Midweek Reflections

Blessed are the Peacemakers

 

Read: Matthew 5:1-12      

One of the most powerful examples of Jesus Christ is his life of peace and reconciliation.  In the beatitudes he proclaims, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  It sounds like he wants us to live this out in our lives as well.  There are other verses in scripture that encourage this kind of relationship, reconciliation, and work towards peace.  Proverbs 12:20; Romans 14:19; Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14 are just a few of those.

Yet most of the time when Christians talk about peace it has to do with the benefit of Christ’s peace that we are blessed with in our lives instead of how we can bring about peace.  When referring to illustrations on peace I noticed that many are about the peace of Christ in our lives but few are about the peace that we are encouraged by Jesus to live out.

Don’t get me wrong, we should be very thankful for the peace and comfort that Jesus can bring us during hard and difficult times in our lives, it is a definite blessing of having Jesus in our life.  But what about Matthew 5:9 where Jesus says that those who make peace and bring about peace will be blessed and called children of God?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram once reported that firefighters in Genoa, Texas, were accused of deliberately setting more than forty destructive fires. When caught, they stated, “We had nothing to do. We just wanted to get the red lights flashing and the bells clanging.”  The job of firefighters is to put out fires, not start them. The job of Christians is to help resolve conflict (Matthew 5:9), not start more of it.

Being peacemakers can start in the relationships that are closest to us.  How are we working at peace in our relationships with each other?  How are we starting or creating fires in our relationships?  In the verses that follow the beatitudes Jesus talks about being salt and light in the world.  If we are to be the light of the world then that light must reflect the light and life of Jesus Christ.  This means working for peace and being examples of peace.

We all want peace in our world, even though that seems impossible much of the time.  But how about we start by being peacemakers close to home.  Instead of starting and creating fires of gossip, strife, hatred, and anger, how about we extinguish them with a Christ-like attitude of peace and reconciliation?  We all want more of that in our lives and in our world so how about we start being the peacemakers that Jesus calls us to be.  It starts with me!

Make it Personal:  Think about the fires in your life.  Have you created them?  Are they fires that have been burning for a long time?  Pray and ask Jesus to help you start extinguishing them with an attitude of peace and reconciliation.  Jesus knows the way, so seek his example and his guidance and begin a life of being a peacemaker.  If you do Jesus says you will be blessed and you will be called a child of God.

Have a peace-filled week everyone, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Rest, Reflect, and Rejoice

 

Read: Deuteronomy 5:1-12      

I ran across a quote recently that caught my attention.  I’m not sure who said it but after an Easter Sunday that saw churches overflowing with people it made me think about the current view of “The Lord’s Day” in our society and culture.  It went like this, “Our great-grandparents called it the holy Sabbath. Our grandparents called it the Lord’s Day. Our parents called it Sunday. And we call it the weekend.” 

One of the noticeable things about the creation story in Genesis 2:2 is that even God rested on the 7th day and made it a holy day.  It’s one thing to rest, we all like to relax, take naps, and do enjoyable things, but how do we keep the Sabbath day holy?  How do we approach Sunday as the Lord’s Day, the holy sabbath, and a day to rejoice?  

Most Christians agree that it is very important to follow the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, so how do we handle the 4th commandment that says, “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.”  What if the church came together every Sunday to worship like we do on Easter?  What if the Lord’s Day was filled with people rejoicing in Jesus, reflecting on God’s goodness, and resting in his presence and the presence of other believers?

I ran across a short story/parable recently that went like this…. “In the old days, ponies and mules were used to haul out the coal in the mining camps.  A man asked a little boy why there were so many ponies and mules out in the fields on Sunday. The little boy answered, “They work all week in the mines. We bring them up on Sunday’s so they won’t go blind.”

Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is the most important day of your week.  It is the day in which you can turn your eyes to Jesus so that you can keep seeing the important things in life.  It is a day to rest, it is a day to reflect on the past week and look ahead to what is to come. But most importantly it is a day to gather together with God’s people and worship, rejoice, receive, and reflect on God’s transforming work in your life.  That’s something we need every Sunday and not just once in awhile.

Make it Personal:  If your Sunday routine has not included the Lord and worshiping together with other believers I would encourage you to make an Easter resolution.  Resolve to make every Sunday the Lord’s Day once again in your life.  We often joke about assigned seats in church but the most important thing is that we are there to fill those seats and bring our worship to the Lord.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



I Owe All to You

 

Read: Matthew 26-28     

To begin this very special Holy Week I listened to Chris Tomlin’s CD “Love Ran Red.”  It is a powerful collection of songs about the love of Jesus, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus.  I highly recommend it as one of your Holy Week observances this week.  Worship Jesus for who he is, what he has done, and what he continues to do in your life. For this week’s meditation I encourage you to read the story in Matthew (chapters 26-28) once again and then consider these words that Chris Tomlin shares in his song “At the Cross (Love Ran Red).”

“There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies, There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide. Where all the love I’ve ever found, Comes like a flood, Comes flowing down. At the cross, At the cross, I surrender my life. I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You. Where Your love ran red and my sin washed white. I owe all to You, I owe all to You Jesus.

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless. Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness. Where all the love I’ve ever found. Comes like a flood, Comes flowing down. At the cross, At the cross, I surrender my life. I’m in awe of You. I’m in awe of You. Where Your love ran red and my sin washed white. I owe all to You, I owe all to You Jesus.

Here my hope is found, Here on holy ground, Here I bow down. Here arms open wide, Here You save my life, Here I bow down, Here I bow down.”

As I was listening to this song the other day I was overwhelmed by these words and the power of the music and testimony. Yes, I owe all that I am and all that I have to my Savior Jesus Christ.  He has saved me, he has delivered me from sin, he supports me in my daily life, he loves me, and he has provided eternal life for me in heaven.  I may have bills to pay and debts that I owe in this life but none is greater than what I owe to Jesus.  I owe all to Him!

Here is a video in which Chris Tomlin talks about this song and what it means.  I hope it will allow you to give thanks and worship the Lord for all that he has done for you as well…..

May the Lord bless you on this most holy of weeks and guide and direct your feet to the foot of the cross and to the empty tomb.  Jesus died for the sins of the world, was buried in the tomb, and three days later….. HE ROSE!

Make it Personal:  I encourage you to really make this week personal.  Find a way to worship Jesus.  Find a way to spend extra time in prayer and reading your Bible.  Find time to give thanks to God.  And for sure find time to observe Good Friday and Easter this weekend.

Have a blessed Easter, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Future Realities

Read: Colossians 3:1-17     

How much does your future reality impact your daily outlook?  How does an eternal future in heaven impact a believer’s daily life and attitude?  Maybe a better way to ask this is to say, how can we change our attitude about today with our hopes for tomorrow?  In Tim Keller’s book “Making Sense of God” (Viking, 2016, p. 153) he shares an example of how this works in people’s minds…

“Imagine you have two women of the same age, the same socioeconomic status, the same educational level, and even the same temperament. You hire both of them and say to each, “You are part of an assembly line, and I want you to put part A into slot B and then hand what you have assembled to someone else. I want you to do that over and over for eight hours a day.”

You put them in identical rooms with identical lighting, temperature, and ventilation. You give them the very same number of breaks in a day. It is very boring work. Their conditions are the same in every way—except for one difference. You tell the first woman that at the end of the year you will pay her thirty thousand dollars, and you tell the second woman that at the end of the year you will pay her thirty million.

After a couple of weeks the first woman will be saying, “Isn’t this tedious? Isn’t it driving you insane? Aren’t you thinking about quitting?” And the second woman will say. “No. This is perfectly acceptable. In fact, I whistle while I work.” What is going on? You have two human beings who are experiencing identical circumstances in radically different ways.

What makes the difference? It is their expectation of the future. This illustration is not intended to say that all we need is a good income. It does, however, show that what we believe about our future completely controls how we are experiencing our present. We are irreducibly hope-based creatures.”

I found that to be a very interesting example in light of future realities.  As Christians our hope is based on the promises of God and Jesus Christ that are proclaimed in the Bible.  Our hope is in our eternal reward of heaven when this life on earth has ended.  In Colossians 3 Paul says, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (v.1-2)

I’m not sure what your week has been like or what your situation in life is right now.  Life can be hard and filled with difficult days and decisions.  But as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ you must keep your eyes focused on this eternal hope that Paul is talking about.  Allow that reality to get you through the day to day realities of this life here on earth.  Our hope and future are bright, allow that brightness to shine into your week.

