Midweek Reflections

Active Expectations

Read:  James 1:19-27

In the news recently there was a story about a woman in Santa Rosa, California who was trying to sue Dr. Pepper because she did not lose weight.  This woman had been drinking Diet Dr. Pepper for 13 years in hopes that it would make her lose weight. When it didn’t she sued the company for deceptive advertising.  A three judge panel thankfully dismissed her suit. It makes you wonder if this lady exercised or ate a healthy diet while drinking her Diet Dr. Pepper.

In the book of James we read about the importance of putting our words and our learnings from God’s Word into practice in our everyday lives.  Knowing what the Bible says and learning from it’s words is an important part of every Christian’s life. But if we don’t put those words into action they will mean very little in our day to day witness and interactions with others.  Along with listening to the wisdom of God we must also put that wisdom into action.

Verses 22 and 23 of James 1 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”  The expectation of learning from Jesus and the Word of God is that we will become active in living his example out in the world. Helping the orphans, widows, poor, and those in distress is how faith gets put into action. (v.27)

The woman in California apparently is expecting something for nothing.  She wants to lose weight but she wants to blame diet drinks for not succeeding instead of taking other steps herself.   The news article also mentioned that she had sued Diet Coke with the same accusation. If we expect the good news of the gospel to make a difference in the world we need to put our faith into action.

Make it Personal:  How many times do we expect others to do what we ourselves need to do?  When the reading of God’s word prompts you to action take the steps to do what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do and don’t wait on someone else to do it.  God spoke to you for a reason.

Have a great week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes



Open The Floodgates

Read: Malachi 3:8-12

What does the Bible say about the tithe?  What does tithing mean? How much does the Bible tell us to tithe?  These are all questions that Christians often ask as they think about their giving, generosity, and supporting the work of the Lord.  The answer to some of those questions will depend on who you ask or how they interpret the command to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse” as it says in Malachi 3:10.

Pastor David Jeremiah recently wrote a daily devotional about this scripture and titled it “Robbing God.”  These verses actually mention that idea. Dr. Jeremiah writes, “The final book of the Old Testament, the last of the Hebrew prophets urged the Israelites – those who had returned from Babylon to restore the nation of Judah – to make some improvements.  The people were lapsing into complacency and apathy. One area that needed changing – their personal giving patterns. They failed to consistently give a tenth of their income to the Lord. Malachi put it as sharply as he knew how. They were robbing God!”

In verse 10 Malachi says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)  Dr. Jeremiah suggests that this is the only time in scripture that we are invited to test or try God.

Giving generously to the work of the Lord through the church and other ministries is an important part of our stewardship as followers of Jesus.  The giving of money, time, and attention is what allows the church and other Christian based ministries to continue the work laid out for us in the gospels. We are called to spread the good news of Jesus, help the needy and destitute, and love others.  When we are generous in those endeavors the floodgates of blessing will come raining down.

Make it Personal:  How is your generosity toward God and his ministry in the world going these days?  How can you do better? What changes need to take place in your heart or in your finances to make this possible.  Remember the words of scripture, “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Saved By Grace

Read: Ephesians 2:1-10

A story is told about Martin Luther and sin.  One night Luther went to sleep troubled about his sin.  In a dream he saw an angel standing by a blackboard, and at the top of the board was Luther’s name.  The angel, chalk in hand, was listing all of Luther’s sins, and the list filled the blackboard. Luther shuddered in despair, feeling that his sins were so many that he could never be forgiven.

Have you ever felt like that?  Martin Luther’s story does not end there.  In that same dream he saw a pierced hand writing these words above his list of sins.  It said, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” As Luther gazed in amazement, drops of blood flowed from the wounded hand and washed the blackboard full of his sins clean.  Jesus can wash away our sins as well. In Ephesians 2:1-10 the apostle Paul talks about how this is a gift from Jesus and not something we have to earn or work for.

