Fellowship of the Fig Tree

July 6, 2018

“… before Phillip called you I saw you under the fig tree.”  (John 1:48)

As Jesus recruited apostles he had an interesting exchange with the one who was to become the Apostle Nathaniel. Nathaniel apparently had the regular practice of having times of intimate fellowship with God under a fig tree. When he met Jesus for the first time Jesus affirmed him as a Jew in whom there was no guile.

When Nathaniel exclaimed, “How do you know me?” Jesus said in so many words, “I’m the One you’ve been talking to under the fig tree!” That blew Nathaniel away and he was convinced forever that Jesus was the Son of God and many other things. (The whole story can be found in John 1:47-51.)

I find a challenge in this exchange between Jesus and this apostle. The challenge is simply this: do we have a fig tree place and time where we regularly meet with God and have intimate fellowship? You might call this, as I have, “The Fellowship of the Fig Tree.”

Years ago I gave a devotional at a businessmen’s breakfast on this concept. One of the attendees who became a dear brother was in the furniture business. He gave me a beautiful artificial fig tree, placing it in my home where I had my quiet times with God every morning. He wanted me to have my intimate times with God under a fig tree. That was nearly 40 years ago. It is still here in our home today.

Do you belong to the Fellowship of the Fig Tree? Do you have a place where you meet with God every day?

Dick Woodward, 07 July 2009


Eagle Disciples: Looking Into the Son

April 17, 2018

…they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

The exceptional longevity of an eagle means it is seldom ill. When it does get sick, however, it goes to the highest elevation it can find, lies on its back, and looks directly into the sun. This sun treatment proves to be therapeutic and often restores the health of the eagle. When the ultimate illness comes to an eagle, it climbs to the highest possible elevation and looks into the sun for an entire day. When the sun goes down that evening, the eagle dies.

Have you ever seen an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ die? The first time I intellectually believed the Gospel was when I watched my mother die. She died as an eagle follower of Jesus, looking right into the Son. The godly pastor with us had seen scores of saints go home, but said he had never seen anything like what he saw that night.

At the age of 49, she left behind six daughters, five sons and a husband. She spent the last two hours of her life with her family, but she was already in Heaven, talking to Jesus. She often said she never had any peace. We had a little house of about 1,300 square feet with 13 people living in it, so you can understand why she had precious little peace or quiet. In those last hours she kept saying, “Oh, this peace, this peace!”

I believed intellectually at her death, but I did not become a disciple of Jesus Christ for several years because I knew believing involved a commitment.

My mother had always challenged me, “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, Dick, He is everything to you; because, until Jesus Christ is everything to you, He isn’t really anything to you.”

My life was changed forever because she lived and died as an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ.

Dick Woodward, As Eagles: How to Be an Eagle Disciple


What does God require of us?

March 23, 2018

“…And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The great prophet Micah asked an important question. In effect, his question is what are the divine requirements of God?  What does God expect, require, demand, and command from me? Micah gives us three answers.

His first answer is that we should do justly. In other words, we should be a conduit of justice. We should stand up against injustice anytime and anywhere we see injustice. Since we live in a world that is filled with injustice this can be dangerous. Jesus Christ did this perfectly and it got Him crucified.

Micah’s second answer is that we should love mercy.  Mercy is unconditional love.  This is the chief characteristic of the love of God. David believed that the mercy and unconditional love of God will follow and pursue us all the days of our lives.

Micah’s final answer is that we are to walk humbly with our God. Humility has consistently been a characteristic of the great old souls we have known in this life. C.S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins, and we read in Proverbs that God hates pride. If Lewis is right we can see why God hates pride because God hates sin.

Are you willing to be the person Micah profiled? There is a sense in which we cannot become that just, merciful and humble person through our own efforts. But these three answers give us a profile of the person God wants us to be.

Are you willing to let God give you the grace to be that person?

Dick Woodward, 20 March 2011


Keeping Our Eyes On Jesus

October 13, 2017

 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

When the ultimate terminal illness comes to an eagle, it climbs to the highest possible elevation and looks into the sun for an entire day. When the sun goes down that evening, the eagle dies.

Have you ever seen an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ die? I first started believing the Gospel when I watched my mother die. She died looking right into the Son. Our godly pastor, who had seen scores of saintly ones go home, said he never had seen anything like what he witnessed with us that night.

At the age of 49, my mother left behind six daughters, five sons and a husband. She spent the last two hours of her life with us, but she was already in heaven. She was talking to Jesus. She often said she never had any peace. We had a little house of thirteen hundred square feet with 13 people living in it, so you can understand why she had precious little peace and quiet. In those last hours she kept saying, “Oh, this peace, this peace!” Several times she started to share something but said, “I can’t tell you about that.”

The Apostle Paul described something similar in 2 Corinthians 12, when he tells us he was caught up into the third heaven, saw many things, but said essentially, “I can’t tell you about that.”

I believed intellectually at my mother’s death when I was 14, but I did not become a disciple of Jesus Christ for several years. I delayed my decision because I knew believing involved commitment. I knew this because my mother had said to me:

“If Jesus Christ is anything to you, Dick, He is everything to you. Because, until Jesus is everything to you, He isn’t really anything to you.”

My life changed forever because she lived and died as an eagle disciple of Jesus Christ. Those closest to us may also become believers as they see us live and die with our eyes on Jesus Christ.

Dick Woodward, As Eagles: How to Be an Eagle Disciple


Highways for Jesus Christ

September 26, 2017

“…the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:4-6)

In ancient times, when a king wanted to visit a distant town in his kingdom, a highway was built on which he could travel called The King’s Highway. According to Isaiah and John the Baptist, the highway on which God came into this world is the perfect life of the Messiah: in Him mountains of pride were leveled, empty valleys filled completely with the Holy Spirit, crooked ways of sin made perfectly straight, and rough spots made smooth – especially through His response to the cross.

I like to think of John the Baptist introducing Jesus, “Here He is! Here is the highway on which God is traveling into this world!”

After 33 years Jesus told the apostles celebrating Passover with Him that he was going to leave this world. After His death and resurrection, He told these same apostles, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)

By application, Jesus told the apostles that just as He came into this world to be a highway for God, the apostles were also to live their lives as highways for God.

God wants our lives to be highways on which He can travel into our marketplaces. This is intensely true when we are suffering. How does this happen? Our lives can become highways for God when we pray this prayer every day:

Oh God, make my life a highway on which You can travel into this world and show Your salvation to the people I’m with, and do business with, today.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.283-284)


Waiting and Leaping (by Faith!)

August 9, 2017

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Picture an eagle sitting on the side of its nest, waiting for the velocity of the wind to become strong. In the same way, we must “wait on the Lord.” We are not to go charging ahead into life without clear direction from the Lord. We are exhorted to follow the example of the eagle by waiting until the wind of the Spirit builds up to a certain velocity to direct, support and empower us.

Then we should follow the example of the eagle and take a leap of faith directly into the adversity that is challenging us. As the power of the Holy Spirit drives us into the strong winds of the storm, the energizing unction of the Holy Spirit will give us the spiritual aerodynamics needed to lift up and soar over the storm.

In the Gospels, Peter’s leap of faith illustrates this tension between waiting on the Lord and leaping. In the middle of a great storm, Jesus came to the disciples by walking on the water. Peter said, “Lord, if it really is You, invite me to walk on the water to You.” The Lord then invited Peter to walk on the water to Him. (Matthew 14:22-32)

Peter had great faith, yet he did not get out of the boat until he was sure of two things: that it was the Lord out there in the middle of the storm, and that the Lord was inviting him to walk on the water to Him.

The obvious application is that we should never take a leap of faith until we are sure the Lord is in our faith venture, and that the Lord is leading us to take that leap of faith.

Dick Woodward, from As Eagles: How to be an Eagle Disciple


A Doxology Standard: God’s Power & God’s Glory

June 28, 2017

“For of Him and through Him and unto Him are all things, to Him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

The Apostle Paul closes the doctrinal section of his greatest masterpiece with these words in Romans. In his writings, Paul uses the expression “all things” frequently but never casually or without great thought and inspiration. In this context, he is probably referring to all the glorious truths he has written in his letter to the Church in Rome.

To paraphrase these words, I believe Paul is writing that God is the source of all things, God is the power behind all things, and God’s glory is the purpose for all things. The Apostle Paul suffered from health challenges every day of his ministry. Suffering chronic fatigue from quadriplegia the past 30 years, I have become very discriminating about how I spend my energy and strength. I use this doxology as my criteria for deciding whether or not I get involved in a project.

I do not want to be part of anything unless I can say that God is the source of it, God is the power behind it, and God’s glory is the purpose of the project. My life and strength are in such short supply I do not want to spend it on anything unless I know God is the source of it. God must be the power behind it, because I have no strength of my own. Since everything we do should be for the glory of God I want to be certain that God’s glory is the purpose of any work I attempt to do in this life.

Are you using this standard in your life?

Dick Woodward, 10 July 2009