Midweek Reflections

God & Money

Read: Matthew 6:19-24

I recently ran across this definition of stewardship… “The proper management of ones resources for the glory of God.”  Stewardship can be related to many different things.  There is the stewardship of time, work, talents and gifting’s, raising of children, our influence, and our money and possessions.  This last one concerning money and possessions can sometimes be a complex issue.  We understand why Jesus spoke about it so often and offered many spiritual connections.  Ultimately it shows where our allegiance and devotion is truly rooted.

Steve Granger writes this about stewardship and money, “Jesus knew that the allure of money would challenge the hearts of God’s people. That certainly has not changed.  And in our culture today – the wealthiest society in the history of humankind – money’s allure challenges us ever more frequently and on increasingly deeper levels than we have ever known before.  We have so much.  Yet, we often think we have so little.  A missionary commenting on America’s unprecedented wealth, once said that “America’s greatest need is she has no need.”

Granger goes on the say, “The truth of that assertion is convicting, isn’t it?  Yet, it’s not entirely true.  Because America does have one great overriding need – the need to be faithful to God.  As Jesus warned on the Sermon on the Mount, we cannot serve both God and Money (Matthew 6:24).  We must choose which god will receive our allegiance and devotion.  How we steward the money given us speaks more clearly than any of our words about which god we choose.  Money is not a financial issue. It is a spiritual issue. Money is not about your bank account, it is about your heart for God and others.”  Good words to remember as we think about managing our resources properly for the glory of God.

Make it Personal:  Here is a prayer that can help us bring focus to our stewardship…
Most generous Lord, we come before you with our lives open in all all ways.  We look around us and see all that you have provided, and we are grateful!  Help us, God, to give first back to you, reflecting the generosity we see in you.  Be with us as we contemplate the significant difference between our wants and our needs, and help us to recognize those differences. Bless our decision to be responsible with the gifts you have given.  Amen.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

Light After Dark

Read: Isaiah 9:1-7

Recently as I was walking around the track at the high school a moment of emotion swept over me.  I am not usually a very emotional person but as I was walking along that evening I was thinking about how empty the seats of the football stadium have been this fall due to the current pandemic.  During that time of reflection the song “Six Feet Apart” by country singer Luke Combs came on my headphones.

The lyrics to the song say, “I miss my mom, I miss my dad, I miss the road, I miss my band, given’ hugs and shaking hands.  Well, it’s a mystery I suppose, just how long this thing goes.  But there’ll be crowds and there’ll be shows, there will be light after dark, someday when we aren’t six feet apart.”  I knew that the Bible makes numerous mentions of light after dark or light replacing darkness, so upon the return home from my walk I started looking for those verses.

It turns out (according to Biblegateway.com) that light and darkness are mentioned together over 55 times throughout scripture.  Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”  Isaiah 42:16 says, “I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.”  In the New Testament John (John 1:5) says, “The light shines in the darkness.”  And then of course the wonderful words of Jesus himself in John 8:12 where he says, “I am the Light of the world, those who follow me will not walk in the Darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  Look some of the others up for yourself.

I guess what I realized on my walk that night is that times of darkness are followed by times of light (sunset/dawn).  God will see us through this difficult time and we will once again see those high school football stands filled again with cheering fans.  We will once again be able to give hugs and shake hands, and someday when we are not encouraged to stand six feet apart, we will see the light after the dark.  May the Lord be with us and bring that day soon!

Make it Personal:  What are some references to light and dark that you can think of?  What dark time are you experiencing in your life right now?  We are all going through a pandemic together but other difficulties in life are still there as well.  Take your darkness to Jesus who is the light of the world.  There will be light after dark!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

Promoting Peace

Read: Hebrews 12:14-15

How are you actively working toward peace with other people?  This was the question I was faced with during my devotions yesterday.  It was a question that caused me to think about my daily interactions with family, friends, and people that the Lord puts in my path each day.  The scripture in Hebrews 12:14-15 encourages us to make every effort to promote peace.  It says, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone.”

When we think of promoting peace our minds might go to larger things like war, politics, or social matters.  While it is good to promote peace in those areas it is often more applicable in our day to day interactions with each other.  The lasting mark of a Christian is love.  In our polarized world; hate, fear, and self-righteousness divide people.  As Christians we have the opportunity to sow peace and encourage peaceful interaction with others that grow out of grace.

We need to pray for healing, reconciliation, and peace in our world, in these times, and in our lives.  It begins with us.  The next words in Hebrews 12 speak of being holy as if holiness begins with peace.  Come to think of it, it probably does.  Verse 15 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that not bitter root grows up to cause trouble.”  Let’s get rid of bitter roots in our life and promote the peace and grace of God to others.

Make it Personal:  Consider the ways that you can promote peace in all areas with those around you.  When you interact with other people who are imperfect as you are peace has to be a choice you make.  God’s Word says that it is one of the most important choices you will make when it comes to relationship with both believers and unbelievers.  Be a promoter of peace this week.

Have a peace-filled week,  Glen Rhodes

Making A Way

Read: Genesis 12:1-9

One of the most popular Christian worship songs during this worldwide pandemic has been the powerful song titled “Way Maker.”  This song has made its way into our times of worship here at AMC as well.  Even though the song has been released in the U.S. by Michael W. Smith it actually has its roots in the country of Nigeria.  A country where Christians are currently being killed and persecuted almost weekly in the northern part of that country.

Osinachi Kalu Okoro Egbu who also goes by the shorter name of Sinach is the one who wrote this very powerful worship song that is bringing hope and encouragement to the world during this current time of lock downs, illnesses, and deaths from the virus.  The words of the song have been translated into over 50 different languages.  Her video of this song which was recorded back in 2015 has over 158 million views on YouTube.  Here is a link to it…

“Way Maker” video by Sinach

In an interview Sinach says that she wrote this song after reading this passage about Abram from Genesis 12.  God called Abram to leave everything and follow God’s lead to a new land and, a new nation, and become a new people to blessed by God.  Even though there were many trials and tribulations along the way God continued to make a way for his people.  Abram and others could see the Lord “moving in their midst” to bring healing, hope and light in the darkness.  Even when they could not see it at times, God was still working.  May this wonderful song of worship continue to encourage us in those same ways, no matter what may come.

Make it Personal:  Worship music is a wonderful way for us to surround ourselves in God’s Word, God’s Promises, and God’s Hope during our days.   For some it is contemporary worship music, for some it is hymns, and for some it may be other forms of music and lyrics.  Find a way to surround yourself with the encouragement and uplifting nature of music this week.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

One Step Forward

Read: Genesis 45

This past Sunday the message I preached focused on the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.  When Jesus spoke those final words on the cross “It Is Finished” he cancelled our sin and paid for them in full.  In our journey through life it is so important to receive this gift and continue to grow in our relationship with God and others.  I had to think of one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament when considering moving forward in life.  The story of Joseph.

Joseph started out as an overconfident young man.  That attitude led to him being betrayed and sold by his brothers to a caravan of Ishmaelites who were headed to Egypt.  When in Egypt Joseph overcame many hardships to eventually be placed in charge of the entire land by Pharaoh.  Years later when those same brothers came from their drought stricken land searching for food in Egypt, Joseph was the one the who forgave them and provided food for them and his father.

Joseph was not always perfect.  Joseph had to learn from his past mistakes.  Joseph had to continue to take one step forward each time he was faced with a betrayal, hardship, or false accusations.  But each step forward led him to where God wanted him.  As Joseph grew and became a man those steps along the way helped him to learn how to develop Godly character, trust in the Lord, receive grace, and extend grace to others.  Just like Joseph we are not perfect.  Just like Joseph we have to learn from our past mistakes.  And just like Joseph we have to continue to take one step forward in life as we move in the direction God has for us.

Make it Personal:  Receiving God’s grace in our life and practicing grace in our relationships with others is a very important step in life.  Too often we let the opposite keep us from moving forward.  Take steps this week to move past revenge, guilt, and condemnation.  Step into the blessings of grace and forgiveness.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

The Ultimate Conflict Resolved

Read: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

Conflicts seem to be a dime a dozen these days.  Resolving those conflicts can often be a challenge unless a mediator is brought in to help resolve the conflict.  In the 2nd chapter of 1st Timothy Paul refers to Jesus as the mediator between God and mankind.  What does he mean by giving Jesus that name or title?  The Jesus Bible explains it this way….

“If you asked someone to list the titles of Jesus in the Bible, it would likely be a while before they said mediator.  Yet this often-overlooked title is of critical importance for believers.  A mediator enters into a dispute between two parties and brings about resolution.  According to the Bible, sin has placed every human being in conflict with the perfectly righteous God of the universe (Romans 3:10).  There is nothing a person can do to bridge this chasm that sin creates between himself or herself and God.

Despite this problem originating because of human sin, God took it upon himself to resolve the conflict.  Instead of letting people experience the just result of their rebellion against him, God sent Jesus, his own Son, to act as a mediator of his new covenant of grace (Hebrews 9:15).  For those who place their faith in him, the Bible says Jesus bore their sin so that they could become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Now Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding on their behalf (Romans 8:34).

If we are in Christ, he paid the penalty for our sin, and his perfect obedience is credited to us.  Because of Jesus’ work, we are no longer in conflict with God, and we have been adopted as children and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).  With Jesus as our mediator, we partake in God’s amazing grace!”  And to that we can all say, AMEN!

Make it Personal:  Take time to read 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and also look up the other scriptures listed above.  These scriptures tell the truth about what God has done to save us, redeem us, and give us hope in this life.  It is the good news for all people who will believe and receive Jesus as their Savior, Mediator, and Lord.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

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