#FAITH, GRACE & PERSEVERANCE

March 20, 2020

 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Rejoice in your sufferings, knowing what? In the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul begins by writing that God has given us access, by faith, to grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world and live a life that glorifies God.

Imagine how it must make God feel when He has given us access to all the grace we need to live for Christ in this world – and we never access that grace. According to Paul, suffering enters our lives that we cannot bear without drawing on God’s grace we access by faith.

Paul writes that as we receive the grace to endure our suffering God produces mature Christ-like character in our lives such as perseverance.

When you ask the question, “How does an orange get to be an orange?” The answer is, “By hanging in there.”

That is the essence of perseverance.

When some followers of Christ find themselves suffering, their immediate response is “Lord, deliver me from this, immediately!” He can and sometimes He does.

But He often does not. When Christ does not, it may be His will to grow spiritual character in the life of His follower. When that is what God is doing Paul is telling us we should rejoice in our sufferings, access grace by faith, and then grow spiritually.

Dick Woodward, 19 March 2009


#Faith and (Abounding) #Grace

February 7, 2020

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and the grace of God bestows on us all kinds of wonderful blessings we do not deserve. Grace is also the dynamic we must receive from God to do what God calls and leads us to do. 2 Corinthians 9:8 is the most superlative verse about grace in the Bible.

It tells us that God is able to make all grace, not just some grace, abound toward us, not just trickle in our direction. Then we may have all sufficiency, not just some sufficiency, in all things, not just some things.

We are then equipped to abound, not just do our duty, as we do every good work God leads us to do, not just the works we like to do, ALWAYS!

Twice in this verse Paul emphasizes the reality that this grace is for you – not just for the pastor or the missionary – but you!

Is this grace a reality in your journey of faith?

I once heard Dr. A. W. Tozer preach on this verse. After he read it there was an eloquent pause before he said, “Sometimes you cannot help but allow the thought that God oversold grace in the New Testament.” He then preached a powerful message challenging us to believe God has not oversold His grace but that we need to learn how to access His grace.

The hymn writer wrote, “The favor God shows and the joy He bestows are for those who will trust and obey…”

That is a good place to start.

Dick Woodward, 10 February 2012


Highways for God

July 9, 2019

“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Isaiah 40:4-5)

The essence of Isaiah’s great sermon is that when you build a highway you do four things: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and smooth out rough places.

Isaiah preached that God was coming into our world and when He did He was going to travel on the highway of the life of His Son. In that life the mountains of pride would be leveled, the empty spaces would be one hundred percent filled with the Holy Spirit, the crooked ways of sin would be perfectly straight, and rough places would be made smooth by the way He responded to them.

Just before Jesus parted with His apostles He told them that in the same way the Father sent Him into the world, He was sending them into the world. If His life was to be a highway on which God traveled into this world, our lives are also meant to be highways for God.

I challenge you to ask God to make your life a highway for Him to travel in this world.

If you have the courage to pray this way God’s bulldozers will start leveling your mountains of pride, the Holy Spirit will fill your empty spaces and straighten out your crooked ways of sin, and then give you the grace to smooth out the rough challenges that come into your life.

Dick Woodward, 06 July 2012


What God Wants: Justice, Mercy & Humility

March 19, 2019

“…And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The prophet Micah asked an important question. In effect, his question is what are the divine requirements of God? What does God expect, require, demand, and command from me? Micah presents us with three answers to his question.

His first answer is that we should do justly. In other words, we should be a conduit of justice. We should stand up against injustice anytime and anywhere we see it. Since we live in a world that is filled with injustice this can be dangerous. Jesus Christ did this and it got Him crucified.

Micah’s second answer is that we should love mercy. Mercy is unconditional love. This is the chief characteristic of the love of God. King David believed that the mercy and unconditional love of God pursues us all the days of our lives. (Psalm 23)

Micah’s final answer to his profound question is that we are to walk humbly with our God. Humility has consistently been a characteristic of the great spiritual souls we have known in this life. C.S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins and we read in the Proverbs that God hates pride. We can see why God hates pride because God hates sin.

Are you willing to be the person of faith Micah profiled? There is a sense in which we cannot become a just, merciful and humble person on our own, but these three answers do give us a profile of the person God wants us to be.

Are you willing to let God give you the grace to be that person?

Dick Woodward, 20 March 2011


Always Pray About Everything!

March 1, 2019

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them?

God’s Word exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Alternate readings state that God is “abundantly available for help in tight places.

The Apostle Paul was delivered from many tight places. He asked the Philippians to pray that he might be delivered from prison. They prayed, and he was delivered from his imprisonment at that time. We should therefore always pray in a crisis. It has been said, “When it’s hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

Paul knew from personal experience, however, that God does not always take our problems away. He had a physical “thorn in the flesh” that he asked God three times to take away. Paul saw many people healed as he ministered the power of the Holy Spirit to them. Yet, when he asked God to solve his health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.” God essentially said, “Tell you what I’m going to do, Paul. I’m going to give you the grace to cope with your problem.” (II Corinthians 12)

When God gave Paul the grace to cope, he discovered the power of Christ was upon him in a mighty way. Paul not only accepted the will of God, he learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us.

Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.

Prayer may deliver us from our problems, or it may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.

Always pray about everything!

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace


Another Beautiful Word: GRACE

August 31, 2018

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)

The mercy of God withholds what we deserve and the grace of God lavishes on us countless blessings we do not deserve. As we appreciate what the mercy of God withholds and the grace God bestows when we believe the Gospel, we should be filled with grateful worship of our gracious and merciful God.

When Jesus gave His Great Commission He instructed the disciples to wait until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1: 4, 5) After that happened to the disciples on Pentecost, we read:  “Great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) This use of the word “grace” means there is such a thing as the anointing and energizing unction of the Holy Spirit upon us as we serve Jesus Christ. I am using the word in that sense when I tell people that the grace of Jesus outweighs my challenges (especially as a bedfast quadriplegic.)

Paul declared this dimension of grace when he wrote: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) This is the most emphatic verse in the New Testament regarding the anointing and energizing grace of God.

Check out the superlatives the Apostle Paul uses in this verse:  All grace – aboundingeach and every one of you – having all sufficiency – in all things – abounding unto every good work – always!  According to Paul we should all be able to make the claim that His grace outweighs our challenges.

Do you believe the grace of God outweighs your challenges today?

Dick Woodward, 31 August 2012


Accepting Afflictions

May 4, 2018

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word…  It is good for me that I have been afflicted… I know, O Lord, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119: 67, 71, 75)

Many believers like me resonate with these words from Psalm 119. Although this is not always the explanation when God’s people are afflicted, it often is. I have lived with a chronic illness since 1978 and have been paralyzed since 1984. Although I began ministry as a pastor in 1955, my afflictions moved me to do the life’s work God called me to do.

God tells us that He chastens those He loves. (Revelation 3:19)  Although the goodness of God can lead to repentance, for most of us it is the chastening of our Lord knocking on the doors of our lives that moves us to open up and invite Him in. Like Jonah, sometimes it’s only through divine intervention that “I will not” is converted to “I will.”

As a “Type A” workaholic pastor I left before I got there and people could not keep up with my fast walk. For someone like me to be slammed down in one place, unable to move anything from the neck down, it was an overwhelming intervention.

It took two years to even begin moving toward accepting my limits. When the acceptance came it was a supernatural miracle of inner healing. After twenty years I eventually reached the point where I could tell the Lord I loved Him for cutting me back and improving the quality and quantity of what He wanted me to do for Him.

Can you resonate with the perspective of this ancient hymn writer?

Dick Woodward, 04 May 2013

Editor’s Note: After physical limitations slowed my father down, he compiled the Mini Bible College, a topical study of the Old and New Testaments that has been translated in over 41 languages (& counting!)