Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"To Tell the Truth"- 1 Cor. 15:12-20

Having witnessed a multitude of mock court trials on TV, it is my assumption that in most situations the court would seek to discover or reveal the truth. This is why (again, my assumption) courts require witnesses to “tell the truth.”

The truth was what Paul was addressing in our text. Not everyone living in St. Paul’s day believed that Jesus rose from the dead. The Scribes and Pharisees, for example, and their leaders the high priests in Jerusalem, denied Jesus’ resurrection. They even tried to keep people from learning about it. (They had bribed the tomb guards to lie about what happened on Easter morning.)

Now, after two thousand years there are still many people who deny the resurrection; but many others who willingly offer up their very lives for its truth. Why?

In our lesson (1 Corinthians 15:12-20) Saint Paul offers us a potent argument for Jesus’ resurrection. At first our writer Saul of Tarsus denied Jesus’ resurrection. He sought to destroy those who did believe it; but when the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ confront Saul, blinded him, and convince Saul that the resurrection was real Saul’s attitude changed. Saul even changed his name to Paul because he believed that Jesus was alive! Paul wrote: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” He had not witnessed the resurrection of Jesus himself, but he was convinced of the fact—and this changed his life!

Where does this leave us? We lack the personal experiences of seeing Jesus’ resurrection because we weren’t there, but based on the personal testimony of people who did see Jesus alive and well—people like Mary and Martha, the disciples, and even Paul—we by God’s grace also believe. This, friends, is why we read our Bibles, attend worship services, share in devotions like this, and personally tell others about Jesus! “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” This is THE TRUTH!

So, we pray: Lord Jesus, by the working of the Holy Spirit we have come to know and believe that you are God’s Son, raised from the dead and now ascended into heaven where You prepare heavenly homes for us! Give us the grace and strength to celebrate these truths by sharing them with others! In Your name we pray. Amen.

"Knowing What to Do"- 1 Cor. 14:12-20

Once in a great while we get or possess something we just don’t know how to use. It may be a tool, a toy, or something else. Some of us will experiment with our new thing until we understand it, its purpose and its usefulness, and some will leave it unused and perhaps even ignored until it is better understood and its function, usefulness or benefit can be used.

In our text St. Paul addressed this very human penchant, but to me, at least, his emphasis isn’t on speaking in tongues (or not). Rather he focuses upon the reason behind God giving such gifts. In verse 19, we read: “In church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” For Saint Paul the emphasis was on sharing God’s Word wherever and whenever he could. As a simple country preacher this was my desired emphasis, too.

His focus on the job at hand was also Jesus’ emphasis. As His death approached, He prayed that if it were possible that that cup should pass from Him and He avoid a horrible death on a Roman cross; yet He submitted Himself to His Father’s will. Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, judged in a mockery of justice, and then be horribly murdered on a Roman cross to buy sinful humankind’s redemption. Jesus knew what to do with His life! Jesus understood why it was necessary for Him to offer His life as a ransom for many. He knew what to do!

As we consider and rejoice in the great gift of the Christmas and Epiphany season, I pray that we, too, will remember and rejoice in the fact that Jesus came to seek and save sinners. We know what this gift is. We have learned of its benefit and its usefulness. May we NEVER leave it ignored or unused. “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others….”

We pray: Help us always to remember why Jesus came into this world and what He accomplished. Enable us, by Your Spirit to share even five words to instruct others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"Of Love and Lovelessness"- 1 Cor. 13

Some things just don ‘t seem to fit – they are like too small shoes or too large trousers. The comment to a police officer that a driver didn’t know he was speeding, a football player who claimed that he didn’t know the opponent was out of bounds, a husband or wife who didn’t think that cheating “just once” could jeopardize their marriage – these are defensive comments that just don’t seem to fit.

The fact of the matter is that such small things (and many others) can and do hurt. They can be well-inflicted words that damage an individual and his or her welfare, well-being, and reputation. They can and do also hurt others.

In our text for today (1 Corinthians 13) St. Paul addresses this issue directly:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Lovelessness in its many forms does affect many people and many relationships.  Self-interest, greed, envy, and hatred often become substandard substitutes for genuine love and concern for God and other humans. Adam and Eve discovered this when they fell into sin. Judas Iscariot discovered this after he betrayed Jesus to the high priests. Saul of Tarsus experienced it while he was on a “hunting trip” to Damascus. I have experienced it in my own life, and I have been affected by it as well.

It remains for us to better understand what true love is, what it is like, what it does, and what it leads to

Jesus put it this way:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18

An automobile driver should be aware of his or her speed, a football player should be aware of the sidelines, a spouse should be constantly concerned about his or her relationship with the spouse, and a God-fearing individual should always keep in mind the importance of selflessness and love as personified by Jesus.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

That Love, the Love that saves us, the Love that we are to emulate, is Jesus Christ – God’s Son and our Savior! 

God, grant us such love! Amen.