God’s “Eighteen Wheeler” of Deliverance

May 21, 2019

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)

An attractive young lady was returning from a church meeting at a late hour. When she stopped at a traffic light, a large “eighteen-wheeler” truck was in the next lane. As the light changed and she pulled away, the large truck tailgated her car blinking its lights and blowing its loud air horn.

She was very frightened and increased her speed as she drove out of the city limits toward the farmhouse where she lived with her parents. The huge truck followed her all the way, blinking its lights and blowing its horn. She turned into a long dirt road that led to her home. The truck followed her as she drove right up to the porch of the house. When she frantically popped open her door to run for the house, the back door of her car suddenly opened and a man with a large knife bolted for the woods.

When she stopped for that traffic light, the truck driver saw the man crouching behind her front seat with a knife in his hand. Realizing that she was going to be attacked as soon as she drove into the country, the truck driver was determined to save her from that tragedy.

Sometimes, our suffering and limitations seem like that eighteen-wheeler bearing down on us. Actually, however, that suffering can be a vehicle of our loving God, purging out of our lives the evil one who is determined to ruin us.

This is what our Lord Jesus profiled when He instructed us in the disciple’s prayer to ask that we might be delivered from the evil one.

Can you meet yourself in this story?

Dick Woodward, 22 May 1012


#FAITH: HOPE & (ENDURING) LOVE

May 17, 2019

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

We read in the book of Hebrews: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The inspired author of the great faith chapter claims that the object of faith is unseen, and faith gives substance to our hope that the object of our faith exists.

In other words, faith puts a foundation under our hope.

When faith cannot place a foundation under our hope for the ones we love, all we can do is hope for them. According to the love hymn of Paul (I Corinthians 13) the one applying the love of Christ will hope for them.

Love joyfully awaits for the fulfillment of what it prayerfully desires, imagines, dreams and hopes concerning the potential of the ones we love.

When Paul writes, “Love endures all things,” he means love perseveres while it awaits the fulfillment of what it hopes and believes to see in the lives of the ones being loved. The Greek word translated as ‘endurance’ is ‘hupomone.” It is a combination of two Greek words, ‘to abide’ and ‘under,’ whatever is required to love someone.

This is especially important when we love a person who is not responding to our loving, positive reinforcement. This quality of loving perseverance equips believers to love and pray for loved ones in their addictions to alcohol, chemical substances, pornography, gambling, eating disorders and the seemingly endless list of compulsive habits.

These ‘chains’ of the evil one can only be broken with supernatural assistance from God, often using, as conduits, those who love with the love of Christ that hopes, believes, and endures all things.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Continuous Peace IN CHRIST

May 14, 2019

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Isaiah wrote of a state of perfect peace in which God can keep us, continuously. According to Isaiah, this state of continuous peace is based on two very important conditions: we must keep our minds centered on God, and we must trust God. This peace is supernatural because we can have it even when the circumstances of our lives are chaotic.

Jesus promised that He gives His followers peace the world will not understand because it comes from Him and can be ours even in the middle of the storms of life. The early followers of Christ were persecuted. While suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died in a state of peace because they had this peace I’m describing.

The Apostle Paul also believed in this peace. In one chapter of one of his letters he listed twelve conditions on which this peace is based. (Philippians, Chapter 4) In another letter Paul described this peace as the fruit and expression of the reality that the Holy Spirit lives in authentic disciples of Jesus.

We may therefore conclude that the basic condition of this peace is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.

“Christ in you” is the foundation on which the conditions of this continuous peace are to be built. (Colossians 1:27)

There is obviously something to believe and Someone to receive when you become a follower of Jesus Christ.

Do you believe? Have you received?

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2009


Psalm 23: A Prescription for Restoration

May 10, 2019

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23:3)

In the most popular psalm written by King David, he shares the key to living well and dying well in his opening statement. When we say (& believe) that the Lord is our Shepherd, we can say that we have green pastures, still waters and the knowledge that the paths in which we are moving are the right paths for us.

This all happens when God makes us lie down. But when we get up, the green pastures often turn brown and the still waters are disturbed again.

That’s when David gives a prescription for restoration: my Shepherd-God leads me in the paths of righteousness. This second time David writes ‘He leads me,’ he uses a different Hebrew word that means God drives me into the paths of righteousness, perhaps for some time, even years.

