Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"The Ascension"- Psalm 47

I was going to college, and I really didn’t like the town, the classes, my professors, or much anything else. It was the first time I had been separated from my family, and my father had been seriously ill.  I was separated from my friends. I was homesick. Plus, I had to take a job that I didn’t really like. I felt that I couldn’t do anything about my situation. Perhaps you have also found yourself in a similar situation; and I sometimes wonder if Jesus felt the same.

I managed to graduate, and then I went on to the seminary. I graduated and then became a pastor—what I long wanted to be. (And by the way, this is why you are reading this devotion.) Becoming a pastor is what I truly wanted to do with my life.

Jesus had dreams and desires, too. He successfully fought against the temptations of Satan, endured the agonies of a Roman crucifixion, lay dead in a borrowed tomb, and then rose victorious over sin, death, and the devil on Easter morning. Jesus didn’t have to do these things, but because He loved all people, He willingly gave Himself over to that ugly, pain-filled life and death.

The Psalmist said it well: “God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.” Jesus Christ is THAT SHOUT, THAT SOUND OF A TRUMPET!

What should we do or say in response? The Psalmist said it well: “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!” Jesus’ ascension is God’s confirmation of all Jesus did and His approval of all Jesus promises. Sometimes that is all there is to do. So, on Ascension Day we celebrate the victory of our Lord and Savior!

We pray: On Ascension Day we celebrate Jesus’ victory and our salvation! We thank You for this gift of grace and ask Your continued blessings for all Jesus’ followers. In His name we pray. Amen.

"No Laughing Matter"- John 16:23-33

It makes me chuckle to read about the disciples and how they responded to Jesus’ teaching. It is as though they heard the teaching but failed to assimilate the lesson (see verse 16:29). Jesus responded with what I consider a rather incredulous comment: “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.” No victory celebration, no tickertape parade—just a bunch of frightened men who feared for their lives.

I see myself in this picture. Perhaps you will also.

I remember standing before the altar at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Westfield, Wisconsin with my confirmation class. That was March 22, 1964. We all promised to be faithful to our Lord and His Church. I also remember that one of my classmates never set foot in that church building again after confirmation. He had no time or interest in the thing called “church.” 

In a way, I think, his was a very human response to the things of God. Some will welcome what God reveals, but others will simply run from His Truth. This could be a temptation to chuckle, but I cannot. It isn’t funny. It is more like watching a loved one die slowly and horribly.

So, how is it with you?

Despite our weaknesses we have a word of encouragement from our Master. Jesus said: “But take heart; I have overcome the world."  Jesus fought the battled Satan, the world, even His own flesh. He knew that His disciples would bail on Him, yet Jesus re-called them to serve as his disciples. Peter was slow to figure things out, but he was commissioned to feed Jesus’ sheep. The same thing happens to each of us. We may panic and even run away from our possibilities, but Jesus still calls to us because He still loves us.

We pray: Lord Jesus, You have lived and died for us; and You call on us to believe You and obey Your commands. Send us Your Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith and make bold our hearts so that we can obey You always and declare Your saving works wherever we go and in all we do. We ask these things in Your gracious name. Amen.

"A New Commandment"- John 13:31-35

The spiritual song’s refrain said it well. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love….”

As a youngster, I used to enjoy singing this song. It would fill me with hope, confidence, and joy. And when I would see an often loveless and sin-filled world, I would wonder where all the Christians had gone. Perhaps you have felt the same.

As I have aged, I have learned something that I consider very important. It is that people often behave with love-less and even selfishness ways. Does this mean the world’s Christians are a figment of an over-active imagination? Or that professed Christians are liars? I don’t think so.

The very worldly penchant for sin, selfishness, and pride-filled action reinforces something very important to me. It is that Christians are not perfect—they are forgiven!

That being said, we can look at this new commandment that Jesus gave and learn something very important about God’s grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. It is that God supplies in Jesus Christ what we are incapable and unwilling to do and be. Jesus walked the walk where we would not. He did what we could never do. Jesus gave His life as ransom for sinners, so that we could escape God’s wrath and the impending punishment in hell.

So, what remains for us to do or be? NOTHING, and EVERYTHING!

There is “NOTHING” remaining for us to do or be for our salvation because Jesus Christ has won it for us; and it is in that act of grace that God offers us full and free forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. “EVERYTHING” remains, because not one “jot or tittle” will be removed from God’s expectations for us. Our God continues to demand perfect obedience; but now we can find hope despite our failure. We have Jesus!

This brings me to another favorite spiritual song –

Amazing grace—how sweet the sound—

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind but now I see! (Lutheran Service Book, #744:1)

Jesus said: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Let us pray: You have given us a new commandment, Lord Jesus, to love each other as You have loved us. Give us Your Spirit that we may obey You and love each other. In Your name we pray. Amen.