#FAITH – PUT LOVE FIRST!

November 17, 2020

 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.”  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

In the middle of the first century, the Apostle Paul declared that the agape love of God should be the number one priority of spiritual people. He wrote that love is greater than knowledge and more important than faith. His inspired words about love have been read, and should be read, in every generation of church history. That includes you and me.

Paul’s teaching about spiritual gifts in the previous chapter concludes with: “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I will show you a more excellent way.”  (ICor 12:31) Paul begins the next chapter with his prescription for that most excellent way: “Let love be your greatest aim,” or “Put love first.”

A PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence or in tongues without love, we’re just a lot of noise. If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as a prophet and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all these things, we are nothing. If we give all our money to feed the poor and our body to be burned at the stake as a martyr, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.

Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have, and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


#FAITH – A Prescription for Burnout

November 13, 2020

 “This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

Jesus goes to a wedding. When they run out of wine, He creates more wine. In addition to the record of a miracle, this story is a formula for regeneration and a prescription for renewal. There is tired and there is tired of.  Disciples of Jesus not only get tired – we get tired of. We call this “burnout.”

I’m convinced this first miracle of Jesus presents a prescription for burnout. If you are experiencing the need for renewal consider this prescription. Mary tells Jesus they have no wine. Since wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible, let this represent your confession that you need renewal because you are tired of, dry, and burned out.

Then block out some time to fill your human vessel with the Word of God as symbolized by the vessels being filled with water. While you are filling up on the Word of God do whatever the Holy Spirit tells you to do. Then realize your renewal is not just to give you an experience, it is for the benefit of those God wants to touch and bless using you as God’s channel.

Let these four principles we can learn from this first miracle of Jesus bring renewal as you serve Jesus. Our Lord often invited His disciples to come apart and rest awhile. If you don’t come apart at times and take this prescription of Jesus for your burnout – you will come apart. 

Let Jesus turn your water into wine. That brings glory to Jesus and will make a restored believer out of you!

Dick Woodward, 16 November 2011


#FAITH – A Bush On Fire!

November 6, 2020

“Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it didn’t burn up. Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up?” (Exodus 3:2-3)

These verses are taken from a passage that describes the call of Moses. I love this story because it is a great illustration in the Bible of what I call 4 Spiritual Secrets:

I’m not but He is.

I can’t but He can.

I don’t want to but He wants to.

I didn’t but He did.

Applying the 4 Spiritual Secrets to Moses, he was not the deliverer of God’s people from their slavery and suffering in Egypt. God was their Deliverer. Moses could not deliver them but God could. Based on his objections we know Moses did not want to deliver them, God wanted to deliver them. 

When the Red Sea parted and the Israelites marched through on dry ground nobody had to tell Moses: “You didn’t do that.” He knew “God did that!”

The primary detail in this story is often overlooked. God got the attention of Moses when a bush burst into flame and was not consumed! In extreme desert heat this often happens, but a burning bush is usually consumed in about five seconds. The miraculous reality that the bush was not burning up moved Moses to become a vehicle of deliverance.

Epidemic addiction issues exist today that have millions looking for deliverance. There is also epidemic burnout among those who serve the Lord.  As servants of God we need to turn aside with Moses and see how to be a “Bush Aglow” on fire for the Lord, without burning up or burning out, as conduits of God’s love and deliverance.

Dick Woodward, 15 November 2013


#FAITH – GOD’S #MERCY VS. #PREJUDICE

November 3, 2020

“But this was displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry… ‘Oh Lord…I knew You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.’…And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:1-4)

As you apply the central truth in the Book of Jonah, ask yourself if you are prejudiced. To be prejudiced means to “pre-judge.” Prejudice comes in many shapes and sizes. I was introduced to prejudice as a boy growing up near Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) when I heard Italian Americans called “daggos” and Polish Americans called “hunkies.”

During my freshman year at a southern Bible college in the late 1940s, I was shocked to see “white” and “colored” water fountains and African Americans sitting in the back of buses. I was even more bewildered when I discovered “colored people” were not welcome in “white” churches.

As a new believer I was disillusioned when I heard professing believers use discriminatory labels. From what I learned preparing for the ministry, I expected followers of Christ and spiritual communities to be free from prejudice. As a believer now for more than 60 years and a pastor for more than five decades, I am still alarmed by the deceitful ways of the evil one when I discover prejudice in my heart and in the lives of other believers.

I learned from personal experience that prejudice feeds on ignorance. I grew up during the Second World War when propaganda presented Japanese as sub-human creatures. In my junior year at a Bible college in L.A., my roommate was a devout Japanese disciple of Jesus Christ. He was the most Christ-like and disciplined disciple of Jesus I had met at that point in my life. The experience of knowing him completely erased the cumulative impact of all that war propaganda from my mind. Until I met my roommate, I had never met a Japanese person before. My prejudice was fed by ignorance.

Most prejudice is fed by ignorance.

Examine your heart before God and ask yourself if you have prejudice that is blocking the love God wants to channel through you to lost and hurting people in this world.

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


#FAITH: Spiritual Fitness

October 23, 2020

 “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.” (1Timothy 4:7, 8)

As a young man Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he would join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness was profitable, but he declared that godly fitness was 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 lives.

I am intrigued with this practical question: what is godly exercise? The word “godly” means “like God.” What is God- like? We are told in the Bible that God is a 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 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 his Holy Spirit inspired intellect and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Pursue intentionally those 15 virtues and what they look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light. Exercise yourself in this dimension 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 2018


#FAITH: WHERE IS YOUR CONFIDENCE?

October 6, 2020

“… Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ…for it is God at work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” (Philippians 1:6; 2:13)

When he wrote these words the Apostle Paul was in prison chained between two Roman soldiers. He was not able to shepherd the believers he loved. Is he stressed out because he fears that they will fall away from their faith? No, he has confidence that they will continue in their faith until the day of Christ.

The source of Paul’s confidence is found in two realities: he knows that the risen Christ has begun the miracle of regeneration in them, and he is completely convinced that Jesus Christ will continue the miracle work of salvation He begins. Paul’s confidence is not in the fact that he has led these people to Christ. His confidence is in Christ!

Paul adds that his confidence is in God Who is at work in them giving them the will and the power to do that which pleases God.

Where is your confidence that you will continue what Christ has begun in your life? Where is your confidence that those you love will continue what Christ has begun in their lives? Is your hope in them? Is your hope in your ability to shepherd and mentor them?

Or is your hope in Christ Who began that miracle and in God Who gives us the will and the power to do what pleases Him?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2009


When You Are Too Weak To Pray

September 18, 2020

“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 several 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 when she was too weak to pray for herself her sisters in the Lord were praying for her, and when the Lord 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 others who know Jesus and love Him, and who know you and love you. If you had an accident or a sudden illness do you have someone who will pray for you when you are too weak to pray for yourself?

One of the wisest men who ever lived wrote: “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)

Dick Woodward, 18 September 2012

#faith #hope #prayer #love #Jesus #grace #healing #community


#FAITH: THE DEEP LOVE OF GOD

September 11, 2020

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

After World War II a devout woman named Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her:

“There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”

When the suffering of Job brought him to the bottom of a pit of despair, he received this great Messianic revelation: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given Corrie ten Boom and Job. God made Jeremiah know this truth about the deep love of God when Jeremiah’s weeping bottomed out in his grotto:

“I have never stopped loving the people of Judah!”

The unconditional love of God is taught from Genesis to Revelation. It is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. Meditating on God’s revelation to Jeremiah, I am deeply inspired that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved His people.

Millions have affirmed this great truth while singing the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College OT Handbook (p.501)


Jonah: God’s Love & Compassion for ALL!

August 28, 2020

 “…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 people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.

Jonah demonstrates that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants. The people of God, you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation in this world.

When the people of God are prejudiced, they become obstacles that block God’s love and salvation in this world.

If God loves Ninevites, and Jonah hates Ninevites, how can God express love and salvation for them when Jonah is hung up on his prejudice?

Did you observe Jonah did not answer God’s last question?

To put the best possible spin on this, I would like to think Jonah’s silence this time was because, when Jonah finally saw the truth of God’s love and compassion even for wicked people, he was humbled.

When your mind and spirit experience a personal revelation of the love and grace of God, which are not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance, you will be humbled, too.

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

#hope #love #faith #inspiration #grace #mercy


#Grace: The Gift of God

August 25, 2020

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This verse is not teaching the random chaos of life. This verse instead parallels a truth emphasized in the Bible and expressed by the word grace. The truly significant events in the life of a believer are the result of grace and not the results of self effort.

The charisma of God upon the work of your hands will make the difference between your life having eternal significance and your life’s work amounting to wood, hay and stubble in the eternal state. (1Corinthians 3:12-15; Psalm 90:17)

The writings of the Apostle Paul are filled with emphasis upon the concept of grace. The word grace means “unmerited favor.”

The blessing of God upon us is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. The grace of God and the love of God are unconditional.

When you understand the meaning of the word grace which is found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it follows that the race is not to the swift or strong or wise or skilled…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook, p.428

#faith #hope #love #grace #belief #inspiration