Midweek Reflections

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






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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




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