Accessing God’s Amazing Grace

October 23, 2018

“…we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand… Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.(Romans 5:2-5)

Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, to a quality of grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world and live our lives glorifying God. Then he writes we should rejoice in our sufferings, because God sometimes uses suffering to force us to access grace.

There are levels and degrees of suffering we simply cannot endure without the grace of God. When our suffering drives us beyond the limits of any human resources we have within us, these times of severe testing become God’s opportunity to provide and prove grace to us.

A devout hymn writer expressed this truth this way:

“When we come to the end of our store of endurance.
When our strength has failed and the day is half done.
When we have exhausted our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving has only begun.

“His love has no limit. His grace has no measure.
His power has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite wisdom and mercy
He gives and He gives and He gives yet again.”

[“His Love Has No Limit” by Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932)]

Are you willing to let problems you cannot solve and suffering you cannot endure drive you to access God’s amazing grace today?

Dick Woodward, 23 October 2009


God’s Agenda vs. Our Agenda

October 2, 2018

“…  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

I find it intriguing to know that in little genes that cannot be seen with the naked eye the genetic heritages of human beings are determined: how high heads will be from the sidewalk, eye color, hair color, the capacity of intellectual gifts, athleticism and even mannerisms are wrapped up in microscopic genes.

In this inspired Psalm, David – a great warrior, king, man after the heart of God and hymn writer – tells us that before we existed as genes God determined the days we will live on this earth. The Living Bible Paraphrase reads that before we existed God has ‘an agenda for every day’ we are to live on this earth.

One day my wife and I woke up and prayed together that if our agenda for that day did not agree with God’s agenda we were willing to be preempted. Having lunch with our pastor son here later that day, I realized I was having a heart attack. While the 911 people were rushing me out the door to the ambulance I said to my wife, “Looks like we’re being preempted big time!”

They were able to turn things around before it became a full blown heart attack; however, that experience gave my wife and me a perspective we will never forget. There is God’s agenda and there is our agenda for every day we live.  How should that truth impact the way we plan our agendas each day?

Are we willing to be preempted by God’s agenda?

Dick Woodward, 01 October 2010


Knowing God: Being Love

September 21, 2018

“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…” (Hebrews 11:6)

Do you know God? I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God?  Do you want to know God? In the fragment of the verse quoted above we find a prescription that can help us know God.

The prescription is that we must believe that God is, and we must believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. My passion to know God led me to confess: “I believe that God is.”

But what is God and where is God?

A helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16) After studying the quality of love God is, this belief prescription led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is God likely to be doing His love thing?”

At that time I was a social worker (in Norfolk, VA.) Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this: “God, I have an idea that You are love where people are hurting. That’s where I’m going, so when I get there please pass this love You are through me to address their pain.”

As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and God touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between God’s love and the pain of hurting people.

Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011


A Prescription for Peace: Rest in Christ Jesus

September 14, 2018

“The peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:7)

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? It means we are so in union with Christ, as a branch is in union with a vine, that we draw from Him all the life-giving spiritual power we need for everything we do for Him, with Him and through Him, as we rest in Him.

It means resting in the power of Jesus to do the things He calls us to do, all day long.

As a bedfast quadriplegic & pastor, my way of expressing this is the Four Spiritual Secrets:

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I can’t, but He can.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I don’t want to, but He wants to.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

So much anxiety comes from thinking we must do the work of Christ in our own strength. If we are doing God’s will, we are often going to face things we cannot do on our own, but, as vehicles through which Christ does His work, can be done.

Overwhelming physical and emotional problems that are crushing the life out of us – terminal or chronic illness, difficult relationships and the challenges of everyday living – will only be manageable when we realize that facing them is not a matter of who and what we are, or what we can or cannot do. They are simply an opportunity to prove and demonstrate Who and what Jesus is and what He can do.

