6th Condition for Peace: Rest in Christ

May 23, 2017

“The peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus… I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:7&13)

What does it meant to rest in Christ Jesus? It means we are so in union with Christ, as a branch is in union with a vine, that we draw from Him, the Vine, all the life-giving spiritual power we need for everything we do for Him, with Him and through Him, as we rest in Him. It means resting in His power to do the things He calls us to do, all day long.

As a bedfast quadriplegic & pastor, my way of expressing it is the Four Spiritual Secrets:

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.

So much anxiety, and perhaps the greatest peace thief disciples of Jesus experience, comes from thinking we must do the work of Christ in our own strength. If we are in the will of God, then often we are going to be faced with things we cannot do on our own, but, as vehicles through which Christ does His work, can be done. If we think it all depends on us, we lose our peace!

Overwhelming physical and emotional problems that are crushing the life out of us – terminal or chronic illness, difficult relationships and the challenges of everyday living – will only be manageable when we realize that facing them is not a matter of who and what we are, or what we can or cannot do. They are simply an opportunity to prove and demonstrate Who and what Jesus is and what He can do.

We must acknowledge that we can’t but Jesus can, as we rest our hearts and minds in Christ and in only what He can do.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


5th Condition for Peace: Value God’s Approval

May 19, 2017

“May the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)

When Paul prescribes that we should address our peace vacuum by doing the right things we have been taught, he is challenging us to value the approval of God. God approves of right thinking and God approves when we do what is right. When we wrestle with the dichotomy of doing what is right and what is expedient, we should be motivated to offer the sacrifices of righteousness to God, and trust God because we value the approval of God.

God told Abraham: “Walk before Me.” (Genesis 17:1) How many of us do that? Do we really walk before God, all day long, every day? Have we ever actually moved through a 24-hour day holding in focus how God feels about who we are, what we are, and all the things we are doing – or not doing?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus asked the religious leaders a profound question: “How can you believe since you look to one another for approval and are not concerned with the approval that comes from God?” (John 5:44)

There are times in this life when we simply cannot have the approval of God and others at the same time. Sometimes we may not be able to explain to others what is going on in our lives. When those times come, if our peace depends on the approval of people, we will discover that the foundation of our peace is fragile.

One day when we face the certainty of judgement, the way we live our lives in God’s sight will be the only thing that matters.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Paul’s 2nd Condition (for peace): Pray About Everything!

May 9, 2017

“…tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (Philippians 4:6)

It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? Paul doesn’t leave us in a vacuum when he prescribed: “Pray about everything!”

The Word of God exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 has an alternate reading in the New Standard version, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” God delivered Paul from many tight places. We should therefore always pray in a crisis: “When it’s hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

However, from personal experience Paul knew that God doesn’t always take our problems away. He had a physical condition that he described as a “thorn in the flesh.” Three times he asked God to take it away. Paul saw many people miraculously healed as he ministered the healing power of the Holy Spirit to them. Yet, when he asked God to solve his own health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.”

But God also responded, “My grace is sufficient for you and that is all you need. My strength looks good on weak people.” (2 Corinthians 12 LB) His weakness drove Paul to discover the strength of God. When he did, he not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so the power of God might be showcased in him.

As Paul accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us. Paul exhorts us from his personal experience that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or prayer may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.

Always pray about everything!

 Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Forgiveness: Debts and Debtors

March 21, 2017

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…”  Matthew 6:12

This second personal petition is for forgiveness. The next two petitions are for guidance and deliverance. Forgiveness, guidance and deliverance are spiritual needs we have every day. The principle of that first personal petition for daily bread, one day at a time, should be applied to these spiritual needs. “Give us this day our daily bread, including our need for forgiveness, guidance and deliverance, one day at a time.”

…In Matthew 18, Jesus told the story of a man who owed a great debt. In those days, if you owed a large debt you couldn’t pay, you were sent to prison and your wife and children were sold into slavery until your debt was paid in full. Since you couldn’t generate any income from prison, you likely would die in prison and your family would be slaves the rest of their lives.

Relative to our currency, the debt in this story of Jesus was a multi-million-dollar debt. Summoned to court, the man who owed this great debt begged for mercy. Miraculously, the one to whom he was indebted, out of compassion completely forgave the debt.

On the way home from this extraordinary day in court, this man met a man who owed him twenty dollars and could not pay. He grabbed this poor man by the throat and shouted, “You pay me every cent you owe or I will slam you in prison and sell your family into slavery.”

People who observed both these happenings reported what they witnessed to the man who had forgiven the multi-million-dollar debt. When he heard, he summoned the ungrateful, forgiven man to another court hearing and reversed his compassionate decision.

Having told that story, Jesus pronounced, “Even so my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:35)

The essential truth Jesus teaches here it that if we see our salvation and forgiveness as the cancellation of a multi-million-dollar debt, we will be forgiving because we have been forgiven so very much. If we are not forgiving, we do not really believe that we have been forgiven.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer


GOD’S GRACE BE WITH YOU!!!

February 18, 2017

“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 the believers in Rome with a marvelous greeting: “Grace to you.”  He then closes his letter with a 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, because grace is the 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 only the 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, into the grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ and live a life that glorifies God.

Paul begins this letter and closes all his letters the way he does because he knows it is absolutely critical that we access God’s grace to live our lives for Christ in this world.

Since grace is one of our greatest needs, consider meeting and leaving each other with a wish and a prayer for grace.

Dick Woodward, 24 February 2012


Inauguration of each New Day

January 20, 2017

“…Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

A word that has been on the minds and lips of millions this week is “inauguration.” A synonym for this word is “beginning.” The common usage for inauguration is something like “a celebration of the beginning.”

Every day we live is the first day of the rest of our lives. There is a sense in which we experience an inauguration with every new day, week, month and New Year we live. Our Lord’s advice to us is to celebrate the beginning of every new day and accept it as a gift – a clean slate with no marks on it.

We cannot change the marks we put on the slate of yesterday. God told us not to worry about tomorrow because one day’s trouble is enough for one day. If you think about it, today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. God therefore emphasized one day at a time – as in “Give us this day our daily bread.”

I challenge you to celebrate each new day with a private inauguration ceremony and ask God to give you the grace and strength to be all you can be for God’s glory, one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, 23 January 2009


A Blueprint against Burn Out

January 10, 2017

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He Who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27)

There are times when God’s people are so weak we don’t know how to pray. In effect, Paul teaches that when we are burned out and we don’t know what to ask God, we should pray anyway. The Spirit of God knows the mind and will of God. When we are so weak we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit will make intercession for us according to the will of God. Then, even if we ask for the wrong things, our loving Heavenly Father will give us the right things.

Imagine the stress Moses endured all those years in wilderness wanderings. With more than 600,000 fighting men, plus women and children, meant that Moses led somewhere between two and three million people around in circles in the desert. He was the only legal judge to settle all their squabbles. His frustration reached the level of exasperation. He was so burned out, he actually asked God to kill him. (Numbers 11:11-15)

When Moses asked God to kill him, he was so weak and tired of he did not know what to pray. He prayed anyway. Even though he asked for the wrong things, God knew his heart and gave him the right things. God made Moses know that His work requires a team effort. Serving God is a team sport.

The marketplace can burn you out big time if you have not learned that running a business is a team sport. Other players on your team have gifts and skill sets that you do not have and you have what they do not have. Therefore, it is a good blueprint against burnout to accept the reality of beauty in diversity. Diversity should be celebrated rather than resolved.

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 144-146)