Unquenchable #FAITH, Unfailing #LOVE

May 1, 2020

Surely goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)  

What is the basis of David’s unquenchable faith? What gives him the assurance that all the blessings he has described in Psalm 23 will be experienced “all the days of his life” and “forever?”

The word Selah, found frequently in the Psalms of David, can be interpreted: “Pause and calmly think about that.” If we pause and calmly think about it, we realize that all through Psalm 23 David presents the Good Shepherd as the great Initiator of their relationship.

It is the Shepherd Who gets David’s attention then makes him lie down and say, “baa,” confessing that he is a sheep and the Lord is his Shepherd. It is the Shepherd Who makes David lie down by green pastures and leads him beside still waters. It is the Shepherd Who uses His staff when David strays from Him, and drives him into paths of righteousness that restore his soul.

As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own extraordinary ability as a warrior. His confidence is clearly in the Good Shepherd. As David walks through this scary valley, he looks to God for protection and provision. He knows God will personally anoint him with oil and keep that cup running over within him.

The source of David’s confident faith is also expressed in this hymn, “I Sought the Lord,” by George McDonald.

“I find, I walk, I love, but Oh the whole of love

            Is but my answer, Lord to Thee.

            For You were long beforehand with my soul.

            Always, you have loved me.”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk

#prayer #hope #inspiration #belief #comfort


THE ME FIRST #FAITH CLUB

April 28, 2020

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”  (1Timothy 4:16)

Although it sounds contrary to what we have been taught, the Apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, that there are times when we should join the Me First Faith Club. When you find something great in the Scriptures, how many times is your first thought the person who simply must hear this truth?

In this prescription for spiritual growth Paul writes that Timothy should place the Scripture on his life, and then hold his life up to Scripture. Paul promises Timothy that if he will continuously do this as a spiritual discipline, he will experience salvation and then lead others to salvation.

There are at least three times when committed disciples should put ourselves in first place: when we are judging, when there is sin to confess, and when it comes to our spiritual needs. Many disciples have become casualties because they neglected these priorities.

There is a sense in which if we do not save ourselves we cannot save anybody else. When oxygen masks appear on a commercial air flight, mothers are instructed to place their masks on first and then put their babies’ masks on.

If you are a spiritual leader don’t apply Scripture to others that you have not first applied to yourself. Think of the priorities being taught here as concentric circles. You are the innermost circle. The other circles represent those with whom you share God’s Word after you have joined the Me First Faith Club.

Save yourself and then watch God save others.

Dick Woodward, 27 April 2013

#prayer #hope #peace #theBible #belief


#Prayer, #Peace and Sacrifice

April 24, 2020

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 4:5)

In Psalm 4 David has insomnia because he is doing the expedient thing rather than what is right.  He’s doing this because if he does the right thing he cannot see how he can possibly survive.  Since he is a man of deep spiritual integrity this keeps him awake all night.

In the middle of the night David resolves in his heart that he is going to make whatever sacrifices he must to do what is right, and then trust the Lord for his survival.

This decision changes his emotional climate from anxiety and insomnia to one of peace and peaceful sleep.

His motivation is that there are many people who are asking “Who will show us something good?” In other words, people are looking for someone who will do what is right even if it costs them everything they have to do right.

The Psalm begins with a prayer that is addressed to God Who relieves us when we are in distress. If you want to know what distress is just drop the first two letters of the word. See that this Psalm is all about being relieved from our (di)-stress.

If you are a spiritually oriented person and you are not doing what is right because you cannot see how you can survive if you do, are you willing to resolve to make whatever sacrifices you must make to do what is right and then trust God for the outcome?

This would be a tremendous witness to those who are looking for someone who is willing to offer God the sacrifices of righteousness.

Dick Woodward, 23 April 2010

#hope #faith #love #courage


Two People in a Pew, which One are You?

April 21, 2020

“Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are those who are persecuted …” (Matthew 5:9-10)

As Jesus profiles the character of a disciple that makes them salt, light and a solution to the problems and problem people of this world, He declares that they will be peacemakers who get persecuted.

A synonym for “peacemakers” is “reconcilers.”  Paul writes (in 2 Corinthians 5:13-6:2) that every believer who has been reconciled to God through Christ has committed to them the message and ministry of reconciliation.

Today many people are alienated from God, from themselves, and from other people. There is an acute need for reconciliation. To quote an old theologian, “It is the will of the Reconciler that the reconciled are to be the vehicles of reconciliation in the lives of the un-reconciled.”

Since reconcilers go where conflict is happening they are often in great danger. Such is the case with disciples who are living the fourth pair of Jesus Christ’s Beatitudes.

You would think that if a person had eight blessed attitudes in their life people would gather around them and sing “For he (and she) is a jolly good fellow!” But the opposite is true. Often such a person is attacked and persecuted.

The reason for this is that when people meet such a person they have two choices. They can realize that this is what I should be like, or they can attack that person and try to prove that they are really not what they appear to be.

Those who are the salt of the earth irritate and burn the ethical sores of those who are lost.

Two people in a pew, which one are you?

