Midweek Reflections

Your Refuge & Strength

Read: Psalm 91

Where are your thoughts dwelling recently?  Where is your trust in God?  How is your fear level these days?  For most of us, our thoughts, actions, and stress points are great indicators of our level of hope, our fears, and the peace we have about life.  Our prayer life can help greatly with keeping all of these in perspective and in line with God’s promises to us.

Psalm 91 is a great place to start if you need a reminder and confirmation of where your help can come from in the midst of difficult days. In fact, this Psalm can be read or recited as a prayer for yourself or someone who might need the assurance of God’s love, care, concern, and help.  God is your refuge, God is your fortress of strength, and God will cover you in times of trouble.

How wonderful are these words from Psalm 91:14-16 in the Contemporary English Version…

“The Lord says, If you love me and truly know who I am, I will rescue you and keep you safe.  When you are in trouble, call out to me.  I will answer and be there to protect and honor you.  You will live and long and see my saving power.”  Great words and promises to apply to our life!

Make It Personal:  What thoughts have been weighing you down lately?  Thoughts often lead us down paths that distract us from these great promises of God.  Ask Jesus to bring healing to your thoughts this week and try to focus on the peace, joy, and strength found in the Lord.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

The Edge of an Abyss

Read: Romans 10:1-13

When I was growing up in Carlsbad, New Mexico our family would often visit the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  As we descended into the cave I would always be struck by one section that was called “The Bottomless Pit.”  You could not see the bottom and only your imagination could see how far the hole descended further into the earth.  It was a place no one wanted to go to find out just how far into the abyss it would take you.

Back in 1942 in the midst of World War II L. Nelson Bell wrote, “The civilization of which we are a part is perched precariously on the edge of an abyss.  This is obvious to all, whether in or outside of the church.”  It’s easy to understand why Mr. Bell would have felt this way during one of the worst world wars of all time.  It’s also easy to understand why many feel that way today as well with war, pandemics, politics, morality, and self-worship at such alarming levels.

This is why the hope found in Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life in heaven is so important.  In Romans 10 the apostle Paul mentions some of these same challenges that we face in this world.  He refers to an Old Testament image of “the deep” that is sometimes translated as the abyss.  He mentions that this is a place where our troubles here on earth will sometimes try to take us.  How are we saved from this abyss?  In verse 13 it says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Make It Personal:  You don’t have to fall into the bottomless pits of this world.  God has sent his Son Jesus Christ to save you from that abyss.  He wants to save you, deliver you, and help you through the often dark, confusing, and challenging troubles of this world.  In John 16:33 Jesus himself said, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” Call on the name of Jesus and you too can be saved.

Find your peace in Jesus this week,  Glen Rhodes

Leave Room

Read: Exodus 33:12-18

We often fill up our schedules and calendars to the point that we stress ourselves out.  In Exodus 33 Moses seems a little stressed out about his call to lead the Israelite people out of their captivity in Egypt.  In verse 14 the Lord assures him of his help by saying, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Do we leave room for God’s presence in our day?  Do we receive the rest he promises to give to us?

Former WBGL Christian Radio DJ and current Illini and Bulls basketball PA announcer Tim Sinclair recently posted on Facebook about leaving room in our lives to provide margin, buffer, and space.  He shared a new motto of his that is helpful for all of us to implement daily.  “With my mind, leave room to be creative.  With my money, leave room to be generous.  With my time, leave room to be available.  With my energy, leave time to be spontaneous.  With my heart, leave room to be moved.”

The bible is full of encouragements for us to receive God’s presence and rest in our lives.  In Genesis 2 God himself rested from his work of creation.  In the 10 Commandments we are encouraged to remember the sabbath and keep it holy.  In Jeremiah 6 we find rest for our souls.  In Psalm 62 it says, “truly my soul finds rest in God.”  Finally, in Matthew 11 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Make it Personal:  If you feel stressed as you wake up and face the busy day ahead perhaps it would be helpful each day to recite the Lord’s words to Moses to yourself… “The Lord says, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

A Prayer For Ukraine

Loving God, Creator of all peoples and source of all love, we are saddened.  We are saddened by the unleashing of horror and destruction in Ukraine.  

We are angry.  We are angry that lives are shattered, homes are leveled and innocence is trampled.  

We are dismayed.  We are dismayed that again the guns of war have drowned out the talks for peace.  

And we pray.  We pray that hard hearts of conquest wll be softened.  We pray that the very best practices of peace will prevail among leaders.  We pray gratefully that your spirit of healing and hope is present for victims suffering, for helpers responding, for soldiers sent to war, for leaders deciding.  

And we are committed.  We are committed as your people, as disciples of your gospel of reconciliation, to wage peace, as we are able, in Ukraine, and in all your good and lovely creation.  

All this we pray in the name and healing spirit of Jesus.  Amen


Read: James 3:13-18

The hand gesture of two fingers held up in the shape of a V can have many meanings depending on who you talk to or what country you are in.  In the United States it has most often been associated with the word “peace.”  In the Bible, peace-making is encouraged on many different fronts.  We pray for peace in our world, we pray for peace in our country, and we pray for peace in our own community, families, and relationships.  

Sometimes praying for peace in a war torn and violent world can feel heavy.  How much difference does it make and how much difference can we make when dictators and countries are choosing war over peace?  Praying does matter and we must continue to lift these desires and concerns to God.  We must also pray for the innocent who are affected by the decisions of tyrants.

We can also make a difference closer to home.  James 3:18 says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  In Matthew 6 Jesus also says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  How can you sow peace in the situations that are close to you?  In your family, with your friends, in your community?  We are called to pray for peace but we are also called in scripture to be people of peace.

Make It Personal:  What relationship comes to mind when you think of choosing peace or cultivating peace in your life?  Let’s try to be the peacemakers that Jesus calls us to be.  Let’s also continue to pray for those in our world who are experiencing the opposite of peace.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

Praise The Lord

Read: Psalm 103

A common phrase we hear when we are told of good news is “Praise the Lord!”  This is also a common phrase used by David in Psalm 103.  David uses it six times but in reality he is proclaiming it in almost every verse of this Psalm.  You see, Praise the Lord is a way for us to give thanks and be grateful for the goodness of God and also the presence of God in our times of need.  We must not forget to speak these words of gratitude in our daily lives.  Someone once said, “If Christians praised God more, the world would doubt Him less.”

Joanie Yoder writes, “Although forgetfulness sometimes increases with age, its really common to us all.  Even children have lapses of memory and excuse themselves by saying, “I forgot!”  But there’s one kind of forgetfulness that is inexcusable at any age, forgetting to be grateful to God.  The Psalmist David was determined not to fail the Lord in this way, so he exhorted his soul: ‘Forget not all His benefits.’” (Psalm 103:2)

It may be harder to praise the Lord during times of trial but by speaking those words we can be reminded that the Lord is there with us in the middle of those trials.  We praise the Lord for our blessings and we praise the Lord for his ongoing presence in every part of our lives.  “Praise the Lord, my soul.” (Psalm 103:22)

Make It Personal:  Use David’s example this week.  Speak the words “Praise the Lord” often and learn to use them in the good times as well as the times that are challenging.  Don’t forget to be grateful to God and give him praise.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

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