DON’T PANIC!

March 16, 2021

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’”  (Psalm 3:1-2)

As David writes the third Psalm he is facing the greatest crisis of his life. His son has turned the entire nation against him and has driven him out of Jerusalem into the wilderness where he hid from King Saul when he was a young fugitive. His situation is so desperate many people said that even God could not help him. 

But in this psalm David explains how he knows God will be there for him. He is not having a panic attack so he gives us a prescription for one.

Observe the way David uses three tenses as he lays out his prescription that kept him from panicking. He recalls that in the past there were many times when he cried out to God and God heard him. When he lay down to sleep not knowing if the enemy would slit his throat while he was sleeping, he awoke alive because God sustained him. 

He then declared he will not be afraid of the thousands of people who want to see him dead. He goes on in the present tense that God is with him and His present blessing is upon him.

When you are in crisis think back to times in the past when God met you and brought you through a crisis. Then let those past answered prayers inspire you to trust God for the present and future crises in your life.

Look back. With faith, look forward. Then look around at your present circumstances, not with panic but with faith and peace.

Dick Woodward, 18 March 2012


What Does God Ask of Us?

March 9, 2021

“…And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The prophet Micah asked an important question. In effect his question is: what are the divine requirements of God? What does God expect, require, demand, and command from me? Micah gives us three answers to this question.

His first answer is that we should do justly. In other words, we should be a conduit of justice. We should stand up against injustice anytime and anywhere we see injustice. Since we live in a world that is filled with injustice this could be dangerous. Jesus Christ did this and it got Him crucified.

Micah’s second answer is that we should love mercy. Mercy is unconditional love. This is the chief characteristic of the love of God. David believed that the mercy and unconditional love of God would pursue him all the days of his life.

Micah’s final answer to his question is that we are to walk humbly with our God. Humility has consistently been a characteristic of the great old souls we have known in this life. C.S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins and we read in the Proverbs that God hates pride. We can see why God would hate pride because God hates sin.

Are you willing to be the person Micah profiled? There is a sense in which we cannot become a just, merciful and humble person through our own efforts. But these three answers give us a profile of the person God wants us to be. 

Are you willing to let God give you the grace to be that person?

Dick Woodward, 20 March 2011


#FAITH – Doing the Right Thing

March 2, 2021

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’”  (Psalm 4:5)

David cannot sleep. He is uptight and anxious. From the context of the psalm we know he cannot sleep because he is under great stress. He decides to meditate within his own heart and be still.

David has a “board meeting” with himself in the middle of the night. If he does the right thing, he believes he cannot survive. He is therefore thinking about doing the expedient thing. Since he is a man of great spiritual integrity he finds himself awake and uptight considering the expedient path.

As a result of his meditation he resolves his dilemma. David decides he is going to make whatever sacrifices he needs to make to do what is right – and then trust the Lord for his survival. He knows there are many people who are looking for someone who will do what is right even though it costs them everything to do right.

Have you ever found yourself awake, uptight and stressed in the middle of the night because you are in a crisis? If you do what you believe God wants you to do you don’t see how you can survive. But your spiritual integrity won’t let you sleep if you don’t do the right thing. 

David models a prescription for resolving that kind of dilemma.

His prescription is simply to do right. Whatever it costs you, do right and trust God for the consequences. Many people will be blessed, God will be glorified, you will have peace and be able to sleep.

Dick Woodward, 02 March 2012


Sowing Spiritual Gardens

February 16, 2021

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption… What counts is a new creation.” (Galatians 6:7,8,15)

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Galatians. The first part of this passage is often preached to unbelievers, but Paul was addressing professing believers. As believers this is a spiritual law of our lives in Christ. Every day we can sow spiritual seeds in the gardens of our lives, or we can sow seeds of our flesh in that garden. 

William Barclay, a professor of Bible at Edinburgh University for forty years, wrote when the Bible refers to our flesh it means “human nature unaided by God.” According to Paul, human nature unaided by God is a seed that produces corruption.

We have the option to sow spiritual seeds in our lives every day. Paul writes that these spiritual seeds produce a continuous creation. David prayed “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.” (Psalm 51:10) In the New Testament the apostles refer to being born again as a miracle of creation. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

This means we have two options before us every day: creation or corruption. We can sow spiritual seeds in the gardens of our lives that continue the act of creation God is miraculously performing in us, or we can sow seeds that produce corruption.

What seeds are you sowing in the garden of your life today?

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2011


ENDURING #LOVE (Part II)

February 12, 2021

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

When Paul writes, “Love endures all things,” he means love perseveres while it awaits the fulfillment of what it hopes and believes to see in the lives of the ones being loved. The Greek word translated as “endurance” is “hupomone.” It is a combination of two Greek words “to abide” and “under” whatever is required to love someone.

This is especially important when we love someone who is not responding to our loving, positive reinforcement. This quality of loving perseverance equips believers to love and pray for loved ones in their addictions to alcohol, chemical substances, pornography, gambling, eating disorders and the seemingly endless list of compulsive habits.

These chains of the evil one can only be broken with supernatural assistance from God, often using, as conduits, those who love with the love of Christ that hopes, believes, and endures all things.

By our actions we can make this statement to the ones we love: “Nothing you can do or say can make me stop loving you, because I love you with the love of Jesus Christ. The love of Christ is tough love. It can handle anything you do and say.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


ENDURING #LOVE (Part I)

February 9, 2021

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

“Love hopes all things” can be understood when we compare biblical faith with biblical hope. Based on the way the Bible compares faith and hope, faith must have a foundation, while we can hope when there is no reason to believe.

We read in the book of Hebrews: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The inspired author of the great faith chapter claims that the object of faith is unseen, and faith gives substance to our hope that the object of our faith exists.

In other words, faith puts a foundation under our hope. We hope until faith gives us a reason to believe.

When faith cannot place a foundation under our hope for the ones we love, all we can do is hope for them. According to the love hymn of Paul (I Corinthians 13) the one applying the love of Christ will hope for them.

Love joyfully awaits for the fulfillment of what it prayerfully desires, imagines, dreams and hopes concerning the potential of the ones we love.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


#Faith vs. GIANTOLOGY

February 5, 2021

“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)

In the book of Numbers we read twelve Hebrew spies were sent into Canaan to determine the strength of the enemies they would face invading that land. Ten spies reported, “The people in that land are such big and fierce looking giants they made us feel like grasshoppers. And the cities are mightily fortified with walls so thick they build houses on them!”

However, Joshua and Caleb reported they had never seen such fruitful soil in their lives. They described seeing two men carry one cluster of heavy grapes on a thick pole in a Canaanite vineyard. Furthermore, they proclaimed since they had the Lord with them they were well able to conquer the land of Canaan.

We might say the ten spies with the negative report were experts in “giantology” because they saw the giants, while Caleb and Joshua saw the Lord. They had a vision that God was well able to give them the exceedingly fruitful land of Canaan.

When we are challenged to take on a project that has great potential for being exceptionally fruitful and there are many obstacles and risks involved, we often face a split committee on a ten and two basis. Ten are experts on the obstacles and the risks involved in that project and two are like Caleb and Joshua.

When you are faced with challenges that involve risks but great potential for God’s glory, are you an expert in “giantology” or do you see the Lord?”

Dick Woodward, 11 February 2011


Relationships: Two-way Streets

February 2, 2021

“For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:2)

Every relationship we have is a two-way street. According to the Apostle Paul whatever we send down that street comes back up the street and has a dynamic impact on that relationship. Jesus conveys this same truth with a positive spin when He teaches hypercritical people, “With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

This was a marketplace metaphor in the culture where Jesus lived. If you were selling oats and a fellow merchant was selling wheat, when you bought from each other you could request them to use their bushel standard of measurement. Paraphrased, this means whatever standard you use when you give to another person in a relationship, they will use when they give to you.

We cannot control the weather but we can control the emotional climate that surrounds us in a relationship. Communication is not only what is said but what is heard.  It is not only what is said but what is felt

How does the communication you are contributing in a relationship make the other person in that relationship feel? If you’re sending negative waves into that other person’s life, is that likely to inspire positive waves in your direction?

Paul gave us another great teaching on this subject when he wrote, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for the building up of others, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Dick Woodward, 05 February 2011


#FAITH: LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!

January 22, 2021

“…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)

How does love fit into the trio of lasting qualities Paul writes of? The Apostle John answered the question for us when he wrote: “God is love and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God dwells in him.” (I John 4:16) 

When we dwell in the love Paul prescribed in I Corinthians 13, we dwell in God and God dwells in us.

By application, this means when we go where the hurting people are, as God’s love is passing through us and addressing their pain, we are touching God and God is touching us. Since the agape love passing through us is God, we are dwelling in God and God is dwelling in us while God’s love is passing through us.

Jesus gave us a perspective of love when He exhorted the apostles to look up before they look on the fields that are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35) Jesus was focusing on two perspectives we must master as His authentic disciples. Before we look around and relate to the people who intersect our lives every day, we need to look up, and then look at them. We should see them through the same love lenses God uses when God sees them. 

If we do, we will never see anyone we cannot love.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


A New Year’s Question

December 29, 2020

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)

The last days of the year are a good time for reflection and making resolutions. Have you ever had a year that was so bad you could not live with the idea of another year of the same? Are you there now? If you are, you could be ready to hear the question that God likes to ask from time to time:

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?”

This is the consummate question of direction. It implies if we do not have a crisis that changes things, we are going to end up with more of the same.

Sometimes we are what needs to change. Jeremiah actually mocks us for trying to change ourselves: “Why do you gad about so much to change your ways? …Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots?” (Jeremiah 2:36)

There is a big difference between trying to change ourselves and being changed by God. Unless we are changed by God and God changes what only God can change, we are trapped in a cycle of going where we have come from.

With great spiritual discernment David asked God to create in him a new heart. God answered that prayer for him. (Psalm 51:10) God can also do that for us today. We are not doomed to that cycle of going where we have come from.  We can be changed. God can change the things that must change in us so next year we will not end up back where we have come from.

Confess that you can’t change yourself or your circumstances, but believe God can as you enter the New Year… then watch at God work.

Dick Woodward, 30 December 2011