November 29, 2022
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you rest in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
In these two verses the Apostle Paul is challenging us with two options: when we are facing challenging problems we can worry about them, or we can turn our challenging problems into prayer requests. The reason Paul writes that we are not to worry is because worry is counterproductive. He therefore prescribes that if we are overwhelmed with problems, we should let our mountains of problems turn us into prayer warriors.
We have two options: we can be worriers, or we can be warriors.
Prayer changes things! Worry, on the other hand does not change anything except for severe negative consequences it can have on our bodies, souls and spirits. When we consider the devastating effects of worry and the miraculous results of answered prayer, that no-brainer should resolve our two options into one.
When we realize we are anxious or uptight and we know it is because we are choosing to be worriers, we should ask God to convert us into prayer warriors. We should hold our problems up before God and trade our futile worries for powerful prayers. God may deliver us from those problems or give us the grace to cope with them. But, in either case, God will give us peace. Paul writes that God will stand guard like a soldier over our hearts and minds and give us supernatural peace as we rest in what Christ will do.
Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011
November 25, 2022
There we saw the giants … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight.” (Numbers 13: 33)
The Old Testament book of Numbers records the death of an entire generation. Twelve spies were sent to do reconnaissance in the land of Canaan. Ten spies gave the report quoted above. Only two shared how great the land was and exhorted an invasion. Joshua and Caleb were men of great faith, but the other ten men were experts in “Giantology.”
The entire generation who listened to the ten perished in the wilderness. Only two people survived one of the most tragic judgments of God recorded in the Bible. An old spiritual puts it this way: “Others saw the giants. Caleb (and Joshua) saw the Lord!” We read that they followed the Lord because they believed that the Lord is more than able to conquer the giants.
Spending most of my adult life as a pastor, I cannot help but allow the thought that the twelve spies resemble a board of Elders, a Session, a Vestry, or a board of Stewards. Sometimes when a church is facing a huge challenge two will have the faith of Caleb and Joshua, and ten will be giantologists.
We all have “giants” in our lives. As a bedfast quadriplegic with a wife in a wheelchair I certainly have mine. I’m sure you have yours. We also have choices. We can choose to see the giants and spend much time dwelling on how big they are. Or we can choose to see the Lord conquering our giants. We might call this: “Two people in a pew — which one are you?”
Are you a Caleb and Joshua with a conquering-the-giants faith, or are you getting your Ph.D. in Giantology?
Dick Woodward, 27 November 2013
November 22, 2022
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)
In this profound thanksgiving psalm David tells us that coming into the presence of God is like having an audience with a great King. That audience begins with the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.
In a corporate worship service or in your worship closet, always try to begin your approach to God at the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.
I personally know of no other worship aids that mean more to me than to begin my approach to our Heavenly Father with thanksgiving. When I begin thanking Him and praising Him I soon find myself coming before His presence with singing.
In His presence I know that He is God. I know that He is my Shepherd and I am His sheep. I know that He is good and His mercy is everlasting. I know He wants me to share the truth of His Word in all the lands of this world because He wants people in all the lands of this world and in every generation to know what it is to make a joyful shout of worship in His presence.
This week let David’s worship psalm show you how to have a joyful Thanksgiving Day!
Dick Woodward, 23 November 2011
November 18, 2022
“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)
Jesus goes to a wedding and when they run out of wine, He creates more wine. In addition to the record of a miracle, this story is a formula for regeneration and a prescription for renewal. There is tired and there is tired of. Disciples of Jesus not only get tired, they get tired of. We call this “burnout.”
I’m convinced this first miracle of Jesus presents a prescription for burnout. If you are experiencing the need for renewal consider this prescription. When Mary tells Jesus they have no wine, since wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible let this represent your confession that you need renewal because you are tired of, dry, and burned out.
Then block out some time to fill your human vessel with the Word of God as symbolized by the vessels being filled with water. While you are filling up on the Word of God do whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do. Then realize that renewal is not just to give you a spiritual experience, renewal is for the benefit of those God wants to touch and bless using you as God’s channel.
Let these four principles from Jesus Christ’s first miracle bring renewal to you as you serve Him. Our Lord often invited His disciples to come apart and rest awhile. If you don’t come apart at times and take this prescription of Jesus for your burnout – your life will come apart.
Let Jesus turn your water into wine.
Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011
November 15, 2022
“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)
An allegory is a story in which people, places and things have a deeper meaning. In addition to being the record of a supernatural miracle, the story of Jesus turning water into wine is a beautiful allegory that shows us how to be born again. Carefully and prayerfully read the story. (John 2:1-11)
A first step is expressed in Mary’s words when she tells Jesus: “They have no wine.” Wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible. This statement of Mary is like a confession. Our first step in being born again is to confess that we have no wine (joy) and we need to be born again.
A second step in this formula is when Jesus tells the servants to fill the huge thirty gallon jars with water. The Scripture is sometimes symbolized by water because of the way it cleanses. A devotional application here could therefore be that our second step toward regeneration would be to fill our human vessel with the Word of God.
A third step is pictured when Mary tells the servants to “do whatever Jesus tells you to do.” While we are filling our vessel with the Word we must do what Jesus tells us to do.
The fourth step is when Jesus tells the servants to draw out what they had just poured into the huge jars and serve it as wine. Precisely, when did the water become wine? I’m convinced it was when the servants had the faith to serve the water as wine. We are born again when we believe Jesus can turn our water into wine and show His glory through us.
Dick Woodward, 14 November 2011
November 11, 2022
“So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw His splendor (the splendor as of a father’s only son) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The Gospel of John is like an inspired art gallery. Every chapter is a room in that gallery with beautiful portraits of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls. The portrait in the first room is that of Jesus as the Word that became human to make His home among us.
If you want to communicate a great idea wrap it in a person. God does that all the way through the Bible. God communicates the concept of faith by wrapping it in the person of Abraham. God tells us what grace is by wrapping that beautiful concept in the person of Jacob.
What does it mean when we are told that Jesus is the Word? A word is the vehicle of a thought. When I want to communicate thoughts from my mind to your mind I use words as vehicles of my thoughts.
God had ‘Thought’ that God wanted to express to this world. Jesus is like a comprehensive Word that expressed the Thought of God to this world – and to you and me.
Our loving Heavenly Father decided that an inspired written Word was not enough. God wanted us to see His expressed thought in human flesh and blood. God therefore became human and made His home with us as Jesus so we could see and experience His expressed thought toward us.
The Word not only made His home among us – Jesus wants to make His home in us. If Jesus has done that for you, what great ideas does He want to communicate to others by wrapping them in your life?
Dick Woodward, 10 November 2011
November 8, 2022
“There are three things that last — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
What is the greatest thing in the world? The Apostle Paul sifts his answer down to three things: hope, faith and love. Hope is the conviction that there can be good in life. God plants hope in the hearts of human beings.
Hope gives birth to faith, and faith is one of the greatest things because faith brings us to God. However, when Paul compares these two great concepts with love, without hesitation he concludes that love is the greatest thing in the world.
This is true because love is not something that brings us to something that brings us to God. When we experience the special love Paul describes we are in the Presence of God.
There is a particular quality of love that is God and God is a particular quality of love.
To acquaint us with that specific quality of love, in the middle of this chapter Paul passes love through the “prism” of the Holy Spirit that comes out on the other side as a cluster of 15 virtues. All these virtues of love are others-centered, unselfish ways of expressing unconditional love. If you study these virtues you will find in them a cross section of the love that is God – and is the greatest thing in the world.
Paul presents faith, hope and love as the greatest things because they last. Love is the greatest of the three because one day we will no longer need hope and faith when throughout eternity we will be in the Presence of Love.
Therefore, the greatest thing in the world is Love.
Dick Woodward, 08 November 2013
November 4, 2022
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus loves to give invitations. He addresses this one to people who are loaded with problems and are working themselves to exhaustion trying to solve their problems. Jesus promises that if we come to Him, He will give us rest. If you look closely at this invitation He is inviting us to come to Him and learn about His heart, His burden, and His yoke. It is what we learn from Him that will lead us to rest.
Jesus wants burdened people to learn that His burden is light, His heart is humble, and His yoke is easy. There is a sense in which Jesus had the weight of the world on His shoulders and yet He claimed that His burden was light.
His burden was light because He let His Father carry the load.
The most important part of His recipe for rest is what Jesus wants us to learn about His yoke. A yoke is not a burden. It is an instrument that makes it possible to bear a burden. When a cart is piled high with cargo it is the yoke that makes it possible for an ox to pull a great load with ease.
It is the yoke of Jesus that shows us how to pull our heavy burdens of life. The yoke of Jesus is that He let His Father carry the burdens. We take His yoke upon us when we let the Holy Spirit carry the load.
Dick Woodward, 05 November 2013
November 1, 2022
“…tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (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? The Apostle Paul doesn’t leave us in a vacuum when he prescribed: “Pray about everything!” God’s Word exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 has an alternate reading, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” God delivered Paul from many tight places. We should therefore always pray in a crisis.
“When it’s hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”
Paul knew from personal experience that God doesn’t always take our problems away. Paul had a physical condition he described as a “thorn in the flesh.” Three times he asked God to take it away. Paul saw many people miraculously healed as he ministered the healing power of the Holy Spirit to them.Yet, when he asked God to solve his problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.”
But God also responded, “My grace is sufficient for you and that is all you need. My strength looks good on weak people.” (2 Corinthians 12) Paul’s weakness drove him to discover the strength of God. When he did, Paul not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so God’s power might be showcased in him.
As Paul accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul exhorts us from his personal experience that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or prayer may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.
Always pray about everything!
Dick Woodward, from “A Prescription for Peace“
October 28, 2022
“…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.” (James 1:2-6)
Encountering trials in our lives will often bring us to the place where we don’t know what to do. We realize we need more wisdom than we have. When we lack wisdom we must look to God for it. In the Old Testament when the people of God fought against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was: “Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith. I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have thought much about the suffering of disciples.
In the Bible we are warned God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the ways of God, doesn’t it logically follow that I may not expect to always understand the way I am going?
If God gave answers to our why questions, the very essence of faith would be eliminated. God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “If you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”
Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples