God Comforts Us (if we ask!)

June 10, 2016

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort.  For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2Corinthians 1:3-4, J. B. Phillips)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way that we make this great discovery: God is there and God can comfort us.

There is supernatural quality of comfort that can be found in simply knowing God. God does not want us to go through life and never discover that God is there for us and will comfort us.  When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can possibly experience in this lifetime.

As a pastor, I have frequently heard believers say that God met them in a supernatural and intimate way while they were going through a medical crisis.  Two weeks ago a man for whom I’ve been praying for twenty years wrote from another part of the country to say he has now come to faith.  God gave him that absolute assurance while he was undergoing a critical life-threatening surgery.

Many of us have known people we loved very much who are depressed and oppressed. They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want any of the caring people in their lives to be with them.

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in a self-imposed solitary confinement.  If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this great discovery: God is there, and God can comfort you!

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort.  Comfort me in my pain, and when I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are there, You are real, and You can comfort me.  I pray in Christ name, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


A Prescription for Knowing God

August 7, 2015

“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…”      ..(Hebrews 11:6)

Do you know God?  I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God?  Do you want to know God?  In the verse above we find a prescription that can help you know God.

The prescription is that we must believe that He is, and we must believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  My passion to know God led me to confess:  “I believe that He is.”  But what is He and where is He?

A very helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of the Apostle John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16).  After studying the quality of love God is, the prescription above led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is He likely to be doing His love thing?”

At that time I was a social worker.  Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this:  “God, I have an idea that You are loving where people are hurting.  That’s where I’m going, so when I get there pass the love You are through me and address their pain.”

As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and He touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between His love and the pain of hurting people.

Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011


Spiritual Nutrition

October 24, 2013

“I fed you with milk and not with solid food…”   (1 Corinthians 3:2)

The Apostle Paul believed that when a person becomes a believer they are like a newborn baby who critically needs milk and formula to survive.  Babies need to be fed milk before they are ready for solid food.  Since a baby does not have a fully developed digestive tract we feed them milk.  Paul uses milk here as a metaphor for spiritual truth a teacher feeds to believers.  When we find spiritual truth without human help that is meat and solid food.

The bottom line is that new believers, like new born babies, critically need their milk and formula if they are going to progress to solid food that makes them grow into spiritual adults.

What is the nutritional formula for a new believer? A primary part is the Word of God.  Peter writes that as new believers, we should earnestly desire the Word of God the way newborn babies go after their mothers’ breast knowing that survival depends on what is received there.  Prayer is another vital part of that formula.  When we pray we talk to God, and when we open God’s word He talks to us.

We must add spiritual community and fellowship to this formula. We need the inspiration and encouragement we receive from other believers.  Witnessing and sharing our faith with secular people is another important part of our spiritual diet.  So are service and acts of love and charity.

Are you getting your spiritual nutrition?  Or are you suffering from spiritual malnutrition, barely surviving because you are not getting your formula and milk? Although we always need the truth we receive from teachers, we should also hunger for the solid food truth we receive directly from the Lord.


When to Look Up

September 7, 2013

“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”  (Psalm 5:3)

In one sentence in this beautiful psalm David twice emphasizes the reality that he will pray to his God in the morning.  There are three directions of life we must master.  We must learn to look up.  We must learn to look in until our Lord shows us things we need to know about ourselves.  Only then are we prepared to look around in all our relationships.

Anytime we are having difficulty in our relationships with spouses, children, parents or those who are outside the home we should always ask ourselves if we have looked up and looked in sincerely.  Knowing ourselves as God wants us to know ourselves is crucial preparation for relating to others.

Smart people are very often right and so they sometimes think they are always right.  It is very difficult to live with those who think they are always right.  In the same way it is difficult to relate to those who think they never sin.  When God helps us look in and see ourselves as He sees us it gives us a humility that is a tool we need to face our relationships.

What would you think of a concert violinist who plays a beautiful concerto solo and then instead of an encore comes out and tunes her violin?  In the same way we should not play the concert of our day and then tune the instrument of our lives.

We should begin ‘in the morning’ tuning our lives through our prayers to God as the Psalmist directs us, so that we can look up, look in and then look around.


A Revelation of Reality

July 10, 2013

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.”   (Psalm 73: 25)

The author of Psalm 73 has a problem.  He envies the wicked because they always seem to prosper while God is forever chastening him and putting him through hard times that grow his character.  The Psalmist becomes a great model for us as he takes his problem into the sanctuary where the Lord shows him the end of the wicked.  That changes his attitude toward the wicked from envy to pity and compassion.

How would it affect your outlook on life if God permitted you to spend five minutes in hell — or in heaven?  Both experiences would probably make you an evangelist.

The Psalmist goes on to write:  “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength (reality) of my heart and my portion forever.”  By this he means that God is the great Reality in this life.  Jesus said the same thing when He prayed: “This is eternal life that they might know You the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

When we have a revelation of eternal reality we will realize that the things we leave when the Lord calls us home are not worth living for while we are here.  As Peter considered the great Day of the Lord in which every material thing will be dissolved he asked the question, “Since everything will be dissolved in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Peter 3:11)

The answer to Peter’s question is that we should be people who know God and make Him known in every nation.  This is how we hasten the coming of that great Day of the Lord.


Three Spiritual Propositions

June 28, 2013

Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”  (Hosea 6:3 NLT)

When I first came to faith and for the first few years as a pastor I struggled with the concept of knowing God personally.  I struggled until several spiritual heavyweights mentored me in this dimension of my faith journey.  They helped me by shaking everything down to three simple propositions that were basic, yet absolute. 

The three propositions are:  God is there, God is real, and God is personal.

I have not struggled with the proposition that God is there.  My mentors challenged me to think about all the ways God responds to our many prayers to Him.  As proclaimed by Hosea I found that when I related myself to God He responded by relating Himself to me.  That inspired me to believe that He is not only there but He is very real when I relate to Him and make contact with Him there.

Over time as I shared the intimate dimensions of my personal, private and even secret life with Him I affirmed the glorious reality that God is personal and I should believe Him when He tells me He knows the number of hairs on my head at any given moment.  I should also believe Him when He tells me He has a plan for my life that when followed will make me an original person distinct from every other living person.

Are you pressing on to know the Lord?  If you are, I offer you these three propositions that can help us all know the Lord when we believe them.


Absolutes about Knowing God

March 5, 2013

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11: 6)

The truth is when I first came to faith and to the ministry I was struggling to know God.  Providentially I had several spiritual heavyweights who mentored me to God.  They shook things down for me into three basic and absolute propositions that made sense to me then and still do today.

Their first proposition was that God is there.  I have not struggled with that proposition.  I began by reflecting on the many, many ways God responds to the very many prayers I pray to Him there.

Their second proposition was that God is real.  I found that when I related myself to God He responded by relating Himself to me.  That inspired me to believe that He was not only there, He was very real when I related to Him and made personal contact with His divine presence.

When I found myself sharing with God the intimate dimensions of my personal, private and even secret life He responded to those prayers.  I realized that I had come to believe in a personal God.  That was the third proposition of my mentors: God is personal.

They wanted me to believe in and come to know a God who knew the numbers of hairs on my head.  By the grace and providence of God I have come to know that personal God.  I can believe Him when He tells me He has a plan for my life which when followed will make me a unique person distinct from every other living person.

Will you believe in the God who is there, real and personal?