#FAITH – TROPHIES OF GRACE

November 10, 2020

 “… through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2)

In this verse the Apostle Paul identifies additional levels of grace. Having written that we are justified by faith, Paul declares that we also have access by faith to grace that makes it possible for us to stand in a hostile world and live a life that glorifies God.

This access to grace makes it possible for us to enter into living grace and keeping grace.

There was a long poem that described a debate in heaven between two men who died in their nineties. They debated which man was the greatest trophy of grace. One lived a terribly sinful life. On his deathbed he was led to salvation. He, therefore, considered himself a greater trophy of grace than the other man.

The second man had been the son of a pastor. He came to faith as a child and never wavered. He studied to become a pastor. In that role he led many to Christ and was a faithful shepherd for nearly 60 years.

The debate lasted for many years, but when the angels were asked to vote on the matter they decided the pastor’s son was the greater trophy of grace. The first man experienced saving grace but the second man experienced keeping grace and living grace.

We sometimes give young people the impression that it is better to live a sinful life and then experience a dramatic conversion. However, there is nothing good about a life of sin. We are a greater trophy of grace when we do not fall into sin.

Dick Woodward, 10 November 2009


Adversity vs. Atrophy

October 16, 2020

“… Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…”  (Psalm 4:1)

Just about every emotional challenge we experience today was faced by the psalmist many years ago. If we observe what he did when he struggled, and receive from God the grace to respond as the hymn writer responded, we can often overcome our emotional challenges.

In Psalm 4 the psalmist faces the emotional challenge of distress. If you drop the first two letters, the word becomes stress. We all have stress. If we do not have stress we atrophy. I have not put stress on my legs for 30 years. Consequently, my legs are the size of your arms. “If you don’t use it you lose it” is the way physical therapists describe atrophy.

Our loving Father God knows that what is true for our bodies is also true in our spiritual lives. God is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually. If we have no spiritual stress we will experience spiritual atrophy. God therefore will not only permit, but direct into our lives stress that will grow us as God gives us the grace to cope with that stress.

Many of us trust God for the good things that comfort and sustain us. But do we have the faith and the knowledge of God to seek God in the challenges that make the difference for us between spiritual growth and atrophy?

The Greek compound word hupomone, translated as “perseverance” in our English Bibles, literally means “to abide under.”  To apply hupomone, we should ask God for the grace to abide under stress, grow spiritually, and not atrophy.

Dick Woodward, 15 October 2013


#Grace: The Gift of God

August 25, 2020

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This verse is not teaching the random chaos of life. This verse instead parallels a truth emphasized in the Bible and expressed by the word grace. The truly significant events in the life of a believer are the result of grace and not the results of self effort.

The charisma of God upon the work of your hands will make the difference between your life having eternal significance and your life’s work amounting to wood, hay and stubble in the eternal state. (1Corinthians 3:12-15; Psalm 90:17)

The writings of the Apostle Paul are filled with emphasis upon the concept of grace. The word grace means “unmerited favor.”

The blessing of God upon us is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. The grace of God and the love of God are unconditional.

When you understand the meaning of the word grace which is found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it follows that the race is not to the swift or strong or wise or skilled…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook, p.428

#faith #hope #love #grace #belief #inspiration


Christ’s Strength vs. Our Weakness

March 13, 2020

“And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I shall never forget an afternoon in the late 1970s when I tried to mow my lawn and realized I was too weak to cut the grass. When I tried to replace the license plates on my car, I learned to my horror that I was too weak to do even that.

Although it was two years before I could accept the awful reality that I would never feel full strength again, my weakness made it possible to resonate with Paul in a deeper way when he described the way his weakness drove him to access the strength and power of the living risen Christ.

I have had times of such great weakness, especially while ministering from my wheelchair, when I’ve thought: There is absolutely nothing coming from me; everything is coming from God!

As God used Paul in mighty ways, he put into words what I have felt many times: “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God!” (2Corinthians 3:5. italics added)

These were merely familiar Scripture verses until I had no strength of my own.There is a dimension of the power and strength of Christ I did not discover until I was powerless. My experience of weakness forced me to discover that the strength of the risen living Christ outweighs my weakness.

Dick Woodward,  Happiness That Doesn’t Make Good Sense


#FAITH: Christ’s Work in Progress

March 6, 2020

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The founding elder of the first church I pastored was a home builder. He did beautiful work. When a couple wanted him to build their home he would take them to a beautiful home he had built and say, “By the grace of God this is my workmanship.”

Ephesians 2:10 declares to followers of Jesus that our risen living Christ would like to point to each of us and say: “This is My workmanship!”

We are all a work of Christ in progress. This verse additionally states that when we were saved by grace through the faith Christ gave us, God created us for good works. We are told that before God saved us, God already planned those works.

I don’t know about you, but that truth excites and inspires me greatly. We are so selfish and self-centered that when we come to faith our focus is often on what trusting Christ to be our Savior is going to mean to us. Many followers of Christ have the attitude, “What have you done for me lately?”

