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.

Be Prepared

Matthew 25:1-13

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
 
 

As we read today’s gospel, we have to realize that the people in the days shortly after Jesus left certainly, too, did wonder when and IF Jesus would return.

 

Now, granted, they hadn’t been waiting as long as we have, but they thought for sure that Jesus was only going to be gone for just a short while and would then return within their very own lifetimes!


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Walk-Up Song | Walk-Up Verse

Joshua 1:9

“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

 

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation;

    whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

    of whom shall I be afraid?

 

John 3:16-17

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

 

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

 

Philippians 4:13

13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
 
 

What is your walk-up song? Do you have one?


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Christ, Be Our Light

Matthew 24:1-14

 

The Destruction of the Temple Foretold

24 As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

 

Signs of the End of the Age

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

 

Persecutions Foretold

“Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.
 

 

This past Sunday was All Saints Day. We gathered to remember and give thanks for the saints in our lives.


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The Light That Shines in the Darkness

Psalm 70

 

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me.

    O Lord, make haste to help me!

Let those be put to shame and confusion

    who seek my life.

Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor

    who desire to hurt me.

Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!”

    turn back because of their shame.

Let all who seek you

    rejoice and be glad in you.

Let those who love your salvation

    say evermore, “God is great!”

But I am poor and needy;

    hasten to me, O God!

You are my help and my deliverer;

    O Lord, do not delay!
 
 

This past Sunday, All Saints Day, I shared a memory from the prior Sunday, October 25. On that day, we gathered in the Sanctuary, all wearing masks, socially distanced, grouped in family units to celebrate this steppingstone of faith – young men and women affirming their baptism. We had planned to be outside but it was too cold and wet.


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Words of Wisdom

Proverbs 16:21-33

 

21 The wise of heart is called perceptive,

    and pleasant speech increases persuasiveness.

22 Wisdom is a fountain of life to one who has it,

    but folly is the punishment of fools.

23 The mind of the wise makes their speech judicious,

    and adds persuasiveness to their lips.

24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,

    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

25 Sometimes there is a way that seems to be right,

    but in the end it is the way to death.

26 The appetite of workers works for them;

    their hunger urges them on.

27 Scoundrels concoct evil,

    and their speech is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse person spreads strife,

    and a whisperer separates close friends.

29 The violent entice their neighbors,

    and lead them in a way that is not good.

30 One who winks the eyes plans perverse things;

    one who compresses the lips brings evil to pass.

31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;

    it is gained in a righteous life.

32 One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,

    and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,

    but the decision is the Lord’s alone.
 
 
There are some real gems in the Old Testament book of Proverbs.
 


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An Election Devotion

Psalm 5

 

Trust in God for Deliverance from Enemies

To the leader: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.

 

Give ear to my words, O Lord;

    give heed to my sighing.

Listen to the sound of my cry,

    my King and my God,

    for to you I pray.

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;

    in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;

    evil will not sojourn with you.

The boastful will not stand before your eyes;

    you hate all evildoers.

You destroy those who speak lies;

    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,

    will enter your house,

I will bow down toward your holy temple

    in awe of you.

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness

    because of my enemies;

    make your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouths;

    their hearts are destruction;

their throats are open graves;

    they flatter with their tongues.

10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;

    let them fall by their own counsels;

because of their many transgressions cast them out,

    for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

    let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them,

    so that those who love your name may exult in you.

12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;

    you cover them with favor as with a shield.
 
 
I wrote this devotion just before the 2012 election. It still works today!

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Face to Face

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

 

13 We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God’s wrath has overtaken them at last.

Paul’s Desire to Visit the Thessalonians Again

17 As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 Yes, you are our glory and joy!
 
 

Longing with great eagerness to see you face to face…

 

Many years ago, my dear Aunt Ginny took a trip to Italy with a good friend of hers named Betty. The two were excited about their trip to see the sites. Betty was a devout Catholic and was especially looking forward to their trip to the Vatican. Before they left on the trip, Ginny asked Betty to talk to her priest to see if he could arrange a private audience with the Pope when they were there.


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Thanking God for Martin Luther

Romans 1:16-17

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
 
 

Today is not only Halloween, but also the OFFICIAL reformation day, when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Church in Wittenberg in 1517.

 

To honor the day, I share some history and some quotes for today’s devotion.

 

During his early years, whenever Luther read what would become the famous “Reformation text”—Romans 1:17 “the one who is righteous shall live by faith”—his eyes were drawn not to the word faith, but to the word righteous. Who, after all, could “live by faith” but those who were already righteous? The text was clear on the matter: “the righteous shall live by faith.”

 

Luther remarked, “I hated that word, ‘the righteousness of God,’ by which I had been taught according to the custom and use of all teachers…[that] God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.” The young Luther could not live by faith because he was not righteous—and he knew it.


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A Story About the Communion of Saints

Matthew 5:1-12

 

The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 
 

Today as we celebrate All Saints’ Day, here is a story by Pastor Gary Roth about the communion of saints.


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Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1:1-11

 

God’s Commission to Joshua

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Preparations for the Invasion

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the camp, and command the people: ‘Prepare your provisions; for in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.’”
 
 

I have been making my way through the Old Testament the past few months as a part of my daily devotion. The story of the Israelites fleeing from Egypt and spending 40 years in the wilderness spans several books. The end of that journey and the beginning of a new one is taken up in the book of Joshua.

 

The book of Joshua includes numerous stories of the invasion of the land as the Israelites enter. It is a stark reminder that the land they enter is not a vacant lot! But that is a lesson for another time.

 

What I want to focus on are the words of verse 9. “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


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