Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"The Cure for Dirty Mouths"—James 3:1–12

As a youngster, I had a neighbor’s son who badly wanted to play with me. I didn’t particularly care for the boy because he swore like the proverbial trooper. So, I tried to avoid him. Once, though, when a group of us kids were gathering for a ball game that boy with the fowl mouth asked me why I avoided him, so I told him.  He was surprised, I guess because he had never listened to himself, and because that was also what he usually heard around his home he had become deaf to his own speech. But, instead of changing his speaking habits, he kept up with his dirty mouthed behavior.

I would like to say that youngster had a change of heart and speech, but he didn’t. I was disappointed, of course, because he was a good athlete and we wanted him on our team.

Which brings me to the point of this devotion. I wasn’t always a “perfect” child when I was growing up either (and I still fail to reach perfection), but I learned early on that what comes out of a person’s mouth can do much damage! It isn’t just politicians or preachers whose mouths get them into trouble. It can happen with children, parents and ordinary adults, too.

Consider what James wrote: “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.” (James 3:8-10)

James had it right! “For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (James 3:2) We are not perfect! We need Jesus!

Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again so that we imperfect humans could receive God’s forgiveness and everlasting homes with Him in heaven. This was the promise that another child shared with that potty mouthed kid. This is also the promise I want to share with you.

We pray: Lord God Almighty—Father, Son, and Spirit—we confess our sins and beg your forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Make us strong in Him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

"Be Strong"—Isaiah 35:4–7a

Isaiah could be writing this for us. It seems like things are bleak, dark, and shrouded in uncertainty. Thirteen Americans were killed in a bomb blast (along with a large number of others). Our military presence in a foreign land was suddenly and awkwardly ended as our armed forces were withdrawn in a questionable way. Storms also blew in to devastate some parts of our country, while wild fires ravaged others. For all this, Isaiah tells us: “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

He will come and save you.” This, friends, is what faith does for all who believe! It is the confidence that God can and will save his people. It is the certainty that regardless of what may happen in this life and world there is still hope that generates confidence.

The devil tries and tries to foil God’s saving works, but he will never succeed. Herod’s soldiers couldn’t kill the baby Jesus. Satan’s temptations couldn’t distract and distract Jesus from doing his Father’s will. The cross couldn’t stop Jesus from doing His Father’s will, either. The grave proved to be a short stay for Jesus.

Now, thousands of years after, we still hear it! “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

For those who are anxious or uncertain, for those who dealing with the problems of aging, illness, or any other challenge we have Jesus, who endured what we could never endure, suffered what we should suffer in our place, and won the final and total victory over sin, death, and the devil. Because of Jesus, we can be strong and fear not. He won the battle and the war!

We pray: Lord God, you gave us Jesus. In Him, give us hope. Give us strength. In his name we pray. Amen.

"Be Bold"—Ephesians 6:10–20

Isis attacks, evacuations, natural and man-made disasters, epidemics and pandemics – these are but a few of the challenges Christians are facing right now. We almost always have to deal with these questions: 1) Why is this happening, and 2) How can we endure and overcome these challenges?

There aren’t any easy answers. Satan delights in disrupting the lives of Christ’s followers. He would like nothing better than to hurt God by hurting or destroying those for whom Jesus lived and died. The devil is relentless, devious and despicable in his tactics, powerful, and simply evil. If you will recall Satan’s temptation of Jesus, he tried every trick in the book to get Jesus to walk away from His mission, deny His purpose and divine nature, and fail to win salvation for sinners. (See: John 4: 1-13.) And, the devil attacked Jesus’ friends and disciples. (See: Mark 14: 27-31.) All because he hates God and His servants.

So, Saint Paul gives his readers these words of advice: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:10-11) His words are meant for us, too! He used the image of a well-equipped and well-prepared foot soldier: breast plate, helmet, shoes, shield, and weapons. He gave sage advice, too! Pray at all times! Keep alert! Why? For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) BE BOLD IN THE LORD!

So it is. And so it shall continue until our Lord Jesus returns or take us away from this life filled with evil. In the mean time we trust in Jesus for full forgiveness of our sins, life, and salvation. We pray for His mercy and strength to do His will; and we pray for each other.

We pray: Lord God, Almighty Father, Eternal Son, and Holy Spirit forgive our sins, strengthen faith, and increase our love for you and each other that we can be bold for you and that your will be done and your kingdom come. In Jesus’ name. Amen.