Living By Faith

December 4, 2018

“So do not throw away your faith; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised… For he that is righteous shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)

As the author of the book of Hebrews gives doubting disciples reasons why they should not throw away their faith, he tells them in the verses above they should not throw away their faith because they need their faith for living.  Authentic disciples know they are saved by faith, but the disciples to whom he was writing did not know or had forgotten that they are also called to live by faith.

He quotes a key verse of prophecy written by Habakkuk to suffering people.  When we are suffering we especially need to be reminded that God has given us faith to persevere and do the will of God in our crisis. Until we receive what God has given us, the faith to believe will ultimately happen according to God’s promises.

I have observed a direct correlation between spiritual growth and suffering.  The Greek word translated “persevere” in these verses is a quality God grows in those who are living by faith while they are suffering. (Romans 5: 3-5)

The immediate response of many authentic disciples when we find ourselves in a difficult situation is “Lord, get me out of here!” When that doesn’t happen we are sometimes tempted to throw away our faith.

The message conveyed by these verses is “Don’t throw away your faith.  You need your faith to live through your crisis.”

Is this a message you need to hear today?

Dick Woodward, 03 December 2010


Prayer: Worriers or Warriors?

November 27, 2018

“Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

In these two verses the Apostle Paul challenges us with two options: when we are facing challenging problems we can worry about them or we can turn our challenges into prayer requests. Paul writes that we are not to worry because worry is counterproductive. He therefore prescribes that if we are overwhelmed with problems, we should let our mountain of challenges turn us into prayer warriors.

We have two options. We can be worriers, or we can be warriors. Prayer changes things! Worry, on the other hand does not change anything except for the severe negative consequences it can have on our body, soul and spirit. When you consider the devastating effects of worry and the miraculous results of answered prayers, that no-brainer should resolve our two options into one.

If we realize that we are anxious and uptight because we are choosing to be worriers, we should ask God to convert us into prayer warriors. We should hold our problems up before the Lord and trade our worries for powerful prayers.

God may deliver us from our problems or give us the grace to cope with them. But, in either case, God will give us supernatural peace as we rest in what Christ will do.

Are you a worrier or a warrior?

Dick Woodward, 29 November 2011


Facing Trials: God’s Wisdom & (our) Understanding

November 24, 2018

“…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance… If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting.”   (James 1:2-6)

When you encounter a storm in your life, that trial will often bring you to the place where you don’t know what to do and you realize you need more wisdom than you have. James writes when we lack wisdom, we must ask God, Who will be delighted to share wisdom with us. In the Old Testament when the people of God were fighting against overwhelming numbers, their frantic prayer of faith was, “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

The process of working through our trials will teach us the test of faith, which leads to the trust of faith and brings us to the triumph of faith. I have been in a wheelchair since 1984 and a bedfast quadriplegic since the mid 1990s. I have, therefore, thought much about the suffering of disciples.

In the Bible we are warned that God does not think as we think, nor does God do as we do. (Isaiah 55) If the desire of my heart is to know God’s will and to live my life in alignment with the will and ways of God, wouldn’t it logically follow that I should not always expect to understand the way I’m going?

Obviously, that includes our suffering.

God is pleased when we come in our crucibles of suffering and cry, “if you heal me, that’s all right. But, if You don’t heal me, that’s all right too, because YOU are all right!”

Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p.278-281)


The Deep Love of God

October 30, 2018

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

After World War II a devout woman named Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her:

“There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”

When the suffering of Job brought him to the bottom of a pit of despair, he received his great Messianic revelation: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given Corrie ten Boom and Job. God made Jeremiah know this truth about the deep love of God when Jeremiah’s weeping bottomed out in his grotto: “I have never stopped loving the people of Judah!”

The unconditional love of God is taught from Genesis to Revelation. It is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. Meditating on God’s revelation to Jeremiah, I am deeply inspired that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved His people.

Millions have affirmed this great truth singing the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College OT Handbook (p.501)

Editor’s Note: Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and families of the mass shooting that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. May God comfort hurting hearts and lives with His steadfast love that is deeper than the pits of violent hate.


Showcase: God’s Strength in Our Weakness

October 5, 2018

“…When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

The Apostle Paul opens a biographical window into his life when he tells us about what he calls his “thorn in the flesh.” He explains that he had many supernatural spiritual experiences, but to keep him humble God gave him this “thorn.” Paul asked God three times to take it away. Even though he had an extraordinary ministry that brought healing to many, three times God’s response was essentially: “No! But My grace will be with you, and that is all you need to cope with the challenge of your thorn.”

Although we’re not exactly certain what Paul’s “thorn” was, he wrote to the Galatians that when he first visited his eyes were so hideous it made them want to vomit and say that if they could, they would take the eyes out of their own heads and place them in his. The book of Acts reports that at that time Paul’s physician Luke joined him so he could treat him. This “thorn” was also accompanied with severe weakness. Paul mentions weakness so much in his writings we know that throughout his extraordinary ministry he had to cope with extreme chronic fatigue.

Paul explains that his physical weakness was a showcase in which God could exhibit God’s supernatural strength. In the Living Bible Paraphrase of this chapter God tells Paul, “My strength looks good on weak people.” And Paul confesses, “The less I have the more I depend on Him.” He summarizes all this: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Will you let your weakness showcase God’s strength and grace today?

Dick Woodward, 04 October 2011


Accepting Afflictions

May 4, 2018

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word…  It is good for me that I have been afflicted… I know, O Lord, that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119: 67, 71, 75)

Many believers like me resonate with these words from Psalm 119. Although this is not always the explanation when God’s people are afflicted, it often is. I have lived with a chronic illness since 1978 and have been paralyzed since 1984. Although I began ministry as a pastor in 1955, my afflictions moved me to do the life’s work God called me to do.

God tells us that He chastens those He loves. (Revelation 3:19)  Although the goodness of God can lead to repentance, for most of us it is the chastening of our Lord knocking on the doors of our lives that moves us to open up and invite Him in. Like Jonah, sometimes it’s only through divine intervention that “I will not” is converted to “I will.”

As a “Type A” workaholic pastor I left before I got there and people could not keep up with my fast walk. For someone like me to be slammed down in one place, unable to move anything from the neck down, it was an overwhelming intervention.

It took two years to even begin moving toward accepting my limits. When the acceptance came it was a supernatural miracle of inner healing. After twenty years I eventually reached the point where I could tell the Lord I loved Him for cutting me back and improving the quality and quantity of what He wanted me to do for Him.

Can you resonate with the perspective of this ancient hymn writer?

Dick Woodward, 04 May 2013

Editor’s Note: After physical limitations slowed my father down, he compiled the Mini Bible College, a topical study of the Old and New Testaments that has been translated in over 41 languages (& counting!)


Seeds of Suffering

July 19, 2016

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  (Psalm 126:5-6)

The ancient inspired hymn writer is describing a father who is sowing seeds his family desperately needs because they are hungry.  As a provider he knows that if he does not plant these seeds, there will be no food for them and they will starve to death.  He therefore sows these precious seeds with tears streaming down his face.

The Holy Spirit leads the author to a beautiful application after he paints this solemn picture for us: sometimes when we are suffering to the point of tears, those tears are precious seeds our heavenly Father is sowing in the soil of our suffering.  When that is the case, we will doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing the fruitful results of our suffering with us.

This is a truth that is often shared in the Bible.  Sometimes suffering is not the setback it appears to be.  It is rather the cutback of our Heavenly Father who is like a divine vineyard keeper.  He cuts us back to increase the quality and the quantity of the fruit our life is yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people in waiting rooms outside the operating theaters of our hospitals than He does in the sanctuaries of our churches.  God does not waste our sorrows and we should not waste them either.

Listen to the wisdom of the hymn writer when he tells us our tears are precious seeds that will ultimately rejoice our hearts.

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2013