Midweek Reflections

Growing and Maturing

Read: Genesis 45

The story of Joseph in Genesis 37-45 has always been one of my favorite. There are so many life examples that can be gleaned from that story that I could probably write a years worth of midweek meditations from those chapters alone. But the one example that we see play out from the start of the story to the finish is how Joseph grew and matured as he followed the plan God had for his life.

In the early chapters we see a Joseph that is prideful and somewhat full of himself. He brags and causes friction with his brothers that ends up placing him in dire circumstances. After he is sold into slavery and taken to Egypt Joseph begins to grow up. When faced with temptation he learns to stay true to God, when faced with the opportunity to get revenge on his brothers he chooses to forgive them instead.

Joseph’s life is a good example for us to examine how our growth process is going. Are we learning from past mistakes and making decisions that show growth in our faith and trust in Christ? We often talk about how teenagers go through that time of adolescents in which they grow and begin to mature into adults, but in reality that maturing process should never end. If we ever find ourselves at a point of thinking we have it all figured out we are at a very dangerous and problematic place.

In 2 Timothy it says “The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” By putting those three things to work in our lives we can grow and mature in the ways that God desires. Yes, we need his power to overcome, we for sure need his love and need to act upon his love with others, and when temptation comes we need to rely on him to give us self-discipline and make wise Godly choices.

Joseph was a man of integrity and spiritual sensitivity. That came to him because of his desire to grow and mature in the ways of God. I hope that we are finding ways to grow in Christ as well. Seek out a small group to meet with, begin attending Christian Education classes, study your Bible, pray for a deeper walk with Jesus, but make every effort to grow and mature as 2 Peter 1:5-8 says…..

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Make it Personal: What grade would you get for your effort in growing and maturing in Christ? Think about that this week and make some changes to improve that grade. Find one way to start and then try to add several other things that will help you become and stronger and better follower of Jesus.

Blessings, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

If the Lord Wishes

Read: James 4:13-17

I have known several people through the years who always end a conversation about the future by saying “Lord Willing” or “If the Lord Will’s.” It’s always a good reminder of this passage in James 4 that proclaims the Lord’s will and direction over our sometimes selfish ambitions. These verses come at the end of a chapter in which James is talking about submitting ourselves to God.

In a recent Rejoice devotional seminary professor and pastor Lynn Jost wrote, “Selfish ambition is boastful, earthly, unspiritual, demonic, disorderly. But James offers an alternative to live-faster, gain-more, fight-for-all-you-can-get blind ambition. A long-lasting life of wisdom from above sows peace and reaps righteousness.”

It is okay to have the drive to do better and be better, but we need to be sure that our plans are lining up with God’s plan and God’s will and not our own selfish endeavors. Verse 15 says, “Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” Now I see why those people end those conversations about the future in the way that they do. It’s scriptural.

Those who know me know that I like to plan things. I am a planner and organizer almost to the point that it drives people crazy at times. Okay, most of the time. Therefore, I need a reminder like this that despite my self made plans and desires, God’s will trumps everything. But how do we know what God’s will is? By remaining in a place spiritually that we are guided by the Holy Spirit and in tune with the direction the Spirit is leading us.

A fervent prayer life is always a great place to start with that discernment. If we never ask Christ what his will is or place ourselves in a place to receive it then we end up going with our own plans. We ask various advisers for help on finances, career planning, family relationships, and so on, so why not ask for some counsel from the greatest adviser there is for our planning and the direction our choices are leading us?

One last reminder from the last verse of this passage. When we know God’s will and yet choose to go the opposite direction it is a direct sin against the Lord. Verse 17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is a sin for them.” When that happens we need to repent, do a 180, and head back in the direction God has for us.

Make it personal: As you look at your calendar and schedule this week think about this passage. How often do we ask God about these things? If you are too busy and stressed out perhaps some of those things on your calendar were not God’s desire for you but your own desires. Let’s pray about these things!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

30 Wise Sayings

Read: Proverbs 22:17 – 24:22

In many Bibles there is a section in Proverbs 22-24 that has the title “Thirty Sayings of the Wise.” All Bibles are not sectioned off the same way and in searching through several I realized that some do not have this particular heading at the beginning of Proverbs 22:17. It is a reminder that through the ages the words of scripture have not changed but they have been translated, organized and numbered to make them easier to read and easier to turn to specific passages. Most of the chapters and verses of the Bible were added in the 1400’s and 1500’s.

The book of Proverbs is one of those books of the Bible that can be divided up in many different ways. The short concise nuggets of wisdom and direction are not written in a certain flowing manner. For some this makes it harder to read, but others find it refreshing. In some ways Proverbs is the Bible’s version of twitter, most of the sayings actually are 140 characters or less.

In verse 17 of Proverbs 22 these 30 sayings begin with…. “Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.” In this world of constant media and information it is important for us to weed out the wise council from the unwise council. Not everything that is stated on Facebook and Twitter is true. Some of them are opinions, some are facts, some are rumors, and others are just folly.

As followers of Jesus we need to be careful to discern the wise direction from the folly. The way that we do that is by testing it with God’s Word. Our culture will not always lead us down the path that God has for us, in fact our culture will often tempt us to try alternate paths. That is not new of course, it is why Solomon wrote these wise sayings in the first place. He wanted others to learn from his mistakes.

Saying 12 in Proverbs 23:12 says, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” That is great council in a world that is filled with so many opinions and worldviews. It is also a wonderful reminder of why we need to be engaged in God’s Word each and every day. God has helpful instruction for us and wonderful words of knowledge that keep us headed down the straight and narrow path.

Make it personal: As you watch the news on T.V., listen to talk radio, and read various books and magazines, test everything you see and hear with the words of Jesus and the Word of God. Don’t be led astray by opinions that are in direct conflict with God and his plan and purpose for us as his followers.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Lukewarm = Indifference

Read: Revelation 3:14-22

In a recent newspaper column Cynthia M. Allen wrote an article entitled “Role of religion shrinking in modern America.” In her article she referred to many of the recent developments in our country and culture that indicate an indifference to God, faith, and religious freedom. After reading her words it brought to mind the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3.

This early church had become lukewarm and indifferent to the things of God. They created their own morals, relied on their own wealth, and seemed to find God as an insignificant part of their lives. The words of chapter 3 are fairly direct and make it clear that God is not pleased with their indifference. It says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Obviously words like this would get their attention. Perhaps modern America needs to hear words like that as well. The further we push God, faith, religion, and morals away the more insignificant God will become in our communities and our country as a whole. That is not a good road to go down! Our culture may not be cold to the Lord right now but we are unfortunately getting much too close to being lukewarm and indifferent.

In verse 20 it says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Right before that it says, “So be earnest and repent.” Perhaps that is the point we are at? If we repent of these lukewarm and indifferent attitudes toward God we know that restoration and future blessings will follow. God is full of grace and forgiveness for those who turn to Him.

In the last verse of Revelation 3 it says, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” My prayer is that our churches would rekindle the fire of passion for God and allow the Holy Spirit to bring real transformation to us, our communities, and hopefully to the culture around us. It needs to start with believers who are not content with lukewarm and indifferent attitudes toward God, Jesus, and the Bible. A hot fire can spread rapidly! May it start with us!

Make it personal: In what ways have you become lukewarm or indifferent toward God or your faith? Take some time this week to ask that question of yourself and of the Lord. Pray for a renewed passion to overtake your life and draw you closer to the creator and savior of the world we live in.

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

The Little Things

Read: Colossians 3:18-25

Some years ago when the space shuttle Discovery was getting ready to head into space the mission had to be aborted and grounded. It wasn’t technical difficulties or lack of government funding, but woodpeckers that caused the delay. Yellow-shafted flicker woodpeckers found the insulating foam on the shuttle’s external fuel tank irresistible material for pecking.

The foam was critical to the shuttle’s performance. Without it, ice would form on the tank when it was filled with supercold fuel, ice that could then break free during liftoff and damage the giant spacecraft. The shuttle was grounded until the damage was repaired.

Marriages and other relationships are frequently damaged not only by big things like infidelity , abuse, or abandonment; but by little things as well like criticism, lack of respect, and taking each other for granted. Those things can peck away at the relationship and keep us from loving, supporting, and caring for each other in a way that is healthy and encouraged in this passage from Colossians 3.

Wives, husbands, and children are all encouraged to love, submit, obey, and serve each other in ways that are not domineering or self-serving. Looking out for the best of the other person is always a way to foster the love of Jesus in our families instead of picking and pecking away at all of the little things that really don’t matter in the big picture.

To produce a healthy Christ-like environment in our families, marriages, and other relationships we would do well to stop and think about how we are relating to each other. Is it uplifting and encouraging or is it always deflating and discouraging? Our words and our attitudes can be very huge things sometimes even though we treat them as the little things.

Make it personal: Think about ways that you have been affecting your family or marriage with words and attitudes that are not helpful. Try to catch yourself in the midst of those and change them for the better. In the end you will be amazed at how it changes the atmosphere of your home and your relationships.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Truth in Love

Read: Ephesians 4:7-16

During my devotions this week I read this from Ruth Smith Meyer and it reminded me of something that happened when I was a very young boy. She wrote, “When necessary, a sterile needle wielded to remove the sliver in someone’s hand can be painful, even though the healer’s heart is full of love. But with the sliver gone, the ointment applied, and the would lovingly bandaged, there are two grateful hearts.”

Many years ago my family was visiting my aunt and uncle’s house in Iowa when I got a very deep splinter in my hand. As a young boy this was my first experience with the pain and terror of having to have a splinter pricked from my hand. It was so traumatic I still remember it very vividly even today, some 40 years later. If I remember correctly I was screaming and crying as my mom tried to remove that piece of wood from my finger.

As an adult looking back I am sure that it was just as painful for my mom to have to do that chore while her son was screaming and crying. However, in the end she knew it was the best thing for me. If the splinter were to remain it could cause infection and many other ongoing consequences that might be even worse than the pricking of the needle. She knew that, so in love she endured my kicking and screaming because she knew what was best.

In many ways this story plays out throughout life. Sometimes the things we need to hear are not what we really want to hear. I’m sure my mom told me that it was best to get that splinter out right then and there, but that is not what I wanted to hear, I was focused on the now instead of the then. It is true in our Christian lives as well. Sometimes we need a brother or sister in Christ to speak the truth to us in love.

Too often in our world people choose to speak the truth in other ways that are not helpful. Hate should have no place in the life of a believer even when we disagree on things. The flip-side of that is that too often people do not want to hear the truth even when it is spoken in loving and corrective ways. In Ephesians 4 Paul says that truth spoken in love can help us to grow and mature in our faith in Christ.

Make it personal: The next time someone tries to give you advice or points out something in your life pause and ask, “Is this person trying to speak the truth to me because they love and care about me?” If we approach each other in that manner we will be able to grow and become better instead of becoming instantly offended. If you have to speak the truth to someone do it without pointing a finger and accusing them, do it in love. It’s not easy for sure, but it is a part of being there for each other and being accountable.

Have a wonderful week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church

Reflection Archives