Midweek Reflections

Not Your Past


Read: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Perhaps you have seen the Peanuts cartoon where Charlie Brown and Lucy are playing baseball?  During the game a fly ball is hit to Lucy and she misses it. Charlie Brown is curious as to why she missed such an easy fly ball out.  Lucy responds by saying that while the ball was in the air she remembered all the others she had missed in the past.  She said, “The past got in my eyes.”  Perhaps you can relate.  You have trouble moving forward because of guilt or shame from the past.  Some years ago Major League Baseball manager Sparky Anderson said, “I’ve got my faults, but living in the past is not one of them.  There’s no future in it.”

Too often people live as if their past defines them.  They can’t move past their failures, mistakes, and sins to embrace the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.  In the story of Nicodemus and Jesus in John 3, Nick comes to Jesus in the cover of night and asks him what this teaching about being born again really means.  Jesus explains that we are not born again physically but spiritually into a new creation in Him (Jesus Christ).  Not long after that encounter comes one of the most quoted verses in all the Bible in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Going back to the Peanuts.  Many times we are like Linus who carried his security blanket around everywhere he went.  We don’t let go of our soiled and difficult past to embrace something new.  A new more promising security in Jesus.  Peanuts creator Charles M. Shulz introduced that blanket for Linus in a comic strip in 1954.  Interestingly, toward the end of the comic strip’s run, Shulz had the blanket appear less and less.  During a Charlie Brown Christmas special Linus even drops the blanket and says “Fear Not!”  The same words that Jesus comforts his disciples with in the book of Matthew.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul proclaims, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  This is why we don’t have to live in our past or dwell on those mistakes when Jesus has been invited into our lives.  You don’t have to listen to condemning voices from your past or be overwhelmed by guilt and unforgiveness.  His grace and forgiveness will cover you.  You are or will be a new creation in Jesus once you receive his gift of salvation.  I love the way that the Peanuts characters brought so many of these life lessons to us through the years.  Many of them were even lessons straight from the Bible.  My prayer this week is that you can find redemption and grace for your past through Jesus.  He is about your future, not your past!

Make it Personal:

  This week I hope you can make these words from Isaiah 43:18-19 personal and a part of your life moving forward.  “Forget the former things; so do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes


The World As It Is


Read:  1 John 4:1-8       

One morning this week following the Las Vegas mass shooting I stumbled into the bathroom to get ready for a new day.  The news of evil, tragedy, and destruction were heavy on my heart.  I could not fathom the pain and heartache that those at that concert and their families were experiencing.  I then turned to a plaque on the wall of our bathroom that I usually pay little attention to.  It was the words of the Serenity Prayer on that wall hanging that caught my attention and calmed my Spirit.

This prayer has been a source of comfort, hope, and encouragement for many people in the midst of this difficult world we live in.  It is a prayer used by church groups, support groups, and individuals who need the assurance and reminder of God’s grace and peace.  Many people believe that it was first shared in a sermon in the 1930’s by pastor and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr of Massachusetts. This would place it in the middle of the Great Depression years of the United States, which adds perspective to the prayer.

In case you are not familiar with this prayer, this is the extended version.  “God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next.  Amen!”

That morning I took these words to heart.  The words of grace, courage, wisdom, and peace encouraged me.  I also noticed that it reminds us that Jesus lived in this sinful world as well, even though he himself was without sin.  This sinful world is not as we would have it, but we know that Jesus can and will make all things right in his time.  He died on the cross so that we could be delivered from our sins and rely on his peace in this troubled world we live in.  I love the words of John in the Bible when he writes, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

I hope that you will read what else John says in 1 John 4 and remember that God loves you in the midst of this hard world we live in.  When tragedies like this happen we hear many people struggle to find words to describe the evils that we witness.  We hear the words of Psalm 40 put to music by the group U2 when they sing, “How long to sing this song?”  We may not have all the answers or understand it all, but we know the one who does.  Jesus is the one who said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  With Jesus you can too!

Make it Personal: 

 It’s easy to become overwhelmed, consumed, and depressed about the many evil things in our world.  With our 24-hour news cycle it is much too easy to leave the TV on and have bad news surrounding you all day and all night long.  It’s okay to be informed and up to date, but turn off the news sometimes and pick up your Bible for the Good News about a God who has overcome all of that.  Also, use the Prayer of Serenity if that is helpful or just pray that the Lord would help you in your struggles.

Blessings in your week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

It Starts with Me


Read:  Ephesians 4:1-6         

With all of the divisive things going on in our world and country right now it feels like we all need a good dose of humility and respect.  When we are humble in our opinions and we respect each other amid our differences we can live together in this life instead of continuing to add fuel to angry fires.  Can we value humility and respect for each other over the selfish desire to always be right?  Even if we are right?

The Bible and the Christian faith have a lot to say about these things.  However, too often it seems like we forget these very valuable words of life instruction that God has given to us.  Listen to the counsel of God’s Word….

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with another in love.”  Ephesians 4:2;  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”  Philippians 2:3;  “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”  Proverbs 11:2;  “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”  Romans 12:16;  “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  James 4:10;  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  Colossians 3:12

As we head out into our jobs, our churches, our communities, and our world each day it is important to clothe our opinions, conversations, and interactions with these wise words from the Lord.  Too often we look at others and think of how they need to change and how they need to act instead of focusing on our own life.  What if we started a movement of humility and respect for each other?  What if we came to the realization that a movement like that begins with ourselves.  It begins with me.  It starts with me.

Whether it be political, religious, racial, moral, or any other differences, those differences should not define us.  Instead, our humility and respect for each other in the midst of those differences is where we find peace, respect, unity, and love.  I think we would all agree that more of that is needed in our country and world right now.  Where does it begin?  It begins with me!  Hopefully you will join me in this movement of humility and respect that is encouraged in God’s Word.

Make it Personal: 

 Consider personally how to start this attitude of humility and respect in your life.  Does it begin with your conversations with others? Does it begin with your interactions and reactions to social media posts?  Does it begin with how you watch the news and sports?  Does it begin with how you treat your spouse and children?  After you answer some of those questions remind yourself…. It starts with you.
Have a great week filled with humility and respect, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Daily Charge


Read: John 6:63-69       

Where do you get your daily dose of encouragement, hope, peace, energy, and strength?  Some people think of coffee, energy drinks, and other forms of caffeine when they need a boost of energy and an extra charge added to their day.  Others are willing to accept only 5 hours of energy.  In John 6 Jesus told his disciples that it was the Spirit that gives life.  The Holy Spirit and the power of Jesus Christ can provide you with joy-filled energy each and every day if you seek after it.

I recently read that Stanford University scientists have figured out how to transmit electricity wirelessly to a moving object, using an electromagnetic process.  This could drastically change how far the new electric vehicles could travel in the future.  Professor and lead researcher Shanui Fan said, “The hope is that you’ll be able to charge your electric vehicle while you are driving down the highway.”  This process however would require a series of coils that are connected to an electric current embedded in the roads.  In other words, this may not be available in the near future.

However, there is a daily ongoing charge that is available through faith in Jesus Christ.  When Jesus was talking to the twelve disciples about this Peter responded by saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.”  In Philippians 4:13 Paul says, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”  In the Psalm 119:28 it says, “My soul is weary with sorrow, strengthen me according to your word.”  In Ephesians 6 some of the final words to the church in Ephesus are, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

I love a good cup of coffee in the morning as much as anyone, but I don’t want to lean on that cup of java to get me through the day.  I need the strength, hope, power, and encouragement of Christ for that daily charge.  Yes, Jesus can provide us with the energy to make it through each day, and he can also give us the charge of a call and purpose for our lives.  That is something everyone needs.  Before you set out for your day be sure to turn to Jesus!

Make it Personal:  What does your morning routine look like?  Does it include a time of prayer, Bible reading, and connecting with your source of power in Jesus?  Find some time, short or long, to pray, seek after the Lord, and request his presence throughout your day.  You won’t be sorry and you won’t have to stop by the convenience store for that extra 5 hours of energy to get you through the day.

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church

Thankful in all Circumstances


Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28       

Do you consider yourself a thankful person?  Do the circumstances or your situation dictate how thankful you are?  I would imagine that all of us have moments in which we are more thankful than at other times, but what if we could truly be thankful in all circumstances as Paul encourages the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:18)?  This doesn’t mean that we are thankful for everything that happens in our lives or in our world, but in the midst of those difficult things we can still find many things to be thankful for.

Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Many times this attitude of thankfulness can be accomplished by how we choose to see things.  Do we choose to see the good or look for the negative?  Sheridan Voysey shares a good example of this with a story in “Our Daily Bread” about road trips in Australia.  He says that those trips can often be very long with few towns in between.

During busy vacation seasons rest stops are set up along the way with volunteers offering free coffee and other items for sale.  Sheridan tells about one trip where he and his wife pulled up and walked over to the stand to get their free coffee.  The person in charge handed him two cups of coffee and asked for two dollars.  He thought the coffee was free so he was somewhat confused by this.  At that point his wife pointed to the sign that said only the driver got free coffee.

He went on to inform the lady that he thought this was a case of false advertising.  When they got back to the car his wife pointed something out to him.  He had turned a gift into an entitlement.  In the end it caused him to be ungrateful for the free coffee that he had received.  When I read that story I thought of how many times we find ourselves in that exact situation.  Our unthankfulness often leads us to look past the many things we have to be thankful for.

Life is hard and the world is not always a rose garden.  But no matter what we might face today or tomorrow there are surely many, many things we can be thankful for.  Paul says that God’s will for us is to keep these things we are thankful for always on our mind.  In the end they can help us to move past the difficult and trying times in our life.  As it says in 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Make it Personal: 

 Make a list of all the things you have to be thankful for.  The next time you are tempted to be ungrateful, pull out that list and remind yourself of all the things you have to be thankful for.  It’s not always easy to be thankful in all circumstances, but it can sure make the hard times a lot better.  As it says in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father.”
Have a grateful heart this week,  
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Looking Up

Read: Revelation 1
Several weeks ago people traveled many miles, filled football stadiums, campgrounds, and roadways to look up and view the solar eclipse. As I saw pictures on the news and across social media of people looking up to the sky it made me think of how the Bible describes Jesus’ second coming.

In Revelation 1:7 it says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him.” Some day Jesus will return to take believers with him to heaven. The Bible is clear to say that the day and hour of this return is unknown by those living on earth.
But when it does happen I picture all eyes looking up to the sky and seeing Jesus coming with the clouds. Will people be anticipating that day with the same kind of enthusiasm and excitement? One thing is sure, we won’t have time to order cardboard glasses for the event.
In Matthew 24:36-42 Jesus himself says this about his return, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
Jesus encourages us to keep watch and be ready for that day. To be ready means to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and make him the Lord of your life. Receive his gift of saving grace and live each and every day according to his example and God’s Word. Be prepared, it could be tomorrow that everyone is looking up again.
Make it Personal: Are you personally prepared for that day? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Today is a great day to turn to Jesus, connect with other believers, and allow God to help you find his purpose for you in life.
Many blessings, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

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