Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"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.

"The Bliss of Easter"- 1 Cor. 15:19-26

It doesn’t seem to matter—when a person raises a garden, goes berry picking, or simply browses through a local farmers’ market—the firstfruits seem the sweetest! That first tomato, fresh from the vine, a green bean plucked from the plant, an apple or cherry just harvested—OH! THE BLISS!

This is exactly what we have on Easter! Sweeter than the first strawberry, more succulent than that first tomato is the message of the angels to the mourning women that Jesus is no longer entombed but alive! Jesus did what He set out to do. He fought the devil and won. Jesus battled against the forces of darkness and emerged victorious!

Listen to St. Paul:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 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. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Sweeter that the firstfruits of the garden or orchard, we have the firstfruits of sorrow turned to joy, defeat converted into victory, death overcome by life! We have Jesus Christ risen from His tomb, ascended into heaven, preparing everlasting homes for those who belong to Him! That last enemy has been conquered and the victory won!

We pray: Heavenly Father, we praise and thank You for accepting Jesus sacrifice for us by raising Him from the dead on the first Easter morning. By the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit may we believe and live in this hope! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.