"Pastor Charlie Woodward", "Charlie Woodward"Pastor Charlie Woodward writes a daily devotion for the pandemic days until things are back to “normal,” whenever that may be. As the title states, we are in the wilderness alone, but we are still together. We may feel isolated and on our own. But we are in this together. I want to make sure we have an opportunity to stay connected. Each devotion will include a Bible verse, a brief reflection and prayer.  

Find a link to each day’s devotion below, or sign up here to receive the devotions to your inbox every morning. Choose the Devotions distribution list.

This is an opportunity for us to be present with each other in the days to come. You can be present by sharing your comments, insights, prayers and pictures in response to what Pastor Charlie shares in the coming days. For we are in this together. And where two or three are gathered in God’s name, God is present, too.

We Cannot Free Ourselves

Romans 7:7-20 

What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived 10 and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

13 Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
 

Elaine shared a story with me about a time she went to visit her parents for a few days. The retired couple were set in their ways and happy to live at home. Elaine was visiting to check up on them, because she lived some 10 hours from them and didn’t get a chance to visit very often.

The first morning she was back in the home in which she was raised, Elaine was awakened by the sound of the smoke detector going off downstairs. Fearing the worst, she quickly jumped out of bed. Had she arrived just in time to save her parents from a dangerous fire? Were Mom and Dad able to care for themselves in the old house, or was this early morning warning a sure sign that something needed to be done?

Elaine made her way downstairs toward the sound of the blaring alarm. It was coming from the kitchen.

As she entered, Elaine found her dad, oblivious to the alarm’s dire warning, seated at the kitchen table reading the newspaper. Behind him, she saw her mom waving a towel in the direction of the smoke detector. She greeted her daughter with a smile.

“Mom, what’s going on?” Elaine asked in a panic. “Is there a fire?”

“No,” her mother replied, “this happens every day. The toast in the toaster sets off the alarm, and I have to wave it off.”

Elaine noticed the toaster located directly below the smoke detector. She asked, “This happens every morning? Why is the toaster right below the smoke detector? Why not move the toaster?”

Elaine’s dad put down the newspaper and looked over his reading glasses and said, “Elaine, how else will we know when the toast is done?”

St. Paul says to the church in Rome, “I do the very things I know I should not do.”

I do something wrong, and I know the alarms are going off, and I know it’s not right, but I do it anyway.

I shouldn’t do it. I can change. I can stop it, but I do the very things I know I should not do.

Paul’s words are not to be seen as an “Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter” get-out-of-jail-free card. Instead, it is a reminder of our sinful nature.

We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. 

Did you hear that? We cannot free ourselves.

It is only when we confess the reality that “I cannot,” that we can free ourselves to hear God say, “I can.”

If we could save ourselves, we wouldn’t need a savior.

If sin and death didn’t have a hold on me, Jesus wouldn’t need to take the sins of the world (including yours and mine) and put them to death on the cross.

In the very next chapter of Romans, Paul will share with the church some powerful news. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing.

Never forget.

Let us Pray: 

Almighty God, forgive us of the foolish things we do, and the excuses we give for them. Forgive us our sin, and save us from all that we do that harm ourselves, others and you. Thank you for your love and your forgiveness, that come to us in and through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 


Milestone 100

Psalm 145:8-14  

The Lord is gracious and merciful,

    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The Lord is good to all,

    and his compassion is over all that he has made.

 

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,

    and all your faithful shall bless you.

11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,

    and tell of your power,

12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds,

    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

 

The Lord is faithful in all his words,

    and gracious in all his deeds.

14 The Lord upholds all who are falling,

    and raises up all who are bowed down.
 

Photo by Floris Andréa on Unsplash

 

According to my calculations, this is Alone in the Wilderness Together Devotion #108. I started writing these devotions on March 18. Pastor Tracy wrote eight devotions in the middle somewhere. So this is #100 from me.

I will continue…

Thank you! I have heard from many of you that you find these offerings to be one way for us to stay connected during this time of physical separation. You may recall stories that you previously heard from the pulpit. And, I have enjoyed traveling down memory lane with you to recall stories from my past that convey a message.

My hope and prayer is that through these devotions, you may know this:

  • There is a God who knows you – inside and out, upside and down.
  • And this God who knows you is the God who loves you.
  • If you have any doubts, look at the cross.

 

We will continue to read God’s word and find insights to share. I am sure some will resonate more than others. To begin each day in God’s Word is a great start on the right path, the first step.

My second step each day is reading the comics in the paper, which is much more enjoyable than the first twenty-plus pages of news!

I want to offer a HUGE thank you to Kathy Whited, our Communications staff member. Kathy is the final editor of these offerings and the one who gets them from me to you every day.

So for devotion #100, I invite you to focus on the beautiful words of Psalm 145 today.

Read each verse one at a time.

Behold the wonder of God.

Take a moment after each verse and craft a prayer based on those words.

After I’ve offered prayers 100 times, it’s your turn! Don’t worry – I will be back to the task tomorrow!

Amen!