Midweek Reflections

True Freedom

Read: Romans 6

There has been a lot of talk recently about freedoms, or lack of them.  From religious freedom, to freedom of expression, to thousands of people fleeing their homeland in search of it; freedom is something most everyone values as a great treasure to have.  But in Romans 6 the apostle Paul reminds us of a freedom that is greater and more valuable than any.  Freedom from sin’s grasp.

Throughout the history of the world freedom’s have come and gone as countries and leaders have come and gone.  Some have upheld the banner of freedom while others have destroyed it.  But despite our situation, country, or manner of worldly leadership there is one freedom that no human person or leader can take away from us.  The freedom we (you) have through Jesus Christ.

Sin and disobedience toward God has the power to defeat us, conquer us, and destroy us.  But God sent his only son Jesus to free us from those end results.  True freedom from our sin comes when we repent of our wrongs to Christ and ask him to forgive us.  His grace is then what covers us and washes away the sins and mistakes of our past.  This brings us true freedom even when earthly powers try to take it away from us.  In verse 14 Paul says, “Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

Freedom and justice in this world are definitely important and Christians should work to encourage citizens, leaders, and ourselves to help promote them.  But as we do that let’s not forget the one true freedom that rings louder than any.  Freedom in Christ is the message we need to proclaim the loudest.  This is the freedom that saves us, delivers us, and prepares us for our eternal home in heaven.  And “Us” includes anyone you cross paths with this week.

Make it personal:  As you hear talk of freedom (or lack of it) in the news be sure to remind yourself of the freedom you have in your Savior Jesus Christ.  No one can take that away from you and it will stand through all of eternity.  If you have any sin in your life right now that needs repented of take time to talk to Jesus.  You will come under his grace and be washed clean by the blood that he shed for you on the cross of Calvary.  Praise the Lord!

Live in the Freedom of Jesus this week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



To God be the Glory

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:7-34

Our church at Arthur Mennonite is preparing to celebrate our 75th anniversary this coming Sunday. It will be a day filled with memories, stories, and many other things that give cause for celebration and praise. As we have been busy preparing for that at the church recently one phrase from a song continues to keep going through my mind. It even has caused me to sing the phrase over and over out loud recently. The phrase? “To God be the Glory.”

In 1 Chronicles 16 David and the Israelites celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. David prepares the people to blow trumpets, sing songs, and sound the cymbals. However, if you read verses 8-34 you will notice a repeating theme. Glory and praise are offered to God. It is only through God that these things were made possible. It is only through his faithfulness that the people have cause to celebrate.

As our church prepares to celebrate that same faithfulness this Sunday verses 28-30 seem to be a great proclamation for us to make. They read, “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.”

Yes, let’s celebrate. But let’s remember who we celebrate. God is so good to us and has blessed us in so many ways. He has saved us through his Son Jesus Christ and he is with us through the journeys and experiences of this life. To God be the Glory!

Make it personal: Whatever you celebrate, make sure God is given the glory for bringing you to that moment of celebration. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



From Age to Age

Read: Matthew 28:16-20

How well do you relate to other generations? I think sometimes we get so caught up in the traditions of our own generation that we fail to embrace the new traditions of the next generation. When this happens the opportunities for change and growth are often suffocated by our own personal preferences.

Truth should always remain the truth. In other words, generational preferences cannot change what God has proclaimed as truth in scripture. But there are many things that fall into the category of preferences that are not necessarily hinged on the Word of God. How can we appreciate and value the past while embracing the new that Jesus is bringing through the next generation?

It begins with interaction! We cannot learn what the next generation thinks and we cannot appreciate what the last generation has contributed unless we get to know each other and talk with each other. This should begin in the church, it should be fostered in the church, and it should be encouraged by the church. Mentoring and mutual sharing brings down walls, brings power, testimony, and strength to Christ’s call in Matthew 28 to make disciples.

Hugo Neufeld when writing on the power of intergenerational living says, “The walls that build up so readily between age groups begin to dissolve when God-given potential is recognized in every age category.” Yes, there is God-given potential in each generation and the church needs to nurture that potential.

Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations but that must begin in our homes, churches, and local communities before it can go forth throughout the world. We must each ask ourselves what we are doing to learn from other generations and what we are doing to make disciples of those who are different than us in age, preferences, and customs.

Make it personal: Who can you be a mentor to? Who needs you to walk beside them in the faith? Who do you need to interact with in order to learn what new things God is doing in the church and in our world. The truth of God and Scripture must always be held high but our preferences and traditions can sometimes use some tweaking.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



None Can Fathom

Read: Psalm 8

Sometimes the words to songs just jump out at you. That happened to me this past week as I was listening to an older song of Chris Tomlin’s titled “Indescribable.” All of the words to this song do a great job elaborating on what Psalm 8 is proclaiming about the majesty of God our Creator, but these were the words that jumped out at me. “Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light, yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night? None can fathom!

If you want to enjoy this song, these words, and the wonder of creation here is a video link with pictures and the words from Chris Tomlin.

