#FAITH: No Burning, No Shining

August 9, 2019

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

The applications of the metaphors of Jesus are almost endless. One application to the metaphor above is that for our candle to give light it must be consumed. Unlighted candles are not consumed, but the candles that shine are the candles that burn.

There is no shining without burning.

In another great metaphor Jesus told us we are like branches and He is the Vine. As branches, if we are properly intersected with Him, we draw from Him the love force to be fruitful. Jesus promised if we are plugged into Him and are fruitful, we will be cut back and pruned to be made more fruitful.

Cutbacks and pruning can really hurt. They can come in the form of suffering, but they improve the quality and the quantity of our fruit.

In light of these teachings we should not be surprised when we find ourselves burning our way through suffering that our brightest light for Christ yields the best fruit.

Like many others I thought I experienced my most fruitful years when I was able bodied and active. But I am joyfully surprised to discover that my most fruitful service for Christ has been as a bedfast quadriplegic. Using voice activated computer software from my bed, 782 Bible studies have been produced and are being heard in 31 languages in 60 countries. Worldwide more than 45,000 small groups are listening to Bible studies on solar powered digital audio players.

Have you discovered there is no shining without burning?

Dick Woodward, 09 August 2013

Editor’s Note: The MBC has now been translated in more than 50 languages!


Will the real sinner please stand up?

July 30, 2019

…When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them.

Now which of them will love him more? (Luke 7:42)

Some of the greatest Christians were once the greatest sinners. As we read the seventh chapter of Luke (verses 36-50), we cannot help but think of The Confessions of Saint Augustine.  It is not necessary to sin much to love God – we should be careful not to give that impression. There is nothing good about sin.

It is true, however, that the truly repentant and contrite sinner can love much because he (or she) has been forgiven much. This was a driving force in the lives of King David, the Apostle Paul and Saint Augustine.

At issue here are the condescending thoughts of this Pharisee toward the woman who is washing Jesus’ feet. As he compares himself, the Pharisee is self-righteous. Like his colleague in Luke 18, he is looking upon this woman with an attitude, “I thank God I am not as other people are – sinners!”

The question of Jesus focuses this for him and for us. The Pharisee is the man forgiven the smaller debt, which means he saw his sin as a small thing. This teaching also focuses that the way we perceive ourselves has a profound effect upon how we perceive others.

Positively and negatively our self-image is a strong force in our interpersonal relationships.

The subtle message of Jesus to this Pharisee is that the real sinner at that luncheon was not the woman whose sin was obvious and known to everybody. Jesus’ message to her was the good news, that, because of her faith, her sins were forgiven.

When the real sinner stood up at that luncheon, however, he was a sinner named “Simon, the Pharisee.”

Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.137)

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us sinners.”


#Faith: One Step at a Time

July 26, 2019

 “… I being in the way the Lord led me…” (Genesis 24:27)

When we discover the context of these words of Scripture we realize they are teaching us a principle of how God works in our lives. It is easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary.

God can sometimes steer us more easily when we are moving. That’s why we often will find that one step frequently leads to the next step when we have faith to be led by the Holy Spirit.

The words above were spoken by Abraham’s servant who was commissioned by Abraham to travel to the land of his people to find a wife for Isaac. As Abraham’s servant journals the events of his search, he writes that while he was in the way the Lord led him he encountered the family of Rebekah. When he met her he knew that his search had ended.

Committed followers of Christ were commissioned two thousand years ago to go to all nations and make disciples for Jesus Christ.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Like the servant of Abraham, as we embark on the adventure of obeying our great commission, we should expect that each step will lead to the next step.

We don’t always have to know where the road leads as long as we know it is the right road. While we are in the way our Lord has commissioned us to go, we must have the faith to take that first step. Then, one step at a time, expect God to lead us to the next step.

Dick Woodward, 28 July 2009


A Prayer for the Valleys

July 19, 2019

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” (Psalm 23:4-5)

In your dark valleys, learn to pray in this manner:

“As I enter this valley, Lord, I will not be paralyzed by fear, because I believe You are with me. Your ability to protect me and lead me through this valley is a comfort to me. I know that in the darkest and scariest part of this valley, in the middle of all the life threatening danger, You will spread a table of provision for me.

I am trusting You completely to anoint me with the oil of Your individualized, personalized and attentive care. I believe You will give me mercy for my failures and the grace I need to help me in my time of need. You will also pursue me with Your goodness, unconditional love and acceptance, when I wander away from Your loving care.”

Finally, thank your Good Shepherd-God that you can trust God to lead you through this life to unbroken fellowship forever in Heaven: to the green pastures that never turn brown, the still waters that never become disturbed, and the cup that never empties.

Offer this prayer to “the God of peace, Who brought up from the dead that great Shepherd of sheep, Who through the blood of the everlasting covenant, can make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk


Highways for God

July 9, 2019

“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: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and smooth out rough places.

Isaiah preached that God 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 rough places would be made smooth by the way He 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 meant to be highways for God.

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

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

Dick Woodward, 06 July 2012


Prayer: God First

July 5, 2019

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven...”  (Matthew 6:9-13)

The message of the Bible frequently sifts down to just two words: God first.

From Genesis to Revelation, the bottom line interpretation and application of parables, commandments, character studies, allegories, psalms, sermons, Gospels, Epistles and teachings of Jesus Christ is simply “God first.”

The prayer Jesus taught us begins with that God-first emphasis when Jesus instructs us to begin by asking God that His name, the essence of Who and what He is, might be honored and reverenced…

Prayer is not a matter of us persuading God to do our will. The very essence of prayer is an alignment between our wills and the will of God. Prayer is not a matter of us making God our partner and taking God into our plans.

Prayer is a matter of God making us His partners and taking us into His plans…

We are not to come into our prayer closets or corporate worship with a ‘shopping list’ and send God on errands for us.  When we pray, we should come into the presence of God with a blank sheet of paper and ask God to send us on errands for Him.

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Prayer


What is the Righteous One Doing?

July 2, 2019

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

Greek is a very precise language; Hebrew is not. That’s why we frequently find footnotes that suggest alternate readings in the margins of our Bibles when we read Old Testament passages of Scripture. The NIV translation’s footnote for Psalm 11:3 is: “When the foundations of your life are breaking up, what is the righteous One doing?”

In my life I have experienced several periods when it seemed that the foundations of my life were breaking up. I found the alternate reading of this verse to be a reliable response that turned many of those crises into significant spiritual datelines in my journey of faith.

My faith walk began in 1949 and along the way I dropped two words out of my vocabulary: “fortunately” and “coincidentally.”  Because I believe in Divine Providence, I no longer believe in luck. I also agree with the spiritual heavyweight who said when devout believers think they have experienced a coincidence it just means God prefers to remain anonymous.

The Chinese word for “crisis” combines the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” I believe we should factor into all our crises this knee jerk response: “What is the righteous One doing in my life now?”

I find that God is always up to something and ultimately it is always something good. It is not primarily for our good, but what accomplishes God’s good for God’s glory.

If you are in a time of crisis right now, or when you find yourself in one, consider “What is the righteous One doing?”

Dick Woodward, 02 July 2010