Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Not Too Good to Be True"- Psalm 126:1-6

A thought came to me as I read this Psalm – some things seem too good to be true. Maybe you have had such experiences, too. Perhaps it was the imminent closing of a business, only to experience an unexpected turn-around. It may have been that you expected a bad report but the doctor came in with a report that was truly amazing! What was thought to be an incurable cancer is not! Relief, amazement, perhaps even thanksgiving could be some of the possible reactions to such news. It is quite possible that in such situations people might even react with the Psalmist’s statement: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad” (Ps 126:3 ESV).

But sometimes people still experience pain and distress. The unknown and uncertain things in life can generate such emotions. The devil will use these experiences in an attempt to separate God’s people from their Lord. It is as if Satan were again asking the question, “Did God really say?”

The fact of the matter is that God DID say this! In Hebrews 13:5 & 6 we read:

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

To these verses we can add Jesus promise to be us always, even to the end of the age (Matt 28:20b).  God really said it!

So with the Psalmist we can lift our hearts and voices to our God:

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

“The Good Old Days”- Psalm 85:1-13

It never ceases to amaze me how many folks will remember and reminisce about the “good old days.” Sometimes they will recall with joy and thanksgiving over past blessings or triumphs. At other times the memories are not so pleasant. In this, it seems that some people and their memories are quite selective. They tend to ignore or discount the times, events and people who challenged them in a negative way.

Regardless, it seems that the “good old days” tend to be a foundation for our present attitudes. It could be that the Psalmist had such an attitude. Looking at Psalm 85, verses 1-3, the writer was recalling God’s grace and care despite the peoples’ iniquities. Verses 4-6 seek a renewal of God’s care and blessing. Verses 9-11 are an interlude of praise to God from those who love and trust in God for all good things. And finally, verses 12 and 13 give a confident affirmation that God will bless, guard and keep His beloved people.

This Psalm is (or should be) a pattern for America and Americans. God has richly blessed our nation and her people with material wealth, bountiful resources, and a great people. But history shows us that this can all change.

Which brings me to a final point, one hopefully not so negative as what has been said already.

In this Advent season we remember that God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to seek and save sinners – not rich people, heroic figures, or American citizens. Jesus came, not because people recall their “good old days,” but because our past is ill fitting at best. The final verse of this Psalm, Psalm 85:13 says it well: “Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.” Jesus is the foundation for truly “good days!”

"A Prayer for Restoration"- Psalm 80:1-7

As we begin the adventure of another Church Year it is appropriate that we begin with a prayer for restoration – for our nation, our families, our world, and even ourselves. The political disruptions, social distress and personal challenges could make a strong person weak. In today’s Psalm verses we read:

O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves.

Thankfully, we have somewhere to go, and someone to turn to. He is the Lord God Himself! In Hebrews 13:5 we read the wonderful promise, “Never will I leave you, nor forsake you.”

It was in confidence that the Psalmist wrote these words: “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” 

We can offer up the same prayer with similar confidence because we know our God has blessed us and kept us and He will continue to do so. He will never leave us or forsake us. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to live, die, and then rise victorious over sin, death and the devil for us! He gives us food and drink, shelter and health, peace and wealth according to His gracious measure because He loves us. And when our earthly sojourn is done, God will gather us to Himself in heaven! This is God’s restoration, and this is our salvation through Jesus Christ!