Midweek Meditations

How do you define worship?

Read: Psalm 95

If someone came up to you at work or on the street and asked you to define “worship” what would you say? I think for many Christians our minds go immediately to Sunday worship services. But we know there is much more to worshiping Jesus than just one hour of each week in one place. Worshiping the Lord is defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for God.” I hope that is not a one hour per week thing for us!

The Psalms are full of worship. Psalm 95 is entitled “An invitation to worship God.” It begins by proclaiming, “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” Here are some others…..

Psalm 71:8 says, “My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.”
Psalm 103:1 says, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.”
Psalm 63:1 says, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”
Psalm 16:2 says, “I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Worship should be defined by how we live our daily lives. A constant reliance, a continuous focus, and an unwavering desire to be in relationship with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Worship allows us to get through the difficult things that come up in our daily lives. Worship reminds us that the things we fear (ebola, wars, violence, sickness, financial) are not overcome in our own strength but in the promise that Christ is with us and will sustain us in these times.

I like what Paul Billheimer once said. He said, “Surely that which occupies the total time and energies of heaven must be a fitting pattern for earth.” Our pattern of worship should be daily and should include times of giving thanks, praising Jesus for all he has done for us, and calling on him in our greatest hours of need. If we turn to money, things, and people during those times of need we are worshiping them as our source of help. When we turn to God we are saying, “For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:3

Make it personal: Find ways to worship Jesus during your day. Maybe it is by having worship music playing in the background, maybe it is taking times to pray throughout the day, maybe it is just looking at the colorful trees this Fall and proclaiming out loud how you are in awe of him and his creation. There are many ways, the only thing that matters is that we acknowledge who God is and what the Lord means to us. That is worship!

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



Grace and Truth

Read: John 1:1-18

As a pastor I spend some of my time with individuals and families in hospital settings.  I have always admired the challenging job that doctors and nurses have on the medical side of things, but I also realize the even more difficult task they have of sharing news with people and families that they sometimes don’t want to hear.  In a devotional I read today by Helen Paynter I was reminded of this balance of sharing the truth while also extending grace.

In her devotional she wrote about how some doctors will “blurt out the diagnoses or prognosis without any words of preparation or comfort.”  As a former doctor (now pastor and teacher) she often reminds them about the need to be clear while also being very kind in how they share the news with them.  I have seen some doctors do this very well and I admire them for this challenging part of their jobs.

As I was thinking about the importance of this for doctors and nurses it occurred to me that the same advice holds true for all of us.  We need to be honest and speak truth, but we also need to do it with kindness and grace.  Too often in our world people blurt out their opinions without considering the impact it may have on other people.  We must remember that we are all created in the image of God and must live in this world together.

In John 1:14 the Bible says, “The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  There it is, Jesus came to us in grace and truth.  I don’t think it is a mistake that John put grace first.  When we approach someone with grace it changes how we share the truth.

The truth of God needs to be shared in a world that is lost!  But for the world to even have the desire or opportunity to receive it in the right way it must be presented with grace, peace, and love.  Helen shares this prayer at the end of her devotional and may it be our prayer as well…. “Lord, please fill me with such love for your world that I have the courage to speak truth and the grace to do it with gentleness and humility.”

Make it personal:  As we try to practice this in our own lives we can also watch how others are succeeding or failing at this.  On T.V. and in social media we often see examples of how not to do it.  Let’s learn from those situations and change the way we speak the truth of Christ in our world.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Love vs. Hate

Read: 1 John 4:7-12

This past Sunday I shared a message from 1 Corinthians 13 which is often known as the love chapter. In that message I contrasted God’s examples of love with the world’s examples of hate. If you want to listen to the entire message you can find it at this link on our website.

http://www.arthurmennonite.org/resources/sermons/

I shared a quote from the end of a movie I recently watched about the life of Nelson Mandela entitled “A Long Walk to Freedom.” That quote and this passage from 1 John 4:7-12 are the focus of my meditations this week and I invite you to make them yours.

The quote at the end of the movie said…. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or background or religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I cannot add much more to that other than to say, let’s teach love, live love, and preach love as an alternative voice to all of the hate in our world. 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Make it personal: Make a conscious effort this week to live in love and teach it as an alternative voice to hatred. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Amen!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Take Time For Children

 Read: Luke 18:15-17; Proverbs 22:6

The St. Louis Cardinals are in the playoffs!  I realize that for some this is more exciting news than for others.  But for me it takes me back to game 6 of the 2011 World Series.  Probably one of the most memorable in World Series history as the Cardinals kept coming back in dramatic fashion and then finally won to send it to game 7.  But I remember that game for more than just the game itself.  Let me explain.

In last weeks meditation I talked about being “present” when we are with people. This week I want to remind parents of how important that is with their children.  My daughter got married this past August and moved to California.  Leading up to the wedding I was doing some reminiscing like most parents do during big life events such as this.  I thought back to all of the wonderful times we had as a family as our children were growing up.  I am attaching two of my favorite pictures of our children when they were very young and all dressed up.
SCAN_20140805_110521736_002SCAN_20140805_120918137_004

Anyway, back to game 6 of the World Series.  My daughter Rebecca was not and still is not a big baseball fan by any stretch of the imagination, and yet that night she sat with me on the edge of the couch watching every exciting pitch and hit.  Yes, I am not embarrassed to say that when the Cards tied it in the bottom of the 9th we were yelling and jumping around the living room together.

She celebrated with me like she really cared even though this was probably the first game she had watched all season.  She was not only present but she took time to engage in something that I was interested in.  I learned a lesson from my daughter that night!

Life can get busy and easily pass us by.  It seems like yesterday that these pictures of my children at a young age were taken.  One is now married and the other is in high school.  It’s a reminder that we need to take the time to converse with our children on things that interest them and things they are concerned about.  This short video clip from pastor Chuck Swindoll is a good reminder of that, I hope that you will click this link and watch it.

http://www.insight.org/resources/videos/insights/take-time.html

This time we spend goes beyond the teaching, discipline, and rules that parents often focus on.  We need to talk with them about their life, their feelings, their spiritual questions, and what they are thinking about.  We also need to join them in doing something they enjoy, just like my daughter did with me during that World Series game.

Jesus told his disciples to let the children come to him.  As parents we need to follow Jesus’ heart and show care, concern, and interest in our children.  We only worship Jesus, but he has given us this incredible responsibility and opportunity to be a parent, friend, and spiritual mentor/example for our children.  Lord give us the strength, the patience, the wisdom, and the time to fulfill this calling.

Make it personal:  It makes no sense for parents to beat themselves up over missed opportunities in the past.  God’s grace is sufficient and he will hear our prayers for the days ahead.  If you still have children at home remember to be a parent but also remember to be their friend.  Find some things to do together that you both enjoy and find times to laugh with each other.  Life is too short to wait!

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Hello, are you there?

Read: Luke 10:38-42

I heard a story recently about a man who was criticizing other patrons in a restaurant for looking at their cell phones and not paying attention to the people right around them. The man said to his friends, “they might as well be here alone.” After the man was done ranting about the cell phone junkies to his buddies he immediately preceded to pick up his newspaper and continue reading.

One scripture passage that comes to mind with that story is the one in Matthew 7:3 that says, “why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” That verse fits that story well but we might also agree that the man being critical does have a point about our constant focus on screens (or a paper in his case) instead of the people around us.

The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 is a fitting example of someone (Martha) who is consumed with things that are not important and someone else (Mary) who is consumed with someone (Jesus) who is very important. Are we paying attention to the important people that God has placed right around us, or are we too consumed by what everyone else is doing on social media? If you are not on social media perhaps you are spending too much time searching for the next greatest deal on craigslist or monitoring the latest sports scores.

God has placed these people (spouse, children, friends) in your life for a very important reason. Don’t get caught up in all of the things that Martha got caught up in. Those things may be important in some respects but they are never more important than people and the relationships that you build with those people. I have a smartphone too, and I often need to remind myself of this.

Jesus gives us the perfect example of being present with people in his midst. His love for them, concern for them, and relationship with them was always more important than the next thing on his agenda. He said that much to Mary and Martha in this passage. His example should be our example.

It’s been some years now since the Verizon commercials that said, “can you hear me now” were on T.V.. We don’t want the people in our lives asking us that same question. We want them to know that we hear them, care about them, and want to be present with them. At least I hope that is our desire!

Make it personal: If this cell phone or internet age has been a struggle for you, try to be more disciplined about the time and attention you give to those things for a couple days. Think about the time you spend with the important people in your lives compared to the time you spend looking at a screen, however big or small that screen (or newspaper) may be. Perhaps those several days of thinking about it could turn over a new leaf in your relationship with those people.

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Judge Not….

Read:  Romans 14:1-12

This week I am once again sharing a short devotional that I wrote for Rejoice magazine for this past week.  It reflects on this passage from Romans 14 that reminds us not to be the judge and jury when we are faced with disputable matters or people who look and think differently than we do.

It is always good to read the Bible, pray, discuss, and discern what the Lord is saying instead of instantly assuming we are right and others are wrong.   It is also dangerous to judge people from the outside instead of seeing what is in their heart.  Here is what I wrote….

“In the “Illustrations of Bible Truth,” H.A. Ironside tells of an incident in the life of a man called Bishop Potter.  Mr. Potter was traveling to Europe on one of the huge ships that crossed the Atlantic.  When he checked in he learned that someone else was sharing the room with him.  

After meeting his roommate, he went back to the desk and asked if he could leave his valuables in the ship’s safe; judging from his roommates appearance he wasn’t sure he could trust the man.  The desk clerk took his valuables and responded, “It’s all right Bishop, I’ll be glad to take care of them for you.  The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason!”

The human tendency is too often to look down on others.  If people do things differently or look unusual, we tend to put them in certain categories that we create in our minds.  Jesus showed us a different way.  He saw through the outer appearance and focused on people’s hearts.

In Romans 14 Paul reminds us that we are neither the judge nor the jury of others.  As Christians we live by the grace and forgiveness that Jesus has graciously bestowed upon us; to live like Christ is to extend the same to others and to allow God to be the judge (v.12).  

A reading in “A Year with God: Living out the Spiritual Disciplines” says, “Every judgmental word out of our mouths violates an eternal soul for whom Christ died.”  Convicting words for us to consider today!

Make it personal:  Lord, forgive me for times when I have placed myself as both judge and jury of another person.  Allow me to find ways to extend the grace and forgiveness of Christ this week.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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