Midweek Meditations

The Bread of Life

Read: Psalm 103

Each week of Lent I will be sharing a portion of Rob Fuquay’s book “The God We Can Know” that correlates with the theme from the Sunday before.  This past Sunday we talked about Jesus saying, “I AM the Bread of Life” and what that means for our joy and satisfaction in this life.  Psalm 100 is a great companion to this theme, it proclaims that God satisfies our desires, renews us, forgives us, heals us, redeems us and that brings us true joy.   Here is a portion of what pastor Fuquay shares in chapter 2 of his book…..

“There is a difference between being full and being satisfied.  Being full and being satisfied aren’t the same, yet we live in a world that would have us think they are.  We are tempted to believe that in order to be satisfied we have to be full, yet fullness does not guarantee satisfaction in many areas of our lives…..

Being in control might bring tastes of satisfaction but not the lasting kind. In my prayers I frequently like to tell God what I want.  I begin my day with a list in hand: “Today, God, I need answers for this problem; I need resources for this issue; I need you to clear up this situation, change this person, resolve this crisis,” and so on.

Real satisfaction comes, however, when I pray differently. “Lord, thank you for what is set before me today. Help me to recognize and enjoy the special blessings you will offer me.  I am going to choose to be thankful.”  Another way of looking at this is to make being satisfied of higher importance than getting full.  You see, getting full is something we can control. We are in charge of choosing.

We can do things that will fill life up, but satisfaction is something we need help with.  We sometimes need assistance from God in order to say, “I have the gifts and opportunity to be satisfied right now.  I already possess what is necessary for joy.”  “Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Rob has many other great stories to tell and things to share in his book.  I encourage you to read it and join us for the weekly Bible studies here at church as we talk about the scripture texts and Rob’s chapter that goes along with each of the I AM sayings of Jesus.

Make it personal:  What gives you satisfaction in life?  How do you connect this source of satisfaction with God’s activity in your life and in the world?  When Jesus and other people are the main focus in our lives it is much easier to be content and find the joy that only God can bring to us.  In Psalm 103 David realized these things, hopefully we can as well!

Have a joy filled week in Jesus, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



The Greatest Story Ever!

Read: Acts 3:11-4:12

Do you remember having Bible stories read to you when you were younger? If you are a parent or grandparent do you read Bible stories to your children and grandchildren today?  I still remember one of my favorite children’s Bible story books that we used to read to our children when they were younger.  I can still picture some of the drawings and pictures of the various stories.

These stories are important for us to share with children and to continue to learn from them as adults.  This past week I read an interesting article by Ed Stezter in which he suggested that we make sure we are going beyond the well known stories of Jonah, David and Goliath, the healing’s and miracles of Jesus, and other well recited stories in the Bible.  While those do share the story of God and His Son Jesus they need to know the big picture as well.

Here is what Ed writes in his article “Making sure Children actually hear the Gospel and not just a bunch of Bible stories”…. Too often we teach the Bible as a series of isolated morality tales, like Aesop’s Fables. We want our children to learn how to live well, so we draw from the Bible stories of people who did the right thing and those who did the wrong thing.

We hope they are getting the idea that good is of God, leading to success, and bad is of Satan, leading to failure. If the kiddos can then live out and retell the story with the right names and main points, we feel like they have a grasp on the Gospel.  Churches have told children tons of good stories, but have we told them the Story?  It is easy to tell the stories within the story, but there is a big picture here. We miss some important points when we offer a slice of the Gospel as if it is the whole pie.”

What Mr. Stetzer goes on to say is that we need to communicate how those stories fit into the four major acts of the Bible which include Creation, The Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.  The Good News of the New Testament proclaims that we have Redemption and Restoration from the Fall through Jesus Christ who came to save us.  We need to tell all the stories of the Bible and include this bigger picture of the Good News as well.

In Acts 3 and 4 that is what Peter is doing.  He is trying to communicate this Good News of Jesus to the onlookers and then to the Jewish elders and teachers (the Sanhedrin).  In verse 12 of chapter 4 Peter summarizes it all by saying, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  That is the Big Picture.  That is what we need to include in our telling of the Bible.

Make it personal:  Ed Stetzer writes, “When we take the Bible as a series of isolated morality tales, we think about 66 books with hundreds, if not thousands, of stories contained within them. In actuality, there are not thousands of stories. There are not 66 stories. There aren’t even two stories with the Old and New Testament. There is one story and that is the story of what God is doing—redemptive history.”  As we read the Bible and read it to our children and grandchildren let’s keep this Big Picture of the Good News in mind.

Have a Blessed Week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Who are you?

Read: Exodus 3:11-14 and Psalm 139:1-14

Today is Ash Wednesday which begins the season of Lent that leads us to Easter.  If you see someone today with a cross on their forehead from ashes they have most likely been at an Ash Wednesday service.  This day derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday, and placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
 
 
Ash Wednesday

 

Rob Fuquay who wrote the book “The God We Can Know” says that each year around this time he asks the question, “What do I have that cannot be reduced to Ashes?”  Many times during these 40 days that lead to Easter people will choose something to give up or do without.  Rob’s question encourages us to think even broader than that.
 

He writes, “Just about everything in life – our houses, our belongings, our clothes, and even our bodies, will all eventually be reduced to ashes (or dust).  Yet God gives us something that cannot be destroyed.”  He then asks the question, “What part of you cannot be reduced to ashes?  What word would describe it?  This is who you really are.”

Rob goes on to share about a visit he made to a women who was in a hospice care center.  She had battled cancer for many years and was in the last days of her life.  As they spoke that last time this women said the same thing that she had said every other time he had visited.  She said, “I am so blessed.”

This lady would not be able to see her grandchildren graduate from high school, she would not be able to spend many more years with her husband, among many other things, and yet she proclaimed that she was blessed.  As Rob writes, “About to depart this life she said, “I am ….”  Her faith finished the sentence.”

Lent allows us to come to God with repent hearts and truly search out who we are in Jesus.  When Jesus said “I AM” in the New Testament he was reminding us that he is all we need.  The world tell us otherwise, but don’t be fooled.  You are…. loved, cherished, saved, forgiven, equipped, empowered, and strong when you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Make it personal:  Use these next 40 days as a way to search out who you are and what is important in your life.  We don’t know what life will bring but we do know who will bring us through it.  Jesus is the great I AM.  Let’s allow him to be the answer to who we are!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

 


“R” is not for “Righteous”

Read: Romans 6

I don’t know if you have noticed recently but the movie theaters seem to be flooded with “R” rated movies.  What does it say about our society and culture (which we are a part of) when we produce a mass amount of movies that carry an “R” rating which stands for “Restricted.”  I am sure it is not pleasing to God.

The reason these movies are labeled as restricted is because they contain many things you would not want your child or teenager to see or hear.  That leads to the question, if you don’t want them to see it or hear it why do you want to see it or hear it?  Once in a while there is a true story or a documentary that has some value to it but most of the time even those are uncomfortable (or should be uncomfortable) for us to watch.

The definition of the word “Righteous” is: “Acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.”  In Romans 6 Paul talks about how we are set free from sin by Jesus Christ and that we should live righteous lives before him.  He says, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

“R” rated movies should make us feel uncomfortable if we are Christians.  That’s not a feeling that many of us like to have in life is it, to be uncomfortable?  But sin does that to us because it separates us from God and his desires for us.  Even if we are only watching a movie we are still participating in it and therefore it affects us.

I do not want to be the cultural police or say that I will never watch an “R” rated movie.  I do want us all to think about this though.  Jesus wants us to live righteous lives and be examples of that righteousness.  In Romans 6:15 Paul even says, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!”

As I said, I am not sure what it says about our culture when there are more restricted movies in our theaters than other options.  But I do know that we do not have to conform to our culture.  Perhaps the words of Romans 12:2 are a good way to end this week.  It says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Make it personal:  Think about your own movie viewing habits.  Pray about that and ask Jesus to give you discernment, wisdom, and even restraint if that is needed.  In all areas of life may we seek to live righteous lives before our God and be examples to a culture that is often conflicted in sin.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Coach 1K and the Next Play

Read: Philippians 3:7-14
This past week Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (yes, I had to Google that for spelling) did something that no other division one college basketball coach in history has accomplished. He won his 1,000th game as a college head coach. His coaching career started in 1974 as an assistant at Indiana, and since 1980 he has been the head coach of the highly successful Duke basketball program. Coach K, as he is known because of his elaborate last name, has also coached several of the USA men’s national basketball teams.
In a recent article by Sports Illustrated one of his former players Johnny Dawkins said that he was always known for saying the phrase “next play.” It was a reminder to the players that they should learn from their mistake but not let it keep them from moving on to the next play and the next opportunity ahead. He wanted them to stay aggressive and not dwell on the past.
If you have ever watched Coach K on the sidelines you can definitely believe this about him. He is intense, focused, prepared, a positive example, and a source of encouragement to his players. His success and the success of his players while at Duke and after college is a testimony to his relationship and influence on them. I truly believe that this is even more important to him than the wins.
His well known phrase “Next Play” reminded me of the verse in Philippians 3:13-14 when Paul writes, “Brothers and Sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Because of Jesus and his grace and forgiveness for you, this too can be your phrase in life. When you repent of your sins, your mistakes, and your wrongs to Jesus he not only forgives you but he says, “Forget what is behind and press on to the next thing.” Too often we carry the burden of past mistakes, and we let them keep us from moving forward. Jesus wants us to learn from those mistakes, but he also wants us to move on in His grace.
If you have repented of your sins and asked Jesus to forgive you, it is done! It is time to move forward and anticipate what God has for your future. The next play awaits! Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Make it personal:  My prayer is that you will believe these words from God and trust Him. Trust Him to redeem your past mistakes, trust Him to forgive you, trust Him to show you the purpose and calling upon your life, and then trust your future to Him. God knows what the next play is for you. Place your life in His hands and look forward to what is ahead.
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church


Single Servants

Read: 1 Corinthians 7:32-38

In the church we talk a lot about family.  Families are good, important, and serve many good purposes in society and in the world.  But as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 7, men and women who are single are also very important to the church, important in society, and a valuable asset to our world.  As Paul says, “They are able to be concerned about the Lord’s affairs.”

Some of the greatest leaders of church history lived their whole lives as singles:  Saint Fracis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Avila, Thomas a Kempis, Bernard of Clairvaux.  More recently, leaders such as Francis Asbury, missionaries Amy Carmichael and Helen Roseveare, and German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer were all single.  C.S. Lewis was a bachelor most of his life, married at age fifty-seven, was married for only four years, and remained a celibate widower after his wife’s death.

This list goes on and includes British Theologian John Stott, Mother Theresa, and yes the Apostle Paul.  God has used these single servants in ways that have made a huge difference in the world for Christ.  They are loved, valuable, and important, just like the singles we know today.  The church is blessed to have so many dedicated servants, who like Paul, have given their life for the good of God’s Kingdom and others.

Another group of brothers and sisters that we need to support and pray for are the single mothers and fathers in our churches and community.  It is hard for many to truly understand the challenges of time and finances they deal with on a day to day basis.  We need to find ways to support them and their children and let them know that we are there for them when they need a break or need a helping hand.

The church is full of people who desire to serve the Lord together.  And together is how we must do this.  Let’s support all the people of our communities but let’s especially reach out to those are single, widowed, single parents, or other.  God can, does, and will use them in ways that only they can be used for His Kingdom.  I am thankful that so many of them are such willing servants!  Many of them have blessed me in wonderful ways!

Make it personal:  Who and How can you reach out to someone who is single?  Maybe they just need a helping hand, a prayer partner, or a source of encouragement in their life.  Reach out to them and hear them share about how the Lord is using them for the good of his kingdom.  As a church, let’s affirm them in that call!

Blessings,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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