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
June 15, 2018
“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we simply do not know what to do. The Scripture from Chronicles is taken from an historical context when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and did not know what to do.
James later wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back, but will provide truckloads of wisdom for us.
Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me that she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital they had discovered mononucleosis and infected abscessed tonsils that needed to be removed. She concluded her organ recital litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”
Frankly, I was touched that my very intelligent young daughter believed that if she could just share her litany of woes and tap the vast resources of my wisdom, I could tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.
According to James that is the way we make our Heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. That’s why a good way to begin some days is:
“Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on YOU!”
Dick Woodward, 04 April 2013
Editors Note: Blessings to all the fathers out there as we celebrate Father’s Day in America this weekend. As that ‘young daughter’ who continued tapping into her Papa’s wisdom until the day he died, these words comforted my heart. Our Heavenly Father is always here when we don’t know what to do (& when our earthly fathers have passed into His Everlasting Arms of Love.)
June 13, 2018
“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful… And what do you have that you did not receive? (1 Corinthians 4: 2, 7)
The biblical word steward is often not fully understood or appreciated. It is actually one of the most important words in the New Testament. A synonym for this word is manager. Many people believe being a steward primarily relates to money, but that application falls far short of this word’s essential meaning.
Paul asks the probing question: “And what do you have that you did not receive?” He is telling us that our stewardship applies to everything we receive from God: our time, energy, gifts and talents, our health, and all the things that make up the essence of our very lives, including all our money and possessions.
At the age of 65 one of my best friends had what he refers to as a “halftime experience” when he came to fully understand what a steward is. His regular custom was to draw a line down the middle of a legal pad page. On the left side he wrote “My Business” while on the right side he wrote “God’s Business.” When he fully appreciated this word “steward” he erased that line because, as a very successful businessman, he realized it was all God’s business.
Remember, the important thing about being a steward is that we be found faithful. Do you realize there is nothing in your life you did not receive from God? Are you faithfully managing everything you have received from God?
Are you willing to have a halftime experience and erase the line between what is yours and what is God’s?
Dick Woodward, 10 June 2010
June 8, 2018
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)
Paul prescribes patience as part of his prescription for peace. Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights. Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit we find listed in the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
When the Holy Spirit lives in us, one way the Spirit manifests in us is through a supernatural quality of patience.
In the Bible we are continuously exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” In our relationship with God we might call patience “faith waiting.” Nothing will test or grow our faith like waiting. When we think God is not responding to our prayers it may be that what God is doing in us while we are waiting – like growing in us the virtue of patience – is more important than what we’re waiting for.
In our relationships with people, patience could be called “love waiting.” I have found that the Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in us: He wants to grow “vertical patience” by teaching us to have a faith that waits. And He is growing “horizontal patience” by teaching us that in relationships, love waits.
Love is the first and primary virtue through which the Holy Spirit wants to manifest God’s presence and peace in us.
While impatience is a peace thief, vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural, God-given virtues that can produce spiritual heavyweights – and maintain the peace of God in our experience of life.
Dick Woodward, 09 June 2009
June 5, 2018
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
What is the basis of the unquenchable faith of King David? What gives him the assurance that all the blessings he has described (in Psalm 23) will be experienced all the days of his life and forever?
The word Selah, found frequently in the psalms of David, can be interpreted: “Pause and calmly think about that.” If we pause and calmly think about it, we realize that all through Psalm 23 David presents his Shepherd as the great Initiator of their relationship.
It is the Shepherd Who gets David’s attention and makes him lie down saying, “baa,” confessing that he is a sheep and the Lord is his Shepherd. It is his Shepherd Who makes David lie down where there are green pastures and leads him beside still waters. It is David’s Shepherd Who uses His staff when David strays from Him, and drives him into the paths of righteousness that restore his soul.
It is God, the Good Shepherd, Who initiates these interventions in David’s life.
As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own extraordinary ability as a warrior to see himself through that valley. His confidence is clearly in his Shepherd. As David walks through this dark and scary valley, he is looking to God for protection and provision. He knows his Shepherd will personally anoint him with oil and keep that cup running over within him.
The source of David’s confident faith is clearly seen in the way he ends his psalm:
“Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.”
Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk
June 1, 2018
“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart…” (1John 3:20)
In the Bible heart often refers to our emotions. The Apostle John is using heart in that sense in I John 3:20. What he is essentially writing is that if the way we feel condemns us, God is greater than the way we feel.
Before John writes these words, he challenged his readers to love in actions and not merely in words. He follows his insight that God is greater than the way we feel with the prescription that we should keep the two great commandments of Jesus: to love God and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22: 35-40) Jesus claimed these two commandments would fulfill all the commandments in the Bible.
We are to love when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in. Jesus teaches that we are to love God completely, love others unconditionally, and love ourselves correctly. Loving ourselves does not mean when we pass a mirror we should stop and have our devotions. Jesus taught we should say the same thing about ourselves that God says about us – that God loves us.
The prescription for depression the Apostle of Love gives devout disciples is that when our heart condemns us, we should realize that our faith is not to be based on something as fickle as our feelings.
Our faith is based on the reality that we believe and apply the commandment to love.
The last thing we should do when our heart condemns us is isolate ourselves into a pity party. We need to get with people and love them.
Dick Woodward, 13 June 2011
May 29, 2018
“Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable, but he declared that godly fitness was more profitable. Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our lives here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal lives.
I am intrigued with this question: what is godly exercise?
The word “godly” means “like God.” What is God-like? We are told in the Word that God is Spirit. (John 4:24) To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.
We also read in the Scripture that God is love. To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to the love that is God. At the heart of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), Paul passes the love of God through the prism of Holy Spirit inspiration and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Godly exercise means intentionally pursuing what the 15 virtues are and what they look like when you apply them in all your relationships.
God is light. Exercise yourself in this dimension of God-likeness by filling your mind, heart, and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that Light will profit you in this life and in the life to come.
Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?
Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013