Midweek Reflections

I Do & I Don’t

Read: Romans 7:14-25
Do you sometimes do things that you know you should not do?  It’s a dilemma that all humans face because of sinful nature and Godly nature.  We are all made in the image of God and yet because of sin in the world we are faced with choices of right and wrong almost daily, maybe even hourly.  Why does temptation to sin seem so glamorous when in reality it is so destructive?
In a recent golfdigest.com article, Joel Beall writes about an interesting golf hole on the shores of Lake Michigan.  The 12th hole at Arcadia Bluffs has a beautiful view of Lake Michigan from the tee box. In the past the golf course had a sign on the tee box that discouraged golfers from hitting balls out in into Lake Michigan.  After a while they realized that drawing attention to this temptation (with the sign) actually caused more people to tee one up into the lake than if the sign had not been there at all.
While that example is much less damaging than other choices of right and wrong it gives evidence of what Paul is writing about in Romans 7.  In verse 15 he says, “I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate.” What Paul is pointing out is that our sinful nature too often convinces us to do things that we really know are not right, good, or Godly.  Thus the sign on the 12th hole at Arcadia Bluffs. Don’t do this was the reason that many ended up doing it. The course manager has since removed the sign instead of giving golfers the idea.
Too often people view God or the Bible as only a list of right and wrongs.  A more truthful way to view God and the Bible is through the love that is shown to us by our creator.  God loves us so much and thus warns us about sinful things in this world that will cause us misery and heartache.  His love for us will never die but we are cautioned about the sin in this world that will ultimately bring harm to us.  Later in the book of Galatians Paul also says that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. Self-control is a fruit that allows us to say “No, I don’t want to do this” when a part of us wants to say “Yes, I do.”  
Make it Personal:  Be aware when these kind of choices come up in your life.  Ask yourself what God’s desire is as you are faced with the sinful desires of the world that can bring misery, heartache, and harm.  God loves you and wants to help you stay on a path that leads to a good, holy, and pleasing life in this world. You can do it with God’s help and the Fruit of the Spirit!
Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

This I Know For Sure

Read: John 20

One day my wife and I were discussing Bluetooth technology.  I proclaimed that I knew how it works because I could turn it on with one device and immediately it would connect with the other.  She wanted a more detailed explanation. She said, “No, how does that work? How is that possible?”
I will be the first to admit that there are many things I do not know.  If I started to list all of them in this short midweek reflection it would end up being longer than anyone would ever want to read.  I don’t know everything about creation, about this world, about how everything works, about who will win the World Series this year, or who will be the next U.S President.    
In fact, I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about God or the Christian faith.  In a small group conversation one time we discussed the importance of being able to say “I don’t know” sometimes when we really don’t know.  Honesty is more respectable than trying to act like we know the answers to everything. We need to remember that as we share our faith with others.  There are some things that only God knows and God intends for it to be that way for our own good. However, there are things revealed to us that help us to understand the incredible love and grace that God has shown to us through his Son Jesus Christ.     
Doubting Thomas in John 20 changed his doubt of Christ’s resurrection to proclaiming “My Lord and my God!” when he saw the crucifixion wounds of Jesus for himself.  Right after that Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The day after my wife and I had the conversation about Bluetooth technology I heard a song by Christian music artist David Crowder that proclaimed over and over “This I Know!”  I thought to myself. “There are a lot of things in life I don’t know (including how Bluetooth truly works) but some of the fundamental and most important things I definitely do know.”
In the book of 1st John there are quite a few verses that begin with the words, “This is how we know….”  As believers we know that Jesus died on the cross of Calvary for our sins; we know he rose from the grave to defeat death; we know he lives in our lives today with power and truth; we know that he has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, empower us, and give us strength to face everything that this life brings.  This we know…. because we have witnessed and experienced the difference that Jesus makes in our day to day lives. Let’s share that with a world that so desperately needs to hear it and know it!  
Make it Personal:  How easy is it for you to say “I don’t know” when you truly don’t know the answer to something?  How hard is it for you to share what you do know about the truth of Christ and the truth of God’s Word with others?  As Christians we know the way, the truth, and the life through Jesus our Savior. That is the way to living the good life that we need to share with others.

Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Why The Suffering?

Read: Romans 5:1-11
In the Old Testament books of Job, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and Psalms of Lament we learn that suffering in the world is just a fact of life.  When we look around us even today this reality is still painfully obvious with all kinds of different ways that people suffer. Why do people suffer?  Why do we suffer? Often those answers are beyond our human comprehension.
But in Romans 5 in the New Testament we are given somewhat of an understanding as to why suffering in our world exists.  Verse 3 says, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” We are also reminded in scripture that during those times of suffering God does not leave us alone.  While our faith is being refined by fire, God is there to be with us and bring comfort during the trial. God will also bring forth redemption.
While we usually cannot answer the question of why suffering comes we can learn how those times challenge our deepest convictions and strongest beliefs.  The With-God Life Bible shares these things we can learn from the reality of suffering. 1) It can teach us patience and endurance. 2) it can lead us to trust in God so as to avoid despair.  3) As we persevere through suffering we can see that God’s reality is beyond the scope of our individual wishes and desires. 4) Suffering is redeemable. All things do “work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
No one would choose suffering over all the other options in life, but when suffering comes we can be thankful that Jesus will be there to see us through it.  In those times is when we truly experience the caring, loving, and abiding presence of our God who holds each of us in the palm of his hand. We should also remember that Jesus suffered all the way to the cross for each one of us, therefore, we should have no doubt that he understands what we are going through.
Make it Personal:  In what ways have you experienced suffering or are currently experiencing suffering in your life?  How have you responded or how are you responding? Depend on God to see you through your times of suffering, ask Jesus to sustain you, protect you, and grow you during them.
Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Pride and Humility

