Midweek Reflections

Staying on the Path

Read: Psalm 119:9-16

           A couple weeks ago I mentioned the shortest chapter in the Bible.  It was Psalm 117.  I also said that I would share what the longest chapter in the Bible is.  Any guesses?  Here are some hints: It is written as an acrostic poem; the stanzas of the poem begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet: the verses of each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
If you guessed Psalm 119 you are correct. It has a total of 176 verses.  I would encourage you to read the whole chapter but this week I am going to focus in on verses 9-16.  That stanza begins by asking the question, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” Turns out the answer to this is very good advice for all ages.
In numerical order here are the answers that follow….
1.  Seek the Lord with all your heart and don’t walk away from his commands. (v.10)
2.  Keep God’s Word in your heart so the you will not be led astray by sin. (v.11)
3.  Praise the Lord, and seek after his ways and his path. (v.12)
4.  With your mouth give witness/testimony to God’s direction. (v.13)
5.  Rejoice daily in the many blessings of the Lord. (v.14)
6.  Read, study, and meditate on God’s Word.  The path that God has provided. (v.15)
7.  Delight in the Lord and be sure not to neglect or reject his path to life.  (v.16)
The rest of Psalm 119 is filled with helpful and valuable wisdom for staying on the path God has for you and finding life and hope on that path.  Psalm 119 is like a gateway to the rest of scripture that tells us how God loves us, saves us, and redeems us through his son Jesus Christ.  This is the path that leads us to the cross of Calvary where Jesus gave his life to save us from our sins and show us the way to eternal life with him in heaven.
Make it Personal:  Think about the path your life is currently on.  If you are struggling from the difficulties of life and you are far away from God, its time to try a different path.  Find the path of Jesus in the Bible and allow him to turn your life around.  Jesus wants to lead you and help you to walk his path of freedom, salvation, and eternal life.
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

Finding Rest

Read: Hebrews 4:1-13

       In Genesis 2 after God created the heavens and the earth verses 2-3 says this, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
Most of the time when we read these verses or other passages like Hebrews 4:1-13 we think about the sabbath day of rest, or Sunday as Christians in the West refer to it.  Rest, worship, and a change of pace are always good for our soul as well as our physical well-being.  If you haven’t been taking advantage of your Sunday rest, please begin this week.
But there is also another kind of rest that we need to consider as well.  Recently I heard a pastor ask this question.  Are you experiencing God’s rest in your life?  At first, I wasn’t sure where he was going with that question, but then he made it clearer for me.  He said, “Are you worn out trying to control everything and everyone around you?  Maybe it is time to resign as general manager of the universe and start believing God’s promises and trusting God to do what only he can do.”
I realized at that moment that there are two kinds of rest.  Resting from physical work and resting from mental work.  Yes, we need to rest from our normal jobs and take time to refresh, worship, and recharge.  But often we need to rest from trying to control everything as well.  Hebrews 4:11 says, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
You see, trying to control everything ourselves often leads us into disobedience.  Instead, we are encouraged to enter into the rest of God which places the control in his hands and allows us to trust in Jesus for all things.  This truly is the way to find God’s rest.
Make it Personal:  What is it in your life that you are trying to control?  How about you take a rest from that and give God control of the situation.  Trust in the promises of Jesus to see you through and take a rest.  Oh yes, and also remember to rest on Sunday.  There are some wonderful churches in our community to worship with!  Worship Jesus and then rest well!
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

God’s Love is Great

Read: Psalm 117

           What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?  If you guessed Psalm 117 you are correct.  It only has two verses and is the exact middle chapter of the entire Bible.  It is so short I can quote it in its entirety right here.  “Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.  For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Praise the Lord.”  What is the longest chapter in the Bible?  Tune in next week for the answer to that.
So, what does this shortest chapter of the Bible proclaim?  To extol (praise enthusiastically) the Lord for his love and faithfulness to us.  This Psalm is a great reminder that God’s incredible love for each of us is reason to praise him and follow him in life.  As the favorite hymn “The Love of God” says, “it is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.”
In his book “Knowing God” J.I. Packer writes, “What matters supremely is not the fact that I know God, but the larger fact that he knows me.  I am engraved on the palms of His hands.  I am never out of His mind.  All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me.”  These words remind us that no matter what happens in life God keeps us in mind and his love and faithfulness for us will never cease.
Too often we forget about this love of God that surrounds us.  We begin to focus on our failures, difficulties, and troubles, instead of focusing on God’s love for us.  When love is difficult to find in the world it is always close at hand with God.  This is why our relationship with Jesus and our spiritual focus in life is so important. We can find many reasons to give praise to the Lord when we remind ourselves of God’s love and faithfulness to us each and every day.
Make it Personal:  If you are searching for God’s love in life you can find it in Jesus.  God’s son loves you and the people of this world so much that he came to earth to save you from sin and condemnation. (John 3:16)  He died on the cross to bring you salvation.  All you need to do to receive it and realize his love for you is to believe in him and make him the Lord of your life.
Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

“Just Remember…”

Read: Romans 12:3-8                    
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” While we usually desire to be others focused, we too often tend to be selfish, me-centered, and vain.  This is probably why humility is one of the most encouraged character traits in the Bible.  Romans 12 says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement…”
While we need to see ourselves as God sees us; as loved, important, and valued, we also need to pay attention to times that we can become self-absorbed.  In a recent Golf Digest interview, former PGA Tour player and now golf analyst Paul Azinger said, “Each time I walk out the door to a tournament I’m broadcasting my wife Toni gives me a kiss and says, ‘Just remember, nobody’s tuning in to hear you.’”  Paul says, “It’s humbling. And dead-on accurate.”
When we see acts of humility we need to think about our own lives and learn how to grow in humility ourselves. How can I do better at putting others before myself?  How can I love my neighbor?  How is Jesus wanting me to grow in this area?  I need to ask those questions while still loving who God has made me to be as person created in His image.
NBA star Steph Curry, guard for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, has shown humility in various ways over the past couple of years. Two years ago, he was the MVP of the league and yet still encouraged his team to recruit Kevin Durant to the Warriors who would later become an NBA finals MVP instead of Curry.
This past week his Warriors teammate Klay Thompson was scorching the net with 3 pointers during a game in Chicago.  He was on his way to breaking Curry’s record for 3’s in an NBA game.  What did Curry say to him during a timeout?  “Go get it Klay!”  He encouraged his teammate to break his own record for NBA 3 pointers in a game. Curry is outspoken about his Christian faith and once said, “People should know who I represent and why I am who I am, and that’s because of my Lord and Savior Jesus.”  Like all of us, Curry is not perfect, but he is striving to live out his faith.
Selfless humility is one of the Godly traits we should all try to emulate in our lives.  It’s not always easy and at times we will fail, but with the example and encouragement of Jesus and others we can remind ourselves that it is truly the best way to live our lives.  The words of Jesus ring true, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
Make it Personal:  The one way we can decipher humility in our lives is to be self-aware.  As you interact with people keep this call to humility in your thoughts and ask these questions.  Am I responding with humility?  Does my attitude reflect humility?  Am I thinking of others?  We should all pray that God will help us to develop more humility in our lives.
Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes

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.

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