PERFECT PEACE: Christ in YOU!

May 13, 2022

“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 continuously keep us. 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.) Suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died peacefully because they had the 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 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)


The Good Shepherd & RESTORATION

May 10, 2022

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23:3)

In one of the most popular psalms written by King David, he shares the key to living and dying well in his opening statement. When we say (and believe) that the Lord is our shepherd, we can say we have green pastures, still waters, and the knowledge that the paths in which we are moving are the right paths for us.

This all happens when the Good Shepherd makes us lie down. But when we get up, the green pastures often turn brown and still waters are disturbed again.

That’s when David gives us a prescription for restoration: my Shepherd-God leads me in the paths of righteousness. The second time David writes ‘He leads me,’ he uses a different Hebrew word that means He drives me into the paths of righteousness, perhaps for some time, even years. God then uses the discipline of those paths of righteousness to restore my soul.

The word rehabilitation in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” It, too, is a prescription for restoration. When we need restoration and rehabilitation we should not look for what’s cheap. God’s prescription for restoration in Psalm 23 is not cheap. It takes time and it’s costly, but it works. It has worked for me and scores of others I know personally.

It can also work for you. When you suffer great loss you can focus on what you have lost and be depressed, or you can focus on what you still have and be restored.

Are you willing to invest again with dignity?

Dick Woodward, 11 May 2010


Still Waters: God at Work

April 26, 2022

“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


Don’t Panic!!

March 18, 2022

“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 cannot 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


#FAITH: Worriers or Warriors?

November 30, 2021

 “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)

In these two verses the Apostle Paul is challenging us with two options: when we are facing 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 therefore prescribes that if we are overwhelmed with problems, we should let our mountain of problems turn us into prayer warriors.

So 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 should resolve these two options into one.

When we realize we are anxious and uptight and 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 our 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 like a soldier over our hearts and minds and give us supernatural peace as they rest in what Christ will do.

Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011


 Building Faith on The Rock

October 12, 2021

“Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” (Matthew 7:26)

Jesus is clearly teaching that if we base our belief system on His teachings we will be able to weather the storms of this life. When a counselor is disputing the belief system of a depressed person, a favorite question is: “What are you telling yourself about the fact they you lost your job that has you so depressed?” That is the question you should ask yourself when you are experiencing emotional consequences.

The medical director of a large mental hospital for the entire state of Virginia told me the purpose of psychiatry is to find the unconscious explanation for the conscious behavior of people. He lamented the hard reality that so often today a psychiatrist is a pharmacologist who medicates the person’s depression without ever getting to the cause.

The word “psychiatry” means “the healing of the soul.” Was there ever a greater healer of the soul than Jesus?  I believe that the values and the teachings of Jesus give us a healthy belief system for living as we pass through this world.

However, it is critically important that we implement that belief system as we respond to the storms we encounter.  In this era we have gone bonkers over knowledge. According to Jesus, it is not the knowledge of His teaching but the application of that belief system that builds the house that survives the storms.

Dick Woodward, 12 October 2012


JOY! JOY! JOY! UNBREAKABLE JOY!

August 6, 2021

“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 mentions 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 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 sense. This is true because this peace and joy are the fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us.

This peace and joy are not controlled by our circumstances. 

What is the foundation of that peace and joy? According to Paul, that foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ. 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?

When Paul writes his words about joy, 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.”

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


FINDING PEACE IN CHRIST JESUS

July 16, 2021

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


A PRAYER FOR GOD’S PEACE

July 2, 2021

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 that state of peace. Because I seek Your peace in my life, give me the wisdom to worry about nothing, and the faith to pray about everything. May I receive from You the mental discipline to think about all the good things and the integrity to do the right things.

May I always have that incurable optimism that believes in goodness, and give me such an insight into what You have been doing and what You are now doing in my life and in my world that I will give thanks always and in all things. May I never try to push You or run before You, but always wait on You, experiencing and expressing the gentleness and patience that are the evidence of Your Spirit living in me.

As I sort out my priorities, may I always value Your approval of who and what I am and what I do, 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.

Enable me to meet these conditions for peace in the name of Jesus Christ, for my peace and for Your glory. Amen.

Dick Woodward, 3 July 2009


#FAITH: Unity, Diversity & Community

June 25, 2021

“For in fact the body is not one member but many.”  (1 Corinthians 12:14)

The greatest Scripture in the New Testament about the way a church should function is chapter 12 of First Corinthians. After the Apostle Paul uses the words diversity and oneness several times, he brings these two opposite concepts together in his inspired metaphor that the Church is to function as a body.

Paul writes that it is not either/or but both/and. Diversity should be celebrated rather than resolved. As diverse members of the body of Christ come together to have a ministry there are “let it happen people,” “make it happen people,” “don’t know what’s happening people,” and “don’t know anything is supposed to be happening people.”

Let it happen people desperately need make it happen people. And the other two kinds of people obviously need these first two kinds of people. The truth is they all need each other to function as a team, a body and a Church.

There are Mary and Martha kinds of people and they both need each other. Often, Marthas do not appreciate Marys because they think they are unorganized. But Marys need Marthas and Marthas need to realize that if it were not for the Marys there would not be anything to organize.

Are you fitting in with those kinds of people who have what you do not have and sharing with them what you have that they do not have?

When we experience unity while celebrating diversity we do not have uniformity but a supernatural community that is in reality the body of our risen and living Jesus Christ.

Dick Woodward, 25 June 2013