December 8, 2017
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
In our culture today, there are many people who are praying for the grace to get through the weeks that begin with Thanksgiving and end with Christmas Day. These people are often ‘single again.’ By that I mean those who have lost a spouse through death or divorce, or those who have lost a child or a loved one.
If you have lost someone, it would be good to listen to the second beatitude of Jesus. He shows that His values are very different from ours when He announces that those who are mourning losses can be blessed and comforted. The word blessed can mean “happy,” “spiritually prosperous” or “in a state of grace.”
If you would like to experience the blessing and comfort Jesus promised those who are mourning losses, a first step in that direction would be to ask the right questions. Perhaps, for the first time in your life – ask the right questions.
When we suffer loss, there are right questions and there are wrong questions. The question “why” is very often a wrong question, because it can lead to questions nobody can answer. There are, however, right questions. When we lose a loved one through death there is a question God wants us to ask. It’s found in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Job, where Job writes: “When a man dies he lies prostrate, he expires and then where is he? When a man dies shall he live again?”
When we are mourning, God wants us to ask right questions like that one. Have you ever asked that question?
Dick Woodward, 10 December 2010
December 5, 2017
“… Behold, wise men …came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is He?” (Matthew 2:2)
In the Old Testament, God begins 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, Jesus, is.
Wise people 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 John’s profound letter 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.” (1John 3:2) These three words “as He is” raise the question in what form, and in what ways, can we expect to find Jesus today?
If you want to be spiritually wise, ask the question: “Where is He?” Then look where a unique quality of Love can be found today. Look for where a unique quality of Light and Truth can be found today. Since we do not find Him in a test tube or a fossil, look for Jesus in an abundant spiritual dimension of life.
Dick Woodward, 07 December 2010
December 23, 2016
“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 when 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 – and all kinds of people everywhere!
Before Jesus ascended, his last words were: “…go be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NLT).
Some people hoard 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 these 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 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 His 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.
Merry Christmas to ALL!!
Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011
December 16, 2016
“… and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
If anyone in the Christmas story had the right to an explanation of what was happening, it surely was Joseph. The angel who shared these words expressed what Christmas is all about when he told Joseph to call Mary’s baby Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins.
The word, Jesus, 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 believers seem to put a spin on the angel’s statement that was never intended. Our spin is something like “forgive people for their sins.” However, the hard reality is the angel declared that it was the purpose on the heart of God to save people from their sins.
In the words of the redemption hymn, when God redeems us from our chaos it is also God’s plan to deliver us from our chains. (Psalm 107) That was 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. He 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
December 13, 2016
“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 good 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 we say it does not make good 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
December 10, 2016
“…Wise men came saying, “Where is he?” (Matthew 2: 1, 2)
Christmas cards tell us that wise men still seek Him. Wise men still find Him. Wise men still worship Him and give gifts to Him. We can add this observation: wise men (and women) still ask the question: “Where is He?”
If we want to know where Jesus is today, we should look where the Love is. Paul writes that He is a specific quality of love. (1Corinthians 13:4-7) If we tap into that quality of love we will find ourselves connecting with God, and discover that God is connecting with us. (1 John 4:16)
The great Christmas word,“incarnation,” literally means “in flesh.” (John 1:14) The Bible tells us that incarnation also means relocation. God wants to express the quality of love God is where people are hurting. If we will intentionally place ourselves where people are hurting, as we become conduits of God’s love that addresses their pain we will discover where God is and where we want to be for the rest of our lives.
We must also look where the Light is. Then, we can deliberately place ourselves where others live in spiritual darkness and ask God to pass the Light of Christ through us to address their darkness.
And we should look where the Life is. The Apostle John writes that God has given us a quality of life God labels “eternal life.” (1John 5: 11, 12) We can experience this quality of life ourselves, and we can become conduits of that Life for others.
We can go, or God may place us with the hurting, those living in darkness, and those suffering from a low quality of life. As we become God’s conduits, that’s when we discover by experience where Jesus is.
Dick Woodward, 13 December 2011
December 6, 2016
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a candlestick, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
I love Christmas lights! Where I live in Williamsburg, Virginia, one of the signature features of Christmas decorating is using white lights. We put our Christmas tree up for all of December because we enjoy the white lights so very much.
A very significant Christmas gift I received is a book I wrote this year that was delivered from the printer on the third of December. It’s called Marketplace Disciples. The thrust of this book’s message highlights the mandate Jesus gave His disciples to be the light of the world and salt of the earth.
The risen, living Christ uses the fact that we need to make a living to get the salt out of the salt shaker and the candles He has lighted on candlesticks of His choosing. We should impact the marketplace because we are authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. The values of Christ should revolutionize our ethics and the way we do business.
This year when you see the beautiful Christmas lights remember that Jesus said His light flowing through us cannot be hidden.
Dick Woodward, 17 December 2013
Editor’s Note: Marketplace Disciples, the last book my father wrote before he passed in March of 2014, is available through the website of ICM (International Cooperating Ministries.) It’s really a ‘best of Dick Woodward’s teachings’ and makes a nice Christmas present. (hint, hint)
You can click here for a direct link: Marketplace Disciples