#Faith: When It’s Time for a Change!

July 23, 2019

“I have brought you out that I might lead you in…”
(Deuteronomy 6:23)

There are times when God wants to do a new thing in our lives. To do this new thing God faces three challenges. First, God has to get us out of the old place, and that is not easy because we often love the security of where we are. God therefore may have to blast us out of the old place.

That can happen in many ways. We could be fired, or we may just know in our knower that it is time to make a change. The call of God is often made up of a pull from the front and a boot from the rear.

The second challenge God faces is to keep us going through the transition time between the old place and the new place to which God is leading us. Transition times can be difficult.

Deuteronomy 6:23 describes the way God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to lead them into the Promised Land. Their transition time involved crossing a desert, which should have taken eleven days, but they went around in circles for forty years!

They circled that desert because they did not have the faith to invade the land of Canaan. When God wants to do a new thing in our lives, do we go around in circles because we do not have the faith to enter into the new place to which God is leading us?

The third challenge is that God has to make us right so God can settle us into the new place. One translation of 2 Corinthians 6:1 reads that we are ‘co-operators’ with God. When we realize something of what God is trying to do in our lives, it would help both God and us if we would give God a little more cooperation.

Dick Woodward, 24 July 2009


A Prayer for the Valleys

July 19, 2019

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” (Psalm 23:4-5)

In your dark valleys, learn to pray in this manner:

“As I enter this valley, Lord, I will not be paralyzed by fear, because I believe You are with me. Your ability to protect me and lead me through this valley is a comfort to me. I know that in the darkest and scariest part of this valley, in the middle of all the life threatening danger, You will spread a table of provision for me.

I am trusting You completely to anoint me with the oil of Your individualized, personalized and attentive care. I believe You will give me mercy for my failures and the grace I need to help me in my time of need. You will also pursue me with Your goodness, unconditional love and acceptance, when I wander away from Your loving care.”

Finally, thank your Good Shepherd-God that you can trust God to lead you through this life to unbroken fellowship forever in Heaven: to the green pastures that never turn brown, the still waters that never become disturbed, and the cup that never empties.

Offer this prayer to “the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead that great Shepherd of sheep, Who through the blood of the everlasting covenant, can make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


Our Failures vs. God’s Mercy & Unconditional Love

July 16, 2019

…& mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...”  (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This word is found 366 times in the Bible. (Perhaps God wants us to know we need mercy and unconditional love every day of the year – and God even covers Leap Year.)  Many people think we don’t hear about God’s mercy until the Sermon on the Mount; however, we find 280 mercy references in the Old Testament.

King David concludes Psalm 100 with the observation that God’s mercy is everlasting.

My favorite Old Testament reference to God’s mercy is found at the end of Psalm 23. David’s greatest Psalm ends with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him always.

The Hebrew word he uses for ‘follow’ can also be translated as ‘pursue.’  David brings his profound description of the relationship between God and man to a conclusion by declaring the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life.

This is true for all who confess, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

There are many ways to fail. When we understand the meaning of God’s mercy, however, we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail God’s mercy. No matter what your failures have been, God has sent you a message wrapped in this five letter word “mercy.”

The amazing message is that you did not win God’s love by a positive performance and you do not lose God’s love by a negative performance. God’s love and acceptance of you is unconditional.  According to David, the mercy of God is not only there like a rock for you, but God is pursuing you with unconditional love and forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, Happiness that Doesn’t Make Good Sense


Heart to Heart Communication

July 12, 2019

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you… As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)

To paraphrase this passage, Paul is suggesting that each of us has a communication “flap” on our heart. In our relationships we should be face-to-face and heart-to-heart with our communication flaps open. The hard reality is that we are often back-to-back with our communication flaps down and tightly closed.

Paul’s solution is that someone must say, “I am heart-to-heart with you, and my communication flap is open. Be heart-to-heart with me and open your communication flap.”

We face communication challenges every day in our family, places of work, and interactions with people. When there is a communication problem it is important to realize that someone has to initiate a solution by saying, in spirit and in principle, “I am heart-to-heart with you, and my communication flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

You may be totally amazed at how taking that stance can melt the obstacles between you and the person with whom you are having a challenging relationship. This can be a communication circuit breaker that restores communication in a relationship.

Bacteria multiply in the dark but cannot live in the light. If we do not have good communication in a relationship misunderstandings multiply like bacteria, but when communication is restored it’s like we have turned the light on in our relationship.

Most bacteria will die and we can address what’s left in the light of our restored communication.

Dick Woodward, 12 July 2012


Highways for God

July 9, 2019

“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Isaiah 40:4-5)

The essence of Isaiah’s great sermon is that when you build a highway you do four things: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and smooth out rough places.

Isaiah preached that God was coming into our world and when He did He was going to travel on the highway of the life of His Son. In that life the mountains of pride would be leveled, the empty spaces would be one hundred percent filled with the Holy Spirit, the crooked ways of sin would be perfectly straight, and rough places would be made smooth by the way He responded to them.

Just before Jesus parted with His apostles He told them that in the same way the Father sent Him into the world, He was sending them into the world. If His life was to be a highway on which God traveled into this world, our lives are also meant to be highways for God.

I challenge you to ask God to make your life a highway for Him to travel in this world.

If you have the courage to pray this way God’s bulldozers will start leveling your mountains of pride, the Holy Spirit will fill your empty spaces and straighten out your crooked ways of sin, and then give you the grace to smooth out the rough challenges that come into your life.

Dick Woodward, 06 July 2012


Prayer: God First

July 5, 2019

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven...”  (Matthew 6:9-13)

The message of the Bible frequently sifts down to just two words: God first.

From Genesis to Revelation, the bottom line interpretation and application of parables, commandments, character studies, allegories, psalms, sermons, Gospels, Epistles and teachings of Jesus Christ is simply “God first.”

The prayer Jesus taught us begins with that God-first emphasis when Jesus instructs us to begin by asking God that His name, the essence of Who and what He is, might be honored and reverenced…

Prayer is not a matter of us persuading God to do our will. The very essence of prayer is an alignment between our wills and the will of God. Prayer is not a matter of us making God our partner and taking God into our plans.

Prayer is a matter of God making us His partners and taking us into His plans…

We are not to come into our prayer closets or corporate worship with a ‘shopping list’ and send God on errands for us.  When we pray, we should come into the presence of God with a blank sheet of paper and ask God to send us on errands for Him.

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Prayer


What is the Righteous One Doing?

July 2, 2019

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Greek is a very precise language; Hebrew is not. That’s why we frequently find footnotes that suggest alternate readings in the margins of our Bibles when we read Old Testament passages of Scripture. The NIV translation’s footnote for Psalm 11:3 is: “When the foundations of your life are breaking up, what is the righteous One doing?”

In my life I have experienced several periods when it seemed that the foundations of my life were breaking up. I found the alternate reading of this verse to be a reliable response that turned many of those crises into significant spiritual datelines in my journey of faith.

My faith walk began in 1949 and along the way I dropped two words out of my vocabulary: “fortunately” and “coincidentally.”  Because I believe in Divine Providence, I no longer believe in luck. I also agree with the spiritual heavyweight who said when devout believers think they have experienced a coincidence it just means God prefers to remain anonymous.

The Chinese word for “crisis” combines the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” I believe we should factor into all our crises this knee jerk response: “What is the righteous One doing in my life now?”

I find that God is always up to something and ultimately it is always something good. It is not primarily for our good, but what accomplishes God’s good for God’s glory.

If you are in a time of crisis right now, or when you find yourself in one, consider “What is the righteous One doing?”

Dick Woodward, 02 July 2010