November 2, 2018
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
As I look back over my life since I was born in 1930, and born again in 1949, this verse sums up my entire walk of faith and ministry. According to the J. B. Philips translation, God fits into a pattern for good everything that happens to those who love God and are called according to God’s plan. I like this because the implication is there may not be anything good about many of the things that happen to us. But if we meet two prerequisites – if we love God and are called according to His plan – our loving God will fit into a pattern for good all the events of our lives.
Before we personally apply the great promise of this verse we must meet those two prerequisites. The first is that we love God. It isn’t easy to love God. The Apostle John asked us how we can love God we cannot see. (1 John 4) We can’t hug a Spirit. Jesus told us that if we love Him we must keep His commandments. According to Romans 8:28 quoted above, we show we love God by the second prerequisite: being called according to God’s plan.
We are so self-centered we are quick to assume that the good into which God fits all the events of our lives means our good. However, when we understand what it means to love God the only good that will interest us will be God’s good.
Dick Woodward, 05 November 2010
March 28, 2017
“Only let us live up to the truth we now have.” (Philippians 3:16 LB)
The Apostle Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. He often shared the details of that experience as we find in the third chapter of his letter to the Church at Philippi. It was as if his accounting books were turned upside down: what had been in his gain column was now in his loss column and vice versa.
After his accounting books had been turned upside down (or we might say right side up), his ambitions totally changed in the gain column. He wanted to tackle the purposes for which the risen Christ had tackled him. Now he only wanted to know Christ and the high calling of God to which Christ was leading him.
Paul claims he has not attained all these things in his new gain column, but he has learned a principle about knowing the will of God: if we want to know the will of God we must live up to the light and truth God has given us at any given time on our faith journey.
We can take away from this a prescription for guidance. If we want to see further ahead into the will of God for our lives, we should move ahead into the will of God just as far as we can see. Like driving at night across country we can move ahead into the 100 yards of light our headlights give us, that leads us from coast to coast one mile at a time.
When we live up to the light we have, God gives us more light.
Dick Woodward, 08 January 2011
January 10, 2017
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He Who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27)
There are times when God’s people are so weak we don’t know how to pray. In effect, Paul teaches that when we are burned out and we don’t know what to ask God, we should pray anyway. The Spirit of God knows the mind and will of God. When we are so weak we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit will make intercession for us according to the will of God. Then, even if we ask for the wrong things, our loving Heavenly Father will give us the right things.
Imagine the stress Moses endured all those years in wilderness wanderings. With more than 600,000 fighting men, plus women and children, meant that Moses led somewhere between two and three million people around in circles in the desert. He was the only legal judge to settle all their squabbles. His frustration reached the level of exasperation. He was so burned out, he actually asked God to kill him. (Numbers 11:11-15)
When Moses asked God to kill him, he was so weak and tired of he did not know what to pray. He prayed anyway. Even though he asked for the wrong things, God knew his heart and gave him the right things. God made Moses know that His work requires a team effort. Serving God is a team sport.
The marketplace can burn you out big time if you have not learned that running a business is a team sport. Other players on your team have gifts and skill sets that you do not have and you have what they do not have. Therefore, it is a good blueprint against burnout to accept the reality of beauty in diversity. Diversity should be celebrated rather than resolved.
Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 144-146)
May 29, 2013
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
STEP NUMBER FIVE: Be completely open and unbiased about what the will of God for your life might be.
A well paid consultant told me that much of the time when he earns large fees, his clients do not want his consultation. They simply want him to affirm what they have already decided to do. The will of God is often just out of our reach because we have our agendas in place when we come to God seeking His will. If our minds are set like concrete before we converse with God regarding His will for our lives, we are not really seeking His will when we pray or open His Word. We are actually asking God to bless our will, our agenda, and the way we have decided to go.
We must have the faith to believe the verse quoted above. It is tragically possible for you to miss the will of God for your life because you do not have the faith to believe that God can make you a new creation in Christ. Your extraordinary potential as a new creation in Christ is one reason why you must be completely open and unbiased as to what the will of God for you may be. Seeking God with your mind already made up could rob you of the will of God for a life that is good, perfect and the only life acceptable to your God. God loves you too much to let you live a life that is only a fragment of the life He has planned for you.
May 20, 2013
“If any man wills to do, he will know.” (John 7:17)
STEP NUMBER TWO: Be willing to do the will of God.
When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them to say, “Your will be done.” When Jesus modeled this, He sweat drops of blood as He prayed, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” (Matthew 6:10; 26:39; Luke 22:42-44) Jesus gives us a principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. This principle also applies when we are seeking to know the will of God in the marketplace.
The principle is simply this: If any man wills to do, he will know.
The Living Bible paraphrases Psalm 139: 16 to say God had every day of David’s life scheduled before David existed. David writes there that God is with him in such a way that it is impossible for David to escape God’s personal interest in every move he makes. This intimacy with God is obviously not only the experience of David, but can and should be the experience of every child of God.
According to Jesus and Paul, knowing the will of God for our lives does not have to be complex. God does not deliberately obscure His will. The complexity is not in the will of God, but in your will and my will. As Paul tells us how we can know “the good, acceptable and perfect will of God,” he begins his prescription for knowing God’s will by telling us to throw up our hands and offer an unconditional surrender of our wills to the will of God (Romans 12: 1-2). Our unconditional surrender to God will significantly un-complicate our quest to know the will of God.
May 18, 2013
“Prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of spiritual maturity.” (Romans 12:2 JB Phillips)
When someone questions me, a pastor, about the will of God, they might be referring to a fork-in-the-road decision or sometimes the issue has been the broader question, “How can I know the will of God for my life?” While answering that question many times over many years, I have come up with twelve steps I believe you should take when you are seeking divine guidance. These twelve steps are not a precise formula that will immediately and clearly lead you to the specific will of God, but they do focus some issues that should be visited, or bases you should touch, when you are trying to establish an alignment between your will and the will of God.
THE FIRST STEP: Believe there is such a thing as the will of God for your life.
“Every time a tiny sparrow falls dead from a tree, God goes to the funeral!” Observed a preacher from another generation, referring to the teaching of Jesus that not one tiny sparrow falls dead from a tree apart from the Father’s plan. The application Jesus makes is that since two sparrows are sold for a penny and we are of far greater value to God than a sparrow, if God has a will regarding the details of the life and death of a sparrow, then we can be sure He has a will regarding every detail of our lives (Matthew 10: 29-31).
According to the Bible, God is our Shepherd and our Father. God is personal and has a plan for our life we can know and experience.
October 16, 2012
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Who was the greatest prophet who ever lived? Who was the greatest man who ever lived? According to Jesus the answer is John the Baptist (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11). Having studied the Scripture for six decades I find that answer to be intriguing because very little space is given in the Bible to record this man’s life and ministry.
As I meditate on the Scriptures that describe him I have come to a conclusion about his greatness. At least one key to his greatness was that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his ability.
As we attempt to discover who we are and what God wants to do through our life it is a good rule of thumb to accept the limits of our limitations and the responsibility for our ability. When a degenerative disease of the spinal cord took away my physical abilities, it was critical for me to accept my increasing limitations and continue to be responsible for my abilities.
After about two years of illness when the acceptance came, it was so profound I decided it was a form of inner healing. Using speech recognition software on my computer I received the grace to write about ten thousand pages of what I call a Mini Bible College. These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into twenty eight languages in sixty countries.
It fills me with grateful worship to realize that the formula for greatness I have learned from John the Baptist has guided me to the most important work I have done for God and Christ.
Are you willing to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your ability?