November 2, 2018
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
As I look back over my life since I was born in 1930, and born again in 1949, this verse sums up my entire walk of faith and ministry. According to the J. B. Philips translation, God fits into a pattern for good everything that happens to those who love God and are called according to God’s plan. I like this because the implication is there may not be anything good about many of the things that happen to us. But if we meet two prerequisites – if we love God and are called according to His plan – our loving God will fit into a pattern for good all the events of our lives.
Before we personally apply the great promise of this verse we must meet those two prerequisites. The first is that we love God. It isn’t easy to love God. The Apostle John asked us how we can love God we cannot see. (1 John 4) We can’t hug a Spirit. Jesus told us that if we love Him we must keep His commandments. According to Romans 8:28 quoted above, we show we love God by the second prerequisite: being called according to God’s plan.
We are so self-centered we are quick to assume that the good into which God fits all the events of our lives means our good. However, when we understand what it means to love God the only good that will interest us will be God’s good.
Dick Woodward, 05 November 2010
October 9, 2018
“…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:2-4)
As a prophet, one of Jonah’s functions was to remove obstacles that were blocking the work of God in the world. Do you see the obstacle in Jonah’s story? Jonah’s prejudice. As we reflect upon the prejudice of Jonah, we should ask ourselves if prejudice in our hearts is blocking the love God wants to express through us to hurting people in our world.
The real message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people! The love of God is a bottom line truth we find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.
Can you see why I believe the real message of the Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people? Refuse to get sidetracked. When you come to the book of Jonah looking for truth, you will find at the heart of this book a loving God Who values people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.
The message of Jonah is that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants. The people of God, like you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation. When the people of God are prejudiced, the very people God designed to be the vessels, models and channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love and salvation work of God in this world.
If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express God’s love and salvation for all people if God’s people are hung up on their prejudices?
Dick Woodward, from Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet