Midweek Reflections

Thankful in all Circumstances


Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28       

Do you consider yourself a thankful person?  Do the circumstances or your situation dictate how thankful you are?  I would imagine that all of us have moments in which we are more thankful than at other times, but what if we could truly be thankful in all circumstances as Paul encourages the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:18)?  This doesn’t mean that we are thankful for everything that happens in our lives or in our world, but in the midst of those difficult things we can still find many things to be thankful for.

Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Many times this attitude of thankfulness can be accomplished by how we choose to see things.  Do we choose to see the good or look for the negative?  Sheridan Voysey shares a good example of this with a story in “Our Daily Bread” about road trips in Australia.  He says that those trips can often be very long with few towns in between.

During busy vacation seasons rest stops are set up along the way with volunteers offering free coffee and other items for sale.  Sheridan tells about one trip where he and his wife pulled up and walked over to the stand to get their free coffee.  The person in charge handed him two cups of coffee and asked for two dollars.  He thought the coffee was free so he was somewhat confused by this.  At that point his wife pointed to the sign that said only the driver got free coffee.

He went on to inform the lady that he thought this was a case of false advertising.  When they got back to the car his wife pointed something out to him.  He had turned a gift into an entitlement.  In the end it caused him to be ungrateful for the free coffee that he had received.  When I read that story I thought of how many times we find ourselves in that exact situation.  Our unthankfulness often leads us to look past the many things we have to be thankful for.

Life is hard and the world is not always a rose garden.  But no matter what we might face today or tomorrow there are surely many, many things we can be thankful for.  Paul says that God’s will for us is to keep these things we are thankful for always on our mind.  In the end they can help us to move past the difficult and trying times in our life.  As it says in 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Make it Personal: 

 Make a list of all the things you have to be thankful for.  The next time you are tempted to be ungrateful, pull out that list and remind yourself of all the things you have to be thankful for.  It’s not always easy to be thankful in all circumstances, but it can sure make the hard times a lot better.  As it says in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father.”
Have a grateful heart this week,  
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Looking Up

Read: Revelation 1
Several weeks ago people traveled many miles, filled football stadiums, campgrounds, and roadways to look up and view the solar eclipse. As I saw pictures on the news and across social media of people looking up to the sky it made me think of how the Bible describes Jesus’ second coming.

In Revelation 1:7 it says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him.” Some day Jesus will return to take believers with him to heaven. The Bible is clear to say that the day and hour of this return is unknown by those living on earth.
But when it does happen I picture all eyes looking up to the sky and seeing Jesus coming with the clouds. Will people be anticipating that day with the same kind of enthusiasm and excitement? One thing is sure, we won’t have time to order cardboard glasses for the event.
In Matthew 24:36-42 Jesus himself says this about his return, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
Jesus encourages us to keep watch and be ready for that day. To be ready means to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and make him the Lord of your life. Receive his gift of saving grace and live each and every day according to his example and God’s Word. Be prepared, it could be tomorrow that everyone is looking up again.
Make it Personal: Are you personally prepared for that day? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Today is a great day to turn to Jesus, connect with other believers, and allow God to help you find his purpose for you in life.
Many blessings, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Close to the Brokenhearted

Read: Psalm 34       
The devastation from Hurricane Harvey this week has been hard to watch. So many people affected in such a life changing way. Undoubtedly many of those people are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit as David speaks of in Psalm 34. David reminds himself and others that the Lord is near to those who experience trouble and difficulties in life.
David’s reminder is also a reminder for us that we should show compassion and care to those who are crushed and heart broken. We are seeing that in Texas right now and I saw a great example of it last week as well.  This past Sunday the Little League Baseball World Series concluded with Japan defeating the United States, but earlier in the tournament there was a wonderful scene of compassion and care shown by a team from Venezuela.
If you watch the news you know that the country of Venezuela is currently in the midst of a national crisis.  Many people in that country are suffering and the government is close to collapse.  And yet, there in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the Little League coaches and players from Venezuela showed a remarkable display of compassion after one of their baseball games.
The team from Venezuela had just defeated the team from the Dominican Republic when the young Dominican pitcher collapsed on the pitcher’s mound and began sobbing.  Pretty soon the adult coaches from Venezuela went out to console his crushed spirit and hug him in his time of disappointment.  It was a true display of sportsmanship, compassion, and care by the winning team.  Here is a link to the video on YouTube if you would like to watch it.

It’s almost impossible to watch that and not feel good about the way those coaches and players reached out to each other after the game.  It’s a great example of how we need to reach out to others and extend the care, love, and compassion of Jesus to those in need.
Perhaps it is reaching out to those in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, maybe it’s reaching out to a friend or neighbor, or just maybe it’s reaching out to someone who might not be expecting you to do so.  The Lord hears those who are crushed in spirit and brokenhearted and he wants us to do the same.
Make it Personal: Who is God placing on your heart this week to reach out to?  What will you do to share the love, care, and compassion of Christ to that person?  Remember, first you need to receive it for yourself and then you will be able to extend it to others.
Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Grace and Faith


Read: Ephesians 2:1-10      

Do you know Grace and Faith?  Perhaps they are the sisters that live down the road from you or names that you remember from school or college.  But more importantly do you know the grace and faith that Paul talks about in Ephesians 2?  He proclaims, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…”

There are many things that we would like to be saved from in this world. Some people search for a lifetime trying to find restoration, deliverance, and hope in life.  God offers this saving grace to all who will call on Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Paul reminds us that it is not through our works that we are saved but through the grace of Jesus.

