Midweek Reflections

The First Step

Read: Nehemiah 1
 
When the name Nehemiah from the Bible is mentioned most people remember the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. This was one of Nehemiah’s greatest callings and accomplishments for the Lord. He was a brilliant planner, organizer, and motivator for sure. But when Nehemiah sensed this call upon his life his first step was not to plan, organize, talk to the king, or begin his trip back to Jerusalem, it was to pray.
 
The first chapter of Nehemiah includes his prayer. He prayed for forgiveness, he offered praise and thanksgiving, and he committed himself to the Lord’s will. Only after a time of mourning, fasting and praying did he have the courage to go to the king and ask if he could return to Jerusalem to help his people and rebuild the broken down walls.
 
In our fast paced world we are often tempted to barrel straight ahead with what we think is the right direction. I wonder what would have happened if Nehemiah would have proceeded in that way? What if he did not take time to mourn for what had happened, to fast and seek after God’s direction through prayer? Things might have ended up much differently for him. Perhaps the king would not have been so willing to let him depart from Susa?
 
The first step for Christians should always be prayer. We need to make sure that our will aligns with God’s will. Yes, he placed something on our heart, but the entire plan and direction may come through many hours of prayer and discernment, not the first inclinations of our flesh.
 
Make it Personal:  If your first inclination is to act, step back and think about the first step that Nehemiah took. Prayer and open communication with the Lord can open up many doors that human minds have not even considered. If you read the entire book of Nehemiah you will see that this was not a onetime decision for Nehemiah, he often turned to the Lord in prayer and asked the Lord to remember him, to deal with his enemies, and to use him in only the way God desired. Hopefully that will be our approach as well.                                 
 
Have a great week everyone,
Pastor Glen Rhodes



“Kind, Smart, and Important!”

Read: Ephesians 3:14-21

Those of you who have read Kathryn Stockett’s book “The Help” or have seen the movie by that same title probably recognize the three words in this weeks title.  One of the most powerful moments in that movie is when the nanny stoops down to the level of a little girl and tells her the words that she really needs to hear from her parents.  She says, “You are kind, you are smart, and you are important!”
 
 
It’s hard to watch that or listen to that without feeling good about the encouragement and love being shared in those words.  It’s just too bad that we can’t treat each other in that same manner more often! Instead, our world so often tells us the opposite.  As I hear those words I am reminded that we have someone in Jesus Christ who continually speaks this kind of love and affirmation over us. 
 
In Ephesians 3:17-19 Paul says, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
 
You see, no matter what the world (or anyone) says about you, God has an unconditional and everlasting love for you.  It is so big that it is even hard for us to totally comprehend it. Jesus wants us to believe in him and follow him in our lives, and he loves us despite our accomplishments and worth in the eyes of people.
 
We live in a culture that often seems to look at the negative before the positive, and often we take it personally and feel unloved or attacked.  But Jesus affirms us with his love, and fills us with the goodness, and the good news of God. If we have any doubts about that we should turn to John 3:16-17 where 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.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
 
Make it Personal:  I’m not sure what words you have been hearing this week or this month, but you need to hear what God is saying to you and about you in His Word.  The Christian music group Mercy Me says it so well in one of their songs, “You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His, You’re beautiful!” Please don’t forget that when you hear others say something else!  
 
Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes


Knowing the Savior

Read: 1 John 5:13-20
 
I just returned this week from a visit with my family in Carlsbad, New Mexico.  I was amazed at how the oil and gas industry in that area has caused everything to expand and grow in recent years.  They are building housing and schools left and right in order to make room for everyone. As we flew into Midland, Texas and saw all the oil fields down below I was reminded of the story of how it all began.
 
During the Great Depression years in the 1930’s Ira Yates struggled to make his sheep herding ranch provide for his family.  One year when he could not pay his bills and was in danger of losing his ranch, a crew from an oil company came to him and ask if they could drill a test well on his property.  Yates agreed, signed the contract, and the rest is history. 80 years later Yates Pool in West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico is still producing oil and has now become one of the largest oil reserves in the world.
 
What Ira Yates didn’t know about is what ended up saving him and his family from financial bankruptcy.  The same is true for so many people in a spiritual sense. What they don’t know, believe, or accept about Jesus Christ is keeping them from living their best life possible.  To know the Savior is to find salvation, grace, forgiveness, and hope in a world that is too often spiritually bankrupt.
 
In 1 John 5 the apostle John writes about the things we can know about God and Jesus.  We know these things because God has made them known to us through his Son Jesus Christ and through the power of His Word, the Bible.  We know how to overcome the evil, sin, and trials of this world. We know how to be saved from those things. We know how to receive eternal life in heaven.  We know these things and need to make sure others know them as well. Perhaps you can be like the oil company was for Ira Yates, you can reveal to them spiritually who can save them for eternity.  Jesus is the one!  
 
Make it Personal:  As you read 1 John 5 take note of how many times John says, “We know.”  Then think about why we know these things and the difference it makes for us and all those who believe, receive, and follow Jesus as the Lord and Savior.

Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



When The Crazy Kicks In

    Music is embedded into my soul, thanks to growing up in a musically gifted family. This also means that if I need to memorize scripture or remind myself of what God has spoken to me, the best way I’ll remember or listen is through song lyrics. Last week was a slow and healing family vacation on the Lake and it was so good, but as soon as I got back, I needed to hit the ground running. We all have those seasons of life right?     This morning one of my favorite songs was on my playlist as I was driving from place to place, When The Crazy Kicks In by Francesca Battistelli. After a late night rushing to the next thing and waking up early, this song reminded me what I forgot to do this morning.
 
   Be Still…& Listen…with my Lord.      
 
    Francesca sings from a mother’s perspective that in the early morning before her kiddos’ (she’s now pregnant with their fifth) wake up is her only chance during the day to meet God before the craziness of life begins. She uses the visuals of plates spinning and the circus of distractions throughout her day that seem fitting to all walks of life. She knows she won’t be ready to steward those expectations of herself and all the roles she’s supposed to play without first being still and listening. And BOY did that Preach and convict me. I definitely forgot to do that this morning. Scripture tells us to meditate on the Lord day and night and always multiple times. Here are a few: 
 
     “Blessed is the one…who meditates on his [the Lord] law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-2        
 
    “Keep the Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8      
 
    “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchman wait for the morning, more than watchman wait for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6      
 
     “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16
 
      We all have our own set of duties and to-do lists that need to be finished. But if we don’t first calm ourselves and remember what the most important thing is, we won’t be fully equipped to handle what today will throw in our path. While yes, bills need to be paid and people need cared for and we gotta make sure we’re making healthy choices…none of that matters if we don’t invite God along with us, If we don’t stay tuned to His Will and His Word, we will not prosper. This still time will most likely look different for all of us, but as long as we make it a priority, we can stay on track.      
 
Make It Personal: Let’s get real honest with ourselves, is the first thing you do when you wake up involve inviting the Lord into your thoughts and day? If so, nicely done! You inspire me! Are there any tweaks you need to make to help encourage growth in your relationship with the Lord? If you’re like me and feel convicted by this scripture today, know you are not alone. What can you do to remind yourself and control yourself to make listening to God in the morning a priority?        
 
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all of creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13  
 
I pray that we remember God every morning this week and on, Pastor Ashley Litwiller



I Do & I Don’t

Read: Romans 7:14-25
 
Do you sometimes do things that you know you should not do?  It’s a dilemma that all humans face because of sinful nature and Godly nature.  We are all made in the image of God and yet because of sin in the world we are faced with choices of right and wrong almost daily, maybe even hourly.  Why does temptation to sin seem so glamorous when in reality it is so destructive?
 
In a recent golfdigest.com article, Joel Beall writes about an interesting golf hole on the shores of Lake Michigan.  The 12th hole at Arcadia Bluffs has a beautiful view of Lake Michigan from the tee box. In the past the golf course had a sign on the tee box that discouraged golfers from hitting balls out in into Lake Michigan.  After a while they realized that drawing attention to this temptation (with the sign) actually caused more people to tee one up into the lake than if the sign had not been there at all.
 
While that example is much less damaging than other choices of right and wrong it gives evidence of what Paul is writing about in Romans 7.  In verse 15 he says, “I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate.” What Paul is pointing out is that our sinful nature too often convinces us to do things that we really know are not right, good, or Godly.  Thus the sign on the 12th hole at Arcadia Bluffs. Don’t do this was the reason that many ended up doing it. The course manager has since removed the sign instead of giving golfers the idea.
 
Too often people view God or the Bible as only a list of right and wrongs.  A more truthful way to view God and the Bible is through the love that is shown to us by our creator.  God loves us so much and thus warns us about sinful things in this world that will cause us misery and heartache.  His love for us will never die but we are cautioned about the sin in this world that will ultimately bring harm to us.  Later in the book of Galatians Paul also says that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. Self-control is a fruit that allows us to say “No, I don’t want to do this” when a part of us wants to say “Yes, I do.”  
 
Make it Personal:  Be aware when these kind of choices come up in your life.  Ask yourself what God’s desire is as you are faced with the sinful desires of the world that can bring misery, heartache, and harm.  God loves you and wants to help you stay on a path that leads to a good, holy, and pleasing life in this world. You can do it with God’s help and the Fruit of the Spirit!
Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes



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




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