#FAITH: God Loves You (and Me!!)

August 20, 2019

 “…that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23)

God is love. God’s Son, Jesus, is ‘God with skin on.’ Love was the most mesmerizing dynamic of His life on this earth. The people who met Jesus were loved as they had never been loved before.

We are also designed to be ‘God with skin on.’ The Holy Spirit can be described as Love Incarnate: the love of God with skin on, yours and mine. Love is the primary fruit of the Spirit and evidence of the Spirit’s residence in us.

People who are filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit are always conduits of the love of Jesus Christ.

Do you know and believe that God loves you? Many people don’t feel worthy of being loved by anybody – not even God. When someone says, “I love you,” a negative tape begins to play that says, “No, you don’t. If you really knew me you wouldn’t!”

The two beautiful Gospel words mercy and grace declare that God does not love us if and when we are worthy, because He loves us even while we are sinners. (Romans 5:6-10)

Jesus prayed that those who make up the Church would live in such a way that this world of hurting people will know and believe God loves them as much as God loves His only begotten Son. If you do not know that God loves you, then we who are part of the Church have failed you.

God loves you! …Because by the grace and mercy of God, I know that God loves me.

Dick Woodward, from Happiness That Doesn’t Make Good Sense


#FAITH: A Magnificent Obsession

August 13, 2019

“Jesus said to them, ‘my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.’” (John 4:34)

When Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well in Samaria He sent the apostles into a nearby village to buy food for their lunch. When His disciples returned with the food He refused it and spoke the words quoted above. Jesus obviously wanted to have a private interview with the Samaritan woman.

His interview has been summarized by a riddle: “The SW met a SW at a SW. The SW became a SW and went on to become a great SW.”

The explanation of the riddle is as follows: “The Savior of the World met a Samaritan Woman at a Samaritan Well. The Samaritan Woman became a Saved Woman and went on to become a great Soul Winner.”

When the apostles returned they marveled that Jesus was speaking with a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation. Earlier in this chapter we are told that Jesus was just passing through Samaria. He wanted to reach this woman who would reach all of Samaria for Him after He left. We’re told that she did this for Him.

Jesus told the apostles that this was the work of God for Him. And doing the work of God was His food. The magnificent obsession of Jesus was to do the work of God.

Is the work of God a magnificent obsession for you?

Dick Woodward, 14 August 2009


A New Commandment: LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

August 6, 2019

“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:21)

In this chapter of the Bible, John gives us ten reasons we must love. His last reason is that we have been given a commandment by Jesus that we must love one another.

When Jesus was about to leave the apostles by way of His death on the cross, He left the apostles with a New Commandment:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

In our culture the concept of a commandment is lost for many people because we are so democratic in our values. The closest we come to understanding the meaning of this word is in our military training.

When my youngest brother was in training the order was given that the smoking lamp was out – which meant no smoking. In defiance he lit a cigarette. His Marine drill instructor ordered him to bury that cigarette in a grave six feet deep.

When my brother reported to the drill instructor all covered with mud and sweat, the instructor asked if he had buried the cigarette pointing north and south or east and west?  When he wasn’t sure the drill instructor told him he had to do it again the next day and make sure it pointed north and south.

The next time the no smoking order was given do you think he lit another cigarette?

Do you get the full weight of this reason we must love one another?

Dick Woodward, 06 August 2010


Will the real sinner please stand up?

July 30, 2019

…When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them.

Now which of them will love him more? (Luke 7:42)

Some of the greatest Christians were once the greatest sinners. As we read the seventh chapter of Luke (verses 36-50), we cannot help but think of The Confessions of Saint Augustine.  It is not necessary to sin much to love God – we should be careful not to give that impression. There is nothing good about sin.

It is true, however, that the truly repentant and contrite sinner can love much because he (or she) has been forgiven much. This was a driving force in the lives of King David, the Apostle Paul and Saint Augustine.

At issue here are the condescending thoughts of this Pharisee toward the woman who is washing Jesus’ feet. As he compares himself, the Pharisee is self-righteous. Like his colleague in Luke 18, he is looking upon this woman with an attitude, “I thank God I am not as other people are – sinners!”

The question of Jesus focuses this for him and for us. The Pharisee is the man forgiven the smaller debt, which means he saw his sin as a small thing. This teaching also focuses that the way we perceive ourselves has a profound effect upon how we perceive others.

Positively and negatively our self-image is a strong force in our interpersonal relationships.

The subtle message of Jesus to this Pharisee is that the real sinner at that luncheon was not the woman whose sin was obvious and known to everybody. Jesus’ message to her was the good news, that, because of her faith, her sins were forgiven.

When the real sinner stood up at that luncheon, however, he was a sinner named “Simon, the Pharisee.”

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.137)

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners.”


Our Failures vs. God’s Mercy & Unconditional Love

July 16, 2019

…& mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...”  (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This word is found 366 times in the Bible. (Perhaps God wants us to know we need mercy and unconditional love every day of the year – and God even covers Leap Year.)  Many people think we don’t hear about God’s mercy until the Sermon on the Mount; however, we find 280 mercy references in the Old Testament.

King David concludes Psalm 100 with the observation that God’s mercy is everlasting.

My favorite Old Testament reference to God’s mercy is found at the end of Psalm 23. David’s greatest Psalm ends with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him always.

The Hebrew word he uses for ‘follow’ can also be translated as ‘pursue.’  David brings his profound description of the relationship between God and man to a conclusion by declaring the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life.

This is true for all who confess, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

There are many ways to fail. When we understand the meaning of God’s mercy, however, we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail God’s mercy. No matter what your failures have been, God has sent you a message wrapped in this five letter word “mercy.”

The amazing message is that you did not win God’s love by a positive performance and you do not lose God’s love by a negative performance. God’s love and acceptance of you is unconditional.  According to David, the mercy of God is not only there like a rock for you, but God is pursuing you with unconditional love and forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, Happiness that Doesn’t Make Good Sense


Heart to Heart Communication

July 12, 2019

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you… As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)

To paraphrase this passage, Paul is suggesting that each of us has a communication “flap” on our heart. In our relationships we should be face-to-face and heart-to-heart with our communication flaps open. The hard reality is that we are often back-to-back with our communication flaps down and tightly closed.

Paul’s solution is that someone must say, “I am heart-to-heart with you, and my communication flap is open. Be heart-to-heart with me and open your communication flap.”

We face communication challenges every day in our family, places of work, and interactions with people. When there is a communication problem it is important to realize that someone has to initiate a solution by saying, in spirit and in principle, “I am heart-to-heart with you, and my communication flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

You may be totally amazed at how taking that stance can melt the obstacles between you and the person with whom you are having a challenging relationship. This can be a communication circuit breaker that restores communication in a relationship.

Bacteria multiply in the dark but cannot live in the light. If we do not have good communication in a relationship misunderstandings multiply like bacteria, but when communication is restored it’s like we have turned the light on in our relationship.

Most bacteria will die and we can address what’s left in the light of our restored communication.

Dick Woodward, 12 July 2012


Zacchaeus: Strategic Encounters of Salt & Light

June 21, 2019

…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

In Luke 19, verses 1–10, we encounter Jesus interacting with the tax collector, Zacchaeus. The beautiful part of the Zacchaeus story is that Jesus spends His only day in Jericho with this little crook, and all the people are griping about it.

It would make a great painting if an artist would paint Jesus who was a tall man, according to Josephus, walking home with His arm around small and short Zacchaeus.

Here we see the strategy of Jesus.

Jesus is passing through Jericho. He obviously wants to reach the man who can impact and reach Jericho for Him after he has passed through and beyond the city limits.

It must have made a big impact upon the city when Zacchaeus started calling in the people he had ‘ripped off.’ Imagine their surprise, joy, and awe when they, thinking he was going to get into their purses even deeper, discovered that he wanted to pay them back 400% because he had met Jesus!

This is an illustration and an application of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that the solution, the answer, the salt, the light – is something we are, and that we simply must hear His word and do it.

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.142-143)