 

Seriously, think about that. Who but God could have thought up the sun, the solar system, and how everything works together to sustain life on this earth for so long? The greatest scientist, theologian, engineer, or business mind on this earth could not have fathomed what our universe holds in it today.

When we take time in life to stop and think about the wonder of creation it truly is something that we as humans cannot fathom. Not only nature but our bodies and lives themselves are just an incredible creation to ponder. Verse 4 of this Psalm says it well, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

As Christians we should not only be in awe of this but we should take hold of the call that has been placed upon us by God to care for his creation. This means that we need to make this a spiritual matter. It means that we are to do what we can to take care of our bodies, our families, each other, and the world that we live in.

David ends this Psalm with words that seem so fitting. He writes, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Make it personal: Take some time this week to enjoy creation! Ponder how awesome it is that God has created you and blessed you to live in this world that he has created. May each of us also ask the Lord how we can best care for these things.

Enjoying God’s Creation, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Opportunity Grasped

Read: Proverbs 11:24-31

This past Sunday in the message I encouraged people to think about times in their life in which they missed a wonderful opportunity. It’s sometimes easy to look back and wish we would have grasped that chance to make a difference or give a testimony for Christ, but what if we anticipated them beforehand? Would we end up with less missed opportunities to help people, invite them to receive Jesus, or bless them, if we are looking for them ahead of time?

This past week Kathie Lee Gifford did just that on NBC’s Today Show. Her husband Frank Gifford recently passed away and this past Monday was her first day back on the show since his death. She took the opportunity on air to share about her husband’s life and the importance of his foundation of faith in Christ. She could have talked most about his Hall of Fame career in the NFL or his years as an announcer on Monday Night Football but she used that opportunity for something even more important.

Kathie testified to the Forgiveness, Grace, and Hope that is found in Jesus Christ. She said of Frank, “He was the happiest, most contented man at this point of his life.” She then went on to take that opportunity to let others know how they could find that peace and contentment in life. Kathie said to the audience, “I know it’s the answer for you!” If you haven’t seen it on Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube yet here is a link to see and hear what else she said.

The one line that keeps sticking with me is when she said, “Those of you who are hurting today, I know it’s the answer for you!” That is exactly the message I want to live, preach, and testify to. Jesus can make this life so much more wonderful for anyone and everyone. It does not mean that we will not face difficult times or hard circumstances in life, but it does mean that Jesus will give us peace and contentment for the journey here on earth and into eternity in heaven.

My prayer is that we all will continue to grasp the opportunities to share this with others. Through helping those in need, through sharing this good news, through encouraging someone to give Jesus a try. As Kathie said, “This is not about religion, this is about a living God.”

I remember Frank Gifford as being one of the best Monday Night Football broadcasters of all time. I was too young to remember him as a player. But now I will remember him for an even better reason, as a fellow believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Just as Frank encouraged his children to do with the stones that he brought home from the Holy Land, I would like to encourage you this week to ask, “what am I going to do with my stone, what can I do to make a difference in this world?”

Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Don’t miss your opportunity to live that verse out and in turn be blessed by God.

Make it personal: In the message this past Sunday I encouraged us to awake each morning and ask Jesus to help us with something. Maybe you can make this prayer personal this week. It goes like this, “Jesus, help me to notice how I can make a difference in someone’s life today.”

Have a blessed week and be a blessing, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Time to Grow

Read: 2 Peter 3:14-18

August is a difficult time for things to grow. It is hot, dry, and usually brown. It reminds me of times in our lives when our spiritual growth seems to resemble those characteristics. If we are not careful those dry times can become the norm instead of the exception. Remember, the brown grass was green not to long ago. It will not always be brown.

Our church has a vision statement that encourages us to grow and mature in God’s Word and our spiritual lives. This is something that we have to be intentional about. It requires us to give time, attention, and care to our spiritual lives and our relationship with Christ and others.

In his book “First Things First”, A. Roger Merrill tells of a business consultant who decided to landscape his grounds. He hired a woman with a doctorate in horticulture who was extremely knowledgeable. Because the business consultant was very busy and traveled a lot, he kept emphasizing to her the need to create his garden in a way that would require little or no maintenance on his part.

He insisted on automatic sprinklers and other labor-saving devices. Finally she stopped and said, “There’s one thing you need to deal with before we go any further. If there is no gardener, there’s no garden!” In this same way, there are no labor-saving devices for growing a garden of spiritual virtue. Becoming a person of spiritual fruitfulness requires time, attention, and care.

Peter encourages us in this passage to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We need to take time as Christians to do that. We need to be intentional about staying well grounded in God’s Word and becoming more like him instead of more like the world. This will take some time in our busy schedules, but it will be well worth it now and for all of eternity.

Make it personal: Some years ago the Nike shoe company coined the slogan “Just Do It.” They were trying to encourage people to be intentional about things. I thought of that slogan as I wrote today’s meditation. When it comes to our spiritual growth we need to block out some time to be with God, pray, and study His Word. In manys ways we just need to do it!

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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