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Monday, February 29, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.  Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”  (Isaiah 53:11-12)

What Christ has come to do was foretold clearly in this prophecy.  He has come to bear the iniquity of the many and bear for them what they could not do for themselves.  Trust in the One who has done for us what needs to be done in order to unite us with Himself for eternity.  Know that the One promised has accomplished this and our thanks and praise go to the One who Is, who Was and who Is to come.

Lord, I make it much more complex than it needs to be.  Help me see that in You I have all that is needed and that apart from You, there is no hope, nor future.  Guide me, I pray, to listen to Your Word and learn from You who has accomplished what needs to be done.  Keep me from straying and hold me fast to the never-changing principles that You have laid out from the beginning.

Lord Jesus, You are the One who has taken upon Yourself the sins of us all.  Help me to live into the new life You have accomplished for all who believe from the cross.  May I be guided by Your example and live a life that is thankful for all the good things You have done.  May my life be an offering back to You in gratitude for what You have done for all who believe.  May this be carried forth in this day and forever more.  Amen.

Sunday, February 28, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.  But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.”  (Isaiah 53:9-10)

In very clear terms, the Lord spoke of Messiah being killed as a common criminal, but that in His grave would be that of a rich man.  Jesus was crucified and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Aramathea.  Because of what Christ endured for us all, those who are His will prosper in the promise the Lord gave from the beginning.  In prophecy, the Lord has told us what would happen that we would believe Him.

Lord, only You are able to know what will come, for all things are in Your hands.  Help me see that in You, there is hope and a future.  Guide me into the wisdom You have for all who believe that I might grow in this wisdom and understand more fully what it is that You have accomplished through Your death and resurrection.  You are the Master and all things are in Your hands.

Lord Jesus, You have accomplished salvation for all who believe.  Help me to believe.  Guide me into faith that in belief I would live the days of my life knowing that You are the only One who can guide and lead through this world steeped in sin.  May I live according to the Father’s purpose and listen as the Holy Spirit directs me throughout today and every day, knowing that You are accomplishing what has always been intended.  Amen.

Friday, February 26, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”  (Isaiah 53:5-6)

There is no one who has not been tainted by the curse of sin.  The Savior comes, untainted and takes upon Himself the sin of us all.  Do not trust in your own abilities, but upon the One who knows all that needs to be done.  Know that He has come and through His scourging, He brings healing to those who trust in Him.  Yes, we have turned our own way, but He has come to turn us to the Father.

Lord, You have paved the way, paid the price and enabled a path for those who would follow You.  Guide me this day, I pray, to see in You the never-ending hope You provide in every circumstance.  Lead me into faithfully following You no matter what may come that in and through You I may grow in understanding life as You have created it and live according to the Father’s will.

Help me this day dear Lord to live according to Your Word.  In You alone do I find hope and a future.  Lead me deeply into the truth of Your Word through all of my actions that I would hold fast to the truth You have revealed in Your life, death and resurrection.  May I be faithful now and always, trusting in You that You would lead me in the way of everlasting life.  Amen.

The Spiritual Awakening of Andrew Turnswich, Part Three

  • February 24, 2016 - 12:53 pm
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The Spiritual Awakening of Andrew Turnswich, Part Three

The Rev. Steven K. Gjerde

 

Everyone knew.  Andrew was certain.

Ever since his roommate, Eric, had found him looking at pornography, it seemed to Andrew that everyone looked at him differently, even guys on the floor with whom he barely spoke.  Every glance looked “knowing,” and every smile seemed like a smirk.  Andrew knew that Eric didn’t care about the porn—he even kidded Andrew about it a few days later, and joked that now Andrew was like every other guy on campus—but had he told anyone else?  That was the question.  Had Andrew become a joke, that dude-who-went-to-church-with-the-Jesus-freaks-but-looked-at-porn-on-the-side?  Worse of all, he worried that Matt and the rest of the Crossroads crew had heard about it.  Were they looking at him funny?  He couldn’t tell, and he could hardly ask, so he just tried to avoid them.

Yet even as he found new routes to cross campus and different times to grab lunch, Andrew knew that Wednesday was coming, and now it was here: time for church.  If he wasn’t smart, his friends would come find him, expecting him to worship, and maybe they’d even ask where he’d been all week, and Jenna would be there, and what if she knew?  If she thought he was lame before, she’d really think it now—worse, she’d probably hang out with Matt, Big-Old-Funny-and-Bold Matt, and then it would be off to Crossroads and dodging cars and another hour of praise music and a God-point sermon on being bold.  

And even if his friends at Crossroads didn’t know now, what if they found out later?  What if someone else on the floor, someone who surely knew all about him, saw him going with them to worship, and made a joke about porn?  And then there would be questions, and maybe even Pr. Bryan would want to talk to him, and he’d be the broken-dude-getting-helped, and not the cool-dude-with-a-girlfriend.  The more he thought about it, the more Andrew scowled, at himself, at his friends, at the whole damn world.  

He definitely wasn’t going to go to worship tonight.  He was not raising his arms and singing songs about love and boldness.  Shoving up from his desk, he whipped his coat off its hook with a huff.  Eric looked up from his laptop, startled, and pulled an ear-bud out of his ear.

“You okay, dude?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”  Andrew rammed his arms into the coat, still scowling.

“Okay.”  Eric stuffed the ear-bud back in and returned to the glowing screen.

Andrew rushed out, slamming the door behind him.  He had to go fast, before Matt or Jenna or anyone else saw him.

Once again, the Wednesday evening was warmer than normal for February, and the melting snow banks made the air misty.  Andrew welcomed the cover of falling darkness, and stuffed his hands into his pockets as he slipped along a parking lot towards town.  He felt like eating something junky.  Taco Bell, maybe, or a meatball sub with extra meatballs.  Followed with ice cream.  He thought of his mother’s cherry pie, and then decided not to think about it.  His parents were miles away, and had nothing to do with Crossroads or friends or porn or college.  Just thinking about them was depressing—it was embarrassing.

The icy sheets of snow beneath his feet grew grimy, but the sidewalk carried him faithfully along, away from campus and through a quiet residential area, full of warm kitchen lights and the blue-glow of TV screens.  He tried to ignore the houses and not envy the families inside.  He wanted to get downtown, by the fast-food places, and he thought he remembered the way.  

He turned left, towards a stoplight, but found it was not the intersection he remembered.  That’s right, this is College Avenue.  Cars raced past, and the air smelled of gas fumes; a service station and several businesses polluted the dark sky with bright lights.  With a quick glance to his right, over his shoulder, Andrew could see Crossroad’s glassy entryway glowing a few blocks to the north, shining like a lantern.  No, he was not going there.  He turned left and headed south, towards fast food and anonymity.  

After several blocks along College Avenue, he stopped and cursed himself.  Where was State Street?  Didn’t it run through here?  He looked at the street signs but saw nothing familiar.  It then occurred to him that State didn’t intersect with College; they ran parallel.  Andrew cursed again, and craned his neck to look up one side street and down another for a busy intersection.  Maybe he had to venture back into the residential area.  He waited patiently at a traffic signal, loosening some ice with his toe, until he could cross College and head up a street called Maple Lane.  

The neighborhood seemed vaguely familiar as Andrew made his way.  Tall, narrow houses and old-fashioned brick apartment buildings lined the street, guarded by a silver line of cars along the curb—Andrew noted, with approval, no less than four Prius hybrids and a Nissan Leaf.  Yes, he’d jogged through here once.  Young professionals, hurry to get home, whizzed by on bicycles—In winter? Andrew wondered—and a few middle-aged men in North Face coats walked their dogs either before or after supper.  Andrew looked around him, and finally began to relax.  This place felt normal.  He slowed his pace, and took a deep breath.  He could see an intersection up ahead; State Street was here at last.  Taco Bell.  He would eat at Taco Bell.

A sign flickered in his peripheral vision.  He almost ignored it, until Grandpa Amberg’s word caught his attention: Lent.  Andrew stopped to look again.  Was it a church?  He had almost missed it, but sure enough, the elegant building to his left proclaimed itself to be First English Lutheran Church.  Lutheran, Andrew thought, thinking of home again.  He took a longer look at the building to make sure it was a church.  It seemed neither old nor modern to him, the kind of building that could just as well be a school from the 1950’s, its harmonized assemblage of rectangles built out of tan brick and cement.  A neon cross stood proudly on top of its square steeple, smearing the darkness with light, and bright lights shined from square basement windows.  

Lent, the church’s sign read, A Time for Change.  Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.  ALL ARE WELCOME!

Change—he could use a change.  He could use something familiar, too.  He pulled out his phone and checked the time—6:57.  He could just make the start of worship.  Taco Bell was open through midnight.  It could wait.  And he was close enough to the start of worship, he could just slip in, unnoticed.  Maybe it would be nice to be Lutheran again—wouldn’t it?

TO BE CONTINUED . . . .

 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“Who has believed our message?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.”  (Isaiah 53:1-2)

Our Savior has come and is One who appears no different than you or me.  In a barren land, of no account according to the world, He came bringing the light of life.  He was not beautiful, nor did He surround Himself with earthly things that we would think were majestic, but came humbly as every man’s everyman.  The Lord has revealed Himself to you that you might have faith and believe.

Lord, it often seems so ordinary.  You were born in a small village and grew up in a place that no one would have known about if you not been born there.  You did not make yourself one of the beautiful people, but ordinary.  You came to reach all.  Help me see the evidence that You intentionally have left and seek you out, knowing that only in You can I find life and life eternal.

Lord Jesus, in You alone is the hope of the ages, for you are the author of all things.  Guide me ever deeper into this new life You give that I would grow in Your likeness.  Remind me that this means I will be ordinary looking in a world that looks for difference.  Let the difference be what happens in my heart as You conform me to Your image.  Guide me today in the righteousness You give.  Amen.

He who supplies seed to the sower

  • February 23, 2016 - 10:24 am
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He who supplies

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply

your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

2 Corinthians 9:10

Monday, February 22, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.  Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men.”  (Isaiah 52:13-14)

The Lord gives a description of the crucifixion.  He was lifted up, marred, yet also greatly exalted.  The way of suffering is the way of this world.  There are many who like the idea of the grace the Lord has purchased, but they do not want to walk in the way of the Lord through this wicked world.  Choose this day whom you will serve.  No matter the cost, will you follow the Lord?

Lord, I live in a time when people like to think in terms of easy and quick.  If it isn’t either or both of these, they do not want it.  The way of life is to live it and that comes day by day.  Help me choose to live the way of life and not the way of this world.  Guide me into the wisdom of the ages that I would see each day a little more clearly the way You would have me go knowing that only You can and do give life.

Lord Jesus, You have demonstrated a different way of prosperity, a prosperity of wisdom, life and eternal understanding.  Guide me in Your way of life that I would learn from You, the author of life.  Help me this day and each day You give me to walk fully and firmly in the way You would have me go that I would learn how to prosper according to Your Word.  Lord, be with me this day and grant that I would be Your servant.  Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“Depart, depart, go out from there, touch nothing unclean; go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the Lord.  But you will not go out in haste, nor will you go as fugitives; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”  (Isaiah 52:11-12)

Leave behind all the things that have ensnared you in this world.  Do not cling to the hope of this failing world, but grab hold of the salvation the Lord has brought to you.  Be guided by His will and not the failing things of this world.  Do not trust in any but the Lord and know the gracious kindness He has brought upon His people whom He has redeemed.  You have been set free by His hand.

Help me to understand that those things I cling to in this world are fleeting nothings that only trap and ensnare.  Help me enjoy the life You have given me, but not be trapped by it.  Guide me in Your truth that I would walk in the way You have established and live according to Your purposes.  Purify me, O Lord, that I would walk in Your sight and be humble, living as You would have me live.

Thank You, Lord for purifying me in the blood of Your covenant.  You have come to lead the way.  Help me to not be anxious, nor be concerned for the path You set before me, but walk it humbly as You walked.  Guide me in Your way Lord Jesus that I would live by Your example and grow in this faith You have given me.  May I learn today a little more of what it means to be faithful.  Amen.

Saturday, February 20, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.   The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.”  (Isaiah 52:10-9)

The Lord has revealed the hope of the nations which is the salvation He has brought through the promised Messiah.  It is a person, God Himself, who has come to set free the captives and liberate those under the bondage of sin and death.  Turn to the Lord and see the salvation He brings for all who believe in Him.  Trust in the Lord’s provision and know that He has redeemed His people.

Lord, it really can be presented in no more simple a form that You telling us what You were going to do and then doing it.  You have accomplished salvation for all Your people.  As many as turn to You are saved.  Help me to trust in the salvation You have brought and bought and trust in all of Your promises, living toward You and Your will that I may be what You have created me to be.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, the salvation that has come.  Guide me in the way You came to establish that I would walk according to Your never-failing Word.  Lead me this day and every day to go in the way You would have me go and live according to the eternal principles You have established from the beginning.  May I be faithful in this call You have given me and do what You would have me do.  Amen.

Friday, February 19, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’  Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the Lord restores Zion.”  (Isaiah 52:7-8)

Listen to the one who brings you the Good News.  Do not despise the one who shares the truth of the salvation of our God.  Listen and rejoice as the truth that the Lord God is Sovereign of the universe and all that is in it.  Then you will see for yourself and will not longer need to be told about the Lord, for you will know Him for yourself.  Listen, learn and believe what the truth bearers tell you.

Lord, there are so many voices saying go this way or that.  Grant that I would have discernment so that I would hear Your voice through all the noise of this world.  Guide me into faith and give me ears that hear the truth of Your Word that I may know for myself and rejoice when one speaks Your Word of truth.  Restore me to Zion that I would now and forever walk with You.

Lord Jesus, You have spoken the Word of truth and there is no other place to go.  Guide me in Your Word of truth that I would live into this truth You have spoken and learn from You.  Help me in every time of doubt to see that in You alone is there hope and a future.  Keep me from the false voices that speak that I may live into the life of faith You have given me through grace.  Amen.