Spiritual Values: God First

November 6, 2018

“…but you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.” (Matthew 6:33 J. B. Philips translation)

The message of the entire Bible can be summed up in two words: “God First.” Over and over the bottom-line truth in a Psalm, the life of a Bible character, a parable, a metaphor, and a teaching of Jesus comes down to this simple concept: “God First.”

That is not easy. In fact, it is impossible without the Holy Spirit. (1Corinthians 12:3)

I was blessed to have a godly mother who often said to me: “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, then Jesus Christ is everything to you. Because until Jesus Christ is everything to you, Dick, He isn’t really anything to you.”

As I carefully studied the values of Jesus Christ, I realized that my mother had the Lord’s support when she brought my profession of faith to a verdict in this way.

Matthew 6:33 is the conclusion of a study given by Jesus regarding values. He taught that our hearts are where our treasures are. He also taught us where our treasures and our hearts ought to be by challenging us with questions like: “Where is your heart? What are your treasures? What is your life? What is your body?” and “Who is your master?”

The conclusion to this treatise on values is the declaration to seek God first. Think of a target with a bulls-eye surrounded by ten or twelve circles. According to Jesus, the bulls-eye of our priority target should be that our first value is God. We are to put God first. If we do that we have Christ’s promise that God will bless us with whatever else we need.

When we think about our values these two words should immediately surface in our hearts and minds: “God First.”

Dick Woodward, 09 November 2010


Another Beautiful Word: GRACE

August 31, 2018

“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. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1: 4, 5) After that happened to the disciples on 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 am using the word in that sense when I tell people that the grace of Jesus outweighs my challenges (especially as a bedfast quadriplegic.)

Paul declared 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 the Apostle Paul uses in this verse:  All grace – aboundingeach and every one of you – having all sufficiency – in all things – abounding unto every good work – always!  According to Paul we should all be able to make the claim that His grace outweighs our challenges.

Do you believe the grace of God outweighs your challenges today?

Dick Woodward, 31 August 2012


God’s Peace & Patience: Love Waiting

June 8, 2018

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)

Paul prescribes patience as part of his prescription for peace. Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights. Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit we find listed in the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

When the Holy Spirit lives in us, one way the Spirit manifests in us is through a supernatural quality of patience.

In the Bible we are continuously exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” In our relationship with God we might call patience “faith waiting.” Nothing will test or grow our faith like waiting. When we think God is not responding to our prayers it may be that what God is doing in us while we are waiting – like growing in us the virtue of patience – is more important than what we’re waiting for.

In our relationships with people, patience could be called “love waiting.” I have found that the Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in us: He wants to grow “vertical patience” by teaching us to have a faith that waits. And He is growing “horizontal patience” by teaching us that in relationships, love waits.

Love is the first and primary virtue through which the Holy Spirit wants to manifest God’s presence and peace in us.

While impatience is a peace thief, vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural, God-given virtues that can produce spiritual heavyweights – and maintain the peace of God in our experience of life.

Dick Woodward, 09 June 2009


Spiritual Fitness

May 29, 2018

“Exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable, but he declared that godly fitness was more profitable. Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our lives here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal lives.

I am intrigued with this question: what is godly exercise? 

The word “godly” means “like God.”  What is God-like?  We are told in the Word that God is Spirit. (John 4:24)  To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.

We also read in the Scripture that God is love.  To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to the love that is God.  At the heart of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), Paul passes the love of God through the prism of Holy Spirit inspiration and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Godly exercise means intentionally pursuing what the 15 virtues are and what they look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light.  Exercise yourself in this dimension of God-likeness by filling your mind, heart, and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that Light will profit you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013


Waiting and Leaping (by Faith!)

August 9, 2017

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Picture an eagle sitting on the side of its nest, waiting for the velocity of the wind to become strong. In the same way, we must “wait on the Lord.” We are not to go charging ahead into life without clear direction from the Lord. We are exhorted to follow the example of the eagle by waiting until the wind of the Spirit builds up to a certain velocity to direct, support and empower us.

