Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"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)

"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!

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