Midweek Meditations

Going, Going, GONE!

Read: Romans 5 and 6

This past Monday night I spent some time watching Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby. When it comes to baseball nothing is quite as thrilling as watching a baseball soar through the air, into the night sky, into the outfield bleachers, and hearing the announcers proclaim, “It’s going, going, GONE!”

In God’s Word the book of Romans proclaims that about our sin. Chapters 5 and 6 are full of testimony and truth about Jesus coming to earth and dying on the cross to pay the penalty for sin. Not just others sin, but our sin. Chapter 5 begins by saying, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” A little bit later in verse 8 it says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The wonderful British pastor Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) once said, “Jesus came to take away sin in three ways: to remove the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and, at last, the presence of sin.” To me that sounds like the home run call. Jesus removes the penalty of sin from our lives when we repent of that sin (going). Jesus removes the power of sin and temptation in our lives when receive this gift from God (going). And finally, Jesus removes the presence of that sin from existence in our life forever (GONE!).

In Romans 6 the apostle Paul talks about us becoming dead to sin and alive in Christ. That holds true in our daily lives today, but it also holds true for our past. We aim to live righteous and Godly lives for Jesus. In order to do that we must proclaim and believe that our repented of sins of the past are gone forever.

My prayer this week is that we can live in that truth. I hope that we can truly live in the freedom, grace, and forgiveness that Jesus has bought for us on the cross of Calvary. If you have repented of sin in your life you can believe and trust that it is gone in the eyes of God. You can live with that freedom and the weight off of your shoulders. It also leads us to ask ourselves if there is any sin in our life right now that needs to be repented of. The freedom of Christ’s forgiveness awaits!

Make it personal: As you live in Christ’s forgiveness this week give thanks to God for what he has done for you and for how much he loves you. The Message Bible paraphrases Romans 6:23 and says, “Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” And to that we say, AMEN!

Have a grace filled week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Listening and Doing

Read: James 1:19-25

In last week’s meditation I shared about being who we say we are as Christians.  As our church van was being driven around Kansas City last week at our church convention this thought came to my mind.  On Friday night I went with our youth group to a Royals baseball game and I offered to drive the church van.  Our church van has the church’s name on three sides of the van.

As I weaved in and out of traffic and tried to go from line to line of cars to get where we need to be I had to remember that every move was a representation of our church and perhaps even Christianity.  I wondered how often we think about that in our daily lives.  If we had our church name or “Follower of Jesus” tattooed on our forehead how might that change how we respond to certain things?

In this first chapter of James, the brother of Jesus is encouraging us to not only listen to the ways of Jesus, but to apply them in our daily lives.  In verse 22 he says, “Do not merely listen to the word…. Do what it says.”

Here is another example that a friend shared with me this week.  Perhaps you have heard this story?  An honest man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up!

He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal items.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. “I noticed the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car.

As we live, work, drive, and give witness to Jesus in this world may we remember to “do” life as Jesus would have us “do” life.  May we live out our faith as we interact with those around us, even when they might test us.  And may the Lord forgive us for those times that we fail him in these things.

Make it personal:  Think about this past week. Can you think of times that you did not react in a Christ-like manner to others.  Can you think of times that your example did not give testimony to the Christian faith you proclaim?  Christ will forgive us for the the times we fail but let’s ask him to help us make those times less frequent.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Are We?

Read:  Matthew 5-7

This morning I heard a speaker (Hal Shrader) ask the question, “Are we who we say we are, or is it just an idle tale?”  This is a great question to ask as we live our life, make decisions, and claim to be followers of Jesus.  In his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 Jesus gives us many wonderful but difficult ways to live in order to represent his kingdom here on earth.

Are we living by those words?  If you haven’t read those chapters recently I would encourage you to do that again.  It’s one thing to say that we follow Jesus, it’s another thing to have our lives look like we are following Jesus.  Shrader was asking us to consider if those things line up.

This is how the Life Application Bible asks the question at the opening of the Sermon.  It says, “Kingdom people seek different blessings and benefits, and they have different attitudes.  Are your attitudes a carbon copy of the worlds selfishness, pride, and lust for power, or do they reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, your King?”

It goes on to say, “Christians should not blend in with everyone else, instead, we should affect others positively, just as seasoning brings out the best flavor in food.”  This is referring to Jesus’ words about being salt and light in the world we live in.

The one thing we must remember as we live out these words is to do so in the love and grace that Jesus himself would show to people.  That may be the best way to represent Jesus, with the humility, peace, and grace that he was known for.  May this be our goal as we live out the Christian life that we claim.

Make it personal:  Read Matthew 5-7 again and ask the Lord to help you live by these words.  Make daily prayer a part of your effort to live for Jesus.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Character is Destiny

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

This past weekend Jordan Spieth won his second major golf tournament of the year by winning the U.S Open at Chamber’s Bay in the state of Washington.  Some of the other names to accomplish the feat of winning the Master’s and the U.S Open in the same year are those of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods.  Very esteemed company for the 21 year old Spieth for sure.

