Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Why Did Jesus Come?"—Hebrews 10:5–10

The question many people ask is a simple one: Why did Jesus Christ take on human flesh and blood and then come into this world the way He did?

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews gives us an answer. In verse eight of our text, we read: “When he (talking about Jesus) said …. "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (Heb. 10:8a) Then, in the next verse where Jesus said: “I have come to do your will." (Heb. 10:9) We ask a simple question, what is God’s will?

The answer shouldn’t surprise us. God desires that all people should love and trust in Him and willingly obey His desires in their thought, word, and action. God desires that every person love his or her neighbor as himself. But simply put, people don’t do these things. Not in their thinking, not in how and what they say, and not in what they do. Instead, the full spectrum of human depravity is revealed in their misdeed, emotions, and motivations. Every human being is colored and tainted with sin.  Sexual sins are common. Acts of violence and greed against family members and total strangers are not unusual.

The scariest thing about this is that this sinfulness condemns every person to an eternity in hell.  It condemns—that is, until Jesus entered the picture. Beginning in verse nine of our reading we read something different. Jesus added, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb. 10: 9–10)

This is why Jesus came into this world: to seek and save sinners like you and me. This is why we will shortly celebrate the Christmas holy day. This is also why I wish every one of you a truly blessed and happy Christmas!

"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.

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