January 14, 2020
“…have a reputation for gentleness…” (Philippians 4:5)
When the Apostle Paul writes of gentleness, he does not mean milquetoast weakness. The Greek word for gentleness used here actually means meekness. Meekness is not weakness. Biblical meekness is closer in meaning to tameness. When a powerful stallion finally takes the bit and yields to the control of bridle and rider, it is not weak. That powerful animal can be described as “strength under control.” That is what biblical meekness means.
Gentleness is also listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Another way of describing this concept is acceptance and unconditional surrender. The well-known serenity prayer then becomes an expression of this condition for God’s peace:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
In Romans 8:28, Paul is not suggesting that everything that happens to those who love God is good. There may be nothing good at all about many things that happen to us. His claim simply is that God can fit everything into a pattern of good, if we love God and are called according to God’s purposes.
Paul teaches us by example that we must accept the will of God until we are so meek we experience gentleness. He says, “I am ready for anything through the strength of the One Who lives within me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Paul learned that it is safe to surrender unconditionally to our loving God. Therefore, gentleness and meekness prescribe acceptance to the will of God, one circumstance at a time.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace
January 10, 2020
“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Picture your priorities as a target with a bull’s eye surrounded by a dozen circles. As you think and pray about your priorities, what is the bull’s eye of your priority target? Once you have determined that, how would you label the dozen circles that surround your bull’s eye?
Great men of God like the Apostle Paul could reduce their priorities down to one thing. Paul’s one thing was to forget what is behind and strain forward to win the prize at the end of the race.
That prize was what God was calling him to do.
Can we reduce the forty eleven things that are spreading us thin down to one thing? If we do so, what would that one thing be? Sometimes there is great wisdom in forgetting the things that are behind. Then there are times when there is even greater wisdom in determining our one thing type of goal for the future.
How do we do that?
One way is to consider what we might call “eternal values.” None of the things we are going to leave behind when God calls us home are worth living for while we are here. Jesus told us: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
Will knowing God be an eternally focused bull’s eye for our priority target this year? Think of how that priority will dramatically affect the dozen circles that surround it when our lives become expressions of the love of God and the risen living Christ.
Dick Woodward, 13 January 2012
November 28, 2019
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)
In this profound thanksgiving psalm David tells us that coming into the presence of God is like having an audience with a great King. That audience begins with the gates of thanksgiving that are followed by the courts of praise. In a corporate worship service or in your worship closet, always try to begin your approach to God at the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.
I personally know of no other worship helps that mean more to me than to begin my approach to God with thanksgiving. When I begin thanking Him and praising Him I soon find myself coming before His presence with singing.
In His presence I know that He is God. I know that He is my Shepherd and I am His sheep. I know that He is good and His mercy is everlasting. I know He wants me to share the truth of His Word in all the lands of this world because He wants people in all the lands of this world and in every generation to know what it is to make a joyful shout of worship in His presence.
Let this great worship psalm of David show you how to…
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!
Dick Woodward, 23 November 2011
November 26, 2019
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you rest in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
In these two verses the Apostle Paul is challenging us with two options: when we are facing challenging problems we can worry about them, or we can turn our challenging problems into prayer requests. The reason Paul writes that we are not to worry is because worry is counterproductive. He therefore prescribes that if we are overwhelmed with problems, we should let our mountains of problems turn us into prayer warriors.
We have two options: we can be worriers, or we can be warriors.
Prayer changes things! Worry, on the other hand does not change anything except for severe negative consequences it can have on our bodies, souls and spirits. When we consider the devastating effects of worry and the miraculous results of answered prayer, that no-brainer should resolve our two options into one.
When we realize we are anxious or uptight and we know it is because we are choosing to be worriers, we should ask God to convert us into prayer warriors. We should hold our problems up before God and trade our futile worries for powerful prayers. God may deliver us from those problems or give us the grace to cope with them. But, in either case, God will give us peace.
