Midweek Reflections

A Heavy Dose

Read: Ephesians 4:17-32

How is your dose of encouragement today or this week?  Have you been encouraged by a friend or family member recently?  Also, have you been an encouragement to someone else?  Often times we come in contact with people who have a negative outlook or just don’t have many good things to say.  That is when we have the opportunity to be a good example and give a good heavy dose of encouragement instead. 

Often times in person or online we can add a positive twist to the conversation instead of joining in on the negativity.  Many times the response that we make can be a deciding factor in steering the conversation north (building others up) or south (tearing others down) from where it is headed.  In Ephesians 4:29 it says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Through much of the New Testament Paul encourages people to love, care, build up, and encourage each other on the journey of life.  This is God’s way and we have the opportunity to make it happen.  It all depends on how we will respond when faced with the choice to encourage or discourage.   The next time your are at work, school, or with friends and the conversations heads south, be the one to turn it around.  Take it from negative to positive.  Take it from tearing down to building up.  Not only will the conversation be much more uplifting but the remainder of your day will be as well.  Come on Christians, let’s give out heavy doses of encouragement!

Make it Personal:  Let’s try to catch ourselves when we are adding to the negativity instead of the positivity.  Many times we follow along without realizing where we are heading or where the conversation is taking us.  Step back, then step up and be the one to “help build others up according to their needs.”

Be blessed this week,  Glen Rhodes

The Ultimate Buffet

Read: Matthew 4:1-11

Buffets are harder to find these days due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic.  In most recent days we have just been fortunate to be able to enter a restaurant to enjoy a meal out.  This past Sunday I mentioned the importance of reading and feasting on God’s Word as a daily practice in our lives. Scripture shows us what God desires in us and how Jesus showed us to live.  It also proclaims the promises of God to those who believe.  It is the ultimate buffet for Christians.

In Matthew 4 when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness the Word of God is what Jesus used to refute the lies and temptations of the evil one. Over and over he said, “It is written….” as a way to disprove the temptations that were being presented to him.  The same can hold true for us as well.  If we feast on the Word of God daily (over and over) it can help to lead us away from the tempter and remind us of what God promises and how Jesus showed us to live.

Jon Bloom once said, “When our body needs energy, we eat food.  But when our soul needs hope, what do we feed it?  Promises… Our souls are designed to be nourished by God’s precious and very great promises (2 Peter 1:4).”  When we sit down or take the time to read the Bible Psalm 19 says that we are feasting on something that is more desired than gold and sweeter than honey.  It’s time for us to take the time in our busy lives and learn from the one who can help us find direction, find purpose, find peace, and help us to handle the things the world throws at us.  God’s ultimate buffet is always open.

Make it Personal:  How has your time in God’s Word been recently?  Have you taken the time to be in God’s Word recently?  We must not let our Bibles collect dust and become nice pieces of decor around the house. It must be a vital, important, and daily part of our Christian lives.

Be blessed this week,  Glen Rhodes

Land of Milk & Honey

Read: Exodus 3:1-10

A recent news story out of Pennsylvania caught my attention recently.  On July 10 during a rainstorm, a couple who lived in a century old home heard water running down between their walls. When they investigated this peculiar noise closer they realized that what sounded like water was really fresh honey.  A colony of 30,000 bees had formed a hive in their attic and walls and the honey was flowing.  As one report said, “the only sting they have received so far is the estimated repair cost of $3,000 to move the bees out.

In Exodus 3 we read about the call of Moses from the burning bush at Mount Horeb.  God told him to lead the people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land that was flowing with milk and honey. Many other times in scripture we see reference to this concept of milk and honey which communicates a better place, a more prosperous place, and a place of blessing.  I’m not sure this year of 2020 would be on most people’s list of places flowing with milk and honey.

It has been a hard year. It has been a challenging year.  It has been a year like none other. But somewhere in the future is our promise of milk and honey.  Somewhere in the future is a place where we can see each other’s faces again in public places, where family members can hug without asking questions, and where good friends can shake hands again without wondering if it is socially acceptable.  Somewhere in the future we can attend ball games and concerts again and have fellowship meals with our church family.

We are all anxiously awaiting this new 21st century milk and honey reality. In the meantime we will continue to look to Jesus and learn how we can grow through these trials and tribulations that we now face. On the way to the Promised Land the Isrealites had many challenges along the way. Many of them were brought on themselves due to their disobedience and lack of trust in God. Let’s learn from their mistakes and stay obedient and trusting as we journey this difficult road together.

Make it Personal:  What has been the hardest thing for you on this Covid-19 journey? Have you been obedient, trusting, patient, and hopeful?  The Lord will see us through this just like the Isrealites through the wilderness. On the other side we will find fresh milk and sweet honey!

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

Construction Zones

Read: Hebrews 13

What is one thing that is constant when traveling the highways and interstates of our country?  Road construction zones.  We often complain about these construction zones that cause us to slow down and form one lane of traffic.  We sometimes will say, “when are they ever going to be done with all of this construction?”  Well, the answer is…. Never.  As soon as one section of highway is done there is always another that is in need of repair.

We can think of our lives in this way as well.  Adam Holz writes this, “Something similar is true in my spiritual life. Early in my faith, I imagined reaching a moment of maturity when I’d have it all figured out, when I’d be “smoothly paved.” Thirty years later, I confess I’m still “under construction.” Just like the perpetually potholed roads I drive, I never seem to be “finished” either. Sometimes that can feel equally frustrating.”

We understand what Adam is saying.  Our faith, our spiritual lives, our trust and reliance on God, are an ongoing work in progress.  We are under construction because we want to become better, we want to become more like Jesus.  In Hebrews 13:20-21 it says, “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

God is not finished with us yet.  The Lord will continue to equip us with everything we need to grow in him and become more like Jesus.  We are a work in progress and that work will continue for the rest of our lives.  Let us not be frustrated that we are under construction but let it encourage us to continually become better followers of Christ.

Make it Personal:  What area of your life right now is under construction?  How are you using that to become a better person, better spouse, better parent, and better follower of Jesus?

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

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

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