E-Devotions

Several times a month, Zion sends a devotion to Zion members via email.  Here are recent devotions.

Devotion for June 13, 2018

“For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Here is the Christian’s courage.

A thousand things can attack us in the flesh, from accidents to illnesses, from crime to war. As we go into a day, we don’t know what will happen; every morning starts a venture of which we cannot see the ending. The unknown is so great, not only for each of us individually, but also for our families, neighborhoods, and churches.

Yet God has breathed His Holy Spirit into the believer, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. By His own word of promise, God declares that we belong to the world to come, the same world that broke into this earth through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The destruction of our “earthly tent” (our flesh, our homes, our lives as we now know them) cannot destroy our “heavenly tent,” the body of Christ.

God pitched that heavenly tent among you through the birth of His Son, and He opened the flap of it in His Son’s wounds, handing Him over for sinners. Now, He has zippered you securely in its shelter through the ministry of His Spirit, making for you a home in His mercy.

Of what shall you be afraid?

LET US PRAY: Fill me with courage, good Lord, and let no fear of loss or suffering prevent me from abiding with You, both here on earth and in the world to come; through Jesus, Your Son. Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Devotion for June 6, 2018

And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28)

People often think that Christian morality rests on blind commitment to a list of rules. They think so because Christians will sometimes make moral arguments by quoting one or two commands from the Bible. In this passage, our Lord Jesus Christ shows us a better way.

Someone throws a law at Him—“You can’t work on the Sabbath!”—and He responds by going back to creation: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The Redeemer of creation, Jesus unpacks the divine will at work in time and nature alike. God’s purpose in hallowing the Sabbath was for people to rest in His good work, not to live in the fear of doing work.

So it always goes for Christians. Morality is not about checking off rules to keep ourselves pure; it’s about living as God has given us to live in His Son, who leads us faithfully into creation as God intends it: pure gift, pure rest, and pure joy. Forgiven in the blood of Christ, we are free to take up the work He gives us without fear.

LET US PRAY: O Lord of the Sabbath, You are the rest of the weary and the crown of creation. Fill the earth with the joy of Your salvation, and write Your law upon our hearts; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen

Pr. Steven K. Gjerde

Devotion for May 30, 2018

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)

Holy, and not Goody or Happy or Nicey, and not even Mighty or Smarty—God is holy. He is different from all other things, and in that way, He is incomprehensible to us. The medieval theologian, Thomas Aquinas, described God as truly simple, singular in a way that we cannot imagine.

Yet as the angels also declared to Isaiah, this Holy God is happily available to the earth that He has made—“the whole earth is full of His glory.” God spoke out of His perfect, undisturbed satisfaction and created a whole world to be loved by Him. Again, He is holy and therefore different from us. We, finding ourselves perfectly satisfied, might be inclined not to seek anything more, but God, in His satisfaction, sought the creation of many more, that they too might be satisfied.

Here is the God would set aside His personal joy to seek the lost. Here is the Father who would give up His Son to death, that the dead might be saved; here is the Son, who would suffer the absence of His Father to comfort the orphaned; here is the Comforter, who would gladly give all glory to the Son and His Father that a whole world of sinners might believe.

He is holy, not nicey and not goody. He is different from us, and thank God He is.

LET US PRAY: Holy Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: send Your Holy Spirit of love upon all the earth, and enrapture every creature with the glory of Your Son; in His name, the holy name of Jesus. Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Devotion for May 23, 2018

And when [the Spirit] comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. (John 16:8-11)

The Lutheran church should give daily thanks for Twitter. Over the past five years, that steady, online stream of posturing, self-righteousness, and public shaming has done more than all of God’s preachers combined to expose our need for the Gospel.

The Gospel is simple: Jesus alone is righteous. He returned to the Father and now rules with the Father in glory. He is the judge, and thanks be to God, He has declared you righteous for the sake of His blood alone.

So what is Twitter but proof that the human heart would prefer a very different kind of judge and rule? What do the dregs of human speech captured on that digital platform demonstrate but that we are far more ready than God Himself to condemn others and glorify ourselves?

The devil’s in pits; all the rest of you are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. So says the Spirit, and so say I. There’s no more wrong to prove, but only the Righteous One to follow.

LET US PRAY: I’m sorry, Father, for not loving my neighbor as You have loved me; and yet I glory in the blood of Your Son, shed for my sake and for the whole world. By Your Holy Spirit, renew my mind, and thus also my speech, that whatever I speak may be spoken in love, as You are love; for Jesus’ sake. Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Devotion for May 16, 2018

“One of these men must become with us a witness to His resurrection.” (Acts 1:22)

Must! The apostles used their words carefully. When Judas Iscariot proved unfaithful, the remaining 11 apostles knew that they must replace him, not for the sake of numerical consistency or the beauty of balance, but for the central task of their calling: witnessing to the resurrection of Jesus.

That witness is why God had called the apostles: He wanted the 12 men to go forth and testify (first to Israel, then to the world) that Jesus is not dead, but alive. It is also why we call the Church “apostolic”: the Church’s faith hangs on their witness, and the Church exists to preach and teach that witness still today.

This week concludes the Church’s annual celebration of Easter, but the witness to Jesus’ resurrection continues. The Church must (must!) bear that witness to be the Church. Without it, there is no reason to be the Church, but with it, there is reason for everything good, and for hope in the midst of the bad.

LET US PRAY: O God, thank you for the holy apostles. Grant that their witness to Your Son’s resurrection would still convert hearts today. Let Your Word spread and spread, and Your Church grow and grow; in Jesus’ name. Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde
Zion, Wausau

Devotion for May 9, 2018

“You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14)

Have you ever met someone who makes it easy to be his or her friend? Someone, you might imagine, who not only seeks your friendship, but then, in a sort of wonderful, strange way, keeps working to make you a good friend?

It’s the friend who takes you out for her birthday as well as yours; the friend who, when you’re sure you’ve said something wrong, calls you and chit-chats in a way that lets you know all is well; the friend who asks for what he needs, and doesn’t wait for you to offer; the friend who’s ready with a relieving joke when you feel stupid or ashamed—in short, the friend who makes you a friend by being your friend.

That friend is your Lord. He came to earth to gain friends, lovers of the kingdom, and yet He did not play the hard-to-get, fickle friend. What He demanded He also provided: His words, His commands, His gifts—these things blaze the path of friendship with Jesus, making you His friend by being your friend.

LET US PRAY: Thank You, good Friend, for being the Lover of my soul, the good friend who I cannot be. By Your friendly Spirit, teach me to love as You have first loved me, and thus keep Your commandments to the end. Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Devotion for May 2, 2018

So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30-31)

St. Philip was listening to the Ethiopian eunuch, a royal official, read aloud in his chariot. He could read the words, but could he understand them? “How can I, unless someone guides me?”

God does not call us to faith all by ourselves. He reveals His righteousness “from faith to faith,” from the Gospel preached by some sinners to be heard by other sinners who in turn speak what they have believed.

He therefore gives us the Scriptures, that we may hear the prophets and apostles bearing their witness; and He gives us teachers, that we may read, know, and inwardly digest this witness; and He gives us each other to confess, sing, and pray this word together and for our neighbors. By revealing Himself in words, God chose to reveal Himself in a Church, a fellowship of speakers and listeners.

As God said in the beginning, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). He speaks not only to be heard, but to gather, setting His newborn children within a communion that not even hell can quiet.

LET US PRAY: Speak, O Lord, and I will listen; and whenever I don’t listen, please forgive me, and speak again; through Jesus, the Word-made-flesh. Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde