Hypocrites or Conduits of God’s Love?

April 12, 2019

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13)

When I was a struggling college student I saw a sign in a window that read “Shirts Done 20¢.” I gathered up a pile of dirty shirts and took them into the store. To my utter disappointment I was told, “We don’t do shirts. This is a sign shop. We just paint signs!”

A preacher told the story of how a cat crawled into a model house in an empty new real estate development when it was many degrees below zero. The cat curled up in front of a fake fireplace and froze to death. He then preached that people often do that when they come into our churches. Looking for warmth, love and Gospel truths that can set them free from their sins, they “curl up and freeze to death.”

Jesus was even more honest and realistic than this preacher. He called the spiritual leaders of His day “hypocrites.” This was a negative word used in that day for people who wore false faces and masks.

Rather than decide that you are the true disciple and be judgmental of those who are not, ask yourself some questions: Are you, and the spiritual community of which you are a member, false or true? Are you authentic disciples of Jesus, or are you hypocrites?

Are you out there getting your hands sudsy cleaning shirts with the love of Jesus or are you just painting signs?

Are you seeing God’s grace and love changing lives?

Dick Woodward, 17 April 2009


Faith: The Good News of Forgiveness

April 9, 2019

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the Good News of the Gospel that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.

We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

In the New Testament we are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) After we confess our sins, however, we often show our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten them.

A Catholic monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. Summoning the nun to meet him, the monsignor asked, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question: What sins did I commit in Paris before I became a priest?” He instructed the nun to report back after she asked Jesus his question.

Several days later the nun requested an appointment with the monsignor. He asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?” She replied, “Yes, Reverend Monsignor.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?” The nun said she had indeed asked Jesus his question.

“And what did Jesus say?” The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

If we believe what the Bible teaches about forgiveness that is the answer we should expect to hear. As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values


LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!

April 5, 2019

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” (John 13:1)

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles. Luke writes that on the way to the upper room where that took place the apostles argued about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised.

What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!

Having washed their feet Jesus asked the question: “Do you know what I have done to you?” His question is answered in the verse quoted above. The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus is love. He loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

Jesus also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example. If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each other’s feet. He then made the connection between foot washing and love by giving them the New Commandment. They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them. This is the absolute credential that they were His disciples.

A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment. Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus but now they were to make a commitment to each other. This new commitment established a New Community. We call it the church.

Secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!”  If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence that we are followers of Jesus Christ?

Oh Lord Jesus, make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012


The Lord Is My Shepherd

April 2, 2019

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with meYou prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:4-6)

The most important relationship we have in our lives is our relationship with God. The greatest description of that relationship is given by David in his Shepherd Psalm. After explaining in Psalm 23 how this relationship is established, David tells us how this relationship works as God leads us through the deep dark valleys of our lives.

David tells us that God is with him, goes before him and prepares a table of provision for him in the presence of his enemies. He tells us that God is like a cup running over within him and oil being poured upon him. David ends his psalm by telling us the goodness and mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life.

This Hebrew word for follow can be translated as “pursue.” So David is actually telling us that God not only goes before us, but pursues behind us with God’s mercy (unconditional love) and goodness all the days of our lives.

By application, this means that when you are going through deep dark valleys you can believe that God is with you, goes before you, pursues behind you, will provide for you in the presence of all your enemies and problems, God is within you, and God’s anointing is upon you as long as you can say with authentic faith:

“The Lord Is My Shepherd.”

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2009


Faith: A Prescription for Failure

March 29, 2019

“He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23:3)

Failure is one of the most feared and dreaded experiences in life. The fear of failure drives millions of people all day long, every day. There are many ways to fail. We can fail in our work, in our marriage or as parents. We can fail personally by feeling we’re not living up to our expectations or our potential. We can fail morally.

When we fail what do we do about it?

The third verse of Psalm 23 gives us a prescription for failure. David knew what it was to fail. When he needed restoration he tells us how his Shepherd God restored him when he wrote: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” He had already written that his Shepherd leads him to still waters.

When David uses the word “lead” for the second time he uses a Hebrew word that means God “drives” us into the paths of righteousness.

What David is telling us here is that when we need restoration we should not seek a cheap one or an easy one. Rehabilitation means “to invest again with dignity.” He was implying that his restoration was a matter of being driven into the paths of righteousness for some time – perhaps even for years. God used those paths of righteousness to restore David’s soul and give him an opportunity to invest again with dignity.

By application, when you fail and need restoration don’t seek a cheap one or an easy one. Let our great Shepherd-God lead you into the paths of righteousness that will truly restore your soul.

Dick Woodward, 28 March 2009


#Faith: Hope vs. Despair

March 26, 2019

“I would have despaired, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)

The Apostle Paul concludes his great love chapter by profiling three eternal values: faith, hope and love. We know that love is an eternal value because God is loveWe can also understand why faith is one of the three eternal values because faith brings us to God.

But why is hope one of the three great eternal values?

God plants hope, or the conviction that something good exists in this world, in the heart of every human being. When you delve into the lives of many people battling a multitude of challenges, however, you cannot help but wonder how they could believe there is something good in this life.

When I was a college student in Los Angeles my dormitory was located at the end of Hope Street adjacent to the Los Angeles Public Library. The same day I learned in a course that more than 25,000 people committed suicide in 1952 because they lost hope, a man committed suicide by jumping from the top of my dormitory.

The newspaper reporter that day was more eloquent than he knew when he wrote: “An unidentified man jumped to his death today from a tall building at the end of Hope Street.”

David knew that he would despair if he ever lost the conviction God put in his heart the Bible labels hope. Hope is an eternal value because it is meant to lead us to faith, and faith leads us to God.

Let your hope bring you to faith and your faith to God.  And remember that people around you are despairing for the hope you have.

Dick Woodward, 24 March 2013


Seeing the Good:God’s Strength in Our Weakness

March 22, 2019

“Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see the good?” (Psalm 34:12)

When David was a fugitive from King Saul many other fugitives joined him hiding out in caves. About 400 who were in debt, in distress and discontent joined David. (1 Samuel 22:2) Psalm 34 gives us little summaries of sermons David preached to those fugitives and failures that eventually turned them into his mighty men.

David began by challenging them with questions like: “How many of you want to live? How long do you want to live? Do you want to live so you may see the good?”

When we are asked how long we want to live we almost never give a precise answer with a specific number of years, months, weeks and days. We just answer, “Many!”

In that culture “seeing the good” was an expression that meant a person was convinced there was something good in this life and they were going to find it. David preached that the Lord was the good thing they were seeking.

After telling them about the most humiliating and frightening experience of his life, David’s great battle cry to them was: “Magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together!”  (v. 3)

David identified with the weakness of these fugitive failures. He then preached that the greater their weakness the more they exalted the name of the God when God used them. Finding the strength of God in their weakness made them the mighty men of David God used in mighty ways.

Have you learned how to find God’s strength in your weakness?  Have you discovered how the greater your weaknesses – the more you can magnify the Lord?

Dick Woodward, 21 March 2013