Great Plains Daily Devotional for 8/7/2019

Today please be in prayer for

Bertrand First UMC
Elwood, NE First UMC
Gateway District
Eustis UMC
Farnam UMC
Gateway District
Franklin First UMC
Macon UMC
Gateway District
Gibbon Faith UMC
Gateway District

Today's Lectionary Text

Hosea 14:1-9 

Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
    for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
Take words with you
    and return to the Lord;
say to him,
    “Take away all guilt;
accept that which is good,
    and we will offer
    the fruit of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us;
    we will not ride upon horses;
we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
    to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”

I will heal their disloyalty;
    I will love them freely,
    for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
    he shall blossom like the lily,
    he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon.
His shoots shall spread out;
    his beauty shall be like the olive tree,
    and his fragrance like that of Lebanon.
They shall again live beneath my shadow,
    they shall flourish as a garden;
they shall blossom like the vine,
    their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
    It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
    your faithfulness comes from me.
Those who are wise understand these things;
    those who are discerning know them.
For the ways of the Lord are right,
    and the upright walk in them,
    but transgressors stumble in them.

Today's Devotional

Words matter.

Nowhere do I see this more clearly than in social media. Not too long ago, I made a request on a United Methodist discussion page. Some commentators, it seemed to me, were assuming that all local pastors were conservative and/or less educated than ordained elders. I wrote a post that politely (I thought) asked people to reconsider such an assumption.

Apparently, I hit a nerve. Some responders adamantly agreed with me. Others insisted that no one in the forum had asserted any such generality.

That’s OK. No need for us all to think alike. That’s the whole purpose of social media, right?

But what happened next, was that people got mean. “Give me ONE EXAMPLE of where anyone has said ANYTHING like this!” snapped one commentator. Another person provided a lengthy, irrelevant and condescending lecture about the difference between local pastors and ordained elders.

But even the people who agreed with me got nasty. “Elders are so arrogant—they treat us like second-class citizens!” whined one (apparently missing the irony of such an assumption). “I am a conservative local pastor—so what’s your problem with THAT!?” demanded another.
Eventually, the whole discussion thread turned into an ugly, local pastor-vs. -elder tit for tat. That wasn’t even my POINT. After only a few hours, I deleted the entire conversation in utter disgust.

Is this really what we have come to, that this is the way we talk to one another within our own denomination? Can we not stay on topic and treat one another with respect?

“Take words with you and return to the Lord,” says Hosea. Are the words we express through social media really the words we want the Lord to hear? Perhaps we should heed the prophet’s advice and present these words of offering: “Take away our guilt, accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips.”

Words matter. The words that we post to social media are not unknown to God. May the words that we speak (and post!) to one another be good and fruitful, a pleasing offering before the throne of grace.
-Pastor Lori Schwilling
Hillsboro UMC

Prayer for Reflection

Lord, may my words today be sweet and pleasing to others and to You. Amen.


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