Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"The Apostles' Creed"—Mark 9:14–27

I have mention him before: the panic-stricken father and his declaration to Jesus, “Lord, I believe.  Help me in my unbelief.” In a very real sense this could be something any one of us could say. It could be a time or situation when something akin to panic rocks our socks and completely frightens us so that we don’t know where else to turn except to cry out like that father did.

This week, we go at it from another perspective – WE KNOW WHERE TO GO AND WHOM TO CALL (and it isn’t Ghostbusters, either). We call on God Almighty for our sick and dying, in times of storm or war, on personal issues, in happy times, when storms frighten or confuse us, in glad times or just about any situation in which we might find ourselves. Here’s why: we know and trust God to support us and supply our needs of body and soul.

Our God is well described in the Apostles’ Creed, but you won’t find the Apostles’ Creed in the Bible. Instead, you will find Him mentioned doing and being what is described and taught in the Bible. You could consider it a construct of the early Church that we in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod consider an accurate and Scriptural statement who God is and what He does. We use this statement of faith in many of our worship services, in Christian instruction classes, in personal and corporate devotions, and in everyday life. (For example, I have used the Apostles’ Creed at the bedside of the sick and dying.)

The Apostles’ Creed gives us a clear and precise statement of who God is and what He does. So, we teach and believe it as Lutheran Christians. It covers doctrine (teachings we believe and confess) such as the Biblical teachings of creation, God’s almighty power (omnipotence), Jesus Christ and His life, death and His resurrection, and the person and work of the Holy Spirit. In the Creed we say that we know and believe as true what the Bible teaches and that God has revealed to us. It is encapsulated in two simple words: “I believe.”

 Like the father who sought Jesus’ aid in his son's illness, may we also pray: “Lord, I believe.  Help me in my unbelief.”

"No Happy Pills"—Philippians 4:4–7

“Happy pills” were never things I used or supported. You probably have heard of them, although perhaps by other names. They were the stuff taken by people who wanted to escape reality. The were usually called illicit drugs or other names by the people I knew best. “Happy pills” have great potential to disrupt and destroy lives and relationships. They were (and still are) bad news.

In our reading for this week Saint Paul wasn't advocating the use of some mystical “happy pill.” He was talking about the real deal! He was speaking of Jesus Christ, whom the unknown author of the letter to the Hebrews called “the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2) The closing word of the first verse in our reading make this clear. “Rejoice!”

Who would need those “happy pills”? Instead, “in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6) He “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4: 7b)

Paul’s confidence was based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the Jesus who lived, suffered, died, rose the third day, and ascended into heaven to prepare eternal homes for all who loved and trusted in Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord.

Paul had experienced (and suffered) much during his ministry, yet he confessed and exhorted his readers:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)

No “happy pills” here!

We pray:  Lord God Almighty, give us that faith, that we could also withstand the devil’s attacks and rejoice in You always! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"The Lord's Prayer"—Mark 9:14–27

The week we consider prayer, with a foundation in the Lords’ Prayer.

We have become quite familiar with many of the records of Jesus healing sick and possessed people. One that always struck me was the account of Jesus healing a man’s son of demon possession. What strikes me every time I read or listen to this account is the man’s plea, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (You can read the entire account in Mark 9:14–26.)

In a very real sense, that man’s statement could easily be ours, too. We know the Lord’s Prayer, but how often do we really think about it?

This is a difficult question for many people, because they may go through the motions, but that’s it. Our faith is much more than simply knowing some words or thinking that everything is now OK with God and man. Knowledge is just one step in the process of saving faith.

Remember that saving faith is truly a gift of God the Holy Spirit. It shapes and guides a person through difficult (and often tempting) situations as well as the hum-drum monotony of everyday life. It is the ability to take any (and every) matters to God in prayer, and to expect and trust that God will answer in His time and way!

That man whose son was demon possessed learned this. We may have trouble understanding or accepting God’s answer, but this is Satan whispering in our ears “Did God really say that?” It is also  the weakness of our human flesh; but God still says to us: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." (Psalm 50:15)

So, we, with that father, also pray, "I believe; help my unbelief!" Amen.

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