January 4, 2019
“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 1:6)
In this first week of the New Year a friend informed me that he no longer makes New Year’s resolutions. When I asked him why he said, “My willpower is nearly always out of power.”
The Apostle Paul’s favorite Church was the one he planted at Philippi. Having brought scores of people to faith in Christ in that city, he finds himself in prison and unable to have physical contact with them. As their pastor he cannot use his powers of reason and persuasion or his spiritual gifts of wisdom, preaching and teaching. Yet he has unwavering confidence that they will continue in their faith in Jesus Christ.
This confidence is not based on them or on himself. He has his upbeat perspective about them because he knows that the One Who began a miraculous work in them will complete what He started.
The word ‘perspective’ means “to look through to the end.” At the starting gate of a New Year it’s important to have healthy perspective. I’m not thinking about willpower driven resolutions but spiritual goals that only the risen, living Christ can make doable.
I’m talking about what you would like to see Jesus Christ do in your life this year.
This year I have a new challenge for setting goals – to make them big and audacious. As we set goals for this New Year, be sure to make them big enough to let Christ in. Then watch Christ work because we have set big and audacious goals that only He can accomplish!
Dick Woodward, 04 January 2011
September 28, 2018
“My Word… will achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
In this marvelous chapter taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, he tells us why he preached the Word of God. Earlier in this chapter Isaiah proclaimed that there is as much difference between the way we think and act, and how God thinks and acts, as the heavens are high above the earth. He tells us he preached the Word of God because God’s Word can bring about an alignment between the way God thinks and acts and the way we think and act.
There is a strong emphasis in the Scripture on the importance of our will being in alignment with the will of God. Jesus made one of His greatest prayers when He sweat great drops of blood and prayed, “Not My will but Your will be done.” He taught His disciples to pray, “Your will be done on earth (and in their earthen vessels) as it is in Heaven.”
The Word of God describes the struggle between God and men like Moses, Job, Jonah, and many others who finally submit their wills to the will of God – and the will of God is done in and through them on earth as it is in heaven. When God declares through Isaiah that His Word will not return to Him without accomplishing the purpose for which He sent it, I am convinced that this is one of the purposes God had in mind.
When you read and hear the Word of God proclaimed, will you let God accomplish this purpose for the Word of God?
Will you let the Word of God bring about an alignment between your will and the will of God?
Dick Woodward, 28 September 2010
September 21, 2018
“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…” (Hebrews 11:6)
Do you know God? I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God? Do you want to know God? In the fragment of the verse quoted above we find a prescription that can help us know God.
The prescription is that we must believe that God is, and we must believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. My passion to know God led me to confess: “I believe that God is.”
But what is God and where is God?
A helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16) After studying the quality of love God is, this belief prescription led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is God likely to be doing His love thing?”
At that time I was a social worker (in Norfolk, VA.) Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this: “God, I have an idea that You are love where people are hurting. That’s where I’m going, so when I get there please pass this love You are through me to address their pain.”
As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and God touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.
If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between God’s love and the pain of hurting people.
Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011
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 – abounding – each 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
June 19, 2018
“This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk even as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)
In the first sixteen verses of this short letter, the Apostle John gives us a prescription for fullness. His prescription comes in seven parts: facts, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, follow-ship, fruitfulness, and fullness.
The facts are the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we believe the first fact we have forgiveness; when we believe the second the result is fellowship with the risen Christ.
Changing one letter in the word ‘fellowship’ to followship provides the key to John’s prescription for fullness. When you read this letter observe the repetition for emphasis of this concept: we will know that we know when we walk as Jesus walked.
Followship is also a key to the fullness of faith emphasized by Jesus. He made His covenant with the apostles: “Follow Me and I will make you.” (Matthew 4:19) The most important part of the Great Commission of Jesus occurred when He commissioned the disciples to make disciples. (Matthew 28: 18-20) A synonym for discipleship is apprenticeship. Jesus apprenticed the apostles and He commissioned them to apprentice disciples.
A great claim of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of John Chapter 7 when He declared that His teaching is the teaching of God. Jesus also proclaimed that we prove that when we do his teachings. (John 7:17)
According to Jesus the doing leads to the knowing. Intellectuals have claimed for a millennium that knowing will lead to doing, but Jesus said, “When you do you will know.”
Are you willing to do that you might know His teaching is the Word of God?
Dick Woodward, 18 June 2011
December 1, 2017
“So do not throw away your faith; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised… For he that is righteous shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)
As the author of the book of Hebrews continues giving doubting disciples reasons why they should not throw away their faith, he tells them they should not throw away their faith because they need their faith for living. Authentic disciples know they are saved by faith, but the disciples to whom he was writing did not know, or had forgotten, that they are also called to live by faith.
He quotes the key verse of the prophecy written by Habakkuk to suffering people. When we are suffering, we especially need to be reminded that God has given us the faith to persevere and do the will of God in our crisis.
I have observed a direct correlation between spiritual growth and suffering. The Greek word translated “persevere” in these verses is a quality God grows in us when we are living by faith while we are suffering, according to the Apostle Paul (Romans 5:3-5).
The immediate response of many authentic disciples when we find ourselves in a difficult situation is: “Lord, get me out of here!” When that doesn’t happen, we are sometimes tempted to throw away our faith.
The message conveyed by these verses is “Don’t throw away your faith. You need your faith to live through your crisis.”
Is this a message you need to hear today?
Dick Woodward, 03 December 2010
May 2, 2017
“I want to remind you of the gospel…which you received and on which you have taken your stand… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)
Since most evangelism takes place today in the marketplace, it is imperative that we understand how to articulate the Gospel. A first step in that direction is realizing the Holy Spirit is the Evangelist and we are merely conduits through whom the Holy Spirit works…
When Jesus stayed up late with Nicodemus, the first words of Nicodemus were: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do the works that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Jesus earned his hearing with Nicodemus by what he had seen Him do. Likewise, we must also earn our hearing with people. This begins with our understanding that what we do demonstrates what we believe. All the rest is just religious talk. People are not interested in our religious talk unless they are impressed by what they see us do and are favorably impacted by what we are. It’s as if Nicodemus was saying he was impressed with what he had seen Jesus do, so he had come to hear the religious talk of Jesus. We are deceiving ourselves if we think it’s not that way with us today.
What I’m calling religious talk is our theological explanation of what we believe and why we believe it. This can be a negative if we overwhelm people with our theology. Many secular people don’t understand the simplest theological terms… Whether positive or negative, people will not be interested if they are not impressed with who and what we are and the things we do.
When we earn our hearing by the grace of God, the Gospel is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died for our sins and He rose again from the dead, just as the Old Testament Scriptures said He would and the New Testament Scriptures tell us He did.
There is something to believe and Someone to receive.
Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 23, 24, 38)