#Prayer, #Peace and Sacrifice

April 24, 2020

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 4:5)

In Psalm 4 David has insomnia because he is doing the expedient thing rather than what is right.  He’s doing this because if he does the right thing he cannot see how he can possibly survive.  Since he is a man of deep spiritual integrity this keeps him awake all night.

In the middle of the night David resolves in his heart that he is going to make whatever sacrifices he must to do what is right, and then trust the Lord for his survival.

This decision changes his emotional climate from anxiety and insomnia to one of peace and peaceful sleep.

His motivation is that there are many people who are asking “Who will show us something good?” In other words, people are looking for someone who will do what is right even if it costs them everything they have to do right.

The Psalm begins with a prayer that is addressed to God Who relieves us when we are in distress. If you want to know what distress is just drop the first two letters of the word. See that this Psalm is all about being relieved from our (di)-stress.

If you are a spiritually oriented person and you are not doing what is right because you cannot see how you can survive if you do, are you willing to resolve to make whatever sacrifices you must make to do what is right and then trust God for the outcome?

This would be a tremendous witness to those who are looking for someone who is willing to offer God the sacrifices of righteousness.

Dick Woodward, 23 April 2010

#hope #faith #love #courage


Two People in a Pew, which One are You?

April 21, 2020

“Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are those who are persecuted …” (Matthew 5:9-10)

As Jesus profiles the character of a disciple that makes them salt, light and a solution to the problems and problem people of this world, He declares that they will be peacemakers who get persecuted.

A synonym for “peacemakers” is “reconcilers.”  Paul writes (in 2 Corinthians 5:13-6:2) that every believer who has been reconciled to God through Christ has committed to them the message and ministry of reconciliation.

Today many people are alienated from God, from themselves, and from other people. There is an acute need for reconciliation. To quote an old theologian, “It is the will of the Reconciler that the reconciled are to be the vehicles of reconciliation in the lives of the un-reconciled.”

Since reconcilers go where conflict is happening they are often in great danger. Such is the case with disciples who are living the fourth pair of Jesus Christ’s Beatitudes.

You would think that if a person had eight blessed attitudes in their life people would gather around them and sing “For he (and she) is a jolly good fellow!” But the opposite is true. Often such a person is attacked and persecuted.

The reason for this is that when people meet such a person they have two choices. They can realize that this is what I should be like, or they can attack that person and try to prove that they are really not what they appear to be.

Those who are the salt of the earth irritate and burn the ethical sores of those who are lost.

Two people in a pew, which one are you?

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2010


#FAITH: Habakkuk’s Talk Show (with God)

March 27, 2020

“… the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

The prophet Habakkuk lived in one of the most difficult times in Hebrew history; a time when watchtowers were manned with soldiers listening for the dreadful sounds of the Babylonian army. As the Babylonians were about to conquer God’s people, God gave Habakkuk a prophetic message.

This little prophet witnessed the terrible ways the great prophet Jeremiah was treated when he preached his message. As a simple choir director Habakkuk could only imagine how he would be treated if he assumed the role of a prophet.

He therefore came up with a clever literary form. He proclaimed that he was going to build a spiritual watchtower and ask God all the difficult questions that were on their hearts at that time. Questions like, “Why will you use a people more sinful than we are to chasten us?”

He told them that when he heard from God he would tell them what God said in answer to these and other questions. His literary form was like a talk show in which he was the host and God was the Guest being interviewed.

God’s answer was that the wickedness of the Babylonians would be their undoing, but the just would live by their faith.  Originally this meant faith in the prophecy of Jeremiah that they would return from the Babylonian captivity. By application these seven words, which are quoted three times in the New Testament, were also used to inspire the Reformation.

People say God does not speak today as God did then. The truth is we do not listen for God as Habakkuk did.

Do you have a spiritual watchtower? Do you listen for God and expect to hear from God?

Dick Woodward, 30 March 2012


#PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Save me!!

March 24, 2020

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)

The Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who walked on water. Yet, millions of us only remember that he took his eyes off Jesus and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read that his magnificent faith was flawed. He saw the wind. Since we cannot see wind this means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and was afraid.

The remarkable thing here is that when he kept his eyes on Jesus, Peter walked on water!

It was not until he was beginning to sink that he prayed this prayer – a model prayer today for all of us. Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and we should never think we will generate grace with God by too much speaking. (If Peter had prayed longer, the words beyond the third would have been glub, glub glub!)

When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname “Little faith.” I believe our Lord was smiling when He did. He literally asked Peter, “Why did you think twice?”

Rick Warren took his entire congregation of twenty thousand people through the eight steps of “Celebrate Recovery.”  When asked why, his response was: “Because we are all in recovery. What do you think the word salvation means?”

When we truly understand the meaning of the word salvation, we will frequently pray this model prayer.

Pray Peter’s short prayer often and don’t think twice. Don’t be of little faith!

Lord Jesus, save me!

Dick Woodward, 25 March 2012


#LOVE: Sanctified Unselfishness

March 17, 2020

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated as patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so.

The Greek word for kindness means love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.

Love does not envy.” The Greek words Paul used here prescribe “an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.”

In other words: sanctified unselfishness.

Those applying this love are not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness. Their love commitment is not, “I love me and I need you,” or “You love me and so do I.” They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness; my love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.”

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness. The greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


#FAITH: Christ’s Work in Progress

March 6, 2020

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The founding elder of the first church I pastored was a home builder. He did beautiful work. When a couple wanted him to build their home he would take them to a beautiful home he had built and say, “By the grace of God this is my workmanship.”

Ephesians 2:10 declares to followers of Jesus that our risen living Christ would like to point to each of us and say: “This is My workmanship!”

We are all a work of Christ in progress. This verse additionally states that when we were saved by grace through the faith Christ gave us, God created us for good works. We are told that before God saved us, God already planned those works.

I don’t know about you, but that truth excites and inspires me greatly. We are so selfish and self-centered that when we come to faith our focus is often on what trusting Christ to be our Savior is going to mean to us. Many followers of Christ have the attitude, “What have you done for me lately?”

The Apostle Paul had the right vision when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus and asked the question, “Lord, what do you want me to do for You?

As a follower of Christ have you been asking and seeking to know what those works are your Lord and Savior planned for you when He saved you by God’s grace?

Dick Woodward, 08 March 2010


#Faith and the Tears of Suffering

February 11, 2020

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6)

The ancient hymn writer is describing a father who is sowing seeds his family desperately needs because they are hungry.  As a provider he knows that if he does not plant these seeds, there will be no food for them and they will starve to death. He therefore sows these precious seeds with tears streaming down his face.

The Holy Spirit leads the author to a beautiful application after he paints this solemn picture for us: sometimes when we suffer to the point of tears, those tears are precious seeds our heavenly Father is sowing in the soil of our suffering.  When that is the case, we will doubtless come again rejoicing bringing the fruitful results of our suffering with us.

This is a truth that is often shared in the Bible. Sometimes suffering is not the setback it appears to be, but the cutback of our Heavenly Father who is like a divine Vineyard keeper. He cuts us back to increase the quality and the quantity of the fruit our lives are yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people in waiting rooms outside operating theaters in hospitals than He does in the sanctuaries of our churches. God does not waste our sorrows, and we should not waste them either.

Listen to the wisdom of the hymn writer when he tells us our tears are precious seeds that will ultimately rejoice our hearts.

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2013


#Faith and (Abounding) #Grace

February 7, 2020

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and the grace of God bestows on us all kinds of wonderful blessings we do not deserve. Grace is also the dynamic we must receive from God to do what God calls and leads us to do. 2 Corinthians 9:8 is the most superlative verse about grace in the Bible.

It tells us that God is able to make all grace, not just some grace, abound toward us, not just trickle in our direction. Then we may have all sufficiency, not just some sufficiency, in all things, not just some things.

We are then equipped to abound, not just do our duty, as we do every good work God leads us to do, not just the works we like to do, ALWAYS!

Twice in this verse Paul emphasizes the reality that this grace is for you – not just for the pastor or the missionary – but you!

Is this grace a reality in your journey of faith?

I once heard Dr. A. W. Tozer preach on this verse. After he read it there was an eloquent pause before he said, “Sometimes you cannot help but allow the thought that God oversold grace in the New Testament.” He then preached a powerful message challenging us to believe God has not oversold His grace but that we need to learn how to access His grace.

The hymn writer wrote, “The favor God shows and the joy He bestows are for those who will trust and obey…”

That is a good place to start.

Dick Woodward, 10 February 2012


God’s #Mercy & Unconditional #Love

February 4, 2020

“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 23:6

The reality that God loves us unconditionally is often described in the Bible by one word: “mercy.” This word is found 366 times in the Bible. That’s one for every day of the year – and even leap year – because God knows we need His mercy every day. 280 of these references to God’s mercy are found in the Old Testament.

My favorite is the last verse of the 23rd Psalm where David wrote: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Hebrew scholars tell us that the word “follow” can be translated as “pursue.” This means that David believed the unconditional love of God pursued him all the days of his life.

What a dynamic truth. God not only loves us unconditionally, He pursues us with His unconditional love all the days of our lives.

Does that mean our Heavenly Father loves us when He is cutting us back or chastening us? Absolutely! The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that if God did not chasten us we would be like illegitimate children and not His sons and daughters.

Chastening confirms the reality that God loves us.

When we are experiencing one of those cutbacks, rather than thinking that God does not love us anymore – the opposite is true.

God is pursuing us with His unconditional love.

Dick Woodward, 06 February 2009


A Prayer for God’s Peace

January 31, 2020

As a pastor I have known believers so ill and distraught they couldn’t concentrate enough to grasp Paul’s conditions for peace in booklet form, so I put them in a 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 good things and the integrity to do the right things.

May I always have an 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 Holy 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, Heavenly 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 Jesus.

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”