December 22, 2017
“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
When the angels appeared to the shepherds, they announced they were bringing good tidings of great joy to all people – a wonderful Christmas greeting! Good tidings not just for good people, but to bring great joy to ALL people. That means all kinds of people, and all kinds of people everywhere.
Before He ascended, the last words of Jesus were: “… be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)
Some Christians live their faith as if the last words of Jesus were: “Now don’t let it get around.” They live as if the Gospel is a secret to be kept.
Never forget these two beautiful Christmas words: “All people!”
The spiritual community of those who believe and follow Jesus is not to be a secret organization. It should be a community of people who exist for the benefit of non-members.
Jesus Christ came to bring good news and great joy to people who are not good. The Bible tells us that all of us have gone astray and turned every one of us to his or her own way. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God laid the penalty for all of our sins on His Son, Jesus. (Isaiah 53:6)
Two more great Christmas words are “mercy” and “grace.” The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve, and God’s grace lavishes on us all kinds of marvelous things we do not deserve. God’s mercy and grace give us more blessings than we can count if we have the faith to receive them.
Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011
July 7, 2017
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1John 4:11)
The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10) John follows that with the words quoted above: that if God SO loved us we ought also to love one another.
Hours before Jesus was arrested and crucified, He challenged the men He had been apprenticing three years 24/7 to love one another as He loved them. He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples. Peter wrote that by Christ’s death on the cross He gave us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us another reason we are to love one another. In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in. Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world. The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.
If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would be beating our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities. The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given His Church.
Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for God’s glory?
Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010
May 2, 2017
“I want to remind you of the gospel…which you received and on which you have taken your stand… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)
Since most evangelism takes place today in the marketplace, it is imperative that we understand how to articulate the Gospel. A first step in that direction is realizing the Holy Spirit is the Evangelist and we are merely conduits through whom the Holy Spirit works…
When Jesus stayed up late with Nicodemus, the first words of Nicodemus were: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do the works that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Jesus earned his hearing with Nicodemus by what he had seen Him do. Likewise, we must also earn our hearing with people. This begins with our understanding that what we do demonstrates what we believe. All the rest is just religious talk. People are not interested in our religious talk unless they are impressed by what they see us do and are favorably impacted by what we are. It’s as if Nicodemus was saying he was impressed with what he had seen Jesus do, so he had come to hear the religious talk of Jesus. We are deceiving ourselves if we think it’s not that way with us today.
What I’m calling religious talk is our theological explanation of what we believe and why we believe it. This can be a negative if we overwhelm people with our theology. Many secular people don’t understand the simplest theological terms… Whether positive or negative, people will not be interested if they are not impressed with who and what we are and the things we do.
When we earn our hearing by the grace of God, the Gospel is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died for our sins and He rose again from the dead, just as the Old Testament Scriptures said He would and the New Testament Scriptures tell us He did.
There is something to believe and Someone to receive.
Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 23, 24, 38)
April 16, 2016
“Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.” (John 13:1)
Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles. Luke writes that on the way to the upper room where they were to celebrate the Passover the apostles argued about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised. What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!
Having washed their feet Jesus asked this question: “Do you know what I have done to you?” The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus is love. He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.
He also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example. If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each others’ feet. Then He made the connection between feet washing and love by giving them the New Commandment. They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them. This is the absolute credential that they were His disciples.
A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment. Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus but now they were to make a commitment to each other. This new commitment established a New Community. We call it the church. The secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!” If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence to convict us?
Oh Lord make it so!
Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012
February 13, 2015
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…” (1John 4:11)
The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10). He follows that with the words quoted above – that if God SO loved us we ought also to love one another.
Hours before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus challenged the men He apprenticed 24/7 for three years to love one another as He had loved them. He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples. Peter wrote that by His death on the cross He gave us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).
The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us yet another reason we are to love one another. In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in. Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world. The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.
If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would beat our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities because everyone has a need to be loved and to belong. The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given to His Church.
Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for His glory?
Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010
December 17, 2013
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a candlestick, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
I love Christmas lights! Where I live in Williamsburg, Virginia, one of the signature features of Christmas decorating is using white lights. We put our Christmas tree up for all of December because we enjoy the white lights so very much.
A very significant Christmas gift I received is a book I wrote this year that was delivered from the printer on the third of December. It is called Marketplace Disciples. The thrust of this book’s message highlights the mandate Jesus gave His disciples to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. A missionary statesman said that if the disciples of Jesus stick together with a fortress mentality, we are like manure. We stink! But if we get spread around we do a lot of good.
The risen living Christ uses the fact that we need to make a living to get the salt out of the salt shaker and the candles He has lighted on candlesticks of His choosing. We should impact the marketplace because we are authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. The values of Christ should revolutionize our ethics and the way we do business. That is why today most evangelism takes place in the marketplace.
When you see the beautiful Christmas lights this year remember that Jesus said His light flowing through us cannot be hidden.
September 3, 2013
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to his favorite church we hear him express his definition of a church. According to Paul, the church is “a fellowship of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:5; 27) He agrees with Luke who describes the church the same way in his history of the church as quoted above.
According to Luke the fingerprints of the church are as follows: the thumbprint is evangelism. The people he is describing would not be there if they had not been reached by the evangelistic sermon of Peter on the Day of Pentecost. The index fingerprint is teaching. The middle fingerprint is fellowship. The ring fingerprint is worship and the little fingerprint is prayer.
Just as your thumb naturally touches your four fingers, the teaching, fellowship, worship and prayer of the church are meant to lead to evangelism. These four functions of the church equip, edify, inspire and empower the church to reach out and bring lost people to salvation in Christ.
Our churches can often be described as a group of people sitting in a circle with their chairs facing in. According to Paul and Luke we should turn our chairs back to back and face out in a fellowship of the gospel. I have visited the Dead Sea which without an outlet is stagnant and dead and earns it its name. Also the Sea of Galilee which is filled with life because it has an outlet.
So it is with our churches. When we face out and reach out we have an outlet that fills our church with the young life of new believers. Is your church a fellowship in the gospel?