WHERE IS YOUR HEART?

October 6, 2017

 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.(Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus told us we should not lay up treasures on earth where they depreciate and where thieves can steal them from us. He told us we should lay up treasures in heaven, in the spiritual dimension, where they will not depreciate or be stolen. He added that our hearts will be where our treasures are. In other words, Jesus told us, “If you really want to know where your heart is, show me your treasures.”

A practical application of this, if you really want to know where your heart is, look over your check stubs and calendars for the past five years. Consider how you are spending your money and time. Then you will know where your treasures are, and where you heart is.

Millions of people are crushed and depressed these days because they have lost their treasures on Wall Street where greedy and corrupt men have stolen them. If their hearts were in their treasures on earth, and the way they were laying up treasures on earth, they need to listen to and understand Jesus as He tells us where our hearts should be.

Where is your heart?

Dick Woodward, 15 October 2008


Put Love First!!

November 12, 2016

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.”  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

After a devastating battle during the first World War, Canadian army surgeon John McCrae composed one of the greatest war poems ever written. In it he gave voice to thousands of soldiers who lay dead, summing up their lives on earth with one line: “Loved and were loved, but now we lie in Flanders Fields.”

When we come to the end of this life, we’ll find that one of our most important priorities will be those we love, and those who love us. But we should not wait until this dimension of life is ending to focus our priorities. The question we should all answer is: “What is our number one priority right now?”

The Apostle Paul composed an inspired poem in which he declared that the agape love of God should be the number one priority of spiritual people. He wrote that love is greater than knowledge and more important than faith. His inspired words about love have been, and should be, read in every generation of church history. That includes you and me.

Paul’s teaching about spiritual gifts concludes with: “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I will show you a more excellent way.” (I Corinthians 12:31)  Paul continues with his prescription: “Let love be your greatest aim,” or, “Put love first.” (LB, NEB)

A SUMMARY PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence and even in tongues, but without love, we’re just a lot of noise. If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as prophets, and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all these things, we are nothing. If we give all our money to feed the poor, and our bodies to be burned at the stake as martyrs, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.

Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have, and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


A Challenge for Fathers: Priorities!

June 17, 2016

“…To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”  (Luke 1:17)

When the Old Testament prophet Malachi prophesied the birth of John the Baptist, he predicted he would prepare the way of the Messiah by exhorting fathers to prioritize their relationships with their children. The challenging truth by application is that the way of the Lord in the lives of children is prepared when fathers are faithful in their responsibility toward their children.

One example of this reality is when our Lord taught His disciples how to pray, He instructed us to address God as “Our Father.” What images come into our minds when we address God in this way?  Our relationships to our earthly fathers can strongly influence the way we perceive our heavenly Father.

As a pastor I’ve had parishioners say to me in private, “When I address God as my father I experience a spiritual short circuit.” When asked to tell about their earthly father I often heard a story about a very dysfunctional father/child relationship.

Professional Christian clinical psychologists and psychiatrists strongly reinforce the hard reality of the profound influence fathers have in the lives of their children.  The profound truth that was focused when the life and ministry of John the Baptist was profiled is confirmed in millions of lives every day.

As we in America call this Sunday “Father’s Day,” may the vision statement that was prophesied for John the Baptist raise awareness in all of us who are fathers of the solemn mission objective we have been assigned by God when He made us fathers.

Dick Woodward, 20 June 2010


Love First

August 19, 2014

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love… I am nothing.”  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

In the middle of the first century, the Apostle Paul composed an inspired poem of love in which he declared that the agape love of God should be the number one priority of spiritual people. He wrote that love is greater than knowledge and more important than faith. His inspired words about love have been, and should be read in every generation of church history.  That includes you and me.

His teaching about spiritual gifts in the previous chapter concludes with: “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I will show you a more excellent way.”  (I Cor 12:31)  Paul begins the next chapter with his prescription for that most excellent way: “Let love be your greatest aim,” or “Put love first.” (LB, NEB)

A SUMMARY PARAPHRASE APPLICATION:

If we speak with great eloquence or in tongues without love, we’re just a lot of noise.  If we have all knowledge to understand all the Greek mysteries, the gift to speak as a prophet and enough faith to move mountains, unless we love as we do all those things, we are nothing.  If we give all our money to feed the poor and our body to be burned at the stake as a martyr, if we give and die without love, it profits us nothing.

Nothing we are, nothing we ever become, nothing we have and nothing we ever will have in the way of natural and spiritual gifts should ever move ahead of love as our first priority. Nothing we do, or ever will do as an expression of our faith, our gifts, our knowledge, or our generous, charitable, unconditionally-surrendered heart is worthy of comparison, or can replace love as we live out our personal priorities in this world.”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Love


Prayer Partnering with God

July 1, 2014

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven...”  Matthew 6:9-13)

The message of the Bible frequently sifts down to just two words: God first. From Genesis to Revelation, the bottom line interpretation and application of the commandments, character studies, allegories, parables, psalms, sermons, Gospels, Epistles and teachings of Jesus is simply “God first.”  The prayer Jesus taught us begins with that God-first emphasis when He instructs us to begin by asking God that His name, the essence of Who and what He is, might be honored and reverenced…

Prayer is not a matter of us persuading God to do our will. The very essence of prayer is an alignment between our wills and the will of God. Prayer is not a matter of us making God our partner and taking God into our plans.  Prayer is a matter of God making us His partners and taking us into His plans…

We are not to come into our prayer closets, or corporate worship, with a ‘shopping list’ and send God on errands for us.  When we pray, we should come into the presence of God with a blank sheet of paper and ask God to send us on errands for Him.  We should be like soldiers reporting for duty to their Commander in Chief.

Dick Woodward, A Prescription for Prayer

 

 


The Me First Club

April 27, 2013

“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 sounds contrary to what we have been taught as believers the Apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, that there are times when he should join the Me First Club.  When you find something great in the Scriptures how many times is your first thought the person who simply must hear this truth?

In this prescription for spiritual growth Paul writes that Timothy should place the Scripture down on his life, and then hold his life up to the Scripture.  Paul promises Timothy that if he will continuously do this as a spiritual discipline, he will experience salvation himself first and then lead others to salvation.

There are at least three times when committed disciples should put themselves in first place; when we are judging, when there is sin to confess, and when it comes to our own needs.  Many disciples have become casualties in the spiritual warfare because they neglected these priorities.

There is a sense in which if we do not save ourselves we cannot save anybody else.  When the oxygen masks appear on a commercial air flight, mothers with babies are instructed to place the mask on themselves first and then on their baby.

If you are a spiritual leader don’t apply Scripture to others that you have not first applied to yourself.  Think of the priorities being taught here as concentric circles.  You are the innermost circle. The other circles represent those with whom you share God’s Word after you have joined the Me First Club.

Save yourself and then watch God work as He saves others.