#FAITH – PUT GOD FIRST!!

May 8, 2020

“…but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.” (Matthew 6:33)

The message of the entire Bible can be summed up in two words: “God First.” Over and over the bottom-line truth in a Psalm, life of a Bible character, parable, metaphor, and teaching of Jesus comes down to this simple concept: “GOD FIRST.”

That is not easy. In fact, it is impossible without the Holy Spirit. (1Corinthians 12:3)

I was blessed to have a godly mother who often said to me: “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, then Jesus Christ must be everything to you. Because, until Jesus Christ is everything to you, Dick, He isn’t really anything to you.”

As I studied the values of Jesus Christ, I realized my mother had His support when she brought my profession of faith to a verdict in this way.

Matthew 6:33 is the conclusion of a study given by Jesus regarding values. He taught that our hearts are where our treasures are. He also challenged us with the questions: “Where is your heart? What are your treasures? What is your life? What is your body?” and “Who is your master?”

The conclusion to this treatise on values is the declaration to seek God first. Think of a target with a bulls-eye surrounded by ten circles. According to Jesus, the bulls-eye of our priority target should be God. If we do that we have Christ’s promise that God will bless us with what we need.

When we think about our values these two words should immediately surface in our hearts and minds: “GOD FIRST.”

Dick Woodward, 09 November 2010

p.s. A blessed Mother’s Day to all on Sunday!

#love #hope #prayer #God #peace #Jesus


When You Don’t Know What to Do

April 14, 2020

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we simply do not know what to do. The Scripture above is taken from a historical context when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and they simply did not know what to do.

James wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back but will dump a truckload of wisdom on us.

Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me that she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital the doctors discovered mononucleosis and seriously infected tonsils that needed to be removed. She concluded her litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my intelligent young daughter believed that if she could just share her litany of woes with me and tap into the vast resources of my wisdom, I would tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.

According to James that is the way we make our heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. That’s why a good way to begin some days is:

“Lord, I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on you!”

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2013

#faith #hope #inspiration #peace #Jesus #wisdom


Jesus: “It is finished…”

April 10, 2020

“When He had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’” (John 19:30)

These last words of Jesus are actually one word in the original language: “Tetelesti.”

This word was written over the record of a prisoner after completing his or her sentence in a Roman prison. “Tetelesti” was also written above the cross of a prisoner crucified by Rome.

What a providential irony that Jesus chose this word at the end of His suffering for your sins and mine.

What Jesus meant is that He paid in full a debt He did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay. Theologians call this the “finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.” One thought is that we cannot add anything to what He finished for us there on the cross.

A more profound thought is that we must put our faith in what Jesus did for us there.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweat great drops of blood as He pleaded with the Father to let this cup pass from Him. The Father’s response was that there was no other way, so Jesus had to go through the suffering of the cross.

To think that we could save ourselves by our works is like saying to our Heavenly Father and to our Savior: “You really didn’t have to go through all that suffering because I can save myself by the good works I am doing.”

We must believe in what Jesus finished on the cross: “It is finished.”

Dick Woodward, 28 August 2009


#LOVE: A New Commandment

April 7, 2020

“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 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 them the question “Do you know what I have done to you?” His question is answered in the words quoted above. The most dynamic characteristic of Jesus is love. He had 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. Then He made the connection between foot washing and love by giving them a New Commandment: they were to love one another in the same ways He loved them. This is the absolute credential that they are 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 our churches, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Oh Lord, make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012


The Lord IS My Shepherd

April 3, 2020

 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me …” (Psalm 23:4)

The most important relationship we have is our relationship with God. David gives a great description of the relationship we have with God in his Shepherd Psalm. After explaining how this relationship is established, David tells us how it 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 God is like oil being poured upon him.

He 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.” David is actually telling us that God not only goes before him, but pursues behind him with God’s mercy (unconditional love) and goodness all the days of his life.

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 your enemies and problems, He is within you, and His anointing is upon you as long as you say with authentic faith, “The Lord IS My Shepherd.”

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2009


Loving Others

March 31, 2020

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

I challenge you to meditate on these fifteen applications of love every day for a month.  Summarize each one in one or two words on a card you can place on your mirror, in your purse, wallet, or on the sun-visor of your car. Fervently ask God to empower you to be a conduit of His love with this cluster of virtues by Christ, in Christ and for Christ.

