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!
This week the South Shore Community continues our summer series entitled This We Believe. During this series we will study core concepts of United Methodist Belief. This knowledge will enrich our faith and draw us towards greater lived expressions of Christ-likeness in our daily lives. I hope you will join us safely in-person or online via our broadcast platform for this time of study!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ II Timothy 3:14-4:5.
Devotional Scripture ~ Psalm 95.
Psalm 95 sings of our great care because of our presence in the hands of our great God.
The psalm was written in a time where our God is a god among many gods, and the psalmist wants readers and hearers to be assured that our God is the greatest of all. Our God created all that spans from the farthest reaches of the depths of the earth to the heights of the mountains that kiss the very heavens. The sea belongs to God. The land is God’s handiwork. We – humanity – are the result of God’s divine craftsmanship, shaping us in the imago Dei – the image of God.
The psalm provides two directives:
To worship God for all God has done and is doing.
To listen – which is a call to obedience.
“O that today you would listen to [God’s] voice,” verse 7b sings before verse 8 instructs, “Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness.”
The psalmist specifically remembers two events – and places – in the Exodus experience. Meribah means dispute and Massah testing. Exodus 17 recounts the Hebrews grumbling and murmuring against Moses, and in association, against God. Moses brought them up out of Egypt and now they wander in the wilderness. They are thirsty and there is no water. Well, no water that they can see. And because there is no water they can see, they grumble about the existence of a God that they, also, cannot see. Moses turns to God, asking what he is to do with these people!? God sends Moses ahead with a few of the elders of the people. Following God’s instruction, Moses strikes a rock and water comes forth. The people drink.
This portion of the Exodus narrative reminds us that God’s provision flows from and within our obedience to God. It reminds us that though we may not readily see God’s care that we should not doubt it, and by association, we should not doubt God. God knows the potential waywardness of our hearts – God has witnessed it from the dawn of time. God also knows the potential fruitfulness that awaits us when we abide with God through our obedience.
There were people in the time of Moses – including Moses himself! – that did not see the Promised Land because of their waywardness. That is not God’s desire. It is God’s desire that all would turn to repentance – that all would be saved! – as we read in II Peter 3. But if we do not turn, if we do not obey, then God’s accountability to that – our choice – is to be outside the bounds of the Promised Land…to be outside the bounds of eternity.
When we worship, we remember our call to obey God and we practice the acts of obedience – prayer, the study of Scripture, reflection, praise, offering, and our sending into the world to practice (to obey!) what we have learned. We are not left on our own to figure anything out – having just experienced what we experienced in worship we are sent to live it out.
We are best when we have a regular rhythm of worship in our lives – weekly even! So that we remember. So that we then obey.
Reflection: Think about what it means to be someone God watches over, someone under God’s care. Make a list of your troubles and/or concerns. Then thank God for watching over you and keeping you in God’s care. Release those troubles and trust that God loves you!
Prayer: “Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God. Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior; standing, standing,I’m standing on the promises of God.”* Amen.
*"Standing on the Promises,” The United Methodist Hymnal 374.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal