Midweek Meditations

Optimism for 2013

Read: Luke 5:17-26

I used to love listening to motivational speaker and fellow Christian Zig Zigler speak. He passed away this past November at the age of 86. What a great example of optimism and a positive attitude he conveyed to us all. One time he said that he was such an optimist that he would go after Moby Dick in a rowboat and take the tarter sauce with him.

That’s the kind of optimism that we need to enter this New Year with. It’s much too easy to watch the news (which mostly focuses on the negative) and get down about where things are headed in our world. Instead, we need to understand the challenges ahead but approach them with optimism and faith that God is still in the business of the positive.

It reminds us of the passage in Luke 5 where the paralyzed man’s friends wanted to get their friend to Jesus to be healed. The crowd was huge and it seemed impossible to reach him, but they had faith that if they did all they could do Jesus would see their need and heal their friend.

They climbed the thatch or tile roof, made a hole, and lowered the man down on a mat right in front of Jesus. Jesus not only healed the man so that he could get up and walk, he also forgave him of his sins. They could have stayed home and said the crowds were too big to reach Jesus, but no, they had faith and that faith was not going to let them be stopped.

I truly believe that Zig Zigler’s optimism was born out of his faith in Jesus Christ. He spoke of it often and his faith is what allowed him to approach life and everything else in the world with such a great attitude.

As we begin 2013, I hope that we can have the faith of the friends in Luke 5 and the optimism of Mr. Zigler for the New Year ahead. God has done great things in our world, and will continue to do great things through His Son Jesus Christ even if CNN, Fox News, and all of the others choose not to report about it.

Let us face the year ahead with anticipation of the good that Christ is going to do in our midst. And when it’s over we can respond like the crowd did in Luke 5. Verse 26 says, “Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today (this year).”

Make it personal: Try to focus on the positive this year. If terrible news on T.V. is bringing you down then turn it off and turn on something that will lift your spirit. Try to focus on the good and ask the Lord to redeem the bad. Make it a great year!

Happy New Year Everyone,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



Directed to the Savior

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

Every other month I write a short article about faith and life for the local newspaper.  This month I wrote about the Wise Men (Magi) from Matthew 2.  Since today is the day after Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth I decided to share that article for my midweek meditation this week.  Here it is….

One of the most popular Christmas gifts of the past several years has been GPS (Global Positioning System) units for our vehicles.  I sometimes wonder how long those units will continue to be sold now that those same capabilities are available on most smart phones.

One feature on those units is the woman’s voice that tells you when to turn and when you have arrived at your destination.  At this point she still doesn’t tell you when to stop for gas or when to use the restroom but that day may be coming soon.

A common word we hear from this GPS voice is “recalculating.”  She says this word anytime you take a different route than the one she thinks is best for you.  I have switched that voice to mute on my phone so I don’t have to listen to her.  I would much rather listen to my wife’s directions from the passenger’s seat (wink).

This whole GPS phenomena at Christmas has reminded me about the Magi (The Wise Men) that came to see Jesus in Bethlehem after his birth (Matthew 2:1-12).  God gave them a star in the sky to guide them to the Savior of the world.  They followed that guiding light and ended up at Jesus’ side.

In verses 10 and 11 of Matthew 2 it says, “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh.” Because the wise Magi from the east followed the star (God’s directions) they found the Savior that God had sent to the world in Jesus.

The lesson for me was this:  It’s okay to mute the voice on my GPS unit, but I need to make sure I am not doing the same to God.  The Lord wants to give us direction and guidance in our lives and we need to listen and follow that direction at all times.

Those Magi in the Bible have come to be known as wise men.  We would be wise as well if we allow God to lead us to our Savior Jesus Christ.  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Make it personal: How are you hearing God’s voice in your life?  How are you receiving His direction?  Maybe the better question to ask is what can you do in the New Year ahead to hear those directions even clearer?  Let’s make that change!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



A Quick Change

Read: Luke 19:1-10

When I hear the term Quick-Change I think of the man and women who often perform at half time of many basketball games. They change outfits in such a quick way that it almost seems impossible to the human eye. If you want to see them in action you can click on this link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAtXMpQK0hQ

In the past year we have heard a lot of talk about change. Especially within this last week after tragedies unfolded in Oregon and Connecticut. We have fiscal cliff challenges, economic challenges, and even challenges in our own personal lives.

One thing that life can bless us with is the opportunity to change, if we choose to do that. We are granted the ability to learn from past mistakes and make the future better. Unfortunately that talk of change often goes away too soon after things begin to return to normal.

Zacchaeus is a great example of someone who made a quick change for the better. He knew Jesus was coming his way and he did whatever it took (climbing up in a sycamore tree) to see Jesus and meet him. When Jesus came to his house his whole family was changed for the better.

In all of these situations, whether in our country or in our personal lives we have the opportunity to learn from the past and do better in the days ahead. Just like Zacchaeus realized, Jesus can play a huge part in that. In fact Jesus is the author of change and transformation in our lives.

This past May when our tour bus rolled through the streets of Jericho we went past a large Sycamore tree. I took a picture (attached) of that tree and had to think about the desire that Zacchaeus showed in bringing about change in his life.

My prayer is that the same can happen in our lives, in our country, and in our world that is constantly changing right before our eyes. May we change for the better and allow God to make us better!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. May his birth give us reason to celebrate the change he has already brought to our lives. Merry Christmas!

Make it personal: A New Year is almost upon us. That is always a great time to think about change. This year make a resolution to change something that will bring you closer to God and closer to his will and desire for your life.

Have a Merry Christmas,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

 

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Filled up with what?

Read: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

During the Christmas season in songs and in other places we hear about stockings be filled. When those stockings are filled they obviously have nice things put in them for the recipient, they bring feelings of joy and thankfulness.

In our lives it is important that we think about what we are filling our heads with. We live in a culture that seems bent on filling us up with things contrary to God’s Word and God’s will for our lives. Therefore, we have to be very careful as we pick books to read, T.V. shows to watch, and movies to enjoy.

In a recent Breakpoint commentary Eric Metaxes wrote about a story that has been in the entertainment news recently. Apparently one of the stars of the T.V. show “Two and Half Men” Angus T. Jones came out and said some surprising things about the very show that he stars on.

He said, “If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching … Please stop filling your head with filth.” Eric Metaxes goes on to say… “Unlike a lot of people on TV and in the movies, Jones doesn’t gloss over the fact that what we watch can be harmful to our souls. “If I am doing any harm,” he said, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be contributing to the enemy’s plan.” Wow!”

You can read the whole commentary at this link:
http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/20926

Jones went on to say that after reading his Bible and seeking out God’s will in life he became very uneasy with the messages the show was communicating to people. This is not to pick on this one T.V. show, there are many out there in the same state of filth and it seems to get worse by the year.

In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul is encouraging the Christians at Corinth to flee things like sexual immorality and other sins. In verse 19 he says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?” In verse 20 he says, “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Christians have become much to unguarded about these things. We try to tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter, it won’t affect who I am or what I do by what I watch or play in our media saturated society. But it does matter as it relates to our relationship with God. God cares about what we are filled up with!

So, as you fill the stockings for Christmas this year think about how you are filling your own mind and how it affects your life as well as your relationship with the Savior. New Years Day is right around the corner, it provides us a new opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to bring about change in our lives for the good.

Make it personal: Please understand, I am not suggesting we never watch T.V. or go to the movies. I am only encouraging what Paul is encouraging in this passage. Don’t consume those things without thinking about what affect it may have on you and your family. God needs the first consideration in all of our decisions.

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



Successful Marriage

Read: 1 Corinthians 13

Last week I finished up the various Christ-like characteristics that were mentioned in Colossians. I began to realize how important those things are in our marriages. What about kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience in our marriages? How well are we wearing those?

Another question we should ask ourselves is “How peaceful is our marriage relationship?” Even though we are bound to have disagreements and difficulties that come along, how do we handle those in ways that are healthy and don’t end up sending us down a dangerous path?

I once read about a new widow who was agonizing about what slogan she should have inscribed on her husband’s tombstone. Should it say this, or should it say that? Finally she decided on these two: Rest in Peace – Until we meet again.

I’m not sure if she realized the irony in those two sayings or not, but our marriages should be a place where peace reigns. If we follow the indispensable words about love in 1 Corinthians 13 we should be able to live in that kind of peace, knowing that even through disagreements or frustrations our love for our spouse will trump them all.

Ruth Graham once said, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.” I have also heard it said, “If two people agree on everything, they double their chances of being wrong.”

I recently read a very good blog on this subject of successful marriages written by Perry Noble. He lists five things that a successful marriage has to have. I would encourage you to read his words. You can read that blog at this link.

http://www.perrynoble.com/blog/five-things-a-successful-marriage-has-to-have/

Notice that his fifth one is Jesus. If our lives are wrapped up in Jesus instead of ourselves we will be headed in the right direction and our marriages will be successful. Can we say that “Jesus is the Lord of our marriage”? If not, then you have found the place to start!

For those who have lived through a failed marriage, please know that the grace and love of Jesus for you is real. He knows your pain and your heartache and only he can bring healing to those wounds. He will bring you healing if you take it to the foot of his cross. His grace is sufficient!

Make it personal: Talk with your spouse about the five things or so that can make your marriage even more successful. Talking is always a great place to start, but actually putting those things into action will bring peace to your marriage and you will be successful in marriage.

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



Christ’s Closet: Patience

Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-20

This is the last bit of clothing from Christ’s closet. In past weeks I have been writing about the things that Paul encourages us to clothe ourselves with in Colossians 3:12. Patience is the last one. Interestingly enough I preached a message on this subject just a couple of weeks ago. You can find it at this link.

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

Patience is such a hard thing to “put on” in the morning when we know that everything in our culture is going to try to persuade us to be just the opposite. In the U.S. we are told that we should not have to wait on anything. However, patience holds many virtues that would serve us well in our faith, in our relationships, and in our success in life.

Vance Havner once said, “He who waits on God loses no time.” So often in the gospels we get the sense that Jesus was patient with people. In the 1st Timothy passage Paul says that Jesus was patient with him until he saw the light and came to find his salvation in him.

Perhaps this is why Jesus tarries in his return? He is patient with people and hoping that many more will come to find salvation before he returns to take his followers home to heaven. He is giving us time to bring our family and friends into his grace and see them become born again.

Time is important, we can’t be patient forever when it comes to people being saved. But we can “put on” patience as a part of our daily habit. We can be patient with other people and we can ask the Holy Spirit to help this become a part of who we are as a people.  In many instances we probably just need to slow down and enjoy the journey that God has put us on, instead of allowing our unfulfilled dreams or desires to gauge our contentment in life.

When we choose to be discontented, more often than not it is because we don’t want to wait on what God has for us around the next corner, or what God is maybe protecting us from that is around the next corner. Often times waiting ends up being a very good thing. It reminds me of the song we sang in church a couple weeks ago, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings as eagles.” And may that be us!

Make it personal: Try being patient this week. Start small (on the highway) and work up to bigger things (with your children). As you cultivate that characteristic it will become more and more a part of who you are and what you put on each day.

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




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