Perfect Peace: Christ in You

October 6, 2016

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Isaiah wrote of a state of perfect peace in which God can keep us, continuously. However, he also wrote that this state of continuous serenity is based on two very important conditions: we must keep our minds centered on God, and we must trust God. This peace is supernatural because it’s a peace we can have even when the circumstances of our lives are chaotic.

Jesus promised that He would give His followers a peace the world would never understand because it comes from Him and can be ours even in the middle of our storms of life. The early followers of Christ were persecuted. While suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died at peace because they had this kind of supernatural peace.

The Apostle Paul believed in this peace. In just one chapter of one of his letters he listed twelve conditions on which this peace is based. In another letter Paul described this peace as fruit – the expression of the reality that the Holy Spirit lives in authentic disciples of Jesus. We might therefore conclude that the basic condition for this peace is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.

“Christ in you” is the foundation on which all the conditions of this peace are to be built (Colossians 1:27 LB).  I have a question I want to ask you. There is obviously something to believe and Someone to receive when you become a follower of Jesus Christ. My question is: have you received Him?

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2009


Highways for God

August 6, 2016

“Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!”  (Isaiah 40:3)

In ancient times if a king wanted to travel to a faraway province of his kingdom a highway would be built for him.  Working on that project they called it, “The Kings Highway.”  Isaiah is using that metaphor to say that God is going to travel into this world on a Highway that is the life of the Messiah.

When you build a highway you do four things: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and smooth out rough places.  In the life of God’s Son, the Messiah, the mountains of pride will be completely leveled, the empty valleys will be perfectly filled with the Holy Spirit all the time, the crooked ways of sin will be perfectly straightened, and He will respond to the rough places in a way that will bring glory to His Father and salvation to the world.

After spending three years 24/7 with His disciples, Jesus challenged them that in precisely the way His Father had sent Him into the world, He was sending them into the world (John 20: 21).  One of many practical applications to that challenge for them, and for us, is that our life is also to be a highway for God.

I challenge you, in fact I dare you, to pray this prayer: God, make my life a highway for You!”  If you do this, don’t be surprised when God’s spiritual bulldozers show up in your life leveling your mountains of pride and filling your emptiness with the Holy Spirit, making straight your crooked places and smoothing out your rough places.

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2011


Ambassadors of Reconciliation

July 8, 2016

“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”  2 Corinthians 5:20

One of the most profound Scripture passages addressing the redemptive quality that can accompany suffering is found in the sixth chapter of Second Corinthians.  Paul tells us suffering is like a God-ordained ‘seminary’ in which God trains qualified ministers of the Gospel.  There is a sense in which this seminary never ends.

By passing through this seminary of suffering, we can be proven ministers of God.  When Paul uses “minister,” he does not mean a clergy-person; he means the minister every believer is designed, created, and recreated by God to be.  Everyone who has experienced the miracle of reconciliation to God through Christ has been commissioned to carry out the ministry of reconciliation as an ambassador for Christ.

How do we prove ourselves to be ministers?  Paul writes, “In afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)

I call these adversities “wringers.” (Old washing machines had a wringer through which wet, soapy clothes passed to squeeze water out of them. It was very painful to get your hand caught in the wringer!)  These challenging adversities describe the daily life experience of the Apostle Paul. (More of Paul’s wringers are summarized in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.)

When we find ourselves in a wringer, the important thing is our response to that wringer. In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul shows us how to respond: “By pureness, knowledge, patience, kindness.”

In verses 6 and 7 of this passage, he tells us where to find the spiritual resources to respond as we should: “By the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

In verses 8-10, Paul describes the results when we respond to our wringers by drawing on spiritual resources:  “in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute.  We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see – we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”   These nine paradoxes profile the witness of the minister who has been trained in the ministry of suffering.

Loving Heavenly Father, use our suffering to make us faithful ministers of reconciliation, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


When Calamity Strikes

July 6, 2016

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

These familiar words of consolation and exhortation are found in the context of a great calamity described by the psalmist. Many believe this calamity is prophetic and relates to the great and terrible Day of the Lord. By application these words, and other words of consolation in this psalm, can be related to any calamity we experience as the people of God.

As the hymn writer declares the total devastation of this calamity, he exclaims that in the midst, “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in times of trouble.”  Since Hebrew is not as precise as Greek, our study Bibles offer helpful alternate readings in the margins throughout this psalm. The alternate reading offered here consoles us with the thought that God can be a very present help to us in our “tight places.”

The alternate reading presented alongside verse 10 is: “Relax, let go and prove that God is – and what His will is. He is God and He wills to be exalted among the nations and in the earth.”

When you find yourself experiencing calamity be still enough to experience these great realities: that God is God, that He is there for you, and that He can help you in the tight places of your calamity. So relax, let go, and prove Him. Then ask yourself how your response to your calamity aligns with what He wills:  that He might be exalted among the nations and in the earth through the way you live your life here on earth for His Glory.

Dick Woodward, 13 March 2009

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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)


Spiritual Commitment: Level of Decision

June 8, 2016

“… the Lord will not be with you!” (Numbers 14:43)

When pilots are landing a large commercial jet they reach a point where they must commit to their landing.  They call that point of no return the LD – the “level of decision.”

God is very patient and full of mercy and grace.  However, Numbers Chapter 14 tells us there is an LD in our journeys of faith.  There is a point where we either do, or do not, commit to doing the will of God.

God will lean on us like an elephant to get us to see and do His will. He reaches a point, however, where He will let us have it our way.  When God lets us do our own thing we suffer great loss.  For starters, we forfeit the present purpose of our salvation.  We all know we are not saved by good works but we can lose the opportunity to do the works for which God has saved us (Ephesians 2:10).

When the Israelites chose not to do the will of God, Moses said: “The Lord will not be with you!”  Perhaps the saddest word in the Hebrew Old Testament is the word “Ichabod” that means “the glory has departed” and teaches that God sometimes withdraws anointing power from His people.

There is such a thing as the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for your life and mine (Romans 12:1, 2).  The book of Numbers solemnly presents two options: after being delivered from our “Egypt” we can go around in circles for 40 years, or we can commit to doing the will of God.

Are you making a wise commitment in your spiritual LD?

Dick Woodward, 06 December 2013


Look and Live

February 26, 2016

“… Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21:9)

When the children of Israel complained and griped about Moses, God showed how He felt about the gripers.  He sent snakes to bite them.  (Some pastors may wish they could do the same.) Then God in His mercy directed Moses to erect a pole at the center of the camp with a bronze serpent on top of it.  The good news was proclaimed: if any of the snake-bitten gripers would get to the center of the camp and look at the bronze serpent they would be healed of their snakebites.

Some of them said that defied all the laws of medical science and they died of their snakebites.  Others said it didn’t make sense but it was the only hope they had.  With help they somehow got to the center of the camp and looked at the bronze serpent on the pole.  When they looked, they were healed and lived!

This story takes on much greater meaning when Jesus makes His most dogmatic declaration: He is God’s only Son, God’s only Solution and God’s only Savior (John 3:1-21).  As He told a Rabbi named Nicodemus about Moses lifting that serpent in the wilderness, it is a picture of something in the future.  If we will look to Jesus on His cross with faith we will be healed of our sin problem.

Jesus made it simple.  Just look and live.  When you want to solve problems that demand a supernatural solution, look and live.  Have you ever done that?  Why not do it now?

Dick Woodward, 10 December 2013