Whatever It Takes!!

August 23, 2016

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

We have now finished the Summer Olympics in London and here in America our version of football began last week.  One of our American football teams has a slogan posted in conspicuous places around their training center.  It is simply these three words: “Whatever It Takes!”  The meaning: every member of the team pledges, “I will do whatever it takes to win!”

In the verses quoted above Paul is referring to the way Olympic athletes from his time trained and disciplined their bodies.  They sacrificed whatever it took in discipline and preparation with one goal in mind: to win.

While they did this to win a prize that does not last we should train and discipline ourselves that we might win a prize that is eternal.  As we run the race of our ministry we should have a strategy and a race plan.  When we fight the good fight of faith we should have a fight plan.  While we observe the way athletes train and do whatever it takes to win we should do whatever it takes to win the real race and fight the real fight.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to win the race and fight the fight of faith today?

Dick Woodward, 09 September 2012


Priorities Target Bull’s Eye

August 13, 2016

“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Picture your priorities as a target with a bull’s eye surrounded by a dozen circles.  As you think and pray about your priorities, what would you call the bull’s eye of your priority target?  Once you have determined that, how would you label the dozen circles that surround your bull’s eye?

Great men of God like Paul could reduce their priorities down to one thing.  Paul’s one thing was to forget what is behind and strain forward to win the prize at the end of the race.  That prize was what God was calling him to do.

Can we reduce the forty eleven things that are spreading us thin down to one thing?  If we were to do so what would that one thing be?  Sometimes there is great wisdom in forgetting the things that are behind.  Then there are times when there is even greater wisdom in determining our one thing type of goal for the future.  How do we do that?

One way is to consider what we might call “eternal values.”   None of the things we are going to leave behind when God calls us home are worth living for while we are here.  Jesus told us: “This is… life, that they may know You … and Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3).

Is knowing God and Christ an eternally focused bull’s eye for our priority target?  Think of how that priority focus will dramatically affect the dozen circles that surround it when our life becomes an expression of the life of God and the risen living Christ.

Dick Woodward, 13 January 2012


Putting God First

May 6, 2016

“…but you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.” (Matthew 6:33, J. B. Phillips)

The message of the entire Bible can be summed up in two words: “God First.” That is not easy.  In fact, that is impossible without the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).  This concept is not complicated, but we complicate it because we do not want to put God first.  However, over and over again in the Scripture the bottom-line truth in a Psalm, in the life of a Bible character, in a parable, a metaphor, and a teaching of Jesus will come down to this simple concept: “God First.”

I was blessed with a godly mother.  She often said to me: “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, then Jesus Christ is everything to you.  Because until Jesus Christ is everything to you, Dick, He isn’t really anything to you.” As I have carefully studied the values of Jesus Christ, I have realized that my mother had the support of the Lord when she brought my profession of faith to a verdict the way she did.

Matthew 6:33 is the conclusion of a study Jesus gave regarding values. He taught that our heart is where our treasures are. He challenged us with questions like: “Where is your heart? What are your treasures? What is your life? What is your body?” and “Who is your master?”

Think of a target with a bulls-eye surrounded by ten or twelve circles.  According to Jesus, the bulls-eye of our priority target should be that our first value is God.  We are to put Him first.  If we do that we have the promise of Jesus that God will bless us with everything we need.

Are you putting God first?

Dick Woodward, 09 November 2010


Easter: The Supreme Eternal Value

March 27, 2016

“I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me — that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said.”  (1Corinthians 15:3-4)

There is another value I must share with you because it is the supreme and absolute value, the “door” that must be opened if we are to find all the eternal values.  This is the value we place on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let me explain.

Suppose I asked you to write your answer to this question: “What is the Gospel?”  Imagine that I asked you to accompany your answer with Scripture verse references.   How would you answer my question?

