#FAITH – Doing the Right Thing

March 2, 2021

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’”  (Psalm 4:5)

David cannot sleep. He is uptight and anxious. From the context of the psalm we know he cannot sleep because he is under great stress. He decides to meditate within his own heart and be still.

David has a “board meeting” with himself in the middle of the night. If he does the right thing, he believes he cannot survive. He is therefore thinking about doing the expedient thing. Since he is a man of great spiritual integrity he finds himself awake and uptight considering the expedient path.

As a result of his meditation he resolves his dilemma. David decides he is going to make whatever sacrifices he needs to make to do what is right – and then trust the Lord for his survival. He knows there are many people who are looking for someone who will do what is right even though it costs them everything to do right.

Have you ever found yourself awake, uptight and stressed in the middle of the night because you are in a crisis? If you do what you believe God wants you to do you don’t see how you can survive. But your spiritual integrity won’t let you sleep if you don’t do the right thing. 

David models a prescription for resolving that kind of dilemma.

His prescription is simply to do right. Whatever it costs you, do right and trust God for the consequences. Many people will be blessed, God will be glorified, you will have peace and be able to sleep.

Dick Woodward, 02 March 2012


God’s Strength in Our Weakness

February 26, 2021

“When I am weak then I am strong…” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In these eight words the Apostle Paul gives us a formula for strength. When we are having a serious operation, instead of counting to 10 as the anesthesiologist administers the medicine that knocks us out, I suggest we say these eight words. 

While most of us like to be in control, after experiencing the full effects of anesthesia we give up control. But, as believers when we give up control, we find ourselves underneath the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27) 

This makes us stronger than we have ever been.

Paul, quoting Isaiah, writes the key to spiritual strength: God gives strength to the weary and power to the weak. One translation reads that God’s strength looks good on weak people. The key to spiritual strength is therefore not found in our strength but in our weakness. These eight words therefore form the formula for our strength. 

They will give you great spiritual strength in your time of absolute weakness. Discover with the Apostle Paul that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, not in trying to make ourselves strong. We find our greatest strength in the Everlasting Arms that are there underneath us.

Prove what Isaiah and Paul teach us.The everlasting arms give us more strength than we have ever known as healthy active people. The next time you experience weakness on any level of life remember to pray these eight words:“When I am weak then I am strong.”

You will soon find yourself saying, “I’m not but He is; I can’t, but He can;” and then, “I didn’t but He did” when you let God perfect His strength in your weakness.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2014


Two Beautiful Words: Mercy & Grace

February 23, 2021

“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6)

“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)

Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are “mercy” and “grace.” The mercy of God, which is the unconditional love of God, withholds from us what we deserve, while the grace of God lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we do not deserve, accomplish, or achieve by our own efforts.

As we thank God for our blessings, at the top of the list we should be grateful for the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows. The good news of the gospel is that when Jesus suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved that we might have peace with God was laid upon Christ. (Isaiah 53:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

If you want to grasp the meaning of these two words observe when and why they turn up in the Bible. Try to understand what we deserve and why. That will grow your appreciation for the mercy of God. Then investigate all that is bestowed upon us by the grace of God.

As you find these two beautiful words in the Bible you will understand why I have written that when you pray you should put at the top of your thanksgiving list:  

The mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows.”

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009


Sowing Spiritual Gardens

February 16, 2021

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption… What counts is a new creation.” (Galatians 6:7,8,15)

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Galatians. The first part of this passage is often preached to unbelievers, but Paul was addressing professing believers. As believers this is a spiritual law of our lives in Christ. Every day we can sow spiritual seeds in the gardens of our lives, or we can sow seeds of our flesh in that garden. 

William Barclay, a professor of Bible at Edinburgh University for forty years, wrote when the Bible refers to our flesh it means “human nature unaided by God.” According to Paul, human nature unaided by God is a seed that produces corruption.

We have the option to sow spiritual seeds in our lives every day. Paul writes that these spiritual seeds produce a continuous creation. David prayed “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.” (Psalm 51:10) In the New Testament the apostles refer to being born again as a miracle of creation. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

This means we have two options before us every day: creation or corruption. We can sow spiritual seeds in the gardens of our lives that continue the act of creation God is miraculously performing in us, or we can sow seeds that produce corruption.

What seeds are you sowing in the garden of your life today?

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2011


ENDURING #LOVE (Part II)

February 12, 2021

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

When Paul writes, “Love endures all things,” he means love perseveres while it awaits the fulfillment of what it hopes and believes to see in the lives of the ones being loved. The Greek word translated as “endurance” is “hupomone.” It is a combination of two Greek words “to abide” and “under” whatever is required to love someone.

This is especially important when we love someone who is not responding to our loving, positive reinforcement. This quality of loving perseverance equips believers to love and pray for loved ones in their addictions to alcohol, chemical substances, pornography, gambling, eating disorders and the seemingly endless list of compulsive habits.

These chains of the evil one can only be broken with supernatural assistance from God, often using, as conduits, those who love with the love of Christ that hopes, believes, and endures all things.

By our actions we can make this statement to the ones we love: “Nothing you can do or say can make me stop loving you, because I love you with the love of Jesus Christ. The love of Christ is tough love. It can handle anything you do and say.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


ENDURING #LOVE (Part I)

February 9, 2021

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”  (I Corinthians 13:7-8, J.B. Phillips)

“Love hopes all things” can be understood when we compare biblical faith with biblical hope. Based on the way the Bible compares faith and hope, faith must have a foundation, while we can hope when there is no reason to believe.

