Wise Men Still Seek Him….

January 6, 2017

“…wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1-2)

When we begin reading the Old Testament we find ourselves facing the question: “Where are you?” When we begin reading the New Testament we read that wise men asked the question: “Where is He?” The Old Testament shows us where we are. When it does, the New Testament makes sense to us because we are looking for the same Savior those wise men were seeking.

Where is He?  If we want to find Him we should look where the love is, because if we live in the love that Jesus is we will live in Him, and He will live in us.  As we seek for clues to His reality we are given another answer by the Apostle John:

“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship…” (1 John 1:5-7).

The aged apostle tells us that God is light and if we want to fellowship with Him He will not come live with us in our darkness. No, we must join Him where He lives in the light.  Then we have fellowship with Him and a unique fellowship with all those who are in fellowship with Him.

The light of which John writes is truth – the truth this world saw and heard when the Light became flesh and lived with us full of truth and the grace to live that truth.  So, if you want to know where Jesus is, look where the light is.  Then become a conduit of that light.

Dick Woodward, 29 September 2011


Asking, Seeking, Knocking

September 13, 2016

‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Jesus taught that we are to be God passionate people (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10.) We are to ask, seek and knock.  Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking.  Jesus attached a tremendous promise to this teaching.  He promised that everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and everyone who knocks will find himself or herself standing before an open door.

Jesus was referring to our individual pursuit of God in prayer.  When people take this seriously and pursue God in the context of a sincere prayer life, they often describe their pursuit of God by gesturing upward.  My own personal pursuit of God was greatly helped by a short poem:

“I sought my soul but my soul I could not see.
I sought my God but my God eluded me.
I met my neighbor and I found all three.”

In one of His great discourses Jesus provided a basis for this when He taught that when we describe our pursuit of a deeper relationship with Him, we should not only gesture upward but stretch out our arms horizontally.  We should do this because we find Jesus when we give a cup of cold water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, provide clothing to the naked, take in a lonely stranger and visit the sick and those in prison.

When these words of Jesus take on human flesh they look like Mother Teresa.  What would these words look like if they took on your mortal flesh?

Dick Woodward, 03 April 2011


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


Sharing Hope @ Christmas

December 16, 2014

“And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  (I Corinthians 13:13)

Do you know, or do you remember what it is like to live your life, day in and day out, without hope? In the great love chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us the three lasting, eternal values in life are faith, hope and love.  Love is the greatest of these eternal values because God is love.  Faith is an eternal value because faith brings us to God.  Hope is also one of the three great eternal values because hope brings us to the faith that brings us to God.  In the heart of every human being, God plants hope, the conviction that something good exists in this life and someday that good will intersect our lives.  That is what the author of the Book of Hebrews means when he tells us that faith gives substance to the things for which we have been hoping. (Hebrews 11:1).

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must realize that we have Good News that can give hope to the hopeless, and we must not let unbelief silence us.  If we never share the Good News of the Christmas that was and the Christmas that shall be, we should ask ourselves if we really believe the essence of the Gospel of Christmas.  Because we really believe in the Christmas that was, we should share that Good News with the people Jesus told us He came to seek and to save (Luke 19:10).  We show that we really do believe in the Christmas that shall be, when we tell hopeless people that God is going to give us another Christmas.

Like the wise men, we should ask the question, “Where is He?,” seek Him until we find Him, and then worship Him and give the gift of our lives to Him.  Then, like those shepherds, we should tell everybody the Good News that Christmas has come and Christmas is coming again to this otherwise hopeless world.

Dick Woodward, from A Christmas Prescription

 


Indwelling Love = Outpouring Love

October 14, 2014

“…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (ICorinthians 13:13)

How does love fit into this trio of lasting qualities Paul writes of? The Apostle John answered that question for us when he wrote:  “God is love and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God dwells in him.”  (I John 4;16)  When we dwell in the love Paul prescribed (in I Corinthians 13), we dwell in God, and He dwells in us.

By application, this means when we go where the hurting people are, as His love is passing through us and addressing their pain, we are touching God and He is touching us.  Since the agape love passing through us is God, we are dwelling in God and He is dwelling in us while His love is passing through us.

Jesus gave us love perspective when He exhorted the apostles to look up before they look on the fields that are over ripe for harvest. (John 4:35)  The Lord was focusing on two perspectives we must master as His authentic disciples.  Before we look around and relate to the people who intersect our lives every day, we are to look up and then look at them. We should see them through the same “love lenses” God uses when He sees them.  If we do, we will never see anyone we cannot love.

Jesus also taught that all the commandments of the Scriptures are fulfilled when we love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:35-40) His parable of the Good Samaritan answered the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbor?’ by stating any hurting person who intersects my life and needs my help is my neighbor.  (Luke 10:29-37)

I was seeking a relationship with God when I first discovered these profound teachings.  As a social worker in a large city, I volunteered to be on night call every night for an entire year.  That year I discovered  it is possible to touch God and be touched by God while being a conduit of His love.

I learned that seeking God is not an either/or, but a both/and proposition.  We are liars if we say we love God, Whom we cannot see, and do not love the people we can see.  Each time I was called out at night to be with hurting people, I asked God to pass His love through me and address their pain.   My experience can be described this way:  “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God but my God eluded me. I met my neighbor and I found all three.” 

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


The Second Level of Commitment to Christ

October 5, 2013

“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)

The Apostle Paul’s favorite description of committed disciples is found in the two words “in Christ.”  Paul uses this expression just under 100 times in his inspired letters.  “By Christ” means that by faith we are saved and have access to many blessings. “In Christ” means we are not taking Him into our plans but He is taking us into His plans. It means we can have a relationship with Christ, be united to Him, and draw strength from Him.

Paul also wrote that we have “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) The heavenly places refer to the spiritual dimension of this life.

While living in Palo Alto, California, I had a friend with a Ph. D in paleontology from Stanford University.  He told me that, as a devout believer, when he finished his master’s degree and started work on his doctor’s degree he surrendered to those teaching him by agreeing that there is no God.

He did not want to live if there is no God.  He therefore decided to commit suicide.  Just before he drank cyanide he bowed his head to pray.  He then laughed at himself.  He was taking his life because there is no God and the last thing he wanted to do was talk to Him.  He then remembered a verse: “God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

He realized we do not find God in a fossil or a test tube.  We find God in the spiritual dimension of this life, “in Christ.”

Are you seeking God in the right places?


Openness

May 29, 2013

“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)

STEP NUMBER FIVE:   Be completely open and unbiased about what the will of God for your life might be.

A well paid consultant told me that much of the time when he earns large fees, his clients do not want his consultation.  They simply want him to affirm what they have already decided to do.    The will of God is often just out of our reach because we have our agendas in place when we come to God seeking His will.  If our minds are set like concrete before we converse with God regarding His will for our lives, we are not really seeking His will when we pray or open His Word.  We are actually asking God to bless our will, our agenda, and the way we have decided to go.

We must have the faith to believe the verse quoted above. It is tragically possible for you to miss the will of God for your life because you do not have the faith to believe that God can make you a new creation in Christ.  Your extraordinary potential as a new creation in Christ is one reason why you must be completely open and unbiased as to what the will of God for you may be.  Seeking  God with your mind already made up could rob you of the will of God for a life that is good, perfect and the only life acceptable to your God.  God loves you too much to let you live a life that is only a fragment of the life He has planned for you.