Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"God's Mercy Made Real"- Psalm 51:1–13

According to tradition, King David wrote this Psalm after he had been accused of adultery and murder. According to this tradition, he was stricken with remorse, repented of his sin, and begged God’s forgiveness.

God forgave King David of his sins, but he was still held accountable. His love child died. He remained in power in Israel, but his rule was marred by rebellion and warfare. The act of contrition and repentance was not easy. Neither was the aftermath.

So it is for many of us in our own lives. Sometimes we are caught in our sins, and like David we have to beg for God’s mercy and grace. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. At some times we don’t think we need forgiveness. Or we may claim that we are not as bad as some other folks. It may be our thought that our sins won’t be noticed. Sometimes we aren’t ever aware that we have sinned in thought, word, or deed.

If so, we are wrong! Dead wrong! Eternally wrong!

The fact of the matter is that we all sin and deserve God’s righteous and everlasting wrath. We have earned for ourselves condemnation in hell.

King David had one thing right, though. He knew he was guilty, so he prayed: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

In true repentance David knew he could turn to God for forgiveness and healing. He prayed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

God did exactly this! St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatian Christians: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6 (ESV)

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came into this world to redeem sinners; to buy us back from the curse of our sins, to free us from the power of Satan, and then to show us the only way to heaven. Jesus said to His disciple Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6 (ESV)

David’s prayer was: “Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

God heard David’s plea. He will hear our plea for mercy, too! “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Jesus was and is God’s answer! David closed this portion of the Psalm by saying, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

May this be so for you and me!

"Transfiguration"- Psalm 50:1–6

We were on a fishing trip on Lake Superior. My wife, my brother, a fishing guide, and I were in an open boat, soaked to the skin from a fierce thunderstorm. Thankful to be alive after the hail, wind, and rain of that sudden downpour, we had beached our boat on a sandbar to dump the water from our boat. Now, as we began to motor across the lake, the sun setting on our day, we looked to the north and saw towering thunderheads illuminated by the internal lightning and the setting sun. We were safe. The boat was afloat. And we were heading for the shore, our vehicle, and supper. It was BEAUTIFUL! (I had even caught some walleyes!)

That event reminded me of something the Psalmist had said so well in our reading.  “The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge!” (Psalm 50:6) The now glass-calm lake surface, the evening sky, and our own safety reminded me of God’s care and blessing! For me, at least, what God could have done and what He did do were wrapped up in that moment. As the Psalmist confessed in verse one of our reading: “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.” (Psalm 50: 1)

I will carry and cherish the events of that stormy day and its aftermath! The Psalmist said it well:

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: "Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!"

On this Transfiguration Sunday we have the opportunity to once again stand in awe of our mighty God, to experience some of His majestic power and might, and consider again why Jesus Christ came into this world. He came to seek and save sinners like you and me. Jesus came to destroy Satan and his power. Jesus came to fulfill His Father’s will for mankind by living a perfectly sinless life, dying an absolutely innocent death, and rising victorious over sin, death and the devil on the third day to assure His followers that they would share in His majesty and glory in heaven!

So, with the Psalmist we say, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; and His mercy endures forever!” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"Praise to God"- Psalm 147:1–11

Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Give credit where credit is due!” If so, I suspect that you heard it expressed as a gentle criticism. For myself, when I have heard these words, it is usually in response to something I have said or done. (Do you follow me, so far?) Our problem is that far too often this is not what we do, is it? Instead of giving credit to someone else or accepting responsibility for something we might have done or said, we like to lay claim for any good things; and we lay the blame for errors, mistakes, and misdeeds at the feet of other people.

So, when we consider this week’s Psalm, we should admit that it lays the credit for all sorts of good things at God’s feet! Clement weather, bountiful crops, and the fact of His powerful saving actions—these are some of the gracious activities of our Lord. So, consider your life, and think of some things God has done for you, too! Thank God for them! Praise Him by telling others what He has done (or given) for you!

There is more! Consider the final verses of this Psalm. God doesn’t just keep score the way we do. Instead, His score card has just one entry: “Jesus Christ!” The rest simply fades into obscurity. Verses ten and eleven read:

10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.

We pray: Lord God Almighty, remember Jesus and His cross-bought merits for us, and forgive us of all our sins for His sake. In His name we pray. Amen.