BEING THE CHRISTMAS THAT IS…

December 24, 2021

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”  (Titus 2: 11-14)

One of my very favorite Christmas Scriptures is here where the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus that the grace of God appeared on that first Christmas Eve when Christ was born.  His Church should always be looking forward to what he calls “the blessed hope” which is the appearing of Christ in His Second Coming.

In these Christmas verses Paul writes that between these two appearances of Jesus Christ God wants to appear to this world through His special people by the way they adorn their belief with good works and godly living.  The word “special” is sometimes translated “peculiar” or “unique.”

Great paintings are valuable because they are peculiar.  If there is another painting exactly like a particular painting it loses its value.  Paul counseled Titus that it is critical to have spiritual people in his church who will adorn their belief with good works and be peculiar people through whom God appears to this present age.

There is a Christmas that was when God first appeared to us.  There is a Christmas that shall be when God appears through the return of Christ.  And there is the Christmas that is as God appears through believers like you and me.

Are you willing to be the Christmas that is for those who know you today?

Dick Woodward, 25 December 2012


#CHRISTMAS: Good Tidings for ALL People

December 21, 2021

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 them wonderful news. 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 were to bring great joy to ALL people!  That means 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 treat 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 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 everyone.  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 His grace lavishes on us all kinds of marvelous things we do not deserve.  His mercy and grace give us more blessings than we can count if we have the faith to receive them

Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011


CHOOSING JOY!

December 14, 2021

“I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people!” (Luke 2:10)

Tim Hansel lived every day with debilitating, excruciating pain. Yet, in his book, “You Gotta Keep Dancing” he wrote: “pain and suffering are inevitable, but misery is optional.” That is true for a Spirit controlled disciple of Jesus. Tim also wrote: “I can choose to be joyful.”

Joy is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul described in his letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5: 22-23) As evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, joy can be paraphrased “happiness that does not make sense.” The derivation of the word “happiness” pertains to what happens to us. 

But this joy, which is the fruit of the Spirit living in us, is not controlled by what happens to us. That is why it does not make sense, especially to secular non-spiritual people. In the very short letter the Apostle Paul wrote from prison to his favorite church, the Philippians, he used the word joy seventeen times!

Appearing to the shepherds, the angels explained why their declaration would bring great joy to all people: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Great joy came because the One born is the Savior. He is the Christ, which is the Greek way of saying the Messiah. And He is to be our Lord. Joy came because Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who follow Him. This joy is intended for all people, including you and me.

Are you choosing to be joyful, anyway?

Dick Woodward, 20 December 2013


Sharing Christmas HOPE!

December 10, 2021

“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  (I Corinthians 13:13)

Do you know what it is like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope? In the great love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul tells us three eternal values in life are faith, hope and love.  Hope is one of the three eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God. In the heart of every human being, God plants hope, the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good will intersect our lives.  That is what the author of the Book of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1)

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have Good News that can give hope to the hopeless. If we never share the Good News of the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be, we should ask ourselves if we really believe the Gospel of Christmas. If we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share that Good News with the people Jesus told us He came to seek and to save. (Luke 19:10) We show that we 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, and then worship Him and give the gift of our lives to Him. Then, like the shepherds we should tell everybody the Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world.

Dick Woodward, from A Christmas Prescription


A Christmas Question: Where is He?

December 7, 2021

“… Behold, wise men …came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is He? …” (Matthew 2: 2)

In the Old Testament God begins His dialogue with us by asking the question “Where are you?” The New Testament begins with wise men asking the question “Where is He?” If we are spiritually wise, as we read the Old Testament God will show us where we truly are. By the time we reach the New Testament we’re ready for the question of the wise men because we know by then that we need a Savior – and we need to know where our Savior is.

Wise men and women still ask the question, “Where is He?” The Gospel of Matthew reports that those wise men were directed to a house where they found and worshiped a young Child about two years of age. By application, when we ask that question today, what are the answers we should expect to receive?

In the letter of the Apostle John that is found at the end of the New Testament we find these words: “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) These three words “as He is” raise the question in what forms and in what ways can we expect to find Jesus today?

If you want to be spiritually wise and ask the question “Where is He?”, I suggest that you look where a unique quality of Love can be found today. Look for where a unique quality of Light and Truth might be found today. Look where an abundant and rich quality of Life is being experienced. Since we do not find Him in a test tube or a fossil, look for Jesus in the spiritual dimension of life.

Dick Woodward, 07 December 2010


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