April 7, 2015
“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (I Corinthians 4:7 NLT)
We would all do well to take a few minutes to think about and answer this intriguing question presented by the Apostle Paul. Can you think of anything you have that you did not receive from God? Can you think of all the wonderful things you have received from God? According to the Bible our salvation is a gift from God. The faith it takes to receive salvation is also a gift from God. As Paul has implied, as we do a gift inventory we will find that God has given us many kinds of gifts.
Our DNA proves that God has given us a physical identity that is unique and different from every other person living on the planet. Physically, there is not now, there never has been, and there never will be any one exactly like you. God has also given us intellectual gifts that equip us to live smarter, not harder.
When we receive the gift of faith that saves us, God also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Holy Spirit God adds a cluster of spiritual gifts that enable us to minister in many ways. For example, He gives gifts of mercy which enable us to love those who are hurting with great compassion. He gives the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and teaching that make it possible for us to teach the Word of God. He gives many gifts that equip us to lead others to Christ.
Today, make a gift inventory and thank God for all the gifts He has given you!
Dick Woodward, 07 February 2012
December 23, 2014
“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
When the angels appeared to those frightened shepherds, they gave them a wonderful Christmas greeting. They announced that they were bringing good tidings of great joy to all people.
These good tidings were not just for Jewish people or for good people. They were to bring great joy to ALL people! That means all kinds of people – and all kinds of people everywhere!
Before He ascended, the last words of Jesus were: “… go be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NLT).
Some enjoy their faith as if the last words of Jesus were: “Now don’t let it get around!” They live out their faith as if the Gospel is a secret to be kept.
Never forget these two beautiful Christmas words, “All people!”
The spiritual community of those who believe and follow Jesus is not to be a secret organization. It is a community of people who exist for the benefit of their non-members.
Jesus Christ came to bring good news and great joy to people who are not good. The Bible tells us that all of us have gone astray and turned every one of us to his or her own way. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God laid the penalty for all of our sins on His Son (Isaiah 53:6).
Two more great Christmas words are “mercy” and “grace.” The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and His grace lavishes on us all kinds of marvelous things we do not deserve. His mercy and grace give us more blessings than we can count if we have the faith to receive them.
Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011
July 29, 2014
“…& mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...” (Psalm 23:6)
Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This word is found 366 times in the Bible. (Perhaps God wants us to know we need His mercy & unconditional love every day of the year – & He covers Leap Year!) Many people think we don’t hear about God’s mercy until the Sermon on the Mount; however, we find 280 mercy references in the Old Testament.
King David concludes Psalm 100 with the observation that God’s mercy is everlasting. But my favorite Old Testament reference to God’s mercy is found at the end of Psalm 23. David’s greatest Psalm ends with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him always.
The Hebrew word he uses for ‘follow’ can also be translated as ‘pursue.’ David brings the most profound description of the relationship between God & man to a conclusion by declaring the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life. By application this is true for all who confess, “the Lord is my Shepherd.”
There are many ways to fail. However, when we understand the meaning of God’s mercy we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail His mercy. No matter what your failures have been God has sent you a message wrapped in this five letter word “mercy.” The amazing message is that you did not win His love by a positive performance and you do not lose His love by a negative performance. God’s love and acceptance of you is unconditional. According to David, the mercy of God is not only there like a rock for you, but like a hound of Heaven God is pursuing you with His unconditional love and forgiveness.
Dick Woodward, Happiness that Doesn’t Make Good Sense
December 10, 2013
“… 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?