August 14, 2018
“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty…” (Philippians 4:11-12)
Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights like Augustine, Thomas à Kempis and Francis of Assisi. Why is patience such an important virtue?
For starters, patience is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
In our relationship with God, we might call patience “faith-waiting.” In the Bible we are exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) It takes faith to wait when life situations challenge our walk with God. There are few spiritual disciplines that will focus our faith like those times when all we can do is wait on the Lord. When we are praying for something and receiving no answer, God may be teaching us that there are times when faith waits.
In our relationships with people, patience could be called “love-waiting.” I had no idea how selfish I was until I got married. I had no idea how impatient I was until I became a father and found myself waiting for teenage children to grow up. The Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in my life: vertical patience by teaching me to have a faith that waits on Him, and horizontal patience by teaching me that in relationships, love waits.
We all eventually find ourselves facing circumstances that are beyond our control. Imagine Paul chained in that awful prison in Rome. Would he find and maintain the peace of God if his formula for peace was to rattle his chains?
Patience is the supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit that gives us the grace to accept the things we cannot control.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace
June 15, 2018
“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we simply do not know what to do. The Scripture from Chronicles is taken from an historical context when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and did not know what to do.
James later wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have. (James 1:5) He promises us that God will not hold back, but will provide truckloads of wisdom for us.
Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia. With many tears she informed me that she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital they had discovered mononucleosis and infected abscessed tonsils that needed to be removed. She concluded her organ recital litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”
Frankly, I was touched that my very intelligent young daughter believed that if she could just share her litany of woes and tap the vast resources of my wisdom, I could tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.
According to James that is the way we make our Heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we don’t know what to do. That’s why a good way to begin some days is:
“Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on YOU!”
Dick Woodward, 04 April 2013
Editors Note: Blessings to all the fathers out there as we celebrate Father’s Day in America this weekend. As that ‘young daughter’ who continued tapping into her Papa’s wisdom until the day he died, these words comforted my heart. Our Heavenly Father is always here when we don’t know what to do (& when our earthly fathers have passed into His Everlasting Arms of Love.)
June 8, 2018
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances may be.” (Philippians 4:11)
Paul prescribes patience as part of his prescription for peace. Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights. Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruit of the Spirit we find listed in the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
When the Holy Spirit lives in us, one way the Spirit manifests in us is through a supernatural quality of patience.
In the Bible we are continuously exhorted to “wait on the Lord.” In our relationship with God we might call patience “faith waiting.” Nothing will test or grow our faith like waiting. When we think God is not responding to our prayers it may be that what God is doing in us while we are waiting – like growing in us the virtue of patience – is more important than what we’re waiting for.
In our relationships with people, patience could be called “love waiting.” I have found that the Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in us: He wants to grow “vertical patience” by teaching us to have a faith that waits. And He is growing “horizontal patience” by teaching us that in relationships, love waits.
Love is the first and primary virtue through which the Holy Spirit wants to manifest God’s presence and peace in us.
While impatience is a peace thief, vertical and horizontal patience are supernatural, God-given virtues that can produce spiritual heavyweights – and maintain the peace of God in our experience of life.
Dick Woodward, 09 June 2009
May 18, 2018
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)
The prophet Isaiah wrote of a state of perfect peace in which God can keep us, continuously. He also wrote that this state of perfect peace is based on two 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 circumstances of our lives are chaotic.
Jesus promised that He gives His followers peace the world will never understand because it comes from Him and is ours even in the middle of the storms of life. The early followers of Jesus Christ were persecuted (as many continue to be today.) While suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died peacefully because they had this peace of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul believed in this peace. In one chapter of one of his letters (Philippians 4) he listed twelve conditions on which this peace is based. In another letter Paul described this peace as the fruit of the reality that the Holy Spirit lives in authentic disciples of Jesus. (Galatians 5:22-23)
“Christ in you” is the foundation on which all conditions of this peace are built. (Colossians 1:27) Looking at Paul’s twelve conditions for the peace of Christ, there is obviously something to believe and Someone to receive when you become a follower of Jesus Christ.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Dick Woodward, (15 May 2009)
April 20, 2018
“He leads me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:2)
Most people associate the still waters of David’s Shepherd Psalm with peace. However, if you research sheep you will find when they drink from a stream of water that stream must be as still as a mirror or the water will go up their snouts. An authentic application of this still water metaphor means our great Shepherd leads us to places just suited for us.
In 1979 I resigned as pastor of a large church in a big city and accepted a call to a small church that had just begun in a small town. After being in the small church for a year I went to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota due to the onset of debilitating symptoms. After nearly a month of studies, the doctor who directed my program misread my file. Thinking I was still in the large church, when he gave the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis he told me I needed to go to a small church in a small town. I told him that for a year I had already been in a small church in a small town.
I was to learn to be fulfilled with doing less and doing it better.
As my symptoms persisted and confined me to a wheelchair, a group of friends helped build a house that accommodated my physical challenges. One made a beautiful stained glass window by the entrance with these two words: “Still Waters.” These words have not just been a label for my home the past 26 years but also my ministry – in this location by God’s grace I have accomplished my most fruitful work for the Kingdom, most as a bedfast quadriplegic.
“Still Waters” – can you write these two words across what God is doing in your life right now?
Dick Woodward, 20 April 2012
March 16, 2018
“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’” (Psalm 3:1-2)
As David writes this third Psalm he is facing the greatest crisis of his life. His son, Absalom, has turned the entire nation against him and has driven him out of Jerusalem into the wilderness where David hid from King Saul when he was a young fugitive. His situation is so desperate many people said even God can not help him. But in this psalm David explains how he knows God is there for him; he is not having a panic attack, so he gives us this prescription to prevent us from having one.
Observe the way David uses three tenses as he lays out his prescription that kept him from panicking. He recalls that in the past there were many times when he cried out to God and the Lord heard him. When he lay down to sleep not knowing if the enemy would slit his throat while he slept, he awoke alive because the Lord sustained him. He then declared in the future tense that he will not be afraid of the thousands of people who want to see him dead. He then declares in the present tense that God is with him and His present blessing is upon him.
When you are in a crisis think back to times in the past when God met you and brought you through a crisis. Then let those past answered prayers inspire you to trust God for the present and the future crises in your life.
Look back. With faith, look forward. Then look around at your present circumstances, not with panic but with faith and peace.
Dick Woodward, 18 March 2012
November 28, 2017
“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)
The Apostle Paul challenges us in these two verses with two options: when we face challenges we can worry about them, or we can turn our challenges into prayer requests. Paul writes that we are not to worry because worry is counterproductive. He therefore 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, that’s a no-brainer that should resolve our two options into one.
When we realize we are anxious and uptight 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.
As Paul writes, God will stand guard like a soldier over our hearts and minds and give us supernatural peace as we rest in what Christ will do.
Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011