February 9, 2018
“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6)
“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)
Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are mercy and grace. The mercy of God, which is the unconditional love of God, withholds from us what we deserve, while the grace of God lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we do not deserve, accomplish, or achieve by our own efforts.
As we thank God for our blessings, at the top of the list we should be thankful for God’s mercy that withholds and God’s grace that bestows. The good news of the gospel is that when Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved that we might have peace with God was laid upon Him. (Isaiah 53: 5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
If you want to grasp the meaning of these two words observe when and why they turn up in the Bible. Try to understand what we deserved and why. That will grow your appreciation of the mercy of God. Then investigate all that is bestowed upon us by the grace of God. As you search out these two beautiful words in the Bible, you will understand why “the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows” should be at the top our thanksgiving prayer lists.
Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009
November 23, 2017
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)
In this profound thanksgiving psalm, David tells us that coming into the presence of God is like having an audience with a great King. That audience begins with the gates of thanksgiving, followed by the courts of praise. In a corporate worship service or in your closet worship, always try to begin your approach to God at the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.
As a bedfast quadriplegic, I personally know of no other worship that means more to me than to begin my approach to God with thanksgiving. When I begin thanking Him and praising Him for all my blessings, I soon find myself coming before His presence with singing. In His presence I know that He is God. I know that He is my Shepherd and I am His sheep. I know that He is good, His mercy is everlasting, and He wants me to share the truth of His Word in all the lands of this world because He wants people in all the lands of this world, and in every generation, to know what it is to make a joyful shout of worship in His presence.
Let this great worship psalm of David show you how to be thankful!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!
Dick Woodward, 23 November 2011
November 21, 2017
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him…” (Psalm 100:4)
Psalm 100 is the definitive worship psalm that tells us what worship is, what we should experience when we worship, how to worship, what we know, and what the results should be because we worshipped.
According to David worship is coming before God’s presence, which is like having an audience with a King. Our approach to the presence of God begins at the gates of thanksgiving. This means that in a corporate worship service, or in our private closet worship, we are to begin our approach to the presence of God by passing through the gates of thanksgiving.
As I attempt to maintain my spiritual equilibrium as a bedfast quadriplegic, I get more spiritual mileage out of the therapy of thanksgiving than anything else. David has pointed me to the truth that when I begin thanking God, I soon find myself in the courts of praise coming into the presence of God with singing. In God’s presence, I know that He is God, I am His sheep and I live in His pasture. Then I’m told again that I should keep on thanking Him.
As a result of this worship experience, I know that God wants people in every land of this earth to know what it is to make joyful noises of worship in God’s presence. God also wants it to be known that His truth endures in all generations – not only in past generations.
To that end, God wants me to serve Him with gladness because I entered into His presence with thanksgiving.
Dick Woodward, 22 February 2012
June 13, 2017
“…if you believe in goodness…” (Philippians 4:8)
As a young social worker I visited an elderly couple who had spent 50 years as missionaries in China. They were in poor health and living in indigent welfare housing. As these dear white-haired saints (who were what I consider spiritual nobility), reflected on what they had to show for their time of sacrificial service, they were beginning to doubt the value of all the good they had done for Jesus.
I shared this part of Paul’s peace prescription with them. Paul teaches here that our good works are not always rewarded in this life, but all good works of believers will be rewarded in the eternal state. (ICorinthians 3:11-15)
Paul certainly could have identified with this couple who realized their ‘welcome home’ would be waiting in heaven. From the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul completely dedicated himself to the work of Jesus. What did that get him? Prison after prison, each one worse than the last; most were foul smelling dungeons. And yet, he writes that he experienced peace and joy.
When Paul writes, “If you believe in goodness…,” I am convinced he is focusing on the lifetime of goodness faithful servants have invested for the Lord.
Discouraged servants of God are tempted by the evil one to doubt the worth of good they have done. This part of Paul’s prescription addresses this peace thief. He would spare spiritual servants of Jesus the loss of peace we may suffer if we forget, that even though we may not be rewarded for faithful service in this life, our reward is waiting in the eternal state.
We are to value the approval of God in this life and be certain of His approval in the life to come.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace
May 26, 2017
“Don’t worry over anything whatever; 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 4:6-7)
Observe that Paul prescribed “earnest and thankful prayer.” Do you know what thankful prayer is? My definition of thankful prayer is grateful worship. I have found effective peace therapy in a litany of thanksgiving that has evolved in my devotional life over the last thirty years of praying through Paul’s peace prescription while accepting the hard reality of limitations.
When we’re thankful, we automatically move our minds from the negative to the positive issues in our lives. When suffering from a condition or illness that is causing us to lose our faculties one by one, we have two choices: we can continuously think about what we’ve lost, or are losing, or we can think about what we still have and be thankful.
As I experienced the loss of my physical ability, I have personally found that I get more mileage out of this condition for peace than any of Paul’s other conditions. I have so many blessings for which to be thankful. I discover regularly that when I begin to focus on my blessings, the peace of God is in place. As I think of all the problems I have because nothing works from my neck down, mentally I put those challenges on one side of a scale, while on the other side I place my blessings. I always find that the good stuff far outweighs my bad stuff – and the peace of God returns.
I highly recommend this thanksgiving therapy, which is a vital part of Paul’s prescription for peace.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace
November 22, 2016
“In everything … with thanksgiving tell God every detail of your needs … And the peace of God which transcends human understanding will stand guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7)
As I have applied what Paul prescribes in these verses (in the NIV and J.B. Phillips), I have found this prescription for peace to be one of the most helpful spiritual disciplines. According to Paul, an attitude of gratitude leads to the therapy of thanksgiving as we give thanks in 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 wrote these words), over our hearts and minds as they rest and trust in Christ Jesus.
Our circumstances are not always determined by God but may be caused by evil people who are persecuting us. We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with thanksgiving, because if we do, we will find this response to be God’s prescription that will bring peace that can contribute to our overcoming those circumstances.
When a pastor asked a church member how she was doing, she responded, “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.” The pastor responded, “Whatever are you doing under there?”
The therapy of thanksgiving can lead us out from under our circumstances and into the Presence and peace of God.
Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009
Editor’s Note: A blessed Thanksliving type of Thanksgiving to all!! : )