Seeking Jesus: Where is He?

December 11, 2018

“… Wise men came saying, “Where is he?” (Matthew 2:1-2)

Many Christmas cards tell us that wise men still seek Him. Wise men (& women) still find Him. Wise men (& women) still worship Him and give gifts to Him. We can add this observation: wise men (& women) still ask the question, “Where is He?”

If we want to know where Jesus is today we should look where Love is. Paul writes that Jesus is a specific quality of love. (1Corinthians 13:4-7) If we tap into that quality of love we will find ourselves connecting with God and discover that God is connecting with us. (1 John 4:16)

The great Christmas word is “incarnation,” meaning literally “in flesh.” (John 1:14) The Bible tells us that incarnation also means relocation. God wants to express the quality of love God is where people are hurting.  If we intentionally place ourselves where people are hurting, as we become conduits of Christ’s love that addresses their pain we will discover where Jesus is.

We must also look where the Light is. We can place ourselves where there’s spiritual darkness and ask God to pass Christ’s light through us to address the darkness.

And we should look where the Life is. The Apostle John writes that God has given us a quality of life John labels “eternal life.” (1John 5: 11-12)  We can experience this quality of life ourselves, and we can become conduits of that Life for others.

As conduits of Jesus when we go (and are) where the hurting are, there is darkness, and the quality of life is lacking – we discover by experience where He is.

Dick Woodward, 13 December 2011


Living By Faith

December 4, 2018

“So do not throw away your faith; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised… For he that is righteous shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)

As the author of the book of Hebrews gives doubting disciples reasons why they should not throw away their faith, he tells them in the verses above they should not throw away their faith because they need their faith for living.  Authentic disciples know they are saved by faith, but the disciples to whom he was writing did not know or had forgotten that they are also called to live by faith.

He quotes a key verse of prophecy written by Habakkuk to suffering people.  When we are suffering we especially need to be reminded that God has given us faith to persevere and do the will of God in our crisis. Until we receive what God has given us, the faith to believe will ultimately happen according to God’s promises.

I have observed a direct correlation between spiritual growth and suffering.  The Greek word translated “persevere” in these verses is a quality God grows in those who are living by faith while they are suffering. (Romans 5: 3-5)

The immediate response of many authentic disciples when we find ourselves in a difficult situation is “Lord, get me out of here!” When that doesn’t happen we are sometimes tempted to throw away our faith.

The message conveyed by these verses is “Don’t throw away your faith.  You need your faith to live through your crisis.”

Is this a message you need to hear today?

Dick Woodward, 03 December 2010


Improve Your Serve (for the Kingdom!)

November 30, 2018

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…”  (Matthew 20:25-26)

The incident recorded in Matthew 20 (verses 20-28) precipitated by Mrs. Zebedee and her two sons, James and John, sets the stage for one the great teachings of Jesus Christ. We can assume these two ‘sons of thunder’ (the nickname the Lord game them), who were partners with Simon Peter in the ‘Zebedee Seafood Corporation,’ were obviously the instigators of their mother’s request that they be seated on the right and left of their Lord when He was crowned King. 

When the other apostles griped about this, Jesus called them together. In so many words, He told them the world plays the game of “over-under.” This is a world of credentials and status symbols that often say, “I am better than you” or “I am over and above you.”

Acknowledging that the secular world is like that, Jesus tells them not to play the world’s games. To paraphrase, Jesus says, “This is not to happen among you. If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, you should join the ‘Order of the Towel’ – get a towel and basin, assume the position of a slave, and start washing feet.”  He uses Himself as an example when He says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28) 

Remember how Jesus spent His last hours before He went to the cross, literally washing the feet of His disciples. There is no place in the church and body of Christ for the “over-under” philosophy of this world.

If you want to be great in the fellowship of Christ, you must improve your serve!

