Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"Responsibility or Credit"- 1 Cor. 15:21-26, 30-42

Responsibility or credit – it seems elusive yet desired. Teachers or parents may look at the wreckage in a room and ask, “Who did this?”  A law officer may inquire at the seen of a crime or disaster, “Who did this?” The other side of this coin is that people often pursue credit for things done well or challenges accomplished successfully. When an astounding feat of daring is accomplished, an impressive building erected, or some beautiful object of art is revealed – again people are prone to ask, “Who did this?”

Saint Paul correctly identified the reality and effect of sin and God’s grace in our text. “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.” Here he identifies responsibility and gives credit. Mankind is responsible for death, and God alone deserves the credit for life.

Where does this leave us? Simply put, we find ourselves at the foot of Jesus Christ’s now barren cross. We stand at the door of His now vacant tomb. We stare into a now empty sky and by God’s grace we remember and rejoice in the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus’ resurrection and ascension are where we will discover the truth of God’s love for all men, women and children. St. Paul could address even the issue of mortality with confidence. He said it well: “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.” Jesus Christ took the responsibility for our sins upon Himself, paid the penalty price for our redemption, and offers to all who will believe in Him life and salvation in heaven! He deserves the credit!

We pray: Heavenly Father, so often we stumble and fall because we do not see Your hand and perceive Your gracious will for us and all sinners. Help us always, by Your Spirit, to see, know and trust in Your Son Jesus Christ for this life and that life which is to come. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

"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.

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