Overcoming Prejudice: God’s Agape Love At Work

February 23, 2017

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. What does the fact that Jonah wrote this story, which makes him look foolish, tell us about his values and motivations for telling it on himself? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this:

‘When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord.’ But God said to me, ’I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go and I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’  The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  When I went to Nineveh and while I was in the city of Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me.’

Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

…To be “prejudiced” means to “pre-judge.”  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. Is the work of God in this world through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth or social status? Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment?

When you experience God’s call are you joining Jonah by saying, “I will not?”

When are you going to let the love and power of the Spirit of Christ cut through all your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?” It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

          Dick Woodward,

Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet

 

Editor’s Note: There will be a brief hiatus the next few weeks here @ The Four Spiritual Secrets while the Blog Posting Elf travels (minus her computer.) Blessings to all!


Inauguration of each New Day

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


Merry Christmas to ALL PEOPLE!!

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


Christmas Deliverance

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


Confession and the Blessings of Salvation

October 29, 2016

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   (1John 1:9)

In the original Greek language, what we translate as confess is a compound Greek word: to say and the word for sameness.  It literally means to say the same thing God says or to agree with God.  If you know the Word of God and are in the Spirit enough to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, you can know what God says and how He feels about what you have done.

Your confession is to agree with Him. Our responsibility is to agree with Him.  God does all the rest.

God knows when we are lost.  Because God loves us He very much wants us to agree with Him that He might recover us and lead us into green pastures and still waters that flow to a table of provision and a full cup that never empties.  That’s why God wants us to confess our sins and start climbing in the right direction spiritually.

God is not a divine policeman with a huge club just waiting to crack us over the head when we step out of line.  The ministry of Jesus is summed up in the Gospel of Luke this way: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)  That Gospel shows us in beautiful ways the blessings that come into the lives of lost people because Jesus finds them and leads them to the blessings of salvation.

Dick Woodward, 02 October 2012


Grace and Mercy

January 8, 2016

“Goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”
(Psalm 23:6)

“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


A Prescription: Blessing God’s Name

September 29, 2015

“Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100: 4, 5)

In the ancient Hebrew culture names had great significance.  When parents named their child, the name they chose often expressed their desire for the life of their child.  Sometimes the name was given to a child because certain events occurred surrounding the birth of the child.  The significance of names is especially important when we consider the names of God in the Bible – they tell us much about God.

In Psalm 100 we are instructed to praise the name of God.  We are to praise God because He is good.  Rick Warren told us life is like railroad tracks.  The left rail represents this reality: there is always something negative in our life because God is more interested in our character than He is in our comfort.  The right rail represents this reality: there is always something good in our life because God is good and He loves us.

In this very short psalm we are instructed to bless the name of God by focusing His goodness, His everlasting mercy, and His enduring truth.  Mercy is His unconditional love and forgiveness.  That word is found 366 times in the Bible because God knew we would need it every day and He even included leap year.

If we read the Bible looking for truth we will discover truth that endures to all generations.  In the last verse of his shepherd psalm David informed us that the mercy of God pursued him like a hound of heaven.  Will you fill and take this prescription for blessing the name of God?

Dick Woodward, 14 March 2012