#FAITH: Christ’s Work in Progress

March 6, 2020

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The founding elder of the first church I pastored was a home builder. He did beautiful work. When a couple wanted him to build their home he would take them to a beautiful home he had built and say, “By the grace of God this is my workmanship.”

Ephesians 2:10 declares to followers of Jesus that our risen living Christ would like to point to each of us and say: “This is My workmanship!”

We are all a work of Christ in progress. This verse additionally states that when we were saved by grace through the faith Christ gave us, God created us for good works. We are told that before God saved us, God already planned those works.

I don’t know about you, but that truth excites and inspires me greatly. We are so selfish and self-centered that when we come to faith our focus is often on what trusting Christ to be our Savior is going to mean to us. Many followers of Christ have the attitude, “What have you done for me lately?”

The Apostle Paul had the right vision when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus and asked the question, “Lord, what do you want me to do for You?

As a follower of Christ have you been asking and seeking to know what those works are your Lord and Savior planned for you when He saved you by God’s grace?

Dick Woodward, 08 March 2010


#FAITH: Asking, Seeking, Knocking

March 3, 2020

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 author of Hebrews 11, the faith chapter of the Bible, presents what we might call “The Hall of Faith.” He parades by heroes of faith who show us by the way they lived what faith is. Before exhibiting these walking definitions of faith, the author writes a few introductory thoughts. He writes that without faith it is impossible to please God or come to God.

He adds that if we want to come to God and please God we must believe two things about God: We must believe that God is, and that God rewards those who diligently seek Him.

In two places (Matthew 7 and Luke 11), Jesus taught that we should continuously – and with perseverance – ask, seek, and knock. With this exhortation, Jesus promises that everyone who asks in this way will receive, everyone who seeks in this way will find, and the one who knocks in this way will discover that the door on which they are knocking will open to them.

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking.

Jesus was not talking about salvation when He gave this exhortation. He was teaching us how to diligently seek God. According to the author of Hebrews, this is a prerequisite to pleasing God and coming to God. Can there be such a thing as an authentic believer who does not want to come to God and please God?

If you want to come to God and please God, find out what it means to diligently seek God.

Dick Woodward, 01 March 2011


#Forgiveness: Forgetting What God Forgets

February 28, 2020

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the first fact of the Gospel – the Good News that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.

We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

When we place our trust in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we need to forget what God forgets and remember what God remembers. We are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

After we confess our sins, our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten our sins.

A Catholic Monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. When summoned to meet the Monsignor, he asked her, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question: What sins did the Monsignor commit in Paris before he became a priest?”

Several days later the nun met again with the Monsignor. He asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?” She replied, “Yes, your Reverence.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?” The nun said that she had indeed asked Jesus his question. “And what did Jesus say?”  The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values


The Disciples Prayer: God First!!

March 12, 2019

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven...”  (Matthew 6:9-13)

The verb form of the word ‘to pray’ literally means “to ask.” Prayer is more than just asking, but asking God for something is often the heart of a prayer.

The message of the Bible frequently sifts down to just two words: God first. From Genesis to Revelation, the bottom line interpretation and application of the commandments, character studies, allegories, parables, psalms, sermons, Gospels, Epistles and teachings of Jesus is simply “God first.”

The prayer Jesus taught us begins with that God-first emphasis when Jesus instructs us to begin by asking God that His name, the essence of Who and what He is, might be honored and reverenced because we are offering our prayer(s) to our heavenly Father God…

Prayer is not a matter of us persuading God to do our will. The very essence of prayer is an alignment between our wills and the will of God. Prayer is not a matter of us making God our partner and taking God into our plans. Prayer is a matter of God making us His partners and taking us into His plans…

We are not to come into our prayer closets or into our corporate worship prayers with a ‘shopping list’ and send God on errands for us. When we pray, we should come into the presence of God with a blank sheet of paper and ask God to send us on errands for Him.

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Prayer


Mercy & Love, Salt & Light

April 7, 2017

“Blessed are the merciful …  Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matthew5:7&8)

Jesus begins His greatest discourse with a “check up from the neck up.” He teaches eight attitudes that can make us salt and light, and one of His solutions to what is wrong with this crazy world. These eight attitudes come in pairs. The third pair is to be merciful with a pure heart.

One scholar writes that these blessed attitudes are like climbing a mountain. The first pair takes us halfway up the mountain and the second pair takes us to the top of the mountain. The third pair takes us half way down the other side of the mountain.

The profound simplicity of Jesus is asking the question: “When we are filled with righteousness that takes us to the top of the mountain what kind of people are we? Are we Bible experts who throw the book at people?” No! True disciples are filled with mercy (which is unconditional love.) As we love in this way we are pure in heart.

To be pure in heart is only understood when we research the Greek word used here for pure. It is the word from which we get our word to be catheterized. This means that as we are merciful we have a catharsis through which everything that is not the unconditional love of Christ is removed from our hearts.

If you want to be one of the solutions of Jesus in this world, hunger and thirst for what is right and you will find that love is right and right is love. Being a conduit of the love and mercy of Jesus will make you His salt and light.

Dick Woodward, 13 April 2010


Shouting “That Means Me!”

February 20, 2015

I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins.  Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains…”  (Isaiah 44: 22, 23)

When one of the greatest men of God who ever lived committed the sins of adultery and murder, filled with remorse and contrition (which means being exceedingly sorry for sin), he prayed a great model prayer for forgiveness.  If you have sinned and you don’t know how to confess your sin read Psalm 51.  Make it your own prayer and you will do a great job of confessing your sin.

In the original Hebrew David actually asked God to un-sin his sin.  Any devout believer who has really sinned will resonate with this prayer petition of David.  The spirit of the prayer petition is: “Oh God! If You could only make it as if it had never happened!”

That introduces us to one of the most beautiful words in the Bible: “justified.” This word means “just as if I’d never sinned” and it means “to be declared righteous.” David uses this word in his prayer of repentance.

Sunday school children are taught a song that summarizes these Scripture verses:  “God has blotted them out, I’m happy as I can be. God has blotted them out, I’ll turn to Isaiah and see. Chapter forty-four, twenty-two and three.  He’s blotted them out and I can just shout! For that means me!”

They may be merely singing words when they’re children but when they grow up and become people who sin they may shout with tears when they read these verses and remember that song.

When you sin can you shout, “That means me?

Dick Woodward, 01 May 2013