Nourishing the Spirit

July 21, 2015

“If any man wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the teaching whether it is from God…” (John 7:17)

Jesus gave us a principle that shows us how we can know His teaching is the teaching of God. The principle is this: If any man wills to do, he will know.  For millennia those who approach the proposition of faith intellectually have said, “When I know, then I will do.”  Their premise has been and remains: “the knowing leads to the doing.”  Pointing to their temples they say, “Reach me here.” Then, pointing to their heart, they say, “Then I will follow through here.”  They are essentially saying, “Reach me intellectually and then I will commit volitionally.”

Jesus cut through that when He proclaimed this principle:  the knowing does not lead to the doing.  The doing leads to the knowing.  When you commit your will to doing what Jesus teaches then the intellectual affirmation will follow.  It is only then that you will know the teaching of Jesus is the Word of God and not just the ideas of another Rabbi coming down the pike.

When people followed Jesus on His terms He called them ‘disciples.’  A synonym for that word is “apprentice.”  An apprentice and a disciple are learning what they’re doing and doing what they’re learning.

As Jesus apprenticed His disciples they discovered that the doing leads to the knowing.  Are we applying this principle to our faith as followers of Jesus Christ?

Dick Woodward, Lackey Free Clinic Health Beat, Summer 2009


The Word of God and Life

October 29, 2013

“… that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

This Scripture is an excerpt from one of the greatest sermons of Moses.  Moses preached that the more we understand the Word of God, the more we understand life.  And the more we experience life, the more we understand the Word of God.  The two throw light upon each other.

After studying the Word of God in the classroom for seven years I took a job as a social worker.  While being on call every night for a year I not only learned a lot about life, I greatly deepened my understanding and appreciation of the Word of God.

For example, we are told in the first Psalm that one of the greatest blessings of the blessed man is that he does not stand in the way of the sinner.  As a pastor having picked up the pieces with sinners for many years I know that the way of the sinner is very hard indeed.

I have also enjoyed the benefits and blessings personally and with many others that are the result of building life on the teachings and the value systems of the Bible.  We who build our lives on the Word of God are not only saved from sin but for a life that is rich with meaning and fulfillment.  We live lives that are filled with meaning and a sense of accomplishment in this life and in the life to come.

Experience is a convincing teacher.  That’s why our loving God will make us know that the Word of God shows us how to live.


A Christmas Prescription

December 25, 2012

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”  (Titus 2: 11-14).

One of my very favorite Christmas Scriptures is here where the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus that the grace of God appeared on that first Christmas Eve when Christ was born.  His Church should always be looking forward to what he calls “the blessed hope” which is the appearing of Christ in His Second Coming.

In these Christmas verses Paul writes that between these two appearances of Jesus Christ God wants to appear to this world through His special people by the way they adorn their doctrine with good works and godly living.  The word “special” is sometimes translated “peculiar” or “unique.”

Great paintings are valuable because they are peculiar.  If there is another painting exactly like a particular painting it loses its value.  Paul counseled Titus that it is critical to have spiritual people in his church who will adorn their doctrine with good works and be peculiar people through whom God appears to this present age.

There is a Christmas that was when God first appeared to us.  There is a Christmas that shall be when God appears through the return of Christ.  And there is the Christmas that is as God appears through believers like you and me.

Are you willing to be the Christmas that is for those who know you today?


The Greatest Teaching Method in the World

December 8, 2012

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

The Apostle Paul invested himself in a one on one relationship with a young man named Timothy.  In the verse above he challenged Timothy to have that same kind of relationship with other men, who would then have that kind of relationship with other faithful men.

I had about seven years of classroom education for the ministry.  I also had a handful of older men who mentored me personally in a relationship like Paul had with Timothy.  A great pastor named Ray Stedman invested four hours every Thursday afternoon for a year with me in the Word of God.  He challenged me to do the same with others.

As I have considered the impact of Doctor Stedman’s investment in me and my investment in others, I have come to the conclusion that this is the greatest teaching method in the world.

This method actually started for me when I was a small boy.  I watched my father spend hours sitting in a rocking chair preparing his Sunday school lesson.  Every now and then he would exclaim, “Oh this is wonderful!”

I realized there is wonderful truth in the Bible.  When I was a late teenager I adopted that declared value of my father and have passed that value on to my son who is a pastor.  I am greatly blessed to have had a father and a mother who taught me the Scriptures in a one on one relationship like Paul had with Timothy.

If you are a Timothy, do you have a Paul? If you are a Paul, do you have a Timothy?


A Formula for Hearing

October 24, 2012

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”   (Luke 8:15)

This verse is taken from a very familiar parable of Jesus called “The Parable of the Sower, “ but I call it  – “Four Men in a pew, which one are you?”

Jesus is claiming that when the Word of God is taught, seventy-five percent of the time nothing happens.  The first man who hears is wearing a hard hat – the Word does not penetrate his mind.  When the word is not understood, nothing happens.

The second takes his Word on the rocks. The seed of the Word does not penetrate his heart, or his will.  If the Word of God does not penetrate the will, nothing happens.

The third man understands and fully intends to obey the Word but he loses the Word in the weeds of riches, pleasures and worries.  Again, nothing happens.

The fourth man understands, obeys and overcomes all the weeds above the soil and the rocks under the soil.  He perseveres through all this and produces a crop that is more than one hundred percent what was planted.

Jesus is giving us a formula for hearing when the Word of God is being taught or preached.  We must understand, obey and overcome all the obstacles that are trying to defeat us as we hear the Word of God.

Jesus is also challenging His disciples to realize that as they teach the Word of God unless they penetrate the understanding, the will, and the opposition of the evil one nothing happens.

He concluded this teaching with the challenge to be careful how we hear His Word and how others hear when we teach.


Gifts from God

February 7, 2012

 “What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?”         (1Corinthians 4:7 NLT)

We would all do well to think about and then answer this intriguing question presented by the Apostle Paul.  Can you think of anything you have that you did not receive from God?  Can you think of all the wonderful things you have received from God?  According to the Bible our salvation is a gift from God.  The faith it takes to receive salvation is also a gift from God.  As Paul has implied, if we will do a gift inventory we will find that God has given us many kinds of gifts.

Our DNA proves that God has given us a physical body that is unique and makes us different from every other person living on the planet.  Physically, there is not now, there never has been, and there never will be any one exactly like you.  God has given us intellectual gifts that equip us to live smarter, not harder.

When we receive the gift of faith that saves us God also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.  When we receive the Holy Spirit He adds a cluster of spiritual gifts that enable us to minister in many ways.  He can bring gifts of mercy which enable us to love those who are hurting with great compassion.  He can give us the gift of knowledge, wisdom and teaching that make it possible for us to teach the Word of God.  He can equip us to lead others to Christ.

Make a gift inventory and thank God for all the gifts He has given you!