November 11, 2022
“So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw His splendor (the splendor as of a father’s only son) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The Gospel of John is like an inspired art gallery. Every chapter is a room in that gallery with beautiful portraits of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls. The portrait in the first room is that of Jesus as the Word that became human to make His home among us.
If you want to communicate a great idea wrap it in a person. God does that all the way through the Bible. God communicates the concept of faith by wrapping it in the person of Abraham. God tells us what grace is by wrapping that beautiful concept in the person of Jacob.
What does it mean when we are told that Jesus is the Word? A word is the vehicle of a thought. When I want to communicate thoughts from my mind to your mind I use words as vehicles of my thoughts.
God had ‘Thought’ that God wanted to express to this world. Jesus is like a comprehensive Word that expressed the Thought of God to this world – and to you and me.
Our loving Heavenly Father decided that an inspired written Word was not enough. God wanted us to see His expressed thought in human flesh and blood. God therefore became human and made His home with us as Jesus so we could see and experience His expressed thought toward us.
The Word not only made His home among us – Jesus wants to make His home in us. If Jesus has done that for you, what great ideas does He want to communicate to others by wrapping them in your life?
Dick Woodward, 10 November 2011
November 8, 2022
“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 25, 2022
“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10-12)
When I was 25 years old I attended a conference for pastors. Our speaker was a famous pastor who had snowy white hair. I felt sorry for him because he was so very old. As he started to speak his first words to us were: “I’m old. I’m gloriously old, but I wouldn’t be as young and ignorant as you are for anything in the world!”
I was feeling sorry for him because he was so old, while he was feeling sorry for me because I was so young.
In many cultures age is considered a plus because wisdom comes with age. Psalm 90 makes the statement we reach 80 years of age “by reason of strength.” I have had a debilitating disease since 1978. By God’s grace, I have found the strength which comes from the Lord and is exhibited in the showcase of my physical weakness.
I was born eighty years ago today (25 Oct), so these verses resonate with me in a personal way. Two of the ways Moses exhorts us to apply this psalm is to number and value our days to gain a heart of wisdom about how we should spend them.
He then concludes his psalm asking God to show us the work God wants us to do, so that God’s glory might appear to our children. His last words invite God to anoint the work God reveals to us.
Dick Woodward, 25 October 2010
Editor’s Note: Today is Dick Woodward’s birthday. He would have turned 92! The fact that he was 83 when he passed as a bedfast quadriplegic in 2014 is nothing short of miraculous. But everyone who knew Dick can probably still hear his voice saying, “I can’t, but God can… I didn’t but God did.” (In other words, even when he couldn’t do anything but nod his head, God did miraculous things in and through him.) After 28 years as a quadriplegic, today his spiritual legs are running along Heavenly pavements with his precious Ginny, basking in the everlasting love of Jesus. The blog posting elf wishes her Papa Happy Birthday in Heaven!
September 27, 2022
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
In all the communication that flows between a husband and wife (and in close relationships we have with others), there are ten critical words that often must be spoken. These ten words have saved marriages and the lack of them has dissolved marriages.
These ten words are: “I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?”
These words need this ten-word response: “You were wrong. I was hurt. But I forgive you.”
Some people will never say the words: “I was wrong.” They will never say: “I am sorry.” And they certainly would never ask for forgiveness. They would rather live alone for the rest of their lives than say these ten critical words. It may be their pride that prevents them, or perhaps they are driven by the myth of their own perfection. But these words can make the difference between marriage and living alone.
It is hard to imagine an unforgiving authentic disciple of Jesus Christ when He instructs us in the Disciple’s Prayer to forgive as we have been forgiven – or we invalidate our own forgiveness. (Matthew 6: 8-15) According to the translation from which I have quoted, the prayer actually asks our Lord to forgive us as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.
“Forgive, as we have been forgiven…”
Dick Woodward, 25 September 2012
August 19, 2022
“…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 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
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
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
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
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