Christ’s Strength When We Are Weak

March 8, 2022

“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


PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING!

March 1, 2022

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

It is easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? Paul does not leave us in a vacuum here. He goes on to prescribe: “Pray about everything!”

Psalm 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” An alternate reading states that God is “abundantly available for help in tight places.” As a result of our prayers, God can deliver us from tight places.

Someone once said, “When it is hardest to pray, pray the hardest!” Paul was delivered from many tight places. He knew from personal experience, however, that God does not always take our problems away. Paul had a physical “thorn in the flesh” he asked God three times to take away. 

Paul saw many people healed as he ministered with the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, when he asked God to solve his health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.” Instead God essentially said, “I’m going to give you the grace to cope.”  (II Corinthians 12)

When God gave Paul grace to cope, he discovered the power of Christ was upon him in a mighty way. Paul learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul later shares his weakness became a showcase in which the strength of God was exhibited.

Paul learned that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or it may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.  Always pray about everything.

Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.” 

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace


Grace be with You!

February 22, 2022

“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 believers in Rome with a marvelous greeting: “Grace to you.” He also closes his letter with a prayer for the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with them – and us.

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”

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


God’s Abounding Grace!!

February 8, 2022

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and the grace of God bestows on us all kinds of wonderful blessings we do not deserve.  Grace is also the dynamic we receive from God to do what God calls and leads us to do. 2 Corinthians 9:8 quoted above is the most superlative verse about grace in the Bible.

It tells us that God is able to make all grace, not just some grace, abound toward us, not just trickle in our direction. Then we may have all sufficiency, not just some sufficiency, in all things, not just some things. We are then equipped to abound, not just do our duty, as we do every good work God leads us to do, not just the works we like to do, ALWAYS! Twice in this verse Paul emphasizes the reality that this grace is for you – not just for the pastor or the missionary – but you!

Is this grace a reality in your journey of faith?

I once heard Dr. A. W. Tozer preach on this verse. After he read it there was an eloquent pause before he said, “Sometimes you cannot help but allow the thought that God oversold grace in the New Testament.” He then preached a powerful message challenging us to believe God has not oversold God’s grace but that we need to learn how to access His grace.

The hymn writer wrote, “The favor God shows and the joy He bestows are for those who will trust and obey…”

That is a good place to start.

Dick Woodward, 10 February 2012


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