Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"All Saints' Day"—1 John 3:1–3

Name-calling is a fairly common experience. Children do it. Adults do it, too. Some of these names might be endearing (like when a grandmother gives a special name to her granddaughter). Sometimes they are humorous (I think). But sometimes (and I am sure that this has happened to many of you) they are hurtful and hate filled and replete with ignorance.  In our reading for this week, we see and hear God calling us names. This is something truly special!

We are called 'children of God;' and so we are!” (1 John 3:1) This is nothing done in jest, anger, or hatred. It is God telling us that the adoption is completed in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial life and death, and underscored in Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. Jesus earned for us what we sinners could never earn. He lived a sinless and perfect life for us. Then He died an absolutely innocent and undeserved death on that cruel Roman cross so that He could procure forgiveness for all of us and gain God’s complete acquittal for all our sins of thought, word, and action.

This weekend we observe the ancient feast day called All Saints' Day, and we celebrate the fact that through the ages God has extended this blessing to thousands and millions of people who believed His promises and looked forward to that time when His people would be welcomed into His eternal home. God grant that we will also be counted in this number!

We pray: Lord God Almighty, we are often given to use names in ways that demean or insult others. We sometimes use them to claim credit and honors for ourselves. When we sin, forgive us for Jesus’ sake and welcome us into that blessed multitude of saints who love and trust Jesus for forgiveness and everlasting life! In His name we pray. Amen.

"Justified by Faith"—Romans 3:19–28

Dr. Martin Luther had it right. He recognized, believed, and preached the power of God to save. Verses twenty-three and twenty-four of today’s lesson say a lot! Sermons and books have been written based on these verses. I repeat them here:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus….

The problem was simple and clear to Luther: all people are sinners condemned to eternal death in hell because of their sins of thought, word, and deed, and they needed a Savior! God’s Law (the Ten Commandments, primarily) tells us this. These describe the limits God has placed on people:  You shall not disobey parents, murder, commit adultery, lie, steal, or covet what belongs to others.  You shall have no other gods, not take God’s name in vain, and you shall worship God regularly and faithfully. As St Paul said in our reading: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” (Ro. 3:23)

Luther believed and preached the words and the truth of these verses. And as long as there are those preachers and teachers who love Jesus and believe these words, the Christian faith will continue. As long as there exist Bible-believing Christians in our world, and as long as souls remain to be saved by God’s grace, these words will come into play:  all have sinned and are justified by grace through Jesus Christ.  The final verse in our reading says it clearly: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Ro. 3:28)

We pray: Lord, we believe. Help us in our unbelief. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"Jesus Did It All"—Hebrews 7:23–28

I have a coffee mug that someone once gave me. It says: “Old pastors don’t die; they just go out to pastor.” I don’t know if that is true, but I would like to think it could be. I am reminded of my own humanity and the brevity of life every once in a while, and the fact that there is so much I have yet to accomplish with the Lord’s help.

This feeling is why I am drawn to our text. It speaks directly to our Lord Jesus and His omnipotence (all powerful) and eternity (without beginning and without end). He is God Almighty. He is lives forever.  He is the personification of perfect love. He offered Himself once for all people of all time as the perfect and absolute sacrifice for all sinners. When He took on human flesh and blood as the babe of Bethlehem, lived a life of poverty and hard work, offered Himself on that Roman cross as the only sacrifice capable of saving sinners from hell, and when He rose victorious even over death and the grave to ascend back into His heavenly home to prepare homes for all who would love and trust in Him for forgiveness of sins, Jesus did what we needed done! This is exactly what the writer to the Hebrew said in chapter seven, verses 23-25:

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Here is why this is so important for us:

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. (Hebrews 7: 26-28)

Jesus did what no mere human could do; and He did it for us!

So we pray: Oh! Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good! His mercy endures forever. Amen.