Joy, Joy, Joy !

December 13, 2016

“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 good 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 we say it does not make good 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


Dying Grace, Patience… and Peace

October 4, 2016

“Delight yourselves in the Lord. Yes, find your joy in Him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don’t worry over anything whatever, but tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer. And the peace of God which transcends human understanding will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:4-7, J.B. Phillips)

When I was ill with an operation on my colon, my pastor, Dr. John Dunlap, came to visit me.  I had an infection. I was in the hospital 21 days just for that one procedure. I said to him, “John, if you’re here to tell me I have a malignancy, I can’t handle that today.”

He laughed and said, “Reverend, you’re not dying. And so you don’t need dying grace. If you needed dying grace, God would give you dying grace.”

A year later my dear pastor John had a malignancy. He said to me right away (I was there the day he found out), “Pray for me.” He was a big guy, but a big baby when it came to toothaches or anything like that. He had one of the worst malignancies the oncologist had ever seen, but all of us, we never saw such an example of dying grace as God gave our dear pastor. Dying grace. God will give you dying grace when you need it.  And dying grace, really, is a supernatural anointing of the Lord that makes it possible for us to accept it.  That’s what it is, really. An acceptance. That’s what Paul means by gentleness.

It’s like saying in another way, “Be patient.”  Patience, when you think vertically, is faith waiting. And there are many times in our walk with God where God gives us the fruit of the Spirit, patience, which is faith waiting.  God’s got to get you out before God can bring you in.  You’ve got to keep on going, so you can get through.  You’ve got to get right, so you can settle down.

… The Apostle Paul says, “Never forget the nearness of the Lord.” Think of what that meant to him in prison. When it became dangerous to be identified with him, he said in his very last letter, “No one stood with me.”  And yet, he adds, “Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me. The Lord is always with me.”

Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen Retreat, 1979)


Prescription for Looking Around

February 6, 2015

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

According to the Apostle Paul, if the Holy Spirit of God lives in us, when we look in we will find unique qualities of love, joy, and peace coming out of our life.  When we look up we will discover a faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that will equip us to walk with God as we should.  Then when we look around we will find unique qualities of patience, kindness and goodness equipping us to have the kind of relationships our God wants us to have with people.

In our relationship with God patience could be described as “faith waiting.” In our relationships with people – especially our children or spiritual children – patience could be described as “love waiting.” The patience that is the fruit and evidence God’s Spirit living in us is a supernatural quality and does not come from our genetic heritage.  We do not have this patience because we inherited a ‘laid back, easy does it’ disposition from one or both of our parents.  It must be emphasized that this patience is a supernatural expression of the Spirit of God living in us.

The same can be said for a quality of kindness and goodness we discover when we relate to people with whom we are in relationships.  Kindness means that we treat people with whom we interact as if they were our kin.  Goodness means that we do good things and react in good ways in our relationships.

If the Holy Spirit of God lives in you, are you willing to find in these three supernatural qualities of the Holy Spirit a prescription that will govern your life when you look around?

Dick Woodward, 23 November 2010