Midweek Reflections

Love vs. Hate

Read: 1 John 4:7-12

This past Sunday I shared a message from 1 Corinthians 13 which is often known as the love chapter. In that message I contrasted God’s examples of love with the world’s examples of hate. If you want to listen to the entire message you can find it at this link on our website.

https://www.arthurmennonite.org/resources/sermons/

I shared a quote from the end of a movie I recently watched about the life of Nelson Mandela entitled “A Long Walk to Freedom.” That quote and this passage from 1 John 4:7-12 are the focus of my meditations this week and I invite you to make them yours.

The quote at the end of the movie said…. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or background or religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I cannot add much more to that other than to say, let’s teach love, live love, and preach love as an alternative voice to all of the hate in our world. 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Make it personal: Make a conscious effort this week to live in love and teach it as an alternative voice to hatred. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Amen!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Take Time For Children

 Read: Luke 18:15-17; Proverbs 22:6

The St. Louis Cardinals are in the playoffs!  I realize that for some this is more exciting news than for others.  But for me it takes me back to game 6 of the 2011 World Series.  Probably one of the most memorable in World Series history as the Cardinals kept coming back in dramatic fashion and then finally won to send it to game 7.  But I remember that game for more than just the game itself.  Let me explain.

In last weeks meditation I talked about being “present” when we are with people. This week I want to remind parents of how important that is with their children.  My daughter got married this past August and moved to California.  Leading up to the wedding I was doing some reminiscing like most parents do during big life events such as this.  I thought back to all of the wonderful times we had as a family as our children were growing up.  I am attaching two of my favorite pictures of our children when they were very young and all dressed up.
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Anyway, back to game 6 of the World Series.  My daughter Rebecca was not and still is not a big baseball fan by any stretch of the imagination, and yet that night she sat with me on the edge of the couch watching every exciting pitch and hit.  Yes, I am not embarrassed to say that when the Cards tied it in the bottom of the 9th we were yelling and jumping around the living room together.

She celebrated with me like she really cared even though this was probably the first game she had watched all season.  She was not only present but she took time to engage in something that I was interested in.  I learned a lesson from my daughter that night!

Life can get busy and easily pass us by.  It seems like yesterday that these pictures of my children at a young age were taken.  One is now married and the other is in high school.  It’s a reminder that we need to take the time to converse with our children on things that interest them and things they are concerned about.  This short video clip from pastor Chuck Swindoll is a good reminder of that, I hope that you will click this link and watch it.

http://www.insight.org/resources/videos/insights/take-time.html

This time we spend goes beyond the teaching, discipline, and rules that parents often focus on.  We need to talk with them about their life, their feelings, their spiritual questions, and what they are thinking about.  We also need to join them in doing something they enjoy, just like my daughter did with me during that World Series game.

Jesus told his disciples to let the children come to him.  As parents we need to follow Jesus’ heart and show care, concern, and interest in our children.  We only worship Jesus, but he has given us this incredible responsibility and opportunity to be a parent, friend, and spiritual mentor/example for our children.  Lord give us the strength, the patience, the wisdom, and the time to fulfill this calling.

Make it personal:  It makes no sense for parents to beat themselves up over missed opportunities in the past.  God’s grace is sufficient and he will hear our prayers for the days ahead.  If you still have children at home remember to be a parent but also remember to be their friend.  Find some things to do together that you both enjoy and find times to laugh with each other.  Life is too short to wait!

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Hello, are you there?

Read: Luke 10:38-42

I heard a story recently about a man who was criticizing other patrons in a restaurant for looking at their cell phones and not paying attention to the people right around them. The man said to his friends, “they might as well be here alone.” After the man was done ranting about the cell phone junkies to his buddies he immediately preceded to pick up his newspaper and continue reading.

One scripture passage that comes to mind with that story is the one in Matthew 7:3 that says, “why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” That verse fits that story well but we might also agree that the man being critical does have a point about our constant focus on screens (or a paper in his case) instead of the people around us.

The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 is a fitting example of someone (Martha) who is consumed with things that are not important and someone else (Mary) who is consumed with someone (Jesus) who is very important. Are we paying attention to the important people that God has placed right around us, or are we too consumed by what everyone else is doing on social media? If you are not on social media perhaps you are spending too much time searching for the next greatest deal on craigslist or monitoring the latest sports scores.

God has placed these people (spouse, children, friends) in your life for a very important reason. Don’t get caught up in all of the things that Martha got caught up in. Those things may be important in some respects but they are never more important than people and the relationships that you build with those people. I have a smartphone too, and I often need to remind myself of this.

Jesus gives us the perfect example of being present with people in his midst. His love for them, concern for them, and relationship with them was always more important than the next thing on his agenda. He said that much to Mary and Martha in this passage. His example should be our example.

It’s been some years now since the Verizon commercials that said, “can you hear me now” were on T.V.. We don’t want the people in our lives asking us that same question. We want them to know that we hear them, care about them, and want to be present with them. At least I hope that is our desire!

Make it personal: If this cell phone or internet age has been a struggle for you, try to be more disciplined about the time and attention you give to those things for a couple days. Think about the time you spend with the important people in your lives compared to the time you spend looking at a screen, however big or small that screen (or newspaper) may be. Perhaps those several days of thinking about it could turn over a new leaf in your relationship with those people.

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Judge Not….

Read:  Romans 14:1-12

This week I am once again sharing a short devotional that I wrote for Rejoice magazine for this past week.  It reflects on this passage from Romans 14 that reminds us not to be the judge and jury when we are faced with disputable matters or people who look and think differently than we do.

It is always good to read the Bible, pray, discuss, and discern what the Lord is saying instead of instantly assuming we are right and others are wrong.   It is also dangerous to judge people from the outside instead of seeing what is in their heart.  Here is what I wrote….

“In the “Illustrations of Bible Truth,” H.A. Ironside tells of an incident in the life of a man called Bishop Potter.  Mr. Potter was traveling to Europe on one of the huge ships that crossed the Atlantic.  When he checked in he learned that someone else was sharing the room with him.  

After meeting his roommate, he went back to the desk and asked if he could leave his valuables in the ship’s safe; judging from his roommates appearance he wasn’t sure he could trust the man.  The desk clerk took his valuables and responded, “It’s all right Bishop, I’ll be glad to take care of them for you.  The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason!”

The human tendency is too often to look down on others.  If people do things differently or look unusual, we tend to put them in certain categories that we create in our minds.  Jesus showed us a different way.  He saw through the outer appearance and focused on people’s hearts.

In Romans 14 Paul reminds us that we are neither the judge nor the jury of others.  As Christians we live by the grace and forgiveness that Jesus has graciously bestowed upon us; to live like Christ is to extend the same to others and to allow God to be the judge (v.12).  

A reading in “A Year with God: Living out the Spiritual Disciplines” says, “Every judgmental word out of our mouths violates an eternal soul for whom Christ died.”  Convicting words for us to consider today!

Make it personal:  Lord, forgive me for times when I have placed myself as both judge and jury of another person.  Allow me to find ways to extend the grace and forgiveness of Christ this week.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Yield to God

Read: Jeremiah 31:18-25

For the past several years I have had the opportunity to write a week of short devotionals for the “Rejoice” daily devotional magazine. Some people subscribe to this magazine but for those who do not here is how they describe “Rejoice.” “a quarterly devotional magazine for individuals and households, seeks to inspire Christian disciples toward deeper faithfulness as they experience and share God’s healing and hope in the world. It is published jointly by Kindred productions and MennoMedia, publishers serving Mennonite Brethren and Mennonite Church congregations in North America.” If you would like to subscribe and receive this magazine just visit the website www.mennomedia.org and search for it.

For this week I have decided to share the devotional that I wrote for this day, September 10, on Jeremiah 31:21…….

“When I first got my drivers license, I had trouble coming to a complete stop at stop signs. I remember my father commenting, “That was more of a yield than a stop.” After paying for a ticket or two, I began to learn my adolescent lesson the expensive way!

Signs, traffic lights, and rules of the road are designed for our own good. They keep traffic moving smoothly and safely as long as everyone is abiding by them. I have been in some countries where it seems that signs and lights are viewed more as suggestions than as rules of the road. This often leads to confusion and accidents.

In today’s reading Ephraim, the leading Israelite tribe in the Northern Kingdom, pleads for restoration. The people have repented of the sins of their youth, and they seek God’s forgiveness. God is deeply moved and has mercy on them (v.20).

The biblical hope is that repentance will lead to new ways of living. Verse 21 speaks of road markers and posts that keep the people moving toward God, yielding to the Lord’s ways. Just as rules of the road make our travels safer, God’s laws are provided for our good. When we stray from those directives or choose to go our own way, we soon learn that it would have been better to yield to God’s way. Mercifully, God will always receive us and love us, guiding us once again.”

As I read this again this morning, many months after writing it for Rejoice I was reminded of the well known verses in Lamentations 3:22-23 that say, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” When we stop, yield, and repent of our sins our loving God promises to forgive us….. each and every morning. To that we can all say Amen!

Make it personal: At the end of each devotional that I wrote for Rejoice there is also a response similar to the “make it personal” ending I add to my midweek meditations each week. The one for today’s devotional is an appropriate prayer, “Lord, may I heed your ways and desires instead of my own. Help me to move closer to you and claim your restoration for my life.”

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



The First Step

Read: Nehemiah 1

When Nehemiah’s name is mentioned most people remember the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. This was one of Nehemiah’s greatest callings and accomplishments for the Lord. He was a brilliant planner, organizer, and motivator for sure. But when Nehemiah sensed this call upon his life his first step was not to plan, organize, talk to the king, or begin his trip back to Jerusalem, it was to pray.

The first chapter of Nehemiah includes his prayer. He prayed for forgiveness, he offered praise and thanksgiving, and he committed himself to the Lord’s will. Only after a time of mourning, fasting and praying did he have the courage to go to the king and ask if he could return to Jerusalem to help his people and rebuild the broken down walls.

In our fast paced world we are often tempted to barrel straight ahead with what we think is the right direction. I wonder what would have happened if Nehemiah would have preceded in that way? What if he did not take time to mourn for what had happened, to fast and seek after God’s direction through prayer? Things might have ended up much differently for him. Perhaps the king would not have been so willing to let him depart from Susa?

The first step for Christians should always be prayer. We need to make sure that our will aligns with God’s will. Yes, he placed something on our heart, but the entire plan and direction may come through many hours of prayer and discernment, not the first inclinations of our flesh. Each of us have different personalities and some of us (including myself) have to be reminded of this first step from time to time.

If your first temptation is to act, step back and think about the first step that Nehemiah took. Prayer and open communication with the Lord can open up many doors that human minds have not even considered. If you read the entire book of Nehemiah you will see that this was not a one time decision for Nehemiah, he often turned to the Lord in prayer and asked the Lord to remember him, to deal with his enemies, and to use him in only the way God desired. Hopefully that will be our approach as well.

Make it personal: Prayer should be the first step to big decisions in our life for sure, but it can also be the first step to each day. Beginning our day with prayer opens up the life line that we have with Jesus and we can continue to rely on that life line throughout the day. The first step to our day should be to pause in prayer.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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