Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Jesus Christ Is Lord"- Philippians 2:5-11

Since I was a child, I carried the image of Jesus riding triumphantly (yet with great humility) into Jerusalem. The people welcomed Him with shouts, palm branches, and such. It has always struck me how the people turned their backs on Jesus later that week and demanded His execution! I see in my mind’s eye the vacant tomb, the empty burial cloths, and hear the quintessential Easter message of the angels, who told the women at the tomb, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:6  

I carried this picture through school, college and my seminary days. It is still in my mind. It is the thought that I hope and pray you carry in your hearts, too! It is what St. Paul desired for the Christians in the city of Philippi, that they would:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

St. Paul described the payoff so clearly in our reading:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”   

I still carry in my heart this view of Jesus, meek yet triumphant. Gentle yet all powerful. Suffering yet victorious. On Palm Sunday and every day, we can see Jesus and rejoice! We can raise loud “Hosannas!” to our God and King. We can confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! By God’s grace we can. In God’s power we should!

We pray: Heavenly Father, by the indwelling of Your Spirit may we be enabled to join with the throngs who welcomed Jesus and celebrate His victory over sin, death, and Satan! In His name we pray. Amen.

"A Little Boy's Search"- Philippians 3:8-14

The little boy took out the rubbish, but before he completed his chore he searched through the garbage searching for his beloved toy, which his mother had confiscated because of some sin he had committed. He didn’t find his toy. Instead, he found a note telling him that the toy was gone—but she still loved him.

In a sense, this is what the Lenten season is all about. We may struggle against the additional worship services and the (sometimes) self-sacrifice and fasting, but at the end we receive this little note telling us that God still loves us (on Easter). I believe this is what St. Paul was getting at in our text. He said:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

For at least a little while we can be like that little boy and perceive that we are loved. More important, we hear again the wonderful message that we are loved by God! The little bit we may sacrifice or give up in Lent is of small consequence compared with the sacrifice God made for us and the benefit we receive as a result! The devil, the world around us, and our sinful natures often urge us to retake the things we have lost or given us, especially during this Lenten season, but Easter and the Resurrection account are fast approaching! Forget what lies behind, and press on toward the goal—the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

We pray: Heavenly Father, when we long for and look for the things we may have given up during Lent, help us to remember with thanksgiving what You gave up and what we have gained in the gift of salvation through faith in Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. In His Name we pray. Amen.

"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.

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