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2010


A God First Mindset #Prayer

April 17, 2020

…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:13)

Our Lord Jesus teaches us to begin our prayers with a God first mindset and conclude our prayers with that same focus.  We begin our prayers looking through the grid: “Your name be reverenced, Your Kingdom come,” and “Your will be done on earth, just as it is willed and done in heaven.”

We are to conclude our prayers the same way.

Jesus wants us to conclude our prayers by making this commitment to our Heavenly Father: “Yours is the Kingdom.” 

By this confession, He means for us to pledge to God that the results of our Heavenly Father’s continuously answering our prayers will always belong to Him.

As we face every day challenges we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God: “Yours is the power.” I have confessed this countless times in my journey of faith and ministry by saying, “I can’t, but He can.”

Finally, we are to conclude our prayers by confessing: “Yours is the glory.” When we apply this third providential benediction, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but He did, all the glory goes to Him.”

Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers by making this solemn commitment to God: the glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayers always goes to You.”

The essence of this benediction is: “Because the power always comes from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

“Amen” simply means, “So be it.”

Dick Woodward, from “A Prescription for Prayer”

#faith #hope #prayer #peace #Jesus


When You Don’t Know What to Do

April 14, 2020

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we simply do not know what to do. The Scripture above is taken from a historical context when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and they simply did not know what to do.

James wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back but will dump a truckload of wisdom on us.

Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me that she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital the doctors discovered mononucleosis and seriously infected tonsils that needed to be removed. She concluded her litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my intelligent young daughter believed that if she could just share her litany of woes with me and tap into the vast resources of my wisdom, I would tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.

According to James that is the way we make our heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. That’s why a good way to begin some days is:

“Lord, I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on you!”

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2013

#faith #hope #inspiration #peace #Jesus #wisdom


Jesus: “It is finished…”

April 10, 2020

“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’” (John 19:30)

These last words of Jesus are actually one word in the original language: “Tetelesti.”

This word was written over the record of a prisoner after completing his or her sentence in a Roman prison. “Tetelesti” was also written above the cross of a prisoner crucified by Rome.

What a providential irony that Jesus chose this word at the end of His suffering for your sins and mine.

What Jesus meant is that He paid in full a debt He did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay. Theologians call this the “finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.” One thought is that we cannot add anything to what He finished for us there on the cross.

A more profound thought is that we must put our faith in what Jesus did for us there.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweat great drops of blood as He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him. The Father’s response was that there was no other way, so Jesus had to go through the suffering of the cross.

To think that we could save ourselves by our works is like saying to our Heavenly Father and to our Savior: “You really didn’t have to go through all that suffering because I can save myself by the good works I am doing.”

We must believe in what Jesus finished on the cross: “It is finished.”

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2009


#LOVE: A New Commandment

April 7, 2020

“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 the apostles argued about which of them would be 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 them the question “Do you know what I have done to you?” His question is answered in the words quoted above. The most dynamic characteristic of Jesus is love. He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

Jesus 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 other’s feet. Then He made the connection between foot washing and love by giving them a New Commandment: they were to love one another in the same ways He loved them. This is the absolute credential that they are 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.

Secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!” If they made that charge today about our churches, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Oh Lord, make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012


The Lord IS My Shepherd

April 3, 2020

 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me …” (Psalm 23:4)

The most important relationship we have is our relationship with God. David gives a great description of the relationship we have with God in his Shepherd Psalm. After explaining how this relationship is established, David tells us how it works as God leads us through the deep dark valleys of our lives.

David tells us that God is with him, goes before him, and prepares a table of provision for him in the presence of his enemies. He tells us that God is like a cup running over within him and God is like oil being poured upon him.

He ends his psalm by telling us the goodness and mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. This Hebrew word for follow can be translated as “pursue.” David is actually telling us that God not only goes before him, but pursues behind him with God’s mercy (unconditional love) and goodness all the days of his life.

By application, this means that when you are going through deep dark valleys you can believe that God is with you, goes before you, pursues behind you, will provide for you in the presence of your enemies and problems, He is within you, and His anointing is upon you as long as you say with authentic faith, “The Lord IS My Shepherd.”

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2009


Loving Others

March 31, 2020

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

I challenge you to meditate on these fifteen applications of love every day for a month.  Summarize each one in one or two words on a card you can place on your mirror, in your purse, wallet, or on the sun-visor of your car. Fervently ask God to empower you to be a conduit of His love with this cluster of virtues by Christ, in Christ and for Christ.

Think of one specific person and ask God to love that person in these ways through you. If you are married, begin loving your spouse in these ways. If you have children, apply this love to them. If you are not married, pray for the power to apply this love to your parents, siblings, and those with whom you live and work.

By the grace of God, I have seen this love of Christ change lives. Ask God to give you power to apply this love to the most difficult relationships you have, like your enemies. They will be your best opportunity to prove this love is not coming from you, but from Christ.

Pray that Christ will pass His love through you to address the pain and quiet desperation of the hurting people in your life. As He does, you will affirm where the risen Christ is today.

Dick Woodward, (from A Prescription For Love)