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook, p.86


Facing Trials: God’s Wisdom & (our) Understanding

November 24, 2018

“…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.”   (James 1:2-6)

When you encounter a storm in your life, that trial will often bring you to the place where you don’t know what to do and you realize you need more wisdom than you have. James writes when we lack wisdom, we must ask God, Who will be delighted to share wisdom with us. In the Old Testament when the people of God were fighting against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was, “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith. I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have, therefore, thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned that God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the will and ways of God, wouldn’t it logically follow that I should not always expect to understand the way I’m going?

Obviously, that includes our suffering.

God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “if you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.278-281)


God’s Peace: A Therapy of Thanksgiving

November 20, 2018

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, tell God every detail of your needs.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

As I have tried to apply what Paul prescribes in these verses, I have found this prescription for peace to be more helpful than any other spiritual discipline. According to the Apostle Paul, an attitude of gratitude leads to the therapy of thanksgiving as we apply gratitude to our stressful circumstances.

Be sure to make the observation that Paul does not prescribe giving thanks for all things. He instructs us to give thanks in all things. When we do this it automatically moves our mindset from the negative to the positive. The apostle promises that the peace of God will protect and stand guard (like the soldiers chained to Paul as he writes these words) over our hearts and minds as they rest and trust in Christ Jesus.

We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with gratitude. If we do, we will find this prescription of thanksgiving contributes to victory over our circumstances, because the therapy of thanksgiving leads us into God’s peace.

When a pastor asked a church member how she was doing, her response was, “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.”

The pastor responded, “Whatever are you doing there?”

Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009

GOD’S PEACE & A BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!


Renewal: Turning Water Into Wine

November 16, 2018

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

Jesus goes to a wedding and when they run out of wine, He creates more wine. In addition to the record of a miracle, this story is a formula for regeneration and a prescription for renewal.

There is tired and there is tired of.  Disciples of Jesus not only get tired – they get tired of. We call this “burnout.”

I’m convinced this first miracle of Jesus presents a prescription for burnout. If you are experiencing the need for renewal consider this prescription. When Mary tells Jesus they have no wine, since wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible let this represent your confession that you need renewal because you are tired of, dry, and burned out.

Then block out some time to fill your human vessel with the Word of God as symbolized by the vessels being filled with water. While you are filling up on the Word of God do whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do. Then realize that renewal is not just to give you an experience, it is for the benefit of those God wants to touch and bless using you as God’s channel.

Let these four principles from Jesus Christ’s first miracle bring renewal to you as you serve Him. Our Lord often invited His disciples to come apart and rest awhile. If you don’t come apart at times and take this prescription of Jesus for your burnout – you will come apart.

Let Jesus turn your water into wine.

Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011


Psalm 23: “baa! baa! baa!”

November 13, 2018

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”  (Psalm 23:1)

Can you declare the first five words of this great Shepherd Psalm as a personal confession of faith? Can you personally confess with authentic faith, “the Lord is my Shepherd?”

People often touch me as they describe the way the Lord came into their lives, made them lie down and say, “baa!” I am frequently concerned, however, when I don’t hear how that relationship is working in their lives today.

One of David’s most remarkable declarations in this psalm is that the blessings provided by his Shepherd-God are in place ‘all the days of my life.’ Be sure to make the observation that David’s great profession of faith is not, “The Lord was my Shepherd,” but “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

When we confess, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” we are also confessing that we are God’s sheep. It’s not flattering when God tells us we are like sheep. Sheep are so ignorant they are completely helpless and hopeless without their shepherd. Yet, the Word of God clearly tells us God wants us to agree with this appraisal and confess, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Many years ago I was out of bed at an early hour. When my wife Ginny woke up, she asked why I was getting up at 4:30a.m. I told her what I had read during my devotions: “When you wake up, get up, and when you get up, do something for God and for His lambs!”

She responded, “baa! baa! baa!” She was reminding me of something busy pastors often forget – that she and our five children are also God’s lambs.

Psalm 23 is filled with sheep talk that God wants to hear every one of us say, “baa!”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk