God’s Strength in Our Weakness

October 5, 2021

“…When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)Paul opens a small biographical window into his life when he tells us about what he calls his “thorn in the flesh.” He explains that he had so many supernatural experiences that to keep him humble, God permitted him to have this “thorn.” Paul asked God three specific times to take it away.  Even though he had an extraordinary ministry that brought healing to many, three times God’s response was essentially “No!  But My grace will be with you and that is all you need to cope with the challenge of your thorn.”

Although we’re not certain what this “thorn” was he wrote to the Galatians that when he first visited them his eyes were so hideous to look at it made them want to vomit. He reminded them that they said if they could have, they would have taken the eyes out of their heads and placed them in his. The book of Acts reports that at the same time his physician Dr. Luke joined him so he could treat him. This “thorn” was accompanied with severe chronic fatigue. He mentions weakness so much in his writings we know that every day of his extraordinary ministry Paul had to cope with this extreme chronic fatigue.

Paul explains that his physical weakness was a showcase in which God could exhibit God’s supernatural strength.  In the Living Bible Paraphrase of this chapter God tells Paul, “My strength looks good on weak people …” And Paul confesses, “The less I have the more I depend on Him.” All of this is summarized in these words: “…When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Will you let your weakness showcase God’s strength and grace today?

Dick Woodard, 04 October 2011


#FAITH: God’s Grace vs. Our Challenges

August 31, 2021

“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 blessings we do not deserve. As we appreciate what the mercy of God withholds and the grace of God bestows when we believe the Gospel, we should be filled with grateful worship for 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 His Commission. (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 Jesus Christ. I use grace in that sense when I tell people that God’s grace outweighs my challenges.

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) 

Check out the superlatives Paul uses in this verse: All grace – abounding grace – each and every one of you – he repeats all of you – all sufficiency – in all things – abounding 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


A Spiritual Greeting: GRACE TO YOU!

August 10, 2021

“Grace to you… from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 1:7)

As you study the letters of the Apostle Paul you will find a common greeting and salutation in all of them. At the beginning you will find these words: “Grace to you.” At the conclusion you will find words like these: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

In nearly every generation of language and culture there are words people use when they first encounter someone.  After visiting with them there are words used for parting. Some of these greetings and salutations do not have much meaning. It was not so with the way Paul began and concluded his letters.

One of Paul’s favorite concepts was “grace.” In many of his letters he emphasized the truth that we are saved by grace and not by works. He also wrote that we have access by faith to grace that makes it possible for us to live a life that glorifies God. (Romans 5:2)

Perhaps Paul’s greatest verse that describes the empowering dimension of grace is 2Corinthians 9:8. He writes there that God is able to make all grace abound toward us so that each one of us may always find the spiritual dynamic we need to abound in every good work God is calling us to do. 

All grace – all the power we need – each and every one of us that we might find all the sufficiency we need to abound in every good work – ALWAYS!

As you come to appreciate the meaning of “grace,” isn’t it an appropriate heartfelt concept to include in your greetings with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 10 August 2010


UNCONDITIONAL GRACE

August 3, 2021

“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 an 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


GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS!

June 4, 2021

“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 suffering brought Job to the bottom of despair’s pit and 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)

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. 

Job received his Messianic revelation when he “bottomed out” through suffering. God also made Jeremiah know the truth about God’s 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 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 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 God’s Love on the whole world.

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College Old Testament Handbook


PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

May 25, 2021

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

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.”

The Apostle Paul also challenges us to pray: “tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (Philippians 4:6) 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. Paul had a physical condition 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)

Paul’s weakness drove him to discover the strength of God. When he did, he not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so God’s power 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: Possess Your Possessions

April 20, 2021

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you…” (Joshua 1:3)

God spoke these words to Joshua as he was leading the children of Israel into the promised land of Canaan. They show us a principle God uses when God gives us spiritual blessings, such as the Word of God, prayer, worship, spiritual community and many, many others. When God gives them to us we own them. But, according to the principle we learn from God’s dealings with Joshua, we do not possess them until we use them.

Many people own a Bible but they never read it. According to this principle they own their Bible but they do not possess their Bible. God has given everyone the gift of prayer. God has given us access to what God calls “the throne of grace” from which God dispenses all kinds of blessings we do not earn, achieve, or deserve.

All we have to do is ask God for those spiritual blessings. Millions don’t know about that throne. Even worse, millions who know never approach that throne. James has a word for them: “You have not because you ask not.”

The same can be said of faith, worship, spiritual community with other believers, communion with God, forgiveness, the mercy of God that withholds what we deserve, and the grace of God that lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we don’t deserve.

The application of this principle Joshua learned from God is simply this: possess your possessions.

Dick Woodward, 24 April 2009


#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