LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

July 23, 2021

“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 would cry:

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

As we see in chapter four of First John, 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. 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 person 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


#FAITH: WATCHING AND LISTENING

July 20, 2021

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength…” Habakkuk 3:17-19

The Old Testament and New Testament history has identified an undeniable reality: good and evil exist side by side. The names and faces of good and evil keep changing, but good and evil have always had a presence in this world. Although forces of evil have tried for thousands of years to destroy the people of God, God’s people still have a presence in this world, by faith.

The devotional application of Habakkuk’s prophesy is that we should build spiritual watchtowers. When facing overwhelming problems, especially Job-like tragedies that nobody understands, watch and listen in your spiritual watchtower. While watching and listening, Habakkuk wants you to know God welcomes your questions.

While everyone else was looking and listening for the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, Habakkuk watched and listened for God. If we watch and listen for God today the way Habakkuk did, we will discover God is still speaking through men and women of faith.

When Habakkuk looked at his problems and circumstances, he sighed and despaired. When Habakkuk turned to God with his doubts and asked God questions, watching and listening for God’s answers, Habakkuk sang.

When you are overwhelmed with Babylon and Job-type challenges, go up in your spiritual watchtower so that you might:

Watch until you see God working in your life.

Listen until you hear God working in your life.

See, hear, and worship God Who is working in your life.

Like Habakkuk, ask God your questions. In God’s time and God’s own way, God will answer your questions – if you are listening!

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook (p.630-632)


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


#FAITH: DOING LEADS TO KNOWING

July 13, 2021

“If any man wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the teaching whether it is from God…” (John 7:17)

Jesus gave us a solid principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. The principle is this: If anyone wills to do, that person will know

For millennia those who approach the proposition of faith intellectually have said, “When I know, then I will do.” Their premise has been and remains: “the knowing leads to the doing.” 

Pointing to their temples they say, “Reach me here.” Pointing to their heart, they say, “Then I will follow through here.” They are essentially saying, “Reach me intellectually and then I will commit volitionally.”

Jesus cut through all that when He proclaimed this principle: the doing leads to the knowing. When you commit your will to doing what Jesus teaches then intellectual affirmation will follow. It is only then that you will know the teaching of Jesus is the Word of God and not just the ideas of another great teacher coming down the pike.

When people followed Jesus on His terms He called them “disciples.” A synonym for that word is “apprentice.” An apprentice and a disciple are learning what they’re doing and doing what they’re learning.

As Jesus apprenticed His disciples they discovered that the doing leads to the knowing. Are we applying this principle to our faith as followers of Jesus Christ?

Dick Woodward, Lackey Free Clinic Health Beat, Summer 2009


CAUTION: GOD AT WORK!

July 6, 2021

“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Isaiah 40: 4-5)

The essence of Isaiah’s great sermon is that when you build a highway you do four things: you level mountains, you fill valleys, you straighten crooked places, and you smooth out rough places.

Isaiah preached that God (our Heavenly Father) was coming into our world and when He did He was going to travel on the highway of the life of His Son. In that life the mountains of pride would be leveled, the empty spaces would be one hundred percent filled with the Holy Spirit, the crooked ways of sin would be perfectly straight and His rough places would be made smooth by the way Jesus responded to them.

Just before Jesus parted with His apostles He told them that in the same way the Father sent Him into the world He was sending them into the world. If His life was to be a highway on which God traveled into this world, our lives are also to be highways for God. 

I challenge you to ask God to make your life into a highway for Jesus to travel into this world.

If you pray that way God’s bulldozers will start leveling your mountains of pride, the Holy Spirit will fill your empty spaces, straighten out your crooked ways of sin and then give you the grace to smooth out the rough challenges that come into your life.

While all that is happening you can write “Caution: God at work” across your life.

Do you have the courage to pray this prayer?

Dick Woodward, 06 July 2012


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


RELATIONSHIPS: A TWO-WAY STREET

June 29, 2021

“For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:2)

You can’t control the weather or rainy days but you can control the emotional climate that surrounds you. There is a principle of relationships that tells us communication is a two-way street. Whatever you send down that street comes back up that street and into your relationship with another person.

That is the essence of what the Apostle Paul is teaching: “If I say things that get you down who is going to build me up and pull me up?” The reality is that you are probably going to pull me down because misery loves company. 

This is a negative way of stating the positive truth that if I say things to you that build you up, I have equipped you to build me up.

In another place Paul wrote:Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)

In every relationship you have – with your spouse, children, parents, those you work with, those you work for, and those who work for you – make the commitment to say and do things that build them up and minister the grace of God to them. You will be surprised by joy to discover what you send down that communication street will come back up that street and into your relationship with that person.

Jesus gave an unstable man named Simon the nickname Peter, which meant stable like a rock. After calling Peter a rock for three years Peter became a rock. Try that in your relationships.

Dick Woodward, 29 June 2010


#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


P.U.S.H. – A Formula for Faithfulness

June 22, 2021

“Now it is required that those who have been given trust must prove faithful.”  (1 Corinthians 4:2)

A story is told of a man who was told by God to push against a huge rock as his primary work for a lifetime. The man did that for years. Exhausted, burned out and discouraged he told God the rock had not moved a centimeter. God responded that God had not told the man to move the rock, but to push against it. God made the observation that pushing against the rock had given the man a strong healthy and muscular body. 

God knew all along that only God could move that rock.

This leads to an acrostic based on the word push:

P- Pray

U– Until

S– Something

H– Happens

I am now living in my 82nd year. One of the observations I have made in my life is that God is our Mentor. God is always teaching us and God is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually and in every other way. 

God deliberately assigns us tasks that are not only difficult but impossible knowing that those tasks will grow and mature us into faithful servants God can use to do through us what only God can do in this world.

So this week push and keep praying until God does God’s works through you.

Dick Woodward, 20 June 2012

#faith #hope #inspiration #prayer #peace #love


Father’s Day Faith

June 18, 2021

“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 do not know what to do. The Scripture from Chronicles is taken from a time when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and they simply 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 a truckload 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 she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back. At the hospital they discovered mononucleosis and seriously infected tonsils that needed to be removed.  She concluded her litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my intelligent young daughter believed if she could just share her litany of woes and tap into 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. A good way to begin some days is: “Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on YOU!”

Dick Woodward, blog 2013

Editors Note: Blessings to all the fathers out there as we celebrate Father’s Day 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 still always here when we don’t know what to do.