#FAITH : A Prescription for Worship

October 15, 2019

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing …Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him, bless His name! For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)

If you read Psalm One Hundred you will find that David has given us a universal prescription for worship. He begins by prescribing that people in all the lands of the earth should make joyful sounds of worship in God’s presence. He concludes by prescribing that those who worship know that God’s truth endures in all generations.

This brief prescription for worship tells us what worship is: it is to come before the presence of God. It tells us how to worship: it is like having an audience with a Heavenly King. To have an audience we must pass through gates of thanksgiving which are followed by corridors of praise.

The doors that open into the presence of the King are the doors of singing.

As we worship in the presence of the Heavenly King there are certain things we know. We know He is God and we know we are His. We are His little sheep who live in His pasture. We know He is good, His mercy and unconditional love is everlasting, and His truth endures.

David prescribes the result of worship: We should serve the Lord with gladness until people in all the lands of the earth in every generation make joyful sounds of worship in the presence of God.

Dick Woodward, 22 June 2007


#FAITH : Praying to Glorify God

October 11, 2019

…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:13)

(In the Our Father prayer) Jesus teaches us to begin our prayer with a God first mindset and conclude our prayer with that same focus. We begin our prayer looking through the grid: “Your name be reverenced, Your Kingdom come,” and “Your will be done on earth, just as it is willed and done in heaven.”

We are to conclude our prayer the same way.

Jesus wants us to conclude our prayer by making this commitment to our Heavenly Father: “Yours is the Kingdom.” By this confession, He means for us to pledge to God that the results of our Heavenly Father’s continuously answering our prayers will always belong to Him.

As we face challenges of life every day, we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God: “Yours is the power.” When I enter into a challenging day, I have confessed this hundreds of times in my journey of faith and ministry by saying, “I can’t, but He can.”

Finally, we are to conclude our prayers by confessing: “Yours is the glory.” When we apply this third providential benediction, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but God did, all the glory goes to Him.”

Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers every time we pray by making this solemn commitment to God: The glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayer(s), will always go to You.”

The essence of this benediction is: “Because the power always comes from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

“Amen” simply means, “So be it.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


#FAITH : Living (& Being) IN CHRIST

October 8, 2019

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am indebted to E. Stanley Jones, a missionary who served in India for 50 years, for his superb daily devotional, In Christ, that showed me the importance of this phrase in the New Testament. I highly recommend his book which highlights the use of “in Christ” by New Testament writers.

According to Dr. Jones, when we think about being “in Christ” we should realize that Paul was not talking about being in religion. Few people have been more into religion than Paul before he met Jesus. Paul was so religious he fervently persecuted followers of Jesus, sure that he was pleasing God by trying to snuff them out.

It is possible to be in religion, but not be in Christ. It is possible to be in church, and not be in Christ. We can be in doctrine, or theology, and not be in Christ. We can be in the ministry and not be in Christ. We can be committed to Christ, and believe a lot of things about Christ, and still not be in Christ.

To be in Christ locates us in a Person, right now.

Unless we are ‘in Christ’ it’s like we have a powerful engine in our automobile but we cannot find the ignition key that turns the engine on. Being ‘in Christ’ is the ignition key, opening us up to experience “all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3)

Paul essentially writes: I live because Christ lives in me and I live in Christ.

Just as you sometimes cannot find the keys to your automobile, have you misplaced this critical spiritual key – are you living by and in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2013


#FAITH : Where is Your Confidence?

October 4, 2019

“… Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ… for it is God at work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” (Philippians 1:6; 2:13)

As he wrote these words to his favorite church the Apostle Paul was in prison chained between two Roman soldiers without any privacy. He was not able to shepherd and teach the Philippian believers he loved so very much. Is he stressed out because he fears that they will fall away from their faith? No, he has confidence that they will continue in their faith until the day Christ returns.

