#Faith: Originals & Champions for Christ

January 12, 2021

All our steps are ordered by the Lord; how then can we understand our own ways?” (Proverbs 20:24)

Solomon poses a wise question in Proverbs 20:24: “If we are going the way God wants us to go, how can we expect to always understand the way we are going?” I believe it is obvious that God is making you an original in an original way. 

There isn’t anybody like you and there isn’t supposed to be.

My thoughts turn to six powerful Bible verses: the last four verses of Romans 11 and the first two verses of Romans 12. They tie in with Isaiah 55 and the reality we do not know what God is doing. The profound truth focused is that God is the source of, the power behind, and His glory is the purpose for everything He is doing. 

The application in Romans 12 is that you should worship by surrendering your body as a living sacrifice (not a dead one.) Ask God to transform your mind so you think as He does. Then, having met these prerequisites, prove one day at a time that His will for you is good and moves toward spiritual maturity.  (This passage is especially good in the Phillips.*)

God is shaping you to be a champion for Christ in dimensions that are far beyond anything you could imagine or even think to imagine! Whatever spiritual help it takes you must master this problem or it will master you. Every time God wants to do a great work like what He is doing in your life, the evil one is there trying to defeat it. 

Put on the whole armor of God to defeat what the evil one is trying to do.

Dick Woodward (email, 20 January 2007)

(*J.B. Phillips translation of The New Testament in Modern English)


#FAITH: LETTING GO!

January 5, 2021

“… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

As we move into a new year many of us can say, “These forty-eleven things I dabble in” as we consider our priorities. Spiritual heavyweights like Paul write “One thing I do.” They can write that they have their priorities sifted down to one thing because they forget those things that are behind.

We all have things we need to let go of so we can press toward the goal of what God wants us to do now and in the future.

The story is told of a man who fell over a cliff but managed to grab hold of a small bush about forty feet from the top. He frantically shouted “Help!” several times but his voice simply echoed back to him. 

Desperately he yelled, “Anybody up there?”  A subterranean voice answered, “Yes!” He then yelled again “Help!” Then the voice said. “Let go!” After a brief pause the man shouted, “Anybody else up there?”

Sometimes it takes a lot of faith to let go. It may be that we need to let go of things that we cannot do and only God can do. It may be we need to let go of things we cannot control. And, sometimes we need to let go of hurts people have inflicted on us that we have not forgiven and let go.

Do you need to let go of what is behind so you can unload baggage and move forward with God?

Dick Woodward, 11 January 2013


A New Year’s Question

December 29, 2020

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)

The last days of the year are a good time for reflection and making resolutions. Have you ever had a year that was so bad you could not live with the idea of another year of the same? Are you there now? If you are, you could be ready to hear the question that God likes to ask from time to time:

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?”

This is the consummate question of direction. It implies if we do not have a crisis that changes things, we are going to end up with more of the same.

Sometimes we are what needs to change. Jeremiah actually mocks us for trying to change ourselves: “Why do you gad about so much to change your ways? …Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots?” (Jeremiah 2:36)

There is a big difference between trying to change ourselves and being changed by God. Unless we are changed by God and God changes what only God can change, we are trapped in a cycle of going where we have come from.

With great spiritual discernment David asked God to create in him a new heart. God answered that prayer for him. (Psalm 51:10) God can also do that for us today. We are not doomed to that cycle of going where we have come from.  We can be changed. God can change the things that must change in us so next year we will not end up back where we have come from.

Confess that you can’t change yourself or your circumstances, but believe God can as you enter the New Year… then watch at God work.

Dick Woodward, 30 December 2011


#FAITH, LOVE +CHRISTMAS HOPE

December 18, 2020

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)

The Old Testament people of God lived their lives believing it was possible to “see the Good.” In Psalm 34 King David challenges hopeless fugitives to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” and the Lord is the Good they have been seeking all their lives.

