Joining the ‘Me First Club’?

September 18, 2018

“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 seems contradictory to the ethical teachings of the Old and New Testaments, the Apostle Paul is coaching Timothy to join what we may call the “Me First Club.”  While we are trying to understand humility as taught in the Bible and learning to love our neighbors as ourselves, the very sound of a “Me First Club” seems to generate loud screeching discord.

If we think about it, however, there are places where we are instructed by our Lord Jesus to put ourselves first. For example, in the opening verses of Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus teaches us that when it comes to judging we should join the “Me First Club.” Showing a great sense of humor Jesus taught that we should not be looking for tiny specks of sawdust in the eyes of others when we have plank-sized logs in our own eyes. His priority was that we are to first get the logs out of our own eyes, and then we will see clearly to help others with the tiny specks in their eyes.

Paul instructs Timothy that before he challenges others to apply the Word of God to their lives that they might experience salvation, he is to first apply the Word of God to his own life and experience salvation himself.

In areas like salvation and judging are you willing to say “Me First?”

Dick Woodward, 15 September 2010


Believing God for Comfort @ The Holidays

December 15, 2017

“…whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26)

I have suggested in my two previous blogs that if you want to find the blessedness and comfort Jesus promised to those who mourn in His second beatitude, you should ask the right questions and listen to God’s answers. My third suggestion is implied by Jesus as He gave an excellent answer to Martha when he asked, “Do you believe this?”

My suggestion is that you believe God’s answers to the right questions. When we ask, listen, and believe, the death of someone we love is like an investment in the world to come. We have simply bought shares in heaven, increasing our motivation to be there in the eternal dimension with Christ and with them.

A devout surgeon I know says that the word we use most in this life is “Why?” However, the word we are going to use most in the next world will be “Oh!”

An old hymn I don’t hear much anymore proclaims:

“Friends will be there I have known long ago.

Joy like a river around me will flow.

Yet just a smile from my Savior I know,

that will be glory, be glory for me!”

The Bible is filled with God’s answers to the right questions. When we believe those answers we will discover the blessed state Jesus promised those who mourn in one word: salvation. Salvation and the comfort He promised can begin right now and last forever if we ask, listen, and believe!

Dick Woodward, 17 December 2010


Good Friday Message

March 25, 2016

“God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”   (2Corinthians 5:21, The Message)

So what is the biggest weekend in the Church year all about?  What does it mean to you and me personally?  In the verse above the Apostle Paul answers that by putting the Good Friday message in a nutshell.

Because of what happened on Good Friday God has offered to put all of our wrongs on Jesus, and in exchange put all that is right with Jesus on you and me.  That’s the best offer we’ll ever have.  All we have to do accept the offer is believe it!

In 1949 while doing social work in Pittsburgh, one night a man asked if he could speak with me.  As we sat in the darkness outside a closed recreation center he told me that near the end of World War II he was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge.  While still under fire he saw a chaplain crawling from one wounded man to another.  This chaplain apparently had something very important he said to those men.  He hoped the chaplain would make it to him, but after taking several hits the chaplain stopped moving.

He said since then he had been wondering what it was the chaplain had to say to those men.  After watching me for a couple of months, he told his wife he believed I could tell him the important message that chaplain shared with those wounded men.  Building on the witness of that chaplain, I was able to share the Good Friday message of Jesus with that WWII soldier.

This Easter do you have a Good Friday message for dying people?  Do you have a message for people who are going to live?

Dick Woodward, 26 March 2013


The Christmas That Was

December 11, 2015

“Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, God with us.”   (Matthew 1:23)

The essence of the Christmas that was can be described by the word “incarnation.”  The biblical word ‘carne’ is the Greek word for ‘flesh.” When we consider the Christmas that was, we find ourselves face to face with the incarnation – the miracle that God decided to make human flesh His official residence for 33 years.  We date time from the first Christmas because human flesh became God’s address when Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Asked who Jesus is, a little boy answered, “God with skin on.” That’s good theology!  When Jesus was born, one of His names was “Emmanuel,” which means God with us.

The Bible also frequently uses the word flesh to mean ‘human nature, unaided by God.’  God knew that our human nature desperately needed supernatural aid.  The essence of ‘incarnation‘ when applied to the Christmas that was, demonstrates the reality that we needed God to do something for us that we could not possibly do for ourselves.  On that first Christmas Eve God intersected human history with what we might call “The Great Intervention,” that we might experience salvation.

If you carefully read the first chapter of Luke, you will discover that God told a priest what He was going to do and the priest did not believe Him.  God responded by shutting the priest’s mouth.  Zacharias had the greatest sermon to preach, but lost the opportunity because unbelief shut his mouth.

God told some wise men what He was doing.  Those wise men asked the question, “Where is He?” They traveled far searching for Him until they found Him.  When they found Him, they worshiped Him and gave gifts to Him.

Dick Woodward, A Christmas Prescription


Gifts, Gifts, Gifts….

April 7, 2015

“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (I Corinthians 4:7 NLT)

We would all do well to take a few minutes to think about and answer this intriguing question presented by the Apostle Paul.  Can you think of anything you have that you did not receive from God?  Can you think of all the wonderful things you have received from God?  According to the Bible our salvation is a gift from God.  The faith it takes to receive salvation is also a gift from God.  As Paul has implied, as we do a gift inventory we will find that God has given us many kinds of gifts.

Our DNA proves that God has given us a physical identity that is unique and different from every other person living on the planet.  Physically, there is not now, there never has been, and there never will be any one exactly like you.  God has also given us intellectual gifts that equip us to live smarter, not harder.

When we receive the gift of faith that saves us, God also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  When we receive the Holy Spirit God adds a cluster of spiritual gifts that enable us to minister in many ways.  For example, He gives gifts of mercy which enable us to love those who are hurting with great compassion.  He gives the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and teaching that make it possible for us to teach the Word of God.  He gives many gifts that equip us to lead others to Christ.

Today, make a gift inventory and thank God for all the gifts He has given you!

Dick Woodward, 07 February 2012


Absolute Eternal Value of Easter

March 31, 2015

“Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures… and on the third day, He was raised to life..”  (I Corinthians 15:3-4)

Have you discovered that, to the authors of the four Gospels, Easter is far more important than Christmas? Of the 89 combined Gospel chapters, 4 chapters cover the birth and first 30 years Jesus lived, while 27 chapters cover the last week He lived. Why is the last week Jesus lived so very important?

The obvious answer is during that one week Jesus died and was raised from the dead for our salvation. In I Corinthians 15, after clearly stating that the Gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul focuses like a laser beam on the second Gospel fact – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In 58 inspired verses, Paul shows us in a practical way what the resurrection of Jesus should mean to you and me.

Have you ever wondered why the apostles, who were all Jews, changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (seventh) Day to the first day of the week? If you read carefully, they never called Sunday the “Sabbath.”  They called it “The Lord’s Day” because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Every Sunday the Church gathers for worship is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because on the first day of the week Jesus demonstrated the absolute eternal value.

This is the greatest and most important eternal value: Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for our salvation. The Good News is that when Jesus died on the cross, God laid on His only beloved Son all the chastisement we rebellious human beings rightly deserved for our sins. In this way, God exercised His perfect justice while also expressing His perfect love.  The beloved Apostle John points to the cross and says, “Here is love. Not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)

Isaiah showed us how to confess this eternal value – that Jesus died for our sins – when he wrote: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

…Do you believe you are included in the first and last ‘all’ of this verse?

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values


Forgetting What God Forgets

February 24, 2015

For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:34)

When we sin, we need to look up and believe the first fact of the Gospel, which is the Good News that God forgives our sins because Jesus died for our sins. Then we need to look around, forgive those who have sinned against us and seek forgiveness of those against whom we’ve sinned.  We also need to look in and forgive ourselves.

When we place our trust in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we need to forget what God forgets and remember what God remembers.  In the New Testament we are promised that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (I John 1:9)

However, God remembers that we are sinners.  We forget we are sinners. (That is one reason we fall into sin again & again.)  After we confess our sins, we show our faith in God’s promise is flawed when we remember our sins as guilt baggage long after God has forgiven and forgotten our sins.

A Catholic Monsignor in Paris was told about a nun who talked to Jesus every night. When the nun was summoned to meet the Monsignor, he asked her, “The next time you talk with Jesus, ask Him this question:  What sins did the Monsignor commit in Paris before he became a priest?”  He instructed the nun to report back after she asked Jesus his question.

Several days later when the nun requested an appointment with the Monsignor, he asked her, “Did you speak with Jesus again, my child?”  She replied, “Yes, your Reverence.” He then asked, “Did you ask Jesus my question?”  The nun said that she had indeed asked Jesus his question. “And what did Jesus say?”  The nun replied, “Jesus told me to tell you He doesn’t remember.”

If we believe what the Bible teaches about the forgiveness of our sins, that is the answer we should expect to hear.

As we receive by faith the inner healing of salvation, we simply must discipline ourselves to remember what God remembers and forget what God forgets.

Dick Woodward, from In Step with Eternal Values