Therapy for Thanksliving

November 22, 2016

“In everything … with thanksgiving tell God every detail of your needs … And the peace of God which transcends human understanding will stand guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”   (Philippians 4:6, 7)

As I have applied what Paul prescribes in these verses (in the NIV and J.B. Phillips), I have found this prescription for peace to be one of the most helpful spiritual disciplines. According to Paul, an attitude of gratitude leads to the therapy of thanksgiving as we give thanks in stressful circumstances.

Be sure to make the observation that Paul does not prescribe giving thanks for all things. He instructs us to give thanks in all things. When we do this it automatically moves our mindset from the negative to the positive. The apostle promises that the peace of God will protect and stand guard, (like the soldiers chained to Paul as he wrote these words), over our hearts and minds as they rest and trust in Christ Jesus.

Our circumstances are not always determined by God but may be caused by evil people who are persecuting us. We cannot always control our circumstances – but we can control the way we respond to them. Paul is telling us to respond with thanksgiving, because if we do, we will find this response to be God’s prescription that will bring peace that can contribute to our overcoming those circumstances.

When a pastor asked a church member how she was doing, she responded, “Pretty good pastor, under the circumstances.” The pastor responded, “Whatever are you doing under there?”

The therapy of thanksgiving can lead us out from under our circumstances and into the Presence and peace of God.

Dick Woodward, 02 September 2009

Editor’s Note: A blessed Thanksliving type of Thanksgiving to all!! : )


Perfect Peace: Christ in You

October 6, 2016

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Isaiah wrote of a state of perfect peace in which God can keep us, continuously. However, he also wrote that this state of continuous serenity is based on two very important conditions: we must keep our minds centered on God, and we must trust God. This peace is supernatural because it’s a peace we can have even when the circumstances of our lives are chaotic.

Jesus promised that He would give His followers a peace the world would never understand because it comes from Him and can be ours even in the middle of our storms of life. The early followers of Christ were persecuted. While suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died at peace because they had this kind of supernatural peace.

The Apostle Paul believed in this peace. In just one chapter of one of his letters he listed twelve conditions on which this peace is based. In another letter Paul described this peace as fruit – the expression of the reality that the Holy Spirit lives in authentic disciples of Jesus. We might therefore conclude that the basic condition for this peace is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.

“Christ in you” is the foundation on which all the conditions of this peace are to be built (Colossians 1:27 LB).  I have a question I want to ask you. There is obviously something to believe and Someone to receive when you become a follower of Jesus Christ. My question is: have you received Him?

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2009


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


Ambassadors of Reconciliation

July 8, 2016

“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”  2 Corinthians 5:20

One of the most profound Scripture passages addressing the redemptive quality that can accompany suffering is found in the sixth chapter of Second Corinthians.  Paul tells us suffering is like a God-ordained ‘seminary’ in which God trains qualified ministers of the Gospel.  There is a sense in which this seminary never ends.

By passing through this seminary of suffering, we can be proven ministers of God.  When Paul uses “minister,” he does not mean a clergy-person; he means the minister every believer is designed, created, and recreated by God to be.  Everyone who has experienced the miracle of reconciliation to God through Christ has been commissioned to carry out the ministry of reconciliation as an ambassador for Christ.

How do we prove ourselves to be ministers?  Paul writes, “In afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)

I call these adversities “wringers.” (Old washing machines had a wringer through which wet, soapy clothes passed to squeeze water out of them. It was very painful to get your hand caught in the wringer!)  These challenging adversities describe the daily life experience of the Apostle Paul. (More of Paul’s wringers are summarized in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.)

When we find ourselves in a wringer, the important thing is our response to that wringer. In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul shows us how to respond: “By pureness, knowledge, patience, kindness.”

In verses 6 and 7 of this passage, he tells us where to find the spiritual resources to respond as we should: “By the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

In verses 8-10, Paul describes the results when we respond to our wringers by drawing on spiritual resources:  “in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute.  We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see – we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”   These nine paradoxes profile the witness of the minister who has been trained in the ministry of suffering.

Loving Heavenly Father, use our suffering to make us faithful ministers of reconciliation, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


Prayer for Peace (in times of crisis)

June 28, 2016

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

When I was in a very difficult situation, the prayer of Saint Francis had great meaning for me.  I memorized it and prayed it every night for several months.  I know you are very familiar with it but in case you don’t have a copy there, here it is:

 “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console: to be understood, as to understand: to be loved as to love: for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Dick Woodward (email, 05 March 2005)