Applying the Love of God

May 26, 2016

“Let love be your highest goal…”  (1 Corinthians 14:1)

What are your priorities?  Paul challenges us to let love be our highest priority at the end of his inspired love chapter.  We should follow after love, make love our greatest pursuit, and love should be our highest goal, depending on how the verse is translated in your Bible.

A practical way to make love our greatest goal is to take the 15 virtues in the middle of the love chapter (I Corinthians 13) and apply them in our relationships. It will not take long to realize we cannot love in these ways on our own.  These are the ways God loves.  The miracle is God can love in these 15 ways through us!

The love virtues are all others-centered, unselfish ways of showing unconditional love.  They are not natural, but unnatural for us, because they are supernatural.  They are the fruit and evidence that God lives in us and is expressing the essence of God’s character through us. The dynamic effect of God’s love upon those we love in these ways will convince us this love is God and deserves to be our highest goal.

I have been loved in these ways and by the grace of God I have loved in these ways.  I am committed to making this love my first priority.  I resonate with Joyce Kilmer who summarized the essence of the lives of the fallen who lie beneath poppies in French WWI military graveyards when he wrote: “Loved and were loved, but now they lie in Flanders Fields.”

Paul prescribed these love virtues believing they could solve the problems in the worst relationships in his worst church.  I believe they can solve the problems in all our relationships if we will graciously apply them, through Christ.

Dick Woodward, 12 November 2013


A New Commandment: Love One Another!!

April 16, 2016

“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 where they were to celebrate the Passover the apostles argued about which of them would be the 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 this question: “Do you know what I have done to you?”  The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus is love.  He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

He 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 others’ feet. Then He made the connection between feet washing and love by giving them the New Commandment. They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them. This is the absolute credential that they were 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.  The secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!”  If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Oh Lord make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012


LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!!

February 12, 2016

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20)

Tradition tells us that the Apostle John escaped from the Isle of Patmos by swimming out to a ship that was bound for the city of Ephesus where he lived to a very old age.  I have visited his grave there.  With white hair and a long white beard he was so feeble they had to carry him to the meetings.  At the meetings he would bless those who attended and cry: “Little children, love one another, little children, love one another!”

As we see in this chapter (1 John 4) John gives us ten reasons why we must love one another.  One reason is that God is love.  If we plug into the love God is, we make contact with God.  As we become a conduit of His love, He makes contact with us.  The Apostle John gives us a second reason that if we say we love God and hate our brother (or sister) we are liars.  Because if we do not love the brother (and sister) we can see, how can we love God whom we cannot see?

John’s point is that it’s not easy to love God, because we cannot hug a Spirit.  There is an inseparable vertical and horizontal dimension of this love that God is.  These two dimensions form a cross.

We cannot say we love God if we do not love one another.

Do you love in these two critical dimensions?

Dick Woodward, 09 June 2010


A Prescription for Knowing God

August 7, 2015

“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…”      ..(Hebrews 11:6)

Do you know God?  I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God?  Do you want to know God?  In the verse above we find a prescription that can help you know God.

The prescription is that we must believe that He is, and we must believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  My passion to know God led me to confess:  “I believe that He is.”  But what is He and where is He?

A very helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of the Apostle John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16).  After studying the quality of love God is, the prescription above led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is He likely to be doing His love thing?”

At that time I was a social worker.  Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this:  “God, I have an idea that You are loving where people are hurting.  That’s where I’m going, so when I get there pass the love You are through me and address their pain.”

As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and He touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between His love and the pain of hurting people.

Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011


Love and Loving

February 13, 2015

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…” (1John 4:11)

The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).  He follows that with the words quoted above – that if God SO loved us we ought also to love one another.

Hours before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus challenged the men He apprenticed 24/7 for three years to love one another as He had loved them.  He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples.  Peter wrote that by His death on the cross He gave us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).

The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us yet another reason we are to love one another.  In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in. Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world.  The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.

If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would beat our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities because everyone has a need to be loved and to belong.  The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given to His Church.

Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for His glory?

Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010


Keys to Oneness

November 1, 2013

“… fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love… being of one accord of one mind.  In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out… for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 2-4)

As Paul writes to his favorite church he is burdened that they experience oneness.  He wants them to be “like minded…of one accord” and “of one mind.”  To that end he gives them two keys to oneness.

One key is humility, what Paul calls “lowliness of mind.”  He instructs and challenges the Philippians to esteem others better than themselves.  C. S. Lewis told us that pride is the mother of all sins.  As a pastor I learned that when there is a dispute among two disciples you will often find somebody’s pride at the bottom of it.  Humility is an antidote that resolves disputes and restores oneness.

The other critical key is love.  When Paul writes of “the same love,” I believe he means the love of Christ in us. At least one application of that love is when we “look out for the interests of others.”  We might call this love “other centeredness.” We must realize and remember that this love is the fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit living in us.  It is not natural.  It is supernatural.  We can’t do it.  Only He can.

So, Paul’s keys for being like minded are humility and love.  By application you will find his keys bringing oneness to your marriage, family, church, ministry and any relationship.

Our greatest challenges are relationships.  I challenge you to insert these keys into your most challenging relationships and watch God bring oneness.


The Wrath of God

September 24, 2013

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… ” (Romans 1:18)

‘The wrath of God’ is the most unpopular phrase in the Bible.  The best definition of this concept I’ve ever heard is: “The wrath of God is the annihilating reaction of a loving God toward that which is destroying His love objects.”  Sin and unrighteousness destroys God’s love objects.  God therefore hates sin because sin will destroy us.

If you are into history you know that many nations have tried to destroy the Jews. Modern nations like Nazi Germany applied a horrible genocide holocaust against the Jewish people. Nazi Germany was destroyed.  I’m proud to be a citizen in a country that was one of many which were the vehicle of the wrath of God that destroyed Nazi Germany.

Throughout history nations that tried to destroy the love objects of God were themselves destroyed and the Jewish people are still here with us.  Some ask if it is not inconsistent with the love of God for Him to express His wrath.

As a social worker one night I saw a loving father express great wrath toward a man who had raped and murdered his seven year old daughter.  When that perverted rapist was brought into the police station it took every policeman in the station to hold that loving father down and keep him from trying to destroy the man who had destroyed his love object.  You see, great love gives us the capacity for great wrath.

The original language tells us that God is love but He can cross over from love and express His wrath until He has completely destroyed what is destroying His love objects.