Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"What? Me worry?"—Philippians 4:6–20

I can still remember the actress with the somewhat astonished expression looking at the camera, asking a simple question: “What? Me worry?” It was a standard “schtick” she used time and again. Usually, if memory serves me well, it was in response to some disaster or another that she (the actress) had helped caused.

So, when I read this appointed reading for a Day of Thanksgiving, that actress and her “schtick” came to mind. Unlike the premise of her skit, which usually involved mindless ignorance or some other human failing, I would rather draw your attention to a heartfelt and faithful expression of a Christian’s love for God and trust in His powerful love and mercy. St. Paul said it well in our reading: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  (Philippians 4: 6)

This isn’t the attitude of a comic figure like Alfred E. Newman of a certain magazine. It is the confidence and trust that we Christians should seek and pray for! It speaks of the confidence in God that we should have, even if the devil seeks to destroy this confidence and disrupt the confidence we should have that God can and will watch over us, care for us, and provide for us! St. Paul said it very well: “Do not be anxious about anything” Just remember the Gospel promise of John 3:16-18:

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. 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.

St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”  (Romans 8:31) In the face of uncertainty, aging, illness, and death, and all the things we dread, one thing is certain: Jesus Christ is our Savior Lord. He who made all things by the power of His Word, and who rescued us from the curses of sin, death, and the devil by going to the cross and grave in our place and then rose victorious on the third day, He is the Peace of God, and He “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 7b)

Have a truly blessed Thanksgiving!

"Exercise"—Jude 20–25

In the last few years, I have had to let go of many of my favorite activities and pastimes. I no longer hunt, fish, ride a bike, go on extended walks, or drive. I no longer enter pulpits to preach. I don’t teach Bible classes any more. Reading has become a challenge.  All this is because my physical stamina has been in a steady decline. So, when I read this week’s text, I was pleased to see that the Lord, through St. Jude, was challenging me to do something different and unique!

The challenge was to build myself up (verse 20) in my most holy faith. I had to ask myself how I could build myself up in my most holy faith? God’s answer is EXERCISE!

We are not speaking of weight lifting, running, swimming laps at the pool, or anything else (although the exercise would do me good!). Verses twenty and twenty-one gives us the answer: “pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God….” (Jude 20-21)

More than this, St. Jude tells us to think about others—those around us and the total strangers whom we may never meet.  He wrote: “And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 22-23)

All this being said, there is only this remaining: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-24) May the Lord bless and keep you in His loving care through Jesus Christ our Savior Lord!

"One and Done"—Hebrews 10:11–25

I have heard a phrase often spoken about someone who fails to get a second chance. It goes like this: “ONE AND DONE!” I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing, but I’m pretty sure that it was at the time of football or wrestling championships in high school.  It was a statement of finality, and often an admission of loss or failure.

Was this the point of the writer to the Hebrews?

It begins in the first verses of our text:

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb. 10: 12–14)

This is most certainly not a “one and done” type of statement!  Jesus didn’t need to repeat His sacrifice for sinners like us! He suffered and died then rose victorious over sin, death, the grave. And Satan himself was smashed on that first Easter morning. This was why Jesus could present Himself to God the Father. In fact, this was God’s plan all along! In verses 15-17 of our Scripture lesson we read:

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." (Heb. 10:15-17)

The bottom line is this: Jesus was not some “flash-in-the-pan’ “one and done” type of competitor who couldn’t sustain or support His victory. Our writer put it this way:

“Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:18–25)

We pray: Lord God Almighty, Father, Son and Spirit, we offer our thanks and praise that Jesus and His work of saving the world is truly “one and done!” Help us always to believe it and share this wonderful truth! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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