant of the Lord was neurotic when God made him know there were 7,000 faithful servants like him, who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Take an example from one of the greatest prophets — don’t forget your temple maintenance!

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


Faith&Bull’s Eye Priority Targets

January 13, 2023

“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Picture your priorities as a target with a bull’s eye surrounded by a dozen circles. As you think and pray about your priorities, what is the bull’s eye of your priority target? Once you have determined that, how would you label the dozen circles that surround your bull’s eye?

Great men of God like the Apostle Paul could reduce their priorities down to one thing. Paul’s one thing was to forget what is behind and strain forward to win the prize at the end of the race.  That prize was what God was calling him to do.

Can we reduce the forty eleven things that are spreading us thin down to one thing? If we do so, what would that one thing be? Sometimes there is great wisdom in forgetting the things that are behind. Then there are times when there is even greater wisdom in determining our one thing type of goal for the future.

How do we do that?

One way is to consider what we might call “eternal values.”  None of the things we are going to leave behind when God calls us home are worth living for while we are here. Jesus told us: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) Will knowing God be an eternally focused bull’s eye for our priority target this year? Think of how that priority will dramatically affect the dozen circles that surround it when our lives are expressions of the love of God and the risen living Christ.

Dick Woodward, 13 January 2012


Attitude Adjustment: Forgiven & Forgiving

January 10, 2023

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

The greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness. Those who work in ministries of healing claim that the lack of forgiveness on the part of victims who have been terribly hurt can retard their own inner healing.

Can you see why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray every day: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors?” The original language has it, “As we have already forgiven our debtors.” Do you think Jesus knows how important it is to our inner healing that we should forgive those who sin against us?

Some are bothered by the way Jesus offers commentary on this petition in the Disciple’s Prayer. He commented that if we do not forgive we are not forgiven. It almost sounds as if we are forgiven because we forgive. He defuses their confusion with a parable that is recorded in Matthew 18. A man is forgiven a large debt in the millions of dollars. He does not have to go into debtor’s prison and see his wife and family sold into slavery.

But on the way home he meets a man who owes him twenty dollars. He grabs him by the throat and orders him to pay him every cent or he will have him put into debtor’s prison. Both events are observed and told to the one who forgave him the large debt. He is recalled and his forgiveness is revoked. Jesus comments on that story that if we from our hearts do not forgive, we are not forgiven.

The point is that if we are a forgiven person we will be a forgiving person. If we are not a forgiving person we are not really a forgiven person.

Dick Woodward, 09 January 2013


Walking in the Light

January 6, 2023

“Only let us live up to the truth we now have.” (Philippians 3:16)

The Apostle Paul had a life changing experience on the road to Damascus. He shared the details of that experience in the third chapter of his letter to the Church at Philippi. It was as if his accounting books were turned upside down – what had been in the gain column was now in the loss column and vice versa.

After his books had been turned upside down, or we might say right side up, Paul’s ambitions totally changed in the gain column. He wanted to tackle the purposes for which the risen Christ had tackled him. Now he only wanted to know Jesus Christ and the high calling of God to which Christ was leading him.

Paul claims that he has not attained these things in his new gain column, but he has learned a principle about knowing the will of God: if we want to know the will of God we must live up to the Light and truth God has given us at any given time on our faith journey.

From Paul’s experience we can take away a prescription for guidance. If we want to see further ahead into the will of God for our lives, then we should move ahead into the will of God just as far as we can see.

Like driving across country at night when we move ahead into the 100 yards of light our headlights give us – that light can lead us clear across our country.

When we live up to the Light we have, God gives us more Light.

Dick Woodward, 08 January 2011


A New Year’s Perspective &PURPOSE!

January 3, 2023

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

This year has come and gone. Economy prophets are now referring to our lingering economic downturn as “A Great Recession.” What security do we have as we begin the New Year? 

“…as He is, so are we in this world.” In nine words John, the aged Apostle of Love, gives us a marvelous perspective on our security. There are several ways we can interpret and apply these words. We can say it is only because Jesus is that we can be as we should be in this world. We can say that our security rests in the proposition that He is and He will equip us to be what He wants us to be in this world.

We can also say these words mean Jesus lives in us and through us. For 33 years He had a physical body of His own. For 2000 years now His followers have been the only body Jesus has. This presents the challenge that the only Christ people in this world know is the Christ they see revealed in and through you and me.

As you meditate on the portraits of Jesus Christ the New Testament presents by those who knew Him, realize these portraits are precisely the way He wants to be revealed to this world through your life and mine today. The overwhelming personality trait of Jesus Christ is love

Love is as He was and as He is today. Our purpose is not to be secure in this world but to let the love of Jesus pass to others through our lives.

Dick Woodward, 27 December 2011


New Things in the New Year! (Are you ready?)

December 30, 2022

 “Then He brought us out that He might bring us in…”  (Deuteronomy 6:23)

Are you ready for a new thing? Our Heavenly Father often wants to do a new thing in our lives but has three challenges.

Often when God wants to bring us out of the old and into a new place He cannot get us out of the old because we are insecure and want to hold on to the old place. God then has to blast us out of the old. That’s why a call of God is often made up of a pull from the front and a boot from the rear.

God’s second challenge is to pull us through the transition between the old place and the new. Transitions can last for years and they can be very painful, but God promises He can pull us through the worst of them.

God’s third challenge is to get us right so He can settle us into the new place. We should no more resist that work of God than a baby should resist being born and coming out into life.

Don’t give God a hard time when God wants to do a new thing in your life. If we trust God’s character we should cooperate with God when He wants to make changes and do new things in us and for us. A rut is a grave with both ends knocked out. Our loving Heavenly Father does not want to see His children in the living death of a rut.

Instead of giving God a hard time, make it easy for Him as He brings you out of the old place and leads you into the new places He has for you in the New Year.

Dick Woodward, 28 December 2012