June 17, 2016
“…To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’” (Luke 1:17)
When the Old Testament prophet Malachi prophesied the birth of John the Baptist, he predicted he would prepare the way of the Messiah by exhorting fathers to prioritize their relationships with their children. The challenging truth by application is that the way of the Lord in the lives of children is prepared when fathers are faithful in their responsibility toward their children.
One example of this reality is when our Lord taught His disciples how to pray, He instructed us to address God as “Our Father.” What images come into our minds when we address God in this way? Our relationships to our earthly fathers can strongly influence the way we perceive our heavenly Father.
As a pastor I’ve had parishioners say to me in private, “When I address God as my father I experience a spiritual short circuit.” When asked to tell about their earthly father I often heard a story about a very dysfunctional father/child relationship.
Professional Christian clinical psychologists and psychiatrists strongly reinforce the hard reality of the profound influence fathers have in the lives of their children. The profound truth that was focused when the life and ministry of John the Baptist was profiled is confirmed in millions of lives every day.
As we in America call this Sunday “Father’s Day,” may the vision statement that was prophesied for John the Baptist raise awareness in all of us who are fathers of the solemn mission objective we have been assigned by God when He made us fathers.
Dick Woodward, 20 June 2010
April 16, 2016
“Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.” (John 13:1)
Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles. Luke writes that on the way to the upper room where they were to celebrate the Passover the apostles argued about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised. What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!
Having washed their feet Jesus asked this question: “Do you know what I have done to you?” The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus is love. He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.
He also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example. If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each others’ feet. Then He made the connection between feet washing and love by giving them the New Commandment. They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them. This is the absolute credential that they were His disciples.
A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment. Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus but now they were to make a commitment to each other. This new commitment established a New Community. We call it the church. The secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!” If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence to convict us?
Oh Lord make it so!
Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012
May 5, 2015
“… He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated ‘Peter.’) (John 1:42)
When Jesus met Peter, his name was Simon and his life was characterized by instability. Yet Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter,” which means “rock” and essentially “stability.”
In Matthew 16 we have an intriguing interview between Jesus and Peter. Jesus had done the “who are you?” question in reverse. He asked the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter came up with the right answer. The Lord then said in so many words, “You’re not that smart Peter. That answer really didn’t come from you. It came from My Father.”
In this interview Jesus was telling Peter who and what Peter was, and what he was being called to be. When I had a chance to meet with Ravi Zacharias in my home, I asked him, “who is Ravi Zacharias?” He responded, “I think what really matters is how our Lord would answer that question.” In this interview with Peter, Jesus answered that question for him.
In the Gospels Peter’s life is recorded like an unstable spiritual roller coaster. But after Jesus called Peter a ‘rock’ for three years, and after Peter experienced Pentecost, we read in Acts that this unstable man became the rock-like, stable leader of the New Testament Church. When you read the Gospels and Acts, you realize Jesus was convincing Peter of what he could become because he had come to know his Lord and Savior.
Do you hear the voice of the Christ Who lives in your heart trying to give you His answer to this question, “What are you?” Is He making you know what you can become and do for Him since He has made you a new creation? Is He making you know what He can equip you to become as He is calling you and revealing what He wants you to be and do for him?
Dick Woodward, A Spiritual Compass (p. 71-72)