The Gates of Thanksgiving

November 23, 2021

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)

In this profound thanksgiving psalm David tells us that coming into the presence of God is like having an audience with a great King. That audience begins with the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.

In a corporate worship service or in your worship closet, always try to begin your approach to God at the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.

I personally know of no other worship aids that mean more to me than to begin my approach to our Heavenly Father with thanksgiving. When I begin thanking Him and praising Him I soon find myself coming before His presence with singing.

In His presence I know that He is God. I know that He is my Shepherd and I am His sheep. I know that He is good and His mercy is everlasting. I know He wants me to share the truth of His Word in all the lands of this world because He wants people in all the lands of this world and in every generation to know what it is to make a joyful shout of worship in His presence.

This week let this worship psalm of David show you how to…

Have a joyful Thanksgiving Day!

Dick Woodward, 23 November 2011


PRIORITY: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!

November 12, 2021

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

What are your priorities? The Apostle 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 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 He 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 His character through us. The dynamic effect of His 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 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


Reality Contact: “How are you, REALLY?”

November 2, 2021

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)

Years ago when I lunched with a friend on Mondays, I’d always ask him, “How are you, Skip?”

“Great, wonderful, marvelous and tremendous!” he’d always answer. 

On many Mondays I’d not had a good weekend, and life was not great, wonderful, marvelous, and tremendous for me. But this guy was always emphatically optimistic. After this pattern continued for some time, one Monday I asked him, “Tell me something. If everything wasn’t great, wonderful, marvelous, and tremendous, how would you answer my question?”

“Oh, I’d probably lie to you,” he responded.

I then decided to rephrase my question. I asked, “How are you, really, Skip?” He worked with a group who memorized a verse of Scripture every week. “Frankly, if you really want to know,” he said, “My verse of the week is, ‘Hang it on your beak, freak!’” We then had some honest conversation, what I call Reality Contact.

What James had in mind is that if we are honest with each other we will be burdened to pray for each other. Then as a result of our mutual prayers for one another we will be healed. If we are not honest when we meet together, we will not pray for each other and the mutual healing will not happen. One translation reads that our honest prayers will explode with power!

We are missing something important if we do not have “Reality Contact” with a believer we trust. Do you have that kind of relationship with anyone?

Dick Woodward, 01 November 2011


Grotto of God’s Unconditional Love

October 29, 2021

“Yet this I call to mind… Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed… His compassions never fail… They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3: 21-24)

After writing his prophecy which has moved many scholars to label him “The Weeping Prophet” Jeremiah adds a short postscript to his fifty-two chapters of weeping. That postscript is called “Lamentations” which means “Weepings.”

You simply have to know why Jeremiah is weeping to understand and appreciate his writings. He is weeping about the Babylonian massacre and captivity of God’s chosen people! For years he warned the people of God that unless they repented this awful tragedy would happen. As he writes his Lamentations he has been permitted to remain in the land of Judah. Sitting in his Grotto he laments all the tragic things that have now happened.

In the midst of his deepest expressions of sorrow and sadness he suddenly breaks forth with the verses quoted above. These verses have been translated and paraphrased to tell us more clearly that what God revealed to Jeremiah in his darkest hour was that God had never stopped loving God’s chosen people.

A providential wonder of prophecy is that Jeremiah’s Grotto where he was seated as he wrote these Lamentations was on top of a hill called “Golgatha.” This means that God gave Jeremiah this wonderful prophecy of God’s unconditional love during the tragedy Jeremiah was lamenting on the very spot where centuries later God would pour out unconditional love for the whole world.

Dick Woodward, 28 October 2009


SPIRITUAL FITNESS

October 19, 2021

“Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for…the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

As a young man Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness is profitable. But, he declared that godly fitness is more profitable. Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our lives here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal life.

How real and practical is our faith in the life to come? I am intrigued with this question: what is godly exercise? The word “godly” means “like God.”  What is God- like?  We are told in the Scriptures that God is Spirit. (John 4:24) To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.

