#PRAYER: Highways for God

May 15, 2020

“Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3)

In ancient times if a king wanted to travel to a faraway province in his kingdom a highway would be built for him. As people worked on that project they called it “The Kings Highway.” Isaiah is using this metaphor to say that God will travel into this world on a highway, and that Highway is the life of the Messiah.

Building a highway you need to do four things: level mountains, fill valleys, straighten crooked places, and smooth out rough places.

Through the life of God’s Son, the Messiah, mountains of pride will be leveled, empty valleys will be filled with the Holy Spirit, crooked ways of sin will be straightened, and He will respond to rough places in a way that brings glory to His Father and salvation to the world.

After spending three years 24/7 with a dozen disciples, Jesus challenged them that as His Father sent Him into the world, He was sending them out in the same way. (John 20:21)

One of many practical applications of that challenge for them, and for us, is that our lives must be highways for God.

I challenge you, in fact I dare you to pray this prayer: God, make my life a highway for You!”

If you do this, don’t be surprised when God’s spiritual bulldozers show up in your life leveling mountains of pride, filling your emptiness with the Holy Spirit, making straight your crooked places, and smoothing out your rough places.

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2011


#FAITH – PUT GOD FIRST!!

May 8, 2020

“…but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.” (Matthew 6:33)

The message of the entire Bible can be summed up in two words: “God First.” Over and over the bottom-line truth in a Psalm, life of a Bible character, parable, metaphor, and teaching of Jesus comes down to this simple concept: “GOD FIRST.”

That is not easy. In fact, it is impossible without the Holy Spirit. (1Corinthians 12:3)

I was blessed to have a godly mother who often said to me: “If Jesus Christ is anything to you, then Jesus Christ must be everything to you. Because, until Jesus Christ is everything to you, Dick, He isn’t really anything to you.”

As I studied the values of Jesus Christ, I realized my mother had His support when she brought my profession of faith to a verdict in this way.

Matthew 6:33 is the conclusion of a study given by Jesus regarding values. He taught that our hearts are where our treasures are. He also challenged us with the questions: “Where is your heart? What are your treasures? What is your life? What is your body?” and “Who is your master?”

The conclusion to this treatise on values is the declaration to seek God first. Think of a target with a bulls-eye surrounded by ten circles. According to Jesus, the bulls-eye of our priority target should be God. If we do that we have Christ’s promise that God will bless us with what we need.

When we think about our values these two words should immediately surface in our hearts and minds: “GOD FIRST.”

Dick Woodward, 09 November 2010

p.s. A blessed Mother’s Day to all on Sunday!

#love #hope #prayer #God #peace #Jesus


#FAITH PREP IN THE MORNING

May 5, 2020

“Let me hear of Your steadfast love in the morning, for in You I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.”  (Psalm 143:8)

Early every morning the eagle preens its feathers for more than an hour. Sitting on the side of its nest, the eagle passes each feather through its mouth, something like steam cleaning while depositing a liquid that makes its feathers water repellent.

This is important because eagles fish by diving under the water. The fluid deposited on their feathers also locks them together to improve their aerodynamics.  Whether an eagle is planning to fish or not, every morning for an hour they sit on the side of their nest and preen. They are not primping, they are preening – a very prudent preparation.

Like you and me, eagles never know what challenges they may face on any given day. Therefore, they preen in preparation for every possible challenge each day may hold.

Do you wake up holy in the morning? Before you’ve had your coffee? It’s possible for spiritual people to wake up holy, but if we’re honest we will concede that most of the time we don’t wake up that way.

It is very important to make a good beginning each day. When we consider the eagle’s daily practice of early morning preening, we are challenged to begin every day of our lives with spiritual preparation.

Have you preened your spirit with God’s help this morning?

Dick Woodward, (from As Eagles: How to be an Eagle Disciple

#prayer #hope #devotions #love #eagles #God


Unquenchable #FAITH, Unfailing #LOVE

May 1, 2020

Surely goodness, mercy, and unfailing love 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 of David’s unquenchable faith? What gives him the assurance that all the blessings he has described in Psalm 23 will be experienced “all the days of his life” and “forever?”

The word Selah, found frequently in the Psalms of David, can be interpreted: “Pause and calmly think about that.” If we pause and calmly think about it, we realize that all through Psalm 23 David presents the Good Shepherd as the great Initiator of their relationship.

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

As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own extraordinary ability as a warrior. His confidence is clearly in the Good Shepherd. As David walks through this scary valley, he looks to God for protection and provision. He knows God will personally anoint him with oil and keep that cup running over within him.

The source of David’s confident faith is also expressed in this hymn, “I Sought the Lord,” by George McDonald.

“I find, I walk, I love, but Oh the whole of love

            Is but my answer, Lord to Thee.

            For You were long beforehand with my soul.

            Always, you have loved me.”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk

#prayer #hope #inspiration #belief #comfort


THE ME FIRST #FAITH CLUB

April 28, 2020

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”  (1Timothy 4:16)

Although it sounds contrary to what we have been taught, the Apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, that there are times when we should join the Me First Faith Club. When you find something great in the Scriptures, how many times is your first thought the person who simply must hear this truth?

In this prescription for spiritual growth Paul writes that Timothy should place the Scripture on his life, and then hold his life up to Scripture. Paul promises Timothy that if he will continuously do this as a spiritual discipline, he will experience salvation and then lead others to salvation.

There are at least three times when committed disciples should put ourselves in first place: when we are judging, when there is sin to confess, and when it comes to our spiritual needs. Many disciples have become casualties because they neglected these priorities.

There is a sense in which if we do not save ourselves we cannot save anybody else. When oxygen masks appear on a commercial air flight, mothers are instructed to place their masks on first and then put their babies’ masks on.

If you are a spiritual leader don’t apply Scripture to others that you have not first applied to yourself. Think of the priorities being taught here as concentric circles. You are the innermost circle. The other circles represent those with whom you share God’s Word after you have joined the Me First Faith Club.

Save yourself and then watch God save others.

Dick Woodward, 27 April 2013

#prayer #hope #peace #theBible #belief


#Prayer, #Peace and Sacrifice

April 24, 2020

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 4:5)

In Psalm 4 David has insomnia because he is doing the expedient thing rather than what is right.  He’s doing this because if he does the right thing he cannot see how he can possibly survive.  Since he is a man of deep spiritual integrity this keeps him awake all night.

In the middle of the night David resolves in his heart that he is going to make whatever sacrifices he must to do what is right, and then trust the Lord for his survival.

This decision changes his emotional climate from anxiety and insomnia to one of peace and peaceful sleep.

His motivation is that there are many people who are asking “Who will show us something good?” In other words, people are looking for someone who will do what is right even if it costs them everything they have to do right.

The Psalm begins with a prayer that is addressed to God Who relieves us when we are in distress. If you want to know what distress is just drop the first two letters of the word. See that this Psalm is all about being relieved from our (di)-stress.

If you are a spiritually oriented person and you are not doing what is right because you cannot see how you can survive if you do, are you willing to resolve to make whatever sacrifices you must make to do what is right and then trust God for the outcome?

This would be a tremendous witness to those who are looking for someone who is willing to offer God the sacrifices of righteousness.

Dick Woodward, 23 April 2010

#hope #faith #love #courage


Two People in a Pew, which One are You?

April 21, 2020

“Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are those who are persecuted …” (Matthew 5:9-10)

As Jesus profiles the character of a disciple that makes them salt, light and a solution to the problems and problem people of this world, He declares that they will be peacemakers who get persecuted.

A synonym for “peacemakers” is “reconcilers.”  Paul writes (in 2 Corinthians 5:13-6:2) that every believer who has been reconciled to God through Christ has committed to them the message and ministry of reconciliation.

Today many people are alienated from God, from themselves, and from other people. There is an acute need for reconciliation. To quote an old theologian, “It is the will of the Reconciler that the reconciled are to be the vehicles of reconciliation in the lives of the un-reconciled.”

Since reconcilers go where conflict is happening they are often in great danger. Such is the case with disciples who are living the fourth pair of Jesus Christ’s Beatitudes.

You would think that if a person had eight blessed attitudes in their life people would gather around them and sing “For he (and she) is a jolly good fellow!” But the opposite is true. Often such a person is attacked and persecuted.

The reason for this is that when people meet such a person they have two choices. They can realize that this is what I should be like, or they can attack that person and try to prove that they are really not what they appear to be.

Those who are the salt of the earth irritate and burn the ethical sores of those who are lost.

Two people in a pew, which one are you?

Dick Woodward, 16 April 2010


A God First Mindset #Prayer

April 17, 2020

…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:13)

Our Lord Jesus teaches us to begin our prayers with a God first mindset and conclude our prayers with that same focus.  We begin our prayers looking through the grid: “Your name be reverenced, Your Kingdom come,” and “Your will be done on earth, just as it is willed and done in heaven.”

We are to conclude our prayers the same way.

Jesus wants us to conclude our prayers by making this commitment to our Heavenly Father: “Yours is the Kingdom.” 

By this confession, He means for us to pledge to God that the results of our Heavenly Father’s continuously answering our prayers will always belong to Him.

As we face every day challenges we should be poor in spirit enough to confess that we need the power of God: “Yours is the power.” I have confessed this countless times in my journey of faith and ministry by saying, “I can’t, but He can.”

Finally, we are to conclude our prayers by confessing: “Yours is the glory.” When we apply this third providential benediction, we are simply confessing, “Because I didn’t but He did, all the glory goes to Him.”

Jesus prescribes that we conclude our prayers by making this solemn commitment to God: the glory for everything that happens in my life because You have answered my prayers always goes to You.”

The essence of this benediction is: “Because the power always comes from You, the result will always belong to You, and the glory will always go to You.”

“Amen” simply means, “So be it.”

Dick Woodward, from “A Prescription for Prayer”

#faith #hope #prayer #peace #Jesus


Loving Others

March 31, 2020

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

I challenge you to meditate on these fifteen applications of love every day for a month.  Summarize each one in one or two words on a card you can place on your mirror, in your purse, wallet, or on the sun-visor of your car. Fervently ask God to empower you to be a conduit of His love with this cluster of virtues by Christ, in Christ and for Christ.

Think of one specific person and ask God to love that person in these ways through you. If you are married, begin loving your spouse in these ways. If you have children, apply this love to them. If you are not married, pray for the power to apply this love to your parents, siblings, and those with whom you live and work.

By the grace of God, I have seen this love of Christ change lives. Ask God to give you power to apply this love to the most difficult relationships you have, like your enemies. They will be your best opportunity to prove this love is not coming from you, but from Christ.

Pray that Christ will pass His love through you to address the pain and quiet desperation of the hurting people in your life. As He does, you will affirm where the risen Christ is today.

Dick Woodward, (from A Prescription For Love)


#PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Save me!!

March 24, 2020

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30)

The Apostle Peter is the only man besides Jesus Christ who walked on water. Yet, millions of us only remember that he took his eyes off Jesus and would have drowned if the Lord had not saved him.

We read that his magnificent faith was flawed. He saw the wind. Since we cannot see wind this means when he saw what the wind was doing, he lost sight of what Jesus was doing and was afraid.

The remarkable thing here is that when he kept his eyes on Jesus, Peter walked on water!

It was not until he was beginning to sink that he prayed this prayer – a model prayer today for all of us. Jesus taught that our prayers should not be long and we should never think we will generate grace with God by too much speaking. (If Peter had prayed longer, the words beyond the third would have been glub, glub glub!)

When Jesus caught Peter by the hand He gave him the nickname “Little faith.” I believe our Lord was smiling when He did. He literally asked Peter, “Why did you think twice?”

Rick Warren took his entire congregation of twenty thousand people through the eight steps of “Celebrate Recovery.”  When asked why, his response was: “Because we are all in recovery. What do you think the word salvation means?”

When we truly understand the meaning of the word salvation, we will frequently pray this model prayer.

Pray Peter’s short prayer often and don’t think twice. Don’t be of little faith!

Lord Jesus, save me!

Dick Woodward, 25 March 2012