The Christmas That Shall Be (Part II)

December 23, 2015

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)

The Old Testament people of God lived their lives believing it was possible to ‘see the Good.’  In Psalm 34 King David challenges hopeless fugitives to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good,’ and the Lord is the Good they have been seeking all their lives.

In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us the three lasting, eternal values in life are faith, hope, and love (I Cor. 13:13).  Love is the greatest of these eternal values because God is Love.  Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God.  Hope is also one of the three great eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God.  In the heart of every human being, God plants hope – the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good is going to intersect our lives.  That is what the author of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1)

Every year, approximately 30,000 people commit suicide.  Research by sociologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists tells us they commit suicide because they lose hope.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have the Good News that can give hope to the hopeless.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share it with the people Jesus came to seek and to save.  (Luke 19:10).  We show that we really believe in the Christmas that shall be when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men we should ask the question, “Where is He?,” seek Him until we find Him, worship Him, and give the gift of our lives to Him.  Then, like the shepherds, we should tell everybody the very Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world!

Dick Woodward, A Christmas Prescription


Hope-filled “Hupomone” Love

May 19, 2015

Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

We read in the book of Hebrews:  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.”  The inspired author of the great faith chapter means that the object of faith is always unseen, and faith gives substance to our hope that the object of our faith exists.  In other words, faith puts a foundation under our hope.  We hope until faith gives us reason to believe. (Hebrews 11:1)

When faith cannot place a foundation under our hope for the ones we love, all we can do is hope for them.  According to the love hymn of Paul, the one applying the love of Christ will hope for them. Love joyfully awaits for the fulfillment of what it prayerfully desires, imagines, dreams and hopes concerning the potential of the ones we love.

When Paul writes, “Love endures all things,” he means love perseveres while it awaits the fulfillment of what it hopes and believes to see in the lives of the ones being loved.  The Greek word translated as ‘endurance’ is ‘hupomone.”  It is a combination of two Greek words, to ‘abide‘ and ‘under,‘ whatever is required to love someone.

This is especially important when we love a person who is not responding to our loving, positive reinforcement.  This quality of loving perseverance equips believers to love and pray loved ones through their addictions to alcohol, chemical substances, pornography, gambling, eating disorders and the seemingly endless list of compulsive habits.

These ‘chains’ of the evil one can only be broken with supernatural assistance from God, often using, as conduits, those who love with this love that hopes, believes, and endures all things.  By their actions they make this statement to those they love:  “Nothing you do or say can make me stop loving you because I’m loving you with the love of Christ.  The love of Christ is tough love.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Why Hope?

March 24, 2013

“I would have despaired, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)

The Apostle Paul concludes his great love chapter by profiling three eternal values: faith, hope and love.  We know that love is an eternal value because God is loveWe can also understand why faith is one of the three eternal values because faith brings us to God.  But why is hope one of the three great eternal values?

God plants hope, or the conviction that something good exists in this world, in the heart of every human being.  When you get into the lives of many people and understand their battles and challenges you cannot help but wonder how they could believe there is something good in this life.

When I was in college my dormitory was located at the end of Hope Street in Los Angeles adjacent to the Los Angeles Public Library.  The same day I learned in a course that more than 25,000 people committed suicide in 1952 because they lost hope, a man committed suicide by jumping from the top of my dormitory.

The newspaper reporter who recorded the story was more eloquent than he knew when he wrote: “An unidentified man jumped to his death today from a tall building at the end of Hope Street.”

David knew that he would despair if he ever lost that conviction God put in his heart the Bible labels hope.  Hope is an eternal value because it is meant to lead us to faith, and faith is to lead us to God.

Let your hope bring you to faith and your faith to God.  And remember that people around you are despairing without that hope you have.