Maintaining the Peace of God

August 21, 2015

“…never forget the nearness of your Lord.”  (Philippians 4:5)

When the Apostle Paul experienced his last horrible Roman imprisonment, visiting him was very dangerous. If you came to see him, the Romans might chain you next to him. And nobody did. He writes: “They all forsook me. May God not lay it to their charge.” But he also wrote: “Nevertheless the Lord stood by me and ministered to me.” (2 Timothy 4:16, 17)  That is what he means when he prescribes: “Never forget the nearness of your Lord.”

This is why I am continuously emphasizing the ground rule that a personal relationship with the Lord is an absolute if you are serious about applying Paul’s prescription for maintaining the peace of God. If you would like to have a relationship with Christ, follow His directions. Our Lord prescribed:

“Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For every one who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9, 10 Amplified Bible)

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking. If you cannot understand the concept of “the nearness of your Lord,” give yourself to the pursuit of God as described by Jesus in the passage above to find and maintain the peace of God.

Dick Woodward, 19 June 2009


Anger Management 101

August 8, 2014

“So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? If you do right, will you not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:7-8)

This is the familiar biblical story of the first two brothers on the face of the earth.  We might call Abel “Mr. Acceptable” and his brother Cain “Mr. Unacceptable” for good reason.  They had both presented offerings to God.  Because Abel was in a right relationship with God, his offering was acceptable.  Because Cain was not, his offering was unacceptable.

In response to this Cain was angry; in fact, he was so angry he beat his brother to death.  In this context, God asked Cain the question,“Why are you angry?” He also asked Cain essentially, “If you get your stuff together will you not be acceptable?”  God was offering Cain a choice.  He could get right and be acceptable  to God or he could go through life beating Abels to death – one Abel after another.

When we are angry we should always ask, “Who is the source, and the true object of my anger?” I personally believe Cain was angry with Cain because he was not in a right relationship with God.  He was transferring his self anger to his brother.  Have you ever done that?  Are you doing that now?

Jesus provided a commentary on this story when He told hypercritical people they were like those who look for specks of sawdust in the eyes of others while they have logs sticking out of their eyes (Matthew 7: 1-5).  If you are the angry person, listen carefully to God as He questions Cain or to Jesus in these verses.  Get right and be acceptable.  Get the log out of your eye.  Don’t go through life magnifying specks and beating up Abels.

Dick Woodward, 11 May 2011


Patience & Peace

June 17, 2014

“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and i know what it is to have plenty…” (Philippians 4:11-12)

Throughout the history of the church, patience has always been considered a great virtue by spiritual heavyweights like Augustine, Thomas a Kempis and Francis of Assisi.  Why is patience such an important virtue? For starters, patience is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23.)

In our relationship with God, we might call patience “faith-waiting.”  In the Bible we are exhorted to “wait on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14.) It takes more faith to wait than most of the real life situations that challenge our walk with God. There are few spiritual disciplines that will focus our faith like those times when all we can do is wait on the Lord.  When we are praying for something and receiving no answer, God may be teaching us that there are times when faith waits.

In our relationships with people, patience could be called, “love-waiting.”  I had no idea how selfish I am until I got married. I had no idea how impatient I am until I became a father and found myself waiting for teenage children to grow up. The Lord wants to grow two dimensions of patience in my life: vertical patience by teaching me to have a faith that waits on Him; and horizontal patience by teaching me that in relationships, love waits…

We all eventually find ourselves facing circumstances which are beyond our control. Imagine Paul chained in that awful prison in Rome.  Would he find and maintain the peace of God if his formula for peace was to rattle his chains and ‘force it?’  Patience is the supernatural fruit of the Holy Spirit that gives us the grace to accept the things we cannot control.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Getting our ‘but’ in the right place

June 6, 2014

“The Lord is my Shepherd…(Psalm 23)

These are some of the most familiar words in the Bible loved by devout people everywhere.  According to this Shepherd Psalm of David, the key to the real blessings of this life and the next is a relationship with God.  The green pastures, the still waters, the table of provision, the blessing of God described as anointing oil and the cup that runs over all the time are all conditioned on that relationship.  David tells us how that relationship is established in the second verse when he writes, “He makes me to lie down”.

However, the spirit in which these words are often recalled can be something like this: “The Lord is my Shepherd —but, I have a health problem.” Or, the Lord is my Shepherd — but, I have marriage problems!”  Or, “The Lord is my Shepherd — but, I cannot control my children.”

When we say “The Lord is my Shepherd — but” we are putting our “but” in the wrong place. We need to get our “but” in the right place and recall the precious promise of these words this way: “I have a health problem, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I have marriage problems, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd! I cannot control my children, BUT the Lord is my Shepherd!”

The Lord often makes us lie down by using problems with our health, marriage, children, finances, careers and all sorts of other challenges to teach us about the relationship which is the key to the blessings profiled in this beautiful Psalm.

Will you let the Great Shepherd use the problems and challenges you are currently facing to strengthen the relationship David described so beautifully three thousand years ago? Can you put your ‘but’ in the right place?

Dick Woodward,  14 August 2008


Why Believe?

February 1, 2013

“Without faith it is impossible to please God.  He that would come to God must believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

The author of these words is telling discouraged believers why they should not throw away their faith.  He writes that they must believe because without faith we cannot come to God, we cannot please God, and we cannot experience the beautiful reality that God rewards those who diligently seek Him.

When Jesus died on the cross a great veil in the Temple that separated sinners from the divine presence of God was supernaturally torn from top to bottom.  The significance of that miracle was, and is, that we can now go directly into the presence of God.  We no longer need the intercession of a priest.  The door into a relationship with God has been wide open since our High Priest Jesus opened it for us 2,000 years ago.  How could we not come to God through that door by faith?

We must believe because we are not only saved by faith – we are to live by faith.  As we live by faith our chief purpose in life is to glorify God.  To glorify God means to please God and we cannot please God without faith.  As we live our life in this world the greatest fact of life we know is that God is, and He blesses, enables, and rewards those who come to Him by faith.

The author then gives us what we call A Hall of Faith which exhibits for all time great examples of people who did not throw away their faith.  In spite of great challenges they believed that God is, they came to Him, they pleased Him and God rewarded their faith.


Why You Must Be Born Again

January 25, 2013

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again…  no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3: 3, 5)

John Wesley preached so often on the text “You must be born again” that people asked him, “Mr. Wesley, why do you preach so often that we must be born again?”  His answer was always the same: “Because you must be born again!” In the two quotes from Jesus above it is almost as if someone has asked Jesus why we must be born again.

Jesus gives us two answers to our question. Without being born again we cannot see the Kingdom of God and we cannot enter the Kingdom of God without being born again.  The Kingdom of God is therefore the end to which the new birth is the means.

People have misinterpreted and misapplied these two answers of Jesus.  They replace the concept of the Kingdom of God with the concept of heaven.  They would answer our question by telling us we cannot see heaven or enter heaven unless we are born again.

Jesus was not talking about heaven after we die.  The Kingdom of God is the concept that God is a King and He wants to make us His subjects.  To see that concept and enter into that relationship with God whereby He truly is our King and we are His subjects we must be born again.

Have you ever seen that truth?  Have you entered into a relationship with God where He truly is your King?  If you have not seen that truth or entered into that kind of relationship with God then you simply must be born again!


Three Living Perspectives

October 21, 2012

When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before!”   (Job 42:10)

What may be the oldest book in the Bible answers the question: “Why do God’s people suffer?” Many people are familiar with the book of Job but have a shallow understanding of its message.  They think it is just the story of a wealthy, godly man who lost everything and still worshiped God.

This is actually the story of a suffering, godly man who learned three perspectives we must ‘get together’  if we are going to be the kind of person God wants us all to be.  Job looks in with his friends to find the answer to the why of his suffering.  This led him and them nowhere.  He is told to look up.  He does and dialogs with God in a whirlwind. This profoundly changes him forever.

When God rebukes his friends because everything they told Job about himself and God was wrong, Job prays for his friends.  When he looks  around and prays for his friends,  God richly blessed him and doubles all he lost.

This old saga of suffering tells us that if we want to be a together person we must first look up and get our vertical perspective and relationship with God together.  Then we must look in and confess what God wants us to know about those internal issues that make us tick right.

Only those who have looked up and looked in as directed by God are qualified to look around and be part of God’s solution in the horizontal dimension of relationships.

Is God using the circumstances of your life to teach you to look up, in, and around as you should?