Bible Readings and Devotion for April 28, 2020
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Devotion for April 28, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
Playing board games with others was a regular activity of my younger years. I didn’t care so much about winning, for it was just a joy to spend time with others. Some of those with whom I played these games had a different attitude. They were happy when everything was going their way. They were melancholy when things were about even. They were angry, sad, upset, etc. when they were losing. Sometimes they would just up and quit. I recall that some of these fellow players over the years would accuse other of cheating, or that the game was unfair. A few would event upend the game board and run off angry or crying. It wasn’t right or good, but it is what I experienced at times.
Today in Ezekiel’s book we read a prophetic word about how the people claim God is unfair. It seems that those who are wicked are complaining that God desires that people turn from their sins and live according to God’s way. Maybe they want to keep doing wrong, but want to have God’s favor? They want to have all the benefits of God, but none of the responsibility and new way of living.
Ezekiel shared God’s response to this contradictory idea. “Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?” In other words, “This is nonsense. You complain that you can’t have it both ways. Your expectations of God are unworkable.”
In the end, what the Lord is calling the people to is repentance. This is when we stop doing the wrong, respond to the connection with the Lord, and, with his help, we strive to live according to his ways. The unfair response of sinful humanity is to grumble that God wants a better and more holy life for each of us.
We talk a great deal about repentance during the season of Lent. For 2020, Lent is over, but the Lord’s will for us continues all year, every year. That he calls on us to turn from our sin to live for God alone has nothing to do with being unfair. Repentance is the core response to the grace of God. In Mark 1:14-15, we have the first sermon of Jesus. Mark writes, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”” In this, God’s goodness, mercy, and grace, enter our lives, and the logical and God willed response is that we repent.
John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry, spoke of this repentance as well. He said in his sermon recorded in Matthew 3:8, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” What does this look like? It looks like a life led by God the Holy Spirit. Martin Luther wrote the following in his Small Catechism. This is from the second about the Holy Spirit:
The Apostles Creed – The Third Article: On Being Made Holy
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
What is this?
I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.
Since the Holy Spirit is who makes it possible for us to believe, to return to God, to be connected with God, then the fruit of repentance is the Fruit of the Spirit. We read about these in Galatians 5:22-23, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”
Sometimes we may be brought kicking and screaming into God’s will. Sometimes we may not like the call to repentance. Sometimes we may resist the urging of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we may accuse God of being unfair for calling us to a new way of life. In the end, we rest in God’s grace, and, by the Spirit, respond to God’s call to repentance. God’s fairness is that he offers his abundant mercy to the whole world, and that includes you and me.
Almighty God, by our baptism into the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, you turn us from the old life of sin. Grant that we who are reborn to new life in him may live in righteousness and holiness all our days, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.