Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Support Your Team!"- Philippians 3:17-4:1

This is one of those times of the year when school students gather in gymnasiums and pool their vocal resources to cheer on their teams. Boisterous comradery is a part of such activities.  (I remember my own days as a high school student, sitting in bleachers, or riding on crowded school busses, singing the praises of our team.) I suspect that St. Paul could have understood this; and beyond feeling this way, he could easily have supported and encouraged it within reason.

This was really what he was doing in our text. He cited the risks of supporting and rooting for the wrong team. He clearly identified them as “enemies of the cross of Christ.” He made a clear prediction of their team and their aspirations – “their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame.” And finally, in verses 20 and 21 St. Paul gave a clear statement of who and what we are – redeemed sinners and believers in Jesus Christ. Paul also gave a clear statement of what would happen to Jesus’ followers. Their bodies would be transformed.

St. Paul’s cheer is simple and clear: “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”

These are times when we need such pep talks – sickness, aging, the prospect of death, distance and separation from loved ones.  There are wars and rumors of war. There are financial perils of many sorts. These are times when we need to be strengthened and encouraged. These are times when we need to hear our Savior’s voice and hear His promises. We need to feel His hand on our hand. Jesus is with us always. He will neither leave us nor forsake us. Jesus Christ, who fought the fight and won the war is on our side! He is now in heaven preparing everlasting homes for us! Jesus “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

We can cheer with confidence and joy! Jesus lives. Jesus lives. The victory is won!

We pray: Lord Jesus Christ, the devil seeks to destroy our faith and weaken our resolve. Help us, by your Spirit, to always remember and celebrate your victory over sin, death and the devil for our salvation! Amen.

"Believe and Confess"- Romans 10:8b-13

Perhaps you have heard or even used the adage, “Put your money where your mouth is.” If so, you would be in some very good company. This is, in essence, what St Paul was telling his readers in our text.

He said in verse 9 of our reading: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

He explained it this way: “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

Paul’s rationale was this: “For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. “

What does this have to do with you and me? Just this – during this pre-Easter Lenten season we have the opportunity to rehearse in our minds what God did for us and our salvation through the suffering and death of His Son. We have the chance to hear again the testimony of those who betrayed an innocent man, those who were saved through His sacrifice and what that means for all sinners.

As you have opportunity, I hope and pray that you will attend those extra midweek worship services and rehearse in your minds (and reinforce in your hearts) what God our Lord has done for you – what God our Savior has won for you!

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

We pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Son and the cross-bought salvation He has won for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"God Speaks"- Psalm 99

Going back to the days of the exodus from slavery in Egypt and before, God spoke to His people. He had wrestled with Jacob. He called Adam by name. He came to Abraham when he was already an older man and told him that he would be a father. He comes to us today in Word and Sacrament – in the Bible and Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. God still speaks to His people.

From our modern and somewhat jaded perspective, we may be tempted to think less highly of God’s current form of communicating with us. Many of us would rather He present Himself and His will with thunderbolts and earthquakes. I am not sure about that, though. Having been caught in tornados, feeling the earth quake under my feet, seeing the birth of livestock, and death of elderly congregational members I have had opportunity to witness much of God’s power and experience His grace.

Like the Psalmist of old I stand in awe of God and His revealed power and love. Nowhere is His love more evident than in the cross of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. There God made the ultimate sacrifice for sinners. There He spent His Son’s bloody death on a Roman cross as the single payment which would redeem inners from an eternity in hell.

This is what gives us the opportunity and the reason to celebrate God! Jesus did not stay dead. He rose. He is alive! In the redemption God offers us in Jesus God gives us a future! When a person is caught in a tornado, washed away in a flash flood, or shaken by an earthquake sitting at the bed side of a dying relative or friend much become trivial we still experience God’s power and can hear His voice.

Join with the Psalmist and say:

    Moses and Aaron were among his priests,

        Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.

        They called to the Lord, and he answered them.

   In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;

        they kept his testimonies

        and the statute that he gave them.

   O Lord our God, you answered them;

        you were a forgiving God to them,

        but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

   Exalt the Lord our God,

        and worship at his holy mountain;

        for the Lord our God is holy! (Psalm 99:6-9)

 

We pray: O Lord, we offer to you our thanks and praise for all things, especially the person, work, and salvation won by your Son Jesus Christ. In His name. Amen.

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