#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


Following Jesus: A Prescription for Fullness

June 18, 2019

“This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk even as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)

In the first sixteen verses of his short letter, the Apostle John tells us about a prescription for fullness. His prescription comes in seven parts: facts, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, follow-ship, fruitfulness, and then fullness.

John’s facts are the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we have faith to believe the first fact we have forgiveness. When we believe the second the result is fellowship with the risen Christ.

By changing one letter in the word “fellowship” to “follow-ship,” I have come up with the key to John’s prescription for fullness: You will know that you know when you walk as Jesus walked.

This word follow-ship is also a key to the fullness emphasized by Jesus. His covenant with the apostles was “Follow Me and I will make you.” (Matthew 4:19) The most important part of the Great Commission occurred when Jesus commissioned the disciples to make disciples. (Matthew 28: 18-20)

A synonym for discipleship is apprenticeship. Jesus apprenticed the apostles and He commissioned them to apprentice disciples.

The Gospel of John Chapter 7 records a great claim of Jesus when He declared that His teaching is the teaching of God.  Jesus also proclaimed we prove that when we do what He teaches. (John 7:17)

According to Jesus the doing leads to the knowing. Intellectuals have claimed for millenniums that the knowing will lead to the doing, but Jesus said “When you do you will know.”

Are you willing to do that you might know the the Word of God?

Dick Woodward, 18 June 2011


Renewal: Turning Water Into Wine

November 16, 2018

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

Jesus goes to a wedding and when they run out of wine, He creates more wine. In addition to the record of a miracle, this story is a formula for regeneration and a prescription for renewal.

There is tired and there is tired of.  Disciples of Jesus not only get tired – they get tired of. We call this “burnout.”

I’m convinced this first miracle of Jesus presents a prescription for burnout. If you are experiencing the need for renewal consider this prescription. When Mary tells Jesus they have no wine, since wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible let this represent your confession that you need renewal because you are tired of, dry, and burned out.

Then block out some time to fill your human vessel with the Word of God as symbolized by the vessels being filled with water. While you are filling up on the Word of God do whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do. Then realize that renewal is not just to give you an experience, it is for the benefit of those God wants to touch and bless using you as God’s channel.

Let these four principles from Jesus Christ’s first miracle bring renewal to you as you serve Him. Our Lord often invited His disciples to come apart and rest awhile. If you don’t come apart at times and take this prescription of Jesus for your burnout – you will come apart.

Let Jesus turn your water into wine.

Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011


An Inspired Art Gallery (of Faith)

November 9, 2018

“So the Word became human and made his home among us.” (John 1:14)

The Gospel of John is like an inspired art gallery. Every chapter is like a room in that gallery with beautiful portraits of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls. In the first room, the portrait is that of Jesus as the Word that became human to make His home among us.

If you want to communicate a great idea wrap it in a person. God does that all through the Bible. God communicates the concept of faith by wrapping it in the person of Abraham. God tells us what grace is by wrapping that beautiful concept in the person of Jacob.

What does it mean when we are told that Jesus is the Word? A word is the vehicle of a thought. When I want to communicate thoughts that are in my mind to your mind I use words as vehicles of my thoughts. God had ‘Thought’ that God wanted to express to this world. Jesus is like a beautiful comprehensive Word that expresses the Thought of God to this world – and to you and me.

Our loving Heavenly Father decided that an inspired written Word was not enough. God wanted us to see God’s expressed thought in human flesh and blood. God therefore became human and made God’s home with us as Jesus so that we can see and experience God’s expressed thought toward us.

The Word not only made His home among us – Jesus wants to make His home in us. If He has done that for you, what great ideas does Jesus want to communicate to others by wrapping them in your life?

Dick Woodward, 10 November 2011


Believing God for Comfort @ The Holidays

December 15, 2017

“…whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26)

I have suggested in my two previous blogs that if you want to find the blessedness and comfort Jesus promised to those who mourn in His second beatitude, you should ask the right questions and listen to God’s answers. My third suggestion is implied by Jesus as He gave an excellent answer to Martha when he asked, “Do you believe this?”

My suggestion is that you believe God’s answers to the right questions. When we ask, listen, and believe, the death of someone we love is like an investment in the world to come. We have simply bought shares in heaven, increasing our motivation to be there in the eternal dimension with Christ and with them.

A devout surgeon I know says that the word we use most in this life is “Why?” However, the word we are going to use most in the next world will be “Oh!”

An old hymn I don’t hear much anymore proclaims:

“Friends will be there I have known long ago.

Joy like a river around me will flow.

Yet just a smile from my Savior I know,

that will be glory, be glory for me!”

The Bible is filled with God’s answers to the right questions. When we believe those answers we will discover the blessed state Jesus promised those who mourn in one word: salvation. Salvation and the comfort He promised can begin right now and last forever if we ask, listen, and believe!

Dick Woodward, 17 December 2010


Saving Faith: Never Ever Alone

December 12, 2017

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

If this happy and joyful holiday season finds you unhappy because you are mourning the loss of a loved one, in my previous post I suggested you should ask the right questions. My second suggestion is to listen to God’s answers to the right questions. For example, listen to the answer of the One Who was God in the flesh and gave us the second beatitude that promised comfort when we are mourning.

Jesus gave this answer (John 11:25-26) to Martha who had lost her brother, Lazarus, whom she and Jesus loved deeply. To paraphrase, Jesus told Martha that if a man like her brother believed in Him, even though he died he would live. Jesus then opened this great reality to all of us with the declaration that whoever believes and lives his or her life in fellowship with Him will never die.

Make the observation when the Lord appears to be redundant He is not merely repeating Himself. The second time Jesus makes this declaration He opens the reality of everlasting life to whoever meets two prerequisites: if we believe in Him and if we live our lives in Him, we will never die.

Faith alone can save but the faith that saves is never alone.

When Jesus focuses the validating faith of living in Him, He uses an expression that is found nearly 200 times in the New Testament. It means to be in relationship with Him the way a branch is in relationship with a vine.

Dick Woodward, 14 December 2010


Asking the Right Questions

December 8, 2017

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  (Matthew 5:4)

In our culture today, there are many people who are praying for the grace to get through the weeks that begin with Thanksgiving and end with Christmas Day. These people are often ‘single again.’ By that I mean those who have lost a spouse through death or divorce, or those who have lost a child or a loved one.

If you have lost someone, it would be good to listen to the second beatitude of Jesus.  He shows that His values are very different from ours when He announces that those who are mourning losses can be blessed and comforted. The word blessed can mean “happy,” “spiritually prosperous” or “in a state of grace.”

If you would like to experience the blessing and comfort Jesus promised those who are mourning losses, a first step in that direction would be to ask the right questions. Perhaps, for the first time in your life – ask the right questions.

When we suffer loss, there are right questions and there are wrong questions. The question “why” is very often a wrong question, because it can lead to questions nobody can answer. There are, however, right questions. When we lose a loved one through death there is a question God wants us to ask. It’s found in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Job, where Job writes: “When a man dies he lies prostrate, he expires and then where is he?  When a man dies shall he live again?”

When we are mourning, God wants us to ask right questions like that one.  Have you ever asked that question?

Dick Woodward, 10 December 2010