When It’s Time for a Change

July 20, 2018

“I have brought you out that I might lead you in…”
(Deuteronomy 6:23)

There are times when God wants to do a new thing in our lives. To do this new thing God faces three challenges. God has to get us out of the old place and that is not easy because we love the security of where we are. God therefore has to blast us out of the old place. That can happen in many ways. We could be fired, or we may just know in our knower that it is time to make a change. The call of God is often made up of a pull from the front and a boot from the rear.

The second challenge God faces is to keep us going to pull us through the transition time between the old place and the new place where God is leading us. Transition times can be difficult! Deuteronomy 6:23 describes the way God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to bring them into the Promised Land. Their transition time involved crossing a desert, which should have taken a few weeks. They went around in circles for forty years!

They circled that desert because they did not have the faith to invade the land of Canaan. When God wants to do a new thing in our lives do we go around in circles because we do not have the faith to enter into the new place to which God is leading us?

The third challenge God faces is that God has to make us right so God can settle us into the new place. One translation of 2 Corinthians 6:1 reads that we are ‘co-operaters’ with God. When we realize something of what God is trying to do in our lives it would help us (& God) if we would give God a little more cooperation.

Dick Woodward, 24 July 2009


Temporal vs. Eternal Values

July 17, 2018

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  (John 17:3)

To appreciate eternal values we must define these two words: eternal and temporal.  Eternal literally means “that which was, that which is, and that which always shall be.” Temporal relates to “that which is temporary.”

Jesus made it clear that we have eternal life because we are related to the true God and believe in the One Whom God sent. Jesus and God are eternal and we have eternal life because we believe and are related to them. We must also make the observation that eternal life is referring to a quality of life as well as a quantity of life.

The word value also needs to be defined. The dictionary tells 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.”

When we bring these concepts together (eternal, temporal and value) we should realize we are discussing what is more and less important, useful, profitable and therefore desirable in this life and in the life to come.

An eternal value is that the eternal is a greater value than the temporal.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “Truly, if our hope in Christ were limited to this life only we should, of all mankind be the most to be pitied!” (1Corinthians 15:19 J.B.Phillips)

Paul so highly valued the eternal he sacrificed his life here for what he was sure awaited him in eternity.

Do you value the eternal more than the temporal?

Dick Woodward, 16 July 2013


Prejudice vs. Faithfulness & Love

July 13, 2018

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. What does the fact that Jonah wrote this story, which makes him look foolish, tell us about his values and motivations? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth might look something like this:

When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, “I can’t love Ninevites, Lord!” But God said to me, “I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!”  I told the Lord, “I don’t want to go and I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!”  The Lord said to me, “I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!” When I went to Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me. Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

To be prejudiced means to “pre-judge.”  Prejudice comes in many shapes and forms. Is the work of God through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth or social status?

Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment? Experiencing God’s call are you joining Jonah by saying, “I will not?”  When are you going to let the love and power of the Spirit of Christ cut through all your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?” Remember, it’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

Dick Woodward,

Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet


Love God, Love One Another!

July 10, 2018

“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 brother 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


Fellowship of the Fig Tree

July 6, 2018

“… before Phillip called you I saw you under the fig tree.”  (John 1:48)

As Jesus recruited apostles he had an interesting exchange with the one who was to become the Apostle Nathaniel. Nathaniel apparently had the regular practice of having times of intimate fellowship with God under a fig tree. When he met Jesus for the first time Jesus affirmed him as a Jew in whom there was no guile.

When Nathaniel exclaimed, “How do you know me?” Jesus said in so many words, “I’m the One you’ve been talking to under the fig tree!” That blew Nathaniel away and he was convinced forever that Jesus was the Son of God and many other things. (The whole story can be found in John 1:47-51.)

I find a challenge in this exchange between Jesus and this apostle. The challenge is simply this: do we have a fig tree place and time where we regularly meet with God and have intimate fellowship? You might call this, as I have, “The Fellowship of the Fig Tree.”

Years ago I gave a devotional at a businessmen’s breakfast on this concept. One of the attendees who became a dear brother was in the furniture business. He gave me a beautiful artificial fig tree, placing it in my home where I had my quiet times with God every morning. He wanted me to have my intimate times with God under a fig tree. That was nearly 40 years ago. It is still here in our home today.

Do you belong to the Fellowship of the Fig Tree? Do you have a place where you meet with God every day?

Dick Woodward, 07 July 2009


Knocked Down – But Never Out!

July 3, 2018

…This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak, in common earthenware – to show that the splendid power of it belongs to God and not to us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7 (J.B. Phillips)

Many years ago our famous American statesman, John Quincy Adams, was crossing a street.  Due to poor health it took him five minutes to reach the other side. A friend passing by asked, “How is John Quincy Adams this morning?”  He replied, “John Quincy Adams is doing just fine. The house he lives in is in sad disrepair. In fact, it is so dilapidated, John Quincy Adams may have to move soon, but John Quincy Adams is doing just fine, thank you!”

John Quincy Adams had good theology. To make a clear distinction between his inward man (the spiritual man who is eternal), and his outward man (the body which is temporal), and clearly value the inward man above the outward man is a vital dimension the Apostle Paul shares with us in II Corinthians chapters 4 and 5.

According to Paul, outwardly we do not always know why things happen the way they do. Therefore, our outward persona is often perplexed. Paul tells us, however, that inside there is a continuous persuasion because Christ lives in us.

Paul writes that outwardly we may be persecuted and suffer, but inside Jesus is continuously assuring us, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Speaking from his own experiences of suffering, illness and persecution, Paul acknowledges that sometimes our little clay pot gets knocked down, but never knocked out.

Because there is a Great Treasure living in our clay plot, we always get up and keep going.

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values


Relational Two-Way Streets

June 29, 2018

“For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:2)

You can’t control the weather and rainy days but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you. There is a relationship principle that tells us communication is a two-way street: whatever you send down that street comes back up that street in your relationship with another person.

That is what the Apostle Paul is essentially teaching: If I say things that get you down who is going to build me up or pull me up? The reality is that you are probably going to pull me down because misery loves company. This is a negative way of stating a positive truth. That truth is if I say things that build you up, I have equipped you to build me up.

In another place Paul wrote:Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

In every relationship we have, with our spouses, children, parents, those we work with, those we work for, and those who work for us – make the commitment to say and do things that build them up and minister the grace of God to them.

You will be surprised by joy to discover that what you send down a relational street will come back up that street in your relationship with that person.

Jesus gave an unstable man named Simon the nickname Peter, which means stable like a rock. After calling Peter a rock for three years Peter was stable like a rock.

Dick Woodward, 29 June 2010