The Apostle Paul had the right vision when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus and asked the question, “Lord, what do you want me to do for You?

As a follower of Christ have you been asking and seeking to know what those works are your Lord and Savior planned for you when He saved you by God’s grace?

Dick Woodward, 08 March 2010


#FAITH: God’s GRACE to you!

February 25, 2020

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Romans 1:7; 16:24)

The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the believers in Rome with a marvelous greeting: “Grace to you.” He also closes his letter with the prayer that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with them.

Paul dictated all his letters but one to a stenographer.  At the close of each of his letters he took the writing instrument from the scribe and in his own hand wrote these words: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Paul greets and leaves believers with a wish and a prayer for grace, the dynamic of God that saves us. We can define grace if we turn this five letter word into an acrostic:

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”

But grace is not only the way God saves us, God’s grace is the dynamic we desperately need to live for Christ.

In the second verse of Romans 5, Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, to the grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ and live a life that glorifies God.

Paul begins this letter and closes all his letters the way he does because he knows it is absolutely critical that we access the grace God has made available to us if we are to live our lives for God in this world.

Since grace is always our greatest need, consider meeting and leaving fellow believers with a wish and a prayer for grace.

Dick Woodward, 24 February 2012


(Always!) Pray About Everything

January 28, 2020

“…tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (Philippians 4:6)

It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? The Apostle Paul doesn’t leave us in a vacuum when he prescribed: “Pray about everything!”

The Word of God exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 has an alternate reading in the New Standard version, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” God delivered Paul from many tight places. We should therefore always pray in a crisis: “When it’s hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

However, from personal experience Paul knew that God doesn’t always take our problems away. He had a physical condition that he described as a thorn in the flesh.” Three times he asked God to take it away. Paul saw many people miraculously healed as he ministered the healing power of the Holy Spirit to them. Yet, when he asked God to solve his own health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.”

But God also responded, “My grace is sufficient for you and that is all you need. My strength looks good on weak people.” (2 Corinthians 12) His weakness drove Paul to discover the strength of God. When he did, he not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so the power of God might be showcased in him.

As Paul accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul exhorts us from his personal experience that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or prayer may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.

Always pray about everything!

 Dick Woodward, from “A Prescription for Peace”


#FAITH: God At Work (in our lives!)

September 17, 2019

“In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the children of God coming into their own.” (Romans 8:18-19)

As you know the view from the finish line has me fixating on the Providence of God, which like a Hebrew word can easily be read backwards. It is easy for me to see what I considered random chaos was really the loving hand of God leading me by making me offers I could not refuse.

When events roll out over which you have no control, you will see how the hand of God is showing you what to do.

A friend put this new needlepoint on his wall: “Never do what somebody else can do when you could be doing what only you can do.” All our lives God has been shaping us in miraculous ways to make a unique contribution to God’s work.

Praying about next steps, reflect on this thought: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God before ordained that we should do for Him.” (Ephesians 2:10)

This means we are all works in progress.

Over our lives you can write: “Caution, God at work!” God wants to point to you and say, “She is my workmanship!” There is verse in Romans 8 which tells us that all nature is on tiptoe in awe of the children of God coming into their full potential.

The issue now is what is God doing in your present circumstances to point you to what God wants to do next in your life?

Dick Woodward, (email 20 July 2005)


#FAITH: Dying Grace, Acceptance & Peace

September 13, 2019

“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 and mentor, Dr. John Dunlap, came to visit me. I had an infection. I was in the hospital 21 days just for that 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.

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. 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. There are many times in our walk with God where God gives us 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.

“Never forget the nearness of the Lord.”

Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen Retreat, 1979)


#FAITH: God’s Grace vs. Our Challenges

August 30, 2019

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)

The mercy of God withholds what we deserve and the grace of God lavishes on us countless blessings we do not deserve.  As we appreciate what the mercy of God withholds and the grace God bestows when we believe the Gospel, we should be filled with grateful worship of our gracious and merciful God.

When Jesus gave His Great Commission He instructed the disciples to wait until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them before they obeyed Him. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:4-5) After that happened to them on the Day of Pentecost, we read: “Great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) This use of the word “grace” means there is such a thing as the anointing and energizing unction of the Holy Spirit upon us as we serve Christ.  I use the word in that sense when I tell people that the grace of Christ outweighs my challenges (especially as a bedfast quadriplegic.)

Paul was declaring this dimension of grace when he wrote: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) This is the most emphatic verse in the New Testament regarding the anointing and energizing grace of God.

Check out the superlatives Paul uses in this verse: All grace – abounding grace – he repeats all of you – all sufficiency – in all things – abound unto every good work – always!  According to Paul we should all be able to make the claim that God’s grace outweighs our challenges.

Do you believe the grace of God can outweigh your challenges today?

Dick Woodward, 31 August 2012