Midweek Meditations

“Cover the Earth”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Cover the Earth”
Read: Acts 10:9-23

In a recent article by Steven Furtick on churchleaders.com I noticed a quote that got me thinking about Peter’s vision in Acts 10.  Steven wrote, “If Mark Zuckerberg can build Facebook for his own glory, what will we as the church build for the glory of God? If Oprah can start a network to cover the Earth with Oprah, why shouldn’t we use every resource at our disposal to cover the Earth with the name of Jesus?”

Now, I’m not sure what the motives of Mark or Oprah actually were or are, but the point Steven is trying to make is that we as God’s people should be doing creative things to cover the earth with Jesus. (I might also note that many creative things are already happening)

In Acts 10 Peter has this vision of a large sheet being let down to earth with all kinds of animals.  The message that God is trying to get across to Peter is that his vision for ministry needs to be expanded beyond the Jewish people.  In essence, God is preparing him for the call to go to Cornelius’ house and beyond with the gospel message. (Acts 10:24-48)

In the Body of Christ we have many people who are very gifted, creative, passionate, and talented. God has made us that way.  The question we must ask ourselves is, “What does God want me to do with those things?”  Each person has something to offer when it comes to covering the earth with Jesus.

At first that sounds like a huge undertaking, but when you consider each Christian using their own gift for the kingdom of God in some way it soon multiplies into something that covers that earth for the Glory of God. (I’ll refrain some starting to sing “it only takes a spark” at this point)

Yes, Mark and Oprah have gained a lot of money and recognition for covering the earth with their media and internet creations.  Let’s not judge them for their success, instead let’s ask ourselves how we can accomplish that kind of reach for the life changing message of Jesus Christ.

When Peter got to Cornelius’ house he realized what God was doing. In verse 34 he said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”  From there the book of Acts begins to cover the earth with the message of Jesus.  Let’s join in!

Make it personal:  Hopefully all of us are using our gifts for the Lord already, but during your prayer time today ask God to expand your vision of what it means to cover the earth with Jesus for his glory.  Remember, Facebook started as a small undertaking on the campus of Harvard and look at it now.  You never know!

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“So Much Joy”

This Weeks Meditation:  “So Much Joy”
Read: Romans 6:1-14

This past week we saw the dramatic release of two men who were being held captive by the Iranian government.  Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer had been sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison for what Iranian officials called espionage.

Both of them say they were just on a hike in the mountains between Iran and Iraq and were oblivious to being near the Iranian border. When they were arrested they were hiking with their friend Sarah Shourd who had been released at an earlier time. (the men were in prison for approx. two years)

It was amazing to watch their press conference upon returning to New York City and trying to imagine the joy and relief that they must have been feeling.  Sarah said, “There’s a huge burden lifted off of all our chests, so much joy.” She went on to talk about other things and then ended by saying, “I’ve never felt as free as I feel today.”

Many times throughout the Bible we are reminded that we as believer’s in Jesus Christ can say that as well.  Through the forgiveness and grace that Christ has offered to us with his life we too can have the huge burden of sin lifted from us.  Romans 6 is just one of the reminders of that freedom.

When Paul wrote those words he was writing from a first hand experience.  At one time in his life Paul persecuted Christians and committed other sins and then when he came to receive Christ he realized that Jesus’ grace for him brought so much freedom and joy to his life.

So often people carry around the weight of past sin and failures. It holds them captive and robs their joy. But Jesus offers us a way to release it all to him.  He died on the cross so that the weight could be lifted from your life.  The big question is…. Do you need to receive that grace and forgiveness of Jesus today for anything?

Make it personal:  If you are feeling the weight of sin and failure today I hope that you will receive Christ’s unconditional love for you and allow him to help you say those same words…. “There’s a huge burden lifted of my chest, so much joy!”

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“Jesus, you go first”

This Week’s Meditation:  “Jesus, you go first”
Read: Ephesians 5:1-21

In years past we were familiar with the question, “what would Jesus do.”  That phrase had good intentions but it was marketed so heavily that over time it lost it’s impact even though the question was still important for Christian’s to be asking.

This past week we had Illinois Mennonite Conference Minister Chuck Neufeld at our church for our Renewal Weekend services.  It was a wonderful weekend and many powerful stories and examples were given to us as we considered putting God first in our lives.  But one of the most powerful lines consisted of just four words.  “Jesus, you go first.”

It’s a new twist to the old phrase but the intention is much the same.  Chuck mentioned that before we do anything in life we should approach it with the attitude of saying, “Jesus, you go first, and then I will go.”  If that brings pause or concern to us then perhaps we should reconsider our steps or our actions.

In Ephesians 5 Paul talks about being imitators of God.  He goes on to list many sins such as sexual immorality, greed, obscenities, foolish talk (gossip), coarse joking, and others.  In verse 7 he says, “Do not be partners with them.”  In other words, find other company to associate with.

When choosing friends, places to hang out, things to do, places to work, etc. we should invite Jesus to go before us.  If that does not feel right or comfortable then maybe we need to reconsider.  In verse 17 Paul says, “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Thank you Paul for giving us this teaching and Thank you Chuck for giving us another way to test that will of Jesus before we move forward.  May the Lord go before us and guide us in our steps!

Make it personal:  What area in life has been testing you and tempting you recently?  Put this question to it and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your life and lead you to be an imitator of God. Say, “Jesus, you go first!”

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



“Faithfulness”

This Week’s Meditation:  “Faithfulness”
Read: 2 Peter 1:3-11

Tomorrow (Sept. 15) is Arthur Mennonite Church’s 71st birthday.  AMC was started in 1940 with 57 charter members.  We don’t often celebrate a congregation’s birthday like we do our own birthday’s but maybe we should.  After all, each year that passes is yet another example of God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of his people.

What 2 Peter 1:3-11 proclaims is that it’s really like a two-way street.  God’s faithfulness flows to us… “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” (v.3) and in return we hopefully remain faithful to him…. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and knowledge, self-control, perseverance, ……” (v.5)

This faithfulness of God’s people has been evident the past several years as some of those charter members of AMC have gone on to be with the Lord.  As the church gathers to celebrate their lives we also celebrate the commitment and faith they proclaimed through the years.

In reality, that faith and commitment is what makes Arthur Mennonite Church what it is today; an ongoing proclamation of God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s salvation, and yes, God’s faithfulness to us.

Those charter members have seen this church body through the good times and through the difficult times.  They have stood by each other with the hope that the Good News of the Gospel might be proclaimed to the people of Central Illinois and beyond.

Yes, God has been faithful and continues to be faithful.  And as his people my prayer is that we too will continue to be faithful to His call on our lives, both individually and as a church family.  Verses 10 and 11 of this passage end with some encouraging words, it says….

“My friends, you must do all you can to show that God has really chosen and selected you. If you keep on doing this, you won’t stumble and fall. Then our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will give you a glorious welcome into his kingdom that will last forever.”  2 Peter 1:10-11 (CEV)

Make it personal:  I think Chuck Neufeld may have some more to share along this theme at this weekends Renewal Weekend meetings.  Plan to come with the anticipation of how the Holy Spirit may speak into your life anew.  May we all be renewed to celebrate many more birthdays at Arthur Mennonite!

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“Preventative Maintenance”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Preventative Maintenance”
Read: Proverbs 27

When you hear the words in my title this week you probably think about your car, going to the doctor, and other types of activities to care for your possessions, health, etc..  But there are also many wise things we can do in our spiritual lives to keep us in step with God.

Proverbs is a book with many wonderful wise quotations to keep us from heading down a path that is dangerous, sinful, or harmful for us.  Proverbs 27:12 says, “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

What Solomon is warning us about in that verse is that we need to be wise in how we live so as to prevent falling away from God or bringing on extra heartache that was not needed.  Often we can do little things along the way to prevent a larger problem down the road.  Just like with our car, our health, etc.

Pastor Andy Stanley wrote a great article recently entitled “Guardrails: Avoiding regrets in your life.”  What Andy was saying is that guardrails along the road are rarely noticed until you need one to keep you from going off the road.  They prevent you from going down an even steeper cliff when you do stray off the road.

That same concept can be applied to staying obedient to Christ, raising your children, keeping your marriage strong, and many other things in life.  If we ask God to help us we are taking the first step.  When we trust God to lead us he will keep us on the straight path and give us wisdom to save us from our own folly.

Andy Stanley writes, “Guardrails must be set intentionally—because culture’s gravitational pull is toward the very edge.”  First of all we must pray!  Pray for your family, pray for your spouse, pray for your church, pray that God will help you to keep the first things first in your life.

Second, we must be obedient to Christ.  He will help us, but we must also do our part in staying focused on his will and not our own.  The best place to start is by spending time with him in prayer each day.  He loves us and wants the best for us in this life.  His Holy Spirit can definitely help us resist that gravitational pull to the very edge.

Make it personal:  What area in your life do you need some guardrails installed?  Ask Jesus to help you with that.  Memorize Proverbs 27:12 this week and use it as preventative maintenance.  “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

Blessings in your week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church



“From pain to gain to joy”

This Weeks Meditation:  “From pain to gain to joy”
Read: 1 Peter 1:3-9

I have participated in many sports through the years and one
common theme that every coach stresses is “no pain, no gain.”
The idea is that you have to put in the hard work in order to
see the results come game time.  In some ways that theme works
in our spiritual lives as well; we learn from our mistakes, we
grow through times of pain and suffering, and we can often
grow closer to God if we place our trust in him.

That is what this passage in 1 Peter encourages us to
remember.  In verses 5-7 it says, “though now for a little
while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than
gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be
proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when
Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Yes, pain and suffering can help us grow stronger in our
faith, but that pain can also be damaging if it is not handled
in the correct manner.  I once heard someone say, “Don’t let
the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.”  What
they meant by that is that we should use those difficult times
to grow but at some point we need to leave the hurt,
resentment, and hard feelings in our past.

In verse 8 Peter talks about “an inexpressible and glorious
joy” that we should have because of our salvation in Jesus
Christ.  Our salvation in Christ is what sets us free from the
pain of the past.  Jesus wants us to live in that freedom and
that joy instead of being burdened by the disappointments in
our life.

Pain in this world is real!  Suffering in this world is real!
But in John 16:17-33 there are some very powerful verses in
which Jesus describes to his disciples about how their grief
will turn to joy.  In verse 33 Jesus said, “I have told you
these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world
you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the
world!”

There is no doubt that pain can bring us gain in many
different ways, but at some point we need to let go of the
pain and move into a new season of joy.  That joy is found in
the pages of God’s Word, the resurrected life of Jesus Christ,
and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That reminds
me of another saying, “No Christ, NO peace : Know Christ, Know
Peace!”

Make it personal:  If you’re going through an especially
difficult time right now I hope you will hear these words of
Jesus that were spoken for you and your situation.  Read 1
Peter 1:3-9 and John 16:17-33 and let God’s Word remind you
that He is there for you.  His peace is your peace!

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




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