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


#FAITH: Habakkuk’s Talk Show (with God)

March 27, 2020

“… the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

The prophet Habakkuk lived in one of the most difficult times in Hebrew history; a time when watchtowers were manned with soldiers listening for the dreadful sounds of the Babylonian army. As the Babylonians were about to conquer God’s people, God gave Habakkuk a prophetic message.

This little prophet witnessed the terrible ways the great prophet Jeremiah was treated when he preached his message. As a simple choir director Habakkuk could only imagine how he would be treated if he assumed the role of a prophet.

He therefore came up with a clever literary form. He proclaimed that he was going to build a spiritual watchtower and ask God all the difficult questions that were on their hearts at that time. Questions like, “Why will you use a people more sinful than we are to chasten us?”

He told them that when he heard from God he would tell them what God said in answer to these and other questions. His literary form was like a talk show in which he was the host and God was the Guest being interviewed.

God’s answer was that the wickedness of the Babylonians would be their undoing, but the just would live by their faith.  Originally this meant faith in the prophecy of Jeremiah that they would return from the Babylonian captivity. By application these seven words, which are quoted three times in the New Testament, were also used to inspire the Reformation.

People say God does not speak today as God did then. The truth is we do not listen for God as Habakkuk did.

Do you have a spiritual watchtower? Do you listen for God and expect to hear from God?

Dick Woodward, 30 March 2012


#FAITH, GRACE & PERSEVERANCE

March 20, 2020

 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Rejoice in your sufferings, knowing what? In the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul begins by writing that God has given us access, by faith, to grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ in this world and live a life that glorifies God.

Imagine how it must make God feel when He has given us access to all the grace we need to live for Christ in this world – and we never access that grace. According to Paul, suffering enters our lives that we cannot bear without drawing on God’s grace we access by faith.

Paul writes that as we receive the grace to endure our suffering God produces mature Christ-like character in our lives such as perseverance.

When you ask the question, “How does an orange get to be an orange?” The answer is, “By hanging in there.”

That is the essence of perseverance.

When some followers of Christ find themselves suffering, their immediate response is “Lord, deliver me from this, immediately!” He can and sometimes He does.

But He often does not. When Christ does not, it may be His will to grow spiritual character in the life of His follower. When that is what God is doing Paul is telling us we should rejoice in our sufferings, access grace by faith, and then grow spiritually.

Dick Woodward, 19 March 2009


Christ’s Strength vs. Our Weakness

March 13, 2020

“And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I shall never forget an afternoon in the late 1970s when I tried to mow my lawn and realized I was too weak to cut the grass. When I tried to replace the license plates on my car, I learned to my horror that I was too weak to do even that.

Although it was two years before I could accept the awful reality that I would never feel full strength again, my weakness made it possible to resonate with Paul in a deeper way when he described the way his weakness drove him to access the strength and power of the living risen Christ.

I have had times of such great weakness, especially while ministering from my wheelchair, when I’ve thought: There is absolutely nothing coming from me; everything is coming from God!

As God used Paul in mighty ways, he put into words what I have felt many times: “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God!” (2Corinthians 3:5. italics added)

These were merely familiar Scripture verses until I had no strength of my own.There is a dimension of the power and strength of Christ I did not discover until I was powerless. My experience of weakness forced me to discover that the strength of the risen living Christ outweighs my weakness.

Dick Woodward,  Happiness That Doesn’t Make Good Sense


#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


#FAITH: God’s GRACE to you!

February 25, 2020

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Romans 1:7; 16:24)

The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the believers in Rome with a marvelous greeting: “Grace to you.” He also closes his letter with the prayer that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with them.

Paul dictated all his letters but one to a stenographer.  At the close of each of his letters he took the writing instrument from the scribe and in his own hand wrote these words: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Paul greets and leaves believers with a wish and a prayer for grace, the dynamic of God that saves us. We can define grace if we turn this five letter word into an acrostic:

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”

But grace is not only the way God saves us, God’s grace is the dynamic we desperately need to live for Christ.

In the second verse of Romans 5, Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, to the grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ and live a life that glorifies God.

Paul begins this letter and closes all his letters the way he does because he knows it is absolutely critical that we access the grace God has made available to us if we are to live our lives for God in this world.

Since grace is always our greatest need, consider meeting and leaving fellow believers with a wish and a prayer for grace.

Dick Woodward, 24 February 2012