#FAITH : PERSPECTIVE AND VISION

September 15, 2020

“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)

When you break down the word perspective, it literally means “to look through.” (Per = through, specto = look.) The expression tunnel vision is a good paraphrase for perspective. People with tunnel vision see their objective clearly, oblivious to obstacles and distractions that could hinder accomplishing goals and objectives.

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

One of the most important questions 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 perspective is not healthy, your life will be filled with darkness and depression.

God liked to ask Old Testament 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 because 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 gives us a monocular vision perspective to keep our vision from perishing as we move forward.

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


#FAITH: THE DEEP LOVE OF GOD

September 11, 2020

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

After World War II a devout woman named Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her:

“There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”

When the suffering of Job brought him to the bottom of a pit of despair, he received this great Messianic revelation: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given Corrie ten Boom and Job. God made Jeremiah know this truth about the deep love of God when Jeremiah’s weeping bottomed out in his grotto:

“I have never stopped loving the people of Judah!”

The unconditional love of God is taught from Genesis to Revelation. It is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. Meditating on God’s revelation to Jeremiah, I am deeply inspired that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved His people.

Millions have affirmed this great truth while singing the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College OT Handbook (p.501)


#FAITH – A Stormy Weather Question

September 8, 2020

“And a great windstorm arose…but He said to them, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’…and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:35-40)

If you read the story referenced above (in Mark 4), you will see that Jesus directed His disciples to get in their boat and cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. On this sea crossing a great storm fell upon them.

The disciples woke Jesus with the question, “Don’t you even care that we (including Him) are all going to drown?” After turning the great storm into a great calm Jesus asked them a piercing question, “How is it that you have no faith?”

Jesus had taught them that He was the King of the Kingdom of God and they were subjects in that Kingdom. Did they really think all of this was going to come to an end at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee?

One translation renders His great question “Do you not even yet believe in me?” Another puts it: “When are you going to get some faith?”

Before we are too hard on the apostles, let’s apply the essential truth of this story to ourselves. Jesus has promised He will take us to the other side of this life to the next dimension called heaven. While we are on that journey if a great storm falls upon us, do we believe that storm declares His promises null and void?

Or do we have the quality of faith that can turn a great storm into a great calm?

Dick Woodward, 07 September 2011


#FAITH – The Therapy of Thanksgiving

September 4, 2020

“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.

We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with thanksgiving. If we do, we will find this response to be God’s prescription that will bring peace to help us rise above our circumstances.

When a pastor asked one of his members how he was doing, his response was, “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.”

The pastor responded “Whatever are you doing there?”

The therapy of thanksgiving leads us out from under our circumstances and into the peace of God.

Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009


#FAITH: Yours is the Glory

August 21, 2020

“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…”  (Matthew 6:9-13)

As we face the challenges of life every day, we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God.

When I have entered a challenging day, I have confessed thousands of times in my journey of faith and ministry, “I can’t, but God can.” Jesus prescribes the mandate (in the Disciples’ Prayer) we are to confess to God that the results of our answered prayers are in place because the power of God has worked in answer to our prayers.

We are to conclude our prayers by essentially confessing, “Yours is the glory.”

When we apply this third providential benediction to our prayers, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but God did, all the glory goes to God.” 

Along with our confessions about the kingdom and power of God, Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers by making this solemn commitment to God: the glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayers will always go to You.

The essence of this benediction is: “Because the power will always come from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

“Amen” simply means, “So be it!”

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Prayer

#prayer #hope #love #Jesus #glory #grace


#FAITH: GIVING VS. GETTING

August 4, 2020

“… Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

This has been called the “Ninth Beatitude of Jesus.” Jesus began His greatest discourse with a check-up from the neck-up. He shared eight Beatitudes that can make us salt of the earth and light of the world. (Matthew 5)

The “Ninth Beatitude” of Jesus can transform and revolutionize our relationships.

If you are in a relationship, like a marriage, for what you can get from that other person, here’s a challenge for you. For one week, instead of thinking of what you are going to get, ask yourself continuously what you can give to that person.

You see, if you are in a marriage for what you can get from each other, neither of you is receiving anything because neither of you is giving anything. The relationship is a sterile vacuum. But this attitude can transform a relationship if one or both of the people in that relationship will dare to accept this challenge.

There is no place in the Gospels where Jesus speaks these exact words. However, in addition to having this quotation from the Apostle Paul, the spirit of this beatitude characterizes the relationships of Jesus we read about in the first four books of the New Testament.

I exhort you to accept this challenge for one week. If you do, the impact it will have on your relationships will convince you that this is inspired by the Word of God. You will also prove in experience that there is in fact more happiness (which is what the word blessed means) in giving than in getting.

Dick Woodward, 03 August 2009

#hope  #love  #Jesus  #Beatitudes  #relationships  #happiness


STICKABILITY: #Faith + #Perseverance

July 24, 2020

“Let us rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

If you study the original language in which these verses were written, you will discover that the Apostle Paul is essentially saying: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces the quality of character that will not run when things get difficult.”

The Greek word Paul used for character conveys a meaning similar to various patches military people wear that show they have been tested and proven. Paul told us suffering produces endurance, and receiving from the Lord the grace to endure our suffering produces proven character.

When you have been tested and proved, the caliber of character that testing produces is often grown in the soil of suffering.

Paul also writes that proven character leads to confidence and hope. When you have developed character that perseveres, you will not be put to flight. Years ago visiting missionaries in challenging places overseas, I learned one of the most important abilities of faith is stickability.

Can we live out our lives as a fragrance of Christ, an irrefutable statement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who are hostile toward Jesus and His followers?

Our faith is living Christ until people we desire to reach “see Christ in our mortal flesh,” to borrow words from one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. (2Corinthians 4:11)

Perseverance is stickability: the ability to hang in there, and keep hanging in there. That is how an orange gets to be an orange; it just keeps hanging in there until it becomes an orange.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


#FAITH +The Seminary of Suffering+

July 21, 2020

“…as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness… through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report… beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing… having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)

Paul tells us suffering is like a seminary in which God trains qualified ministers of the Gospel. There is a sense in which this seminary never ends.

By passing through this seminary of suffering, we become ministers of God. When Paul uses “minister,” he does not mean a clergy-person; he means the minister every believer is designed, created, and recreated by God to be. Everyone who has experienced the miracle of reconciliation to God through Christ has been commissioned to carry out the ministry of Christ.

How do we prove ourselves to be ministers? Paul writes, “In afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”

I call these adversities “wringers.” When we find ourselves in a wringer, the important thing is our response to that wringer. In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul shows us how to respond: “By pureness, knowledge, patience, kindness.”

In verses 6 and 7 of this passage, Paul tells us where to find the spiritual resources to respond: “By the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

Loving Heavenly Father, use our suffering to make us faithful ministers for You in this world, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


Pizza! Pizza! – The Anatomy of a Sin

June 23, 2020

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15)

In this verse James gives us what we might call the “Anatomy of a Sin.”

One day more than twenty years ago, my wife had to be gone for six or seven hours. Watching sports television that evening, every thirty minutes or so an advertisement promoting pizza came on. I truly love pizza but I’m not supposed to have it because I am a diabetic.

Each time I saw the commercial I developed a stronger desire for pizza.

I had a telephone and some money in my pocket, so eventually I called and ordered a pizza. I told them I was in a wheelchair so please walk in. When the delivery man arrived, I asked him to place the pizza on the blanket in my lap and take the box with him (to leave no evidence.)

When my wife returned, however, as she picked up the blanket to fold it a small pizza crust dropped to the floor. Needless to say, I got in trouble, big time!

According to James sin involves a lure, a look, a strong desire, and eventually temptation – then sin and death, which means “the pits.” The lure is like a piece of metal and our strong desire is a powerful magnet. If we don’t do something to break up that magnetic field between our desire and that lure, we will sin.

I didn’t do that, so pizza landed in my lap.

James shared this with us so we would understand the importance of breaking up the magnetic sequence of sin.

Are you willing to do that?

Dick Woodward, 24 June 2011


Ministers of Comfort (for the Brokenhearted)

June 16, 2020

“…who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

They say an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.” Paul is telling us in this passage of Scripture that a minister of comfort is “one hurting heart telling another hurting heart where the Comfort is.”

According to Paul, every time you enter into a deeper level of suffering God gives you a diploma to hang on your wall of spiritual credentials.

Jeremiah Denton was in solitary confinement in Hanoi for seven years. While he was alone in that cell he made a discovery: God was there and God comforted him. Have you entered into a level of suffering that was deep enough for you to make that same discovery? If you have, then as a qualified minister of comfort you can tell other hurting hearts where the Comfort is.

As a pastor for just under six decades I have made a discovery. The best one to comfort a parent who has lost a child is a parent who has lost a child, and best one to comfort the person who has lost a spouse is someone who has lost a spouse – when those who have suffered these losses have been comforted by God. The same is true for women who have had mastectomies, those who are going through divorce, battling cancer, and every other type of suffering.

When God has comforted you in your deepest levels of suffering are you willing to reach outside yourself and become a qualified minister of comfort?

Dick Woodward, 17 June 2010