#FAITH: A PRESCRIPTION FOR DEPRESSION

June 15, 2021

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart…” (1 John 3:20)

In the Bible the heart is often referring to our emotions. The Apostle John uses the heart in that sense in the verse above. What he is essentially writing is that if the way we feel condemns us, God is greater than the way we feel.

Before the Apostle John writes these words, he was challenging us to love in action and not merely in words. He follows the insight that God is greater than the way we feel with the prescription to keep the two great commandments of Jesus: to love God, and love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:35-40)

We are to love when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in. John was teaching that we are to love God completely, love others unconditionally, and love ourselves correctly. 

Loving ourselves does not mean when we pass a mirror we should stop and have our devotions. Jesus taught that we should say the same thing about ourselves that God says about us: God loves us.

The prescription for depression the Apostle of Love gives devout disciples is that when our hearts condemn us, we should realize that our faith is not based on something as fickle as our feelings. Our faith should be based on the reality that we believe and apply the commandment to love.

The last thing we should do when our heart condemns us is isolate ourselves into a pity party. We should get with people and love them.

Dick Woodward, 13 June 2011


GOD’S STEWARDS

June 11, 2021

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful… And what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4: 2, 7)

The biblical word “steward” is not fully understood or appreciated. It is actually one of the most important words in the New Testament. A synonym for this word is “manager.” Many people believe this word primarily relates to a person’s money, but that application falls far short of the essential meaning of this word.

When Paul asks the probing question: “And what do you have that you did not receive?” he is telling us that our stewardship applies to everything we receive from God. This means our time, energy, gifts and talents, our health, and all the things that make up the essence of our very life including all of our money and possessions.

At the age of 65 one of my friends had what he refers to as a “halftime” experience when he came to fully appreciate the word “steward.” His regular custom was to draw a line down the middle of a legal pad page. On the left side he wrote “My business” while on the right side he wrote “God’s business.” When he fully appreciated the word “steward” he erased that line because, as a very successful wealthy businessman, he realized it was all God’s business.

Remember, the important thing about a steward is that we are found to be faithful. Do you realize there is nothing in your life you did not receive from God? Do you know that you are to faithfully manage everything you have received from God? Are you willing to have a halftime experience and erase the line between what is yours and what is God’s?

Dick Woodward, 10 June 2010


#FAITH: GATES OF LEARNING

June 8, 2021

“Now we have received… the Spirit who is from God, that we might know…” (1 Corinthians 2:12)

The Apostle Paul has given us a masterpiece of what we might consider spiritual educational psychology. How do we learn? According to Paul there are several gates of learning through which we must pass if we want to know spiritual truth.

Paul’s thesis is that we learn through the eye gate, which involves everything we observe and read. We learn through the ear gate, which involves everything we hear, including lectures and interaction with others, mentors, and those who are learning with us. 

Then the apostle mentions the heart gate, which has to do with volition and the willingness to apply what we’re learning. Apprenticeship, a synonym for discipleship, describes a learner who is doing what they’re learning and learning what they’re doing. This is how Jesus trained His disciples. (John 7:17; Matthew 4:19)

According to Paul the most important gate we must pass through to learn spiritual truth is the Holy Spirit. Paul’s illustration is that no person knows the thoughts of another person except the spirit that is in that other person. In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God but the Spirit of God. Paul is excited about the glorious reality that we have received the Spirit Who knows the very thoughts of God. We can therefore also know the thoughts of God. One translation concludes the Second Chapter of 1 Corinthians with “Incredible as it may seem, we actually have the very mind of Christ!”

Prayerfully meditate on this chapter, then find your way through these gates of learning.

Dick Woodward, 08 June 2010


GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS!

June 4, 2021

“He has filled me with bitterness…my soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:15-16, 22-23)

When Jeremiah gets to his darkest hour, he receives a revelation of hope and salvation. Just like suffering brought Job to the bottom of despair’s pit and he received his Messianic revelation.

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God!” (Job 19:25-26)

After World War II, Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her: 

“There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.” 

This is the same truth God revealed to Jeremiah. 

Job received his Messianic revelation when he “bottomed out” through suffering. God also made Jeremiah know the truth about God’s unconditional love that is taught from Genesis to Revelation: God’s love is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance.

Reading the Lamentations, I am inspired meditating upon God’s miraculous revelation to Jeremiah, that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved the people of Judah…

Another possible miracle, however, is that as Jeremiah received his revelation weeping in his grotto on the hill of Golgotha, he could have been sitting on the very spot God was going to pour out God’s Love on the whole world.

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College Old Testament Handbook


God Comforts Us (in times of suffering!)

June 1, 2021

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort. For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, J. B. Phillips)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way we make this discovery: God is there and God can comfort us. When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can experience in this lifetime.

As a pastor I have frequently heard people say that God met them in a supernatural and intimate way while they were going through a medical crisis.Two weeks ago a man for whom I’ve been praying for twenty years wrote from another part of the country to say he has come to faith. God gave him that absolute assurance while he was undergoing a critical life-threatening surgery.

Many of us have known people we loved who are depressed and oppressed.They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want the caring people in their lives to be with them.

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in a self-imposed solitary confinement. If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this discovery: God is there, and God can comfort you!

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort. Comfort me in my pain, and when I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are there, You are real, and You can comfort me. I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

May 25, 2021

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

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.”

The Apostle Paul also challenges us to pray: “tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (Philippians 4:6) 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. Paul had a physical condition 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)

Paul’s weakness drove him to discover the strength of God. When he did, he not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so God’s power 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


God’s Will and God’s Word

May 21, 2021

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Isaiah tells us there is as much difference between the thoughts and ways of God and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth. He then goes on to describe one of the supernatural functions of the Word of God: it establishes an alignment between our thoughts, ways and wills, and the thoughts, ways and will of God.

I once heard Billy Graham tell of boarding a plane before he was famous. He spoke to an old pastor friend who was sitting in an aisle seat reading his Bible who completely ignored him. When they had been in flight for an hour, the pastor came back to where Billy was seated and greeted him enthusiastically. 

He apologized for ignoring Billy earlier. He said, “When I pray, I am talking to God, but when I open God’s Word, He talks to me. He was talking to me when you spoke to me and I could not interrupt God just to talk to Billy Graham.”

Thomas à Kempis opened his Bible every morning with this prayer: “Let all the voices be stopped. Speak to me Lord, Thou alone.” If we sincerely want to know the will of God, we must be in relationship and in conversation with God. 

To seek the will of God, we should speak to our loving Heavenly Father in prayer and expect God to speak to us as we open the Word of God.

Dick Woodward, 25 May 2013


Willing To Do God’s Will

May 18, 2021

“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. (John 7:17)

When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them to say, “Your will be done.” When Jesus modeled this, He sweat drops of blood as He prayed, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” (Matthew 6:10; 26:39; Luke 22:42-44) 

Jesus gives us a principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. This also applies when we are seeking to know the will of God.

The principle is simply this: If anyone wills to do, he or she will know.

Psalm 139:16 states that God had every day of David’s life scheduled before David existed. David writes that God is with him in such a way that it is impossible for David to escape God’s personal interest in every move he makes.This intimacy with God is obviously not only the experience of David, but can be the experience of every child of God.

According to Jesus and Paul, knowing the will of God for our lives does not have to be complex. God does not deliberately obscure God’s will. The complexity is not in the will of God, but in your will and my will. 

As Paul tells us how to know “the good, acceptable and perfect will of God,” he begins his prescription by telling us to throw up our hands and offer an unconditional surrender of our wills to the will of God. (Romans 12:1-2) Our unconditional surrender to God significantly un-complicates our quest to know the will of God.

Dick Woodward, 20 May 2023


THE GLORY OF GOD!

April 27, 2021

“The heavens declare the glory of God…The Law of the Lord is perfect…the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart…” (Psalm 19: 1, 7, 14)

In Psalm 19 David writes that every day and every night God is preaching a sermon through the heavenly bodies. The text of that sermon is the glory of God. The “firmament” in which those bodies exist is also preaching a sermon about the infinite size of God.

David’s thoughts then turn to the Special Revelation of God. That’s what theologians call the Word of God and David calls the “Law of God.” David impresses us with what the Word of God can do: convert the soul, enlighten the eyes, make wise the simple, rejoice the heart, and since the Word is true and righteous altogether it will endure forever. So will the one whose soul has been converted by the Word of God.

As David meditates on what the Word can do, he claims that the Word is more to be desired than pure gold.

Having reflected on what we might call “Natural Revelation” and “Biblical Revelation” David guides us to consider “Personal Revelation.” His thought is that God’s revelation through nature is magnificent and beautiful. God’s revelation through Scripture is miraculous and perfect

But what about God’s revelation through God’s people like you and me?

Are we willing to track with David through these three ways God speaks and then pray that God’s revelation through us will be acceptable in God’s sight?

Dick Woodward, 26 April 2010


#FAITH: Possess Your Spiritual Possessions

April 23, 2021

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ.”(Ephesians 1:3)

There is a sense in which the letter of Paul to the Ephesians is the “Joshua” of the New Testament because the theme is the same: possess your possessions. In Joshua 1:3, the possessions were one square foot of the Promised Land of Canaan at a time. In Ephesians, the blessings are spiritual blessings not to be found in a land like Canaan but “in heavenly places, in Christ.”

By “heavenly places” Paul means the spiritual dimension of life. He uses that expression six times in this letter. He uses the expression “in Christ” nearly 100 times in his letters. By this second expression he means that it’s possible for us to be in a relationship with the risen Christ the way a branch is in relationship to a vine from which it draws its sustenance and nourishment.

“In heavenly places in Christ” there are all kinds of wonderful spiritual blessings God wants to give us. But we have to come into that spiritual dimension and into relationship with Christ to get those blessings. In other words, “heavenly places in Christ” is the location of our spiritual Promised Land.

Make a list of all the spiritual blessings you think Paul is referring to in this verse like prayer, the Scriptures, worship and fellowship with other believers. Then apply them and possess your spiritual possessions!

Dick Woodward, 01 May 2009