Facing Trials: God’s Wisdom & (our) Understanding

November 24, 2018

“…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)

When you encounter a storm in your life, that trial will often bring you to the place where you don’t know what to do and you realize you need more wisdom than you have. James writes when we lack wisdom, we must ask God, Who will be delighted to share wisdom with us. In the Old Testament when the people of God were fighting 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, therefore, thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned that 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 will and ways of God, wouldn’t it logically follow that I should not always expect to understand the way I’m going?

Obviously, that includes our suffering.

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 (p.278-281)


God’s Peace: A Therapy of Thanksgiving

November 20, 2018

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, tell God every detail of your needs.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

As I have tried to apply what Paul prescribes in these verses, I have found this prescription for peace to be more helpful than any other spiritual discipline. According to the Apostle Paul, an attitude of gratitude leads to the therapy of thanksgiving as we apply gratitude to our stressful circumstances.

Be sure to make the observation that Paul does not prescribe giving thanks for all things. He instructs us to give thanks in all things. When we do this it automatically moves our mindset from the negative to the positive. The apostle promises that the peace of God will protect and stand guard (like the soldiers chained to Paul as he writes these words) over our hearts and minds as they rest and trust in Christ Jesus.

We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with gratitude. If we do, we will find this prescription of thanksgiving contributes to victory over our circumstances, because the therapy of thanksgiving leads us into God’s peace.

When a pastor asked a church member how she was doing, her response was, “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.”

The pastor responded, “Whatever are you doing there?”

Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009

GOD’S PEACE & A BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!


Renewal: Turning Water Into Wine

November 16, 2018

“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 an experience, it 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 – you will come apart.

Let Jesus turn your water into wine.

Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011


Psalm 23: “baa! baa! baa!”

November 13, 2018

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”  (Psalm 23:1)

Can you declare the first five words of this great Shepherd Psalm as a personal confession of faith? Can you personally confess with authentic faith, “the Lord is my Shepherd?”

People often touch me as they describe the way the Lord came into their lives, made them lie down and say, “baa!” I am frequently concerned, however, when I don’t hear how that relationship is working in their lives today.

One of David’s most remarkable declarations in this psalm is that the blessings provided by his Shepherd-God are in place ‘all the days of my life.’ Be sure to make the observation that David’s great profession of faith is not, “The Lord was my Shepherd,” but “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

When we confess, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” we are also confessing that we are God’s sheep. It’s not flattering when God tells us we are like sheep. Sheep are so ignorant they are completely helpless and hopeless without their shepherd. Yet, the Word of God clearly tells us God wants us to agree with this appraisal and confess, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Many years ago I was out of bed at an early hour. When my wife Ginny woke up, she asked why I was getting up at 4:30a.m. I told her what I had read during my devotions: “When you wake up, get up, and when you get up, do something for God and for His lambs!”

She responded, “baa! baa! baa!” She was reminding me of something busy pastors often forget – that she and our five children are also God’s lambs.

Psalm 23 is filled with sheep talk that God wants to hear every one of us say, “baa!”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


An Inspired Art Gallery (of Faith)

November 9, 2018

“So the Word became human and made his home among us.” (John 1:14)

The Gospel of John is like an inspired art gallery. Every chapter is like a room in that gallery with beautiful portraits of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls. In the first room, the portrait 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 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 that are in 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 beautiful comprehensive Word that expresses 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 God’s expressed thought in human flesh and blood. God therefore became human and made God’s home with us as Jesus so that we can see and experience God’s expressed thought toward us.

The Word not only made His home among us – Jesus wants to make His home in us. If He has done that for you, what great ideas does Jesus want to communicate to others by wrapping them in your life?

Dick Woodward, 10 November 2011


Spiritual Values: God First

November 6, 2018

“…but you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.” (Matthew 6:33 J. B. Philips translation)

The message of the entire Bible can be summed up in two words: “God First.” Over and over the bottom-line truth in a Psalm, the life of a Bible character, a parable, a metaphor, and a teaching of Jesus comes down to this simple concept: “God First.”

That is not easy. In fact, it is impossible without the Holy Spirit. (1Corinthians 12:3)

I was blessed to have a godly mother who often said to me: “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, then Jesus Christ is everything to you. Because until Jesus Christ is everything to you, Dick, He isn’t really anything to you.”

As I carefully studied the values of Jesus Christ, I realized that my mother had the Lord’s support when she brought my profession of faith to a verdict in this way.

Matthew 6:33 is the conclusion of a study given by Jesus regarding values. He taught that our hearts are where our treasures are. He also taught us where our treasures and our hearts ought to be by challenging us with questions like: “Where is your heart? What are your treasures? What is your life? What is your body?” and “Who is your master?”

The conclusion to this treatise on values is the declaration to seek God first. Think of a target with a bulls-eye surrounded by ten or twelve circles. According to Jesus, the bulls-eye of our priority target should be that our first value is God. We are to put God first. If we do that we have Christ’s promise that God will bless us with whatever else we need.

When we think about our values these two words should immediately surface in our hearts and minds: “God First.”

Dick Woodward, 09 November 2010


God’s Good (vs. Our Good)

November 2, 2018

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

As I look back over my life since I was born in 1930, and born again in 1949, this verse sums up my entire walk of faith and ministry. According to the J. B. Philips translation, God fits into a pattern for good everything that happens to those who love God and are called according to God’s plan. I like this because the implication is there may not be anything good about many of the things that happen to us.  But if we meet two prerequisites – if we love God and are called according to His plan – our loving God will fit into a pattern for good all the events of our lives.

Before we personally apply the great promise of this verse we must meet those two prerequisites. The first is that we love God.  It isn’t easy to love God. The Apostle John asked us how we can love God we cannot see. (1 John 4) We can’t hug a Spirit.  Jesus told us that if we love Him we must keep His commandments.  According to Romans 8:28 quoted above, we show we love God by the second prerequisite: being called according to God’s plan.

We are so self-centered we are quick to assume that the good into which God fits all the events of our lives means our good.  However, when we understand what it means to love God the only good that will interest us will be God’s good.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2010