Midweek Reflections

Seasons of Change

Tree in front of church

Read: Genesis 8:22 and Revelation 21:1-8

Each fall I look forward to seeing the wonderful color that is
seen on the tree in front of our church. It is a tree that
drops annoying prickly balls all summer that have to be picked
up, but when fall comes it makes you quickly forget about the
summer annoyance. (See the picture of this tree attached)

Another reminder of change is that we used to have two of
these colorful tree’s in front of our church. That is until a
strong lightning storm took one of them down last summer. It
is now gone and the trunk is gone as well.

The seasons are like that in Central Illinois. You have the
heat and humidity of summer that turns into the bitter cold of
winter. You have the pleasant blessings of Spring and new
life, as well as the beauty and colors of fall. But each time
we go through one of these changes I am reminded of how the
seasons of nature also resemble the seasons of life.

If there is a bad time, you can rest assured that better times
are ahead. If you are in a good place, you thank God for that
blessing and ask Him to help you be prepared for times that
may be more difficult. When it is Winter we look forward to
Spring, and when it is hot in the summer we look forward to
the cold of Winter. Okay, that last one may be hard to sell to
some of you.

There is something to be said however about how the changing
seasons give us variety and keep things fresh for us. I have
often thought about how nice it would be to live in San Diego,
California where the median temperature year round is around
65 degrees. From an average low of 59 to an average high of
72, San Diego does not change much throughout the year.

In other words, they don’t look forward to Spring nearly as
much as we do in Central Illinois. Have you ever though of it
in that way? In the book of Genesis God promises Noah that
the seasons will remain until the end of the earth. In
Revelation, the last book of the Bible we are told about a New
Heaven and a New Earth. Both of these promises at the first
and the last of the Bible give us hope and expectation.

So, as winter comes, let’s enjoy the beauty of the fall season
and thank God that we have so much to look forward to, in life
and in the seasons that he has created for us. If you are in
a winter season right now in life, don’t give up, Spring is
coming! If you are enjoying the 70’s right now in life, thank
God and ask him to help you remember this moment.

And finally, remember this, all things work together for the
good of those who love God! Love God and He will see you
through any season of life that comes!

Make it personal: Take time over this coming month to thank
God for the good, the bad, the difficult, and the annoying
things of life. Thank him for the way that those things help
to mold us into the people and the followers of Jesus that he
desires for us to be.

Have a wonderful Fall,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

Hope over Despair

scan0034Read: Lamentations 3:19-26 and Romans 15:13

“When facing an unknown future, hope is as reasonable as despair!” This is a truth that our world needs to hear. In fact, maybe we ourselves need to hear it today? Jesus Christ offers hope to us in all that we face, but unfortunately people so often choose despair over this hope.

This past week I was reading an article in the Purpose magazine when that particular quote jumped out at me. It was a story written by John E. Eby and he attributes the quote to a Guideposts quote that he once ran across. Though many rough times in their lives John says, “Hope became a sustaining reality.”

The book of Lamentations in the Bible was written by the prophet Jeremiah as he lamented over the fall of Jerusalem. But in the midst of his weeping and mourning (lamenting) he holds out words of hope like we find in Lamentations 3:19-26. If you have not read it yet please do, perhaps this one line alone will encourage you to do that. Verse 22 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed.”

When rough and tough things come along in our lives we are tempted to give in to despair. Even Jesus’ 12 disciples did that at times when they were faced with a stormy sea or thousands of people that need to be fed. But then Jesus opens their eyes to hope and shows them that hope is just as logical and possible as the despair that they are feeling.

That hope, he proclaims, comes through Him. Our God is full of hope, even enough to dispel the despair that you might be feeling right now. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as your trust in him.”

Then it goes on to say that you can be a source of leading others to this hope as well. It says, “So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Not only is the hope of Jesus for you, it is for all of those who will cross your path this week feeling like their despair has won.

I would even go as far as to reword the quote at the beginning to say, “Hope is MORE reasonable THAN despair!” Why? Because it is the only way to move past the hurt, anger, and whatever else you might be feeling in your situation. It boils down to this. When despair comes, Jesus is the answer to move you towards hope.

Make it personal: Pray to the Lord and ask him to help you make hope your default setting instead of despair. And then ask him to allow you to extend that hope to others you pass this week who made need it as well.

Have a hope-filled week everyone,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

God is Love

Read: John 3

One of the most well known verses in the Bible is John 3:16. Most of you know it and many of you probably have it memorized. “For God so loved world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The rest of this story in John 3 is just as captivating and inspirational. For this weeks meditation I would like to share with you the paraphrased version of John 3:1-21 from the Message Bible. May we be encouraged, inspired, renewed, and born again, through the wonderful truth that God is love and he has shown that love to everyone.

3 1-2 There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”

3 Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”

4 “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”

5-6 Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.

7-8 “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

9 Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

10-12 Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

13-15 “No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

19-21 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

Make it personal:  The only thing that can be added to that is AMEN!

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

This is Love!

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

The word “love” gets used in many different ways, but 1 John 4 has what we might call the “root word” of love. Verse 10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

John goes on to say that it is this love that inspires, encourages, and empowers us to love others in the same way. I think we would all agree that there are times in our lives when it is not so easy to love others. They wrong us, they gossip about us, and they do numerous other things that are far from what we might consider love.

