5th Condition for Peace: Value God’s Approval

May 19, 2017

“May the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)

When Paul prescribes that we should address our peace vacuum by doing the right things we have been taught, he is challenging us to value the approval of God. God approves of right thinking and God approves when we do what is right. When we wrestle with the dichotomy of doing what is right and what is expedient, we should be motivated to offer the sacrifices of righteousness to God, and trust God because we value the approval of God.

God told Abraham: “Walk before Me.” (Genesis 17:1) How many of us do that? Do we really walk before God, all day long, every day? Have we ever actually moved through a 24-hour day holding in focus how God feels about who we are, what we are, and all the things we are doing – or not doing?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus asked the religious leaders a profound question: “How can you believe since you look to one another for approval and are not concerned with the approval that comes from God?” (John 5:44)

There are times in this life when we simply cannot have the approval of God and others at the same time. Sometimes we may not be able to explain to others what is going on in our lives. When those times come, if our peace depends on the approval of people, we will discover that the foundation of our peace is fragile.

One day when we face the certainty of judgement, the way we live our lives in God’s sight will be the only thing that matters.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


4th Condition for Peace: Do the Right Thing!

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


Paul’s 3rd Condition for Peace: Thinking About?

May 12, 2017

“…think on these things…”  (Philippians 4:8)

Paul and Jesus agree that we should think our way to peace (after praying!) Jesus challenged us: The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23) Jesus was talking about how we think and look at things – our mindset and outlook.

Paul gives us the same counsel in his third condition for peace: we can decide how we are going to think, and how we are not going to think. He challenges us to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good news. How much time do we spend thinking about things that are untrue, dishonorable, unjust, impure, ugly, and bad news?

Isaiah wrote, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) Paul and Isaiah agree that if the trust is always, the peace is perfect and perpetual. If the trust is up and down, the peace is up and down. If there is no trust, there is no peace, because we must keep our minds continuously fixed on God, trusting.

What does it mean to keep our minds fixed on God? For starters, we should think about Who God really is, and the attributes of God…

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in prison chained between two soldiers 24/7. Guards changed every 4 hours, which means he never had a moment of privacy, (yet through his witness many of those soldiers came to Christ in a “chain reaction.” 🙂 ) He had to practice this condition for peace continually: “Fix your minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and praiseworthy,” then, “the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” (Just like these soldiers who were guarding Paul.)

In the context of our own experiences of terrifying stress, like combat, being violated by a crime, a terrible accident, surgery, prison, the news that we have a malignancy, or the final stages of an illness, this prescription can give us peace.

“Think on these things…”

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace

 


Resurrection: A Dragonfly Approach

April 18, 2017

“Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.”   (1Corinthians 15: 49)

Have you ever watched a dragonfly move from one plant to another with its two sets of wings making it possible to hover like a helicopter?  A dragonfly actually spends the first two years of its existence at the bottom of a large body of water. When that phase of its existence comes to an end, it rises to the surface of the water, climbs up on the bank and lets it wings dry in the sun. Then it spreads those magnificent wings and begins the second dimension of its existence as an aeronautical wonder.

Easter reminded us that, like the dragonfly, we are meant to live out our existence in two dimensions. If you did a cross-section of that under-water dragonfly you would see that it has two respiratory systems: one for living under water and one for breathing air in the second dimension of its life.

If you could do a spiritual cross-section of a follower of Jesus Christ, you would find that we are also equipped with two systems. We have an outward person and an inward person. Our outward person is just a little clay pot in which our eternal inward person lives.

We are told in the great Resurrection Chapter (1 Corinthians 15), that we are given a body for living this life and we will be issued another body for living in the eternal state. According to Paul, that new body will be a spiritual body that will equip us for living throughout all eternity.  I don’t know about you, but as a bed fast quadriplegic I’m really looking forward to being issued that new body!

Dick Woodward, 12 April 2012

 


God’s Guidance: Light for the Journey

March 28, 2017

“Only let us live up to the truth we now have.” (Philippians 3:16 LB)

The Apostle Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. He often shared the details of that experience as we find 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 his gain column was now in his loss column and vice versa.

After his accounting books had been turned upside down (or we might say right side up), his 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 Christ and the high calling of God to which Christ was leading him.

Paul claims he has not attained all 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.

We can take away from this a prescription for guidance. If we want to see further ahead into the will of God for our lives, we should move ahead into the will of God just as far as we can see. Like driving at night across country we can move ahead into the 100 yards of light our headlights give us, that leads us from coast to coast one mile at a time.

When we live up to the light we have, God gives us more light.

Dick Woodward, 08 January 2011


GOD’S GRACE BE WITH YOU!!!

February 18, 2017

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”   (Romans 1:7; 16:24)

The Apostle Paul begins his letter to the believers in Rome with a marvelous greeting: “Grace to you.”  He then closes his letter with a prayer that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with them.

Paul dictated all his letters but one to a stenographer. At the close of each letter he took the writing instrument from the scribe and in his own hand wrote these words: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Paul greets and leaves believers with a wish and a prayer for grace, because grace is the dynamic of God that saves us. We can define grace if we turn this five-letter word into an acrostic to spell out:

God’s

Riches

At

Christ’s

Expense.

But grace is not only the way God saves us. The grace of God is the dynamic we desperately need to live for Christ.

In Romans 5:2, Paul writes that God has given us access, by faith, into the grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Christ and live a life that glorifies God.

Paul begins this letter and closes all his letters the way he does because he knows it is absolutely critical that we access God’s grace to live our lives for Christ in this world.

Since grace is one of our greatest needs, consider meeting and leaving each other with a wish and a prayer for grace.

Dick Woodward, 24 February 2012


God’s Amazing AMAZING Grace

February 7, 2017

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Romans 5:1-5)

In Paul’s letter to Roman believers, he writes that God has given us access, by faith, to a quality of grace that makes it possible for us to stand for Jesus Christ in this world and live our lives to glorify Him. Paul writes that we should rejoice in our tribulation, because it is our suffering that forces us to access the grace God makes available to us.

In another verse about grace from the pen of Apostle Paul, we read: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2Corinthians 9:8) This is the most emphatic verse in the Bible about the grace God makes available to us.

According to Paul, God is able to make all grace (not just a little bit of grace), abound (not just trickle), toward you (not just Billy Graham, your pastor, missionaries, but toward you), that you (he repeats you for emphasis), always (not just sometimes), having all sufficiency (not just some sufficiency), in all things (not just some things), may abound (not just limp along), unto every good work (not just some good works).

All grace, abounding, always, all of you, I mean all of you, all sufficiency, all things, always abounding in all the good works God wants to do through you!

The New Testament church turned the world right side up because they believed and experienced the truth Paul was proclaiming in this extraordinary proclamation about God’s amazing grace.

Do you believe in the amazing grace of God?

Dick Woodward, 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer (p.21)