Midweek Meditations

Crowning Proof

 

Read: Luke 9:10-27

Good Friday and Easter are the ultimate testimony and truth of the Christian faith.  Henry Morris once said, “The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity.”  There is good reason that Easter weekend is remembered and celebrated in communities all around the world.

All four gospels in the Bible recount the events that led to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The other books of the New Testament give some account or some example of why this matters to everyone.  In the midst of all the difficulties, evil, sin, and challenges in this world and in our lives, Jesus came to save and redeem all of it.  In him we find life and we find hope.

John Stott explains it well in his book Basic Christianity when he writes, “Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection.  It was the resurrection which transformed Peter’s fear into courage and James’ doubt into faith.  It was the resurrection which changed the Sabbath into Sunday.  It was the resurrection which changed Saul the Pharisee into Paul the apostle and turned his persecuting into preaching.”

Because Jesus lives we can look back and not be afraid.  Because Jesus lives we can look forward and not be afraid.  Because Jesus lives we can look up and not be afraid.  Because Jesus lives we can look inward and not be afraid.  Because Jesus lives you can face tomorrow whatever it might hold.  Because Jesus lives you can have hope and do have hope!

In Luke 9:10-27 we see the miracle of Jesus feeding over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish that his disciples had nearby.  This is another account of Jesus’ ministry that is found in all four gospels.  Right after that miracle Jesus tells his disciples about the events of Good Friday and Easter that are ahead.  In other words, Jesus knew what was ahead, he knew what he was going to accomplish for us and all those who believe. He knew he was bringing  freedom, deliverance, salvation, redemption, love, grace, and eternal life in heaven.  This is why we celebrate!

Make it Personal:  The best way to make all of this personal is to accept Jesus into your life and into your heart and live for him.  He has the power to redeem your past, bring hope to your future, and provide health, strength, peace, and hope in your daily life.  Life is hard, but the presence of Jesus makes all the  difference for us.

Have a blessed week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



God’s Love > Facebook Likes

 

Read: John 3:1-21          

On February 9, 2009 Facebook created the “like” button on their social media website.  Since that date people have been “liking” updates that friends have posted on their lives, activities, opinions, food choices, and just about everything else you can think of.  Too often people try to gauge their validation or satisfaction by how many people “like” their latest post.

Justin Rosenstein was one of the four Facebook designers that invented that “like” button back in 2009.  In a recent interview with Julian Morgans he said, “Initially the button was an innocent thing. It had nothing to do with hijacking the social rewards systems of a user’s brain. The main intention I had was to make positivity the path of least resistance.  I think it succeeded in its goals, but it also created large unintended negative side effects.  Today most people seek our social media sites with one vague thought in mind: Maybe someone liked my stuff.  And it’s this craving for validation, experienced by billions around the globe, that’s currently pushing platform engagement in ways that in 2009 were unimaginable.”

We all like to be liked.  There is really nothing wrong about liking someone else’s Facebook post. But when we use those means to validate our worth we lose site of who we are in the eyes of God.  God’s love for us goes far beyond the approval or validation that people will or will not give to us.  It is in God’s love that we must focus our attention.

God’s Word validates God’s love for us in so many ways and in so many places.  One of the best-known verses is John 3:16 which says, “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.”  Romans 5:8 also says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Holy Week of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter are times in which this love that God has for us is remembered and celebrated.  My hope is that we can live with that truth each and every day of our lives.  God loves you, God likes you, and God’s Son Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected for you.  You are loved!

Make it personal:  In the days ahead remember to look to God for your worth and validation.  It does not rest in how many people like your social media posts or in what they say about you.  God loves you and that is the final word!

Have a great week everyone, Glen Rhodes



Church & Health

 
Read: Hebrews 10:19-25       
 
In the past decade or so there has been a big push toward healthy eating and exercise. We now have various gadgets to let us know how many calories we consume, how many steps we take in a day, and how healthy our sleep is at night. This has been a good thing, but as Time magazine recently reported, there are other things that affect our health as well.
 
Yes, the church is one of them. The Time report spoke of many studies showing that people who are an active part of a family of faith live healthier, happier, and longer lives. Much of that is attributed to the common faith, respect, compassion, gratitude, charity, and humility that are encouraged and practiced in church communities.
 
The Church also provides a place for the grace, forgiveness, and restoration of Jesus to be shared with others. One of the research associates in the Time article spoke to this. Professor Marino Bruce said, “Having that sense you’re not in the world alone, that you are part of a power larger than oneself, can give one confidence to deal with the issues of life.” Those who follow Jesus know that His power is an incredible help in our everyday lives.
 
In Hebrews 10:23-25 the Bible says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” Church should be a place of hope, encouragement, and support.
 
People are not perfect, and the church is made up of imperfect people. But being part of a community that is seeking the redeeming grace of Jesus for every part of our lives can most definitely improve your health.
 
Laying our sin and guilt down at the cross of Jesus and receiving his grace and forgivingness is the healthiest choice any of us can make. That is what the community of believers in the church are called to. May we spur one another on toward love!
 
Make it Personal: What a wonderful privilege it is to be a part of this church family here at AMC. I hope you will consider the blessing it is to share this faith, hope, love, and encouragement with each other. May each of us remember the importance of our spiritual health as we pursue ways to improve our physical health.
 
Have a wonderful week, Pastor Glen Rhodes


We Win!

 

Read: 1 John 5:1-12

With the arrival of March the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament will capture many fans attention. Each team (not Illinois) will begin their quest to win six games in a row and become the 2018 National Champion.  Many of those fans will fill out their brackets and choose who they think will win it all.

If we knew who was going to win it would be easier to fill out those brackets.  But then that would take away much of the excitement.  Kind of like hearing a friend tell us about the end of a good book or movie before we actually get to experience it for ourselves.

Sometimes however it is nice to know the outcome of things.  Christians who are followers of Jesus have this assurance through our faith.  In 1 John 5:1-12 we are told that those who are born of God and are believers in Jesus as God’s Son will overcome the terrible things of this world.

While there is much good in this world we are often weighed down by the difficult consequences of sin, evil, violence, and disobedience towards God.  Too often people get down on themselves, get upset with world issues, and feel hopeless in the midst of it all.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Jesus can help us to overcome and win.

I recently heard the song entitled “We Win” by the Christian music group Mercy Me.  The words are a testimony of how believers can approach those difficult things.  It says, “This goes out to anyone down for the count, it’s not over, don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, just remember who you belong to, let me remind you how this ends. We win!”

Make it Personal:  This is one case where it is great to know the ending.  Whatever it is you are going through, dealing with, trying to overcome, or get through, I hope you will read these words in 1 John 5 and take heart of what faith in Jesus Christ can do in your life. Jesus can help you be an overcomer!

Many blessings,  Pastor Glen Rhodes

 


Saving the Children

 

Read: Matthew 25:31-46       

There are great areas of need around the world.  From the neighborhoods of our communities to the other side of the world the opportunities to make a difference are more than we can count.  Sometimes that reality can be overwhelming.  Perhaps instead of counting the need we should be asking what we can do to help those in need.

In Matthew 25 Jesus is very clear about the importance of helping the hungry, thirsty, stranger, sick, destitute, and imprisoned.  His actual words are, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.”  The key word there is “one.”  If we are going to help anyone it must start with one and then hopefully it will extend to many others.

The story of Sir Nicholas Winton is an example of this.  He was a well to do stockbroker in London, England back in 1938 when he heard about the German Nazi’s marching into Czechoslovakia.  He read about the parents who were trying to get their children out of the country before the Nazi’s took them away to concentration camps.

Mr. Winton used two of his vacation weeks from work to fly to Prague and begin helping children find their way to safety.  After weeks and then months of work, over 600 children were saved by his efforts.  For over 50 years he humbly remained quiet about his massive effort to save the children.  

In 1988 the BBC invited him to a live television program and invited some of those 600 to sit next to him without his knowledge.  At one point of the program they all stood up around him as children who were saved by his humanitarian efforts.  He began to weep.  His effort to help one led to helping over 600.  In the years that followed he helped many mentally handicapped people and built homes for the elderly in England.

Helping a world in need begins with one and then extends to many others.  Recently, pastor and evangelist Billy Graham passed away.  I had to think about how his ministry of hope, salvation, and unity will extend on for generations.  One person who finds new life in Jesus Christ can then share that hope and new life with many others.  Just another reason for us to share the good news and do what we can for those in need.

Make it Personal:  Who is hungry, who is thirsty, who needs clothing, who needs housing, who needs a friend, who needs help?  Jesus encourages us to be on the lookout for these people in need and help them in his name.  The needs may be overwhelming if we look at the whole picture, but start with one person and then let it grow like a mustard seed (Mark 4:30-32)

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



What Will I Say Next?

 

Read: Matthew 7:24-27 & Proverbs 12:15

Recently I was watching a cable news channel and became frustrated with how the back and forth conversation was taking place.  The news person would ask a question and then before the other person could expound on their answer the newsperson began interrupting them and questioning them.

I have found that this is an increasing problem on programs like this and perhaps in our culture as a whole.  Many people will try to talk over the others which makes it hard to hear what anyone is saying.  My solution to the news channel dilemma is to turn the channel or turn the television off.

This got me to thinking about how we converse with each other.  How often do we truly listen to the other person speak before we begin to formulate our next line or argument?  In many cases people are not listening to what is being said, they are thinking about their next sentence.  I know that I am guilty of this too, but I am trying to make it an area of growth in my life.

In the Bible we are instructed many, many, times to listen to God and the ways of Jesus.  Our listening should start there, but we can also gain wise counsel from each other.  It is obvious that people in this world see things differently and live differently so here is a news flash; we probably won’t agree on everything.  But in Proverbs 12:15 it says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

I have appreciated the many times in my life when I have gained understanding, a new perspective, and sometimes even a new direction.  Those times most often came when I turned a listening ear to someone and kept silent myself.  Instead of thinking about what I was going to say next I was reflecting on what the other person was saying.

When we listen to others we must always be sure that it lines up with the Word of God.  Listening to false teachers will only lead you down a dangerous path.  In Matthew 7 Jesus says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)  Listening is a valuable trait to have in our fast, loud, and opinionated culture.  We would do well to grow in this area.

Make it Personal:  How often do you find yourself thinking about what you will say next while the other person is speaking to you?  How often do you interrupt someone in mid-sentence?  Try to think about this and grow in your listening skills.  Most of all listen and give heed to what Jesus says about living life.  In other words, build your life on the rock!

Have a wonderful week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
 



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