Midweek Reflections

To Serve Others

Read: 1 Peter 4:1-11

In the gospels Jesus often teaches about putting others before ourselves and caring for those in need.  He often would use parables to get this point across but ultimately he gave up his life for others who were in need of their sins being forgiven.  Yes, that would be us.  All of us.  As believers and followers of Jesus we should always be looking for ways to help others in need.

In a recent Our Daily Bread devotional Xochitl Dixon shares a story from a small farming community.  “Several years after the bank sold the farm David’s family had owned for decades, he learned the property would be available for sale.  After much sacrifice and saving, David arrived at the auction and joined a crowd of nearly 200 local farmers.  Would David’s meager bid be enough?  He placed the first bid, taking deep breaths as the auctioneer called for higher bids.  The crowd remained silent until they heard the slam of the gavel.  The fellow farmers placed the needs of David and his family above their own financial advancement.”

This story is just one example of many ways we can help an individual, family, student, co-worker, new neighbor, refugee, friend, church friend, or other who might be in need.  The key ingredient is that we look beyond ourselves and our own needs to see the needs of another.  This is what Peter encourages in verse 10 when he says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

Make It Personal:  In the story above, the farmers sacrificed their own desire to increase their land, profit, and assets in order to help another family in need.  Who might God be leading you to help and what kind of sacrifice might it require of you to serve others?

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

What Am I To Do?

Read: Jeremiah 22:1-5, Micah 6:6-8

Most of us want to make a difference in the world and do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly as the prophet Micah encourages us to do in the Old Testament.  The prophet Jeremiah encourages many of those same things in his book.  The life of Jesus in the New Testament builds on those things and shows us what it looks like in action.  But in a world with so much anger and violence, so many needs, and so much injustice we sometimes ask ourselves, “What can I do that will really make a difference?”  The world seems so big and our contributions sometimes feel so insignificant.  What am I to do with that?

As I was asking myself these questions recently I heard a song from the Irish band U2 and one line really jumped out at me.  It was a song from one of their first albums and the song was titled “Gloria.”  The line said, “I can’t change the world, but I can change the world in me.”  In other words, you maybe can’t solve all of the poverty, racism, violence, and hatred in the world, you maybe can’t share the love and grace of Jesus with the whole world, but you can do all of those things in yourself and in your corner of the world.  That is what God is calling us to.

Your corner of the world starts with your own life, faith, outlook, actions, and attitude.  It then extends to your home, your neighborhood, your friends, and your workplace or school.  If we can make a difference in those areas God will use that example and multiply it to others.  It has to start somewhere so let it start with us.  One last reminder, we can’t do these things in our own strength.  We need Jesus to help us do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.  If we look to Jesus he will help us make a difference in our corner of the world. 

Make It Personal:  God has a purpose for your life and the Lord will reveal those purposes when you seek after Him and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We do know that we all share the same purpose of living out his Word in our daily lives.  That is where it begins.  May it begin with us and may the Lord allow it to spread throughout the world.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

Many Parts, Many Sauces

Read: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Do you know how many different flavors of sauce Chick-fil-A has?  They have eight according to their website but that doesn’t even include ketchup and mustard.  Can you name all eight?  My personal favorites are the original Chick-fil-A sauce and the Polynesian sauce. Why do they need so many options?  Because people are different and have different preferences for their sauce.  We know that people are different and have different personalities and giftings but Paul says that God planned it that way.  He says that we each are a part of the body of Christ and each one of us is needed (1 Cor. 12:27).

Author and blogger Amy Weatherly recently wrote about this when encouraging people to be who God has called them to be and not worry about what others might expect us to be.  She wrote, “You can’t be everyone’s Chick-fil-A sauce. That’s not your job. Your job is to run the race that’s been set out before you. Run it hard. Run it long. Run it well. Run it in your very own style.  Run with arms wide open toward faith and hope. Give grace. Chase after gratitude. Bring joy with you everywhere you go. Do what God’s asked you to do and keep your eyes on him.”

In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul is saying that we are all a part of the body of Christ but we all bring something different to the body.  He says, “The body is not made up of one part but many.”  One part can’t do it all and every part is needed to fulfill the work and purposes of God in this world.  Don’t try to be someone you are not and embrace who God has made you to be and what he has called you to be.  You can’t be everything to everyone.  We will get burned out if we try that.  Be you.  Be the flavor God has made you. 

