Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"No Fiction"- Psalm 23

I remember a scene from a movie, based upon the personal history of one of the kings of Israel. A young shepherd walked slowly across open ground, stooping down to pick up a few stones. He was walking toward a powerful enemy soldier. This shepherd boy wore no armor. He carried no sword or spear. He had only his shepherd’s sling and those few stones. Still, he continued his journey—a journey that would take the boy into history. This scene transported me back to when giants walked the face of the earth and mere mortals did unlikely things, but it was just a movie.

I have never been in such a situation, myself. I have never faced mortal combat or almost certain death, but the Psalm upon which this scene is based is neither pointless nor meaningless. Rather, Psalm 23 is a comfort in the face of uncertainty and a source of strength and courage regardless of where we find ourselves.

It could be such a resource for you, too! This Psalm’s pithy lines give clear statement of where we all need to be in our relationship with God. It gives credit where credit is due. Jesus is what we need when we face impossible odds. Verse four of this Psalm says it well:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Jesus Christ is my confidence! Jesus Christ is the rod and staff who will strengthen and support us when things become impossible, because mere mortals could never accomplish what Jesus did. Ordinary people will never be able to provide complete forgiveness of sins or give absolute assurance of life without end in heaven. In John 3:16-18 we read:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

I appreciate that movie scene, but I appreciate even more the image of the now barren cross and the empty tomb! In Jesus Christ the battle against sin, death and Satan has been fought and won!  This is not a moment of celluloid fiction. It is God’s truth!

We pray:  Holy God, Your Word has revealed to us the power and wonder of Your love for fallen humankind in Christ Jesus.  Grant us Your Spirit that by His power we would always believe and find comfort in His truth! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"Fishing"- John 21:1-14

“I am going fishing!” So said Peter. The two sons of Zebedee, Nathan and Thomas said they would go along.

Now before you conjure up images of a rowdy fishing trip remember that these men were disciples of the crucified and now risen Jesus of Nazareth. Some had been professional fishermen on the Sea of Tiberias (also known as the Sea of Galilee). They probably knew the lake, the conditions, and their quarry.  Still, they came up empty handed – or more exactly with empty nets.

After a fruitless night of fishing a stranger on shore asked if they had caught anything; and they admitted that they had caught nothing. So, the stranger told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. There they caught fish! One hundred and fifty-three of them, to be exact! And they were big fish! It was then that John, the son of Zebedee recognized the man on the shore. It was Jesus! He exclaimed this to his companions, and Peter threw on his clothes and jumped into the water. The other disciples struggled to bring the catch in, only able to drag it ashore. Then they came in to the shore.

I love this account of Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples. It reminds me that our Lord often blesses the mundane and common things we are involved in. It reminds me that Jesus can and will turn these things into blessings of unfathomable worth! The disciples later went out into the world and preached and shared Jesus Christ once dead but now risen from His grave and ascended into heaven. These men were willing to risk their lives on what they had witnessed.

So how is it with you? Are you, now that the holiday festivities are concluded just going to return to your old habits and activities? Or will you see and obey Jesus?

We pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your victory over sin, death, and the devil. We praise You for all You have given us and done for us. Help us live our lives by living for You. In Your name we pray. Amen.

"More than Words"- John 20:19-31

These words are written in the front of a Bible given to me by my parents on my confirmation. No, not all of them, but the final two verses of our reading from John’s gospel. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they would become a centerpiece of my life as an adult, a husband and father, as a teacher, and especially as a pastor.

At first, I didn’t give them much thought, I’m afraid. I was too busy with school, and other things (like hunting and fishing). In fact, it wasn’t until I sat in a fishing boat with me best friend that the reality of these words came to me. He had been drafted into the army and was scheduled to leave for basic training and them probably the Vietnam conflict. He wasn’t sure what his future would be. As we discussed some of the weightier aspects of our futures, he asked be what I would like to do with my life. In all candor, I admitted that I would like to be involved in helping someone learn about Jesus. The next morning, I told my father the pastor about that conversation, and the following Monday he had me walking the campus of Concordia College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

And the rest is history. Almost. Although I am no longer a full-time pastor, I still enjoy doing what I have always enjoyed doing. I still like to tell people about Jesus.

That was also, I believe, the motivation behind John the evangelist’s writing of the Gospel according to St. John. He wanted nothing more or less than to have people hear about and come to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and worship Him as God. His words (Jn 20:30-31): “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

As we struggle past the last of the Easter left-overs and put away the baskets that once were filled with goodies I pray that we will remember with thanksgiving and give a word of praise to God for the wondrous blessing we have! Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, and Satan for us! He brings to us God’s sure promise that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life! After the candy wrappers and left-overs we have this truth!

We pray: Heavenly Father, you gave your Son over to death for us sinners. Thank you for raising Him to life again so that we could receive the salvation from sins that only he provides. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.