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 ~ I Samuel 17.
Devotional Scripture ~ Revelation 19:11-13.
This week South Shore UMC will celebrate Fifth Sunday Worship with student leadership in our 11am Contemporary Service. Students will play in the worship team and lead in other aspects of the worship service. Andrew will share a message with us on Felling Giants, using the story of David and Goliath. We hope you will join us safely in-person or on our broadcast platform - www.youtube.com/c/southshoreumc - at 11am this week to encourage and affirm the preparation and leadership of our SSYouth in worship!
There are two definitive parts of Revelation 19. Verses 1 through 10 describe and herald worship of the Lord in heaven. Beginning in verse 11 - through the conclusion of the chapter - we read a description of the Lord's return - mighty in power and strength. The Lord defeats the Beast - representative of humanity's sin - once and for all. Our Lord does this because he is faithful and true.
In examining the Greek for faithful and true, we swiftly come to awareness of the incarnational nature of both these descriptors of Christ.
For one to be considered faithful, one has to demonstrate oneself as faithful, and better yet, consistently faithful. Faithfulness reveals a person's solemn pledge to another. In the case of the biblical witness, the Father and the Son's solemn pledge is to us. To humanity. When it was no longer sufficient for God's people to be led and counseled by leaders appointed by God - be they prophets or judges or priests - God came. God incarnated in Christ. Writes the Gospel of John,
to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (1:12-14).
Likewise, to be considered true, a person cannot simply declare themselves true, or merely resemble true-ness. Rather the person's real, genuine, sincere nature must correspond to what is true. Our words are weak if they are not evidenced by action. Words without action as well as words with conflicting action are hypocritical. Jesus counsels us in Matthew 6,
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ... When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (vv. 1-8. 14-18).
Our God who was, who is, and who is to come - our God who is named Faithful and True - our God who through the ages pledged Godself to us in faithfulness and truth - our God who pledges to us still - desires that we take on this same mind and consistent activity of faithfulness and truth. For us, that means and looks like consistently trusting in God's promises. That means and looks like living as a person convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead. That means and looks like living as a person convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and the author of salvation.
We are to do this not only in word, but in action. We are to do this not only when it is convenient, but consistently.
We can do this because through our relationship with Christ, we are connected to strength and might that is unparalleled by any other earthly source. Our relationship with Christ here on earth ensures that we, too, will join the mighty chorus on heaven's side.
Reflection: Write about any aspects of your life that are not revolving around the One who is Faithful and True. Ask God to shift your focus back to God. Ask God for the strength to leave behind what does not serve God's heart or God's intentions. Ask God to fill your heart and intentions with what pleases God's will for your life.
Prayer: "Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! thy wings shall my petition bear to him whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless. And since he bids me seek his face, believe his word, and trust his grace, I'll cast on him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!"* Amen.
*”Sweet Hour of Prayer,” The United Methodist Hymnal 496.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal