Midweek Reflections

Leave Room

Read: Exodus 33:12-18

We often fill up our schedules and calendars to the point that we stress ourselves out.  In Exodus 33 Moses seems a little stressed out about his call to lead the Israelite people out of their captivity in Egypt.  In verse 14 the Lord assures him of his help by saying, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Do we leave room for God’s presence in our day?  Do we receive the rest he promises to give to us?

Former WBGL Christian Radio DJ and current Illini and Bulls basketball PA announcer Tim Sinclair recently posted on Facebook about leaving room in our lives to provide margin, buffer, and space.  He shared a new motto of his that is helpful for all of us to implement daily.  “With my mind, leave room to be creative.  With my money, leave room to be generous.  With my time, leave room to be available.  With my energy, leave time to be spontaneous.  With my heart, leave room to be moved.”

The bible is full of encouragements for us to receive God’s presence and rest in our lives.  In Genesis 2 God himself rested from his work of creation.  In the 10 Commandments we are encouraged to remember the sabbath and keep it holy.  In Jeremiah 6 we find rest for our souls.  In Psalm 62 it says, “truly my soul finds rest in God.”  Finally, in Matthew 11 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Make it Personal:  If you feel stressed as you wake up and face the busy day ahead perhaps it would be helpful each day to recite the Lord’s words to Moses to yourself… “The Lord says, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

A Prayer For Ukraine

Loving God, Creator of all peoples and source of all love, we are saddened.  We are saddened by the unleashing of horror and destruction in Ukraine.  

We are angry.  We are angry that lives are shattered, homes are leveled and innocence is trampled.  

We are dismayed.  We are dismayed that again the guns of war have drowned out the talks for peace.  

And we pray.  We pray that hard hearts of conquest wll be softened.  We pray that the very best practices of peace will prevail among leaders.  We pray gratefully that your spirit of healing and hope is present for victims suffering, for helpers responding, for soldiers sent to war, for leaders deciding.  

And we are committed.  We are committed as your people, as disciples of your gospel of reconciliation, to wage peace, as we are able, in Ukraine, and in all your good and lovely creation.  

All this we pray in the name and healing spirit of Jesus.  Amen


Read: James 3:13-18

The hand gesture of two fingers held up in the shape of a V can have many meanings depending on who you talk to or what country you are in.  In the United States it has most often been associated with the word “peace.”  In the Bible, peace-making is encouraged on many different fronts.  We pray for peace in our world, we pray for peace in our country, and we pray for peace in our own community, families, and relationships.  

Sometimes praying for peace in a war torn and violent world can feel heavy.  How much difference does it make and how much difference can we make when dictators and countries are choosing war over peace?  Praying does matter and we must continue to lift these desires and concerns to God.  We must also pray for the innocent who are affected by the decisions of tyrants.

We can also make a difference closer to home.  James 3:18 says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”  In Matthew 6 Jesus also says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  How can you sow peace in the situations that are close to you?  In your family, with your friends, in your community?  We are called to pray for peace but we are also called in scripture to be people of peace.

Make It Personal:  What relationship comes to mind when you think of choosing peace or cultivating peace in your life?  Let’s try to be the peacemakers that Jesus calls us to be.  Let’s also continue to pray for those in our world who are experiencing the opposite of peace.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes

Praise The Lord

Read: Psalm 103

A common phrase we hear when we are told of good news is “Praise the Lord!”  This is also a common phrase used by David in Psalm 103.  David uses it six times but in reality he is proclaiming it in almost every verse of this Psalm.  You see, Praise the Lord is a way for us to give thanks and be grateful for the goodness of God and also the presence of God in our times of need.  We must not forget to speak these words of gratitude in our daily lives.  Someone once said, “If Christians praised God more, the world would doubt Him less.”

Joanie Yoder writes, “Although forgetfulness sometimes increases with age, its really common to us all.  Even children have lapses of memory and excuse themselves by saying, “I forgot!”  But there’s one kind of forgetfulness that is inexcusable at any age, forgetting to be grateful to God.  The Psalmist David was determined not to fail the Lord in this way, so he exhorted his soul: ‘Forget not all His benefits.’” (Psalm 103:2)

It may be harder to praise the Lord during times of trial but by speaking those words we can be reminded that the Lord is there with us in the middle of those trials.  We praise the Lord for our blessings and we praise the Lord for his ongoing presence in every part of our lives.  “Praise the Lord, my soul.” (Psalm 103:22)

Make It Personal:  Use David’s example this week.  Speak the words “Praise the Lord” often and learn to use them in the good times as well as the times that are challenging.  Don’t forget to be grateful to God and give him praise.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes

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

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