Midweek Reflections

Are You Expecting?

Read: Daniel 3:13-17; 6:10-23

Here is a link to the passages
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%203:13-17,%206:10-23&version=NIV

In the past month we have had some exciting news in our church family.  Three families have announced that they are expecting newborn children later this year.  This word “expecting” has continued to make me think the past couple of weeks.

Three weeks ago I wrote a midweek meditation about expecting miracles in our lives.  Since then I have come across several scripture passages and devotionals that have continued to ask that same question.  When we pray, when we seek God, do we truly expect the Lord to show up?

These two stories in Daniel are great examples of that. The King threatened to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the blazing furnace and their response was, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it.”

Then three chapters later Daniel is thrown into the lions den for continuing to pray to God when the King ordered them not to.  After spending the night in the den the king comes the next morning and finds Daniel fine and healthy.  In verse 23 it says, “no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”

When we seek the Lord and when we pray to the Lord do we expect results?  We should be, in fact we should be expecting God to intervene for us in his own way and within his own will.  When we come to church, do we expect to encounter THE God and ultimate creator of the universe?

Pastor Helen Paynter tells of a story she heard as a child.  There was a time of extreme drought in this one particular area and so a group of Christians gathered to pray for rain.  But of all the people that came to pray for rain only one of them brought an umbrella.  That person was truly expecting rain if that is what they were going to pray for.

Just a good reminder for all of us, that God knows our heart when we seek him and when we pray to him.  Does God see someone who is expecting results or answers, or someone who doubts anything will come of it?

Just like the families in our church are expecting wonderful new additions to their families this coming year, I hope we are expecting new and exciting things from the Lord in our lives as well.  It may not be immediate, it may not be what we had envisioned, but God knows our heart and hears our prayers.

Make it personal:  Write these responses from the book of Daniel somewhere and put them where you can see them often.
“The God we serve is able to deliver us from it.” Daniel 3:17
“No wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”  Daniel 6:23
Live in that expectation!

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



The Route 66 Dilemma

Read: Ephesians 5:1-20

One of my favorite animated movies of all time is “Cars.” This particular scene about Route 66 relates very well to this weeks passage from Ephesians. Click on this link to watch it (it’s only 3 minutes long)…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggtH05LFF3k

The person who posted this scene on YouTube added, “On June 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act which initiated the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways across America. As a result, many small towns that had once thrived along the famed east-west Route 66 were bypassed by the new high-speed interstate highway system. Faced with financial ruin, these small towns struggled to survive.”

Now, I am a big fan of the interstate system, in fact I often share my ideas of how to improve it with my family when we are on long trips. But I realize that our desire for speed and time has also robbed us of the value of slowing down to appreciate life. This is made obvious in the movie clip above.

But I wonder how this same desire for speed and time has led us down spiritual roads that are either unhealthy or dangerous? Do we fly down the interstate of life with little concern about what we might be missing on the slower, more scenic, and more friendly route? Might we be missing the Lord’s will?

R. Kent Hughes once said, “Fixing our thoughts on Jesus requires time, for true reflection cannot happen with a glance. No one can see the beauty of the country as he hurries through it on the interstate.”

As we consider Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus this week I especially want to draw your attention to verses 15-17. It says, “Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Does “making the most of every opportunity” mean speeding things up in life? Some might say yes, and there is value in being productive and efficient for sure. But as I turn 45 I am beginning to realize that life is not slowing down on it’s own. Therefore, I must be intentional about doing it myself and making sure that I understand the Lord’s will and desire for my life.

I’m reminded of what Jesus told Martha in Luke 10:38-42 as she was busy doing all the duties in the house. At the same time her sister Mary simply set by Jesus’ side and listened to what he had to say. When Martha comes into the room to complain about no help, Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed, or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is definitely a dilemma in our culture. The desire for more time has caused us to build new roads around some of the things that truly matter most in our lives. Yes, they do come in handy sometimes (those interstates), but let’s not forget about taking the side roads once in while (or often) that help us slow down. After all, God may be trying to tell us something in Radiator Springs (the name of the bypassed town in the movie Cars).

Make it personal: Ask yourself a couple of questions this week. What steps do I need to take to slow down and hear God’s voice? What road do I need to revisit? What area of my life is spiritually dry? How can I find Route 66 again?

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



Your Refuge

Read: Psalm 57

When was the last time that you experienced fear? Obviously there are different levels of anxiety and fear but many of the Psalms remind us that God is our safe refuge in those times that we are scared and unsure of what lies ahead.

Psalm 57 was written by David as a song when he was fleeing from King Saul and hiding in a cave. I remember back to last May when I toured the the cliffs of En Gedi and saw some of these very caves that David might have hid in. En Gedi is an oasis in the middle of Israel that is located to the west of the Dead Sea and near the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in the 1940’s. and 1950’s.

It’s hard to imagine the fear that could have overcame David when he was hiding from Saul there. He knew that Saul was out to take his very life. And yet in this 57th Psalm we hear David pleading for God’s mercy and crying out for God to save him. How many times have we been there?

Anyone who lives in this world is going to face times of trial, anxiety, and fear. But our response to those unpleasant feelings is key to our ability to overcome them. In fact, we need God to help us overcome them. David knew that and in these verses we hear of God’s refuge that covers him in his time of great distress.

The Life Group that I am in here at our church right now is studying and discussing church history. We are currently watching a movie about Martin Luther who started the reformation in the 1500’s with his publication of 95 Thesis. Luther himself had some thoughts on this. He said…

“God and the devil take opposite tactics in regard to fear. The Lord first allows us to become afraid, that he might relieve our fears and comfort us. The devil, on the other hand, first makes us feel secure in our pride and sins, that we might later be overwhelmed with fear and despair.”

You see, sometimes we need to feel anxiety and fear to realize that God is our refuge from the things of this world. When we turn to him, acknowledge our trust in him, and cry out to him, he responds with his deliverance. The devil just wants us to think we can figure all of this out on our own. When we try that we realize that it is an exercise in futility.

Psalm 57:2-3 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me, God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.” God saved David and God will save you, if you call out to him for refuge.

Make it personal: All of us have different levels of fear and anxiety at different times of our lives. I may not know what level you are experiencing right now, but I know where you can find refuge. It’s in the shadow of God’s wings. He loves you, cares for you, and wants to restore your peace! Cry out to Him today!

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



Expecting Miracles

Read: 1 Kings 18:16-39

This past Sunday in the message I said, “It shouldn’t surprise us when someone believes in Christ, calls on his name as Lord, and their life is changed and transformed. Because that is what Jesus does when people are not ashamed to call on his name.”

I was referring to this wonderful story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18. I encourage you to read the entire story again and appreciate the confidence and assurance Elijah had that God was going to show up. It made me wonder, do we still expect God to show up in that same way today? Do we have confidence that God can intervene in our lives when we really need it?

It actually makes me wonder how to define a miracle as a Christian. Webster’s dictionary defines it by saying “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” it also defines it as, “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.” But if we believe that God can and will show up, is it really a miracle?

In their book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” Norman Geisler and Frank Turek share the story of Ron Nash who once spoke to a group of Russian scientists. They had been taught all their lives that there is no such thing as miracles. He put two cardboard boxes in front of them. The first box was closed. Ron said, “This is the way you see the world. The box represents the material world, and you believe that is closed to any intervention from God.” The second box was open. He said, “This represents the Christian view. We also believe in the material world. But we believe that this world is not closed. God can intervene.”

And we can testify that God does intervene! The reason we can call it a miracle is because it goes beyond what the material world would expect. Elijah’s story is a great example of that. It doesn’t make sense in a worldly viewpoint that wood on an alter could be doused with water three times and then still have a fire start and burn up the wood, the stones, and even the soil around it.

