Shared Worship Space

Read: Psalm 95:1-7

I read an interesting article this week about a new concept called “Shared Work Space.”  In this past year the pandemic has forced many people (who are able) to work from home.  Some companies have realized that this can be a workable solution and actually save the company money on office space, utilities, and other expenses.  Some workers love this setup and others have had trouble adjusting to being alone at home instead of in the presence of others.  Shared work space buildings offer a low cost office space in which workers from different industries do their jobs remotely but are still around others to converse with, share coffee breaks, talk about the days weather, or whatever else might come up in this shared work space environment.

This made me realize once again how important shared worship space is for God’s people.  I think we have all realized that this past year (during the pandemic) when at times we were worshiping on our phones and laptops each Sunday.  We can worship Jesus alone and we can worship Jesus in our day to day responsibilities.  We should do that throughout our week, but there is something powerful about the gathered church coming together in person to worship, fellowship, and be together that is irreplaceable.  That’s one thing we have learned to appreciate even more this past year if we didn’t before.

Psalm 95 says, “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord.”  Several other verses in this Psalm stress the word “Come” and the phrase “let us” as it speaks of worshiping the Lord, bowing down before the Lord, and praising the Lord’s name together.  This is a reminder that shared worship space, and shared worship times together as God’s people was important then and is also important today.  We need people, we need each other, and we need the church to gather together basically because we can’t do this on our own.  We need Jesus and we need to be with each other, in person!

Make it Personal:  The reason we have had to worship in different ways this past year is due to safety and precaution on the part of many.  This is understandable and each person must do what they are most comfortable with during these difficult times.  But we can never forget about the longing people have and need for fellowship, touch, and shared worship space. Let’s move forward together and worship together in the days ahead.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

God’s Side

Read: Matthew 12:22-37

We often like to talk about whose side we are on when it comes to sports, politics, and world events.  How often do we consider our side when it comes to God vs. Other?  Back in 1984 then President Ronald Reagan said, “I’ve said that we must be cautious in claiming God is on our side. I think the real question we must answer is, are we on God’s side?”  Friends, this question is much more important than if you are a Cubs fan or a Cardinals fan.

In Matthew 12 Jesus heals a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute.  The people who witnessed this were amazed and astonished.  The Pharisees, however, began to ridicule Jesus and ask him by whose power he claims to do these miracles in.  Jesus then begins a teaching (v.25-37) about being on God’s side instead of the alternatives.  In verse 30 Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Norman Vincent Peale once wrote, “The call comes to each of us individually, to you and to me.  Are we with God or are we against Him?  Are we on His side or are we on the other side?  Are we going to give our lives to Him, or are we going to give our lives to something else?  How you answer these questions determines everything important about your life.”  Perhaps it’s time to concern ourselves more about this side of things than any other.  In John 15:5 Jesus warned, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”  It is true to say that apart from Jesus we can do nothing of eternal value or significance.  Let’s be on God’s side!

Make it Personal:  The next time someone asks you whose side you are on respond by saying, “God’s Side.”  It might be interesting to see where that takes the conversation depending on what subject matter you are discussing.  I would like to think that God is a St. Louis Cardinals fan but I’m sure God loves Cubs fans just as much.  With that, let the baseball season begin!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

Repent & Turn To God

Read: Acts 3:11-26

At some point today you will probably hear a reference to Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which continues through Easter Sunday.  It is observed by some Christians with ashes that are marked as a cross on ones forehead.  The more important observance is the prayer and fasting that is encouraged during the season of Lent which leads to repentance and a turning back to God.  In Acts 3 Peter preaches this message by saying, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”

Repentance is an ongoing and important theme throughout scripture.  When we stray from the promises and ways of God repentance is what draws us back and shows us the grace of Jesus.  Without times of confession or repentance we keep going on with life not paying attention to the things that have led us away from the path we need to be on.  If we continue down those paths with no realization, acknowledgement, or remorse of our ignorance and sin we suffer the consequences.  This too is an ongoing story in the Bible of people either realizing their need for God and turning back or continuing on down a path of ignoring God.

Ash Wednesday and Lent are a time for to us to think about the path we are currently on.  What needs to change?  What needs to be reordered in your life?  Who have you been living for and what have you been living for?  Many times these questions will lead us to repentance and help us to restore a right relationship with Jesus Christ our Savior.  Fasting can be an important part of this.  Fasting from food, media, technology, or other things that distract us can help us to focus and allow the Lord to speak to us about things in our life that may need to be repented of.  What will you do during this Lent season to help you turn to God?

Make it Personal:  Fasting is an important spiritual discipline in the Bible.  Jesus himself fasted 40 days and nights in the wilderness when Satan tempted him.  I am not suggesting a 40 day fast but I would encourage you to try a fast if you have never done it before.  Food is a great place to start if you can, but fasting from other things can be helpful as well.  Whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to do during Lent let’s be sure to “repent and turn to God.”

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

Finding Hope & Encouragement

Read: Psalm 119:10-16

In Psalm 119 the Psalmist writes… “I have hidden your word in my heart.”  He also writes, “I will study your teachings and follow your footsteps.  I delight in your promises; I will not neglect your word.”  God’s Word, The Bible, is such a wonderful source of hope and encouragement in our lives.  It needs to be our go to source when life is good and especially when life is hard and difficult.  A recent article by Adam Macinnis titled “When covid-19 hurts, the Bible brings hope” in Christianity Today magazine confirms this with reference to a recent survey.

Macinnis writes, “In times of trial and trouble, many Americans turn to the Bible for encouragement.  And with good reason, according to a new study.  In the middle of a global pandemic, a contentious election, and social unrest, the American Bible Society found a strong correlation between Scripture reading and hope.  Frequent Bible readers rated themselves 33 points more hopeful than irregular Scripture readers did in two surveys of more than 1,000 people done six months apart.  The study also found  that people are more hopeful when they read Scripture more frequently.  On a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the most hopeful, Americans who report reading the Bible three or four times per year scored 42; people who read monthly scored 59; weekly, 66; and multiple times per week, 75.”

Many people are searching for hope and encouragement these days.  God’s Word, The Bible, is where we can find it.  When was the last time you opened up your Bible and allowed God to enter into your life through God’s hope, encouragement, and promises found in the Word?  Don’t close yourself off from the greatest source of hope we have, open up the Bible and read or open up your Bible app and listen to the words being read. This is where you find the hope and encouragement you need.

Make it Personal:  How many Bibles do you have in your home?  How often do they get opened?  Another comment that was made in this article was that people who attend church and read their Bibles on a regular basis tend to be happier and have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.  If you are looking for hope and encouragement those are two great places to start.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes