Several times a month, Zion sends a devotion to Zion members via email. Here are recent devotions.
Devotion for January 15, 2020
“When Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
Father, +Son, and Holy Spirit: this is our God. He has given us this Name for a reason. Martin Luther reminds us in the Small Catechism this Name is to be used most appropriately in the following circumstances: “…to call upon Him in every trouble, in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.” Countless men and women, sinners and saints, martyrs and soldiers, children and servants, have called on this Name – Father, +Son, and Holy Spirit – on such occasions
The Augsburg Confession starts with this bold assertion: “Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting…” It might not have seemed bold in late-medieval Christian Europe, but nowadays it is very bold to be uncompromising about our confession of who God is, how God has revealed Himself in history and Scripture, how God is revealed in Jesus Christ. This is the one true God and there is no other. To confess another God, any other God, is to confess heresy.
There is great joy in confessing the truth of this God – Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. This God wants and wills to be known, loved, and adored. He is not the god of Aristotle, a “blind watchmaker,” who set things into motion and disappeared. He is not the god of Bette Midler who is watching us “from a distance.” He is the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. He is the Lord who became small in Jesus Christ. He is the Lord who is so bold as to take up residence in us by His Spirit. He is the God who is unveiling His plan of salvation for sinners at Jesus’ baptism.
LET US PRAY: “Baptized in your name most holy, O Father, +Son, and Holy Ghost; I claim a place, though weak and lowly, among your seed, your chosen host. Buried with Christ and dead to sin, I have your Spirit now within…All that I am and love most dearly, receive it all, O Lord from me. Oh, let me make my vows sincerely, and help me your own child to be! Let nothing that I am or own serve any will but yours alone.” (Lutheran Book of Worship #192, verses 1 & 4)
Rev. Christopher Johnson
Devotion for January 8, 2020
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)
This weekend the sermon title Pastor Pinzl chose was “Your light has come.” What a fitting title for the end of the Christmas season and the dawning of the Epiphany. The title comes right out of the 60th chapter of Isaiah, as you can see above. Christmas and Epiphany yearly remind us that the light has indeed come in Jesus Christ. Jesus, He who is the “light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5), shone brilliantly, yet hiddenly, in a lowly manger with His star above, as he was visited by lowly shepherds, and given gifts by lowly Gentiles from afar. The light shone in the past.
The light still shines today. King David confessed as much about his Lord in Psalm 18:28 – “For it is You who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.” The Lord continues to intrude with His own marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) in the darkness of this sin-shadowed world and in our sin-shadowed lives. The Church reflects that very light as do individual Christians (Matthew 5:14), albeit imperfectly. The light is not our own but Christ’s. And the light that is Christ is still here, still shining, and beams gratuitously from the pulpit, the font, and the altar.
The light will continue to shine tomorrow. The light of Christ directs our gaze and hearts to the New Heavens and the New Earth just on the horizon. Christ will come again as He promises. The glory of God will be the light and the Lamb will be the lamp in the New Creation (Revelation 21:22-27). Light is at the end of the tunnel because at the end of all things is Christ. Yet also in Christ, we find the new beginning of all things too. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (Revelation 1:8; 22:13)
LET US PRAY: Gracious Father, shine Your light that is Christ onto me again and again. As heat and light are felt and seen from a fire so too warm up my cold heart and open my eyes to all You have done, all You are doing, and all You will do for this world and for me. May Your Christ fill my life, my heart, and my belly. May Your Spirit fill my soul, my thoughts, and my body. Enable me to reflect Your light in all I say and do that others may be drawn to Your light and become Your child. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Rev. Christopher Johnson
Devotion for January 2, 2020
“And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)
What’s in a name? Many things. Tied to our names is our history and where we come from. Tied to our names is our identity and who we are related to. Tied to our names can be our faith. A name is an important thing. It makes one wonder, however, if names are truly that important to some nowadays. An adult can go and change their name for a fee. Many children are given names that make them “unique,” much to the consternation of many a school teacher. Why be just another Joseph or Sam, Steven or Jane, Chris or Heather, when you can be different, be the only you.
Jesus’ name wasn’t unique. Jesus Himself was unique, but not His name. His name in Hebrew is translated in English as “Joshua.” There are four Joshuas in the Old Testament. Jesus’ Hebrew name, Joshua, translated into Greek, is Jesus. What does His name mean? His name means “The Lord delivers,” or “The Lord saves.” And that is precisely what Jesus has come to do. His name is tied to who He is and what He has come to do.
This New Year, 2020, we must remember Jesus still saves and delivers, true to His name. His power is still at work in His name when preached. His power is still at work in the words He spoke, recorded for us in Scripture. We pray in Jesus’ name knowing that God will hear us, not because we are especially righteous, but because Jesus is entirely righteous, interceding before the Father for us. And we are baptized in Jesus’ name, in the name of the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. That makes us Christians entirely un-unique. We are little Christs commissioned in that name to love and serve as ambassadors of King Jesus.
LET US PRAY: Thank you, heavenly Father for the new identity I have been given in Christ by Your Spirit. Thank you for Your name placed upon me, at work in me, leading me and guiding me for the sake of Your glory and not my own. Always remind me of who I am and how You have made me Your own. My name may be important to friend, family, and others, but it is Your name that is most important in this world and in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Rev. Christopher Johnson
Devotion for December 11, 2019
em>“For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.”
~ Psalm 62:1-2
The suspense has been building. Schedules have been filled and we are often all too well prepared to fall into that same rhythm in our march towards Christmas. But just as our hearts, minds, and even our bodies look to fall back into that same old pattern, we recognize a change.
Just as we get in sync, and begin to keep step with all the parties, the shopping, and the meal prep, we see that the rhythm is being altered. Suddenly the beat of this season becomes altogether different from what we remember.
Seldom is this change accepted with universal approval. We grow attached to traditions. We enjoy the comfort of familiar company. In a fast paced world which demands that we either adapt or lose, it’s nice to have a bit of stability this time of year: to know what to expect.
Unfortunately we do know what to expect from the world. We can expect that even in this season there will be greed. Temptations of the flesh, envy, pride and a whole gambit of other sins will continue to show their hand in the world, in your homes, an in your hearts. We know this. We can see how it corrupts our lives and the way we relate with loves ones. We can see how it infects our world with the constant grief of what has been loved, that we perceive as lost.
But God has spoken…once! His message remains the same: mercy for you always in the name of His Son. He alone keeps you in safety. From sin, from the temptations of the devil, from the loss of death itself our god has built a refuge for salvation in you through the love of His Son. For Him we can suffer the loss of all things, for it is with Him that we shall have it all renewed…and then so much more!
Do you hear Him bringing this same old song of salvation, this message of hope to you? Comfort…comfort my people, for steadfast love belongs to the Lord, and it is in Him that we have hope.
LET US PRAY: Lord God, show us your power and come to us speedily, that through the inspiration of your Holy Spirit we might find our hope fulfilled in the coming of your son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rev. Joe Pinzl