Sowing in Tears

February 10, 2017

“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 inspired 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 are suffering 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.  It is rather 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 life is yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people in waiting rooms outside the operating theaters of our 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


God’s Amazing AMAZING Grace

February 7, 2017

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Romans 5:1-5)

In Paul’s letter to Roman believers, he writes that God has given us access, by faith, to a quality of grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Jesus Christ in this world and live our lives to glorify Him. Paul writes that we should rejoice in our tribulation, because it is our suffering that forces us to access the grace God makes available to us.

In another verse about grace from the pen of Apostle Paul, we read: “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.” (2Corinthians 9:8) This is the most emphatic verse in the Bible about the grace God makes available to us.

According to Paul, God is able to make all grace (not just a little bit of grace), abound (not just trickle), toward you (not just Billy Graham, your pastor, missionaries, but toward you), that you (he repeats you for emphasis), always (not just sometimes), having all sufficiency (not just some sufficiency), in all things (not just some things), may abound (not just limp along), unto every good work (not just some good works).

All grace, abounding, always, all of you, I mean all of you, all sufficiency, all things, always abounding in all the good works God wants to do through you!

The New Testament church turned the world right side up because they believed and experienced the truth Paul was proclaiming in this extraordinary proclamation about God’s amazing grace.

Do you believe in the amazing grace of God?

Dick Woodward, 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer (p.21)


Using God’s Love Lenses

January 31, 2017

“…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)

How does love fit into the trio of lasting qualities Paul writes of? The Apostle John answered the question for us when he wrote: “God is love and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God dwells in him.” (I John 4;16) When we dwell in the love Paul prescribed (in I Corinthians 13), we dwell in God, and God dwells in us.

By application, this means when we go where the hurting people are, as God’s love is passing through us and addressing their pain, we are touching God and God is touching us.  Since the agape love passing through us is God, we are dwelling in God and God is dwelling in us while God’s love is passing through us.

Jesus gave us love perspective when He exhorted the apostles to look up before they look on the fields that are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35) The Lord was focusing on two perspectives we must master as His authentic disciples. Before we look around and relate to the people who intersect our lives every day, we are to look up, and then look at them. We should see them through the same love lenses God uses when God sees them.  If we do, we will never see anyone we cannot love.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Temple Maintenance

January 25, 2017

“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal…”  I Kings 19:18

The great prophet Elijah reached the zenith of his career when he challenged the people of God to stop being spiritual schizophrenics. He asked them to decide if the Lord was God or if the false Baal was God. When that happened on Mount Carmel, they experienced a great revival and committed themselves to serving the true and living God. (I Kings 18)

The very next day we read these words about Elijah: “But he went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die.” (I Kings 19:12)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. The drastic changes we see in him between chapters 18 and 19 are due to many things, but one factor is that Elijah neglected what I call Temple Maintenance. When I was out jogging, I told my children if anyone called to tell them their father was doing temple maintenance. As a pastor that sounded like something official around the church. The Apostle Paul tells us that our bodies are the temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17) Therefore, anything we do to maintain our bodies could be described as temple maintenance. If we neglect our temple maintenance, it can have serious consequences for our health and ministry.

Observe in that dramatic victory Elijah won on Mount Carmel all the physical stress and effort he put out that day. He dug a deep ditch around that altar and filled it with water. Have you ever dug a deep ditch? …At the end of that long day, he ran in front of a chariot for 17 miles. Our hero must have been completely exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The physical dimension of our lives directly affects our mental, emotional and even spiritual perspectives. The word neurotic has been defined as ‘thoughts and feelings for which there is no basis in fact.’ Elijah obviously allowed his physical stresses to affect him mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We know all his blubbering about being the only true servant of the Lord was neurotic when God made him know there were 7,000 faithful servants like him, who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.147-151)

Editor’s Note: My father had bright blue and yellow jogging suits emblazoned with “Temple Maintenance” he wore in the 1970s running up and down the boardwalk in Va. Beach, VA. (My younger brother & I counted his ‘laps’ for him.)  After 30 subsequent years of quadriplegia, we can imagine him now running (or gliding?) around the streets of Heaven with new spiritual legs, engaging in a little celestial Temple Maintenance.


Overcoming Prejudice

January 17, 2017

“But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry… ‘Oh Lord, I knew You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.’  …And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:1-4)

As you reflect upon Jonah’s story and apply the central truth in the Book of Jonah, ask yourself if you are prejudiced. To be prejudiced means to ‘pre-judge.’  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. I was introduced to prejudice as a boy growing up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when I heard Italian Americans called ‘daggos’ and Polish Americans called ‘hunkies.’

When I attended a southern college in the late 1940’s, I was shocked to see ‘white’ and ‘colored’ water fountains and to see African Americans sitting in the back of buses.  I was even more bewildered when I discovered that “colored people” were not welcome in “white” churches…

As a new believer I was disillusioned because I heard professing believers use discriminatory labels.  From what I learned while preparing for the ministry, I expected the followers of Christ and our spiritual communities to be free from prejudice. As a believer for more than 60 years and a pastor for more than five decades, I am still alarmed by the deceitful ways of the evil one when I discover prejudice in my own heart and in the lives of other believers…

I have learned, from personal experience, that prejudice feeds on ignorance. I grew up during the Second World War when intense propaganda presented Japanese as sub-human creatures. In my junior year of college in L.A., my roommate was a devout Japanese disciple of Jesus Christ. He was the most Christ-like and disciplined disciple of Jesus I had met at that point in my life. The experience of knowing him completely erased the cumulative impact of all the war propaganda from my mind. Until I met my roommate, I had never met a Japanese person before. My prejudice was fed by my ignorance.

Most prejudice is fed by ignorance.

… Examine your own heart before God and ask yourself if you have prejudice in your heart that is blocking the love God wants to channel through you to lost and hurting people in this world.

Dick Woodward,  Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet


A Blueprint against Burn Out

January 10, 2017

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He Who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27)

There are times when God’s people are so weak we don’t know how to pray. In effect, Paul teaches that when we are burned out and we don’t know what to ask God, we should pray anyway. The Spirit of God knows the mind and will of God. When we are so weak we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit will make intercession for us according to the will of God. Then, even if we ask for the wrong things, our loving Heavenly Father will give us the right things.

Imagine the stress Moses endured all those years in wilderness wanderings. With more than 600,000 fighting men, plus women and children, meant that Moses led somewhere between two and three million people around in circles in the desert. He was the only legal judge to settle all their squabbles. His frustration reached the level of exasperation. He was so burned out, he actually asked God to kill him. (Numbers 11:11-15)

When Moses asked God to kill him, he was so weak and tired of he did not know what to pray. He prayed anyway. Even though he asked for the wrong things, God knew his heart and gave him the right things. God made Moses know that His work requires a team effort. Serving God is a team sport.

The marketplace can burn you out big time if you have not learned that running a business is a team sport. Other players on your team have gifts and skill sets that you do not have and you have what they do not have. Therefore, it is a good blueprint against burnout to accept the reality of beauty in diversity. Diversity should be celebrated rather than resolved.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 144-146)


Wise Men Still Seek Him….

January 6, 2017

“…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 reading the New Testament we read that wise men asked the question: “Where is He?” The Old Testament shows us where we are. When it does, the New Testament makes sense to us because we are looking for the same Savior those wise men were seeking.

Where is He?  If we want to find Him we should look where the love is, because if we live in the love that Jesus 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…” (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 a unique fellowship with 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