Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Ignorance Is Bliss?"—Ephesians 5:6–12

Ignoring things doesn’t usually make them better, although we often enough give opportunity for this to happen. History is full of examples of this. The free world ignored and then tried to placate Hitler and Nazi Germany just before World War Two broke out. In these United States of America many thought they could ignore the requests (and then, demands) to abolish slavery and women’s right to vote (to name a couple). Neither societal flaw is now in effect. Women have the right to vote and slavery is officially banned. So, suddenly (or not), Saint Paul’s admonition in verses fifteen and sixteen of our reading takes on a much greater gravity. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Make the best use of the time... the days are evil.” This is an observation we all would do well to heed! In our reading for last week from Ephesians 5, Saint Paul gave us a list of things people are given to do: fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness or dirty jokes, foolish speech—to name a few things Christ’s followers should avoid. In the remainder of this week’s reading Paul gives us instruction on how to please God, obey His commands, and bless those around them:

Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:17–21)

Try as I might, I don’t always measure up, and I suspect this is true for you, too. If so, there is only one recourse: repent and ask forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Then go about your business in a God-pleasing way, always trying to do better and be better out of reverence for God!

We pray: We confess our sins and our sinfulness, O Lord. Forgive us for Jesus’ sake, and fill us with your Spirit so that we are empowered to do better and be better. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"A Father's Memory"—Ephesians 4:17–5:2

I can still remember when my sons were in grade school. There were the meetings, special dinners, athletic events (and even the occasional trip to the emergency room or doctor’s office). Such was the price of fatherhood (and it wasn’t half bad)!

Once, I listened to a Christmas concert, and one little song still sticks in my mind. The subject of the song was a little child who received a peculiar gift one Christmas. It wasn’t really a toy, nor was it some socks of a shirt. It was a “thing” that didn’t do anything except flash some lights and make some noise. In the song it became the child’s most treasured possession.

I wonder, now, if Saint Paul would have appreciated that song. I think he could have because the matter of the unexpected and special gift is really what he was writing about in our text. Sinners were locked away from God by their own selfishness, pride, greed, anger, and hatred. Yet, in His great love, God gave us Jesus! (Read the gospel of John, chapter 3, verses 16 through 18.) In this reading we see how God responded to the question every child is ready to ask: What is it?

The flashing lights and different sounds are enticements for people to come and check things out. We see it in the church services and Bible classes, hear it in the readings and music, sermons and homilies. These are all designed to generate an interest in God and His Word and will for humankind. In them God offers everyone who will put faith and trust in Jesus full forgiveness of sins and life and salvation in heaven.

We are little children who have received a very peculiar and special gift on that first Christmas, when God’s only-begotten Son was born into a sin-filled world to win salvation and heavenly homes for all who will believe in Him! Many people will scratch their heads in wonder and confusion, like the little child in the song. By God’s gracious power many will hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and believe in Him as Savior and worship and serve Him as Lord. May this be true for you!

We pray: Lord God, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe the Gospel of Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.

"A Worthy Walk"—Ephesians 4:1–16

I have seen it in families, schools, communities, and in churches—the desire to get and keep hold of some sort of preeminence, authority, or power. Sometimes it is over money. Sometimes it’s over friends and acquaintances and relationships. Sometimes the squabbles become bitterly protracted authority struggles. It isn’t pretty. People seem to be given to just the opposite! “Me first!” is the demand often heard on the playground. “I want it my way!” is a demand often made by children and adults.

Walking with all humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace—how unlike what we so often see and too often demonstrate! St. Paul’s admonition to the church in Ephesus was: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Paul’s exhortation (word of encouragement and instruction) to his readers was to be imitators of Christ, walking in a manner worthy of Him who suffered and died for sinners. Our example is Christ Jesus, Himself. He who created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them gave up His heavenly home and became a lowly man in order to serve and save a rebellious and sinful race. Jesus suffered what we could only describe as poverty, was arrested on false charges made against Him by His enemies, died a horrible death on an instrument of extreme cruelty, and was laid to rest in a borrowed grace. Jesus did not, however, stay dead! On that third day (Easter morning) Jesus became alive again and rose victorious over sin, death, and the grave.

Saint Paul, himself, became a prisoner because he served and obeyed this Jesus. His encouragement to his readers was to be like Christ in life—not acting in selfishness, pride, greed, hatred or distrust. Rather, they were encouraged to offer themselves for the good of others, and entrusting themselves to the God who made them and redeemed them!

This is his message for us, too! “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

We pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for offering yourself for us and our salvation! Strengthen us and help us to be more like you in our words and our actions. In your name we pray. Amen.