PRIORITY: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!

November 12, 2021

“Let love be your highest goal…” (1 Corinthians 14:1)

What are your priorities? The Apostle Paul challenges us to let love be our highest priority at the end of his inspired love chapter. We should follow after love, make love our greatest pursuit, and love should be our highest goal, depending on how the verse is translated in your Bible.

A practical way to make love our greatest goal is to take the 15 virtues in the middle of the love chapter and apply them in our relationships. It will not take long to realize we cannot love in these ways on our own. These are the ways God loves. The miracle is He can love in these 15 ways through us!

The love virtues are all others-centered, unselfish ways of showing unconditional love. They are not natural, but unnatural for us, because they are supernatural. They are the fruit and evidence that God lives in us and is expressing the essence of His character through us. The dynamic effect of His love upon those we love in these ways will convince us this love is God and deserves to be our highest goal.

I have been loved in these ways and by the grace of God I have loved in these ways. I am committed to making this love my first priority. I resonate with Joyce Kilmer who summarized the essence of the lives of the fallen who lie beneath poppies in French military graveyards when he wrote: “Loved and were loved, but now they lie in Flanders Fields.”

Paul prescribed these love virtues believing they could solve the problems in the worst relationships in his worst church. I believe they can solve the problems in all our relationships if we will graciously apply them, through Christ.

Dick Woodward, 12 November 2013


A Recipe for REST

November 5, 2021

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus loves to give invitations. He addresses this one to people who are loaded with problems and are working themselves to exhaustion trying to solve their problems. 

Jesus promises that if we come to Him He will give us rest. If you look closely at this invitation, Jesus is inviting us to come to Him and learn about His heart, His burden and His yoke. It is what we learn that will lead us to the rest He promises.

Jesus wants burdened people to learn that His burden is light, His heart is humble and His yoke is easy. There is a sense in which Jesus had the weight of the world on His shoulders and yet He claimed that His burden was light. 

His burden was light because He let His Father carry the load.

The most important part of His recipe for rest is what Jesus wants us to learn about His yoke. A yoke is not a burden. It is an instrument that makes it possible to bear a burden.When a cart is piled high with cargo it is the yoke that makes it possible for an ox to pull a great load with ease. It is the yoke of Jesus that shows us how to pull our heavy burdens of life.

The yoke of Jesus is that He let His Father carry the burdens.We take His yoke upon us when we let the Holy Spirit carry our load.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2013


Grotto of God’s Unconditional Love

October 29, 2021

“Yet this I call to mind… Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed… His compassions never fail… They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3: 21-24)

After writing his prophecy which has moved many scholars to label him “The Weeping Prophet” Jeremiah adds a short postscript to his fifty-two chapters of weeping. That postscript is called “Lamentations” which means “Weepings.”

You simply have to know why Jeremiah is weeping to understand and appreciate his writings. He is weeping about the Babylonian massacre and captivity of God’s chosen people! For years he warned the people of God that unless they repented this awful tragedy would happen. As he writes his Lamentations he has been permitted to remain in the land of Judah. Sitting in his Grotto he laments all the tragic things that have now happened.

In the midst of his deepest expressions of sorrow and sadness he suddenly breaks forth with the verses quoted above. These verses have been translated and paraphrased to tell us more clearly that what God revealed to Jeremiah in his darkest hour was that God had never stopped loving God’s chosen people.

A providential wonder of prophecy is that Jeremiah’s Grotto where he was seated as he wrote these Lamentations was on top of a hill called “Golgatha.” This means that God gave Jeremiah this wonderful prophecy of God’s unconditional love during the tragedy Jeremiah was lamenting on the very spot where centuries later God would pour out unconditional love for the whole world.

Dick Woodward, 28 October 2009


God’s Good

October 26, 2021

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

As I look back over my life since I was born in 1930, and born again in 1949, this verse sums up my entire walk of faith and ministry.  According to the J. B. Philips translation, God fits into a pattern for good everything that happens to those who love God and are called according to God’s plan. I like this because by implication there may not be anything good about many of the things that happen to us. 

But if we meet two prerequisites – if we love God, and are called according to God’s plan – our loving God will fit into a pattern for good all the events of our lives.

Before we personally apply the great promise of this verse we must meet two prerequisites. The first is that we love God.  It isn’t easy to love God. The Apostle John asked us how we can love the God we cannot see. (1 John 4) We can’t hug a Spirit. Jesus told us that if we love Him we must keep His commandments. According to the writings of the Apostle Paul quoted above, we can show we love God by being called according to God’s plan.

We are so self-centered we are quick to assume that the good into which God fits all the events of our lives means our good.  However, when we understand what it means to love God the only good that will interest us will be God’s good.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2010

Editor’s Note: Yesterday (October 25th) was Dick Woodward’s 91st birthday. Here’s to celestial celebrations up in Heaven as we miss him here on earth!


Finding Joy (no matter what!)

October 22, 2021

“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

In this epistle of joy to the Philippians, Paul exhorts us, “Delight in Jesus. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Him.” He uses the word joy again and again and again. And what he’s really saying to us in the conditions in which he’s living is simply this, “Learn to derive your joy from your relationship to Jesus Christ. Learn to delight in Him.”

What is the source of your happiness? In what do you delight? Now again, if you delight in your health, well, you’re on thin ice. What would you do if you lost your health? If you delight in money, what would you do if you lost everything? If you delight in your loved ones, and many, many people do, what are you going to do when you lose them?

It’s because God loves us that God tells us things like this, “Delight in Me. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Me.” That’s the source of joy. And so that should be our delight.

That’s the reason Paul could have peace, even in a dungeon, even when he was in prison, no matter what the circumstances were. The reason he could say, “I’m ready for anything. I have learned how to live when everything’s good and I have learned how to live when everything’s bad.” 

Here is one of the big keys: Paul’s delight was in Jesus, and the Jesus was the Source of his happiness. Not what he had or didn’t have.

Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen, 1979)


SPIRITUAL FITNESS

October 19, 2021

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

As a young man 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 is profitable. But, he declared that godly fitness is 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 life.

How real and practical is our faith in the life to come? 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 Scriptures 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 a study of 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 the Holy Spirit and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Pursue intentionally 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 and heart and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that light will help you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013


 Faith: Acceptance, Responsibility & Ability  

October 15, 2021

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:30)

Who was the greatest prophet who ever lived?  Who was the greatest man who ever lived? According to Jesus the answer is John the Baptist. (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11) Having studied the Scripture for six decades I find that answer to be intriguing because very little space is given in the Bible to record his life and ministry.

As I meditate on the Scriptures that describe John the Baptist I have come to a conclusion about his greatness. One key was that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his ability.

As we attempt to discover who we are and what God wants to do, it is a good rule of thumb to accept the limits of our limitations and the responsibility for our ability

When a degenerative disease of the spinal cord took away my physical abilities, it was critical for me to accept my increasing limitations and continue to be responsible for my abilities. After two years of illness when the acceptance came, it was so profound I decided it was a form of inner healing.  Using speech recognition software on my computer I received the grace to write about ten thousand pages of what I call a Mini Bible College.  These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into twenty eight languages in sixty countries.*

It fills me with grateful worship to realize that the formula for greatness I learned from John the Baptist has guided me to the most important work I have done for God and Christ.

Are you willing to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your ability?

Dick Woodward, 16 October 2012


 Building Faith on The Rock

October 12, 2021

“Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” (Matthew 7:26)

Jesus is clearly teaching that if we base our belief system on His teachings we will be able to weather the storms of this life. When a counselor is disputing the belief system of a depressed person, a favorite question is: “What are you telling yourself about the fact they you lost your job that has you so depressed?” That is the question you should ask yourself when you are experiencing emotional consequences.

The medical director of a large mental hospital for the entire state of Virginia told me the purpose of psychiatry is to find the unconscious explanation for the conscious behavior of people. He lamented the hard reality that so often today a psychiatrist is a pharmacologist who medicates the person’s depression without ever getting to the cause.

The word “psychiatry” means “the healing of the soul.” Was there ever a greater healer of the soul than Jesus?  I believe that the values and the teachings of Jesus give us a healthy belief system for living as we pass through this world.

However, it is critically important that we implement that belief system as we respond to the storms we encounter.  In this era we have gone bonkers over knowledge. According to Jesus, it is not the knowledge of His teaching but the application of that belief system that builds the house that survives the storms.

Dick Woodward, 12 October 2012


A SPIRITUAL COMPASS: BELIEVE & OBEY

October 8, 2021

“…the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32)

The purpose of a compass is not just to give us knowledge about where we are when we are lost but to also guide us into the way we need to go.  If you think about it – a compass is worthless if we do not comply with what our compass shows us.

In the Gospels Jesus introduces the apostles to the Holy Spirit. He tells them the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth.  He calls the Holy Spirit the “Paraclete.”  This word means: “One who comes along side us and attaches to us for the purpose of assisting us.”

Jesus tells them that if they will love Him and keep His commandments He will ask the Father to give them the Holy Spirit. (John 14: 15, 16) So many believers miss this. The operative word when it comes to implementing salvation is “believe.” But the operative word when it comes to knowing God through the Holy Spirit is “obey.”

In profound simplicity the hymn writer expressed it this way:

“But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay.  For the favor He shows and the joy He bestows are for them who will trust and obey. Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

Jesus said it even more simply and profoundly when He offered this invitation: “Follow Me and I will make you.” (Matthew 4:19) That’s why the last point on this compass is the most critical of all.

Are you willing to comply with what your compass shows you?

Dick Woodward, 06 October 2012


God’s Strength in Our Weakness

October 5, 2021

“…When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)Paul opens a small biographical window into his life when he tells us about what he calls his “thorn in the flesh.” He explains that he had so many supernatural experiences that to keep him humble, God permitted him to have this “thorn.” Paul asked God three specific times to take it away.  Even though he had an extraordinary ministry that brought healing to many, three times God’s response was essentially “No!  But My grace will be with you and that is all you need to cope with the challenge of your thorn.”

Although we’re not certain what this “thorn” was he wrote to the Galatians that when he first visited them his eyes were so hideous to look at it made them want to vomit. He reminded them that they said if they could have, they would have taken the eyes out of their heads and placed them in his. The book of Acts reports that at the same time his physician Dr. Luke joined him so he could treat him. This “thorn” was accompanied with severe chronic fatigue. He mentions weakness so much in his writings we know that every day of his extraordinary ministry Paul had to cope with this extreme chronic fatigue.

Paul explains that his physical weakness was a showcase in which God could exhibit God’s supernatural strength.  In the Living Bible Paraphrase of this chapter God tells Paul, “My strength looks good on weak people …” And Paul confesses, “The less I have the more I depend on Him.” All of this is summarized in these words: “…When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Will you let your weakness showcase God’s strength and grace today?

Dick Woodard, 04 October 2011