Photo: Dietrich Bonhoeffer – 1906-1945 – German Martyr
Bible Readings and Devotion for May 29, 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 29, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
In today’s reading from the Book of Ephesians we have a general statement from the Apostle Paul about how we get to live out God’s will for our lives. It is not a blueprint for all of life’s details. Rather, it is a broader vision for what Christian life can be. Let’s take a look at this God given vision for our lives.
Paul presents this vision as being wise in this life. He writes, “Be careful how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise.” According to the dictionary definition, a wise person is one who is: “having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.” Wisdom is a gift from God, which comes to us through the Scriptures and experience, and is granted by the Holy Spirit.
In our reading Paul illustrates wise living by laying out a series of contrast points. Each is to show how a person is to live wisely. Paul writes: “So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit…”
Following these points, Paul makes note of some specifics which guide our lives as Christians. This passage calls believers to live differently and more wisely than the world around us. In this passage, it is clear that the call of Christians is to have a distinctly different and much more positive attitude about life.
All of this is grounded in three significant realities.
The first reality is that Christ has already come into the world and gone to the cross for the forgiveness of our sin. His death frees us from the power and finality of death. His rising from the tomb offers us new life which makes us free to live as God’s people.
The second reality is that the Holy Spirit of Jesus is actively present in our lives in the here and now.
The third reality is that Christ Jesus is coming back into our lives and will be fully visible in the world. Some call this the “Final Appearing” or the “Second Coming”. We don’t exactly know when this will be, but it is sooner rather than later. It may be in our lifetimes or after our earthly deaths. Either way, we live with an expectant hope which knows the days are short. Therefore, God’s will for us is to make the most of each day, as Paul reminds us when he writes, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”
One of my favorite saints is the German Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Pastor Bonhoeffer was a man who knew how to make “the most of the time” as Paul notes. He was imprisoned and later executed by Hitler’s Gestapo as the close of World War Two. Bonhoeffer is described by a fellow prisoner as one who “spread an atmosphere of happiness and joy over the least incident and (had) profound gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive.” Bonhoeffer was often called upon to comfort other prisoners in their distress. When he was being led away to the gallows for his execution on April 9, 1945, he turned to a fellow prisoner and said, “This is the end, but for me it is the beginning of life.”
Bonhoeffer spent his life seeking to understand what it means to live with Christ. His faith led him into the risky intrigue of the underground movement against the Nazi government. In writing about the Christian community during the evil days of Hitler’s dictatorship, Bonhoeffer wrote, “We thank God for giving us brethren who live by his call, by his forgiveness, and his promise. We do not complain in what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what he does give us daily.”
Another story: I heard years ago the account of a man named Bob. Few people ever encountered him when there wasn’t some aspect of God’s grace flowing through him. That is why, when Bob was diagnosed with cancer, so many people were touched. Bob struggled against the disease for a long time, continuing to be active and keeping a positive attitude.
But Bob’s final acts of grace were the most touching. Knowing that so many people were afraid to call a dying person to say, “Goodbye,” Bob took the initiative. As his life slipped away and it became clear that there were only a few short weeks left, Bob began the process of “Goodbyes” from his bed at home. He would call old friends, tell them how much he had appreciated their friendship, encouraged them as they continued on their life’s journey, and say a final farewell. Every moment of these calls was a moment to “make the most of the time.” For all involved, God’s grace won out in Bob’s life, even in his death.
We may not know every detail of each day of the days and weeks to come. Most of life will be pretty normal as we strive to live out God’s general will for our lives. For the rest of life as for Jesus’ followers we get to have it founded in God’s loving goodness and grace. Here is what we do know about God’s will:
- It is pretty clear:
give thanks to God
live in community with others
As we live in community with fellow believers
*strive to do what is right and honoring to the Lord
*strive to be a blessing to our neighbors in life
- We are called to live in hope for the final salvation of God’s people, and hope for the promise of Jesus to be made visible to us again.
In all these, we are invited to make the most of the time we have, not matter what life brings us.
Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of danger and trouble, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen