Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ John 16:4b-15.
Devotional Scripture ~ Romans 4:3.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans is a theological masterpiece. In this letter we experience the Apostle, who trained as a lawyer as well as a religious leader, expertly wielding the Greek language as his vessel to carry forward God's message of faith.
It is by faith that we are saved. It is by faith that God reckons - God gives - God bestows righteousness - the state of being made right and justifiable before God - to us.
Righteousness is not something we earn. And it is not something we deserve.
Righteousness is something we are given freely. It is gift.
Our righteousness is because of God's great grace.
Paul lifts up Abraham as the example of righteousness time and time again in his letters. And something that is astonishing - or perhaps not so astonishing! - is that Abraham has the same ole feet of clay as the rest of us. He made mistakes. He erred. He got it wrong. He sinned.
Those behaviors should diminish his righteousness, right? Or discredit it? Perhaps even delete it?
We might think that... but God has greater and more grace-filled intentions - for Abraham and for all.
God reckoned righteousness to Abraham because he believed. In Genesis 12, the Lord appeared to Abraham and told him to go. God told Abraham to leave his homeland for a land that God would reveal.
And Abraham left. Abraham went.
Abraham's path in following God was not always direct. It was not without hardship. It was not without Abraham’s own missteps - what John Wesley would call backsliding. Even though Abraham misstepped, he did not give up. And God did not give up on him. This is the hope of righteousness. Through righteousness - this gift of God’s amazing grace - we believe we will be made perfect as our Heavenly God is perfect. It is a process. It is a journey. God does not call us to be perfect from the outset. God calls us to go forward in God's name. God calls us to follow purposefully towards God's preferred future.
Friends, we are not what we have done or what we have left undone. We are God's children - holy, beloved, worthy, called, equipped, and saved. Because of God we are whole.
Because of God we are righteous. In gratitude of God's gift, may we live every day as the redeemed.
Reflection: Think about the faithful people in your life. Whose faith do you admire, and why?
Prayer: "Teach us to utter living words of truth which all may hear, the language all may understand when love speaks loud and clear; till every age and race and clime shall blend their creeds in one, and earth shall form one family by whom thy will is done."* Amen.
*”O Spirit of The Living God,” The United Methodist Hymnal 539.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal