Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"A Pastor's Prayer"- Romans 9:1–5

Most preachers, I imagine, have had similar experiences at some point.

After listening to a sermon an individual told the preacher that he had it all wrong. The listener claimed he was not a sinner. He had been forgiven once, and so it was not necessary to mention it again. That person would appreciate it if the pastor spent his time and expended his energy working on the sinners in the church and community, and not on making him feel so bad.

After over forty years that incident still haunts me. I still wonder what I could have done better or differently. Judging from our reading, I suspect that perhaps St. Paul had similar experiences. So, read on!

Saint Paul’s pastoral heart really showed itself in our reading this week. Frustration often goes with the divine call into ministry. God’s people have it all—forgiveness of sins, life, and everlasting salvation, earthly blessings, and a wonderful sense of well-being; but in reading our text I sense a deep frustration. The children of Israel were God’s people of promise. Read on:

to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever.  

 They had assumed that because they were once children of promise they were safe and saved. They were proud of their heritage as Jews, and as a result they could not or would not see Satan’s backdoor attacks on them. The problem was that for the most part they had rejected Jesus and had Him killed! They had missed the important stuff like sin and forgiveness, God’s unchangeable Law and immutable Good News! 

We ourselves have also heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. We share in this promise and celebrate this gift of God’s grace because God says so and not because of anything we say, think, or do!

This is what Paul sought to teach, preach, and share! This is also what Christians should still celebrate, and preachers should tell their hearers. 

We pray: Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gifts of Your Son and the Holy Spirit. Enable us to know, celebrate, and share this Good News throughout our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"Life Lessons"- Romans 8:28–39

Growing up, I learned a lot about life from my friends and neighbors. I saw livestock being born. I even helped in delivering breach-birth calves! But I also saw the other side of farming. I knew how unpleasant it could be when a cow was severely injured or it was time to harvest other livestock for the farmer’s table or market. Like I said, I learned a lot about life.

That being said, this portion of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans strikes me squarely between the eyes! Paul wrote:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

    "For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

        we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

Should we shudder and quake in fear and despair? No, way! In the concluding portion of our reading Saint Paul declares:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul’s hope and confidence were in Christ Jesus, the crucified and risen God who overcame sin, death, and Satan to secure forgiveness and everlasting heavenly homes for all who will love and trust in Him for forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation! This was Paul’s message. It is (I hope!) also my message to you!

We pray: Lord God Almighty—Father, Son, and Spirit—we give You our thanks and praise for sending Jesus in the flesh to do what we could not, and to be what we are not! Help us always to remember and give thanks for this revealed grace, and enable us to share it with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"The Holy Spirit Knows"- Romans 8:18–27

If you have stood in front of an open refrigerator door, looking at all the food and wondering what to munch on, you might have a clue as to what Saint Paul was referencing in verse twenty-six of our reading. That is, we may know that we want some “thing,” but don’t know what we want. I have done this, and I suspect it has happened to you too!

That being said, we move on to verse twenty-seven. Here Saint Paul tells us: “And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” The final part of that verse is what I want as our focus.

In the weakness of our flesh, and our lack of insight and understanding, it is often difficult for us to understand and accept this. It is in our sinfulness and lack of knowledge and understanding that we sometimes are given to do things, think thoughts, or otherwise intentionally or accidentally make mistakes. (Here, you could say that these mistakes are intentional or accidental sins.) And it is at this point that it is so important for us to remember the Good News of Jesus Christ!

God set forth His Son, made of a woman and made under the Law, to become the whipping boy for God’s wrath against our sin. Jesus went to His death on that Roman cross and rose victorious three days later as proof of God’s desire for sinners. His will is not that we sinners should be destroyed in punishment for our sins. Rather, as Jesus Himself declared:

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. [18] 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 hungered for our salvation, even when we didn.t know or acknowledge the fact. He knew exactly what was needed and He did it—for us!

We pray: Lord God Almighty, we thank You for the gifts of Your Spirit, His working in us and His working for us! Help us always to remember and give thanks to You—Father, Son, and Spirit—for life, faith, and salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.