Midweek Reflections

Thoughts and Prayers

 

Read: Ephesians 6:18-24           

Whoever thought the day would come when people would be criticized for offering up thoughts and prayers for those in need?  And yet that is the current trend in some circles.  I understand their point is to move people towards action, like passing a law, or making an injustice right, but we should never discount the power of prayer in any situation.

In Ephesians 6 Paul says that it is important for us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  Whether it is a situation close to home, a disaster in our country, or a dangerous situation in our world, we should always be inclined to pray for those affected by those things.  We can also pray for change to happen when change needs to happen.  Thoughts and prayers don’t mean inaction, instead they call into action the God of the universe.

Eric Metaxas recently wrote on this subject and he brought up the life of William Wilberforce.   Eric has written a book about Wilberforce and said, “One of my heroes, the great William Wilberforce, accomplished more thoughtful action than most, as the key figure in abolishing the British slave trade.  But Wilberforce was also a man of prayer, prayer that fueled his faith in Jesus and compelled him to act for the good of his fellow man.  It was Wilberforce who said, “Of all things, guard against neglecting God in the secret place of prayer.”’

The Apostle Paul was a man of prayer and we should take his encouragement to heart in Ephesians 6 and always pray for those in need.  We should never be ashamed to offer up our thoughts and prayers in any situation.  Perhaps Adoniram Gordon said it best, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” 

Make it Personal:  Who do you need to pray for today?  What do you need to pray about?  Whatever your answer is to those questions, the action must begin with prayer.  When you pray you cannot help but think about those you are praying for or the situations in life you are praying about.  It does make a difference!

Have a wonderful week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.



Your Island of Peace

 

Read:  Psalm 23 & Luke 5:15-16              

  Where do you go to find peace and calm?  Back in 1961 Golf Digest magazine interviewed Billy Graham, the well-known evangelist who preached at hundreds of revivals and led thousands to salvation in Jesus.  In that article he was asked about his place for peace and solace in the midst of his very busy schedule.  He said, “For me, a golf course is an island of peace in world often full of confusion and turmoil.”

I too find a golf course to be an island of peace.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I started to play golf.  My game was so bad at the beginning that the peaceful beauty of the course is the only thing that kept me coming back.  My game is a little better now, but it is still the peace I feel on the golf course that allows me to take a deep breath and be refreshed and renewed.

We all need to find that place.  A place of peace, renewal, comfort, and refreshment in the midst of a busy, confused, and tumultuous world.  For some it is a day fishing or boating on the lake, for others it is sitting around a campfire or going on a walk in the woods, for some it can even be a certain room or chair in your home.  It may be different for everyone, but we all need to find that island of peace and spend some time there.

Jesus did this.  Often in scripture we hear how Jesus got away from the crowds who were drawn to his miracles in order to rest and pray.  In Luke 5:16 it says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  If we want to follow the example of Jesus, then this is one of those examples we should follow.

In Psalm 23 it says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”  The Lord is our provider and the Lord will also provide an island of peace for us to find rest sometimes.  It may be a golf course, it may be a pool, it could be a lake, it might be the woods, or it may be that special room or chair in your home.  Wherever it is, spend some time there and be refreshed!

Make it Personal:  Were you able to answer that question about where you find peace and calm?  If so I hope you will be intentional about spending time there and finding some peace and quiet in your life.  If not, I hope you will pray about where the Lord will lead you to find his peace. Will it be a green pasture or beside a quiet stream?  Ask where he is leading you.

Have a peace-filled week,  Glen Rhodes



The Cracked Pot

 

Read: Judges 13-16

          The story of Samson (Judges 13-16) and many others in the Bible remind us that God can use us despite our failures and shortcomings.  Some other names in the Bible that come to mind are Jonah, David, Peter, and Paul.  That’s a good thing because none of us are perfect.  It reminds me of another story from India that I have heard from time to time.  It goes like this…

A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck.  One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.  At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.

The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.  After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream:

I’m ashamed of myself, I want to apologize to you.  I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.  Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get the full value of your efforts.”

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there was garden produce growing only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?  That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted many different seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them.  For two years I have been able to pick wonderful produce to give to others in need.  Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this bounty of blessing to share.”

We can be thankful that God uses cracked pots to accomplish his work in this world.  Despite our shortcomings, failures, and missteps, God will accept us and empower us in his grace.  He has given us that grace through his Son Jesus and restores us to bring forth fruit… or produce.

Make it Personal:  If you have beat yourself up over past mistakes or failures, God’s Word (The Bible) is full of examples of how God wants to redeem you, restore you, forgive you, and use you to make a difference in this world.  You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be open to his leading in your life.

Have a great week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



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




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