Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"It's OK to Say It"—Job 38:1–11

It is proper that this is our reading for Father’s Day. My dad often asked me this question out of love and concern, because (truth be known) I didn’t always end up where I should have, and I didn’t always do what I should or could have done. There were times when I stayed with friends after a football game or I would come home late from a party but I was supposed to call if my plans changed. My dad was concerned about my safety and welfare and wellbeing. Since then, I have experienced the same thing with my four sons (and, I suspect, you have, too.) Such is the nature of a father’s love.

This was, and is, the nature of God’s fatherly love for His people. We have the example of Job, an apparently upright and good man who had suffered severe losses and dared question God and His wisdom and love. God asked Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” This was God’s way of reminding Job that He controlled everything, even Job and his life. Starting in verse five of our reading we see God’s query:

Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38: 5-7)

The remainder of our reading continues that thought.

The only answer Job could give was silence and then acceptance of the fact that God IS in control! God is in complete control, whether or not mankind is willing or capable of accepting it. This fact galls Satan and frightens sinners. The devil asked his first victim, “Did God really say…?” That wily Evil One still asks the question. He tries to get people to do his bidding by talking about individual rights, liberty, choice, and so on—and people continue to fall into his trap.

This is where Jesus came in and we should be thankful He did! Jesus came into the world to seek and save sinners. God the Father loved each one of us so much that He willingly gave up His One and Only Son, the One whom He loved, to seek and save sinners. Job couldn’t save himself or restore what was lost to him. Adam and Eve couldn’t hide themselves or their sin from God. King David, after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah could only ask for God’s merciful forgiveness (see Psalm 51). It is so with us, too.

We are sinners who have earned God’s wrath and punishment and deserve only God’s angry hatred and everlasting punishment in hell; but on the Father’s Day we can celebrate the fact that God gave up Jesus to Calvary’s cross and Nicodemus’ empty grave for us! In Jesus we experience the fullness of God’s love for us!

In this, we can truly say, “Happy Father’s Day!” It’s OK to say it!

"Two Views"—Ezekiel 17:22–24

On my first reading of this passage, I saw God establishing and keeping His Church. He used the image of a twig cut or taken from a single tree, grown up to be a mighty and beneficial tree—a tree in and under which many will be given shelter, homes, and places of survival. My old commentary painted a different picture, though. It spoke a warning to all who confess faith in Jesus or give lip-service to God but back-slide into all manner of sin. Perhaps it is a difference in times or translations, but I can see both points of view.

As a picture of God establishing His Church on earth, making it grow and flourish from young onward—this is truly what God does! He calls to Himself those who will believe on Jesus and be saved from all tribes and nations and age groups. This is God at His most gracious because He called you and me to saving faith in Jesus Christ through His powerful and saving Word and the blessed sacraments. He used faithful and loving Christians like our parents or friends to tell us about our sins and our Savior Jesus Christ. He used the saving Word of the Bible, musical offerings and hymns, TV, radio, and church services to reveal our sins and tell us of our Savior. He took a sprig and caused it to grow and flourish.

However, in the final verse of our reading there is a word of warning for those who read this text.  We read in verse twenty-four these words: “And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” I repeat: He will “bring low the high, and make high the low tree, dry us the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish.”

Simply put, it remains for each of us to continue in confessing our sins and our Savior. It means that we every day refresh in our hearts and minds our relationship with God in Christ Jesus with Word and prayer. It means remaining active in our faith-lives with personal devotions and Bible reading and prayer.

We pray: Lord God Almighty—Father, Son, and Spirit—give us a living and active faith that we may be assured of our own salvation in Jesus Christ and seek ways to tell others so that they, too, may join us in heaven! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"Where Are You?"—Genesis 3:8–15

Four questions we all should ask—this is what we have in this reading. Three questions people have dealt with, attempted to answer, and sadly enough failed to appreciate or understand for ages.

The first question—“Where are you?”—was asked by God Almighty as He walked in His garden in the cool of the day. Adam and Eve had already sinned and lost their innocence. They had eaten of the forbidden fruit, made crude coverings for themselves, and in their feeble attempt to hide themselves and their disobedience from God, secreted themselves so that God would not discover them or their sin. TOO LATE!

In His all-knowing nature God knew and understood what had happened. But in His grace (and mercy) God sought them out. He called out to the, “Where are you?” even though He knew full well where they were and what had happened.

Adam offered God a lame excuse! He first said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."

God then asked Adam the second and third questions. “Who told you that you were naked?” And more telling, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?"

Again, Adam tried to avoid the matter of his disobedience and accept responsibility for what he had done. He placed (or tried to place) the responsibility for his sin on his wife and God! "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate."

Finally, God addressed Adam’s wife. "What is this that you have done?"

Eve’s response was actually correct. "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." She was deceived by Satan.

Things have not changed. Satan still tricks people into disobeying God’s commands. Watch TV. Listen to the radio. Read the papers and magazines. People still believe they can outsmart and disobey God, follow their own instincts and desires, and somehow avoid God’s wrath and punishment for their transgressions. 

In response to what he had done, God cursed Satan so that he would ever be the low-life he denies. God said to Satan, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

God’s curse to Satan was also the first announcement of the greatest GOOD NEWS! Satan would be defeated!

This is where we are at today. Satan has been defeated. Jesus Christ, God’s Son came into the world to redeem sinners from sin, death and the power of Satan. He did this by living a sinless life and dying an absolutely innocent death on Calvary’s cross. He lay in a borrowed grave so that we could one day live forever in heaven! In verse 15 of our text, we read God’s promise to Adam, to Eve, to all mankind, and to Satan:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

This is exactly what God did, what Jesus achieved, what the Holy Spirit brings to us in God’s Word and the blessed sacraments! He gives us hope! Satan bruised Jesus’ heel, but Jesus crushed Satan’s power forever by rising victorious from His grave on Easter morning!

So, where are you?

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