#FAITH – VISION! VISION! VISION!

January 26, 2021

“…what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem…” (Nehemiah 2:12)

When Nehemiah learned of the dreadful condition of the wall around Jerusalem he wept, fasted and prayed. He then became a supreme example of what it means to have a vision. His definition of vision is what God put in his heart to do. I have heard missionaries describe how they were reading the Gospels and when they got to the Great Commission they knew what God put in their hearts to do.

When I was a new believer studying for the ministry I heard a great Bible professor survey the entire Bible. He made it so clear and relevant. I felt he was introducing us to sixty-six of his holy little friends and I wanted to spend the rest of my life getting to know them better. I also knew in my heart that God wanted me to put together a devotional, practical survey of the Bible for lay people and make it even more simple than the one I was taught. That vision eventually became a reality.

As you grow in faith and your relationship with God, have you been close enough for God to put in your heart what He wants you to do? The Bible and church history affirm the reality that God loves to work that way.

The Apostle Paul stood in chains before a king and said some beautiful words. He said he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision God gave him. (Acts 26: 19) Has God put in your heart what He wants you to do? Will you make the commitment that you will not be disobedient to that vision?

Dick Woodward, 28 January 2010


#FAITH: LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!

January 22, 2021

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

How does love fit into the trio of lasting qualities Paul writes of? The Apostle John answered the question for us when he wrote: “God is love and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God dwells in him.” (I John 4:16) 

When we dwell in the love Paul prescribed in I Corinthians 13, we dwell in God and God dwells in us.

By application, this means when we go where the hurting people are, as God’s love is passing through us and addressing their pain, we are touching God and God is touching us. Since the agape love passing through us is God, we are dwelling in God and God is dwelling in us while God’s love is passing through us.

Jesus gave us a perspective of love when He exhorted the apostles to look up before they look on the fields that are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35) Jesus was focusing on two perspectives we must master as His authentic disciples. Before we look around and relate to the people who intersect our lives every day, we need to look up, and then look at them. We should see them through the same love lenses God uses when God sees them. 

If we do, we will never see anyone we cannot love.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Elijah: Temple Maintenance

January 19, 2021

Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal…”  I Kings 19:18

The great prophet Elijah reached the zenith of his career on Mt. Carmel when he challenged the people of God to stop being spiritual schizophrenics. When they committed themselves to serving the living God, they experienced a great revival. (I Kings 18) The next day we read Elijah “went a day’s journey into the wilderness and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die.” (I Kings 19:12)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. The drastic change we see in him is due to many things, but one factor is that he neglected what I call Temple Maintenance. The Apostle Paul said our bodies are the temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17) Therefore, anything we do to maintain our bodies is temple maintenance. Neglecting our temple maintenance can have serious consequences on our health and ministry.

Observe in that dramatic victory for Elijah on Mount Carmel all the physical stress and effort he put out. He dug a deep ditch around that altar and filled it with water. Have you ever dug a deep ditch? …At the end of that long day, he ran in front of a chariot for 17 miles. Elijah must have been exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The physical dimension of our lives directly affects our mental, emotional and even spiritual perspectives. Elijah obviously allowed his physical stresses to affect him. We know all his blubbering about being the only true servant of the Lord was neurotic when God made him know there were 7,000 faithful servants like him, who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Take an example from one of the greatest prophets and don’t forget your temple maintenance!

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


#LOVE: SANCTIFIED UNSELFISHNESS

January 15, 2021

“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)

I have heard people say, “I don’t get mad, I get even!” 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 as patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so.

As we examine “love is kind,” we realize this love refuses to play the game of getting even. The Greek word for kindness means “love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.” Then we read: “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 who is applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness. 

Their love commitment is not “I love me and I need you,” or “You love me and so do I.” They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness. 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 this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident or illness that seriously limits them…

The one who is a conduit of this love is others-centered, not self-centered.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


#Faith: Originals & Champions for Christ

January 12, 2021

All our steps are ordered by the Lord; how then can we understand our own ways?” (Proverbs 20:24)

Solomon poses a wise question in Proverbs 20:24: “If we are going the way God wants us to go, how can we expect to always understand the way we are going?” I believe it is obvious that God is making you an original in an original way. 

There isn’t anybody like you and there isn’t supposed to be.

My thoughts turn to six powerful Bible verses: the last four verses of Romans 11 and the first two verses of Romans 12. They tie in with Isaiah 55 and the reality we do not know what God is doing. The profound truth focused is that God is the source of, the power behind, and His glory is the purpose for everything He is doing. 

The application in Romans 12 is that you should worship by surrendering your body as a living sacrifice (not a dead one.) Ask God to transform your mind so you think as He does. Then, having met these prerequisites, prove one day at a time that His will for you is good and moves toward spiritual maturity.  (This passage is especially good in the Phillips.*)

God is shaping you to be a champion for Christ in dimensions that are far beyond anything you could imagine or even think to imagine! Whatever spiritual help it takes you must master this problem or it will master you. Every time God wants to do a great work like what He is doing in your life, the evil one is there trying to defeat it. 

