March 27, 2020
“… the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)
The prophet Habakkuk lived in one of the most difficult times in Hebrew history; a time when watchtowers were manned with soldiers listening for the dreadful sounds of the Babylonian army. As the Babylonians were about to conquer God’s people, God gave Habakkuk a prophetic message.
This little prophet witnessed the terrible ways the great prophet Jeremiah was treated when he preached his message. As a simple choir director Habakkuk could only imagine how he would be treated if he assumed the role of a prophet.
He therefore came up with a clever literary form. He proclaimed that he was going to build a spiritual watchtower and ask God all the difficult questions that were on their hearts at that time. Questions like, “Why will you use a people more sinful than we are to chasten us?”
He told them that when he heard from God he would tell them what God said in answer to these and other questions. His literary form was like a talk show in which he was the host and God was the Guest being interviewed.
God’s answer was that the wickedness of the Babylonians would be their undoing, but the just would live by their faith. Originally this meant faith in the prophecy of Jeremiah that they would return from the Babylonian captivity. By application these seven words, which are quoted three times in the New Testament, were also used to inspire the Reformation.
People say God does not speak today as God did then. The truth is we do not listen for God as Habakkuk did.
Do you have a spiritual watchtower? Do you listen for God and expect to hear from God?
Dick Woodward, 30 March 2012
January 7, 2020
“Only let us live up to the truth we now have.” (Philippians 3:16)
The Apostle Paul had a life changing experience on the road to Damascus. He shared the details of that experience in the third chapter of his letter to the Church at Philippi. It was as if his accounting books were turned upside down – what had been in the gain column was now in the loss column and vice versa.
After his books had been turned upside down, or we might say right side up, Paul’s ambitions totally changed in the gain column. He wanted to tackle the purposes for which the risen Christ had tackled him. Now he only wanted to know Jesus Christ and the high calling of God to which Christ was leading him.
Paul claims that he has not attained these things in his new gain column, but he has learned a principle about knowing the will of God: if we want to know the will of God we must live up to the Light and truth God has given us at any given time on our faith journey.
From Paul’s experience we can take away a prescription for guidance. If we want to see further ahead into the will of God for our lives, then we should move ahead into the will of God just as far as we can see.
Like driving across country at night when we move ahead into the 100 yards of light our headlights give us – that light can lead us clear across our country.
When we live up to the Light we have, God gives us more Light.
Dick Woodward, 08 January 2011
September 17, 2019
“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)
As you know 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 easy for me to see what I considered random chaos 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.
Praying 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 20 July 2005)
August 13, 2019
“Jesus said to them, ‘my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.’” (John 4:34)
When Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well in Samaria He sent the apostles into a nearby village to buy food for their lunch. When His disciples returned with the food He refused it and spoke the words quoted above. Jesus obviously wanted to have a private interview with the Samaritan woman.
His interview has been summarized by a riddle: “The SW met a SW at a SW. The SW became a SW and went on to become a great SW.”
The explanation of the riddle is as follows: “The Savior of the World met a Samaritan Woman at a Samaritan Well. The Samaritan Woman became a Saved Woman and went on to become a great Soul Winner.”
When the apostles returned they marveled that Jesus was speaking with a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation. Earlier in this chapter we are told that Jesus was just passing through Samaria. He wanted to reach this woman who would reach all of Samaria for Him after He left. We’re told that she did this for Him.
Jesus told the apostles that this was the work of God for Him. And doing the work of God was His food. The magnificent obsession of Jesus was to do the work of God.
Is the work of God a magnificent obsession for you?
Dick Woodward, 14 August 2009
May 3, 2019
“… He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas (which is translated ‘Peter.’) (John 1:42)
When Jesus first met Peter, his name was Simon and his life was characterized by instability. Yet Jesus gave him the nickname “Peter,” which means “rock” and “stability.”
In Matthew 16 we have an intriguing interview between Jesus and Peter. Jesus had done the “who are you?” question in reverse. He asked the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter came up with the right answer. The Lord then said in so many words, “You’re not that smart Peter. That answer really didn’t come from you. It came from My Father.”
In this interview Jesus was telling Peter who and what Peter was, and what he was being called to be. In the Gospels Peter’s life is recorded like an unstable spiritual roller coaster. But after Jesus called Peter a ‘rock’ for three years and after Peter experienced Pentecost, we read in Acts that this unstable man became the rock-like, stable leader of the New Testament Church.
When you read the Gospels and Acts, you realize Jesus was convincing Peter of what he could become because he had come to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
Do you hear the voice of the Christ Who lives in your heart trying to give you His answer to this question, “What are you?”
Is Jesus making you know what you can become and do for Him since He has made you a new creation? Is Jesus making you know what He can equip you to become as He is calling you and revealing what He wants you to be and do for him?
Dick Woodward, A Spiritual Compass (p. 71-72)
August 17, 2018
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray He gave us a daily principle with multiple applications. At the end of this chapter (Matthew 6) that records the central part of His great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states that we should not worry about tomorrow. Many have made that obvious application to this prayer petition. People with challenges like addictions and overwhelming suffering are often only able to get their heads and hearts around the concept of a solution one day at a time.
Another legitimate application of this principle for living is to apply it to divine guidance. In the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul wrote that one way to discern the will of God for our life is to live up to the light we have now. He promises that as we do, God will give us more light.
One of my teachers once said: “If you want to see further ahead into the will of God for your life, then move ahead into the will of God just as far as you can see.”
As a college student I drove across the United States several times, mostly at night because there was less traffic. My headlights only illuminated about 100 yards at a time, but I discovered that if I kept driving into the light the headlights gave me, I eventually made it all the way from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles.
It is easier for God to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary. As we respond to the light God is giving us, God adds more light to our path. The application of this principle leads us into God’s will one day at a time.
Dick Woodward, 17 August 2010
July 27, 2018
“… I being in the way the Lord led me…” (Genesis 24:27 KJV)
When we discover the context of these words of Scripture we realize they are teaching us a principle of how God often works in the lives of God’s people. It is easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is stationary. God can sometimes steer us more easily when we are moving. That’s why we often will find that one step frequently leads to the next step when we have faith to be led by the Holy Spirit.
The words above were spoken by Abraham’s servant who was commissioned by Abraham to travel to the land of his people to find a wife for his son Isaac. As Abraham’s servant journals the events of his search he writes that while he was in the way the Lord led him he encountered the family of Rebekah. When he met her he knew that his search had ended.
Committed followers of Christ were commissioned two thousand years ago to go to all nations and make disciples for Jesus Christ. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Like the servant of Abraham, as we embark on the adventure of obeying our great commission, we should expect that each step will lead to the next step.
We don’t always have to know where the road leads as long as we know it is the right road. While we are in the way our Lord has commissioned us to go we must have the faith to take that first step and then, one step at a time, expect our Lord to show us His will about the next step.
Dick Woodward, 28 July 2009
July 20, 2018
“I have brought you out that I might lead you in…”
There are times when God wants to do a new thing in our lives. To do this new thing God faces three challenges. God has to get us out of the old place and that is not easy because we love the security of where we are. God therefore has to blast us out of the old place. That can happen in many ways. We could be fired, or we may just know in our knower that it is time to make a change. The call of God is often made up of a pull from the front and a boot from the rear.
The second challenge God faces is to keep us going to pull us through the transition time between the old place and the new place where God is leading us. Transition times can be difficult! Deuteronomy 6:23 describes the way God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to bring them into the Promised Land. Their transition time involved crossing a desert, which should have taken a few weeks. They went around in circles for forty years!
They circled that desert because they did not have the faith to invade the land of Canaan. When God wants to do a new thing in our lives do we go around in circles because we do not have the faith to enter into the new place to which God is leading us?
The third challenge God faces is that God has to make us right so God can settle us into the new place. One translation of 2 Corinthians 6:1 reads that we are ‘co-operaters’ with God. When we realize something of what God is trying to do in our lives it would help us (& God) if we would give God a little more cooperation.
Dick Woodward, 24 July 2009
January 5, 2018
“… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
As we move into a new year many of us review “these forty-eleven things I dabble in” as we consider our priorities. Spiritual heavyweights like Paul write: “One thing I do.” They can write that they have their priorities sifted down to one thing, because they forget those things that are behind.
We all have things we need to let go of to press toward the goal of what God wants us to do now and in the future.
The story is told of a man who fell over a cliff but managed to grab hold of a little bush about forty feet from the top. He frantically shouted “Help!” several times but his voice simply echoed back to him. Desperately he yelled, “Anybody up there?” A subterranean voice answered, “Yes!” He then yelled again “Help!” Then the voice said,“Let go!” After a brief pause the man shouted, “Anybody else up there?”
Sometimes it takes a lot of faith to let go. It may be that we need to let go of things that we cannot do and only God can do. We may need to let go of things we cannot control. And, sometimes we need to let go of hurts that people have inflicted on us that we cannot forgive and just let it go.
Do you need to let go and let God, so you can unload baggage and move forward with God?
Dick Woodward, 11 January 2013
January 2, 2018
“… But one thing I do… I press toward the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Are you entering this New Year with resolution? Can you reduce your priorities to just one thing? In the excerpts above from the writings of the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest missionaries of the church wrote that he had just one priority: “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
The great apostle often used athletic terminology in his writings. Here Paul likens life to a race and the goal at the end of this race is what God is calling him to be and do, in Christ, until he is called home to be with the Lord forever.
When athletes are pacing a race, their objective is to give everything they have to winning the race at the instant they break the tape at the end of the race. If they spend all their energy before they break that tape they will collapse before the race is over. If they have not given it all when they break the tape at the end of the race, they have not done their best to win the race. That is the race plan and life plan Paul is describing here.
As you begin your race in this New Year do you have a race plan for your life span? Are you pacing your race in such a way that when you break the tape at the end of the year you will have given it all for what God is calling you to be and do in Christ this year?
Dick Woodward, 14 January 2010