Midweek Meditations

Plugged In

Read:  John 15:1-17

On a recent short trip to downtown Chicago our family got situated in our 18th floor hotel room before heading out into the city to explore.  Upon arriving in our room one of the first things we did was plug in our cell phones.  What I realized is how many places these rooms now have to plug in your phones and electronic devices.  There were outlets and USB ports everywhere.  My first thought was “why didn’t I invent an alarm clock with two outlets and two USB ports to sell to all the hotels around the world?”

Being plugged in is something we see everywhere these days.  From cars, to airports, to hotel rooms, the need for power is great.  I’m still confused as to why one of these companies can’t come up with a phone that will last up to 18 hours no matter how much you use it.  For some people carrying around a way to plug in is just as important as carrying around their wallet or purse.  Yes, our world is obsessive about being “plugged in.”

How important is it that you are plugged into God’s Word, God’s will, God’s people, and the ways of Jesus?  The bigger question is are you plugged into God’s Word, God’s will, God’s people, and the ways of Jesus?  John 15 is a wonderful reminder of how important it is to stay connected to the Lord in our daily lives.  Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

As we begin a new year it would benefit all of us to think about how “plugged in” or “connected” we are to the things of God.  What if we became as obsessive about that as we are about keeping our devices charged up?  How might our situations be different and our attitudes more hopeful if our Jesus battery is fully charged each day?  When our phone battery get’s very low we get a message that tells us it is dangerously low.  We need that for our spiritual life as well!

Make it Personal:  Think of ways you can charge up your battery for Christ each day.  Daily devotions, times of prayer, joining a Bible Study group, listening to praise and worship music, serving others, caring for those in need, attending church each Sunday, attending Christian Education classes, talking with God…  the list could go on.  Start 2017 off by finding ways to stay spiritually “plugged in” throughout each day of this new year.

Happy New Year, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church


All Year Long

Read: Isaiah 57:14-19midweekmediationforwebsite

The old year of 2016 is about to depart and the new year of 2017 is almost here.  What do we want to leave behind in the days that have passed and what do we want to take hold of in the days ahead?  From year to year things in this world change.  Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.  But one thing we can be assured of is God’s faithfulness.  It will not change, it will not falter.  

Pastor Tony Evans gives us a good reminder of this when he talks about the sun shining all year long, even though we do not see it at all times.  Isaiah 57:14 says, “Build up, build up, prepare the road!  Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”  Pastor Evans reminds us that we need to remove obstacles and make sure that we are turned in God’s direction and living in God’s obedience so that we can see this faithfulness.  He writes….

“The sun is a light 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  All year long, all decade long, all century long, the sun just keeps on shining.  The problem, however, is that the earth gets dark.  How can there be all that light and the earth still gets dark?  It’s because the earth turns.  The earth gets dark because the earth is spinning on its axis.  Therefore the side that faces the sun gets light and the side that is facing away does not.

If there is darkness in your life, it’s not because God, the Father of Lights, is turning; it’s because you are turning.  He is the Father of Lights and in Him there is no shadow.  There is no darkness in Him.  Because God is faithful, He’s consistent.  Just like the sun, He is always shining and in His light, there is no shifting or moving shadow.  We just have to make sure we are turned toward Him.”

That last line is a great resolution for the New Year of 2017 that lies ahead.  “We just have to make sure we are turned toward Him.”  If you have not been turned to God as you should have been in 2016 there is a new day ahead in which that can change.  There is a New Year coming in which God can become your main focus and his faithfulness and love can once again shine through into your life.  The prophet Isaiah speaks of God reviving the heart and the spirit of the people and I pray that this will be your experience in 2017.

Make it Personal:  Many people will make resolutions to do things better in 2017.  While those resolutions are often good and helpful there is nothing more beneficial in life than turning to the Lord and growing in your relationship with Jesus.  Jesus is always calling if we will turn to him and give him the right place in our life.  If you do that you will overwhelmed by his faithfulness to you.

Happy New Year everyone,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

The Season of Giving

Read: Luke 2; John 3:16-21midweekmediationforwebsite

Christmas is definitely a season of giving.  I have heard many stories of generosity, witnessed people caring for each other, and received blessings from others myself over the past couple of weeks.  Thankfully I have had the opportunity to give and bless others as well.  Nothing proclaims the reason for the season better than when people follow God’s perfect example of giving, caring, and generosity.

In the Christmas story in Luke 2 we read about the blessed night in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.  In John 3:16 we hear testimony of what happened that night.  “For God so loved the people of the world that he GAVE his one and only Son…”  Yes, the Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh as they worshiped the Savior, but what God gave us in his one and only son Jesus has truly changed the world.

This is why we have heard and witnessed so much love and giving over the past couple of weeks.  From people paying off all of the layaway items at department stores, to people giving away their airline miles to help families be together at Christmas, to boxes, food, gifts, and many other blessings bestowed, we give because so much has been given to us.

NBA basketball star Lebron James was recently named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the year.  In the related article Lee Jenkins recounts the life of Lebron from his young days in Akron, Ohio to his current MVP status in professional basketball.  In that interview Lebron realizes that many people gave to him and his mom in order to help them survive as he was growing up.

Jenkins writes, “He (Lebron) rattles off names of the uncles and cousins, coaches and teammates, friends and strangers who once offered a sofa and a cereal box, or more…. He scoffs at the idea that he was protected because he was gifted. “There are a lot of gifted nine-year-olds,” he counters. “They did it because they cared.””  

Lebron is very appreciative of those who helped him and his mom.  He is now in a position to bless many other people and he continues to find ways to do that.  In the article it mentions that he and his wife Savannah sponsor every at-risk third-grader in the Akron public school system, following them all the way through High School.  Their many other efforts of reaching out and helping are also well chronicled.

I truly hope that this is why we give as well, because we care, because we love, because we too have been blessed by God and others in so many ways.  We have been given many generous gifts including God’s greatest gift of all in Jesus our Savior.  As we give during this season I hope that it will encourage us to be givers in all seasons.  That we will show the love and care of Jesus throughout the New Year of 2017 that is just ahead of us.

Make it personal:  Find ways to give intentionally throughout the year ahead.  Look for new opportunities, keep your eyes opened for God moments, and always have a generous heart.  And always be thankful for the gift of Jesus and salvation that God has given to you.

Merry Christmas Everyone,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Giving Account

Read: Matthew 12:30-37midweekmediationforwebsite

Some day all of us will stand before the Lord to give account of our life.  In Matthew 12 Jesus is speaking to the people when he says, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Of course Jesus was speaking about giving account of our life as a whole.

In thinking about these verses and many others in scripture I was saddened to read a story in yesterday’s newspaper.  Robert I. Sherman (63) was flying his small plane over Iowa when he crashed in a cornfield and died of his injuries.  This would be sad in any case but the article made me realize that this case is especially sad.

You see, Robert was known as the “Best known atheist in the Midwest.”  He was a very outspoken atheist and critic of anything to do with God or religion.  For years and years he went to court, filed lawsuits, and battled Christian faith and witness at every opportunity.  He even hosted a radio show that gave voice to many of these battles.  The Associated Press news report said that he also spent some time in jail in the 1990’s for domestic violence.

In a news article right below that one there was a story about the death of Joe Ligon (80).  Joe was the frontman for the grammy winning gospel singing group called the “Mighty Clouds of Joy.”  He spent his life singing for the Lord.  Mr. Ligon and Mr. Sherman both died and that is sad, I feel for their family and friends.  But these news articles make us think.

Each of us make decisions each day, each week, and each year about how we view God, life, people, and many other things.  Why not make those decisions fruitful and life-giving instead of hateful and vindictive?  When our day on earth comes to an end how would we want the newspaper headline to read?  More importantly, what will we experience as we stand before the Lord to give account of our words, actions, and life?

During this Christmas season we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  He came to save all of us from our sins, bad choices, wrong words, and regrettable actions.  If we come to him with repentant hearts he will forgive us and cleanse us of all those things. He will purify us for that day in which we must give account.  I hope and pray that you have made that choice to receive Christ and receive his grace.  It’s always sad when we lose a loved one here on earth but the promise of eternal life in heaven for those who believe is a great comfort to live with.

Make it personal:  As the year comes to an end think about where you stand in your faith, your trust, and your life with God.  Companies often take inventory to see exactly where things stand with their business.  How about we take time this Christmas to take an inventory of our life.  A New Year and new direction could be right around the corner.

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Everyone is Significant

Read: 1 John 4:7-21midweekmediationforwebsite

Everyone seems to have certain traditions during this season of Christmas.  For some people it is the yearly viewing of the popular classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Jay Akkerman shares the thoughts of Frank Capra who directed the movie many years ago.  He was asked what the central message of the film was.  After thinking a few moments Capra said, “I believe the real message of the film is that under the sun, nothing is insignificant to God.”

When you watch that movie you realize that everything that happens has intended and unintended consequences.  Everything because it has happened, causes something else to happen.  Everybody in that story is important, because he or she relates to everyone else.  Nothing is insignificant under the sun to God.  That’s a great message for us this year in light of all the other messages that are being sent.

John reminds us that God’s love is there for all people who choose to receive it.  No one is insignificant and no one is exempt from this love when they choose to make it a part of their life.  As verse 16 says, “We know and rely on the love God has for us.”  It then goes on to say, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement:  In this world we are like Jesus.”

That is our desire and that is our hope.  To be like Jesus.  As you think of the people in your life, think of them as Jesus does.  He see’s people with a different viewpoint than many in our world choose to use.  You have significance, they have significance, we all have significance!  In verse 19 John says, “We love because he first loved us.”  He then goes on to remind us, “Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

Perhaps you need to be reminded, not only that you are important to God, but also that everyone around you is significant to God, too.  If we would treat others in that respect then our world would be a much brighter place.  Let’s make that our Christmas wish, that people would realize their significance in the eyes of God and acknowledge the significance of others in the eyes of God as well.

Make it personal:  Who have you placed on a different level when it comes to your significance scale?  Remind yourself first of foremost of the love that God has for you, then remind yourself that God has that same love for that person or those people as well.  May we remind ourselves that Everyone is Significant to God.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Contentment Wednesday

Read: Philippians 4:10-20    midweekmediationforwebsite

First it was Black Friday, then it was Cyber Monday, then came Giving Tuesday.  I am worried about Wednesday and Thursday feeling left out.  How about we give the attitude of contentment to Wednesday?  I am not opposed to any of these other days even though I really don’t observe them much.  

I do most of my Christmas gift shopping on my own time, usually the week before Christmas.  I spread out my giving to church, other people, and organizations throughout the year, even though I think it’s a great idea to have a “Giving Tuesday” after a “Black Friday.”  But all of these specific days made me think about what Paul says in the book of Philippians.

Paul writes, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”  What a great reminder as we head into this season of gifts, giving, and busyness.  Can we find time and space to be content?  How about starting today and calling this “Contentment Wednesday?”  How about carrying that attitude throughout the month of December and into 2017?

Alison Stewart, a former reporter and news anchor, spent three years investigating America’s unhealthy obsession with stuff. Her book, “Junk: Digging Through America’s Love Affair With Stuff,” examines the private lives and profitable businesses associated with our craving for consumer goods. Stewart explains that junk business is big business…

“Self-storage has its own association and lobbying group because it is big business, generating more than $24 billion in revenues in 2014. The United States is home to reportedly 48,500 to 52,000 self-storage units. That’s about 2.3 billion square feet of storage. It is a business that has been called recession resistant by the Wall Street Journal.”

Reality TV shows focusing on junk took off in the early 2000’s. Stewart put together a list of such shows broadcast between 2003 and the end of 2015. She writes: “The real tension that exists between the desire to buy and own, positioned against the stress created by the acquisitions, makes perfect sense for non-scripted television.” Here’s a partial list of stuff-based reality TV shows: American Pickers, Auction Hunters, Auction Kings, Buried Treasure, Flea Market Flip, Hoarders, Junk Gypsies, Junkyard Wars, Pawn Stars, Picker Sisters, Storage Wars, and its spinoff Storage War Texas.

Those shows can be very interesting but they also give evidence of how much junk we can accumulate if we are not careful.  Contentment does not mean that we are against gift giving or blessing other people.  It is good to have a giving spirit and bless others.  As Christmas comes this year let us embrace the season with a spirit of contentment and joy “in any and every situation” as Paul encourages in Philippians 4:12.

Make it personal:  When and if stress tries to overtake you during this Christmas season try to find ways to bring calm, peace, and contentment to your life.  Put on some Christmas music, light some candles, relax, watch a classic Christmas program and think about the reasons that we celebrate this time of year.  Find ways to be content whatever the circumstances.

Have a content week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

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