Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Too Soon Old"- Psalm 22:23–31

Perhaps you have heard or perhaps even used the adage, “Too soon old, too late smart.” If so, welcome to the club! I have used the adage of myself. There have been too many times when I acted or spoke in haste, only to regret it at a later time. Hence, too soon old, too late smart.

Sometimes, I hear people suggest that this adage means that people should be afraid of God and His well-deserved anger and punishment for sins committed). TV preachers, for example, might suggest that people should literally be afraid of God, to cringe in abject fear of Him because of sins they may have committed. Well-deserved punishment for sin should cause people to be afraid of God’s wrath. So, the threat of punishment seems to resonate with the impression many people have of God and His sense of justice. In our reading, however, Psalm 22:23, we read that if we fear God, we should praise Him! Nothing about being afraid of God or His threatened punishment for sin committed.

Here is why: “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.” (Psalm 22:24) The proof of this is the Gospel message of John 3. There we read:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

 God has not despised us! He treasures us! This is why He sent Jesus to live, suffer and die, and then rise victorious from His grave on that first Easter morning. So, with the Psalmist may we also proclaim:

From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!  All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.  (Psalm 22: 25-27)

"Why Lent?"- Psalm 25:1–10

If you (like me) ever wondered why many churches observe the Lenten season, perhaps Psalm 25 will provide some answers. (At least it did for me!)

It seems like the world is to the point of self-destruction, absolute confusion, abject despair, and utter misery. Politics is a nasty business, at best.  The economy is tottering on collapse. Health care and well-being seem to be vestiges of a distant past. Pessimists seem to be saying or at least thinking that things will only get worse. Even optimists seem to be thinking that the only real hope for improvement lies in a swift return of our Lord and the reestablishment of His powerful rule.

So, we turn to God’s Word for guidance, help, hope, and strength.

In verse four of Psalm 25 there is a prayer for divine blessing. The Psalmist wrote: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  [5] Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation….” (Ps.25:4-5a) Human reason and skills, life experiences and expertise, physical or mental or emotional strength will carry people only so far. We humans are limited and often incapable. Because we are sinners, we tend to mess things up so much, even without trying. So, I believe this would seem to be a very good place to begin our observance of the Lenten season.

Verse 5 reads: “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.” The Psalmist’s hope and confidence is in God. When all else fails, God can and will still be there for those who love and trust in Him!

Also, and especially, remember the great sacrifice our Lord Jesus made for us and our salvation. He didn’t want to experience the agony and pain of the cross, but He submitted Himself to His Father’s will so that sinners like ourselves could escape damnation and doom. This is God’s way of salvation for us. There is no other name under heaven by which we may be saved! The Psalmist prayed “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!” (Ps. 25: 6-7) This is our prayer as well!

"God's Mercy Made Real"- Psalm 51:1–13

According to tradition, King David wrote this Psalm after he had been accused of adultery and murder. According to this tradition, he was stricken with remorse, repented of his sin, and begged God’s forgiveness.

God forgave King David of his sins, but he was still held accountable. His love child died. He remained in power in Israel, but his rule was marred by rebellion and warfare. The act of contrition and repentance was not easy. Neither was the aftermath.

So it is for many of us in our own lives. Sometimes we are caught in our sins, and like David we have to beg for God’s mercy and grace. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. At some times we don’t think we need forgiveness. Or we may claim that we are not as bad as some other folks. It may be our thought that our sins won’t be noticed. Sometimes we aren’t ever aware that we have sinned in thought, word, or deed.

If so, we are wrong! Dead wrong! Eternally wrong!

The fact of the matter is that we all sin and deserve God’s righteous and everlasting wrath. We have earned for ourselves condemnation in hell.

King David had one thing right, though. He knew he was guilty, so he prayed: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

In true repentance David knew he could turn to God for forgiveness and healing. He prayed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

God did exactly this! St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatian Christians: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6 (ESV)

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came into this world to redeem sinners; to buy us back from the curse of our sins, to free us from the power of Satan, and then to show us the only way to heaven. Jesus said to His disciple Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6 (ESV)

David’s prayer was: “Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

God heard David’s plea. He will hear our plea for mercy, too! “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Jesus was and is God’s answer! David closed this portion of the Psalm by saying, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

May this be so for you and me!