#FAITH: Doing God’s Work (Now!)

August 16, 2019

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. The night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4)

The Gospel of John gives us another window into the way Jesus felt about the works God wanted Him to do. According to this vision statement of Jesus He knew the reality that He had less than three years to do those works.

In 1956 the famous missionary Jim Elliot and his four colleagues were speared to death by the tribal people they were trying to reach with the Gospel. Jim was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. About four years before he died, he wrote in his journal, “When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

We can’t understand how God decides the day of our deaths. We don’t know when our own finish line will come. But we should all live in such a way that when we come to the finish line of our lives there will be no unfinished business, no works our Heavenly Father assigned to us that we’ve left undone.

Do you have the magnificent obsession of Jesus to work the works God has assigned to you while it is day not knowing when the night is coming and you cannot work anymore?

Can you accept the challenge of being like Jesus in your attitude toward the works God wants you to do?

Dick Woodward, 18 August 2009


#FAITH: A Magnificent Obsession

August 13, 2019

“Jesus said to them, ‘my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.’” (John 4:34)

When Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well in Samaria He sent the apostles into a nearby village to buy food for their lunch. When His disciples returned with the food He refused it and spoke the words quoted above. Jesus obviously wanted to have a private interview with the Samaritan woman.

His interview has been summarized by a riddle: “The SW met a SW at a SW. The SW became a SW and went on to become a great SW.”

The explanation of the riddle is as follows: “The Savior of the World met a Samaritan Woman at a Samaritan Well. The Samaritan Woman became a Saved Woman and went on to become a great Soul Winner.”

When the apostles returned they marveled that Jesus was speaking with a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation. Earlier in this chapter we are told that Jesus was just passing through Samaria. He wanted to reach this woman who would reach all of Samaria for Him after He left. We’re told that she did this for Him.

Jesus told the apostles that this was the work of God for Him. And doing the work of God was His food. The magnificent obsession of Jesus was to do the work of God.

Is the work of God a magnificent obsession for you?

Dick Woodward, 14 August 2009


#FAITH: No Burning, No Shining

August 9, 2019

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

The applications of the metaphors of Jesus are almost endless. One application to the metaphor above is that for our candle to give light it must be consumed. Unlighted candles are not consumed, but the candles that shine are the candles that burn.

There is no shining without burning.

In another great metaphor Jesus told us we are like branches and He is the Vine. As branches, if we are properly intersected with Him, we draw from Him the love force to be fruitful. Jesus promised if we are plugged into Him and are fruitful, we will be cut back and pruned to be made more fruitful.

Cutbacks and pruning can really hurt. They can come in the form of suffering, but they improve the quality and the quantity of our fruit.

In light of these teachings we should not be surprised when we find ourselves burning our way through suffering that our brightest light for Christ yields the best fruit.

Like many others I thought I experienced my most fruitful years when I was able bodied and active. But I am joyfully surprised to discover that my most fruitful service for Christ has been as a bedfast quadriplegic. Using voice activated computer software from my bed, 782 Bible studies have been produced and are being heard in 31 languages in 60 countries. Worldwide more than 45,000 small groups are listening to Bible studies on solar powered digital audio players.

Have you discovered there is no shining without burning?

Dick Woodward, 09 August 2013

Editor’s Note: The MBC has now been translated in more than 50 languages!


A New Commandment: LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

August 6, 2019

“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:21)

In this chapter of the Bible, John gives us ten reasons we must love. His last reason is that we have been given a commandment by Jesus that we must love one another.

When Jesus was about to leave the apostles by way of His death on the cross, He left the apostles with a New Commandment:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

In our culture the concept of a commandment is lost for many people because we are so democratic in our values. The closest we come to understanding the meaning of this word is in our military training.

When my youngest brother was in training the order was given that the smoking lamp was out – which meant no smoking. In defiance he lit a cigarette. His Marine drill instructor ordered him to bury that cigarette in a grave six feet deep.

When my brother reported to the drill instructor all covered with mud and sweat, the instructor asked if he had buried the cigarette pointing north and south or east and west?  When he wasn’t sure the drill instructor told him he had to do it again the next day and make sure it pointed north and south.

The next time the no smoking order was given do you think he lit another cigarette?

Do you get the full weight of this reason we must love one another?

Dick Woodward, 06 August 2010


FAITH: TESTING & TRUSTING

August 2, 2019

 “…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.” James 1:2-6

When you encounter a storm in your life, that trial will often bring you to the place where you just don’t know what to do. You realize you need more wisdom than you have. James writes that we must let the test of faith lead us to the trust of faith.

When we lack wisdom, we must ask God, Who will be delighted to share wisdom with us. In the Old Testament when the people of God were fighting against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was:

Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have, therefore, thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned that God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the will and ways of God, wouldn’t it logically follow that I should not always expect to understand the way I’m going?

Obviously, that includes our suffering.

If God gave us an explanation for everything and the answers to our why questions, the very essence of faith would be eliminated… God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “If you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.278-281)


Will the real sinner please stand up?

July 30, 2019

…When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them.

Now which of them will love him more? (Luke 7:42)

Some of the greatest Christians were once the greatest sinners. As we read the seventh chapter of Luke (verses 36-50), we cannot help but think of The Confessions of Saint Augustine.  It is not necessary to sin much to love God – we should be careful not to give that impression. There is nothing good about sin.

It is true, however, that the truly repentant and contrite sinner can love much because he (or she) has been forgiven much. This was a driving force in the lives of King David, the Apostle Paul and Saint Augustine.

At issue here are the condescending thoughts of this Pharisee toward the woman who is washing Jesus’ feet. As he compares himself, the Pharisee is self-righteous. Like his colleague in Luke 18, he is looking upon this woman with an attitude, “I thank God I am not as other people are – sinners!”

The question of Jesus focuses this for him and for us. The Pharisee is the man forgiven the smaller debt, which means he saw his sin as a small thing. This teaching also focuses that the way we perceive ourselves has a profound effect upon how we perceive others.

Positively and negatively our self-image is a strong force in our interpersonal relationships.

The subtle message of Jesus to this Pharisee is that the real sinner at that luncheon was not the woman whose sin was obvious and known to everybody. Jesus’ message to her was the good news, that, because of her faith, her sins were forgiven.

When the real sinner stood up at that luncheon, however, he was a sinner named “Simon, the Pharisee.”

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.137)

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners.”


#Faith: One Step at a Time

July 26, 2019

 “… I being in the way the Lord led me…” (Genesis 24:27)

When we discover the context of these words of Scripture we realize they are teaching us a principle of how God works in our lives. It is easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary.

God can sometimes steer us more easily when we are moving. That’s why we often will find that one step frequently leads to the next step when we have faith to be led by the Holy Spirit.

The words above were spoken by Abraham’s servant who was commissioned by Abraham to travel to the land of his people to find a wife for Isaac. As Abraham’s servant journals the events of his search, he writes that while he was in the way the Lord led him he encountered the family of Rebekah. When he met her he knew that his search had ended.

Committed followers of Christ were commissioned two thousand years ago to go to all nations and make disciples for Jesus Christ.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Like the servant of Abraham, as we embark on the adventure of obeying our great commission, we should expect that each step will lead to the next step.

We don’t always have to know where the road leads as long as we know it is the right road. While we are in the way our Lord has commissioned us to go, we must have the faith to take that first step. Then, one step at a time, expect God to lead us to the next step.

Dick Woodward, 28 July 2009