Spiritual Learning Gates: Eyes, Ears & Heart

July 18, 2017

“Now we have received… the Spirit who is from God, that we might know…” (1Corinthians 2:12)

The Apostle Paul has given us a masterpiece of spiritual educational methodology in the second chapter of First Corinthians. How do we learn? According to Paul there are several gates of learning through which we must pass if we want to know spiritual truth.

His thesis is that we learn through the eye gate, which involves everything we observe and read. We learn through the ear gate, which involves everything we hear, including lectures and interaction with others, mentors and those who are learning with us.

Then the apostle mentions the heart gate, which pertains to our volition: the desire and willingness to apply what we’re learning. Apprenticeship, a synonym for discipleship, describes learners who are doing what they’re learning and learning what they’re doing. Apprenticeship is the way Jesus trained His disciples. (John 7:17; Matthew 4:19)

The most important gate we must pass through to learn spiritual truth, according to Paul, is the gate of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s intriguingly profound illustration is that no person knows the thoughts of another person except the spirit that is in that other person. In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God but the Spirit of God. Paul is excited about the glorious reality that we have received that Spirit Who knows the very thoughts of Christ and we can therefore know Christ’s thoughts. One translation concludes this inspired chapter of First Corinthians with, “Incredible as it may seem, we actually have the very mind of Christ!”

Prayerfully meditate on this chapter and then find your way to and through these gates of learning.

Dick Woodward, 08 June 2010


Seeking God’s Will: Open Minds & Hearts

July 11, 2017

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly…”  (James 4:3)

At the heart of a counseling session, a woman once said, “Don’t confuse me with Scriptures, Pastor. My mind is made up!” Seeking God’s will for our lives is often out of reach because we have our agendas in place when we come before God. If our minds are set like concrete before we converse with God, we are actually asking God to bless our will, our agenda and the way we have decided to go.

James tells us that when we pray, we ask and do not receive because our asking is flawed by our self-willed agendas. To seek and know the will of God we must be completely open to whatever the will of God may be. Our prayer and commitment must be in the spirit of the familiar metaphor, “You are the Sculptor, I am the clay. Mold me and make me according to Your will.  I am ready to accept Your will as passively as clay in the hands of a Sculptor.”

There are two reasons to be open and unbiased as you seek to know God’s will. The first we learn from Isaiah 55: the ways and thoughts of God are as different from our ways and thoughts as the heavens are high above the earth. Another is that we become a totally new creation when we are born again.

It is tragically possible to miss the will of God for your life because you do not have the faith to believe that God can make you a new creation in Christ: a new creation with extraordinary potential.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Guidance


Reaching Out with the Love of Jesus

July 7, 2017

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  (1John 4:11)

The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10) John follows that with the words quoted above: that if God SO loved us we ought also to love one another.

Hours before Jesus was arrested and crucified, He challenged the men He had been apprenticing three years 24/7 to love one another as He loved them. He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples. Peter wrote that by Christ’s death on the cross He gave us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps. (1 Peter 2:21)

The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us another reason we are to love one another. In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in. Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world. The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.

If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would be beating our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities. The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given His Church.

Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for God’s glory?

Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010


What is God Doing in Your Life?

July 5, 2017

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do£?” (Psalm 11:3)

Greek is a very precise language; Hebrew is not. That’s why we frequently find footnotes suggesting alternate readings in the margins of our Bibles when we read Old Testament Scripture passages. The NIV translation of Psalm 11:3 has such a footnote. The alternate reading suggested for this verse is: When the foundations of your life are breaking up, “What is the righteous One doing?”

Over the years I experienced several periods when it seemed that the foundations of my life were breaking up. I have found the alternate reading of this verse to be a reliable response that turned many of those crises into significant spiritual datelines in my journey of faith.

My faith walk began in 1949. Along the way I dropped two words out of my vocabulary: fortunately and coincidentally. Because I believe in Divine Providence, I no longer believe in luck. I fully agree with the spiritual heavyweight who stated, “when a devout believer thinks they have experienced a coincidence, that just means God prefers to remain anonymous.”

The Chinese characters for “crisis” are the characters for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity.’  I believe we should factor into all our crises this knee jerk response: “What is the righteous One doing in my life now?” I find that God is always up to something and ultimately it is always something very good. It is not primarily for our good but it is what accomplishes God’s good for God’s glory.

Dick Woodward, 02 July 2010


The Fellowship of the Fig Tree

June 30, 2017

“… before Phillip called you I saw you under the fig tree.”  (John 1:48)

When Jesus was recruiting apostles, he had an interesting exchange with the one who was to become the Apostle Nathaniel. Nathaniel apparently had the regular practice of having times of intimate fellowship with God under a fig tree. When he met Jesus for the first time Jesus affirmed him as a Jew in whom there was no guile. When Nathaniel exclaimed, “How do you know me?” Jesus said in so many words: “I’m the One you’ve been talking to under the fig tree!” That really blew Nathaniel away and he was convinced forever that Jesus was the Son of God and many other things. (The whole story can be found in John 1:47-51).

I find this challenge in the exchange between Jesus and his apostle: do we have a fig tree or a place where we regularly meet with God and have intimate fellowship? You might call this, as I have, “The Fellowship of the Fig Tree.”

Years ago I gave a devotional to several hundred people on this concept. One of them, who became a dear brother, was in the furniture business. He gave me a beautiful artificial fig tree, placing it in my home where I had my quiet times with God every morning. He wanted me to have my intimate times with God under a fig tree. That was nearly 40 years ago. It is still here in our home today.

Do you belong to the Fellowship of the Fig Tree? Do you have a special place where you meet with God every day?

Dick Woodward, 07 July 2009


LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

June 20, 2017

“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:21)

In this love chapter of the Bible, John gives us 10 reasons we must love.  His last reason is that we have been given a commandment by Jesus that we are to love one another.  When Jesus was about to leave the apostles by way of His death on the cross, He left the apostles with this New Commandment.

Jesus explained to them later in that same setting that this would only be possible because He was sending them the Holy Spirit. He used a word for the Holy Spirit that means: “One who comes alongside of you and attaches to you for the purpose of assisting you.”

The concept of a commandment is lost for many people in our culture because we are so democratic in our values. The closest we come to understanding this word is in our military training. When my youngest brother was in training the order was given that the smoking lamp was out – which meant no smoking.  In defiance of the order he lighted a cigarette. His Marine drill instructor ordered him to bury that cigarette in a grave six feet deep.

When he reported to the drill instructor all covered with mud and sweat, the instructor asked if he had buried the cigarette pointing north and south or east and west? When my brother wasn’t sure he was told that he had to do it again the next day and make sure it pointed north and south. The next time the no smoking order was given do you think he lighted another cigarette?

Do you get the full weight of these 10 reasons we must love?

Dick Woodward, 06 August 2010


A Prayer for the Peace of God

June 16, 2017

As a pastor I have known believers so ill or distraught they couldn’t concentrate enough to grasp Paul’s conditions for peace in booklet form, so I put them in a peace prayer. If you are seeking God’s peace, I invite you to pray this prayer with me.

Heavenly Father, You tell us in Your Word that You can keep us in a state of perfect personal peace if we meet Your conditions for that state of peace. Because I seek this peace in my life, give me the wisdom to worry about nothing and the faith to pray about everything. May I receive from You the mental discipline to think about all the good things and the integrity to do all the right things.

May I always have that incurable optimism that believes in goodness, and give me such an insight into what You have been doing and what You are now doing in my life and in my world that I will give thanks always and in all things. May I never try to push You or run before You, but always wait on You, experiencing and expressing the gentleness and patience that are the evidence of Your Spirit living in me.

As I sort out my priorities, may I always value Your approval of who and what I am and what I do, and not walk before others to be seen by them or to please them. Never let me forget how near You are to me as I draw near to You, worshiping and enjoying You each day and forever.

And finally, Father, realizing that it is not who I am, but who You are that is important; acknowledging that it is not what I can do, but what You can do that really matters; agreeing that it should never be what I want, but always what You want; and remembering that in the final analysis it will not be what I did, but what You did that will have lasting eternal results, give me that absolute trust in You and total dependence on You that will truly rest my heart and my mind in Christ.

Enable me to meet these conditions for personal peace in the name of Jesus Christ, for my peace and for Your glory. Amen.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace

Editor’s Note: This concludes excerpts from my Papa’s Peace booklet. The blog posting elf will now return to regularly random blog selections of his writings. May the peace of Jesus Christ be with you, now & forever!