Joyce Meyer says this about Ephesians 2.  “Paul did not say that by grace you are being saved, or that you shall be saved, but you have been saved.  Salvation is an established work (something already finished), leaving no room for us to try to work for it because God has already given it.  If I give my daughter a lovely gift, it has already been paid for and there is no way she can pay for it again. We cannot pay for our salvation because Jesus has already paid, but we can and should respond in love and with a deep desire to be pleasing to Him in all our ways.”

If you have been trying to earn God’s grace it’s time to just stop and receive it as God’s gift to you through his Son Jesus.  Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin and restore our relationship with God. What a great gift. This is why the symbol of the cross has become the lasting testimony of the Christian church.  Because it is by His grace that we who believe are saved.

Make it Personal:  If you believe in Christ and want to receive him as your Savior and Lord you can pray this prayer today and be saved.  “Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I repent of my sins and I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord.  Take control of my life and help me to find victory over all the attacks of the evil one. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.” Welcome child of God and follower of Jesus! 

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Why? Why? Why?

Read: Romans 7:7-25

The Houston Astros World Series Championship from 2017 recently took on a new discovery.  Major League Baseball (MLB) investigated claims that the team had installed a camera in center field which would tip pitches to the batters at the plate.  In other words, they knew what pitch was coming when the pitcher was winding up to throw it. This process of cheating was both elaborate and simple, but it was illegal and broke MLB rules.  The Astros Manager and General Manager both lost their jobs over this.

Why would professional athletes who were talented enough to make it to the top level of their sport be willing to cheat and risk it all?  Why would those aware of this allow it to continue? Why would the conscience of those involved not encourage them to put a stop to it? Shouldn’t the steroid era have been enough to learn from?  In Romans 7 the apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome. In verse 19 he says, “For I do not do the good I want to, but the evil I do not want to do, this I keep doing.” Paul is referring to sin in our lives.  The sin in our world that tempts us to cheat, lie, steal, and do all the things we know are wrong.

The important part of Romans 7 comes at the end of the chapter when Paul tells us how to be rescued from these things.  In verses 24-25 he says, “Who will rescue me… Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” If we repent of our sins and ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins, he will do just that.  That is good news for all of us, because the sins of this world can and do affect us all.

The Astros cheating scandal is still a developing story and may end up including more players, mangers, and teams before all is said and done.  I hope those involved will respond in the way that fired Met’s manager Carlos Beltran responded in a statement to ESPN. Beltran was a player on the 2017 Astros and was recently hired as the Met’s new manager.  He said, “As a veteran player on the team, I should have recognized the severity of the issues and I truly regret the actions that were taken. I am a man of faith and integrity, and what took place did not demonstrate those characteristics that are so very important to me and my family.  I am very sorry.” 

I believe from that statement that Beltran most likely repented of his sin and asked Jesus to forgive him.  Yes, there were consequences that followed. He will not be able to manage even one game for the Mets this season and possibly beyond.  However, if he has repented of this to Jesus, he is truly forgiven and his guilt from the past will be erased even if human beings never forgive him.  That truth is what Jesus brought to all of us, his grace and forgiveness is always waiting for you and for me. 

Make it Personal:  No one sin is greater than any other sin.  All sin must be repented of and washed in the grace of Jesus.  What do you need to have washed clean in your life? Just say an honest repentant prayer to Jesus and ask for his forgiveness.  It is a free gift for all who will believe.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Knowing God’s Will

Read: Ephesians 5:1-10

How often do you wish God would just tell you what to do and how to do it?  We usually think that when we have a big decision to make or when we are seeking direction in our life.  Will we hear God’s voice? Will God’s Word speak to me? How will I know? While these questions are often fair or honest we sometimes forget about being in God’s will while trying to discern God’s will.  

Jen Wilken wrote about this in a recent Christianity Today article.  She wrote, “In our desire for certainty, we may become fixated on doing and become forgetful of being.”  That sounds a lot like our vision at AMC which encourages us to grow or “be” like Mary while also “serving” like Martha.  In her article Jen goes on to share the things that God makes clear to us about “being” when seeking his will.

