Midweek Reflections

True and Committed

Read: Ruth 1
After hearing a famous violinist give a concert one time a lady went up to her and said, “I would give anything to be able to play like that.”  The violinist replied, “Would you really? Would you even give 5 minutes every day?” Another person later told the violinist, “I would give my life if I could play the way you do.”  The violinist once again responded and said, “That is precisely what I have given.”
To be true and committed to something or someone demands time, effort, commitment, and dedication.  Olympic athletes train for years, a musician must be committed to practice, and marriage is a commitment that requires a couple to work at their relationship. When we think of being committed to Jesus, to our faith, or committed to anything else in life, it requires us to be faithful.
Faithfulness is what we see in the book of Ruth.  Ruth was so faithful to her mother-in-law Naomi that she stayed with her wherever she went.  Her faithfulness to remain true and committed was a part of God’s plan to continue the family line through which the Messiah Jesus would later be born into the world.  Read the short book of Ruth and see how God used the faithfulness of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz to remain strong and committed when the culture around them was crumbling.
It’s easy to look around today and be frustrated by many different things on many different fronts.  In many ways it feels as if our culture is crumbling. What are we to do about it? While some actions can be taken to improve things, the most important calling for Christians is to remain strong in character and true to God.  If our own commitment to Jesus is failing, how do we expect to grow in Him and make a difference in the world that we live?
Make it Personal:  If you have ever learned to play an instrument, a sport, or become successful in a career or as a parent or spouse, you know the hard work and practice that is required.  That same commitment is what we need to live out as followers of Jesus Christ. Ruth is a great example, and throughout the Bible there are many, many more. Let it be said of us!          Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Incredible Worth

Read: 1 John 4:7-21
Some of you may have heard about a 2” x 3” piece of cardboard that brought 1.62 million dollars at a memorabilia auction in Chicago back in 2008.  It was one of the famous Honus Wagner baseball cards and it was bought by memorabilia dealer John Rogers of North Little Rock, Arkansas. Wagner was the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1897 to 1917.  He was nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman” because of his superb speed and German heritage.
Honus Wagner cards have long been the most prized baseball cards in the collecting world.  They have sometimes been referred to as “The Mona Lisa of baseball cards.” There are only about 50 of them in existence and only 3 or 4 of them have been graded in very good to excellent condition.  One copy that is in excellent condition brought 2.8 million dollars at an auction in 2007.
It’s hard to imagine a small piece of cardboard being worth so much isn’t it?  But as I reflected on the incredible worth of this baseball card I was reminded of the incredible worth each of us has in the eyes of God.  One or two million dollars or a Honus Wagner baseball card can’t even come close to comparing. In 1 John 4:9 the Bible says, “This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”  As that chapter continues, it goes on to tell about how God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to clear away our sins and restore our right relationship with God.  
One of the most well-known scripture passages in all the Bible is John 3:16.  That verse speaks to the incredible worth you have to God. It says, “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.”

Make it Personal:  All too often in life we are reminded of our shortcomings.  We are told that we are not good enough or that we are failures, but God refutes that.  God has proven to us that there is no price too high, or no price that He would not pay to save us and show us His love.  He sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ to show that. His Word proclaims, “You have incredible worth!” Don’t let the world or anyone else tell you different!          Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

God Knows Your Name

Read: Isaiah 43:1-7
In a recent news story from Cleveland, Ohio a bank robber made a couple huge mistakes.  His first mistake of course was robbing the bank in the first place, but his second mistake led to his capture.  As he handed the note to the teller demanding money he failed to realize that he had written his command on the back of his vehicle registration card that had his full name and address on it.  The teller gave him the cash, thanked him by name, and kept the note to give to the police.
When I read this story in the news I was reminded of how God knows all of us by name.  Not only does he know us by name, he knows everything about us. Nothing is hidden from the creator of the universe and the creator of human beings.  This can be intimidating or it can be comforting. Intimidating if we are out of step with God, and comforting if we need God’s help in life. It can also be reassuring to know that God cares for us in a personal way.
In Isaiah 43 we are given these reassuring words, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you… When you walk through the fire you will not be burned…. Do not be afraid for I am with you.”  In the New Testament God’s Son Jesus also reassures us of his personal love, care, and concern for us.  John chapter 10 says, “I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep… He calls his own sheep by name and leads them.”
Whatever it is that you are facing this week, know that God is there for you.  He has created you, He knows you by name, and he is ready and able to support you, bring you peace, forgive you, and extend his grace to you for any sin or mistake you have made in life.  I sure hope the bank robber in Cleveland will learn this truth and allow it to turn his life in the right direction.
Make it Personal:  Most of us would never think of robbing a bank, but how many times have you beat yourself up over smaller missteps?  Too often we allow the guilt of those mistakes to be carried around for way too long. Jesus knows them and wants to forgive you so that you can move on from them without the guilt and condemnation.  He knows your name and loves you!                 Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

