Midweek Reflections

The Perfect Storm

Read: Isaiah 12

In the 2000 movie “The Perfect Storm” the true story is told of the Andrea Gail commercial fishing vessel.  This vessel was lost at sea in 1991 during a storm that brought many elements together at the same time to create perfect conditions for a devastating storm.  The crew of the Andrea Gail were caught in that storm that produced 40 foot high waves in hurricane winds and driving rain.  No one survived.  One of the problems for the vessels crew was that they took too many risks and eventually lost contact with others who could help during the storm.

In many ways 2020 has felt like the perfect storm to us.  A worldwide pandemic, racial tensions, a presidential election, protests, riots, and many other unknowns have all come together at the same time.  How do we face this storm?  We need to take care and we need to keep in contact with the one of who can help us through this time.  In Isaiah 12 we are told, “God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.”  These circumstances we face are concerning and should be taken seriously, but they are less troublesome when we think about placing ourselves in the hands of God.

As David Roper once wrote, “If our world and our lives were governed by a thoughtless and indifferent force, we would have good reason to fear.  But the hands that control the universe, God’s hands, are wise and compassionate.  We can trust them in spite of our circumstances and not be afraid.”  We can call 2020 a perfect storm or we can call it a perfect opportunity for us to grow our faith and trust in the Lord.  Isaiah 12:2 says, “The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense, he has become my salvation.” 

Make it Personal:  How are you handling 2020 now that we are half way through it?  Are you depressed, frustrated, impatient, angry, or scared of what the future holds?  I think many of us have dealt with some of those feelings this year.  Continue to pray and continue to look to Jesus during this time, he has seen other generations through many perfect storms and he will see us through ours.  Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6)!

Have a peace-filled week,  Glen Rhodes

Decision Fatigue

Read: Haggai 2:1-9

In a recent online meeting with other pastors one of the participants suggested that many leaders and those in decision making positions through this Covid-19 pandemic have been suffering from decision fatigue.  This suggests that no matter what decision is made there will always be some who will not agree with that decision.  This dilemma has always been but it has been elevated greatly during this worldwide pandemic.  Leaders in all areas of life have felt it.  In fact, I think all of us have felt this fatigue in many different ways.

In Haggai 2 we hear encouraging words for those suffering from decision fatigue.  Haggai is giving this message to the people during the Festival of Tabernacles in the fall of 520 BC. His basic message is one of encouragement.  He is encouraging the people to look to the future and to not dwell on their past blessings or present struggles.  Even though the new temple was not as big or as glorious as Solomon’s temple of the past he promises that God’s glory will be evident and the future will outshine the past.   Sure enough, 500 years later Jesus the Messiah arrives on the scene and the world was changed forever.

It is easy to get down and discouraged during these days of trial.  If you have experienced that I will say that I am right there with you.  However, we must not let those discouragements keep us from the hopeful days that are still ahead of us.  They are coming, and God’s glory and provision are going to be seen in even new and better ways.  These verses in Haggai 2 also promise peace and strength to the people.  God will grant us peace, God will keep us strong, and God will be with us. Don’t allow the current feelings of fatigue to blind you from the bright future ahead.

Make it Personal:  When you feel stressed, fatigued, and worn out, its time to turn to Jesus.  God will see you through this time of trial and God will grant you peace in the midst of it.  The future is being prepared for God’s glory to shine in new and brighter ways.  You might not hear that on the nightly news but you will hear about it in God’s Word.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

Love Your Neighbor

Read: Luke 10:25-37

The parable of Jesus often referred to as “The Good Samaritan” has become a favorite of many for obvious reasons.  In Luke 10 when Jesus answers the question “Who is my neighbor?” he tells the story of a man who stopped to help someone in need.  After a Priest and a Jew walked by on the other side and offered no help, here comes a Samaritan man who helps the needy man and even pays for his ongoing care.  The point Jesus was making with this parable is that those who show mercy to others, despite inconvenience, cultural perceptions, and political disagreements are those who truly love their neighbors.

This is a parable we need to be reminded of today in the divisive world we live in.  This Samaritan man looked past the differences and saw someone in need.  He didn’t ask about his religion, political party, race, or family background.  He saw him hurting and in need, he took pity on him, and helped.  He bandaged his wounds and took him to a place that he could be cared for.  When he left he paid two days wages for his ongoing care.

Jen Wilson from Compassion International says, “Our neighbor isn’t just the person next door.  Our neighbor is the person God has placed in front of us.  And no matter how different, how inconvenient or how unexpected, we’re asked to love our neighbor well.”  In parables like this we realize that Jesus lived and taught a counter-culture type of life when he walked this earth.  He is asking us as his followers to do the same.

This counter-culture life means we remember what the Bible says.  Love is patient, love is kind, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it keeps no record of wrongs, and it always protects.  Perhaps Janie B. Cheaney said said it best when she said, “God put it this way: “Love your neighbor” – not your cause, your pet peeve, or your tribe.  This is where we can all do better, and we must.”  Amen!  Let’s be watchful for those in need as we walk the road of life.

