Two To Go

Read: Mark 13
 
This past weekend there were several sporting events in High School, College, and Pro that went down to the last minutes of the game.  In many of those games the teams found a sudden burst of energy and momentum in the last two minutes of the game or last innings of a game.  This sudden inspiration reminds us of what Jesus says in Mark 13 when he speaks of the final days.
 
While Jesus makes it clear that only God the Father knows when those last days or hours will be (v.32), he continuously encourages believers to be on guard, ready, and alert for them at all times.  He says, “If He comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.” (v.36) In other words, don’t just live as you please and think about pleasing the Lord sometime in the future. The time to make Jesus the Lord of your life and to live your life for him is now.
 
As I watched some of those sporting events this past weekend I had to ask myself.  What were these teams doing the whole game? Why did they wait until the last two minutes or last inning of the game to finally get their games in gear?  For some of those teams, especially the Illini football team, that last minute surge still wasn’t enough to bring forth a victory.
 
The truth is, we don’t know when our last hours on earth will be and we don’t know when Jesus will return as he has promised.  Our utmost concern needs to be about how prepared and ready we are for that day. Now is the time to live as if you are in the last two minutes of your life here on earth.  I hope we have many more but if not, I hope we all will be ready and prepared to meet Jesus in heaven.
 
Make it Personal:  Think about your own life right now.  If Jesus were to come today or if your life here on earth were to come to an unexpected end, would it look like you were ready for it?  Would it look like you were ready to meet Jesus? These are important things for each of us to ponder. Don’t wait until the last two minutes to become passionate and alive for Jesus.         
 
Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



True and Committed

Read: Ruth 1
 
After hearing a famous violinist give a concert one time a lady went up to her and said, “I would give anything to be able to play like that.”  The violinist replied, “Would you really? Would you even give 5 minutes every day?” Another person later told the violinist, “I would give my life if I could play the way you do.”  The violinist once again responded and said, “That is precisely what I have given.”
 
To be true and committed to something or someone demands time, effort, commitment, and dedication.  Olympic athletes train for years, a musician must be committed to practice, and marriage is a commitment that requires a couple to work at their relationship. When we think of being committed to Jesus, to our faith, or committed to anything else in life, it requires us to be faithful.
 
Faithfulness is what we see in the book of Ruth.  Ruth was so faithful to her mother-in-law Naomi that she stayed with her wherever she went.  Her faithfulness to remain true and committed was a part of God’s plan to continue the family line through which the Messiah Jesus would later be born into the world.  Read the short book of Ruth and see how God used the faithfulness of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz to remain strong and committed when the culture around them was crumbling.
 
It’s easy to look around today and be frustrated by many different things on many different fronts.  In many ways it feels as if our culture is crumbling. What are we to do about it? While some actions can be taken to improve things, the most important calling for Christians is to remain strong in character and true to God.  If our own commitment to Jesus is failing, how do we expect to grow in Him and make a difference in the world that we live?
Make it Personal:  If you have ever learned to play an instrument, a sport, or become successful in a career or as a parent or spouse, you know the hard work and practice that is required.  That same commitment is what we need to live out as followers of Jesus Christ. Ruth is a great example, and throughout the Bible there are many, many more. Let it be said of us!          Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Incredible Worth

Read: 1 John 4:7-21
 
Some of you may have heard about a 2” x 3” piece of cardboard that brought 1.62 million dollars at a memorabilia auction in Chicago back in 2008.  It was one of the famous Honus Wagner baseball cards and it was bought by memorabilia dealer John Rogers of North Little Rock, Arkansas. Wagner was the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1897 to 1917.  He was nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman” because of his superb speed and German heritage.
 
Honus Wagner cards have long been the most prized baseball cards in the collecting world.  They have sometimes been referred to as “The Mona Lisa of baseball cards.” There are only about 50 of them in existence and only 3 or 4 of them have been graded in very good to excellent condition.  One copy that is in excellent condition brought 2.8 million dollars at an auction in 2007.
 
It’s hard to imagine a small piece of cardboard being worth so much isn’t it?  But as I reflected on the incredible worth of this baseball card I was reminded of the incredible worth each of us has in the eyes of God.  One or two million dollars or a Honus Wagner baseball card can’t even come close to comparing. In 1 John 4:9 the Bible says, “This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”  As that chapter continues, it goes on to tell about how God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to clear away our sins and restore our right relationship with God.  
 
One of the most well-known scripture passages in all the Bible is John 3:16.  That verse speaks to the incredible worth you have to God. It 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.”

Make it Personal:  All too often in life we are reminded of our shortcomings.  We are told that we are not good enough or that we are failures, but God refutes that.  God has proven to us that there is no price too high, or no price that He would not pay to save us and show us His love.  He sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ to show that. His Word proclaims, “You have incredible worth!” Don’t let the world or anyone else tell you different!          Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



God Knows Your Name

Read: Isaiah 43:1-7
 
In a recent news story from Cleveland, Ohio a bank robber made a couple huge mistakes.  His first mistake of course was robbing the bank in the first place, but his second mistake led to his capture.  As he handed the note to the teller demanding money he failed to realize that he had written his command on the back of his vehicle registration card that had his full name and address on it.  The teller gave him the cash, thanked him by name, and kept the note to give to the police.
 
When I read this story in the news I was reminded of how God knows all of us by name.  Not only does he know us by name, he knows everything about us. Nothing is hidden from the creator of the universe and the creator of human beings.  This can be intimidating or it can be comforting. Intimidating if we are out of step with God, and comforting if we need God’s help in life. It can also be reassuring to know that God cares for us in a personal way.
 
In Isaiah 43 we are given these reassuring words, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you… When you walk through the fire you will not be burned…. Do not be afraid for I am with you.”  In the New Testament God’s Son Jesus also reassures us of his personal love, care, and concern for us.  John chapter 10 says, “I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep… He calls his own sheep by name and leads them.”
 
Whatever it is that you are facing this week, know that God is there for you.  He has created you, He knows you by name, and he is ready and able to support you, bring you peace, forgive you, and extend his grace to you for any sin or mistake you have made in life.  I sure hope the bank robber in Cleveland will learn this truth and allow it to turn his life in the right direction.
 
Make it Personal:  Most of us would never think of robbing a bank, but how many times have you beat yourself up over smaller missteps?  Too often we allow the guilt of those mistakes to be carried around for way too long. Jesus knows them and wants to forgive you so that you can move on from them without the guilt and condemnation.  He knows your name and loves you!                 Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes