MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

December 25, 2020

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

This verse begins and ends with one of the most beautiful Christmas words in the Bible: the word “all.” The first time the word is used in this verse it gives us the bad news. It tells us all of us have gone astray and turned – every one of us – to our own way. The prophet Isaiah repeats himself for emphasis when he tells us that every one of us has turned to his or her own way.

Do you believe you are included in the first “all” of this verse?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a verse of Scripture to convince me that I’m included in the first “all.” Only Santa Claus brings good things to good people on Christmas Day. According to Isaiah, Christmas is when good things happen to people who have strayed from God.

The good news of this Christmas word is the way Isaiah concludes his verse. We are not ready for the good news until we are convinced of the bad news. He tells us the good news that God has laid on His Son the iniquity and sins of us all! Do you believe you are included in the last “all” of this verse?

If you will meet yourself in the two “alls” of Isaiah you receive, by faith, your greatest Christmas gift. Paul described it this way:

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

Merry Christmas to ALL!!

Dick Woodward, 25 December 2011


#FAITH – THE CHRISTMAS THAT IS

December 22, 2020

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

The risen living Christ sends a letter to a Church in Laodicea, as recorded in Chapter Three of the Revelation. The risen Christ wishes they were hot, but if they are not going to get hot He would rather they be cold. Because they are neither cold, nor hot, but lukewarm – they make Him want to throw up!

The risen Christ then tells them how to have a Christmas that is and can be all day long, every day of the year. It is as if their lives are houses and their hearts are doors to their houses. Jesus is knocking on that door. He is patiently waiting for them to open that door and invite Him into all the meaningful areas of their lives.

Verse 19 makes it clear that His knocking is chastisement which He wants to grow into repentance. His inspired metaphor illustrates repentance. It would seem there is no latch on the outside of the door.

The door must be opened from the inside.

Martin Luther wrote a Christmas carol that uses a similar metaphor: “Holy Jesus, precious Child make Thee a bed soft, undefiled, within my heart that it may be a quiet chamber kept for Thee.”

In our church on Christmas Eve children sing: “Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart. Somewhere deep inside you that’s where Christmas really starts. So give your heart to Jesus.

You’ll discover when you do, that it’s Christmas, really Christmas for you!”

 Dick Woodward, 24 December 2010


#FAITH, LOVE +CHRISTMAS HOPE

December 18, 2020

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)

The Old Testament people of God lived their lives believing it was possible to “see the Good.” In Psalm 34 King David challenges hopeless fugitives to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” and the Lord is the Good they have been seeking all their lives.

In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us three eternal values in life are faith, hope, and love. (I Corinthians 13:13) Love is the greatest of these values because God is Love. Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God. Hope is also one of the great eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have the Good News that can give hope to the hopeless.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share it with the people Jesus came to seek and to save.  (Luke 19:10)

We show that we really believe in the Christmas that shall be when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men we should ask the question, “Where is He?,” seek Him until we find Him, worship Him, and give the gift of our lives to Him. 

Then, like the shepherds, we should tell everybody the very Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world!

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription”


#FAITH – THE CHRISTMAS THAT SHALL BE

December 15, 2020

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” (Matthew 25:31)

More than 300 times in the New Testament God tells us God is going to affect another intervention in human history. Read Scriptures like Matthew 24 and 25, I Corinthians 15, II Peter 3 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. You will also find this Good News in the Old Testament, especially in the prophets.

You will discover these Scriptures proclaim the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which is the blessed hope of followers of Jesus and hope for this world. Almighty God is coming to earth again! This time God is not just telling a few chosen people such as a priest, a peasant girl, a carpenter, a few wise men and some shepherds. 

God is telling anyone who reads the Bible.

The famous oratorio by Handel entitled, “The Messiah,” compiles the Scriptures in the Old and New Testament that describe the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be

As you reflect on this beautiful music and the Christmas that is yet to be, if you do not believe the 300+ New Testament Scriptures, or the many Old Testament prophetic Scriptures concerning the future Christmas, then, like Zacharias in the first chapter of Luke, your mouth is shut by your unbelief. 

Sharing the Good News about the Christmas that shall be can give hope to your sphere of acquaintances who are living without hope. Do you know, or do you remember, what it is like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope?

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription”


#FAITH – THE CHRISTMAS THAT WAS

December 11, 2020

“Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, God with us.”  (Matthew 1:23)

The essence of the Christmas that was can be described by the word “incarnation.” The biblical word “carne” is the Greek word for “flesh.” When we consider the Christmas that was, we find ourselves face to face with the incarnation – the miracle that God decided to make human flesh His official residence for 33 years. We date time from the first Christmas because human flesh became God’s address when Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Asked who Jesus is, a little boy answered, “God with skin on.” That’s good theology! When Jesus was born, one of His names was “Emmanuel,” which means God with us.

The Bible also frequently uses the word flesh to mean “human nature, unaided by God.” God knew that our human nature desperately needed supernatural aid. The essence of incarnation when applied to the Christmas that was, demonstrates the reality that we need God to do something for us that we could not possibly do for ourselves. 

On that first Christmas Eve God intersected human history with what we might call “The Great Intervention,” that we might experience salvation.

If you carefully read the first chapter of Luke, you will discover that God told a priest what He was going to do and the priest did not believe Him. God responded by shutting the priest’s mouth. Zacharias had the greatest sermon of his life to preach, but lost the opportunity because unbelief shut his mouth.

Has unbelief shut your mouth?

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription


#FAITH – A CHRISTMAS PRESCRIPTION

December 8, 2020

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

The holidays are the most family-oriented weeks of the year.  Yet for many – those who have no family, singles, widows and widowers, the divorced among us, and those with painful and negative family experiences – the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. 

As a pastor, every year I had parishioners who asked me in early November to pray for them to make it through the holidays. The hard reality is that lonely, depressed, and anxious people are lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious during the “jolliest season” than at any other time of the year.

At the same time, the last four weeks of the year are filled with joy and happiness for millions of people and their families. Whether the holiday season is your favorite time or your most difficult time of the year, I want to share a Christmas prescription that can bring the true meaning of Christmas to your holidays and to every day of your new year.

To begin, try to block out the advertising blitz of commercial Christmas we have today. Carefully read the Christmas scriptures in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and then read the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John.

God told a devout peasant girl what He was going to do. Mary believed God, but she asked God questions and pondered these things in her heart.

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription

Editor’s Note: During the rest of December, the blog posting elf will share excerpts from one of Papa’s booklets, “A Christmas Prescription.” Be blessed as we ponder the Christmas that was, the Christmas that shall be, and the Christmas that is.


A CHRISTMAS THAT IS…

December 24, 2019

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

The risen living Christ sends a letter to a Church in Laodicea, as recorded in Chapter Three of the Revelation. The church has been reading that letter for 2000 years. The risen Christ wishes they were hot, but if they are not going to get hot He would rather they be cold. Because they are neither cold, nor hot, but lukewarm – they make Him want to throw up!

The risen Christ then tells them how to have a Christmas that is and can be all day long, every day of the year. It is as if their life is a house and their heart is the door to that house. He is knocking on that door. He is patiently waiting for them to open that door and invite Him into all the meaningful areas of their life.

Verse 19 makes it clear that His knocking is chastisement which He wants to grow into repentance. His inspired metaphor illustrates repentance. It would seem there is no latch on the outside of the door.

The door must be opened from the inside.

Martin Luther wrote a Christmas carol that uses a similar metaphor: “Holy Jesus, precious Child make Thee a bed soft, undefiled, within my heart that it may be a quiet chamber kept for Thee.”

In our church on Christmas Eve children sing: “Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart.  Somewhere deep inside you that’s where Christmas really starts. So give your heart to Jesus. You’ll discover when you do, that it’s Christmas, really Christmas for you!”

 Dick Woodward, 24 December 2010


Redemption: A Personal Christmas

December 20, 2019

“… and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

If there was anyone in the Christmas story who had the right to an explanation of what was happening, it surely was Joseph. The angel who shared these words with Joseph expressed what Christmas is all about when he told Joseph to call the baby Mary was going to have “Jesus” because He would save His people from their sins.

The word “Jesus” actually means “Savior.” But I would like to call your attention to the reality that the baby was to be given this name because He would save His people from their sins.

Many evangelical believers seem to put a spin on this statement of the angel that was never intended. Our spin is something like “forgive His people for their sins.” However, the hard reality is the angel declared that it was the purpose on the heart of God to save His people from their sins.

In the words of Psalm 107’s redemption hymn, when God redeems us from our chaos it is also God’s plan to deliver us from our chains. That is obviously on the heart of God when the angel pronounced this Christmas Good News.

Redemption means “to buy back and bring back that which was lost.” Rehabilitation in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” Jesus came to forgive us for our sins, but He came to offer us much more than that. Jesus wants to save (and deliver) us from our sins.

This year have a personal Christmas – believe the declaration the angel made to Joseph!

Dick Woodward, 24 December 2009


Christmas: The Word Made Flesh

December 17, 2019

 “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

The essence of Christmas can be described by the word “incarnation.”  The biblical word ‘carne’ is the Greek word for ‘flesh.” When we consider the Christmas that was, we find ourselves face to face with the incarnation – the miracle that God decided to make human flesh His official residence for 33 years. We date time from the first Christmas because human flesh became God’s address when Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Asked who Jesus is, a little boy answered, “God with skin on.” That’s good theology! One of the names of Jesus is “Emmanuel,” which means God with us.

The Bible also frequently uses the word flesh to mean “human nature, unaided by God.” God knew that our human nature desperately needed supernatural aid. The essence of incarnation demonstrates the reality that we need God to do something for us that we cannot possibly do for ourselves. On that first Christmas Eve God intersected human history with what we might call “The Great Intervention,” that we may experience salvation.

If you carefully read the first chapter of Luke, you will discover that God told a priest what He was going to do and the priest did not believe Him. God responded by shutting the priest’s mouth.  Zacharias had the greatest sermon to preach, but lost the opportunity because unbelief shut his mouth…

“Oh Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today…” (Phillips Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)

Dick Woodward, A Christmas Prescription


A Christmas Greeting: “ALL PEOPLE!!”

December 13, 2019

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”(Luke 2:10)

When the angels appeared to those frightened shepherds, they gave a wonderful Christmas greeting. They announced that they were bringing good tidings of great joy to all people.

These good tidings were not just for Jewish people or for good people.They are to bring great joy to ALL people! That means all kinds of people, and all kinds of people everywhere!

Before He ascended, the last words of Jesus were: “… be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere… to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Some people enjoy their faith as if the last words of Jesus were “Now don’t let it get around!” They live out their faith as if the Gospel is a secret to be kept.

Never forget those two beautiful Christmas words, “All people!”

The spiritual community of those who believe and follow Jesus is not to be a secret organization. It is a community of people who exist for the benefit of their non-members.

Jesus Christ came to bring good news and great joy to people who are not good. The Bible tells us that all of us have gone astray and turned every one of us to his or her own way. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God laid the penalty for all of our sins on His Son. (Isaiah 53:6)

Two more great Christmas words are “mercy” and “grace.” The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and God’s grace lavishes on us all kinds of marvelous things we do not deserve. God’s mercy and grace give us more blessings than we can count if we have the faith to receive them.

Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011