Put on the whole armor of God to defeat what the evil one is trying to do.

Dick Woodward (email, 20 January 2007)

(*J.B. Phillips translation of The New Testament in Modern English)


#FAITH: FORGIVEN AND FORGIVING

January 8, 2021

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

The greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness. Those who work in ministries of healing claim that the lack of forgiveness on the part of victims who have been terribly hurt can retard their own inner healing.

Can you see why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray every day: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors?” The original language has it, “As we have already forgiven our debtors.” Do you think Jesus knows how important it is to our inner healing that we should forgive those who sin against us?

Some are bothered by the way Jesus offers commentary on this petition in the Disciple’s Prayer. He commented that if we do not forgive we are not forgiven. It almost sounds as if we are forgiven because we forgive. He defuses their confusion with a parable that is recorded in Matthew 18. A man is forgiven a large debt in the millions of dollars. He does not have to go into debtor’s prison and see his wife and family sold into slavery.

But on the way home he meets a man who owes him twenty dollars. He grabs him by the throat and orders him to pay him every cent or he will have him put into debtor’s prison. Both events are observed and told to the one who forgave him the large debt. He is recalled and his forgiveness is revoked. Jesus comments on that story that if we from our hearts do not forgive, we are not forgiven.

The point is that if we are a forgiven person we will be a forgiving person. If we are not a forgiving person we are not really a forgiven person.

Dick Woodward, 09 January 2013


#FAITH: LETTING GO!

January 5, 2021

“… 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 write “One thing I do.” They can 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 small bush about forty feet from the top. He frantically shouted “Help!” several times but his voice simply echoed back to him. 

Desperately he yelled, “Anybody up 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 up 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 people have inflicted on us that we have not forgiven and let go.

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

Dick Woodward, 11 January 2013


#FAITH: A New Year’s Perspective

January 1, 2021

“… as He is, so are we in this world.”  (1 John 4:17)

This year has come and gone. Economy prophets are now referring to our lingering economic downturn as “A Great Recession.” What security do we have as we begin the New Year?

“…as He is, so are we in this world.”

In nine words John, the aged Apostle of Love, gives us a marvelous perspective on our security. There are several ways we can interpret and apply these words. We can say it is only because Jesus is that we can be as we should be in this world. We can say that our security rests in the proposition that He is and He will equip us to be what He wants us to be in this world.

We can also say these words mean Jesus lives in us and through us. For 33 years He had a physical body of His own. For 2000 years now His followers have been the only body Jesus has. This presents the challenge that the only Christ people in this world know is the Christ they see revealed in and through you and me.

As you meditate on the portraits of Jesus Christ the New Testament presents by those who knew Him, realize these portraits are precisely the way He wants to be revealed to this world through your life and mine today.

The overwhelming personality trait of Jesus Christ is love

Love is as He was and as He is today.

Our purpose is not to be secure in this world but to let the love of Jesus pass to others through our lives.

Dick Woodward, 27 December 2011


A New Year’s Question

December 29, 2020

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)

The last days of the year are a good time for reflection and making resolutions. Have you ever had a year that was so bad you could not live with the idea of another year of the same? Are you there now? If you are, you could be ready to hear the question that God likes to ask from time to time:

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?”

This is the consummate question of direction. It implies if we do not have a crisis that changes things, we are going to end up with more of the same.

Sometimes we are what needs to change. Jeremiah actually mocks us for trying to change ourselves: “Why do you gad about so much to change your ways? …Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots?” (Jeremiah 2:36)

There is a big difference between trying to change ourselves and being changed by God. Unless we are changed by God and God changes what only God can change, we are trapped in a cycle of going where we have come from.

With great spiritual discernment David asked God to create in him a new heart. God answered that prayer for him. (Psalm 51:10) God can also do that for us today. We are not doomed to that cycle of going where we have come from.  We can be changed. God can change the things that must change in us so next year we will not end up back where we have come from.

Confess that you can’t change yourself or your circumstances, but believe God can as you enter the New Year… then watch at God work.

Dick Woodward, 30 December 2011


MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

December 25, 2020

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

This verse begins and ends with one of the most beautiful Christmas words in the Bible: the word “all.” The first time the word is used in this verse it gives us the bad news. It tells us all of us have gone astray and turned – every one of us – to our own way. The prophet Isaiah repeats himself for emphasis when he tells us that every one of us has turned to his or her own way.

Do you believe you are included in the first “all” of this verse?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a verse of Scripture to convince me that I’m included in the first “all.” Only Santa Claus brings good things to good people on Christmas Day. According to Isaiah, Christmas is when good things happen to people who have strayed from God.

The good news of this Christmas word is the way Isaiah concludes his verse. We are not ready for the good news until we are convinced of the bad news. He tells us the good news that God has laid on His Son the iniquity and sins of us all! Do you believe you are included in the last “all” of this verse?

If you will meet yourself in the two “alls” of Isaiah you receive, by faith, your greatest Christmas gift. Paul described it this way:

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

Merry Christmas to ALL!!

Dick Woodward, 25 December 2011