Pastor Charlie Woodward writes a daily devotion for the days of the pandemic, until things are back to “normal,” whenever that may be. This is an opportunity to stay connected, to be together. Each devotion will include a Bible verse, a brief reflection and prayer.  
 
This devotion has undergone a name change to One in the Spirit. Learn more here.
 
Access each day’s devotion below, or sign up here to receive the devotions to your inbox every morning. Choose the “Devotions” distribution list.

God’s Temple

1 Peter 2:4-10

New International Version
 

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

 

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

    a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

    will never be put to shame.”[b]

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected

    has become the cornerstone,”[c]

8 and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble

    and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

 

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 

Footnotes

  • a. 1 Peter 2:5 Or into a temple of the Spirit
  • b. 1 Peter 2:6 Isaiah 28:16
  • c. 1 Peter 2:7 Psalm 118:22
  • d. 1 Peter 2:8 Isaiah 8:14
 
 

Today’s reading is from the New International Version. I decided to use this translation for the footnotes that are listed at the bottom of today’s lesson.


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My Prized Possession

Mark 10:17-27

 
17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
 
23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
 
 

Someone put together a collection of signs that take on different meanings when one tries to translate into English for the tourists who are visiting there.


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Trust

Hebrews 11:1-3, 13-19

 

The Meaning of Faith 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. 

17 By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, 18 of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” 19 He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
 
 

Today’s devotion is based on a sermon by Dr. Luke Bouman.

 

Trust me.

 

What do you think when you hear someone say that to you?


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Sharing the Good News

Psalm 105:1-11, 37-45

 
God’s Faithfulness to Israel
 

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.”

 

37 Then he brought Israel out with silver and gold,

    and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.

38 Egypt was glad when they departed,

    for dread of them had fallen upon it.

39 He spread a cloud for a covering,

    and fire to give light by night.

40 They asked, and he brought quails,

    and gave them food from heaven in abundance.

41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;

    it flowed through the desert like a river.

42 For he remembered his holy promise,

    and Abraham, his servant.

 

43 So he brought his people out with joy,

    his chosen ones with singing.

44 He gave them the lands of the nations,

    and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,

45 that they might keep his statutes

    and observe his laws.

Praise the Lord!
 
 

Welcome to March!


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Empty Hands

Mark 8:31-38

 

31 [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
 
 

Jesus words are pretty blunt, don’t you think? Deny yourself, take up the cross and follow. If I were to translate this passage for today to put it into terms that might be more appropriate for us, I would say this:


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What God Desires

Micah 6:1-8

 

God Challenges Israel

Hear what the Lord says:

    Rise, plead your case before the mountains,

    and let the hills hear your voice.

Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord,

    and you enduring foundations of the earth;

for the Lord has a controversy with his people,

    and he will contend with Israel.

“O my people, what have I done to you?

    In what have I wearied you? Answer me!

For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,

    and redeemed you from the house of slavery;

and I sent before you Moses,

    Aaron, and Miriam.

O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,

    what Balaam son of Beor answered him,

and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,

    that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”

 

What God Requires 

“With what shall I come before the Lord,

    and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

    with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

    and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

    and to walk humbly with your God?
 
 
 

Today I share a couple of video greetings from ELCA Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton.


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Beggars Looking for Food

Psalm 22:23-31

 

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!

    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;

    stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

24 For he did not despise or abhor

    the affliction of the afflicted;

he did not hide his face from me,

    but heard when I cried to him.

 

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;

    my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;

    those who seek him shall praise the Lord.

    May your hearts live forever!

 

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember

    and turn to the Lord;

and all the families of the nations

    shall worship before him.

28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,

    and he rules over the nations.

 

29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;

    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,

    and I shall live for him.

30 Posterity will serve him;

    future generations will be told about the Lord,

31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,

    saying that he has done it.
 
 

How are fed? What satisfies you?

 

As of March 14, these devotions will come to an end. I will be moving to a new call and congregation, and will need to focus my time and energy on how I can best serve the people to whom I am called.


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Wrestling with God

Genesis 32:22-32

 
22 [Jacob] got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24 Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27 So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”  31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.
 
 

I was asked to offer a ministry to lift up as a recipient of gifts that could be offered in honor of my ministry at Epiphany upon my departure. The one I selected is Jacob’s Porch, the Lutheran Campus Ministry at The Ohio State University. The campus pastor there is Grant Eckhart, who is a son of our congregation. Grant is doing great work in that community, and we are blessed to have him as a partner in ministry.


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Temptations – Not the Musical Group!

Matthew 4:1-11

 

1 Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

 

‘One does not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

 

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

 

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,

so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

 

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

 

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

 

‘Worship the Lord your God,

and serve only him.’ ”

 

11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
 
 

Years ago at my previous congregation, I suggested that we consider giving up those things that distract us or take up our time away from our relationship with God.


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Recalling God’s Deeds

Psalm 77

 
 

God’s Mighty Deeds Recalled

To the leader: according to Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A Psalm.

 

I cry aloud to God,

    aloud to God, that he may hear me.

In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;

    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;

    my soul refuses to be comforted.

I think of God, and I moan;

    I meditate, and my spirit faints. Selah

 

You keep my eyelids from closing;

    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I consider the days of old,

    and remember the years of long ago.

I commune with my heart in the night;

    I meditate and search my spirit:

“Will the Lord spurn forever,

    and never again be favorable?

Has his steadfast love ceased forever?

    Are his promises at an end for all time?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

10 And I say, “It is my grief

    that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”

 

11 I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;

    I will remember your wonders of old.

12 I will meditate on all your work,

    and muse on your mighty deeds.

13 Your way, O God, is holy.

    What god is so great as our God?

14 You are the God who works wonders;

    you have displayed your might among the peoples.

15 With your strong arm you redeemed your people,

    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

 

16 When the waters saw you, O God,

    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;

    the very deep trembled.

17 The clouds poured out water;

    the skies thundered;

    your arrows flashed on every side.

18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;

    your lightnings lit up the world;

    the earth trembled and shook.

19 Your way was through the sea,

    your path, through the mighty waters;

    yet your footprints were unseen.

20 You led your people like a flock


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