Laboring For God

September 4, 2017

“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”  (Hebrews 6:10)

Many of us have at some time experienced not being appreciated. It’s challenging to labor long and hard helping people without a word or gesture of appreciation. The author of Hebrews gives us a beautiful word to share with unappreciated servants of the Lord. That word is simply that we can know we are always appreciated.

Our Lord instructed us that we are to work our righteous acts in secret. We are to give in such a way that one hand does not know what the other hand is giving. We are to pray and fast in a private closet knowing that our Father in Heaven sees and knows everything we pray and do. (Matthew 6)

In the same spirit through Moses, God said, “Walk before Me!” (Genesis 17:1) It can bring spiritual perspective into our daily walk if we hold on to the premise that everything we do is done before and as unto God. The author of Hebrews is reminding us we are always appreciated when we look up and walk before God.

In my early twenties at the beginning my ministry, I met an elderly missionary couple who had spent 48 years serving God in China. Visiting them in charity housing, as far as I could tell they had been shown no appreciation whatsoever for their faithful work in China. When I asked how they could bear that their answer was: “You have to know Who you’re doing it for.”

Walk before God as you do your work – and when you need some appreciation.

Dick Woodward, 29 February 2012


God’s Great Faithfulness & Love

July 26, 2017

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

After World War II, a devout woman named 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.”

When the suffering of Job brought him to the bottom of a pit of despair, he received his great Messianic revelation: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on 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 Corrie ten Boom and Job. God made Jeremiah know this marvelous truth about the love of God when Jeremiah’s weeping bottomed out in his grotto: “I have never stopped loving the people of Judah!”

The unconditional love of God is taught from Genesis to Revelation. It is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. Meditating on God’s miraculous revelation to Jeremiah, I am deeply inspired that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved the people of Judah.

Millions have affirmed this great truth singing the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College OT Handbook (p.501)


Overcoming Prejudice: God’s Agape Love At Work

February 23, 2017

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. What does the fact that Jonah wrote this story, which makes him look foolish, tell us about his values and motivations for telling it on himself? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this:

‘When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord.’ But God said to me, ’I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go and I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’  The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  When I went to Nineveh and while I was in the city of Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me.’

Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

…To be “prejudiced” means to “pre-judge.”  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. Is the work of God in this world through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth or social status? Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment?

When you experience God’s call are you joining Jonah by saying, “I will not?”

When are you going to let the love and power of the Spirit of Christ cut through all your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?” It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

          Dick Woodward,

Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet

 

Editor’s Note: There will be a brief hiatus the next few weeks here @ The Four Spiritual Secrets while the Blog Posting Elf travels (minus her computer.) Blessings to all!


Unconditional and Indestructible Love

February 14, 2017

“Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:8)

We all need unconditional love and acceptance. Human love is often based on performance. When we are applying the love languages of Christ, our love is not based on the performance of those we love. That is what makes our love indestructible. The love of Jesus Christ is a tough, indestructible love because it is unconditional.

In wedding ceremonies, many couples make the vow, “…for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death us do part.” It is a commitment to unconditional love and acceptance. Tragic divorce data tells us that millions of couples have not found the dynamic to keep these vows. The living Christ, empowering the love Paul prescribes here (in 1 Corinthians 13), is that dynamic.

We can also make the application that these ways of love are often irresistible, because they are inspirational. Peter, ultimately, could not resist the positive reinforcement of Jesus calling him a rock. I personally could not resist when my mentors prayed, imagined, dreamed, hoped and believed in my ultimate potential.

If you ask Christ to make your life a conduit of Paul’s love virtues to those you love – your spouse, children, or those who are difficult to love – you will often make the joyful discovery that ultimately, they will find the love of Christ to be irresistible and inspirational. They will begin to believe what you pray, imagine, dream, hope and believe about and for them.

For twenty-eight years, I have experienced the gradual, but relentless onset of paralysis, which has reduced me to a helpless, bedfast quadriplegic. During that time, I have learned much about the love of Christ from my wife, who is the most selfless, others-centered person I have ever known. In all these years she has never taken a day, weekend or vacation from her care of me. There are very few people in this world who know as well as I what it means to be the recipient of the unconditional and indestructible love of Christ.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love

 


MINE, MINE, MINE vs. GOD’S

November 8, 2016

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful… And what do you have that you did not receive? (1Corinthians 4: 2, 7)

The biblical word “steward” is not fully understood or appreciated.  It is actually one of the most important words in the New Testament.  A synonym for this word is “manager.” Many people believe this word primarily relates to a person’s money, but that application falls far short of the essential meaning of this word.

Paul asks the probing question: “And what do you have that you did not receive?”  He is telling us that our stewardship applies to everything we have received from God. This means our time, energy, gifts and talents, our health and all the things that make up the essence of our very life, including all of our money and possessions.

At the age of 65 my best friend, a very successful businessman, had what he refers to as a “halftime” experience when he came to fully appreciate this word steward. His regular custom was to draw a line down the middle of the top page of a legal pad. On the left side of that line he wrote, “My Business,” while on the right side of the line he wrote, “God’s Business.” When he fully appreciated this word, steward, he erased that line because he realized it was all God’s business.

Remember, the important thing about stewardship is that we be found faithful.  Do you realize there is nothing in your life you did not receive from God?  Do you know that you are to faithfully manage everything you have received from God?  Are you willing to have a halftime experience and erase the line between what is yours and what is God’s?

Dick Woodward, 10 June 2010


A Vine Looking for Branches

April 29, 2016

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”   (John 15:5)

The apostles had been in awe of the profound words and miraculous works of Jesus.  In their last retreat with Him, Jesus essentially said that the key to His preaching, teaching, and supernatural ministry is that He and the Father are one.  The Word of the Father was spoken on earth and the work of the Father was accomplished on earth through Him because He is one with the Father.   Jesus then taught them that after His death and resurrection, if they would be at one with Him His Word would be spoken and His work would be done on earth through them.

While they were in a garden, He pulled down a vine, which had many branches loaded with fruit, and said: “I am the Vine and you are the branches.”  In this metaphor the fruit does not grow on the vine.  The fruit grows out on the branches because they are properly aligned with the Vine.  The branches can bear no fruit without the Vine and the Vine can bear no fruit without the branches. If the Vine, Jesus, wants to see fruit produced, He must pass His life-giving power through the branches, the apostles.

Jesus wants to see this fruit produced far more than the apostles want to be fruitful.  By this inspired metaphor, He was actually teaching two propositions: “Without Me, you can do nothing” and, “Without you, I will do nothing.”

It is the plan of God to use the power of God in the people of God to accomplish the purposes of God according to the plan of God.  Jesus is a Vine looking for branches.

Are you willing to be one of His branches?

Dick Woodward, 31 July 2012


Asking ‘Why?’ vs. Saying ‘Oh!’

March 18, 2016

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

A word we use often in this life is, “Why?” And the word I think we will use most in the next is, “Oh!”  The Providence of God is like a Hebrew word: we have to read it backwards.  By the Providence of God I mean that God is in charge and the events of our lives have meaning.  Sometimes it is as if we are on the inside of a woven basket.  All the threads that come up on the inside of the basket represent the way we see the things that happen to us, which seem to have no meaning and pattern at all.  If we could just get out of that basket, on the outside we would see beautifully woven patterns.

Job is the biblical example of a man who tried to sort out, by looking inside the basket, what appeared to be the tragic meaninglessness of his life.  It was not until he looked up and saw all his tragic circumstances from God’s perspective that he was moved from asking, “Why?” to exclaiming, “Oh!” (Job 35: 1-7; 40-42)

In Psalm 11:3 the Psalmist asked a question: “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” The NIV version of the Bible has a footnote that suggests this alternate reading: “When the foundations of your life are breaking up, what is the Righteous One doing?”

My wife and I have made that question a knee jerk reaction to the events of our lives as they happen.  As a result, although we’re not on the other side yet we are already saying, “Oh!”

Will you confront the challenges you encounter daily with that same question?

Dick Woodward, 25 August 2012