Having (& sharing) Hope @ the Holidays

December 7, 2018

“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)

Do you know, or can you remember what it’s like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope? In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us three lasting eternal values in life are faith, hope and love. 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 three great values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God.

In the heart of every human being, God plants hope, the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good will intersect our lives. That is what the author of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1)

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have Good News that can give hope to the hopeless. We must not let unbelief silence us. If we never share the Good News of the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be, we should ask ourselves, “do we really believe the Gospel of Christmas?”

Because if we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share that Good News with the people Jesus told us He came to seek and to save. (Luke 19:10) We show that we 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, then worship Him and give the gift of our lives to Him. Then, like those shepherds, we should tell everybody the Good News that Christmas has come – and Christmas is coming again to our world.

Dick Woodward, from A Christmas Prescription


Improve Your Serve (for the Kingdom!)

November 30, 2018

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant…”  (Matthew 20:25-26)

The incident recorded in Matthew 20 (verses 20-28) precipitated by Mrs. Zebedee and her two sons, James and John, sets the stage for one the great teachings of Jesus Christ. We can assume these two ‘sons of thunder’ (the nickname the Lord game them), who were partners with Simon Peter in the ‘Zebedee Seafood Corporation,’ were obviously the instigators of their mother’s request that they be seated on the right and left of their Lord when He was crowned King. 

When the other apostles griped about this, Jesus called them together. In so many words, He told them the world plays the game of “over-under.” This is a world of credentials and status symbols that often say, “I am better than you” or “I am over and above you.”

Acknowledging that the secular world is like that, Jesus tells them not to play the world’s games. To paraphrase, Jesus says, “This is not to happen among you. If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, you should join the ‘Order of the Towel’ – get a towel and basin, assume the position of a slave, and start washing feet.”  He uses Himself as an example when He says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28) 

Remember how Jesus spent His last hours before He went to the cross, literally washing the feet of His disciples. There is no place in the church and body of Christ for the “over-under” philosophy of this world.

If you want to be great in the fellowship of Christ, you must improve your serve!

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook, p.86


An Inspired Art Gallery (of Faith)

November 9, 2018

“So the Word became human and made his home among us.” (John 1:14)

The Gospel of John is like an inspired art gallery. Every chapter is like a room in that gallery with beautiful portraits of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls. In the first room, the portrait 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 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 that are in 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 beautiful comprehensive Word that expresses 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 God’s expressed thought in human flesh and blood. God therefore became human and made God’s home with us as Jesus so that we can see and experience God’s expressed thought toward us.

The Word not only made His home among us – Jesus wants to make His home in us. If He has done that for you, what great ideas does Jesus want to communicate to others by wrapping them in your life?

Dick Woodward, 10 November 2011


God’s Good (vs. Our Good)

November 2, 2018

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

As I look back over my life since I was born in 1930, and born again in 1949, this verse sums up my entire walk of faith and ministry. According to the J. B. Philips translation, God fits into a pattern for good everything that happens to those who love God and are called according to God’s plan. I like this because the implication is there may not be anything good about many of the things that happen to us.  But if we meet two prerequisites – if we love God and are called according to His plan – our loving God will fit into a pattern for good all the events of our lives.

Before we personally apply the great promise of this verse we must meet those two prerequisites. The first is that we love God.  It isn’t easy to love God. The Apostle John asked us how we can love God we cannot see. (1 John 4) We can’t hug a Spirit.  Jesus told us that if we love Him we must keep His commandments.  According to Romans 8:28 quoted above, we show we love God by the second prerequisite: being called according to God’s plan.

We are so self-centered we are quick to assume that the good into which God fits all the events of our lives means our good.  However, when we understand what it means to love God the only good that will interest us will be God’s good.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2010


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