God then uses the discipline of those paths of righteousness to restore my soul.

The word “rehabilitation” in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” It, too, is a prescription for restoration.

When we need restoration and rehabilitation we should not look for what’s cheap. God’s prescription for restoration in the Shepherd Psalm of David is not a cheap prescription.

It takes time and it’s costly, but it works. It has worked for me and for scores of others I know personally.

It can also work for you.

When you suffer great loss you can focus on what you have lost and be depressed, or you can focus on what you still have and be restored.

Are you willing to join me and invest again with dignity?

Dick Woodward, 11 May 2010


Pursuing God: Asking, Seeking, Knocking

May 7, 2019

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)

This teaching of Jesus quoted from Luke’s Gospel is also repeated in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus challenges us in these two places to ask, to seek and to knock.

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking. The context shows that Jesus was not speaking of the forgiveness of sins, He was speaking of knowing God in a real and personal way.

Revised translations show that asking, seeking and knocking are to be continuous and done with great perseverance. This is what theologians call “Importunate prayer.”

This exhortation is followed by the promise that everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and everyone who is willing to knock on the door of knowing God will find that door opening. If your personal pursuit of God isn’t working in this way you have two choices: you can question the integrity of the One who made these promises, or you can consider the possibility that your pursuit of God may be flawed.

If this is a new thought I challenge you to take Jesus up on His challenge. The context of this teaching is that Jesus was a Man of intense prayer and His disciples were not. This was His response to their request to teach them what He knew about prayer that they obviously did not know.

I challenge you to prioritize your time to intentionally pursue God in prayer. Your pursuit of God could be the greatest pursuit of your life!

Dick Woodward, 07 May 2010


#Faith: What are You?

May 3, 2019

“… He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated ‘Peter.’)   (John 1:42)

When Jesus first met Peter, his name was Simon and his life was characterized by instability.  Yet Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter,” which means “rock” andstability.”

In Matthew 16 we have an intriguing interview between Jesus and Peter. Jesus had done the “who are you?” question in reverse. He asked the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter came up with the right answer. The Lord then said in so many words, “You’re not that smart Peter. That answer really didn’t come from you. It came from My Father.”

In this interview Jesus was telling Peter who and what Peter was, and what he was being called to be. In the Gospels Peter’s life is recorded like an unstable spiritual roller coaster. But after Jesus called Peter a ‘rock’ for three years and after Peter experienced Pentecost, we read in Acts that this unstable man became the rock-like, stable leader of the New Testament Church.

When you read the Gospels and Acts, you realize Jesus was convincing Peter of what he could become because he had come to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Do you hear the voice of the Christ Who lives in your heart trying to give you His answer to this question, “What are you?”

Is Jesus making you know what you can become and do for Him since He has made you a new creation? Is Jesus making you know what He can equip you to become as He is calling you and revealing what He wants you to be and do for him?

Dick Woodward, A Spiritual Compass (p. 71-72)


#Jesus: A Friend of Sinners

April 30, 2019

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” He said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”  (Luke 19:5)

When Jesus came face to face with the greatest sinner in Jericho, He knew him and called him by name. He then invited himself to spend the entire day in the house of His sinner friend. This chapter tells us elsewhere that Jesus was only passing through Jericho. He was extremely popular at this time and His walk through Jericho was like a parade with the sides of the street crowded with people wanting to get a glimpse of the famous Rabbi from Galilee.

We might imagine that the religious leaders would like to have entertained Jesus for lunch. To everyone’s shock and amazement Jesus declares that He will spend His one day in Jericho with the greatest sinner there. Publicans were hated in that day because they collected taxes for the Romans from their fellow Jews.

Zacchaeus as chief of the publicans had become very wealthy in that position.

We are told nothing of what Jesus and Zacchaeus discussed that day, but at the end of the day as they come out of the house this sinner announces that he will give half of his money to the poor. And with the other half he will restore 400% of everything he has taken from people unjustly.

One scholar put an interesting spin on this story when he suggested that Zacchaeus was the publican in the previous chapter of Luke who prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!

Do you know any sinners by name?  Are you a friend of sinners?

Dick Woodward, 01 May 2011