Walking by Faith

August 30, 2016

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? (Proverbs 20:24, NIV)

When God spoke through the prophet Isaiah God told us there is as much difference between the way God thinks and does things and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth.  Building on that revelation the wisest man who ever lived proposed a logical question: if God is directing the steps of a person how can that person always expect to understand the way they are going?

As a God-passionate person, doing your best to follow the guidance of the Lord, have you ever found yourself completely baffled and blown away by inexplicable happenings like the sudden death of a loved one, or other tragedies?  When we put the two Scriptures quoted above side by side we should expect there to be times when we simply do not understand what God is up to.

Moses explained what he called the “secret things” belong to the Lord but the things God wants us to do God makes very clear (Deuteronomy 29:29).  That means there are secret things God is keeping secret.  If God is keeping those things secret nobody can explain them.

All these verses considered together are telling us that while we walk with God we should not expect to understand everything.  We walk by faith.

Dick Woodward, 19 October 2010


Praying in the Valleys

July 22, 2016

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”   (Psalm 23:4-5)

In your dark valleys, learn to pray in this manner:  “As I enter this valley, Lord, I will not be paralyzed by fear, because I believe You are with me.  Your ability to protect me and lead me through this valley is a comfort to me.  I know that in the darkest and scariest part of this valley, in the middle of all the life threatening danger, You will spread a table of provision for me.

I am trusting You completely to anoint me with the oil of Your individualized, personalized and attentive care.  I believe you will give me mercy for my failures and the grace I need to help me in my time of need.  You will also pursue me like a ‘Hound of Heaven’ with Your goodness, unconditional love and acceptance, when I wander away from Your loving care.”

Finally, thank your Good Shepherd-God that you can trust God to lead you through this life to unbroken fellowship forever in Heaven; to the green pastures that never turn brown, the still waters that never become disturbed, and the cup that never empties.

Offer this prayer to “the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead that great Shepherd of sheep, Who through the blood of the everlasting covenant, can make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


Prayer for Peace (in times of crisis)

June 28, 2016

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

When I was in a very difficult situation, the prayer of Saint Francis had great meaning for me.  I memorized it and prayed it every night for several months.  I know you are very familiar with it but in case you don’t have a copy there, here it is:

 “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console: to be understood, as to understand: to be loved as to love: for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Dick Woodward (email, 05 March 2005)


God’s Great Faithfulness & Love

June 2, 2015

“He has filled me with bitterness…my soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3: 15, 16, 22-23)

When Jeremiah gets to his darkest hour, he receives a revelation of hope and salvation. Just like Job, when suffering brought him to the bottom of despair’s pit, he received his Messianic revelation:  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon the earth.  And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God!”  (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given to Job.  After World War II, Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her:  “There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”  This is the same truth God revealed to Jeremiah.  It’s intriguing to realize Job received his Messianic revelation when he ‘bottomed out” through weeping and suffering. God made Jeremiah know the marvelous truth about His unconditional love that is taught from Genesis to Revelation: God’s love is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance.

Reading the Lamentations, I am deeply touched and inspired meditating upon God’s miraculous revelation to Jeremiah, that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved the people of Judah… Another awesome possible miracle, however, is that as Jeremiah received his revelation weeping in his grotto on the hill of Golgotha, he could have been sitting on the very spot God was going to pour out His love on the whole world.

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College Old Testament Handbook, (pp. 500-501)


Hurting Hearts

January 7, 2015

“… who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  (2 Corinthians 1:4)

The Apostle Paul has just experienced life threatening persecution when he was stoned in Lystra.  As he describes that experience for the Church in Corinth he gives them (and us) a perspective on suffering.  He writes that there is a kind of suffering that drives us to God and there is a quality of comfort that can only be found in God when the level of our suffering drives us to Him.

According to Paul, an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”  A hurting heart that has discovered the comfort that can only be found in God is “one hurting heart telling another hurting heart where the Comfort is.”

As a pastor when I met grief stricken parents who had lost a child, since I had never suffered that loss I sent a couple to comfort them who had lost a child and found the comfort of God to help them.  Any time your heart is hurting because God has permitted you to suffer, realize that you are being given a credential by God.  As you find the comfort that is to be found in God you are now qualified to point any person with that same problem to the comfort you discovered when you had that hurt in your heart.

Although you will not answer all of the “why” questions until you know as you are known, are you willing to let this perspective bring some meaning and purpose to your suffering?

Or would you rather choose to waste your sorrows?

Dick Woodward, 10 March 2012


One Day at a Time

July 12, 2014

“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray He gave them a principle that has many applications.  At the end of this chapter in the Gospel of Matthew, which records the central part of His great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated that we should not worry about tomorrow.  Many have made that obvious application to this prayer petition.  People with tragic challenges like addictions or overwhelming suffering are only able to get their heads and hearts around the concept of coping one day at a time.

Another application of this principle applies to divine guidance.  In the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul wrote that one way to discern the will of God for our lives is to live up to the light we now have.  He promises that as we do, God will give us more light.  Someone once said, “If you want to see further ahead into the will of God for your life, then move ahead into the will of God just as far as you can see.”

As a college student I drove across the United States several times, mainly at night because there was less traffic.  My headlights only illuminated about 100 yards at a time.  I discovered that if I kept driving into the light the headlights gave me, I eventually traveled from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles.

It is easier for God to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary.  As we respond to the light God is giving us He adds more light to our path.  The application of that principle leads us into His will one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, 17 August 2010


No Burning, No Shining

August 9, 2013

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

The applications of our Lord’s metaphors are almost endless.  One application to the metaphor above is that for our candle to give light it must be consumed.  Unlighted candles are not consumed, but the candles that shine are the candles that burn.  There is no shining without burning.

In another great metaphor Jesus told us there is no such thing as a fruitless disciple of His.  We are like branches and He is the Vine.  As branches, if we are properly intersected with Him, we can draw from Him the life force to be fruitful.  He promised if we are plugged into Him and are fruitful we will be cut back and pruned to be made more fruitful.  Cutbacks and pruning can really hurt.  They can come in the form of suffering but they improve the quality and the quantity of our fruit.

In light of these very clear teachings we should not be surprised when we find ourselves burning through suffering that our brightest light for Christ yields the best fruit.

Like many others I thought my most fruitful years were when I was able bodied and active.  But I have been joyfully surprised to discover that my most fruitful service for Christ has been as a bed fast quadriplegic.  Using voice activated computer software from my bed, 782 Bible studies have been produced and are being heard in 31 languages in 60 countries.  Worldwide more than 45,000 small groups are listening to our studies on solar powered digital audio players I call “God pods.”

Have you discovered there is no shining without burning?