In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us three eternal values in life are faith, hope, and love. (I Corinthians 13:13) Love is the greatest of these values because God is Love. Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God. Hope is also one of the great eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have the Good News that can give hope to the hopeless.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share it with the people Jesus came to seek and to save.  (Luke 19:10)

We show that we really believe in the Christmas that shall be when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men we should ask the question, “Where is He?,” seek Him until we find Him, worship Him, and give the gift of our lives to Him. 

Then, like the shepherds, we should tell everybody the very Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world!

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription”


#FAITH – THE CHRISTMAS THAT SHALL BE

December 15, 2020

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” (Matthew 25:31)

More than 300 times in the New Testament God tells us God is going to affect another intervention in human history. Read Scriptures like Matthew 24 and 25, I Corinthians 15, II Peter 3 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. You will also find this Good News in the Old Testament, especially in the prophets.

You will discover these Scriptures proclaim the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which is the blessed hope of followers of Jesus and hope for this world. Almighty God is coming to earth again! This time God is not just telling a few chosen people such as a priest, a peasant girl, a carpenter, a few wise men and some shepherds. 

God is telling anyone who reads the Bible.

The famous oratorio by Handel entitled, “The Messiah,” compiles the Scriptures in the Old and New Testament that describe the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be

As you reflect on this beautiful music and the Christmas that is yet to be, if you do not believe the 300+ New Testament Scriptures, or the many Old Testament prophetic Scriptures concerning the future Christmas, then, like Zacharias in the first chapter of Luke, your mouth is shut by your unbelief. 

Sharing the Good News about the Christmas that shall be can give hope to your sphere of acquaintances who are living without hope. Do you know, or do you remember, what it is like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope?

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription”


#FAITH – THE CHRISTMAS THAT WAS

December 11, 2020

“Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, God with us.”  (Matthew 1:23)

The essence of the Christmas that was can be described by the word “incarnation.” The biblical word “carne” is the Greek word for “flesh.” When we consider the Christmas that was, we find ourselves face to face with the incarnation – the miracle that God decided to make human flesh His official residence for 33 years. We date time from the first Christmas because human flesh became God’s address when Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Asked who Jesus is, a little boy answered, “God with skin on.” That’s good theology! When Jesus was born, one of His names was “Emmanuel,” which means God with us.

The Bible also frequently uses the word flesh to mean “human nature, unaided by God.” God knew that our human nature desperately needed supernatural aid. The essence of incarnation when applied to the Christmas that was, demonstrates the reality that we need God to do something for us that we could not possibly do for ourselves. 

On that first Christmas Eve God intersected human history with what we might call “The Great Intervention,” that we might experience salvation.

If you carefully read the first chapter of Luke, you will discover that God told a priest what He was going to do and the priest did not believe Him. God responded by shutting the priest’s mouth. Zacharias had the greatest sermon of his life to preach, but lost the opportunity because unbelief shut his mouth.

Has unbelief shut your mouth?

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription


#FAITH – A CHRISTMAS PRESCRIPTION

December 8, 2020

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

The holidays are the most family-oriented weeks of the year.  Yet for many – those who have no family, singles, widows and widowers, the divorced among us, and those with painful and negative family experiences – the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. 

As a pastor, every year I had parishioners who asked me in early November to pray for them to make it through the holidays. The hard reality is that lonely, depressed, and anxious people are lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious during the “jolliest season” than at any other time of the year.

At the same time, the last four weeks of the year are filled with joy and happiness for millions of people and their families. Whether the holiday season is your favorite time or your most difficult time of the year, I want to share a Christmas prescription that can bring the true meaning of Christmas to your holidays and to every day of your new year.

To begin, try to block out the advertising blitz of commercial Christmas we have today. Carefully read the Christmas scriptures in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and then read the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John.

God told a devout peasant girl what He was going to do. Mary believed God, but she asked God questions and pondered these things in her heart.

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription

Editor’s Note: During the rest of December, the blog posting elf will share excerpts from one of Papa’s booklets, “A Christmas Prescription.” Be blessed as we ponder the Christmas that was, the Christmas that shall be, and the Christmas that is.


#FAITH – LOOK AND LIVE!!

December 4, 2020

“… Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21:9)

When the children of Israel complained and griped about Moses God demonstrated how He felt about the gripers. He sent snakes to bite them. (Some pastors may wish they could do the same.) Then God in His mercy directed Moses to erect a pole at the center of the camp with a bronze serpent on top of it. 

The good news was proclaimed: If any of the snake-bitten gripers would get to the center of the camp and look at the bronze serpent, they would be healed of their snakebites.

Some of them said that defied what they knew so they died of their snakebites. Others said it didn’t make sense but it was the only hope they had. With help they somehow got to the center of the camp and looked at the bronze serpent on the pole. 

When they looked, they were healed and lived!

This story takes on much greater meaning when Jesus makes His dogmatic declaration: He is God’s only Son, God’s only Solution, and God’s only Savior. (John 3: 1-21) As He told a Rabbi named Nicodemus about Moses lifting that serpent in the wilderness, it is a picture of what Jesus will do. If we look to Jesus on His cross with faith we will be healed of our sins.

Jesus made it simple. Just look and live. When you want to solve problems that demand a supernatural solution, look and live. Have you ever done that? Why not do it now?

Dick Woodward, 10 December 2013


GIDEON: FAITH AND TEAMWORK

December 1, 2020

“And every man stood in his place all around the camp (of the Midianites); and the whole army (of Midian) ran and cried out and fled.” (Judges 7:21)

One of the greatest victories described in the Old Testament is the victory of Gideon over the army of the Midianites. There were several hundred thousand Midianites. Gideon only had 300 soldiers. In the middle of the night, in pitch darkness, Gideon placed his 300 committed warriors in three strategic locations around the sleeping enemy army.

On signal from Gideon each group of 100 soldiers exposed 100 torches, blew 100 bugles, and then 100 men shouted: “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” This gave their enemy the impression they were surrounded by a powerful army. They completely panicked. In the darkness they began fighting each other and were soon conquered.

Although a great miracle, this was a miracle that required a total commitment on the part of Gideon’s 300. That’s why he reduced his army down to less than one percent of what he started with. He had to know that his army was a one hundred percent committed minority rather than an apathetic majority.

This victory also teaches the critically important concept of teamwork. The work of God is a team sport and requires a team effort. Judges 7:21 summarizes the key to this great victory. We read that each one of the 300 “stood in his place.” If even a tiny percentage had been too frightened to execute the plan the attack would have been disastrous.

Are you willing to stand with committed faith in your place so that together we might defeat the powers of hell?

Dick Woodward, 12 December 2012


#FAITH vs. GIANTOLOGY

November 24, 2020

There we saw the giants … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight.”  (Numbers 13: 33)

The Old Testament book of Numbers records the death of an entire generation. Twelve spies were sent to do reconnaissance in the land of Canaan. Ten spies gave the report quoted above. Only two shared how great the land was and exhorted an invasion. Joshua and Caleb were men of great faith, but the other ten men were experts in “Giantology.

The entire generation who listened to the ten perished in the wilderness. Only two people survived one of the most tragic judgments of God recorded in the Bible. An old spiritual puts it this way: “Others saw the giants. Caleb (and Joshua) saw the Lord!” We read that they followed the Lord because they believed Him more than able to conquer the giants.

Spending most of my adult life as a pastor, I cannot help but allow the thought that the twelve spies resemble a board of Elders, a Session, a Vestry, or a board of Stewards. Sometimes when a church is facing a huge challenge two will have the faith of Caleb and Joshua, and ten will be giantologists.

We all have “giants” in our lives. As a bedfast quadriplegic with a wife in a wheelchair I certainly have mine. I’m sure you have yours. 

We also have choices. We can choose to see the giants and spend much time dwelling on how big they are. Or we can choose to see the Lord conquering our giants. We might call this: “Two people in a pew — which one are you?”

Are you a Caleb and Joshua with a conquering-the-giants faith, or are you getting your Ph.D. in Giantology?

Dick Woodward, 27 November 2013