#FAITH: The Gospel in Reverse

April 6, 2021

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20)

This past weekend many heard the Good News that Jesus died and rose again for our sins that we might live forever in resurrection power with Him. Have you ever heard of the Gospel in reverse? The verse I quoted above sounds like a funeral dirge because it begins with Paul’s announcement that he is crucified with Christ.

But, in this verse Paul exclaims three times that he lives! He lives by faith in the Son of God. He lives because Christ lives in him, and he lives because he is crucified with Christ. To summarize and paraphrase, Paul is declaring the Good News that Christ died so he might live and now it’s his turn. Paul must die so Christ might live His life through Paul.

When our holidays roll around we hear that it should be Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter every day of the year. If you want to have a perpetual Easter, realize that what was true of the Apostle Paul can be true for you and me.

Jesus consistently challenged His followers to take up their cross daily and follow Him. (Luke 9: 23) In addition to the literal meaning this could have had in that culture, by application to take up your cross daily means to “crucify” all the personal hopes, ambitions and plans you had for your life asking Him to have His will for your life.

Christ died that you might live. Now it’s your turn.

Dick Woodward, 02 April 2013


LORD JESUS, SAVE ME!

March 23, 2021

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)

The Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who ever walked on water. Yet millions only remember the fact that he took his eyes off Jesus and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read his magnificent faith was flawed. He saw the wind. Since we cannot see wind this actually means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and he was afraid. 

The remarkable thing here is when he kept his eyes on Jesus he walked on water!

It was not until he was beginning to sink that he prayed this prayer that is a model prayer for all of us. Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and we should never think we will generate grace with God with many words. If Peter had prayed any longer, his words would have been glub, glub glub!

When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname “Little Faith.” I believe our Lord was smiling when He did. He literally asked Peter “Why did you think twice?”

Rick Warren took his entire congregation of twenty thousand people through the eight steps of what is called “Celebrate Recovery.” When asked why, his response was: “Because we are all in recovery. What do you think the word salvation means?” When we truly understand the meaning of the word salvation, we will frequently pray this prayer.

Lord Jesus, save me!

Dick Woodward, 25 March 2012


Finding God’s Strength in our Weakness

March 19, 2021

“Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?” (Psalm 34:12)

When King Saul pursued David, over 400 fugitives joined him hiding out in caves. (I Samuel 22) They were in debt, in distress and discontent. Psalm 34 gives us little summaries of sermons David preached to the fugitives (viewed as failures in their times) that turned them into his mighty men.

He began by challenging them with questions like: “How many of you want to live? How long do you want to live? Do you want to live so you may see the good?” When asked how long we want to live we almost never give a specific number of years, months, weeks and days. We just answer, “Many!”

In that culture “seeing the good” was an expression that meant a person was convinced there was something good in this life and they were going to find it. David preached that God is the good thing to seek.

After telling them about the most humiliating and frightening experience of his life, his great battle cry to them was: “Magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt God’s name together!” (v. 3)

David identified with the weaknesses of these failures. He preached that the greater their weakness the more they exalted the name of God when God used them. Finding the strength of God in their weakness made them the mighty men of David God used in mighty ways.

Have you learned how to find God’s strength in your weakness?  Have you discovered how the greater your weaknesses – the more you can magnify God?

Dick Woodward, 21 March 2013


DON’T PANIC!

March 16, 2021

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’”  (Psalm 3:1-2)

As David writes the third Psalm he is facing the greatest crisis of his life. His son has turned the entire nation against him and has driven him out of Jerusalem into the wilderness where he hid from King Saul when he was a young fugitive. His situation is so desperate many people said that even God could not help him. 

But in this psalm David explains how he knows God will be there for him. He is not having a panic attack so he gives us a prescription for one.

Observe the way David uses three tenses as he lays out his prescription that kept him from panicking. He recalls that in the past there were many times when he cried out to God and God heard him. When he lay down to sleep not knowing if the enemy would slit his throat while he was sleeping, he awoke alive because God sustained him. 

He then declared he will not be afraid of the thousands of people who want to see him dead. He goes on in the present tense that God is with him and His present blessing is upon him.

When you are in crisis think back to times in the past when God met you and brought you through a crisis. Then let those past answered prayers inspire you to trust God for the present and future crises in your life.

Look back. With faith, look forward. Then look around at your present circumstances, not with panic but with faith and peace.

Dick Woodward, 18 March 2012


What Does God Ask of Us?

March 9, 2021

“…And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The prophet Micah asked an important question. In effect his question is: what are the divine requirements of God? What does God expect, require, demand, and command from me? Micah gives us three answers to this question.

His first answer is that we should do justly. In other words, we should be a conduit of justice. We should stand up against injustice anytime and anywhere we see injustice. Since we live in a world that is filled with injustice this could be dangerous. Jesus Christ did this and it got Him crucified.

Micah’s second answer is that we should love mercy. Mercy is unconditional love. This is the chief characteristic of the love of God. David believed that the mercy and unconditional love of God would pursue him all the days of his life.

Micah’s final answer to his question is that we are to walk humbly with our God. Humility has consistently been a characteristic of the great old souls we have known in this life. C.S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins and we read in the Proverbs that God hates pride. We can see why God would hate pride because God hates sin.

Are you willing to be the person Micah profiled? There is a sense in which we cannot become a just, merciful and humble person through our own efforts. But these three answers give us a profile of the person God wants us to be. 

Are you willing to let God give you the grace to be that person?

Dick Woodward, 20 March 2011


#FAITH – PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

March 5, 2021

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

It is easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? Paul does not leave us in a vacuum here. He goes on to prescribe: “Pray about everything!”

Psalm 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” An alternate reading states that God is “abundantly available for help in tight places.” As a result of our prayers, God can deliver us from tight places.

Someone once said, “When it is hardest to pray, pray the hardest!” Paul was delivered from many tight places. He knew from personal experience, however, that God does not always take our problems away. Paul had a physical “thorn in the flesh” he asked God three times to take away. 

Paul saw many people healed as he ministered with the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, when he asked God to solve his health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.” Instead God essentially said, “I’m going to give you the grace to cope.”  (II Corinthians 12)

When God gave Paul grace to cope, he discovered the power of Christ was upon him in a mighty way. Paul learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul later shares his weakness became a showcase in which the strength of God was exhibited.

Paul learned that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or it may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.  Always pray about everything.

Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.” 

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace


#FAITH – Doing the Right Thing

March 2, 2021

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’”  (Psalm 4:5)

David cannot sleep. He is uptight and anxious. From the context of the psalm we know he cannot sleep because he is under great stress. He decides to meditate within his own heart and be still.

David has a “board meeting” with himself in the middle of the night. If he does the right thing, he believes he cannot survive. He is therefore thinking about doing the expedient thing. Since he is a man of great spiritual integrity he finds himself awake and uptight considering the expedient path.

As a result of his meditation he resolves his dilemma. David decides he is going to make whatever sacrifices he needs to make to do what is right – and then trust the Lord for his survival. He knows there are many people who are looking for someone who will do what is right even though it costs them everything to do right.

Have you ever found yourself awake, uptight and stressed in the middle of the night because you are in a crisis? If you do what you believe God wants you to do you don’t see how you can survive. But your spiritual integrity won’t let you sleep if you don’t do the right thing. 

David models a prescription for resolving that kind of dilemma.

His prescription is simply to do right. Whatever it costs you, do right and trust God for the consequences. Many people will be blessed, God will be glorified, you will have peace and be able to sleep.

Dick Woodward, 02 March 2012


God’s Strength in Our Weakness

February 26, 2021

“When I am weak then I am strong…” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In these eight words the Apostle Paul gives us a formula for strength. When we are having a serious operation, instead of counting to 10 as the anesthesiologist administers the medicine that knocks us out, I suggest we say these eight words. 

While most of us like to be in control, after experiencing the full effects of anesthesia we give up control. But, as believers when we give up control, we find ourselves underneath the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27) 

This makes us stronger than we have ever been.

Paul, quoting Isaiah, writes the key to spiritual strength: God gives strength to the weary and power to the weak. One translation reads that God’s strength looks good on weak people. The key to spiritual strength is therefore not found in our strength but in our weakness. These eight words therefore form the formula for our strength. 

They will give you great spiritual strength in your time of absolute weakness. Discover with the Apostle Paul that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, not in trying to make ourselves strong. We find our greatest strength in the Everlasting Arms that are there underneath us.

Prove what Isaiah and Paul teach us.The everlasting arms give us more strength than we have ever known as healthy active people. The next time you experience weakness on any level of life remember to pray these eight words:“When I am weak then I am strong.”

You will soon find yourself saying, “I’m not but He is; I can’t, but He can;” and then, “I didn’t but He did” when you let God perfect His strength in your weakness.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2014


Two Beautiful Words: Mercy & Grace

February 23, 2021

“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6)

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are “mercy” and “grace.” The mercy of God, which is the unconditional love of God, withholds from us what we deserve, while the grace of God lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we do not deserve, accomplish, or achieve by our own efforts.

As we thank God for our blessings, at the top of the list we should be grateful for the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows. The good news of the gospel is that when Jesus suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved that we might have peace with God was laid upon Christ. (Isaiah 53:5-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

If you want to grasp the meaning of these two words observe when and why they turn up in the Bible. Try to understand what we deserve and why. That will grow your appreciation for the mercy of God. Then investigate all that is bestowed upon us by the grace of God.

As you find these two beautiful words in the Bible you will understand why I have written that when you pray you should put at the top of your thanksgiving list:  

The mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows.”

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009


Sowing Spiritual Gardens

February 16, 2021

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption… What counts is a new creation.” (Galatians 6:7,8,15)

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Galatians. The first part of this passage is often preached to unbelievers, but Paul was addressing professing believers. As believers this is a spiritual law of our lives in Christ. Every day we can sow spiritual seeds in the gardens of our lives, or we can sow seeds of our flesh in that garden. 

William Barclay, a professor of Bible at Edinburgh University for forty years, wrote when the Bible refers to our flesh it means “human nature unaided by God.” According to Paul, human nature unaided by God is a seed that produces corruption.

We have the option to sow spiritual seeds in our lives every day. Paul writes that these spiritual seeds produce a continuous creation. David prayed “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.” (Psalm 51:10) In the New Testament the apostles refer to being born again as a miracle of creation. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

This means we have two options before us every day: creation or corruption. We can sow spiritual seeds in the gardens of our lives that continue the act of creation God is miraculously performing in us, or we can sow seeds that produce corruption.

What seeds are you sowing in the garden of your life today?

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2011