Midweek Reflections

This I Know For Sure

Read: John 20

One day my wife and I were discussing Bluetooth technology.  I proclaimed that I knew how it works because I could turn it on with one device and immediately it would connect with the other.  She wanted a more detailed explanation. She said, “No, how does that work? How is that possible?”
 
I will be the first to admit that there are many things I do not know.  If I started to list all of them in this short midweek reflection it would end up being longer than anyone would ever want to read.  I don’t know everything about creation, about this world, about how everything works, about who will win the World Series this year, or who will be the next U.S President.    
 
In fact, I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about God or the Christian faith.  In a small group conversation one time we discussed the importance of being able to say “I don’t know” sometimes when we really don’t know.  Honesty is more respectable than trying to act like we know the answers to everything. We need to remember that as we share our faith with others.  There are some things that only God knows and God intends for it to be that way for our own good. However, there are things revealed to us that help us to understand the incredible love and grace that God has shown to us through his Son Jesus Christ.     
 
Doubting Thomas in John 20 changed his doubt of Christ’s resurrection to proclaiming “My Lord and my God!” when he saw the crucifixion wounds of Jesus for himself.  Right after that Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The day after my wife and I had the conversation about Bluetooth technology I heard a song by Christian music artist David Crowder that proclaimed over and over “This I Know!”  I thought to myself. “There are a lot of things in life I don’t know (including how Bluetooth truly works) but some of the fundamental and most important things I definitely do know.”
 
In the book of 1st John there are quite a few verses that begin with the words, “This is how we know….”  As believers we know that Jesus died on the cross of Calvary for our sins; we know he rose from the grave to defeat death; we know he lives in our lives today with power and truth; we know that he has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, empower us, and give us strength to face everything that this life brings.  This we know…. because we have witnessed and experienced the difference that Jesus makes in our day to day lives. Let’s share that with a world that so desperately needs to hear it and know it!  
 
Make it Personal:  How easy is it for you to say “I don’t know” when you truly don’t know the answer to something?  How hard is it for you to share what you do know about the truth of Christ and the truth of God’s Word with others?  As Christians we know the way, the truth, and the life through Jesus our Savior. That is the way to living the good life that we need to share with others.

Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Why The Suffering?

Read: Romans 5:1-11
 
In the Old Testament books of Job, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and Psalms of Lament we learn that suffering in the world is just a fact of life.  When we look around us even today this reality is still painfully obvious with all kinds of different ways that people suffer. Why do people suffer?  Why do we suffer? Often those answers are beyond our human comprehension.
 
But in Romans 5 in the New Testament we are given somewhat of an understanding as to why suffering in our world exists.  Verse 3 says, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” We are also reminded in scripture that during those times of suffering God does not leave us alone.  While our faith is being refined by fire, God is there to be with us and bring comfort during the trial. God will also bring forth redemption.
 
While we usually cannot answer the question of why suffering comes we can learn how those times challenge our deepest convictions and strongest beliefs.  The With-God Life Bible shares these things we can learn from the reality of suffering. 1) It can teach us patience and endurance. 2) it can lead us to trust in God so as to avoid despair.  3) As we persevere through suffering we can see that God’s reality is beyond the scope of our individual wishes and desires. 4) Suffering is redeemable. All things do “work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
 
No one would choose suffering over all the other options in life, but when suffering comes we can be thankful that Jesus will be there to see us through it.  In those times is when we truly experience the caring, loving, and abiding presence of our God who holds each of us in the palm of his hand. We should also remember that Jesus suffered all the way to the cross for each one of us, therefore, we should have no doubt that he understands what we are going through.
 
Make it Personal:  In what ways have you experienced suffering or are currently experiencing suffering in your life?  How have you responded or how are you responding? Depend on God to see you through your times of suffering, ask Jesus to sustain you, protect you, and grow you during them.
Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Pride and Humility

Read: Proverbs 11
 
The book of Proverbs is filled with references about pride and humility.  A quick count brings forth 13 verses that specifically speak of how pride and humility are revealing traits of the human heart.  Many other verses reference the foolishness of pride and the blessings of humility. James even references one of those Proverbs when he says, “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6)
 
In the Jesus Bible Daily Devotional on the YouVersion Bible app it says, “Pride vaunts the person to the supreme arbitrator of life and demonstrates a lack of submission to God as the one who knows how best life should be lived.  Discounting God’s wisdom through human pride invariably leads to destruction in this life and the next.” The devotional goes on to say, “Humility, in contrast, affirms God is sovereign, omnipotent, and omniscient.  He knows how life should be lived far better than humans, whose vision is always limited on this life.”
 
Warren Wiersbe and Lloyd Perry once told a story about missionary Hudson Taylor.  Taylor was scheduled to speak at a large church in Australia and the moderator of the service introduced the missionary in very eloquent and glowing terms.
 
The moderator went on and on about all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.”  Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”  We must remember that pride and humility are seen in the actions of all humans. As followers of Jesus may our actions resemble the humility of Jesus and obedience towards God’s guidance in life.
 
Make it Personal:  As you make decisions and live your life this week try to think about your actions.  Are they prideful or are they reflecting the humility of Christ? Pray for Jesus to give you a heart that is humble towards God and ready to flee from worldly pride.
Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



God’s Ageless Greatness

Read: Psalm 145
 
The ageless Christian music group Newsboys has a new song that is titled “The Greatness of Our God.”  The lyrics proclaim “In awesome wonder, He reigns forever, we know the greatness of our God. His power is endless, He lives within us, we know the greatness of our God.”  In Psalm 145 David proclaims this truth in many different ways and in verse 4 says, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.”
 
People today have many reasons for wanting to live good long lives.  There is retirement, family, grandchildren, traveling, and hobbies to pursue.  Some spend their days volunteering and serving others which is a very Christ-like way to put our faith in action.  But what if we took this verse of Psalm 145 to heart? What if our main focus of living a good long life would be to proclaim God’s greatness to the following generations?
 
The Bible is full of examples of this.  One generation stepping up to pass along their faith to the next.  Even in our failures and shortcomings we can testify to how God forgives us and restores us through his Son Jesus.  We are not perfect, but we are perfected through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With so many issues and strong feelings swirling around our culture today this is a truth that needs to be shared widely.
 
The Newsboys begin their song by singing “From the dawn of creation this world has been crying out for hope, for a hero to save us.”  In Psalm 145 David says, “They (each generation) speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty… They tell of the power of your awesome works… They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”  Let’s join David and the Newsboys in proclaiming the greatness of our God from generation to generation.  
 
Make it Personal:  Perhaps we should ask ourselves, “what am I doing to proclaim the greatness of God and the hope of Jesus Christ to the next generation?”  No matter what age you are there is always a generation coming behind you. We must not fail them by failing to share with them how to live a good life in and through Jesus Christ.  He is the one who has come to save us!
Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Last to First

Read: Matthew 20:1-16
 
The St. Louis Blue’s are this years Stanley Cup Champions of the National Hockey League.  This was their first championship since coming into the league in 1967. However, back in the first week of January this result did not seem even remotely possible.  On January 3rd the Blue’s were in last place and had the worst record in the NHL. A coaching change was made, some lineup adjustments were made, and a new attitude and perspective carried the team from last to first.
 
This last to first story in the world of sports reminds us of a parable that Jesus told in Matthew 20 about the workers in the vineyard.  The one difference is that Jesus is speaking about salvation instead of rewards. I encourage you to read the parable yourself because the premise of what Jesus is teaching should resonate with everyone.  God’s generous grace is for all, not just those whom the world labels successful.
 
While it is good and fine to celebrate hard work, success, and achievement in life we must never equate those things with the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.  In our most difficult hours of life Jesus picks us up, dusts us off, and says, “I care about you, I love you, and I forgive you, come walk in the newness of life that I provide for you.”  At the end of the parable, in verse 16, Jesus makes this new way clear by stating, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”
 
Those words are simply proclaiming that God’s kingdom has a different way of seeing things in the world.  Much of the time it turns the world’s system upside down. Jesus is telling this parable to teach that things may not always seem fair when talking about the grace of God.  He is also teaching that grace and forgiveness is not something to be earned, it is a gift of God found through his Son Jesus Christ. Even those who are last in the eyes of the world are first in the eyes of Jesus.
 
Make it Personal:  Is it sometimes hard for you to accept that God will forgive anyone and everyone who comes to him with a repentant heart?  Our flesh often screams out about what is fair, right, or just. Instead of harboring ill will in your life try focusing on the gracious benefits God has given to you personally.  Be thankful that you too can be one of the forgiven in Jesus Christ despite your past or present situation.
Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Ordinary

Read: James 1:22-25
 
This Sunday begins our observance on the church calendar of Ordinary Time. This season lasts from June 16th – November 17th. It is the longest season for us to hold and most likely why we don’t know as much about it. Like how New Year’s Resolutions that are supposed to last a year and then a few months in, we forget why we started and get distracted by everything life is asking of us during the warmer weather months.  It can be difficult to continue a habit if we start to slack off. At the beginning of this year with a few friends, we committed to reading the bible Chronologically through the YouVersion app…I’m currently 29 days behind. I started slacking and now have to catch up. I let myself get so distracted, I forgot to remember why I’m doing it and why it is important.
Our most famous seasons such as Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter remind us of who Jesus is. Ordinary Time is when we discern what to do with that information. One tradition explains Ordinary Time in this way, “The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time… take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ. Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ.” It’s pretty easy to believe in Christ and prepare to meet him during Advent and Lent…but Ordinary Time is just that: ordinary. In our ordinary days, are we inviting Jesus into our hearts on a daily basis when we don’t have the reminders of those major holidays? Are we inviting Jesus into our out-of-school routine? Our travels? Our relationships? Our daily maintenance of fields, gardens, and souls? When cleaning out the dishwasher? When we say hello to a friend? When we get groceries? When we clean our cars? When resetting the internet? When we’re doing the dishes? When we’re driving to our next appointment? God is not only with us through the highs and lows of life, but He is also here in the mundane. And that is what is so special and sacred for this time.
As James reminds us, we can’t just read the word and not do what is says. There is a lot of God’s Word to study and align ourselves with and so it takes an intentionally long time and energy to align ourselves with it. In this season of Ordinary, we should renew our striving to align ourselves with God’s Word.
 
Make it Personal: Which piece of God’s Word is He wanting you to align your life with Him right now? Take it one step at a time. He will never leave you to figure it out on your own. Take the time this week to stop and see where God is leading you into deeper relationship with Him this week.
 
I pray we all continue to Build God’s Kingdom Here on earth, Pastor Ashley Litwiller




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