Midweek Reflections

Birds of the Air

Read: Matthew 6:25-30

Birds are fascinating creatures to watch.  Our neighbors have close to 40 birdhouses in their backyard so we can often sit out on our back patio and watch different birds at all times of the day.  It is fascinating to watch them fly, build their nests, gather food, balance on tree limbs, and provide food for their young.  The Bible often refers to birds in spiritual, literal, and symbolic ways.  One of the best known references is when Jesus refers to them in Matthew 6:25-30 to teach us about worry.

Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life… look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”  In the past couple of months worry, fear, and panic have too often entered our vocabulary and possibly even our lives as we have dealt with the effects of Covid-19.  In these verses from his Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives us assurance that our Father in Heaven will not leave us without the provisions in life that we need to survive.  If the birds can survive from day to day on God’s watch then surely he will provide for us as well.  Jesus says, “are you not much more valuable then they?”

Worry and fear are an emotion that everyone deals with from time to time.  Jesus shares this encouragement to help us be calm and assured of his love, his care, and his provision for us in every area and every moment of life.  These words also remind us of another bird that is referenced in Isaiah 40:31. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  May these words encourage us in the days ahead to be renewed and not grow weary during this global pandemic that we are living through. God will provide and we will give thanks!

Make it Personal:  What have you been worrying about most lately?  Use these verses about God’s help and provision to help you find calm and assurance during these days.  This will pass, but in the meantime we need to continue to look to our Father in Heaven for calm and peace.  Remember what Jesus says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

That Which Is Seen

Read: Luke 8:16-18

In a recent interview, Dan Bartle, the executive vice-president of Walmart, said that during the recent pandemic they have seen a large increase in sales of clothing tops instead of bottoms.  The company believes this reflects the current trend of online meetings and video conferencing in which people are only seen from the waist up.  Why worry about what you are wearing if no one is going to see that part?

That story reminds us of what Jesus says in Luke 8:17 about our lives.  When it comes to the so called hidden or private areas of life Jesus says, “There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.  Therefore, consider carefully how you listen.”  This verse reminds us of two things.  First, that nothing is truly hidden from God.  And second, as believers we need to shine the light of Jesus in public and not keep it hidden and to ourselves.

If nothing is hidden from God then we need to be open and honest about the sin and struggles in our life.  We need to come to Jesus with repentant hearts and ask for his grace and forgiveness for those things that perhaps only God and us know about.  If there is immorality, racism, envy, materialism, gossip, slander, or misplaced priorities then we need the grace of Jesus so we can be redeemed and set free, leaving those things in our past.

We also need to be open about sharing the good news of Jesus with the world around us.  Jesus can help people with the hurt, division, depression, and brokenness in our world today.  We see it all around us right now.  Jesus can help you with anything that might be bringing you down these days.  He sees and knows about everything you are dealing with in life, and he wants to help.  Allow the light of Jesus to shine and be seen in your life.

Make it Personal:  Name something that has been hidden in your heart for days, weeks, or years.  Remind yourself that Jesus knows about it and wants to help you move past it and free you from it.  He can and he will if you turn to him and give it to him today.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

Close To The Brokenhearted & Crushed In Spirit

Read: Psalm 34

With the events taking place in our country over the past week much has been said and written about how we should respond to these issues of race, injustice, hatred, violence, etc. as Christians.  Needless to say there are many broken hearts about all of these events.  In Psalm 34 David reminds us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  For the midweek reflection this week I would like to share a thoughtful letter that Brian Mosley, President of Right Now media shared with their subscribers.  This is what he wrote….

“Dear Church,  The murder of George Floyd has re-opened wounds in the United States that have never fully healed and tragically continue to be ripped open. The headlines over these past seven days have left many of us sad and angry.  As I work from the suburbs of Dallas, far away from Minneapolis and the peaceful protests and the not-so-peaceful riots, I am tempted to think this is a news story that doesn’t affect me. I could easily believe that these issues seem to be happening “over there” to “other families,” not my family. But as a Christian I know that these issues are deeply impacting my family because my family includes all brothers and sisters who are unified under the banner of Jesus Christ. Injustice and inequality are hurting my family today and the Lord is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

Monday morning I talked with several African American RightNow Media employees and members of our board of directors and they graciously reminded me that one of the most meaningful things I can do is simply acknowledge that the injustices exist and empathize with those around me who are hurting. I have learned a lot in the past few days by listening and praying. Reconciliation efforts shouldn’t stop there, but reaching out to those around us to mourn together and learn together can be a first step in the healing process.

We’ve collected a handful of resources that might be helpful to you during this time. We pray that these resources do two things. First, that they challenge us to call racism, misuse of force by those in power, and systemic oppression a sin. Second, that these resources would point us to the hope and unity we have in Jesus Christ. Additional resources on racism and racial reconciliation are available in our Right Now Media library.  The mission of the church matters!”
– Brian Mosley

Make it Personal:  Take some time to watch some of the very helpful and meaningful videos that Right Now media has produced on these issues.  Allow them to lead you to God’s Word and the encouragement of scripture as we proceed through this time. You can access them at…                  rightnowmedia.org

 AMC has a subscription to Right Now media and if you need help accessing that subscription please call the church office.  May the Holy Spirit of Pentecost speak into our hearts the love, care, compassion, and hope of Jesus Christ.

