Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"A Pastor's Prayer"—Philippians 1:2–15

I want to share a pastor’s prayer for his people:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1: 9-11)

Saint Paul was, I believe, under house arrest in Rome because he had, as a Roman citizen, asked for Caesar’s final opinion concerning charges laid against him by his enemies. These enemies were opposed to the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. Knowing the history of the Romans and the Jewish leadership, his outcome was not uncertain: he would eventually die. So Paul’s prayer for the Christians of Philippi was ironic, heartfelt, and probably comforting to his readers.

As a pastor, I can understand how he must have felt. He wanted the best for his congregants. He wanted them to be strong, certain, and well-equipped for any challenges. He wanted his parishioners to know and experience the strength only Jesus can supply!

All this hope, confidence, power, and love is centered on and built upon the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His one-and-only Son Jesus Christ to redeem sinners from Satan’s clutches. This is purest GOOD NEWS – GOSPLE! Equipped with this faith and this faith-filled understanding, Christ’s followers will be filled with the strength and confidence necessary to face any challenge.

We pray: Lord God Almighty, may the strength and courage demonstrated by Saint Paul and many other Christians fill our hearts and minds as we face the challenges that lie before us! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"The Only True God"—Matthew 19:16–22

Of the Ten Commandments, the First Commandment stands out as the summation of all the others. Proper worship and dedicated service to God stem from knowing and acknowledging God as the only true God. The rest of the commandments—honoring parents and other authorities, proper care for and respect of human life, marriage and family, care and protection of property and material possessions of others, honesty and truthfulness in our dealings with others, and the sinful desire to have the possessions or property of others—round out the Ten Commandments.

In Matthew 19: 16–22 we read of a rich young ruler who asked, “What good things shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor, and he would have eternal life. The young man went away sorrowing, because he had great wealth. It is evident that that man held his possessions dearer that any relationship with God.

So, how is it for you? It isn’t that way with God the Father. He sent Jesus as His substitute for sinners. It wasn’t that with Jesus. He gave up His life to Calvary’s cross and a cold hole in a rock grave. It isn’t that way with God the Holy Spirit, either. He continues to tell the story of God’s great love for sinners through water and Word.

Unless that rich young man changed his heart and mind, gave up his love for material things, and followed Jesus, he would be lost forever to death and damnation. Unless you follow Jesus and love and trust in Him for your everlasting salvation, you, too, could be lost forever. I pray that won’t happen.

We pray: Lord God Almighty, your gifts are great! We thank you for them. Strengthen our hearts and minds that we may ever realize that these gifts are not you, and they will not bring us life and salvation. Only your love in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial life, death and resurrection will do that! Give us your Holy Spirit and His gifts that we may know and believe this. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"How Firm a Foundation"—1 Thessalonians 3:9–13

On this first Sunday in Advent, I’d like to share a hymn from Lutheran Service Book, Hymn # 728 (“How Firm a Foundation”). It reads as follows:

1. How firm a foundation O saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!

What more can He say than to you He has said

Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

 

2. “Fear not! I am with you, O be not dismayed,

For I am your God and will give you aid;

I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,

Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

 

3. “The souls that on Jesus has leaned for repose

I will not, I will not desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never, forsake!

 

4. When through fiery trials your pathway will lie,

My grace, all-sufficient, will be your supply.

The flames will not hurt you; I only design

Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

 In conclusion, “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3: 11-13)

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