November 8, 2019
“There are three things that last — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
What is the greatest thing in the world? The Apostle Paul sifts his answer down to three things: hope, faith and love. Hope is the conviction that there can be good in life. God plants hope in the hearts of human beings.
Hope gives birth to faith, and faith is one of the greatest things because faith brings us to God. However, when Paul compares these two great concepts with love, without hesitation he concludes that love is the greatest thing in the world.
This is true because love is not something that brings us to something that brings us to God. When we experience the special love Paul describes we are in the Presence of God.
There is a particular quality of love that is God and God is a particular quality of love.
To acquaint us with that specific quality of love, in the middle of this chapter Paul passes love through the “prism” of the Holy Spirit that comes out on the other side as a cluster of 15 virtues. All these virtues of love are others-centered, unselfish ways of expressing unconditional love. If you study these virtues you will find in them a cross section of the love that is God – and is the greatest thing in the world.
Paul presents faith, hope and love as the greatest things because they last. Love is the greatest of the three because one day we will no longer need hope and faith when throughout eternity we will be in the Presence of Love.
Therefore, the greatest thing in the world is Love.
Dick Woodward, 08 November 2013
October 29, 2019
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
After writing his prophecy that moved scholars to label him “The Weeping Prophet,” Jeremiah adds a short postscript to fifty-two chapters of weeping. That postscript is called “Lamentations,” which means “Weepings.”
You need to know why Jeremiah is weeping to 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 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 tell us clearly that what God revealed to Jeremiah in his darkest hour was that God never stopped loving His chosen people.
A providential wonder of prophecy is that Jeremiah’s grotto where 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 for God’s chosen people throughout the tragedy Jeremiah was lamenting on the very spot where centuries later God would pour out God’s unconditional love for the whole world.
Dick Woodward, 28 October 2009
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