The source of Paul’s confidence is found in two realities: he knows that the risen, living Christ has begun the miracle of regeneration in them and he is completely convinced that Christ will continue the miracle work of salvation He begins. His confidence is not in the fact that he has led these people to Christ. His confidence is in Christ!

Paul adds that his confidence is in God Who is at work in them giving them the will and the power to do according to that which pleases Him.

Where is your confidence that you will continue in what Christ has begun in your life? Where is your confidence that those you love will continue in what Christ has begun in their lives? Is your hope in them? Is it in your ability to shepherd and mentor them?

Or is your hope in Christ Who began that miracle and in God Who can give them the will and the power to do what pleases Him?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2009


#FAITH : Gods Agenda vs. Our Agenda

October 1, 2019

“…All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

I find it intriguing to know that in little genes that cannot be seen with the naked eye the genetic heritage of a human being is determined: how high our heads will be from the sidewalk, the color of our eyes, our hair, the capacity of our intellectual gifts, our athleticism and even mannerisms are all wrapped up in microscopic genes.

In this inspired Psalm, David – a great warrior, king, man after the heart of God and hymn writer – tells us that before we existed as genes God determined the days we would live on this earth. The Living Bible Paraphrase reads that before we existed God had an agenda for every day we are to live on this earth.

One day my wife and I woke up and prayed together that if our agenda for that day did not agree with God’s agenda we were willing to be preempted. Later that day while having lunch with our pastor son, I realized I was having a heart attack. As the 911 people rolled me out the door I said to my wife, “Looks like we’re being preempted big time!”

At the hospital they were able to turn things around before it became a full blown heart attack. However, that experience gave my wife and me a perspective we will never forget. There is God’s agenda and there is our agenda for every day we live.

How should that truth impact the way we plan our agendas each day?

Are we willing to be preempted by God’s agenda every day?

Dick Woodward, 01 October 2010


#FAITH : Mastering Our Spoken Word(s)

September 27, 2019

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19)

I once heard a quote that has haunted me for many years. Since misery loves company, I will afflict you with this statement:

“You are the master of the unspoken word. The spoken word is master of you.”

There are many such exhortations in the Proverbs, like this one: “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 17:28) And this one: “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 10:19)

The first stanza of the hymn “May the Mind of Christ My Savior” is my prayer every day. The prayer petition is this: “May the mind of Christ my savior live in me from day to day, by His love and power controlling, all I do and say.” (Lyrics, Katie Barclay Wilkinson)

One of my favorite mentors offended 1,500 people in 20 minutes when he spoke in the chapel service of his college. He decided that if he could make that many people mad in twenty minutes, maybe he could also do a lot of good with his mouth.

The hymn “Take My Life and Let it Be” (by Frances Ridley Havergal) prays, “Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.”

Obviously another great prayer to ask God every day when we are tempted to run our mouth before our brain is in gear. We certainly don’t want to have constipation of the mind and diarrhea of the mouth!

Dick Woodward, (email, 06 February 2003)


#FAITH : Conduits of Love & Light

September 24, 2019

“…wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2: 1-2)

When we begin reading the Old Testament we find ourselves facing the question: “Where are you?” When we begin the New Testament we read that wise men asked the question: “Where is He?” The New Testament makes sense because we are looking for the same Savior those wise men were seeking.

Where is He?  If we want to find Jesus we should look where love is, because if we live in the love that He is we will live in Him, and He will live in us. As we seek for clues to His reality we are given another answer by the Apostle John:

“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another…” (1 John 1:5-7)

The aged apostle tells us that God is light and if we want to fellowship with Him He will not come live with us in our darkness. No, we must join Him where He lives in the light. Then we have fellowship with Him and all those who are in fellowship with Him.

The light of which John writes is truth – the truth this world saw and heard when the Light became flesh and lived with us full of truth and the grace to live that truth. So, if you want to know where Jesus is, look where the light is.

Then become a conduit of that light.

Dick Woodward, 29 September 2011