Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Pray!"- Psalm 80:1–7

If I didn’t know better, I would say that the writer of this Psalm was writing it for us! With the pandemic, the election, the general world condition, it seems almost like he was looking right at us and what is happening to us!

Here is what he wrote:

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! 3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!  4 O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. 6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! Psalm 80: 1-7 (ESV)

Perhaps this isn’t so far from being correct. We could without that much difficulty substitute the names of modern cities and nations, families and so on for those named by the Psalmist. And he wouldn’t be far off target, would he? We have had more than enough of pain, tears, fear and frustration. I have heard people wonder about all the goings on and question whether God is taking out His wrath and giving us fair warning.

But this brings me to what I consider the point of the Psalm and our difficulties. We can read it in verse seven of our reading: “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80: 7) The point of it all is our restoration to God and with each other. All that happened to the Israelites, and everything that is happening to us is not really a punishment. I believe it is God calling us back, even as He called back the Jews.

So, what can we do about it all? PRAY! The first thing we need to do is to pray to God for forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Pray for the Holy Spirit and His gifts of stronger faith and the will to do God’s will. And praise God for all the blessings and gifts He has showered upon us – food and drink, a great and free land, peace, and especially for the forgiveness and salvation from sin’s curse won by Jesus Christ.

So, we pray:  O LORD, deliver us from the pandemic, national and international distrust and distress, hunger, thirst, family woes, financial hardship, and all other difficulties. And thank you for all the blessings we have received from You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"The Sky Is Falling!"- 1 Thess. 5:1–11

You have probably heard the tale about Chicken Little. He was the character who went around crying “The sky is falling!” when nothing was happening.

Now, I want you to consider the elections just past. Some people are claiming a great victory, and others are lamenting that the sky is falling, our nation is collapsing, and the world ending.

Personally, I don’t accept any of those ideas. Rather, I believe that God IS in control; and nothing happens without Him knowing about it and allowing it to happen.

Saint Paul noted that this was common two thousand years ago. He wrote:

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5: 1-3)

It would be good if we paid attention to what he said next:

But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. (1 Thess. 5: 4-10)

It is the power and love of God that will see us through this election and through life itself. This was the point Saint Paul was making to his readers. This is the point made to us, too! It is God’s love and power that has brought us thus far; and that power and love will ultimately carry us all the way to heaven! This is why Jesus came into this world. This is why Jesus sends us out into the world to proclaim the Truth of His Gospel wherever we go and in all we do. And if we fall down on the job or fail to persuade our adversaries, don’t fret it. You are still forgiven in Christ Jesus, and your heavenly homes are still prepared!

Saint Paul said it well: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

We pray: Lord God Almighty, forgive our sins for Jesus’ sake, and build our faith so that we can resist Satan’s attacks and remain faithful to You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"A Word of Encouragement"- 1 Thess. 4:13–18

Every once in a while, we need it: a word of encouragement. This was exactly what Saint Paul was offering the congregants at Thessalonica. He understood the weakness of the human frame, the anger and disdain of Christ’s enemies, and the sense of separation from friends, family, and freedom itself.

Paul had been shut away by the powers that existed in his world because he sought to share Jesus with people. He had been beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and awaited probable execution for his faith in Jesus and because he dared to share this Gospel with others. Yet he gave his readers some genuine Good News! He said: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.(1 Thess. 4:13)

He could say this because “Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.(1 Thess. 4: 14)

He stated his reason: According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thess. 4:15)

 At this point you may well wonder where is St. Paul’s word of encouragement. It comes in the following verses:

For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess. 4: 16-17) 

He concluded this message with a simple instruction. “Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:18) Paul’s confidence and hope were in Jesus Christ and the cross-bought salvation Jesus offers all who will put their trust in Him. For you, I would say: Remember what you have learned of the Gospel and from whom you learned it. Keep that knowledge close to your heart and in your soul. Celebrate it and share it when you have the chance. This is one way you can not only fulfill the Lord’s command to make disciples for Him, and also draw from its message when you need it! This is truly a word of encouragement!

We pray: Lord Jesus, give us strength and courage in the face of death, despair, and opposition. Give us an extra measure of the Holy Spirit, so that we will be able to overcome all the temptations of the evil one, the world, and our own frail and sinful nature. In Your Name we pray. Amen.