Bible Readings and Devotion for May 5, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for May 5, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
There is a period of the history of the people of Israel which is less often mentioned. It is the time when the people returned from Exile in Babylon. This is the time from about 538 BC forward. We read about this primarily in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as some prophetic writings.
The remaining Israelites of this time were from the former Southern Kingdom of Judah. They were the Judahites, or as they were eventually called, the Jews. What led to their exile in Babylon was their persistent sin and disregard of the Covenant made at Mount Sinai. This was the covenant which included the Ten Commandments. Around 586 BC they were taken into exile. The Babylonians took the healthy and powerful over to what is now Iraq. Jerusalem was destroyed. A few weak and poor people were left, but the nation was otherwise in exile and slavery. Eventually the Persian (modern day Iran) Empire defeated the Babylonians. They allowed the Jews to go home.
In reflection on this horrible episode in their nation’s history the Jews determined to make major changes. They worked hard to do the right thing in all their actions. This was to honor the Lord and to avoid having a repeat of the disaster of the exile.
Some even went so far as to usher in the Messiah’s Reign. They thought that if they could be good enough it would cause God to send the Messiah. This theological problem comes up in the ministry of Jesus. It had to do with perfect Sabbath keeping by all Jewish men. When Jesus healed people on the Sabbath, it was ruining their efforts to get all Jewish men to keep the Sabbath perfectly. It was then ruining their plans to convince the Lord to send the Messiah. Sadly, they were missing that the Messiah was already in their midst, not because they had manipulated the Lord into sending him, but because the Lord loved them and all the world despite their sin.
In our reading today from 1 Corinthians 10 we see reference to the example of the past sins of the Israelites. One example was the gross sexual immorality of thousands. Some were involved in worship of idols. Others were resenting God’s salvation and provision and were complaining unjustly. What St. Paul wants us to learn from this is to avoid sinful actions. He wants us to work toward avoiding sinful actions, while striving to doing things God’s way.
One thing he notes is, “So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.” This is a reminder to do two things related to sin. One is to trust in God and his guidance and strength as you go through life. The Lord is the one who provides true righteousness. The Lord is the one whose Holy Spirit grants us faith and strength to live God’s way. The other aspect of this is to strive to live according to God’s ways. We have so much information about what God’s will is for our lives. It is not really a mystery at all. We are called upon to do our best to honor the Lord. When we do wrong, it does cause harm, and Paul is guiding us away from harming ourselves, others, and our relationship with the Lord. Therefore, with God’s help, strive toward holiness expressed in love for God, neighbor, and one another.
Both St. Paul and Martin Luther recognized the truth that we daily struggle between doing the right thing and falling into the sinful way. Luther notes this as being, “at the same time saint and sinner,” or “at the same time justified by God’s grace and struggling with sin.” Chapter 7 of Romans tells us this struggle, and that it is God alone who can save us in the end.
As we move through this life, we do have difficult days. We do know the right yet stumble into doing the wrong. In Jude, verse 24-25 we read, “Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” This passage reminds us to strive forward to do the right thing, while always knowing that it is by God’s help, grace, and mercy that we can continue forward in life. In the end of life and into eternity, we are presented before the Lord. By God’s abundant forgiveness we are shown to “stand without blemish in the presence of his glory.” God’s judgement is that we are forgiven and saved by the work of Jesus Christ.
Because of this, as we move through this life, we are called upon to these things:
1) Strive to do the right thing
Love God, neighbor, and one another
Share the Good News of Jesus
Live honorably for the glory of God.
2) Learn from the struggles of our own lives and the lives of others
3) Receive God’s help to live according to his will
4) Trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness for our present and future with the Lord. This ability to trust is a gift from God himself.
Lord Christ, you came into the world as one of us, and suffered as we do. As we go through the trials of life, help us to realize that you are with us at all times and in all things; that we have no secrets from you; and that your loving grace enfolds us for eternity. In the security of your embrace we pray. Amen