When we face those times, we need to stop and think about what God has done for us. There are times that we are disobedient toward God, there are times we sin and times in which we choose other things over the things of Christ. And yet, this passage reminds us that God’s love in and through Jesus Christ is grace filled and forgiving to us.

Why do we love? Because God first loved us and showed us the recipe, the pattern, the road, to loving others in the way that he loves us, forgives us, and restores us. Verse 20 says it very clearly, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates his brother or sister is a liar.”

Let’s focus on God’s love for us today through Jesus Christ. Let’s allow that focus to be the pattern of how we treat others and life in general. Perfect love drives out all fear, and much more than that. This is true love, let’s live it!

Make it personal: Try to think of someone that has been hard to love recently. Think about this passage and the way that Christ has shown you love. Take time to pray to Christ and ask him to help you love this other person in the same way that he loves you. If everyone practiced this we would live in a much better world!

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minster of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

I Will

Read: Genesis 12 and Hebrews 11:8-10

In Genesis 12 when Abram is called by God to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household he is not told where it is he is going. But God does make promises to him. God says, “I Will” do these things for you if you have faith and follow my leading.

What are those promises? Verses 2 and 3 say, “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, I will bless those who bless you, and then it also says that the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

If you read on in Genesis you understand that Abram had many opportunities to doubt those promises. Things did not always work out as he thought they should. Some things did not make any sense. (Sound familiar?) How was Sarai going to bear children at her old age? The truth is, Abram had many opportunities to fear and doubt what God was promising.

Perhaps we have been in his shoes? I’m sure we have all been through times like that. But the promises continue to come. In Genesis 15 the Lord once again says, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Several verses later it says, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

When we get to Hebrews 11 in the New Testament we see that Abraham’s trust and faith in God led him to receive all that God had promised to him. The same can be true for us when we believe that God will come through for us. This Sunday I am preaching a message from 1 Kings 18 which has another great example of that.

I appreciate what pastor Ron Adams writes in today’s Rejoice devotional and I wanted to share it with you. He writes, “We may sometimes feel lost along the way. We may wonder if we’re ever going to arrive. In those moments let’s remember our ancestor Abraham. He did not know where he was going. He did not know how to get there. But he knew that the One calling him onward was with him, and was faithful. The One calling us onward is with us, and is faithful.”

I hope Ron’s words of encouragement were as uplifting for you this week as they were for me. When things get tough, when things look bleak, God’s Word always has an example of why we should not despair. God Will Deliver Us! His Son Jesus Christ has already delivered us from sin and despair, the other stuff should be no problem.

Make it personal: Take time to pray right now. Reconfirm your faith and your trust to God. Speak of the things that are weighing heavy on you right now and then have faith that Jesus Christ will see you through it all.

Have a faith filled week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

She was… He was…

Read: Psalm 103

What kind of Legacy will we leave when our lives on this earth
are over and we enter into eternity? It’s a question that we
all want to think about, but how often do we think about it as
we are making daily decisions? Too often one bad decision
leads to another, and another, and you get the point.

The flip side of that however is that good Godly decisions can
also compound. Not only do they compound in our own lives but
they tend to leave that positive legacy that we desire. At
your funeral or memorial service how do you want people to
think about you? When they complete the sentence “She was…”
or “He was…” what will those periods stand for?

Two stories in the news this week give us examples of the good
and the bad. Let’s start with the bad and end with the good.
Perhaps you have heard about the children of a lady in Reno,
Nevada who wrote a very sad and disheartening obituary for
their mother this past month. It was published in the paper,
online, and has since gone viral on the internet.

The obituary speaks only of the bad this lady left for her
legacy. It speaks of abuse, hatred, abandonment, and much
more. It’s hard to read! It’s hard to imagine that this
woman is now gone and this is the legacy that is left. I
didn’t know her, I don’t know her children, but it saddens me
to think that this is all they could think of when writing her

The good story comes from the sports world. I have never been
a fan of the New York Yankees. I don’t like the word “hate”
so I will just say that I have very much “disliked” the
Yankees for a long time. But their closer Mariano Rivera I
have long been a fan of.

Rivera is retiring from baseball this year, possibly this
week, after a stellar 23 year career. He is been lights out
on the baseball field but his legacy as a player and a person
is going to outlast his career by far. In a recent Sports
Illustrated article written by Tom Verducci, 17 former
coaches, players, and friends shared seven pages about the
legacy that he has created.

One co-worker commented, “Most of us have deployed all of our
attention to ourselves and to our own needs, with little left
over for the needs of others. Mo has a presence that creates
an atmosphere of teamwork, of an impossibly high regard for
the integrity and worth of the people around him.”

In Psalm 103 David encourages us to think about our legacy
from generation to generation. It’s a daily thing, not
something that only gets thought of at the end of our lives
here on earth. Each day affords us the opportunity to leave a
Godly legacy.

Make it personal: God’s grace and forgiveness is available to
anyone who feels like they have failed at this endeavor of
legacy. If you are still breathing it’s not too late to seek
that grace and create the new and improved legacy that you
desire. Start Today and seek God’s help!

Have a great week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church

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