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Wednesday Sept 30 Devotion


“Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  A voice says, “Call out.”  Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”  All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.”  (Isaiah 40:5,6)

What the Lord has accomplished will be evident to all, whether or not they see it.  The glory of the Lord is in the salvation He has prepared for those who see it.  The reality confronts the illusion.  We, the people, are like grass that withers and fades, but what the Lord has done is forever.  Trust then in what the Lord has done and not in the momentary illusions that our minds create.

Lord, when I was young I thought this life would be forever.  As the years pass, I realize that time on this earth becomes shorter.  Help me see that in You alone is there a forever that is lovely and good.  Apart from you, like the grass in the field, there is withering and fading.  Guide me into the richness of the salvation You have prepared for those who love You, knowing that in You alone is there a true hope and future.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, the revealed glory, that You have come to save as many as would believe in You.  Guide me, I pray, to see in You the hope of the ages and to share that hope with others.  In You, lead me deeper into the discipleship You offer that I would hold forever to the salvation You have prepared for all who believe.  May I be a witness of Your glory this day through all I say and do.  Amen.

Tuesday, Sept 29 Devotion



“A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.   “Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley.”  (Isaiah 40:3-4)

In this prophecy fulfilled by John the Baptist, we see what the Lord intends through the Savior.  A smooth and level way to the Lord.  No hoops, twists or turns, but a level, smooth way that is not a burden.  The high places are brought low and the low places are lifted up.  The way of the Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the truth and the life.  It is not a way as the world knows it, but the person of the Lord Himself who takes our hand and leads us.

Lead me, Lord Jesus, into Your never-failing ways that I would understand that it is not what I do, but who I am in You that leads me in the reparation of the breech between man and You that sin has caused.  Help me understand clearly Your way, O Lord, in order to seek You all the days of my life and walk in Your ways.  Guide me to know that in You I have an eternal hope and future.

Lord Jesus, You are the answer to all of Scripture’s prophecies.  You are the One who has come to lead not only me, but all who believe to live a life that grows into eternal life.  Help me this day, I pray, to understand that in You alone is their hope and a future and to share that hope in thought, word and deed with all with whom I come into contact today.  Guide me, my Lord in Your way.  Amen.

Damaging the Brand

  • September 28, 2015 - 4:26 pm
  • lutherancore
  • 1
  • Blog



Is This What We Are Going to Do? Really?
By Rev. Eric Jonas Swensson

From what I see on social media I am very concerned about conservative Christians. Why? Well, if it is the case that what people post on social media is indicative of what they are feeling and thinking, my friends at least have gone over the edge. Obamacare, SCOTUS and the Iran Deal have taken their toll.

I am also concerned about my social media friends who embrace the progressive view. They perhaps have forgotten reading Animal Farm and Brave New World.

What was true for a few is becoming normal. I realized yesterday that I can no longer post anything to do with politics without collecting comments that are so unpleasant that I, and the ministries I work, with cannot help but be sullied.

So, what should I and people who are experiencing the same thing do?  Stop expressing opinions about politics completely? Perhaps. But I would not want to go there. That’s very much like the argument, “That’s letting the terrorists win.”

Of course, we are not talking about terrorists, but the Lizard People.

The Lizard People? Yes, The Lizard People. I was taught about The Lizard when I studied Family Systems. The major thing to know here is stress does something to families and family systems. This includes any grouping of people and churches, which is why I needed to learn it. What does stress do? Well, initially, it makes us stupid. Not everyone. Some people perform well under stress. They can ride it to victory. But too much stress makes any individual reactive. You all know this, and you are also familiar with the term “Fight or Flight.”

Many conservative Christians are choosing to fight it out on social media. Bad move. When the limbic system is in charge and we happen to be on social media, we might very well decide to straighten people out. This is a bad move because that is not what it is for. It’s called “social media” after all. Lizard People are doing what marketing people call “damaging the brand.”

Christians in America today do not need this. Sure, it is nothing new. Hollywood in general has been stereotyping us as mean-spirited hypocrites for quite a while. However, it seems we don’t need Hollywood to do that for us anymore. Why? Because we have Facebook. Judging from my timeline we are not only mean-spirited, we are also foul-mouthed and completely disrespectful of anyone who does not agree with us.

Drop the pundit routine. You are not a politician! I want to bring in an expert here to show you what I mean:

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. (Mark 7:21-22 ESV)

Yeah. Pretty much nails it. Foolishness. Epidemic rates of foolishness. Conservatives and liberals alike, no one is going to take your opinions – much less your hard-won principles – seriously if you are always on the attack.

Isn’t it rich? Aren’t we a pair? Liberals and conservatives. Send in the clowns? They’re already here.

It really isn’t that hard. One only needs to sober up. Getting drunk on ideology many seem quite intoxicating, but in the end it ends up in addiction and believe it or not the analogy works. One can end up losing their job and family members.

Law and Gospel works for me. If Jesus places slander and foolishness in the same list as sexual immorality and adultery, that gets my attention.

For some reason I keep forgetting that foolishness is a sin. Perhaps I am so prone to it that it is a blind spot!

Maybe we all do. Maybe if we really feel called on to point out error and wrong-doing on social media, we should study our Bible first.

I am certainly not saying that one should not point out error. When we study Scripture we learn that we are to admonish fellow believers as well as build them up. But on Facebook? Really? In an epithet-laced ad hominem? Really?

If one really wants to be effective, try the essay form of writing. Sitting down and trying to collect one’s thoughts while reflecting on some key teachings that guide the way you have learned to live, somehow is much better than firing a salvo from the top of your head. In a time of great foolishness there’s a lot of stuff flying and we are getting hit in the face with it. We need good writers right now.

Why? We are perhaps at the tipping point. I am not one who thinks it is wise to predict the future, but as one who spends a lot of time online managing social media for ministries, I do see trends. One is Christians asking other Christians to be more careful in how they express their beliefs online. Yes, sort of like I am doing here.

Am I evolving? Perhaps, but maybe it is more accurate perhaps to say I am learning from Jesus. The gentle-as-doves and wise-as-serpents, live-by-the-sword, count-the-cost-before-going-to-war Jesus was not entirely a pacifist, and neither did He censor His disciples, but he taught a different way and the Holy Spirit urges us on in a different manner than the worldly one from pundits and news outlets.

So I would want us all to realize that people who are important to us are watching us and listening to us these days. Train up a child in the way he or she should go. Bequeath wisdom, not bitterness. We are in this for the long haul and we need the younger generation. If we become an embarrassment to them, and this is exactly what some forces are attempting, we certainly will diminish. Worse, the younger generation will fall away from the faith completely. Of course, it is not just the younger generation that will drop out, but all who do not want the grief of being part of the marginalized.

Now, more than ever, we shall endeavor to keep our eyes on Jesus. Our good Lord does know exactly what we are going through and He knows where it will end. Rest in Him when anxiety comes. Really.

Monday, Sept 28 Devotion


“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.  “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  (Isaiah 40:1-2)

The Lord reproofs those whom He loves.  There is a cost for sin and the Lord desires that none would perish, yet the cost must be paid.  In this opening verse of the prophetic utterance that is another introduction of the coming of Christ, we hear that in the midst of the turmoil, the Lord sends a word of comfort for His people.  Not all people, but His people, those who believe and turn to the Lord.

Lord, help my belief and help me to see that what is happening in the world is personal to You as You deal with the rampant sin that occurs all over.  Help me know that even if caught up in turmoil because of the sins of others, You are there and give the comfort of Your Spirit to those who believe.  Guide me ever deeper into the revelation You have given that I would grow in wisdom and stature and in Your ways.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for coming and paving the way for all who believe.  You are the comfort of the weary.  You are the hope of the ages.  You are the One who has conquered sin, death and the devil.  Guide me this day in Your ways that I would not only hold fast to Your never-failing promises, but that I would be a bold witness of Your love poured out for the sake of as many as would believe.  Amen.

Sunday, Sept 27 Devotion


“‘And some of your sons who will issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away, and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”  Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “For there will be peace and truth in my days.”  (Isaiah 39:7-8)

We often see what we want to see.  We look at this statement the king made and see that he is content, but we also know that people from the court like Daniel and his friends would suffer at the hands of the Babylonian king.  Where true peace resides – and in this, Hezekiah was not wrong – is in the hands of the Lord whose purposes and plans are unfolding.  Trust in the Lord always, knowing that no matter what comes, all things are in His hands.

Lord, I cannot see beyond today, let alone into tomorrow.  Help me to learn from You and what You have spoken to simply trust in You for all things.  Guide me ever deeper into this faith You have given me, knowing that only in You is there hope and a future.  Grant to me Your peace which understands that all things are in Your hands and that no matter what may come, You are the Sovereign Lord.

Lord Jesus, You came to this earth humbly and knowing what lay before You, leading all who would follow You through the travail of this world for the sake of an eternity with You.  Help me this day to look to You for my hope and future in spite of, and not because of what surrounds me.  Help me to remain faithful to You and the cause to which You call me for Your name’s sake.  Amen.

Saturday, Sept 26 Devotion


“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord.”  (Isaiah 39:5-6)

There is always a price for indiscretion.  Whether or not the enemy would have known may have made the difference, but had they not known, what Hezekiah did assured that they did know.  Do not show the thief your valuables.  Whether it is the wealth of this age, or the true wealth of the Lord’s provision, be cautious and share what the Lord would have you share in order that sin may not be compounded.

Lord, I have been indiscreet on many occasions.  Teach me wisdom in order that I may know when to share and when to withhold what I know.  Guide me to be helpful to others and not entice them with what I know, or have.  Help me learn from You, gaining the wisdom that You offer in order to be helpful in all I say and do.  Help me also cling to the greatest treasure which cannot be taken – the gift of grace and faith – which assures Your everlasting kingdom.

