Midweek Meditations

All The Time

Read: Psalm 34:1-9
 
Perhaps you have heard or experienced the saying “God is good, all the time; All the time, God is good.”  This is often used in churches and among Christians as a reminder that God does not change despite our world situation or individual circumstances.  In the midst of difficult and trying times we can always turn to God for help, even when we may not understand things.
 
In Psalm 34 David was writing those verses while experiencing some very hard times in his life.  Yet, in verse 8 he proclaims, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”  We sometimes wonder why we go through certain things or why God doesn’t just change our circumstances.  I have been there before, and I’m sure you have too.
 
Our faith in God and in his Son Jesus Christ is what gets us through.  We know that God is with us at all times and will watch over us even through the hard things the world throws at us.  David reminds us in this Psalm to take refuge in God during those times and seek his love and deliverance.
 
In the biography or her life titled “The Hiding Place”, Corrie Ten Boom writes about the horrors she experienced in the Nazi concentration camp of Ravensbruck.  Some 33 years later, after some friends had provided her with a very nice home in California, a friend said to her, “Corrie, hasn’t God been good to give you this beautiful place?”  Her reply? “God was good when I was in Ravensbruck, too.”
 
That is a great reminder of how we can respond when our next challenge or adversity comes along.  God is always good, even when the world hits us with its bad. Our help comes from God and so did David’s.  In verse 4 he writes, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”  Your faith in the goodness of God will see you through!
 
Make it Personal:  When we read the Psalms it often feels like we are reading a prayer.  Many of those poems or songs are actually prayers for help, hope, assurance, and thanksgiving.  Take time this week to pray about your circumstances and proclaim the goodness of God. Read this Psalm and others to be reminded that you are not alone.
Have a great week Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes 


Are You Satisfied?

Read: Isaiah 58:11-14
 
Satisfaction is sometimes hard to find.  Perhaps a certain rock song from the 1960’s comes to mind?  “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” sang the Rolling Stones.  Often times the problem is that people look in the wrong places for satisfaction.  People spend a lot of time and money trying to find things and buy things that will bring satisfaction and happiness.  It may do the trick for a moment, but those feelings of being satisfied are often fleeting.

In his classic book “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis wrote, “If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”  The suggestion that Lewis is making is that finding satisfaction in this life goes beyond pleasing ourselves.  It is found in God and in being part of something bigger than just us.

The prophet Isaiah is addressing this in the Bible when he says, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen you.” (Isaiah 58:11)  King David said, “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:9)  Jesus himself said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

The answer to finding satisfaction in life hinges on where we look for it.  Lasting joy and satisfaction can be found in the eternal things of God, not the temporal things of this world.  Yes, life will still have storms that come along, but focusing on our eternal hope and joy in Jesus can see us through those circumstances.  As Isaiah said, the Lord will satisfy your needs in that sun-scorched land, and God will strengthen you.

Make it Personal:  I recently heard someone say, “As you do whatever you’ll do today, make sure to invest in your connection with your Creator, with an eye toward that other, eternal world for which you have been made.  That’s how you’ll find real satisfaction, no matter the circumstances.”

Have a blessed week Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Renew, Restart, Reboot

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:16-20

Well, the New Year is upon us.  2019 has started. One of the things I like about the beginning of a new year is the opportunity it gives us to bring renewal, change, and transformation to some things in our life.  It’s a time to remind myself to restart my phone, restart my computers, restart the copy machine, and change the filter in my Keurig coffee machine. I often forget to do those things even though it’s recommended.

The beginning of a new year is also a reminder that our God is a God of new things, new starts, and new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!” There are also many other references in scripture that remind us that God is about making old things new.  Isaiah 43:18-19, Isaiah 65:17, Ephesians 2:15, and Revelation 21:5 are just some of those.

So the question as we begin this new year is… What do you want or need to renew, restart, or reboot in your life?  When I ask that question I am not asking about your phone, computer, or other things. I’m asking what you would like to change in your life this year:  Your spiritual life, your family life, your marriage, your work life, your church life, or any other area.

Jesus can and will help you make those changes if you will call on him to help.  The old regrettable things of 2018 can be made into the new transforming things of 2019.  The best part of being a follower of Jesus Christ is that he will help you with this. He will forgive you for those times you failed, and encourage you to leave them in the past.  It’s time to embrace the message of Jesus, “The old has gone, the new is here!”

Make it Personal:  Take time to look up the other verses above and learn more about this new change the Bible speaks of.  Yes, it’s important to restart all of those devices. But it’s most important to give your life a renewed outlook and a fresh beginning in this new year.

Happy New Year Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Three Wise Men?

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

Many of the nativity scenes you have witnessed over this past month most likely include three men and three camels.  Not always, but often these wise men or Magi that are mentioned in the second chapter of Matthew are included in the Christmas scene with baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the animals.

