Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"A Time of Christian Confession"- Acts 2:1-21

“I believe in the Holy Spirit….”  With these words we begin the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed. How often do we say these words? How well do we understand them?

In his Small Catechism the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther wrote:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.

In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ un the one true faith.

In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all me sins and the sins of all believers.

On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.

This is most certainly true. (Dr. Martin Luther, Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis 1986, p. 17).

This is what we remember and celebrate on Pentecost. It is through the working and gifts of God the Holy Spirit that we hear and learn of Jesus Christ. It is in His power that we come to believe in Jesus as our Savior from sin. It is in the Spirit’s enablement that we confess Jesus as Savior and acknowledge Him as Lord!

I pray that with the prophet Joel we will join with Luther and many saints and confess: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

"A Children's Song"- 1 John 5:9-15

There is a children’s song that I learned as a youngster. Many of us learned this verse. My wife and I taught it to our sons, and perhaps you have taught it to your children as well. It speaks with great confidence of what our God offers us through His Son Jesus Christ!

Jesus loves me, This I know

For the Bible tells me so.

If I love Him when I die

He will take me home on high.

On the other hand, we have Satan, the world, and our own bodies warring against this childlike faith. The argument is sometimes made that this is too simple. That was really what the devil did when he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tried to create doubt and uncertainty in their hearts – doubt that could lead to unfaithfulness and disobedience. The devil’s trick worked. Adam and Eve sinned and the rest is history.

Thankfully, this is not God’s story. It is not His Story. John put it this way:

[9] If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. [10] Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. [11] And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [12] Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

John’s story is Jesus’ story.

[13] I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. [14] And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. [15] And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him He will take.

Satan hates and is afraid of such a child-like faith, because he cannot overcome it. He cannot overcome or defeat Jesus. He cannot overcome or defeat God. The world denies it, but it is still truth. Our sin-filled flesh reasons against it but cannot overcome it. God’s truth remains unchanged. “We know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him He will take.

“Now I Can Sit Down!”- 1 John 5:1-8

Working on a farm, I learned many things. One of the earliest and most important lessons I learned was that I had to clean up for lunch. I would have to wash my hands. If I didn’t I wouldn’t get my dinner – and I was hungry! If I tried to cut corners and just wipe my hands on a towel, I would be sent back to try again. So, as carefully as possible, I would remove the grease and grime. Then I could sit down at the dinner table. But I never did anything to prepare the meal.

In a sense, this is what has happened with and through the work of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who gets us ready for heaven itself! I can’t cut any corners to make my salvation easier.  Hands – with soap and water before meals – my salvation is dependent upon others.

First – there is what my Lord Jesus Christ did for me. Born sinless and pure because Jesus had no earthly Father, Jesus then lived the absolutely pure life I could not. Then He died the absolutely innocent death on the cross in payment for my sins. Then Jesus did something truly unimaginable – He rose from the dead on the third day!

Second – the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and the Holy Sacraments – brought me to faith in Jesus and keeps me in this faith! Through what I have learned from the Bible about myself and God I have come to know my sin and my Savior Jesus Christ! In the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, God the Holy Spirit has created faith in my heart and then kept me believing this Good News.

This is what John was referring to when he said,

This is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?    This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

Now I can sit down at the dinner table!