"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.

What Would You Sing?

Psalm 105:1-11 

O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,

    make known his deeds among the peoples.

Sing to him, sing praises to him;

    tell of all his wonderful works.

Glory in his holy name;

    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Seek the Lord and his strength;

    seek his presence continually.

Remember the wonderful works he has done,

    his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,

O offspring of his servant Abraham,

    children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

He is the Lord our God;

    his judgments are in all the earth.

He is mindful of his covenant forever,

    of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,

the covenant that he made with Abraham,

    his sworn promise to Isaac,

10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,

    to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan

    as your portion for an inheritance.”
Congratulations, you made it through another week! Happy Friday!
Sing praises to God. Sing praises! 
If you could pick one song to sing in one special place to praise God, where would it be and what would you sing?
Back in 2014, we were in the little town of Bethlehem. The group had to walk quite a distance from the bus to the Church of the Nativity. Some in my group were having a hard time keeping up, and it had started to rain. Then when we got to the church, we had to wait in line to visit the holy site.
The church had worship services going on as groups worked their way around the perimeter of the church to the stairway that descends below the altar. The steps were steep, uneven and very worn from centuries of pilgrims making their way to the spot believed to be the place of Jesus’ birth.
We were ushered to the spot where we could kneel and touch the 14-pointed star; 14 points representing the three sets of 14 generations of Jesus’ genealogy found in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. One by one, we quickly knelt and prayed.
Rimon Makhlouf, our incredible tour guide for the trip, then gathered us in a small alcove just to the side of that spot, and together we sang “Joy to the World!”
I had been there before about four years prior. On that trip, we were also ushered in quickly and ushered out quickly. I had expected the same this time.
But this time we stopped to sing. We sang praises to God. We sang a Christmas hymn in the closest place we will ever get to Christmas. Tears filled our eyes. Joy filled our hearts.
Love came down at Christmas. 
If you could pick one song to sing in one special place to praise God, where would it be and what would you sing? 

Let us Pray: 

Thank you, God, for all the blessings you have given to us. Hear the songs of praise we lift to you today! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

Psalm 119:129-136

129 Your decrees are wonderful;

    therefore my soul keeps them.

130 The unfolding of your words gives light;

    it imparts understanding to the simple.

131 With open mouth I pant,

    because I long for your commandments.

132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,

    as is your custom toward those who love your name.

133 Keep my steps steady according to your promise,

    and never let iniquity have dominion over me.

134 Redeem me from human oppression,

    that I may keep your precepts.

135 Make your face shine upon your servant,

    and teach me your statutes.

136 My eyes shed streams of tears

    because your law is not kept.
We seek God’s word, but sometimes what should be easy to understand is not so simple. We seek God’s Word for our lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got simple, direct answers to our questions?
Reggie White was a professional football player and an ordained minister – “The Minister of Defense!” He played several years for the Philadelphia Eagles, and when his contract was about up, there was much speculation about where he would go next.
Several reporters asked him time and time again what he was planning to do. White’s response was that he was praying about it and waiting for God to tell him where to go.
Legend has it that the coach of the Green Bay Packers, Mike Holmgren, called Reggie White and said, “Reggie, this is God. Go to Green Bay!”
Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy?!
I believe the study of Scripture gives us the opportunity to know who God is and what God desires. The more we come to know who God is and what God has done and continues to do, the better we know the heart of God. It is like that person we know so well, that even when we ask the question, we already know the answer.
Martin Luther wrote this:
These are the Scriptures which make fools of all the wise and understanding, and are open only to the small and simple, as Christ says in Matthew 11:25. Therefore dismiss your own opinions and feelings, and think of the scriptures as the loftiest and noblest of holy things, as the richest of mines which can never be sufficiently explored, in order that you may find divine wisdom which God here lays before you in such simple guise as to quench all pride. Here you will find the swaddling clothes and the manger in which Christ lies.  — Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 35: Prefaces to the Old Testament, 236.
I commend you today for taking the time to read this scripture with me. 
Let us Pray: 
Almighty God, we give thanks for your Word. May it be a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.