When You Are Too Weak To Pray

September 17, 2021

“Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’”  (Mark 2: 4, 5)

When my wife was critically ill after the birth of our first child she reached a crisis on a Friday morning at ten o’clock. Her eyes were moving back into her head and we thought we were losing her. While doctors did a spinal tap to relieve pressure on her brain two precious sisters in the Lord had been burdened to pray for her that morning at ten o’clock – not knowing anything about her crisis. 

My wife pulled through the crisis and her life was saved.

While having her quiet time after returning from the hospital, she read the verses quoted above. It moved her to tears to realize that when she was too weak to pray for herself her sisters in the Lord were praying for her, and when the Lord Jesus saw their faith He ministered healing to her.

In our life span there are sure to be times when we will be too weak to pray for ourselves. That’s one reason it is wise to be in spiritual community with other believers who know the Lord and love Him and who know you and love you. 

If you have an accident or a sudden illness do you have anyone who can pray for you when you are too weak to pray for yourself?

Two are better than one, because… if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4: 10, 11 NIV)

Dick Woodward, 18 September 2012


#FAITH: The Order of the Towel

September 10, 2021

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…”  Matthew 20:25-26

The incident recorded in Matthew 20 (verses 20-28) precipitated by Mrs. Zebedee and her two sons, James and John, sets the stage for one the great teachings of Jesus Christ. 

We can assume these two “Sons of Thunder” (the nickname the Lord game them) who were partners with Simon Peter in the Zebedee Seafood Corporation, were obviously the instigators of their mother’s request that they be seated on the right and left of Jesus when He was crowned King. 

When the other apostles griped about this, Jesus called them together. In so many words, He told them the world plays the game of “Over-Under!” This is a world of credentials and status symbols that often say, “I am better than you,” or “I am over and above you.”

Acknowledging that the secular world is like that, Jesus tells them not to play the world’s games. To paraphrase, Jesus says, “This is not to happen among you. If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, you should join the Order of the Towel – get a towel and basin, assume the status of a slave, and start washing feet.”  

Jesus uses Himself as an example when He says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)  Remember how Jesus spent His last hours before He went to the cross, literally washing the feet of His disciples.

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook, p.86


#FAITH: EXAMINE, PROVE & KNOW

September 7, 2021

Search me, Oh God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24)

King David showed great spiritual wisdom when he prayed this prayer. He asked God to take the lid off his mind and show him the thoughts that should not be there. He then asked God to take the lid off his heart because he wanted to see the motives that should not be in his heart. He prayed this prayer of self-examination because he wanted to walk in the everlasting way. 

Another way of saying the same thing is that David wanted God to purify his thoughts and motives because he wanted to be the man God created and re-created him to be…

Paul closes his second letter to the Corinthians with a verse that has a cluster of challenges regarding how we are to think of ourselves. If you compare several translations of this verse (2 Corinthians 13:5) you will realize that these challenges can be summarized and paraphrased into just three: 

EXAMINE yourself, whether you are in the faith; PROVE yourself that you are an authentic disciple of Christ. And KNOW yourself, how that Jesus Christ is in you.”

Paul wrote to the Colossians that God called him to share a spiritual secret with the Church: Christ in our hearts is our only hope of bringing glory to God. (Colossians 1:24-29) In this great passage he writes that sharing this secret is his life’s work and is worthy of all his life’s energies.  He exhorts us to know by experience that Christ is in us and we are in Christ.

Christ in you the hope of glory.” 

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Your Self


#FAITH: God’s Grace vs. Our Challenges

August 31, 2021

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)

The mercy of God withholds what we deserve and the grace of God lavishes on us blessings we do not deserve. As we appreciate what the mercy of God withholds and the grace of God bestows when we believe the Gospel, we should be filled with grateful worship for our gracious and merciful God.

When Jesus gave His Great Commission He instructed the disciples to wait until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them before they obeyed His Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:4-5) After that happened to them on the Day of Pentecost, we read: “Great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) This use of the word “grace” means there is such a thing as the anointing and energizing unction of the Holy Spirit upon us as we serve Jesus Christ. I use grace in that sense when I tell people that God’s grace outweighs my challenges.

Paul was declaring this dimension of grace when he wrote:

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) 

Check out the superlatives Paul uses in this verse: All grace – abounding grace – each and every one of you – he repeats all of you – all sufficiency – in all things – abounding unto every good work – always!  According to Paul we should all be able to make the claim that God’s grace outweighs our challenges.

Do you believe the grace of God can outweigh your challenges today?

Dick Woodward, 31 August 2012


#Adversity & Soaring Like Eagles

August 27, 2021

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” (Isaiah 40:31)

The Golden Eagle in the Mediterranean referenced in the Bible likes to build its nest at least ten thousand feet above sea level, preferably in a Craig near the top of a cliff. From that elevation the eagle can see a storm approaching while the storm is still far off. 

With great patience the eagle waits until the winds of that storm reach a high velocity and engulf the eagle and its nest. The eagle then leaps fifteen feet from its nest directly into the adverse wind of that storm. This adverse wind gives the eagle the lift and aerodynamics it needs to soar over the storm.

When the prophet Isaiah exhorts the people of God to mount up with wings as eagles do, he is referring to this storm strategy of the eagle. When a storm comes into our lives, our reflex response should not always be to ask God to deliver us from the storm. We should consider applying this exhortation of Isaiah. We can wait on the Lord until God shows us it is the right time. Then we can leap into the adverse winds and find in them the spiritual aerodynamics to soar over the storm.

When the Church was born at Pentecost the great miracle happened after the apostles had waited on the Lord for forty days. The apostles found miraculous spiritual aerodynamics by moving out against severe persecution, obeying the Great Commission, and making disciples for Jesus Christ.

When God permits or directs a storm into your life and mine, are we willing to wait on the Lord until God gives us the power to soar over the storm?

Dick Woodward, 29 August 2011


#FAITH: The Purpose of Life

August 20, 2021

“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the works which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4)

Jesus was obsessed with the works His Father gave him to do. Doing those works was more important to Him than food. When He came to the end of His life all He had to do was die. The night He was arrested, in deep prayer to His Father he prayed the words quoted above.

In these words Jesus not only gave a capsule summary of the meaning of His life, He showed us the purpose of our lives. “The chief end of a person is to glorify God and enjoy God forever.” That’s the way a catechism devout parents have taught their children states the purpose of life. By example and precept Jesus stated the purpose of a purpose driven life for all of His followers for all time.

Our purpose is to glorify God.

Jesus also showed us how to glorify God. We glorify God by finishing all the works God has given us to do. When I was thirty years old I had an accident I miraculously survived. Many people asked if I had been terrified that I was about to lose my life. That was not my concern. My concern was that I had not finished the works I knew the Father wanted me to do for Him. I had not even found those works at that point in my life. Forty-nine years later I feel much better about that life goal.

Are you glorifying God our Heavenly Father by finding and finishing the works He wants you to do for Him for His glory?

Dick Woodward, 25 August 2009


#FAITH: Working While It Is Day

August 17, 2021

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. The night is coming when no man can work.” (John 9:4)

The Gospel of John gives us another window into the way Jesus felt about the work God wanted Him to do. According to this vision statement of Jesus He knew the reality that He had less than three years to do His work.

In 1956 the famous missionary Jim Elliot and four colleagues were speared to death by the tribal people they were trying to reach with the Gospel. Jim was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. About four years before he died, he wrote this in his journal, “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

We can’t understand how God decides the day of our death. We don’t know when our own finish line will come. But we should all live in such a way that when we come to the finish line of our lives there will be no unfinished business, no works our Heavenly Father assigned to us that we’ve left undone.

Do you have the magnificent obsession of Jesus to work the works God has assigned to you while it is day not knowing when the night is coming and you cannot work anymore?

Can you accept the challenge of being like Jesus in your attitude toward the work God wants you to do?

Dick Woodward, 18 August 2009


A Spiritual Greeting: GRACE TO YOU!

August 10, 2021

“Grace to you… from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 1:7)

As you study the letters of the Apostle Paul you will find a common greeting and salutation in all of them. At the beginning you will find these words: “Grace to you.” At the conclusion you will find words like these: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

In nearly every generation of language and culture there are words people use when they first encounter someone.  After visiting with them there are words used for parting. Some of these greetings and salutations do not have much meaning. It was not so with the way Paul began and concluded his letters.

One of Paul’s favorite concepts was “grace.” In many of his letters he emphasized the truth that we are saved by grace and not by works. He also wrote that we have access by faith to grace that makes it possible for us to live a life that glorifies God. (Romans 5:2)

Perhaps Paul’s greatest verse that describes the empowering dimension of grace is 2Corinthians 9:8. He writes there that God is able to make all grace abound toward us so that each one of us may always find the spiritual dynamic we need to abound in every good work God is calling us to do. 

All grace – all the power we need – each and every one of us that we might find all the sufficiency we need to abound in every good work – ALWAYS!

As you come to appreciate the meaning of “grace,” isn’t it an appropriate heartfelt concept to include in your greetings with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 10 August 2010


JOY! JOY! JOY! UNBREAKABLE JOY!

August 6, 2021

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”  Philippians 4:4

Misery is optional even though pain and suffering are inevitable. Those words were written by a man who lives with excruciating pain every day. How can misery be optional for someone in pain? How is it Paul mentions joy 17 times in a short letter he wrote from prison?

For those who experience and express the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who have a relationship with the risen, living Christ, there is a joy that is not controlled by circumstances.

The peace Paul experienced and prescribes for you and me can be called the peace that doesn’t make sense. It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) The joy of which Paul writes can be called the happiness that doesn’t make sense. This is true because this peace and joy are the fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us.

This peace and joy are not controlled by our circumstances. 

What is the foundation of that peace and joy? According to Paul, that foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find our joy in Him at all times.

What is the foundation of your serenity and joy?

When Paul writes his words about joy, he directs us here to a foundation for serenity and joy that is not fragile: “Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 188-190)


#FAITH: DOING LEADS TO KNOWING

July 13, 2021

“If any man wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the teaching whether it is from God…” (John 7:17)

Jesus gave us a solid principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. The principle is this: If anyone wills to do, that person will know

For millennia those who approach the proposition of faith intellectually have said, “When I know, then I will do.” Their premise has been and remains: “the knowing leads to the doing.” 

Pointing to their temples they say, “Reach me here.” Pointing to their heart, they say, “Then I will follow through here.” They are essentially saying, “Reach me intellectually and then I will commit volitionally.”

Jesus cut through all that when He proclaimed this principle: the doing leads to the knowing. When you commit your will to doing what Jesus teaches then intellectual affirmation will follow. It is only then that you will know the teaching of Jesus is the Word of God and not just the ideas of another great teacher coming down the pike.

When people followed Jesus on His terms He called them “disciples.” A synonym for that word is “apprentice.” An apprentice and a disciple are learning what they’re doing and doing what they’re learning.

As Jesus apprenticed His disciples they discovered that the doing leads to the knowing. Are we applying this principle to our faith as followers of Jesus Christ?

Dick Woodward, Lackey Free Clinic Health Beat, Summer 2009