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.

Vocation

John 1:43-51

 
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
 
 

Jesus calls the first disciples. But these weren’t the first preachers of the good news of Jesus Christ. Remember the shepherds? We are told that after they had come to see the newborn king, they returned praising God for all they had heard and seen.

 


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Blessings

Romans 5:1-5

 

Results of Justification

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
 
 

There is a beautiful song called “Blessings” by Laura Story. She is a gifted musician whose career was taking off a few years ago. She wrote the No. 1 worship hit “Indescribable” recorded in 2004 by Chris Tomlin, married a handsome athlete named Martin Elvington the next year, and began working in music and women’s ministry at the 4,000-member Perimeter Church in Atlanta. After signing an artist deal with the INO Records, her 2008 national debut Great God Who Saves, won a Dove Award for Inspirational Album and earned Laura two consecutive nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year—all blessings, indeed.


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I Want To Walk as a Child of the Light

John 1:1-14

 

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
 
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
 
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
 
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
 
 

Epiphany is the season of LIGHT, revealing Jesus as the Son of God. One of my favorite Epiphany season hymns is “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.” It is a song that lifts my heart, and finds hope in the midst of darkness.

 

In the midst of darkness and brokenness and evil in our world, all we can do is sing.


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Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139:1-6,13-18

 

The Inescapable God

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

    you discern my thoughts from far away.

You search out my path and my lying down,

    and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

    O Lord, you know it completely.

You hem me in, behind and before,

    and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

    it is so high that I cannot attain it.

 

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

    Wonderful are your works;

that I know very well.

15     My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.

In your book were written

    all the days that were formed for me,

    when none of them as yet existed.

17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;

    I come to the end—I am still with you.
 
 

As I write today’s devotion, I am wearing an additional hat to those I usually wear. Today, I am Grandpa. Our twin grandsons needed a babysitter for the week, as our daughter-in-law heads back to work. A nanny has been hired but cannot start until later this month – so the grandparents are taking turns.


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Lamb of God

John 1:29-34

 

The Lamb of God

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
 
 

It is the first sentence I remember ever reading. I imagine that it may bring back similar memories for many of you. “Look. See Spot run. Run, Spot, run.” Sound familiar? Can anyone tell me who is running with Spot? Now turn to the youngster near you and explain just who Dick and Jane are.

 

Dick and Jane Readers were the first books for many of us who were educated in the American public school system. At the very core, the first written words many of us ever remember reading are these words – “Look. See!”


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Direction

Matthew 3:13-17

 
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 
 
 

So, I looked at the lessons assigned for today, and decided that instead of talking about circumcision (ask your parents!), I thought I would take another day to focus on baptism.

 

In baptism, we believe that God is the one who acts. This is a gift of pure grace. It is the water, together with God’s Word that the promise of forgiveness, the seal of the Holy Spirit, and life forever with God is given. How cool is that?!


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Torn Apart

Mark 1:4-11

 
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
 
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
 
 
Today’s devotion is taken from a sermon by Pastor Vince Gerhardy.
 

Unfortunately, some of the translations of Mark’s version of the baptism of Jesus simply say that the heavens opened when Jesus came up out of the water. More accurately Mark says, “…as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove”. “Being torn open” – that’s a strange choice of words especially since the other gospel writers are far less dramatic and say simply that the heavens opened. The words “being torn open” convey a sense of violence, energy, ripping apart, excitement, anticipation, joy, elation, casting aside what is in the way. When you think of it – much like a child ripping open a Christmas present. It’s almost as if God couldn’t wait another moment. He is so excited and rips open heaven and sends down the Holy Spirit. He has a gift for the world and can’t wait to rip it open.


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Called or Caught?

Luke 5:1-11

 

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

5 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
 
 

This is not the first time Jesus and Simon Peter have met. In fact, Simon Peter has heard Jesus preach, seen him heal and has spent time with him.

 

BUT now it is time to go to work.


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Who Will God Choose for the Team?

1 Samuel 16:1-13

 

David Anointed as King

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
 
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
 
 

David is the last one his father thought would be the one to be chosen. David? Really? Is that who God wants as king?


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Listen – God is Calling!

1 Samuel 3:1-21

 

Samuel’s Calling and Prophetic Activity

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
 
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
 
10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

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