A New Commandment: LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

August 5, 2022

“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 my brother lit another cigarette?

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

Dick Woodward, 06 August 2010


LOVE: God’s Mandate

July 19, 2022

“…because as He is, so are we in this world…” (1 John 4:17)

As the Apostle of Love gives us reasons why we must love (in 1 John 4), having told us twice that God is love (verses 8 and 16), he writes that as God is, so are we in this world. He also told us in verse 16 that God lives in us. If God is love and God lives in us, then it follows that as God is (love), so are we (to be love) in this world.

This is yet another reason why we must love.

The perfect example of this is Jesus Christ when He was God in human flesh for 33 years. The greatest dynamic of His personality was love. If you met with Him for a day like Zacchaeus, the Chief of the Publicans (Luke 19), or for an hour like the Samaritan woman (John 4), or briefly like the young man we call the rich young ruler, you would know that you are loved as you have never been loved before.

We are told that Jesus, looking intently at the rich young ruler, loved him. (Mark 10:21)

The Apostle John, the author of the fourth Gospel, lived with Jesus 24/7 for three years. John refers to himself in his Gospel many times with these words: “I am the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Sixty years later, he dedicated the last book of the Bible to Jesus with the words “…unto the faithful Witness Who loved us…”

When people meet with us today do they feel that they have been loved as never before because we are God’s Love with skin on in this world?

Dick Woodward, 16 July 2010


God’s Mercy & Unconditional LOVE!

July 15, 2022

…& 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!  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. One of David’s greatest Psalms ends with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him always.

The Hebrew word David 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, 2022

“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


LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

July 8, 2022

“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 and was buried. With white hair and a long white beard he was so feeble they had to carry him to the meetings. While at the meetings he would bless those who attended and cry:

“Little children, love one another, little children, love one another!”

As we have seen in this chapter, John gives us ten reasons why we must love one another. One reason is that God is love and if we plug into the love God is we make contact with God, and as we become a conduit of God’s love God makes contact with us.

John gives us a second reason that if we say we love God and we hate our brother we are liars. Because if we do not love the brother we can see how can we love God Whom we cannot see? His 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.

Dick Woodward, 09 July 2010


Conduits of God’s Love

July 5, 2022

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.” (1 John 4:16)

In the epistle of First John, the apostle of Love is giving us ten reasons why we must love one another. Among those ten reasons is the one expressed above. We must love one another because God is love and the person who loves in this way is living in God and God is living in that person.

One application of what John is writing is that when we plug into the love that God is, we live in God and God lives in us. In the 1950s I made a great discovery. As a social worker while responding to a night call at 3:00AM, I prayed a prayer like this:

“God, You say You are a special quality of love. I believe You are doing Your love thing where people are hurting. I’m now going to where hurting people are. When I get there please pass the love You are through me and address their pain.”

There were times when I prayed that prayer I thought I was being electrocuted with the love of God. I challenge you to accept the challenge of the Apostle John.

Go where the hurting people are with that prayer on your heart. When you become a conduit of God’s love, you will never be satisfied with anything less. This is because as a conduit of the love of God you will experience Who, What and Where God is – and where you want to be for the rest of your life!

Dick Woodward, 06 July 2010


A Prayer for Peace (in times of Crisis)

June 24, 2022

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

When I was in a very difficult situation, the prayer of Saint Francis had great meaning for me. I memorized it and prayed it every night for several months. I know you are very familiar with it but in case you don’t have a copy there, here it is:

 “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Dick Woodward (email, 2005)


Father’s Day Faith

June 17, 2022

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we do not know what to do. The Scripture from Chronicles is taken from a time when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and they simply did not know what to do.

James later wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back but will provide a truckload of wisdom for us.

Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital they discovered mononucleosis and seriously infected tonsils that needed to be removed.  She concluded her litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my intelligent young daughter believed if she could just share her litany of woes and tap into the vast resources of my wisdom I could tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.

According to James that is the way we make our Heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. A good way to begin some days is: “Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on YOU!”

Dick Woodward, blog 2013

Editors Note: Blessings to all the fathers out there as we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend! For those of us who have fathers in Heaven – like my Papa – it’s comforting that our Heavenly Father is always here when we don’t know what to do.


The Power of LOVE

May 27, 2022

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

After a devastating battle during the First World War, Canadian army surgeon John McCrae composed one of the greatest war poems. In it he gave voice to thousands of soldiers who lay dead, summing up their lives on earth with one line:

“Loved and were loved, but now we lie in Flanders Fields.”

When we come to the end of our lives, we’ll find one of our most important priorities will be those we love, and those who love us. But we should not wait to focus our priorities. The Apostle Paul declared the agape love of God to be the number one priority of spiritual people: “…and the greatest of these is love.”

A PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence and even in tongues, but 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 prophets, 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 bodies to be burned at the stake as martyrs, 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


The Lord IS My Shepherd       

April 1, 2022

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me …” (Psalm 23:4)

The most important relationship we have is our relationship with God. David gives a great description of the relationship we have with God in his Shepherd Psalm. After explaining how this relationship is established, David tells us how it works as God leads us through the deep dark valleys of our lives.

David tells us that God is with him, goes before him, and prepares a table of provision for him in the presence of his enemies. He tells us that God is like a cup running over within him and God is like oil being poured upon him.

He ends his psalm by telling us the goodness and mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. This Hebrew word for follow can be translated as “pursue.” David is actually telling us that God not only goes before him, but pursues behind him with God’s mercy (unconditional love) and goodness all the days of his life.

By application, this means that when you are going through deep dark valleys you can believe that God is with you, goes before you, pursues behind you, will provide for you in the presence of your enemies and problems, He is within you, and His anointing is upon you as long as you say with authentic faith, “The Lord IS My Shepherd.”

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2009