Prayer Changes Things!!

September 20, 2016

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you rest in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

In these verses the Apostle Paul is challenging us with two options: when we are facing challenging problems we can worry about them, or we can turn our challenging problems into prayer requests.  Paul writes that we are not to worry because worry is counterproductive.  He prescribes that if we are overwhelmed with problems, we should let our mountain of problems turn us into prayer warriors.

So, here we have two options: we can be worriers, or we can be warriors. Prayer changes things!  Worry, on the other hand does not change anything except for the severe negative consequences it can have on our body, soul and spirit.  When we consider the devastating effects of worry and the miraculous results of answered prayer, we should resolve our two options into one.

When we realize we are anxious and uptight, and we know it is because we are choosing to be worriers, we should ask God to convert us into prayer warriors.  We should hold our problems up before the Lord and trade our futile worries for powerful prayers.  God may deliver us from those problems or give us the grace to cope with them.  But, in either case, God will give us peace.

Paul writes that God will stand guard over our hearts and minds and give us supernatural peace as we rest in what Christ will do.

Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011


Finding Joy and Peace

August 19, 2016

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”  Philippians 4:4

Misery is optional even though pain and suffering are inevitable.  Those words were written by a man who lives with excruciating pain every day.  How can misery be optional for someone in pain? How is it Paul can mention joy 17 times in a short letter he wrote from prison?

For those who experience and express the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who have a relationship with the risen, living Christ, there is a joy that is not controlled by circumstances.

The peace Paul experienced and prescribes for you and me can be called the peace that doesn’t make good sense.  It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) The joy of which Paul writes can be called the happiness that doesn’t make good sense.  This is true because this peace and joy are the fruit and evidence of the Spirit Who lives in us and they are not controlled by our circumstances.  What is the foundation of that joy? According to Paul, that foundation is the Lord.  We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find our joy in Him at all times.

What is the foundation of your serenity and joy? If it’s your spouse, children or special human being with whom you have a relationship, then the foundation of your serenity is very fragile. There is no relationship on earth you cannot lose.

If the foundation of your serenity and joy is your health and athleticism, I bear witness to the sad reality that you have an extremely fragile foundation for your peace and happiness. Thousands of people, who had a physical orientation around which their lives revolved before illness or injury destroyed that foundation, will join me in warning you that health, athleticism and youth are fragile foundations for joy and happiness.

Jesus commended Mary when her sister Martha was upset because she chose to sit at His feet and hear His Word rather than help with dinner preparations. With much love for Martha, Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the good part that will never be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

When Paul writes his words about joy, he agrees with what Jesus told Martha about Mary, and he directs us here to a foundation for serenity and joy that is not fragile:  “Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”

Like Mary, you should prioritize a regular structured time in the Word of God before you enter into the rush and whirlwind of another day in the marketplace.  Time in the Word is like sitting at the feet of Jesus.  The communion with Him you can experience will never be taken away from you.  It will set your sail for whatever adverse winds may blow against you that day.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 188-190)


Finding Peace – In Christ Jesus

July 15, 2016

The peace of God…will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:7, 12-13)

According to Paul, to attain and maintain the peace of God we must rest in Christ Jesus.

What does it mean to rest in Christ Jesus? What does it mean to be in Christ? Describing the relationship we have with the risen Christ, the authors of the New Testament say it’s to be “in Christ.”  Paul uses this description ninety-seven times in his writings.

According to Jesus, the expression means that we are in union with Him, as a branch is in union with a vine. If we are involved in the work of Jesus, then all day long we are going to be faced with the impossible – things we cannot do – because it’s His work. We can only be vehicles through which Jesus does His work.  If we think it all depends on us, we lose our peace, big time!

Perhaps the greatest “peace thief” devout disciples of Jesus experience is doing the work of Christ in our own strength. What I call “Four Spiritual Secrets” is the solution to that problem. These Four Secrets are my way of expressing what it means to “rest in Christ Jesus.”

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I can’t, but He can.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I don’t want to, but He wants to.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

Dick Woodward, 01 July 2009


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


Maintaining the Peace of God

August 21, 2015

“…never forget the nearness of your Lord.”  (Philippians 4:5)

When the Apostle Paul experienced his last horrible Roman imprisonment, visiting him was very dangerous. If you came to see him, the Romans might chain you next to him. And nobody did. He writes: “They all forsook me. May God not lay it to their charge.” But he also wrote: “Nevertheless the Lord stood by me and ministered to me.” (2 Timothy 4:16, 17)  That is what he means when he prescribes: “Never forget the nearness of your Lord.”

This is why I am continuously emphasizing the ground rule that a personal relationship with the Lord is an absolute if you are serious about applying Paul’s prescription for maintaining the peace of God. If you would like to have a relationship with Christ, follow His directions. Our Lord prescribed:

“Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For every one who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9, 10 Amplified Bible)

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking. If you cannot understand the concept of “the nearness of your Lord,” give yourself to the pursuit of God as described by Jesus in the passage above to find and maintain the peace of God.

Dick Woodward, 19 June 2009


Pray, Pray, Pray!!!

March 17, 2015

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

It is easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them?  Paul does not leave us in a vacuum here… he goes on to prescribe:“Pray about everything!”

God’s Word exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength.  A very present help in trouble.” If you check alternate readings, the first verse reads that God is “abundantly available for help in tight places.”  As a result of our prayers, God can deliver us from tight places.

Paul was delivered from many, many tight places. For example, he asked the Philippians to pray that he might be delivered from prison.  They prayed, and he was delivered from his imprisonment at that time.  We should therefore always pray in a crisis.  Someone said, “When it is hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

Paul knew from personal experience, however, that God does not always take our problems away.  He had a physical “thorn in the flesh” condition that he asked God three times to take away.  Paul saw many people healed as he ministered the power of the Holy Spirit to them.  Yet, when he asked God to solve his health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.” God essentially said, “Tell you what I’m going to do, Paul. I’m going to give you the grace to cope with your problem.”  (IICorinthians 12.)

When God gave Paul the grace to cope with his problem, he discovered that the power of Christ was upon him in a mighty way… So Paul not only accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he gloried in the whole experience of learning that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul explains that his weakness became a showcase in which the strength of God was exhibited.

Paul learned from personal experience that, while worry is not productive, prayer is always very productive.  Prayer may deliver us from our problems, or it may give us the grace to cope with them.  But, in any case, pray.  Always pray about everything.

Tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer.”  (J.B. Phillips.)  Always pray about everything!

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace


The Great Shepherd

April 22, 2012

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”    (Psalm 23: 1-3)

These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible loved by Protestants, Catholics and Jews.  They describe our relationship with God.  They tell us that when God is our Shepherd we have green pastures, still waters and a full cup that never empties.  This is because our great Shepherd makes us lie down.  He may use problems we cannot solve to make us lie down.  However, since we are creatures of choice we can choose to get up again.  When we do our green pastures turn brown and our cup empties again.  He then restores our soul by driving us into the paths of righteousness that restore us.

Many devout souls also love this psalm because they see in it a description of a believer’s death.  To them death is the great Shepherd coming into a life for the last time making a devout person lie down so He can give them the green pastures that never turn brown and the full cup that never empties in the eternal state.  The only way He can give us these eternal blessings is to make us lie down in death.

The key to these eternal blessings is found in the opening words of the psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Meditate on these words one word at a time.  They are the key to living here and in the hereafter.  Can you say that He is your Shepherd today and always?