#FAITH – PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

March 5, 2021

“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!”

Psalm 46:1 states: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” An alternate reading states that God is “abundantly available for help in tight places.” As a result of our prayers, God can deliver us from tight places.

Someone once said, “When it is hardest to pray, pray the hardest!” Paul was delivered from many tight places. He knew from personal experience, however, that God does not always take our problems away. Paul had a physical “thorn in the flesh” he asked God three times to take away. 

Paul saw many people healed as he ministered with the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, when he asked God to solve his health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.” Instead God essentially said, “I’m going to give you the grace to cope.”  (II Corinthians 12)

When God gave Paul grace to cope, he discovered the power of Christ was upon him in a mighty way. Paul learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul later shares his weakness became a showcase in which the strength of God was exhibited.

Paul learned that 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.” 

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Peace


#FAITH – Doing the Right Thing

March 2, 2021

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’”  (Psalm 4:5)

David cannot sleep. He is uptight and anxious. From the context of the psalm we know he cannot sleep because he is under great stress. He decides to meditate within his own heart and be still.

David has a “board meeting” with himself in the middle of the night. If he does the right thing, he believes he cannot survive. He is therefore thinking about doing the expedient thing. Since he is a man of great spiritual integrity he finds himself awake and uptight considering the expedient path.

As a result of his meditation he resolves his dilemma. David decides he is going to make whatever sacrifices he needs to make to do what is right – and then trust the Lord for his survival. He knows there are many people who are looking for someone who will do what is right even though it costs them everything to do right.

Have you ever found yourself awake, uptight and stressed in the middle of the night because you are in a crisis? If you do what you believe God wants you to do you don’t see how you can survive. But your spiritual integrity won’t let you sleep if you don’t do the right thing. 

David models a prescription for resolving that kind of dilemma.

His prescription is simply to do right. Whatever it costs you, do right and trust God for the consequences. Many people will be blessed, God will be glorified, you will have peace and be able to sleep.

Dick Woodward, 02 March 2012


God’s Strength in Our Weakness

February 26, 2021

“When I am weak then I am strong…” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In these eight words the Apostle Paul gives us a formula for strength. When we are having a serious operation, instead of counting to 10 as the anesthesiologist administers the medicine that knocks us out, I suggest we say these eight words. 

While most of us like to be in control, after experiencing the full effects of anesthesia we give up control. But, as believers when we give up control, we find ourselves underneath the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27) 

This makes us stronger than we have ever been.

Paul, quoting Isaiah, writes the key to spiritual strength: God gives strength to the weary and power to the weak. One translation reads that God’s strength looks good on weak people. The key to spiritual strength is therefore not found in our strength but in our weakness. These eight words therefore form the formula for our strength. 

They will give you great spiritual strength in your time of absolute weakness. Discover with the Apostle Paul that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, not in trying to make ourselves strong. We find our greatest strength in the Everlasting Arms that are there underneath us.

Prove what Isaiah and Paul teach us.The everlasting arms give us more strength than we have ever known as healthy active people. The next time you experience weakness on any level of life remember to pray these eight words:“When I am weak then I am strong.”

You will soon find yourself saying, “I’m not but He is; I can’t, but He can;” and then, “I didn’t but He did” when you let God perfect His strength in your weakness.

Dick Woodward, 26 February 2014


Adversity vs. Atrophy

October 16, 2020

“… Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…”  (Psalm 4:1)

Just about every emotional challenge we experience today was faced by the psalmist many years ago. If we observe what he did when he struggled, and receive from God the grace to respond as the hymn writer responded, we can often overcome our emotional challenges.

In Psalm 4 the psalmist faces the emotional challenge of distress. If you drop the first two letters, the word becomes stress. We all have stress. If we do not have stress we atrophy. I have not put stress on my legs for 30 years. Consequently, my legs are the size of your arms. “If you don’t use it you lose it” is the way physical therapists describe atrophy.

Our loving Father God knows that what is true for our bodies is also true in our spiritual lives. God is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually. If we have no spiritual stress we will experience spiritual atrophy. God therefore will not only permit, but direct into our lives stress that will grow us as God gives us the grace to cope with that stress.

Many of us trust God for the good things that comfort and sustain us. But do we have the faith and the knowledge of God to seek God in the challenges that make the difference for us between spiritual growth and atrophy?

The Greek compound word hupomone, translated as “perseverance” in our English Bibles, literally means “to abide under.”  To apply hupomone, we should ask God for the grace to abide under stress, grow spiritually, and not atrophy.

Dick Woodward, 15 October 2013


#FAITH: WHERE IS YOUR CONFIDENCE?

October 6, 2020

“… Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ…for it is God at work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” (Philippians 1:6; 2:13)

When he wrote these words the Apostle Paul was in prison chained between two Roman soldiers. He was not able to shepherd the believers he loved. Is he stressed out because he fears that they will fall away from their faith? No, he has confidence that they will continue in their faith until the day of Christ.

The source of Paul’s confidence is found in two realities: he knows that the risen Christ has begun the miracle of regeneration in them, and he is completely convinced that Jesus Christ will continue the miracle work of salvation He begins. Paul’s confidence is not in the fact that he has led these people to Christ. His confidence is in Christ!

Paul adds that his confidence is in God Who is at work in them giving them the will and the power to do that which pleases God.

Where is your confidence that you will continue what Christ has begun in your life? Where is your confidence that those you love will continue what Christ has begun in their lives? Is your hope in them? Is your hope in your ability to shepherd and mentor them?

Or is your hope in Christ Who began that miracle and in God Who gives us the will and the power to do what pleases Him?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2009


Balm from The Psalms

August 7, 2020

“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.” (Psalm 4:1 KJV)

One of my favorite Scripture verses is the first verse of Psalm 4. David is in a wringer and he is talking to God about it. Almost parenthetically he drops this thought, “You have enlarged me when I was in distress.” As I reflect upon my wringer years of disability and I think of the growth I have experienced while in the wringer, that little phrase says it for me.

Truly God has grown me in my time of distress.

Psalm 46 is also a great psalm that applies to servants of the Lord when they are living on the edge and the whole world seems to be coming unraveled like a cheap sweater.

The opening verse could be interpreted this way, “God is my refuge and strength. God is abundantly available for help in tight places.” It can be applied devotionally to believers who live in difficult contexts. The punchline comes when the Psalmist instructs the believer in the midst of chaos to “Be still and know that I am… and that I will be.”

I hope you have a chance to check out Psalm 143. David cries to God, “Answer me speedily because my spirit fails. Cause me to hear Your loving kindness in the morning. Cause me to know the way in which I should walk.”

I like the last part when David prays, “Revive me.” The old King James reads “quicken me.” That word, quicken, means something like “give me a touch from You that will spring to life the work of the Spirit in my heart and life.”

…Recently I heard someone say, “When saying goodbye to a fellow soldier of Jesus Christ, we should never say, “Take it easy.” We should say, “Hang tough and fight the good fight.”

Hang in there!

Dick Woodward, (1997 fax to his daughter)


#LOVE ONE ANOTHER!!

July 10, 2020

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God Whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20)

Tradition tells us that the Apostle John escaped from the Isle of Patmos by swimming out to a ship that was bound for the city of Ephesus where he lived to a very old age and was buried. With white hair and a long white beard he was so feeble they had to carry him to the meetings.

While at the meetings he would bless those who attended and cry:

“Little children, love one another, little children, love one another!”

As we have seen in this chapter, John gives us ten reasons why we must love one another. One reason is that God is love and if we plug into the love God is we make contact with God, and as we become a conduit of God’s love God makes contact with us.

John gives us a second reason that if we say we love God and we hate our brother we are liars. Because if we do not love the brother we can see how can we love God Whom we cannot see?

His point is that it’s not easy to love God because we cannot hug a Spirit. There is an inseparable vertical and horizontal dimension of this love that God is.

These two dimensions form a cross.

We cannot say we love God if we do not love one another.

Dick Woodward, 09 July 2010


A Prayer for God’s Peace

July 3, 2020

“Heavenly Father, You tell us in Your Word that You can keep us in a state of perfect peace if we meet Your conditions for peace. Please give me the wisdom to worry about nothing, and the faith to pray about everything.

May I receive from You the discipline to think about good things and the integrity to do the right things.

May I always have an incurable optimism that believes in goodness, and such an insight into what You are doing in my life and in my world that I will give thanks in all things.

May I never try to push You or run before You, but always wait on You, experiencing the gentleness and patience that are the evidence of Your Holy Spirit living in me.

As I sort out my priorities, may I always value Your approval of who and what I am, and not walk before others to be seen by them or to please them.

Never let me forget how near You are to me as I draw near to You, worshiping and enjoying You each day and forever.

And finally, Heavenly Father, realizing that it is not who I am, but who You are that is important; acknowledging that it is not what I can do, but what You can do that really matters; agreeing that it should never be what I want, but always what You want; and remembering that in the final analysis it will not be what I did, but what You did that will have lasting eternal results, give me that absolute trust in You and total dependence on You that will truly rest my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, and for Your glory. Amen.”

Dick Woodward, (“A Prescription for Peace”)


A Prayer for Peace (in times of crisis)

June 30, 2020

“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 to his daughter, 2005)


Misery vs. Peace & Joy

June 12, 2020

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

“While pain and suffering are inevitable, misery is optional.” These are the words of a man who lives every day with excruciating pain.

How can misery be optional for someone in agonizing pain? How do we explain Paul mentioning joy seventeen times in the short letter he wrote from prison to the Philippians?

Paul explains that for those who experience a relationship with the risen, living Christ there is peace and joy that are not controlled by our circumstances. The peace and joy Paul experienced could be called, “Peace that doesn’t make good sense” and “Happiness that doesn’t make good sense.”

According to Paul, the foundation of our peace and joy should be Jesus Himself. He therefore prescribed that we are to delight ourselves in Jesus and find our peace and joy in Him at all times.

What is your foundation for serenity and joy? If your foundation is the relationship with a loved one, do you realize there is no relationship with people here in this life that cannot be removed?

If your foundation is your health, youth, or athleticism, many thousands of people who had those foundations before age, illness, or injury destroyed them, will join me in warning you that they are fragile foundations for the peace and joy Paul is describing.

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Dick Woodward, 23 June 2009