Several times a month, Zion sends a devotion to Zion members via email. Here are recent devotions.
Devotion for August 2, 2017
“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
At the spring graduation of Wellesley High School in 2012, Dr. David McCullough, Jr., made national headlines by delivering a speech entitled, “You are Not Special” (you can still see it on Youtube, and it’s worth a watch). In this passage from Deuteronomy, God seems to say something similar to the Israelites.
The Israelites were not any more numerous than other people, nor were they more special than others in their abilities and spiritual capacity. God loved Israel because—well, as He says, He loved them because He loved them, and He had promised to love them. God’s election (that is, His decision to have mercy) made Israel special, and not Israel itself.
This same God has now given His Son for the whole world. You could say that worlds come easily to God—He creates, and just as easily destroys and creates again—and so this world is not by itself particularly special. But His love is known in this, that He has not destroyed this world, but loved it even in all its sin. That love makes the world more than special—it makes it favored, chosen, kept, cherished.
Not feeling special today? Trade “special” for something better: loved!
LET US PRAY: Lord of hosts, Your angels delight to worship You, crying out, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” How much greater is Your holiness than any good I can imagine. Before You my heart bows in imperfect adoration, and I thank You for having called me by name, forgiven my sin, and making me a child of Your kingdom; through Christ Your Son. Amen
Pastor Steven K. Gjerde
Devotion for July 26, 2017
“We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
Many people take this verse as a great source of comfort, finding strength in the promise that the Holy Spirit prays for the Church. Where we fail to pray, He picks up the slack, confirming our union with Jesus, who always prays at God’s right hand. Yet before we jump to that comfort, we should pause to consider these “groanings too deep for words.”
The Spirit does not offer these groans as a courtesy. “Ah, yes, I see that you are a member of our Christian Platinum Club. Please, let me do the groaning for you”—no! Rather, He offers them because our prayer fails to capture our own deepest longings. We know neither ourselves nor God’s promises well enough to know what to say or ask. The Spirit’s groans alone express all that we lack and should desire.
Remembering this more solemn dimension of the Spirit’s prayer only deepens the comfort of it. First, it underscores that God indeed overlooks our sin and preserves us, by the Holy Spirit, with Jesus Christ in the one, true faith. It also heightens our awareness of what God has in store for us—“no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love Him!” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
LET US PRAY: Instead of offering a prayer this day, take a few moments to meditate in silence on the words of Romans 8:26. Then confess your own inability to pray well; praise God for His Holy Spirit and gift of prayer; and say “amen” in the name of Jesus.
Pastor Steven K. Gjerde
Devotion for July 12, 2017
“For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:14-15).
This passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans resonates particularly well with all of us who are yet of the flesh. We agree that the law of God is good and just, that it is heavenly in origin. And yet we are still compelled to commit infractions against it. No matter how minor the offense may be, we must acknowledge everyday that we, by ourselves, fall short of living up to God’s commandments.
It happens all the time, even without our intention, and it can be enough to make you smack the palm of your hand right against your forehead. We begin to recognize that our appetites and desires of the flesh constantly hound us, always biting at the heals, letting you know that sin is still there.
But what you cannot do by your own power, God gladly steps in, takes the reins and through his Son Jesus Christ, we are made righteous and free to walk according to the Spirit, which is surely the way of life and peace. Our bodies then become temples, a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. “And if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies…” (Rom 8:11).
LET US PRAY: Lord who made us from the dust of the earth, grant by the mercy shown in your Son that we may not be condemned in our flesh, but live to you. May our earthly bodies become a sign of your goodness and grace, speaking your pure and heavenly word to all corners of the world; and may we always look forward to the day when Christ will come and make all things new reigning over the world with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen
Vicar Joe Pinzl
Devotion for July 5, 2017
“As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.” (Jeremiah 28:9)
Why did the apostles believe in Christ, even to the point of sacrificing their lives for Him? The most reasonable answer is that His word came true. He had promised to suffer, and He did; He promised to rise, and He rose. That resurrection proved His faithfulness, confirmed all His words, and opened a new era for the apostles.
To be a Christian is to live in the conviction and hope of their witness. As members of the “apostolic Church,” we trust the preaching of those apostles, and we are watching for it to come true. We are like the prophet Jeremiah, looking forward to what God will do.
That hope keeps Christians from being too comfortable in the present—we’re looking for more to come!—while at the same it frees us for contentment in this sinful age. We have a trusty word the promises peace, an end to all that ails us, and a Lord who will fulfill it.
LET US PRAY: We bless You and adore You, O God, for Your word of hope, the true Bread of Life. Feed and sustain us by this word always, that we may set our sights on You and the great fulfillment of Your promises; through Christ our Lord. Amen
Pastor Steven K. Gjerde