Make it Personal:  If you want to focus more on the hope of heaven I would recommend a book by Joni Eareckson Tada entitled “Heaven, Your Real Home.”  If anyone has had to deal with the tough realities of life here on earth it is Joni.  She was paralyzed in her youth and has used that tragic situation to give witness to her faith, her hope, and her trust in Jesus Christ.  Some day she will be walking, leaping, and jumping for joy in heaven, her future reality.

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



The Good Shepherd

Read: Psalm 23

Like any profession the sheep herding industry has good shepherds and bad shepherds.  Even though herding sheep is not nearly as popular today as it was in the time that Jesus walked in Galilee it still is a reality for some people.  I recently read this article from The Telegraph, a British newspaper.  It was reported that a flock of over 1,300 sheep “had to be rounded up by police in the Spanish city of Huesca after their shepherd fell asleep.”

The article continued: “According to city authorities, the police were alerted to the presence of the extremely large flock attempting to negotiate the streets in the center of Huesca at around 4:30 am on Tuesday when a local resident dialed Spain’s 112 emergency number. The dozing shepherd was meant to be keeping the animals in check outside the environs of the city while he waited for the clock to strike 7:00 am, when he was due to guide the sheep northwards through Huesca towards Pyrenean uplands where his flock will graze during the hot summer months. The police eventually found the herder, who was still peacefully slumbering. Together the embarrassed shepherd and police officers were eventually able to extract the sheep from the city and return them to their pastures.”

Psalm 23 is often used for times of loss, sorrow, and difficulty.  It is a perfect Psalm for comfort during those difficult times. But this Psalm is also a reminder that God is always on the job when it comes to looking out for his followers.  Because of that David says, “I’m not afraid” because he knows that God is walking by his side.  He also proclaims that God will “revive my drooping head” when that is needed.  And we all have those days when that is needed.

David was a shepherd himself in his early days. I am sure he was a very good shepherd. But he could write this Psalm about God because he knew how completely dependent he was on God. He was dependant on God in the same way that his sheep had been depending on him.  And from this Psalm we are reminded that God will always be ready and willing to lead, guide, direct, bless, and comfort us when we need it.

Make it personal:

 What are you afraid of this week?  Know that God is right there with you and can calm your fears if you call on him.  David said, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”  Turn to your Good Shepherd this week and place your trust in God, in all things.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



God is Really Among You!

Read: 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

This Winter I have paid more attention to the bare trees. So often we talk about how beautiful a tree looks when it is in full bloom or full color in the Summer or Fall but we ignore them in the winter when they are bare and as many would say “ugly.”  But I noticed something this Winter that reminded me of a verse in 1 Corinthians 14.

I noticed that in the Winter we can see all of the interesting branches of each tree that we don’t see the rest of the year.  Some have huge trunks and huge branches, others have many small branches that go all over the place, and then on others you can see where they have been trimmed back and are growing out in new ways.  It allows us to appreciate something else about tree’s, that they are unique and very different from one another.

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul is talking about various forms of worship and how we are to worship the Lord.  But in verse 25 he says something quite revealing.  He says, “As the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”  How long has it been since you laid your life before God, fell down on your knees, and worshiped God for loving you for who you are in Jesus Christ?

So often we try to cover up some of the hurts, sins, mistakes, and failures in our life.  God knows them and understands them and yet we still try to cover them up and keep them to ourselves.  The barren trees this Winter have been a reminder for me to be open and honest with God and others.  Let them see us for who we really are.  We don’t have to share everything with everybody but it is healthy for us to lay our life before God, worship the Lord, and receiving his unconditional love for us in Jesus.

Make it Personal: Spend some time in worship this week.  Lay out before God all of the things that have been weighing heavy on your heart and ask Jesus to fill your barrenness with his breathe of life and restoration.  Then come to worship at AMC this Sunday and hear more about how God can breathe new life into your life.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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