Think of one specific person and ask God to love that person in these ways through you. If you are married, begin loving your spouse in these ways. If you have children, apply this love to them. If you are not married, pray for the power to apply this love to your parents, siblings, and those with whom you live and work.

By the grace of God, I have seen this love of Christ change lives. Ask God to give you power to apply this love to the most difficult relationships you have, like your enemies. They will be your best opportunity to prove this love is not coming from you, but from Christ.

Pray that Christ will pass His love through you to address the pain and quiet desperation of the hurting people in your life. As He does, you will affirm where the risen Christ is today.

Dick Woodward, (from A Prescription For Love)


#LOVE: Sanctified Unselfishness

March 17, 2020

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

The Greek words for “love suffers long” are often translated as patience, but they actually prescribe a merciful, unconditional love – a love that does not avenge itself, even when it has the right and opportunity to do so.

The Greek word for kindness means love is easy – easy to approach, easy to live with, sweet, good and does good things.

Love does not envy.” The Greek words Paul used here prescribe “an unselfish and unconditional commitment to another’s well-being.”

In other words: sanctified unselfishness.

Those applying this love are not only concerned about the welfare of the one they love, but they have made a deliberate and unconditional commitment to their happiness. Their love commitment is not, “I love me and I need you,” or “You love me and so do I.” They are saying by their love actions, “I am fiercely committed to your well-being and happiness; my love for you is not based on, controlled, or even influenced by the ways you do, or do not, love me.”

The biggest problem in relationships can be summed up in one word: selfishness. The greatest cure for relational problems can also be summarized in one word: unselfishness.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


#FAITH: A Perspective for Hurting Hearts

March 10, 2020

“… who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

The Apostle Paul experienced life threatening persecution when he was stoned in Lystra.  As he describes that experience for the Church in Corinth he gives them (and us) a perspective on suffering. Paul writes that there is a kind of suffering that drives us to God, and there is a quality of comfort that can only be found in God when the level of our suffering drives us to Him.

According to Paul, an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”

A hurting heart that has discovered the comfort that can only be found in God is “one hurting heart telling another hurting heart where the Comfort is.”

As an active pastor when I met grief stricken parents who lost a child, since I had never suffered that loss I sent a couple who had lost a child and found God’s comfort to be with them. Any time your heart is hurting because God has permitted you to suffer, realize that you are being given a credential by God. As you find the comfort God provides, you are now qualified to point any person with that same challenge to the comfort you discovered when you had that hurt in your heart.

Although we will not answer all of the “why” questions until we know as we are known, are you willing to let this perspective bring some meaning and purpose to your suffering?

Or would you rather choose to waste your sorrows?

Dick Woodward, 10 March 2012


#Forgiveness: Forgetting What God Forgets

February 28, 2020

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the first fact of the Gospel – the Good News that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.

We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

When we place our trust in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we need to forget what God forgets and remember what God remembers. We are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

After we confess our sins, our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten our sins.

A Catholic Monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. When summoned to meet the Monsignor, he asked her, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question: What sins did the Monsignor commit in Paris before he became a priest?”

Several days later the nun met again with the Monsignor. He asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?” She replied, “Yes, your Reverence.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?” The nun said that she had indeed asked Jesus his question. “And what did Jesus say?”  The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values


#FAITH : A Prayer for Our Homes

February 21, 2020

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Ephesians 5:2)

In the epistles of Peter and Paul, the model for marriage is Christ and the Church.  It is meant to be a total communion of two whole personalities, what is pictured in the communion between Christ and His Bride, the Church. It is a spiritual intimacy. While physical unity involves mutual, unconditional commitment, there must also be a spiritual quality in the relationship: unselfish, others-centered love of the risen, living Christ as it is expressed through both the husband and the wife.

If you sincerely desire a Christ-centered marriage and home, earnestly pray this prayer:

“O loving Heavenly Father bless this house. Bless this house with the light of Your presence. Energize with the love of Your Spirit the relationships that make this house a home.

May the light, the life, and the love of the risen, Living Christ so empower and control us that we will be Christ’s representatives when we come in, when we go out, and especially as we live together under this roof and within these walls.

Heal us as persons, that we might have a wholesome partnership, and be wise and loving parents.  Show us how to access Your grace all day long, every day. We pray that everything we do here in this house will be done by Christ, in Christ, and for Christ.

Make this home a symbol of hope that will point to the One Who put this home together in His Word, Who brought it together through His Spirit, and Who alone can keep it together by His grace.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Marriage & Family