6th Condition for Peace: Rest in Christ

May 23, 2017

“The peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus… I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:7&13)

What does it meant to rest in Christ Jesus? It means we are so in union with Christ, as a branch is in union with a vine, that we draw from Him, the Vine, all the life-giving spiritual power we need for everything we do for Him, with Him and through Him, as we rest in Him. It means resting in His power to do the things He calls us to do, all day long.

As a bedfast quadriplegic & pastor, my way of expressing it is the Four Spiritual Secrets:

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I can’t, but He can.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I don’t want to, but He wants to.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

So much anxiety, and perhaps the greatest peace thief disciples of Jesus experience, comes from thinking we must do the work of Christ in our own strength. If we are in the will of God, then often we are going to be faced with things we cannot do on our own, but, as vehicles through which Christ does His work, can be done. If we think it all depends on us, we lose our peace!

Overwhelming physical and emotional problems that are crushing the life out of us – terminal or chronic illness, difficult relationships and the challenges of everyday living – will only be manageable when we realize that facing them is not a matter of who and what we are, or what we can or cannot do. They are simply an opportunity to prove and demonstrate Who and what Jesus is and what He can do.

We must acknowledge that we can’t but Jesus can, as we rest our hearts and minds in Christ and in only what He can do.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Paul’s 3rd Condition for Peace: Thinking About?

May 12, 2017

“…think on these things…”  (Philippians 4:8)

Paul and Jesus agree that we should think our way to peace (after praying!) Jesus challenged us: The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23) Jesus was talking about how we think and look at things – our mindset and outlook.

Paul gives us the same counsel in his third condition for peace: we can decide how we are going to think, and how we are not going to think. He challenges us to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good news. How much time do we spend thinking about things that are untrue, dishonorable, unjust, impure, ugly, and bad news?

Isaiah wrote, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) Paul and Isaiah agree that if the trust is always, the peace is perfect and perpetual. If the trust is up and down, the peace is up and down. If there is no trust, there is no peace, because we must keep our minds continuously fixed on God, trusting.

What does it mean to keep our minds fixed on God? For starters, we should think about Who God really is, and the attributes of God…

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in prison chained between two soldiers 24/7. Guards changed every 4 hours, which means he never had a moment of privacy, (yet through his witness many of those soldiers came to Christ in a “chain reaction.” 🙂 ) He had to practice this condition for peace continually: “Fix your minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and praiseworthy,” then, “the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” (Just like these soldiers who were guarding Paul.)

In the context of our own experiences of terrifying stress, like combat, being violated by a crime, a terrible accident, surgery, prison, the news that we have a malignancy, or the final stages of an illness, this prescription can give us peace.

“Think on these things…”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace

 


Mercy & Love, Salt & Light

April 7, 2017

“Blessed are the merciful …  Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matthew5:7&8)

Jesus begins His greatest discourse with a “check up from the neck up.” He teaches eight attitudes that can make us salt and light, and one of His solutions to what is wrong with this crazy world. These eight attitudes come in pairs. The third pair is to be merciful with a pure heart.

One scholar writes that these blessed attitudes are like climbing a mountain. The first pair takes us halfway up the mountain and the second pair takes us to the top of the mountain. The third pair takes us half way down the other side of the mountain.

The profound simplicity of Jesus is asking the question: “When we are filled with righteousness that takes us to the top of the mountain what kind of people are we? Are we Bible experts who throw the book at people?” No! True disciples are filled with mercy (which is unconditional love.) As we love in this way we are pure in heart.

To be pure in heart is only understood when we research the Greek word used here for pure. It is the word from which we get our word to be catheterized. This means that as we are merciful we have a catharsis through which everything that is not the unconditional love of Christ is removed from our hearts.

If you want to be one of the solutions of Jesus in this world, hunger and thirst for what is right and you will find that love is right and right is love. Being a conduit of the love and mercy of Jesus will make you His salt and light.

Dick Woodward, 13 April 2010


…Life with God!!

October 24, 2014

“Wrapped in a bundle of life with God…” (I Samuel 25:29)

These words of Scripture are often found inscribed on gravestones of children who died at a very early age, especially in Jewish cemeteries where Jewish mothers expressed the almost inexpressible feelings of their hearts as they laid their children to rest.

As Christians we could also inscribe these words on the gravestones of our children and adult loved ones because they should bring great comfort and consolation to us as we think of those we have lost through sickness and death.  However, if we think about it, these words should also be applied to our loved ones while they are still living.  The most exciting truth in the New Testament is presented in just two words: “In Christ” or “In Him.”

Jesus told the apostles that after His death and resurrection He would give them the divine presence of the Holy Spirit.  They would then be able to be “in Him” the way a branch is in a vine.   That means all of us can be wrapped in a bundle of life with Christ as we live our lives in this world.  What an exciting concept!  Jesus told the apostles, and you and me, all about this in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.  He even told us how to abide in Him and experience the miracle of Him abiding in us.  He told us we can abide in Him and He will abide in us if we abide in His Word.

I challenge you that if you abide in His Word today you will find yourself wrapped in a bundle of life with God!

Dick Woodward, 23 September 2010

Editor’s Note:  Many of you may remember (since he usually celebrated all month) October 25th was Dick’s birthday – this year he would have turned 84.  We do miss him! But, oh, how we thank God for the 83 years of Papa’s life that touched the hearts of so many, especially as he shared his deep love of the Scriptures.  As he was (& is) ‘wrapped in a bundle of life with God,’ may we continue to wrap our lives in Christ with deep, daily doses of the Living Word.


Living in Christ by Faith

September 23, 2014

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

Three times in this verse Paul tells us he “lives,” and each time he tells us he lives, he tells us why and how he lives.  If we consider his three explanations for living, we discover a good summary of the book of Romans.

First, Paul says he lives because he is crucified with Christ. When Paul gets to the application in his letter to the Romans he tells us we should surrender ourselves to the Christ Who has done so much for us, and become “living sacrifices” for Him.  He tells us this is our intelligent worship when we understand all that God has done for us, in Christ.

Secondly, Paul tells us he lives because Christ lives in me. That summarizes the second section of his Roman letter where he tells us how the Christ Who saved us from where we are going (which is straight to hell), can save us from what we are doing, and from what we are.  We can be saved and live like saved people because Christ lives in us!

Thirdly, Paul tells us that he lives by faith – by faith in the Son of God Who loves him and gave Himself for him.  That summarizes the first section of Romans, which concludes, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

…The proof that we understand and are experiencing Paul’s message to the Romans will be for us to say, because we have really understood him, “I live, I really live! I live by faith, I live because Christ lives in me, and I live because I am crucified with Christ.”

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.284-285)

 


Dick Woodward: the MBC & Chuck Colson

April 9, 2014

Walking down the Mini Bible College memory lane (remember the 3-ring spiral notebooks?), here’s a video of an interview Chuck Colson did with Pastor Dick Woodward years ago. The video takes about half an hour to watch.

 

If you would like to access the Memorial Celebration that took place on March 15th, you may click here to view the video of it on the Williamsburg Community Chapel’s website. The family has been so blessed by the amazing responses of so many who attended & many others who have watched it online.  It was truly a celebration of Dick Woodward’s life and the legacy of faith he left with us – to God be all the glory! (The 2 hour service requires a time commitment to watch, but don’t miss a minute. Be blessed!)


God’s Thoughts and Our Thoughts

October 22, 2013

“No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.”  (1Corinthians 2:11 NLT)

Our thought life is like a private chamber.  Nobody knows what we are thinking and we do not know what others are thinking.  Only the spirit within each of us knows our private thoughts.

In the same way, only the Holy Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God.  When we therefore receive the Holy Spirit of God we can know what God is thinking.  One translation writes that “incredible as it may seem we actually have the mind of Christ” when we receive the Holy Spirit.

When you study the rest of this profound chapter you will find that Paul applies this reality to teach us a great truth about the Holy Spirit.  It is a lesson in what we might call “spiritual educational psychology.”  We learn through the eye gate, which means everything we read and observe.  And we learn through the ear gate, what we listen to and hear.  He also references the heart gate, which means our volition and will to apply the truth we are learning.

He then makes the point that when it comes to learning spiritual truth we need another gate: the gate of the Holy Spirit.  When we have received the Holy Spirit we have access to the greatest learning experience possible in our lifetime.  Think of this the next time you spend time in God’s Word.  When you open the Bible, you have access to the very thoughts of God.

Through God’s Holy Spirit and His Word are you learning the thoughts of God?