But what most people are talking about along with his talent at golf is his character.  I heard one person connect his character with his destiny for success on the course by saying, “Character is Destiny.”  One golf commentator this weekend said, “There’s a kid who looks in the mirror and likes what he sees.”  Funny thing is, Jordan seems to humble to even think that way.

In Colossians 3 Paul writes, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”  When we put on these character traits in life it becomes easier to look in the mirror each day.

Derek Hill says, “Character is what defines you.  It’s what people see in you.  It’s what people will say about you after you pass away.  Character is one of the most important things you have.  How are you investing in yours?  Do people see your faith in what you do?  Is your character reflected in how you serve the Kingdom?”   Those are all great questions to ask of ourselves.

Yes, I am a Jordan Spieth fan, because I like who he is, what he stands for, and how he handles himself in public.  Oh, and I admire his excellent golf game as well.  I hope that he continues to live with this character as more success heads his way.  I hope the same for myself as well.  I hope that my character will reflect the words of Paul in Colossians 3.  I hope the same for you as well!  May we set our destiny to be God’s witnesses by living with Godly character in our everyday lives.

Make it personal:  Take time to thank those people who are great examples of Godly character in life.  In a world that is often filled with hateful words, demeaning statements, and anger, it is a blessing to see the opposite of those.  The families of the Charleston, South Carolina shooting this past week have given us a great example of that.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Serving Jesus

Read: Luke 10:25-37

What a blessing it has been this week to see the followers of Jesus serving him and others through the love, care, and concern for people of all ages.  Since Monday the church building has been bursting with enthusiasm and excitement as over 250 children and 75 volunteers from 5 churches have come together for the Arthur Community Vacation Bible School.  God’s Word, God’s love, and the plan that Jesus has for these children is being taught and received each and every day.

And then as I opened Facebook last night I see the crew from our church that is in Pilger, Nebraska this week building a Mennonite Disaster Service house that was lost in a tornado last year.  A local TV news crew came out and did a news story which included an interview with Virgil Gingerich and showed the crew busy at work.  In only two days of work the walls were up and the trusses in place.

These examples are wonderful reminders of how Jesus taught us to live. To serve him by serving others.  This is the exact point he was trying to make when he told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  The Samaritan gave up some time, money, and other things in order to see someone helped, blessed, and changed for the better.  I see that in action this week for sure, but I know that it happens each and every week in areas that are unseen.

Some years ago I heard the story of two men who sold their lucrative tech company for 1.5 billion dollars.  They selflessly decided to share their windfall with their employees.  The average bonus payment their workers received was just over $75,000.  One of the men summarized their decision by saying, “To share our success with everybody is the most joy we can have.”

I doubt any of the servants I have witnessed this week has 1.5 billion dollars to share, but they do have something that is even more valuable in the eyes of eternity.  They have the good news of Jesus Christ and the priceless joy of helping other people know his love, grace, care, and concern.  They have given up some of their time and maybe even money to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.

I pray that the many seeds being sown this week at Bible School will go into our community and world and make a difference in the lives of children and their families.  I pray that the homes being built in Nebraska will bless these people and allow them to realize that Jesus loves them and wants to provide for them in their times of need.

At the end of the Good Samaritan parable Jesus gives us a four word instruction.  He says, “Go and do likewise!”  It may not be VBS, it may not be building a house, but how is Christ using you to bring forth his kingdom here on earth?  God needs all of us to do our part, and in the end we pray together that the saving grace of Jesus, the love and care of God, and the servant hearts of his people will make a difference in this world.

Make it personal:  Let’s join together in praying this week for VBS and the Nebraska builders.  But let us also pray that God will lead us in who we are to serve and to bless in his name.  If we look around I am positive that we will see many opportunities this week, next week, and in the years ahead.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Present and Future

Read: Luke 8:22-25

It’s impossible to know what each person is experiencing in their lives each week. As we encounter people from day to day we need to remember this and be prepared to be the peace of God or share the peace of Christ that they might need in the midst of their storm. As we go through those times ourselves we must remember that our present difficulty might be leading to future blessings.

As we read the story of Jesus calming the storm for the disciples in Luke 8 I am reminded of the old story that is told of the shipwrecked man. After the shipwreck he is washed up on a small uninhabited island. He cried out to God to save him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed to come.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a rough hut and put his few possessions in it. But then one day, after hunting for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling to the sky. The worst had happened; he was stung with grief. Early the next day, though, a ship came near to the island and rescued him. “How did you know I was here?” he asked the crew. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It’s never easy to go through a difficult time, but as we wake Jesus up in those times and place our faith and trust in him we can begin to see that our present difficulty may be instrumental to our future blessings. It may help us to grow, have more faith, and lean on Jesus more than we have been in the past.

When Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee he said to the disciples, “Where is your faith?” Perhaps that same question is posed to us this week? No matter what you face this week place your faith in Jesus and call on his time to get you through it. He is faithful and he will bring you peace and comfort as he helps the storm become a thing of your past.

Make it personal: When we face a storm in life we must first turn to prayer. Along with praying to God it is often helpful to confide in a trusted friend. God has given us each other to encourage us in our faith and bring those words of comfort and hope that we need to hear. Also think about who you can share those words with this week.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

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