Indestructible #LOVE

February 14, 2020

“Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:8)

Human love is often based on performance. When we apply the love of Christ, our love is not based on the performance of those we love. That is what makes this love indestructible.

The love of Jesus Christ is a tough, indestructible love because it is unconditional.

In wedding ceremonies, many couples make the unconditional vow: “…for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death us do part.” The living Christ, empowering the love Paul prescribes in 1 Corinthians 13, is the dynamic that makes that possible.

We can also make the application that these ways of love are irresistible, because they are inspirational. Peter, ultimately, could not resist the positive reinforcement of Jesus calling him a rock. I personally could not resist when my mentors prayed, imagined, dreamed, hoped and believed in my ultimate potential.

If you ask Christ to make your life a conduit of His love to your spouse, children, and those who are difficult to love – you may make the joyful discovery that they will ultimately find the love of Christ to be irresistible and inspirational. They will begin to believe what you pray, imagine, dream, hope and believe about and for them.

For 28 years, I have experienced the gradual, but relentless onset of paralysis, which has reduced me to a helpless, bedfast quadriplegic. During that time I have learned much about the love of Christ from my wife, who is the most selfless, others-centered person I have ever known. In all these years she has never taken a day, weekend or vacation from her care of me. There are very few people in this world who know as well as I do what it means to be the recipient of the unconditional and indestructible love of Christ.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


#Faith and the Tears of Suffering

February 11, 2020

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6)

The ancient hymn writer is describing a father who is sowing seeds his family desperately needs because they are hungry.  As a provider he knows that if he does not plant these seeds, there will be no food for them and they will starve to death. He therefore sows these precious seeds with tears streaming down his face.

The Holy Spirit leads the author to a beautiful application after he paints this solemn picture for us: sometimes when we suffer to the point of tears, those tears are precious seeds our heavenly Father is sowing in the soil of our suffering.  When that is the case, we will doubtless come again rejoicing bringing the fruitful results of our suffering with us.

This is a truth that is often shared in the Bible. Sometimes suffering is not the setback it appears to be, but the cutback of our Heavenly Father who is like a divine Vineyard keeper. He cuts us back to increase the quality and the quantity of the fruit our lives are yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people in waiting rooms outside operating theaters in hospitals than He does in the sanctuaries of our churches. God does not waste our sorrows, and we should not waste them either.

Listen to the wisdom of the hymn writer when he tells us our tears are precious seeds that will ultimately rejoice our hearts.

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2013


#Faith and (Abounding) #Grace

February 7, 2020

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and the grace of God bestows on us all kinds of wonderful blessings we do not deserve. Grace is also the dynamic we must receive from God to do what God calls and leads us to do. 2 Corinthians 9:8 is the most superlative verse about grace in the Bible.

It tells us that God is able to make all grace, not just some grace, abound toward us, not just trickle in our direction. Then we may have all sufficiency, not just some sufficiency, in all things, not just some things.

We are then equipped to abound, not just do our duty, as we do every good work God leads us to do, not just the works we like to do, ALWAYS!

Twice in this verse Paul emphasizes the reality that this grace is for you – not just for the pastor or the missionary – but you!

Is this grace a reality in your journey of faith?

I once heard Dr. A. W. Tozer preach on this verse. After he read it there was an eloquent pause before he said, “Sometimes you cannot help but allow the thought that God oversold grace in the New Testament.” He then preached a powerful message challenging us to believe God has not oversold His grace but that we need to learn how to access His grace.

The hymn writer wrote, “The favor God shows and the joy He bestows are for those who will trust and obey…”

That is a good place to start.

Dick Woodward, 10 February 2012


God’s #Mercy & Unconditional #Love

February 4, 2020

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

The reality that God loves us unconditionally is often described in the Bible by one word: “mercy.” This word is found 366 times in the Bible. That’s one for every day of the year – and even leap year – because God knows we need His mercy every day. 280 of these references to God’s mercy are found in the Old Testament.

My favorite is the last verse of the 23rd Psalm where David wrote: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Hebrew scholars tell us that the word “follow” can be translated as “pursue.” This means that David believed the unconditional love of God pursued him all the days of his life.

What a dynamic truth. God not only loves us unconditionally, He pursues us with His unconditional love all the days of our lives.

Does that mean our Heavenly Father loves us when He is cutting us back or chastening us? Absolutely! The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that if God did not chasten us we would be like illegitimate children and not His sons and daughters.

Chastening confirms the reality that God loves us.

When we are experiencing one of those cutbacks, rather than thinking that God does not love us anymore – the opposite is true.

God is pursuing us with His unconditional love.

Dick Woodward, 06 February 2009


A Prayer for God’s Peace

January 31, 2020

As a pastor I have known believers so ill and distraught they couldn’t concentrate enough to grasp Paul’s conditions for peace in booklet form, so I put them in a prayer. If you are seeking God’s peace, I invite you to pray this prayer with me.

Heavenly Father, You tell us in Your Word that You can keep us in a state of perfect personal peace if we meet Your conditions for that state of peace. Because I seek this peace in my life, give me the wisdom to worry about nothing and the faith to pray about everything. May I receive from You the mental discipline to think about good things and the integrity to do the right things.

May I always have an incurable optimism that believes in goodness, and give me such an insight into what You have been doing and what You are now doing in my life and in my world that I will give thanks always and in all things. May I never try to push You or run before You, but always wait on You, experiencing and expressing the gentleness and patience that are the evidence of Your Holy Spirit living in me.

As I sort out my priorities, may I always value Your approval of who and what I am and what I do, and not walk before others to be seen by them or to please them. Never let me forget how near You are to me as I draw near to You, worshiping and enjoying You each day and forever.

And finally, Heavenly Father, realizing that it is not who I am, but who You are that is important; acknowledging that it is not what I can do, but what You can do that really matters; agreeing that it should never be what I want, but always what You want; and remembering that in the final analysis it will not be what I did, but what You did that will have lasting eternal results, give me that absolute trust in You and total dependence on You that will truly rest my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

Enable me to meet these conditions for personal peace in the name of Jesus Christ, for my peace and for Your glory. Amen.

Dick Woodward, from “A Prescription for Peace”


(Always!) Pray About Everything

January 28, 2020

“…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? The Apostle 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) 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”


God’s Peace: Trusting and Thinking

January 24, 2020

“…think on these things…”  (Philippians 4:8)

Paul and Jesus agree that we should think our way to peace (in addition to fervent prayer.) Jesus challenged us: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23)

Jesus was talking about how we think and look at things – our mindset and outlook.

Paul gives us the same counsel in this condition for peace: we can decide how we are going to think, and how we are not going to think. He challenges us to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good news. How much time do we spend thinking about things that are untrue, dishonorable, unjust, impure, ugly, and bad news?

Isaiah wrote, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) Paul and Isaiah agree that if trust is always, peace is perfect and perpetual. If trust is up and down, peace is up and down. If there is no trust, there is no peace, because we must keep our minds continuously fixed on God, trusting.

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in prison chained between two soldiers 24/7. Guards changed every 4 hours, which means he never had a moment of privacy. He had to practice this condition for peace continually: “Fix your minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and praiseworthy,” then, “the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”

In the context of our own experiences of terrifying stress, like combat, being violated by a crime, a terrible accident, surgery, prison, the news that we have a malignancy, or the final stages of an illness, this prescription can give us peace.

“Think on these things…”

Dick Woodward, from “A Prescription for Peace”