Using God’s Love Lenses

January 31, 2017

“…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 love perspective when He exhorted the apostles to look up before they look on the fields that are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35) The Lord 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 are 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


Being Jesus in the New Year

December 27, 2016

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

Christmas has a twin holiday that slips into many Christmas cards. Millions include a letter – complete with family pictures – that gives an update on how the year has come and gone.

With lingering economic downturns, what security do we have as we begin the new year?

In nine words the aged Apostle of Love gives us a marvelous perspective on security. There are several ways we can interpret and apply these beautiful 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 Jesus is and He will equip us to be as He wants us to be in this world.

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

As you meditate on the memorial portraits of Christ in the New Testament presented 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, but to let the love of Jesus pass to others through our lives.

Dick Woodward, 27 December 2011


God Loves You!!

January 29, 2016

“…and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”   (John 17:23)

I learned from studying psychology that we are all a great network of needs.  From the Bible I learned that God is love. His Son, Jesus, was ‘God with skin on.’  Love was the most mesmerizing dynamic of His life on this earth.  The people who met Jesus were loved as they had never been loved before.

We are also designed to be ‘God with skin on.’  The Holy Spirit can be described as Love Incarnate: the love of God with skin on, yours and mine. Love is the primary fruit of the Spirit and evidence of the Spirit’s residence in us.  When people are filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit, they are always conduits of the love of Christ.

We should all ask God to make us conduits of His love. We should also ask to experience the love of God. In two places Jesus tells us to ask, seek and knock continuously with perseverance.  (Luke 11:9-13; Matthew 7:7-11)  Jesus described knowing God at a deeper level when He gave us this teaching.  When that happens we will not only be conduits of God’s love, we will know that God loves us by experiencing His love in our hearts.

Do you know and believe that God loves you?  Many people don’t feel worthy of being loved by anybody – not even God.  When someone says, “I love you,” a negative tape begins to play that says, “No, you don’t.  If you really knew me you wouldn’t!”

The two beautiful Gospel words mercy and grace declare that God does not love us if and when we are worthy, because He loves us even while we are sinners.  (Romans 5:6-10)

Jesus prayed that those who make up the Church would live in such a way that this world of hurting people will know and believe God loves them as much as He loves His only begotten Son.  If you do not know that God loves you, then we who are part of the Church have failed you. God does love you!

…Because by the grace and mercy of God, I know that He loves me.

Dick Woodward, from Happiness That Doesn’t Make Good Sense


Spiritual Wars

September 15, 2015

“Now the works of the flesh are…but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control.” (Galatians 5: 19, 22, 23)

One of the most important New Testament passages of Scripture is found in Galatians chapter five where Paul identifies a war that is taking place in the life of every authentic disciple of Jesus Christ: the war between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh is “human nature unaided by God.”  According to Paul our human nature unaided by God is a monster and it produces what Paul labels “the works of the flesh.”

In contrast to a list of qualities that are like an immoral “train wreck” in slow motion, Paul gives us nine qualities that are the fruit and evidence of the reality that the Holy Spirit of God lives in us.

When we look in, Paul writes that we will find that we have a quality of love coming out of our life.  We will also find a quality of joy and a peace we’ve never experienced before.

For a cross section of this love we should consult verses 4-7 of First Corinthians 13.  We find it is a love that doesn’t make good sense because it is completely others-centered.  Our joy is a happiness that doesn’t make good sense and the same could be said of our peace because all three are not related to our circumstances.

There is something to believe and Someone to receive.  It is only when we receive God’s Holy Spirit that we can win the war between the flesh and the Spirit.

Dick Woodward, 19 November 2010


God’s Great Faithfulness & Love

June 2, 2015

“He has filled me with bitterness…my soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3: 15, 16, 22-23)

When Jeremiah gets to his darkest hour, he receives a revelation of hope and salvation. Just like Job, when suffering brought him to the bottom of despair’s pit, he received his Messianic revelation:  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon 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 to Job.  After World War II, 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.”  This is the same truth God revealed to Jeremiah.  It’s intriguing to realize Job received his Messianic revelation when he ‘bottomed out” through weeping and suffering. God made Jeremiah know the marvelous truth about His unconditional love that is taught from Genesis to Revelation: God’s love is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance.

Reading the Lamentations, I am deeply touched and inspired meditating upon God’s miraculous revelation to Jeremiah, that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved the people of Judah… Another awesome possible miracle, however, is that as Jeremiah received his revelation weeping in his grotto on the hill of Golgotha, he could have been sitting on the very spot God was going to pour out His love on the whole world.

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College Old Testament Handbook, (pp. 500-501)


Sanctified Unselfishness

January 13, 2015

“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 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: “Loves 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 and 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 critically this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident or an illness that seriously limits them…

The key to the love that behaves properly and is not touchy is that the one loving is not demanding his or her way.  The one who is a conduit of this love is others-centered, not self-centered.

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness.  Therefore, the greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness. This love virtue of unselfishness is repeated for emphasis, and listed between good manners and being unflappable, because Paul wants to underscore this in our hearts:  “Love does not seek its own (way.)”  It may be the most basic and important of all these expressions of love is that the one who is a conduit of the love of Christ is not seeking his or her own way.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Grand-daughter Discipleship (via email!)

October 28, 2014

At Dick’s Memorial Celebration his grand-daughter shared a moving tribute. Be blessed and challenged today by Morgan’s words & ‘inbox discipleship.’

“Granddaddy was, and still is, my hero. He was so compassionate… He was always there for me – loving me so well, exactly where I was, providing endless affirmation.  When I was 18 and wrestling with my faith, Granddad was there to disciple me. I may have gone to a ‘missionary school,’ but the true discipleship in my life took place in my e-mail inbox.  I would ask the most difficult theological questions you can imagine and he would take the time to answer them in full.  One of my favorite responses he gave is this:

Precious Granddaughter, do not judge too quickly about the context in which you find yourself.  It is easier to move to a consistent and problem-free extreme than to remain at the center of tension on any biblical issue; but the truth is found at the center.  One of the greatest things you will learn in this adventure out there is that God can use you.  That truth is on a need to know basis.  When we place ourselves between the love of Christ and the pain of hurting people, we discover that He loves to turn us into conduits of His love (I John 4:16.)  When that happens we find out where He is and where we want to be for the rest of our lives.  You know my four spiritual secrets.  We learn them best when we are in over our heads and He is using us to do what only He can do.  The miracle is that He does work through us.  Looking back, standing on the finish line, I see clearly that His plan for me was perfect and wonderful!  What He gave me or did not give me shaped me into the person, the unique person He wanted me to be for His glory, not my own. He is doing the same thing in your life, precious granddaughter.

“…And the Lord is doing that for us all.  Let us all pick up the baton today and follow Granddad’s legacy as we lean in to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ – that we may all be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Morgan Perry  (15 March 2014)