Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"The Higher Gift"- 1 Cor. 12:12-31a

I heard a sound clip the other day from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. You have probably heard it, too. It went something like this: “Ask not what your country can do for you.”

It was a good sound bite that addressed the hopes and fears of our nation. And, I have to admit, in the past almost fifty years, there isn’t much that has changed. There are still people who will be service oriented, and those who wish to be served.

I suspect that St. Paul had this human penchant in mind when he wrote the words of our text. In the closing verses of our text he said: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.”

This was our Lord Jesus’ way of doing things. He lowered Himself when He became a mere mortal like you and me. He subjected Himself to divine law and human rules. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. He did all this for two simple reasons. The first was so that He could obey His heavenly Father’s will that all men be saved from perdition in hell. The second reason was because Jesus loved people like you and me. Jesus willingly gave up His life so that even sinners like us could receive God’s forgiveness and places in His heavenly home. In His life, death and resurrection Jesus demonstrated that He desired the higher gift -- so should we.

We pray: "Lord Jesus Christ, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Humble us so that we may use the gifts you have given us in service to our neighbors. In your gracious name, Amen."

"Special Skills, Spiritual Gifts"- 1 Cor. 12:1-11

I was watching a professional football game a while back, and I was struck by the number of “specialized” players. That is, there are place kickers and punters and field goal specialists. There are players who specialize in defensive play and others who specialize in running offensive plays. There are linemen who work hard at their craft, and there are running backs who excel at moving the ball down field. There are so many of these specialized players that when one player is injured, sometimes that player’s team founders. Nevertheless, I have to admit that the special skills and abilities of the various players enhances the thrill of watching the game.

The special gift we have is Jesus! He came into this world to do His Father’s bidding, and save sinners from the curse of everlasting damnation in hell. Jesus accomplished this on Calvary’s cross and through the now empty tomb. I would like you to remember these facts as you consider the specialized skills that Jesus has given you.

St. Paul wrote in verse seven of our text: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” One individual might be a gifted speaker, another might possess the gift of healing, and so on; but like on the football field, each player is to use his or her abilities and talents to achieve the common goal. Otherwise the Church will appear more like a fragmented football team.

The goal for all Christians should ever be the glorification of God by bringing more and more souls the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ! Otherwise the Church become as fragmented and disjointed as a football team with no cohesion or team spirit. Remember:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

We pray: “Lord Jesus Christ, send us the Holy Spirit, that we might ever keep in mind that You have already won for us the victory over sin, death and the devil. Give us the will and the ability to share this victory with others. In Your gracious name, we pray. Amen.

"Dead Man Walking"- Romans 6:1-11

“Dead man walking!” That was supposed to be he chant raised a in prison whenever a convicted criminal made his way to the execution chamber (or at least this is how Hollywood portrayed it in one movie). The statement gives expression to a sense of hopelessness or despair.    

If we read our assigned portion of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, an argument could be made the perhaps Paul shared in that attitude, but for a far different reason. For St. Paul Christians are “dead men walking,” but unlike the movie Paul’s thoughts are not dredged in despair or dread. Instead, Paul gives voice to confidence, joy, and hope!

Consider verses 5-11 of our text:

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Here is a confidence we would do well to share! If Paul had uttered the phrase, “Dead man walking,” it wouldn’t have been in hopeless despair. As a believer in Jesus Christ it would have been a statement of complete confidence and utter joy! Death had no more dominion over Jesus; and in Christ Jesus it can have no more power over you or me. Our heavenly home with Jesus is assured!

So, we pray: “Lord Jesus, give us the confidence to always know that regardless of what may happen to us in this life and world You are with us to give us strength. Take us to our heavenly home. In Your name we pray. Amen.”