Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"A Dog's Tail"- Luke 12:49-56

I have a large dog. When I sit down, she often comes to my side and leans her head against my leg or drops it in my lap. She wants me to scratch her ears. She likes it! If I stop, she often will nuzzle my hand until I resume the slow, rhythmic stoking of her ears. Then her eyes close, she relaxes, and sometimes (if it is quiet and she is undisturbed) her feet will slide out from beneath her and she will settle to the floor sound asleep.

In a way people are very much like my dog. They like to have their ears scratched – but not so much with strokes of gentle hands as the words people find soothing or comforting. They like to hear preachers that who preach “good news.” People want words that edify and comfort and build up and entertain. They don’t often like messages that challenge them, point out personal sins and faults. They want preachers who declare a message like pre-World War II British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared “Peace in our time.” Just consider the inspired words of the prophet Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”

That isn’t what Jesus says, is it? Hardly! Jesus declares, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

The effect of Jesus’ message is devastating to any and all sinners. The world militates against Jesus’ message because that message requires a repudiation of conventional wisdom and “common” sense. Satan hates Jesus’ message because he knows that he cannot prevail against it. Our own sinful nature rebels against it because we don’t really want to have anyone as Lord and Master over us. We want to do what we want, when we want, in the way we want. Period!

So, Jesus cast His fire on the earth. It is God’s truth revealed. It is embarrassment and shame over sins committed or responsibilities shirked. It is self-recognition that we are sheep gone astray. Then we will recognize and acknowledge that we are imperfect creatures who have not loved God with all our being; and have failed to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Our Lord Jesus has truly cast fire upon this earth and His work will not be completed until the last soul is saved from condemnation to hell. Do you feel the heat? You should. So long as there are empty pews in our churches or headlines in our papers there is work to be done. We Christians are not insulated from this world and its evil. We are in this world to bring the message of our Lord Jesus to a world that is dying in its sin. We are to celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ came into this world to seek and save sinners. We who stand at the foot of the Jesus’ cross are no better nor worse than any other sinner. We are simple sinners who by the grace of God have heard and believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As Christians we are to demonstrate by our words and our lives what it means to be born again –transformed by the Holy Spirit into missionaries and disciples and apostles who carry and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go and in all that we do.

We don’t scratch itchy ears. We don’t proclaim lies for the sake of political expediency. We preach Christ and Him crucified, risen and ascended for the salvation of souls and the glory of God. Anything less, anything else, is less than scratching my dog’s ears.

We pray: Come Lord Jesus and save us! Make us bold to proclaim Your gospel to the people of our world. We pray in Your powerful name. Amen.

"The Narrow Door"- John 13:22-30

Many people do not like this portion of Scripture. They don’t like it, I think, because it seems to limit the ways a person can get to heaven. They wrongly assume or believe that if a person is good, good enough, or just tries to be good he or she will be allowed into heaven.

The trouble with their assumptions is that they are trying to get into heaven and on God’s good side on their own terms. In effect, they want to dictate to God what He should do, when He should do it, and how He should do it; but it doesn’t work that way. In our reading we see and consider the following:

[23] And someone said to (Jesus), "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, [24] "Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. [25] When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us,' then he will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' [26] Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' [27] But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!' [28] In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. [29] And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. [30] And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."

That narrow door, as Jesus put it, is the fear of many lost souls because they want somehow to save themselves, or at least approach God on their own terms, but God does not work that way.

If a person would approach God and God’s house on his or her own terms or in some way other than what God has set in Scripture that individual would be disappointed and lost. Jesus put it this way: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 All other religious teachings are wrong! Period. Those who put their hope, love, or trust for eternity on anyone or anything else are wrong. There are many who dispute this teaching, but here it is. I really wish I could say it more gently, but I can’t. All I can do is continue to preach and teach Christ crucified, dead, risen from the grave, and ascended into heaven. All I can do is pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to those whose souls are in jeopardy of hell-fire and damnation and turn their hearts and souls to Jesus.

We pray: Lord Jesus, give us saving faith in You that we might be saved from our own sins and then boldly speak the truth of Your Gospel to others. In Your name we pray. Amen.

"Good News?"- Luke 12:49-56

“I never saw him coming!”

So said the man involved in a terrible traffic accident. He looked both ways and believed the path was clear for him to proceed. He pulled out from where he had stopped—right in front of an oncoming milk truck. They collided, his car was obliterated, and fortunately—he was freed from the wreckage of his car with only minor injuries. His comment to the investigating police officer was, “I never saw him coming.” Perhaps you have had a similar incident in your life but I sincerely hope not!

Nevertheless, the adage seems to hold true that being forewarned is being forearmed. It is something of a comfort in a strange way. We seem a little stronger and perhaps a little braver when we have some idea of what is going on and what is taking place.

So, Jesus gave His disciples and followers (including us) fair warning. Things are going to get rough, and the saints will have to face conflict in their discipleship. Family disputes and disruptions will happen. The simple fact of the matter is that even as Jesus faced opposition from Satan and his minions, so will His followers.

God gave His people Israel the promise in Deuteronomy 31 that He would never leave them nor forsake them. Nothing has changed. He remains our God, our Guide, our Hope and Confidence, our joy even in the face of conflict. So, when and if you have to face family disruptions or disputes for the sake of the Gospel, take comfort and find hope in God above all else. He has the power and will to secure your passage even into heaven.

In closing, I want to share with you a little bit of home-spun wisdom. If you look at the word “comfort”, consider that in broadest strokes the word actually means “with strength.” With God’s blessings we will be strengthened and comforted even when things seem dark and dismal.

We pray: Lord God Almighty—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—give us of Your strength as we face the challenges and opposition of those who hate You and despise Your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.