Read: Proverbs 11
The book of Proverbs is filled with references about pride and humility.  A quick count brings forth 13 verses that specifically speak of how pride and humility are revealing traits of the human heart.  Many other verses reference the foolishness of pride and the blessings of humility. James even references one of those Proverbs when he says, “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6)
In the Jesus Bible Daily Devotional on the YouVersion Bible app it says, “Pride vaunts the person to the supreme arbitrator of life and demonstrates a lack of submission to God as the one who knows how best life should be lived.  Discounting God’s wisdom through human pride invariably leads to destruction in this life and the next.” The devotional goes on to say, “Humility, in contrast, affirms God is sovereign, omnipotent, and omniscient.  He knows how life should be lived far better than humans, whose vision is always limited on this life.”
Warren Wiersbe and Lloyd Perry once told a story about missionary Hudson Taylor.  Taylor was scheduled to speak at a large church in Australia and the moderator of the service introduced the missionary in very eloquent and glowing terms.
The moderator went on and on about all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.”  Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.”  We must remember that pride and humility are seen in the actions of all humans. As followers of Jesus may our actions resemble the humility of Jesus and obedience towards God’s guidance in life.
Make it Personal:  As you make decisions and live your life this week try to think about your actions.  Are they prideful or are they reflecting the humility of Christ? Pray for Jesus to give you a heart that is humble towards God and ready to flee from worldly pride.
Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

God’s Ageless Greatness

Read: Psalm 145
The ageless Christian music group Newsboys has a new song that is titled “The Greatness of Our God.”  The lyrics proclaim “In awesome wonder, He reigns forever, we know the greatness of our God. His power is endless, He lives within us, we know the greatness of our God.”  In Psalm 145 David proclaims this truth in many different ways and in verse 4 says, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.”
People today have many reasons for wanting to live good long lives.  There is retirement, family, grandchildren, traveling, and hobbies to pursue.  Some spend their days volunteering and serving others which is a very Christ-like way to put our faith in action.  But what if we took this verse of Psalm 145 to heart? What if our main focus of living a good long life would be to proclaim God’s greatness to the following generations?
The Bible is full of examples of this.  One generation stepping up to pass along their faith to the next.  Even in our failures and shortcomings we can testify to how God forgives us and restores us through his Son Jesus.  We are not perfect, but we are perfected through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. With so many issues and strong feelings swirling around our culture today this is a truth that needs to be shared widely.
The Newsboys begin their song by singing “From the dawn of creation this world has been crying out for hope, for a hero to save us.”  In Psalm 145 David says, “They (each generation) speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty… They tell of the power of your awesome works… They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”  Let’s join David and the Newsboys in proclaiming the greatness of our God from generation to generation.  
Make it Personal:  Perhaps we should ask ourselves, “what am I doing to proclaim the greatness of God and the hope of Jesus Christ to the next generation?”  No matter what age you are there is always a generation coming behind you. We must not fail them by failing to share with them how to live a good life in and through Jesus Christ.  He is the one who has come to save us!
Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Last to First

Read: Matthew 20:1-16
The St. Louis Blue’s are this years Stanley Cup Champions of the National Hockey League.  This was their first championship since coming into the league in 1967. However, back in the first week of January this result did not seem even remotely possible.  On January 3rd the Blue’s were in last place and had the worst record in the NHL. A coaching change was made, some lineup adjustments were made, and a new attitude and perspective carried the team from last to first.
This last to first story in the world of sports reminds us of a parable that Jesus told in Matthew 20 about the workers in the vineyard.  The one difference is that Jesus is speaking about salvation instead of rewards. I encourage you to read the parable yourself because the premise of what Jesus is teaching should resonate with everyone.  God’s generous grace is for all, not just those whom the world labels successful.
While it is good and fine to celebrate hard work, success, and achievement in life we must never equate those things with the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.  In our most difficult hours of life Jesus picks us up, dusts us off, and says, “I care about you, I love you, and I forgive you, come walk in the newness of life that I provide for you.”  At the end of the parable, in verse 16, Jesus makes this new way clear by stating, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Those words are simply proclaiming that God’s kingdom has a different way of seeing things in the world.  Much of the time it turns the world’s system upside down. Jesus is telling this parable to teach that things may not always seem fair when talking about the grace of God.  He is also teaching that grace and forgiveness is not something to be earned, it is a gift of God found through his Son Jesus Christ. Even those who are last in the eyes of the world are first in the eyes of Jesus.
Make it Personal:  Is it sometimes hard for you to accept that God will forgive anyone and everyone who comes to him with a repentant heart?  Our flesh often screams out about what is fair, right, or just. Instead of harboring ill will in your life try focusing on the gracious benefits God has given to you personally.  Be thankful that you too can be one of the forgiven in Jesus Christ despite your past or present situation.
Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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