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.

But for God All Things are Possible

Matthew 19:23-30

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, 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.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
 
27 Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
 
Back in 2003, my Tigers won an incredible 43 games, and lost an even more incredible 119! 
 

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Self-Reflection

2 Corinthians 13:5-10

Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect. 10 So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come, I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
 
These final words from St. Paul to the Corinthians is a challenge to the church – are you living in the faith? How would you answer that for yourself? Your church? Your family? What are the test questions you need to answer to determine that?
 
Living in the faith. I would suggest that living in the faith would mean that the one in whom we have faith has some say in how we live our lives. Does the one in whom we have faith have any say in how we spend our time, our money, our abilities? Does the one in whom we have faith factor in to how we treat each other in our family, our circle of friends, our neighbors? Does the one in whom we have faith guide us in what we say and how we respond to people we disagree with, or what we don’t say?

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A Request, Please

Psalm 119:97-105
 

97 Oh, how I love your law!

    It is my meditation all day long.

98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,

    for it is always with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,

    for your decrees are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the aged,

    for I keep your precepts.

101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,

    in order to keep your word.

102 I do not turn away from your ordinances,

    for you have taught me.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,

    sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through your precepts I get understanding;

    therefore I hate every false way.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet

    and a light to my path.
 
 
I am using an alternative text for today’s devotions to make a request. That comes at the end of today’s devotion.
 
When a child (OR an adult) is baptized at Epiphany Lutheran Church, a Bible is presented to the baptized. For infants, it is a picture Bible. For older children and adults, an age-appropriate Bible is given. The words of the Psalm are shared when the gift is given – may this be a lamp unto your feet and light unto your path.

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All that God has is YOURS. Rejoice.

Luke 15:25-32

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
 
I am using an alternative text for today’s devotions to share with you one of my favorite stories. The text is the end of the story of the Prodigal Son. If the story is not familiar to you, I strongly encourage you to start at the beginning of Luke 15 to get “the rest of the story.”
 
Hear the story of the lost son from the modern setting as told by Philip Yancey in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace?
 

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Unity, not Uniformity

Psalm 133

 

The Blessedness of Unity

A Song of Ascents
 

How very good and pleasant it is

    when kindred live together in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the head,

    running down upon the beard,

on the beard of Aaron,

    running down over the collar of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon,

    which falls on the mountains of Zion.

For there the Lord ordained his blessing,

    life forevermore.

 

Isn’t it wonderful when we all get along and live together in unity?
 
That isn’t always the way things work – even in the church!

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The Meaning of Faith

Hebrews 11:1-3; 23-29

 

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.
 

The Faith of Moses

23 By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
 

The Faith of Other Israelite Heroes

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.
 
Moses didn’t want to do the job. When God called Moses from the burning bush to go back to Egypt

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Some Thoughts on Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35

 
21 Then Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
 
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talent] was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
 
Some thoughts on forgiveness…
 
Have you ever been mad, I mean really mad at someone? So much so that you lost sleep over it, perhaps had trouble eating?

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Daily Devotion Name Change

Daily Devotion Name Change > One in the Spirit
a message from Pastor Charlie Woodward

 
Ephesians 4:1-6
Unity in the Body of Christ
 
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
 
I didn’t realize that when I started the daily devotions “Alone In The Wilderness Together” back in March, that I would still be writing them six months later. In the middle of March when we shut the doors to worship and activities, we had hoped we would be back at it by Easter. That didn’t happen, of course.
 
I am thankful that we can stay connected through the daily devotion, and you have my word that it will continue for the coming weeks and months as we continue on this journey. I appreciate your comments and encouragement – please keep those coming.

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