Have a peaceful week,  Glen Rhodes

Do Not Repay

Read: 1 Peter 3:8-22

Two years ago after almost 38 years in prison Malcolm Alexander walked out of a Louisiana prison a free man.  DNA evidence had cleared him of a wrongful conviction that happened back in 1980.  Mr. Alexander had been sentenced to life in prison and served 38 years for a crime that he did not commit.  He had steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout the court proceedings and the many years that followed.  How would we react if we were in this situation?

In 1 Peter 3 we are encouraged to “not repay evil for evil or insult with insult.”  That is great advice to follow but much harder advice to follow through on.  When someone has done wrong to us our first fleshly reaction is to get even or make someone pay for what they have done to us.  While this may curb our appetite for revenge it does nothing for our soul or our ability to move past those situations.  In fact, Peter encourages us to “repay evil with a blessing.”

When Malcolm Alexander was released from Prison on January 30, 2018 he showed incredible grace in the interviews that followed.  He said “you cannot be angry, there’s not enough time to be angry.”  In the 38 years of unjust imprisonment he was not undone by the injustice that put him there.  Instead he spoke of grace, mercy, and thankfulness for now being free.  Jesus gives us the example that Peter writes about in these verses.  Jesus went to the cross to free us from the burden of sin in our lives.  Before he did that he encouraged us to extend grace to others, even those who have done wrong to us.

Make it Personal:  Who do you need to forgive this week?  Who have you been plotting revenge on or trying to get even with?  The example of Jesus’s sacrifice for you and the encouragement of Peter says, “Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult.  On the contrary, repay evil with a blessing.”  Grace and mercy is always best, especially when it is hard.

 Have a grace-filled week,  Glen Rhodes

Meeting Each Others Needs

Read: 1 Corinthians 16:1-18

There have been many stories recently of people helping others and looking out for each other’s needs.  These are wonderful to hear.  One of those stories includes Ireland and some Native American people.  It starts back in 1847 when some 60,000 Native Americans heard about the Great Famine that was taking place in the country of Ireland across the Atlantic Ocean.  Even though they had recently undergone forced relocation along the Trail of Tears, they joined together to raise around $5,000 to send to the Irish people.

Now, 173 years later during this world pandemic, World digital news reports that the Irish people are returning the favor.  They originally setup a GoFundMe page for the Navajo and Hopi reservations in hopes of raising $2 million to help them with food, water, and personal protective equipment.  The goal has recently been raised to $5 million, and almost $4 million has already been raised.  Not even a vast ocean can stop people from helping to meet each others needs.

In 1st Corinthians 16 the apostle Paul encourages similar generosity for the needy people in Jerusalem.  He encourages the Galatian churches to set aside a sum of money each week to send as a gift to the people of Jerusalem.  There was no GoFundMe page to give to but Paul collected their gifts and later delivered them to the believers in Jerusalem.  Another great example of meeting each other’s needs.  Let’s continue to do that ourselves during this difficult time for many.

Make it Personal:  Who, how, and in what way is the Lord speaking to you this week about reaching out to others and meeting their needs?  The options and opportunities are endless but with a caring spirit and the example of Jesus we all can make a difference in our church, community, and world.

 Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

Now Is The Time

Read: 2 Peter 3:8-18

Recently in World magazine a story was shared about a Louisiana man who was pulled over for having an expired license plate sticker.  Most likely that happens to people quite often because they just forget to renew their sticker, but this story was a bit different than others.  This man had an expired sticker from 1997.  When the officer came up to the vehicle the man said, “Sorry officer.  I’ve been busy lately and totally forgot to renew my vehicle registration.  I will take care of it as soon as I get home.”

Some people are more prone to put things off than others but all of us have the tendency to think that we will just take care of that tomorrow.  For some things in life that is no big deal but for others it is a huge deal.  Repentance and salvation through Jesus, forgiveness of others, and eternal life in heaven are matters that need to be addressed now instead of later.  These are not things to “put off” because they have implications for the rest of eternity.

In 2 Peter 3:10 the Bible says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.”  In verse 14 it says, “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.”  That doesn’t mean perfect, it just means saved and redeemed.  It is reminding us that now is the time to make sure we are right with God, have received his Son Jesus into our life, and are living a life of peace, grace, and service in his name.  These are things that should always be at the top of our list.  Someone once said, “You cannot repent of your sins and receive Jesus into your life too soon because you do not know how soon will be too late.” 

Make it Personal:  Receiving Jesus into your heart and life and making him your Lord and Savior is not an everyday decision.  That is a decision you make and it then remains.  Living that decision out however is a daily discipline as well as a daily blessing.  Every morning and every day is the time to consider your life, your example, and your calling as a follower of Jesus.  Jesus needs to be the center.  You don’t necessarily need to know where you are going each day provided you know who you are following.  With that said, it would probably be a good idea to make sure you update your vehicle registration sticker each year as well.

 Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

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