Midweek Meditations

30 Wise Sayings

Read: Proverbs 22:17 – 24:22

In many Bibles there is a section in Proverbs 22-24 that has the title “Thirty Sayings of the Wise.” All Bibles are not sectioned off the same way and in searching through several I realized that some do not have this particular heading at the beginning of Proverbs 22:17. It is a reminder that through the ages the words of scripture have not changed but they have been translated, organized and numbered to make them easier to read and easier to turn to specific passages. Most of the chapters and verses of the Bible were added in the 1400’s and 1500’s.

The book of Proverbs is one of those books of the Bible that can be divided up in many different ways. The short concise nuggets of wisdom and direction are not written in a certain flowing manner. For some this makes it harder to read, but others find it refreshing. In some ways Proverbs is the Bible’s version of twitter, most of the sayings actually are 140 characters or less.

In verse 17 of Proverbs 22 these 30 sayings begin with…. “Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.” In this world of constant media and information it is important for us to weed out the wise council from the unwise council. Not everything that is stated on Facebook and Twitter is true. Some of them are opinions, some are facts, some are rumors, and others are just folly.

As followers of Jesus we need to be careful to discern the wise direction from the folly. The way that we do that is by testing it with God’s Word. Our culture will not always lead us down the path that God has for us, in fact our culture will often tempt us to try alternate paths. That is not new of course, it is why Solomon wrote these wise sayings in the first place. He wanted others to learn from his mistakes.

Saying 12 in Proverbs 23:12 says, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” That is great council in a world that is filled with so many opinions and worldviews. It is also a wonderful reminder of why we need to be engaged in God’s Word each and every day. God has helpful instruction for us and wonderful words of knowledge that keep us headed down the straight and narrow path.

Make it personal: As you watch the news on T.V., listen to talk radio, and read various books and magazines, test everything you see and hear with the words of Jesus and the Word of God. Don’t be led astray by opinions that are in direct conflict with God and his plan and purpose for us as his followers.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Lukewarm = Indifference

Read: Revelation 3:14-22

In a recent newspaper column Cynthia M. Allen wrote an article entitled “Role of religion shrinking in modern America.” In her article she referred to many of the recent developments in our country and culture that indicate an indifference to God, faith, and religious freedom. After reading her words it brought to mind the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3.

This early church had become lukewarm and indifferent to the things of God. They created their own morals, relied on their own wealth, and seemed to find God as an insignificant part of their lives. The words of chapter 3 are fairly direct and make it clear that God is not pleased with their indifference. It says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Obviously words like this would get their attention. Perhaps modern America needs to hear words like that as well. The further we push God, faith, religion, and morals away the more insignificant God will become in our communities and our country as a whole. That is not a good road to go down! Our culture may not be cold to the Lord right now but we are unfortunately getting much too close to being lukewarm and indifferent.

In verse 20 it says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Right before that it says, “So be earnest and repent.” Perhaps that is the point we are at? If we repent of these lukewarm and indifferent attitudes toward God we know that restoration and future blessings will follow. God is full of grace and forgiveness for those who turn to Him.

In the last verse of Revelation 3 it says, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” My prayer is that our churches would rekindle the fire of passion for God and allow the Holy Spirit to bring real transformation to us, our communities, and hopefully to the culture around us. It needs to start with believers who are not content with lukewarm and indifferent attitudes toward God, Jesus, and the Bible. A hot fire can spread rapidly! May it start with us!

Make it personal: In what ways have you become lukewarm or indifferent toward God or your faith? Take some time this week to ask that question of yourself and of the Lord. Pray for a renewed passion to overtake your life and draw you closer to the creator and savior of the world we live in.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



The Little Things

Read: Colossians 3:18-25

Some years ago when the space shuttle Discovery was getting ready to head into space the mission had to be aborted and grounded. It wasn’t technical difficulties or lack of government funding, but woodpeckers that caused the delay. Yellow-shafted flicker woodpeckers found the insulating foam on the shuttle’s external fuel tank irresistible material for pecking.

