Two People in a Pew, which One are You?

April 21, 2020

“Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are those who are persecuted …” (Matthew 5:9-10)

As Jesus profiles the character of a disciple that makes them salt, light and a solution to the problems and problem people of this world, He declares that they will be peacemakers who get persecuted.

A synonym for “peacemakers” is “reconcilers.”  Paul writes (in 2 Corinthians 5:13-6:2) that every believer who has been reconciled to God through Christ has committed to them the message and ministry of reconciliation.

Today many people are alienated from God, from themselves, and from other people. There is an acute need for reconciliation. To quote an old theologian, “It is the will of the Reconciler that the reconciled are to be the vehicles of reconciliation in the lives of the un-reconciled.”

Since reconcilers go where conflict is happening they are often in great danger. Such is the case with disciples who are living the fourth pair of Jesus Christ’s Beatitudes.

You would think that if a person had eight blessed attitudes in their life people would gather around them and sing “For he (and she) is a jolly good fellow!” But the opposite is true. Often such a person is attacked and persecuted.

The reason for this is that when people meet such a person they have two choices. They can realize that this is what I should be like, or they can attack that person and try to prove that they are really not what they appear to be.

Those who are the salt of the earth irritate and burn the ethical sores of those who are lost.

Two people in a pew, which one are you?

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2010


A God First Mindset #Prayer

April 17, 2020

…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:13)

Our Lord Jesus teaches us to begin our prayers with a God first mindset and conclude our prayers with that same focus.  We begin our prayers looking through the grid: “Your name be reverenced, Your Kingdom come,” and “Your will be done on earth, just as it is willed and done in heaven.”

We are to conclude our prayers the same way.

Jesus wants us to conclude our prayers by making this commitment to our Heavenly Father: “Yours is the Kingdom.” 

By this confession, He means for us to pledge to God that the results of our Heavenly Father’s continuously answering our prayers will always belong to Him.

As we face every day challenges we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God: “Yours is the power.” I have confessed this countless times in my journey of faith and ministry by saying, “I can’t, but He can.”

Finally, we are to conclude our prayers by confessing: “Yours is the glory.” When we apply this third providential benediction, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but He did, all the glory goes to Him.”

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 always goes to You.”

The essence of this benediction is: “Because the power always comes 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, from “A Prescription for Prayer”

#faith #hope #prayer #peace #Jesus


When You Don’t Know What to Do

April 14, 2020

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we simply do not know what to do. The Scripture above is taken from a historical context when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and they simply did not know what to do.

James wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back but will dump a truckload of wisdom on us.

Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me that she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital the doctors discovered mononucleosis and seriously infected tonsils that needed to be removed. She concluded her litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my intelligent young daughter believed that if she could just share her litany of woes with me and tap into the vast resources of my wisdom, I would tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.

According to James that is the way we make our heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. That’s why a good way to begin some days is:

“Lord, I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on you!”

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2013

#faith #hope #inspiration #peace #Jesus #wisdom


Jesus: “It is finished…”

April 10, 2020

“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’” (John 19:30)

These last words of Jesus are actually one word in the original language: “Tetelesti.”

This word was written over the record of a prisoner after completing his or her sentence in a Roman prison. “Tetelesti” was also written above the cross of a prisoner crucified by Rome.

What a providential irony that Jesus chose this word at the end of His suffering for your sins and mine.

What Jesus meant is that He paid in full a debt He did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay. Theologians call this the “finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.” One thought is that we cannot add anything to what He finished for us there on the cross.

A more profound thought is that we must put our faith in what Jesus did for us there.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweat great drops of blood as He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him. The Father’s response was that there was no other way, so Jesus had to go through the suffering of the cross.

To think that we could save ourselves by our works is like saying to our Heavenly Father and to our Savior: “You really didn’t have to go through all that suffering because I can save myself by the good works I am doing.”

We must believe in what Jesus finished on the cross: “It is finished.”

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2009


#LOVE: A New Commandment

April 7, 2020

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”  (John 13:1)

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles. Luke writes that on the way to the upper room the apostles argued about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised.

What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!

Having washed their feet Jesus asked them the question “Do you know what I have done to you?” His question is answered in the words quoted above. The most dynamic characteristic of Jesus is love. He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

Jesus also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example. If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each other’s feet. Then He made the connection between foot washing and love by giving them a New Commandment: they were to love one another in the same ways He loved them. This is the absolute credential that they are His disciples.

A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment. Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus, but now they were to make a commitment to each other. This new commitment established a New Community. We call it the church.

Secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!” If they made that charge today about our churches, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Oh Lord, make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012


The Lord IS My Shepherd

April 3, 2020

 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me …” (Psalm 23:4)

The most important relationship we have is our relationship with God. David gives a great description of the relationship we have with God in his Shepherd Psalm. After explaining how this relationship is established, David tells us how it works as God leads us through the deep dark valleys of our lives.

David tells us that God is with him, goes before him, and prepares a table of provision for him in the presence of his enemies. He tells us that God is like a cup running over within him and God is like oil being poured upon him.

He ends his psalm by telling us the goodness and mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. This Hebrew word for follow can be translated as “pursue.” David is actually telling us that God not only goes before him, but pursues behind him with God’s mercy (unconditional love) and goodness all the days of his life.

By application, this means that when you are going through deep dark valleys you can believe that God is with you, goes before you, pursues behind you, will provide for you in the presence of your enemies and problems, He is within you, and His anointing is upon you as long as you say with authentic faith, “The Lord IS My Shepherd.”

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2009


#FAITH: Habakkuk’s Talk Show (with God)

March 27, 2020

“… the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

The prophet Habakkuk lived in one of the most difficult times in Hebrew history; a time when watchtowers were manned with soldiers listening for the dreadful sounds of the Babylonian army. As the Babylonians were about to conquer God’s people, God gave Habakkuk a prophetic message.

This little prophet witnessed the terrible ways the great prophet Jeremiah was treated when he preached his message. As a simple choir director Habakkuk could only imagine how he would be treated if he assumed the role of a prophet.

He therefore came up with a clever literary form. He proclaimed that he was going to build a spiritual watchtower and ask God all the difficult questions that were on their hearts at that time. Questions like, “Why will you use a people more sinful than we are to chasten us?”

He told them that when he heard from God he would tell them what God said in answer to these and other questions. His literary form was like a talk show in which he was the host and God was the Guest being interviewed.

God’s answer was that the wickedness of the Babylonians would be their undoing, but the just would live by their faith.  Originally this meant faith in the prophecy of Jeremiah that they would return from the Babylonian captivity. By application these seven words, which are quoted three times in the New Testament, were also used to inspire the Reformation.

People say God does not speak today as God did then. The truth is we do not listen for God as Habakkuk did.

Do you have a spiritual watchtower? Do you listen for God and expect to hear from God?

Dick Woodward, 30 March 2012