Midweek Reflections

Waves of Mercy

Read: Luke 1:46-55
An interesting story appeared in the news recently.  For almost 35 years novelty Garfield telephones have been washing ashore along France’s Brittany coast.  The phones are orange and look like the cartoon character Garfield. Apparently these novelty phones started to appear in the early 1980’s and kept reappearing year after year even though people were picking them up and discarding of them.  At first people thought it was a prank but after 30 years someone finally began to look into the mysterious occurrence.
It turns out that a lost shipping container that fell off a ship had broken open inside a sea cave which is accessible only during low tide.  That container is still out of reach which means that these orange colored Garfield phones will continue to show up in the waves along the coast of France in the future as well.  If it continues for too much longer these push button phones will be viewed as antiques or foreign objects in our now prevalent cell phone world.
God’s mercy is like that as well.  It keeps coming and coming in waves even when we don’t deserve it.  In Mary’s Song in Luke 1 she speaks of how God’s mercy extends to those who follow the Lord.  In the Message Bible paraphrase verse 50 says, “His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him.”  That verse is a reminder of the worship song that says, “Waves of mercy, waves of grace, everywhere I look I see your face.” (Every Move I Make)
Whatever it is in your life that has been weighing you down and keeping you from moving forward, God has a message for you.  Come to me for mercy, grace, and forgiveness. It is free when you come to Jesus with a repentant heart and it will continue to flow into your life just like the waves of the ocean continue to make their way to shore.  It is something we can always count on. And by the way, if you ordered a Garfield phone in the early 1980’s and it never showed up, you can maybe find it if you head to the coast of France.
Make it Personal:  What mistake, sin, or guilt have you been carrying around for years?  Jesus wants to forgive you for it and set you free from it. Take it to him and find the freedom you have been looking for.  And then the next time you need his mercy, remember, it keeps coming just like the waves.

Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

“Don’t Give Up!”

Read: 2 Chronicles 15:1-9
Last week on the website “The Players Tribune” Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich wrote an article thanking his mother for encouraging him to never give up.  You see, when Christian was seven years old he almost gave up on baseball. In fact, he writes that he hid from his mother so he would not have to go to practice and get hit by the ball.  
Christian wanted to drop baseball and just play basketball. But his mom would have none of it, she encouraged him or perhaps forced him to continue on, and everyone (except perhaps Cub and Cardinal fans) are now glad that she did.  Yelich was last year’s Most Valuable Player in Major League Baseball and he is on that same pace again this year.
In 2 Chronicles 15 we are told about the reforms of King Asa.  He tried to turn a corrupt culture back to God and was encouraged by the prophecy of Azariah who said in verse 7, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”  In the midst of troubled times Asa restored the altar, repaired the temple, and began to turn people back to the Lord. On days that he felt like giving up he most likely remembered those words of encouragement and strength.
These stories are good for us to remember in light of the difficult days we sometimes face.  It is often easy to give in to voices that tell us to just give up, quit, or move on from what we have been called to in life.  The easy way out is usually not the best way. When we are strong and we don’t give up we often are rewarded for our patience and persistence, and sometimes we are rewarded for it.  Christian Yelich has learned how that works and on Mother’s Day he gave his mother the credit she deserved for encouraging him to “be strong and not give up.”
Make it Personal:  How do these stories from the Bible and life speak to you this week?  What are you tempted to give up on? Who are you tempted to give up on?  What if you don’t? There are always some things and some situations in life that we need to move on from or move away from, but we need to be careful that we are not just giving up on some things too quickly.  Pray to God and ask for help in whatever it is your going through.

Have a blessed week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

The Vertical & Horizontal

Read: Matthew 7:24-27
I attended a conference last month in which Duane Litfen, President Emeritus of Wheaton College was one of the main speakers.  He spoke about the challenges of understanding these confusing times we live in and what Christians should be doing in relation to them.  He said, “We are vertical Christians living in a horizontal world.”
What he means by that is we live in a world that has a “just us” worldview.  Horizontal means that we are the focus of all things and there is nothing outside of ourselves.  As followers of Jesus we know this is not how our resurrected Lord lived or taught us to live. Duane was encouraging us to live with a vertical focus on God in everything we do.
In 1 Chronicles 1 there is a list of the many tribes of Judah.  Of Issachar’s tribe it says that they understood the times and knew what they should do.  This is a good reminder for Christians today as we live in these confusing times. We need to understand the horizontal slant of the world and be able to retain our vertical transcendent focus on the ways of Jesus.  His desire for us is to seek after God instead of subscribing to the “just us” worldview that tends to ignore the creator and focuses only on what we want and desire.
Jesus warned us about this in Matthew 7 when he shared the parable of the wise and foolish builders.  Those who build their lives on the shifting sands of culture and the world will find their house soon washed away because it was not built on the rock solid foundation of God’s plan and purpose.  In other words, if we turn our back on the vertical to go along with the horizontal the consequences could be disastrous. C.S. Lewis said it well when he wrote, “Everything that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”
Make it Personal:  Before you accept the blowing winds of culture be sure to consider the vertical implications involved.  Is it pulling you away from God’s purpose and plan? Does it line up with what God’s Word says? Are you focusing more on the horizontal (worldly) things in life than the vertical (transcendent) things?  Jesus is asking, “Where and on what are you building your life?”
Have a vertically focused week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

How You See It

Read: Psalm 118:15-24

For many years churches have sung the song “This is the Day” during their times of worship and praise.  “This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made, I will rejoice, I will rejoice, and be glad in it.”  I’m not sure who takes the credit for first putting music to the words, but we do know that the Psalmist in Psalm 118 wrote the lyrics because they are found in verse 24.