To the prophets of Baal it was a miracle, to Elijah it was what he expected from his God. Whatever you are facing this week I hope that you will expect a miracle from God to intervene in your situation. Pray for it, ask for it, seek after God, and then expect him to show up.

Someone once said, “When God wants to do something wonderful, He begins with a difficulty, When God wants to do something spectacular, He begins with an impossibility!” Remember the words of the angel Gabriel when he came to Mary and told her about the virgin birth of Jesus, he said, “Nothing is impossible with God.” And to that we can say, AMEN!

Make it personal: Name something in your life right now that seems like an impossibility in human terms. Now, take that to the Lord in prayer. Let God know your confidence in him and that you are expecting him to intervene in your situation the same way he did for Elijah. The Lord loves it when his people show confidence in his power and his strength!

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



You are Loved!

Read: John 15:9-17

Max Lucado once wrote, “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen.”

This is the week of love! Valentine’s day is tomorrow for all of you last minute type of people. Usually we think of romantic love on this week, but it’s also good to be reminded of God’s unconditional love for us through his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus proclaims his love for you in John 15, and really throughout the entire New Testament.

In John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus went on to say that if you follow his ways and make him the Lord of our life he considers you his friend. You are loved indeed!

St. Augustine once commented on Christ’s love and said, “He loves each one of us as if there were only one of us.” I hope that you will embrace Christ’s love for you this week. It is far greater than any tongue can proclaim, it is much greater than the distance to the furthest star, and no book could contain it even if stretched from sky to sky.

If you happen to be in a cold climate this valentines day I encourage you to click on this link and allow the Christian music group Mercy Me to share that wonderful hymn (The Love of God) with you as you enjoy the sights and sounds of the beach.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ittL0BzIB80

May the love of Jesus and the assurance of his grace allow you to feel His love for you today. As Annie Johnson says in her wonderful poem “What God Hath Promised”

But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.

Make it personal: Take this poem and make it your own this week. Write it down, place it in your bible, put it on your refrigerator, or place it in your wallet. But whatever you do, remember that Jesus died to bring you his undying love.

Happy Valentines Day,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church



The Homefront

Read: Luke 10:38-42

There has been a lot of discussions recently on how to make our culture a safer, friendlier, and more loving place to be. In the political world there has been many ideas both good and bad thrown around about how to achieve this.

Yet it seems like we hear very little discussion about what is happening on the homefront in today’s America. Perhaps the best place to begin with change is in the home where children are raised and taught (or not taught) the values, morals, and important things in life.

It made me think of this passage in Luke 10 where Mary and Martha are visited in their home by Jesus himself. Martha is so busy doing things that it says she became distracted. Mary is doing what “is better” Jesus says. She is focusing on Jesus instead of all the other busy type of things.

Perhaps we have got so busy that we have neglected to teach our children the “better” things of life that will truly help them as they grow older. Faith in Christ, morals, values, all of those things are invaluable assets to have as children get older and face the challenges of this world.

It reminds me of the story of what happened one Sunday after a Child Dedication service. As a young family was driving away from church after the dedication of their baby, little Johnny, the older brother, cried all the way home in the back seat of the car. His mother asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, “The pastor said he wanted us to be brought up in a Christian home… but I want to stay with you guys!”

In Proverbs 5:1-2 it says, “My Son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.” But first and foremost parents, we need to be sharing that wisdom, giving those words of insight, and helping our children know what it means to be cherished, valued, and loved unconditionally.

Parenting is a tough job, but we don’t have to be perfect. We just need to lead our homes in ways that honor Christ, and lead our children down the path of righteousness. In the long run it will be up to our children to make their own decisions, but let’s do all we can now while they are on the homefront.

Make it personal: Maybe we need to be more like Mary and set aside our busyness to focus on the things that are truly the most important. In the long run those are the things that will make our world a safer, friendlier, and more loving place to live.

May the Lord Bless your Home,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church




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