Many scholars believe that these wise men (Magi) from the East probably arrived sometime within the first year or two of Jesus’ birth.  In other words they may not have actually been there at the manger right after Jesus was born. And, there may not have only been three of them.

In verse 11 Matthew tells us that when the Magi did arrive they presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  These three gifts are why we often see three camels and three Magi coming to see Jesus. However, there could have been more than just three, and there could have even been less than three.  Scripture does not give us an exact number other than the three gifts that were presented.

We do know from verses 13-18 that after the Magi left, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt in order to escape the wrath of King Herod who wanted Jesus killed.  Since verse 13 mentions a child instead of a baby, it could mean that the Magi’s visit occurred sometime later than Jesus’ birth.

These are interesting things to study and consider when thinking about the Christmas story.  Having the Magi at the scene of the manger in many ways represents a part of this wonderful story and not the exact timing of the events or numbers of people.
 
This is why I have never minded this portrayal of Jesus’ birth, even though the events could have actually been a bit different. The most important part is that we receive this story for what it means for us and the world.  A Savior has been born and he is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Make it Personal:  Along with the visit of the Magi there are many other interesting things that can be studied and learned about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  I encourage you to do some study yourself and learn more about this most wonderfully, Holy night, that happened over 2,000 years ago.

Happy New Year Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



O Holy Night

Read: Luke 1:26-38
 
One of the most powerful and favorite Christmas songs through the years has been “O Holy Night.”  Next to Silent Night it may be the most sung Christmas song of all time. “O Holy Night” was originally a poem titled “Midnight, Christians” written in 1843 by French poet Placide Cappeau.  Four years later in 1847 the words to that poem were put to music by minister John Sullivan Dwight. And the rest is history.
 
Or maybe we should say that history made this song what it is.  “O Holy Night” is a song that reflects on the greatest night in the history of the world, the night that God came to Earth to be with us in His Son Jesus.  It’s a song that reflects on the birth of Jesus in the Judean village of Bethlehem and on humanity’s redemption that follows. So often we sing these words but how often do we pay attention to what they say?  Perhaps this poem, or this song, can speak to you in a new way this Christmas. Here are the words.
 
“O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.  Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born; O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here come the wise men from the Orient land. The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, to our weaknesses no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim. His power and glory evermore proclaim.”

As you celebrate Christmas this year remember to celebrate that holy night over 2,000 years ago that gives people around the world a reason to rejoice.  May our response to this great news be the same as Jesus’ mother Mary’s response was in Luke 1, “May your word be fulfilled!”

Make it Personal:  What is your favorite Christmas hymn?  Is it because of what the words proclaim or is it because of the beautiful music and memories it conveys?  Either way, rejoice in the truth of this season and celebrate that God is with us. God is with you through Jesus!
 
Merry Christmas Everyone,
Pastor Glen Rhodes


God With Us

Read: John 5:1-9

A favorite song of this Christmas season is “Emmanuel” by Bob McGee.  The words to that song say, “His name is called Emmanuel; God with us.”  In Matthew 1:23 an angel appears and confirms the prophet Isaiah’s words that God’s son would come to earth and would be Immanuel which means “God with us.”  God’s Son Jesus came to earth at Christmas time and was the perfect example of how God truly desires to be with us, be near us, and be in us.
 
Far too many people in our world are lonely and searching for love, care, and companionship.  Perhaps you too have felt that way at times?  Maybe you feel that way right now?  The wonderful news of Christmas is that God provided a way for us to cure our loneliness. He sent Jesus to us so that we would never have to be alone, fearful, or without a friend.  As the old hymn says, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”
 
In John 5 we find a perfect example of who Jesus was and how Jesus still works in our world.  In verses 1-9 he comes to a man who was sick, paralyzed, and lonely.  In verse 5 it says that this man had been sitting at this spot for 38 years.  Thousands upon thousands of people had passed him by until Jesus singles him out and chooses to befriend him.  Not only did Jesus come beside him and talk to him but he also healed him.  In verses 8 and 9 Jesus tells him to pick up his mat and walk.
 
During the Christmas season we celebrate that God is with us through his Son Jesus.  When loneliness sets in we can turn to Jesus and find a friend that will love us, care for us, and stand with us through whatever life brings.  Earthly relationships sometimes fail us and let us down, but Jesus promises to always be there for you.  That’s a great thing to celebrate this Christmas!
 
Make it Personal:  Along with the friendship Jesus provides for us he also brings us peace, love, joy, forgiveness, and hope.  This is why those things are talked about so much during this season.  Yes, Jesus is the reason for the season, but God truly desires all people to remember the reasons that he sent him to earth as well.  God is truly with you, if you will allow him into your life.
 
Have a wonderful Christmas, Pastor Glen Rhodes



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