Fullness of Faith: Doing & Knowing

June 19, 2018

“This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk even as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)

In the first sixteen verses of this short letter, the Apostle John gives us a prescription for fullness. His prescription comes in seven parts: facts, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, follow-ship, fruitfulness, and fullness.

The facts are the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we believe the first fact we have forgiveness; when we believe the second the result is fellowship with the risen Christ.

Changing one letter in the word ‘fellowship’ to followship provides the key to John’s prescription for fullness. When you read this letter observe the repetition for emphasis of this concept: we will know that we know when we walk as Jesus walked.

Followship is also a key to the fullness of faith emphasized by Jesus. He made His covenant with the apostles: “Follow Me and I will make you.” (Matthew 4:19) The most important part of the Great Commission of Jesus occurred when He commissioned the disciples to make disciples. (Matthew 28: 18-20) A synonym for discipleship is apprenticeship. Jesus apprenticed the apostles and He commissioned them to apprentice disciples.

A great claim of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of John Chapter 7 when He declared that His teaching is the teaching of God. Jesus also proclaimed that we prove that when we do his teachings. (John 7:17)

According to Jesus the doing leads to the knowing.  Intellectuals have claimed for a millennium that knowing will lead to doing, but Jesus said, “When you do you will know.”

Are you willing to do that you might know His teaching is the Word of God?

Dick Woodward, 18 June 2011


Heavenly Father Focus (on Father’s Day!)

June 15, 2018

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we simply do not know what to do. The Scripture from Chronicles is taken from an historical context when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and did not know what to do.

James later wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back, but will provide truckloads of wisdom for us.

Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me that she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital they had discovered mononucleosis and infected abscessed tonsils that needed to be removed.  She concluded her organ recital litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my very intelligent young daughter believed that if she could just share her litany of woes and tap the vast resources of my wisdom, I could tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.

According to James that is the way we make our Heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. That’s why a good way to begin some days is:

“Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on YOU!”

Dick Woodward, 04 April 2013

Editors Note: Blessings to all the fathers out there as we celebrate Father’s Day in America this weekend. As that ‘young daughter’ who continued tapping into her Papa’s wisdom until the day he died, these words comforted my heart. Our Heavenly Father is always here when we don’t know what to do (& when our earthly fathers have passed into His Everlasting Arms of Love.)


Faithful Stewards for God!

June 13, 2018

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful… And what do you have that you did not receive? (1 Corinthians 4: 2, 7)

The biblical word steward is often not fully understood or appreciated. It is actually one of the most important words in the New Testament. A synonym for this word is manager. Many people believe being a steward primarily relates to money, but that application falls far short of this word’s essential meaning.

Paul asks the probing question: “And what do you have that you did not receive?”  He is telling us that our stewardship applies to everything we receive from God: our time, energy, gifts and talents, our health, and all the things that make up the essence of our very lives, including all our money and possessions.

At the age of 65 one of my best friends had what he refers to as a “halftime experience” when he came to fully understand what a steward is. His regular custom was to draw a line down the middle of a legal pad page. On the left side he wrote “My Business” while on the right side he wrote “God’s Business.” When he fully appreciated this word “steward” he erased that line because, as a very successful businessman, he realized it was all God’s business.

Remember, the important thing about being a steward is that we be found faithful. Do you realize there is nothing in your life you did not receive from God?  Are you faithfully managing everything you have received from God?

Are you willing to have a halftime experience and erase the line between what is yours and what is God’s?

Dick Woodward, 10 June 2010


A Prescription for Depression

June 1, 2018

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart…” (1John 3:20)

In the Bible heart often refers to our emotions. The Apostle John is using heart in that sense in I John 3:20. What he is essentially writing is that if the way we feel condemns us, God is greater than the way we feel.

Before John writes these words, he challenged his readers to love in actions and not merely in words. He follows his insight that God is greater than the way we feel with the prescription that we should keep the two great commandments of Jesus: to love God and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22: 35-40)  Jesus claimed these two commandments would fulfill all the commandments in the Bible.

We are to love when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in. Jesus teaches that we are to love God completely, love others unconditionally, and love ourselves correctly.  Loving ourselves does not mean when we pass a mirror we should stop and have our devotions.  Jesus taught we should say the same thing about ourselves that God says about us – that God loves us.

The prescription for depression the Apostle of Love gives devout disciples is that when our heart condemns us, we should realize that our faith is not to be based on something as fickle as our feelings.

Our faith is based on the reality that we believe and apply the commandment to love.

The last thing we should do when our heart condemns us is isolate ourselves into a pity party. We need to get with people and love them.

Dick Woodward, 13 June 2011


Spiritual Fitness

May 29, 2018

“Exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable, but he declared that godly fitness was more profitable. Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our lives here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal lives.

I am intrigued with this question: what is godly exercise? 

The word “godly” means “like God.”  What is God-like?  We are told in the Word that God is Spirit. (John 4:24)  To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.

We also read in the Scripture that God is love.  To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to the love that is God.  At the heart of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), Paul passes the love of God through the prism of Holy Spirit inspiration and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Godly exercise means intentionally pursuing what the 15 virtues are and what they look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light.  Exercise yourself in this dimension of God-likeness by filling your mind, heart, and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that Light will profit you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013


Memorials of Gratitude

May 25, 2018

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” (Philippians 1:3)

It is fitting in the United States of America that we set aside a day each year to memorialize our fallen warriors.  In the Old Testament God regularly commanded His chosen ones to erect memorials so they would never forget certain events on their journey of faith.  When we study those memorials we realize that God wanted them to remember miracles He performed for them. He never wanted them to forget significant spiritual datelines.  He often repeated for emphasis things He wanted them to remember.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we therefore continuously hear the exhortation to remember!

Memorials are closely linked with the attitude of gratitude and the awful sin of ingratitude. On Memorial Day are you thankful for “The Greatest Generation” of the 1940s who saved us from an unthinkable future without freedom? Does your memorial of gratitude continue through those who fell in Korea, Vietnam and now in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Do you have spiritual memorial datelines for which you are grateful as you remember them before God?  Do you have a dateline of when you came to faith in what Christ did for you on the cross? Do you have spiritual datelines beyond that point of beginning your faith journey, when the risen Christ proved Himself to you in miraculous ways?  Do you have a dateline when He made you know what He wants you to do for Him? In the fulfillment of that vision has He brought significant people into your life to help you bring that vision into reality?

Then have a spiritual Memorial Day and be filled with grateful worship!

Dick Woodward, 31 May 2010


The Powerful Priority of Love

May 22, 2018

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.”  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

After a devastating battle during the First World War, Canadian army surgeon John McCrae composed one of the greatest war poems. In it he gave voice to thousands of soldiers who lay dead, summing up their lives on earth with one line:

“Loved and were loved, but now we lie in Flanders Fields.”

When we come to the end of our lives, we’ll find one of our most important priorities will be those we love, and those who love us. But we should not wait to focus our priorities. The Apostle Paul declared the agape love of God to be the number one priority of spiritual people: “…and the greatest of these is love.”

A PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence and even in tongues, but without love, we’re just a lot of noise. If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as prophets, and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all these things, we are nothing. If we give all our money to feed the poor, and our bodies to be burned at the stake as martyrs, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.

Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have, and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love