September 24, 2019
“…wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2: 1-2)
When we begin reading the Old Testament we find ourselves facing the question: “Where are you?” When we begin the New Testament we read that wise men asked the question: “Where is He?” The New Testament makes sense because we are looking for the same Savior those wise men were seeking.
Where is He? If we want to find Jesus we should look where love is, because if we live in the love that He is we will live in Him, and He will live in us. As we seek for clues to His reality we are given another answer by the Apostle John:
“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another…” (1 John 1:5-7)
The aged apostle tells us that God is light and if we want to fellowship with Him He will not come live with us in our darkness. No, we must join Him where He lives in the light. Then we have fellowship with Him and all those who are in fellowship with Him.
The light of which John writes is truth – the truth this world saw and heard when the Light became flesh and lived with us full of truth and the grace to live that truth. So, if you want to know where Jesus is, look where the light is.
Then become a conduit of that light.
Dick Woodward, 29 September 2011
September 20, 2019
“… for anyone who comes 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 quoted above we find a prescription that can help us know God.
The prescription is that we must believe that God is, and we must believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. My passion to know God led me to confess: “I believe that God is.”
But what is God and where is God?
A helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of the Apostle John: “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 God 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 love where people are hurting. That’s where I’m going, so when I get there please pass this love You are through me and address their pain.”
As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and God 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 God’s love and the pain of hurting people.
Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011
August 30, 2019
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)
The mercy of God withholds what we deserve and the grace of God lavishes on us countless blessings we do not deserve. As we appreciate what the mercy of God withholds and the grace God bestows when we believe the Gospel, we should be filled with grateful worship of our gracious and merciful God.
When Jesus gave His Great Commission He instructed the disciples to wait until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them before they obeyed Him. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:4-5) After that happened to them on the Day of Pentecost, we read: “Great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) This use of the word “grace” means there is such a thing as the anointing and energizing unction of the Holy Spirit upon us as we serve Christ. I use the word in that sense when I tell people that the grace of Christ outweighs my challenges (especially as a bedfast quadriplegic.)
Paul was declaring this dimension of grace when he wrote: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8) This is the most emphatic verse in the New Testament regarding the anointing and energizing grace of God.
Check out the superlatives Paul uses in this verse: All grace – abounding grace – he repeats all of you – all sufficiency – in all things – abound unto every good work – always! According to Paul we should all be able to make the claim that God’s grace outweighs our challenges.
Do you believe the grace of God can outweigh your challenges today?
Dick Woodward, 31 August 2012
August 27, 2019
“…if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins…” (Matthew 6:14-15)
We need forgiveness in three dimensions: when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in.
Believing the Good News of the Gospel, the first dimension is a given. The great biblical word for that is “justified.” It literally means to ‘un-sin’ our sin. You can break up the word this way: just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. In Luke 18, Jesus pronounced that anyone who prays, “God be merciful to me – a sinner,” is justified.
The second dimension is more complicated. You need a special measure of grace to forgive those who have harmed you. And you can’t control whether or not those you have hurt will forgive you. But Jesus mandated that we have forgiveness in this second dimension. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He literally told them to say, “Forgive us our sins as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.”
At the end of His teaching His disciples how to pray Jesus added a solemn commentary: “If you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, then My Father in heaven will not forgive you your sins.” In other words, if you don’t have forgiveness in this second dimension you lose your forgiveness in the first dimension.
Those who have sinned grievously will tell you that the third dimension of forgiveness is the toughest one. Falling into sin, it is often difficult to forgive ourselves.
Ask God for forgiveness in these three dimensions, because the greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness.
Dick Woodward, 17 January 2009
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
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
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