Loving Others

March 31, 2020

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

I challenge you to meditate on these fifteen applications of love every day for a month.  Summarize each one in one or two words on a card you can place on your mirror, in your purse, wallet, or on the sun-visor of your car. Fervently ask God to empower you to be a conduit of His love with this cluster of virtues by Christ, in Christ and for Christ.

Think of one specific person and ask God to love that person in these ways through you. If you are married, begin loving your spouse in these ways. If you have children, apply this love to them. If you are not married, pray for the power to apply this love to your parents, siblings, and those with whom you live and work.

By the grace of God, I have seen this love of Christ change lives. Ask God to give you power to apply this love to the most difficult relationships you have, like your enemies. They will be your best opportunity to prove this love is not coming from you, but from Christ.

Pray that Christ will pass His love through you to address the pain and quiet desperation of the hurting people in your life. As He does, you will affirm where the risen Christ is today.

Dick Woodward, (from A Prescription For Love)


#FAITH: Habakkuk’s Talk Show (with God)

March 27, 2020

“… the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

The prophet Habakkuk lived in one of the most difficult times in Hebrew history; a time when watchtowers were manned with soldiers listening for the dreadful sounds of the Babylonian army. As the Babylonians were about to conquer God’s people, God gave Habakkuk a prophetic message.

This little prophet witnessed the terrible ways the great prophet Jeremiah was treated when he preached his message. As a simple choir director Habakkuk could only imagine how he would be treated if he assumed the role of a prophet.

He therefore came up with a clever literary form. He proclaimed that he was going to build a spiritual watchtower and ask God all the difficult questions that were on their hearts at that time. Questions like, “Why will you use a people more sinful than we are to chasten us?”

He told them that when he heard from God he would tell them what God said in answer to these and other questions. His literary form was like a talk show in which he was the host and God was the Guest being interviewed.

God’s answer was that the wickedness of the Babylonians would be their undoing, but the just would live by their faith.  Originally this meant faith in the prophecy of Jeremiah that they would return from the Babylonian captivity. By application these seven words, which are quoted three times in the New Testament, were also used to inspire the Reformation.

People say God does not speak today as God did then. The truth is we do not listen for God as Habakkuk did.

Do you have a spiritual watchtower? Do you listen for God and expect to hear from God?

Dick Woodward, 30 March 2012


#PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Save me!!

March 24, 2020

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)

The Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who walked on water. Yet, millions of us only remember that he took his eyes off Jesus and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read that his magnificent faith was flawed. He saw the wind. Since we cannot see wind this means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and was afraid.

The remarkable thing here is that when he kept his eyes on Jesus, Peter walked on water!

It was not until he was beginning to sink that he prayed this prayer – a model prayer today for all of us. Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and we should never think we will generate grace with God by too much speaking. (If Peter had prayed longer, the words beyond the third would have been glub, glub glub!)

When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname “Little faith.” I believe our Lord was smiling when He did. He literally asked Peter, “Why did you think twice?”

Rick Warren took his entire congregation of twenty thousand people through the eight steps of “Celebrate Recovery.”  When asked why, his response was: “Because we are all in recovery. What do you think the word salvation means?”

When we truly understand the meaning of the word salvation, we will frequently pray this model prayer.

Pray Peter’s short prayer often and don’t think twice. Don’t be of little faith!

Lord Jesus, save me!

Dick Woodward, 25 March 2012


#FAITH, GRACE & PERSEVERANCE

March 20, 2020

 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Rejoice in your sufferings, knowing what? In the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul begins by writing that God has given us access, by faith, to grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world and live a life that glorifies God.

Imagine how it must make God feel when He has given us access to all the grace we need to live for Christ in this world – and we never access that grace. According to Paul, suffering enters our lives that we cannot bear without drawing on God’s grace we access by faith.

Paul writes that as we receive the grace to endure our suffering God produces mature Christ-like character in our lives such as perseverance.

When you ask the question, “How does an orange get to be an orange?” The answer is, “By hanging in there.”

That is the essence of perseverance.

When some followers of Christ find themselves suffering, their immediate response is “Lord, deliver me from this, immediately!” He can and sometimes He does.

But He often does not. When Christ does not, it may be His will to grow spiritual character in the life of His follower. When that is what God is doing Paul is telling us we should rejoice in our sufferings, access grace by faith, and then grow spiritually.

Dick Woodward, 19 March 2009


#LOVE: Sanctified Unselfishness

March 17, 2020

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated as patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so.

The Greek word for kindness means love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.

Love does not envy.” The Greek words Paul used here prescribe “an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.”

In other words: sanctified unselfishness.

Those applying this love are not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness. Their love commitment is not, “I love me and I need you,” or “You love me and so do I.” They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness; my love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.”

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness. The greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Christ’s Strength vs. Our Weakness

March 13, 2020

“And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I shall never forget an afternoon in the late 1970s when I tried to mow my lawn and realized I was too weak to cut the grass. When I tried to replace the license plates on my car, I learned to my horror that I was too weak to do even that.

Although it was two years before I could accept the awful reality that I would never feel full strength again, my weakness made it possible to resonate with Paul in a deeper way when he described the way his weakness drove him to access the strength and power of the living risen Christ.

I have had times of such great weakness, especially while ministering from my wheelchair, when I’ve thought: There is absolutely nothing coming from me; everything is coming from God!

As God used Paul in mighty ways, he put into words what I have felt many times: “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God!” (2Corinthians 3:5. italics added)

These were merely familiar Scripture verses until I had no strength of my own.There is a dimension of the power and strength of Christ I did not discover until I was powerless. My experience of weakness forced me to discover that the strength of the risen living Christ outweighs my weakness.

Dick Woodward,  Happiness That Doesn’t Make Good Sense


#FAITH: A Perspective for Hurting Hearts

March 10, 2020

“… who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

The Apostle Paul experienced life threatening persecution when he was stoned in Lystra.  As he describes that experience for the Church in Corinth he gives them (and us) a perspective on suffering. Paul writes that there is a kind of suffering that drives us to God, and there is a quality of comfort that can only be found in God when the level of our suffering drives us to Him.

According to Paul, an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”

A hurting heart that has discovered the comfort that can only be found in God is “one hurting heart telling another hurting heart where the Comfort is.”

As an active pastor when I met grief stricken parents who lost a child, since I had never suffered that loss I sent a couple who had lost a child and found God’s comfort to be with them. Any time your heart is hurting because God has permitted you to suffer, realize that you are being given a credential by God. As you find the comfort God provides, you are now qualified to point any person with that same challenge to the comfort you discovered when you had that hurt in your heart.

Although we will not answer all of the “why” questions until we know as we are known, are you willing to let this perspective bring some meaning and purpose to your suffering?

Or would you rather choose to waste your sorrows?

Dick Woodward, 10 March 2012