A Prayer of PRAISE!

September 14, 2021

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…” (Psalm 103: 2–4)

The Old Testament people of God sang from the Psalms when they worshiped God. When they worshiped, sometimes they talked to God about God. Sometimes they talked to God about people, usually their own lives. And sometimes they were not talking to God, they were talking to people about God: praising and preaching.

When we read the psalms we should always ask ourselves, “To whom was the author speaking and about whom was he speaking?”

The verses quoted above are from a psalm of prayer. But the strange thing is there is no petition in this prayer. The verb “to pray” literally means to ask. So we are not really looking at a prayer psalm but a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. The Psalmist’s soul is so full all he wants to do is praise the Lord in grateful worship.

What an example for us to pray with no “gimme” in our prayer. Does your soul ever get so full that all you want to do is thank God for all His blessings? The Psalmist begins by thanking God for his salvation. In the Gospels Jesus heals ten lepers and only one comes back to thank Him. Jesus asked the question “Where are the nine?”

Are you one of the 90% who never thank the Lord for redeeming your life? Or do you want to be part of the 10% who thank the Lord for our salvation in grateful worship?

Dick Woodward, 12 September 2012


#FAITH: The Order of the Towel

September 10, 2021

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…”  Matthew 20:25-26

The incident recorded in Matthew 20 (verses 20-28) precipitated by Mrs. Zebedee and her two sons, James and John, sets the stage for one the great teachings of Jesus Christ. 

We can assume these two “Sons of Thunder” (the nickname the Lord game them) who were partners with Simon Peter in the Zebedee Seafood Corporation, were obviously the instigators of their mother’s request that they be seated on the right and left of Jesus when He was crowned King. 

When the other apostles griped about this, Jesus called them together. In so many words, He told them the world plays the game of “Over-Under!” This is a world of credentials and status symbols that often say, “I am better than you,” or “I am over and above you.”

Acknowledging that the secular world is like that, Jesus tells them not to play the world’s games. To paraphrase, Jesus says, “This is not to happen among you. If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, you should join the Order of the Towel – get a towel and basin, assume the status of a slave, and start washing feet.”  

Jesus uses Himself as an example when He says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)  Remember how Jesus spent His last hours before He went to the cross, literally washing the feet of His disciples.

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook, p.86


#FAITH: EXAMINE, PROVE & KNOW

September 7, 2021

Search me, Oh God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24)

King David showed great spiritual wisdom when he prayed this prayer. He asked God to take the lid off his mind and show him the thoughts that should not be there. He then asked God to take the lid off his heart because he wanted to see the motives that should not be in his heart. He prayed this prayer of self-examination because he wanted to walk in the everlasting way. 

Another way of saying the same thing is that David wanted God to purify his thoughts and motives because he wanted to be the man God created and re-created him to be…

Paul closes his second letter to the Corinthians with a verse that has a cluster of challenges regarding how we are to think of ourselves. If you compare several translations of this verse (2 Corinthians 13:5) you will realize that these challenges can be summarized and paraphrased into just three: 

EXAMINE yourself, whether you are in the faith; PROVE yourself that you are an authentic disciple of Christ. And KNOW yourself, how that Jesus Christ is in you.”

Paul wrote to the Colossians that God called him to share a spiritual secret with the Church: Christ in our hearts is our only hope of bringing glory to God. (Colossians 1:24-29) In this great passage he writes that sharing this secret is his life’s work and is worthy of all his life’s energies.  He exhorts us to know by experience that Christ is in us and we are in Christ.

Christ in you the hope of glory.” 

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Your Self


THE THERAPY OF THANKSGIVING

September 3, 2021

“In everything … with thanksgiving tell God every detail of your needs … And the peace of God which transcends human understanding will stand guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

As I have tried to apply what Paul prescribes in the verses quoted above, I have found this prescription for peace to be one of the most helpful spiritual disciplines. According to Paul, an attitude of gratitude leads to the therapy of thanksgiving as we apply thanksgiving to our stressful circumstances.

Be sure to make the observation that Paul does not prescribe giving thanks for all things. He instructs us to give thanks in all things. When we do this it automatically moves our mindset from the negative to the positive. The apostle promises that the peace of God will protect and stand guard (like the soldiers chained to Paul as he writes these words) over our hearts and minds as they rest and trust in Christ Jesus.

Our circumstances are not always determined by God but may be caused by evil people who are persecuting us. We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with thanksgiving, because if we do, we will find this response to be God’s prescription that will bring the peace that can contribute to victory over our circumstances.

When a pastor asked one of his church members how they were doing, their response was “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.” The pastor responded “Whatever are you doing there?”

The therapy of thanksgiving can lead us out from under our circumstances and into the peace of God. Have you tried it?

Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009


#FAITH: God’s Grace vs. Our Challenges

August 31, 2021

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)

The mercy of God withholds what we deserve and the grace of God lavishes on us blessings we do not deserve. As we appreciate what the mercy of God withholds and the grace of God bestows when we believe the Gospel, we should be filled with grateful worship for our gracious and merciful God.

When Jesus gave His Great Commission He instructed the disciples to wait until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them before they obeyed His Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:4-5) After that happened to them on the Day of Pentecost, we read: “Great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) This use of the word “grace” means there is such a thing as the anointing and energizing unction of the Holy Spirit upon us as we serve Jesus Christ. I use grace in that sense when I tell people that God’s grace outweighs my challenges.

