Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"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.

"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.