GOD’S MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY!

August 25, 2017

“Surely Your goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This beautiful word is found three hundred and sixty-six times in the Bible. Perhaps God wants us to know we need unconditional love, every day of the year (even Leap Year!) Many people think we don’t hear about the mercy of God in the Bible until we get to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. However, two hundred and eighty references to God’s mercy are found in the Old Testament.

My favorite Old Testament mercy reference is found in the last verse of the Twenty-third Psalm. David ends his greatest Psalm with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. The Hebrew word he uses here for “follow” is a word that can also be translated “pursue.”  David brings the most profound and eloquent description of the relationship between God and man to a conclusion by making the declaration that the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life. By application, this is true for any of us who confess our sins.

There are so many ways to fail. When we understand the meaning of the mercy of God, however, we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail God’s mercy. As I place my failures on a scale, I like to place all those times mercy is used in the Bible on the scale opposite my failures. I invite you to do the same thing, no matter how horrible you think your sins are.

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2012


Spiritual Fitness: Godly Exercise(s)

August 22, 2017

“Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for…the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  (1Timothy 4:7-8)

As a young man, Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he most likely would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable; but, Paul declared that godly fitness was more profitable. Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our lives here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal lives.

I am intrigued with this question: what is godly exercise? The word “godly” means “like God.”  What is God- like?  We are told in the Word that God is a Spirit (John 4:24.) To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.

We also read in the Scripture that God is love. To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to the love that is God. At the heart of the love chapter (1Corinthians 13), Paul passes the love of God through the prism of his Holy Spirit inspired intellect and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Pursue intentionally what the 15 virtues are and what they will look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light.  Exercise yourself in this dimension of God likeness by filling your mind, heart and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that light will benefit you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013


Making Our Lives Count

August 18, 2017

“Teach us to count our days, that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90:12)

“Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.”  (NLT)

According to Moses, we should realize that life is like a game of Monopoly. Each year we begin with the same amount of currency: 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week and 8,760 hours for the year. We often hear the remark: “I haven’t got time for that!” This implies that we are not given the same amount of time. It would be more accurate to say: “I don’t value that activity enough to spend some of my time in that way.”

Dictionaries tell us a value is “that quality of any certain thing by which it is determined by us to be more or less important, useful, profitable and therefore desirable.” We all have a set of values. We spend our time on the things we consider important, useful, profitable and desirable.

When we ask God to teach us how to spend our time He will challenge us to consider the values of Jesus Christ. One of the many reasons Jesus became flesh and lived among us for 33 years was to show us how to live. He did that by presenting us with a set of values. As we read the four Gospels and follow Jesus every time He models and teaches a value, that spiritual discipline will revolutionize the way we spend our time.

I challenge you to ask God, “How should I spend my time?” I also challenge you to let the values of Christ revolutionize the way you spend your time.

Dick Woodward, 03 January 2014


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