#LOVE: SANCTIFIED UNSELFISHNESS

January 15, 2021

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own…” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

I have heard people say, “I don’t get mad, I get even!” When God’s love is being expressed through us, we don’t get mad or even. The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated as patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so.

As we examine “love is kind,” we realize this love refuses to play the game of getting even. The Greek word for kindness means “love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.” Then we read: “Love does not envy.” The Greek words Paul used here prescribe “an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.” In other words: sanctified unselfishness.

The one who is applying this love is not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness. 

Their love commitment is not “I love me and I need you,” or “You love me and so do I.” They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness. My love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.” Think of how this quality of love is needed when a spouse has Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, accident or illness that seriously limits them…

The one who is a conduit of this love is others-centered, not self-centered.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


#FAITH: FORGIVEN AND FORGIVING

January 8, 2021

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

The greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness. Those who work in ministries of healing claim that the lack of forgiveness on the part of victims who have been terribly hurt can retard their own inner healing.

Can you see why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray every day: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors?” The original language has it, “As we have already forgiven our debtors.” Do you think Jesus knows how important it is to our inner healing that we should forgive those who sin against us?

Some are bothered by the way Jesus offers commentary on this petition in the Disciple’s Prayer. He commented that if we do not forgive we are not forgiven. It almost sounds as if we are forgiven because we forgive. He defuses their confusion with a parable that is recorded in Matthew 18. A man is forgiven a large debt in the millions of dollars. He does not have to go into debtor’s prison and see his wife and family sold into slavery.

But on the way home he meets a man who owes him twenty dollars. He grabs him by the throat and orders him to pay him every cent or he will have him put into debtor’s prison. Both events are observed and told to the one who forgave him the large debt. He is recalled and his forgiveness is revoked. Jesus comments on that story that if we from our hearts do not forgive, we are not forgiven.

The point is that if we are a forgiven person we will be a forgiving person. If we are not a forgiving person we are not really a forgiven person.

Dick Woodward, 09 January 2013


#FAITH: A New Year’s Perspective

January 1, 2021

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

This year has come and gone. Economy prophets are now referring to our lingering economic downturn as “A Great Recession.” What security do we have as we begin the New Year?

“…as He is, so are we in this world.”

In nine words John, the aged Apostle of Love, gives us a marvelous perspective on our security. There are several ways we can interpret and apply these words. We can say it is only because Jesus is that we can be as we should be in this world. We can say that our security rests in the proposition that He is and He will equip us to be what He wants us to be in this world.

We can also say these words mean Jesus lives in us and through us. For 33 years He had a physical body of His own. For 2000 years now His followers have been the only body Jesus has. This presents the challenge that the only Christ people in this world know is the Christ they see revealed in and through you and me.

As you meditate on the portraits of Jesus Christ the New Testament presents by those who knew Him, realize these portraits are precisely the way He wants to be revealed to this world through your life and mine today.

The overwhelming personality trait of Jesus Christ is love

Love is as He was and as He is today.

Our purpose is not to be secure in this world but to let the love of Jesus pass to others through our lives.

Dick Woodward, 27 December 2011


MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

December 25, 2020

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

This verse begins and ends with one of the most beautiful Christmas words in the Bible: the word “all.” The first time the word is used in this verse it gives us the bad news. It tells us all of us have gone astray and turned – every one of us – to our own way. The prophet Isaiah repeats himself for emphasis when he tells us that every one of us has turned to his or her own way.

Do you believe you are included in the first “all” of this verse?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a verse of Scripture to convince me that I’m included in the first “all.” Only Santa Claus brings good things to good people on Christmas Day. According to Isaiah, Christmas is when good things happen to people who have strayed from God.

The good news of this Christmas word is the way Isaiah concludes his verse. We are not ready for the good news until we are convinced of the bad news. He tells us the good news that God has laid on His Son the iniquity and sins of us all! Do you believe you are included in the last “all” of this verse?

If you will meet yourself in the two “alls” of Isaiah you receive, by faith, your greatest Christmas gift. Paul described it this way:

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

Merry Christmas to ALL!!

Dick Woodward, 25 December 2011


#FAITH – THE CHRISTMAS THAT IS

December 22, 2020

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

The risen living Christ sends a letter to a Church in Laodicea, as recorded in Chapter Three of the Revelation. The risen Christ wishes they were hot, but if they are not going to get hot He would rather they be cold. Because they are neither cold, nor hot, but lukewarm – they make Him want to throw up!

The risen Christ then tells them how to have a Christmas that is and can be all day long, every day of the year. It is as if their lives are houses and their hearts are doors to their houses. Jesus is knocking on that door. He is patiently waiting for them to open that door and invite Him into all the meaningful areas of their lives.

Verse 19 makes it clear that His knocking is chastisement which He wants to grow into repentance. His inspired metaphor illustrates repentance. It would seem there is no latch on the outside of the door.

The door must be opened from the inside.

Martin Luther wrote a Christmas carol that uses a similar metaphor: “Holy Jesus, precious Child make Thee a bed soft, undefiled, within my heart that it may be a quiet chamber kept for Thee.”

In our church on Christmas Eve children sing: “Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart. Somewhere deep inside you that’s where Christmas really starts. So give your heart to Jesus.

You’ll discover when you do, that it’s Christmas, really Christmas for you!”

 Dick Woodward, 24 December 2010


#FAITH, LOVE +CHRISTMAS HOPE

December 18, 2020

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  (Psalm 27:13)

The Old Testament people of God lived their lives believing it was possible to “see the Good.” In Psalm 34 King David challenges hopeless fugitives to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” and the Lord is the Good they have been seeking all their lives.

In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us three eternal values in life are faith, hope, and love. (I Corinthians 13:13) Love is the greatest of these values because God is Love. Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God. Hope is also one of the great eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have the Good News that can give hope to the hopeless.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share it with the people Jesus came to seek and to save.  (Luke 19:10)

We show that we really believe in the Christmas that shall be when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men we should ask the question, “Where is He?,” seek Him until we find Him, worship Him, and give the gift of our lives to Him. 

Then, like the shepherds, we should tell everybody the very Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world!

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription”


#FAITH – THE CHRISTMAS THAT SHALL BE

December 15, 2020

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” (Matthew 25:31)

More than 300 times in the New Testament God tells us God is going to affect another intervention in human history. Read Scriptures like Matthew 24 and 25, I Corinthians 15, II Peter 3 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. You will also find this Good News in the Old Testament, especially in the prophets.

You will discover these Scriptures proclaim the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which is the blessed hope of followers of Jesus and hope for this world. Almighty God is coming to earth again! This time God is not just telling a few chosen people such as a priest, a peasant girl, a carpenter, a few wise men and some shepherds. 

God is telling anyone who reads the Bible.

The famous oratorio by Handel entitled, “The Messiah,” compiles the Scriptures in the Old and New Testament that describe the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be

As you reflect on this beautiful music and the Christmas that is yet to be, if you do not believe the 300+ New Testament Scriptures, or the many Old Testament prophetic Scriptures concerning the future Christmas, then, like Zacharias in the first chapter of Luke, your mouth is shut by your unbelief. 

Sharing the Good News about the Christmas that shall be can give hope to your sphere of acquaintances who are living without hope. Do you know, or do you remember, what it is like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope?

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription”


#FAITH – A CHRISTMAS PRESCRIPTION

December 8, 2020

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

The holidays are the most family-oriented weeks of the year.  Yet for many – those who have no family, singles, widows and widowers, the divorced among us, and those with painful and negative family experiences – the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. 

As a pastor, every year I had parishioners who asked me in early November to pray for them to make it through the holidays. The hard reality is that lonely, depressed, and anxious people are lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious during the “jolliest season” than at any other time of the year.

At the same time, the last four weeks of the year are filled with joy and happiness for millions of people and their families. Whether the holiday season is your favorite time or your most difficult time of the year, I want to share a Christmas prescription that can bring the true meaning of Christmas to your holidays and to every day of your new year.

To begin, try to block out the advertising blitz of commercial Christmas we have today. Carefully read the Christmas scriptures in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and then read the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John.

God told a devout peasant girl what He was going to do. Mary believed God, but she asked God questions and pondered these things in her heart.

Dick Woodward, “A Christmas Prescription

Editor’s Note: During the rest of December, the blog posting elf will share excerpts from one of Papa’s booklets, “A Christmas Prescription.” Be blessed as we ponder the Christmas that was, the Christmas that shall be, and the Christmas that is.


#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