#Renewal – Turning Water into Wine

November 19, 2019

“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 a spiritual experience, renewal 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 – your life will come apart.

Let Jesus turn your water into wine.

Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011


#FAITH: Steps for Regeneration

November 15, 2019

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

An allegory is a story in which people, places and things have a deeper meaning. In addition to being the record of a supernatural miracle, the story of Jesus turning water into wine is a beautiful allegory that shows us how to be born again.

Carefully and prayerfully read the story. (John 2:1-11)

A first step is expressed in the words of Mary when she tells Jesus: “They have no wine.”  Wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible. This statement of Mary is like a confession. Our first step in being born again is to confess that we have no wine (joy) and we need to be born again.

A second step in this formula is when Jesus tells the servants to fill the huge thirty gallon jars with water. The Scripture is sometimes symbolized by water because of the way it cleanses. A devotional application here could therefore be that our second step toward regeneration would be to fill our human vessel with the Word of God.

A third step is pictured when Mary tells the servants to “do whatever Jesus tells you to do.” While we are filling our vessel with the Word we must do what Jesus tells us to do.

The fourth step is when Jesus tells the servants to draw out what they had just poured into the huge jars and serve it as wine. Precisely, when did the water become wine? I’m convinced it was when the servants had the faith to serve the water as wine. We are born again when we believe Jesus can turn our water into wine and show His glory through us.

Dick Woodward, 14 November 2011


#FAITH: An Inspired Art Gallery

November 12, 2019

So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw His splendor (the splendor as of a father’s only son) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The Gospel of John is like an inspired art gallery. Every chapter is a room in that gallery with beautiful portraits of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls. The portrait in the first room 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 the way 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 from 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 comprehensive Word that expressed 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 His expressed thought in human flesh and blood. God therefore became human and made His home with us as Jesus so we could see and experience His expressed thought toward us.

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

Dick Woodward, 10 November 2011


#LOVE: THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD

November 8, 2019

“There are three things that last — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.”  (1 Corinthians 13:13)

What is the greatest thing in the world? The Apostle Paul sifts his answer down to three things: hope, faith and love. Hope is the conviction that there can be good in life. God plants hope in the hearts of human beings.

Hope gives birth to faith, and faith is one of the greatest things because faith brings us to God. However, when Paul compares these two great concepts with love, without hesitation he concludes that love is the greatest thing in the world.

This is true because love is not something that brings us to something that brings us to God. When we experience the special love Paul describes we are in the Presence of God.

There is a particular quality of love that is God and God is a particular quality of love.

To acquaint us with that specific quality of love, in the middle of this chapter Paul passes love through the “prism” of the Holy Spirit that comes out on the other side as a cluster of 15 virtues. All these virtues of love are others-centered, unselfish ways of expressing unconditional love. If you study these virtues you will find in them a cross section of the love that is God – and is the greatest thing in the world.

Paul presents faith, hope and love as the greatest things because they last. Love is the greatest of the three because one day we will no longer need hope and faith when throughout eternity we will be in the Presence of Love.

Therefore, the greatest thing in the world is Love.

Dick Woodward, 08 November 2013


#FAITH : A RECIPE FOR REST

November 5, 2019

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus loves to give invitations. He addresses this one to people who are loaded with problems and are working themselves to exhaustion trying to solve their problems. Jesus promises that if we come to Him, He will give us rest. If you look closely at this invitation He is inviting us to come to Him and learn about His heart, His burden, and His yoke. It is what we learn from Him that will lead us to rest.

Jesus wants burdened people to learn that His burden is light, His heart is humble, and His yoke is easy. There is a sense in which Jesus had the weight of the world on His shoulders and yet He claimed that His burden was light.

His burden was light because He let His Father carry the load.

The most important part of His recipe for rest is what Jesus wants us to learn about His yoke. A yoke is not a burden. It is an instrument that makes it possible to bear a burden. When a cart is piled high with cargo it is the yoke that makes it possible for an ox to pull a great load with ease.

It is the yoke of Jesus that shows us how to pull our heavy burdens of life.The yoke of Jesus is that He let His Father carry the burdens. We take His yoke upon us when we let the Holy Spirit carry the load.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2013


#FAITH : God’s Strength in Our Weakness

October 25, 2019

“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10-12)

When I was 25 years old I attended a conference for pastors. Our speaker was a famous pastor who had snowy white hair. I felt sorry for him because he was so very old. As he started to speak his first words to us were: “I’m old. I’m gloriously old, but I wouldn’t be as young and ignorant as you are for anything in the world!”

I was feeling sorry for him because he was so old, while he was feeling sorry for me because I was so young.

In many cultures age is considered a plus because wisdom comes with age. Psalm 90 makes the statement we reach 80 years of age “by reason of strength.” I have had a debilitating disease since 1978. By God’s grace, I have found the strength which comes from the Lord and is exhibited in the showcase of my physical weakness.

I was born eighty years ago today (25 Oct), so these verses resonate with me in a personal way. Two of the ways Moses exhorts us to apply this psalm is to number and value our days to gain a heart of wisdom about how we should spend them.

He then concludes his psalm asking God to show us the work God wants us to do, so that God’s glory might appear to our children. His last words invite God to anoint the work God reveals to us.

Dick Woodward, 25 October 2010

Editor’s Note: October 25th is Dick Woodward’s birthday. The fact that he was 83 when he died as a bedfast quadriplegic in 2014 is miraculous. But everyone who knew Dick Woodward can probably still hear his voice saying, “I can’t, but God can… I didn’t but God did.” (In other words, even when Papa couldn’t do anything but nod his head, God did miraculous things in and through him.) After 28 years as a quadriplegic, today his spiritual legs are running along Heavenly pavements, basking in the everlasting love of Jesus.


#FAITH : An Attitude of Gratitude

October 22, 2019

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

In the last chapter of the letter to the Church at Philippi Paul gives them, and us, a prescription for peace. The peace of God is a state of personal peace in which God can keep us if we meet certain conditions. (Isaiah 26:3)

As I seek to maintain the peace of God I get the most mileage out of the prescription listed above. I have discovered that when I begin to thank God for all the good things in my life it is as if a switch is thrown and I find my mind automatically moving from the negative to the positive.

To use a metaphor, if I were to place all the bad stuff in my life on the left side of a scale – like a scale of justice – and all the good stuff on the right side of that scale, the right side will far outweigh the left side.

That’s what happens when I implement what I call, “The Therapy of Thanksgiving.”

An old hymn writer put it this way:

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed.

When you are discouraged thinking all is lost.

Count your many blessings, name them one by one

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

(Johnson Oatman, Jr.; 1856-1926)

That’s why Paul’s prescription is that when we pray, in everything (not for everything), we should pray thankful prayers. He promises that when we do so the peace of God will stand guard over our hearts and minds.

Dick Woodward, 22 October 2010