Midweek Reflections

Wander to Wonder

Read: Isaiah 55

Two songs that our congregation loves to sing are found in Isaiah 55.  “All Who Are Thirsty” finds its inspiration in the first verses of this chapter and the words for “You Shall Go Out With Joy” come directly from verse 12.  It is a reminder for us of how our singing is not only to praise God but to remind us of his promises and provisions for us.

Creation is a marvelous thing.  It is beyond human comprehension of how nature truly works.  We can figure some of it out through science and chemistry but that still leaves many things that truly cannot be explained with an easy answer.  Sometimes it would do us good to wander out into nature with the sole purpose of praising God for the magnificence of this place he has given us to live.

Stuart K. Hine wrote the words that say it so well in the great hymn “How Great Thou Art.”  “O Lord, My God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the world Thy hands have made….”  When Jim Elliot was a missionary in the remote parts of the Ecuador Amazon River Basin he wrote a letter back to his wife that said these words,

“Amy Carmichael write of little joys, like flowers springing up by the path unnoticed except by those who are looking for them…. Little things like a quietly sinking sun, a friendly dog, a ready smile.  We sang a little song in kindergarten which I’ve never forgotten: “The world is so full of a number of things / I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”  Simple, but such a devastating rebuke to the complaining heart.  I am impressed with the joy that is ours in Christ, so that heaven above and earth below become brighter and fairer.”

This Sunday our church is holding the worship service outside in a remote park with wooded trails, various birds, and animals of many types.  There probably will even be some insects, that’s a part of God’s creation I am still learning to appreciate.  But I plan to take it all in.  I plan to wander around in the woods, fellowship with God’s people, and just wonder “How did God do all of this.”

Verse 9 in this weeks scripture text says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  That seems like a good thing to remember as we live in a world that tries to have an explanation for everything.  Some things do not require an explanation, they are there just for us to be amazed at what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in our lives and in our world.

Make it personal:  Find an opportunity this week to wander somewhere.  As you do take time to praise God for the wonder of his magnificent creation.  Go out with joy, be led forth in peace, let the mountains and the hills burst into song before you, let the trees clap their hands, for Great is our God and greatly to be praised!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Prepared for Communion

Read: 1 Corinthians 11:23-29

Most of us grew up with different traditions of observing the Lord’s Supper (Communion). Some observed it every Sunday during worship, others shared it once a month, and some shared it only once or twice a year. People have different perspectives and interpretations of scripture as to how often they should have communion and in what manner it should be done.

One thing that most Christians do agree on is how we are to approach this time. 1 Corinthians 11 gives us clear direction on the spirit, attitude, and humility in which we are to approach this time of remembering what Jesus has done for us and what it means for us each day. Apparently in the early Corinth church there were some who were abusing this time and using it for selfish reasons that were more about them than it was about Christ.

In verse 27 Paul says, “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” He then says, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat and drink from the cup.” The time leading up to communion should be a time of prayer, reflection, confession, repentance, and restoration.

Jesus himself taught the importance of fostering restored relationships among those who worship together. When he was giving the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 he said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

We may not be able to make everything right with every person, but Jesus wants us to work towards that as much as possible. Just because you forgive someone else does not mean they will grant you that same forgiveness and restore the broken relationship, even if that is your deepest desire. In some cases we need to ask for God’s forgiveness and rest in His assurance that we are forgiven, even if others refuse to forgive.

Please understand that you do not need to be perfect to partake in communion. That type of thought process often scares people away from one of the most restoring and incredible observances that Christ has given to us. The bread (body) and the cup (blood) are to represent what Jesus has done for us because we are not perfect. He paid the sacrifice for us so that we could be restored and renewed in him.

Yes, we should approach the table, altar, communion time, with humility and repentance, but it should not be a time for us to rehash the guilt and shame for our sinful past. It should be a time to celebrate what Jesus did for you because of his love and concern for you. Whether you share communion every Sunday or only once or twice a year, my prayer is that it would always be a serious time of reflection as well as a joyful time of celebrating your new life in Jesus Christ.

Make it personal: Spend some time in prayer this week and ask the Lord to reveal something new to you about communion. How might God want you to prepare for communion in the future? Is it different than what you had been doing in the past? Most of all ask the Lord to allow you to truly celebrate his love for you during that time.

Have a blessed week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Parents and Children

Read: Colossians 3:1-17

At some point in life children need to be allowed to make decisions without their parents hovering overhead. But in some cases, especially for those younger children in high school and below, parents need to be in tune with what is going on in their young child or teenagers life. This is a time of learning and growing and our children need us to help them navigate those dangerous waters.

The teenage years are very challenging, there is peer pressure, unfortunate bullying, the temptations of the internet and many other things. Our children need their parents to talk with them about these things and walk with them through the difficult choices that are made. All children will make bad decisions from time to time but how do parents handle them and will they use them as a time of learning and growing or just blow it off and say, “oh well, all the other kids are doing it.”

Colossians 3 gives us encouragement to get rid of things the bring death and defeat to our lives and instead put on things that bring life and the peace of Christ to us. Parents need to help their young children decipher those things and explain why the Bible gives us moral guidelines to live by. We also need to be aware of things that might be sneaking into our children’s lives. Smartphones and the internet are one of the ways that is happening.

In a recent blog post James Emery White wrote, “By definition, parenting is the mature leading and caring for the immature. The role of a parent is not to instantly affirm immature behavior, no matter how widespread it may be manifest in culture, but to “parent” the child in relation to those behaviors.” If you would like to read his entire blog (which has some other revealing statistics) you can read it here.

James Emery White Blog

As parents do we know what is going on in our children’s lives online? The ultimate goal is not to try to block everything (although I do think some blocks are healthy and needed) but to discuss with our kids why some things are not good, healthy, or Godly to be participating in. All parents will be faced with that time or those times when their child makes a bad decision, lets use it as an opportunity to teach them what Colossians 3 is saying to all of us.

In verse 10 it says, “Put on a new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” A good parent is one who is in touch with their child and talking with them about good and bad decisions. Yes, there is also a time to let go and trust that the Godly lessons you have taught them will guide them and lead them on their way.

Make it personal: The best thing you can do for your children is to pray for them. Every Day! The next thing you can do for them is provide them some healthy boundaries to help protect them from the many temptations that are everywhere in our world. If you have smartphones and the internet I would suggest looking into a parental control app or online software to help with that. With Iphones, Android, and other tablet platforms it is hard to find one that works on all of them. One that I have found that does cover all the different platforms is called Qustodio. You can find their app on your smartphone or visit their website at www.qustodio.com to learn more. But remember, the most important thing is to pray for your children and talk with them!

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Guard Your Heart

Read: Proverbs 4

Pastor and author Chuck Swindoll once said, “Wisdom is the ability to see with discernment, to view life as God perceives it.”  Someone has also said, “Wisdom is the ability to apply biblical truths to all life situations.” In Proverbs 1:7 it says, “Respect and obey the Lord! This is the beginning of knowledge. Only a fool rejects wisdom and good advice.” (CEV)

Mother’s Day is upon us and very soon Father’s Day will be here as well. That had me thinking about all of those famous sayings that our parents told us when we were growing up. Many of them are sayings we still repeat today as adults. Sayings like, “Money doesn’t grow on tree’s you know,” “Hold your horses,” or “You’re not made of sugar, you won’t melt.” Probably the most popular of all was… “When I was your age I had to walk (10+) miles to school in all kinds of weather.”

Along with those fairly generic sayings there will also some very wise things that helped us make good decisions and stay on the right path. Things like “Make the hard stuff the fun stuff, don’t complain, embrace the challenge,” or “guard your heart, because everything you do flows from it.” Oh wait, that last one is from the Bible.

The book of Proverbs is full of these wise sayings, many of them are spoken from a parent to a child. They impart wisdom that help us to succeed in life and most importantly help us to stay within God’s will. Proverbs 4 is just the start of those, verse one begins by saying, “My child, listen closely…” and then goes on for chapters describing how to gain wisdom, understanding, and knowledge about Godly living.

In Proverbs 31 we read of the things that King Lemuel’s mother speaks to him about, this chapter is often one that is used around Mother’s Day but it is seldom presented as words coming from a mother to a son. When we read them in that way it perhaps changes our perspective a bit. These are things that this mother wants to impart to her son.

These Proverbs are not just for children though. They hold many truths that we need to hear and be reminded of as adults. Chapter 5 talks about being faithful to your spouse; chapter 11 encourages us to watch what we say and do; chapter 15 reminds us that the Lord sees even the things done in secret; chapter 19 encourages us to be patient. The wisdom seems to be endless in this wonderful book of the Bible.

Proverbs has 31 chapters, this means that you can read one chapter each day of the month (at least on some months). Not only will you be directed in wisdom and understanding but you will be reminded of the Godly life that the Lord desires for you to live. I don’t know about you but I find that I often need those reminders. When temptations come we need to have these words of wisdom at our side, on our lips, and in our minds. Then we need to apply them.

Make it personal: Are you struggling with something right now? A decision, a wrong attitude, a hardship, or a conflicted relationship? Reading a Proverb a day would allow God’s Word to speak into those situations and provide you with the Godly wisdom to move forward. Today is a good day to get started!

Have a blessed week filled with God’s wisdom,

Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



Believe!

Read: John 20:24-31

Easter is always a great celebration! We gather as a church
to celebrate the truth that Christ rose from the dead and
defeated death by granting eternal life in heaven for those
who believe. Belief is a key part of that. It is also the part that Jesus’ disciple Thomas struggled with in our scripture text this week.

Thomas had to see the nail marks before he would believe.
Jesus showed up, showed him, and then said, “Blessed are those
who have not seen and yet have believed.” In an article last
week Pastor John Piper shared eight reasons that he believes
Jesus rose from the dead.

1. Jesus testified to his coming resurrection from the dead.
2. The tomb was empty on Easter.
3. The disciples were transformed from fear to boldness.
4. Paul said that over 500 people saw Jesus after the
resurrection.
5. The early Christian church thrived and overcame many things
which supported the Resurrection claim.
6. The Apostle Paul’s conversion is a testimony to
Resurrection power.
7. The New Testament witnesses are very credible.
8. There is a self authenticating glory in the Gospel of
Christ’s death and resurrection as narrated by the Biblical
witnesses.

Of course there could be even more than this. But the point is there is great evidence of this truth both then and now. Each and every day we awake to the opportunity of living our day in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. We need to believe that and testify that we believe that!

Henry Morris once said, “The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.”

The apostle Paul agrees with Mr. Morris. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 he says, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” As Jesus said to Thomas, today we must rely on faith and our belief in God’s Word to be our guide. We have not physically seen the nail marks but we have definitely seen Christ’s resurrection power at work in our lives and in our world.

As you move forward in your life my prayer is that you would remember Jesus’ words in this passage. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” If you were to tell someone the reasons that you believe in the resurrection what would they be?

Make it personal: Look for visible evidence of Christ’s resurrection power in your life and in those around you. You may not see Jesus walking through your house, but I am sure you can see him evident in your life, if you believe.

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church



This doesn’t make sense!

Read: Psalm 46

In the past month or two many things have happened to people close to us that cause us to ask the question “WHY?” The Psalms remind us that we are not alone in those feelings. Many Psalms are written from that exact perspective of wondering why different things are happening and why God is allowing them to happen. The book of Job is another example of this in the Bible.

Many of the Psalms and Job continue to hold out hope and strength in the midst of their extreme trials. Psalm 46 and 34 are great examples of this. It is hard to answer the many questions we have in one short midweek meditation. In fact, some questions that we ask may not have answers that are immediately available to us.

Along with the power of scripture and the encouragement of the Psalms I would like to suggest another book to you that may help you work through some of these questions. It is a book written by Dr. James Dobson entitled, “Holding on to your faith even… When God Doesn’t Make Sense.” Perhaps the description of this book on the inside cover can be of some help today. Here is what it says….

“When we are young and health is good and we have not yet encountered disease, disappointment, and sorrow, it is easy to believe that life will always be rather carefree and happy. But every person who lives long enough will eventually experience difficulties that are not easy to understand. At those times the pieces simply will not fit, and God just doesn’t make sense.

Most of us are inclined in those moments to struggle with the most troubling question in human experience: “Why did God let this happen to me?” When we are entangled in life’s crisis, it is common to feel great frustration with God. Our inability to figure out what He is doing creates the greatest agitation. The “Why?” question, which even Jesus asked from the cross, is often left unanswered for years or perhaps for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, some believers are so shaken by their inability to understand that they feel a profound sense of abandonment by God. This “betrayal barrier” is a dangerous weapon used against us. Satan wants each of us to feel that our compassionate Lord has actually singled us out for abuse!

“When God Doesn’t Make Sense” is addressed lovingly to those who have been left confused and disillusioned by life’s difficulties. It is intended to nurture the faith of the wounded and downhearted, and to prevent disillusionment in those who have not fallen into the clutches of despair.

In this book Dr. Dobson weaves together personal experiences with the wisdom of Scripture, which offers great insight into the trails of life and how to cope with them. A proper understanding of these biblical principles can expose false expectations that inevitably collide with reality in a sinful and fallen world.

The Lord has assured us that we are in His constant care. We can trust Him even when our difficult circumstances are beyond human comprehension. We can rest in his promise: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)”

I would recommend this book to anyone who is feeling or experiencing what this is describing!  You can find the book and order it on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com as well as other sites.  It also available for checkout in our church library.

My prayer is that the Lord will guide us through these times of difficulty and struggle. That we will feel his presence with us and gain encouragement from the Bible and other books such as this one by Dr. James Dobson. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

Make it personal: Prayer is one of the most powerful things to help us through difficult times. I would encourage you to take your needs, your questions, your despair, to the Lord in prayer. Pray as often as you need to! God hears your prayers!

Have a blessed week,
Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church




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