January 20, 2017
“…Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
A word that has been on the minds and lips of millions this week is “inauguration.” A synonym for this word is “beginning.” The common usage for inauguration is something like “a celebration of the beginning.”
Every day we live is the first day of the rest of our lives. There is a sense in which we experience an inauguration with every new day, week, month and New Year we live. Our Lord’s advice to us is to celebrate the beginning of every new day and accept it as a gift – a clean slate with no marks on it.
We cannot change the marks we put on the slate of yesterday. God told us not to worry about tomorrow because one day’s trouble is enough for one day. If you think about it, today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. God therefore emphasized one day at a time – as in “Give us this day our daily bread.”
I challenge you to celebrate each new day with a private inauguration ceremony and ask God to give you the grace and strength to be all you can be for God’s glory, one day at a time.
Dick Woodward, 23 January 2009
December 23, 2016
“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
When the angels appeared to those frightened shepherds, they gave a wonderful Christmas greeting when they announced that they were bringing good tidings of great joy to all people.
These good tidings were not just for Jewish people, or for good people. They were to bring great joy to ALL people! That means all kinds of people – and all kinds of people everywhere!
Before Jesus ascended, his last words were: “…go be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NLT).
Some people hoard their faith as if the last words of Jesus were: “Now don’t let it get around!” They live out their faith as if the Gospel is a secret to be kept.
Never forget these two beautiful Christmas words: “All people!”
The spiritual community of those who follow Jesus is not to be a secret organization. It is a community of people who exist for the benefit of non-members.
Jesus Christ came to bring good news and great joy to people who are not good. The Bible tells us that all of us have gone astray and turned every one of us to his or her own way. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God laid the penalty for all of our sins on His Son. (Isaiah 53:6)
Two more great Christmas words are mercy and grace. The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and His grace lavishes on us all kinds of marvelous things we do not deserve. God’s mercy and grace give us more blessings than we can count if we have the faith to receive them.
Merry Christmas to ALL!!
Dick Woodward, 23 December 2011
December 16, 2016
“… and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
If anyone in the Christmas story had the right to an explanation of what was happening, it surely was Joseph. The angel who shared these words expressed what Christmas is all about when he told Joseph to call Mary’s baby Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins.
The word, Jesus, means “Savior.” But I would like to call your attention to the reality that the baby was to be given this name because He would save His people from their sins.
Many believers seem to put a spin on the angel’s statement that was never intended. Our spin is something like “forgive people for their sins.” However, the hard reality is the angel declared that it was the purpose on the heart of God to save people from their sins.
In the words of the redemption hymn, when God redeems us from our chaos it is also God’s plan to deliver us from our chains. (Psalm 107) That was obviously on the heart of God when the angel pronounced this Christmas Good News.
Redemption means “to buy back and bring back that which was lost.” Rehabilitation in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” Jesus came to forgive us for our sins, but He came to offer us much more than that. He wants to save and deliver us from our sins.
This year have a personal Christmas – believe the declaration the angel made to Joseph!
Dick Woodward, 24 December 2009
January 8, 2016
“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are mercy and grace. The mercy of God, which is the unconditional love of God, withholds from us what we deserve, while the grace of God lavishes on us all kinds of blessings we do not deserve, accomplish, or achieve by our own efforts.
As we thank God for our blessings, at the top of the list we should thank Him for the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows. The good news of the Gospel is that when He suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved was laid upon Christ that we might have peace with God (Isaiah 53: 5, 6; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
If you want to grasp the meaning of these two words observe when and why they turn up in the Bible. Try to understand what we deserved and why. That will grow your appreciation of the mercy of God. Then investigate all that is bestowed upon us by the grace of God. As you find these two beautiful words throughout in the Bible, you will understand why I challenge you to pray with thanksgiving for: “The mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows.”
Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009
August 26, 2014
“…When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:42)
It is true that some of the greatest Christians were once the greatest sinners. As we read the seventh chapter of Luke (verses 36-50), we cannot help but think of The Confessions of Saint Augustine. It is not necessary to sin much to love God – we should be careful not to give that impression. There is really nothing good about sin… It it true, however, that the truly repentant contrite sinner can love much because he (or she) has been forgiven much. This was a driving force in the lives of King David, the Apostle Paul and Saint Augustine.
At issue here are the condescending thoughts of this Pharisee toward the woman (who is washing Jesus’ feet.) As he compares himself, the Pharisee is self-righteous. Like his colleague in Luke 18, he is looking upon this woman with an attitude, “I thank God I am not as other people are – sinners!” The question of Jesus focuses this for him and for us. The Pharisee was the man who had been forgiven the smaller debt, which means he saw his sin as a very small thing. This teaching also focuses that the way we perceive ourselves has a profound effect upon how we perceive others. Positively and negatively our self-image is a strong force in our horizontal, interpersonal relationships.
The subtle message of Jesus to this Pharisee is that the real sinner at that luncheon was not the woman whose sin was obvious and known to everybody. His message to her was the good news, that, because of her faith, her sins were forgiven. When the real sinner stood up at that luncheon, however, he was a sinner named, “Simon, the Pharisee.”
Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.137)
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners.”