The Deep Love of God

October 30, 2018

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

After World War II a devout woman named Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her:

“There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”

When the suffering of Job brought him to the bottom of a pit of despair, he received his great Messianic revelation: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given Corrie ten Boom and Job. God made Jeremiah know this truth about the deep love of God when Jeremiah’s weeping bottomed out in his grotto: “I have never stopped loving the people of Judah!”

The unconditional love of God is taught from Genesis to Revelation. It is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. Meditating on God’s revelation to Jeremiah, I am deeply inspired that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved His people.

Millions have affirmed this great truth singing the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College OT Handbook (p.501)

Editor’s Note: Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and families of the mass shooting that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. May God comfort hurting hearts and lives with His steadfast love that is deeper than the pits of violent hate.


25 October: Dick Woodward Standing Tall

October 25, 2018

October 25th is Dick Woodward’s birthday (he would have turned 88 today.)The fact that he was 83 when he died as a bedfast quadriplegic in 2014 is miraculous. But everyone who knew Dick Woodward can probably still hear his voice saying, “I can’t, but God can… I didn’t but God did.” (In other words, even when Papa couldn’t do anything but nod his head, God did miraculous things in and through him.) Today in honor of his birthday, here is a poem my sister, Cindy, wrote for him on his 77th birthday. It’s comforting to know that after 28 years as a quadriplegic, today in Heaven he is standing tall in the eternal love of Jesus.

STANDING TALL

DAD

How do we tell the story of your extraordinary life?
Your background conditions would have predicted only strife.
 
Growing up in the Depression with barely enough to eat,
Your father working day and night just to make ends meet.
Overshadowed by your siblings—the seventh child of eleven,
But at the age of nineteen sought out by the God of heaven.
 
Such a change in direction,
Indescribable new affection!
ANYWHERE, ANYPLACE, ANYTIME,
Was your commitment to your Savior divine.
 
A gift for speaking and engaging wayward souls,
Making the Word simple in order to make men whole.
Many years spent preaching to empty pews,
When suddenly the wind of the Spirit blew.
 
Then came along the Mildred Alexander show,
And a TV audience with a hunger to know.
Many folks tuned in to discover
The Mini-Bible College from cover to cover.
 
So much spiritual success,
But one day really put to the test,
A crippling illness took away your mobility,
Yet grace was greater than your disability.
 
Immeasurable fruit on seven continents,
Broadcasts, booklets, “God-pods” and Internet.
“Unexplained happiness” for all to see,
“I can’t, but He can”—your secret remedy.
 
So how do we tell your story, Dad?
By telling of the Savior you’ve had.
Jesus Christ is your all in all,
And by His grace you’re STANDING TALL!

Cindy Woodward Kranich 10/25/2007


Open Hearts: Open Communication

October 13, 2018

“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)

Life so often comes down to relationships, and relationships are all about communication. The Apostle Paul profiled that reality when he wrote to the church in Corinth.  He also prescribed a solution.  As a summary paraphrase of this passage, Paul is suggesting that each of us has a communication “flap” on our hearts.  As married couples 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 closed tight.

The solution Paul models here is that someone must take the initiative and say: “I am heart to heart with you and my flap is open. Be heart to heart with me and open your communication flap.”

Communication in relationships is a challenge we face every day in our families, work lives, and interactions with people. It’s so important to realize that someone has to initiate a solution by saying, in spirit and in principle, to the person with whom they are having a communication conflict: “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 amazed at how taking this stance can melt obstacles between you and a difficult person. Throughout any given day we face relational challenges that can be turned around through constructive and loving communication.

Are you mature enough to let God use you to initiate the solution Paul modeled for us by opening up your heart?

Dick Woodward, 14 October 2011


Jonah: God’s Love for ALL PEOPLE

October 9, 2018

“…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:2-4)

As a prophet, one of Jonah’s functions was to remove obstacles that were blocking the work of God in the world. Do you see the obstacle in Jonah’s story? Jonah’s prejudice. As we reflect upon the prejudice of Jonah, we should ask ourselves if prejudice in our hearts is blocking the love God wants to express through us to hurting people in our world.

The real message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people! The love of God is a bottom line truth we find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.

Can you see why I believe the real message of the Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people? Refuse to get sidetracked. When you come to the book of Jonah looking for truth, you will find at the heart of this book a loving God Who values people and longs to draw all men, women and children to God.

The message of Jonah is that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants. The people of God, like you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation. When the people of God are prejudiced, the very people God designed to be the vessels, models and channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love and salvation work of God in this world.

If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express God’s love and salvation for all people if God’s people are hung up on their prejudices?

Dick Woodward, from Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet


Forgiving Others

September 25, 2018

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 into divorce.

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


Knowing God: Being Love

September 21, 2018

“… for he who would come 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 fragment of 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 John where he wrote: “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, this belief prescription 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 (in Norfolk, VA.) 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 to 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


A Beautiful Word: MERCY

August 28, 2018

“Surely Your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This beautiful word is found 366 times in the Bible. (Perhaps God wants us to know we need His unconditional love, every day of the year – and even Leap Year!)  Many people think we don’t hear about the mercy of God in the Bible until we get to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. However, 280 of these references to the mercy of God are found in the Old Testament.

My favorite Old Testament reference to the mercy of God is found in the last verse of Psalm 23.  David ends one of his greatest psalms with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. The Hebrew word he uses here for “follow” is a word that can also be translated “pursue.”  David brings his profound and eloquent description of the relationship between God and man to a conclusion by making the declaration that the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life.  By application, this is true for any of us who confess our sins.

There are so many ways to fail. When we understand the meaning of the mercy of God, however, we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail God’s mercy. As I place my failures on a scale, I like to place all the times the Bible uses the word mercy on the scale opposite my failures. I invite you to do the same thing no matter how bad you think your failures and sins are.

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2012