#FAITH : Praying to Glorify God

October 11, 2019

…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:13)

(In the Our Father prayer) Jesus teaches us to begin our prayer with a God first mindset and conclude our prayer with that same focus. We begin our prayer looking through the grid: “Your name be reverenced, Your Kingdom come,” and “Your will be done on earth, just as it is willed and done in heaven.”

We are to conclude our prayer the same way.

Jesus wants us to conclude our prayer by making this commitment to our Heavenly Father: “Yours is the Kingdom.” By this confession, He means for us to pledge to God that the results of our Heavenly Father’s continuously answering our prayers will always belong to Him.

As we face challenges of life every day, we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God: “Yours is the power.” When I enter into a challenging day, I have confessed this hundreds of times in my journey of faith and ministry by saying, “I can’t, but He can.”

Finally, we are to conclude our prayers by confessing: “Yours is the glory.” When we apply this third providential benediction, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but God did, all the glory goes to Him.”

Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers every time we pray by making this solemn commitment to God: The glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayer(s), will always go to You.”

The essence of this benediction is: “Because the power always comes from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

“Amen” simply means, “So be it.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


#FAITH : Living (& Being) IN CHRIST

October 8, 2019

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am indebted to E. Stanley Jones, a missionary who served in India for 50 years, for his superb daily devotional, In Christ, that showed me the importance of this phrase in the New Testament. I highly recommend his book which highlights the use of “in Christ” by New Testament writers.

According to Dr. Jones, when we think about being “in Christ” we should realize that Paul was not talking about being in religion. Few people have been more into religion than Paul before he met Jesus. Paul was so religious he fervently persecuted followers of Jesus, sure that he was pleasing God by trying to snuff them out.

It is possible to be in religion, but not be in Christ. It is possible to be in church, and not be in Christ. We can be in doctrine, or theology, and not be in Christ. We can be in the ministry and not be in Christ. We can be committed to Christ, and believe a lot of things about Christ, and still not be in Christ.

To be in Christ locates us in a Person, right now.

Unless we are ‘in Christ’ it’s like we have a powerful engine in our automobile but we cannot find the ignition key that turns the engine on. Being ‘in Christ’ is the ignition key, opening us up to experience “all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3)

Paul essentially writes: I live because Christ lives in me and I live in Christ.

Just as you sometimes cannot find the keys to your automobile, have you misplaced this critical spiritual key – are you living by and in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2013


#FAITH : Gods Agenda vs. Our Agenda

October 1, 2019

“…All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

I find it intriguing to know that in little genes that cannot be seen with the naked eye the genetic heritage of a human being is determined: how high our heads will be from the sidewalk, the color of our eyes, our hair, the capacity of our intellectual gifts, our athleticism and even mannerisms are all wrapped up in microscopic genes.

In this inspired Psalm, David – a great warrior, king, man after the heart of God and hymn writer – tells us that before we existed as genes God determined the days we would live on this earth. The Living Bible Paraphrase reads that before we existed God had an agenda for every day we are to live on this earth.

One day my wife and I woke up and prayed together that if our agenda for that day did not agree with God’s agenda we were willing to be preempted. Later that day while having lunch with our pastor son, I realized I was having a heart attack. As the 911 people rolled me out the door I said to my wife, “Looks like we’re being preempted big time!”

At the hospital they were able to turn things around before it became a full blown heart attack. However, that experience gave my wife and me a perspective we will never forget. There is God’s agenda and there is our agenda for every day we live.

How should that truth impact the way we plan our agendas each day?

Are we willing to be preempted by God’s agenda every day?

Dick Woodward, 01 October 2010


#FAITH : Conduits of Love & Light

September 24, 2019

“…wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2: 1-2)

When we begin reading the Old Testament we find ourselves facing the question: “Where are you?” When we begin the New Testament we read that wise men asked the question: “Where is He?” The New Testament makes sense because we are looking for the same Savior those wise men were seeking.

Where is He?  If we want to find Jesus we should look where love is, because if we live in the love that He is we will live in Him, and He will live in us. As we seek for clues to His reality we are given another answer by the Apostle John:

“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another…” (1 John 1:5-7)

The aged apostle tells us that God is light and if we want to fellowship with Him He will not come live with us in our darkness. No, we must join Him where He lives in the light. Then we have fellowship with Him and all those who are in fellowship with Him.

The light of which John writes is truth – the truth this world saw and heard when the Light became flesh and lived with us full of truth and the grace to live that truth. So, if you want to know where Jesus is, look where the light is.

Then become a conduit of that light.

Dick Woodward, 29 September 2011


#FAITH : IN THE MORNING

September 6, 2019

“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”  (Psalm 5:3)

In one sentence in this beautiful psalm David twice emphasizes the reality that he will pray to God in the morning. There are three directions of life we must master.  We must learn to look up. We must learn to look in until God shows us things we need to know about ourselves. Only then are we prepared to look around in all our relationships.

Anytime we are having difficulty in our relationships with spouses, children, parents or others outside the home we should always ask ourselves if we have looked up and looked in sincerely. Knowing ourselves as God wants us to know ourselves is crucial preparation for relating to others.

Smart people are often right and so they sometimes think they are always right. It is very difficult to live with those who think they are always right.  In the same way it is difficult to relate to those who think they never sin. When God helps us look in and see ourselves as God sees us it gives us a humility that is a tool we need to face our relationships.

What would you think of a concert violinist who plays a beautiful concerto solo and then instead of an encore comes out and tunes her violin?  In the same way we should not play the concert of our day and then tune the instrument of our lives.

We should begin ‘in the morning’ tuning our lives through our prayers to God as the Psalmist directs us, so that we can look up, look in and then look around.

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2013


LOVE: OUR FIRST PRIORITY

February 12, 2019

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.” (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

The Apostle Paul composed an inspired poem of love in which he declared that the agape love of God should be the number one priority of spiritual people. He wrote that love is greater than knowledge and more important than faith.

Paul’s teaching about spiritual gifts in the previous chapter concludes with: “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I will show you a more excellent way.”  (I Corinthians 12:31)  Paul begins his great love chapter with his prescription for that most excellent way: “Let love be your greatest aim,” or “Put love first.”

A SUMMARY PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence or in tongues without love, we’re just a lot of noise. If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as a prophet, and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all those things we are nothing.  If we give all our money to feed the poor and our body to be burned at the stake as a martyr, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.

Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


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