The foam was critical to the shuttle’s performance. Without it, ice would form on the tank when it was filled with supercold fuel, ice that could then break free during liftoff and damage the giant spacecraft. The shuttle was grounded until the damage was repaired.

Marriages and other relationships are frequently damaged not only by big things like infidelity , abuse, or abandonment; but by little things as well like criticism, lack of respect, and taking each other for granted. Those things can peck away at the relationship and keep us from loving, supporting, and caring for each other in a way that is healthy and encouraged in this passage from Colossians 3.

Wives, husbands, and children are all encouraged to love, submit, obey, and serve each other in ways that are not domineering or self-serving. Looking out for the best of the other person is always a way to foster the love of Jesus in our families instead of picking and pecking away at all of the little things that really don’t matter in the big picture.

To produce a healthy Christ-like environment in our families, marriages, and other relationships we would do well to stop and think about how we are relating to each other. Is it uplifting and encouraging or is it always deflating and discouraging? Our words and our attitudes can be very huge things sometimes even though we treat them as the little things.

Make it personal: Think about ways that you have been affecting your family or marriage with words and attitudes that are not helpful. Try to catch yourself in the midst of those and change them for the better. In the end you will be amazed at how it changes the atmosphere of your home and your relationships.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Truth in Love

Read: Ephesians 4:7-16

During my devotions this week I read this from Ruth Smith Meyer and it reminded me of something that happened when I was a very young boy. She wrote, “When necessary, a sterile needle wielded to remove the sliver in someone’s hand can be painful, even though the healer’s heart is full of love. But with the sliver gone, the ointment applied, and the would lovingly bandaged, there are two grateful hearts.”

Many years ago my family was visiting my aunt and uncle’s house in Iowa when I got a very deep splinter in my hand. As a young boy this was my first experience with the pain and terror of having to have a splinter pricked from my hand. It was so traumatic I still remember it very vividly even today, some 40 years later. If I remember correctly I was screaming and crying as my mom tried to remove that piece of wood from my finger.

As an adult looking back I am sure that it was just as painful for my mom to have to do that chore while her son was screaming and crying. However, in the end she knew it was the best thing for me. If the splinter were to remain it could cause infection and many other ongoing consequences that might be even worse than the pricking of the needle. She knew that, so in love she endured my kicking and screaming because she knew what was best.

In many ways this story plays out throughout life. Sometimes the things we need to hear are not what we really want to hear. I’m sure my mom told me that it was best to get that splinter out right then and there, but that is not what I wanted to hear, I was focused on the now instead of the then. It is true in our Christian lives as well. Sometimes we need a brother or sister in Christ to speak the truth to us in love.

Too often in our world people choose to speak the truth in other ways that are not helpful. Hate should have no place in the life of a believer even when we disagree on things. The flip-side of that is that too often people do not want to hear the truth even when it is spoken in loving and corrective ways. In Ephesians 4 Paul says that truth spoken in love can help us to grow and mature in our faith in Christ.

Make it personal: The next time someone tries to give you advice or points out something in your life pause and ask, “Is this person trying to speak the truth to me because they love and care about me?” If we approach each other in that manner we will be able to grow and become better instead of becoming instantly offended. If you have to speak the truth to someone do it without pointing a finger and accusing them, do it in love. It’s not easy for sure, but it is a part of being there for each other and being accountable.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



God Pleasers

Read: Galatians 1:6-10

Do you find yourself trying to please people too often? I think this is a common tendency, we want to be nice, friendly, and relational with people, and we should be. But sometimes that tendency leads us down the path of pleasing people when it may not coincide with our call to please God.

Perhaps this story that is told is a good example of that….. One time a large company was looking for a new marketing director. After much advertising and many application, three candidates entered the final selection process. The first to be invited in for the final interview was asked a simple question: What is 2+2. The person was surprised, thought about it for a bit, wondered if it might be a trick question and then simply answered 4. The managing director looked at the Board, shook his head and thanked him for coming, but he wasn’t the candidate they were looking for.

