What is the Righteous One Doing?

July 2, 2019

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Greek is a very precise language; Hebrew is not. That’s why we frequently find footnotes that suggest alternate readings in the margins of our Bibles when we read Old Testament passages of Scripture. The NIV translation’s footnote for Psalm 11:3 is: “When the foundations of your life are breaking up, what is the righteous One doing?”

In my life I have experienced several periods when it seemed that the foundations of my life were breaking up. I found the alternate reading of this verse to be a reliable response that turned many of those crises into significant spiritual datelines in my journey of faith.

My faith walk began in 1949 and along the way I dropped two words out of my vocabulary: “fortunately” and “coincidentally.”  Because I believe in Divine Providence, I no longer believe in luck. I also agree with the spiritual heavyweight who said when devout believers think they have experienced a coincidence it just means God prefers to remain anonymous.

The Chinese word for “crisis” combines the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” I believe we should factor into all our crises this knee jerk response: “What is the righteous One doing in my life now?”

I find that God is always up to something and ultimately it is always something good. It is not primarily for our good, but what accomplishes God’s good for God’s glory.

If you are in a time of crisis right now, or when you find yourself in one, consider “What is the righteous One doing?”

Dick Woodward, 02 July 2010


Zacchaeus: Strategic Encounters of Salt & Light

June 21, 2019

…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

In Luke 19, verses 1–10, we encounter Jesus interacting with the tax collector, Zacchaeus. The beautiful part of the Zacchaeus story is that Jesus spends His only day in Jericho with this little crook, and all the people are griping about it.

It would make a great painting if an artist would paint Jesus who was a tall man, according to Josephus, walking home with His arm around small and short Zacchaeus.

Here we see the strategy of Jesus.

Jesus is passing through Jericho. He obviously wants to reach the man who can impact and reach Jericho for Him after he has passed through and beyond the city limits.

It must have made a big impact upon the city when Zacchaeus started calling in the people he had ‘ripped off.’ Imagine their surprise, joy, and awe when they, thinking he was going to get into their purses even deeper, discovered that he wanted to pay them back 400% because he had met Jesus!

This is an illustration and an application of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that the solution, the answer, the salt, the light – is something we are, and that we simply must hear His word and do it.

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.142-143)


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)


Finding God’s Strength in Our Weakness

February 26, 2019

“When I am weak then I am strong…” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In these eight words the Apostle Paul gives us a strength formula. When you are having a serious operation, instead of counting to ten as the anesthesiologist administers the medicine that knocks you out, I suggest you say these eight words:

“When I am weak then I am strong.”

While most of us are ‘control freaks,’ experiencing anesthesia we give up all control. But, as believers when we give up all control, we will find ourselves underneath the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)  This makes us stronger than we have ever been.

Paul, quoting Isaiah, writes the key to spiritual strength is that God gives strength to the weary and power to the weak. (Isaiah 40:27-31) One translation reads that God’s strength looks good on weak people. The key to spiritual strength is therefore not found in our strength, but in our weakness.

These eight words are therefore a formula for strength. They give us great spiritual strength in our times of absolute weakness.  Discover with the Apostle Paul that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, not in trying to make ourselves strong.

We find our greatest strength in the Everlasting Arms that are there underneath us.

Prove what Isaiah and Paul teach us. The Everlasting Arms are there and they give us more strength than we have ever known as healthy active people. The next time you experience weakness on any level of life remember to pray these eight words: “When I am weak then I am strong.”

You will soon find yourself saying, “I’m not but He is; I can’t, but He can;” and then, “I didn’t but He did” when you let Jesus perfect His strength in your weakness.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2014


Faith vs. Giantology

February 8, 2019

“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)

In the Old Testament book of Numbers we read that twelve Hebrew spies were sent into Canaan to determine the strength of the enemies they would face invading that land. Ten of the spies reported that, “The people in that land are such big and fierce looking giants they made us feel like grasshoppers. And the cities are mightily fortified with walls so thick they build houses on them!”

However, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, reported that they had never seen such fruitful soil in their lives. They described how two men had to carry one cluster of grapes on a thick pole in Canaan.  Furthermore, they proclaimed that since they had the Lord with them they were well able to conquer the land of Canaan.

We might say the ten spies with the negative report were experts in “giantology” because they only saw the giants, while Caleb and Joshua saw the Lord. They had vision that the Lord was well able to give them the exceedingly fruitful land of Canaan.

When we “committee our way unto the Lord” and are challenged to take on a project that has great potential for being fruitful, but there are many obstacles and risks involved, we often have a split committee on a ten to two basis. Ten are experts on obstacles and risks involved in that project and two are like Caleb and Joshua.

When you are faced with challenges that involve risks but great potential for God, are you an expert in “giantology” or do you see the Lord?”

Dick Woodward, 11 February 2011


Tears & Sighs of Prayer

January 18, 2019

“I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.” (Isaiah 38:5)

Early in my ministry as a pastor I made a discovery about prayer. I came to the conclusion that we are praying even when we do not close our eyes, fold our hands, and bow our heads.

I discovered that prayer is the sincere desire of our souls no matter how we express it.

The sigh of a believer can be a prayer. When we come to the end of our hoarded resources and throw ourselves across a bed and sigh, or cry – that is also a prayer.

God sent the Prophet Isaiah to tell a sick King Hezekiah that he was going to die. Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and cried. When God saw the tears of King Hezekiah, God sent Isaiah back to him with the message: “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears.”

And God added 15 years to King Hezekiah’s life.

When we express the sincere desires of our souls, which are often too deep for words, in tears and sighs of despair – that is prayer God hears and answers. God has as much interaction with people in the waiting rooms of hospitals as God has in the sanctuaries of our churches.

Realizing your tears and sighs of despair are prescriptions for prayer, will you offer them to God as the prayers of your heart?

God will hear you.

Dick Woodward, 18 January 2011