May 21, 2021
“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)
Isaiah tells us there is as much difference between the thoughts and ways of God and the way we think and do things as the heavens are high above the earth. He then goes on to describe one of the supernatural functions of the Word of God: it establishes an alignment between our thoughts, ways and wills, and the thoughts, ways and will of God.
I once heard Billy Graham tell of boarding a plane before he was famous. He spoke to an old pastor friend who was sitting in an aisle seat reading his Bible who completely ignored him. When they had been in flight for an hour, the pastor came back to where Billy was seated and greeted him enthusiastically.
He apologized for ignoring Billy earlier. He said, “When I pray, I am talking to God, but when I open God’s Word, He talks to me. He was talking to me when you spoke to me and I could not interrupt God just to talk to Billy Graham.”
Thomas à Kempis opened his Bible every morning with this prayer: “Let all the voices be stopped. Speak to me Lord, Thou alone.” If we sincerely want to know the will of God, we must be in relationship and in conversation with God.
To seek the will of God, we should speak to our loving Heavenly Father in prayer and expect God to speak to us as we open the Word of God.
Dick Woodward, 25 May 2013
May 18, 2021
“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17)
When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them to say, “Your will be done.” When Jesus modeled this, He sweat drops of blood as He prayed, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” (Matthew 6:10; 26:39; Luke 22:42-44)
Jesus gives us a principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. This also applies when we are seeking to know the will of God.
The principle is simply this: If anyone wills to do, he or she will know.
Psalm 139:16 states that God had every day of David’s life scheduled before David existed. David writes that God is with him in such a way that it is impossible for David to escape God’s personal interest in every move he makes.This intimacy with God is obviously not only the experience of David, but can be the experience of every child of God.
According to Jesus and Paul, knowing the will of God for our lives does not have to be complex. God does not deliberately obscure God’s will. The complexity is not in the will of God, but in your will and my will.
As Paul tells us how to know “the good, acceptable and perfect will of God,” he begins his prescription by telling us to throw up our hands and offer an unconditional surrender of our wills to the will of God. (Romans 12:1-2) Our unconditional surrender to God significantly un-complicates our quest to know the will of God.
Dick Woodward, 20 May 2023
January 26, 2021
“…what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem…” (Nehemiah 2:12)
When Nehemiah learned of the dreadful condition of the wall around Jerusalem he wept, fasted and prayed. He then became a supreme example of what it means to have a vision. His definition of vision is what God put in his heart to do. I have heard missionaries describe how they were reading the Gospels and when they got to the Great Commission they knew what God put in their hearts to do.
When I was a new believer studying for the ministry I heard a great Bible professor survey the entire Bible. He made it so clear and relevant. I felt he was introducing us to sixty-six of his holy little friends and I wanted to spend the rest of my life getting to know them better. I also knew in my heart that God wanted me to put together a devotional, practical survey of the Bible for lay people and make it even more simple than the one I was taught. That vision eventually became a reality.
As you grow in faith and your relationship with God, have you been close enough for God to put in your heart what He wants you to do? The Bible and church history affirm the reality that God loves to work that way.
The Apostle Paul stood in chains before a king and said some beautiful words. He said he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision God gave him. (Acts 26: 19) Has God put in your heart what He wants you to do? Will you make the commitment that you will not be disobedient to that vision?
Dick Woodward, 28 January 2010
July 28, 2020
“I have brought you out that I might lead you in…” (Deuteronomy 6:23)
There are times when God wants to do a new thing in our lives. To do this new thing God faces three challenges. First God has to get us out of the old place. That is not easy because we often love the security of where we are. God therefore has to blast us out of the old. 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 is that God has to keep us going to pull us through the transition time between the old place and the new place to which God is leading us. Transition times can be difficult!
The verse above 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 eleven days. 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 enough faith to enter into the new place God is leading us?
The third challenge is that God has to make us right to settle us into the new place God has for us. One translation of 2 Corinthians 6:1 reads that we are “co-operators” with God.
When we realize what God is trying to do in our lives, are we ready to give God a little more cooperation?
Dick Woodward, 24 July 2009
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