Living (& Praying) One Day at a Time

January 11, 2019

Give us this day our daily bread…”  (Matthew 6:11)

Jesus is using the symbol of bread here to represent all our needs. We are a veritable ‘Internet’ of needs: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. This first personal petition should not be limited to our need for food, but all our needs.

Observe the concept ‘one day at a time’ is repeated twice in this petition of just seven words. Alcoholics and drug addicts with years of sobriety tell me that when they took their first step, they could not entertain the thought of being sober for more than one day.

This prayer of Jesus prescribes that we pray ‘this day’ and ‘daily’ when we present our needs to our Heavenly Father. This principle of one day at a time is a proven therapy that has made the difference between life and death for some of my closest friends who are celebrating many years of sobriety.

Observe how Jesus concludes His teaching about values with the same emphasis later in Matthew 6: “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matthew 6:34)

We read in the book of Numbers that when God miraculously provided bread from Heaven in the wilderness, the Israelites were only permitted to collect enough manna for one day. That story, recorded in Numbers 11, is also applicable to the one-day-at-a-time principle Jesus prescribes in the prayer He taught us to pray.

When we apply the story of that manna miracle to our daily devotions, we should make the application that we cannot hoard our experience of a word from God or the blessings of a time in the presence of God.

We must have our souls and spirits nourished with heavenly manna every day, one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


A PRESCRIPTION FOR GUIDANCE

January 8, 2019

“Only let us live up to the truth we now have.” (Philippians 3:16)

Paul had an experience on the road to Damascus. He often shared the details of that experience as he did in the third chapter of his letter to the Church at Philippi. It was as if his accounting books were turned upside down – what had been in the gain column of his life was now in the loss column and vice versa.

After his accounting books had been turned upside down, or we might say right side up, his ambitions totally changed in the gain column. He wanted to tackle the purposes for which the risen Christ had tackled him. Now he only wanted to know Christ and the high calling of God to which Christ was leading him.

Paul claims that he has not attained these things in his new gain column, but he has learned a principle about knowing the will of God:

If we want to know the will of God we must live up to the light and the truth God has given us at any given time on our faith journey.

We can take away from this a prescription for guidance. If we want to see further ahead into the will of God for our lives, we should move ahead into the will of God just as far as we can see. Like driving across country at night we can move ahead into the 100 yards of light our headlights give us – and that can lead us clear across our vast country.

When we live up to the light we have, God gives us more light.

Dick Woodward, 08 January 2011


A New Perspective (for a New Year)

December 26, 2018

“… as He is, so are we in this world.”  (1 John 4:17)

Christmas has a twin holiday that slips into many Christmas cards. Millions of us include in our Christmas cards a letter – complete with family pictures – that gives an update on how our year has come and gone.

What security do we have as we begin a new year?

In nine words the aged Apostle of Love gives a marvelous perspective on security: “…as He is, so are we in this world.”

There are several ways we can interpret and apply these beautiful words. We can say it is only because Jesus is that we can be as we should be in this world. We can say that our security rests in the proposition that Jesus is and He will equip us to be as He wants us to be in this world.

We can say these words mean He lives in us and through us. For 33 years Jesus had a physical body of His own. For over 2000 years His followers have been the only body He has. This presents the challenge that the only Christ people in this world know is the Christ they see revealed in and through you and me.

As you meditate on the memorial portraits of Christ the New Testament presents to us by those who knew Him, realize these portraits are precisely the way He wants to be revealed to this world through your life and mine today.

The overwhelming personality trait of Jesus Christ is love.

Love is as He was and as He is today.

Our purpose is not to be secure, but to let the love of Jesus pass to others through our lives.

Dick Woodward, 27 December 2011


Christmas: Great Joy for ALL People

December 21, 2018

“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people!” (Luke 2:10)

A man named Tim Hansel lived every day with excruciating pain. He wrote in his book, You Gotta Keep Dancing, that “pain and suffering are inevitable but misery is optional.” That is true for a Spirit controlled disciple of Jesus. Tim also wrote “I can choose to be joyful.”

Joy is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5: 22-23) As evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, joy could be paraphrased “happiness that does not make sense.”

The derivation of the word “happiness” has to do with what happens to us. But this joy, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit living in us, is not controlled by what happens to us. That is why it does not make sense, especially to non-spiritual people.

In the very short letter the Apostle Paul wrote from prison to his favorite church, the Philippians, he used the word joy 17 times!

Appearing to the shepherds the angels explained why their declaration would bring great joy to all people: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Great joy came because the One born is the Savior. He is Christ, which is the Greek way of saying the Messiah. And He is to be our Lord.

Joy came because Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who follow Him. This joy is intended for all people, including you and me.

Are you choosing to be joyful?

Dick Woodward, 20 December 2013


God’s Good (vs. Our Good)

November 2, 2018

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

As I look back over my life since I was born in 1930, and born again in 1949, this verse sums up my entire walk of faith and ministry. According to the J. B. Philips translation, God fits into a pattern for good everything that happens to those who love God and are called according to God’s plan. I like this because the implication is there may not be anything good about many of the things that happen to us.  But if we meet two prerequisites – if we love God and are called according to His plan – our loving God will fit into a pattern for good all the events of our lives.

Before we personally apply the great promise of this verse we must meet those two prerequisites. The first is that we love God.  It isn’t easy to love God. The Apostle John asked us how we can love God we cannot see. (1 John 4) We can’t hug a Spirit.  Jesus told us that if we love Him we must keep His commandments.  According to Romans 8:28 quoted above, we show we love God by the second prerequisite: being called according to God’s plan.

We are so self-centered we are quick to assume that the good into which God fits all the events of our lives means our good.  However, when we understand what it means to love God the only good that will interest us will be God’s good.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2010


Jonah: God’s Love for ALL PEOPLE

October 9, 2018

“…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:2-4)

As a prophet, one of Jonah’s functions was to remove obstacles that were blocking the work of God in the world. Do you see the obstacle in Jonah’s story? Jonah’s prejudice. As we reflect upon the prejudice of Jonah, we should ask ourselves if prejudice in our hearts is blocking the love God wants to express through us to hurting people in our world.

The real message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people! The love of God is a bottom line truth we find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.

Can you see why I believe the real message of the Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people? Refuse to get sidetracked. When you come to the book of Jonah looking for truth, you will find at the heart of this book a loving God Who values people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.

The message of Jonah is that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants. The people of God, like you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation. When the people of God are prejudiced, the very people God designed to be the vessels, models and channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love and salvation work of God in this world.

If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express God’s love and salvation for all people if God’s people are hung up on their prejudices?

Dick Woodward, from Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet