#Faith: What are You?

May 3, 2019

“… He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated ‘Peter.’)   (John 1:42)

When Jesus first met Peter, his name was Simon and his life was characterized by instability.  Yet Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter,” which means “rock” andstability.”

In Matthew 16 we have an intriguing interview between Jesus and Peter. Jesus had done the “who are you?” question in reverse. He asked the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter came up with the right answer. The Lord then said in so many words, “You’re not that smart Peter. That answer really didn’t come from you. It came from My Father.”

In this interview Jesus was telling Peter who and what Peter was, and what he was being called to be. In the Gospels Peter’s life is recorded like an unstable spiritual roller coaster. But after Jesus called Peter a ‘rock’ for three years and after Peter experienced Pentecost, we read in Acts that this unstable man became the rock-like, stable leader of the New Testament Church.

When you read the Gospels and Acts, you realize Jesus was convincing Peter of what he could become because he had come to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Do you hear the voice of the Christ Who lives in your heart trying to give you His answer to this question, “What are you?”

Is Jesus making you know what you can become and do for Him since He has made you a new creation? Is Jesus making you know what He can equip you to become as He is calling you and revealing what He wants you to be and do for him?

Dick Woodward, A Spiritual Compass (p. 71-72)


#Jesus: A Friend of Sinners

April 30, 2019

“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” He said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”  (Luke 19:5)

When Jesus came face to face with the greatest sinner in Jericho, He knew him and called him by name. He then invited himself to spend the entire day in the house of His sinner friend. This chapter tells us elsewhere that Jesus was only passing through Jericho. He was extremely popular at this time and His walk through Jericho was like a parade with the sides of the street crowded with people wanting to get a glimpse of the famous Rabbi from Galilee.

We might imagine that the religious leaders would like to have entertained Jesus for lunch. To everyone’s shock and amazement Jesus declares that He will spend His one day in Jericho with the greatest sinner there. Publicans were hated in that day because they collected taxes for the Romans from their fellow Jews.

Zacchaeus as chief of the publicans had become very wealthy in that position.

We are told nothing of what Jesus and Zacchaeus discussed that day, but at the end of the day as they come out of the house this sinner announces that he will give half of his money to the poor. And with the other half he will restore 400% of everything he has taken from people unjustly.

One scholar put an interesting spin on this story when he suggested that Zacchaeus was the publican in the previous chapter of Luke who prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!

Do you know any sinners by name?  Are you a friend of sinners?

Dick Woodward, 01 May 2011


Holy Week: The Absolute Eternal Value

April 16, 2019

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Have you discovered that, to the authors of the four Gospels, Easter is far more important than Christmas? Of the 89 combined Gospel chapters, 4 chapters cover the birth and first 30 years Jesus lived, while 27 chapters cover the last week He lived.

Why is the last week Jesus lived so important?

The obvious answer is during that week Jesus died and was raised from the dead. Have you ever wondered why the apostles changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (seventh) Day to the first day of the week? If you read carefully, they never call Sunday the “Sabbath.” They call it “The Lord’s Day” because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Every Sunday the Church gathers for worship is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because on the first day of the week Jesus demonstrated the absolute eternal value.

This is the greatest and most important eternal value: Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for our salvation. The Good News is that when Jesus died on the cross, God laid on His only beloved Son all the chastisement we rebellious human beings deserve for our sins. In this way, God exercised His perfect justice while also expressing His perfect love.

The beloved Apostle John points to the cross and says: “Here is love. Not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)

Isaiah showed us how to confess this eternal value when he wrote: “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)

…Do you believe you are included in the first and last ‘all’ of this verse?

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values


Hypocrites or Conduits of God’s Love?

April 12, 2019

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13)

When I was a struggling college student I saw a sign in a window that read “Shirts Done 20¢.” I gathered up a pile of dirty shirts and took them into the store. To my utter disappointment I was told, “We don’t do shirts. This is a sign shop. We just paint signs!”

A preacher told the story of how a cat crawled into a model house in an empty new real estate development when it was many degrees below zero. The cat curled up in front of a fake fireplace and froze to death. He then preached that people often do that when they come into our churches. Looking for warmth, love and Gospel truths that can set them free from their sins, they “curl up and freeze to death.”

Jesus was even more honest and realistic than this preacher. He called the spiritual leaders of His day “hypocrites.” This was a negative word used in that day for people who wore false faces and masks.

Rather than decide that you are the true disciple and be judgmental of those who are not, ask yourself some questions: Are you, and the spiritual community of which you are a member, false or true? Are you authentic disciples of Jesus, or are you hypocrites?

Are you out there getting your hands sudsy cleaning shirts with the love of Jesus or are you just painting signs?

Are you seeing God’s grace and love changing lives?

Dick Woodward, 17 April 2009


LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!

April 5, 2019

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” (John 13:1)

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles. Luke writes that on the way to the upper room where that took place the apostles argued about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised.

What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!

Having washed their feet Jesus asked the question: “Do you know what I have done to you?” His question is answered in the verse quoted above. The most dynamic characteristic of the personality of Jesus is love. He loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

Jesus also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example. If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each other’s feet. He then made the connection between foot washing and love by giving them the New Commandment. They were to love one another in the same ways He had loved them. This is the absolute credential that they were His disciples.

A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment. Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus but now they were to make a commitment to each other. This new commitment established a New Community. We call it the church.

Secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!”  If they made that charge today about your church or mine would there be enough evidence that we are followers of Jesus Christ?

Oh Lord Jesus, make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012


The Lord Is My Shepherd

April 2, 2019

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with meYou prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:4-6)

The most important relationship we have in our lives is our relationship with God. The greatest description of that relationship is given by David in his Shepherd Psalm. After explaining in Psalm 23 how this relationship is established, David tells us how this relationship works as God leads us through the deep dark valleys of our lives.

David tells us that God is with him, goes before him and prepares a table of provision for him in the presence of his enemies. He tells us that God is like a cup running over within him and oil being poured upon him. David ends his psalm by telling us the goodness and mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life.

This Hebrew word for follow can be translated as “pursue.” So David is actually telling us that God not only goes before us, but pursues behind us with God’s mercy (unconditional love) and goodness all the days of our lives.

By application, this means that when you are going through deep dark valleys you can believe that God is with you, goes before you, pursues behind you, will provide for you in the presence of all your enemies and problems, God is within you, and God’s anointing is upon you as long as you can say with authentic faith:

“The Lord Is My Shepherd.”

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2009


#Faith: Hope vs. Despair

March 26, 2019

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

The Apostle Paul concludes his great love chapter by profiling three eternal values: faith, hope and love. We know that love is an eternal value because God is loveWe can also understand why faith is one of the three eternal values because faith brings us to God.

But why is hope one of the three great eternal values?

God plants hope, or the conviction that something good exists in this world, in the heart of every human being. When you delve into the lives of many people battling a multitude of challenges, however, you cannot help but wonder how they could believe there is something good in this life.

When I was a college student in Los Angeles my dormitory was located at the end of Hope Street adjacent to the Los Angeles Public Library. The same day I learned in a course that more than 25,000 people committed suicide in 1952 because they lost hope, a man committed suicide by jumping from the top of my dormitory.

The newspaper reporter that day was more eloquent than he knew when he wrote: “An unidentified man jumped to his death today from a tall building at the end of Hope Street.”

David knew that he would despair if he ever lost the conviction God put in his heart the Bible labels hope. Hope is an eternal value because it is meant to lead us to faith, and faith leads us to God.

Let your hope bring you to faith and your faith to God.  And remember that people around you are despairing for the hope you have.

Dick Woodward, 24 March 2013