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


Loving Others

March 20, 2018

“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, and where you want to be for the rest of your life.

Dick Woodward, (from A Prescription For Love)


A ‘pole sana!’ Pity Party

March 13, 2018

“But the LORD said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1Kings 19:9)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. First Kings 18 reports one of the greatest days a prophet could possibly have when Elijah led the chosen people of God into a great and mighty revival.  In response to his sermon, they shouted that they were going to put God first. As evidence of their fervent dedication to God they helped him get rid of 850 false prophets of wicked King Ahab and his depraved Queen Jezebel.

The very next day when Elijah received a message from Queen Jezebel that she was going to kill him, this great prophet ran into the wilderness then slumped down in exhausted despair under a broom bush tree where he asked God to kill him. God did not kill Elijah but He did answer his prayer. God fed him with supernatural bread then put him in a deep sleep. This gave Elijah the strength to travel to a cave where God asked him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

If this can happen to a great man of God, this can and does happen to all of us sooner or later. Elijah was having a pity party. With my severe physical limitations if I get anywhere near a pity party I immediately sink like a cannonball in a swimming pool! In East Africa there’s an oft repeated Swahili saying: “pole sana!” It means “poor pitiful you – poor one – so sorry for you!”

Writing as one who cannot survive a ‘pole sane’ pity party I warn you to flee this temptation like a plague. It’s a blueprint for a burnout. If this finds you having a pity party let God ask you: “What are you doing here?

Dick Woodward, 28 March 2011


Poor in Spirit: I Can’t but Jesus Can

March 2, 2018

“Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn…” (Matthew 5:3-4)

Jesus gave this teaching to His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. They were with Him on the slopes around the Sea of Galilee while He was ministering to a vast multitude of people. Mark 3:13 & 14 tell us that by personal invitation Jesus invited these disciples to join Him at a higher level, so He might teach them how to be part of His solution and answer to the problems at the bottom of the mountain.

Jesus taught the disciples His first two attitudes: to be poor in spirit and to mourn. Poor in spirit means broken in spirit and mourning can be applied to what we experience while we are learning that we are poor in spirit. I paraphrase these first two attitudes with the words “I can’t but He can.” One of the best ways Jesus teaches us that we can’t is failure. We hate to fail. We loathe failure. We are driven in many ways by the fear of failure. That’s why mourning can be involved in learning these first two attitudes.

Another application could be that Jesus is teaching His disciples to look down the hill at the hurting multitude. He is asking, “What makes you think you can be an answer and solution of Mine to their problems if you never know what it is to mourn and experience a broken spirit that confesses “I can’t but He can?”

Have you learned this yet? Are you letting the experiences of your life be vehicles through which Jesus teaches you these first two blessed attitudes?

Dick Woodward, 23 March 2010


Preaching the Gospel Clearly (like Billy Graham)

February 23, 2018

“Moreover, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you… That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1Corinthians 15:1-4)

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that when he came to them he determined to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He did not use enticing words of man’s wisdom because he did not want their faith to be rooted in the wisdom of man but in the power of God. (1Corinthians 2)

When Paul concluded his letter to the Corinthians he reminded them of the Gospel he had preached in a clear summary. It is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died, and He was raised from the dead for our sins. That was what Paul preached, that was what they believed, that was what saved them, and that was the foundation upon which their faith was to stand. Furthermore, if they believed anything else they were lost. (1Corinthians 15)

We preachers often go beyond the Gospel Paul proclaimed. Perhaps we are trying to make it more interesting for ourselves. We may be preaching to each other. Whatever our reasons, we need to return to the clear and simple presentation of the Gospel Paul preached in Corinth and all over the world.

I know of no one in my generation who did that like Billy Graham. He wrote that early in his preaching when a meeting was not right, in prayer the Lord showed him that he was making it too complex. He then returned to an uncomplicated, clear message that never wavered from the Gospel.

Dick Woodward, 27 August 2013

Editor’s Note: My father looked up to Billy Graham with the highest respect & appreciation. He always treasured the time he met him through family friends in Va. Beach & the opportunity to serve as part of a pastoral team during a 1970s crusade in Tidewater. I’m sure there’s much rejoicing in Heaven with many souls, like Papa, there to shake Billy Graham’s spiritual hands. May he R.I.P. & may the legacy of his faith – the clear proclamation of the Gospel – continue to transform lives with the power of Jesus Christ’s love.


The Christmas That Was

December 19, 2017

“Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” (Luke 2:20)

A teenager once asked me the question, “If Christmas was surrounded by all these miracles, why is it that 30 years later Jesus had such a hard time convincing everybody He was the Messiah?” If you will carefully read the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke, you will find the answer: the Christmas that was involved very few people.

When Angel Gabriel told an old priest what God was going to do, the priest didn’t believe God.  When Angel Gabriel informed the priest that God was going to do Christmas anyway, unbelief shut the mouth of the priest. Zechariah had the greatest sermon to preach any priest has ever had, but he was smitten with muteness. As the miracle of Christmas unfolded, he couldn’t preach his greatest sermon.

God then shared the miracle with a very godly young woman who was to be the birth mother of Jesus. Mary’s response (called the “Magnificat”) showed how godly she was, because in 10 verses of Scripture she referenced the Old Testament 23 times. But, as godly as she was, she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. God then informed her fiancé, Joseph, because it was on a need to know basis and he surely had a need to know.

God then told some lowly shepherds what God was doing. Why tell them?  He told them because before and after they saw the miracle they told everybody about the Christmas that was.

Luke has given us 132 verses that tell us about Christmas. Are we telling people about the miracle of the Christmas that was?

Dick Woodward, 21 December 2010


SUFFERING: PERSEVERANCE, CHARACTER & HOPE

October 20, 2017

Let us rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

If you study the original language in which these verses were written, you will discover that Paul is saying essentially this: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces the quality of character that will not run when things get difficult.”

The Greek word Paul used for character conveys a meaning similar to various patches military people wear that show they have been tested and proven. Paul told us suffering produces endurance, and receiving from the Lord the grace to endure our suffering produces proven character. When you have been tested and proved, the caliber of character that testing produces is often grown in the soil of suffering.

Paul also writes that proven character leads to confidence and hope. When you have developed character that perseveres, you will not be put to flight. While visiting missionaries on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, I learned that one of the most important abilities for missionaries is stickability. Can you go to a foreign culture, and stay for fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years?  Can you live out your life there as a fragrance of Christ, an irrefutable statement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who are hostile toward Jesus and His followers?

Most missionary work is living Christ until the people you desire to reach “see Christ in your mortal flesh,” to borrow the words of one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. (2Corinthians 4:11)

Perseverance is stickability: the ability to hang in there, and keep hanging in there. That is how an orange gets to be an orange; it just keeps hanging in there until it becomes an orange.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer