Midweek Reflections

Life Stories

Read: Philippians 2:1-18
As Life Groups start up again at AMC I was reminded about the life stories that have been shared in past small groups that I have been a part of. Those stories were shared by each person in the group and were often a journey from their years of growing up to life experiences that have shaped them as adults. Obviously their faith and their relationships in the church played a big part in those stories as well. I learned many new things about some in our church that I have not known before those stories were shared.
No life story is exactly the same but in most cases we have learned things and grown along the way. We are not perfect but our desire is to grow in the nature of God and the mindset of Christ Jesus like Philippians 2 encourages. Humility, servanthood, compassion, obedience, and attitude are many of the life attributes that are encouraged in these verses.
Joyce Meyer once said, “I used to be a full-time sinner, and once in a while I “accidentally” did something right. But now that I have spent many years developing a deep, personal relationship with God… I still make mistakes, but not nearly as many as I once did, I am not where I need to be, but thank God, I am not where I used to be. I do not do everything right, but I do know that the attitude of my heart is right.”
By sharing our story we can learn from each other and grow in Jesus. When we meet together as Christ’s church we can encourage each other, support each other, learn from God’s Word, and be reminded of what Christ-like living looks like. In this manner we can relate to what Joyce says… “I still make mistakes, but not nearly as many as I once did, I am not where I need to be, but thank God, I am not where I used to be.”
Make it Personal: Find ways to share your story and to hear others stories. This can happen in small groups, fellowship groups, Christian Ed., worship, and one on one sharing. The key is to make time for it and be open to learning from others. In all things keep Jesus the focal point.
Have a great week Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Quick Change

Read: Ezekiel 36:24-36

Perhaps you have heard of or seen the man and woman act of “Quick Change” before on T.V. or at the halftime of a basketball game.  Sos and Victoria Petrosyan have been traveling around the past 10 years performing an amazing act of clothing changes that happen right before your eyes and leave you asking how it happened.  If you have never seen them before here is a YouTube link of their act.

Recently I have heard several stories in which people noticed a dramatic change in someone’s life.  In each of those cases the change came because they became a Christian and received Jesus into their life.  Spouses, family, friends, co-workers notice when Jesus transforms a persons heart, mind, and actions. It often causes others to ask, “what has changed, why is this person so different?”

In Ezekiel 36 it talks about how God is going to take the Israelite people and change them.  God is going to change them spiritually, God is going to change their physical situation, and God is going to give them a new heart in order to bring transformation.  In verse 36 it mentions that people around them are going to notice this change and realize what the Lord has done.

Some of the greatest stories of change in this world come from Christians who have seen Jesus totally change them and change their life.  Like Paul in the book of Acts, Jesus comes into their life and brings a sudden transformation in their life, their situation, and their purpose in life.  Perhaps you have a story like that to tell, or perhaps you can testify to seeing it happen in someone else’s life? Perhaps you need that kind of change in your life right now?  Jesus is ready and waiting to quickly change you into who God truly created you to be in this world. He will change you both inside and out!

Make it Personal:  What other things give witness to change in our world?  Creation, the Seasons, Time, Circumstances, and so many more.  God is the Lord of transformation and his Son Jesus Christ is the source of that change in our lives. He loves you, cares for you, and wants to change you in ways that will cause others to say, “Wow, how did that happen!”

Have a wonderful week Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Disciplined Perseverance

Read: Hebrews 12:1-13
The biggest game on the planet is the Super Bowl.  Some soccer fans around the world would probably dispute that, but the Super Bowl is one of the most watched sporting events around the world.  It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to play on a stage like that with millions of people watching your performance.  
The players and coaches who are participating in the Super Bowl have devoted many hours, days, and years to being the best they can be at their particular sport.  They have most likely overcome obstacles, opposition, difficulties, and challenges to arrive at the pinnacle of their sport. They have been disciplined and they have persevered.  
The writer of the book of Hebrews is encouraging these attributes as it pertains to our faith.  He tells us to be disciplined, to run the race with perseverance, and to be encouraged by the great cloud of witnesses we have to inspire us along the way.  First and foremost he says that we must fix our eyes on Jesus so that we will not grow weary or lose heart. Keeping our eyes on Christ helps us to put everything in perspective.    
If you are a follower of Jesus you might have to overcome times of opposition, criticism, or struggle.  But as we go though those experiences we must remember what Jesus endured for us on the cross of Calvary.  Jesus knows, Jesus understands, and Jesus can help you through it. Pray that Christ will help you to persevere, overcome, and produce the harvest of righteousness and peace that Hebrews 12 speaks of.  Then you will win at the biggest game of all, the game of life.
Make it Personal:  Athletes train in ways that help them to reach their highest potential.  Ask Jesus to help you develop a faith that will sustain you and increase your trust in him.  Remember the key, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Have a blessed week Everyone,Pastor Glen Rhodes

Forward Focused

Read: Isaiah 43:16-19  
Facebook and Twitter can sometimes be cruel, divisive, and just downright mean.  We should always try to ignore, delete, and move past those posts when they affect us in a negative way.  But sometimes there are posts that are relationship builders, funny, and inspirational. Recently a pastor shared this on his Twitter feed, “Regret looks back. Fear looks around. Worry looks in. Faith looks up. Hope looks forward.”  
Those words reminded me of what Isaiah 43 says about God doing a new thing in our lives.  Verses 18 and 19 say, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  You see the correlation there with that pastors quote?  
When we are forward focused we can look up to God for help (faith) and look forward (hope) to how the Lord can and will move us past our regrets, fears, and worries.  If we allow it and accept it, God can take the many things of our life, both good and bad, and make them into something positive and wonderful.  
A cook one time used this illustration.  When she makes biscuits she uses many things that don’t taste good on their own like flour, baking soda, shortening, etc..  However, she looks forward to what the end result will be once they are mixed together and put in the oven. Life is often that way too.  We can dwell on our current circumstances or we can ask God to help us see what he is going to do in the future. God can and will make a new way, if you seek his help.  
Make it Personal:  As you go through your week try to notice what things you are focused on and how that is affecting your attitude and outlook on life.  Consider the negative impact of allowing negativity, fear, and worry into your life. Instead choose to see the new thing God is going to do.  
Have a great week Everyone,
Pastor Glen Rhodes

All The Time

Read: Psalm 34:1-9
Perhaps you have heard or experienced the saying “God is good, all the time; All the time, God is good.”  This is often used in churches and among Christians as a reminder that God does not change despite our world situation or individual circumstances.  In the midst of difficult and trying times we can always turn to God for help, even when we may not understand things.
In Psalm 34 David was writing those verses while experiencing some very hard times in his life.  Yet, in verse 8 he proclaims, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”  We sometimes wonder why we go through certain things or why God doesn’t just change our circumstances.  I have been there before, and I’m sure you have too.
Our faith in God and in his Son Jesus Christ is what gets us through.  We know that God is with us at all times and will watch over us even through the hard things the world throws at us.  David reminds us in this Psalm to take refuge in God during those times and seek his love and deliverance.
In the biography or her life titled “The Hiding Place”, Corrie Ten Boom writes about the horrors she experienced in the Nazi concentration camp of Ravensbruck.  Some 33 years later, after some friends had provided her with a very nice home in California, a friend said to her, “Corrie, hasn’t God been good to give you this beautiful place?”  Her reply? “God was good when I was in Ravensbruck, too.”
That is a great reminder of how we can respond when our next challenge or adversity comes along.  God is always good, even when the world hits us with its bad. Our help comes from God and so did David’s.  In verse 4 he writes, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”  Your faith in the goodness of God will see you through!
Make it Personal:  When we read the Psalms it often feels like we are reading a prayer.  Many of those poems or songs are actually prayers for help, hope, assurance, and thanksgiving.  Take time this week to pray about your circumstances and proclaim the goodness of God. Read this Psalm and others to be reminded that you are not alone.
Have a great week Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes 

Are You Satisfied?

Read: Isaiah 58:11-14
Satisfaction is sometimes hard to find.  Perhaps a certain rock song from the 1960’s comes to mind?  “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” sang the Rolling Stones.  Often times the problem is that people look in the wrong places for satisfaction.  People spend a lot of time and money trying to find things and buy things that will bring satisfaction and happiness.  It may do the trick for a moment, but those feelings of being satisfied are often fleeting.

In his classic book “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis wrote, “If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”  The suggestion that Lewis is making is that finding satisfaction in this life goes beyond pleasing ourselves.  It is found in God and in being part of something bigger than just us.

The prophet Isaiah is addressing this in the Bible when he says, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen you.” (Isaiah 58:11)  King David said, “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:9)  Jesus himself said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

The answer to finding satisfaction in life hinges on where we look for it.  Lasting joy and satisfaction can be found in the eternal things of God, not the temporal things of this world.  Yes, life will still have storms that come along, but focusing on our eternal hope and joy in Jesus can see us through those circumstances.  As Isaiah said, the Lord will satisfy your needs in that sun-scorched land, and God will strengthen you.

Make it Personal:  I recently heard someone say, “As you do whatever you’ll do today, make sure to invest in your connection with your Creator, with an eye toward that other, eternal world for which you have been made.  That’s how you’ll find real satisfaction, no matter the circumstances.”

Have a blessed week Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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