"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.

It’s Friday. But Sunday’s Coming!

Psalm 75 

 

Thanksgiving for God’s Wondrous Deeds

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

 

We give thanks to you, O God;

    we give thanks; your name is near.

People tell of your wondrous deeds.

 

At the set time that I appoint

    I will judge with equity.

When the earth totters, with all its inhabitants,

    it is I who keep its pillars steady.

I say to the boastful, “Do not boast,”

    and to the wicked, “Do not lift up your horn;

do not lift up your horn on high,

    or speak with insolent neck.”

 

For not from the east or from the west

    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up;

but it is God who executes judgment,

    putting down one and lifting up another.

For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup

    with foaming wine, well mixed;

he will pour a draught from it,

    and all the wicked of the earth

    shall drain it down to the dregs.

But I will rejoice forever;

    I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

 

10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,

    but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.
 
 
Sociologist, author and pastor Tony Campolo preached a Good Friday sermon, and later wrote a book by the same title. He tells of being on stage with other pastors to preach. One of the preachers there had a simple sermon. Just five words, but it spoke volumes: “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming.” The original sermon has been traced to California and Baptist pastor S. M. Lockridge. There are many variations to the text, but the text below is said to be close to the original.
 
 

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God, who will not abide with sin, pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2,000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man, died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Now it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking, because now it’s Sunday.

And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb.

Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone. And the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots, because it’s Sunday. And the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin, and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

It’s Friiidaaaay!

But Sunday’s coming!
 

(With Thanks to Dr. Michael G. Davis for the text version)

The past few months have been filled with a LOT of Fridays, yes?

As the Psalmist writes –  When the earth totters, with all its inhabitants, it is I who keep its pillars steady.

Hold on – Sunday’s coming! 

 

Let us Pray: 

Let us never forget the power of the cross and the joy of the empty tomb. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Wheat or Weeds?

Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 

 

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

24 Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Jesus Explains the Parable of the Weeds

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
 
 

Wheat or weeds? You never know. You never know.

We again get the benefit of not just the parable but Jesus giving the disciples a teaching lesson on it. The wheat and the weeds grow up together. Our job isn’t to sort them out, but to let God take care of that.

An interesting note about this passage: the Greek word used here in the scripture for permit, or letting alone, is also the word for forgive. It could be said that the landowner is not only telling his workers to let the weeds alone, but to forgive them for their actions as well. The evil that surrounds us is not for us to judge, but instead to forgive. Jesus used this same word on the cross, “Father forgive them.”

Everyone thought Zaccheus was a weed, and he was a weed in stature and in morality, but Jesus saw that the true Zaccheus was wheat ready to burst into a golden head of good deeds. 

Everyone thought the thief on the cross next to Jesus was a weed, only fit to be thrown into the garbage dump of Jerusalem. Jesus saw otherwise: this was a man who would be with him in paradise. 

Every Christian thought Saul was a weed hunting down Christ’s followers, watching on as Stephen was stoned to death, but Jesus saw in him wheat that would be scattered throughout the world as he took Gospel far and wide.

In each of these examples, a hasty and early judgment by God would have meant they would have been cut off from his grace. Instead, Jesus didn’t ignore them or disregard them as hopeless. They may have looked like weeds, but in fact, they were wheat.

The parable is telling us to write no one off as hopeless, lost, irredeemable, or worthless, because he/she looks like a weed. That person may look like a weed and our gut reaction is to treat that person as a weed, but in truth, he/she is precious wheat of God’s kingdom.

That’s the way God views each one of us. We readily admit that we are “weeds” – the evil in our hearts and minds takes control. But, God refuses to write us off. He even refuses to write off the person who defies God, denies God’s existence, and allows evil to run his/her life. There is always grace.

Duane was a kid in my first confirmation class. He was a thorn in my side. He didn’t pay attention, his answers on tests and quizzes were filled with answers like, “Who cares,” and, “I don’t know,” or he just left things blank. He was disruptive and rude.

He was one of those kids that every pastor has had at one time or another that you just want to confirm and be done with him or her. Don’t believe me? Ask any pastor who has had the task of teaching a few classes!

I thought I was done with Duane. But over my years in that call, Duane grew up and became involved in some wonderful outreach ministries in the church and community. What I once thought was a thorny soul to be thrown into the fire turned out to be a rich harvest of God’s love.

God so loves us, that he gave his son for our lives, so that we might be seen in God’s eyes as wheat worthy of harvest. Because of Jesus, we are forgiven, welcomed and accepted into God’s warm embrace forever!

When I announced to that church that I had accepted a call to another congregation, it was Duane who was the first one in my office to thank me for my ministry.

Wheat or weeds. You never know. You never know.
 
Pray with Us: 
Remind us again that we are not called to do the weeding. Instead we are called to cast forth your word, in all we say and do. May we bear good fruit for you! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.