Make it Personal:  Who is God placing in front of you right now that is in need of help?  Can you look past all of the things that might keep you from helping that person and be a good Samaritan to them?  Let’s love all of our neighbors!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

A God Who Can

Read: Psalm 121

Where does your help come from?  When things are tough, when life throws you a curve, when the storm is raging, where do you turn to find help, peace, and calm?  In Psalm 121 the Psalmist proclaims or asks, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?”  He then answers his own question by stating, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  He turns to the Lord; how about us?

In his book “Shelter in God: Your refuge in times of trouble” Pastor David Jeremiah makes a good point about these verses and many others in scripture.  Not only do we look to the Lord for help, but when we do we are looking to the one who is the creator of all that is.  Where does our help come from?  It comes from the one who is “The Maker of heaven and earth.”

This phrase or proclamation is used in other Psalms as well as in Colossians 1:16 in the New Testament. (Ps. 115:15; Ps. 134:3; Ps. 146:5-6; Col. 1:16-17)  It is a reminder for us that no other option in this world holds the promise of help like the Lord our God.  Self-help books, YouTube videos, Google searches, and even helpful advice from a friend will always fall short of the help that comes from the creator of the universe.

David Jeremiah writes this, “The power of this statement is wrapped up in the idea that since God is the Creator of all things, and since all things are His handiwork, His power is not to be questioned.  The Creator has made everything we can see or touch or imagine; when we cast our hopes on Him, we’re not only coming to a God who cares, but a God who can.”

Make it Personal:  What do you need help with right now?  Go to the Lord in prayer and make it known to God.  Jesus already knows, but he wants us to ask for his help and welcome him into our situation.  There is no better source to turn to than the Maker of heaven and earth.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

Whatever The News…

Read: Job 40-42

Where do you get your news about the things that are happening in our community, country, and world?  I hope you get them from a variety of sources so that you have a well-rounded view.  More importantly, I hope that you are getting some of your news from a Christian world-view perspective.  I have found a great resource on Facebook and YouTube called World Watch News.  This is a short 3 minute summary of the news that will be expanded to 10 minutes in August.  It is put out by World Magazine (another great source of news from a Christian world-view perspective) and is a very well done presentation.  Check it out.

At the end of each World Watch News report Brian Basham says, “Whatever the news, the purpose of the Lord will stand!”  I love that perspective because sometimes when we watch the news we forget about the sovereignty of our Lord.  No one, no event, and no news item in this world can thwart the purpose of the Lord.  While sin, violence, and divisive attitudes seem to rule over our news, the Lord continues to rule over our world as a whole.  God’s purposes cannot be changed or altered by those whom God has created.

The book of Job gives us a great glimpse of this.  The back and forth conversations between Job and God come to a final result in the last three chapters when the Lord reminds him that the Lord is over all.  In the second verse of chapter 42 Job acknowledges this and says, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”  The news in our world can often lead us to think differently than that.  Be sure to judge your news and your sources from the perspective that God is still Lord of all and his purposes will always remain true.  This is good news for a world that is in need of some good news these days.

Make it Personal:  What news sources are you watching, reading, or believing?  Be careful to give yourself a well-rounded view of things and be sure to include a Christian world-view in that mix.  I would highly recommend you check out World Magazine (In print and online), World Watch News (Facebook & YouTube), and other valuable God-centered resources.  Whatever the news, the purpose of the Lord will stand!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

Don’t You Believe Them

Read: Isaiah 43:16-21

I can’t count the number of times recently that I have heard people say something like, “You just never know what to believe anymore on social media or the news.”  While this is true we must also remind ourselves as followers of Jesus about what we can believe in. 

God promises us new life instead of the old.  God promises us to forget the former things and look towards the new things that the Lord is doing.  The news, social media, and other reports may be biased much of the time, but the promises of the Bible and the words of the Lord speak truth into our lives.

Recently on the radio I heard a song from the 1980’s by Bruce Hornsby and the Range titled “The Way It Is.”  The chorus of that song begins by saying, “That’s just the way it is, some things will never change.”  But then comes the important part.  It says, “Ah, but don’t you believe them.”  One of the verses of that song is very fitting for our current discussions on racism, it says, “Hey little boy you can’t go where the others go, ‘cause you don’t look like they do… Some things will never change, ah, but don’t you believe them.”

Way too often in our world people are treated in ways that they should not be treated.  Way too often in our world people are told hateful things that do not line up with what God says about them.  Way too often in our world people choose violence instead of peace and reconciliation.  Some might say this is the way it is and that is the way it will always be, but we don’t have to believe them. 

We can believe instead in what Isaiah 43 proclaims, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”  God wants to do a new thing in us, in our country, and in our world, let’s believe in his promises and follow his lead.  Love one another, build each other up, support each other, and don’t believe anyone who says this is not possible!

Make it Personal:  What lies or false reports have you believed about yourself?  Don’t you believe them!  God loves you, God has a plan for you, and God will begin something new in your life. When we receive His Son Jesus into our life the new comes and the old passes away (2 Corinthians 5:16-19) .  Now would be a perfect time to give your life to Jesus if you have not.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

Reflection Archives