Pastor Schreiber's Devotions

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"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.”

"The Purpose"- Ephesians 3:1-12

As we observe the celebration of Epiphany with the coming of the wise men, I think it is most appropriate to remember not just who brought them to see and gift the Infant, but to keep in mind why He did this. So, we turn to the final three verses of our text, where we read:             

to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, [10] so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. [11] This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, [12] in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Paul readily acknowledged that his salvation had a deeper purpose – to bring others to salvation through the Holy Spirit’s power.  In this insight Paul found a purpose in life, a true reason for living. In this purpose Paul discovered the ability to endure hardship, shipwreck, imprisonment, and eventual martyrdom.  It equipped Paul with “boldness and access with confidence through (his) faith” in Christ.

We, friends, are the direct beneficiaries of Paul’s boldness and confidence. No matter of our national heritage, ethnic background, sex or sexual orientation, age, or level of education we share this in common. We are the ones for whom Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, and rose from the dead. We are now the generation given the job of declaring Christ to the nations. We are now the ones “to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”

So, we pray: “Lord Jesus, send us your Spirit so that we may with boldness and confidence share the news of life and salvation through Your holy name. Amen.”

"Christmas Gifts"- Galatians 3:23-29

For many of us, this is a time when we get to wear new clothes. As Christmas gifts I received winter vests, blue jeans, caramel corn and candy, a puzzle book, and improved health – to name a few of the gifts I received.

Christmas gifts and new clothes have become a part of our seasonal tradition, but what now?

St. Paul, in verse 27, gives us a clue. No, more than a clue – it is a direction! “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Besides the new clothes and extra pounds there is something even better to put on and wear with pride and thankfulness – Jesus Christ Himself!

How do we accomplish this? By living, acting and doing as Jesus would – loving God above all things and even our enemies as ourselves. Even when Jesus humanly didn’t want to make the sacrifice of His body and blood on Calvary’s cross, He submitted Himself to His Father’s will. He became obedient even unto death so that those who would believe in Him would receive everlasting life with Him in heaven! To put on Christ, as St Paul said in our text, means to become Christlike in what we think, say and do.

When we fail to do this and are less than Christlike in all we say and do and think we have the Advocate Himself, the Holy Spirit, speaking up for us to His Father in heaven. This is, ultimately, why Jesus came into our sin-sickened world. He came to seek and save the lost. Jesus came to save US from our sins so that we could join Him in heaven.

In our reading St. Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” These are our new clothes! Wear them with pride and thankfulness. Jesus is the ultimate Christmas gift for you and me.

We pray:  Lord Jesus Christ, we are wear sinners saved from damnation only through Your death and resurrection. Forgive us all our sins, and keep us mindful of Your sacrifice and victory for all sinners. As we close the holiday season and begin the New Year enable us to our new clothes of life and salvation with joy and confidence! In Your gracious name we pray. Amen.

 

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