We must acknowledge that we can’t but Jesus can, as we rest our hearts and minds in Christ and in what only He can do.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


A Beautiful Word: MERCY

August 28, 2018

“Surely Your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This beautiful word is found 366 times in the Bible. (Perhaps God wants us to know we need His unconditional love, every day of the year – and even Leap Year!)  Many people think we don’t hear about the mercy of God in the Bible until we get to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. However, 280 of these references to the mercy of God are found in the Old Testament.

My favorite Old Testament reference to the mercy of God is found in the last verse of Psalm 23.  David ends one of his greatest psalms with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. The Hebrew word he uses here for “follow” is a word that can also be translated “pursue.”  David brings his profound and eloquent description of the relationship between God and man to a conclusion by making the declaration that the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life.  By application, this is true for any of us who confess our sins.

There are so many ways to fail. When we understand the meaning of the mercy of God, however, we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail God’s mercy. As I place my failures on a scale, I like to place all the times the Bible uses the word mercy on the scale opposite my failures. I invite you to do the same thing no matter how bad you think your failures and sins are.

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2012


Beattitude Attitude Adjustments

August 24, 2018

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23)

 The way we see things can be the difference between a life filled with light and happiness or a life filled with darkness and unhappy depression. Jesus and the entire Word of God consistently challenge our mindsets and show us how we should see things.

Have you as a believer ever found yourself in a funk and realized that you needed an attitude adjustment?  I certainly have and I have learned there are times when an attitude adjustment can pull me out of what I label a “pit fit.”  The two letters “AA” represent many things, but let them remind you to make regular Attitude Adjustments when you need to make them.

There are times when the best defense is a good offense. That rings especially true when it comes to attitudes. Instead of erecting a strong defense of attitude adjustments, the better part of wisdom is to put in place a strong offense of God ordained attitudes that will raise us above the devastating effects of “stinkin thinkin.”

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught that if we want to be part of His solution as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we must begin by having eight attitude adjustments.  Read Chapter Five of the Gospel of Matthew and study closely the eight blessed attitude- beatitudes of Jesus.

When you understand and apply them they will make your life into the light and salt of the world!

Dick Woodward, 25 August 2011


A Great Storm & A Great Calm

August 21, 2018

“And a great windstorm arose…but He said to them, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’…and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:35-40)

If you read this story recorded in the Gospel of Mark (referenced above) you will see that Jesus directed the apostles to get into their boat and cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. On this sea crossing a great storm fell upon them. The apostles woke Jesus with the question: “Don’t you care that we are all going to drown?” After turning the great storm into a great calm He asked them a great question:

“How is it that you have no faith?”

Jesus had been teaching them that He is the King of the Kingdom of God and they are subjects in that Kingdom. Did they really think all of this was going to come to an end at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee? One translation renders His great question: “Do you not even yet believe in me?” Another puts it: “When are you going to get some faith?”

Before we are too hard on the apostles, let’s apply the essential truth of this story personally.  Jesus has promised that He will take us from this side of life to the next dimension called heaven. While we are on this journey, if a great storm falls upon us do we believe that storm declares all His promises to be null and void? Or do we have a quality of faith that can turn a great storm into a great calm?

Like the apostles, are we willing to let Jesus turn the storms in our lives into classrooms in which God can strengthen, grow and authenticate our faith?

Dick Woodward, 20 August 2010

Editor’s Note: The blog posting elf didn’t catch it until yesterday, but August 14th marked 10 years in the blogosphere for this 4 Spiritual Secrets blog. Many thanks (again) to M.K. Sizemore for setting up the graphics and helping the elf initially figure out WordPress. Dick Woodward (the elf’s bedfast quadriplegic papa) painstakingly wrote over 400 blog posts using voice-activated software before he passed in 2014. We had a grand time editing each post with emails back & forth, then sitting together in front of Papa’s big computer screen with final changes before the elf posted them online for all to read. He is now resting in the Everlasting Arms of God’s love, but his words of wisdom & faith remain to help us find calm amidst our (at times stormy) life journeys.