Midweek Reflections

Grace and Faith


Read: Ephesians 2:1-10      

Do you know Grace and Faith?  Perhaps they are the sisters that live down the road from you or names that you remember from school or college.  But more importantly do you know the grace and faith that Paul talks about in Ephesians 2?  He proclaims, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…”

There are many things that we would like to be saved from in this world. Some people search for a lifetime trying to find restoration, deliverance, and hope in life.  God offers this saving grace to all who will call on Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Paul reminds us that it is not through our works that we are saved but through the grace of Jesus.

God’s grace is truly what the world needs in order to be saved.  It is what we need to accept as his gift to us. Too many people continue to live in guilt and shame when Jesus offers them a way to be free from those things.  Corrie Ten Boom once shared a story about this grace of Jesus and Billy Graham later shared that story in his book “How to be Born Again.”

A little girl broke one of her mother’s very expensive cups one time that had a lot of sentimental value to her.  The girl went crying to her mother telling her she was sorry.  The mother said, “I know you’re sorry, and I forgive you. Now don’t cry anymore.”

The mother swept up the pieces and placed them in the trash can.  Still feeling guilty the little girl tried to pull all of the pieces out of the trash and glue them back together again.  Her mother saw what she was doing and said, “Take those pieces and put them back in the trash can and leave them there.  I told you that I forgave you and I meant it.  Don’t continue to pick up the broken pieces anymore.”

That story leads to the other sister that Paul is talking about.  Faith.  We have to have faith that Jesus has forgiven us.  It is a gift from God in which we place our faith and trust in his saving grace. When we repent of our sins and mistakes Jesus extends to us his grace. In other words, we leave the broken pieces in the trash.  We don’t try to earn his grace or pay for his grace because it is a gift.  What broken pieces do you need to leave in the trash?

Make it Personal:  Have you received this gift of grace from Jesus?  Do you have faith that his saving grace can and will move you past your shame and guilt?  Today is the day to truly make this gift personal!  Grace and Faith in Jesus can bring you Life and Hope!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Sweet & Salty


Read: Ephesians 4:20-32 &  James 3:1-12     

Some people prefer sweet snacks, others prefer salty, and some prefer a mix of both together.  What is your preference?  When it comes to our language and speech however, God prefers us to use the sweet and not the salty.  Many verses in the Bible refer to how the tongue can be an encouragement and blessing; but it also warns us that it can lead us down dangerous paths as well.

Most will remember that this advice is even included as one of the Ten Commandments. The third commandment in Exodus 20 says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”  In Ephesians 4: 29 the apostle Paul says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…”

Branch Rickey is a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame and was a long-time manager of several major league baseball teams.  He is probably best known for his efforts of giving Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player a promotion to the major leagues.  That story is told in the recent movie entitled “42.” Branch Rickey was a Christian.

One time when he was at a meeting negotiating a player’s contract he threw down his pencil in the middle of the meeting, pushed back his chair, and said, “the deal’s off.”  The other men were astonished. “Why?” they asked. “We’re coming along with these negotiations very nicely.”

Rickey responded to the salty and callous use of language being spewn about in the room.  He said, “You have been talking about a friend of mine, and I don’t like it.”  One man said, “What friend do you mean? I haven’t been talking about anyone, let alone a friend of yours.”

“Yes, you have,” replied Rickey.  “You’ve mentioned him in almost every sentence.”  He was referring to their constant profane use of the name of Jesus Christ.  The men quickly apologized, stopped their profanity and misuse of God’s name, and the negotiations continued.”

More than likely we have been involved in similar situations, or perhaps we have been the one participating in such profanity or mis-use of God’s name. In James 3:10-11 the Bible says, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”

Make It Personal: 

 Is your language and speech sweet, salty, or a mix of both?  God desires us to use our tongues in ways that encourage, build-up, and inspire people, not in ways that bring people down and spread cursing and profanity.  Try to use language that makes others feel blessed to be around you and honor God with all that you say.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Dangerous Assumptions

Read: Proverbs 3
How often do we assume that we know the whole story of someone’s life or situation? How often do we jump to conclusions and make quick reactions only to learn later that we had it all terribly wrong?  In the book of Proverbs we are warned many times to be wise, cautious, and careful in our judgements and assumptions.
I heard a story one time that is a perfect example of this. A woman traveler was between her flights at the airport. She went to the airport convenience store and bought a small package of cookies to eat during her wait.  As she sat down to read her newspaper she started to notice a rustling noise.
From behind her paper she was shocked to see a neatly dressed man helping himself to her cookies.  She didn’t want to make a scene so she just leaned over and took a cookie out of the bag for herself. A minute or two passed and the man helped himself to another cookie, and then another. She couldn’t believe it!
By this time they had reached the end of the package, but she was so angry she didn’t dare allow herself to say anything.  Then, as if to add insult to injury, the man broke the last remaining cookie in two, and pushed half across to her. He ate the other half and left.
Still fuming, some time later when her flight was announced she opened her handbag to get her ticket. To her shock and embarrassment, there she found her pack of unopened cookies. She had actually been eating the man’s cookies. How wrong our assumptions can be sometimes.
This story could be applied to many situations in our lives. We are often too quick to judge, too quick to assume, too quick to accuse, and too quick to listen to ourselves instead of God.  Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight, do not be wise in your own eyes.”
Make it Personal:   What stories or situations do you need to reassess? Perhaps praying for others and encouraging others is a better course than labeling them with dangerous assumptions.  The book of Proverbs has a lot of wisdom.  There are 31 chapters in the book which allow you to read one chapter each day of the month.  God’s wisdom brings us life and hope!
Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Good Fruit


Read: Galatians 5:13-26      

I have been at some gatherings recently where delicious fruit was a part of the menu.  In each case, the people gathered for the meal commented over and over about how delicious the fruit tasted. It reminded me about the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Can you name them?    They are…. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. These are the fruits that God wants to see active and growing in our lives. When they are evident people will definitely notice.

In the introduction to his book  Fruits of the Spirit , Charles Hembree remembers an ancient fable. The fable tells of three merchants who were crossing the Arabian Desert. Because of the heat of the desert they were traveling at night. On that starless night they were crossing over a dry creek bed. As they were crossing a voice in the darkness spoke to them. The voice told them to stop right where they were. Then they were commanded to bend down and pick up the pebbles that were around them in the dry creek bed and put them in their pockets. After they did this they were told to leave and continue on their way and not to camp near the creek bed.

​The voice from the darkness continued to tell them that in the morning they would be both happy and sad. Being very frightened by all of this, they traveled through the night and did not stop until they could see the sun. With the arrival of the morning they began to look in their pockets. Instead of finding pebbles in their pockets they found precious jewels. Yes, they were both happy and sad. They were happy that they had listened to the voice of the night, but they were also sad that they did not pick up more pebbles.

​Charles Hembree goes on to say: “This legend beautifully expresses how many feel about the unsearchable riches of God’s Word. We are thrilled we have absorbed as much as we have, but sad because we have not absorbed much more.” He goes on to say that this sentiment certainly applies to these verses in Galatians which describes the fruit of the Spirit. Perhaps we should also call these fruits the jewels of the Spirit. The more of this good fruit that is produced in our life the better our lives and our world will be. However, these fruits are from the Lord and not from ourselves.

In verse 25 it says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” This means that when we look to God and trust in the wisdom of the Bible, we will be led and guided by the Holy Spirit. These fruits will then become a part of who we are, who others see, and will continue to grow in our lives. When people see the good fruit in your life they will know that God is a living and active part of your life.

Make it Personal:     Which of the Fruits of the Spirit need some cultivating in your life?  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control?  Start with one of them and work on growing that fruit in your life.  Then move to the next one that needs cultivating.  God will help you with the process if you ask for help.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Created in God’s Image


Read: Genesis 1         

In the very first chapter of the Bible it speaks of God creating the world.  After God created the animals, the stars, and everything else God saw them and said it was good.  When God created human beings, male and female, in his image, he said that it was “very” good.  It notes the special creation that we as people are in the eyes of God.  Yes, we are created in God’s image.

In his book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Eerdmann’s, 2008) pastor and author Eugene Peterson notes that it’s easy for us to look at the grandeur and beauty of the mountains or to bask in the warmth of the spring sun and recognize the beauty of creation. Yet, sometimes we ignore the wonderful creation of the people right in front of us.

Peterson writes, “Several years ago one of my students who lived a distance away and rode a crowded bus to the college each day said to his wife as he went out the door one morning, “I’m just going to go out and immerse myself in God’s creation today.” The next day his parting words were the same. On the third day, she called him back, “Don’t you think you ought to go to class today? A couple of days walking in the woods or on the beach is okay, but don’t you think enough is enough?”  

He said, “Oh, I’ve been going to class every day.”  “Then what,” she said, “is all this business about immersing yourself in creation?”  “Well, I spend forty minutes on the bus each morning and afternoon. Can you think of a setting more thick with creation than that, all these people created in the image of God, created male and female?”  “I never thought of that,” she said.

Peterson concludes, “We need to embrace the people around us with the same delight as we do the hawks soaring above us and the violets blooming at our feet.”  In the midst of so many different personalities, gifts, passions, and opinions that are in the world, we need to appreciate the truth that all are made in the image of God.  God loves us all and desires to be in a right relationship with everyone. 

On a recent trip to Orlando, Florida I was amazed at the diversity that I found around every street corner.  People were from all over the world, speaking different languages, and from different cultures.  And yet all were a magnificent creation of God Almighty.  Sometimes along with stopping to smell the roses we need to stop and thank the Lord for His wonderful creation of people.  “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31.

Make it Personal:  It’s sometimes too easy to view others in a negative light.  Those who are different from us or those we might disagree with on things.  It’s much easier to view others in a positive light if we remind ourselves that they too were created in the image of God.  Our identity is found in God.  We understand that we are created with various personalities for a unique purpose.  The Lord has designed each person with the desire to have a one-on-one relationship with them through Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Pardon Me Please


Read: Psalm 103:8-18      

Pastor Tony Evans shares a true story that happened in the year 1929.  A man named George Wilson robbed a mail carrier and killed him.  He was sentenced to die but received a presidential pardon.  To the shock of the Oval Office, he rejected the pardon.  The president of the United States had set him free.  George Wilson said no.  The case went to the Supreme Court and the issue was simply this:  If the president of the United States gives you a pardon, aren’t you pardoned?

Can you reject a pardon given by a sovereign?  Chief Justice Marshall rendered the decision.  It simply read:  “A pardon rejected is no pardon at all.  Unless the recipient of the pardon accepts the pardon, then the pardon cannot be applied.”  A pardon has two sides, the offeror and the offeree.  Unless the offeree accepts the offer, then the pardon cannot be mandated.

On the cross of Calvary just outside of Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, the sacrifice of God’s son Jesus has offered everyone a pardon for their sins.  But in order to receive that pardon we have to accept it and believe that our sins are truly forgiven under the grace of God.  In Psalm 103:12 the Bible says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Going back in time, many of us can remember blackboards in our classroom.  One of the beautiful things about the blackboard was if you made a mistake with chalk, there was always an eraser to rid yourself of the error.  Forgiveness works the same way.  It is the cancellation of something.  It is the deletion of an error.  It is the ability to erase a mistake and start over again.

All of us have sinned.  All of us need the grace and forgiveness that God offers to us through Jesus Christ.  Don’t beat yourself up over your past sins and failures.  Instead repent of them to Jesus and ask for his unconditional grace to pardon you and set you free.  Then move forward in the life that Jesus desires for you.  Psalm 103 has much more to say about God’s love and grace for you.  Take some time this week to read it.

Make it personal:  What mistakes and failures continue to weigh you down?  Have you prayed to Jesus and asked him to pardon and forgive you for those things?  We may not have many blackboards around anymore but the delete button on our keyboards is the same type of correction.  If you receive the grace of Jesus he will delete that sin forever.  Hope is just ahead!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Reflection Archives