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Sixth Sunday after Easter

Preparing, Watching, and Walking

SUNDAY, May 22
Psalm 5:1-8

Let’s be honest. The way of the world impinges on our ability to entrust our pain, especially when caused by others, and its final resolution, to others and to God. Waiting patiently for anything in this fast-food, drive-through, shop-from-home, move-on-quickly world is countercultural. We want instant (and perfect) justice. We’ve seen the squeaky wheel get the grease, the loud get noticed, and those jumping the line get served. To the world, patience seems to be a sure path to ensuring we might just miss out.

But the psalmist reminds us of the more excellent way. Humbly seeking and asking of God, then patiently watching, he recounts truth—God is just; he will not allow evil to prevail. Oh, to be able to consistently let go and let God. Trusting in his steadfast love and righteousness will make our path straight.

Father, help us to trust in you and to walk in your straight path regardless of those who may oppose you. Amen.

 

Forgiveness in Real Time

MONDAY, May 23
2 Samuel 11:26–12:10, 13-15

A man after God’s own heart? How could it be true?

Have you struggled to understand how someone like King David, despite starting well, could fall so far and fail so large, yet still have a legacy of earnestly seeking God? I know I have!

But one thing is clear—notice how quickly he takes responsibility and repents of his sin. No deflecting, no blaming, no negotiating, and no delay. Once confronted with the truth, David immediately confesses. And just as quickly, David heard the words he needed and longed to hear: “The Lord has put away your sin” (12:13). Friends, when (not if!) we fall, are we so quick to confess our sin? As with David (who tragically lost his child), we may still experience real-world consequences, but how quickly we could be freed from guilt before God if we follow his example of prompt confession and repentance!

Jesus, thank you that you are faithful and just to forgive us when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). Amen.

 
Knowing, Not “No”-ing

TUESDAY, May 24
Luke 7:36-39

The Pharisee in today’s passage seemed to think he knew something that Jesus did not. Of course, with reborn hearts, we now see that it was Jesus, not the Pharisee, who knew not only “what sort of woman” was before him but knew the woman herself—as a person.

When a type of knowledge leads to closing off another person to the potential for God’s grace and healing, we are not truly “knowing” but rather “no”-ing. What a blessing to know that God sees deeply into our hearts and, while knowing all we have done in our sinful and selfish ways, loves us still. While we were still sinners or, as some translations say, “God’s enemies” (Romans 5:8)—yes, that sort of person—God demonstrated his own love for us in this, that Jesus died for us! Thankfully, bad reputations, past failings, and former rebelliousness cannot keep anyone from Jesus.

Jesus, you welcome all who would truly pour out their hearts and souls to you. Help us to do likewise. Amen.

 
Giving Not Getting

WEDNESDAY, May 25
Luke 7:40-50

I try to avoid debt whenever possible. Part of that practice comes from my parents who were German immigrants with little to their name, and another part from learning through several painful missteps. Yet along the way I learned that I was in fact in debt—and not just a little—of a different kind. I owed God a sum I could not even tally, let alone pay. There was little comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one in debt to God or in thinking that my debt might be less than that of others somehow.

The Pharisee knows that the woman in our story owes a greater debt than he. Yet by faith, it is she who experiences payment of her great debt by Jesus’s grace. By faith, she acknowledges, respects, and worships Jesus. These may not seem like big things, but somehow the Pharisee’s pride could not be bothered! Can everyone give as she did?

Lord, please humble and inspire us to give to you exactly what you want from us—our devoted worship. Amen.

 

New Life Not “Re-life”

THURSDAY, May 26
Galatians 2:15-21

Some games provide for “do-overs,” such as practice shots, mulligans, or resets. In asking for a do-over, we implicitly admit that our first attempt was a failure. But we have an excuse, don’t we? It was the wind, or I got distracted. We ask for grace. And we hope our next attempt will be more successful.

Some of us may be tempted to look at life that way. But even with a “do-over,” our effort would yield the same result. We would still fall far short. The truth is we don’t need “do-overs”; we need a new life. There is no need to go back and try to relive the past or be consumed with regret. Jesus does not call us back. He calls us forward, starting from where we are today. That is why he says that we must daily take up our cross to follow him (Matthew 16:24), for he now lives in and through us.

Jesus, remind us that we already have new life, and that you live in us. Amen. 

 
Confessing Not Concealing

FRIDAY, May 27
Psalm 32:1-5

Confession doesn’t come naturally to us, does it? Starting with the opening chapters of the Bible, we see exactly what we know to be true of us. We go to great lengths to avoid taking responsibility or acknowledge our mistakes. Instead, we make excuses or cast blame. Yet nothing can be hidden from God. He sees, he hears, he knows.

I recall how it felt when I finally realized I could safely confess what God already knew about me. It was so freeing. I didn’t have to rationalize, make excuses, or worry about God’s response. He is faithful and just to forgive us! I wonder what it would look like for us to practice God’s way of forgiveness to one another—not reluctantly or after sufficient repentance and suffering from those who hurt us, but eagerly, knowing how hard it may have been for the other to confess. 

Jesus, may we forgive those who have hurt us just as you have forgiven us—freely and fully. Amen.

Found and Faithful

SATURDAY, May 28
Psalm 32:6-11

 Finding God—or allowing God to find me—took me 29 long years. How long did it take you? Countless are the ways God protected me to that day, and countless the ways he has protected me since. Aware of probably only a fraction of my needs and potential pitfalls, I have prayed for his protection and guiding light. If only I knew all that God has done in the hidden realm, the physical world beyond my sight, to help me avert disaster or failure! 

His throne of grace is open to all who would seek mercy and help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). For this, we should rightly rejoice and shout—our God is for us, not against us! May we remain steadfast in prayer, steadfast in doing good, and steadfast in sharing the good news with which God has entrusted us as his ambassadors.

Lord, by faith, let us boldly speak of and graciously demonstrate your unfailing love to the world around us. Amen.

About the Author

  • Ben Schoffmann

    I live with my family at our “compound” in Wasilla, just outside of Anchorage. I was ordained in the Covenant in 2021 and have served as lead pastor of Chugach Covenant Church in East Anchorage for the past four and a half years. Prior to that, I spent 38 years in the energy industry, much of it as a senior executive, including eight years leading two Bristol Bay Native Corporation companies and 30 years with Marathon Oil Company in various US and overseas locations. I currently serve on a several Covenant boards, both in Alaska and with the denomination. I am an active member of my local Rotary club as well. I have been married to my wife, Martha, for 32 years. We have two daughters, both married, who between them have provided three wonderful grandchildren so far. In addition to being their “Opa,” I enjoy walking, pickleball, music, reading, and yard work.

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