Unconditional Grace

August 9, 2016

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.”  (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This verse is not teaching the random chaos of life. This verse instead parallels a truth emphasized in the Bible and expressed by the word ‘grace.’  The truly significant events in the life of a believer are the result of grace and not the results of self effort.  The charisma of God upon the work of your hands will make the difference between your life having eternal significance and your life’s work amounting to wood, hay and stubble in the eternal state (1Corinthians 3:12-15; Psalm 90:17).

The writings of the Apostle Paul are filled with an emphasis upon the concept of grace.  The word grace means ‘unmerited favor.’

The blessing of God upon us is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. The grace of God and the love of God are unconditional. When you understand the meaning of the word grace which is found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it follows that the race is not to the swift or strong or wise or skilled…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created  in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:8-10

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook, p.428


A Prescription for Knowing God

August 7, 2015

“… for he who would come to God must believe that He is…”      ..(Hebrews 11:6)

Do you know God?  I do not mean do you know a lot about God, but do you know God?  Do you want to know God?  In the verse above we find a prescription that can help you know God.

The prescription is that we must believe that He is, and we must believe that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  My passion to know God led me to confess:  “I believe that He is.”  But what is He and where is He?

A very helpful answer came through a verse in the first letter of the Apostle John where he wrote: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16).  After studying the quality of love God is, the prescription above led me to ask another question: “If God is this quality of love, where is He likely to be doing His love thing?”

At that time I was a social worker.  Responding to a call in the middle of the night, I prayed something like this:  “God, I have an idea that You are loving where people are hurting.  That’s where I’m going, so when I get there pass the love You are through me and address their pain.”

As the love of God passed through me to them I touched God and He touched me. That night I found out where God is and where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

If you want to know God, place yourself as a conduit between His love and the pain of hurting people.

Dick Woodward, 22 September 2011


God’s Great Faithfulness & Love

June 2, 2015

“He has filled me with bitterness…my soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3: 15, 16, 22-23)

When Jeremiah gets to his darkest hour, he receives a revelation of hope and salvation. Just like Job, when suffering brought him to the bottom of despair’s pit, he received his Messianic revelation:  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon the earth.  And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God!”  (Job 19:25-26)

In the third chapter of his Lamentations, Jeremiah received the same kind of revelation given to Job.  After World War II, Corrie ten Boom told people all over the world how, in a Nazi concentration camp, God revealed this truth to her:  “There is no pit so deep but what the love of God is deeper still.”  This is the same truth God revealed to Jeremiah.  It’s intriguing to realize Job received his Messianic revelation when he ‘bottomed out” through weeping and suffering. God made Jeremiah know the marvelous truth about His unconditional love that is taught from Genesis to Revelation: God’s love is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance.

Reading the Lamentations, I am deeply touched and inspired meditating upon God’s miraculous revelation to Jeremiah, that all the horror of the Babylonian conquest and captivity did not mean that God no longer loved the people of Judah… Another awesome possible miracle, however, is that as Jeremiah received his revelation weeping in his grotto on the hill of Golgotha, he could have been sitting on the very spot God was going to pour out His love on the whole world.

Dick Woodward, Mini Bible College Old Testament Handbook, (pp. 500-501)


Love and Loving

February 13, 2015

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…” (1John 4:11)

The Apostle John points to Jesus dying on the cross and writes: “This is love… that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).  He follows that with the words quoted above – that if God SO loved us we ought also to love one another.

Hours before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus challenged the men He apprenticed 24/7 for three years to love one another as He had loved them.  He then prophesied that by this the whole world would know they were His disciples.  Peter wrote that by His death on the cross He gave us an example and a calling that we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).

The Apostle John is in alignment with Jesus and Peter when he gives us yet another reason we are to love one another.  In principle Jesus was instructing the apostles that the best way to reach out is to reach in. Essentially, Jesus was saying that we have a message of love to communicate to the world.  The best way to do that is to love one another and show the world a community of love.

If our churches were the colonies of love Jesus desires them to be, the love-starved people of this world would beat our doors down to be part of our spiritual communities because everyone has a need to be loved and to belong.  The love John is profiling is the greatest evangelistic tool our Lord has given to His Church.

Are you willing to reach in that you might reach out for His glory?

Dick Woodward, 20 July 2010


The Race vs. GRACE

November 4, 2014

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.”  (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This verse is not teaching the random chaos of life. This verse instead parallels a truth emphasized in the Bible and expressed by the word ‘grace.’  The truly significant events in the life of a believer are the result of grace and not the results of self effort.  The charisma of God upon the work of your hands will make the difference between your life having eternal significance and your life’s work amounting to wood, hay and stubble in the eternal state (I Corinthians 3:12-15; Psalm 90:17).

The writings of the Apostle Paul are filled with an emphasis upon the concept of grace.  The word grace means ‘unmerited favor.’

The blessing of God upon His people is not won by a positive performance or lost by a negative performance. The grace of God and the love of God are unconditional. When you understand the meaning of the word grace which is found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it follows that the race is not to the swift or strong or wise or skilled…

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created  in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:8-10

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook, p.428


Divine Requirements: Justice, Mercy & Humility

August 2, 2014

“And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The great prophet Micah asked a very important question, in effect:  what are the divine requirements of God? What does God expect, require, demand, and command from me?  Micah gives us three answers to that question.

His first answer is that we should do justly.  In other words, we should be a conduit of justice. We should stand up against injustice anytime and anywhere we see injustice.  Since we live in a world that is filled with injustice this could be very dangerous.  Jesus Christ did this perfectly and it got Him crucified.

Micah’s second answer is that we should love mercy.  Mercy is unconditional love.  This is the chief characteristic of the love of God.  David believed that the mercy and the unconditional love of God would follow or pursue him all the days of his life.

Micah’s final answer to his profound question is that we are to walk humbly with our God. Humility has consistently been a characteristic of the great old souls we have known in this life.  C.S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins and we read in the Proverbs that God hates pride.  We can see why God would hate pride because He hates sin.

Are you willing to be the person Micah profiled?  There is a sense in which we cannot become that just, merciful and humble person through our own efforts.  But these three answers give us a profile of the person God wants us to be.

Are you willing to let God give you the grace to cultivate the divine requirements of justice, mercy and humility to be that person?

Dick Woodward, 20 March 2011


God’s Mercy vs. our Failures

July 29, 2014

…& mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...”  (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This word is found 366 times in the Bible. (Perhaps God wants us to know we need His mercy & unconditional love every day of the year – & He covers Leap Year!)  Many people think we don’t hear about God’s mercy until the Sermon on the Mount; however, we find 280 mercy references in the Old Testament.

King David concludes Psalm 100 with the observation that God’s mercy is everlasting.  But my favorite Old Testament reference to God’s mercy is found at the end of Psalm 23.  David’s greatest Psalm ends with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him always.

The Hebrew word he uses for ‘follow’ can also be translated as ‘pursue.’  David brings the most profound description of the relationship between God & man to a conclusion by declaring the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life. By application this is true for all who confess, “the Lord is my Shepherd.”

There are many ways to fail. However, when we understand the meaning of God’s mercy we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail His mercy.  No matter what your failures have been God has sent you a message wrapped in this five letter word “mercy.”  The amazing message is that you did not win His love by a positive performance and you do not lose His love by a negative performance.  God’s love and acceptance of you is unconditional.  According to David, the mercy of God is not only there like a rock for you, but like a hound of Heaven God is pursuing you with His unconditional love and forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, Happiness that Doesn’t Make Good Sense