As you search the Scriptures, you will discover this eternal value:  Easter is far more important than Christmas.  When the Apostle John wrote his Gospel, he devoted approximately half of his twenty-one chapters to the thirty-three years Jesus lived on earth and half his chapters to just the last week Jesus lived.  Of the eighty-nine combined chapters of the four Gospels, four chapters cover the birth and first thirty years Jesus lived, while twenty-seven chapters cover the last week Jesus lived.  Why is the last week of the life of Jesus so very important, and why is Easter far more important than Christmas?

Easter is when Jesus died and rose again for our salvation. The cry of the church all over the world on Resurrection Sunday is:

He is risen, indeed.   

Dick Woodward, 02 August 2013

May you have a blessed Easter — Jesus Christ is risen, He is risen, indeed!!!


The Christmas That Shall Be (Part II)

December 23, 2015

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)

The Old Testament people of God lived their lives believing it was possible to ‘see the Good.’  In Psalm 34 King David challenges hopeless fugitives to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good,’ and the Lord is the Good they have been seeking all their lives.

In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us the three lasting, eternal values in life are faith, hope, and love (I Cor. 13:13).  Love is the greatest of these eternal values because God is Love.  Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God.  Hope is also one of the three great eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God.  In the heart of every human being, God plants hope – the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good is going to intersect our lives.  That is what the author of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1)

Every year, approximately 30,000 people commit suicide.  Research by sociologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists tells us they commit suicide because they lose hope.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have the Good News that can give hope to the hopeless.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share it with the people Jesus came to seek and to save.  (Luke 19:10).  We show that we really believe in the Christmas that shall be when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men we should ask the question, “Where is He?,” seek Him until we find Him, worship Him, and give the gift of our lives to Him.  Then, like the shepherds, we should tell everybody the very Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world!

Dick Woodward, A Christmas Prescription


Sharing Hope @ Christmas

December 16, 2014

“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  (I Corinthians 13:13)

Do you know, or do you remember what it is like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope? In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us the three lasting, eternal values in life are faith, hope and love.  Love is the greatest of these eternal values because God is love.  Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God.  Hope is also one of the three great eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God.  In the heart of every human being, God plants hope, the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good will intersect our lives.  That is what the author of the Book of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1).

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have Good News that can give hope to the hopeless, and we must not let unbelief silence us.  If we never share the Good News of the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be, we should ask ourselves if we really believe the essence of the Gospel of Christmas.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share that Good News with the people Jesus told us He came to seek and to save (Luke 19:10).  We show that we really do believe in the Christmas that shall be, when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men, we should ask the question, “Where is He?,” seek Him until we find Him, and then worship Him and give the gift of our lives to Him.  Then, like those shepherds, we should tell everybody the Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world.

Dick Woodward, from A Christmas Prescription

 


Legacies & Lasting Investments

September 5, 2014

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.” (John 15:16 NIV)

Jesus had been with the apostles for three years when He spoke these words.  It’s like these men had been in a three-year seminary with Jesus with no days off  – no weekends, holidays or summers, just being with Jesus 24/7.  He was now about to be arrested and suffer all the things Mel Gibson so graphically portrayed in his film about the Passion of Jesus Christ.

These words must have fallen like a bombshell on these men.  They had all made choices.  But Jesus now informed them that He had made the choices.  He had chosen them.  He chose them for a purpose.  That purpose was that they were to be fruitful.  They were to bring forth fruit that lasts.

That is the definition of what we call a legacy or legacy giving.  A legacy is fruit that lasts long after we have gone home to be with God for all eternity.

By application, we do not choose Jesus and take Him into our plans.  He chooses us that He might take us into His plans.  It is not all about us – it’s all about JESUS.  He adds commentary that when we understand this, God will start answering our prayers.

Mother Teresa told us that the only safe, sure, wise, and lasting investment is what we give to God.  Have you produced fruit for Christ that will last beyond your lifetime?  Wouldn’t you like to invest now to leave a legacy of lasting eternal values?

Dick Woodward, 20 January 2012