Lord, You teach me to treasure Your kingdom which cannot be taken from me by others.  Help me treasure above all that which is everlasting.  Guide me to see that in You I have an assured hope and future and even if kings of this world come and steal all I possess, they cannot take what You have given me in You.  In wisdom and with discernment, help me learn from You and remain faithful to You and Your kingdom.  Amen.

Friday, Sept 25 Devotion


“Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where have they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.”  He said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them.”  (Isaiah 39:3,4)

Yes, in the Lord, we are to be willing to share with others, but our Lord has taught us not to throw pearls before the swine.  We are to be truthful, but we are also to be discrete.  Learn from the Lord and His wisdom, for the Lord has not revealed all there is to reveal, but that which is necessary that we might believe and have faith.  Learn to live in the wisdom of the Lord and in His ways.

Lord, it is not easy to know the lines between honesty, transparency and discretion.  Guide me to learn when to speak and when to be silent.  Teach when to share and when to refrain from sharing.  Help me in Your wisdom to be as You would have me to be in order to do what is pleasing in Your sight.  Keep me from saying what I ought not say and from not speaking when I should be speaking.  Lead me in wisdom that I may understand more fully what You would have me to do.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the new life You have purchased.  I know I need it.  Help me, I pray, to learn so that I would not be so reliant upon grace, in order to become obedient in those things You give me to do.  Help me to be discerning today, sharing what You would have me share and being wise in how and what I share.  Thank You for guiding me each step of the way.  May I be Your disciple this day in word and deed.  Amen.

Thursday, Sept 24 Devotion


“At that time Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered.  Hezekiah was pleased, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and his whole armory and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.”  (Isaiah 39:1-2)

Even with rejoicing and thanksgiving, one should remain cautious.  Hezekiah showed the wealth of the Temple and that would come back to haunt the nation, for when the Babylonians came, they took the treasures of the Temple.  Guard the treasure the Lord has given you.  Be shrewd as serpents, yet remain innocent.  Trust the Lord, but be wary of sinners, especially those who outwardly reject the Lord.

It is a strange thing how people will trust, Lord.  They will share with a complete stranger what they would not share with a close friend.  Help me to have wisdom, for I know do not know what actions will come because of my indiscretions, but You do.  Keep me close to You and give me guidance so that I will remain faithful and not unwittingly sin against You, or others.  Teach me, O Lord.

Lord Jesus, You came and revealed the way of the disciple.  Help me look to You always, first and foremost and learn from You.  Guide me to be wise with what You have shown me, sharing with others, but also cautious in order not to sin, or cause others to sin.  Help me today to learn faithfulness in all I say and do, building up Your kingdom in others and myself.  Lead me, O Lord to be faithful to the call You have given me.  Amen.

Wednesday Sept 23 Devotion


Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.”  Then Hezekiah had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”  (Isaiah 38:21-22)

Once one becomes willing to be obedient, then ask what next should be done. With this simple idea, we see what the Lord has desired all along: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”  The Lord has told us that He desires willing obedience to His Word.  All of the game playing that goes on shows us pitting ourselves against the Lord again and again.  In repentance, we see that the Lord alone is God.  It is He, the Creator and not the creature that is to be worshiped.

Lord, grant that I would see the simple truth of what You have spoken.  You alone are God.  I am in no position to negotiate with You.  I do Lord, but help me repent of this and simply ask, “What would You have me do?”  Under Your guidance, O Lord, help me live each day as it would please You, knowing that You alone are to be worshiped.  Lead me through Your teaching to learn and obey.

Lord Jesus, You were always lifting Your eyes to the Father, seeking to show us that to please Him was the order of things.  Guide me this day to keep me eyes up, in Your example, that I would seek to do what pleases the Father.  Help me in all moments to hold fast to this faith You have given me, that through grace, I would do what is pleasing to You and has everlasting joy.  Amen.

Tuesday, Sept 22 Devotion


“It is the living who give thanks to You, as I do today; a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness.   “The Lord will surely save me; so we will play my songs on stringed instruments all the days of our life at the house of the Lord.”  (Isaiah 38:19-20)

God is the God of the living, not the dead.  But we should be cautious not to think that this means this life should go on healthy and whole as we please, for we all know we shall die.  Then again, we are reminded that though we die, yet shall we live.  Therefore, the author of Life, the Lord Himself has called for us to simply follow Him all the days of this life until He brings us into eternal life.

Lord, give me joy in this life, yet keep me in the truth that this life will end.  Help me see the ways in which You are using this life to prepare me for what is to come.  Guide me to have hope, but only in those things which You promise and not in this sinful world which disappoints and is filled with delusion.  Keep me in Your wisdom all the days of this life until that time when I see You face to face.

Lord Jesus, You have come to lead the way and You did not fall back even from death.  Help me see that on both sides of the mortal death, You lead as an example that we who follow You might be prepared for what is to come.  Lead me this day that I would hold fast to the promises You have given, knowing that in You alone do I hope and have a future.  May I faithfully follow You this day.  Amen.