Paul was declaring this dimension of grace when he wrote:

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) 

Check out the superlatives Paul uses in this verse: All grace – abounding grace – each and every one of you – he repeats all of you – all sufficiency – in all things – abounding unto every good work – always!  According to Paul we should all be able to make the claim that God’s grace outweighs our challenges.

Do you believe the grace of God can outweigh your challenges today?

Dick Woodward, 31 August 2012


#Adversity & Soaring Like Eagles

August 27, 2021

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles…” (Isaiah 40:31)

The Golden Eagle in the Mediterranean referenced in the Bible likes to build its nest at least ten thousand feet above sea level, preferably in a Craig near the top of a cliff. From that elevation the eagle can see a storm approaching while the storm is still far off. 

With great patience the eagle waits until the winds of that storm reach a high velocity and engulf the eagle and its nest. The eagle then leaps fifteen feet from its nest directly into the adverse wind of that storm. This adverse wind gives the eagle the lift and aerodynamics it needs to soar over the storm.

When the prophet Isaiah exhorts the people of God to mount up with wings as eagles do, he is referring to this storm strategy of the eagle. When a storm comes into our lives, our reflex response should not always be to ask God to deliver us from the storm. We should consider applying this exhortation of Isaiah. We can wait on the Lord until God shows us it is the right time. Then we can leap into the adverse winds and find in them the spiritual aerodynamics to soar over the storm.

When the Church was born at Pentecost the great miracle happened after the apostles had waited on the Lord for forty days. The apostles found miraculous spiritual aerodynamics by moving out against severe persecution, obeying the Great Commission, and making disciples for Jesus Christ.

When God permits or directs a storm into your life and mine, are we willing to wait on the Lord until God gives us the power to soar over the storm?

Dick Woodward, 29 August 2011


#FAITH: “Why?” and “Oh!”

August 24, 2021

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

One of the words we use most often in this life is, “Why?” But I think the word we will use most in the next world will be, “Oh!”  The Providence of God is like a Hebrew word, we have to read it backwards. By the Providence of God I mean the events of our lives have meaning.

Sometimes it’s like we are on the inside of a woven basket. All the threads that come up on the inside of the basket represent the way we see the things that happen to us, which seem to have no meaning or pattern at all.  If we get out of that basket, on the outside we will see beautiful woven patterns.

Job is the biblical example of a man who tried to sort out, by looking inside the basket, what appeared to be the tragic meaninglessness of his life. It was not until he looked up and saw all his tragic circumstances from God’s perspective that he was moved from asking, “Why?” to exclaiming, “Oh!” (Job 35: 1-7; 40-42)

In Psalm 11:3, the Psalmist asks a question: “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” One version suggests this alternate reading: “When the foundations of your life are breaking up, what is the Righteous One doing?”

My wife and I have made that question a knee jerk reaction to the events of our lives as they happen.  As a result, although we’re not on the other side yet we are already saying, “Oh!”

Will you confront the challenges you encounter daily with that same question?

Dick Woodward, 25 August 2012

Editor’s Note: I’m certain Dick and Ginny Woodward have been saying “Oh” lots and lots on the other side!


#FAITH: The Purpose of Life

August 20, 2021

“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the works which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4)

Jesus was obsessed with the works His Father gave him to do. Doing those works was more important to Him than food. When He came to the end of His life all He had to do was die. The night He was arrested, in deep prayer to His Father he prayed the words quoted above.

In these words Jesus not only gave a capsule summary of the meaning of His life, He showed us the purpose of our lives. “The chief end of a person is to glorify God and enjoy God forever.” That’s the way a catechism devout parents have taught their children states the purpose of life. By example and precept Jesus stated the purpose of a purpose driven life for all of His followers for all time.

Our purpose is to glorify God.

Jesus also showed us how to glorify God. We glorify God by finishing all the works God has given us to do. When I was thirty years old I had an accident I miraculously survived. Many people asked if I had been terrified that I was about to lose my life. That was not my concern. My concern was that I had not finished the works I knew the Father wanted me to do for Him. I had not even found those works at that point in my life. Forty-nine years later I feel much better about that life goal.

Are you glorifying God our Heavenly Father by finding and finishing the works He wants you to do for Him for His glory?

Dick Woodward, 25 August 2009


#FAITH: Working While It Is Day

August 17, 2021

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

The Gospel of John gives us another window into the way Jesus felt about the work 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 His work.

In 1956 the famous missionary Jim Elliot and 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 this 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 death. 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 work God wants you to do?

Dick Woodward, 18 August 2009


God’s Guidance: One Day at a Time

August 13, 2021

“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray He gave us a principle that has many applications. At the end of Matthew 6, which records the central part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that we should not worry about tomorrow.  Many have made that obvious application to this prayer petition.

People with tragic challenges like addictions and overwhelming suffering are only able to get their heads and hearts around the concept of a solution one day at a time.

Another legitimate application of this principle for living is to apply this concept to divine guidance. In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul states that one way to discern the will of God for our life is to live up to the light we now have. He promises that as we do God will give us more light.  

To illustrate that concept someone said “If you want to see further ahead into the will of God for your life move ahead into the will of God just as far as you can see.”

When I was a college student I drove across the United States several times. I drove at night because there was less traffic. My headlights illuminated about 100 yards at a time. I discovered that if I kept driving into the light the headlights gave me, I eventually traveled from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles.

It is easier for God to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary. As we respond to the light God is giving us God adds more light to our path. The application of that principle leads us into God’s will one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, 17 August 2010