"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.

Where do you perceive yourself in the presence of God?

by Pastor Charlie Woodward
 

Come Holy Spirit!

The title of this chapter in the book of Job is “The Lord answers Job.”

I think the title could be “The Lord gives Job a talking-to!”

Now, I know that Job has plenty of reason to question God, and why Job has to suffer as he does.

But in response to Job’s request, God tells Job who God is, and reminds Job of what God has done.

“Where were you, Job, when I created the universe? Where were you when I laid the cornerstones of the world?”

God puts Job in his place.

God is God. Job is not.

Now I am not going to get into the details of the Book of Job – that is another discussion for another time.

Instead, I invite you to consider where you and I perceive ourselves to be in the presence of God.

Do you see God as the All Powerful? Or do you see God as the customer service desk operator who is there to hear our complaints?

Do you need a talking-to every now and then?

I know I do.

Sin, at its core, is when we forget our place in the organizational chart of God’s creation. We want to be just like God. But, that is not how God created us. God is God. You and I are not.

When I was in my final year at seminary, I signed up to take some preaching calls to get some experience, and some money, too! In the middle of January, I received an invitation money, too!

Job 38:1-11  
 

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man,

    I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

 

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

    Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements—surely you know!

    Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk,

    or who laid its cornerstone

when the morning stars sang together

    and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

 

“Or who shut in the sea with doors

    when it burst out from the womb?—

when I made the clouds its garment,

    and thick darkness its swaddling band,

10 and prescribed bounds for it,

    and set bars and doors,

11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,

    and here shall your proud waves be stopped’?

In the middle of January, I received an invitation to preach at a church in Wheeling, West Virginia. I was excited about preaching that Sunday, because I had a great sermon to share and I felt it was going to go well. The text was from the Old Testament — the story of Jacob and his dream of the ladder ascending to heaven. I was so excited that this text was assigned for that Sunday, because I had just finished a wonderful book, Where God Meets Man, by Gerhard Forde. It is a great, short book that helped me in my Lutheran theology. In it, Forde states that the idea of the old song, “We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder” is a bad image for us, for it goes against our understanding of God’s relationship to us. We get in TROUBLE when we try to attain God’s position. Instead, God meets us here — at the cross, on the earth, in the relationship of God in the flesh.

So, I was ready to preach my sermon to these people; the old Sunday School song “We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder” isn’t how God meets us. It is not about us reaching the goal, attaining the “goodness” level for God to love us. God, instead, comes down. I was ready to preach against the heresy of that song.

I got to the church early, not knowing what the weather would be, and was able to get familiar with the layout of the pulpit, altar, etc. I was able to practice my sermon as well. But as I stood in the pulpit before an empty church, I could hear the choir practicing their anthem downstairs — “We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” At that moment, I realized the sermon before me was not going to fly. I preached away from the pulpit that day, because the manuscript was not going to work!

 

God is God.

Know that the God who creates is the God who loves and the God who forgives.

Let God be God.

Amen. Come Holy Spirit.

 

Let us pray:

Almighty God, Forgive us when we get too full of ourselves. Open us to your talking-to when we need to be set straight, knowing that you love us. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.


How Wonderful is God’s Creation

by Pastor Charlie Woodward
 

Come Holy Spirit!

How wonderful is God’s creation!

The incredible tapestry God places before our eyes is awesome.

I love to take pictures. With digital photography and memory cards and smart phones, my collection of pictures has become pretty large! Yours, too?

Two things I love to capture in pictures are sunsets and flowers. My wife often reminds me that it would be nice to get some pictures of PEOPLE that are with us, too! I do my best.
"Florida sunset", "ocean sunset"

Photo by Charlie Woodward

Sunsets remind me of the wonder of the universe. The center of our solar system some 94 million miles away is a minute distance in the grand scheme of the universe. I know that the universe continues to expand, and we are continually learning more about the vastness of God’s handiwork. Our God is an awesome God!

In watching as the sun sets and the colors change as the light rays are bent by particles in the air, I am overwhelmed by the beauty and splendor of the artistry of God’s creation. Our God is an awesome God!

Psalm 104:24-34
 

24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!

    In wisdom you have made them all;

    the earth is full of your creatures.

25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide,

    creeping things innumerable are there,

    living things both small and great.

26 There go the ships,

    and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

27 These all look to you

    to give them their food in due season;

28 when you give to them, they gather it up;

    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;

    when you take away their breath, they die

    and return to their dust.

30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created;

    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;

    may the Lord rejoice in his works—

32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,

    who touches the mountains and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;

    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,

    for I rejoice in the Lord.
I am also reminded that this light of day shines on all the world, and all that God has made on this earth. I know that I am but one of God’s beloved, created in God’s image. The sun shines on all the world, and all whom God created. Our God is an awesome God!
 
And then I look at the beauty of a flower. Each petal is unique, and the vibrant colors are breathtaking. How did God come up with these designs? Our God is an awesome God!
 

I wonder how the plants know when to come forth each year. There is a flower that shows up later in the summer here in Ohio called the August Lily. Right now, the flower is dormant, waiting for the time to break through the surface. All in due time. The end of July to the middle of August, it will bring forth its unique pink stalk and bloom. Our God is an awesome God!

What is it in God’s creation that captures your attention?

Ponder the wonder of what God has created.

Take a look at your loved ones. Take a look in the mirror. Behold God’s wonderful creation. Our God is an awesome God!

Take a look at the cross. God will do whatever it takes to restore God’s creation. That includes you and me!

Our God is an awesome God!

 
Amen. Come Holy Spirit.

 

Let us pray: 

Almighty God, may we rejoice in your creation, and give thanks for its beauty and bounty. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.