Midweek Reflections

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

Addicted To Convenience

Read: Romans 8:18-30

A year or so in the past I read an article that said “Americans are addicted to convenience.”  At the time I questioned how true that statement was but this current pandemic has revealed that in Western culture we don’t do very well when it comes to doing without or being uncomfortable.  None of us would choose this current situation if we had a choice, but when we are going through something uncomfortable we always wait eagerly for future change and redemption.

In Romans 8, Paul, who suffered greatly and gave up much convenience for the sake of Christ, reminds us that our life of faith is like this too.  Before Jesus saved us by dying on the cross for us we were “groaning inwardly as we waited eagerly for our adoption” by God to be redeemed.  Earlier in verse 18 Paul says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  That glory is revealed in Jesus Christ.

There is no doubt that we like our conveniences here in the United States.  In some respects our choices are endless and our lives are pretty comfortable.  But what will we learn during this pandemic about suffering, loss, being uncomfortable, and doing without?  Perhaps we will realize that life in this world is sometimes imperfect.  Like Paul says, “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

But here is the good news.  In the midst of an imperfect world the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (v.26).  In the truth that we are imperfect people Jesus has come to redeem us and save us (v. 22-25).  And in spite of all our suffering and addictions God will work for the good of those who love him (v.28).  If this time of inconvenience draws us closer to God and causes us to rely more on Jesus then perhaps we will look back on 2020 differently than how we see it now.

Make it Personal:  Most of the time we are able to choose between shelves and shelves of toothpaste, toilet paper, and meat items.  Most of the time we can pick and choose what events we want to buy tickets to.  Most of the time we can go sit down and eat at our favorite restaurant.  In some sense we are quite blessed by those conveniences.  Perhaps this is a time for us to think about the Bibles many verses about patience and perseverance.

 Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

Each Spring, I Stand In Awe

Read: Psalm 48

Each year when the Spring season begins its greening and blooming I have to take time to marvel at how incredible this world is that God created.  Things that were totally dead spring to new life.  Grass that was totally brown turns to lush shades of green.  Flowers that faded in the Fall once again Spring to life.  These things make me want to proclaim with Psalm 48, “Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise.”

One of my favorite worship songs through the years has been “I Stand in Awe.”  It truly proclaims how I feel when I think of creation, when I think of what God has done, when I consider the stars, the thunder, and the incredible power that God displays throughout the universe.  I stand in awe and in awesome wonder when I think of human life and how our bodies work to provide life one generation after another.  Despite living in a sinful world full of natural disasters, disease, and global change, our God’s sovereignty is truly incredible.

And then to consider what God has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.  He did not spare his Son but gave him up in order to bear our sin and burden’s on the cross of Calvary.  He bled and died that day to take away our sins.  One day Jesus is coming back with shouts of acclamation to take us home, and that day will truly be a day that we stand in awe and proclaim “My God, how great Thou art!”

You probably recognized some of the words I have used in this week’s meditation.  I have combined the worship song “I Stand in Awe” and the hymn “How Great Thou Art” to proclaim the greatness of God.  And yet as the worship song proclaims, “You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words, too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard.”  I guess I will just stop trying to describe it and stand in awe of how great God truly is.  I hope that you will stand with me this week and be reminded of our awesome God.

Make it Personal:  Find a way this week to get outside and enjoy the warming weather.  As you do take in the wonder of creation and the new life that is springing forth around you.  Praise God for what he has done and continues to do in your life and in this world.  The Lord is in control of this world that He has created and He is in control of everything you are facing in your life.  Allow God to be your source of praise and strength this week.  Then step back and stand in awe!

 Have an awesome week,  Glen Rhodes

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