#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


#FAITH: Christ’s Work in Progress

March 6, 2020

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The founding elder of the first church I pastored was a home builder. He did beautiful work. When a couple wanted him to build their home he would take them to a beautiful home he had built and say, “By the grace of God this is my workmanship.”

Ephesians 2:10 declares to followers of Jesus that our risen living Christ would like to point to each of us and say: “This is My workmanship!”

We are all a work of Christ in progress. This verse additionally states that when we were saved by grace through the faith Christ gave us, God created us for good works. We are told that before God saved us, God already planned those works.

I don’t know about you, but that truth excites and inspires me greatly. We are so selfish and self-centered that when we come to faith our focus is often on what trusting Christ to be our Savior is going to mean to us. Many followers of Christ have the attitude, “What have you done for me lately?”

The Apostle Paul had the right vision when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus and asked the question, “Lord, what do you want me to do for You?

As a follower of Christ have you been asking and seeking to know what those works are your Lord and Savior planned for you when He saved you by God’s grace?

Dick Woodward, 08 March 2010


#FAITH: Asking, Seeking, Knocking

March 3, 2020

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

The author of Hebrews 11, the faith chapter of the Bible, presents what we might call “The Hall of Faith.” He parades by heroes of faith who show us by the way they lived what faith is. Before exhibiting these walking definitions of faith, the author writes a few introductory thoughts. He writes that without faith it is impossible to please God or come to God.

He adds that if we want to come to God and please God we must believe two things about God: We must believe that God is, and that God rewards those who diligently seek Him.

In two places (Matthew 7 and Luke 11), Jesus taught that we should continuously – and with perseverance – ask, seek, and knock. With this exhortation, Jesus promises that everyone who asks in this way will receive, everyone who seeks in this way will find, and the one who knocks in this way will discover that the door on which they are knocking will open to them.

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking.

Jesus was not talking about salvation when He gave this exhortation. He was teaching us how to diligently seek God. According to the author of Hebrews, this is a prerequisite to pleasing God and coming to God. Can there be such a thing as an authentic believer who does not want to come to God and please God?

If you want to come to God and please God, find out what it means to diligently seek God.

Dick Woodward, 01 March 2011


#Forgiveness: Forgetting What God Forgets

February 28, 2020

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the first fact of the Gospel – the Good News that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.

We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

When we place our trust in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we need to forget what God forgets and remember what God remembers. We are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

After we confess our sins, our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten our sins.

A Catholic Monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. When summoned to meet the Monsignor, he asked her, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question: What sins did the Monsignor commit in Paris before he became a priest?”

Several days later the nun met again with the Monsignor. He asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?” She replied, “Yes, your Reverence.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?” The nun said that she had indeed asked Jesus his question. “And what did Jesus say?”  The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values


#FAITH: God’s GRACE to you!

February 25, 2020

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Romans 1:7; 16:24)

The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the believers in Rome with a marvelous greeting: “Grace to you.” He also closes his letter with the prayer that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with them.

Paul dictated all his letters but one to a stenographer.  At the close of each of his letters he took the writing instrument from the scribe and in his own hand wrote these words: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Paul greets and leaves believers with a wish and a prayer for grace, the dynamic of God that saves us. We can define grace if we turn this five letter word into an acrostic:

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”

But grace is not only the way God saves us, God’s grace is the dynamic we desperately need to live for Christ.

In the second verse of Romans 5, Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, to the grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ and live a life that glorifies God.

Paul begins this letter and closes all his letters the way he does because he knows it is absolutely critical that we access the grace God has made available to us if we are to live our lives for God in this world.

Since grace is always our greatest need, consider meeting and leaving fellow believers with a wish and a prayer for grace.

Dick Woodward, 24 February 2012


#FAITH : A Prayer for Our Homes

February 21, 2020

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Ephesians 5:2)

In the epistles of Peter and Paul, the model for marriage is Christ and the Church.  It is meant to be a total communion of two whole personalities, what is pictured in the communion between Christ and His Bride, the Church. It is a spiritual intimacy. While physical unity involves mutual, unconditional commitment, there must also be a spiritual quality in the relationship: unselfish, others-centered love of the risen, living Christ as it is expressed through both the husband and the wife.

If you sincerely desire a Christ-centered marriage and home, earnestly pray this prayer:

“O loving Heavenly Father bless this house. Bless this house with the light of Your presence. Energize with the love of Your Spirit the relationships that make this house a home.

May the light, the life, and the love of the risen, Living Christ so empower and control us that we will be Christ’s representatives when we come in, when we go out, and especially as we live together under this roof and within these walls.

Heal us as persons, that we might have a wholesome partnership, and be wise and loving parents.  Show us how to access Your grace all day long, every day. We pray that everything we do here in this house will be done by Christ, in Christ, and for Christ.

Make this home a symbol of hope that will point to the One Who put this home together in His Word, Who brought it together through His Spirit, and Who alone can keep it together by His grace.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Marriage & Family


Psalm 23: Saying “baa!” to God

February 18, 2020

 “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 that God is our Shepherd, we are also confessing that we are God’s 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!” Ginny 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