Paul writes that God will stand guard like a soldier over our hearts and minds and give us supernatural peace as we rest in what Christ will do.
Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011
November 22, 2019
“And it came to pass… that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:51)
The words “salvation” and “deliverance” are synonyms. The deliverance of the children of Israel as described in the book of Exodus is therefore also an allegory of salvation that demonstrates what we might call “A Principle of Deliverance” when God delivers people from addictions and sin today. Modeled on the dialogue between Moses and Pharaoh, Moses represents Christ and Pharaoh is the evil one.
For example, observe what Pharaoh says after Moses demanded the release of God’s people when God sent the first plagues: “You can go but do not leave Egypt.” (Exodus 8:25)
After a few more plagues, Pharaoh again agrees to release the people but he says: “Well, you can go, but do not go very far.” (Exodus 8:28) More plagues and Pharaoh says: “All right, you can go, but… leave your children in Egypt.” (Exodus 10:8-10) More persuasive plagues and Pharaoh says, “You can go, but leave your flocks and herds in Egypt.” (Exodus 10:24)
When people come to faith today the evil one will tempt them to practice their faith “in Egypt” as a worldly believer practicing the values of the secular culture. Then he will tempt them with, “You have come to faith but don’t go very far with your faith.” Then the temptation is to not let your faith pass on to your children.
A final attempt at keeping a person addicted to the slavery of sin is to “Leave your flocks and herds in Egypt,” or don’t let your faith affect your pocketbook.
The principle of deliverance illustrated in the book of Exodus is: Never, never, never compromise with evil and remain enslaved and addicted in your “Egypt.”
Dick Woodward, 23 November 2013
November 12, 2019
“So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw His splendor (the splendor as of a father’s only son) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The Gospel of John is like an inspired art gallery. Every chapter is a room in that gallery with beautiful portraits of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls. The portrait in the first room is that of Jesus as the Word that became human to make His home among us.
If you want to communicate a great idea wrap it in a person. God does that all the way through the Bible. God communicates the concept of faith by wrapping it in the person of Abraham. God tells us what grace is by wrapping that beautiful concept in the person of Jacob.
What does it mean when we are told that Jesus is the Word? A word is the vehicle of a thought. When I want to communicate thoughts from my mind to your mind I use words as vehicles of my thoughts.
God had ‘Thought’ that God wanted to express to this world. Jesus is like a comprehensive Word that expressed the Thought of God to this world – and to you and me.
Our loving Heavenly Father decided that an inspired written Word was not enough. God wanted us to see His expressed thought in human flesh and blood. God therefore became human and made His home with us as Jesus so we could see and experience His expressed thought toward us.
The Word not only made His home among us – Jesus wants to make His home in us. If Jesus has done that for you, what great ideas does He want to communicate to others by wrapping them in your life?
Dick Woodward, 10 November 2011
November 8, 2019
“There are three things that last — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
What is the greatest thing in the world? The Apostle Paul sifts his answer down to three things: hope, faith and love. Hope is the conviction that there can be good in life. God plants hope in the hearts of human beings.
Hope gives birth to faith, and faith is one of the greatest things because faith brings us to God. However, when Paul compares these two great concepts with love, without hesitation he concludes that love is the greatest thing in the world.
This is true because love is not something that brings us to something that brings us to God. When we experience the special love Paul describes we are in the Presence of God.
There is a particular quality of love that is God and God is a particular quality of love.
To acquaint us with that specific quality of love, in the middle of this chapter Paul passes love through the “prism” of the Holy Spirit that comes out on the other side as a cluster of 15 virtues. All these virtues of love are others-centered, unselfish ways of expressing unconditional love. If you study these virtues you will find in them a cross section of the love that is God – and is the greatest thing in the world.
Paul presents faith, hope and love as the greatest things because they last. Love is the greatest of the three because one day we will no longer need hope and faith when throughout eternity we will be in the Presence of Love.
Therefore, the greatest thing in the world is Love.
Dick Woodward, 08 November 2013