February 13, 2018
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Romans 1:7; 16:24)
The Apostle Paul begins his letter to believers in Rome with a marvelous greeting: “Grace to you.” He then closes his letter with the prayer that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with them.
Paul dictated all his letters but one to a stenographer. At the close of each letter he took the writing instrument from the scribe and in his own hand wrote these words: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Paul greets and leaves believers with a wish and a prayer for grace. This is because grace is a dynamic of God that saves us. We can define grace if we turn this five-letter word into an acrostic to spell out:
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
But grace is not just a way God saves us: the grace of God is the dynamic we desperately need to live for Christ.
In Romans 5:2, Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, to the grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ and live a life that glorifies God.
Since grace is always a great need, consider meeting and leaving fellow (& fellowette*) believers with a wish and prayer for grace.
Dick Woodward, 24 February 2012
(*Editor’s discretionary inclusion)
February 9, 2018
“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 be thankful for God’s mercy that withholds and God’s grace that bestows. The good news of the gospel is that when Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, everything we deserved that we might have peace with God was laid upon Him. (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 search out these two beautiful words in the Bible, you will understand why “the mercy that withholds and the grace that bestows” should be at the top our thanksgiving prayer lists.
Dick Woodward, 26 February 2009
February 6, 2018
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6
The reality that God loves us unconditionally is often described in the Bible by one word: mercy. This word is found 366 times in the Bible – that’s one for every day of the year, and it even includes leap year – because God knows we need His mercy every day. 280 of these references to the mercy of God are found in the Old Testament.
My favorite is the last verse of the 23rd Psalm where David wrote: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Hebrew scholars tell us that the word “follow” can be translated pursue. This means that David believed the unconditional love of God pursued him all the days of his life.
What a dynamic truth. Our Heavenly Father not only loves us unconditionally, He pursues us with His unconditional love all the days of our lives.
Does that mean God loves us when He is cutting us back or chastening us? Absolutely! The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that if God did not chasten us we would be like illegitimate children and not His sons and daughters. Chastening confirms the reality that God loves us.
When we are experiencing one of those cutbacks, rather than thinking that God does not love us anymore – the opposite may be true.
God is pursuing us with His unconditional love.
Dick Woodward, (06 February 2009)
January 12, 2018
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)
The Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who ever walked on water. Yet millions only remember that he took his eyes off the Lord and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.
We read that Peter’s magnificent faith was flawed. He saw the wind. Since we cannot see wind this means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and became afraid. The remarkable thing here is that when Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on water!
It was not until he was beginning to sink that Peter cried out this prayer. Two thousand years later, this remains a go-to prayer for us all through the many storms of life. Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and that we don’t generate grace with God by our many words. If Peter had prayed a longer prayer, the words beyond the third would have been glub, glub glub! When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname, “Little Faith.” (I believe our Lord was smiling when He did.) He literally asked Peter: “Why did you think twice?”
While very ill the past two weeks many people have been recruited to pray for me. Yesterday it occurred to me that I had not prayed for myself. I then fervently pleaded this prayer that the Lord always answers: Lord, save me!
In your spiritual walk, don’t think twice and don’t be a “Little Faith.” Instead, learn to plead this prayer. Soon you will find your way through life’s stormy waves walking on water.
Dick Woodward, 28 January 2014
January 9, 2018
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36)
Many people refer to the Disciple’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as “The Lord’s Prayer.” However, the verse quoted above should be called “The Lord’s Prayer.” The Disciple’s Prayer was given with this instruction: “When you pray, you pray after this manner.” Jesus never prayed that prayer. For example, He would not have asked God to forgive His debts or trespasses.
But Jesus did pray the prayer in Mark 14:26 that should be a model prayer for every believer. God will often call us to do things that are difficult, or even impossible. God will call us to do things we do not want to do. When that happens, we should pray this model prayer our Lord Jesus has given us.
This prayer of Jesus forms the basis for one of the Four Spiritual Secrets through which I view my faith journey: “I don’t want to, but He wants to.” Implementing the answer to this prayer is possible because: “I’m in Him and He is in me.”
If you are facing a crisis today that involves doing God’s will, and not your own, I strongly encourage you to pray this “Prayer that Never Fails.” Realizing and believing that God can do anything God wills to do, you have the right and a responsibility to ask God to take this cup from you, but then you must finish the prayer by surrendering to the prayer that never fails.
Pray that the important thing is not what you want, but what God wants.
Dick Woodward, 28 January 2011
December 1, 2017
“So do not throw away your faith; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised… For he that is righteous shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)
As the author of the book of Hebrews continues giving doubting disciples reasons why they should not throw away their faith, he tells them they should not throw away their faith because they need their faith for living. Authentic disciples know they are saved by faith, but the disciples to whom he was writing did not know, or had forgotten, that they are also called to live by faith.
He quotes the key verse of the prophecy written by Habakkuk to suffering people. When we are suffering, we especially need to be reminded that God has given us the faith to persevere and do the will of God in our crisis.
I have observed a direct correlation between spiritual growth and suffering. The Greek word translated “persevere” in these verses is a quality God grows in us when we are living by faith while we are suffering, according to the Apostle Paul (Romans 5:3-5).
The immediate response of many authentic disciples when we find ourselves in a difficult situation is: “Lord, get me out of here!” When that doesn’t happen, we are sometimes tempted to throw away our faith.
The message conveyed by these verses is “Don’t throw away your faith. You need your faith to live through your crisis.”
Is this a message you need to hear today?
Dick Woodward, 03 December 2010
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