Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Pay Attention!"- Hebrews 2:1-13

If you have ever had a child, taught a class (probably anywhere or at any time), been a boss over a work crew or office staff, been a baby-sitter, or otherwise held a position of authority – it is a good bet that at least once you have said or thought to yourself, “Pay attention!” You may have been addressing yourself or someone else, but the implication is clear. Minds have wandered off course. Thoughts haver muddled. Misconceptions have risen.

All these may and do happen because people are weak and fallible.

I suspect this is why the writer of the letter to the Hebrews said in our text: “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

I would like to draw your attention to four words in this passage, “BUT WE SEE HIM.” That is, we see Jesus – the author and perfecter of our faith and salvation.

In worship, in Sunday School, at home, at work, in our play and leisure we should see Jesus. Furthermore, we should show Jesus! If not, there is something dreadfully wrong. No one and nothing else can offer life and salvation from sin.

Jesus is the one who lived a sinless life and died an absolutely innocent death. Jesus lay down his life for sinners and then, on the third day took his life back and rose from death! Jesus did this because he is almighty God; and He loved sinners then, even as He loves us now.

As you attend worship service, sit through Bible class or Sunday School, celebrate family and friends I pray that you will see Jesus, and that they will also see Jesus in you! Jesus has already “tasted death for everyone!”

"PRAY!"- James 5:13-20

“PRAY!”

I suspect that most of you have gotten into a situation like this: You have been going about your own business, doing your own thing, and suddenly you simply don’t know how to fix something or do something. Perhaps it was an unexpected illness, or a death in the family. Maybe it was a financial setback. It could have been a natural disaster or a threatening storm. It really doesn’t matter, because at those moments the disasters are real and they threaten you. WHAT THEN?

James has a simple solution – PRAY!

This sounds simple – and it really is. This is the solution Satan would have you forget or ignore. This is the solution our human ego rebels against. We sinners are much like petulant and precocious children who will say to their dads and moms, “Me do!” Sometimes they will succeed, but sometimes not. When it doesn’t, it remains for mom or dad to pick up the pieces, repair the damage, and love the child.

The disaster has struck! The assumed independence and the presumed freedom have evaporated or disappeared. Instead we are left destitute of hope direction.

James has a simple solution – PRAY! Pray to the Lord, the God of Creation, the One who created all things out of nothing, and who saves sinners by the innocent blood-sacrifice of His own son Jesus Christ!

In Psalm 50:15 we are reminded to pray in the day of trouble and God will deliver us! In our text today James makes a simple observation. If anyone is suffering, cheerful, sick, or otherwise in need – PRAY! Pray in faith in Jesus. Pray in the confidence that God can and will sustain and deliver. Pray!

"Not a Gag"- James 3:13-4:10

Some years back there was a television program that often had a portion that was really funny. It began with someone singing these words: “O Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” From that point on they would build a joke or gag. They built upon the human tendency to overestimate a person’s own capabilities and to denigrate those of others.

Many people, it seems, have a similar attitude. They may perceive the faults and foibles of others but fail to perceive them in themselves. (I know this is too often true for me.) It may have been the premise of a lot of jokes, but I’m sure this penchant has caused more than a little heartache.

This is not a new phenomenon. James was aware that even in the Christian church there were problems with people thinking more highly of themselves that they ought to have thought. He asked, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” So, he continued a few verses later with this comment: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” There is no place for jealousy, no room for one-upmanship.

In the closing verses of today’s reading James gives us truly good advice:

“Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

This is exactly what Jesus did for us sinners. In His life and death and through His resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven Jesus won life and salvation for sinners like you and me by doing and being what we are not and can never be on our own. Then, in His grace and mercy God freely offers the benefits of Jesus’ gift to all who will believe in Him! This is not a gag. It is no joke. It is God’s TRUTH!

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