Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"King David Had it Right"- Psalm 103:1-12

This Psalm reflects something we sinful humans far too often fail to do – give credit where credit is due. We simply expect that people will do their jobs and fulfill their tasks. We want our cars to run, our airplanes to fly, and our kids to behave. We want our government to protect our borders, build and maintain our roads, and lower our taxes. We want our football and basketball and baseball teams to win. Our lists, whatever they contain and whoever draws them up, are as varied and as numerous as we are.

King David, in this Psalm, stated clearly what he expected from God: holiness, grace, and righteousness. He also experienced God’s mercy and grace. He knew God’s forgiveness.

In Jesus Christ, so do we. What King David wrote we experienced! At the foot of the cross, before the empty tomb, in the now empty ascension sky we experience the fullness of God’s love for sinners like ourselves. God does not deal with us according to our iniquities, He will not repay us according to our sins. Instead, He lay on Jesus Christ the iniquities of all people so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but receive forgiveness and everlasting life.

King David had it right! “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

We pray: Lord God, Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses.” For His cross-bought forgiveness and tomb-emptying victory grant us that forgiveness because He did things well! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"Payback"- Luke 6:27-38

In our day and age there is much talk about retribution -- pay-backs, getting even, and justice.

I must ask what seems a silly question. By whose standards are such actions justified? They don’t seem to agree with Jesus. His instructions were clear and to the point: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

There is not even a hint of getting even, pay-back, or any convoluted sense of justice in what Jesus taught. Instead, He gave His listeners a solid lesson in God-like loving. He gave His followers a clear illustration of how God operated.  “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.” Instead, God offered up His Only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

This is pure grace – underserved love. Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, willingly gave up heaven for a hovel in Palestine. Jesus willingly set aside what was rightfully His as God and as God’s Son, subjected Himself to the temptations of His satanic foe, and allowed Himself to be arrested, beaten and whipped, cruelly crucified of Calvary, and laid in a borrowed tomb. But then, on the third day, Jesus took back His life and rose triumphant from His grave. God’s justice is satisfied.

We see in Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection the perfect fulfillment of what we are not and can never do. We see in Jesus the perfect illustration of what we should be. We hear from Jesus that perfect invitation: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28)

There is no hint of retribution. In Jesus we experience only God’s grace and mercy.

We pray: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for all you have done and all that you are for us! Amen.

"Responsibility or Credit"- 1 Cor. 15:21-26, 30-42

Responsibility or credit – it seems elusive yet desired. Teachers or parents may look at the wreckage in a room and ask, “Who did this?”  A law officer may inquire at the seen of a crime or disaster, “Who did this?” The other side of this coin is that people often pursue credit for things done well or challenges accomplished successfully. When an astounding feat of daring is accomplished, an impressive building erected, or some beautiful object of art is revealed – again people are prone to ask, “Who did this?”

Saint Paul correctly identified the reality and effect of sin and God’s grace in our text. “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Here he identifies responsibility and gives credit. Mankind is responsible for death, and God alone deserves the credit for life.

Where does this leave us? Simply put, we find ourselves at the foot of Jesus Christ’s now barren cross. We stand at the door of His now vacant tomb. We stare into a now empty sky and by God’s grace we remember and rejoice in the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus’ resurrection and ascension are where we will discover the truth of God’s love for all men, women and children. St. Paul could address even the issue of mortality with confidence. He said it well: “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.” Jesus Christ took the responsibility for our sins upon Himself, paid the penalty price for our redemption, and offers to all who will believe in Him life and salvation in heaven! He deserves the credit!

We pray: Heavenly Father, so often we stumble and fall because we do not see Your hand and perceive Your gracious will for us and all sinners. Help us always, by Your Spirit, to see, know and trust in Your Son Jesus Christ for this life and that life which is to come. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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