Midweek Reflections

Nothing Less

Read: Revelation 3:14-22

This past Monday night when the final buzzer sounded on the NCAA Basketball Championship game the Virginia Cavaliers walked away with the trophy.  It was a tight game that went into overtime with the Texas Tech Red Raiders, but coach Tony Bennett and his team won the championship and ended the season with a record of 29-2.

Coach Bennett is known as a great basketball coach, but he would be the first to tell you that his Christian faith and his family come before his profession.  In fact, his faith guides his approach to coaching and how he relates to his players. He is “all in” as a follower of Jesus and he carries that passion into his calling as a coach.  Tony and his team learned a valuable lesson in last year’s tournament when they were upset and became the first number one seed to ever lose a first round game in NCAA history.

That loss inspired them to not become lukewarm in their approach and preparation for this year’s tournament.  When they found themselves down by 14 points in the first round, coach Bennett told his players, “I can accept losing, but I can’t accept anything less than every single thing we have to give.”  In other words, stay true, stay committed, stay strong, and give it your best.

In Revelation 3, the letter to the church in Laodicea is a warning about becoming lukewarm in our faith and our commitment to God.  In these verses Jesus is encouraging us to stay true, stay committed, stay strong, and give our best to God. As coach Bennett said, we can accept what may come in life but we need to have our priorities in line and give God our best.  That includes our faith, our attitude, our time, our finances, our church, and our family and friends. We should give nothing less than our all!

Make it Personal:  How do you assess things in your life right now?  Are you giving your best to God, to Jesus, to your family, to your church, to your job?  Pray to Christ and ask him to help you from becoming complacent or lukewarm in any area of your life.

Have a blessed week everyone,Pastor Glen Rhodes

Golden Calves

Read: 1 Kings 12:25-33

A story from many years ago is told about some small farmers in Scotland.  Being superstitious, one year they kept a corner of their fields uncultivated in order to pacify certain evil spirits (this was before the current weed control options farmers have today).  These Scottish farmers believed that by sacrificing this one corner to the spirits, the remainder of the field would be left undisturbed and fertile.

What really happened, is that the weeds in the uncultivated corners went to seed, which was, in turn, carried by the wind and scattered across their entire fields.  This illustration is a reminder of how a person’s life and witness can be infected and ruined if they allow unrestrained sin and disobedience towards God to dominate even one small corner of their life.

In 1 Kings 12 we read the story of King Jeroboam.  This King set up golden calves in the cities of Bethel and Dan in order to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to worship God.  He deceived the people into thinking that these more convenient gods closer to home could replace the worship of the one true God in Jerusalem.  It wasn’t long before that deception began to have harmful consequences.

In our culture today we are offered many golden calves that promise pleasure, convenience, prosperity, and protection.  We must be careful to not let these false gods replace the promises of the one true God of the Bible. Just like the farmers in Scotland years ago, we today can be tempted to try things that will take us away from trust in Jesus and obedience to God.  We must be careful that these golden calves of the 21st century do not lead us away from the Lord who truly loves us.

Make it Personal:  What things in your life have become golden calves or have the potential to become golden calves and distract you from your faith in Christ?  The world can make us many promises, but sometimes those promises can leave us with fields of weeds to overcome. Final Reflection: Stay focused on God and not the golden calves of the world.

Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Cup of Cold Water

Read: Matthew 10
As we wake up each morning and set out upon our day we have the choice to be a blessing or sour grapes.  We can approach our day with an attitude of gratitude or approach it with a woe is me view of life. Our approach can make all the difference in how we are received by others as well as how others will receive what we have to share with them.
I was recently reading an article by a woman who experienced two totally different encounters as she set out upon her day.  Those two encounters left her with two totally opposite feelings. The first was a grumpy cashier at the store that would not even look at her or say anything nice to her.  The second was a customer in another place that smiled, was joyful, and conversed with this woman in a very friendly and kind manner. She said she was thankful the cup of refreshing cold water came last since it lifted her spirits for the remainder of her day.  
In Matthew 10 Jesus speaks with his 12 disciples before he sends them out into the world.  He gives them many instructions, warnings, and things to look out for. But when he ends in verse 42 he speaks of giving a cup of cold water to people.  In other words, bless those you come into contact each day with a blessing instead of a curse.  
Imagine how refreshing a friendly word, a smile, or a joyful attitude can be to those in your home, workplace, school, the store, or wherever else you find yourself each day.  Not only does it make you feel better, it could change the entire course of someone else’s day as well. When a person is dry, weary, thirsty, and in need of refreshment, give them a cup of cold water to refresh their day.  You will make their day and your day that much better. There is a reason Jesus told this to his disciples as they set out to change the world.  
Make it Personal:  We all have days that are better than others.  It’s hard to be joyful and cheerful all the time.  One way to start your day off on the right foot is to spend some time in prayer, Bible reading, and devotions.  If within yourself you cannot find this cold cup of water to offer perhaps Jesus can provide you with it as you set out for your day.  
Have a great week everyone,
Pastor Glen Rhodes

Focus & Purpose

Read: John 15:1-17

Each product, each appliance, each item you have in your home is there for a specific purpose.  Your toaster is there to toast your bread, your food is there to keep you nourished, your toothpaste is there to keep your teeth clean, and your couch is there for people to sit on.  You could probably add some other interesting ones to that list. But each of those things are there for a purpose. If you try to nourish yourself on toothpaste or try to warm your house with your toaster you may have problems.

