Midweek Reflections

True Freedom

“True Freedom” 
Read: Romans 6:1-14

There has been a lot of talk recently about freedoms, or lack of them.  From religious freedom, to freedom of expression, to thousands of people fleeing their homeland in search of it.  Freedom is something most everyone values as a great treasure to have.  But in Romans 6 the apostle Paul reminds us of a freedom that is greater and more valuable than any other: freedom from sin’s grasp.

Throughout the history of the world freedoms have come and gone as countries and leaders have come and gone.  Some have upheld the banner of freedom while others have destroyed it.  But despite our situation, country, or leadership there is one freedom that no human person or leader can take away from us.  That freedom is the freedom we (you) have through Jesus Christ.

Sin and disobedience toward God has the power to defeat us and enslave us.  But God sent his only son Jesus to free us from those end results.  

True freedom from our sin comes when we repent of our wrongs to Christ and ask him to forgive us.  His grace then covers us and washes away the sins and mistakes of our past and brings us new life.  This brings us true freedom, even when earthly powers try to take it away from us.  In verse 14 Paul says, “Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

Freedom and justice in this world are definitely important.  Christians should work to encourage citizens and leaders to help promote them.  But as we do that, let’s not forget the one true freedom that rings louder than any.  Freedom in Christ is the message we need to proclaim the loudest.  This is the freedom that saves us, delivers us, and prepares us for our eternal home in heaven.  And “Us” includes anyone you cross paths with this week.

Make It Personal: As you hear talk of freedom (or lack of it) in the news, be sure to remind yourself of the freedom you have in your Savior Jesus Christ.  No one can take that away from you, and it will stand through all of eternity.  Praise the Lord!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes  



What’s Your Preference?

Read: Colossians 2:1-8

Yesterday AMC church member Cory Kauffman posted a picture of Jiff brand crunchy peanut butter on Facebook and said that he made a huge mistake.  He obviously prefers smooth over crunchy.  I commented that sometimes it takes a mistake in order to see the light.  I obviously prefer crunchy.  Peanut butter is not the only thing that brings out people’s preferences.  Toothpaste, pop, T.V shows, chips, vehicles, movies, sports teams, and many other things tend to bring out our individuality, personality, and tastes.

On the things mentioned above our preferences are not really a big deal.  There is a reason shelves are stocked with so many options.  When it comes to our faith and the way that we view the world, morals, behavior, and salvation in Jesus, it does matter.  In fact, it matters greatly.  It has both earthly and eternal implications.  In Colossians 2 Paul is saying that his preference and our preference should be to encourage, unite, understand, and follow the life, example, and ways of Jesus Christ.

When discussing this passage yesterday in an online pastor’s “zoom” meeting one leader said, “When it comes to life decisions and direction we should always prefer what God prefers.”  That should be our goal but what we need to watch out for is what verse 4 warns us about.  It says, “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”  In other words, the world will sometimes make things sound better than they really are.  We need to constantly be aware of this and test the world’s preferences to those of Jesus and God’s Word.  Peanut butter preferences are one thing, but others related to faith do have eternal implications.

Make It Personal:  Ok, what is your preference?  Crunchy or Creamy?  My wife and I disagree on this so we have to stock two kinds of peanut butter in our pantry.  We do agree on the quote above though.  When it comes to life decisions and direction you should always prefer what God prefers.  We find that out through reading the Bible, prayer, and leaning on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  I’m not bold enough to proclaim that God is a St. Louis Cardinals fan and prefers crunchy peanut butter like I do, but I do know he loves you and cares about you and the decisions you are making in life.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes 



Heavenly Hope

Read: Psalm 42

What voices are you listening to?  So often people tend to listen to the voice in their head that brings them down, discourages them, or paints a distorted view of the world.  That voice is the enemy of God trying to distract us from the hope of God.  Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones commented on this one time when referring to Psalm 42 and he wrote….

“The first thing we have to learn is what the Psalmist learned, we must learn to take ourselves to hand.  This man was not content to just lie down and commiserate himself.  He does something about it, he takes himself in hand…He talks to himself….”   Lloyd-Jones goes on to say, “I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us!  Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”

In Psalm 42 the Psalmist is having one of those moments Lloyd-Jones is referring to.  He seems disturbed, downcast, and hopeless because he is listening to himself.  He even hears people asking “Where is your God?”  He then realizes his error and he begins to speak words of hope from heaven into his life and into his situation.  The Psalmist says, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Let’s join him this week and speak words of heavenly hope into our downcast days.

Make It Personal:  If you find yourself listening to negative voices in your mind this week call them out.  Instead of listening to those choose to speak words of heavenly hope with your own voice.  Drown out the darkness with light of Christ and the hope of God. Christian or Worship music can often help us to keep those words in our ears as well.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes  

                                   



One In Christ

Read: Acts 4:32-35

“There was not a needy person among them.”  Acts 4:34

There are needs everywhere in our world! Often our definition of the word “need” gets caught up in our selfish desires instead of the real needs that are around us. When we say we “need” a new cell phone it often means that we “want” a new cell phone.  For many in our world however the needs are very real.  Some do not have enough to eat, others do not have clean water, and others do not have a place to sleep at night. So, how as followers of Jesus Christ are we responding to the example in Acts 4 of sharing our love, compassion, and resources with others?

It may be money to build a community water well in Africa, it may be a child sponsored through Compassion International, or it may be a neighbor who is in need across the street.  It could even be the person who sits next to us on Sunday morning in church.  Acts 4:32 says, “Everything they owned was held in common.”  This testifies that they were truly “One” together in their life in Christ and looked after each other because of the example of  Jesus.

It’s often hard to live in a “me-first” world and yet keep this wonderful concept of serving others in perspective.  The early Christians had seen the compassion, love, and concern that Jesus had for the needy people around him.  They knew that this was an integral part of their faith in Christ and their testimony for him.  Perhaps the next time we label something a “need” we should read this passage and then ask ourselves if it is really a need or just a want.  We should also think about how our wants could be given up to meet someone else’s needs.  What a wonderful statement to hear… “there was not a needy person among them.”  We may not get to the point that every person in the world will have their needs met but we can definitely do our part in trying.

Make It Personal: Lord Jesus, help me/us to be thankful for the ways you have blessed me/us. Help me/us Lord, to use those blessings to help those who truly are in need!

Be a blessing this week,  Glen Rhodes  



The Little (BIG) Things

Read: Colossians 3:12-14

Some years ago when the space shuttle Discovery was getting ready to head into space the mission had to be aborted and grounded.  It wasn’t technical difficulties or lack of government funding, but woodpeckers that caused the delay.  Yellow-shafted flicker woodpeckers found the insulating foam on the shuttle’s external fuel tank irresistible material for pecking. The foam was critical to the shuttle’s performance.  Without it, ice would form on the tank when it was filled with super cold fuel, ice that could then break free during liftoff and damage the giant spacecraft.  The shuttle was grounded until the damage was repaired.

Marriages and other relationships are frequently damaged not only by big things like infidelity , abuse, or abandonment; but by little things as well like criticism, lack of respect, and taking each other for granted.  Those things can peck away at the relationship and keep us from loving, supporting, and caring for each other in a way that is healthy and encouraged in the Bible.  In Colossians 3:12-14 it says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

In the Bible, husbands, wives, and children are all encouraged to love, submit, obey, and serve each other in ways that are not domineering or self-serving.  Looking out for the best of the other person is always a way to foster the love of Jesus in our families instead of picking and pecking away at all of the little things that really don’t matter in the big picture.  To produce a healthy Christ-like environment in our families, marriages, and other relationships we would do well to stop and think about how we are relating to each other.  Is it uplifting and encouraging or is it always deflating and discouraging?  Our words and our attitudes can be very huge things sometimes even though we treat them as the little things.

Make It Personal: Think about ways that you have been affecting your family or marriage with words and attitudes that are not helpful.  Try to catch yourself in the midst of those and change them for the better.  In the end you will be amazed at how it changes the atmosphere of your home and your relationships.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes 



An Attractive Life

Read: Matthew 5:3-10

In a recent devotional in Our Daily Bread, David H. Roper shared some interesting thoughts from Matthew 5 and the beatitudes on what it looks like to be an authentic Christian.  He writes….

“I applied for a position in a Christian organization years ago and was presented with a list of legalistic rules having to do with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain forms of entertainment. “We expect Christian behavior from our employees” was the explanation. I could agree with this list because I, for reasons mostly unrelated to my faith, didn’t do those things. But my argumentative side thought, Why don’t they have a list about not being arrogant, insensitive, harsh, spiritually indifferent, and critical? None of these were addressed.

Following Jesus can’t be defined by a list of rules. It’s a subtle quality of life that’s difficult to quantify but can best be described as “beautiful.”  The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–10 sum up that beauty: Those who are indwelt by and dependent on the Spirit of Jesus are humble and self-effacing. 

They’re deeply touched by the suffering of others. They’re gentle and kind. They long for goodness in themselves and in others. They’re merciful to those who struggle and fail. They’re single-minded in their love for Jesus. They’re peaceful and leave behind a legacy of peace. They’re kind to those who misuse them, returning good for evil. And they’re blessed, a word that means “happy” in the deepest sense.  This kind of life attracts the attention of others and belongs to those who come to Jesus and ask Him for it.”  David’s thoughts are good things to consider when we think about what is right and wrong in our world.  Let’s look like Jesus authentically through and through!

Make It Personal: The kind of life described in the beatitudes and in the devotional above attracts the attention of others and belongs to those who come to Jesus and ask Him for it.  Which attributes from Matthew 5 do you especially need in your life?  How can you grow in this?

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes  




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