Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"God of the Living"- Luke 20:27-40

There have been some interesting questions floating around about what our existence will be like in eternity. Will we be married? Will we know our families and friends? How about our hobbies, will we be able to enjoy them? The questions continue.

The Sadducees thought they had devised the perfect trap to ensnare Jesus. In Jewish custom a married man was expected to father children. If he died childless, that man’s brothers were expected to marry the widow and father children to continue the dead man’s line. That way, it was thought that an heir could be provided for the man.

Because this sounded plausible to those Jews, the Sadducees set a trap for Jesus. We read in verses 32 and 33: “Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife." Whose wife would she be?

The Sadducees believed that there was no resurrection after death, so however Jesus answered their question, He would either confirm their misbelief or be wrong and they would be able to label Him as a false teacher (and a liar).

In the later verses of our reading we see that Jesus gave the Sadducees a lesson in God’s plan. It isn’t about marriage or celibacy. God is “NOT GOD OF THE DEAD, BUT OF THE LIVING.” Life after death isn’t about marriage or child-rearing or hobbies. It is about serving God and celebrating Him.

Service to God and celebration of God’s powerful love are things we have trouble wrapping our minds around because of our sinfulness. But this is why Jesus came into this world: born of a woman, grown to manhood, sacrificed on a Roman cross, buried in a borrowed grave, risen from the dead on this third day, and ascended into heaven. Jesus came and did what we mere mortals could not and would never do. He offers life and immortality to all, and He gives those gifts to all who believe in Him and seek His forgiveness.

Despite our many questions about life and death, this is one sure thing! God “is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

We pray: Lord Jesus, forgive us for our disobedience to Your Father and unbelief toward You. Send us Your Spirit to help us believe more firmly in You as our Savior and Your Father, along with You and the Holy Spirit as the only true God. Amen.

"To Be Blessed"- Matthew 5:1-12

I have, over the years, heard some interesting (and sometimes frightening) ideas of what it means to be blessed. A common enough idea is that a “blessed” person is lucky. Perhaps that would be true if God did not rule heaven and earth and all that is in them. In view of today’s lesson, I don’t believe this view could be accurate. A person dying of cancer, or a war-time widow can be blessed. A school student facing the wrath of an unhappy teacher or an angry principal could consider himself blessed. Even (as I mentioned in last week’s devotion) a motorist pulled over by a state police officer for a speeding violation could consider himself blessed.

Why?

It isn’t because the pain or heart ache or embarrassment are enjoyable, fun, or anything like that. In verse twelve of today’s lesson Jesus cuts to the chase. He said: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The reward is in heaven, friends, and the promise is so wonderful that it enables war-time widows, school children in the principal’s office, even speeding pastors to know and look forward to better days to come.

This is what Jesus came to do, to establish, to share. It is, ultimately, the Good News of life and salvation purchased and won by Him on Calvary’s cross and the now empty tomb. In this Good News we are truly blessed! This isn’t being lucky. It is knowing that in Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven, our victory is won. Our reward is in heaven! God’s love made this possible. In this we are truly blessed!

We pray:  Lord God Almighty, Father, Son, and Spirit, we praise You and give You thanks for all that You are and all You haver done! We give You our thanks for all the saints who have passed from this life to their everlasting reward, and we pray for all the saints now living and who are yet to be born that You will continually bless and keep them in You care. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"I Didn't Know!"- John 8:31-36

I was once driving my car to make a hospital call in another town. As I drove, I noticed a state police officer make a quick turn around and start following me. A few seconds later, his lights came on, and I pulled my car to the side. He was stopping me!

I asked the officer what the problem was, and he told me—I was speeding, doing 65 mph when the speed limit was fifty-five miles per hour! Needless to say, I was surprised because I knew I wasn’t speeding. The officer showed me the radar gun. It said 65! (I had just put new tires on my car, and they affected the speed that read on the speedometer.)

I didn’t argue with the officer or try to avoid the consequences of my inadvertent speeding. I paid the fine and got my speedometer fixed.

In a way, that incident reminds me of those disciples of Jesus who said in verse 33, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?" Or to put it another way, just because you don’t know something, your ignorance doesn’t affect its veracity.

This is true of God’s Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of God’s Law is that all people haver sinned and fall short of the glorious, perfect holiness that God is and which God demands of all people. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ tells us in simple terms that God so loved the world so that He gave His One and only Son Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but receive everlasting life!

The Lutheran Reformation, which we observe on the 31st day of October every year, is a clarion call for sinners to consider all of God’s Word—Law and Gospel—and to learn again what God demands from us sinners and got from His Son Jesus Christ. The Reformation is an opportunity for sinners to be true children of God, knowing sin and Savior! In Jesus Christ you will be free and holy in God’s sight.

We pray: Lord God Almighty, we often fail to know or recognize our sin and need for a savior. Yet You loved us so much You sent Jesus to be our Savior! For His sake, forgive our sins and help us grow in faith toward Him and in love to each other. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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