Highways for God

July 9, 2019

“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Isaiah 40:4-5)

The essence of Isaiah’s great sermon is that when you build a highway you do four things: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and smooth out rough places.

Isaiah preached that God was coming into our world and when He did He was going to travel on the highway of the life of His Son. In that life the mountains of pride would be leveled, the empty spaces would be one hundred percent filled with the Holy Spirit, the crooked ways of sin would be perfectly straight, and rough places would be made smooth by the way He responded to them.

Just before Jesus parted with His apostles He told them that in the same way the Father sent Him into the world, He was sending them into the world. If His life was to be a highway on which God traveled into this world, our lives are also meant to be highways for God.

I challenge you to ask God to make your life a highway for Him to travel in this world.

If you have the courage to pray this way God’s bulldozers will start leveling your mountains of pride, the Holy Spirit will fill your empty spaces and straighten out your crooked ways of sin, and then give you the grace to smooth out the rough challenges that come into your life.

Dick Woodward, 06 July 2012


Prayer: God First

July 5, 2019

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

The message of the Bible frequently sifts down to just two words: God first.

From Genesis to Revelation, the bottom line interpretation and application of parables, commandments, character studies, allegories, psalms, sermons, Gospels, Epistles and teachings of Jesus Christ is simply “God first.”

The prayer Jesus taught us begins with that God-first emphasis when Jesus instructs us to begin by asking God that His name, the essence of Who and what He is, might be honored and reverenced…

Prayer is not a matter of us persuading God to do our will. The very essence of prayer is an alignment between our wills and the will of God. Prayer is not a matter of us making God our partner and taking God into our plans.

Prayer is a matter of God making us His partners and taking us into His plans…

We are not to come into our prayer closets or corporate worship with a ‘shopping list’ and send God on errands for us.  When we pray, we should come into the presence of God with a blank sheet of paper and ask God to send us on errands for Him.

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Prayer


What is the Righteous One Doing?

July 2, 2019

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Greek is a very precise language; Hebrew is not. That’s why we frequently find footnotes that suggest alternate readings in the margins of our Bibles when we read Old Testament passages of Scripture. The NIV translation’s footnote for Psalm 11:3 is: “When the foundations of your life are breaking up, what is the righteous One doing?”

In my life I have experienced several periods when it seemed that the foundations of my life were breaking up. I found the alternate reading of this verse to be a reliable response that turned many of those crises into significant spiritual datelines in my journey of faith.

My faith walk began in 1949 and along the way I dropped two words out of my vocabulary: “fortunately” and “coincidentally.”  Because I believe in Divine Providence, I no longer believe in luck. I also agree with the spiritual heavyweight who said when devout believers think they have experienced a coincidence it just means God prefers to remain anonymous.

The Chinese word for “crisis” combines the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” I believe we should factor into all our crises this knee jerk response: “What is the righteous One doing in my life now?”

I find that God is always up to something and ultimately it is always something good. It is not primarily for our good, but what accomplishes God’s good for God’s glory.

If you are in a time of crisis right now, or when you find yourself in one, consider “What is the righteous One doing?”

Dick Woodward, 02 July 2010


God’s Business vs. Our Business

June 28, 2019

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful… And what do you have that you did not receive? (1 Corinthians 4:2,7)

The biblical word “steward” is not fully understood or appreciated. It is actually one of the most important words in the New Testament. A synonym for this word is “manager.” Many people believe this word primarily relates to a person’s money, but that application falls far short of the essential meaning of this word.

When Paul asks the probing question,“And what do you have that you did not receive?” he is telling us that our stewardship applies to everything we have received from God. This means our time, energy, gifts and talents, our health and all the things that make up the essence of our very lives, including all of our money and possessions.

At the age of 65 one of my best friends had what he refers to as a “halftime” experience when he came to fully appreciate this word “steward.” His regular custom was to draw a line down the middle of a legal pad page. On the left side of that line he wrote “My business” while on the right side of the line he wrote “God’s business.”

When he fully appreciated this word “steward” he erased that line because, as a wealthy businessman, he realized it was all God’s business.

Remember, the important thing about a steward is that we be found faithful. Do you realize there is nothing in your life you did not receive from God? Do you know that you are to faithfully manage everything you have received from God?

Are you willing to erase the line between what is yours and what is God’s?

Dick Woodward, 10 June 2010


The Anatomy of a Sin (Pizza, Pizza!)

June 25, 2019

“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. As I watched sports television in the evening, every thirty minutes or so there was an advertisement promoting pizza.

I truly love pizza but I’m not supposed to have it because I am a diabetic. Each time the commercial was shown I developed a stronger desire for a pizza.

I had a telephone next to me and some money, 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 told 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. The consequences were disastrous!

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

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

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

Are you willing to do that?

Dick Woodward, 24 June 2011


Following Jesus: A Prescription for Fullness

June 18, 2019

“This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk even as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)

In the first sixteen verses of his short letter, the Apostle John tells us about a prescription for fullness. His prescription comes in seven parts: facts, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, follow-ship, fruitfulness, and then fullness.

John’s facts are the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we have faith to believe the first fact we have forgiveness. When we believe the second the result is fellowship with the risen Christ.

By changing one letter in the word “fellowship” to “follow-ship,” I have come up with the key to John’s prescription for fullness: You will know that you know when you walk as Jesus walked.

This word follow-ship is also a key to the fullness emphasized by Jesus. His covenant with the apostles was “Follow Me and I will make you.” (Matthew 4:19) The most important part of the Great Commission occurred when Jesus commissioned the disciples to make disciples. (Matthew 28: 18-20)

A synonym for discipleship is apprenticeship. Jesus apprenticed the apostles and He commissioned them to apprentice disciples.

The Gospel of John Chapter 7 records a great claim of Jesus when He declared that His teaching is the teaching of God.  Jesus also proclaimed we prove that when we do what He teaches. (John 7:17)

According to Jesus the doing leads to the knowing. Intellectuals have claimed for millenniums that the knowing will lead to the doing, but Jesus said “When you do you will know.”

Are you willing to do that you might know the the Word of God?

Dick Woodward, 18 June 2011


A Message for Fathers: Faithfulness

June 14, 2019

“…To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  (Luke 1:17)

When the birth of one of the greatest prophets ever born of woman was prophesied, it was predicted that as he prepared the way for the Messiah to come into this world he would do so by exhorting fathers to prioritize their relationship with their children. By application the challenging truth is that the way of the Lord in the lives of children is prepared when fathers are faithful in their responsibility toward them.

One example of this reality is when our Lord taught His disciples how to pray, He instructed us to address God as “Our Father.” What images come into the minds of people when we address God in this way? Our relationships to our earthly fathers can strongly influence the way we perceive our heavenly Father.

As a pastor I have had parishioners say to me in private, “When I address God as my father I experience a spiritual short circuit.” When I asked them to tell me about their earthly father I often heard a story about a very dysfunctional father/child relationship.

Professional Christian clinical psychologists and psychiatrists strongly reinforce the hard reality of the influence fathers have on the lives of their children. This profound truth from the life and ministry of John the Baptist is confirmed in millions of lives every day.

As we in America celebrate “Father’s Day” this Sunday, may the vision statement that was prophesied for John the Baptist raise awareness in all of us who are fathers of the solemn mission objective we have been assigned by God when He made us fathers.

Dick Woodward, 20 June 2010