July 7, 2017
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1John 4:11)
The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10) John follows that with the words quoted above: that if God SO loved us we ought also to love one another.
Hours before Jesus was arrested and crucified, He challenged the men He had been apprenticing three years 24/7 to love one another as He loved them. He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples. Peter wrote that by Christ’s death on the cross He gave us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us another reason we are to love one another. In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in. Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world. The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.
If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would be beating our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities. The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given His Church.
Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for God’s glory?
Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010
June 23, 2017
“… I being in the way the Lord led me…” (Genesis 24: 27)
When we discover the context of these words of Scripture we realize they teach us a principle of how God often works in our lives. It is easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary. God can sometimes steer us more easily when we are moving. That’s why we often find that one step frequently leads to the next step when we have faith to be led by the Holy Spirit.
The words above from Genesis were spoken by Abraham’s servant who was commissioned to travel to the land of Abraham’s people to find a wife for Isaac. As he journals the events of his search he writes that while he was in the way the Lord led him he encountered the family of Rebekah. When he met her, he knew that his search had ended.
We who are committed followers of Christ were commissioned two thousand years ago to go to all nations and make disciples for Jesus Christ. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Like the servant of Abraham, as we embark on the adventure of obeying our great commission, we should expect that each step will lead to the next step.
We don’t always have to know where the road leads as long as we know it is the right road. While we are in the way our Lord has commissioned us to go we must have the faith to take that first step, and then, one step at a time, expect our Lord to show us His will about the next step.
Dick Woodward, 28 July 2009
June 6, 2017
“…never forget the nearness of your Lord.” (Philippians 4:5)
When Paul experienced his last horrible imprisonment in Rome, visiting him was dangerous. Roman guards might chain you up if you came to see him. And nobody did. Paul writes: “They all forsook me. May God not lay it to their charge.” But he also writes: “Nevertheless the Lord stood by me and ministered to me.” (2 Timothy 4:16-17)
Paul has a relationship with the risen Christ. This is always his explanation for the dynamic of his life. He writes: “Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace all the time and in every way.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16) In the upper room discourse, Jesus shared: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you.” (John 14:27) Paul knows that Christ Who lives in us will give us, and keep us, in a state of perpetual peace.
As a by-product of Paul’s relationship with Christ, he can write, “I am ready for anything through the strength of the One Who lives within me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Jesus was speaking about a relationship with God when He taught: “Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10 Amplified Bible)
Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking. Open the door of your life wider and invite Christ into the center of every meaningful area of your life.
“Never forget the nearness of the presence of the Lord.”
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace
May 2, 2017
“I want to remind you of the gospel…which you received and on which you have taken your stand… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)
Since most evangelism takes place today in the marketplace, it is imperative that we understand how to articulate the Gospel. A first step in that direction is realizing the Holy Spirit is the Evangelist and we are merely conduits through whom the Holy Spirit works…
When Jesus stayed up late with Nicodemus, the first words of Nicodemus were: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do the works that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2) Jesus earned his hearing with Nicodemus by what he had seen Him do. Likewise, we must also earn our hearing with people. This begins with our understanding that what we do demonstrates what we believe. All the rest is just religious talk. People are not interested in our religious talk unless they are impressed by what they see us do and are favorably impacted by what we are. It’s as if Nicodemus was saying he was impressed with what he had seen Jesus do, so he had come to hear the religious talk of Jesus. We are deceiving ourselves if we think it’s not that way with us today.
What I’m calling religious talk is our theological explanation of what we believe and why we believe it. This can be a negative if we overwhelm people with our theology. Many secular people don’t understand the simplest theological terms… Whether positive or negative, people will not be interested if they are not impressed with who and what we are and the things we do.
When we earn our hearing by the grace of God, the Gospel is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died for our sins and He rose again from the dead, just as the Old Testament Scriptures said He would and the New Testament Scriptures tell us He did.
There is something to believe and Someone to receive.
Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 23, 24, 38)
April 18, 2017
“Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.” (1Corinthians 15: 49)
Have you ever watched a dragonfly move from one plant to another with its two sets of wings making it possible to hover like a helicopter? A dragonfly actually spends the first two years of its existence at the bottom of a large body of water. When that phase of its existence comes to an end, it rises to the surface of the water, climbs up on the bank and lets it wings dry in the sun. Then it spreads those magnificent wings and begins the second dimension of its existence as an aeronautical wonder.
Easter reminded us that, like the dragonfly, we are meant to live out our existence in two dimensions. If you did a cross-section of that under-water dragonfly you would see that it has two respiratory systems: one for living under water and one for breathing air in the second dimension of its life.
If you could do a spiritual cross-section of a follower of Jesus Christ, you would find that we are also equipped with two systems. We have an outward person and an inward person. Our outward person is just a little clay pot in which our eternal inward person lives.
We are told in the great Resurrection Chapter (1 Corinthians 15), that we are given a body for living this life and we will be issued another body for living in the eternal state. According to Paul, that new body will be a spiritual body that will equip us for living throughout all eternity. I don’t know about you, but as a bed fast quadriplegic I’m really looking forward to being issued that new body!
Dick Woodward, 12 April 2012
April 7, 2017
“Blessed are the merciful … Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matthew5:7&8)
Jesus begins His greatest discourse with a “check up from the neck up.” He teaches eight attitudes that can make us salt and light, and one of His solutions to what is wrong with this crazy world. These eight attitudes come in pairs. The third pair is to be merciful with a pure heart.
One scholar writes that these blessed attitudes are like climbing a mountain. The first pair takes us halfway up the mountain and the second pair takes us to the top of the mountain. The third pair takes us half way down the other side of the mountain.
The profound simplicity of Jesus is asking the question: “When we are filled with righteousness that takes us to the top of the mountain what kind of people are we? Are we Bible experts who throw the book at people?” No! True disciples are filled with mercy (which is unconditional love.) As we love in this way we are pure in heart.
To be pure in heart is only understood when we research the Greek word used here for pure. It is the word from which we get our word to be catheterized. This means that as we are merciful we have a catharsis through which everything that is not the unconditional love of Christ is removed from our hearts.
If you want to be one of the solutions of Jesus in this world, hunger and thirst for what is right and you will find that love is right and right is love. Being a conduit of the love and mercy of Jesus will make you His salt and light.
Dick Woodward, 13 April 2010
March 31, 2017
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Who was the greatest prophet who ever lived? According to Jesus the answer is John the Baptist (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11). After studying the Scriptures for six decades, I find that answer intriguing because there’s very little space in the Bible recording John the Baptist’s life and ministry.
As I meditate on the Scriptures that describe him, I have come to a conclusion that at least one key to John the Baptist’s greatness was that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his ability.
“…Jesus must increase, and I must decrease…”
As we attempt to discover who we are and what God wants to do through our lives, it is a good rule of thumb to accept the limits of our limitations and the responsibility for our abilities. When a degenerative disease of the spinal cord took away my physical abilities, it was critical for me to accept my increasing limitations and yet continue to be responsible for my abilities.
After two years of illness when acceptance came, it was so profound I decided it was a form of inner healing. Using speech recognition software on my computer I received God’s grace to write about ten thousand pages of the Mini Bible College. These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into 28 languages* and are used in sixty countries.
It fills me with grateful worship to realize that the formula for greatness I learned from John the Baptist has guided me to the most important work I have done for the Kingdom.
Are you willing to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your abilities?
Dick Woodward, 16 October 2012
*Editor’s Note: At last check with International Cooperating Ministries, the Mini Bible College has now been translated in 41 languages… with nine more (& counting) in translation process!