Midweek Reflections

God’s Gym






Read: 1 Timothy 4:1-10
      Before the recent explosion of fitness centers and workout gyms, Gold’s Gym was always the best-known name in the industry.  Now that exercise, physical fitness, conditioning and training, and health are readily encouraged those type of centers have become very important in many people’s lives.  That is a good thing.  
If you take the “L” out of Gold’s Gym it is easy to see what Paul is encouraging in this weeks scripture passage.  While he acknowledges that it is good to exercise and be fit physically he also stresses that training in our spiritual lives is of utmost importance.  Not only does it help us in living this life on earth, but it also prepares us for eternity which lies ahead.
Pastor and author Eugene Peterson passed away this week at his home in Montana.  He was the author who wrote the Message Bible paraphrase which has become very popular in recent days.  As you consider your own life and how well your “training in godliness” or  “disciplined life in God” is going, here is how the New International Version translation and the Message Bible paraphrase share 1 Timothy 4:8-10….
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”  (NIV)   
“Exercise daily in God, no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers.”  (The Message)
Make it Personal:  We can never spend enough time in God’s Gym!  Whether that is in prayer, in God’s Word, in times of devotion and reading, or in fellowship with God’s people.  Be sure to keep up your physical exercise but don’t ignore your need for spiritual growth and growing in your relationship with God and Jesus Christ.  Please pray for Eugene Peterson’s wife and family this week.
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

The Evening Meal

Read: Deuteronomy 31:9-13

When was the last time you and your children sat down for an evening meal together?  Do you try to make that a regular practice?  In our hurried culture today, it is becoming much too common for families to eat on the go or eat in front of the television.  When evening meals around the table are missed, we miss out on life-changing conversations with each other.
Jan Peterson (wife of retired pastor and author Eugene Peterson) shares the story of a time that she was invited to speak at a parenting conference about this subject.  Of the 38 women in one of the meetings not one mother raised her hand to say that their family ate dinner together.  Jan was shocked, and when asked if she had any pearls of wisdom to give for the raising of children her answer was, “Have a family meal every evening.”
In Deuteronomy 31 Moses had the Israelites gather together to hear the words of the Lord.  In verse 13 it stresses that the children must hear these things so that they know them and can apply them to their lives.  The evening meal has many of these same benefits; it allows us to talk with children about their day, discuss how to handle the things of life, and convey wisdom, counsel, and instruction. It is also a great time to tell them how much you love them and care for them.  P.S. You will also need to restrict cell phones from the dinner table.
Jan Peterson said this to those women, “I know it might be difficult, but it should be possible to get everyone away from the T.V. in their rooms with their microwaved meal on a T.V. tray to eat together. A time to gather the events of the day into conversation, listen to one another, and receive a blessing.”  How often are we passing up this opportunity of a blessing?
Make it Personal:  Things like this only happen when we make them a priority.  The importance of the evening meal and evening conversations with the family is so vital in the building of relationships and sharing Godly wisdom.  This is true for married couples even when the children are grown up and out of the house as well.  Be sure to find time to talk with each other.
Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.

Your Real Home

Read: John 14:1-14

One Sunday morning the pastor of a church was talking to the children during children’s time.  The Pastor said, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?” “NO!” the children all answered. “If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into heaven?” Again, the answer was, “NO!”
“Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children and loved my wife, would that get me into heaven?” He asked them again. Again, they all answered, “NO!” “Well,” he continued, “then how can I get into heaven?” A five-year-old boy shouted out, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD.”  Children always give us an interesting perspective on things don’t they?
In John 14 Jesus says that there is a special place prepared in heaven for those who believe in Jesus and make him the Lord of their life. In reality, this is our true home.  The place believers will spend the rest of eternity after our life on this earth is completed.  One of the better books I have read on heaven was written by Joni Eareckson Tada entitled “Heaven, Your Real Home.”
In that book Joni offers a refreshing, faith-filled glimpse of what the Bible promises is waiting for those who believe.  She writes about it in a way that also allows us to see our lives here and now in a whole new light.  I appreciate Joni’s perspective because she has lived her life in a wheel chair ever since a diving accident paralyzed her from the shoulders down during her teenage years.
Joni writes, “Heaven may be as near as next year or next week, so it makes good sense to spend some time here on earth thinking candid thoughts about that marvelous future reserved for us.”  I encourage you to read John 14 this week to see what Jesus says about heaven and then read Joni’s book about your real home.
Make it Personal:  Here is what the cover flap of Joni’s book says, “Far from viewing heaven as an escape from reality, Joni paints a picture of heaven as the home of our hearts, the place where we will find the fulfillments of our longings, and a reality that is more substantial and lasting than anything we’ll ever find here on earth.  She encourages us to set our sights not on the passing things of earth, but on heaven where our deepest and most noble desires will be realized.”
Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

All Day Long

Read: Psalm 113

How should we respond to God?  If we think of all the incredible things we are blessed with in life our response should be one of praise.  Even when we go through difficult and trying times in our life, at some point in the trial we realize how grateful we are for God’s presence, help, support, and strength in that time.  God truly is a shelter in the time of storm.
In Psalm 113 the psalmist is praising the Lord for many of these things.  In fact, verse 3 says, “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Yes, we are to praise God all day long.  Have you ever thought about how that might change your attitude, outlook, and purpose of life?  What if we would look at each situation and say, “How can I give praise to God for this?”
Pastor Nicky Gumble writes, “Praise is the appropriate response to God. He is worthy of all your praise. We teach our children to be thankful – not for our own sake but for theirs. We are pleased when they are thankful. God teaches you to praise him because it is the right response to him, and because it is good for you. Thanksgiving is an appropriate response to human generosity. Continual praise is the appropriate response to God’s generosity.”
I realize that praising God is not always an easy endeavor when the storms of life are raging.  But it is one of the choices or responses that we have available to us.  As pastor Gumble says above, “it is the appropriate response.”  A positive response of praise and thankfulness can lift our spirits and set our minds on the positive blessings of God to see us through that storm. 
In the good times the list of blessings could go on and on forever.  The second half of Psalm 113 testifies that no one is like our God.  Verse 4 says, “The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.”  No wonder the Lord deserves our praise all day long. There is no one who can compare to the creator of the universe and the provider of our salvation through his son Jesus Christ.  Let’s praise God together!
Make it Personal:  Negativity is a choice that leads us down a dark path.  Praise is a choice that can lead you down a path of restoration and hope.  The Lord deserves your praise today, tomorrow, and every day after.  Praise God all day long and let it extend into your nights!
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

The Harvest Wave

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

        It’s harvest time in Central Illinois.  I was able to help with the fall harvest one day this past week.  My job was to drive the grain truck and haul corn to the elevator.  I get to help with this a few times each season, and every year there is something that always blesses me:  The simple wave from the people in other grain trucks, combines, and tractors as you pass them on the road.
Why does this happen?  I believe there are three reasons.  First, it’s the common purpose each worker feels for those who have a part in bringing in the harvest.  Second, it’s a friendly way to go about your day that is mostly spent in the seat of a truck, combine, or tractor.  And third, it just makes you feel better to be friendly and supportive.
If only we could take that harvest wave and make it a part of the rest of our lives.  Actually, we can.  The Bible is full of words that bring encouragement, hope, and purpose to life.  It is also full of verses that encourage us to be about those things.  Like the verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 that says, “Encourage one another and build each other up…”
In a time in where social media is often used to tear people down and present a fist and insult instead of a wave or handshake, we can be the difference makers.  Let’s take the advice of Paul and choose to encourage one another and build each other up.  Hopefully I don’t have to wait until next Fall’s harvest to be reminded of this.
Make it Personal:  How often do you start your day off with the intention of being friendly, supportive, and upbeat?  If we start with that kind of attitude and ask Jesus to help us stay there we can be a blessing to those we meet each day.  We will feel better as well.  Let’s give it a shot!
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Crisis Management

September 19. 2018
Read: Psalm 121              
    In recent weeks we heard about how people on the U.S. East Coast prepared for hurricane Florence.  Some prepared, some did not, and some were caught in the eye of the storm.  Some evacuated, and some chose not to.  In some cases people probably had nowhere to go and so they tried to weather the storm.  We need to continue to pray for those affected by this storm.  
How do we manage crisis, trouble, and storms when they come into our lives?  How do you cope with unexpected difficulties when they arise?  Do you allow them to defeat you or do you seek refuge and find opportunities to learn and grow from them?  The Bible has helpful counsel about this in Psalm 121.  “Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord.”
I don’t speak Chinese, but I have heard that the word “crisis” in that language consists of only two characters.  The first character represents danger, and the second character represents opportunity.  This is a reminder that every crisis we face also presents an opportunity for us.  The opportunity is to seek after God for help.
Psalm 121 proclaims that God created the heavens and the earth, so surely God can and will help us through a crisis.  God created you, God watches over you, and God will help you, is what the Psalmist proclaims.  We are not promised a life free of difficulties or struggles, but we are promised the opportunity to seek God’s help in the midst of those.
What crisis are you in right now?  Have you called out to God for help?  If you try to manage it on your own, you most likely will find pain and struggle.  If you call on Jesus you will find the help and strength you need to manage and find your way through it. “The Lord is a very present help in times trouble.”  (Psalm 46:1)
Make it Personal:  Along with Psalm 121 also read Matthew 6:25-34.  In those verses Jesus himself speaks about how he can deliver you from worry, anxiety, fear, and the future.  All of these verses are wonderful words to pray as we lift up our families, communities, nation, and world in the midst of various crisis and troubles.
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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