We also read in the Scripture that God is love. To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to a study of the love that is God. At the heart of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) Paul passes the love of God through the prism of the Holy Spirit and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Pursue intentionally what the 15 virtues are and what they look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light. Exercise yourself in this dimension of God-likeness by filling your mind and heart and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that light will help you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013


 Faith: Acceptance, Responsibility & Ability  

October 15, 2021

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:30)

Who was the greatest prophet who ever lived?  Who was the greatest man who ever lived? According to Jesus the answer is John the Baptist. (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11) Having studied the Scripture for six decades I find that answer to be intriguing because very little space is given in the Bible to record his life and ministry.

As I meditate on the Scriptures that describe John the Baptist I have come to a conclusion about his greatness. One key was that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his ability.

As we attempt to discover who we are and what God wants to do, it is a good rule of thumb to accept the limits of our limitations and the responsibility for our ability

When a degenerative disease of the spinal cord took away my physical abilities, it was critical for me to accept my increasing limitations and continue to be responsible for my abilities. After two years of illness when the acceptance came, it was so profound I decided it was a form of inner healing.  Using speech recognition software on my computer I received the grace to write about ten thousand pages of what I call a Mini Bible College.  These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into twenty eight languages in sixty countries.*

It fills me with grateful worship to realize that the formula for greatness I learned from John the Baptist has guided me to the most important work I have done for God and Christ.

Are you willing to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your ability?

Dick Woodward, 16 October 2012


PSALM 23: FAITHFUL ASSURANCE

September 28, 2021

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

What is the basis for the unquenchable assurance of David that what he describes in Psalm 23 will be his experience all the days of his life and forever?

In the last verse of Psalm 23, David puts his relationship with his Shepherd-God in perspective. It is the Shepherd Who gets David’s attention then makes him lie down and say, “baa,” confessing that he is a sheep and the Lord is his shepherd.

It is his Shepherd Who makes David lie down where green pastures are and then leads him beside still waters. It is David’ Shepherd Who uses His staff when David strays from Him, then drives him into the paths of righteousness that restore his soul.

It is his Shepherd-God Who initiates these interventions in David’s life.

As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own ability as a warrior. His confidence is clearly in his Shepherd. As David walks through this dark and scary valley, he is looking to his Shepherd-God for protection and provision.

He knows his Shepherd will anoint him with oil and keep the cup running over within him. The source of David’s assured confidence is clearly seen in this translation of the last verse,

“Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.”

Dick Woodward, Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


JONAH: GOD LOVES ALL PEOPLE!

September 24, 2021

“…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)

The message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people!

The Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people. If you come to the book of Jonah looking for truth, you will find at the heart of this book a loving God Who values all people.

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 we have prejudice in our hearts that is blocking the love God wants to express through us to the hurting people of our world.

The love of God is a bottom line truth you find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. 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 channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love of God in this world.  If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express love and salvation for all people if God’s own people are hung up on their prejudices?

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


JONAH: LET’S GO TO NINEVAH!

September 21, 2021

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this:

“When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord.’ But God said to me, ‘I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’

I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go. I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’ The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’

When I went to Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me.”

Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

… Is God’s work through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Are you joining Jonah saying, “I will not?”

When are you going to let the love and power of Christ cut through your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?”

It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

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


When You Are Too Weak To Pray

September 17, 2021

“Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’”  (Mark 2: 4, 5)

When my wife was critically ill after the birth of our first child she reached a crisis on a Friday morning at ten o’clock. Her eyes were moving back into her head and we thought we were losing her. While doctors did a spinal tap to relieve pressure on her brain two precious sisters in the Lord had been burdened to pray for her that morning at ten o’clock – not knowing anything about her crisis. 

My wife pulled through the crisis and her life was saved.

While having her quiet time after returning from the hospital, she read the verses quoted above. It moved her to tears to realize that when she was too weak to pray for herself her sisters in the Lord were praying for her, and when the Lord Jesus saw their faith He ministered healing to her.

In our life span there are sure to be times when we will be too weak to pray for ourselves. That’s one reason it is wise to be in spiritual community with other believers who know the Lord and love Him and who know you and love you. 

If you have an accident or a sudden illness do you have anyone who can pray for you when you are too weak to pray for yourself?

Two are better than one, because… if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4: 10, 11 NIV)

Dick Woodward, 18 September 2012