The next person came in and and the managing director asked him the simple question as well: What is 2+2. He paused, thought about it for a bit and then replied that statistically it was a number between 3 and 5. The managing director smiled and those on the board were quite impressed. The candidate was thanked and ushered out.

The last candidate was then invited in to the interview and the managing director asked him too the simple question: What is 2+2. Without batting an eyelid he replied: “What do you want it to be”. Without hesitation he was promptly hired on the spot.

Too often that is how people respond to things when they try to be people pleasers. “Whatever you want is fine, as long as it makes you happy.” Sometimes there is nothing wrong with that phrase, but when it leads us away from pleasing God it becomes a spiritual roadblock in our lives. Sometimes doing whatever we want is not what God would want for us or desire for us.

In the book of Galatians Paul was writing to several churches that were started during his first missionary journey to southern Galatia. The people were being deceived by a counterfeit gospel or a false message that was being spread. He said, “Really, it is no gospel at all.” Paul encourages them to not abandon the true message of Christ for the false teachings of those who were leading them away from what truly pleases God.

Our culture today is no different than southern Galatia in A.D. 50 when Paul wrote this letter. The temptation to follow after people pleasing things instead of God pleasing things remains today. We must stay grounded in God’s Word and pray for the discernment of the Holy Spirit to help us remain obedient to God. Isaiah and Peter would agree when they say, “For all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25)

Make it personal: Think about the people pleasing actions and attitudes that you have been tempted to give into. If they allow you to continue pleasing God then by all means be a people pleaser. However, if they keep you from pleasing God and following his will for your life as laid out in God’s Word, then think twice about being a people pleaser. As Christians our first allegiance is to the Lord.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Nomophobia

Read: Isaiah 41

If your not aware of what Nomophobia is then the title of today’s meditation probably caught your attention. I was not aware of it until I read an article in the Champaign News-Gazette newspaper last week. Nomophobia is the fear of being without your smartphone, that is if you have one. It was confirmation that we as humans have become way to reliant on those little machines of technological genius.

I use my smartphone a lot and I love the many ways it allows me to stay in touch with people and keep up on things such as my schedule, emails, breaking news, sports scores, etc. (the list could be endless because the new Samsung Galaxy S5 can now even tell you your current heart rate) But to have fear of it not being by my side at all times seems a bit compulsive.

This meditation however is not about smartphones, it is about the ways that we too often allow fear to rule our days and how our dependence on worldly things can sometimes take us away from focusing on the things that are truly important. Simon Hill in an Android Authority article said, “The Morningside Recovery Center in California is a drug and alcohol recovery facility, but it has added nomophobia to its list of conditions treated. It is placing mobile phone addiction on a par with alcohol and drug addiction in terms of the powerful dependence people can build up and the fact that they may need help to overcome it.”

In Isaiah 41 we read of God’s presence with us and his protection over his people. It provides us with great counsel about why those who follow God and believe in Christ have no need to worry, fear, or even become obsessed over things of this world. Verse 10 says, “So do not fear, I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

There are many phobias out there, apparently we have added yet another one with our smartphones. The reminder of Isaiah 41 is that the Lord can help us to overcome any kind of worldly fear or addiction if we turn to him and rely on his peace and his contentment to reign in our hearts and in our lives. We are surrounded by much of the bad news that goes on in our world and our smartphones often makes that news even more accessible.

Make it Personal: We can allow that news or other things in our life to promote fear or we can trust in the Lord and place those things in his hands. Nomophobia may be the newest defined fear we have, but we must remember the oldest and most faithful promise that God’s Word continuously reminds us of, “Do not fear, I am with you!” Let’s become obsessed with Christ and his benefits, not our technology or the fear of being without it!

Blessings, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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