SHARING THE GOSPEL!

May 14, 2021

“I want to remind you of the gospel…which you received and on which you have taken your stand… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

It is imperative we understand how to articulate the Gospel. A first step in that direction is realizing the Holy Spirit is the Evangelist and we are merely conduits through whom the Holy Spirit works…

When Jesus stayed up late with Nicodemus, the first words of Nicodemus were: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do the works that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2)

Jesus earned His hearing with Nicodemus by what he had seen Him do. Likewise, we must also earn our hearing with people. This begins with our understanding that what we do demonstrates what we believe. All the rest is just religious talk.

People are not interested in our religious talk unless they are impressed by what they see us do. Nicodemus was impressed with what he saw Jesus do, so he went to hear Jesus talk. We deceive ourselves if we think it’s not that way today.

What I call religious talk is our lengthy theological explanations of what we believe. Many secular people don’t understand the simplest theological terms. They will not be interested if they are not impressed with who and what we are and the things we do.

When we earn our hearing by the grace of God, the Gospel is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died for our sins and He rose again from the dead, just as the Old Testament Scriptures said He would and the New Testament Scriptures tell us He did.

There is something to believe and Someone to receive.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


#FAITH: WRESTLING WITH GOD

May 11, 2021

“And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)

When we read in the Bible about great people of God we find they all seem to have deep experiences with God. The details of their experiences vary greatly but the results are similar.

Jacob wrestled all night with an angel. The angel forced Jacob to look up and wrestle his way to God. Then the angel forced Jacob to look in and confess that he was a rascal who lived up to his name. 

The name “Jacob” meant “Grabber.” Jacob was a mover, shaker, doer kind of man who was always running and would not stand still long enough for God to place a blessing upon him.

God could not get Jacob to wait on his Lord. God had to cripple him so God might crown him with God’s blessing. We might call it: “The cripple crown blessing of God.”  When a person is crippled what else can he or she do but wait?

When God won the wrestling match God pronounced a blessing upon Jacob – the one quoted above. By changing his name to “Israel” God declared that Jacob was a fighter. He had fought his way to God and confessed to what he saw when he looked in. Jacob was then ready to look around and deal with his relationships with people.

Are you a spiritual fighter? Have you fought your way to look up to God?  Have you won the battle when you look in? Are you winning the battle when you look around and work out all your relationships?

Dick Woodward, 13 May 2013


Faith, Miracles & Mission Impossible(s)

May 7, 2021

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.”  (Matthew 14:19)

Just before Jesus fed five thousand hungry families, He challenged the apostles with an impossible mission. When the apostles urged Him to send that hungry multitude away, Jesus said to the apostles, “You feed them!  How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

The apostles must have been overwhelmed by that challenge. How were they going to find enough food in that deserted place to feed that big crowd of people?

The only food the apostles could find was a basket of five biscuits and two little sardines. They placed that food in the hands of the Lord saying, “All we have is this food a small boy brought with him, but what is this among so many hungry people?” The Lord blessed what the apostles gave Him and then passed that little boy’s lunch through the hands of the apostles to the mouths of more than five thousand people.

That day the apostles learned that whatever we have is adequate when we place our inadequacy in the Lord’s hands.

Through the miracles we are experiencing in ministry, we are learning that our Lord likes to assign us a mission impossible. Then, when the impossibility of our mission makes us turn to Him and say, “This is all we have,” He takes it in His hands, blesses it, and then feeds millions with the Living Bread from heaven.

Dick Woodward (ICM Networking, 2000)


Jesus: A Friend to Everyone!

May 4, 2021

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”  (Luke 19:5)

When Jesus came face to face with the greatest sinner in Jericho, He knew him and called him by name. He then invited Himself to spend the entire day in the house of His sinner friend. The chapter tells us elsewhere that Jesus was only passing through Jericho. Extremely popular at this time, His walk through Jericho was like a parade amidst crowds of people who wanted to get a glimpse of the famous Rabbi from Galilee.

We might imagine that religious leaders would like to have entertained Him for lunch. To everyone’s shock and amazement Jesus declares He will spend His one day in Jericho with the greatness sinner there. Publicans were hated in that day because they collected taxes for the Romans from their fellow Jews. And Zacchaeus was the chief of the publicans who had become very wealthy in that position.

We are told nothing of what Jesus and the publican discussed that day, but at the end of the day as they came out of the house Zacchaeus announces he will give half of his money to the poor. And with the other half he will restore 400% of everything he has taken from people unjustly.

One scholar put an interesting spin on this story when he suggested that Zacchaeus was the publican in the previous chapter of Luke who prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!

Do you know any sinners by name?  Are you a friend of sinners? 

Dick Woodward, 01 May 2011


HOW DO YOU SEE THINGS?

April 30, 2021

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”  (Matthew 6:22-23)

Jesus showed us the importance of our perspective when He told us our lives can be filled with joy or with sadness. Those two awesome opposites are determined by what Jesus calls “our eye.” By our eye Jesus means how we see things.

One of the most important questions we will answer is: “How do you see things?”

According to Jesus, if the way you see things is healthy and whole, your life will be filled with joy and light. If your mindset and perspective are not healthy, your life will be filled with darkness, unhappiness, sadness and depression.

God liked to ask the prophets: What do you see, Elijah? What do you see, Ezekiel? What do you see, Jeremiah? The Old Testament is filled with stories of godly people who distinguished themselves in the halls of faith.

When God asked them that question, they saw what God wanted them to see.

Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) A discerning spiritual leader added these words: “Where there is no plan, the vision perishes.” As the eagle has binocular and monocular vision, we must have a vision which continuously holds in perspective the long view of what God wants to do through us. 

We must also have a plan that keeps our vision from perishing as we move forward.

Dick Woodward, from As Eagles: How to Be an Eagle Disciple


THE GLORY OF GOD!

April 27, 2021

“The heavens declare the glory of God…The Law of the Lord is perfect…the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart…” (Psalm 19: 1, 7, 14)

In Psalm 19 David writes that every day and every night God is preaching a sermon through the heavenly bodies. The text of that sermon is the glory of God. The “firmament” in which those bodies exist is also preaching a sermon about the infinite size of God.

David’s thoughts then turn to the Special Revelation of God. That’s what theologians call the Word of God and David calls the “Law of God.” David impresses us with what the Word of God can do: convert the soul, enlighten the eyes, make wise the simple, rejoice the heart, and since the Word is true and righteous altogether it will endure forever. So will the one whose soul has been converted by the Word of God.

As David meditates on what the Word can do, he claims that the Word is more to be desired than pure gold.

Having reflected on what we might call “Natural Revelation” and “Biblical Revelation” David guides us to consider “Personal Revelation.” His thought is that God’s revelation through nature is magnificent and beautiful. God’s revelation through Scripture is miraculous and perfect

But what about God’s revelation through God’s people like you and me?

Are we willing to track with David through these three ways God speaks and then pray that God’s revelation through us will be acceptable in God’s sight?

Dick Woodward, 26 April 2010


#FAITH: Possess Your Spiritual Possessions

April 23, 2021

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ.”(Ephesians 1:3)

There is a sense in which the letter of Paul to the Ephesians is the “Joshua” of the New Testament because the theme is the same: possess your possessions. In Joshua 1:3, the possessions were one square foot of the Promised Land of Canaan at a time. In Ephesians, the blessings are spiritual blessings not to be found in a land like Canaan but “in heavenly places, in Christ.”

By “heavenly places” Paul means the spiritual dimension of life. He uses that expression six times in this letter. He uses the expression “in Christ” nearly 100 times in his letters. By this second expression he means that it’s possible for us to be in a relationship with the risen Christ the way a branch is in relationship to a vine from which it draws its sustenance and nourishment.

“In heavenly places in Christ” there are all kinds of wonderful spiritual blessings God wants to give us. But we have to come into that spiritual dimension and into relationship with Christ to get those blessings. In other words, “heavenly places in Christ” is the location of our spiritual Promised Land.

Make a list of all the spiritual blessings you think Paul is referring to in this verse like prayer, the Scriptures, worship and fellowship with other believers. Then apply them and possess your spiritual possessions!

Dick Woodward, 01 May 2009


#FAITH: Possess Your Possessions

April 20, 2021

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you…” (Joshua 1:3)

God spoke these words to Joshua as he was leading the children of Israel into the promised land of Canaan. They show us a principle God uses when God gives us spiritual blessings, such as the Word of God, prayer, worship, spiritual community and many, many others. When God gives them to us we own them. But, according to the principle we learn from God’s dealings with Joshua, we do not possess them until we use them.

Many people own a Bible but they never read it. According to this principle they own their Bible but they do not possess their Bible. God has given everyone the gift of prayer. God has given us access to what God calls “the throne of grace” from which God dispenses all kinds of blessings we do not earn, achieve, or deserve.

All we have to do is ask God for those spiritual blessings. Millions don’t know about that throne. Even worse, millions who know never approach that throne. James has a word for them: “You have not because you ask not.”

The same can be said of faith, worship, spiritual community with other believers, communion with God, forgiveness, the mercy of God that withholds what we deserve, and the grace of God that lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we don’t deserve.

The application of this principle Joshua learned from God is simply this: possess your possessions.

Dick Woodward, 24 April 2009


#FAITH: A Checkup from the Neck Up!

April 16, 2021

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

Jesus begins His greatest discourse with a “checkup from the neck up.” He teaches eight beattitudes that can make His disciples salt and light and His answer 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 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 questions “When people are filled with righteousness that takes them to the top of the mountain what kind of people are they?  Are they Bible experts who throw the book at people?”  No! They are filled with mercy (which is unconditional love) and while they love in this way they 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.  It means that as disciples are merciful they have a catharsis through which everything that is not the unconditional love of Christ is removed from their 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. Be a conduit of God’s love and you will become the salt and light of Jesus.

Dick Woodward, 13 April 2010


Psalm 23: Pause & Be Calm!

April 13, 2021

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  (Psalm 23:6)

What is the basis of the unquenchable faith of David? What gives him the assurance that all the blessings he described in Psalm 23 will be experienced all the days of his life?

The word Selah, found frequently in the Psalms of David, can be interpreted: “Pause and calmly think about that.” If we pause and calmly think about it, we realize that all through Psalm 23 David presents his Shepherd as the great Initiator of their relationship.

It is the Shepherd Who gets David’s attention then makes him lie down and say, “baa,” confessing he is a sheep and the Lord is his Shepherd. It is the Shepherd Who makes David lie down where green pastures are and then leads him beside still waters. It is the Shepherd Who uses His staff when David strays from Him, and drives him into paths of righteousness that restore his soul.

As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own ability as a warrior to see himself through that valley. His confidence is clearly in his Shepherd. David is looking to God for his protection and provision.

The source of David’s confident faith is clearly seen in the way the New Jerusalem Bible translates this verse: “Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.” It is also expressed in the words of the hymn, “I Sought the Lord,” written by George McDonald.

            “I find, I walk, I love, but Oh the whole of love

            Is but my answer, Lord to Thee.

            For You were long beforehand with my soul.

            Always, you have loved me.”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk