Midweek Reflections

About That Temptation

 

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13      

George Sweeting once said, “Every temptation is an opportunity for us to draw nearer to God.”  The reason that statement is true is that God is the one who can help us resist, overcome, and move past various temptations in our lives.  No one is exempt from the dangers of temptation.  Sometimes those temptations are small things and other times they can be life-altering things.  Choosing to ask Jesus for help is key to overcoming them.

Discipleship Journal magazine asked its readers to rank the areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them.  Here were the temptations that rose to the top:  1.Materialism  2.Pride  3.Self-centeredness  4.Laziness  5.Sexual lust  6.Anger/Bitterness  7.Envy  8.Gluttony  9.Lying.  Perhaps there are some on that list that you had not considered.

81% of those responding to this poll noted that temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God.  Other reasons given for difficulty in resisting temptation included, being physically tired, lacking time in prayer and Bible study, not avoiding compromising situations, and not being accountable to someone else.  Perhaps you could add some others.

In I Corinthians 10 the Bible says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  Being tempted is not a sin, but giving into temptation often leads us into sin.

The Life Application Study Bible commentary gives us some helpful advice about these verses.  It says, “Wrong desires and temptations happen to everyone, so don’t feel you’ve been singled out; Others have resisted temptation, and so can you; Any temptation can be resisted because God will help you resist it.”  Jesus can help you, “Recognize those people and situations that give you trouble; Help you run from anything you know is wrong; Choose to do what is right; Pray for God’s help; And seek friends who love God and can offer help when you are tempted.” 

Make it Personal:  Remember the opportunity mentioned above by George Sweeting.  Every time you are tempted you are given an opportunity to seek God’s help in resisting that temptation.  Pray and ask Jesus to help you move past it and move on.  You will be glad you did!

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes


Life Examples

 

Read: Genesis 37-50      

Who comes to your mind when you think of someone who has given you good examples to follow in life?  During a recent game of Bible baseball (Bible trivia), a question was asked about the life of Joseph in the biblical book of Genesis (chapters 37-50).  It was a reminder to me of how many wonderful life examples he shows us in those chapters.

Like all of us, Joseph was not perfect.  Jesus is the only person to ever live a perfect/sinless life. (1 John 3:5)  When it comes to examples sometimes we can learn from others mistakes as well as their positive character traits.  In essence, we learn what and what not to do.  Joseph displayed some of both in his life, but this week I want to focus on the positive life examples he left.  Here are just a few of them…

Make the best of a bad situation:  After being sold to slave traders by his brothers in Israel, Joseph made the best of his circumstances and was eventually put in charge of the entire country of Egypt. His wisdom and discernment saved many people from a famine throughout the region.

Resist temptation and stay true to God:  While in Egypt one of the leader’s wives tried to tempt Joseph into adultery.  Joseph resisted this temptation and stayed true to the Lord.  Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him, and he was thrown into jail.  The Lord was with him in jail and eventually he was released to interpret dreams for Pharaoh.  This led to him being put in charge of Egypt.

Live a life of grace and forgiveness:  Some years later Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt to get food because of a famine.  They did not realize that their brother Joseph (whom they had sold to slave traders years before) was now the one in charge of Egypt.  Instead of getting revenge Joseph reveals himself and eventually extends grace to his brothers.  He then invites the family, including his father Jacob, to come live in Egypt in order to survive the famine.

Make it Personal:  There is much more to this wonderful story and many other life examples that can be learned.  I encourage you to read it for yourself.  The story of Joseph encourages all of us to ask what kind of life example we are leaving for those closest to us.  How do we handle the challenges as well as the blessings in life?  Others are watching!

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



The More You Know

 

Read: Proverbs 1

        I don’t always have time to watch television on Saturday mornings, but recently I found some interesting programs that air at that time.  NBC has a series of programs focused around the theme of “The More You Know.”  These are educational programs that help you to learn about other lands, cultures, jobs, hobbies, and people.

These Saturday morning television programs were a reminder for me about how important it is to continue to learn and grow in life.  There is so much to learn that no one person can possibly know everything, but we must continue to seek after knowledge and not ignore wisdom and instruction.

In our Bibles the book of Proverbs says that respect and worship of God is the place to begin.  Knowledge and wisdom are found throughout God’s Word.  The more you know, the more you will understand, and the more you will grow in your spiritual life.  In fact, the Bible is full of all kinds of practical and helpful guidance.  It can lead us, comfort us, guide us, in things that really matter in life.  It also directs us to the grace and salvation of Jesus.

This past weekend the Masters golf tournament was played in Augusta, Georgia.  Professional golfer Justin Thomas commented in an interview about how he learns how to improve his game by watching others.  By doing this he learns what to do and what not to do.  He said that he asks others, watches others, and picks up little things along the way that can help his game improve.  He said, “I always get useful advice.”  Watching and learning from others can be helpful if we are watching the right examples.  Of course, Jesus should be our main source.

Verse 7 of Proverbs 1 says that it is foolish to despise wisdom and instruction. In other words, we should seek out opportunities to learn and grow.  We should treasure the chance to gain wisdom from those who have been there, done that, and learned.  Life can be challenging, I hope we will take the opportunity to learn from God and learn from those whom God has placed in our lives.

Make it Personal:  What are some ways you can learn and grow?  Think about that in a spiritual sense.  Think about that in relation to your job.  Think about that in relation to other situations you might be facing in life.  The more you know, the better you will be able to grow!

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Commitment

 

Read:  Deuteronomy 10:12-22

         March Madness is over, and April has arrived.  Villanova is your NCAA National Basketball Champion.  But something else in college basketball has recently caught my attention.  I have noticed the unreal number of players who leave their teams and transfer to another school each year.  On average there are 700-800 players who leave one team and transfer to another each year.  Recent statistics show that 40% of recruits are gone by the end of their sophomore seasons.  Perhaps we need to remember this when our favorite college team gets excited about their latest blue-chip recruit.  In two years they may not be around.

It is a reminder of how commitment is very fragile in our current culture.  This fragility extends from sports, to civic organizations, to volunteer opportunities, and even to church.  It begs us to ask the question what has changed or what is going on?  After all, commitment is key to being faithful, trustworthy, counted on, and devoted to what we are called to.

Perhaps it is not a new problem though.  This reminds us of what happened to the disciples of Jesus after he was arrested, tried, and crucified on the cross of Calvary.  Peter denied knowing Christ three times, the other disciples fled the scene, and many of them feared that their lives could be next.  Their commitment to Jesus their Savior had wavered.

But as we often say, the resurrection changed everything.  After Jesus rose from the grave on Easter those same disciples found renewed hope, strength, and commitment.  Yes, Jesus was who he said he was.  Yes, Jesus did what he had said he would do.  And Yes, Jesus confirmed that he was the Son of God.

In Deuteronomy 10:12-13 we are encouraged to follow God and be totally committed to his will for our lives.  This commitment is such an important part of realizing the blessings in life that God has for us.  In those verses Moses says, “What does the Lord want from you?  The Lord wants you to respect and follow him, to love and serve him with all your heart and soul.”  Sounds a lot like commitment to me.  When we are committed we are faithful and trustworthy.

Make it Personal:  Whether it be basketball teams or other areas, there is much discussion about the level of commitment these days.  How about we up our game and take it to next level?  Let’s be committed, faithful, and devoted, and let it start with our commitment to God.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Crowning Proof

 

Read: Luke 9:10-27

Good Friday and Easter are the ultimate testimony and truth of the Christian faith.  Henry Morris once said, “The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity.”  There is good reason that Easter weekend is remembered and celebrated in communities all around the world.

All four gospels in the Bible recount the events that led to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The other books of the New Testament give some account or some example of why this matters to everyone.  In the midst of all the difficulties, evil, sin, and challenges in this world and in our lives, Jesus came to save and redeem all of it.  In him we find life and we find hope.

John Stott explains it well in his book Basic Christianity when he writes, “Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection.  It was the resurrection which transformed Peter’s fear into courage and James’ doubt into faith.  It was the resurrection which changed the Sabbath into Sunday.  It was the resurrection which changed Saul the Pharisee into Paul the apostle and turned his persecuting into preaching.”

Because Jesus lives we can look back and not be afraid.  Because Jesus lives we can look forward and not be afraid.  Because Jesus lives we can look up and not be afraid.  Because Jesus lives we can look inward and not be afraid.  Because Jesus lives you can face tomorrow whatever it might hold.  Because Jesus lives you can have hope and do have hope!

In Luke 9:10-27 we see the miracle of Jesus feeding over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish that his disciples had nearby.  This is another account of Jesus’ ministry that is found in all four gospels.  Right after that miracle Jesus tells his disciples about the events of Good Friday and Easter that are ahead.  In other words, Jesus knew what was ahead, he knew what he was going to accomplish for us and all those who believe. He knew he was bringing  freedom, deliverance, salvation, redemption, love, grace, and eternal life in heaven.  This is why we celebrate!

Make it Personal:  The best way to make all of this personal is to accept Jesus into your life and into your heart and live for him.  He has the power to redeem your past, bring hope to your future, and provide health, strength, peace, and hope in your daily life.  Life is hard, but the presence of Jesus makes all the  difference for us.

Have a blessed week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



God’s Love > Facebook Likes

 

Read: John 3:1-21          

On February 9, 2009 Facebook created the “like” button on their social media website.  Since that date people have been “liking” updates that friends have posted on their lives, activities, opinions, food choices, and just about everything else you can think of.  Too often people try to gauge their validation or satisfaction by how many people “like” their latest post.

Justin Rosenstein was one of the four Facebook designers that invented that “like” button back in 2009.  In a recent interview with Julian Morgans he said, “Initially the button was an innocent thing. It had nothing to do with hijacking the social rewards systems of a user’s brain. The main intention I had was to make positivity the path of least resistance.  I think it succeeded in its goals, but it also created large unintended negative side effects.  Today most people seek our social media sites with one vague thought in mind: Maybe someone liked my stuff.  And it’s this craving for validation, experienced by billions around the globe, that’s currently pushing platform engagement in ways that in 2009 were unimaginable.”

We all like to be liked.  There is really nothing wrong about liking someone else’s Facebook post. But when we use those means to validate our worth we lose site of who we are in the eyes of God.  God’s love for us goes far beyond the approval or validation that people will or will not give to us.  It is in God’s love that we must focus our attention.

God’s Word validates God’s love for us in so many ways and in so many places.  One of the best-known verses is John 3:16 which 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.”  Romans 5:8 also says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Holy Week of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter are times in which this love that God has for us is remembered and celebrated.  My hope is that we can live with that truth each and every day of our lives.  God loves you, God likes you, and God’s Son Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected for you.  You are loved!

Make it personal:  In the days ahead remember to look to God for your worth and validation.  It does not rest in how many people like your social media posts or in what they say about you.  God loves you and that is the final word!

Have a great week everyone, Glen Rhodes




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