Midweek Meditations

You Never Know

Read: Matthew 5:13-16

                Many people in our community are friends of John Schmid or know of him.  John has a music ministry that travels around the country and world sharing stories, testimonies, and songs about the good news of Jesus.  By the way, John will be playing at Arthur’s Penn Station on the evening of August 26.  His Common Ground Ministries also has a wonderful prison outreach that is reaching hundreds of prisoners each year with the gospel message.

In his most recent newsletter John shared some stories about why it is important to never underestimate the influence you may have on someone.  He shared a story about a music festival he was a part of back in 1978 in Wilmore, Kentucky.  It turns out that Vice-President Mike Pence gave his life to Christ at that same music festival that year.

Another story he shared was from Thomas Hughes’ 1857 book Tom Brown School-days.  A visitor to the British School was surprised when the schoolmaster tipped his hat to a student as they walked across the school yard.  That didn’t fit into the British class system, so the visitor asked why he would do that.  The school master replied, “I may have just saluted the Prime Minister of England.”  You never know!

John also shared a story about how Bill Glass, an All-American college football player from years past, personally answered all of the fan mail he received when he was playing.  Years later, as a prison minister, Glass learned that President George W. Bush was one of the young people he had responded to during his playing days.  Glass was in need of a favor and the President was more than glad to help him out.

These are reminders that what Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-16 is very important.  We must let the light of Christ shine through our lives and into the lives of others.  You never know who, how, or what might become of someone when you take the time to talk to them, help them out, or reach out to them.  As John Schmid says, “Only God knows who is in the audience.”

Make it Personal:  Who has been an important influence on your life?  Think about how you are passing that legacy on.  Never underestimate how the Lord may use your life, your witness, your compassion, or your example to make a difference.  Let your light, the light of Christ, shine!

Have a great week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



The Hope You Need

Read: 1 Peter 1:3-9

This past Sunday in church we sang a wonderful new worship song by Phil Wickham titled “Living Hope.”  As the words to that song were being sung I was taken back once again to the wonderful promises of hope that are found in the Bible.  Words of living hope through Jesus Christ like those proclaimed in 1 Peter 1:3-6.

In this life we need hope!  So often people will look near and far to find that hope but end up wondering if it really does exist.  Fyodor Dostevsky wrote, “To live without hope is to cease to live.”  Emil Brunner wrote, “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.”  The Good News of the Christian faith is that it does exist for each of us.

Here is the proof from 1 Peter 1:3-5.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

 In life situations it is too easy to resign ourselves to a hopeless end.  God’s Word promises us that through faith in Jesus Christ we can instead find endless hope.  We can hang on in difficult times because we hold on to the promises of God and our confidence in God.  God has promised to never leave you or forsake you no matter how tough your life may get.  Never give up hope!

 Make it Personal:  Have you been placing your hope in hopeless things?  Have they been letting you down?  Try this living hope that is found in Jesus your Savior.  He can save you, deliver you, sustain you, protect you, and give you a hope that is alive and well in our world today.

May your week be filled with hope,
 Pastor Glen Rhodes


Still.

This Week’s Meditation: “Still.”
Read: Luke 10: 38-42; Galatians 1:6-10; Psalm 46:10

Welcome August! As the hustle and bustle of summer starts to ebb, the hustle and bustle of fall is getting ready to flow. Are you prepared for it? Are you ready to serve like Martha? Ready to Grow like Mary?

SWAP has always encouraged a Mary attitude in me. I’m always reminded of my Martha-ness when I go there. It’s just a reminder how we need to both Mary & Martha qualities in us at times. On the Friday morning of our recent trip there, I looked back to my first trip there in 2010 with my MYF (Mennonite Youth Fellowship). Back then, it didn’t seem as cross-cultural of an experience for me because that was back when I would babysit all day everyday which most days, didn’t seem like work at all to me. Now, my outlook has changed a bit. I’m running from job 1 to job 2 and then sleep a little bit and wake up to work on job 3 before job 1 again. I catch myself in this never-ending cycle.

No matter what our responsibilities are, our culture whispers to us to keep going: just finish that one project, or that one email, or that one more ____ (fill in the blank).

Jeff pointed out in the scripture last Sunday that just when the people were going to make Jesus their earthly King, he withdrew to the mountain to find quiet, despite what others thought of him. I mean he’s Jesus, right? If he’s God, he shouldn’t get tired! And back at creation, when God created the heavens, the earth, the winged things, scaly things and big-pawed things, and human beings…on the seventh day, He took a break. As disciples of Christ, let’s follow His leading, because He is the Way, The Truth, and The Life. So, he’s probably doing what is best.

In our Vision scripture, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet despite what others thought of her. As a woman in the Jewish tradition, she was supposed to hang out in the background or in the kitchen. She wasn’t supposed to sit out with the guys and listen to the Rabbi. Yet, she chose to prioritize Jesus over social convention and others’ opinions. Mary was so unreserved in her love for Jesus; she worshiped Him, but not a casual, what’s-next-on-the-agenda worship. But an extravagant worship where she didn’t count the cost. Instead of looking at the people (even at her sister) around her, she gazed at Jesus. In Galatians 1:10, Paul asks, “Am I trying to win the approval of human beings or of God?…If I were trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Mary allowed Jesus to fill her vision and eclipse everything else around her. Her whole posture was one of humility. Her body language reads: “I need Thee, oh I need Thee” rather than “I got this.” She was embodying Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” The Hebrew of “be still” translates to let go of your grip, to make oneself weak. What a freeing idea! In our complete dependence on a God who won’t ever fail us, we find freedom!

So today, I challenge you to stop. Stop hustling through your to-do list, stop freaking out that the start of August means schools almost here and you’ll have to start packing lunches or bookbags, or that with the hint of fall in the air means that the harvest hustle will begin soon. Stop. Just for a Moment. Be.

Bonus Challenge: Do this reflection exercise with me.

(Close Your eyes and quiet your soul for 20 seconds.)

Be.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I am.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I am God.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I am.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that I.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know that.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and know.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still and.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be still.

(silence for 10 seconds)

Be.

(silence for 20 seconds)

 

Have a blessed week, Pastor Ashley Litwiller
Arthur Mennonite Church



RAOK or NAOK?

Read:  Ruth 2

         Our world is hungry for acts of kindness!  In a time in which social media rears its ugly head time and time again, we need people who will step up and pronounce encouraging, uplifting, compassionate, and kind words to people.  We hear way too much discouragement.  We need more kindness in the world.

Back in 1982, Anne Herbert coined a simple phrase that caught on.  Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK).  The idea took root, and then took off.  In 1992 a book was published with that title and imagined a world filled with an outbreak of random kindness being shared from one human to another.  The book became an instant best-seller and gave birth to many movements that encouraged people to share kindness on a daily basis.

Long before that book was published there was another book that encourages this kind of life as well.  The Bible gives us many stories, examples, and encouragements to bless others with kindness, care, and compassion.  In the book of Ruth we see how the successful businessman Boaz shared his kindness with Ruth and Naomi.  He provided for their needs and made them feel welcomed among strangers.

In the Gospels we see many examples of this kindness in the life of Jesus.  Paul and James encourage us often to show compassion to the widow, orphan, and those in need.  These examples are reminders that the Christian life should flow freely with random acts of kindness.  William Penn once said, “I expect to pass through life once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow-being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

 My prayer is that our acts of kindness become normal and not just random.  I would love to open up Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram each day and see words of hope, kindness, and encouragement instead of negativity and hatred.  Let’s be the ones to lead the way!

 Make it Personal:  
How is your kindness scale reading these days?  We all have days that seem better than others.  Try to use kindness as a way of brightening the day of another, so that your day too can be brightened.  May your Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) then turn into Normal Acts of Kindness (NAOK).

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.


Five to a Hill

Read: Acts 8:26-40

         Recently I was with a friend who is a generation older than I am.  When I asked him how he was doing, he responded with a phrase I had never heard.  He said “Oh, about two in a hill”.  I was confused by this response so I asked him to explain what it meant.  

My friend wasn’t sure how the expression came to be, but it has to do with bean plants.  In former days, beans were often planted four or five to a hill.  If two of these seeds sprouted to produce beans, then you don’t have an abundant crop, but you at least have something.  So in other words, my friend was doing “fair” or “so-so”.  Not a full five-to-a-hill day, just a mediocre two-to-a-hill day.  I then understood the answer to my first question of,  “How are you?”  I was glad I asked for an explanation.

As Christians, there will be things we say or do that might cause others to ask for an explanation.  Readily forgiving those who hurt us, speaking of others kindly, reaching out to those in need, responding to trying times with patience, or showing joy in hard situations are all actions that do not come naturally.  When others see these actions, or especially when others receive these actions, they may inquire why.  We need to be ready to explain.  Only God living through us can produce this kind of fruit.  A relationship with his son Jesus is the source of this kind of life.  

In Acts 8, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian is another example of this.  The Ethiopian man is reading from scripture and asks Philip to explain it to him further.  Upon hearing the message about Jesus from his conversations with Philip, he began to understand.  He asked Philip to baptize him in the water right there along the side of the road.  The message of Jesus was clear, and it was one that the Ethiopian man could not resist.  

Talking about scripture with others is time well-spent.  Talking about the life available through a relationship with Jesus is a fruitful conversation to have.  And, the fruit it will produce in our lives and the lives of others will be bountiful.  It will go way beyond the five-to-a-hill crop!    

 Make it Personal:  Find ways to read, study, and learn about God’s Word in new and different ways.  There are many books, translations of the Bible, paraphrases, and commentaries that help to expand your understanding of God’s life-changing story.  Most of all be sure you are sharing the message clearly with your family and friends.  It will change their life!

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.



Second Fiddle

Read: James 4:10-17

           A famous conductor was once asked which instrument he considered the most difficult to play.  His reply: “Second fiddle.”  On March 4, 1861, after Abraham Lincoln had defeated Stephen A. Douglas for the presidency, the two were together on the East Portico of the Capitol for Lincoln’s inauguration.  The President-elect was introduced by Senator Edward E. Baker of Oregon.  Lincoln stood beside him, carrying the manuscript of his speech, a cane, and his tall silk hat.

As he was ready to speak, he looked around for a place to put the hat.  Stephen Douglas quickly stepped forward, took the hat, and returned to his seat.  He later said, “If I can’t be President I can at least hold his hat for him.”  In the current political climate in our country I found this old-fashion moment of humility very refreshing.

God’s Word proclaims over and over that a humble life is a life of love, service, and witness to a world that is so often self-centered and preoccupied with themselves and their own affairs.  Others tend to look at the sins and faults of others without seeing the shortcomings in their own lives.  John MacArthur once said, “Some people get so caught up in their own holiness that they look at the Trinity for a possible vacancy.”  

In James 4:10 the Bible says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  There are also reminders from Jesus in the gospels that the last will be first and the least of these should be lifted up.  In a narcissistic world full of self-promotion, we could all use a little reminder about the importance of humility.

2 Chronicles 7:14 is one of the best-known verses in the Bible about humility.  May these words and actions become the desire of our hearts.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Make it Personal:  Pay attention to humility in your life.  Are you focused on yourself and your own desires more than the needs of others?  Are you worried more about how you will look on social media than how well you are serving and helping those closest to you?  Humility is not always easy, but it is definitely the Godly way to live.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



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