December 14, 2018
“They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.” (Psalm 107:4-6)
This excerpt from the first stanza of Psalm 107’s great hymn of redemption describes how God redeemed His people when they were wanderers in a wilderness. Their way was desolate. They were hungry and thirsty to the point that their souls fainted in them. Then they cried to the LORD and He delivered them from their distresses.
Deliverance is a synonym for salvation, and salvation is a synonym for redemption. This first stanza of Psalm 107 describes how God redeems the Israelites from their CHAOS.
In the Gospel of Matthew we read several times when Jesus saw the multitudes He wept for them because they were like lost sheep that had no shepherd. They did not know their right hand from their left. In the Gospel of Luke the entire fifteenth chapter is called “The Parable of the Lost Things” because it describes the loving heart of Jesus for those who are lost. A key verse of Luke tells us that Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10)
From Genesis to Revelation we are told of the great loving heart of God for those who need to be redeemed from being lost. After eloquently describing this first level of redemption, the theme of this psalm is repeated: that those who have been redeemed from their chaos should step up and thank the Lord.
Can you resonate with this first level God’s redemption, and then step up and say so?
Dick Woodward, 14 December 2009
November 20, 2018
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, tell God every detail of your needs. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
As I have tried to apply what Paul prescribes in these verses, I have found this prescription for peace to be more helpful than any other spiritual discipline. According to the Apostle Paul, an attitude of gratitude leads to the therapy of thanksgiving as we apply gratitude to our stressful circumstances.
Be sure to make the observation that Paul does not prescribe giving thanks for all things. He instructs us to give thanks in all things. When we do this it automatically moves our mindset from the negative to the positive. The apostle promises that the peace of God will protect and stand guard (like the soldiers chained to Paul as he writes these words) over our hearts and minds as they rest and trust in Christ Jesus.
We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with gratitude. If we do, we will find this prescription of thanksgiving contributes to victory over our circumstances, because the therapy of thanksgiving leads us into God’s peace.
When a pastor asked a church member how she was doing, her response was, “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.”
The pastor responded, “Whatever are you doing there?”
Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009
GOD’S PEACE & A BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!
October 16, 2018
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Who was the greatest prophet who ever lived? According to Jesus the answer is John the Baptist. (Luke 7:28, Matthew 11:11) After studying the Scripture for six decades I find that answer intriguing because very little space in the Bible records John the Baptist’s life and ministry.
Meditating on the Scriptures that describe him, I have come to the conclusion that at least one key to his greatness is that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his abilities.
As we attempt to discover who we are and what God wants to do through our lives it is a good rule of thumb to accept the limits of our limitations and the responsibility for our abilities. When a degenerative disease of the spinal cord took away my physical abilities (26 years ago), it was vital for me to accept my increasing limitations and continue to be responsible for my abilities.
After the first two years of crippling illness when acceptance came, it was so profound it felt like a form of inner healing. Using speech recognition software on my computer I received the grace to write about ten thousand pages of what we call The Mini Bible College. These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into 28 languages in 60 countries.*
It fills me with grateful worship to realize that the formula for greatness I learned from John the Baptist guided me to the most important work I have done for Jesus Christ.
Are you willing to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your abilities?
Dick Woodward, 16 October 2012
*Editor’s Note: As of October 2018, the Mini Bible College has been translated into 48 languages (with 12 more in production) impacting 84 countries. Thanks be to God and the ongoing work of International Cooperating Ministries.
August 3, 2018
“… Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
This has been called the ninth beatitude of Jesus. When Jesus began His greatest discourse with a check-up from the neck-up, He shared eight beautiful attitudes that will make us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This ninth beatitude can transform and revolutionize our relationships.
If you are in a relationship, like a marriage, for what you can get from that other person, Jesus has a challenge for you. For one week, instead of thinking of what you are going to get from the person, ask yourself continuously what you can give to that person. After giving this assignment to many married couples I have seen this challenge revolutionize their marriages.
You see, if you are in a marriage for what you can get from each other, neither of you is receiving anything because neither of you is giving anything. The relationship is a sterile empty vacuum. But this one attitude can completely transform your marriage (and any relationship) if one or both of the people in that relationship will dare to accept this challenge from Jesus.
There is no place in the Gospels where Jesus speaks these exact words. However, in addition to having this quotation in the book of Acts, the spirit of this beatitude characterizes the relationships of Jesus we read about all through the first four books of the New Testament.
I exhort you to accept this challenge of Jesus for one week! If you do, you will also prove in experience that there is in fact more happiness (which is what the word blessed means) in giving than in getting.
Dick Woodward, 03 August 2009
May 25, 2018
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” (Philippians 1:3)
It is fitting in the United States of America that we set aside a day each year to memorialize our fallen warriors. In the Old Testament God regularly commanded His chosen ones to erect memorials so they would never forget certain events on their journey of faith. When we study those memorials we realize that God wanted them to remember miracles He performed for them. He never wanted them to forget significant spiritual datelines. He often repeated for emphasis things He wanted them to remember.
Throughout the Old and New Testaments we therefore continuously hear the exhortation to remember!
Memorials are closely linked with the attitude of gratitude and the awful sin of ingratitude. On Memorial Day are you thankful for “The Greatest Generation” of the 1940s who saved us from an unthinkable future without freedom? Does your memorial of gratitude continue through those who fell in Korea, Vietnam and now in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Do you have spiritual memorial datelines for which you are grateful as you remember them before God? Do you have a dateline of when you came to faith in what Christ did for you on the cross? Do you have spiritual datelines beyond that point of beginning your faith journey, when the risen Christ proved Himself to you in miraculous ways? Do you have a dateline when He made you know what He wants you to do for Him? In the fulfillment of that vision has He brought significant people into your life to help you bring that vision into reality?
Then have a spiritual Memorial Day and be filled with grateful worship!
Dick Woodward, 31 May 2010
April 27, 2018
“The heavens declare the glory of God… The Law of the Lord is perfect… May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight…” (Psalm 19: 1, 7, 14)
In Psalm 19 David writes that every day and every night God is preaching a sermon through the heavenly bodies. The text of that sermon is the glory of God. The firmament, the space in which those bodies exist, is also preaching a sermon.
Space preaches to us about the infinite size of God.
David’s thoughts then turn to the special revelations of God. That’s what theologians call the Word of God and David calls the Law of God. David is impressed and impresses us with what the Word of God can do: convert the soul, enlighten the eyes, and make wise the simple. God’s Word can rejoice the heart and it will endure forever. So, too, will the one whose soul has been converted by the Word. As David meditates on what the Word can do, he claims that the Word is more to be desired than pure gold.
Having reflected on what we might call “Natural Revelation” and “Biblical Revelation,” he next guides us to consider “Personal Revelation.” His thought is that God’s revelation through nature is magnificent and beautiful. God’s revelation through Scripture is miraculous and perfect.
But what about God’s revelation through people like you and me?
Another thing Scripture does is warn us about willful sins that mar the revelation of God through us.
Are we willing to track with David through these three ways God speaks and then pray that God’s revelation through us will be acceptable in God’s sight?
Dick Woodward, 26 April 2010
February 27, 2018
“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)
All of us have or will experience a time when we are not appreciated. It’s challenging to labor long and hard helping people without a word or gesture of appreciation. The author of Hebrews gives us a beautiful message for unappreciated servants of the Lord: we can know we are always appreciated by God.
Our Lord Jesus instructed us that we are to work our righteous acts in secret. We are to give in such a way that one hand does not know what the other hand is giving. We are to pray and fast in a private closet knowing that our Father in heaven sees and knows everything we pray and do. (Matthew 6)
In the same spirit God said through Moses, “Walk before Me!” (Genesis 17:1) In our daily walks, if we hold on to the perspective that everything we do is done before and as unto our God, Hebrews 6:10 reminds us that we are always appreciated when we look up and walk before God.
At the beginning of my ministry I met a lovely elderly couple who had served as missionaries for 48 years in China. Visiting them in charity housing, in so far as I could tell they had been shown no appreciation whatsoever for their hard work in China. When I asked them how they could bear that their answer was: “You have to know Who you’re doing it for.”
Walk before God as you do your work – and when you need appreciation.
Dick Woodward, 29 February 2012