Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Why?"- 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

This is a question that has long vexed the world. Why does the sun rise in the eastern sky and set in the west?  Why is the sky blue? Why does my wife put up with me? The questions are probably as numerous as there are people, and as frequent as the breaths we take. In our reading from 2 Corinthians, St. Paul doesn’t state the question in so many words, but the message is here. The “WHY?” of God’s gracious activity in Jesus is the righteousness of God.

It isn’t that we, ourselves, are righteous. We are sinners. Selfish, jealous, often angry, we act out against God and others in thought, word, and deed. We disobey Him and His commandments by worshipping the false gods of this world, by taking His name in vain, and by not keeping the Sabbath for worship and service to Him. We fail to love our neighbors as ourselves. We often disobey and disregard those in authority over us. We harbor murderous thoughts against those who offend us. We lust after and maybe even steal what belongs to others.

No, we are far from righteous in thought, word, or deed. We deserve God’s wrath and punishment for all our transgressions. We have earned places in hell.

But listen to St. Paul. “God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” In Jesus Christ God so loved the world, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16)

What Jesus did was to live a perfectly sinless life, offer Himself up as the absolutely innocent sacrificial Lamb, and then rise victoriously from His grave on Easter morning. Again, the question rises – WHY?

The answer is this: “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We pray: Heavenly Father, you sent Jesus to be our Savior from sin. Move us to faith in Him and keep us in faith in Him so that we might enter into Your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"The Way of Escape"- 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

The other day I heard someone suggest that God somehow and (for me at least) for unknown reasons invites people to do wrong – tempt them to sin.

If you would look back to Genesis 3:6, you would read: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” The temptation to sin came from Satan, not God. With that temptation to sin Satan invited Adam and Eve to separate themselves from God the Creator and join him in everlasting perdition. He made the sin look so attractive that it couldn’t be resisted or denied.

In the case of Job, God was not the source of the temptations – the devil was!

Or consider Abraham. He and his family had traveled to Egypt, where the king took a shine on Abrahams’s wife and wanted to have her for his own. Abraham, being afraid that he might be murdered, claimed that Sarah was his sister and handed her over to the king. God punished the king for his sin, and eventually brought Abraham and Sarah back together.

The devil is still up to his tricks. He still makes sin look good to the human eye. Today we have our own temptations – drugs to calm our frazzled nerves, pictures to whet our appetites, perhaps even better mattresses to ease our late nights and early mornings. They sometimes even take the form of forbidden fruits or pure evil like Adam and Eve, like Abraham and Sarah, perhaps even like Job.  In the face of such temptations we would be well advised to heed St. Paul’s assurance: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

This is really the key! GOD WILL ALSO PROVIDE THE WAY OF ESCAPE! When we are tempted to sin, we have Some One who was also tempted, yet remained faithfully obedient to His heaven Father. His name is Jesus. When we fall prey to the seductions of this life and world, we have a Savior who faithfully paid the sin penalty we owe and then rose victorious from His grave. He is our Way of Escape!

We pray: Heavenly Father, we thank you for giving Jesus to be our Savior! Enable us always to remember Him and follow Him, obey Him, and love Him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"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.