Midweek Reflections

Appreciation

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:11-24

There has been a lot of appreciation going around recently, and rightly so.  We appreciate doctors, nurses, first responders, truckers, food workers, teachers, parents, and all those jobs or service areas that are deemed essential during this time of social distancing and stay at home orders.  Really, there are so many to mention that even one paragraph could not cover them all. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Paul encourages us to “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  It has been great to see all the appreciation being shared on social media feeds these days.  It has been great to see commercials on television showing appreciation.  It has been great to see individuals and families building each other up with encouraging words and hope-filled sentiments.  It has been great to see the church family looking out for each other and asking what each other needs…. just as in fact you are doing.

Several other verses in chapter 5 also stand out during this time.  Verses 16-18 say, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…”  Undoubtedly, this time of being limited in our activities and not being able to be together will also make us appreciate those things even more when we can once again participate in them and actually be with others.  

Hopefully we will have an even greater appreciation for worshiping together, gathering in groups, having coffee with friends, watching and attending sporting events, going out to eat at a restaurant, going to school, and wow, the list could go on and on.  It may be hard sometimes to give thanks in all circumstances but we will surely give thanks in the future for many things we might have taken for granted in the past.

Make it Personal:  What would your list look like if you had to list all of the things you are thankful for and appreciate during this time of not having them?  Continue to show your appreciation to others during this time and think about how much you appreciate all those things you aren’t able to do right now. 

Be blessed and stay safe, Glen Rhodes



Better Over Bitter

Read: Ezekiel 36-37

One metaphor that is used often in the Bible is that of refining metals or burning off dross.  That is one of the oldest methods of removing impurities from certain metals. Even in ancient times people would sit next to a hot fire so as to skim the dross or impurities as they would rise to the top. The Bible uses this example in relationship to our life and our relationship with God. In Ezekiel 36:25 the prophet says, “I will cleanse your from all your impurities…”

Often it is in difficult times that God refines us, restores us, and renews us.  We can either let those difficult times make us bitter about what we are going through and what we are experiencing, or we can pray about how God can make us better by going through them.  What can we learn from this current pandemic that we are living through? How can we grow closer in our relationship with Christ and our depending on him? What impurities may need to be removed during this season?  What might we need to repent of?

In Ezekiel 36-37 the prophet talks about restoration.  Chapter 36 moves from verses about cleansing to chapter 37 which speaks of dry bones coming to life.  Right now we may feel like we are in a time of extraordinary change and challenge. Nothing is as it was even several months ago.  Life is different, life is changed, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  

The question is what are we going to be like when we reach the end of this tunnel?  Will we become better because of what we have been through or will we become bitter because of what we had to go through?  Hopefully there will be proof of our faith in God and surely the Lord will help us to become better followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The apostle Paul is a great example for us in this. Through all his trials and afflictions in the New Testament he pressed on and allowed those trials to make him a better person and servant of Jesus.  He chose better over bitter. 

Make it Personal:  I’ll be the first to admit that this season of life has been a challenge.  No church gatherings, no school, no family get togethers, no sports or concerts, the list could go on.  But in the midst of our frustrations we must use this time to better ourselves and develop a closer walk with God.  You will get to that light at the end of the tunnel and the Lord will renew your spirit.

Have a blessed and safe week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



Love Over Fear

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

“These days are unlike any we have ever lived through in our lifetime.”  I have heard this from people of all ages in the last several weeks as we go through this time of stay at home orders and quarantine due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus.  People, especially followers of Jesus, were probably saying that during Passion Week as well when he ate the last supper with his disciples, was betrayed, tried before Pontius Pilate, crucified on the cross, and rose three days later.

And yet there is really no comparison.  What happened during that week over 2,000 years ago has forever changed and shaped the world we live in. Yes, things will be different as we move beyond this virus and these very challenging times, but those differences will pale in comparison to what Holy Week means for us and the world.  Holy Week is when love conquered fear. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross shows his love for us in the grace and forgiveness that was paid for us in blood. His resurrection three days later on Easter shows that His true love even conquers death for us.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…”  In a time of fear, anxiety, stress, and unknowns, we need a week like this to focus on the love of God.  While it should be our focus every week this week raises our level of awareness. God loves you! His Son Jesus died for you because of that love!  Jesus rose on Easter so that his love can help you conquer and overcome anything in this world, even death! That is Holy Week, it was and still is unlike anything this world has ever seen.

Make it Personal:  Express your thanks to God this week for His love for you.  Place your trust and hope in Jesus this week who paid the ultimate price on the cross for your salvation.  When fear, worry, and anxiety are weighing you down during these weeks pray to Jesus and ask for his love, comfort, care, and deliverance to be with you.  His love over your fear!