We read in the book of Hebrews: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The inspired author of the great faith chapter claims that the object of faith is unseen, and faith gives substance to our hope that the object of our faith exists.

In other words, faith puts a foundation under our hope. We hope until faith gives us a reason to believe.

When faith cannot place a foundation under our hope for the ones we love, all we can do is hope for them. According to the love hymn of Paul (I Corinthians 13) the one applying the love of Christ will hope for them.

Love joyfully awaits for the fulfillment of what it prayerfully desires, imagines, dreams and hopes concerning the potential of the ones we love.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Vision + Faith + Sacrifice = Miracle

January 29, 2021

“… But for this reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” (John 12:27-28)

When we have a vision we must also have a plan. It has been said that without vision the people perish, but without a plan the vision perishes. Nehemiah not only had a vision to repair and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, he had a plan to do so. As an enslaved exile his plan was to present his vision to the emperor for whom he was a cup bearer.

This was extremely dangerous because there was a death penalty for being sad in the presence of the emperor, or for bringing anything negative to the emperor’s attention while he was serving him. Nehemiah had the faith to pray and then present his vision to the emperor. The emperor showed empathy and compassion for Nehemiah. He not only approved his plan, he supplied everything needed to see the plan was followed to the letter.

Has God put a vision in your heart of what He wants you to do? If you have a vision do you have a plan? In that context consider this formula for your vision:

vision + faith + sacrifice = miracle

If you have a vision and a plan to carry out the vision, are you willing to sacrifice for that vision? Are you willing to die for that vision?

Jesus had a vision and a plan. He was willing to sacrifice and die for His vision. He mandated that we follow His example. Regarding your vision and plan, are you willing to pray: “Father glorify Yourself and send me the bill. Anything Father, just glorify Yourself…”

Dick Woodward, 30 January 2010


#FAITH – VISION! VISION! VISION!

January 26, 2021

“…what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem…” (Nehemiah 2:12)

When Nehemiah learned of the dreadful condition of the wall around Jerusalem he wept, fasted and prayed. He then became a supreme example of what it means to have a vision. His definition of vision is what God put in his heart to do. I have heard missionaries describe how they were reading the Gospels and when they got to the Great Commission they knew what God put in their hearts to do.

When I was a new believer studying for the ministry I heard a great Bible professor survey the entire Bible. He made it so clear and relevant. I felt he was introducing us to sixty-six of his holy little friends and I wanted to spend the rest of my life getting to know them better. I also knew in my heart that God wanted me to put together a devotional, practical survey of the Bible for lay people and make it even more simple than the one I was taught. That vision eventually became a reality.

As you grow in faith and your relationship with God, have you been close enough for God to put in your heart what He wants you to do? The Bible and church history affirm the reality that God loves to work that way.

The Apostle Paul stood in chains before a king and said some beautiful words. He said he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision God gave him. (Acts 26: 19) Has God put in your heart what He wants you to do? Will you make the commitment that you will not be disobedient to that vision?

Dick Woodward, 28 January 2010


#FAITH: LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!

January 22, 2021

“…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)

How does love fit into the trio of lasting qualities Paul writes of? The Apostle John answered the question for us when he wrote: “God is love and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God dwells in him.” (I John 4:16) 

When we dwell in the love Paul prescribed in I Corinthians 13, we dwell in God and God dwells in us.

By application, this means when we go where the hurting people are, as God’s love is passing through us and addressing their pain, we are touching God and God is touching us. Since the agape love passing through us is God, we are dwelling in God and God is dwelling in us while God’s love is passing through us.

Jesus gave us a perspective of love when He exhorted the apostles to look up before they look on the fields that are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35) Jesus was focusing on two perspectives we must master as His authentic disciples. Before we look around and relate to the people who intersect our lives every day, we need to look up, and then look at them. We should see them through the same love lenses God uses when God sees them. 

If we do, we will never see anyone we cannot love.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Elijah: Temple Maintenance

January 19, 2021

Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal…”  I Kings 19:18

The great prophet Elijah reached the zenith of his career on Mt. Carmel when he challenged the people of God to stop being spiritual schizophrenics. When they committed themselves to serving the living God, they experienced a great revival. (I Kings 18) The next day we read Elijah “went a day’s journey into the wilderness and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die.” (I Kings 19:12)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. The drastic change we see in him is due to many things, but one factor is that he neglected what I call Temple Maintenance. The Apostle Paul said our bodies are the temple of God. (I Corinthians 3:16-17) Therefore, anything we do to maintain our bodies is temple maintenance. Neglecting our temple maintenance can have serious consequences on our health and ministry.

Observe in that dramatic victory for Elijah on Mount Carmel all the physical stress and effort he put out. He dug a deep ditch around that altar and filled it with water. Have you ever dug a deep ditch? …At the end of that long day, he ran in front of a chariot for 17 miles. Elijah must have been exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The physical dimension of our lives directly affects our mental, emotional and even spiritual perspectives. Elijah obviously allowed his physical stresses to affect him. We know all his blubbering about being the only true servant of the Lord was neurotic when God made him know there were 7,000 faithful servants like him, who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Take an example from one of the greatest prophets and don’t forget your temple maintenance!

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples