God’s Guidance: One Day at a Time

August 13, 2021

“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray He gave us a principle that has many applications. At the end of Matthew 6, which records the central part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that we should not worry about tomorrow.  Many have made that obvious application to this prayer petition.

People with tragic challenges like addictions and overwhelming suffering are only able to get their heads and hearts around the concept of a solution one day at a time.

Another legitimate application of this principle for living is to apply this concept to divine guidance. In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul states that one way to discern the will of God for our life is to live up to the light we now have. He promises that as we do God will give us more light.  

To illustrate that concept someone said “If you want to see further ahead into the will of God for your life move ahead into the will of God just as far as you can see.”

When I was a college student I drove across the United States several times. I drove at night because there was less traffic. My headlights illuminated about 100 yards at a time. I discovered that if I kept driving into the light the headlights gave me, I eventually traveled from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles.

It is easier for God to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary. As we respond to the light God is giving us God adds more light to our path. The application of that principle leads us into God’s will one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, 17 August 2010


A Spiritual Greeting: GRACE TO YOU!

August 10, 2021

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

As you study the letters of the Apostle Paul you will find a common greeting and salutation in all of them. At the beginning you will find these words: “Grace to you.” At the conclusion you will find words like these: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

In nearly every generation of language and culture there are words people use when they first encounter someone.  After visiting with them there are words used for parting. Some of these greetings and salutations do not have much meaning. It was not so with the way Paul began and concluded his letters.

One of Paul’s favorite concepts was “grace.” In many of his letters he emphasized the truth that we are saved by grace and not by works. 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)

Perhaps Paul’s greatest verse that describes the empowering dimension of grace is 2Corinthians 9:8. He writes there 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 the sufficiency we need to abound in every good work – ALWAYS!

As you come to appreciate the meaning of “grace,” isn’t it an appropriate heartfelt concept to include in your greetings with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 10 August 2010


JOY! JOY! JOY! UNBREAKABLE JOY!

August 6, 2021

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”  Philippians 4:4

Misery is optional even though pain and suffering are inevitable. Those words were written by a man who lives with excruciating pain every day. How can misery be optional for someone in pain? How is it Paul mentions joy 17 times in a short letter he wrote from prison?

For those who experience and express the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who have a relationship with the risen, living Christ, there is a joy that is not controlled by circumstances.

The peace Paul experienced and prescribes for you and me can be called the peace that doesn’t make sense. It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) The joy of which Paul writes can be called the happiness that doesn’t make sense. This is true because this peace and joy are the fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us.

This peace and joy are not controlled by our circumstances. 

What is the foundation of that peace and joy? According to Paul, that foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find our joy in Him at all times.

What is the foundation of your serenity and joy?

When Paul writes his words about joy, he directs us here to a foundation for serenity and joy that is not fragile: “Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 188-190)


UNCONDITIONAL GRACE

August 3, 2021

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.”  (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This verse is not teaching the random chaos of life. This verse instead parallels a truth emphasized in the Bible and expressed by the word grace. The truly significant events in the life of a believer are the result of grace and not the results of self effort. The charisma of God upon the work of your hands will make the difference between your life having eternal significance and your life’s work amounting to wood, hay and stubble in the eternal state. (1Corinthians 3:12-15; Psalm 90:17)

The writings of the Apostle Paul are filled with an emphasis upon the concept of grace. The word grace means ‘unmerited favor.’

The blessing of God upon us is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. The grace of God and the love of God are unconditional.

When you understand the meaning of the word grace which is found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it follows that the race is not to the swift or strong or wise or skilled…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created  in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:8-10

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook, p.428


A Prayer for the Valleys

July 30, 2021

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”  (Psalm 23:4-5)

In your dark valleys, learn to pray in this manner:

“As I enter this valley, Lord, I will not be paralyzed by fear, because I believe You are with me. Your ability to protect me and lead me through this valley is a comfort to me. I know that in the darkest and scariest part of this valley, in the middle of life threatening danger, You will spread a table of provision for me.

I am trusting You completely to anoint me with the oil of Your personalized, attentive care. I believe you will give me mercy for my failures and the grace I need to help in my time of need. You will also pursue me with Your goodness, unconditional love and acceptance, when I wander away from Your loving care.”

Finally, thank your Good Shepherd-God that you can trust Him to lead you through this life to unbroken fellowship with Him forever in Heaven: to green pastures that never turn brown, still waters that never become disturbed, and the cup that never empties.

Offer this prayer to “the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead that great Shepherd of sheep, Who through the blood of the everlasting covenant, can make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


The Anatomy of a Sin: Pizza! Pizza!

July 27, 2021

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15)

In this verse James gives us what we might call the “Anatomy of a Sin.”

One day more than twenty years ago, my wife had to be gone for six or seven hours. Watching sports television that evening, every thirty minutes or so an advertisement promoting pizza came on. I love pizza but I’m not supposed to have it because I am a diabetic. Each time I saw the commercial I developed a stronger desire for pizza.

I had a telephone and some money in my pocket, so eventually I called and ordered a pizza. I told them I was in a wheelchair so please walk in. When the delivery man arrived, I asked him to place the pizza on the blanket in my lap and take the box with him (to leave no evidence.)

When my wife returned, however, as she picked up the blanket to fold it a small pizza crust dropped to the floor. Needless to say, I got in trouble, big time!

According to James sin involves a lure, a look, a strong desire, and eventually temptation – then sin and death, which means “the pits.” The lure is like a piece of metal and our strong desire is a powerful magnet. If we don’t do something to break up that magnetic field between our desire and that lure, we will sin.

I didn’t do that, so pizza landed in my lap.

James shared this with us so we would understand the importance of breaking up the magnetic sequence of sin.  Are you willing to do that?

Dick Woodward, 24 June 2011


LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

July 23, 2021

“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 would cry:

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

As we see in chapter four of First John, 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. 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 person 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


#FAITH: WATCHING AND LISTENING

July 20, 2021

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength…” Habakkuk 3:17-19

The Old Testament and New Testament history has identified an undeniable reality: good and evil exist side by side. The names and faces of good and evil keep changing, but good and evil have always had a presence in this world. Although forces of evil have tried for thousands of years to destroy the people of God, God’s people still have a presence in this world, by faith.

The devotional application of Habakkuk’s prophesy is that we should build spiritual watchtowers. When facing overwhelming problems, especially Job-like tragedies that nobody understands, watch and listen in your spiritual watchtower. While watching and listening, Habakkuk wants you to know God welcomes your questions.

While everyone else was looking and listening for the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, Habakkuk watched and listened for God. If we watch and listen for God today the way Habakkuk did, we will discover God is still speaking through men and women of faith.

When Habakkuk looked at his problems and circumstances, he sighed and despaired. When Habakkuk turned to God with his doubts and asked God questions, watching and listening for God’s answers, Habakkuk sang.

When you are overwhelmed with Babylon and Job-type challenges, go up in your spiritual watchtower so that you might:

Watch until you see God working in your life.

Listen until you hear God working in your life.

See, hear, and worship God Who is working in your life.

Like Habakkuk, ask God your questions. In God’s time and God’s own way, God will answer your questions – if you are listening!

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook (p.630-632)


FINDING PEACE IN CHRIST JESUS

July 16, 2021

The peace of God…will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, 12-13)

According to Paul, to attain and maintain the peace of God we must rest in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? What does it mean to be in Christ? Describing the relationship we have with the risen Christ, the authors of the New Testament say it’s to be “in Christ.”  Paul uses this description ninety-seven times in his writings.

According to Jesus, the expression means that we are in union with Him, as a branch is in union with a vine. If we are involved in the work of Jesus, then all day long we are going to be faced with the impossible – things we cannot do – because it’s His work. We can only be vehicles through which Jesus does His work. 

If we think it all depends on us, we lose our peace, big time!

Perhaps the greatest “peace thief” devout disciples of Jesus experience is doing the work of Christ in our own strength. What I call “Four Spiritual Secrets” is the solution to that problem. These Four Secrets are my way of expressing what it means to “rest in Christ Jesus.”

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.
I can’t, but He can.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.
I don’t want to, but He wants to.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

Dick Woodward, 01 July 2009


#FAITH: DOING LEADS TO KNOWING

July 13, 2021

“If any man wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the teaching whether it is from God…” (John 7:17)

Jesus gave us a solid principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. The principle is this: If anyone wills to do, that person will know

For millennia those who approach the proposition of faith intellectually have said, “When I know, then I will do.” Their premise has been and remains: “the knowing leads to the doing.” 

Pointing to their temples they say, “Reach me here.” Pointing to their heart, they say, “Then I will follow through here.” They are essentially saying, “Reach me intellectually and then I will commit volitionally.”

Jesus cut through all that when He proclaimed this principle: the doing leads to the knowing. When you commit your will to doing what Jesus teaches then intellectual affirmation will follow. It is only then that you will know the teaching of Jesus is the Word of God and not just the ideas of another great teacher coming down the pike.

When people followed Jesus on His terms He called them “disciples.” A synonym for that word is “apprentice.” An apprentice and a disciple are learning what they’re doing and doing what they’re learning.

As Jesus apprenticed His disciples they discovered that the doing leads to the knowing. Are we applying this principle to our faith as followers of Jesus Christ?

Dick Woodward, Lackey Free Clinic Health Beat, Summer 2009