Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"The Bliss of Easter"- 1 Cor. 15:19-26

It doesn’t seem to matter—when a person raises a garden, goes berry picking, or simply browses through a local farmers’ market—the firstfruits seem the sweetest! That first tomato, fresh from the vine, a green bean plucked from the plant, an apple or cherry just harvested—OH! THE BLISS!

This is exactly what we have on Easter! Sweeter than the first strawberry, more succulent than that first tomato is the message of the angels to the mourning women that Jesus is no longer entombed but alive! Jesus did what He set out to do. He fought the devil and won. Jesus battled against the forces of darkness and emerged victorious!

Listen to St. Paul:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Sweeter that the firstfruits of the garden or orchard, we have the firstfruits of sorrow turned to joy, defeat converted into victory, death overcome by life! We have Jesus Christ risen from His tomb, ascended into heaven, preparing everlasting homes for those who belong to Him! That last enemy has been conquered and the victory won!

We pray: Heavenly Father, we praise and thank You for accepting Jesus sacrifice for us by raising Him from the dead on the first Easter morning. By the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit may we believe and live in this hope! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"Jesus Christ Is Lord"- Philippians 2:5-11

Since I was a child, I carried the image of Jesus riding triumphantly (yet with great humility) into Jerusalem. The people welcomed Him with shouts, palm branches, and such. It has always struck me how the people turned their backs on Jesus later that week and demanded His execution! I see in my mind’s eye the vacant tomb, the empty burial cloths, and hear the quintessential Easter message of the angels, who told the women at the tomb, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:6  

I carried this picture through school, college and my seminary days. It is still in my mind. It is the thought that I hope and pray you carry in your hearts, too! It is what St. Paul desired for the Christians in the city of Philippi, that they would:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

St. Paul described the payoff so clearly in our reading:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”   

I still carry in my heart this view of Jesus, meek yet triumphant. Gentle yet all powerful. Suffering yet victorious. On Palm Sunday and every day, we can see Jesus and rejoice! We can raise loud “Hosannas!” to our God and King. We can confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! By God’s grace we can. In God’s power we should!

We pray: Heavenly Father, by the indwelling of Your Spirit may we be enabled to join with the throngs who welcomed Jesus and celebrate His victory over sin, death, and Satan! In His name we pray. Amen.

"A Little Boy's Search"- Philippians 3:8-14

The little boy took out the rubbish, but before he completed his chore he searched through the garbage searching for his beloved toy, which his mother had confiscated because of some sin he had committed. He didn’t find his toy. Instead, he found a note telling him that the toy was gone—but she still loved him.

In a sense, this is what the Lenten season is all about. We may struggle against the additional worship services and the (sometimes) self-sacrifice and fasting, but at the end we receive this little note telling us that God still loves us (on Easter). I believe this is what St. Paul was getting at in our text. He said:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

For at least a little while we can be like that little boy and perceive that we are loved. More important, we hear again the wonderful message that we are loved by God! The little bit we may sacrifice or give up in Lent is of small consequence compared with the sacrifice God made for us and the benefit we receive as a result! The devil, the world around us, and our sinful natures often urge us to retake the things we have lost or given us, especially during this Lenten season, but Easter and the Resurrection account are fast approaching! Forget what lies behind, and press on toward the goal—the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

We pray: Heavenly Father, when we long for and look for the things we may have given up during Lent, help us to remember with thanksgiving what You gave up and what we have gained in the gift of salvation through faith in Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. In His Name we pray. Amen.

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