May 16, 2017
“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
How can we maintain the peace of God in our lives, especially when facing life’s storms? Paul’s fourth condition for the peace of God is simply to do all the right things. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) According to Jesus and Paul, if we put God first, let God show us the right things to do and get on with doing it, God will provide what we need.
Sometimes the “peace thief” robbing us is the hard reality that we are not doing what is right. The author of Psalm 4 cannot sleep because he is struggling with hard choices. He can do the right thing, but if he does, he doesn’t see how he will make it through his crisis. He can do the expedient thing – that is what almost everybody does – and what he decides to do. But that is why he cannot sleep.
In the middle of the night, the Lord makes him know he is to make whatever sacrifices he must to do what is right, trusting God to see him through the consequences. “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 4:5) After resolving the dichotomy over what is expedient and what is right, his insomnia and anxiety are converted into peace because the peace of God and the God of peace are with him.
We often don’t see how we’ll survive if we do the right thing, but Paul and Jesus both say,
“Do the right thing(s)!”
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace
July 27, 2016
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
The applications of our Lord’s metaphors are almost endless. One application to the metaphor above is that for our candle to give light it must be consumed. Unlighted candles are not consumed, but the candles that shine are the candles that burn. There is no shining without burning.
In another great metaphor Jesus told us there is no such thing as a fruitless disciple. We are like branches and He is the Vine. As branches, if we are properly intersected with Jesus, we can draw from Him the life force to be fruitful. He promised if we are plugged into Him and are fruitful we will be cut back and pruned to be made more fruitful. Cutbacks and pruning can really hurt. They can come in the form of suffering, but they improve the quality and the quantity of our fruit.
In light of these very clear teachings we should not be surprised when we find ourselves burning through suffering that our brightest light for Christ yields the best fruit.
Like many others I thought my most fruitful years were when I was able bodied and active. But I have been joyfully surprised to discover that my most fruitful service for Christ has been as a bed fast quadriplegic. Using voice activated computer software from my bed, 782 Bible studies have been produced and are being heard in 31 languages in 60 countries. Worldwide more than 45,000 small groups are listening to our Scripture studies on solar powered digital audio players I call “God pods.”
Have you discovered there is no shining without burning?
Dick Woodward, 09 August 2013
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
June 10, 2014
“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
In Luke 19, verses 1 – 10, we encounter Jesus interacting with the tax collector, Zacchaeus. The beautiful part of the Zacchaeus story is when Jesus goes to spend His only day in Jericho with this little crook, and all the people are griping about it. It would make a great painting if an artist would paint Jesus who was a big man, according to Josephus, walking home with His arm around small Zacchaeus.
Here we see the strategy of Jesus. He is passing through Jericho. He obviously wants to reach the man who can impact and reach Jericho for Him after he has passed through and beyond the city limits. It must have made a big impact upon the city when Zacchaeus started calling in the people he had ‘ripped off.’ Imagine their surprise, joy, and awe when they, thinking he was going to get into their purses even deeper, discovered that he wanted to pay them back 400% because he had met Jesus! This is an illustration and an application of what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to the effect that the solution, the answer, the salt, the light – is something we are, and that we simply must hear His word and do it.
Dick Woodward, MBC New Testament Handbook (p.142-143)
August 19, 2013
“There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.” (Mark 7:15)
When I was in college the popular thinking in academic circles was that until a child was born it was all about heredity and after a child was born all that mattered was environment. The political philosophy of people like Lynden Baines Johnson and his Great Society was that if we improve the environment of a person we will solve their problems.
As a social worker that didn’t work for me. For example, I once found a marvelous foster home for a 12 year old boy from the ghetto of a large city. An older couple had a very large farm and they wanted to share it with an adopted son. All the way to the farm I explained to him what an opportunity this was for him. By the time I arrived back to my office I had a message from the perspective foster mother telling me to pick up “this little thief.” He had stolen from the purses of ladies who had come to play bridge with her.
Changing the young man’s environment did not change him from the inside out or in his heart. In the passage from which the verse above is taken Jesus went on to explain that the issues of life that determine the character of a human being are not a matter of outside in influences. Rather they are the inside out influences of the heart.
That is why the prayers of discerning hearts are: “Search me Oh God and know my heart.” And “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psalm 139: 23; Psalm 51: 10)
July 16, 2013
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
To appreciate eternal values we must define these two words. The word “eternal” literally means “that which was, that which is, and that which always shall be.” The word “temporal” relates to that which is temporary.
Jesus made it clear that we have eternal life because we are related to the true God and the One Whom He has sent. They are eternal and we have eternal life because we are related to them. We must also make the observation that the words “eternal life” are referring to a quality of life as well as a quantity of life.
The word “value” also needs to be defined. The dictionaries tell us “a value is that quality of any certain thing by which it is determined by us to be more or less important, useful, profitable and therefore desirable.” When we bring these two concepts together we should realize we are discussing what is more or less important, useful, profitable and therefore desirable in this life and in the life to come.
A second eternal value is that the eternal is a greater value than the temporal. The Apostle Paul wrote: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV). Paul so highly valued the eternal he sacrificed his life here for the rewards he was sure awaited him in eternity. If there were no eternal dimension he should be pitied.
Do you value the eternal more than the temporal?