Watching & Listening (by Faith)

July 24, 2018

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds’ feet, he makes me tread upon my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

The Old Testament and New Testament history of the people of God has identified an undeniable reality: good and evil exist side by side. The names and faces of good and evil keep changing, but good and evil have always had a presence in this world. Although forces of evil have tried for thousands of years to destroy the people of God, God’s people still have a presence in this world, by faith.

The devotional application of Habakkuk’s prophesy is that we should build spiritual watchtowers today. When facing overwhelming problems, especially Job-like tragedies that nobody understands, watch and listen in your spiritual watchtower. While watching and listening, Habakkuk wants you to know God welcomes your questions.

While everyone else was looking and listening for the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, Habakkuk watched and listened for God. If we watch and listen for God today the way Habakkuk did, we will discover God is still speaking through men and women of faith.

When Habakkuk looked at his problems and circumstances, he sighed and despaired. When Habakkuk turned to God with his doubts and asked God questions, watching and listening for God’s answers, Habakkuk sang.

When you are overwhelmed with Babylon and Job-type challenges, go up in your spiritual watchtower so that you might:

  • Watch until you see God working in your life.
  • Listen until you hear God working in your life.
  • See, hear, and worship God Who is working in your life.

Like Habakkuk, ask God your questions. In God’s time and God’s own way, God will answer your questions – if you are listening!

Dick Woodward, MBC Old Testament Handbook (p.630-632)


Memorials of Gratitude

May 25, 2018

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” (Philippians 1:3)

It is fitting in the United States of America that we set aside a day each year to memorialize our fallen warriors.  In the Old Testament God regularly commanded His chosen ones to erect memorials so they would never forget certain events on their journey of faith.  When we study those memorials we realize that God wanted them to remember miracles He performed for them. He never wanted them to forget significant spiritual datelines.  He often repeated for emphasis things He wanted them to remember.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we therefore continuously hear the exhortation to remember!

Memorials are closely linked with the attitude of gratitude and the awful sin of ingratitude. On Memorial Day are you thankful for “The Greatest Generation” of the 1940s who saved us from an unthinkable future without freedom? Does your memorial of gratitude continue through those who fell in Korea, Vietnam and now in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Do you have spiritual memorial datelines for which you are grateful as you remember them before God?  Do you have a dateline of when you came to faith in what Christ did for you on the cross? Do you have spiritual datelines beyond that point of beginning your faith journey, when the risen Christ proved Himself to you in miraculous ways?  Do you have a dateline when He made you know what He wants you to do for Him? In the fulfillment of that vision has He brought significant people into your life to help you bring that vision into reality?

Then have a spiritual Memorial Day and be filled with grateful worship!

Dick Woodward, 31 May 2010


Worshiping God with Thanksgiving

November 21, 2017

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him…” (Psalm 100:4)

Psalm 100 is the definitive worship psalm that tells us what worship is, what we should experience when we worship, how to worship, what we know, and what the results should be because we worshipped.

According to David worship is coming before God’s presence, which is like having an audience with a King. Our approach to the presence of God begins at the gates of thanksgiving. This means that in a corporate worship service, or in our private closet worship, we are to begin our approach to the presence of God by passing through the gates of thanksgiving.

As I attempt to maintain my spiritual equilibrium as a bedfast quadriplegic, I get more spiritual mileage out of the therapy of thanksgiving than anything else. David has pointed me to the truth that when I begin thanking God, I soon find myself in the courts of praise coming into the presence of God with singing. In God’s presence, I know that He is God, I am His sheep and I live in His pasture. Then I’m told again that I should keep on thanking Him.

As a result of this worship experience, I know that God wants people in every land of this earth to know what it is to make joyful noises of worship in God’s presence. God also wants it to be known that His truth endures in all generations – not only in past generations.

To that end, God wants me to serve Him with gladness because I entered into His presence with thanksgiving.

Dick Woodward, 22 February 2012


Redeemed & Willing To Say So!

September 23, 2016

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy…” (Psalm 107:1-2)

Redemption means to get something back that has been lost.  It is similar in meaning to the word “rehabilitation” which essentially means “to invest again with dignity.”  Psalm 107 is a marvelous hymn of redemption.  Repeated at the end of each of the five stanzas is a refrain that those who have been redeemed by the Lord should step up and say so – gratefully giving thanks for the various ways in which we have been redeemed.

The psalmist profiles dimensions of redemption, ending each description with the charge that we thank the Lord for God’s goodness in redeeming us in this way.  God redeems us from our chaos when God finds us.  God then redeems us from our chains when God sets us free from our sins.

This is followed by the way God redeems us from our foolish and sinful choices.  The psalmist emphasizes our responsibility for bringing on the consequences of our sins.

The psalmist then describes the way God redeems us from our complacency by meeting us in our crises from which God redeems us when we are at our wits end and don’t know what to do.

Meditate on these levels of redemption.  Ask God to continuously redeem you in all these ways.  As you reflect on each individual dimension of redemption step up and join the redeemed of the Lord in grateful worship.

And say so…

Dick Woodward, 27 June 2012


Entering the Gates of Thanksgiving

November 26, 2015

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)

 In this profound thanksgiving psalm David tells us that coming into the presence of God is like having an audience with a great King.  That audience begins with the gates of thanksgiving that are followed by the courts of praise.  In a corporate worship service or in your closet worship, always try to begin your approach to God at the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.

I personally know of no other worship helps that mean more to me than to begin my approach to God with thanksgiving.  When I begin thanking Him and praising Him for all my blessings I soon find myself coming before His presence with singing.  In His presence I know that He is God.  I know that He is my Shepherd and I am His sheep.  I know that He is good, His mercy is everlasting and He wants me to share the truth of His Word in all the lands of this world because He wants people in all the lands of this world and in every generation to know what it is to make a joyful shout of worship in His presence.

 Let this great worship psalm of David show you how to

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Dick Woodward, 23 November 2011


A Fellowship in the Gospel

September 3, 2013

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to his favorite church we hear him express his definition of a church.  According to Paul, the church is “a fellowship of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:5; 27)  He agrees with Luke who describes the church the same way in his history of the church as quoted above.

According to Luke the fingerprints of the church are as follows: the thumbprint is evangelism.  The people he is describing would not be there if they had not been reached by the evangelistic sermon of Peter on the Day of Pentecost.  The index fingerprint is teaching.  The middle fingerprint is fellowship.  The ring fingerprint is worship and the little fingerprint is prayer.

Just as your thumb naturally touches your four fingers, the teaching, fellowship, worship and prayer of the church are meant to lead to evangelism.  These four functions of the church equip, edify, inspire and empower the church to reach out and bring lost people to salvation in Christ.

Our churches can often be described as a group of people sitting in a circle with their chairs facing in.  According to Paul and Luke we should turn our chairs back to back and face out in a fellowship of the gospel.  I have visited the Dead Sea which without an outlet is stagnant and dead and earns it its name.  Also the Sea of Galilee which is filled with life because it has an outlet.

So it is with our churches.  When we face out and reach out we have an outlet that fills our church with the young life of new believers.  Is your church a fellowship in the gospel?


A Psalm for Thanksgiving Day

November 23, 2011

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100)

 In this profound thanksgiving psalm David tells us that coming into the presence of God is like having an audience with a great King.  That audience begins with the gates of thanksgiving that are followed by the courts of praise.  In a corporate worship service or in your closet worship, always try to begin your approach to God at the gates of thanksgiving followed by the courts of praise.

I personally know of no other worship helps that mean more to me than to begin my approach to God with thanksgiving.  When I begin thanking Him and praising Him for all my blessings I soon find myself coming before His presence with singing.  In His presence I know that He is God.  I know that He is my Shepherd and I am His sheep.  I know that He is good, His mercy is everlasting and He wants me to share the truth of His Word in all the lands of this world because He wants people in all the lands of this world and in every generation to know what it is to make a joyful shout of worship in His presence.

 Let this great worship psalm of David show you how to

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!