Have a blessed and safe week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



Staying Positive

Read: Various Scriptures Listed Below

My wife is always great at helping me to see the positive side of things.  The other day we were on a walk and I commented about how uneven and patchy the grass grows at the beginning of each spring.  She then said, “I just love to see the green grass after a long cold winter.” If ever there was a time to stay positive it is right now.  When the announcement was made this week that we would continue to “shelter in place” until the end of April it made us all think about the long road ahead. 

This has been such a disruption to everything we once knew to be normal.  We know it will pass and we know that better days are ahead but how do we stay positive during this next month?  Some suggestions I have seen in various articles suggest to get up at your normal time each morning, take a shower, make your bed, and put on your clothes as if you were going out to work for the day or going to the grocery store.  This will get your blood flowing and allow you to have a more healthy perspective on the day ahead. Others encourage us to get outside on nice days and find ways to reach out to others through phone calls, cards, face to face chats online.

I agree with all of those suggestions.  I would also encourage daily devotions and prayer as well.  Here are some wonderful passages of scripture from God’s Word to read and reflect on.  Look these up and use them to help you focus on the good and positive on days that might not always feel that way.

Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:1-2; Psalm 19:14; Philippians 2:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-21;  Ephesians 6:18; Proverbs 17:22; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Proverbs 17:22; Philippians 2:5-1; Proverbs 23:18;  Nahum 1:7; Hebrews 11:1. May God’s Word keep you positive and hopeful.

Make it Personal:  Be the positive person that you need to be during this time for yourself, your family, and others.  Rely on the Lord to see you through this time of change, unfamiliarity, challenge, and frustration. As you look at the green grass this spring just focus on the good things in life and stay positive.  I am going to try to do better myself.

Have a blessed and safe week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



Essentials

Read:  Hebrews 10:22-25

We have been hearing a lot about essentials lately.  Essential jobs, essential workers, essential activities, essential needs, and the basic essentials that people need to survive.  I suppose toilet paper could be included in that. These conversations during this time of unprecedented measures causes us to think deeper about what the essentials of life and society truly are.  It has caused us to be extra thankful for all those who are so needed and vital to keep the life, health, and well-being of others supported during these days of extraordinary challenge.

It has also caused me to think about other essentials as well.  Hebrews 10 includes some very essential things for us to focus on during times of trial, questions, and difficulty.  It says we need to draw near to God. It says we need place full assurance in our faith in God. It says we need to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.  It says we need to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. It says that we are to encourage one another. It even says that we are not to give up meeting together (except maybe when there is a global pandemic going on).

I guess these conversations about essentials has made me realize who and what is essential in my life.  I hope it has done the same for you. As we think about what the essential things of life here on earth are I hope we will also think about the essentials of our faith, salvation, and hope in Jesus Christ.  Those are truly the most essential when we think about the promise of eternal life in heaven for those who believe and follow Jesus as the Lord of their life. Yes, we need to be very thankful for all the essentials of life, but we need to be extra thankful for the essentials of heaven.   It is those things that we will have for all of eternity. 

Make it Personal:  Take some time to name all of the essentials of this earthly life you can think of.  Then take some time to name all the essentials of your faith in God and your hope in Jesus Christ.  Let’s not forget during this time of trial what the most important things in life truly are.

Have a blessed and safe week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



Heavenward Engagement

Read: 
Isaiah 40:28-31; Psalm 121; 1 Peter 5:6-11

The phrase that will get added to our dictionaries and lexicons for 2020 will undoubtedly be “Social Distancing.”  This phrase has been used so much in the past couple of weeks as we try to avoid other people, stand 6 feet apart, not shake hands, and wash our hands as often as possible.  That’s difficult! It’s hard not to engage with other people because we are a social bunch. 

Hopefully before long we can begin to gather in groups again.  But during this time when we are distancing ourselves from others, how about we take our relationship with Jesus to a new level.  How about we spend more time in prayer, reading the Bible, listening to sermons, reflecting on devotionals, or engaging in Bible Studies online or on television.  It’s during times like these that we really need more heavenly engagement than earthly entertainment.

The scripture passages listed in this week’s reflection are great places to start.  They talk about where to cast your anxiety, where to lift your eyes for help, and where you can draw strength during this time.  If you go searching you will find many more. God’s Word is full of promise and hope for times of difficulty, challenge, and suffering.   Instead of filling all of our down time at home with “other things” how about we fill it with “helpful things” or “spiritual things.”

Until these times of distance begin to change, I am reminded of the words that John wrote in 2 John 1:12.  He said, “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink (or computer screen and internet).  Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” May we remain steadfast and joyful during this time of change, but let us look forward to the day when we can once again meet together face to face.

Make it Personal:  Think about how you spend your time these days.  How much of your time is spent on things that add to your worry and fear (news, movies, social media)?  How much of it is spent on family (children, spouse, friends)? How much of it is spent on heavenly engagement (prayer, Bible reading and study, sermons, or outreach)?  Hopefully you can find a balance that is good for you and good for your relationship with Jesus and others.

Have a blessed and safe week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes




Reflection Archives

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010