Then we should follow the example of the eagle and take a leap of faith directly into the adversity that is challenging us. As the power of the Holy Spirit drives us into the strong winds of the storm, the energizing unction of the Holy Spirit will give us the spiritual aerodynamics needed to lift up and soar over the storm.

In the Gospels, Peter’s leap of faith illustrates this tension between waiting on the Lord and leaping. In the middle of a great storm, Jesus came to the disciples by walking on the water. Peter said, “Lord, if it really is You, invite me to walk on the water to You.” The Lord then invited Peter to walk on the water to Him. (Matthew 14:22-32)

Peter had great faith, yet he did not get out of the boat until he was sure of two things: that it was the Lord out there in the middle of the storm, and that the Lord was inviting him to walk on the water to Him.

The obvious application is that we should never take a leap of faith until we are sure the Lord is in our faith venture, and that the Lord is leading us to take that leap of faith.

Dick Woodward, from As Eagles: How to be an Eagle Disciple


6th Condition for Peace: Rest in Christ

May 23, 2017

“The peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus… I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:7&13)

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? It means we are so in union with Christ, as a branch is in union with a vine, that we draw from Him, the Vine, all the life-giving spiritual power we need for everything we do for Him, with Him and through Him, as we rest in Him. It means resting in His power to do the things He calls us to do, all day long.

As a bedfast quadriplegic & pastor, my way of expressing it is the Four Spiritual Secrets:

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I can’t, but He can.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I don’t want to, but He wants to.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

So much anxiety, and perhaps the greatest peace thief disciples of Jesus experience, comes from thinking we must do the work of Christ in our own strength. If we are in the will of God, then often we are going to be faced with things we cannot do on our own, but, as vehicles through which Christ does His work, can be done. If we think it all depends on us, we lose our peace!

Overwhelming physical and emotional problems that are crushing the life out of us – terminal or chronic illness, difficult relationships and the challenges of everyday living – will only be manageable when we realize that facing them is not a matter of who and what we are, or what we can or cannot do. They are simply an opportunity to prove and demonstrate Who and what Jesus is and what He can do.

We must acknowledge that we can’t but Jesus can, as we rest our hearts and minds in Christ and in only what He can do.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


The Peace of God: A Prescription for Peace

May 5, 2017

“Don’t worry over anything whatever…” (Philippians 4:6)

In the fourth chapter of his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul prescribed twelve conditions for what the Bible calls “the peace of God.” Those who have the Holy Spirit living in them must meet these twelve conditions if they want to live in this continuous state of peace. If you profess to be a follower of Christ and you don’t have this peace, maybe you didn’t know it’s based on these conditions?

The first of these conditions is: don’t worry. Paul doesn’t begin his conditions for peace this way because there is nothing to worry about. He prescribes this because worry is not productive. In fact, worry is counterproductive. Worry saps from us the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical strength we need to cope with our problems. If you examine Paul’s peace prescription carefully, you will discover that he tells us to replace our worry with something that is productive: prayer.

I once saw a sign that asked: “Why Pray When You Can Worry?” I had hitch-hiked from the East Coast to the West Coast of America to transfer to a Bible college in California and I only had $23.00 in my pocket. The godly old man who showed me the sign ran the employment office for the college and I desperately needed a job. He saw the worry in my face, pointed to the sign and asked, “Which one is it going to be, son?”

The bottom line: being anxious doesn’t solve our problems.

Dick Woodward, 19 May 2009

Editor’s Note: Facing challenges, however big or small, can cause worry to throttle our peace. Dick Woodward (my Papa) ascertained that the peace of God (which is a gift of the Holy Spirit) can be learned in his booklet “A Prescription for Peace.” When a disease of the spinal chord confined him to a wheelchair, then to a hospital bed, he memorized Philippians 4 and learned how to access the peace of Christ even when he was in pain 24/7. In the next few weeks, the blog-posting elf will share 12 conditions of peace from his booklet & series we posted on this blog back in 2009.

Be blessed & may the peace of Jesus Christ be with you, always!