November 26, 2019
“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 22, 2019
“And it came to pass… that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:51)
The words “salvation” and “deliverance” are synonyms. The deliverance of the children of Israel as described in the book of Exodus is therefore also an allegory of salvation that demonstrates what we might call “A Principle of Deliverance” when God delivers people from addictions and sin today. Modeled on the dialogue between Moses and Pharaoh, Moses represents Christ and Pharaoh is the evil one.
For example, observe what Pharaoh says after Moses demanded the release of God’s people when God sent the first plagues: “You can go but do not leave Egypt.” (Exodus 8:25)
After a few more plagues, Pharaoh again agrees to release the people but he says: “Well, you can go, but do not go very far.” (Exodus 8:28) More plagues and Pharaoh says: “All right, you can go, but… leave your children in Egypt.” (Exodus 10:8-10) More persuasive plagues and Pharaoh says, “You can go, but leave your flocks and herds in Egypt.” (Exodus 10:24)
When people come to faith today the evil one will tempt them to practice their faith “in Egypt” as a worldly believer practicing the values of the secular culture. Then he will tempt them with, “You have come to faith but don’t go very far with your faith.” Then the temptation is to not let your faith pass on to your children.
A final attempt at keeping a person addicted to the slavery of sin is to “Leave your flocks and herds in Egypt,” or don’t let your faith affect your pocketbook.
The principle of deliverance illustrated in the book of Exodus is: Never, never, never compromise with evil and remain enslaved and addicted in your “Egypt.”
Dick Woodward, 23 November 2013
November 15, 2019
“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 the words of Mary 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 12, 2019
“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, 2019
“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 5, 2019
“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