Who will show us something good?

April 28, 2017

“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 4:5)

In this Psalm King David has insomnia because he is doing the expedient thing rather than what is right. He’s doing this because if he does the right thing he cannot see how he can possibly survive. Since he is a man of deep spiritual integrity this keeps him awake all night. In the middle of the night, he resolves in his heart that he is going to make whatever sacrifices he must make to do what is right and then trust the Lord for his survival. This decision changes his emotional anxiety and insomnia to peace and peaceful sleep.

His motivation is the many people asking: “Who will show us something good?” In other words, these people are looking for someone who will do what is right even if it costs everything they have to do right.

Psalm 4 begins with a prayer that is addressed to the God Who relieves us when we are in distress. If you want to know what distress is just drop the first two letters of the word and you know that this Psalm is all about being relieved from our (di)-stress.

If you are a spiritually oriented person and you’re not doing what is right because you cannot see how you can survive if you do, are you willing to resolve making whatever sacrifices you must to do what is right – and then trust God for the outcome?

Dick Woodward, 23 April 2010


How Do You See Things?

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


Overcoming Prejudice: God’s Agape Love At Work

February 23, 2017

“…The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.”  (Jonah 3:1)

In the story Jonah tells us, he is not the hero. God is. What does the fact that Jonah wrote this story, which makes him look foolish, tell us about his values and motivations for telling it on himself? A paraphrased summary of Jonah’s truth looks something like this:

‘When I went Nineveh, I was not agape love, but God was. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t love Ninevites, Lord.’ But God said to me, ’I can, Jonah, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  I told the Lord, ‘I don’t want to go and I don’t want to love Ninevites, Lord!’  The Lord said to me, ‘I know that, Jonah. But, you see, I want to love Ninevites, so let’s go to Nineveh!’  When I went to Nineveh and while I was in the city of Nineveh, I did not love Ninevites. When I was in the city of Nineveh, however, God loved the entire population of Nineveh through me.’

Miracle of miracles, God saved the entire population of Nineveh through the preaching of this prophet who hated the people God wanted to save.

…To be “prejudiced” means to “pre-judge.”  Prejudice comes in many sizes, shapes and forms. Is the work of God in this world through you being blocked because of your prejudice? Are there people with whom you do not share the Gospel because you have animosity toward them? Or because they are above or below your level of education, wealth or social status? Do you fear apathy, ridicule, hostility or embarrassment?

When you experience God’s call are you joining Jonah by saying, “I will not?”

When are you going to let the love and power of the Spirit of Christ cut through all your conscious and unconscious prejudice and say to God, “I will?” It’s not a matter of what you can do, but of what God can do.

Faithfulness is your responsibility; fruitfulness is God’s responsibility.

          Dick Woodward,

Jonah Coming & Going: True Confessions of a Prophet

 

Editor’s Note: There will be a brief hiatus the next few weeks here @ The Four Spiritual Secrets while the Blog Posting Elf travels (minus her computer.) Blessings to all!


Sowing in Tears

February 10, 2017

“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


Zechariah & The Unbelief Conundrum

December 2, 2016

“But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born.” (Luke 1:20)

A teenager once asked me this thoughtful question about Christmas: “Since there was so much hype about the birth of Jesus Christ, why is it that thirty years later nobody seemed to believe in Him?  You would think everyone would have just been waiting for Him to begin His ministry!”

Actually, there were only a handful of people who knew about that first Christmas. The first one was a priest named Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth were a godly couple, very advanced in years. They had no children, but the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that they were going to have a child who would be the last of the prophets to tell us about the coming of the Messiah. Their son, whom they were to call John, would point at Jesus Christ and introduce Him to this world.

Zechariah did not believe the angel. He was therefore told that everything he had heard was going to happen, but he would be mute and unable to tell anyone until his child was born. This priest had the greatest sermon to preach: God was going to intersect human history!  But, he could not preach it because of his unbelief.

Before you are too hard on Zechariah, let me ask you a question. The New Testament tells us more than three hundred times that God is going to intersect human history a second time when Jesus Christ comes back again. Have you ever told anyone about the Christmas to be?

 Or does your unbelief shut your mouth?

Dick Woodward, 02 December 2011


Two people in a pew, which one are you?

November 29, 2016

“There we saw the giants… and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight.”  (Numbers 13:33)

The book of Numbers records the death of an entire generation. Twelve spies were sent to do reconnaissance in the land of Canaan. Ten of the spies gave a report focusing on the giants. Only two spoke of the greatness of the land and exhorted the Israelites to invade Canaan. While Joshua and Caleb were men of great faith, the other ten were experts in Giantology.

The entire generation who listened to the ten perished in the wilderness; only two people survived the most tragic judgment of God recorded in the Bible. An old spiritual put it this way: “Others saw the giants. Caleb (and Joshua) saw the Lord!” We read that they followed the Lord because they believed God well able to conquer those giants.

I have spent most of my adult life as a pastor. I cannot help but allow the thought that the twelve spies resemble a board of Elders, a Session, a Vestry, or a board of Stewards. Sometimes when a church is facing a huge challenge two will have the faith of Caleb and Joshua and ten will be expert giantologists.

We all have “giants” in our lives. As a bed-fast quadriplegic with a wife in a wheelchair, I certainly have mine. I’m sure you have yours. We also have choices. We can choose to see the giants and spend much time talking about how big they are. Or we can choose to see the Lord conquering our giants. We might call this: “Two people in a pew — which one are you?”

Are you a Caleb with conquering-the-giants faith, or are you getting your Ph.D. in Giantology?

Dick Woodward, 27 November 2013


MINE, MINE, MINE vs. GOD’S

November 8, 2016

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful… And what do you have that you did not receive? (1Corinthians 4: 2, 7)

The biblical word “steward” is not fully understood or appreciated.  It is actually one of the most important words in the New Testament.  A synonym for this word is “manager.” Many people believe this word primarily relates to a person’s money, but that application falls far short of the essential meaning of this word.

Paul asks the probing question: “And what do you have that you did not receive?”  He is telling us that our stewardship applies to everything we have received from God. This means our time, energy, gifts and talents, our health and all the things that make up the essence of our very life, including all of our money and possessions.

At the age of 65 my best friend, a very successful businessman, had what he refers to as a “halftime” experience when he came to fully appreciate this word steward. His regular custom was to draw a line down the middle of the top page of a legal pad. On the left side of that line he wrote, “My Business,” while on the right side of the line he wrote, “God’s Business.” When he fully appreciated this word, steward, he erased that line because he realized it was all God’s business.

Remember, the important thing about stewardship is that we be found faithful.  Do you realize there is nothing in your life you did not receive from God?  Do you know that you are to faithfully manage everything you have received from God?  Are you willing to have a halftime experience and erase the line between what is yours and what is God’s?

Dick Woodward, 10 June 2010