The question is really how well do we apply that attitude to our daily lives as we live, move, and have our being?  How often do you face the day ahead and say, “I am going to rejoice in this day that the Lord has given to me and be glad in it, whatever may come.”  Psalm 118:15-24 gives us reminders of how an uplifting and positive attitude about our faith in God can change how we see each day.

I have seen several reminders of this kind of attitude recently.  A friend who always says, “Make it a great day!” when saying goodbye.  A stroke victim who said, “I still do everything I want to do, I just changed what I want to do.”  A mom who asked her young child on the way to school, “How do you know this is going to be a good day?” and the child responded with, “Because we decided today will be good.”

These are great examples of people living out the praise of Psalm 118:24 and saying, “This is the day my Lord has made for me, I am going to rejoice in it and be glad for it!”  You see, this praise really begins with the attitude you choose to see your day with. How you see it most often determines how you experience it. Let’s choose to join my friends this week as we rejoice and be glad in each day!
Make it Personal:  How do you start each day?  This is an important thing to think about because it often times will shape how you approach the day as you get out of bed or walk out the door.  Get your day off to a good and positive start with prayer, scripture, and reminders that the Lord has made this day and given it to you. Remember, how you see it can determine how you experience it.

Have a joy-filled week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

A Bitter Root

Read: Ephesians 4:17-32

Not long ago Ed Stetzer tweeted out a short quote that we all need to take note of.  He said, “Bitterness eventually destroys you.” Bitterness, anger, and rage can become dangerous attitudes and actions in our lives if we allow them to take root and overtake any of our relationships, interactions, and conversations.  If we allow them to take root they will create problems far and wide.

Often times roots are referred to as positive examples of nourishment, growth, and the sustaining of life.  This is true if the roots are bringing forth Godly and positive growth in our lives. However, some things such as anger and bitterness can also take root and affect us in negative ways.  As Stetzer reminds us, these things can destroy us if we allow them to take root.

In Ephesians 4 the apostle Paul gives us some good instructions for Christian living.  He speaks of honesty, reconciliation, wholesome talk, kindness, and compassion. He also points out things that can deter us from living a Christian life that brings forth these positive characteristics.  He says, “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude.” (Eph. 4:31 CEV)

Whether in person or on social media we need to take heed of what Paul encourages.  We must not promote bitterness and rage, instead we need to be the voice of calm, peace, and compassion.  We must not allow the root of bitterness to seep into the soil of our lives and bring destruction. It will if we allow it to and if we continuously feed it without restraint.
Make it Personal:  Think about some things in your life that cause anger and bitterness.  Have you let it overtake you, consume you, and destroy the goodness that God wants to cultivate in your life and relationships?  As Paul encourages, get rid of it, and ask Jesus to help you overcome it.

Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Historic Cathedrals

Read: Numbers 9:15-23

On two separate occasions I have been able to visit the historic and world famous Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, also known as “Our Lady of Paris.”  As video and pictures of this iconic cathedral on fire were filling our screens this week, I had to think of how much this place of worship has been through since its original construction in 1260 A.D.  It had been through the French Revolution when it was damaged and partly destroyed. It was the site of Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor of France in 1804. It has seen the funerals of many past French presidents.  It had been through World War 2. Needless to say much has happened in the past hundreds of years since it was built.

In Numbers 9 the Bible tells of the Tabernacle the Israelites worshiped at during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Each time God led them to a new place on the journey, this tabernacle had to be taken down and reconstructed in their new place of residence.  Many years later when they finally reached the promised land a permanent temple was built in Jerusalem as their place of worship. It too became damaged and destroyed after various attacks from enemy lands.

While we still have churches, cathedrals, and places of worship today, Jesus came to provide us his spirit and presence which is available to us in all places.  While it is wonderful and important to gather together in places of worship as followers of Jesus, it is most important to remember that we have the spirit of the living God within us.  1 Corinthians 6:19 says that each believer and follower of Jesus is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

French President Emmanuel Macron has already said that the Notre Dame cathedral will be repaired, rebuilt, and restored in the years ahead.  But as the news focuses on this historic landmark of worship, it would do all of us good to remember the millions of temples/cathedrals that God has placed all over this world.  We are God’s people, we have the Spirit of Christ living within us, and yes, you and I are and always will be historic cathedrals of God’s hope, grace, and salvation.

Make it Personal:  Take some time this week to search online or on your phone for the scriptures in God’s Word that speak about believers being the temple of the living God.  As you watch the news coverage of the Notre Dame Cathedral think about your place in God’s story and God’s history.

Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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