Make It Personal:  Your purpose in life is to please God not to please people.  Don’t give in to the idea that you have to please everyone all the time.  You will always fail at that endeavor.  We are one body made up of many parts.  Each part is needed and valuable.  In fact, each part is indispensable in God’s kingdom and that means you are needed, valued, and loved by God.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

Give Careful Thought

Read: Haggai 1-2

When was the last time you read the two chapters of Haggai?  Never?  It is not an often turned to book in our Bibles but I would encourage you to read it’s two chapters (38 verses total) this week.  Haggai was a prophet who called the people to turn to God at a time in which they were consumed with themselves. He says, “Give careful thought to your ways…”  Perhaps this is a prophetic voice that we need to hear again today.

When the Isrealies returned to Jerusalem from exile they started to rebuild the temple but failed to finish the work once they got consumed by their own lives and personal desires.  In verse 4 of chapter 1 he says, “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”  Haggai’s encouragement goes beyond just a physical building plan though.  He asked them to give careful thought to all of their priorities in life.

We have many pressures in life.  People place demands on our schedules and have expectations they want us to fulfill.  It seems like someone is always wanting something from us or else we find other things we want to do to fill our time.  The most important things in life are sometimes left behind.  Haggai reminds us that God, our faith, and how we use our resources such as time, money, and talents are really the most important things in life.  His encouragement and challenge in these 38 verses is to be about the things of God first and foremost.  Perhaps we should give careful thought to how this prophet’s words apply to our own lives.

Make It Personal:  What is God telling you about your priorities, time, money, and values?  Pray and ask Jesus to help you do some realigning if that needs to take place.  Ask God to help you be about his priorities in this world and then ask him to help you with all of the other things that follow after that.  Through the encouragement of Haggai the temple was finally completed in 520 B.C..  It appears that the people listened and got their priorities in order.

Have a wonderful week,  Glen Rhodes

Weather The Storm

Read: Mark 4:35-41

The first of this week I was blessed to take part in an LMC Great Lakes West prayer retreat at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Indiana.  What a wonderful time of gathering with other church leaders to study God’s Word, spend time in silence, and pray together.  We all need more opportunities for times like this in our lives.  I would encourage you to jump at the chance to do something like this if it comes along sometime.

Our focus passage for the day was the story of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4.  We also studied Rembrandt’s painting of this story which is titled “The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee.”  A picture of that painting is attached.  We were asked to think about which disciple we would be in this painting, what phrase in the story spoke to us, which verses or thoughts grabbed our focus or attention, and what our response to all of this was.

I would encourage you to do the same this week.  Read Mark 4:35-41 this week, study this painting, study the words of the text and reflect on these questions above.  When we take time with scripture and stories like this the Lord can bring calm and hope to help us weather the storms of life just like he calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee for the disciples.  As things calmed down on the sea the disciples said to each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Make It Personal:  I will share a portion of a prayer I wrote during this retreat.  Perhaps you can use this prayer in your own times of devotion… “Jesus, my Lord and Savior, I come to you today and ask you to calm me, calm my heart, calm my fears and concerns, and calm my inner soul.  Help me to give these things, ALL of the things that trouble me to your mighty and trusting hand.”

Be Blessed this week,  Glen Rhodes

Strong & Courageous

Read: Joshua 1-7

The first seven chapters of Joshua share the dramatic transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua and the long awaited entry into the promised land after 40 years of wandering around the desert.  Joshua encourages the people to be strong and courageous as they cross the Jordan River, march around the walls of Jericho, and enter the long awaited land that God had promised them.

There are so many things these days that tend to chip away at our faith, the truth, and the promises that God has made to we his people.  We have so many questions about the pandemic we continue to struggle through, we see pillars of truth being torn down by the world around us, and the news channels continue to lead us down paths of untruth, partisanship, and despair.  With all of that said, we are not without hope. 

As Christians and followers of Jesus Christ we are called to be strong and courageous as we face these challenges in our day to day lives.  God will guide us, Christ will sustain us, and the Holy Spirit will direct us in these difficult days of questions, doubt, and fear.  The Lord will part the waters, knock down the walls, and help us to navigate our way through if we will seek his help.  Hope of the promised land is right around the next corner so keep trusting, stay strong, and find your courage through Jesus Christ.

Make It Personal:  Maybe it is not something going on in our world right now that has you afraid or dismayed.  Maybe it is something in your life personally or in your family that no one else knows about.  God does know and God cares about what you are going through.  The Lord wants to help you through this time and give you courage and strength to get through it.  Your hope and your deliverance through Christ is there for your taking.  Take hold of it!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

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