She writes, “God does have a will for our lives that is clearly stated; that we be sanctified, made holy, conformed to the image of Christ (1 Thess. 4:3; Eph. 5:1).  You will never have to lay out a fleece to know for certain that it is God’s will that you live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:12).  You will never have to fast to be 100 percent certain that it is God’s will that you be free from selfish ambition and vain conceit (Phil. 2:3)”

She continues, “You will never have to look for handwriting on the wall to know beyond a doubt that it is God’s will that you set aside impurity and greed (Eph. 5:3).  You will never have to wait for confirmation from a friend or spouse that it is God’s will that you be slow to anger (James 1:19). You will never have to listen for a still, small voice to know without reservation that it is God’s will that you practice thankfulness (Eph. 5:4).  You will never have to search the sky for a message in the clouds to know without a doubt that it is God’s will that you be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4). God has indeed spoken to us with clarity through his Word.”

If you have a big decision to make or you are discerning God’s will and direction on something, perhaps these are places to start.  When our life is being lived within God’s will, our life decisions will flow naturally out of our relationship with the creator. As Jen ends here article she writes, “We are called to be transformed. We seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness, trusting our circumstances to his sovereign care and submitting our character to his gracious will.”

Make it Personal:  Take time to look up the verses listed in Jen’s article and allow God’s Word to lead, guide, and direct you in the days ahead.  Allow Ephesians 5:1-10 to show you the way and as verse 10 says, “find out what pleases the Lord.”

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Kingdom/Eternal Resolutions

Read: 2 Corinthians 4

In the message this past Sunday I talked some about New Year’s resolutions.  When people make resolutions they often revolve around the physical instead of the spiritual.  Lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, save more money, etc. While those things are not bad and can do us some good 2 Corinthians 4:18 encourages us to… “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Pastor James Emory White says that most of our resolutions revolve around three poles: money, health, and family.  He then goes on to share 15 ideas from scripture for those who want to life a life of strategic Kingdom/Eternal investment. 
Here is the list….

  1. Pray more.

     So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord… ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’” says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6, NIV)

 

  1. Invest in your spiritual gift(s). 

    Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
(I Timothy
 4:14-15, NIV)

 

  1. Get more intentional about evangelism.

    I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (I Corinthians 9:22, NIV)

 

  1. Care for yourself spiritually.

    Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  (Philippians 3:12, NIV)

 

  1. Make the tough decisions you know are best.

    And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24, NIV)

 

  1. Confront debilitating patterns of sin.

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

 

  1. Do the hard work needed to build community.

    If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.  (Matthew 18:15, NIV)

 

  1. Keep in touch with contemporary culture.

    From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders… All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take. (I Chronicles 12:32, NLT)

 

  1. Quit comparing yourself to other Christians, other leaders, and other churches.

    Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You – follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the    brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?”   (John 21:20-23, Msg)

 

  1. Read more.

    Timothy, please come as soon as you can… When you come, be sure to…  bring my books… (II Timothy 4:9, 13, NLT)

 

  1. Prioritize your family.

    A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife… attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? (I Timothy 3:2-5, Msg)

 

  1. Refuse to use ministry or work to satisfy your personal ambitions.

    Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. (Jeremiah 45:5, NIV)

 

  1. Love people, not just crowds.

    If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (I Corinthians 13:1-3, Msg)

 

  1. Be more open to change.

    See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

 

  1. Stay focused on the vision.

    They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, NIV)

 Make it Personal:  These 15 are a great place to start.  Or maybe just start with one of these that needs your attention right now.  Perhaps we could use these 15 suggestions throughout the new year ahead of us.  The goal of course is to be Kingdom focused with Eternity in our sights as we live our daily lives.

Happy New Year, Pastor Glen Rhodes




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