December 8, 2017
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
In our culture today, there are many people who are praying for the grace to get through the weeks that begin with Thanksgiving and end with Christmas Day. These people are often ‘single again.’ By that I mean those who have lost a spouse through death or divorce, or those who have lost a child or a loved one.
If you have lost someone, it would be good to listen to the second beatitude of Jesus. He shows that His values are very different from ours when He announces that those who are mourning losses can be blessed and comforted. The word blessed can mean “happy,” “spiritually prosperous” or “in a state of grace.”
If you would like to experience the blessing and comfort Jesus promised those who are mourning losses, a first step in that direction would be to ask the right questions. Perhaps, for the first time in your life – ask the right questions.
When we suffer loss, there are right questions and there are wrong questions. The question “why” is very often a wrong question, because it can lead to questions nobody can answer. There are, however, right questions. When we lose a loved one through death there is a question God wants us to ask. It’s found in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Job, where Job writes: “When a man dies he lies prostrate, he expires and then where is he? When a man dies shall he live again?”
When we are mourning, God wants us to ask right questions like that one. Have you ever asked that question?
Dick Woodward, 10 December 2010
August 3, 2017
“… Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
This has been called the ninth beatitude of Jesus. Jesus began His greatest discourse with a check-up from the neck-up by sharing eight beautiful attitudes that can make us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This ninth beatitude can transform and revolutionize our relationships.
If you are in a relationship, like a marriage, for what you can get from that other person, here’s a challenge for you. For one week, instead of thinking of what you are going to get from the person, ask yourself continuously what you can give that person. After giving this assignment to many married couples I’ve seen it revolutionize their marriages.
If you are in a marriage for what you can get from each other, neither of you is receiving anything because neither of you is really giving anything. The relationship is a sterile empty vacuum. But this attitude can transform your marriage or any relationship if one or both people in that relationship will dare to accept this challenge from Jesus.
There is no place in the Gospels where Jesus speaks these exact words. However, in addition to having this quotation of Paul, the spirit of this beatitude characterizes the relationships of Jesus we read about in the first four books of the New Testament.
I exhort you to accept this challenge of Jesus for one week! If you do, you will prove in experience that there is in fact more happiness (which is what the word blessed means), in giving than in getting.
Dick Woodward, 03 August 2009
April 7, 2017
“Blessed are the merciful … Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matthew5:7&8)
Jesus begins His greatest discourse with a “check up from the neck up.” He teaches eight attitudes that can make us salt and light, and one of His solutions to what is wrong with this crazy world. These eight attitudes come in pairs. The third pair is to be merciful with a pure heart.
One scholar writes that these blessed attitudes are like climbing a mountain. The first pair takes us halfway up the mountain and the second pair takes us to the top of the mountain. The third pair takes us half way down the other side of the mountain.
The profound simplicity of Jesus is asking the question: “When we are filled with righteousness that takes us to the top of the mountain what kind of people are we? Are we Bible experts who throw the book at people?” No! True disciples are filled with mercy (which is unconditional love.) As we love in this way we are pure in heart.
To be pure in heart is only understood when we research the Greek word used here for pure. It is the word from which we get our word to be catheterized. This means that as we are merciful we have a catharsis through which everything that is not the unconditional love of Christ is removed from our hearts.
If you want to be one of the solutions of Jesus in this world, hunger and thirst for what is right and you will find that love is right and right is love. Being a conduit of the love and mercy of Jesus will make you His salt and light.
Dick Woodward, 13 April 2010
March 14, 2017
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6: 22-23)
Someone has said that 5% of people think, 10% think they think, while 85% would rather die than think…. and the 10% who think they’re thinking are merely rearranging their prejudices! In the teaching of Jesus from Matthew 6, He tells us that the way we think can be the difference between a life filled with light and a life filled with darkness, depression and unhappiness. In this teaching, He is focusing a great question: “How do you see things?”
In this profound metaphor, Jesus is challenging us to join the 5% who think, and He is emphatically teaching the critical importance of thinking correctly. When Jesus refers to the eye He means our outlook and our mindset. In that sense, He is saying that if our eyes are good and healthy our lives can be filled with joy, but if our outlooks and mindsets are unhealthy our lives can be filled with the opposite.
The context in which Jesus shares this metaphor is the great discourse He gave to His disciples. The most sound and healthy truths for living in this world are found in what we call The Sermon on the Mount which is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7.
The best way to have a spiritually healthy mindset is to align what we think with the values Jesus taught and modeled in this great discourse and in His other teachings.
Dick Woodward, 17 September 2010
May 1, 2015
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:9-10)
As Jesus profiles what makes a disciple salty light and His solution to the problems and the problem people of this world, He declares that they will be peacemakers who get persecuted in His fourth pair of Beatitudes.
A synonym for “peacemakers” is “reconcilers.” Paul writes (in Second Corinthians 5:13-6:2), that every believer who has been reconciled to God through Christ is now committed to the message and the ministry of reconciliation. Today many people are alienated from God, from themselves, and from other people. The acute need today, therefore, is for reconciliation. To quote a theologian, who was interpreting the passage referenced above, “It is the will of the Reconciler that the reconciled are to be the vehicles of reconciliation in the lives of the un-reconciled.”
Since reconcilers go where the conflict is happening they are often in great danger. Such is the case with disciples who are living the fourth pair of Beatitudes. You would think that if a person had the eight blessed attitudes in their lives others would gather around him or her and sing, “For he’s (or she’s) a jolly good fellow!” But the opposite is often true. They attack and persecute such a person.
The reason being when they meet such a person they have two choices: They can realize that this is what I should be like, or they can attack that person and try to prove that they’re really not what they appear to be. Those who are the salt of the earth irritate and burn the moral sores of those who are lost.
So let me ask you, two men (people) in a pew, which one are you?
Dick Woodward, 16 April 2010
January 31, 2014
“…He gives power to the weak…” (Isaiah 40:29)
There are many ways to be powerful. We can be physically powerful, intellectually powerful, or we can be spiritually powerful like the prophet who speaks for God with the energizing anointing of the Holy Spirit upon his words. Often preachers seek out those who preach with great spiritual power trying to discover their secret. Their pursuit of spiritual power is often accompanied by a frantic attempt to strengthen their own spiritual life.
As one of the most spiritually powerful people who ever lived, the Apostle Paul shared the best kept secret of spiritual power when he wrote: “When I am weak then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) He preceded that by claiming God told him:“My strength is made perfect in (your) weakness.” It is in this context that Paul told the Corinthian Church he was with them in great weakness. He also challenged them to take a good look at their church because if they did they would realize: “God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…” (1Corinthians 1:27)
Jesus taught that the first attitude we need to be salt and light is to be poor in spirit. This means among other things that we are in touch with our spiritual weakness. After we realize that we can’t do the work of God in our own power and offer ourselves as a conduit of what God wants to be and do through us, then God gives spiritual power to us in our weakness.
God gives power to the weak. We don’t find spiritual power by trying to make ourselves strong, but by confessing and accepting our weakness.