God’s Good

October 26, 2021

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

As I look back over my life since I was born in 1930, and born again in 1949, this verse sums up my entire walk of faith and ministry.  According to the J. B. Philips translation, God fits into a pattern for good everything that happens to those who love God and are called according to God’s plan. I like this because by implication there may not be anything good about many of the things that happen to us. 

But if we meet two prerequisites – if we love God, and are called according to God’s plan – our loving God will fit into a pattern for good all the events of our lives.

Before we personally apply the great promise of this verse we must meet two prerequisites. The first is that we love God.  It isn’t easy to love God. The Apostle John asked us how we can love the God we cannot see. (1 John 4) We can’t hug a Spirit. Jesus told us that if we love Him we must keep His commandments. According to the writings of the Apostle Paul quoted above, we can show we love God by being called according to God’s plan.

We are so self-centered we are quick to assume that the good into which God fits all the events of our lives means our good.  However, when we understand what it means to love God the only good that will interest us will be God’s good.

Dick Woodward, 05 November 2010

Editor’s Note: Yesterday (October 25th) was Dick Woodward’s 91st birthday. Here’s to celestial celebrations up in Heaven as we miss him here on earth!


Finding Joy (no matter what!)

October 22, 2021

“…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. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

In this epistle of joy to the Philippians, Paul exhorts us, “Delight in Jesus. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Him.” He uses the word joy again and again and again. And what he’s really saying to us in the conditions in which he’s living is simply this, “Learn to derive your joy from your relationship to Jesus Christ. Learn to delight in Him.”

What is the source of your happiness? In what do you delight? Now again, if you delight in your health, well, you’re on thin ice. What would you do if you lost your health? If you delight in money, what would you do if you lost everything? If you delight in your loved ones, and many, many people do, what are you going to do when you lose them?

It’s because God loves us that God tells us things like this, “Delight in Me. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Me.” That’s the source of joy. And so that should be our delight.

That’s the reason Paul could have peace, even in a dungeon, even when he was in prison, no matter what the circumstances were. The reason he could say, “I’m ready for anything. I have learned how to live when everything’s good and I have learned how to live when everything’s bad.” 

Here is one of the big keys: Paul’s delight was in Jesus, and the Jesus was the Source of his happiness. Not what he had or didn’t have.

Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen, 1979)


SPIRITUAL FITNESS

October 19, 2021

“Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for…the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

As a young man Timothy was probably interested in physical fitness. If he lived in our culture he would be the type to join a gym and work out regularly. Paul agreed with Timothy that physical fitness is profitable. But, he declared that godly fitness is more profitable. Paul reasoned that physical fitness improves the quality of our lives here and now, but godly fitness improves the quality of our eternal life.

How real and practical is our faith in the life to come? I am intrigued with this question: what is godly exercise? The word “godly” means “like God.”  What is God- like?  We are told in the Scriptures that God is Spirit. (John 4:24) To exercise ourselves toward godliness therefore means to submit to disciplines in the spiritual dimension that grow us spiritually.

We also read in the Scripture that God is love. To exercise toward godliness means to commit ourselves to a study of the love that is God. At the heart of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) Paul passes the love of God through the prism of the Holy Spirit and it comes out on the other side a cluster of 15 virtues. Pursue intentionally what the 15 virtues are and what they look like when you apply them in all your relationships.

God is light. Exercise yourself in this dimension of God-likeness by filling your mind and heart and life with the truth (light) you find in God’s Word. Walking in that light will help you in this life and in the life to come.

Do you have a routine for spiritual fitness?

Dick Woodward, 18 October 2013


 Faith: Acceptance, Responsibility & Ability  

October 15, 2021

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:30)

Who was the greatest prophet who ever lived?  Who was the greatest man who ever lived? According to Jesus the answer is John the Baptist. (Luke 7:28; Matthew 11:11) Having studied the Scripture for six decades I find that answer to be intriguing because very little space is given in the Bible to record his life and ministry.

As I meditate on the Scriptures that describe John the Baptist I have come to a conclusion about his greatness. One key was that he accepted the limits of his limitations and the responsibility for his ability.

As we attempt to discover who we are and what God wants to do, it is a good rule of thumb to accept the limits of our limitations and the responsibility for our ability

When a degenerative disease of the spinal cord took away my physical abilities, it was critical for me to accept my increasing limitations and continue to be responsible for my abilities. After two years of illness when the acceptance came, it was so profound I decided it was a form of inner healing.  Using speech recognition software on my computer I received the grace to write about ten thousand pages of what I call a Mini Bible College.  These 782 studies of the Bible have been translated into twenty eight languages in sixty countries.*

It fills me with grateful worship to realize that the formula for greatness I learned from John the Baptist has guided me to the most important work I have done for God and Christ.

Are you willing to accept the limits of your limitations and the responsibility for your ability?

Dick Woodward, 16 October 2012


 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


A SPIRITUAL COMPASS: BELIEVE & OBEY

October 8, 2021

“…the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32)

The purpose of a compass is not just to give us knowledge about where we are when we are lost but to also guide us into the way we need to go.  If you think about it – a compass is worthless if we do not comply with what our compass shows us.

In the Gospels Jesus introduces the apostles to the Holy Spirit. He tells them the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth.  He calls the Holy Spirit the “Paraclete.”  This word means: “One who comes along side us and attaches to us for the purpose of assisting us.”

Jesus tells them that if they will love Him and keep His commandments He will ask the Father to give them the Holy Spirit. (John 14: 15, 16) So many believers miss this. The operative word when it comes to implementing salvation is “believe.” But the operative word when it comes to knowing God through the Holy Spirit is “obey.”

In profound simplicity the hymn writer expressed it this way:

“But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay.  For the favor He shows and the joy He bestows are for them who will trust and obey. Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

Jesus said it even more simply and profoundly when He offered this invitation: “Follow Me and I will make you.” (Matthew 4:19) That’s why the last point on this compass is the most critical of all.

Are you willing to comply with what your compass shows you?

Dick Woodward, 06 October 2012


God’s Strength in Our Weakness

October 5, 2021

“…When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)Paul opens a small biographical window into his life when he tells us about what he calls his “thorn in the flesh.” He explains that he had so many supernatural experiences that to keep him humble, God permitted him to have this “thorn.” Paul asked God three specific times to take it away.  Even though he had an extraordinary ministry that brought healing to many, three times God’s response was essentially “No!  But My grace will be with you and that is all you need to cope with the challenge of your thorn.”

Although we’re not certain what this “thorn” was he wrote to the Galatians that when he first visited them his eyes were so hideous to look at it made them want to vomit. He reminded them that they said if they could have, they would have taken the eyes out of their heads and placed them in his. The book of Acts reports that at the same time his physician Dr. Luke joined him so he could treat him. This “thorn” was accompanied with severe chronic fatigue. He mentions weakness so much in his writings we know that every day of his extraordinary ministry Paul had to cope with this extreme chronic fatigue.

Paul explains that his physical weakness was a showcase in which God could exhibit God’s supernatural strength.  In the Living Bible Paraphrase of this chapter God tells Paul, “My strength looks good on weak people …” And Paul confesses, “The less I have the more I depend on Him.” All of this is summarized in these words: “…When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Will you let your weakness showcase God’s strength and grace today?

Dick Woodard, 04 October 2011


A COMPASS OF FAITH

October 1, 2021

“… God called to the man, “Where are you?”  (Genesis 3:9)

When we know we could get lost we should make sure we have a compass with us. Jet pilots fly so far so fast they must have a compass to use when they think they are lost. A squadron commander I knew taught his pilots to use this five-fingered compass:

“CONFESS, CLIMB, CONSERVE, COMMUNICATE and COMPLY.”

They were to immediately CONFESS when they thought they might be lost. Then they were to CLIMB because communications are better and they burn less fuel with altitude. Next they were to pull back on the throttle to CONSERVE fuel. The final two points on their compass were critical:  to COMMUNICATE with their carrier and then COMPLY with that communication. 

The squadron commander promised if they faithfully implemented the five points on this compass they would see the red light on their carrier called the “meat ball” that guided them to a safe landing.

If we realize we have lost our direction in life we must confess that we are lost. Then we should climb and do whatever we can do to get close to God. This could be having a private spiritual retreat or seeking out spiritual people. We should not make big decisions but conserve when we have lost our way.  The last two points on our personal compass are also critical: we must communicate with God and comply with what we believe He makes us know we are to do. (John2:5)

If we will faithfully implement the five points on this compass we will see the “meatball” of His will that will guide us to green pastures in this life and to a safe landing in the house of the Lord forever.

Dick Woodward, 01 October 2012


PSALM 23: FAITHFUL ASSURANCE

September 28, 2021

“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

What is the basis for the unquenchable assurance of David that what he describes in Psalm 23 will be his experience all the days of his life and forever?

In the last verse of Psalm 23, David puts his relationship with his Shepherd-God in perspective. It is the Shepherd Who gets David’s attention then makes him lie down and say, “baa,” confessing that he is a sheep and the Lord is his shepherd.

It is his Shepherd Who makes David lie down where green pastures are and then leads him beside still waters. It is David’ Shepherd Who uses His staff when David strays from Him, then drives him into the paths of righteousness that restore his soul.

It is his Shepherd-God Who initiates these interventions in David’s life.

As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own ability as a warrior. His confidence is clearly in his Shepherd. As David walks through this dark and scary valley, he is looking to his Shepherd-God for protection and provision.

He knows his Shepherd will anoint him with oil and keep the cup running over within him. The source of David’s assured confidence is clearly seen in this translation of the last verse,

“Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.”

Dick Woodward, Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


JONAH: GOD LOVES ALL PEOPLE!

September 24, 2021

“…for I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing… Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”  (Jonah 4:2-4)

The message of Jonah is that God loves people. God loves all people!

The Book of Jonah has little to do with whales swallowing people. If you come to the book of Jonah looking for truth, you will find at the heart of this book a loving God Who values all people.

As a prophet, one of Jonah’s functions was to remove obstacles that were blocking the work of God in the world. Do you see the obstacle in Jonah’s story? Jonah’s prejudice. 

As we reflect upon the prejudice of Jonah, we should ask ourselves if we have prejudice in our hearts that is blocking the love God wants to express through us to the hurting people of our world.

The love of God is a bottom line truth you find in the inspired Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. The message of Jonah is that God earnestly desires to express unconditional love and grace through God’s faithful servants. 

The people of God, like you and me, are designed to be the vehicles of God’s love, grace and salvation. 

When the people of God are prejudiced, the very people God designed to be channels of God’s salvation become obstacles that block the love of God in this world.  If God loves Ninevites, and the people of God hate Ninevites, how can God express love and salvation for all people if God’s own people are hung up on their prejudices?

Dick Woodward, Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet