Midweek Reflections

How to Pray


Read: Matthew 6:5-13          

Depending on who you talk to you might get many different answers about how we are to pray to God.  In Matthew 6:5-13 Jesus gives us some guidance.  First, he talks about our approach to prayer and then he gives us some specific words to pray.  Depending on which translation of the Bible you use this prayer might be a little different, but the actual words, nature, and purpose of the prayer are the same.

Praying to God can happen in many different ways, in essence it is actually a conversation between the created and the Creator.  As pastor and author Max Lucado says, “Prayer reminds you who is in charge.  You don’t take your requests to someone with less authority.  You take them to someone who outranks you in the solutions department.  Prayer decreases you and increases God.”

At the same time, our God is a personal God who wants to converse with you about the important things in your life as well as the things that you might think are more trivial.  God cares about all of it.  We don’t need to change our voice, assume a certain posture, or even close our eyes in order to talk with God.  If you pray while you are driving, please keep your eyes open.

Jesus does encourage us to pray with humility.  In verse 5 he says, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.”  Jesus isn’t saying that we can’t pray together in church or with other people, he is just reminding us about the attitude we should have when we go to the Lord in prayer.

Many people have memorized the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 in either the King James version or the New International Version.  Here is how pastor Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in the Message Bible, “Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are.  Set the world right; Do what’s best, as above, so below.  Keep us alive with three square meals.  Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.  Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You’re in charge!  You can do anything you want!  You’re ablaze in beauty!  Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Make it Personal:  God loves you and wants to be a part of your everyday life.  Prayer is one of the ways to invite Jesus into the situations and circumstances that you face.  All you have to do is talk to God and share your heart.  The Lord also speaks to us through the Bible, take some time this week to open your Bible while you pray.

Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Bless the Children


Matthew 19:13-15 & Ephesians 6:1-4 

The nurture, care, correction, and encouragement of children is one of our highest callings in life.  Whether you are a parent, grandparent, relative, church friend, coach, or have any interaction with children of any age this responsibility should be treated with utmost respect, care, and concern.  There are too many stories in the news lately where this is not the case.

There are not many verses in the Gospels where Jesus interacts with children, but he most surely did on many occasions.  In Matthew 19 we see the care and concern that Jesus has for them.  In verse 13 people were bringing the children to Jesus so that he could bless them, and some of the adults rebuked them for distracting Jesus in that way.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-15 NIV)

Caring for children is just as important as caring for all people in need.  Mother Theresa once said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless.  The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty.  We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”  And I would add churches and communities as well.

In a recent Golf Digest article several successful professional golfers shared how their parents’ encouragement, support, and uplifting words during their childhood helped them to succeed in both golf and life.  Encouragement is always a valuable asset in the life of a child.  Too often we are quick to point out their wrongs and slow to commend the things they get right.

We should be reminded that in Ephesians 6 along with children being encouraged to obey their parents verse 4 also speaks to parents.  It says, “Parents, don’t be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 CEV)  In a world with way too many news stories of abuse, neglect, and child endangerment, we must show the care, compassion, and encouragement of Jesus who desires to bless the children.

Make it personal:  What interaction do you have with children through the week?  Whether it is in your family, church, or other places be sure to fulfill this calling well.  Be an encouragement to them, guide and direct them in loving ways, and tell them they are loved by Jesus.  And oh yes, be sure to give them a good Godly example to follow.

Have a great week everyone,
Pastor Glen Rhodes

Arthur Mennonite Church, 710 E. Park St.

Kindness and Humility

Read: Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 3:3

Perhaps we could use a little more kindness and humility in our world?  Instead of asking that question how about we live it.  How about we show a little more kindness and humility in our world.  It is requested over and over in the Bible and the prophet Micah says that God has shown us what is required; “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

In a recent Time magazine essay, Kristin van Ogtrop tells a story from her son’s 4th grade classroom.  She writes, “My son decided to put a suggestion box in his classroom, though he wasn’t quite sure what the box would yield. The result was not so much suggestions as appeals for kindness… there was a class wide desire for compassion, if no clear sense of how to get it.”

As Kristin pondered on this exercise in her son’s classroom she noted, “The children want to be on the receiving end of kindness but have trouble handing it out.  On a daily basis they are tripped up by three obstacles: lack of impulse control; thoughtlessness; and difficulty with forgiveness, or letting things go.”

From my experience, we adults are much like those 4th graders.  We desire kindness and compassion much more than we extend it to others.  We also struggle with those three obstacles.  How many times have we revisited a situation and desired that we would have had more impulse control, thoughtfulness, and grace?

In Proverbs 3:3 Solomon says, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”  If those things are around our necks and written on our hearts it will be much harder to stumble over the obstacles that keep tripping us up.  Kindness is not a Christian virtue alone, but it is definitely the guideline and example for those who seek the way of God and follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Make it Personal:  What ideas do you have for fostering kindness in your life?  If we want a world that is more kind, compassionate, and forgiving, then it must start with us.  Think about the three obstacles shared this week and work at improving them in your life.  We must begin with prayer and ask Jesus to help us do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.

Have a blessed week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes

What Should I Do?

Read: Genesis 24

Have you ever asked that question, “What should I do?”  Most everyone has asked that in some way over the course of their lives.  Many of us have asked it numerous times.  But who are we asking?  It’s good to get counsel from trusted family and friends but how often do you turn to God for that kind of guidance and direction?

A friend recently told me a story that reminded me of Genesis 24.  In Genesis, Abraham sends his servant off to his homeland to find a wife for his son Isaac.  When the servant arrived in the town of Nahor he must have asked that question, “What should I do now?”  He prayed and he asked the Lord to show him something specific so that he would know when Isaacs future wife had arrived in his presence.  Read chapter 24 to find out the ending of the story.

My friend was also seeking direction from the Lord.  He had a very difficult decision to make that would affect many people.  He also prayed, and he asked the Lord for something specific to happen if he was to go a certain direction.  If the Lord put that specific thing in front of him then he would know for sure that it was the Lord’s leading.  Yes, the Lord led in an amazing way.

There are many ways to seek God’s guidance in life.  These stories are two examples of how people were seeking confirmation from God on something before moving forward.  The Lord can also give us guidance through the Bible, through prayer, through direction of the Holy Spirit, and other ways as well.  The important factor is that we are seeking God’s guidance when asking, “what should I do?”

One thing you can be sure of when seeking the guidance of Jesus.  He will never lead you to go against The word of God, the will of God, or the ways of God.  However, he just might lead you in a different direction than you were anticipating or desiring to go.  When that happens remember that he loves you and he will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Make it Personal:  The next time you have a huge decision to make or are questioning what direction to go, seek after God first and foremost.  Pray for direction, guidance, and counsel on the way that Jesus and the Holy Spirit would have you go.  Then watch for your confirmation.

Have a great week,  Pastor Glen Rhodes

Vision and Goals for 2018

Read: Psalm 119:1-16           

Soon after the completion of Disney World in Florida someone said, “Isn’t it too bad that Walt Disney didn’t live to see this?”  Mike Vance, the creative director of Disney Studios at that time replied, “He did see it, that’s why it’s here.”  Vision and goals can help us see things and work towards things in the future.

A new year means resolutions for many people.  A resolution is usually a vision or goal that one makes for the future.  Often those goals revolve around health, family, money, or making a life change that will improve our quality of life.  But what if this year included spiritual goals and a vision for growing your faith in God?

God’s Word is full of ideas of ideas for how this can happen in your life.  Psalm 119:1-16 speaks of the importance of God’s Word, God’s ways, and God’s plan for your life.  Take some time this week to think about these suggestions from Pastor James White on how to make that happen.  Read the passages that go with each one to see what the Lord says about them.

  1. Pray more. (Zechariah 4:6)
  2. Invest in your spiritual gifts. (1Timothy 4:14-15)
  3. Get more intentional about sharing the good news. (1 Corinthians 9:22)
  4. Care for yourself spiritually. (Philippians 3:12)
  5. Make the tough decisions you know are best. (Acts 20:22-24)
  6. Confront debilitating patterns of sin. (Hebrews 12:1)
  7. Do the hard work needed to build community. (Matthew 18:15)
  8. Keep in touch with things going on in the world. (1 Chronicles 12:32)
  9. Quit comparing yourself to others. (John 21:20-23)
  10. Read more, listen more, learn more, and grow more. (2 Timothy 4:9,13)

One time a man approached a laborer who was laying bricks and asked him, “What are you doing?” The laborer said, “Can’t you see I’m laying bricks?”  The man then walked over to another bricklayer and asked, “What are you doing?” And the workman answered with pride, “I’m building a cathedral.” 

Both were physically doing the same thing. But the first laborer was occupied with the present task, and the other was concerned with the ultimate goal or vision of the finished project.  I once heard someone say, “Vision that looks inward becomes duty. Vision that looks outward becomes aspiration.  Vision that looks upward becomes faith.”

Make it Personal:   Many visions are cast, goals made, and resolutions proclaimed in our lives.  None are more important than those that pertain to our faith in God, trust in Jesus Christ, and our eternal destiny.  Hopefully all of us can grow in these areas in the year that lies ahead.

Have a great 2018,  Pastor Glen Rhodes
Arthur Mennonite Church

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