Midweek Reflections

Encouragement Please

Read: Romans 15:1-7

Is it just me or have we all but lost the ability to encourage one another instead of tearing each other down?  Each day it seems that we are faced with another controversy or story about one person or group demeaning or attacking another person or group.  I suppose this has always been a part of sinful human nature but in our instant social media culture it is so easy to share something or type something as quick as your fingers can move.

We need a better way!  We need to focus more on encouraging words instead of critical and hurtful words.  This doesn’t mean that we need to agree on things, in fact we may disagree greatly with some things that people or groups might do or say.  But disagreeing does not mean that we need to demean or attack them. It definitely does not mean that we need to spew hatred out across the social media spectrum.

In Romans 15 Paul encourages Christians to bear with other people whom we might not necessarily like or see things eye to eye with.  That doesn’t mean agreement or affirmation of false teaching and ungodly things, it just means that we are to treat others in the way that we would want to be treated in likewise circumstances.  In fact, verse 4 talks about how scripture itself was written to teach us endurance and encouragement that leads to hope.

A great place to glean some profound insights into life is from Children’s stories.  One from Winnie the Pooh comes to mind when thinking about being an encourager. As Pooh sets out one morning he is trying to think about who he should go visit for lunch. First he considers Tigger, then he thinks about Owl, but he finally decides on Rabbit.  Why? Because he says that Rabbit always has encouraging words to share with him. Let’s be a rabbit to those in this world and be encouragers.

Make it Personal:  Who has been a great encourager in your life?  Think about how others might think of you when it comes to encouraging words?  As coaching legend Lou Holtz once said, “Praise loudly, criticize softly.” Let’s all be known as encouragers! Please!

        Have an encouraging week,
Pastor Glen Rhodes

No More! No More!

Read: Revelation 21:1-5

Recently I was asked the question, “What are you looking forward to the most in eternity?”  That question caused me to think seriously about something I had not considered before. Sure, I have thought about all the great things that eternity in heaven will present to those who believe in and follow Jesus, but what if I had to choose one thing that I am most looking forward to?

In scripture we hear about the streets of gold (Rev. 21:21), the place that has been prepared for us (John 14:2), and the thousands of loud voices that will worship Jesus (Rev. 5:11-12). As the Christian Group Mercy Me sings, “I can only imagine when that day comes, when I find myself standing in the Son.”  But the longer I thought about this question the clearer it became to me.  I know exactly what I am looking forward to the most in eternity.

The answer is found in Isaiah 25:8 and Revelation 21:4-5 when it speaks of the New Heaven and a New Earth.  It says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away… I am making everything new… Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Yes, I am looking so forward to the wonderful things of heaven that we will enjoy together eternally, but most of all I am looking forward to these “No More’s.”  When these verses say “No More” they are referring to more than just death, mourning, crying, and pain. They are also saying “No More” to every struggle, addiction, wounded relationship, illness, trial, and other dark corner of this fallen world.  Thanks to Jesus we can find deliverance from these things now in this life, but thanks be to God that someday they will all be no more.

Make it Personal:  Jesus came to earth and died on the cross so that we (you) can find redemption from the dark corners of this world in the here and now.  If you take your struggle, addiction, wounded relationship, illness, trial, or anything else to him, Jesus can and will deliver you from it.  Someday in heaven they will all be no more, but why wait, let Jesus take it from you now.


Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Creative Communication

Read: 1 Timothy 4

Did you hear about the humerous news story recently about a man who threw a party for a pothole near his home?  Apparently Frank Sereno of Kansas City placed a birthday cake on a plate and put it in a pothole near his home. He even put a number 3 candle on the cake since it has been 3 years that the city has not fixed the pothole.  Sereno posted a picture of the cake sitting in the hole on social media and the rest is history. Turns out so is the pothole, because the city came a fixed it soon after. When interviewed about the post Sereno said that sometimes we have to get creative to get the message out.

The Holy Spirit has gifted each human being with various spiritual gifts.  In the New Testament those gifts are referred to in various ways. One spiritual gift that church leaders have encouraged is creative communication.  How can we be creative in worship, in finding times of rest, in telling people the good news about Jesus and other things? There are many other areas in which being creative can lead people to something they had not seen or noticed before.

In 1 Timothy 4 we are encouraged to be diligent in the use of our giftings.  Once we realize what gifts we have been blessed with we need to think about how we can use them to creatively proclaim Jesus and share the truths of scripture with those God has placed in our life.  You see, when we are creative we are more apt to gain the attention of others in a very busy world.

Mr. Sereno wanted that pothole near his home fixed, so he got creative in how he brought attention to it.  And guess what, it worked. Let’s be passionate and creative in the ways that we share Jesus, worship Jesus, and communicate the Christian faith to others.  Perhaps we can use social media in a positive way or talk with friends about other ideas. If you are a creative person let your creative juices flow.

Make it Personal:  1 Timothy 4:15-16 helps us to make it personal this week.  “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

 Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Parking Lots & Mountains

Read: Matthew 17:14-21

The parking lot at our church was recently repaved and striped for parking spaces.  That reminded me of this classic sermon illustration that points us to the mountain moving faith that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 17:14-21.  The story is about a congregation in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains who had built a new church and sanctuary on a certain piece of land that they had recently attained.  

The story goes like this…

Ten days before the new church was to open, a local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building.  Until the church doubled the size of the lot, they would not be able to use the new church and sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church with this undersized lot had used every inch of their land except the mountain against which it had been built.  In order to have more parking they would need to move the mountain out of their backyard.

The pastor encouraged prayer and faith for a miracle from God in order to see a resolution to this problem come forth.  After one particular prayer meeting that lasted until 10:00 pm the pastor closed with a final amen and assured everyone that they would open the church on a certain date in the not so distant future.  He said, “God has been faithful to us before and I believe He will be faithful this time too!”

The very next morning as he was working in his study there came a loud knock on the door.  As he opened the door he saw a construction foreman who removed his hat and said, “Excuse me pastor, I am from a nearby construction company in the next county over.  We are building a huge shopping complex and we need a lot of fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that hill behind your church? We’ll pay you for the dirt we remove and pave and stripe all the exposed area free of charge if we can begin work right away.  The church was able to be opened and dedicated on the planned date.

That story reminds me of the many parables that Jesus told in the gospels.  If he had told this one it would have been about having mountain moving faith that he speaks of in Matthew 17.  Many of his parables were not actual occurrences but told a story to teach and instruct people about their faith and their relationship with God and others. Perhaps this story can encourage you to have faith in God for the things that you pray for, hope for, and experience in life. 

Make it Personal:  What mountain is standing in front of you this week?  Take it to Jesus and proclaim your faith in his power to move it, heal it, change it, increase it, or whatever else needs to happen.

 Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Let’s Eat… Together!

Read: Galatians 6:1-10
For the past 15 years in various sermons, articles, devotionals, and conversations I have made it a point to encourage people to fellowship, converse, interact, share burdens and concerns, and support each other.  I truly believe this is why God has placed us together, in families, in churches, and in community. What better place to do this than around food and at the table? Families eating together, churches having fellowship meals together, and people conversing at local coffee shops are some of the ways we can live out the encouragements in Galatians 6:1-10.
In the September 16, 2019 issue of Time Magazine Belinda Luscombe writes, “Studies have long shown that eating as a family brings with it a cornucopia of benefits, ranging from decreasing a child’s risk for obesity, eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, depression and teen pregnancy, to improving their academic performance, eating habits, self-esteem, and resilience.”
One of the points that Belinda makes in her article is that some families are using breakfast as their main time of eating together.  While dinner is still the preferred option by most researchers our busy culture has forced people to eat together whenever and however possible.  Afternoon and evening sports and other things are often making it harder for families to work that out for dinner time.
In Galatians 6 we are told to support each other in many different facets of life.  We cannot do that unless we are finding times as families, church, and friends to sit down, eat together, and share our lives with each other.  In a much too busy culture we must become intentional about this endeavor. Our spiritual life can gain much by receiving love, support, and encouragement from each other.
Make it Personal:  No matter what place in life you are there is much value in fostering relationships with others. Parents, this is crucial for your families.  Couples, this is important for your relationship, Singles, this is valuable in staying connected with those around you. What better place to start those than around food or at your local coffee shop.  Let’s eat… Together!         
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Two To Go

Read: Mark 13
This past weekend there were several sporting events in High School, College, and Pro that went down to the last minutes of the game.  In many of those games the teams found a sudden burst of energy and momentum in the last two minutes of the game or last innings of a game.  This sudden inspiration reminds us of what Jesus says in Mark 13 when he speaks of the final days.
While Jesus makes it clear that only God the Father knows when those last days or hours will be (v.32), he continuously encourages believers to be on guard, ready, and alert for them at all times.  He says, “If He comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.” (v.36) In other words, don’t just live as you please and think about pleasing the Lord sometime in the future. The time to make Jesus the Lord of your life and to live your life for him is now.
As I watched some of those sporting events this past weekend I had to ask myself.  What were these teams doing the whole game? Why did they wait until the last two minutes or last inning of the game to finally get their games in gear?  For some of those teams, especially the Illini football team, that last minute surge still wasn’t enough to bring forth a victory.
The truth is, we don’t know when our last hours on earth will be and we don’t know when Jesus will return as he has promised.  Our utmost concern needs to be about how prepared and ready we are for that day. Now is the time to live as if you are in the last two minutes of your life here on earth.  I hope we have many more but if not, I hope we all will be ready and prepared to meet Jesus in heaven.
Make it Personal:  Think about your own life right now.  If Jesus were to come today or if your life here on earth were to come to an unexpected end, would it look like you were ready for it?  Would it look like you were ready to meet Jesus? These are important things for each of us to ponder. Don’t wait until the last two minutes to become passionate and alive for Jesus.         
Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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