The First Step

Read: Nehemiah 1
When the name Nehemiah from the Bible is mentioned most people remember the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. This was one of Nehemiah’s greatest callings and accomplishments for the Lord. He was a brilliant planner, organizer, and motivator for sure. But when Nehemiah sensed this call upon his life his first step was not to plan, organize, talk to the king, or begin his trip back to Jerusalem, it was to pray.
The first chapter of Nehemiah includes his prayer. He prayed for forgiveness, he offered praise and thanksgiving, and he committed himself to the Lord’s will. Only after a time of mourning, fasting and praying did he have the courage to go to the king and ask if he could return to Jerusalem to help his people and rebuild the broken down walls.
In our fast paced world we are often tempted to barrel straight ahead with what we think is the right direction. I wonder what would have happened if Nehemiah would have proceeded in that way? What if he did not take time to mourn for what had happened, to fast and seek after God’s direction through prayer? Things might have ended up much differently for him. Perhaps the king would not have been so willing to let him depart from Susa?
The first step for Christians should always be prayer. We need to make sure that our will aligns with God’s will. Yes, he placed something on our heart, but the entire plan and direction may come through many hours of prayer and discernment, not the first inclinations of our flesh.
Make it Personal:  If your first inclination is to act, step back and think about the first step that Nehemiah took. Prayer and open communication with the Lord can open up many doors that human minds have not even considered. If you read the entire book of Nehemiah you will see that this was not a onetime decision for Nehemiah, he often turned to the Lord in prayer and asked the Lord to remember him, to deal with his enemies, and to use him in only the way God desired. Hopefully that will be our approach as well.                                 
Have a great week everyone,
Pastor Glen Rhodes

“Kind, Smart, and Important!”

Read: Ephesians 3:14-21

Those of you who have read Kathryn Stockett’s book “The Help” or have seen the movie by that same title probably recognize the three words in this weeks title.  One of the most powerful moments in that movie is when the nanny stoops down to the level of a little girl and tells her the words that she really needs to hear from her parents.  She says, “You are kind, you are smart, and you are important!”
It’s hard to watch that or listen to that without feeling good about the encouragement and love being shared in those words.  It’s just too bad that we can’t treat each other in that same manner more often! Instead, our world so often tells us the opposite.  As I hear those words I am reminded that we have someone in Jesus Christ who continually speaks this kind of love and affirmation over us. 
In Ephesians 3:17-19 Paul says, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
You see, no matter what the world (or anyone) says about you, God has an unconditional and everlasting love for you.  It is so big that it is even hard for us to totally comprehend it. Jesus wants us to believe in him and follow him in our lives, and he loves us despite our accomplishments and worth in the eyes of people.
We live in a culture that often seems to look at the negative before the positive, and often we take it personally and feel unloved or attacked.  But Jesus affirms us with his love, and fills us with the goodness, and the good news of God. If we have any doubts about that we should turn to John 3:16-17 where it says, “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.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Make it Personal:  I’m not sure what words you have been hearing this week or this month, but you need to hear what God is saying to you and about you in His Word.  The Christian music group Mercy Me says it so well in one of their songs, “You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His, You’re beautiful!” Please don’t forget that when you hear others say something else!  
Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Knowing the Savior

Read: 1 John 5:13-20
I just returned this week from a visit with my family in Carlsbad, New Mexico.  I was amazed at how the oil and gas industry in that area has caused everything to expand and grow in recent years.  They are building housing and schools left and right in order to make room for everyone. As we flew into Midland, Texas and saw all the oil fields down below I was reminded of the story of how it all began.
During the Great Depression years in the 1930’s Ira Yates struggled to make his sheep herding ranch provide for his family.  One year when he could not pay his bills and was in danger of losing his ranch, a crew from an oil company came to him and ask if they could drill a test well on his property.  Yates agreed, signed the contract, and the rest is history. 80 years later Yates Pool in West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico is still producing oil and has now become one of the largest oil reserves in the world.
What Ira Yates didn’t know about is what ended up saving him and his family from financial bankruptcy.  The same is true for so many people in a spiritual sense. What they don’t know, believe, or accept about Jesus Christ is keeping them from living their best life possible.  To know the Savior is to find salvation, grace, forgiveness, and hope in a world that is too often spiritually bankrupt.
In 1 John 5 the apostle John writes about the things we can know about God and Jesus.  We know these things because God has made them known to us through his Son Jesus Christ and through the power of His Word, the Bible.  We know how to overcome the evil, sin, and trials of this world. We know how to be saved from those things. We know how to receive eternal life in heaven.  We know these things and need to make sure others know them as well. Perhaps you can be like the oil company was for Ira Yates, you can reveal to them spiritually who can save them for eternity.  Jesus is the one!  
Make it Personal:  As you read 1 John 5 take note of how many times John says, “We know.”  Then think about why we know these things and the difference it makes for us and all those who believe, receive, and follow Jesus as the Lord and Savior.

Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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