God’s grace is truly what the world needs in order to be saved.  It is what we need to accept as his gift to us. Too many people continue to live in guilt and shame when Jesus offers them a way to be free from those things.  Corrie Ten Boom once shared a story about this grace of Jesus and Billy Graham later shared that story in his book “How to be Born Again.”

A little girl broke one of her mother’s very expensive cups one time that had a lot of sentimental value to her.  The girl went crying to her mother telling her she was sorry.  The mother said, “I know you’re sorry, and I forgive you. Now don’t cry anymore.”

The mother swept up the pieces and placed them in the trash can.  Still feeling guilty the little girl tried to pull all of the pieces out of the trash and glue them back together again.  Her mother saw what she was doing and said, “Take those pieces and put them back in the trash can and leave them there.  I told you that I forgave you and I meant it.  Don’t continue to pick up the broken pieces anymore.”

That story leads to the other sister that Paul is talking about.  Faith.  We have to have faith that Jesus has forgiven us.  It is a gift from God in which we place our faith and trust in his saving grace. When we repent of our sins and mistakes Jesus extends to us his grace. In other words, we leave the broken pieces in the trash.  We don’t try to earn his grace or pay for his grace because it is a gift.  What broken pieces do you need to leave in the trash?

Make it Personal:  Have you received this gift of grace from Jesus?  Do you have faith that his saving grace can and will move you past your shame and guilt?  Today is the day to truly make this gift personal!  Grace and Faith in Jesus can bring you Life and Hope!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Sweet & Salty


Read: Ephesians 4:20-32 &  James 3:1-12     

Some people prefer sweet snacks, others prefer salty, and some prefer a mix of both together.  What is your preference?  When it comes to our language and speech however, God prefers us to use the sweet and not the salty.  Many verses in the Bible refer to how the tongue can be an encouragement and blessing; but it also warns us that it can lead us down dangerous paths as well.

Most will remember that this advice is even included as one of the Ten Commandments. The third commandment in Exodus 20 says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”  In Ephesians 4: 29 the apostle Paul says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…”

Branch Rickey is a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame and was a long-time manager of several major league baseball teams.  He is probably best known for his efforts of giving Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player a promotion to the major leagues.  That story is told in the recent movie entitled “42.” Branch Rickey was a Christian.

One time when he was at a meeting negotiating a player’s contract he threw down his pencil in the middle of the meeting, pushed back his chair, and said, “the deal’s off.”  The other men were astonished. “Why?” they asked. “We’re coming along with these negotiations very nicely.”

Rickey responded to the salty and callous use of language being spewn about in the room.  He said, “You have been talking about a friend of mine, and I don’t like it.”  One man said, “What friend do you mean? I haven’t been talking about anyone, let alone a friend of yours.”

“Yes, you have,” replied Rickey.  “You’ve mentioned him in almost every sentence.”  He was referring to their constant profane use of the name of Jesus Christ.  The men quickly apologized, stopped their profanity and misuse of God’s name, and the negotiations continued.”

More than likely we have been involved in similar situations, or perhaps we have been the one participating in such profanity or mis-use of God’s name. In James 3:10-11 the Bible says, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”

Make It Personal: 

 Is your language and speech sweet, salty, or a mix of both?  God desires us to use our tongues in ways that encourage, build-up, and inspire people, not in ways that bring people down and spread cursing and profanity.  Try to use language that makes others feel blessed to be around you and honor God with all that you say.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Dangerous Assumptions

Read: Proverbs 3
How often do we assume that we know the whole story of someone’s life or situation? How often do we jump to conclusions and make quick reactions only to learn later that we had it all terribly wrong?  In the book of Proverbs we are warned many times to be wise, cautious, and careful in our judgements and assumptions.
I heard a story one time that is a perfect example of this. A woman traveler was between her flights at the airport. She went to the airport convenience store and bought a small package of cookies to eat during her wait.  As she sat down to read her newspaper she started to notice a rustling noise.
From behind her paper she was shocked to see a neatly dressed man helping himself to her cookies.  She didn’t want to make a scene so she just leaned over and took a cookie out of the bag for herself. A minute or two passed and the man helped himself to another cookie, and then another. She couldn’t believe it!
By this time they had reached the end of the package, but she was so angry she didn’t dare allow herself to say anything.  Then, as if to add insult to injury, the man broke the last remaining cookie in two, and pushed half across to her. He ate the other half and left.
Still fuming, some time later when her flight was announced she opened her handbag to get her ticket. To her shock and embarrassment, there she found her pack of unopened cookies. She had actually been eating the man’s cookies. How wrong our assumptions can be sometimes.
This story could be applied to many situations in our lives. We are often too quick to judge, too quick to assume, too quick to accuse, and too quick to listen to ourselves instead of God.  Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight, do not be wise in your own eyes.”
Make it Personal:   What stories or situations do you need to reassess? Perhaps praying for others and encouraging others is a better course than labeling them with dangerous assumptions.  The book of Proverbs has a lot of wisdom.  There are 31 chapters in the book which allow you to read one chapter each day of the month.  God’s wisdom brings us life and hope!
Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

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