Transformed Wine: A Prescription for Renewal

November 14, 2017

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

When Jesus goes to a wedding and they run out of wine, He creates more wine. In addition to the record of a miracle, this story is also a prescription for renewal. There is tired and there is tired of.  Disciples of Jesus not only get tired – we often get tired of.  When this happens, we call it “burnout.”

I’m convinced this first miracle of Jesus presents a prescription for burnout. If you are experiencing the need for renewal, consider the miracle in this context. 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 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 doThen realize that your 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 His channel.

Let these four principles from this miracle that brought glory to Jesus and faith to His disciples bring renewal to you as you serve Jesus. Our Lord often invited His apostles 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. That will bring glory to Jesus and make a restored believer out of you!

Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011


A Prayer for Our Valleys

October 27, 2017

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”  (Psalm 23:4-5)

In your dark valleys, learn to pray in this manner:

“As I enter this valley, Lord, I will not be paralyzed by fear, because I believe You are with me. Your ability to protect me and lead me through this valley is a comfort to me. I know that in the darkest and scariest part of this valley, in the middle of life threatening danger, You will spread a table of provision for me.

I am trusting You completely to anoint me with the oil of Your personalized, attentive care. I believe you will give me mercy for my failures and the grace I need to help in my time of need. You will also pursue me with Your goodness, unconditional love and acceptance, when I wander away from Your loving care.”

Finally, thank your Good Shepherd-God that you can trust Him to lead you through this life to unbroken fellowship with Him forever in Heaven: to the green pastures that never turn brown, the still waters that never become disturbed, and the cup that never empties.

Offer this prayer to “the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead that great Shepherd of sheep, Who through the blood of the everlasting covenant, can make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


Valuing Our Days (& Years!)

October 25, 2017

“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10-12)

When I was 25 years old I attended a conference for pastors. Our speaker was a famous pastor who had snowy white hair. I felt sorry for him because he was so very old. As he started to speak his first words to us were: “I’m old. I’m gloriously old, but I wouldn’t be as young and ignorant as you are for anything in the world!” I was feeling sorry for him because he was so very old, while he was feeling sorry for me because I was so young.

In many cultures age is considered a plus because wisdom comes with age. Psalm 90 makes the statement we reach 80 years of age “by reason of strength.” I have had a debilitating disease since 1978. By God’s grace, I have found the strength which comes from the Lord and is exhibited in the showcase of my own physical weakness.

I was born eighty years ago today (25 Oct), so these verses resonate with me in a personal way. Two of the ways Moses exhorts us to apply this psalm is to number and value our days to gain a heart of wisdom about how we should spend them.

He then concludes his psalm asking God to show us the work He wants us to do for Him, so that His glory might appear to our children. His last words invite God to anoint the work He reveals to us.

Dick Woodward, 25 October 2010

Editor’s Note: Today is Papa’s birthday! This year he would have turned 87. We thank God for the miraculous gift of Papa’s life, that even through 28 years of quadriplegia (the last 12 completely bedfast) Jesus showcased His strength through Papa’s weakness (“I can’t but He can”… and all that.) 🙂  It’s been 3 years since Papa’s passing – oh, how we miss him – but the legacy of God’s love in and through him continues in our hearts. (While he feasts on Heavenly morsels of Divine Truth, Joy and Love, we’re plotting pizza today in his honor!)


Patterns for Good: God’s Good!!

September 12, 2017

“Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to His plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.” (Romans 8:28, JB Phillips)

This is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied verses in the Bible. Paul is not teaching that all the events of our lives are good. He is teaching that if we meet two prerequisites, God will fit into a pattern for good everything that happens to us – the good and bad.

The first prerequisite is that we love God. The Apostle John asked the question, “If a man does not love his brother whom he can see, how can he love God Whom he cannot see?” (I John 4:20) John is teaching that it’s not easy to love God because it’s not easy to love what we cannot see. How then do we love God? Jesus answered that question when He taught the apostles: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

The second prerequisite: if we show our love by being passionately called according to God’s plan, God will fit all the events of our lives into a pattern for good – God’s good, which will be the only good that interests us if we truly love God.

There is nothing good about being a bedfast quadriplegic. But as I look back from the finish line over the events of my life, I realize I never would have done my most fruitful work for God as an able-bodied human being with strength of my own.

When the foundations of your life are breaking up, don’t let those events drive you inward into a pity party. Look up and ask God to fit everything into a pattern for God’s good, God’s plan and God’s Glory.

Dick Woodward, from Happiness That Doesn’t Make Good Sense


The Lord is My Shepherd (But?)

August 1, 2017

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” (Psalm 23)

These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible beloved by devout people everywhere. According to this Shepherd Psalm of David, the key to the real blessings of this life and the next is a relationship with God. The green pastures, still waters, table of provision, God’s blessing of anointing oil and cup that runs over all the time are all conditioned on our relationship with God. That relationship is established in the second verse when David writes, “He makes me to lie down.”

However, the spirit in which we recall these words is often something like this: “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I have a health problem.” Or, “the Lord is my Shepherd — but I have marriage problems!” Or, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but I cannot control my children.”

When we say, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but” we are putting our “but” in the wrong place. We need to get our “but” in the right place and recall the precious promise of these words this way: “I have a health problem, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I have marriage problems, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I cannot control my children, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd!”

One way the Lord makes us lie down is to use health problems, marriage problems, problems with our children, finances, careers, and any other kind of problems we can imagine to teach us about the relationship with God which is key to all the blessings profiled in Psalm 23.

Will you let the Great Shepherd use whatever challenges you are facing to establish the deeper relationship with God David described so beautifully three thousand years ago?

Dick Woodward, 14 August 2008

Editor’s Note: This was Dick Woodward’s first blog back in August of 2008, which means this Four Spiritual Secrets blog has been sharing devotional truths in the blogosphere for 9 years. Although we miss him, the blog posting elf hopes (& prays) his words continue to yield Kingdom fruit – as long as we have our ‘buts’ in the right place!! 🙂


Faithful Labors & Laborers

October 31, 2014

“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:10)

The devotional and practical application of this Scripture shows us that these thoughts are directed to people who have labored long and hard in the ministry without much visible affirmation, encouragement or reward.  These words are instructing them to think about the One for Whom they were doing this ministry to God’s people.

Abraham heard three words from God which are recorded in Genesis 17:1.  “Walk before Me.”  These three words remind us that we need to know Who we’re doing it for and we need to know how He feels about everything we do in the way of ministry to His people.  When there is not much fruit and very few encouraging accolades, it can be a great consolation for faithful servants of the Lord to be reminded of the glorious reality that God has seen and He will never forget our faithful labors.

The story is told of two elderly missionaries who returned to New York after nearly half a century serving in Africa.  They had lost their wives in Africa and were very, very lonely in that large city.   Sharing their discouragement when they met at the YMCA where they were staying, one of them said to the other, “We are not home yet, George.”

Sometimes the recognition and the reward for faithful service may only come when these words are heard: “Well done good and faithful servant.”

If you are a faithful servant without much affirmation or encouragement let these words console you today.

Dick Woodward, 04 June 2010