#Prayer: One Day at a Time

January 18, 2022

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

Jesus is using the symbol of bread here to represent all our needs. We are a veritable basket of needs: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. This first personal petition should not be limited to our need for food, but all our needs.

Observe the concept ‘one day at a time’ is repeated twice in this petition of just seven words. Alcoholics with years of sobriety tell me that when they took their first step, they could not entertain the thought of being sober for more than one day.

This prayer of Jesus prescribes that we pray ‘this day’ and ‘daily’ when we present our needs to our Heavenly Father. This principle of one day at a time is a proven therapy that has made the difference between life and death for some of my closest friends who are celebrating many years of sobriety.

Observe how Jesus concludes His teaching about values with the same emphasis later in Matthew 6: “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matthew 6:34)

We read in the book of Numbers that when God miraculously provided bread from Heaven in the wilderness, the Israelites were only permitted to collect enough manna for one day. That story, recorded in Numbers 11, is also applicable to the one-day-at-a-time principle Jesus prescribes in the prayer He taught us to pray.

When we apply the story of that manna miracle to our daily devotions, we should make the application that we cannot hoard our experience of a word from God or the blessings of a time in the presence of God. We must have our souls and spirits nourished with heavenly manna every day, one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


Tears of Prayer

January 14, 2022

“I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.” (Isaiah 38:5)

Early in my ministry as a pastor I made a discovery about prayer. I came to the conclusion that we are praying even when we do not close our eyes, fold our hands, and bow our heads. I discovered that prayer is the sincere desire of our souls no matter how we express it.

The sigh of a believer can be a prayer. When we come to the end of our resources and throw ourselves across a bed and sigh, or cry – that is also a prayer.

God sent the Prophet Isaiah to tell a sick King Hezekiah that he was going to die. Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and cried. When God saw the tears of King Hezekiah, God sent Isaiah back to him with the message: “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears.”

And God added 15 years to King Hezekiah’s life.

When we express the sincere desires of our souls, which are often too deep for words, in tears and sighs of despair – that is prayer God hears and answers. God has as much interaction with people in the waiting rooms of hospitals as God has in the sanctuaries of our churches.

Realizing your tears and sighs of despair are prayers, will you offer them to God as the prayers of your heart?

God will hear you.

Dick Woodward, 18 January 2011


#LOVE: Sanctified Unselfishness

January 11, 2022

“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…” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

When God’s love is being expressed through us, we don’t get mad or even. The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love. “Love is kind.” 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.

The one applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate, unconditional commitment to their happiness. They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and my love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.” Think of how critically this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident or an illness.

The key to the love that is not touchy is that the one loving is not demanding his or her way. The one who is a conduit of Christ’s love is others-centered, not self-centered.

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. This love virtue of unselfishness is listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore in our hearts: “Love does not seek its own (way.)”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Letting Go

January 7, 2022

“… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 13, 14)

As we move into a new year many of us can say, “These forty/eleven things I dabble in” as we consider our priorities. Spiritual heavyweights like Paul can write “One thing I do.” They write that they have their priorities sifted down to one thing because they forget those things that are behind.

We all have things we need to let go of so we can press toward the goal of what God wants us to do now and in the future.

The story is told of a man who fell over a cliff but managed to grab hold of a little bush that was growing out of the cliff about forty feet from the top. He frantically shouted “Help!” several times but his voice simply echoed back to him. Desperately he yelled, “Anybody there? A subterranean voice answered, “Yes!” He then yelled again “Help!” Then the voice said. “Let go!” After a brief pause the man shouted, “Anybody else out there?”

Sometimes it takes a lot of faith to let go. It may be that we need to let go of things that we cannot do and only God can do. It may be we need to let go of things we cannot control. And, sometimes we need to let go of hurts that people have inflicted on us and we cannot forgive them and just let it go.

Do you need to let go and let God so you can unload baggage and move forward with God?

Dick Woodward, 11 January 2013


How Should I Spend My Time?

January 4, 2022

“Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.”  (Psalm 90:12)

According to Moses, we should realize that life is like a game of Monopoly. We all begin with the same amount of currency. When we begin a new year we are given 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week and 8,760 hours a year.  I often hear the remark: “I haven’t got time for that!” This implies that we are not given the same amount of time. It would be more accurate to say: “I don’t value that activity enough to spend some of my time in that way.”

The dictionaries tell us a value is “that quality of any certain thing by which it is determined by us to be more or less important, useful, profitable and therefore desirable.” We all have a set of values. We spend our time on the things we consider important, useful, profitable and desirable.

When we ask God to teach us how to spend our time God will challenge us to consider the values of Jesus Christ. One of the many reasons Christ became flesh and lived among us for 33 years was to show us how to live. He did that by presenting us with a set of values. As we read the four Gospels and follow Jesus every time He models and teaches a value, that spiritual discipline will revolutionize the way we spend our time.

I challenge you to ask God, “How should I spend my time?” I also challenge you to let the values of Christ revolutionize the way you spend your time in this New Year.

Dick Woodward, 03 January 2014


BEING THE CHRISTMAS THAT IS…

December 24, 2021

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”  (Titus 2: 11-14)

One of my very favorite Christmas Scriptures is here where the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus that the grace of God appeared on that first Christmas Eve when Christ was born.  His Church should always be looking forward to what he calls “the blessed hope” which is the appearing of Christ in His Second Coming.

In these Christmas verses Paul writes that between these two appearances of Jesus Christ God wants to appear to this world through His special people by the way they adorn their belief with good works and godly living.  The word “special” is sometimes translated “peculiar” or “unique.”

Great paintings are valuable because they are peculiar.  If there is another painting exactly like a particular painting it loses its value.  Paul counseled Titus that it is critical to have spiritual people in his church who will adorn their belief with good works and be peculiar people through whom God appears to this present age.

There is a Christmas that was when God first appeared to us.  There is a Christmas that shall be when God appears through the return of Christ.  And there is the Christmas that is as God appears through believers like you and me.

Are you willing to be the Christmas that is for those who know you today?

Dick Woodward, 25 December 2012


#CHRISTMAS: Good Tidings for ALL People

December 21, 2021

I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)

When the angels appeared to those frightened shepherds, they gave them wonderful news. They announced that they were bringing good tidings of great joy to all people. These good tidings were not just for Jewish people or for good people.  They were to bring great joy to ALL people!  That means 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)

Some treat their faith as if the last words of Jesus were “Now don’t let it get around!”  They live out their faith as if the Gospel is a secret to be kept.

Never forget those two beautiful Christmas words, “All people!”

The spiritual community of those who follow Jesus is not to be a secret organization.  It is a community of people who exist for the benefit of their non-members.

Jesus Christ came to bring good news and great joy to everyone.  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. (Isaiah 53:6)

Two more great Christmas words are “mercy” and “grace”.  The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and His grace lavishes on us all kinds of marvelous things we do not deserve.  His mercy and grace give us more blessings than we can count if we have the faith to receive them

Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011


Jesus: God With Us

December 17, 2021

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

The holidays are the most family-oriented weeks of the year. Yet for many – those who have no family, singles, widows and widowers, the divorced among us, and those with painful and negative family experiences – the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. As a pastor every year I had parishioners who asked me in early November to pray for them to make it through the holidays.

The hard reality is that lonely, depressed, and anxious people are lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious during the “season to be jolly” than at any other time of the year.

At the same time, the last four weeks of the year are filled with joy and happiness for millions of people and their families. Whether the holiday season is your favorite time or your most difficult time of the year, consider bringing the true meaning of Christmas to your holidays and to every day of your new year.

Carefully read the Christmas scriptures in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, and then read the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John.

You will see that the essence of Christmas can be described by the word incarnation. The biblical word ‘carne’ is the Greek word for ‘flesh.’ When we consider Christmas, we find ourselves face to face with the incarnation – the miracle that God decided to make human flesh God’s address when Christ was born in Bethlehem.

When asked about Jesus a little boy replied: “Jesus is God with skin on.”

Emmanuel, God with us.

Dick Woodward, A Christmas Prescription


CHOOSING JOY!

December 14, 2021

“I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people!” (Luke 2:10)

Tim Hansel lived every day with debilitating, excruciating pain. Yet, in his book, “You Gotta Keep Dancing” he wrote: “pain and suffering are inevitable, but misery is optional.” That is true for a Spirit controlled disciple of Jesus. Tim also wrote: “I can choose to be joyful.”

Joy is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul described in his letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5: 22-23) As evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, joy can be paraphrased “happiness that does not make sense.” The derivation of the word “happiness” pertains to what happens to us. 

But this joy, which is the fruit of the Spirit living in us, is not controlled by what happens to us. That is why it does not make sense, especially to secular non-spiritual people. In the very short letter the Apostle Paul wrote from prison to his favorite church, the Philippians, he used the word joy seventeen times!

Appearing to the shepherds, the angels explained why their declaration would bring great joy to all people: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Great joy came because the One born is the Savior. He is the Christ, which is the Greek way of saying the Messiah. And He is to be our Lord. Joy came because Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who follow Him. This joy is intended for all people, including you and me.

Are you choosing to be joyful, anyway?

Dick Woodward, 20 December 2013


Sharing Christmas HOPE!

December 10, 2021

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

Do you know what it is like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope? In the great love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul tells us three eternal values in life are faith, hope and love.  Hope is one of the three 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 have Good News that can give hope to the hopeless. 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 Gospel of Christmas. If 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 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 the 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