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 meant 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


Paul’s 2nd Condition (for peace): Pray About Everything!

May 9, 2017

“…tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (Philippians 4:6)

It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? Paul doesn’t leave us in a vacuum when he prescribed: “Pray about everything!”

The Word of God exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 has an alternate reading in the New Standard version, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” God delivered Paul from many tight places. We should therefore always pray in a crisis: “When it’s hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

However, from personal experience Paul knew that God doesn’t always take our problems away. He had a physical condition that he described as a “thorn in the flesh.” Three times he asked God to take it away. Paul saw many people miraculously healed as he ministered the healing power of the Holy Spirit to them. Yet, when he asked God to solve his own health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.”

But God also responded, “My grace is sufficient for you and that is all you need. My strength looks good on weak people.” (2 Corinthians 12 LB) His weakness drove Paul to discover the strength of God. When he did, he not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so the power of God might be showcased in him.

As Paul accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul exhorts us from his personal experience that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or prayer may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.

Always pray about everything!

 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!


Who will show us something good?

April 28, 2017

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 4:5)

In this Psalm King David has insomnia because he is doing the expedient thing rather than what is right. He’s doing this because if he does the right thing he cannot see how he can possibly survive. Since he is a man of deep spiritual integrity this keeps him awake all night. In the middle of the night, he resolves in his heart that he is going to make whatever sacrifices he must make to do what is right and then trust the Lord for his survival. This decision changes his emotional anxiety and insomnia to peace and peaceful sleep.

His motivation is the many people asking: “Who will show us something good?” In other words, these people are looking for someone who will do what is right even if it costs everything they have to do right.

Psalm 4 begins with a prayer that is addressed to the God Who relieves us when we are in distress. If you want to know what distress is just drop the first two letters of the word and you know that this Psalm is all about being relieved from our (di)-stress.

If you are a spiritually oriented person and you’re not doing what is right because you cannot see how you can survive if you do, are you willing to resolve making whatever sacrifices you must to do what is right – and then trust God for the outcome?

Dick Woodward, 23 April 2010


Resurrection: A Dragonfly Approach

April 18, 2017

“Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.”   (1Corinthians 15: 49)

Have you ever watched a dragonfly move from one plant to another with its two sets of wings making it possible to hover like a helicopter?  A dragonfly actually spends the first two years of its existence at the bottom of a large body of water. When that phase of its existence comes to an end, it rises to the surface of the water, climbs up on the bank and lets it wings dry in the sun. Then it spreads those magnificent wings and begins the second dimension of its existence as an aeronautical wonder.

Easter reminded us that, like the dragonfly, we are meant to live out our existence in two dimensions. If you did a cross-section of that under-water dragonfly you would see that it has two respiratory systems: one for living under water and one for breathing air in the second dimension of its life.

If you could do a spiritual cross-section of a follower of Jesus Christ, you would find that we are also equipped with two systems. We have an outward person and an inward person. Our outward person is just a little clay pot in which our eternal inward person lives.

We are told in the great Resurrection Chapter (1 Corinthians 15), that we are given a body for living this life and we will be issued another body for living in the eternal state. According to Paul, that new body will be a spiritual body that will equip us for living throughout all eternity.  I don’t know about you, but as a bed fast quadriplegic I’m really looking forward to being issued that new body!

Dick Woodward, 12 April 2012

 


Good Friday: “it is finished…”

April 14, 2017

“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’”
(John 19:30)

These last words of Jesus actually are one word in the original language: “Tetelesti.”  This word was written over the record of a prisoner after completing his or her sentence in a Roman prison. “Tetelesti” was also written above the cross of a prisoner crucified by Rome. What a providential irony that Jesus chose this word at the end of His suffering for your sins and mine.

What Jesus meant is that He paid in full a debt He did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay. Theologians refer to this as the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. One thought is that we cannot possibly add anything to what He finished for us there on that cross. A more profound thought is that we must put our faith in what He did for us there.

Still another thought is if we could add anything to what He did, or be forgiven on the basis of our own good works, then Christ did all that suffering for nothing. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweat great drops of blood as He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him.

The Father’s response was that there was no other way, so Jesus had to go to and through the suffering of the cross. To think that we could save ourselves by our works is like saying to the Father and to our Savior: “You really didn’t have to go through all that suffering because I can save myself by the good works I am doing.”

We must believe in what Jesus finished on the cross: “It is finished.”

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2009


The Cross of Christ: Mercy & Grace

April 11, 2017

“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 thank Him for the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows. The good news of the Gospel is that when Jesus Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved was laid upon Him that we might have peace with God. (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 find these two beautiful words throughout the Bible, you will understand why I challenge you to pray with thanksgiving for:

The mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009