Walking by Faith

October 18, 2022

“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)

“A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

When God spoke through the prophet Isaiah God told us there is as much difference between the way God thinks and does things and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth. Building on that revelation the wisest man who ever lived proposed a logical question: if God is directing the steps of a person how can that person always expect to understand the way they are going?

As a God-passionate person, doing your best to follow the guidance of the Lord, have you ever found yourself completely baffled and blown away by inexplicable happenings like the sudden death of a loved one or other tragedies? When we put the two Scriptures quoted above side by side we should expect there to be times when we simply do not understand what God is up to.

Moses explained that what he called the “secret things” belong to the Lord but the things God wants us to do God has made very clear. (Deuteronomy 29:29) That means there are secret things God is keeping secret, so nobody can explain them.

These verses considered together are telling us that while we walk with God we should not expect to understand everything. If we understood everything we would eliminate the need for faith.

We walk by faith.

Dick Woodward, 19 October 2010


FAITH: Adversity vs. Atrophy

October 14, 2022

“… Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…”  (Psalm 4:1)

Just about every emotional challenge we experience today was faced by the psalmist many years ago. If we observe what he did when he struggled, and receive from God the grace to respond as the hymn writer responded, we can often overcome our emotional challenges.

In Psalm 4 the psalmist faces the emotional challenge of distress. If you drop the first two letters, the word becomes stress. We all have stress. If we do not have stress we atrophy. I have not put stress on my legs for 30 years. Consequently, my legs are the size of your arms. “If you don’t use it you lose it” is the way physical therapists describe atrophy.

Our loving Father God knows that what is true for our bodies is also true in our spiritual lives. God is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually. If we have no spiritual stress we will experience spiritual atrophy. God therefore will not only permit, but direct into our lives stress that will grow us as God gives us the grace to cope with that stress.

Many of us trust God for the good things that comfort and sustain us. But do we have the faith and the knowledge of God to seek God in the challenges that make the difference for us between spiritual growth and atrophy?

The Greek compound word hupomone, translated as “perseverance” in our English Bibles, literally means “to abide under.”  To apply hupomone, we should ask God for the grace to abide under stress, grow spiritually, and not atrophy.

Dick Woodward, 15 October 2013


Facing Suffering with FAITH

October 11, 2022

“…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.” (James 1:2-6)

Encountering trials in our lives will often bring us to the place where we don’t know what to do. We realize we need more wisdom than we have. When we lack wisdom we must look to God for it. In the Old Testament when the people of God fought against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was: “Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith. I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the ways of God, doesn’t it logically follow that I may not expect to always understand the way I am going?

If God gave answers to our why questions, the very essence of faith would be eliminated. God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “If you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples


#FAITH: Living IN CHRIST!!

October 7, 2022

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am indebted to E. Stanley Jones, a missionary who served in India for 50 years, for his superb daily devotional, In Christ, that showed me the importance of this phrase in the New Testament. I highly recommend his book which highlights the use of “in Christ” by New Testament writers.

According to Dr. Jones, when we think about being “in Christ” we should realize that Paul was not talking about being in religion. Few people have been more into religion than Paul before he met Jesus. Paul was so religious he fervently persecuted followers of Jesus, sure that he was pleasing God by trying to snuff them out.

It is possible to be in religion, but not be in Christ. It is possible to be in church, and not be in Christ. We can be in doctrine, or theology, and not be in Christ. We can be in the ministry and not be in Christ. We can be committed to Christ, and believe a lot of things about Christ, and still not be in Christ.

To be in Christ locates us in a Person, right now.

Unless we are ‘in Christ’ it’s like we have a powerful engine in our automobile but we cannot find the ignition key that turns the engine on. Being ‘in Christ’ is the ignition key, opening us up to experience “all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3)

Paul essentially writes: I live because Christ lives in me and I live in Christ.

Just as you sometimes cannot find the keys to your automobile, have you misplaced this critical spiritual key – are you living by and in Christ?

Dick Woodward, 09 October 2013


God’s Agenda vs. Our Agenda

October 4, 2022

“…All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

I find it intriguing to know that in little genes that cannot be seen with the naked eye the genetic heritage of a human being is determined: how high our heads will be from the sidewalk, the color of our eyes, our hair, the capacity of our intellectual gifts, our athleticism and even mannerisms are all wrapped up in microscopic genes.

In this inspired Psalm, David – a great warrior, king, man after the heart of God and hymn writer – tells us that before we existed as genes God determined the days we would live on this earth. The Living Bible Paraphrase reads that before we existed God had an agenda for every day we are to live on this earth.

One day my wife and I woke up and prayed together that if our agenda for that day did not agree with God’s agenda we were willing to be preempted. Later that day while having lunch with our pastor son, I realized I was having a heart attack. As the 911 people rolled me out the door I said to my wife, “Looks like we’re being preempted big time!”

At the hospital they were able to turn things around before it became a full blown heart attack. However, that experience gave my wife and me a perspective we will never forget. There is God’s agenda and there is our agenda for every day we live.

How should that truth impact the way we plan our agendas each day?

Are we willing to be preempted by God’s agenda every day?

Dick Woodward, 01 October 2010


The Word of God & The Will of God

September 30, 2022

“My Word… will achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

In this marvelous chapter taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, he tells us why he preached the Word of God. Earlier in this chapter Isaiah proclaimed that there is as much difference between the way we think and act, and how God thinks and acts, as the heavens are high above the earth. He tells us he preached the Word of God because God’s Word can bring about an alignment between the way God thinks and acts and the way we think and act.

There is a strong emphasis in the Scripture on the importance of our will being in alignment with the will of God. Jesus made one of His greatest prayers when He sweat great drops of blood and prayed, “Not My will but Your will be done.” He taught His disciples to pray, “Your will be done on earth (and in their earthen vessels) as it is in Heaven.”

The Word of God describes the struggle between God and men like Moses, Job, Jonah, and many others who finally submit their wills to the will of God – and the will of God is done in and through them on earth as it is in heaven. When God declares through Isaiah that His Word will not return to Him without accomplishing the purpose for which He sent it, I am convinced that this is one of the purposes God had in mind.

When you read and hear the Word of God proclaimed, will you let God accomplish this purpose for the Word of God? Will you let the Word of God bring about an alignment between your will and the will of God?

Dick Woodward, 28 September 2010


Forgive! Forgive! Forgive!

September 27, 2022

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12)

In all the communication that flows between a husband and wife (and in close relationships we have with others), there are ten critical words that often must be spoken. These ten words have saved marriages and the lack of them has dissolved marriages.

These ten words are: “I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?”

These words need this ten-word response: “You were wrong. I was hurt. But I forgive you.”

Some people will never say the words: “I was wrong.” They will never say: “I am sorry.” And they certainly would never ask for forgiveness. They would rather live alone for the rest of their lives than say these ten critical words. It may be their pride that prevents them, or perhaps they are driven by the myth of their own perfection. But these words can make the difference between marriage and living alone.

It is hard to imagine an unforgiving authentic disciple of Jesus Christ when He instructs us in the Disciple’s Prayer to forgive as we have been forgiven – or we invalidate our own forgiveness. (Matthew 6: 8-15)  According to the translation from which I have quoted, the prayer actually asks our Lord to forgive us as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.

“Forgive, as we have been forgiven…”

Dick Woodward, 25 September 2012


Jesus: Follow ME!!

September 23, 2022

“…Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

At the starting gate of their relationship with Jesus, two sets of brothers who were professional fishermen entered into a covenant with Him that came in two parts. Jesus challenged them:

“You follow Me – that’s your part. I will make youthat’s My part.

You follow Me – that’s your business. I will make you– that’s My business.”

When I was 18 years old my brother-in-law, Pastor John Dunlap, shared the Gospel with me. When I told him I couldn’t do what an authentic disciple of Jesus was required to do, he told me I didn’t have to do it by myself. Pastor John told me about this covenant Jesus established with Peter, Andrew, James and John. When I made the commitment to follow Jesus I entered into that same covenant.

Next month I will be 80 years old and I have proven that if we follow Jesus, He will make us. In other words, if we keep our part of that covenant we can trust Jesus to keep His part.

I strongly encourage you to consider entering into that covenant with Jesus. You don’t have to do all the things involved in following Him. Fact is you can’t follow Jesus in your own strength and resources. Your part is to make the commitment to follow Him and then trust Jesus to do His part. He won’t do your part and you can’t do His part. But if you follow Jesus, He will make you into who He is calling you to be.

And if someone could show you what you will be doing in 20++ years you won’t believe it!

Dick Woodward, 21 September 2010


Perspective: Tunnel Vision + A PLAN

September 20, 2022

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)

When you break down the word perspective, it literally means “to look through.” (Per = through, specto = look.) The expression tunnel vision is a good paraphrase for perspective. People with tunnel vision see their objective clearly, oblivious to obstacles and distractions that could hinder accomplishing goals and objectives. Jesus showed us the importance of our perspective when He told us our lives can be filled with joy or darkness. Those two opposites are determined by our “eye” – how we see things.

One of the most important questions is: “How do you see things?”  According to Jesus, if the way you see things is healthy and whole, your life will be filled with joy and light. If your perspective is not healthy, your life will be filled with darkness and depression.

Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) A discerning spiritual leader added these words: “Where there is no plan, the vision perishes.”

As the eagle has binocular and monocular vision, we must have a vision which continuously holds in perspective the long view of what God wants to do through us. We must also have a plan that gives us a monocular vision perspective to keep our vision from perishing as we move forward.

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


Caution: God at Work!

September 16, 2022

“In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the children of God coming into their own.” (Romans 8:18-19)

The view from the finish line has me fixating on the Providence of God, which like a Hebrew word can easily be read backwards. It is now easy for me to see what I considered random chaos in my life was really the loving hand of God leading me by making me offers I could not refuse.

When events roll out over which you have no control, you will see how the hand of God is showing you what to do.

A friend put this new needlepoint on his wall: “Never do what somebody else can do when you could be doing what only you can do.” All our lives God has been shaping us in miraculous ways to make a unique contribution to God’s work.

As you pray about next steps, reflect on this thought: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God before ordained that we should do for Him.” (Ephesians 2:10)

This means we are all works in progress.

Over our lives you can write: “Caution, God at work!” God wants to point to you and say, “She is my workmanship!” There is verse in Romans 8 which tells us that all nature is on tiptoe in awe of the children of God coming into their full potential.

The issue now is: what is God doing in your present circumstances to point you to what God wants to do next in your life?

Dick Woodward, (email, 2005)