Our lives also are created with purpose.  God has created us with certain gifts, abilities, and callings in this world.  When we try to operate outside of those things it does not go so well. However, when we stay focused on the areas that God has called us to and given us the ability to succeed, we can thrive and do great things for Jesus in this world.

In John 15 Jesus talks about staying connected to the vine.  He says that if we stay joined to him he will stay joined to us.  If we are joined to him, verse 7 says that his teachings and his ways will become a part of us.  If we stay connected to the true vine and find our purpose in who we are in Jesus then the focus of our life becomes much clearer.  We become who God created us to become. What a freeing and wonderful life that can be.

Perhaps we need to consider how focused we are on the things of God in relation to the things of this world.  Are we fulfilling the purpose God has created us for? Are we focused on the right things? Are we staying connected to our Savior Jesus to constantly be led and encouraged in these things?  
Just like those things in our home that are there for a specific purpose, you are here on this earth for God’s purposes. If you follow after his Son Jesus he can and will fulfill those purposes within you.

Make it Personal:  Where is your focus right now?  Is it on the things that matter or on trivial things that don’t really bring forth fruit for God’s kingdom?  When we are living in God’s grace and seeking his purpose in life, we are staying connected to the vine that Jesus is speaking about.  That is a great place to be and the best place to live your life.

Have a wonderful week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Lost and Found

Read: Luke 15

A recent news story from the state of Indiana tells the story of Martha Everett’s purse.  As workers were remodeling a classroom at Jeffersonville High School they found a hidden treasure behind some of the cabinets they were tearing out.  A purse was found that had a wallet, prom invitation, lipstick, photos and gum wrappers that had apparently been lost by Ms. Everett way back in 1954 when she was a student there.  After a search on social media, school officials were able to track down the 82 year old woman in Florida and return her long lost purse to her.

This story is a reminder of the three parables that Jesus tells in Luke 15.  The first one (v. 1-7) is about a lost sheep. Jesus says that if a shepherd has 100 sheep and loses one he would leave the 99 to go find that one lost sheep.  In the second parable (v. 8-10) he tells how a woman loses a valuable coin and goes to great lengths to search for it and find it. In the third parable (v. 11-31) he tells one of the best known stories in the Bible about the prodigal (long lost) son who is welcomed home by his father with open arms.  In verses 23-24 the father says, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

These parables were told by Jesus because that is how God feels about you and me.  God will search and search for anyone who has lost their way or journeyed down a path that takes them away from Him and the grace and restoration that is found through His Son Jesus Christ.  When we come to him, no matter how far off we have wandered, Jesus welcomes us home with open arms. His forgiveness is greater than any sin or mistake we might have made. You see, God celebrates when the lost are found.

I’m sure Ms. Everett was surprised and thrilled to find her lost purse from 1954.  It’s hard for us to imagine how an unexpected discovery like that would feel. But the celebration in heaven when someone comes to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior is also unlike anything we can imagine.  Luke 15:10 (CEV) says, “In the same way God’s angels are happy when even one person turns to him.”

Make it Personal:  Perhaps that lost person that needs to be found is you?  Perhaps it is one of your family members? Perhaps it is a friend?  Please know that God will keep his door open for you and anticipate your return.  If you are praying for a family member or friend to be found I encourage you to keep praying.  Our Lord is searching for all of the lost to be found!

Have a blessed week everyone,Pastor Glen Rhodes

Faith on the Line

Read: Isaiah 41:8-13

The Christian way is not always the easy way or the easiest life.  Some of the things that Jesus calls us to in the Sermon on the Mount are very difficult things to live out; love your enemies, do not worry, don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, do not judge.  The truth is, everyday we put our faith on the line as we live in this world as followers of Jesus. We don’t know what is ahead and yet we are called to be faithful, obedient, and hopeful in Christ.

In his book “A Long Obedience In The Same Direction” Eugene Peterson addresses these difficult challenges we face in the Christian journey.  He reminds us that even though these challenges exist it is well worth our time to put our faith and hope on the line. Peterson writes, “Every day I put hope on the line.  I don’t know one thing about the future. I don’t know what the next hour will hold. There may be sickness, accident, personal or world catastrophe. Before this day is over I may have to deal with death, pain, loss, rejection.”

He continues on and writes, “I don’t know what the future holds for me, for those I love, for my nation, for this world.  Still, despite my ignorance and surrounded by tinny optimists and cowardly pessimists, I say that God will accomplish his will, and I cheerfully persist in living in the hope that nothing will separate me from Christ’s love.”  Those words are echoes of what Isaiah tells us in chapter 41.

Isaiah says that in the midst of all that you face in this world, both the challenges and uncertainties, God has called you and chosen you to this life as a believer.  In verse 10 Isaiah says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”  It sounds like we can live in confidence as we put our faith and hope on the line for Jesus.

Make it Personal:  The Christian life and journey is filled with so many things.  There is joy, celebration, thanksgiving, while also facing challenges, struggles, and difficulties.  Many things are on the line. Through it all we know that Jesus will be there for us and help us through whatever may come.  Turn to him and trust him with whatever you will face today.

Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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