Midweek Meditations

Seven Days

Read: Luke 22 to end of Gospel

I have been watching “The Bible” mini-series on the History channel the past several weeks like many of you. The ratings are the highest for a cable T.V. program this past month. Obviously many are interested in God’s Story and how it connects with our story.

I have especially enjoyed the last week or two as the mini-series got into the New Testament and shared the life and ministry of Jesus. This past week was especially emotional as it lead up to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection which will air this coming Sunday on Easter.

As we read the Gospel accounts of those events we often try to visualize what it was like. When we see it acted out on the screen it brings new ideas of what the reactions and actions of the disciples and others might have been like as Jesus went through those last seven days.

The director of “The Bible” is not any more sure than we are of how they reacted or what all of the details are, but the Gospels give us a pretty descriptive account that allows us to feel like we experience that last week with Jesus and the disciples. I hope you will read from Luke 22 to the end of the chapter this week and allow yourself to be drawn into the story and what Jesus and his disciples experienced.

We know the end of the story even before it airs on the History channel this Sunday, but it never gets old! It is the reason that we celebrate, it is the reason we follow Jesus, and it is the reason we have been saved from our sins and the evils in this world.

Let’s celebrate and remember together this weekend, but let’s chose a Gospel account of those last seven days and experience them again as if we were right there beside Peter and the other disciples.

Make it personal: Put yourself in the room with Jesus and the Disciples during the last supper. Put yourself in the crowd, at the foot of the cross, and at the empty tomb. What might you have felt and experienced? What kind of emotions would you have had. By doing this we can make Holy Week even that more meaningful in our own story.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



The Pope and the Poor

Read: Luke 10:25-37  (Click text to read passage)

Last week white smoke rolled out of the Vatican to signify that a new Pope had been elected for the Catholic Church. As the ceremonies continued throughout the week we learned that this new Pope was going to take the name Pope Francis after the patron saint Francis of Assisi.

It’s hard to judge anyone from one week in a position but this Pope does seem to truly have a heart for the poor and outcast in the world. That was at the heart of Francis of Assisi’s life (1181-1226) as well. History records that he once joined the poor in begging outside of St. Peter’s Basilica in order to better understand their situation.

I am not Catholic but I do know that my savior Jesus had a tender and compassionate heart for the poor and outcast when he walked on this earth. His parable in Luke 10 about the “Good Samaritan” is a perfect example of that compassion. His basic message in that parable was, “Don’t walk by on the other side of the road when you see someone in need.”

Christians around the world have done many wonderful things throughout history for those who are outcast and needy. Many who have been blessed with wealth have given of that wealth to help provide food, shelter, clothing, and more for those who are less fortunate. Others have sacrificed time and comforts to be the hands and feet that deliver those provisions.

Perhaps this new Pope’s attitude toward the poor can remind us once again of Jesus’ example. Maybe we should ask ourselves what we are doing with our money, our time, and our compassion to help others who are in need. It’s often easy to be judgmental when we are not in their shoes, but if we would put ourselves in their position like Saint Francis did perhaps we would see things differently.

Each day we are probably faced with the “other side of the road” scenario. Let’s be aware of it when it comes and follow the example of Jesus. Cross over the road, lend a helping hand, and provide help to someone from your blessings and abundance. The Lord will bless you when you bless others!

Make it personal: There are many wonderful organizations out there to give to in order to help those in need. Mennonite Central Committee, World Vision, Compassion International. Find one, two, or three to support monthly if that is what the Lord leads you to do. Find ways to serve those in need that allows you to develop a relationship with them and better understand their struggles. Finally, be watching for that person on the other side of the road that may need your help.”

Have a blessed week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



Are You Expecting?

Read: Daniel 3:13-17; 6:10-23

Here is a link to the passages
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%203:13-17,%206:10-23&version=NIV

In the past month we have had some exciting news in our church family.  Three families have announced that they are expecting newborn children later this year.  This word “expecting” has continued to make me think the past couple of weeks.

Three weeks ago I wrote a midweek meditation about expecting miracles in our lives.  Since then I have come across several scripture passages and devotionals that have continued to ask that same question.  When we pray, when we seek God, do we truly expect the Lord to show up?

These two stories in Daniel are great examples of that. The King threatened to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the blazing furnace and their response was, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it.”

Then three chapters later Daniel is thrown into the lions den for continuing to pray to God when the King ordered them not to.  After spending the night in the den the king comes the next morning and finds Daniel fine and healthy.  In verse 23 it says, “no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”

When we seek the Lord and when we pray to the Lord do we expect results?  We should be, in fact we should be expecting God to intervene for us in his own way and within his own will.  When we come to church, do we expect to encounter THE God and ultimate creator of the universe?

Pastor Helen Paynter tells of a story she heard as a child.  There was a time of extreme drought in this one particular area and so a group of Christians gathered to pray for rain.  But of all the people that came to pray for rain only one of them brought an umbrella.  That person was truly expecting rain if that is what they were going to pray for.

Just a good reminder for all of us, that God knows our heart when we seek him and when we pray to him.  Does God see someone who is expecting results or answers, or someone who doubts anything will come of it?

Just like the families in our church are expecting wonderful new additions to their families this coming year, I hope we are expecting new and exciting things from the Lord in our lives as well.  It may not be immediate, it may not be what we had envisioned, but God knows our heart and hears our prayers.

Make it personal:  Write these responses from the book of Daniel somewhere and put them where you can see them often.
“The God we serve is able to deliver us from it.” Daniel 3:17
“No wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”  Daniel 6:23
Live in that expectation!

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



The Route 66 Dilemma

Read: Ephesians 5:1-20

One of my favorite animated movies of all time is “Cars.” This particular scene about Route 66 relates very well to this weeks passage from Ephesians. Click on this link to watch it (it’s only 3 minutes long)…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggtH05LFF3k

The person who posted this scene on YouTube added, “On June 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act which initiated the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways across America. As a result, many small towns that had once thrived along the famed east-west Route 66 were bypassed by the new high-speed interstate highway system. Faced with financial ruin, these small towns struggled to survive.”

Now, I am a big fan of the interstate system, in fact I often share my ideas of how to improve it with my family when we are on long trips. But I realize that our desire for speed and time has also robbed us of the value of slowing down to appreciate life. This is made obvious in the movie clip above.

But I wonder how this same desire for speed and time has led us down spiritual roads that are either unhealthy or dangerous? Do we fly down the interstate of life with little concern about what we might be missing on the slower, more scenic, and more friendly route? Might we be missing the Lord’s will?

R. Kent Hughes once said, “Fixing our thoughts on Jesus requires time, for true reflection cannot happen with a glance. No one can see the beauty of the country as he hurries through it on the interstate.”

As we consider Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus this week I especially want to draw your attention to verses 15-17. It says, “Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Does “making the most of every opportunity” mean speeding things up in life? Some might say yes, and there is value in being productive and efficient for sure. But as I turn 45 I am beginning to realize that life is not slowing down on it’s own. Therefore, I must be intentional about doing it myself and making sure that I understand the Lord’s will and desire for my life.

I’m reminded of what Jesus told Martha in Luke 10:38-42 as she was busy doing all the duties in the house. At the same time her sister Mary simply set by Jesus’ side and listened to what he had to say. When Martha comes into the room to complain about no help, Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed, or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is definitely a dilemma in our culture. The desire for more time has caused us to build new roads around some of the things that truly matter most in our lives. Yes, they do come in handy sometimes (those interstates), but let’s not forget about taking the side roads once in while (or often) that help us slow down. After all, God may be trying to tell us something in Radiator Springs (the name of the bypassed town in the movie Cars).

Make it personal: Ask yourself a couple of questions this week. What steps do I need to take to slow down and hear God’s voice? What road do I need to revisit? What area of my life is spiritually dry? How can I find Route 66 again?

Have a nice week everyone,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



Your Refuge

Read: Psalm 57

When was the last time that you experienced fear? Obviously there are different levels of anxiety and fear but many of the Psalms remind us that God is our safe refuge in those times that we are scared and unsure of what lies ahead.

Psalm 57 was written by David as a song when he was fleeing from King Saul and hiding in a cave. I remember back to last May when I toured the the cliffs of En Gedi and saw some of these very caves that David might have hid in. En Gedi is an oasis in the middle of Israel that is located to the west of the Dead Sea and near the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in the 1940’s. and 1950’s.

It’s hard to imagine the fear that could have overcame David when he was hiding from Saul there. He knew that Saul was out to take his very life. And yet in this 57th Psalm we hear David pleading for God’s mercy and crying out for God to save him. How many times have we been there?

Anyone who lives in this world is going to face times of trial, anxiety, and fear. But our response to those unpleasant feelings is key to our ability to overcome them. In fact, we need God to help us overcome them. David knew that and in these verses we hear of God’s refuge that covers him in his time of great distress.

The Life Group that I am in here at our church right now is studying and discussing church history. We are currently watching a movie about Martin Luther who started the reformation in the 1500’s with his publication of 95 Thesis. Luther himself had some thoughts on this. He said…

“God and the devil take opposite tactics in regard to fear. The Lord first allows us to become afraid, that he might relieve our fears and comfort us. The devil, on the other hand, first makes us feel secure in our pride and sins, that we might later be overwhelmed with fear and despair.”

You see, sometimes we need to feel anxiety and fear to realize that God is our refuge from the things of this world. When we turn to him, acknowledge our trust in him, and cry out to him, he responds with his deliverance. The devil just wants us to think we can figure all of this out on our own. When we try that we realize that it is an exercise in futility.

Psalm 57:2-3 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me, God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.” God saved David and God will save you, if you call out to him for refuge.

Make it personal: All of us have different levels of fear and anxiety at different times of our lives. I may not know what level you are experiencing right now, but I know where you can find refuge. It’s in the shadow of God’s wings. He loves you, cares for you, and wants to restore your peace! Cry out to Him today!

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



Expecting Miracles

Read: 1 Kings 18:16-39

This past Sunday in the message I said, “It shouldn’t surprise us when someone believes in Christ, calls on his name as Lord, and their life is changed and transformed. Because that is what Jesus does when people are not ashamed to call on his name.”

I was referring to this wonderful story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18. I encourage you to read the entire story again and appreciate the confidence and assurance Elijah had that God was going to show up. It made me wonder, do we still expect God to show up in that same way today? Do we have confidence that God can intervene in our lives when we really need it?

It actually makes me wonder how to define a miracle as a Christian. Webster’s dictionary defines it by saying “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” it also defines it as, “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.” But if we believe that God can and will show up, is it really a miracle?

In their book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” Norman Geisler and Frank Turek share the story of Ron Nash who once spoke to a group of Russian scientists. They had been taught all their lives that there is no such thing as miracles. He put two cardboard boxes in front of them. The first box was closed. Ron said, “This is the way you see the world. The box represents the material world, and you believe that is closed to any intervention from God.” The second box was open. He said, “This represents the Christian view. We also believe in the material world. But we believe that this world is not closed. God can intervene.”

And we can testify that God does intervene! The reason we can call it a miracle is because it goes beyond what the material world would expect. Elijah’s story is a great example of that. It doesn’t make sense in a worldly viewpoint that wood on an alter could be doused with water three times and then still have a fire start and burn up the wood, the stones, and even the soil around it.

To the prophets of Baal it was a miracle, to Elijah it was what he expected from his God. Whatever you are facing this week I hope that you will expect a miracle from God to intervene in your situation. Pray for it, ask for it, seek after God, and then expect him to show up.

Someone once said, “When God wants to do something wonderful, He begins with a difficulty, When God wants to do something spectacular, He begins with an impossibility!” Remember the words of the angel Gabriel when he came to Mary and told her about the virgin birth of Jesus, he said, “Nothing is impossible with God.” And to that we can say, AMEN!

Make it personal: Name something in your life right now that seems like an impossibility in human terms. Now, take that to the Lord in prayer. Let God know your confidence in him and that you are expecting him to intervene in your situation the same way he did for Elijah. The Lord loves it when his people show confidence in his power and his strength!

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church




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